Sigh. So I’m not sure the best way to approach this
. Because I don’t want to seem like I’m trying to drum up gossip or speculation, that’s not the angle I’m coming at this from. I’ve made sure to leave off making this post til after Rostelecom because of that. But at the same time I want to bring some things to the foreground that I think most people would not be aware of. Because Shoma is one of my favourite skaters and has been for a long time and there have been some really concerning things going on around him of late that make me worried. And my hope is that having these things be out in the open, with people being aware of them, will be more beneficial towards bringing about positive change than if they were hidden away from fans. And because I’m not trying to be speculative I will try to stick to facts as much as I possibly can in this post. I’m sure many of you know that recently Shoma made a rather shitty, sexist comment which was obviously very disappointing. However it wasn’t a comment that was made in isolation, the situation is rather a lot more complicated than that. I think we should start at the beginning.
For the past seven or eight months Shoma has been streaming on a gaming channel called おまるチャンネル(Omaru Channel). (found here)
Now while we obviously cannot 100% confirm that this is Shoma unless he releases some sort of official statement (I’ve seen a lot of criticism to this regard), the amount of circumstantial evidence is such that it would be incredibly doubtful that it’s not him. He would have to have some sort of extremely dedicated impersonator going on months. Countless personal details match up, other skaters have appeared on livestreams (namely Kazuki Tomono and Koshiro Shimada) as well as Shoma’s brother, there have been certain comments made by the co-owner of the channel (we’ll get to him later) and most notably Shoma has a pretty distinctive voice and laugh.
The first livestream on the channel is from April 1st and they continue up until about a fortnight ago, just before Internationeax de France. The streams can be varying degrees in length, some up to seven hours long and some can be done very late at night with multiple being done in a week. The majority of the streams are just about the games but the most controversial one which I think many people are now aware of is from the 23rd of September and involved a Q & A (found here
). It seems that some Japanese skating fans have had varying degrees of awareness about the channels existence over the past few months but most of both the Japanese and English speaking fandoms have really come to know about it after Shoma’s performance at IDF.
The first posts in English about the channel was made just after IDF by a translator called @fsnanchara on twitter who also makes posts on a tapatalk gossip forum as JDC and I’ve provided screenshots here: X X X
A few days later they made a more detailed post about the now well-known Q & A livestream: X X X (Anything in brackets here is the translators own speculations and then the rest is translation.)
After this talk began to spread to twitter with people covertly talking amongst themselves before another translator picked it up and did a detailed translation of the Q & A livestream: X (I’ve opted not to give the translators name here as I know they have received quite a bit of harassment for their translation and had to lock their twitter account.)
A couple of days later someone who is a Shoma fan did their own translation of what was said: twitter link (There has been some criticism over this translation as some felt that the translator opted to soften what was said by using the word “dislike” instead of “hate”.)
And then because they can’t help themselves and they love gossip, TSL jumped on the bandwagon and made a video about the subject. Dave says it was purely out of concern but he did also post it just hours before the short at Rostelecom. Great timing Dave. You can watch it here
if you so feel the need.
I’ve made sure to provide as many translations and sources as possible so that people can draw their own conclusions and also to show the accuracy of the translations. They were each done by different people, with different backgrounds and biases but they all came to very similar conclusions. (Except you can ignore Dave though, I just thought it was worth pointing out in case TSL was some peoples initial source)
So let’s talk about Shoma said.
I want to be clear here, what Shoma said about women was sexist. No ifs, no buts. And nothing that I go on to discuss later in this post absolves him of that. Saying you hate women is not ok. And just because someone says they only hate women of one particular age and not all women doesn’t mean it’s not sexist. And the notion that women’s lives revolve around seeking out men and that is their main goal, even if they are already dating someone, is absolutely rooted in misogyny. We can’t really know what caused Shoma to say these things or have these feelings, sometimes a person’s views can be influenced and impacted by the environment and people around them. If someone is regularly exposed to casual misogyny then it begins to sound acceptable and it takes putting oneself in a healthier environment to escape it. The fandom reaction to all of this had been on the rather disappointing side with many trying to excuse what was said, or claim things were mistranslated or simply ignoring it. I can’t say I was entirely surprised, Shoma is a very well liked, popular skater, but sexism should always be criticised and called out. My original post was going to be more of an analysis of the fandoms various reactions and the implications of that but more has come to light and things have taken a turn.
Now about the channel.
The channel is not something that Shoma is running on his own and it’s a far more well set up and professional venture than it might appear on first glance. The manager of the channel is a man who goes by Tabo and who has a twitter account found here
. Tabo seems to be the one doing most of the running of the account; sending out prizes to various participants, having personalised stickers for different players, organising moderators for the livestreams and sometimes livestreaming himself.
