Over a year ago, I came upon a curious trailer that was shown from Anime Expo 2017. Originally, it was a cryptic project going by the codename “Project D’. What got me curious were the two staff that were announced at the time. First, there was director Takuya Satou who previously worked on Steins;Gate. Then, there’s Yoshitoshi Abe who designed the characters for the infamous Serial Experiment Lain. Flash forward a year later and we got much more in-depth information including the plot, more staff, and the cast. What RErideD actually ended up being though is far from an intriguing sci-fi thriller. To even use word ‘intriguing’ to describe this show is an insult to science fiction itself.
Initially, it felt like the show had some innate potential. The idea of a science fiction thriller mixed with adventure themes easily takes my attention in. Furthermore, we got a bit of mystery content about this girl named “Mage”. The first few episodes sets up the main plot as Derrida is thrown into a labyrinth of conflicts. Not only does he get thrown into a post-apocalyptic world in the future but he also has to take care of Mage. The main issue also stands as we don’t know much about Mage at all. In fact, I’d say the creators’ attempt to make Mage a relevant character degenerated from the start. She feels less and less prominent with each episode and by the half way point, I almost forget the character exists.
At somewhere after watching half the show, I also noticed the strange pacing of the series. It continuously jumps between themes to the point that it sometimes feels like a thriller, sometimes like a mystery, sometimes like a science fiction, and sometimes like a survival adventure. Because let’s face it, Derrida’s life is always in constant jeopardy and he has few allies to rely on. The people he encounters hardly trusts him in the beginning such as Yuri or Vidaux. It’s not until they risk their lives for each other that they develop a growing trust. The show occasionally dedicates screen time to grow these supporting characters although most of is easily forgettable in one way or another. The only person from the group that I find relevant is Vidaux as he plays key roles in their survival.
An anime like this can’t be complete without antagonists, right? The rogue gallery honestly looks pretty blend with the legion of robots and automata. However, there’s one name I can recall often and that person is Donna. From the start, she plays an assassin-like role and attempts at every chance to kill Derrida. In later episodes, we find out about her past and real motivations. But honestly, Donna is no more than an antagonist built with flaws. The way they reveal about her character didn’t make me care about her to begin with. Honestly, does anyone give a damn about Donna? To make matter worse, it took an entire episode to reveal her origins. The show already suffered pacing issues from the beginning and it didn’t do justice at all to concentrate so much on an uninspiring character.
For what potential it had, the show also has time travel. You’re probably wondering if this contains a similar style of storytelling to Steins;Gate. Considering that Takuya Satou directed both shows, that thought also came to my head more than once. However, this anime is nothing like Steins;Gate and I don’t mean that in a good way. It’s more of a tragic way that you shouldn’t feel sorry for. The story suffers from a lack of care with its character cast in particular for Mage. It’s void of any humorous content and instead tries to make the story as moody as possible. I also confess that the emotional value the show sells is incredibly underwhelming. This failure results from the consequence of its character chemistry. There’s hardly any that exists and most of it is overshadowed by the show constantly trying to appeal to its sci-fi thriller plot. And that’s a major slap in the face.
By technical standards, REride doesn’t house a name that makes people curious. Before this show aired, I had no idea that GEEKTOYS was producing it. I literally had to look it up since its animation quality and character designs didn’t remind of any other similar shows. It’s a good thing White Fox didn’t contribute into this show though. Because honestly, this anime looks plain average at best. Character designs looks one dimensional without anyone standing out from each other. Most of the characters’ expressions also reminds me how each lack personalities. I’m not going to lie, it’s really hard for me to tell what kind of person Derrida really is. By the end of the show, I still have no word to best describe him.
This year honestly had a lot of shows with sci-fi themes. Original science fiction series even took a step forward such as the extremely entertaining Planet With. Other established names like Steins;Gate 0 got attention for the good and bad reasons. What about RErideD? To be honest, it doesn’t even deserve to be on the list.
Not to say that I cannot understand the appeal of this show at all or what it might have been trying to say. Rather, I have barely any grasp on how this series has turned out the way it has. Initially, this show was dubbed by publishing company Kadokawa Shotan as ‘Project D’, an original series centred around time travel. The premise is honestly nothing new as time travel appears a dime a dozen in many anime nowadays. However most of the excitement RErideD was receiving stemmed from the announced staff, specifically Takuya Satou the chief director of Steins;Gate, alongside acclaimed character designer Yoshitoshi Abe. These two are known for bringing their own unique style and unconventional aesthetic to many of their works, and while RErideD is certainly a perplexing show as one would expect, I do not mean that as a positive. Because if one were to watch this show with no knowledge of the crew behind it, neither person’s name would come to mind as RErideD appears more middling that any of their previous work suggests in practically every way.
RErideD is set in the near future where artificial intelligence has recently brought forth advancements in society’s living standards. Derrida, one of the engineers behind their creation has discovered a flaw in their programming that his co-worker says could prove fatal if not addressed quickly. After being ignored and reluctantly putting off any further action until later, they are attacked by his own company that results in Derrida being frozen for 10 years, emerging in a world devastated by the technology he helped create. On top of this, the update needed to repair the robots was given to his co-worker’s daughter Mage who’s now missing, leading Derrida on a quest to find her and the device before all hope is lost.
