It has been a long time since I posted a double review. To commemorate the return of this review style of mine we will be taking a look at two “Cycling Girls” themed anime that aired back to back. Not only that but they share several similarities yet each show has one defining element that sets them apart (besides the age difference). This is “Long Riders!” and “Minami Kamakura High School Girls Cycling Club”
Cycling Club Alternate Title: Minami Kamakura Koukou Joshi Jitensha-bu (Japanese)
Genres: Comedy, Slice of Life (More so in Cycling Club), Tournament (More so in LR!)
Themes: Cycling, Sports
Number of Episodes: 12 (Long Riders!) 12 + 1 OVA (Cycling Club)
G-Rating: 8/10 for both.
Plot Summary Long Riders!: Ami Kurata is a first year college student with no special qualities. One day she happens to notice someone riding a folding bike, immediately falls in love with it, and uses all her savings to buy one. She eventually gets introduced to the world of long-distance bicycling and road racer bikes, and she forms a cycling team called Fortuna with four other female college students from the same school. Their goal is to ride in a “brevet” or long-distance event called “Fresh.”
Plot Summary Cycling Club: Hiromi Maiharu moved from Nagasaki to Kamakura. She begins her new life in Kamakura and her first day in high school by bicycling to her school, but she has not ridden a bicycle since she was young. On the way to the ceremony for the first day, she meets Tomoe Akitsuki, and Tomoe helps her train to be better at bicycling.
Let us first cover the similarities:
- Both shows are about a group of cute girls who come together to form a cycling team/club and have fun riding through the scenic vistas of Japan as both they and viewers get to enjoy well animated vistas (though animation critics are better judges of which did the animation better as I thought both did a good job myself).
- Both protagonists along with the viewers learn about different kinds of bicycles and the “dos and do nots” about riding them, be it casually or professionally. They even share similar tips, just at different intervals. For example the first valuable lesson Ami learns is about hunger knock in Episode 1 whereas the CC brings this up around the 3rd quarter or so. One minor difference is that CC has post-ED live-action segments where Himari and Tomoe’s (I think) seiyu talk to a bike shop owner and learn more about them.
- Both shows act like little infomercials for the different vistas each group visits along with benefits specially suited for amateur and professional cyclists.
- Both shows feature a mild level of sexiness with booty shots, some nice costumes…though I suppose LR! is a bit sexier, which is surprising considering the images found when looking up CC.
- Both shows feature one big race two-parter.
- Both shows have a Yuri ship though one gives off stronger vibes than the other.
- Both use CG during parts of the cycling. I think LR! uses it more. Not sure. Not much of a nuisance for most I am sure.
- Both have decent soundtracks with pretty good OPs and EDs.
- Both have a likable cast and side-characters…though I imagine for some the mileage may vary for both shows.
I am certain other similarities can be pointed out but these are the most prevalent.
Before we get to the defining element that sets both shows apart let me briefly mention something I found amusing. If Wikipedia is to be believed CC’s manga came first…and then LR!’ anime aired/was adapted before CC’s. Huh.
Okay. On to that defining element. What sets the two shows apart is the kind of story they are telling. CC is what I thought LR! was going to be at first, a fun Girls Club show about cute girls riding bicycles together and having fun doing so. That it exactly what it was. LR! on the other hand is about Ami’s journey to become great at long distance bicycling, more importantly to become good enough to ride together with her friends (and future girlfriend) and not hold them back. Viewers follow Ami as she works incredibly hard enduring plenty of hardships alongside her victories, especially stiff muscles and muscle cramps…lots and lots and post-exercise stiffness. Ami’s enthusiasm, passion and determination to become a great long-rider are so great that not only will she get many to root for her but on numerous occasions have her imouto question her sanity. Basically Ami’s heart is LR!’s defining element. Her friends and future spouse all have their own goals and motivations to “ride the bike” but Ami’s journey is what truly defines the show and makes it special. That may sound like Ami steals the spotlight from the others but that is not so as each one gets their time to shine and show off their quirkiness, though Yayoi prefers the “mysterious busty megane” vibe where the only things known about her are what Hinako tells viewers or what Yayoi is willing to say.
Cycling Club on the other hand goes for a more straightforward route. It is all about a group of girls coming together to form a high school bicycle riding club. The girls do not always go cycling. While LR! was, for the most part, a five woman show, CC gave side-characters more time to shine though they made sure not to take away too much from the main five…actually four as the fifth member does not join until much later…then again they give a decent enough crash course introduction for the fifth member so it does not feel like she was shoved in at the last minute. Anyway the point of this show is more about the girls finding the “heart of the bike” than a grand scale goal like LR! What this means is the best way to approach CC is “chilled”. Watch the show to relax after a long day’s work. The same can be done with LR! of course but CC is more laid back essentially…which might be a bad thing for some having seen LR! before it. Personally both shows have their own charm that made them equally enjoyable to me.
So…no I did not feel like one ripped off the other even though I found out about this after having seen both shows back to back. Personally I see them as different enough to stand on their own. The reason I did not make this a “Versus” review instead of a double review is because I do not feel it necessary determining which is better. I enjoyed both equally because the took the same concept and did their own thing with it despite having several similarities. To be more specific, Himari is not an Ami clone or vice-versa. Tomoe is not an Aoi clone, etc.
Now for the main event.
As I said in the similarities section both shows have a yuri ship, one being stronger than the other. CC has Fuyune X Natsumi while LR! has Aoi X Ami. Guess from the two pics which ship gives off the strongest yuri vibes…then again I already gave it away earlier.
Overall I found both Long Riders! and Minami Kamakura High School Girls Cycling Club to be enjoyable Girls Club Bike Shows. Think of them as a combined 25-episode two-cour anime about bike girls and you are good. If I were to take a guess Long Riders! would be the more liked one of the two but I wholeheartedly recommend both to Girls Club aficionados and “chillaxed” peeps as they both have their unique charm despite sharing several similarities.
PS: My LR! fav is Aoi and CC fav is Fuyune.