I’m going to provide some screenshots of some posts made by JDC, one of the translators I mentioned earlier, that detail exactly how Omaru channel is run and also translates some tweets made by Tabo: X X X X X X X X X X X
Now, Tabo is a much older, married man with children. This has been confirmed. And this is where the situation gets quite concerning to me. Don’t get me wrong, people of different ages can definitely form friendships over mutual interests but that doesn’t seem to be what’s happening here. But a man in his 40s to 50s is spending all of his time livestreaming games with a group of 18 to 21 year olds who also just happen to be well known skaters and not just that but he also seems to be pushing it as a possible business venture by creating various merchandise for the channel and he gets rather defensive when any sort of criticism is brought up? If that doesn’t read as suspicious then I don’t know what does. Shoma might be an adult but he is still very young and it’s entirely possible that he could be taken advantage of by someone much older than himself. Kazuki, who has appeared on the channel too, is even younger than Shoma. Koshiro, who has also been active on the channel, has only just turned 18, comes from a single parent household, and I’m pretty sure lives alone while he trains in Switzerland. And even though the streams have stopped since Internationeax de France happened Tabo has still been active on twitter to this day indicating that he has no interest in stopping the channel. (Also you know what I said earlier about how misogyny can be picked up from ones environment and the people around them? Tabo was very insistent that the Q & A video stay up and made sure people knew that he wasn’t going to delete it. Make from that what you will.)
There has been some speculation that Tabo is an acquaintance of Shoma’s father although this is just idle gossip and there isn’t anything to substantiate it. But this does beg the question, where are Shoma’s parents in all of this? There’s no way that they could be unaware of what’s going on when Shoma is livestreaming for hours upon hours increasingly every week. Because Shoma is still dependent on his parents as well, his mother travels with him to all of his competitions and also when he’s done any training overseas.
And there are a lot of things behind the scenes that just aren’t known
. His split with his coaches is strange. Shoma’s relationship with his coaches, Machiko Yamada and Mihoko Higuchi, was unusually close for a top skater. He had been with them since he was five years old and had never been with another coaching team. The split was announced on the 3rd of June however talk of Shoma attending training camps in the off-season had started at the end of April/beginning of May so it’s very possible the decision had been made by then. This was only a month after Omaru channel began streaming long-length videos. And although the split was announced to be amicable it doesn’t really make sense for a skater to leave a coaching team that he’s been with for sixteen years and knows incredibly well to be on his own without a coach. Why not stay until he had found a new one? Something had to have happened. And who in Shoma’s life is looking out for him? It doesn’t seem like his family is. He doesn’t have his old coaches with him anymore who were a constant almost his entire life up til this point. No one from the JSF seems to be doing anything (although JSF is pretty corrupt and useless but that’s a story for another time). If his agency, USM, is doing anything it’s tamping down on the press because so far all of this has stayed exclusively online and hasn’t reached the media.
Is it because this is what Shoma genuinely wants to be doing with his life?
Has he lost interest in skating and instead wants to have a professional gaming channel because that’s what makes him happy? If his actions read that way then I wouldn’t have made this whole post. He’s shown up to all of his assignments this season and while his skate at IDF was bad and concerning it certainly wasn’t the skate of someone who didn’t care. He was landing his jumps in practice and he never attempted to lower his tech content. He was also very emotional about what happened. And I’m not going to sit and try and play armchair psychologist and try and diagnose if there’s anything wrong with Shoma. But I will say that what he said in the Q & A video didn’t sound like things that would come from someone who was happy and doing well. Shoma also gave an interview after Rostelecom saying that he had been struggling to find fun in skating up until IDF (I’ll link it at the end of the post). There’s also all of the iffy background information as well, it’s not like Shoma has started this channel with a friend his own age.
For now I think we can only look to the future and see how things progress from here. For now things are looking improved Shoma did look much better at Rostelecom and he seemed much happier to be working with Lambiel than he has all season. The youtube channel hasn’t been updated since before IDF and with any luck it will stay that way. Finding out someone you’re a fan of is a flawed human being isn’t always easy; you can’t exactly talk to them about it personally. It might be more comforting to just ignore those flaws and continue on as you were before. But just maybe if enough people show concern then there’s a chance there could be a change for the positive.
I’m ending this post with a link to an interview that Shoma gave just after Rostelecom which seems to be much more positive: link
There isn’t a problem with Shoma liking video games or him spending his spare time playing them or possibly even him streaming them online. But there is a problem if his approach to them is unhealthy and affecting the rest of his life, even more so if there is someone untoward who is taking advantage of that.
(I just want to take a moment to thank all the translators whose work I used to make this post. I really, really appreciate it and full credit goes to you and all your hard work.)
I was very apprehensive about making this post because I was worried that people might use certain information given in the post for the wrong reasons. I want to make clear please DO NOT COMMENT OR INTERACT with Omaru channel or any associated twitter accounts. If you’ve read the whole post I think you’ll understand the reasons for this. I’ve linked to them for evidence only and while I’m clearly trying to have people be aware of their existence I don’t actually want to see people actually interacting with them or worse encouraging them. Thank you.