SK8 the Infinity is a sports anime directed by Hiroko Utsumi, who was the original director for Free! In the grand tradition of sports anime featuring close male friendships, Sk8 the Infinity has a tight plot and condensed action.
Reki Kyan is a high school student with a passion for skateboarding. He builds his own skateboards, works part-time at a skate shop, and participates in an underground skating community called “S.” When Langa Hasegawa, a student from Canada, transfers into his class, Reki is more than happy to introduce him to the thrills of the sport in SK8 the Infinity.
Despite being a complete newbie, Langa takes to skateboarding quickly and begins making a name for himself in S as “Snow.” He catches the eye of ADAM, the resident top skater who is known for his brutal showmanship. As Langa’s talent and renown in S grows, Reki begins to feel like he’s being left behind.
Reki and Langa’s friendship can be read as just guys being dudes or potentially as something more, if the viewer is so inclined. To me, the ambiguity never feels like queerbaiting. Either as a platonic friendship or burgeoning crush, their partnership is the heart of the main story.
ADAM, whose real name is Ainosuke Shindo, is more explicitly implied to be gay. Due to an abusive, repressive upbringing, and stifling personal life as a politician, ADAM treats skateboarding as an outlet to be free. Because of the familial abuse he experienced growing up, he views violence as love. His aggressive displays at S are, in his mind, how he’s expressing that “love.”
Much of the drama in SK8 the Infinity is caused by ADAM seeking his equal in skateboarding. He believes he’s finally found his equal in Langa. His tense relationship with his secretary, Tadashi, could be viewed as a darker foil to Reki and Langa’s friendship. While Reki and Langa have their own share of problems, they are younger and relatively freer. In contrast, ADAM and Tadashi have the weight of adult responsibilities and a complicated personal history that drives their conflicting attitudes toward skateboarding.
There is naturally debate about whether ADAM is “good” or “bad” representation. Is it bad that a man implied to be gay is the villain of the show? Is it bad that he is more sexually provocative than other characters? Personally, I don’t think so. Of course other LGBT people can and will feel differently. For me, as someone who grew up in a very conservative home, ADAM’s backstory and how it informs the person he is in the present is painfully, unfortunately relatable. He is the way he is because of an abusive home environment and family.
None of this excuses or justifies his behavior at all, but it is a reflection of the impact that abuse and homophobia has on a person. I don’t think it’s necessarily “bad” representation to represent the messier reality that many LGBT people face. And there will definitely be consequences for ADAM’s actions. What exactly they may be won’t be revealed until the final episode, which airs later this week on Saturday, April 3rd!
As I do with every sports-oriented show, I went into Sk8 the Infinity with no knowledge of the featured sport. Previously, my knowledge of skateboarding extended to An Extremely Goofy Movie and Tony Hawk’s delightful twitter anecdotes. I’ve learned a lot while watching SK8 and am excited to learn more on my own time even once it finishes airing. The main theme of the series is “skateboarding is fun” and that fun is super infectious.
So, whether you want to check it out for the sports aspect, the possible LGBT subtext, or if you want to listen to a killer soundtrack, SK8 the Infinity has a lot to offer. I can’t wait for the finale!
SK8 the Infinity can be watched on Funimation.
Author: C. Smith
C. Smith is a lifelong fan of comics and manga whose primary interest is in webcomics.
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