Will Sk8 the Infinity Become a Gay Romance?

WARNING: The following contains mild spoilers for Sk8 the Infinity's first three episodes, now streaming on Funimation.

Sk8 the Infinity is the latest anime and first original series by director Hiroko Utsumi. While she's been working as an animator since the mid-2000s on shows like Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Utsumi gained a reputation over the last decade for directing Free! and Banana Fish.

Free! had plenty of homoeroticism but no canonical romance between its athletic leads, whereas Banana Fish featured multiple canon queer characters. Three episodes in, whether Sk8 the Infinity fall into Free!'s queerbaiting patterns or Banana Fish's canon queerness remains uncertain.

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Sk8 the Infinity Sets Up Multiple Queer-Coded Characters

At the very least, Sk8 the Infinity's first three episodes introduce multiple characters who defy gender norms and could be considered queer-coded. Shadow, a skater who dresses like a reject from the band KISS, undergoes a Sailor Moon-inspired magical girl transformation in one of the bumpers. The enigmatic Cherry Blossom is a feminine man whose chemistry with fellow skater Joe borders on tsundere-like. At the end of the third episode, potential big bad Adam tries to caress the secondary protagonist Langa's leg.

The show's primary focus, and the big question in regards to LGBTQ representation, is the relationship between Reki and Langa, the two central characters. Reki is a skateboarding enthusiast who has loved the sport his whole life, while Langa, a transfer student from Canada, is an experienced snowboarder learning to skateboard for the first time. Langa is a socially awkward character who at times seems reserved and under-expressive, while Reki is a puppy-dog of a human being who jumps with excitement when discussing skateboarding.

The two characters become incredibly fast friends, with Reki teaching Langa how to skate and the techniques of the sport. While they are clearly best friends immediately, there's a closeness between them that might border on romantic attraction. The two lays next to one another, are physically affectionate, and stare lovingly at one another. The end of the first episode culminates with Reki watching Langa skate with his eyes wide and his face blushing.

It's uncertain whether or not Reki admires Langa's snowboarding-skateboarding technique or Langa himself. Langa, meanwhile, is usually incredibly reserved but shows an emotional range to Reki in private that he doesn't even reveal to his mother. It's incredibly clear that Langa is opening up fast to Reki.

Is Sk8 the Infinity Queer or Just Queerbaiting?

At the present time, there is no overt sign that Sk8 the Infinity is preparing a same-sex romance. However, it's that very lack of over signs that makes any potential queerness in Sk8 the Infinity feel more sincere and less like queerbaiting. Free! often queerbaited its audience by heavily teasing same-sex relationships without actually following through. All the homoeroticism ultimately became frustrating to many fans when, over and over, the characters ended up engaging in heteronormative behavior. If you tease something hard enough and don't deliver it, then it like the writers are baiting for attention.

If Sk8 the Infinity can be compared to anything at this stage, it's Yuri!!! on Ice. While Yuri!!! on Ice is well known for being ultimately a queer love story, overt romance wasn't implied until Episode 6, and even overt fan service scenes were kept to a minimum early on (the bathhouse scene aside). Sk8 the Infinity can go either way at this point, but the trajectory of Reki and Langa's relationship feels similar to Yuri and Victor's thus far.

It can swerve into a gay romance or keep going straight down its path of close best friends. However, the odds seem to be in the favor of a Reki-Langa romantic endgame for the series.

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