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I’m Used to the Theatrics of Sports Anime but Was NOT Ready for ‘Fanfare of Adolescence’

This is about horse racing, honest.

Spoilers to Fanfare of Adolescence episode one

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The spring anime season is currently introducing us to several new series. Among those series comes a new library of sports anime, a genre known for being fairly overdramatic when it comes to how the sport is illustrated. When someone leaps in the air to spike a volleyball, for example, bird feathers erupt around them to create a visual of taking flight. As for passing a basketball? Well…

It’s not just the sport that gets an incredible amount of detail in the animation. Interactions between characters who will come to mean a lot to each other are full of moments that, frankly, feel romantic. You don’t just watch an impressive skateboarder, no, you see snow falling around them as their image is reflected in your eyes. Honestly, we have no choice but to ship.

Despite knowing that sports anime just be like that, nothing, and I mean NOTHING, could’ve prepared me for the first episode of Fanfare of Adolescence.

You might be wondering if there is a heterosexual explanation for what just happened. After watching the first episode, I can tell you that there absolutely isn’t. This is the equivalent of a magical shoujo protagonist falling in love (or two boys falling in love while reading boys’ love manga).

I’ve seen my fair share of “looking into each other’s eyes” moments where the boy whispers how it’s “snowing in Okinawa,” but I was not ready for this heavy of a display of “we’re the main ship of the series” in the FIRST episode.

What is Fanfare of Adolescence even about?

At the all-boys Horse Racing School, entrance is incredibly difficult, with only one of every 10 to 20 applicants being accepted. Here students need to not only be book smart, but athletic and in peak physique. Three new students—a popular idol, another from a remote island, and one from England unsure of his path—come to this elite school to pursue their dreams of becoming a jockey.

What’s actually happening in that scene?

The main character, Yu Arimura, has left his idol group in order to pursue his dream of becoming a jockey. He can’t quite put into words why he feels this calling, which means we get a lot of vivid, watercolor visuals of horses whenever he’s thinking about them. Sometimes they’re completely made up of cherry blossoms and, like, literally lead him in the right direction when he gets lost on the way to school—no, I’m not making that up.

There’s a bit of pushback, though, as some see Yu’s decision as turning his back on his group. There are also students at the school who feel that he won’t take horse racing seriously because doesn’t have a definitive answer behind his passion for it. Also? The school is getting a sudden burst of attention because of him which can be frustrating when the only question folks have is, “When is Yu going to return to idol life?”

Yu struggles with this early on as he’s surrounded by people who seem to know what they want, or at the very least, have experience with horse racing. For example, there’s someone entering the school as its first female student and one whose father used to be a jockey, so Yu feels a lot of pressure about not really having a solid goal beyond “I hear a calling” and “I think I found it.”

Enter Shun Kazanami, who has a natural affinity with the horses. He immediately knows what to do to calm them down in a moment when they panic, and he even encourages Yu when he’s uncertain about himself. The scene with Yu stumbling off the horse is because he’s shocked to find out that Shun, despite riding a horse with him earlier, has never ridden one before. He was able to “become one with the horse,” which is what Yu had said he wanted to do earlier.

Basically, Yu just found someone who feels the same way he does, so, you know, cherry blossom explosion time! The only other times we get that kind of visual in the episode is when Yu is being inspired by horse racing, so my sports anime guess is that he’s going to be inspired by Shun/shippable with Shun/have a lot more moments like this with Shun … then halfway through the show, there will be tension that breaks them apart. Maybe Yu’s old group will come back to give off major ex-boyfriend vibes, or the redhead in the class who thinks Yu isn’t serious will say something that strikes his very core —also a strong case for folks who ship rivals.

It’s the sports anime way, I just wasn’t expecting all of that right at the start.

(Image: Makoto Katō)

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Briana Lawrence
Briana (she/her - bisexual) is trying her best to cosplay as a responsible adult. Her writing tends to focus on the importance of representation, whether it’s through her multiple book series or the pieces she writes. After de-transforming from her magical girl state, she indulges in an ever-growing pile of manga, marathons too much anime, and dedicates an embarrassing amount of time to her Animal Crossing pumpkin patch (it's Halloween forever, deal with it Nook)

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