One statement I often hear is “This anime is so weird!” It’s not an uncommon statement, as most anime is often geared towards an entirely different audience. While it’s true that a fair bit of anime can be considered “weird” to an American audience, I doubt those very same people ever watched Spider Riders. What is this show? Well, imagine if it was Power Rangers, but instead of giant robots it had giants spiders. That’s pretty much this show in a nut-shell.
The series itself focuses on the main character “Hunter Steel” who travels to a fantasy-based alternate universe. What’s interesting is that unlike most anime protagonists, Hunter ended up here mostly on his own volition. He’s the one who went searching for this world and a means to get there, which is honestly kind of refreshing for the genre. So, what makes Spider Rider so weird? Well, it’s more than just its weird concept, that I can assure you!
Like I said, the show revolves around humans riding giant spiders, but they can also transformed into armor versions of themselves. Who is the main threat? Why, bug people of course! That’s right, the villains the Spider Riders face are bug people. The show’s ridiculous concept is weird on its own, but then you factor in the production behind the show and things get even stranger.
For one thing, the Spider Riders anime is a co-production between Canada and Japan. This is pretty uncommon when it comes to animated shows made for audiences in both countries. Weirder still is that the series was based off a series of three kids novels that I don’t think anyone ever read. I’ve never heard of the Spider Riders’ books, nor have I ever seen them in any stores. In fact, I didn’t even know they existed until Wikipedia mentioned them!
Now, it’s not uncommon for Teletoon to adapt a book series into a cartoon. Silverwing and Redwall both received animated adaptations, much like Spider Riders. The thing is, those two book series are far more well-known and revered. Was anyone reading Spider Riders and thinking that it needed an animated adaptation? I’m not saying Spider Riders is bad. I’m just saying that out of all the books Teletoon could have adapted, why did they choose to adapt the most obscure one?
Think that’s weird? How about the fact that the theme song is sung by DRAKE! Yes, the rapper Drake. This was before he became famous, when he was still fairly obscure. After this show, Drake’s songs and career kind of went downhill. While Drake is definitely far more famous than he was back then, he definitely was nowhere near infamous. It’s still odd to me that one of Drake’s first big hits was a theme song for a kids show.
The weirdest thing about the show for me was that it was made by the now-defunct animation studio known as”Bee Train”. Back when Bee Train was in operation, they were known for a fair bit of high profile animated series. It was odd that they’d make such an obscure series with such an odd concept behind it.
For me, it wasn’t the concept alone that made Spider Riders weird. It was all the aforementioned elements that just collided together into this mixture off oddness. In fact, I think some of the odder elements of the show may have kept certain people away from it. Despite this, I really enjoyed Spider Riders back when it aired. This really was a hidden gem of a show, despite its overly cheesy voice-acting and somewhat bland story. Sure, while Spider Riders will never be as weird as certain shows like Bobobo or Samurai Pizza Cats, it still serves as a good example of weird also being entertaining.