With new resolve—and new tricks up their sleeves—the Ionodai High Skate-Leading Team once more presses towards the Grand Prix Series. And this time, it’s Maeshima versus an old rival.
After overcoming many obstacles, the Ionodai Skate-Leading Team finally become one because of the brilliant Hayato Sasugai…wait. These aren’t this author’s words—they’re Sasugai’s! (He is sort of right, though)
Indeed, after an upsetting last-place finish during the Grand Prix Series opening and undergoing some major team-dynamic construction with the help of (finally) the club’s coach, the Ionodai Team is ready and better than ever to make an icy comeback! And this time, Maeshima is up against his sworn rival, Shinozaki.
In Episode 8 (Champions), the Ionodai Team is preparing for their fourth competition in the Grand Prix, and this time, they are riding on the momentum of their second-place standing (yes, it would seem like they quickly bounced back from the first round off-cam). And who’s at the forefront? Well, it’s none other than the reigning champions and Shinozaki’s camp, St. Clavis.
The energy is different this time around, though. The team is in renewed spirits, thanks to some newly-acquired techniques from Coach Adachi, and of course, Sasugai. Now that they are more attuned to each other’s dynamics, does the Ionodai crew have a shot at securing a place in the nationals?
This week’s episode was definitely on-par with the level of hype in the Grand Prix opening episode. Even more so thanks to the tension between the two rival schools in this series Ionodai and St. Clavis, and their key skaters, Maeshima and Shinozaki. But let’s go into the first team’s performance first.
For their free skate program, the Ionodai Team improved considerably from the mess of the first round. Instead of just backing up their skate lead, Kiriyama, Terauchi, Jonouchi, and Mochizuki allow themselves to get carried along with Maeshima's burning energy on the ice rink. And it was definitely a rousing performance—the musical score was better than those of previous performances, there were awesome twists and jumps. It was a team-best performance.
Over at the other team, St. Clavis’ free skate program was just on another level of flair and extra-ness, which is why they won in this fourth heat and deservedly so. Funnily enough, the animation for this team was slightly better than Ionodai’s. But we finally witness what Maeshima and the rest of the team are up against in the competition. Getting that champion gold proves to be more of an uphill battle now than we thought.
The Maeshima-Shinozaki still doesn’t feel genuine for this reviewer, but it was somehow exciting to see it catch more fire this time around. We also see more of Himekawa, Ionodai’s former ace, and Noa, the idol skater. Be sure to look out for their performances in the coming episodes, hopefully.
And though the Ionodai Team settles for the runner-up spot behind St. Clavis once more, it’s not enough to extinguish the flames. The effect is the opposite—the team is even more eager to clinch that coveted spot in the nationals. Now, the series just needs to keep up with the burning fervor of its stars.
Skate-Leading Stars Episode 8 premieres February 28 at 22:30 JST.
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