Geek it! Anime Review: Sk8 the Infinity (2021)
A rare sports gem, SK8 THE INFINITY is Bones Studio’s latest anime production that has got anime viewers hyped. An original story about skateboarding? Yes, yes, yes — no need to hesitate! With the current industry overridden with sequels, spin-offs and manga adaptations, did this original anime story live up to fans’ expectations?
In Okinawa, a group of hardcore skaters participate in a secret competition known as “S’. Challenging each other to ‘beefs’ to show off their skills, they compete on an abandoned mine with winding routes that makes it impossible for a non-skater. One night, skating enthusiast Reki Kyan (accompanied by the new transfer student Langa Hasegawa) was tasked to do a shop errand that takes them straight into S. Little did they know that it was going be the start of something new — something that would change their lives forever.
Following footsteps of Free! and Yuri!!! on ICE, Sk8 the Infinity has a similar concept where it involves two male leads in a sport. And honestly, you can’t go wrong with this formula. Like the moon and sun, they are inseparable. With constant enthusiasm and endearing support for each other, we enjoyed watching this bromance grow from start to finish. Unfortunately, this blossoming fairytale doesn’t last long when Reki begins to realise that he is a dud compared to Langa and other skaters. And when the King of Skateboarding, Adam, injures Reki in a beef and Langa goes against Reki’s warning, it was going downhill real fast for the two friends.
It is here where we start pointing fingers at the cause of Reki x Langa’s demise. Switching gears out of nowhere, the story soon focusses on Adam and his creepy obsession with Langa aka his ‘Eve’. Anime villains are generally ‘evil’ but they can also be likeable.
But Adam? There is nothing to like about Adam. As a viewer, we wanted more skateboarding and Reki x Langa — not drama involving his political shenanigans that was taking place alongside the skateboarding storyline. With Adam’s tumultuous personality and unjustifiable violent actions, it was to the point that we began questioning whether it was worth continuing such ridiculousness. However, we suppose a dangerous villain like Adam is meant to make us feel this way, and thankfully, his character gets some sympathetic redemption in the end.
While we can go on and on, Sk8 the Infinity consists of many positive points that outstrips the bad aspects. The animation, for instance, helmed by Chief Animation Director Michinori Chiba, truly exceeded our expectations. From every physical turn on the skateboard to the hard-hitting impact on the ground, the animation team has done a great job in reflecting the beauty and intricate detail of skateboarding as a sport/hobby. And although the quality of the animation was downgraded for its average action scenes, the show did not disappoint when it came to the main action scenes when high-quality animation was required. The animation is THAT good that we can still feel that euphoric sensation and thrilling adrenalin (especially the pilot and final episode) till this day.
Hand in hand with the animation, we really enjoyed Director Utsumi’s storytelling of Sk8 the Infinity. Surprisingly, the anime isn’t just about competitive skateboarding. Along the way, we’ve learnt a few things about building and customising decks to suit one’s abilities and skating style. We also learn about unique skating tricks which were inspired by real-life skateboarders.
But most importantly, we’ve learnt that the hobby of skateboarding is to have fun, and to share the experience with your friends. And Sk8 the Infinity continuously conveys this message in its character development and storytelling. However, there was one particular factor that we must express our disappointment: Reki should have been the one to change Adam and his relationship with skateboarding, not Langa.
In addition to this, we must praise the overall art direction of the anime. From the character designs to the architectural cityscape designs, the show had the visual aesthetics down-pat. It’s stylised pop-art style with a bit of hip hop and grunge — just what we expect from a skateboarding anime. And also, we like the inclusion of the ‘hand-drawn’ interludes in the middle of every episode. Not only does it add a unique flair to the vibe of the anime but it provides a brief comical escape from the actual story.
Overall: SK8 THE INFINITY is one of the best original anime series that we’ve seen in a long time. Great animation, amazing aesthetics, interesting cast of unique characters, good bromance drama (with no romance involved!), and fun vibes …. The anime certainly achieved what it set out to do and that was to make a great anime. Sk8 the Infinity is a must watch!
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