- Titles: Skate-Leading☆Stars
- Genre: Drama, Sports!, comedy
- Episodes: 12
- Studio: J.C. Staff
Maeshima is good at skating. He’s great in fact. But he swore he would never do it again because he never manage to beat his arch-rival Shinozaki. Actually, beat would be amazing. At this point, Maeshima would be happy just to have Shinozaki acknowledge him at all. On the other hand, Sasugai is bad at skating, at least compared to those other two guys. But he’s pretty good at figuring out how to make others better at skating. And he also hates Shinozaki. If you knew him, you’d understand. The guy can be a bit difficult to get along with. So can Sasugai and Maeshima combine their skills to finally teach Shinozaki some humility? And can any of these highly independent young men even figure out how to work in a team when they join the competitive world of skate-leading?
I’m just going to say it right now. Skate leading seems like a great sport. I actually thought it existed for a while and just had a really weird name. But no it doesn’t and it has a weird name because Japanese people sometimes get very creative when naming things in English. In any case, it should exist. Not like stride should exist because it looks really fun to watch but in practice would be a death trap for all the competitors. Skate leading should exist as an Olympic sport right now and I would watch it even if it wasn’t animated!
This is going to be a yada yada paragraph on production. I mean it was fine. The boys were cute, the colours were nice, the models remained pretty consistent throughout the show.
Now, would this show have been better with more impressive animation? 1000%! I remember thinking I love figure skating but the skating in Skate-Leading Stars isn’t all that fun to watch. It wasn’t bad, I’ll even say it was fairly realistic. The choreography of jumps was on point and looked a lot like what you see from real skaters. However, whit the possibility of bending the laws of physics to your own will and designing costumes without any regard for functionality or cost, I expected the skate-leading competition to be more extravagant.
But that’s more of a complaint in that the production could have been better if they had more time and resources. I feel like you can say that about every single show so I’m not going to gripe about it too much. I will say there were no surprises on the production side.
Story & Characters
I already spent a paragraph talking about how cool the sport of skate-Leading was without explaining what it is. I mentioned figure skating, so you probably have an idea. Skate-leading is essentially group figure skating. A team of five skaters put together a group choreography in which every member has their own part. Sometimes they are synchronized, other times the parts come together, and play off each other.
Now the cynics out there may tell you that there is absolutely no reason to split up what is currently a single or couples sport between 5 people, other than an excuse to have more characters on screen. But I disagree. I think the way a choreography comes together with a small troupe (4 to 8 people) is very different than solo or couple. You can easily see it in dancing and figure skating is pretty much dancing on ice.
I personally think there’s a lot of potential in this sport and that it could be a particularly impressive spectator sport. However, seeing at how simple and instinctive the premise of this sport is, I’m thinking that there’s probably a reason it doesn’t exist. Something I just don’t know about figure skating that makes it unsuitable as a team sport. I still stand by the fact that if they announced it at the next winter Olympics, I would watch it. I would go out of my way to do so.
But enough about the imaginary sport in Skate-Leading stars, what about the show itself. Well, it’s a Sports! Anime.
What, you wanted more?
I’m not sure of what my exact publishing schedule will be for all the posts I’ve been writing lately. As such, it may not be obvious to you that I’ve gone on something of a sports anime binge lately. I watched a whole bunch in a row and now they are all clunking around in my head, competing against each other. Skate-Leading Stars is somewhere in the middle.
I really like Sports! anime and so I quite enjoyed the show. I thought the characters were fun enough, I got into the spirit of competition and I cheered from my favourite team. But I’m not going to pretend there’s anything particularly special or unusual about the show. Ok, aside from the fact that I really like the sport they made up. Other than that, it’s… a Sports! anime.
The character archetypes are what you would expect, the narrative structure and arcs all follow the Sports! Formula pretty closely and the resolution is fun but expected.
I guess you could say Sasugai is slightly unusual in that he wants to become a coach rather than an athlete but when you really look at the character, he’s been done before. He’s the guy that’s better at the theory of the sport than the practice so he can give everyone else great advice even if he can’t do it himself. He’s also the slightly sadistic slave driver type who is constantly pushing the team to work harder and comes off as a little ominous. You’ve seen a character like that before. The fact that this guy is openly pursuing the title of coach from the start doesn’t change the fact that it’s a common archetype.
For the record, there’s nothing wrong with common archetypes or having a lot of tropes in anime. Sasugai was my favourite character, I thought he was a hoot. So, when I’m not saying that the character was bad. Just that you’ve seen his type before. And if you like that, then you’ll like him.
That’s pretty much what I’ve been trying to say all along. Skate-Leading Stars is a Sports! anime, and if you like Sports! Anime then you’ll probably like Skate-Leading Stars. It’s not going to change your life but it could make a couple of afternoons more entertaining for you!
You might like this anime if:
You want to see another skating anime and aren’t expecting Yuri on Ice.
My favourite character:
It’s Hayato, I just said it. Sasugai is his last name. He has complicated family dynamics.
Triple Axel (I don’t know why people don’t like this – it sounds delicious)
- Every time Jonouchi wants to be the ACE – raise your glass to him
- Every time Hayato gets mad at Maeshima – take a sip
- Every time Maeshima loses his temper – take a step back
- Every time Mochizuki is team mom – take a sip
- Every time the coach is reading a magazine – take a sip
- Every time there’s a training montage – get psyched
- Every time the journalist shows up – take a sip
- Every time we see Pocari Sweat – switch to water
- Every time Shinozaki remains impassive – do nothing
- Every time Hayato is grumpy – take a sip
- Every time the twins are weird – what else is new
- Every time the coach actually coaches – be amazed
- Every time anyone stresses that skate-leading is a TEAM sport – take a sip
- Every time we see the cat – take a sip
- Every time Shinozaki gets crazy eyes – take a step back
- Every time Hayato calles himself brilliant – ake a sip
- Every time we see anyone as a little kid – awwwwww
I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.