RideBack: Art, Politics, and Fanservice


lelangir and ghostlightning GATTAI! RideBack appears to be an intriguing show, a visually pretty juxtaposition of art and politics, with mecha.


ghostlightning: I loved the dance scene, the performance. The fluidity of the movements foreshadowed the goodness that will come later when the mecha comes into play. I can’t identify the piece, nor am I knowledgeable in ballet, but I get the impression that the performance is well-researched. And, Rin is hawt. Very hawt.

lelangir: I’d say Rin is more cute than hot. She’s pure, the white dress being a symbol of her chastity. At any rate she is super freakin’ attractive.

ghostlightning: Another scene that took me is the massive fall of cherry blossoms in their art school. It reminded me of the first episode of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, only serious.


lelangir: “Sakura blizzard”, as the girls put it, seems to be a cinematic effect i.e. 5cm.

ghostlightning: Yes, it’s beautiful, and sets my expectations for the animation quality for the series. It won’t be just fluid movement, but rather I feel an effort to compose a scene beautifully as well, which I appreciate.

lelangir: The falling sakura petals were a metaphor for Rin’s own falling, when she looks at the one petal that landed on her hand as it falls to the ground.

ghostlightning: Perhaps the first break in the the pace, is when a fangirl accosts them in the cafeteria. Following the falling blossoms, metaphor – this scene brings the petal into the ground. Reality hits. Rin won’t be dancing anymore. The fangirl gets sad for our sake.

let’s talk about politics

ghostlightning: While Gundam 00 is credited for having a decidedly post-9/11 geopolitical setting, I anticipate RideBack to be as equally ambitious, as it is set in the near future of 2025. My hunch is based on Rin’s birthday: September 11, 2001. Can it be more obvious?


lelangir: The exposition to the political backdrop is brief. Rin tells us, her being the historical narrator, that the resistence group calling themselves the GGP “suddenly took control of the world.” Apparently, the GGP achieved world dominance via Rideback’s, a new military technology. While the GGP succeeded in taking political control over the world, their victory was recorded merely as an “historical victory”, whatever that means. I guess historians and publishers still have a degree of autonomy?

ghostlightning: Let us speculate. The GGP’s control must be part of this Orwellian setting, where peace and prosperity (there must be prosperity for such art schools to exist) are traded for human rights.

I’ve read that there will be student-led protests coming up. Human rights violations/control by a totalitarian regime is a convenient enemy, plot-wise. However, it’s very pre-9/11 (Tienaman Square protests were in 1989). The post-9/11 world is largely about lowered barriers to entry – for nearly anything from business to terrorism. And in this world, technology breaks barriers, but anachronistic ties to ethnicity and culture are still very strong, and are still powerful fuel for conflict.

It’ll be interesting for me to watch these things play out from the POV of art students.

lelangir: Well, as the screenshot says, the UN still exists – whether this relation is egalitarian or hierarchical is still up in the air though. There was no background information on precisely where the GGP struck, but perhaps to keep some semblance of a global society intact, they’d need to disrupt America’s domination over things like the World Bank and the IMF. But don’t quote me on international policy, ever. At very least Rideback seems more like a usurpation of hegemony rather than Geass-esque all-out imperial warfare replete with racial resistence. As ghost said, it will be interesting to see student-lead counter hegemony.

let’s talk about metaphors


ghostlightning: I can see how dance can be metaphoric for riding, but is it necessarily symbolic for anything else? Is the mecha here gratuitous? (As if mecha ever wasn’t)

lelangir: I think this anime goes a step further and makes dance as riding – the motorbikething itself was responding to Rin’s moves. There was a brief scene where it was suggested that the motorbikething had some sort of intelligence. I’d say that dance through riding will be a vehicle (no pun intended) for the show’s primary function, a rite of passage. This assumes that the political backdrop is merely there as a backdrop to give a context to Rin’s actions. I haven’t read the manga, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Rin becomes an activist and displays her activism via dancing via Rideback. Rin was a performer, and we’ll see some huge character development as she comes to terms with her injury, the loss of her parents, and her status as a “performer”.


ghostlightning: Or, there can be a parallel between her coming of age, and that of the world’s/society; as both come to terms with how power and relationships work.

let’s talk about fanservice


ghostlightning: The fanservice is delicious. Rin flashes her panties everywhere except ‘at the camera’. We are teased into looking down into her blouse, but nothing is really gratuitously served. There was a reason why the Gurren Nishiki‘s cockpit was styled like a motorcycle, it was to provide us maximum Kallenservice.


