[Review] Long Riders – episode 1

Ami has never really had a passion that she was good at, and one day she sees a girl on a folding bike and falls in love. Her cyclist friend Aoi takes her to some bicycle shops where she is initially horrified by the cost then falls in love with a red folding bike she calls Ponta-kun. Aoi takes her on her first bike ride, with mixed results.

Cute girls do things: bicycle version. So far we have had child girl, mature girl, sassy girl and glasses girl show up, with those personality traits and no more. Aoi is practically Ami’s carer, Ami’s so incapable of accomplishing anything by herself. But characterisation is not the show’s strong point, because that’s not the point of this show. When asked why she’s so into bikes all of a sudden, Ami replies:

“Actually, I haven’t given a thought. I just… was never good at anything. So I think I want this to be a long-term commitment. Riding on this bike and moving my body seems like fun. If I can continue, I think it’ll give me confidence. Then I… might be able to change!”

Haven’t given it a thought, but apparently it is key to her entire identity and wellbeing. Okay! This would be fine if Aoi could maybe put it into context, perhaps remind her of other things she has thought would change her life but didn’t, or try to get her to tone down her expectations. Instead, she seems to just accept that cycling is in Ami’s destiny despite the fact that she bought a bike that day because she saw a bicycle and thought it was cute.

As is standard, it looks like we’re in for some technical detail on the finer points of cycling, but it looks like this will be handled with a light touch. There were opportunities in the cycle shop stage for Aoi to drop some hardcore technical info-dumps on hardware performance, but Ami stops her before she can continue and declares she has fallen in love. She will definitely be buying another bike at some point, with criteria beyond cuteness, so it will be interesting to see how they handle this scenario once she has a little more knowledge and experience.

I also appreciate that it’s not zany. The wacky antics of BAKU-ON!! felt artificial and boring, while shots of Aoi and Ami breezing along the riverside on a sunny day are easy to watch. This could turn into a pleasant slice of life show, especially if they keep avoiding the fanservice as they have.

Read the ANN Preview Guide review.

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