The SK8 the Infinity Dub Makes Room for All of Us, Including Nonbinary Skateboard Enthusiasts
This ones for the bitches, bros, and nonbinary hos
My love for SK8 the Infinity is practically on a billboard on my front lawn so anyone who drives past knows what’s up. With the series coming to an end in Japan, I’ve been rewatching it via the dub releases over at Funimation. If you follow me on Twitter, first of all, I’m sorry, because you’ve probably been seeing my wild fangirl flailing about the series and its dub.
I swear it’s not just because Joe (Jonah Scott) and Cherry (Daman Mills) are being played like the old married couple that they obviously are.
I also swear it’s not because Matt Shipman’s Reki made me hurt all over again when facing Langa (Howard Wang) in the rain.
The dub is genuinely fun, ADR writers Leah Clark and Jeramey Kraatz adding great bits of dialogue for the characters that fit their personalities. I fully believe that Reki would call going to a hot springs “a boomer thing” and Miya (Ry McKeand), if possible, is even snarkier when he asks Joe, “Where are your clothes, bro?” You can tell that everyone on staff is having a good time, even if our dear Uncle Shadow (Chris Guerrero) is frustrated that everyone keeps calling him old. The cast is working together to tell the story in a way that’s honest to the material, and engaging to us fans.
This brings me to the last episode, which pretty much solidified my continuous Twitter campaign that reads, and I quote, “I AM BEGGING YOU TO WATCH THE SK8 DUB!”
Before I get too far into the episode let me just go ahead and preemptively praise David Wald now, who’s been killing it as Adam the entire time. When they talk about an actor who steals whatever scene he’s in, they’re talking about this man. Hands down.
In this last dub episode (Episode 8) Adam has started his skateboarding tournament to decide, once and for all, who’s the best skateboarder in all of S. Everyone (minus Reki) is set to compete for what boils down to bragging rights – oh, and Adam’s hoping to find is, dramatic moan, Eve.
Assuming he can deal with Tadashi (Brandon Johnson), his loyal “dog,” finally standing up to him.
After every one you expect to make it through the qualifiers makes it to the next round (they’re all in the opening credits, lol), Adam makes yet another over-the-top entrance to decide who’s gonna race against who. But when he shows up, he greets everyone like this:
Hey bitches and bros and nonbinary hos!
WHO IS WRITING THE SCRIPT FOR SK8 DUB pic.twitter.com/TksHyEBuVR
— cloud ! (@kaegozho) April 10, 2021
The fandom. Well. Collectively lost its shit. Myself included.
When we say the SK8 dub is great we mean that shit! https://t.co/Sgug74oF7h
— Bri @ Anime/Manga Nonsense for The Mary Sue (@BrichibiTweets) April 10, 2021
And we apparently have Adam himself to thank for it, according to voice actor Kyle Phillips.
Leah is doing a fantastic job writing these scripts, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that full credit for that line goes to the voice of Adam himself, @DavidWald_VA!
— Kyle Phillips (@KylePhillipsFUN) April 10, 2021
So why is this line such a big deal? Is adding nonbinary that major?
Honestly, yeah, it is.
As a bisexual woman who is reminded of bi-erasure every couple of weeks, I can’t imagine what it’s like identifying as something that gets even less recognition—both outside the LGBTQ+ community and within it. From all my years of watching anime (starting at age 10 and going until my summertime 38), I can think of ONE other instance where nonbinary was spoken in a series.
That’s Stars Align, in case you were wondering, which has an episode with a character who takes time to explore their gender, looking up terms like nonbinary to try and figure themselves out. The character (Yuta) also says the word, too, acknowledges it and has their feelings validated by their friend (the main character, Maki).
This is hugely important for obvious reasons. Nonbinary doesn’t have much queer representation, so to have media properties openly talk about it, and say the term, matters. There needs to be more recognition of it, like how Stars Align has characters talking about gender, but there also needs to be more moments where being nonbinary isn’t the main plot point and is, instead, just a recognized identity that exists in the world.
That’s what SK8 just did.
Are there nonbinary characters out there in S? Sure, why not? Just because gender expression isn’t the main point of the series doesn’t mean that characters can’t acknowledge the existence of multiple genders (or acknowledge people who don’t identify with any gender). And this is something that I feel some creators trip over.
I think some creators feel that the only way they can acknowledge queerness in their work is if it’s a huge LGBTQ+ story, one that talks about the journey and the self-discovery and all that, but really, you can (and should) acknowledge queer folks in your action, your sci-fi, your horror, your comedy, and not at their expense, not for the sake of the straight characters to learn about the gays.
They should just be there because, well, in reality, we’re just HERE.
So when talking to a wide audience, why not greet, well, everyone?
What’s great about Adam’s line is that it’s said (and received by those watching the tournament) so casually. There’s no shock, no confusion, no big to-do because nonbinary was spoken in a sentence. I’m so used to media that reveals the potential of queerness where one character gives a nervous laugh, having an epiphany that the gay could be somewhere in the vicinity. Basically, I’m used to the no homo when a work that isn’t labeled as queer has a character point out one of the colors in the rainbow.
So when I saw a hugely popular sports anime say nonbinary without missing a beat, it was a nice moment of normalization.
It also didn’t feel awkward. That’s another kind of representation that I feel happens to the queer community: the awkward attempt at inclusivity, the, “See, we uh, get it, lol, yay nonbinary?” But in the case of SK8, the line was said in a way that fit the character. Adam would absolutely address his adoring public with bitches, bros, and nonbinary hos. That’s the kind of person he is.
It was just so natural, and those little bits of inclusivity go a long way.
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