Her brazenness in handling the RideBack Fuego is awesome. It reminds me of the ‘falling into the cockpit‘ trope, only that she didn’t fall. She was invited. It wasn’t since Saotome Alto from Macross Frontier that you had a pretty willing pilot.


ghostlightning: Seize the reins of history! A willing pilot! Also, a natural joy and talent for piloting that makes me remember not just Alto’s first flight in the VF-25 Messiah, but also the wild tumble of Hikaru Ichijou in the very first episode of SDF Macross. Her face at the end is just pure awesomeness.




About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
This entry was posted in Dialogues, first impressions and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to RideBack: Art, Politics, and Fanservice

  1. IcyStorm says:

    You two can go to hell. RideBack SUCKS.

  2. Ryan A says:

    Ride Back does not suck. Anyway, nice collab. Rin is very win for a number of reasons, and I find it with her attractive poise and inquisitive attitude. The episode felt much like watching a quite, shy person dabble in the interest of adrenaline and new being.

  3. ghostlightning says:

    @ IcyStorm

    NO, U.

    @ Ryan A

    Shy and inquisitive seem apt for Rin. I’m really looking forward to the metaphorical interplay of her riding/dancing sequences and whatever the subject matter of the show ends up being. It would be almost necessary, IMO – since the show is only 12 episodes.

  4. lelangir says:

    You two can go to hell. RideBack SUCKS.


    Actually, drawing comparisons between Manabi Straight and this might be interesting.

  5. schneider says:

    I agree with Ryan A. Rin has discovered something new for herself with Fuego. I’m very interested on how she’ll use it (assuming that she does keep it, I mean, how much do those things cost anyway).

    Oh and Fuego’s interface, it is PURE SEX.

  6. gaguri says:

    *high fives IcyStorm

  7. ghostlightning says:

    @ schneider

    The interface also involves a wristwat ch! Tetsujin 28 and Giant Robo goodness right here!

    @ gaguri


  8. Kairu Ishimaru says:

    “RideBack: Art, Politics, and Fanservice AND KICKASS MOTORCYCLES!”

  9. I enjoyed the first episode of Rideback a lot, but at this point it’s become more than a little overrated, both in the true meaning of the word and in people’s praises of it. It was a good opening episode, but the internet would have you think it was the second coming of Christ at this point.

  10. ghostlightning says:

    @ Kaioshin Sama

    Good thing I don’t review anime. Otherwise every show would sound like they’re by freaking Shakespeare.

    Here we speculate on what we expect to like about the show, not that we don’t like it already.

    Me liking a show doesn’t mean it’s good. Me crying awesome doesn’t mean it is in absolute terms. Just as me not enjoying a show makes it bad. I’ve a great capacity for appreciation, and it may be that there are shows that I’m not ‘ready for’ Turn-A Gundam was one. I’ve not fallen in love with shows like Eureka 7 and Last Exile, and I particularly dislike Char’s Counterattack.

    In the internet you’d have noticed that the ‘standing’ of an anime is mostly socially determined. It’s up to us readers whether to buy what opinions are being sold with the currency of our attention and acceptance.

  11. Panther says:

    Haha nice writeup Ghost and lelangir. I think for the entire show I was more interested in the bike though. I mean Rin does not appeal to me much.

    But I do like the animation quality and the storyline, and one wonders if Rin will see action later on. I hope not.

  12. coburn says:

    Praise the lord! Great opening episode. I’m thinking the major thing here is the way the technology is intuitive and how that relates to it paralleling art (dance).

