Not every anime is going to blow you away like you want it to. Sure the first few episodes could start off slow, but a series can turn itself around to be more enjoyable and exciting for viewers if given a chance. However, Endride has a hard time doing that, and becomes more and more difficult to watch the more you get into it. It’s not the worst series I’ve ever seen, but it didn’t do enough to make itself stand out. There were too many cliches, predictable plot twists, and lack of development that make this series more frustrating than anything else. Which to me, is even worse than being a train wreck. There are elements that would be interesting if they were expanded upon, but Endride decided to go in a direction that leaves me scratching my head.
Endride is a series where we follow gemstone and rock enthusiast Shun. As he rushes over to lecture his father (who is a CEO of a major company) on not coming home for his birthday, Shun is transported below the surface of the Earth, thanks to a mysterious gemstone in his father’s office. Shun now inhabits the world of Endora, a mysterious civilization that is underground. He is then teleported into the dungeon room of the kingdom of Endora and releases a prisoner by the name of Emilio, who happens to be the prince of Endora. The two escape from the castle and go on an adventure to overthrow the king of Endora and transport Shun back to his homeland.
Have you ever watched a buddy cop movie where the main characters were annoying and playing the “I hate you so much” angle a little too much? Endride has that issue. Both Shun and Emilio’s constant bickering and arguing contributed nothing to the series. I get that they are both young men with different ideals, so naturally, they will argue. They argue about who saved who and who looks better when they fight. But they even argue about who should sit first when they need to have a discussion. This angle was played so hard that even other characters were getting annoyed with their arguing. They acted like children at points, and that isn’t a trait that will get audiences to flock to this series.
And what made this point even worse? How about the fact that Endride thought that two people always bickering would be fun in stereo. Not only did I have to contend with Shun and Emilio always arguing, Felix and Mischa also fell into the same trap once they both were part of the Ignauts. I think I found this dynamic more annoying than Shun and Emilio’s arguing just because of how ridiculous it looked. Mischa is only a child who has an affection for the leader of Ignauts, Demetrio. He helped prevent her life from becoming worse than it already was. Since Felix wants to show how valuable and loyal he is to Demetrio, the two butted heads often. They were always arguing about how they would protect Demetrio. Their arguing was annoying they should have done something to warn viewers about all of the arguing that happens in the first 12 episodes.
It hurts because there are a lot of other characters that were interesting and charismatic, especially Demetrio. This show would have been much better if we watched Demetrio build his rebel army from the ground up and become the righteous leader that he is, with his speeches about how he’d sacrifice himself for the betterment of his revolution and crew members, or about how to be a good leader. All of these traits showed how much of a better character he is compared to Shun or Emilio. In fact, I’d be more inclined to watch this series if Pascal (former head scientist of the kingdom of Endora) was the focal point, due to how he handled Emilio’s rebellion, and how worried he was about the state of Endora. Pascal researching the diminishing warp particles in this world felt much more important to watch than Shun and Emilio traveling to their destination.
I also felt that the setting made this series feel bland. It’s a typical fantasy story that involves someone being transported to another world. It’s the same kind of plot anime fans have seen for quite some time, and Endride didn’t do much to make itself something memorable. I could name plenty of other fantasy series that left a more lasting impression than what Endride tries to accomplish. Maybe I’m just frustrated because the story wasn’t completely awful. There were many goals that the characters wanted to accomplish. They wanted to get Shun back to where he belongs, to find out why Endora is losing warp particles, and to reach Babylon, where King Delzaine was heading. Maybe it’s just that the execution of the story wasn’t up to par to make things stand out more.
It also felt weird and pandering with some of the camera angles on the female characters at points. It’s as if those working on Endride knew that this wouldn’t be a big deal with anime fans, so they decided to have shots showing the posteriors of female characters to try and get some people to stick around (sex sells). Seriously, this aspect felt like something that’d belong in Sword Art Online or Grimgar, Ashes and Illusions with how blatant it was. That’s not what I wanted nor expected with Endride, so it felt out of place and it does the series a disservice. It didn’t have to try and do that to keep people interested. As I mentioned before, the plot points weren’t awful when you think of them in broad terms. It was just the execution, and because of that unfortunate execution, they felt these shots were necessary to keep it afloat.
Despite all this, I didn’t find this series all bad. Believe it or not, it had a lot more action than I was expecting. It seemed like there was a fight in every episode, which did keep my interest. None of the fights blew me away with the technical prowess or the choreography, but they weren’t horrible to watch. Endride needed something to keep people engaged, and fights are a good way of doing that. Seeing heroes and villains pull out their Warp Relic to fight (special weapons that come out of people’s bodies), was an interesting idea for an ability. I felt like it was fun, and the fact that there was plenty of action throughout the series definitely helped Endride out.
I do give Endride some credit (a little) for its ambition to add racism as a theme. Obviously, when you have different species of humans (Endras and Zoozians) this topic is bound to come up (just like in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn). I do think that this show isn’t the best one to really dive into that subject because of how much it was dropped into our laps when the Ignauhts travel to the Zoozian Island. Not to mention how quickly Demetrio was able to win over the Zoozians, which was a little hard to believe. But seeing how Eljuia explained to Shun how bad it was for the Zoozians, and not making excuses for his race, I thought it was handled better than other shows.
Probably the best part of this series was the star-studded voice cast. Surprising, considering how poor I felt the series was. Aaron Dismuke (Shun) and Ian Sinclair (Emilio) give it their all to sound as if they genuinely hate each other. The two played off of each other with how well they argued. The character Shun came across as a little whinier than some would like, but I thought Aaron Dismuke did a fine job with making Shun less annoying. Plus, Robert McCollum was a perfect fit for Demetrio as the show went on. He was cast for the ideal role in this show and reinforces how I believe he should be the main character of Endride. Other than that, I found many cast members fit well in their roles. So while I found the product of Endride to be less than favorable, it is good to know that the dub is enjoyable to listen to (besides the constant bickering).
The release itself is one of the more barebone releases I’ve seen, with a DVD/Blu-ray combo. It’s in a standard case with a cardboard slipcover. The extras include a textless opening and closing song. I think this shows how much interest this show had back when it was a “Simuldub.” It felt odd how Endride wasn’t getting much notoriety, yet the “Simuldub” for it just kept trucking along. I didn’t think FUNimation would just stop, but I certainly didn’t think it needed a “Simuldub”.
I wouldn’t put Endride as one of the worst anime’s I’ve seen, but I’d say it’s one of the more frustrating animes I’ve watched. I love fantasy shows and think that if more time had been put in and some changes were made, people would have enjoyed this series more. But the fact that it wasn’t a train wreck makes viewers even more disgruntled. There are some legitimately good aspects of this show that could have been explored much better. But instead, we get a ton of bickering that just felt cliched and annoying.
Pros: Has some interesting side characters; surprising a lot of action in this series; talented dub cast
Cons; Main characters are always bickering which was annoying; more characters bickered a lot which added to the frustration; rather follow the side characters/Demetrio more; too many cliches; barebones release.