What’s it about? In a utopian future where robots perform most of the labor, Derrida Yvain is one of the architects of that utopia. When he and his friend Nathan Bilstein discover a dangerous bug in a new type of android, their CEO resists fixing it before they roll the model out. Derrida wants nothing more than to go back in time and fix it, but time travel is impossible… or is it?
When fandom declares a series a “deconstruction,” they’re calling back to the work of Jacques Derrida, a 1960’s critical theorist who postulated that language is an insufficient way of communicating meaning. Concepts can only be understood by their opposites, and every statement is made up of countless lies of omission, since it’s impossible to account for every single counterargument. Thus, every text is inherently unstable and will be interpreted differently by the reader or viewer.
In short, it has absolutely nothing to do with the fandom definition of “deconstruction.”
What does that have to do with RErideD: Derrida Who Leapt Through Time? I have absolutely no clue! But considering the main character is named Derrida and his father is named Jacques, the name is no coincidence.
You’d expect the first episode of an anime named after an influential philosopher to either be smug, pretentious pap or full of intriguing, thought-provoking questions about the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. However, RErideD isn’t really either of those things. It’s just kind of… there. It’s a mid-level science fiction story that doesn’t really have any new concepts whatsoever.
To be fair, it avoids a lot of pitfalls that many recent sci-fi stories with male protagonists fall into. Derrida and Nathan aren’t singular male geniuses who are incapable of caring for themselves and charmingly socially inept. Nathan is a single dad who appears to do a good job caring for his young daughter Mage, and Derrida seems to be doing just fine. His big skeleton in the closet is Daddy Issues, which is what very nearly causes his downfall.
Much of the early buzz for RErideD came from the character concept art by Yoshitoshi ABe, making his first foray into anime in over a decade; lead character designer Koji Watanabe then took ABe’s concepts and stripped them of all personality, giving them a generic anime look instead. Still, there is a certain warmth to the look of the show, especially Nathan and Mage’s home.
That warmth is pretty crucial to what little impression I got of the first episode, because otherwise there was very little of substance. Androids, meant to serve humans, inevitably going rogue. The possibility and impossibility of time travel. The main character getting cryogenically frozen and waking up to a brave new world.
Okay, this is starting to sound like an episode of Futurama. Alas, if only it were a fraction as clever or original!
Unfortunately, it’s very easy to tell what RErideD is aiming for in each scene. That mysterious cold opener? That girl is very obviously Mage. The adorable birthday party? It’s an attempt to get you invested in the characters. They talk about time travel in such great detail and so thoroughly refute it as a possibility, you just know that by the end of the episode someone’s going to pop up in a time and place they shouldn’t. Better zoom in on that pocketwatch engraved with tuberoses, or someone might miss the connection to Mage getting tuberoses for her birthday!
It’s not terrible storytelling, just terribly unsubtle. To be fair, the first episode of RErideD isn’t bad per se. It just failed to make much of an impression on me even after watching it twice. If what I’ve described in this review sounds appealing, I won’t try to dissuade anyone from watching it. But for me, I’d rather spend my time on something I’m more excited about.