Sakurai Nana is a farm girl from Hokkaido who transfers to Hounan high school in order to join the Stride team. She got inspired after seeing some youtube video called “best stride ever.mp4” (which btw on real youtube has nothing to do with this game). After transferring, she finds out the club’s inactive due to loss of members, because of some violence incident. Nana is determined to get the club running, so she helps recruit 2 more members and the 5 man stride team + relay-tioner Nana is complete. A “relay-tioner” role is that of someone who guides the striders during their runs so they can meet up with tag their other team members. The stride relay race takes place in various locations such as cities and even amusement parks, and they basically run parkour style throughout, jumping over various obstacles such as fences, cats, and elderly grandmothers to reach the goal. Aside from being their guide, Nana also gives them magical otome powers in order to GIVE THEM THE COURAGE TO BE THE VERY BEST.
Sooo this is basically a sports game but for some reason has a heroine. I guess it was meant to be an otome game with sports but they heavied on the sports side, so while I expected Trigger Kiss I think the ultimate outcome was more like Kuroko’s Balls. There’s a total of 10 matches and ultimately they get involved in the national “End of Summer (EOS)” competition which happens every summer. In between that there’s train camp events, press events, amusement park events and a template copy paste ending for every character. Due to this there won’t be much in this review as I pretty much spent 90% of the game skipping scenes, redoing matches & training. As a brief note about the heroine, Nana’s parents were both on the stride team, with her mom being a relaytioner and her dad being a runner. Her dad went around Japan to spread the ~joy of stride~ as well as overseas so after Nana’s father passed away she lived with her grandparents in Hokkaido..eventually to transfer to Hounan in Tokyo and stay with her uncle Kouichi (the brother of her deceased mother.) The game title comes from the fact that Nana’s dad was known as the King of Stride and the press coined her Princess of Stride so obviously the guy who gets with Nana and scores MVP gets the Prince of Stride title.
Fujiwara Takeru – Takeru lives by himself since he also transferred to Hounan to be on the Stride team. He has a 10 year old dog named Yamato who comes to stay at his place for the summer. He’s pretty much like a clone of Haruka from FREE! and is the quiet cool dude who has a 1 track mind on eating only 1 type of food – protein & chicken breasts. During the first ever End of Summer stride competition, he, Riku and Nana were on a little kiddy “team” together. He used to be the fat kid though so that’s why they didn’t remember him 😆 They all made a promise to go to Hounan high school and win in the EOS stride competition then. Unfortunately everyone but Takeru had forgotten about it ／(^o^)＼. There’s also a bit of drama with Takeru’s dad who doesn’t understand his son’s desires to be the very best like no one ever was…and thanks to Nana’s cheerleading he manages to convince his dad that it’s a real sport and worth doing after all.
Honestly the whole thing just felt so minor to me and because Takeru was the first route I did, anything memorable got burried in all the 24 hours of training & non-skippable stride matches I had to sit through. Stride End: After winning the final match Takeru confesses to Nana and says he loves her. He then has a dream that Nana wants to make out with him but turns out its just his doge licking his face in the morning 😆 They go on a date in the park where he kisses her again and thanks her for giving him the courage to face his disapproving father. Normal End: They still end up going out but no kiss CG. The only difference is Riku finds out too late and is heartbroken that he didn’t catch on the fact that the 2 of them were dating.
Kohinata Hozumi – Hozumi is actually 2nd year os he’s technically Nana’s senpai but he’s the token shota so because of that Heath’s sister often forces him to model women’s clothes for her clothing line :lol:. He’s bffs with Ayumu and the 2 of the often make corny manzai jokes together. Hozumi has 3 siblings but they are his step siblings because his birth mother died, his dad remarried a woman with 3 kids, and then they divorced. So then the shit really hits the fan when after one of the games, Hozumi’s dad’s butler comes to break the news that his father has passed away. He gives Hozumi a pair of shoes he wore as a toddler that his father held on to as a memory ever since he first began to walk. He also reveals that the reason his father divorced his stepmom is because his father’s company collapsed and he didn’t want to get his family involved. He fell ill as well which is why he kept asking his butler to get Hozumi to see him, but Hozumi refused because of the lack of knowledge about why his father did what he did. (;´･ω･) This is made even worse because Hozumi actually did plan to visit his father after this match and now everything’s gone to hell.
