Review

by Theron Martin,

Endride

BD+DVD - Part 1

Synopsis:
Endride BD+DVD part 1
15-year-old Shun Asanaga has always been fascinated by minerals, perhaps because his mother is a retired archaeologist. One night while going to his father's lab to retrieve him for being late to dinner, Shun encounters an odd stone in his dad's office. Upon contact with this stone, it gets absorbed into him and he finds himself transported into a strange new world, where the dashing prince Emilio is locked up in a dungeon after attempting to assassinate his foster father, the current king who he believes killed his birth father. Before Shun understands what's happening, the two break out and hook up with Alicia, a longtime pal of Emilio, and Emilio's former tutor Pascal, a renowned scientist. Shun eventually comes to understand that he's in Endora, a world that exists within his own but has remained isolated from the surface over time. He also learns that he can manifest a Warp Relic to do battle, along with other rare individuals of Endora. While seeking a path back home, Shun finds himself tagging along with Emilio on the prince's quest to end King Delzaine's reign.
Review:

When this mobile game adaptation debuted back during the Spring 2016 season, I was so unimpressed by the first episode that I gave it my lowest rating of that Preview Guide and never bothered to watch another episode. Funimation's announcement of a simuldub suggested to me that it was faring well enough that I might have missed something, so when the Blu-Ray release of the first half rolled around, I decided to give the series a second try.

Boy, was that a mistake.

Endride has a host of issues scattered across its first 12 episodes, but the most glaring and immediately-apparent problem is that it features one of the most obnoxious protagonist duos that I've encountered in recent years. Individually, both are more irritating versions of standard character archetypes: Emilio is the sullen, brooding prince who specializes in being a short-sighted ass, while Shun is the boisterous type who seems physically incapable of shutting up, even when it's in his best interest to do so. Put them together and their interactions grate on the nerves so badly that it's easy to sympathize with the frustrations of the other cast members who have to deal with them. They were doubtlessly intended to seem immature in a comedic way, one of those classic constantly-bickering pairs, but that dynamic only works if chemistry can be built through such arguing, and these two don't have any for most of this first half. Just about everyone in the supporting cast is more tolerable, though Alicia suffers from being the mostly-useless wannabe love interest to Emilio. Even just including her for sex appeal seems pointless when another female character shows up to blow her out of the water in that department. Villains are also disappointments, with main villain King Delzaine being too inscrutable for too long, whose squad of warriors are just generic thugs.

The premise of the series imagines that the old Hollow World theory – the notion that the interior of our world is actually hollow and there's a whole 'nother world in there – is actually true. However, for some still-unexplained reason, the founders of the inner world put a taboo into place limiting contact between the worlds, while myths on the surface about the Underworld discourage surface-dwellers from trying to come down, which is an interesting angle. The plot in the first half is a basic, old-school adventure story, which is fine even if it lacks much originality. The problems come from actually carrying out that plot. Gaping holes in the story abound, many scenes that are supposed to be dramatic falter due to questionable writing and execution, and there's an appalling lack of urgency, especially in later episodes on this set. The timing of events makes no sense at points, with one late scene featuring a character arriving in a location far before someone else who left for that location earlier, without explaining how that could have happened. And you definitely shouldn't count on the season finale revealing anything!

The problems aren't limited just to the characters and storytelling either. Most of the Warp Relics have fanciful designs that are ridiculously impractical and even ugly, even by the standards of anime and video game weaponry. Possessing a Warp Relic clearly doesn't require much skill for wielding it, as attempts to depict fights between Warp Relic users commonly devolve into simple bashing fights, which saps the dynamic potential from them; you can compare the flow of fight scenes in this series to a superior example like DanMachi to really appreciate the need for good fight choreography in an action anime. The generally mediocre animation doesn't help either. Character designs are passable, although some of the non-human designs are uninspired, and the series gets decidedly caught up in typical fantasy flair with clothing too. The only place where the series excels visually is in the extraordinarily vivid coloring of its background art, easily the show's most impressive aspect.

The one other thing that the series consistently does right is its musical score. The opener and closer aren't anything memorable, but the main score extensively uses symphonic orchestration in an effort to achieve a grand fantasy sound. While it is effective at cementing that tone, there's a limit to how much it can help the weak content.

Funimation's release is a standard Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack in a slipcover. It's bare-bones as Funimatioin releases go, with only clean opener and closer as extras. The English dub casts Aaron Dismuke as Shun, which seems like a fitting choice on paper but his vocal quality only ends up aggravating how annoying Shun can be. Other casting choices and performances are fine, with Mark Stoddard being a particularly appropriate choice for Pascal. The English script doesn't introduce any big or problematic changes, which when combined with the performances results in a solid but not spectacular dub overall.

The first half of Endride isn't uniformly terrible; many scenes that don't involve Shun or Emilio work out just fine, such as Pascal's collaborations with fellow scientists or Demetrio's bargaining with the leader of the Zoozians on the island. The tempestuous relationship between Shun and Emilio also mellows a little toward the end of this half. However, the daunting problems that the series has presented so far keep me from recommending it for any audience.

Grade:
Production Info:
Overall (dub) : C-
Overall (sub) : C-
Story : D+
Animation : C+
Art : B-
Music : B

+ Vivid coloring of background art, potentially interesting concept
Lead protagonists' relationship grates on the nerves, numerous plot holes, gaudy weapon designs, uninteresting action scenes

Director: Keiji Gotoh
Series Composition: Touko Machida
Storyboard: Keiji Gotoh
Music:
Hayato Matsuo
Hiroshi Nakamura
Original Character Design:
Kazushi Hagiwara
Nobuhiro Watsuki
Producer:
Hiroyuki Inage
Tomohisa Nomura
Marina Sasaki
Kazunari Sengoku
Toshihiro Shiraishi
Yūji Suzuki
Ami Yoshikawa

Full encyclopedia details about
Endride (TV)

Release information about
Endride - Part 1 (BD+DVD)

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