Now, whatever hopes you have for this series based on my general description of the synopsis I want you to cast as far from your mind as possible, because the potential this story had gets crapped on and then some. The entire progression of this narrative is constantly dependent of contrivances, to the point where it no longer seems like a show you can trust on its internal logic to hold up. Time travel stories are often some of the most prone to these plot devices, but the fact that this series manages to fall back on the power of convenience so often without even having involved the concept of time travel for majority of the show is frustrating to say the least. Even the plot progression through Episode 1 just to reach the premise circumstances alone should give enough red flags to warrant concern:
- Derrida decides to leave the upgrade that would end up saving the world to his friend’s 8-year old daughter despite standing just outside of their house. Why? To move the story forward.
- When Derrida is attacked by his assailants, they shoot at their car till it explodes instead of just shooting at the guy. Why? To keep the story moving.
- After stumbling into an underground laboratory, Derrida manages to lock himself inside a cryostasis chamber so that 10 years pass by without him knowing. Do I even need to ask why?
The series only continues with this train of thought while, ironically, lacking such. Now awoken to a war-torn environment he meets Vidaux and Mayuka who offer to help him under the pretence that he will pay for their services. However, the pair soon find out that Derrida is promising their pay based on finding the upgrade he gave to Mage 10 years prior. Derrida does not have anything concrete to offer which makes their choice in continuing to help very odd and frankly unrealistic considering how the world has gone to shambles and helping Derrida this way would most likely result in the party wasting resources and money of their own. On top of that, Vidaux is constantly putting his daughter further in danger from protecting Derrida from everyone wanting to kill him. It’s choices like this that go against the setting and character motivations depicted, and even when/if an explanation is brought to light episodes later, more often than not we’re provided more questions than answers, a cardinal fault of the series. There are many examples throughout the show that similarly plague the plot, even sometimes going as far as breaking the laws of physics; from a character dodging every bullet her way in real time to a grenade going off in the same room as a little girl, only for her to come out of it hanging from the window with no injuries. If you were hoping for a serious, grounded series in RErideD then I think you might have put misguided trust in the wrong show.
It’s kind of remarkable for how many questionable choices and events take place in RErideD, at the end of the day it all comes across uneventful and as if you could care less about what ends up happening to the characters. Part of this falls back on the cast who all fail to properly leave an impact on the viewer. Fact: apart from Derrida I had to check MAL for what the character names were. Of course, the main character has purpose pushed onto him thanks to the plot, but is there anything else we really know about Derrida? Perhaps more importantly, is there anything particularly memorable about Derrida? Most of the other characters also lack in personality and depth, some even acting as a burden to where I was contemplating what purpose do these characters serve if they are constantly shown. The antagonists were also lacking in these aspects also, with the main villain appearing more like a poor man’s caricature of Donald Trump than anyone remotely interesting. There were obviously glimmers of hope throughout, like the hired assassin who appeared to have intriguing motives behind her actions, until her backstory was revealed just before she no longer served any purpose to the story. Revealing important aspects of characterization in the narrative whenever convenient is a very common theme with this series.
RErideD is a hard show to pin down when trying to understand what it wants to be. Looking at the genres it belongs to: action, sci-fi, drama. And yet, RErideD constantly diverges from each of these categories assigned to it. Is there action present in this anime? Yes. But those scenes are few and far between the countless amount of exposition and dialogue viewers are subjected to that make the series less and less enjoyable. One would also think the action scenes would at least deliver for the 1 minute each episode they are shown. Shockingly these are the moments where the series is at its worst visually; poor CGI, significant drop in frame-rate, awkward character physics resulting in laughably dull moments. Yes, “laughably dull”. RErideD tries to come off as a serious science fiction anime, yet the way time travel is executed makes the series feel more supernatural – I’m no scientist, but I would imagine it’s extremely difficult to explain how an astral projection can help Derrida to time-leap by ‘thinking really hard about an intensive memory.’ The fact that time travel for most of the series had turned out inconsequential is also confounding to say the least. All that is left is a drama, one that leaves much to be desired on the emotion end as it regularly treads across separate genres, failing to establish a distinct identity for itself. Well, aside from being a bloated mess of an anime.
Disappointment is the best word I would use to describe this show, most notably regarding its production. Never is the series able to alleviate the overall visual blandness it has; never outright ugly or repulsive, just simply mediocre, run-of-the-mill art design lacking any visual flare. A muddy, insipid colour palette that does little to garner one’s attention, and typical uninspiring character designs that even look off-model in several stills. The art is plain, flavourless and comparing it to the almost avant-garde styles of their past work, feels like an antithesis to the aesthetics of Takuya Satou and Yoshitoshi Abe. I have to question the budget that went into RErideD, seeing as the action present here looks significantly worse than the typical exposition scene. The score is also unimpressive, merely passable OSTs and voice acting that leaves a lot to be desired. It’s honestly a shame that as I stated before: RErideD is an original work that turned out middling in practically every way. I can’t even say I’m mad or frustrated at it, just disappointment.
And so, what we are left with is a series that disappoints from the very start and never rises anywhere close to the expectations seasoned anime fans hoped to see from it. It lacked logic, coherence and any convincing characters to be excited for after the first couple episodes. If you weren’t left scratching your head in confusion, you were probably already busy rolling your eyes at the sheer number of illogical happenings unfolding in front of you. Maybe this could have been good. Maybe if there were a few significant changes made at the start, maybe a better script behind it, maybe a clearer vision of what RErideD should have been. Unfortunately, despite what the show would like to believe, time-leaps aren’t possible in this world line. And even if they were, I highly doubt anyone would waste 10 years in a cryostasis chamber to do it.