- Mangaka : TSURUMAIKADA
- Publisher : Kodansha
- Genre : Drama, Sports, Seinen
- Published : May 2021
Everybody has a dream. It’s just that not all dreams are realized, especially if the dream is a highly competitive one. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s all over. There are times when the dreams are passed on to another person. This often happens in the sports setting where most coaches who failed to reach their old goals, let’s say nationals or olympics, do their best to help their athletes reach that. It’s an added bonus if the techniques or skills they teach are those they once planned to use to achieve their dreams.
Tsukasa was a promising figure skater who could have reached great heights if it wasn't due to financial constraints. Before he can truly shine, he falls short before making a name for himself. Although he and his partner did great, spectators believed that he simply basked in his partner’s glory. As he steps on the rink again as a coach, he meets young Inori. He sees burning passion in her eyes and wants to be her guiding light to her path towards the Olympics. The problem, however, is that Inori will start a bit too late compared to her peers. They’re short on time, and they will have to put a lot more extra effort if they want to truly shine.
1. Relatable Characters
Tsukasa, even though being really talented, fails to realize his dream. This is something most may be able to relate to. There can be something we’re really good at, but the competition is just too tough that we can’t shine amongst the crowd of geniuses. To some, that’s just what reality is. Disappointing as it may sound, it’s something that’s close to home. However, the same is true towards Inori’s passion. Despite knowing that there will be countless hurdles along the way, there are also people who don’t back down from the challenge. Whether it’s Tsukasa or Inori, both characters are very human and easy to empathize with.
2. Not-so-Smooth Sailing Journey
Those who actually tried to pursue sports or art as a career know that there are countless walls hindering their path. The sad reality is that it often starts even before they start making a name for themselves. Family and society often discourage pursuing such a career as only a minute portion actually makes a living out of it. Even when they do get some support, there are a lot of others aiming for their throats due to tough competition and Medalist does a great portrayal of that. As someone who comes from what we assume as a middle class household, Inori experiences the lack of familial support. Given that she also starts late and receives Tsukasa’s favor, she faces a lot of scrutiny from other parents, athletes, and even peers.
3. Realistic Hurdles
As we’ve already mentioned on our first two points, Medalist takes on a very realistic approach to its storytelling. Even though Inori is undoubtedly talented, she still goes through all the hardships of a beginner. It’s not a story wherein she miraculously becomes the best of the best after one or two lessons. In fact, Inori learns everything from the basics. Even after training daily, she barely manages to conquer her first wall, which is jumping. All of this happens as her character develops from a wimpy dependent kid to someone with grace and confidence.
We’re always up for a good seinen manga, and Medalist is definitely an exemplar of that. It tells the story of what we hope is a future Olympian in a very realistic manner. But because it is very realistic, the gratification of watching her succeed and slowly realizing her dream is also extra sweet. If you’re up to some good, serious read, give Medalist a try and join us as we bask in its glory.