by Rebecca Silverman,

Monster Hunter Stories RIDE ON

BD+DVD - Season One Part Three

Monster Hunter Stories RIDE ON BD+DVD Part 3
As Cheval's anger takes over his worldview more and more, he completely rebuff's Lute's friendship and sets out on his own to become more Hunter than Rider. Deeply wounded by his friend's rejection, Lute determines to remain true to the ideals of kinship and saving those infected by the black blight. With Navirou and his new friends, Lute sets out to be the best Rider he can be – even if he has to do it without his foster brother and best friend.

Monster Hunter Stories RIDE ON had some struggles in its first two sets of episodes, but here in part three, it feels as if it's finally gotten to where it needed to. The central theme of the show has always been “kinship,” and up to this point, that's largely been assumed to be between a Rider and his monstie. With the death of Cheval's mother at the metaphorical hands of a monster infected with the Black Blight, however, that concept has been revealed to not only apply to monsters, but to humans as well.

Ever since his mother's death, Cheval has been sliding farther and farther into a hell of his own emotions. While Lilia and Lute were tangentially aware of this, they're also still twelve-year-old kids, and they can be forgiven for thinking that he might simply get over it. (Don't get me started on irresponsible adults in this show.) In part this is because Lilia has made the conscious choice to follow a career that will keep her out of Hakum Village while Lute is an orphan; they simply have different experiences of what Cheval is going through. Cheval, however, is truly hurting, and as no one helps him to resolve that, he allows his grief to morph into a burning anger, one that he expresses in his newfound dislike of monsters. Although he specifies Blighted ones, his actions and the way he no longer treats his personal monstie with the care and love he once did indicates that his worldview has undergone a drastic change. That continues outward – throughout the second set of episodes, we had reason to suspect that he blamed Lute for his mother's death, but things come to a head here with Cheval explicitly telling Lute that he blames him not only for his mom's death, but for his dad's as well.

To say that this is unreasonable would be fair – but it's also very much in line with the way people, particularly children, act out their grief. In some ways it feels less like Cheval truly blames Lute and more that he has been looking for an excuse to reject his former friend and foster brother. He can't deal with Lute's optimistic outlook on life nor with his willingness to do his best to save those affected by the Blight. Cheval still has a lot to work through, and Lute is the easiest target he has for his anger. He's selfish in his grief, never considering that Lute's methods are his way of working through his sadness – after all, Lute has just been orphaned for the second time – and he essentially becomes a bully. This makes it not terribly surprising that Hyoro and Mil also abandon Lute to go with Cheval; after all, they don't want to become the next targets for his anger.

This leaves Lute with only Navirou and his monsties as reminders of home. Yes, the older Riders do come out to help and reassure Lute that he's on the right path, but ultimately he's still out seeing the world, and now he's got his quest of stopping the Blight to keep him going. Fortunately the show steps up and begins the work of explaining Navirou's past and what made him who he is, and that goes a long way towards making him a less annoying character. While his English voice can still hit “obnoxiously shrill” at times, learning his backstory gives him a reason to be who he is, and the fact that time and again he chooses to stay with Lute when pretty much no one else does makes him a much better character than previously. It also opens the door to some fairly upsetting material that seems a bit much for the intended elementary-school audience of the show, although it does a good job of establishing just how bad the bad guys are. (Even Cheval is leery of them, thank goodness.) With a past involving slavery and animal testing, this is something that adults are going to want to be ready to discuss with child viewers.

All in all, this set of Monster Hunter episodes is a major improvement. Side characters like Debli become more important as they prove that they understand kinship more than Cheval did, the addition of the amazingly adorable Floof ups the cute ante considerably (and Shiori Izawa and Sarah Wiedenheft both do excellent jobs with her voice), and the implication that Cheval is Blighted without ever actually saying as much is well done. If the Numbers speech is overused and the lack of responsible adults looking out for Cheval, as well as the occasional clunky CG, are detriments, they are much better balanced by the Blight parallels between Cheval and Ratha and the kind Hunter who takes Lute under his wing. This series is really shaping up and getting to where it wants to be.

Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B
Animation : C+
Art : B-
Music : C+

+ Parallels between Cheval and Blighted monsters well done, captures his grief well. Navirou comes into his own.
Numbers bit overused, occasionally off-model with clunky CG. Lack of people looking out for Cheval.

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Production Info:
Director: Mitsuru Hongo
Series Composition: Natsuko Takahashi
Katsuhiko Chiba
Tomoki Endou
Akira Horiuchi
Hiroko Kanasugi
Hiroshi Ohnogi
Seiko Takagi
Natsuko Takahashi
Daisuke Watanabe
Mitsuru Hongo
Rei Ishikura
Tomoko Iwasaki
Kazuya Iwata
Yoshiki Kawasaki
Fumio Maezono
Daisuke Matsuki
Masayoshi Nishida
Yukio Nishimoto
Keiichirō Saitō
Kazuhiro Sasaki
Takahiro Shikama
Kei Sotokawa
Teppei Suzuki
Hitomi Tsuruta
Shigeru Ueda
Toru Yoshida
Episode Director:
Masashi Abe
Yukihiko Asaki
Daiki Harashina
Mitsuru Hongo
Masayuki Iimura
Rei Ishikura
Yoshiki Kawasaki
Shigeru Kimiya
Fumio Maezono
Hazuki Mizumoto
Tatsuya Nokimori
Yūsuke Onoda
Keiichirō Saitō
Sumito Sasaki
Osamu Sekita
Takahiro Shikama
Michita Shiraishi
Tatsuya Shiraishi
Yasufumi Soejima
Takuma Suzuki
Yuuta Takamura
Masaharu Tomoda
Shigeru Ueda
Shigatsu Yoshikawa
Unit Director:
Mitsuru Hongo
Hiroyuki Kanbe
Daisuke Matsuki
Music: Masaru Yokoyama
Character Design: Takuya Saito
Art Director: Shinichi Konno
Chief Animation Director:
Satoru Kiyomaru
Ryo Kobayashi
Takuya Saito
Keiko Tamaki
Animation Director:
Atsushi Aono
Myoung Jun Cha
Natsue Chibayama
Toyoaki Fukushima
Daiki Harashina
Saki Hisamatsu
Kazuyuki Ikai
Nobuharu Ishido
Hee Kyu Jang
Toshihisa Kaiya
Hitoshi Kamata
Hiroyuki Kamura
Hiroko Kasuga
Bo-kyeong Kim
Maasa Kimura
Masaki Kiritani
Ryo Kobayashi
Yukari Kobayashi
Yuuji Kondou
Akira Koshiishi
Ja Chun Ku
Hyeok-Jeong Kwon
Jong-kyung Lee
Min Bae Lee
Keun Soo Lim
Yoshihiro Maeda
Tomoyuki Matsumoto
Shinichiro Minami
Kiko Morifuji
Yasuhiro Namatame
Ichiro Ogawa
Tadayoshi Okimura
Seong Cheol Ryu
Rio Sagara
Takuya Saito
Kazuhiro Sasaki
Konomi Satō
Motoko Shikama
Takahiro Shikama
Shosuke Shimizu
Narumi Shimoji
Hyung Woo Shin
Kōki Sugawara
Keiko Tamaki
Ayu Tanaka
Moriyasu Taniguchi
Shigenori Taniguchi
Eiichi Tokura
Kenji Yokoyama
3D Director: Yuuko Okumura
Sound Director: Jin Aketagawa
Director of Photography: Tomoya Kamijō
Producer: Yuka Okayasu

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Monster Hunter Stories RIDE ON (TV)

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Monster Hunter Stories RIDE ON - Season One Part Three (BD+DVD)

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