But like any interesting plot lines in this game it gets put on the backburner for STRIDIN’ and Hozumi easily just gets over this whole thing all because of his feelings for striding and for Nana. My favorite scene was when Diane finally decided to stop having him dress in drag and instead had him escort Nana while he was in a suit. It was really cute kinda like cinderella lol and yea once again I wished we had more scenes like this since a lot of scenes with him usually involved his cockblocking siblings lol. (That said I did like Kokoro the most, she tried to be a wingwoman as much as possible for her oniichan lol). Striker End: As usual kiss from Hozumi after defeating Nana’s father’s team. In the epilogue, they go on their first date and ichaicha in the playground by themselves. Hozumi claims that he’s getting taller and manlier for her as he lifts her up and then kisses her. Normal End: They go on a date in the park but bring the kiddies along who play hide & seek together. While they play Hozumi tries to kiss Nana but Ayumu shows up to cockblock. He then gets roped into hide & seek with the kiddies and Hozumi takes a moment to give Nana a kiss. Everyone sees it though and freaks out but he’s like whatever we’re lovers now we’re allowed to kiss. 😆 Too bad the Cg was of them playing hide & seek afterwards instead （；^ω^）Priorities in this game man..
Hasekura Heath – Heath is in a family of ~beautiful half gaijins~ along with his 2 older sisters Diane and Shauna. All of them are models ever since they were younger and Diane now owns her own clothing line which she sponsors Hounan’s Stride team with. In return, she asks the Hounan kids to model her clothing lines including roping Nana in. Actually in this route Diane really takes a liking to Nana like her “own sister” and tries to ship her with Heath which is so hilarious. She makes them go to a party together where Nana hurts her feet from bad fitting heels so he carries her princess style and puts a bandaid on her toes. I really wished honestly that we got to see more of this in the game. Anyway Heath is currently he’s the captain of the Hounan stride team and keeps all the kiddies in line. He was originally by himself in the club until Hozumi joined after the whole violence incident and everyone else quitting. He gets a torn muscle injury during one of the races and lies saying it’s healed but in fact it isn’t and a guy from another team points it out to Nana.
Some time later, Nana comes with him to the doctor so she can be there when the doctor confirms the injury. Doc says best thing to do is let it heal but Heath ain’t got no time for dat with his final high school stride match coming up. Instead the doctor teaches Nana how to help heath with taping his foot as well massaging it to help relieve the pain. Striker End: Heath’s team wins with him as anchor but because he pushed himself too hard, he tore his muscle further and ended his Strider career. However because Nana wanted him to continue running, he immediately gets hospitalized and put into a rehabilitation program for his leg. In the epilogue he kisses Nana on the forehead on the roof saying he’ll “do the rest” when he gets better. So upset that Heath didn’t get a real kiss CG (aside from the ending movie) because he’s such a sexy beast and he totally deserves one ;_;. It’s like both he & Hozumi really got shafted for some reason. Normal End: The team visits Heath at the hospital and brings him some cookies. After goofing around they go to get drinks and Heath tells Nana that when he’s released they’ll go on a date.
Kuga Kyosuke – Kyosuke was on the stride team with Tomoe and Heath as the “golden trio” until the violence incident that he was falsely blamed for. All he did was dodge someone who attacked him, but the attacker fell to the ground and smashed his nose blaming Kyosuke for “violence”. (And apparently there was NOBODY ELSE THERE to witness this bullshit lol.) And so he is basically treated like an evil delinquent but in fact he’s a gentle bear who’s chill as fuck and just wants to run and feel the wind blow in his face. So then during the trip with Saisei, some photographer sees Kaede talking to Nana and Kyosuke. Because Kaede’s some bocchan, a wildfire of rumors spreads about the relationship between the 3 of them and once again they bring up Kyosuke’s “violence incident”. 🙄 The paparazzi starts harassing Nana during practice as well. Eventually Kaede’s dad comes to the school and apologizes for everything and says the random photographer intruded without permission. When he helps Nana’s uncle at the restaurant, the amount of middle aged BBA housewife customers increases 😆
He thanks Nana for letting him realize what he’s running for because apparently his running style never matched that of Tomoe back when they were team mates. Striker End: Unlike the other guys’ ending movies, Nana actually cries when running up to Kyosuke cause she finally got to see best_stride_ever.mp4 in real life lol XD In the epilogue, Kyosuke takes her to see the sunrise at the buttcrack of dawn on the beach…where he kisses her saying no matter what he does with his life he wants to be with her forever. Normal End: Heath tells Kyosuke that he should watch his fangirls because it will upset Nana but Nana says it’s all good cause she loves him the most. Kyosuke says that she’s his number one too and suggests they go on a date next time they’re free from practice. I think once they got the violence thing and Kaede thing out of the way there wasn’t much of anything in this route. I guess it was more about his feelings about running with Tomoe again but most of that stuff just flies over my head because I’m just not really a sports maniac.
