Probably my second-most anticipated anime-original series of 2021 (after Vivy: Flourite Eye’s Song), SK8 the Infinity quickly became my favorite sports anime of all time due to the breathtaking animation, rocking score and what may be one of the best English dubs of the year. Easily the most popular new anime of Winter 2021, SK8 the Infinity introduced anime fans to the best animated skateboarding series since Rocket Power.
Written by Ichiro Okouchi (Code Geass, Lupin the Third: Part 5) and directed by Hiroko Utsumi (Banana Fish), SK8 the Infinity follows aspiring skaters Reki Kyan and Langa Hasegawa. After the death of his father, Langa and his mother move from Canada to Japan. A former snowboarder, Langa has lost all of the energy he once had for the sport. However, upon meeting Reki, an avid skateboarder, Langa learns to love skateboarding, realizing he has a true talent for it just like he did with snowboarding. This talent catches the eye of Adam, a skateboarder that has never been defeated. Seeing Langa as a worthy adversary, Adam challenges him. Due to Langa’s growing notoriety under the nickname “Snow,” Reki becomes envious of Langa’s raw talent, placing stress on their relationship.
On the surface, SK8 the Infinity is written quite similarly to many other sports anime revolving around two central characters. If you’ve seen Ping Pong the Animation or Yuri on Ice, then the writing won’t come as a surprise to you. However, that doesn’t mean the character dynamics aren’t absolutely delightful. Reki and Langa’s bromance throughout the first few episodes is well-written, and while the harder parts of their friendship are slightly predictable, it doesn’t make them any less heartfelt.
However, the majority of the secondary cast manage to steal the show every chance they get. Adam is an incredibly charismatic villain seeking an “Eve” to match his skill and potentially be the first skater to give him a real challenge. This conflict becomes most clear with the characterization of his former friends, Cherry Blossom and Joe.
Cherry and Joe just ooze tension between each other whenever they are on screen. The two masterclass skaters have a passion and prowess for the sport that makes them feel like gods to the crowds watching them. Their constant bickering and vastly different personalities make the scenes they share together some of the best in the series.
Though, as much as I enjoy Joe and Cherry, Shadow is easily the most enjoyable of the secondary cast. A skater attempting to give himself a hardcore image, when not on his board, Shadow is just a big softy working at a flower shop. Watching him attempt to work up the courage to ask his boss out on a date only to be thwarted by Reki or Langa is hilarious.
Although, as great as the writing is, the animation is where SK8 the Infinity truly shines. The team at Studio Bones did an excellent job bringing this series to life. Every race at the abandoned mine is incredibly engaging despite the familiarity viewers will have with the course by the end of the season. This is especially evident in every single one of Adam’s races. Adam’s charisma and aggressiveness (both of the physical and sexual kind) are in full display with his dangerous and stylized movements. He appears like a graceful bull mowing down the competition. The attention to detail given to each main character, from the way their skating is animated to the unique designs of each of their boards, makes the world of SK8 the Infinity feel alive.
The English dub for SK8 the Infinity might end up being one of my favorites of the year. ADR (automated dialogue replacement) directors Christopher Wehkamp and Kyle Phillips (Fire Force, No Guns Life), along with script writers Jeramey Kraatz (My Hero Academia, Horimiya) and Leah Clark (Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle, Gleipnir) did a fantastic job. Wehkamp’s ADR directing debut did not disappoint. However, we can’t give them all the credit, as the stellar cast definitely carried their fair share of the weight when it came to adapting the series into English.
Every voice actor has just boundless chemistry with one another, making every dynamic feel real. This is especially true for Howard Wang (Langa) and Matt Shipman (Reki). However, much like how Cherry and Joe’s writing would steal scenes, their voice actors are no different. Daman Mills and Jonah Scott are an absolute delight whenever they are on screen and it is clear that they love voicing their respective characters. Their enthusiasm, especially Scott’s, often leaks out through their performance. Chris Guerrero (Shadow), Ry McKeand (Miya) and Brandon Johnson (Snake) round out the main cast, bringing endless amounts of personality to their characters through their performances.
However, the true stand out performance was David Wald as Adam. Wald plays into Adam’s theatrics perfectly, bringing this carefree monster to life. Wald is a force of nature as Adam, simultaneously making me feel both joy and disgust whenever he is on screen, as all the best villains should. Wald’s performance as Adam is easily one of my favorite villain performances of all of anime.
While I’ve never been an avid skater, the animation, characters and art direction make the world of SK8 the Infinity feel alive in a way that can only truly be experienced by watching the show. If you have never been able to get into sports anime, or are a huge fan of some of Studio Bones’ other productions, I can’t recommend Sk8 the Infinity enough. It is available both subbed and dubbed on Funimation.