    Maybe it’s because I’m not a mecha fan, but I can’t think of a show where the machine takes on that role. I’ve seen intuitive control shown as power, but not as joy. Which I guess is why it’s a bit different for her to be so willing to jump on in – she’s embracing self-realisation without any connotations of domination/militarism. And self-realisation as a precursor to actual ‘hard’ power is surely what the activism sections will be all about.

    I’m actually keen to hype this up, even to excess. I was looking forward to it. It delivered. That feeling is part of the fun now.

  13. lolikitsune says:

    The best thing about her face at the end of the episode is that she’s about to plunge several dozen meters off a cliff and die. Fuck yeah ballet.

  14. biankita says:

    i like it enough. animation is awesome. story is interesting. but i’m not totally sold on it since i don’t think the first episode game so much of the things that are going on except the general background of their world and exactly what a rideback is. i’m more inclined to pick it up rather than not though.

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  16. Camario says:

    Sounds like I need to watch this now.

    Then again, it’s probably for the best that I simply can’t. After a couple more weeks the show will settle down and then we’ll see if the expectations raised are actually being met.

    Couldn’t help but grin at the mention of “Kallenservice”…. although I would resort to relevant screens from the actual show to make that point. Not that it matters, at least not right now, just a thought.

  17. TheBigN says:

    “While the GGP succeeded in taking political control over the world, their victory was recorded merely as an “historical victory”, whatever that means. I guess historians and publishers still have a degree of autonomy?”

    I immediately think of that cliche phrase like “it’s the winners who write the history”. So by isolating that as “historical victory”, I assume that though say GGP think of themselves as winners, for the most part, a lot of others don’t.

    For some reason I think of the GGP logo as some panties. And speaking of them, you do see Rin’s in a shot or two while riding Fuego. It was funny because I wasn’t expecting it nor looking for it (at that moment) when it happened. 😛

    Decent first episode, but other than whoa cinematography, Rin on the rideback, and her phone, nothing that would make me go “This is pretty good” yet. :3

  18. ghostlightning says:

    @ Panther

    The RideBack Fuego is an interesting machine indeed. Like coburn said in his comment – it’s quite a refreshing thing to see: something intuitive, not unlike the X-Gear suit that the pilots in Macross Frontier wear. However, the Fuego has much more going on, being the centerpiece mecha of the series.

    It’s quite remarkable how interesting they make riding compared to flying.

    @ coburn

    You’re onto something here. I dropped Eureka 7, but what I do remember vaguely about it is how the pilots, as they were, fucking enjoyed piloting their machines and related mecha. What Rin does, represents how I or someone like me would feel about using such a wondrous technical marvel.

    I think many shows *cough* Gundam, miss out on portraying the sheer awesomeness of being able to pilot mecha. Macross Plus has something similar and awesome, an amplification in some way of Alto’s longing for flight in Macross Frontier. Romantic in so many ways, this joy for movement is evident in Rin and RideBack, providing us another way to enjoy the fictional world of the story.

    @ lolikitsune

    Marquis de Sade is said to have written in his book Justine about the particular ecstasy of a moment preceding or anticipating death.

    @ digiboy

    Off topic but very relevant to my interests. Thank you.

    @ biankita

    Let us see if it delivers on the many expectations it inspired – at least in me.

    @ Camario

    To show the particular Rinservice would be a spoiler, I thought then. Better in any case to see it yourself.

    @ TheBigN

    I’ve since re-watched it and saw copious amounts of pantsu shots. Yes, GGP could well stand for Gratuitous Gathering [of] Pantsu at this point.

  19. Extrange says:

    @Ghostlighting: It’s true that IN the manga, Rin was born in 2001 and she enters the university in 2020, but in the anime she enters the university in 2025, so she was born in 2006 if they are keeping her at 19 years old…

    Details matters, dude 🙂

  20. ghostlightning says:

    @ Extrange

    She’s 19? Thanks for the detail.

  21. soloista says:

    I never expeted Marquis de Sade to say such a thing. I’m going to have to add him to my philkosophy reading list, right under Kierkegaard.

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