Yagami Riku – Rikkun is my favorite because he’s so pure and adorable and his relationship with Nana is just this ongoing puppy love. He basically fell in love at first sight ( though technically it wasn’t first ) with Nana and has pretty much been in love with her the entire game. Due to this his route felt the most “otome”ish to me and also why I found it more enjoyable than anyone else’s. (Technically Takeru could have been the same but he’s so good at hiding his feelings that it didn’t jump out to me in the same fashion.) His family owns a bakery so I’ve coined him Bread Master Ri. 😆 Often Nana’s uncle is buying bread from them to use for his restaurant. Riku originally joined the Stride club to run for Nana but deep inside he really just wanted to run again. His brother Tomoe went overseas when he was in middle school and he really hasn’t talked to him since until they run into him during one of the matches. The reason is apparently one day Tomoe went to run in the rain and asked Riku to come with him but Riku was like NO ONIICHAN RUNNING WITH YOU SUCKS ASS. And after that Tomoe never asked him to run again OH THE DRAMA. When everyone goes to the pool for a summer break, Nana asks Riku about the girl who confessed to him. He tells Nana that he rejected that girl because he wants to focus on the EOS competition….and because he wants to confess himself to the girl he actually likes. (´艸｀*)
Striker End: During the end of the race Riku and his bro Tomoe have a magical telepathy chat and get over their stride differences. In the epilogue, Riku comes over to Nana’s place to study but Sakura shoves them out of the cafe and into Nana’s room. Riku asks if he can kiss Nana but then babbles that he’s sorry for asking so she kisses him on the cheek. I guess this lights a fire under his ass and he pushes her down and they make out XDDD It was so cute god why can’t more of the game have been like this (´；ω；`)ｳｩｩ!!!! I would have rather had more of all the adorable Riku/Nana scenes then all the boring as fuck racing aaahhhh…… Normal End: The rest of the team complains that Riku stole their princess and rage at him so he grabs Nana and runs out of the club room 😆 Also I’m a bit miffed that in the “template scene before the final race where the guy hugs Nana in the clubroom CG”….Riku’s CG was just him holding the hanky that Nana used to stop him from bleeding when he hurt himself. I mean yea I guess in a way that’s symbollic of how much he cared of her but I WANT MUH HUG CG WITH MY マジ天使(´；ω；｀)ﾌﾞﾜｯ
Suwa Reiji – Galaxy Standard leader and leader of the Saisei Stride team. His family are famous kabuki dancers and they intend for him to quit the idol/stride thing when he graduates and join them. Needless to say they are all rich and extremely wafuu-ey. He calls Nana “Dosanko-chan” which is a nickname for someone born & raised in Hokkaido. In the middle of the game Reiji confesses to Nana but she says she cannot accept his feelings because she wants to focus on EOS. Because he’s not on the Hounan team, his scenes involve his magically appearing and bumping into Nana at all the right moments :lol:. His team relay-tioner (and might as well call him servant lol – his family are the gardeners for the Suwa household) Shizuma tells Nana to buzz off cause she’s stressing Reiji out. Reiji says that he’s the one who wanted to give advice to her and talk to her and he knows what he’s doing. Apparently Shizuma used to run but for some reason because of Reiji he got hurt and was forced to quit running which is why he became a relay-tioner. Before the Saisei match Reiji tells Nana they should keep their distance and focus on training since they are going to be rival teams. But he ends up sending her a get well text when he finds out she got sick and even calls her after his live performance on a tv program :lol:. After the match with Saisei, Reiji gets all depressed thinking maybe he shouldn’t have taken so much on his plate but then Shizuma bitchslaps some sense into him like his waifu. Seriously I’m not even into BL but I feel like Shizuma x Reiji is a lot more realistic than Nana x Reiji cause I still can’t figure out why he fell in love with her. （；^ω^）
The night before the final match, Reiji stops at Nana’s house and calls her like some dude from a 1980’s movie. Fortunately for him Nana has already fallen in love with him too and told him that she wants to see him. She figured it was just a pointless wish cause there’s no way he’d just come see her…except when she looks out her window he’s standing right below it :lol:. He tells her to focus on her match and afterwards they’ll decide what to do about their relationship. Striker End: After Hounan wins, Nana runs to Reiji’s stage room and confesses that she loves him. He’s like goshdarnit I wanted to say it first! And then he kisses her. Galaxy Standard performs a congratulatory concert for them and in the epilogue they all go training together. During training Reiji has to cover Nana’s eyes when Bantaro tells all the dudes to start stripped but Nana’s like “lol whatevers I’m used to it” 😆 Afterwards he asks to go to Nana’s restaurant but Kouichi tells them to go to her room so that paparazzi don’t catch them. In their room Reiji turns into Tokiya and smooth talks his way into kissing Nana (after finally calling her Nana instead of hokkaido-pony-chan). He tells her that this relationship will be hard because he’s an idol but Nana says that even if they’re not always together she will continue to be with him. Oh well, it was obvious Reiji was pretty much shoe-horned into the game but I let it go because Miyano Mamoru’s got a hot voice (｣ﾟДﾟ)｣.
