「熱い夜に雪が降る」 (Atsui Yoru ni Yuki ga Furu)
“Snowfall on a Hot Night”
Welcome to Okinawa. A land of palm trees, beaches, surfing, and… an elite underground skateboarding ring. Is this for real?
I’m glad this was my first watched anime of 2021. Just one episode in and I can remember the feel of my skateboard under my Vans as I…well flew off and landed on my chin. I never was a good skateboarder. Had I known a series like this was going to find its way to me in 2021, I would have stuck with it.
All jokes aside, the series has brought to life a sport so many are passionate about. You know what SK8 Infinity represents for me? The endless possibilities that anime allows creators and fans alike to indulge in. Right off the bat, this series is fun, charismatic, and introduces us to a quirky cast of characters.
Hasegawa Langa (Kobayashi Chiaki), one of our mains and a fellow Canadian, returns to Japan to live with his mother. We’ve yet to know why, perhaps his father passed away back in Canada, but one thing’s for sure, there’s nothing like home to our blue-eyed boy. All he can think about is the delicious poutine he’s missing out on, finding a part-time job (what for?) and snow.
Then, we’ve got Kyan Reki (Hatanaka Tasuku), a local rookie who dreams big and basically eats, breathes, and sleeps skateboards for a living. He’s a walking skateboard pyramid schemer who’ll talk about his passion to anyone who glances his way. He’s versatile, skilled, and pretty street savvy.
This first episode doesn’t ease you into the world of underground skateboarding. Instead, we begin with a ride or die (figuratively) race between Reki & Shadow (Miyake Kenta), a self-proclaimed S Community antagonist. S is the name of the underground playground, a repurposed old mine, that opens after hours for all those who can’t get enough of their chosen addiction. There you’ll find a dangerous and lawless racing track, a possible madman who watches from behind Dr. Evil-type retro screens, an AI skateboarder (what?) named Cherry Blossom (Midorikawa Hikaru), and a range of personalities that have yet to be introduced. Does anyone else feel like we’re watching the anime version of the ‘Beach’? (If you know, you know).
Even though he loses, it’s clear that Reki has put a lot of time and effort into his practice. He’s a dedicated little machine learning all he can about the skate culture by working in a skate shop, designing his own boards, and learning from his mentor/ store manager Oka. The kid is obsessed and he doesn’t hesitate to share his obsession with his new colleague Langa. That’s right, the newbie swiped a job away from the rookie. They’re tasked with delivering a new board over to “S” one night but as it would happen, they mess up. It’s too late to get the racer his new equipment so Langa volunteers to replace him during the race.
Now, something we only get a glimpse of earlier is that Langa used to snowboard as a kid with his mom and dad. Did he continue into his teen years? Well, the race he just volunteered for proves he definitely did. The kid is a snowboarder and probably a really good one too. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of doing skateboarding or snowboarding, they’re similar. Which is why I’ve also face-planted on a snowboard. So, it totally makes sense to me that if Langa is a professional snowboarder, he’d be a natural pro-quality skater landing 360s, aerials, and boardslides (I 100% googled these terms). But is this not why we love anime? It just makes you believe that everything and anything is possible.
Even though I sound enthusiastic, it’s still too early for me to say if I’m going to stick to the series. It’s quippy, funny, and hits the right beat when it comes to puns, but there’s something about this premiere that came off slightly juvenile for me. And no, it’s not the skateboarding or the characters. That’s part of the fun! It might just be a feeling and the fear that the structure or plot is very “been there, done that.”
I will say this, there are so many amazing redeeming qualities to the series that if its biggest issue is repeating some plot points we’ve seen elsewhere or character tropes, those can easily be swept under the rug. The level of entertainment here is far beyond what I initially expected so I’m pleased to say that this premiere left me feeling, well… happy. And that’s not a word I use lightly these days.
I haven’t watched an anime series or episode in over 8 months so you can imagine the case of
‘imposter syndrome’ I was facing as I wrote this up. That said, I couldn’t have imagined a better series to jolt me right back in. Whether you’re a fan of skateboarding or dabbled in the sport a little as a kid, there’s some kind of spark to this series I still can’t put my finger on. Will this spark light up into a fire for the rest of the season or will it wither out? With combined effort from production studio Bones and series director Ookouchi Ichirou (K-ON, Dororo) I’d wager it’ll light a fire in our hearts, even if just for entertainment.
No, but really. Can someone please link me to a secret group of skateboarders from Okinawa?