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In Long Riders!, protagonist Ami Kurata is a cheerful, naïve, and energetic girl who discovers the joy of long-distance cycling. Thanks to her best friend, Aoi Niigaki, a whole new world is opened up to her. But while the series covers the basics of cycling, I find myself more interested in what it has–or will have–to say about friendship.

Note: This article contains minor spoilers for Long Riders!.

Ami Kurata is, for the most part, a very average girl. Her strongest selling point is her spunky nature and her almost endless gumption–and, some might argue, her clumsiness. When we are first introduced to her, we’re shown Ami in college and lacking direction. She finds her calling when she sees someone riding a folding bicycle. Inspired by the bicycle’s cuteness, she enters the world of cycling with her best friend, Aoi.

Aoi, on the other hand is Little Miss Perfect. Our introduction to her is when she is going to meet Ami, but is being hounded by students who are inviting her to join the various different clubs in the college. Aoi is cool, smart, and talented. She’s also athletically talented, as can be seen by the fact that the clubs that are inviting her are the tennis and lacrosse clubs. She’s also rather well-off, as signified by the professional bicycle she rides–something that Ami later laments is something she can’t afford. Aoi’s only signature weakness is a fear of dogs. Other than that, Ami looks up to Aoi for pretty much everything.

As Ami begins her long journey (see what I did there?) through the world of long-distance cycling, every time she hits a bump in the road, it’s Aoi who gives her advice or teaches her the ins and outs and ups and downs of the sport.

In my experience, a good friendship is like any relationship; it requires balance from both parties. Both sides of a good friendship bring something to the table. Sure, good chemistry can go a long way, but ultimately, if there is an imbalance, it will affect the friendship itself. Aoi is pretty much The Perfect Human. She’s beautiful, intelligent, well-abled, and street-smart. Meanwhile, Ami ends up looking like the tag-along who won the consolation prize of a seat at the cool kids’ table and spends all her time struggling to keep up. It’s not healthy.

Obviously, the focus of the series is on the cycling. But while it seems happy, I can’t help but feel something off about the relationship between Ami and Aoi. Hopefully, as the series progresses and Ami becomes more adept at cycling, focus will be shifted to the two friends and their relationship with each other.

Long Riders! can be viewed with English subtitles on Daisuki.

Top Image Credit: Twitter

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