I am probably a broken record for the umpteenth time this year but this is yet another game with great characters who are in a game with bad direction. My disclaimer is – I don’t care for sports, or sports anime, or sports manga and the only sports drama I enjoyed was Buzzer Beat. I came into this with the assumption that this is an otome game that just so happens to have a “Sports theme”. But in fact it is not. It’s really a sports game with a couple otome elements here & there so if you are like me, you should stay away because you will be disappointed. Despite this, I still tried my best to get into it because as I said I really liked all the characters, and their interactions together as well as with Nana. All the Hounan guys were charming, but Riku just stole my heart because he was such a wholesome try hard angel xD. I also liked the Saisei guys especially Asuma and Reiji. Hell I even liked Kazuki the douchebag but I think that was mostly because he was voiced by Oosaka Ryota :lol:. Nana’s friend Riko, also the club reporter, was a great friend – one of those rare friends who doesn’t backstab you or steal your man ya know!? Sadly despite me really liking the characters the game had a lot of issues which really made it a disappointment for me.
First of all let’s talk about “striding”. I thought this game was about track team running but it’s actually something different. They combine “free running” with a relay race and instead of trading batons they “high touch” (aka high five hands) to pass on to the next runner. So basically they run around the town, being 迷惑 as fuck (in Japan of all places) while jumping through buildings/fences etc. Also because this is an otome game, the heroine’s magical words GIVE STRENGTH to her man harem runner team. She actually isn’t allowed to run with them because it wouldn’t be fair strength wise and there’s no women’s stride team or anything. However her job is basically to ‘guide’ the dudes through the town so they can meet up with the other members and pass on the “hand touch”. The worst part about the whole race though, is the point of free running is for you to see all the cool stunts the guys do like jumping over fences, tables, climbing bridges or something etc. However in this game, all you see are small little arrows going on a map through town with names attached to them, (not even like faces of the guys or something). So the entire point of free running is pretty much lost because you’re just watching them talk through the entire race while you follow little arrows on the screen and press a button once in awhile to pass the theoretical baton. Also I used a guide for all the magical words of encouragement but hell if I would ever know the correct ones on my own.
Because of this it was difficult to understand what is actually going on and that made it REALLY HARD for me to get into the races. I imagine when the anime airs, they will be able to show the races visually so it might actually be more interesting to watch. At one point Nana got the “telepathy” powers to be able to read “thoughts & feelings” of her own and other teams team members…..and that’s when all seriousness flew out the window. Some of the races take place in things like an amusement park during regular business hours and how in the world is that not any kind of hazard? You could literally run into some woman with a baby carriage and just run right into her. They even said that “some people have no idea a stride race is going on!” Umm what? It’s things like this that bothered me because they were so unrealistic and if they were going towards more “fantasy”, then they could have easily put Nana on the team. She felt like some window decoration and the relaytioner role just felt like complete bs. In movies like the Mighty Ducks or any other American sports movie like that, if there’s a girl she’s usually on the team with all the guys. It’s because she’s that kickass girl who despite being a girl, is still good enough to compete with all the guys. But no here, they are being “realistic” that a girl cannot be a strider, yet she has magical telepathy powers and they can magically run through cities, towns and amusement parks without it ever causing any problems. ( ´_ゝ｀)
The other system issue I had was all the matches are set in stone whether you win or lose and basically the “team level” is what determines your ending which obviously you get less of if you miss on the mini games with the button pressing. There are 2 matches that you lose no matter how good or bad you play so when I knew I’d be doing a match I’d lose, I just let it go on automode and didn’t even bother with the button press game. There’s no choices other than very few and it’s mostly just daily training…at which point I’m like why didn’t you just make this a regular straight VN..the training system just feels like a waste of time. After you do the first run it just feels like a copy pasta grind since essentially you just change routes from 1 guy training to another. The training system was just a waste of time and really annoying. You had to pick what you were going to do that day, EVERY. SINGLE.DAY. Instead I wish it was a weekly schedule system like in Arcobaleno so you’d pick like “train monday with Riku” or “Train Tuesday with Takeru” Etc. It was such a waste of time just to make the game seem longer and I’ve played enough of these calendar stat raising games to say that it truly doesn’t improve my gaming experience.
