SK8 the Infinity blew fans away this season for not only providing a thoroughly entertaining skateboarding anime but for doing so whilst maintaining a high quality of character development and interesting plot developments. At the center of everything though, was the series protagonist, Reki. While Langa and Reki arguably share the spotlight over the twelve-episode run, Reki, by far, undergoes the greatest character development (despite this having him come full circle to the happy-go-lucky boy scout he was in the first few episodes). Let’s see just how Reki made SK8 such an enjoyable watch.
Reki, from the first scene of episode one, is positively dripping with passion for skateboarding. Not just a hobby to him, skateboarding has almost enveloped his entire life. Whenever something bad happens in his life or he is begotten by feelings of insecurity about future job opportunities or romantic interests, he can always rely on skateboarding to perk up his mood. Why exactly is that? Well, as Reki would put it, “skateboarding is fun!” There really is no other justification needed for him to continue such a hobby despite the danger of broken bones or the judgment that comes packaged with skateboarders. As we see throughout the series, Reki’s infectious personality and passion for skateboarding only ever inspire those around him such as Langa, Miya, and even Adam, to mend their bad habits pertaining to the sport. Moreover, this wave of joy comes bursting out from the screen and most likely sent a gaggle of Tony Hawk wannabees scrambling to the nearest toy store to purchase their first skateboard.
When the main character can make you feel things personally, the anime truly becomes engaging in a very unique way. Now, not only are the events happening on-screen detached from your own reality but the messages that Reki spouts constantly, directly impact your way of thinking. How many of you even just thought about buying a skateboard after watching the first episode of SK8? When a character’s philosophy is so impactful that it makes you want to spend real-life money investing in something new, you know that character is incredibly well-written. For a skateboarding anime, the first of its kind, to make a big enough splash to draw in a crowd of not only skeptical sports anime enthusiasts, but those picking this up as their first sports anime ever, Reki was just the kind of bubbly protagonist SK8 needed.
Despite singing the praises of Reki’s upbeat joviality, the journey he undergoes is very heart-wrenching at times. After witnessing the extent to which Langa can skate, as well as slowly realizing that those he surrounds himself with possess otherworldly talent, he laments his own shortcomings and decides to give up skating (much to the dismay of Langa). As Reki mopes around, avoiding Langa and the rest of the cast, he struggles to remember the joy he once experienced atop his skateboard. Injuring himself trying to imitate Langa and getting beat up in alleyways for shooting his mouth, is par for the course amongst these several episodes. It truly is painful to see someone with so much energy going through such a difficult time. There will always be someone out there better than you at something but to have that person on your doorstep, outperforming you at every turn, must be depressing.
Reki, one day, happens upon a TV show about supporting professional athletes from the sidelines, and how it is just as fulfilling as performing themselves. It’s hinted throughout the series that Reki enjoys crafting custom skateboards, and so we as an audience expect this to be the redemption arc; wherein Reki finds solace on the bench cheering for Langa. A nice little arc for Reki and all SK8 has to do is sign on the dotted line. However, what was the message of this series again? Oh yeah, “skateboarding is fun!” Reki is not the kind of person who would be satisfied as a substitute. Hell no, he rebukes any expectations that he would give up skateboarding so easily. He learns that it’s ok for people to exceed him, as long as he can still evoke the same joy within himself when skateboarding, that’s all that matters. And so, we arrive back at the same Reki from episode one; full of life and a love of skateboarding. Some may call this journey a copout seeing as nothing really changed. We, however, attest that some of the greatest journeys do not need to have a huge climax upon their conclusion. The journey just has to be fun!
Reki is Str8?
We know what you want to talk about, you know what you want to talk about, so let’s just skip the chit-chat and get down to business. We can’t talk about Reki without mentioning his other half in Langa. Reki and Langa’s relationship is truly tested over the series and, while the two start out as nothing more than skating chums, they and their journey as passionate lovers *ahem* best friends. With Reki starting out as Langa’s teacher, he becomes startled at the snowboarder’s rapid progression. Deciding to sever all ties with both Langa and skateboarding, we witness the heartache suffered by them both as they struggle to figure out their next move. Luckily, they reunite after several hefty “LANGA!!!!!!!!” shouts from Reki, and move forward into the next step in their relationship—*ahem* marriage *ahem*—skateboarding together.
Perhaps Reki and Langa will only become a couple in the buried fanfics that populate the darkest corners of the internet but, one thing is for certain, their friendship is very special and was heartwarming to see play out on screen. Fans were very upset when the pair did not get together upon the series climax but those people still have season two to look out for. The writers seem to have more in store for Reki’s development before marrying him off here, there, and everywhere. For now, let’s just all enjoy a bromance that has not shaken up the BL fandom as much in a long time.
Reki could have easily been the comic relief of SK8. The goofy sidekick to Langa’s more reserved hero. However, by giving him something to strive towards, a hurdle to overcome, and a chance to grow, the writers not only created a very interesting and developed character, but they also made their show that much more fun to watch. After all, isn’t that what watching anime is all about? Who was your favorite character in SK8? Let us know down below!