Updated: Jan 24
After making a comeback on the ice rink, Maeshima sets his sights on the school’s skate-leading club. Can Maeshima get past the club’s tough captains?
After a successful comeback on the ice rink, Maeshima and Sasugai try out for their school's skate-leading club in Episode 2 (“Break”). Despite Maeshima’s renewed confidence in figure skating, getting into the club is a whole ‘nother hurdle. His skating colleagues from elementary head the club: third-years Shotaro Terauchi (voiced by Satoshi Hino), the stoic captain, and the stern vice-captain Itsuki Kiriyama (voiced by Tomoaki Maeno), who is adamant in letting Maeshima join. Sasugai, ever the clever rascal, proposes a skate-leading match between Maeshima and the club members to decide their fate, but with an added, crazy twist: if they lose, they also drop out of school. (Really, Sasugai, what are you thinking?!)
As with the first episode, not much has happened yet, besides getting to know the characters, especially members of the Ionodai High School Skate-Leading Club. There is obviously a backstory behind Maeshima and Kiriyama’s strained relationship, and it will be interesting to see how it all turns out. Because beyond his resting scowl face, Kiriyama shows care for the club and getting them to great heights. The same goes for Terauchi, although he is less hostile towards Maeshima than Kiriyama. He wants serious people who will skate seriously for the club.
Another character to watch is the club’s ace skater, Izumi Himekawa (voiced by Yuuichirou Umehara), who may very well double down as another one of Maeshima’s skating rivals. But the episode offers only a glimpse of Himekawa's skating abilities.
The Maeshima-Sasugai dynamic remains full-force, with Sasugai’s insane skating knowledge anchoring Maeshima’s haphazard methods to get back in prime skating form. His character also, however, falls prey to the hot-headed MC trope.
The episode also gives us a bit more insight into how skate-leading works: You have the lead or the main point-getter of the team. Himekawa and Kiriyama are the two leads in the club; the wings, who do twist lifts. Second-year Akimitsu Mochizuki (voiced by Reiou Tsuchida) is the sole wing. And finally, you have the guards, who are in charge of lifts and steps. Terauchi and second-year Sota Jonouchi (voiced by Shouya Chiba) occupy the guard positions.
It is good that the series is setting up all of this for the viewer, and the lack of skating action is understandable since this is just the second episode. But the series needs to strike a balance between giving enough pieces for the audience to visualize the plot and letting the characters do the storytelling themselves to make these "world-building” episodes a little more exciting. So far, the pacing has been rather so-so. It's not bad, but it's not exactly good either.
The episode ends in a cliffhanger, albeit a promising one, because the make-or-break match-up between Maeshima and the skate-leading club is up next. The ending also previews a possible "reunion," so better look forward to that as well.
Overall, it is nice that Skate-Leading Stars is starting to pick up the pace. It just needs to capitalize on that momentum to deliver a good time for viewers.
What did you think of this episode? Are you just as hyped for the match-up? Leave a comment below, and let's discuss!
Official Anime Website: Skate-Leading Stars
Official Anime Twitter: @Skate_Leading