The original skateboarding shounen anime SK8 the Infinity was one of our favorites of the Winter 2021 season. Its colorful and immaculately detailed art direction, over-the-top depictions of underground skating tournaments, and lovable cast of characters gave it a unique style that we couldn’t get enough of. But above all else, the heartwarming relationship between main characters Reki and Langa kept us coming back week after week to see if these two adorable idiots would ever realize that they’re meant for each other. Unfortunately, though, the series ended without any declaration of love in sight. Did we just get queerbaited again? Let’s take a closer look at the situation to see what exactly happened here.
Why Queerbaiting Sucks
Now, you may think that it’s silly to be disappointed over something like this, especially since this is a sports anime and romance (much less gay romance) isn’t to be expected. But the thing is... this happens all the time. Queerbaiting is a longstanding marketing tactic in entertainment media where a story draws in LGBT viewers with hints of a gay relationship, but stops short of depicting it in any meaningful way: the gay characters quickly die, become abusive, or (most commonly) never actually declare their feelings for each other in the first place. It was all just fetishizing fanservice with no real intent to give LGBT people the representation we deserve.
Yuri on Ice broke from tradition in a massive way by confirming Yuri and Victor’s love for each other, but it’s just a drop in the bucket compared to series like Sound! Euphonium, Free, and Attack on Titan, which never give the gay couples they spend so much time developing any kind of confirmation or happy ending. Even though we love these anime for so many other reasons, it still stings that they stick to the status quo.
There Was So Much Evidence
Reki and Langa aren’t just two random pretty boys that the internet latched onto and decided were in love with each other—they’re very clearly soulmates. Their hearts race when they see each other succeed, Langa’s mother worries that her son got rejected by a crush when he confides in her about his falling out with Reki, and their pure joy in skating together is presented as the antithesis to antagonist Adam’s predatory “love” towards any opponent he can crush in a beef. They even reenact the Yuri/Victor kiss scene (minus the kiss) after Langa’s final match! To top it all off, the final dialogue between them—which is also reflected by the ED’s lyrics—is about how they want to skate with each other for the rest of their lives. If this was a heterosexual couple, they would’ve kissed already and we’d have official artwork of them in the future with kids. But since they’re both men, it can all just be handwaved away as close friendship so as not to rock the boat. Do you see how frustrating this is?
We still adore SK8 the Infinity despite the fact that it queerbaited us, but we wish its writers were brave enough to actually make Reki and Langa a couple instead of just hinting at it and faking us out at the very end. There still could be a season 2 in the works, though, so who knows if this is the last we’ll ever hear of them...?
What did you think of our analysis? Do you think Reki and Langa should’ve gotten together in the end? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!