By the end of the last episode, I simply couldn't wait to sit down and watch the final instalment of Rideback, as it seemed to hold the promise of so much awesomeness. I suppose it's inevitable that given that kind of hype, it was never really going to live up to the wonders I'd envisaged in my head, but despite that it didn't carry itself too badly at all.
Naturally, this final episode is split between the terrorist attack on the GGP base and Rin's escape from the new, entirely automated Ridebacks that were pursuing her, and equally naturally, it's that latter side of the story that really grabs the attention. After taking the attention of the entire battalion of automated Ridebacks to save Tamayo, we get plenty of Rin at her best with a Rideback, performing acrobats aplenty to invoke thoughts of Mirror's Edge and just plain jaw-dropping coolness. Dance like you want to win!
On the other side of the fence, the attack on GGP is naturally plenty of big explosions and gunfire (with Tenshirou managing to take part in both this and Rin's battles with his own brand of cool abilities), ending with a showdown between Romanov and Kiefer that doesn't go quite the way you might expect, while GGP's militaristic powers are frittered away for reasons as the truth was revealed to the media about what they were up to. If only corrupt regimes always fell that easily, eh?
If there's one weakness of this final episode, it's that occasional tendency to resort to the unbelievable - GGP giving up their powers because the Japanese government asked nicely, Fuego breaking down with a fatal error then somehow coming back to life and working flawlessly and Tenshirou dodging an entire clip of semi-automatic gunfire without so much as a scratch. Still, despite all that, it did deliver those much needed "Ooooh" and "Aaaah" moments of Rideback choreography, with enough action to paper over the cracks of those plot holes.
Overall, I have to admit that Rideback has lived up to my expectations of it - Quality-wise it's been a little patchy, but it's provided some terrific episodes (Rin and Shouko's escape from the shopping centre in particular was breath-taking), it hasn't pulled its punches, and perhaps most impressively of all it managed to keep Rin largely intact as a plausible character. From the show's concept I was half-expecting her to take up arms and end up as some tough as nails terrorist, but instead of that she never really wields a weapon, preferring to escape using her athletic abilities and "connection" to Fuego to do the talking (which is why I keep talking about Mirror's Edge, a video game which actively discourages attacking play in favour of vision, skill and technique when escaping from sticky situations). It makes for a refreshing change from the typical modus operandi of such series, and that above all else is something that I have to commend. Rideback may not be a classic of 2009 let alone all-time, but it was still very much worthwhile watching.