The setting is Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture. Famous as the home of Toyota Motor Corporation. They pour everything they have from an early age, and even then it is a narrow path, with only a few able to compete in major tournaments. Despite the spectacular performances, the world of figure skating has a harsh and severe side as well. And much more so in Japan, one of the world’s top powerhouses, taking a small chance and becoming an Olympic medalist! The figure skating manga “Medalist” depicts the growth of these little heroes and heroines who make such big decisions, and the coach who watches over them and comes to his own realization.

Figure skating is a very popular sport in Japan. The reason for this is that many world-class males and female figure skaters, such as “Yuzuru Hanyu”, “Shoma Uno”, “Mao Asada”, and “Kaori Sakamoto”, are world-class athletes are in Japan. They are able to win top places at the Winter Olympics and other world championships, so they attract a lot of attention.

Figure skating is a very demanding sport for athletes, as I first learned after reading this manga. First of all, the life span of a skater is very short; it is becoming a requirement to become a professional skater to start training at a very young age (4-5 years old), and it is common for skaters to reach their peak ability in their teens and retire in their 20s. Isn’t it abusive to force them to endure pressure from such an early age through hard training and competitions? Some people may think so.

However, this manga depicts young children who choose to go on such a harsh path. And the good thing about this manga is that the pain is not depicted in a straightforward manner, but is developed with comical scenes so that the actually severe situations are shown with a gentle touch of laughter. Nevertheless, it is difficult for anyone to give a clear answer as to whether it is good or bad for children to experience setbacks and defeat, which they may experience even after they grow up. Even if we know the experience will help them grow.

I was reminded of something after reading this comic. That is, it is the parents and adults around them who encourage their children to do what they want to do. On the other hand, it is also the adults who drag them down. Children have enthusiasm, ability, and above all, time. When we see children filled with such enthusiasm, we adults must seriously consider how we need to deal with them.

The following is what the author had to say in an interview.

There are many themes, but one, in particular, is my wish for those who challenge their dreams to have courage. What “Inori” and her friends are aiming for is a world where only a handful of people can make it, so they need to have the strength to go forward and shrug off the voices of those around them that say it is impossible.

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Please read the first episode to find out how the main character, “Inori Yuitsuka”, and her coach, “Tsukasa Akeuraji”, take on challenges beyond Japan and into the world!

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