Kensei Maeshima is living a lie. Athletic enough to be a star in several sports, he feigns laziness to hide hurt and shame associated with his elementary days as a figure skater, when budding star, Reo Shinozaki, was unrelenting in placing ahead of him in every competition, and for a final time during championships following the death of Kensei’s parents. But a meeting with an unusual young man with a close connection to Reo may set Kensei back on the path toward skating, and particularly the world of skate-leading (team skating), which his own high school excels at and the world of which Reo is now also entering.
Forgive me for being late on this “first impression” (though at least it’s still early in a relative sense—episodes are dropping in the U.S. earlier than in Japan). I blame my old age, which I also blame for my approach to series like this. As I get older, I’m drawn to seinen series and others that dare to offer something different to the audience—I think many or most anime fans that stick it out so long are the same, staying away from the vast wasteland of certain types of anime, including sports series. Skate-Leading☆Stars, like so many sports anime, mixes and matches the same components, storylines, and character types to create a similar final product. The question with this show, as with all the others, is whether the writing will be strong enough to keep me engaged and encourage me root for and love the characters. Skate-Leading Stars might be able to—I already especially appreciate the dynamic between Kensei and Hayato—but the first episode is so basic in its plot development that it ultimately seems destined for mediocrity. That would be a shame, because the idea of a team figure skating series (an Olympic competition in 2018) accompanied by some already very fluid animation for the skate scenes could make for a special show. I’m just not sure I’m willing to endure the always-laborious initial shonen episodes to see if it gets there.
Skate-Leading☆Stars can be streamed through Funimation.