Archive for the 'rideback' Category

RideBack: Giving Revolution the Right of Way

So, you say you want a revolution?

Well, you know, it’s just not that easy.

Anyone who completed RideBack will, by now, understand that Rin hasn’t exactly had the best of lives. In fact, her life throughout the series would best be described in the Dickensian way: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Cast out from the world of ballet due to an ankle injury, she once again found the freedom to dance–the freedom to live life, and not some hollow shard of it left after the ballet career she’d been training for all her life vanished from her future–through the RideBacks (or, more specifically, Fuego).

And yet that same discovery which granted her freedom also wrecked her life, as her natural skill turned her, quite unwittingly and completely against her will, into the iconic RideBack Girl of the resistance, with devastating consequences: Her brother tortured to confess to a crime he did not commit, one of her friends decapitated as though she were her. If anyone in the resistance against the splinter GGP faction to retake Japan had a reason to go on a giant, killing rampage, it’s Rin.

Yet she doesn’t. In fact, she doesn’t even consider herself a part of the resistance. She shuns the title “RideBack Girl” even as Suzuri embraces it, and I think we all remember what happened there. She emphatically denies any kind of symbolic importance attached to herself; she’s not the daring student protester who blasts past GGP military to demonstrate their weakness, but rather the girl who would do anything to save her friend. She’s the iconic figure of resistance who neither wishes to be an icon nor to resist, or, at least, resist in the way people want her to, which generally involves quite a great deal of going against her inner, artist’s nature.

Oddly, her insistence that she isn’t an icon, that she’s not resisting, is what makes her both. Despite all the cruelties pressed upon her by the GGP’s actions in Japan, she will not–can not–pick up a gun and fight against them. Perhaps she intuitively understands that fighting generally gets people nowhere, perhaps fighting is simply just not in her nature, but she refuses to join Kiefer’s resistance despite his insistence that she has been “chosen” to be part of it. She doesn’t want to fight for her freedom, she simply wants to be free, and the only way she can be free is through Fuego, a dual-edged sword of freedom and destruction.

And, in the end, she manages to wield that dual-edged sword quite effectively, as she literally leads mindless RideBack-derived combat drones in a bizarre ballet that is equal parts self-expression and destruction. Whatever thematic symbolism one wants to ascribe to the drones (I, personally, prefer seeing them as violence incarnate, or at least that occurred to me first; but ambiguity is positively delicious), it’s clear that even they cannot catch up to Rin as she and Fuego combined lead them in a ballet, not of destruction, but of simple self-expression. One by one, the drones collapse, unable to keep up with Rin’s indefatigable pace and indomitable human spirit. Amidst all the destruction and explosions and death and slayings, it’s Rin’s naturally mechanical ballet that captures the attention of (some of) the public in the end. She becomes a resistance icon through simply being Rin. She’s not a belligerent, a terrorist, a freedom-fighter, a protester, an aggressor, or any of those things; in fact, I’d hesitate to even apply the term “pacifist” to her, because pacifists sometimes seem to me to be much more aggressively peaceful than Rin is.

She’s Rin. She can’t be the savior of the world, of Japan, of Tokyo, of her school, of the RideBack club, or anything. She can only be Rin. And, in the end, isn’t that the same thing? Isn’t it the same for us all?

Perhaps the answers can only be found on the Twisted Race Track of Enlightenment, where riding RideBacks slowly (or at least in transient beauty) is preferred.

RideBack: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Ballet

I cannot stop watching the OP; MELL is amazing.

I’m not even kidding with the subtitle to this post: this is exactly what I’m thinking RideBack is (or is going to be). I only have vague memories of the actual Robert Pirsig book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance from reading it at age 14 (most of them being “I thought this book was going to be funny and it wasn’t, it was boring”; obviously I was not exactly the mental peer of my parents when they were that age), and reading over the linked Wiki entry I should probably revisit it, despite it having nothing whatsoever to actually do with RideBack other than providing a humorous subtitle to a blog post about it and this dull anecdote which I’m going to stop writing before you fall asleep.

It’s kind of hard to judge where RideBack is headed at this early stage; when I started it up I was kind of expecting Students for a Democratic Society-style protests, I thought the RideBack club was going to be some kind of Weather Underground outpost, and I still half-expect, at some point in time, a giant rock concert where everyone is a) naked b) drunk c) stoned d) all of the above. I can’t exactly say where the series is going (possibly due to Expectation Shattering), or how well it will do it, but I have had a small and minor epiphany, which follows.

It’s rather clear at this point that for Rin, after her fateful on-stage ankle-twisting that forces her to leave a life as a ballerina, that the RideBack (specifically KITT Fuego) is symbolic of her means to express herself, her freedom she had on stage regained. Some watching the series seem to dislike the quieter moments, the moments where there are cherry blossom petals blowing everywhere and vague yet pensive uncertainty (I posit that you have not properly been a twentysomething if you have never felt an extended period of vague yet pensive uncertainty; those older who have not yet experienced it will simply be repaid, with interest,  later), but it’s those moments that make the RideBack races (set to awesome electro-whatever) more than an Initial D race on a pseudo-sentient motorcycle with a “spread legs form.” For Rin and the rest of the RideBack enthusiast club, the RideBacks are a nifty, exciting, and thrilling new technology through which they will forge an identity for themselves.

Freedom is wearing a lot of protective gear on your fancypants motorbike so you don't die when it spirals out of control.

Of course, it’s been quite heavily insinuated that the RideBacks were developed not to give college students a thrilling chance to find themselves, as so many through the years have, through chrome, four-cylinder engines, and mufflers (this is the extent of my mechanical knowledge, by the way, and I had to look one of them up), but, rather, as a new weapon of war, to be used by the (presumably) heartless dictator of Greater East Asia (I think?). The same utility that gives Rin and her fellow classmates a liberating thrill is the same machine that’s being used to further a campaign to quench freedom, wherever it might lay in wait in hastily dug foxholes, armed with hand grenades and a machete.

This much is clear, but I don’t know how far they can take it in twelve episodes at this pace. Student protests are inevitable, I believe, and, perhaps, a rousing message that the very machine that crushes freedom gives rise to a movement that fights for it. Perhaps that is why I am a tad cautious at this point–not knowing where the series is going to go makes for difficult snap judgments of measured quality for me–but I certainly am developing a certain fondness for Rin, Fuego, and the rest of the gang. It’s too early too tell how far it’s going (or if they’re angling for a second season later, as many series these days are tending to), but I’ve a feeling I’ll like it, however inconclusive the ending might be. The only question is how much I like it–and that I cannot tell at the moment.

And I also quite like the art style; perhaps not the best art ever, but it’s quirky and enjoyable, and a not unwelcome change of visual pace. And Rin’s friend in a cheerleader outfit was great, but, then, I always have a weakness for cheerleader outfits and pom-poms. When the girl wearing them is, you know, actually cute.


NOTICE SHAMELESSLY STOLEN FROM G.K. CHESTERTON

I cannot understand those that take anime seriously, but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this blog.

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