It’s make-or-break for the skate-leading stars this week! Will Maeshima and Sasugai get in the skate-leading club?
For Maeshima and Sasugai, literally, everything is riding on the match-up between the skate-leading club members as it could very well cost them their high school diplomas. In Episode 3 (“Self-Centered”), that and club dynamics, unexpected reunions, and skate-leading, in general, are tackled. Finally, things are starting to pick up on the ice rink.
In this episode, the two teams are busy preparing for the deciding match-up. In captain Terauchi’s team are Kiriyama, the vice-captain and Maeshima’s Number #1 Non-Fan, and the bubbly second-year Akimitsu. Over at Maeshima’s are second-year Jonouchi and the club’s ace skater, first-year Himekawa. But while Terauchi’s team seems to be in top form for their performance, practice has not even started for Maeshima's team as they debate on their skate positions, routine, etc. (They are a mess, in short).
Moreover, Maeshima and Sasugai have a brief (and icy) encounter with Shinozaki. But things don't go over so well in this reunion. Not for Sasugai, who is none too happy to see his half-brother again. Not for Maeshima, whose efforts to get acknowledged as a worthy rival are rejected once again by Shinozaki.
Compared to the previous episode, this week had more nuances, plot-wise and in the characters. For one, the story seems to be heading in the skate-leading direction (finally!), and we get a glimpse of how this fictional competition works during the club match-up. It obviously was not much, but that makes the actual skate-leading performances something to reallylook forward to in the coming weeks.
However, the animation was a bit underwhelming in this one, to compare with what we have seen so far, especially in the first episode with Shinozaki and Maeshima’s exhibitions. There are some unique angles and shots of the skaters, but the animation is not always consistent and smooth.
The episode was also a turning point for our MC. Hours before the match-up, Maeshima runs into Terauchi, who calls him out for his self-centeredness, and if left unchecked, could harm his chances of excelling in skate-leading. It was a necessary reality check for Maeshima, and he should start investing in new relationships, especially with members of the skate-leading club.
We get a bit of insight into Sasugai and Shinozaki’s relationship (or lack thereof). It looks like they will be crossing paths more often from now on, so it will be interesting to see how that affects the storyline and Sasugai’s prized chicken, Maeshima.
There are some new characters introduced in the episode as well. They are the twin skating prodigies Hajime and Susumu Ishikawa (voiced by Hirofumi Nojima and Kenji Nojima), and Noa Kuonji (voiced by Souma Saitou), dubbed as "Japan's Next Ace." All of whom could be possible rivals for Maeshima and the rest of the skate-leading club.
The episode ends yet again with a cliffhanger—a very unexpected but welcome cliffhanger. The level of excitement is definitely building up—as it should! Here's hoping that the series makes it to a tournament arc of some sorts because, with only 12 episodes, expectations are high for Skate-Leading Stars to deliver an unforgettably cool season in the ice rink. And it looks they are headed for one.
What did you think of this episode? Leave a comment below, and let's discuss!
Official Anime Website: Skate-Leading Stars
Official Anime Twitter: @Skate_Leading