SK8 the Infinity (SK∞ エスケーエイト) is a shōnen, sports anime that follows a guy named Reki who loves skateboarding yet still has much to learn. After losing a recent race, he tries to figure out some strategies to help him win next time. One day while he’s tinkering around with his skateboard, the new transfer student, Langa, shows a mild interest, which gets Reki super excited to meet a fellow (potentially) skater. Together, they end up getting into some racing mischief and discover a kindred bond and a kick-ass friendship in the making. SK8 the Infinity is an original anime series created by studio Bones with direction from Hiroko Utsumi.
I honestly wasn’t planning on watching this series as I don’t know dick about skateboarding. However, during a bout of insomnia, I found it floating around on Funimation’s website and figured what the hell. I’m so glad that I took a chance on it because this very well may become one of my top three anime picks from the Winter 2021 season thus far.
There was so much here that I was pleasantly surprised by and for me there is no greater feeling when starting a new anime; to be genuinely and unexpectedly impressed. It’s a wonderful sort of joy. Between the unique premise, the fabulous animation, the kick-arse music, the diversity of the characters and their personas (both on and off the racing circuit), and the sublime building of bromance between Langa and Reki, there’s plenty here to keep me enthralled and engaged, even if it does follow a sport that I’m wholly unknowledgeable about.
The very first thought that crossed my mind as I passed the initial five minute mark on the pilot segment was how much the costumes and outward personas of the skateboarding culture (as portrayed in this anime specifically) reminded me of professional wrestling. The creativity with the make-ups and outfits and the demeanour with which one holds themselves—it was all akin to the things I would see on the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) or AEW (All Elite Wrestling). I found it to be quite cool and interesting. The second episode shows us that these personas are pretty far removed from the day jobs these folx hold and that made them even more entertaining.
The skateboarding element itself is presented in a way that is supremely similar to the greatest anime series of all-time (for me), Initial D. We have this dude who doesn’t know shite about skateboarding specifically, but he does have past experience from other activities that end up helping him discover a new passion that he never really thought about before. Takumi Fujiwara, the Tofu Drift King himself is rather similar in this regard (if you know, you know). Watching him (Langa) stand up and then fall on his face multiple fucking times was awesomely endearing. It’s the beauty of learning a new hobby or sport for the first time. No matter how much natural skill or adeptness one has, they are bound to get bloodied and bruised as they hone their abilities and understanding of said activity. It’s fabulously natural and real and relatable. It actually reminded me a lot of the very first time my brother taught me racing basics. I wrecked quite a few cars getting the hang of the crazy shit that I can now pull off like I’m motherfucking Bunta Fujiwara (again, if you know, you know).
Through Langa’s trial-and-errors of getting the gist of everything, he’s also building a phenomenal kinship with Reki who’s basically a delinquent loner-type, for the most part. They have different enough personalities to where it balances out their presences around one another (Reki is more playful and openly mischievous, where Langa is guarded and aloof), yet the shared interests they have provides them with a platform to build off of in a stupendous fashion. The more they get to know the personal aspects of who they are beneath the shell of skating, the more depth is given to their relationship together as well as their relationship with themselves as individuals.
Taking all of this and tossing in fucking brilliant animation, especially with the racing sequences, and some fun pop punk rock and Indie rock music (with variations therein), we’ve got a near perfect creation. The whole ambiance and storytelling exceptionally complements one another so well that it left my Tupac Shakur eyebrows lifted up in a smirking, impressed fashion. Colour me stoked as fuck.
Basically, if you want an anime series that is technically brilliant with an original premise and some fantastic characters and the potential for superb character development, and you can be open-minded about the skateboarding gig, then SK8 the Infinity should not be missed. Bones has shown me once again why I love them so fucking much and I’m only sorry that I didn’t take it seriously when I first saw the PVs for this thing months ago. You can catch SK8 the Infinity over on Funimation and Anime Lab (Aus), which are linked below.
Native: SK∞ エスケーエイト
Source: Original Series
Genre: Sports (Skateboarding), Adventure, Comedy
Season: Winter 2021
Director: Hiroko Utsumi
Content Warnings: Mild verbal bullying. Scene of near-hit car accident. Mention of parental death. Consumption of food.
Streaming: Funimation, Anime Lab (Aus)