Now for the technical issues:
The sound quality is HORRENDOUS. They got so many great seiyuus in this game only to make them sound like they’re being recorded on a 20 year old Windows 3.1 microphone. The only time the voices sounded good was when they confessed to the heroine – simply because the confession (and the kiss scene) was actually PART OF THE ENDING MOVIE. The music and movie sound quality was great so when you heard the crisp & clear words it’s like DAMN why couldn’t it be this good the rest of the game?! Another thing was during the races themselves the whole thing would be in auto-mode but often times the text would vanish before the voice would finish speaking. You couldn’t stop the auto text which is annoying because there was some great dialogue I wanted to screencap. You couldn’t save during the races either so if you messed up your only option would be to “redo” the race from the start. Also this game had the same auto-mode screen dimming issue I complained about in Sweet Clown but honestly at this point I think that’s the least of this game’s problems.
And about the story itself? A delicious bowl of copy pasta. There were set times where:
- Nana would get sick and the guy would come visit her
- the scene where the guy would ask her on a date
- the scene where Kazuki would hit on Nana in front of everyone and the guy whose route your on would STEP IN and tell him to fuck off
- they’d go on a date at the amusement park
- the tv program competition with Saisei
- he would almost-but-not confess to her in the club room and then give her a hug
- and then the template movie of the guy kissing her in the striker end
So template that literally they reused the same animation for Nana and just replaced the guy in the movie. There was very few random scenes that were unique to each guy (you can count them on the fingers of your left hand) and the endings post credits were unique. There was probably a cumulative of maybe 30 minutes of unique content per each guy as the rest felt like a “common” route with all the guys interactions/training/etc. After the first run, you’d skip pretty much most of the game anyway so while the first run took me 23 hours or so, any runs afterwards would be about 3 (and mostly because there were a lot of scenes that wouldn’t let me skip because it had 1-2 new sentences) The game also forced you to replay the last 2 matches because they changed a couple sentences and run rotation order but after the 3rd route, I just force skipped my way through all the races but I was just sick of the dejavu. But then you know I’d reach the endings, and they were so god damn adorable and I’d be in despair wishing the rest of the game was like this (´・ω:;.:…
The CGs were mostly cute but the cut-ins in black and white during the race were nowhere to be found in the gallery. Once I realized this I desperately began screencapping them to make sure I got all of them before I began skipping all the races during my subsequent playthroughs. The gallery has omake sounds but again the sound quality is crap so it doesn’t feel rewarding. Some of the character art sketches are nice and I really liked the insert song “RUSH” performed by Galaxy Standard. Overall, it just feels like yet another game that if directed differently could have turned out better. On the other hand, I’ve had people who love sports anime/manga say they really enjoyed this game. Maybe if you’re really into those Kuroko Balls, Pedals and Haikyuus, this might be exactly what you are looking for – but as for me sadly this did not deliver. The anime also seems to be heading in the ホモォ┌（┌ ^o^）┐ direction by making Riku the “main protagonist” and Nana basically a side cheerleader that will probably vanish into the background as all the boys yaoi it up on the screen :lol:. (There’s more than enough hints to pretty much ship every guy with some other guy in the game as it is lol…) I think if you’re looking for an otome game with a sports theme, Trigger Kiss handled it much better. That said, if your Japanese isn’t that great you could probably play this game and still know what’s going on since most of the game is just races and training and the few romantic scenes are so short it’s probably not too complex to comprehend.