If you have spent any time on Tumblr recently, you have probably seen/heard of this anime. That’s how I found out about it. Tons of fanart, theories, screenshots, blogs, etc. intrigued me. I watched the first season (12 episodes) on Youtube. The first three episodes were loaded by Crunchyroll, a subscription based anime streaming service. The quality was great and they had the full episodes. The other nine episodes were not so great. Most of the episodes cut off the opening and closing credits, the voices all sounded like the characters were sucking on helium, and one episode had no sound for about 30 seconds. My recommendation would be to use Crunchyroll to view this anime.
Yuri on Ice is about the difficulties of professional figure skating. Yuri Katsuki is your average Japanese professional figure skater. He begins the series by losing big time at the Grand Prix finals. He returns home in disgrace and does his best to figure out what to do with himself. After a video of Yuri mimicking Victor Nikiforov’s winning set goes wild on the internet, it snows… and Victor Nikiforov, five gold medal champion and hero of Russia, flies to Japan to be Yuri’s coach. Yuri Plisetsky, nicknamed Yurio to avoid confusion, follows Victor to get him to return to Russia and choreograph his senior debut skates. To solve the issue of Victor’s future, the two Yuris face off. Victor choreographs both pieces and Victor has to do what the winner tells him. Yuri wins, Yurio returns to Russia, and Victor stays in Japan. What follows next is beautiful skating, tears, laughter, a budding romantic relationship, and rivalry.
There are so many great things about this show. Beautiful skating, casual displays of practically superhuman strength and agility, watching people’s coping mechanisms evolve as their challenges evolve, triumph over adversity, great music… I could go on and on, but instead I’m going to focus on my top three favorite things.
Number one, you can tell when the characters are speaking a language that they are not familiar with, even though everyone is speaking Japanese. Victor doesn’t speak a lot of Japanese. Yuri doesn’t speak a lot of Russian. As far as I know, Yurio speaks no Japanese When Victor is speaking with Yurio, his cadence is fast and flowing and kind of low key. That’s because they’re speaking Russian. When Victor’s speaking with Yuri, his cadence is still fast, but some things are more exaggerated. Most likely because they are speaking English, which they are both fluent in, but it’s not their native languages. When Victor is speaking with someone else, like Yuri’s mother or father, his answers are slower and shorter. Most likely because he is learning Japanese at the moment.
Number two, the relationships. Yuri and Victor are super close. There’s a lot of romantic undertones. They embrace each other and even exchange rings at one point. I’m pretty sure they kissed on live tv, but the animators never show the lips actually connecting. If they aren’t as married as they can get in season two, what with being gay in Russia a prisonable offence and Japan not acknowledging gay marriage, I think the fandom will riot. I will be among them. But the most amazing thing is that the other skaters are nothing but happy for them. When Phichet, a Thai skater and Yuri’s best friend, sees the ring, he gets everyone in the restaurant to applaud his friend’s marriage.
Beyond Victor and Yuri, is the supportive rivalry between the other skaters. Everyone is going for the gold, stressing their body, exposing their soul, and leaving it all on the ice. Under normal circumstances, they would never meet, let alone get along as well as they do. It’s so much fun to watch the behind the scenes moments when the other skaters are watching the performance. There’s some judgement, but for the most part, they get really excited about stuff like getting a personal best or landing a tricky jump.
Number three, the music. The opening credits song perfectly captures the essence of the show, the struggle and beauty of figure skating professionally, the connections you make in unlikely places, and the amazement of knowing that you can nail that song for karaoke. Then the background music during scenes is a great backdrop for those scenes. Plus all the skating scenes have music that’s going on, which does a good job of pushing the story forward. Finally the closing credit song allows you to release the tension you built up while watching the show and relax before immediately starting the next episode. Usually I skip the opening and closing credits when I’m binging on a show. Don’t do that. Watch it all. It is worth it.
Overall, I am so glad that I followed Tumblr’s advice and watched this show. It’s beautiful, funny, and nostalgic. I’ll admit it, figure skating is my favorite sport to watch. Watching this makes me remember Saturday afternoons, being glued to the tv, sipping cocoa while the adults complain about the weather.
If you like beautiful animation, a great soundtrack, and aesthetically pleasing individuals, then this is the show for you. If you like figure skating, casual displays of athleticism, and sequins, then this is the show for you. If you like gay subtext, men supporting men emotionally, and sexiness, then this is the show for you. If none of this is true, this is still the show for you. Trust me, I’m only completely unbiasedly in favor of everything this show stands for.
5 out of 5 stars