Review

by Theron Martin,

RErideD

Blu-Ray + Digital

Synopsis:
RErideD BR + Digital
In 2050, Derrida Yvain is an engineer who lives in the shadow of his father, the developer of the widely-used DZ automaton. He and a coworker discover a bug in the DZ programming which could have potentially catastrophic consequences, but they also soon discover that The Powers That Be are willing to kill in order to get their hands on that patch and cover up its existence, for the necessary recall could disrupt a very lucrative business of selling the DZs for military use. One tragic night leaves the coworker dead and Derrida accidentally trapped in a cryogenic capsule, which he only emerges from 10 years later. The world he awakens to is one ruined by war and the DZs used in the fighting having gone berserk, one where a small number of people have become wealthy while the rest try to scrape by. The one possible avenue out of the mess may lie with Mage [pronounced like “Madge”], the young daughter of Derrida's coworker, who became obsessed with Derrida's college thesis about time travel and may have initiated a time-jumping experiment right before the tragedy. But is she in some way connected to the mysterious girl Ange, who occasionally appears to Derrida as he experiences time slides?
Review:

This 12 episode TV series from the Fall 2018 TV season is an anime original creation which caught fans' attention at the time because of its pedigree: character designs and some script work were provided by Yoshitoshi ABe (of Serial Experiments Lain and Haibane Renmei fame) and it was directed by Takuya Sato (Armitage III and Steins;Gate franchises, among others). Indeed, its first four episodes were previewed early, which I wrote a review about at the time. That review was mildly optimistic about the series based only on those four episodes. Sadly, what little potential the series showed early on only manifests in spurts as the story progresses. The results is a series which manages a few good parts but is mostly a humdrum time travel scenario involving a semi-post-apocalyptic situation brought about by corruption. Just about everything the series does has been done better by other titles out there.

The series' first and foremost problem – and one which never fully goes away – is that a greater than normal degree of suspension of disbelief is required to make the story work. Derrida just happens to tumble into an abandoned cryogenic facility which just happens to have a working capsule which Derrida just happens to accidentally fall into without realizing what it is until too late, and he's a high-tech engineer? And the facility just happens to go unnoticed by his pursuers at the time, and yet someone else finds it years later? The exact location of the setting is never specified, but vast badlands happen to be nearby? Or how did one 18 year old girl with no supernatural powers and limited financial resources manage to set up the facility seen in the final episode and do what she's doing without help? The basic villain motive of “let's have 10 years of ongoing war because it's profitable even while everything but a limited space around us is being destroyed” also seems thoughtlessly simplistic on a children's story level, though this is definitely not a children's story.

The time travel aspect holds more design merit. It uses something called Trout Theory (which might possibly be original to this series) and posits the interesting notion that strong memories of a particular time and place can facilitate a sort of time travel where one's consciousness is projected back into the former self at that particular time and place. This method offers only limited ability to alter events and, as Derrida gradually discovers, there are other key restrictions on it as well. However, as he also discovers, even tiny changes can have huge consequences if used correctly. The visuals and slowing-clock sound effect which accompany these time slides are also the neatest production aspects of the series. They mystery of who Ange – who looks very much like a young Mage – is also ties into this, though the truth of that matter is not revealed until near the end of the last episode. It is the series' biggest twist, though one that is somewhat predictable if all of the factors involved are considered.

After an opening episode focused mostly on the 2050 era set-up, most of the story involves Derrida gradually accumulating allies and enemies in 2060, who help or oppose him on his path to finding Madge and correcting the DZ bug. This is pretty standard semi-post-apocalyptic fare, with killer robots to be dealt with, a tricked-out AI-infused car, and so forth. Key recurring supporting characters include a camera-loving friend of Madge's who's now a teenager in 2060 and develops a crush on Derrida, a troubleshooter and his young daughter, and an assassin hired by the man who tried to have Derrida killed (and thought he had succeeded) back in 2050. Between Derrida and these characters, the one with the most interesting and involved background is actually the assassin, who gets a feature episode in the series' last third. Without getting too much into spoilers, this concerns an analysis of efforts to develops personalities in AI-driven automatons and the creepy, almost mind-bending results it gets. While this is one of the series' highlights, a better and more thorough examination of developing AI personalities can be seen in the sci fi series Beatless.

If the execution of the storytelling is only mediocre, the production effort isn't any better. This was the first production effort for new studio Geek Toys (they have since produced Hensuki and the upcoming Plunderer), and it comes across as a B-list effort by a major studio. The presumably-low animation budget shows painfully in several places, including the hit-or-miss CG animation of vehicles, hence limiting the thrill factor of the action scenes and the potential beauty of some singing scenes. Character and mechanical designs offer nothing special beyond the aforementioned AI-powered car. Background art fares better, but that's not saying much. While the content does have some bloody violence and a bit of (self-censored) nudity near the end, both are present in small enough doses that they are not selling points. The music does a little better, with its mostly-synthesized sounds providing some effective support for dramatic moments. Opener “Paradox” is a suitably energetic number, while Abe's illustrations nicely complement the more mellow closer; the latter is arguably the series' visual highlight. Use of insert songs is, unfortunately, very hit-or-miss.

Funimation provides the English dub and physical release for the series, which is only available on Blu-Ray with accompanying digital rights. The dub is a competent but unexceptional one, with Adam Gibb (Seiya in Amagi Brilliant Park) being a good fit as Derrida and Brian Mathis serving well as the principled troubleshooter who accompanies Derrida for most of the way in 2060. Only in a couple of (thankfully limited) singing parts does the dub flounder. On-disk Extras include only clean opener and closer and a collection of promo videos and commercials.

Ultimately RErideD is a series which isn't lacking in ambition but is lacking in the ability to make something good out of it. The parts it succeeds at simply are not enough to elevate the series beyond a forgettable level, hence wasting ABe's efforts.

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

+ Interesting notions on time travel, background of one character, mostly satisfying ending
Weak on most production aspects, requires higher than normal suspension of disbelief.

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Production Info:
Script:
Yoshitoshi ABe
Kenji Konuta
Kengo Matsumoto
Takuya Satō
Toshiaki Sato
Yoriko Tomita
Storyboard: Toru Yoshida
Character Design: Koji Watanabe
Animation Director: Moriyasu Taniguchi

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RErideD (TV)

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