Welcome to OWLS’ July Blog Tour! This month’s topic was a bit of difficult one for me. Even though I immediately knew what serial I wanted to focus on, settling down on just one aspect of it as it pertains to the subject is where I had trouble. Let’s take a look at the prompt for July, which centres on Technology.
“For July we’re discussing technology and how it can impact our relationships with other people, as well how it can improve our lives (for example with communication, education, etc.), by exploring the myriad ways that technology is used in various anime and pop culture worlds.”
As you can see from the prompt that the possibilities for discourse are quite vast. Because of that, coupled with the narrative dynamics of the anime I chose, there are so many layers to discuss with this title and how technology plays a big part in its life, as well as in creating very interesting thought-provoking motifs. In the end, I decided to go with one of the more minor focuses because it’s also one that is a big part of my identity: racing.
When I was eleven years old, my brother taught me how to drive. He had the pedals adjusted on one of his cars and when I think about it now, the imagery is absolutely hilarious. I was this tiny little human, sitting in the driving seat (also adjusted so I could see over the dashboard). Once I got the basics down, he spent three years teaching me all about driving fast and learning when to use a balance of slow and fast velocities to my advantage. I hated it, at first. But when I was fourteen years old, I participated in my first street race. I barely won. It was the most incredible feeling of my entire existence up to that point and it changed my world in unbelievably fantastic ways; ways that are still very relevant to me today.
Recreational activities for many people can be nothing more than a way to kill time or add a splash of colour to their otherwise mundane existences. Some folks love to read or write. Others play video games or watch films. There are even those who prefer the company of nature in the form of fishing, hiking, and camping. Then you have people like me who live for an adrenaline rush; something that really makes us understand the scope of what it means to be alive. A hobby isn’t merely something we do because we enjoy doing it and need a distraction, but it’s a whole damned culture.
In Rideback, that is precisely what gives life to these motorcycle-robotic hybrids: a desire to push the bounds of recreational racing to the next extreme, and if you think about it, the vast majority of advances in technology begin with an idea of wanting to create something fun, and original, and very different than the routine of what’s familiar.
Technological advances in racing are the foundation behind the evolution of vehicular engineering for nearly it’s entire history. The hunger for more speed, which means bigger engines, better suspension, and then tires that allow for high manoeuvrability in extreme conditions, and more. What happens when you take all of the brilliance of motorsport racing and combine it with the impeccable adjustability of robotic handling? Something that is one-hundred-percent in sync with your specific reflexes and intuition? As much as cars and motorcycles are fun to push to their extremes, there’s always a wall that we can’t surpass in terms of perfect, harmonising control. Yet, Ridebacks break down those walls to fill that gap.
Throughout the anime we learn of how Ridebacks were created for motorsport hobbyists by motorsport hobbyists. How with the world’s technological advancements, racing wanted to focus on something innovative and fresh that no one had thought of yet. This births a whole new sport—Rideback racing—that highlights the incredible benefits of Rideback vehicles. As a rider, you can instantly go from the streets to off-roading terrain without wasting a single breath, and these are incorporated into the racetracks, which thus revolutionises not only the vehicles but the whole culture of racing in its entirety. Plus, we as individuals are also faced with a great sense of evolution and growth as we leave behind one stage in our lives for the next, as frightening and uncertain as it may be, whether that is the next level in motorsports or needing to hit the brakes on something far more personal.
I mentioned earlier how for some people certain recreational activities are a culture. It brings together all sorts of unlikely folks under an umbrella of common interest. Social lines are crossed, and friendships begin to bloom. While racing was such a heavenly delight, the absolute best part about it is how it affected my mental health and my social interactions. I went from being this extremely introverted kid who was terrified of rejection and failure into an individual who felt confidence for the very first time. I was able to look in the mirror and say to myself, “Yeah, I’m a fucking badarse.” The best friendships of my three decades of existence stemmed from racing culture and the people who I raced with or even against. I found a place in the world where I did something entirely for myself, thus improving my personal relationship with me.
Rin Ogata, the main protagonist of Rideback, is quite similar to who I was. The biggest difference is that she was a celebrity in her own right with expectations of following the footsteps of someone who was the best of the best. However, when she gets a severe injury that throws her entirely off course form an exceptional ballet career, Rin realises it’s time to shift gears in her life to something away from all she’s ever known.
Rin stumbles across the Rideback club one day and in that moment, before she realises what is happening to her, she meets new friends and lights the fires of a brand-new passion, one that gives her self-confidence and her sense of identity back to her. She doesn’t merely fly, she fucking soars.
Watching Rin get on a Rideback for the first time and seeing her natural reflexes kick in as she takes it for a wild ride, was extremely nostalgic. This brilliant piece of technology enabled Rin to regain the same feeling of delight and freedom that she used to only get from dancing, an emotion taken from her thanks to an injury. However in that one moment when she’s introduced to Ridebacks, Rin gets her feet back. Through a process of events, we even get to see Rin participate in a race.
Another element that I love about racing cars is the adjustment period of going from one car to the next. I hated doing this when I was a rookie racer. I didn’t understand why one car worked for me over another one, and it wholeheartedly pissed me off when I couldn’t adjust. Rin goes through something similar during her race and it made me understand how much racing helped me to become more patient and open-minded, looking for the differences in the obstacles that I needed to adjust to quickly in order to keep moving forward. This skill isn’t limited to racing but can apply to all aspects of life.
With Rin, it forced her to look beyond the small bubble of her world to the world outside where she uses her newfound spirit and abilities for the greater good. For me, it was learning to trust people and nurture friendships, as well as to not be afraid to try something just because I feel like I’m not good enough because I may just be fucking phenomenal at it. In both cases, technology played a huge fucking part, probably the most important one.
Technology, particularly with racing, is a brilliant fucking culture of togetherness and mechanical advancements. It brings an array of people together, regardless of background, identity, or circumstance because when you race none of that shite matters. The most important thing is the shared passion coursing through the veins and the desire to constantly push oneself beyond their perceived limitations. With technological progression, it gives us ingeniously marvellous toys that continually heighten our intelligence and enthusiasm for the next big adventure. Plus, it’s an excellent way to keep from being bored out of your fucking mind.
Hey chums! Make sure to check out Mel’s OWLS Post where she chats about technology and Psycho-Pass, and then Crimson’s post that shall be going live tomorrow! If you’d like to read more wonderful takes on Technology in pop media and otaku culture, check out the posts below. Thank you.
🦉 Irina: This One is Going to be a Challenge
🦉 Dylan: Summers Wars & Family
🦉 Aria: Balancing the Technological and the Real in SSSS.Gridman
🦉 Jack: Psycho-Pass, Technology, and the Reality of Privacy and Justice
🦉 Takuto: Kino’s Journey: Navigating This Beautiful World
🦉 Lyn: Writing is a Technology—Showcasing Writing in Your Name.
🦉 Hikari: Recovery of an MMO Junkie
🦉 Lita: Mental Media Takeover
🦉 Shay: Technology According to the Anime and Mobile Game Ingress
🦉 Carla: Adventures Through Mobile Connectivity
🦉 Matt: Technology, the tools of hope.
🦉 Auri: Technology of Medicine: REAL
🦉 Scott: Cities Built on Dreams and Robot Arms
🦉 Mel: When Technology Takes Control Over Our Life
Thank you so much for visiting me today! I appreciate your support. I wish you a lovely day ahead.