From the very first episode of Skate-Leading☆Stars, we’re made to haaaaate Shinozaki, an exceptionally stunning boy in both looks and his skating ability. Our main boy Maeshima, who has way more personality, seems a sorry figure indeed having just lost his parents and being unacknowledged by his greatest rival. As the anime progresses, we find more and more people will hostility towards Shinozaki. To be fair, Shinozaki does appear to be a jerk with his callous, indifferent attitude. While he’s no Mochizuki, Shinozaki doesn’t deserve to be painted out to be a bad guy!
-- Spoilers Ahead!! --
People Define Themselves Through Shinozaki and Punish Him for It
One of the most damning scenes for Shinozaki is telling a child who just lost his parents that he will never take first place, thereby making Maeshima want to quit skating for good. Seeing Maeshima’s devastation distracts us from two important facts: Shinozaki is a child himself and is not responsible for keeping Maeshima motivated to continue skating. Imagine trying to concentrate on your upcoming routine and this strange little boy you see in competitions keeps harassing you and telling you he’ll kick your ass. The frustration Shinozaki must have felt that his self-proclaimed rival bet his entire future in skating on being able to beat Shinozaki, only to recant it immediately after losing? To Shinozaki who loves and takes this sport seriously, it shows a huge lack of resolve and an intrinsic love for the sport.
Sasugai’s obvious dislike for his half-brother also makes Shinozaki look like a bad guy. Seeing how weird and determined Sasugai is for anyone to defeat Shinozaki makes you feel like surely there is some mutual hostility. Yet in episode 11 we see a cute flashback of the boys holding hands and skating before Sasugai’s accident. Shinozaki even thanks Sasugai for bringing Maeshima out of retirement because he feels a renewed sense of excitement and Sasugai replies that he hates Shinozaki. Maybe it would have been better to initially question the reasoning behind the hate from a boy who thought it was alright to knock out a competitor because ‘he was mediocre anyway’.
Shinozaki’s Teammates Clearly Care for Him
Shinozaki certainly has a lot of self-proclaimed rivals ranging in hostility from Maeshima-levels to Noa-levels which are at least easier to bear. But if he was so worthy of hatred, why would he have a team that so readily understands him and is at ease around him? They’re willing and able to follow Shinozaki because he respects them and acknowledges he has a lot to learn from them in episode 10. Even after he beat his fellow team members in a small showdown when he first joined, Shinozaki showed his respect and desire to be on their team. Even before that, Kurayoshi is often seen trying to mitigate fights between Shinozaki and others, coming to his defense and explaining that Shinozaki may not be friendly but he really doesn’t mean any harm.
Everyone Else is Rude but Gets a Pass
Maeshima is always butting heads with others because he’s a cocky hot-head. He dissed his old buddies and taunted them about not helping them win in skate-leading in the very first episode. Shinozaki doesn’t go around taunting others, only telling them the truth that they can’t beat him when they throw empty threats his way. Just look at the Ishikawa brothers who whisper to each other and laugh in response to people asking them questions. They’re full of themselves, not without merit, much like Shinozaki. Himekawa is pretty callous even of his own teammates when he realizes abandoning them and switching teams will help him achieve his own goals. The biggest difference between them is we get to see Himekawa’s reluctance to hurt others after his old teammates take the initial step of being kind and forgiving him. In the same way, Taiga’s taunting of his old teammates loses much of its sting with Mochizuki hanging off of him.
Shinozaki is only the main ‘bad guy’ because his features make him so striking and everyone else has built up a narrative around him without trying to get to know him. Reporters ask him meaningless questions about his female fans and people Shinozaki doesn’t even know get in his face just for existing. He takes skating and his self-improvement very seriously and only recognizes those who do the same. Some people thrive in fiercely competitive situations and relationships, and some people don’t like others forcing themselves into their lives without knowing anything about them. Let us know what you think about Shinozaki in the comments!