Alright guys, the joke is over, everybody knows – what irrelevant, B grade studio spent all their money on having Madhouse attach their name to this anime and assist them a bit in the action scenes? No, really, it´s pretty obvious this isn´t actually the iconic Madhouse, right? the studio that gave us One Punch Man just two weeks ago? Oh – wait, did they really think they could pull off a Free! look-a-like without giving it Free! level animation, or, like, any animation at all? Oh. Oh okay. Did One Punch Man literally punch their bank account dry? I see.
It´s painfully and exceedingly obvious that the studio behind this has from zero to no experience with these type of shows – giving us the most basic husks of walking-talking pretty boy stereotypes that they couldn´t have dumbed down more if they tried, the token female lead that´s just as likeable as she needs to be (a.k.a as likeable as a piece of wood a.k.a it´s just there) for the viewers not to get annoyed for being too boring or too strong, and for the rest of the cast all the usual partygoers are present; we have the overly excited shorty at the bar, the quirky dark weirdo with glasses in the corner of the room, the blonde womanizer dancing to Hotline Bling at the center of the dance floor, the serious one with big shoulders looking over him and the nerd with all the stats and data that´d put NASA to shame probably playing strip-pong.
Sadly, it plays out just as boring as you´d rightfully expect until the last five minutes, and that´s just if you´re really, really begging the show to please do something different or at least entertained your bored, bitter ass. This happens, perhaps, at the cost of the rest of the episode.
Thick lines and downright bad proportions and technical drawings; the characters are generally cross-eyed and backgrounds are almost non-existent, covered up by vibrant colours that sent me straight back to 2014 with the tragic Meganebu – at least Meganebu used the excuse of style and the fact that the studio on it is completely irrelevant and probably more broke than your average university student, here it just looks lazy, dull and apathetic, like they thought having a cast of metrosexuals was enough to get everyone tripping all over it.
I didn´t expect Free. I wanted it to be Free, but I didn´t expect it to be.
Because Free! was almost an accident. Stemmed from a CM that just happened to go viral. You can´t recreate an accident. Just like you can´t recreate Harry Potter. Just like you can´t recreate 50 Shades of Gray.
We all know this show wouldn´t get the time of day if it weren´t for Free! having the mass popularity it had, and so many scenes, characters and situations pretty much had a giant red, fluorescent sign on top of it saying “Free! we got this from Free!”
For example, the one scene in the opening where Haru and the blondie high-five each other. It wasn´t a coincidence.
And it makes me sad. It doesn´t make me sad that Madhouse is half-asssed trying something and are putting zero effort in it, shit, we´ve been dealing with that since the beginning of fiction, it makes me sad that, after spending my Winter break watching classic, must-watch-before-you-die movies such as The Breakfast Club and Boyz n The Hood anime just felt like a chore between all of this, and while I´m a little more optimistic about my backlog, I wasn´t quite ready for the commitment. I was hoping I´d catch hold of something different this season, and in reality this was the only show out of the bunch I was silently betting on.
Basically, Prince of Stride could´ve been a stylish show showcasing Madhouse talent and set a norm in this “pretty boys do things” sub-genre, but instead gives us the most basic thing I´ve seen in a very, very long time.
I´ll watch it. I´ll enjoy it. I´m the target audience.
It´s not hard to see why everyone else will be turned off by it.
With the exception of the final action scene, which was the only part of the entire episode that looked pretty, I´d be lying if I said it makes up for the snooze-fest that comes before it that looses you within the first three minutes.
Quirks and pretty designs don´t make a character, Madhouse, I thought you out of all studios should´ve known that.