- Release Date
- Fall 2016
- No. of Episodes
Yuri!!! on Ice is a 2016 Sports Drama anime series from one of the biggest fan-favored anime studios in Japan, MAPPA. As with many series that quickly caught the attention of many people on the internet, this series took the world by storm, claiming all seven nominations in the inaugural Crunchy Roll awards. But as the fans were cheering in excitement, the internet was divided by the sweeping awards this series had gotten, which they believed were unnecessary. This brings the question, is this series as good as it seems?
Reeling from his crushing defeat at the Grand Prix Finale, Yuri Katsuki, once Japan’s most promising figure skater, returns to his family home to assess his options for the future. At age twenty-three, Yuri’s window for success in skating is closing rapidly, and his love of pork cutlets and aptitude for gaining weight are not helping either.
However, Yuri finds himself in the spotlight when a video of him performing a routine previously executed by five-time world champion Victor Nikiforov goes viral. Victor himself abruptly appears at Yuri’s house and offers to be his mentor. Yuri eagerly accepts as one of his biggest fans, kicking off his journey to make it back onto the world stage. But the competition is fierce, as the rising star from Russia, Yuri Plisetsky, is relentlessly determined to defeat Yuri and win back Victor’s tutelage.
These stories may seem very repetitive and boring, but this writing was well done. While some series cannot be fully explained in two or three paragraphs, Yuri on ice can quickly be boiled down to two sections without spoiling any necessary details. Perhaps it’s the simple sports drama of the genre, where a player or team comes to a problem and figures out a solution and the entire season is about getting to the result. Considering how regular drama-themed anime series compare, this narrative seemed better than most in some areas.
The ability to slowly build the characters throughout twelve episodes to the level that Sayo Yamamoto and Jun Shishido both crafted showcases their talent and how impactful a story can be to any viewer. Another part of this story that viewers must know is that it is overall a log on a low-level fire; of course, there are pops and crackles of excitement, but they are done sparingly, which lead up to the finale of the series. Many series that try the slow-burning approach tends to bring excitement too fast or overcompensate for their lack of excitement, and thankfully this series avoids those.
However, the most prominent aspect that this series has going for itself when it comes to its story is that it is cumbersome in the boys’ love, and if that’s something a viewer enjoys seeing, they’ll be thrilled. While many of the scenes expressing this are undoubtedly fan service, they are done so well that even if viewers are not interested in that genre, they may enjoy it now. The best part of the boys’ love scenes is no more than PG-13, so anyone can watch it without having an awkward moment when someone walks into the room. There is some sexual tension between the two main characters, making this story even better because it’s not the sexuality that matters; it’s how they release the energy.
But unfortunately, no matter how good a series, maybe there is always something that didn’t work within the series. If one boils down the story to its core, one will come to it being a simple underdog story, which has its moments in anime and many famous movies. Yuri on ice is in that strange limbo area where it’s not a David and Goliath, but it has its moments.
While some classify this story as three different genres: Romance, Sports Drama, and even boys’ love, when the narrative drops the sports aspect of the story, the pacing jumps a few beats until it finds itself changing again. When the potential viewer watches this, they will be able to find the faster-paced areas when they’re transitioning from one genre to another, which often leads the viewer to wonder if they missed something. This is not a dealbreaker for many viewers, and it is a clear area that they had multiple problems with that needed to be noted.
Perhaps the most significant negative this series may get is that some viewers may find the story hefty in queerbating. While these marketing tactics are nothing new, especially in the anime world, when it overtakes the story’s central premise, it tends to show a lack of plot. While having a same-sex relationship is nothing negative, using it to prolong a story with nowhere to go is a terrible way to include anything in the mix. If a narrative cannot continue without the same-sex relationship taken out of the entire plot, was it even a good story?
When it comes to the art style, and character design Yuri on ice broke the scale. The attention to detail in color patterns and character designs with their personalities were amazingly done. Each of the costumes worn on the ice was beautifully crafted, and if real-life figure skaters inspired it, it’d be no shock. The amount of realism this series had gotten in its artistic creation is remarkable and brings excitement to many fans of not only animation but by artists and creators altogether.
“History Maker” is one of the catchiest anime openings to any series that came out in the 2010s, and the fact that the song has been listened to by over forty-five million times clearly shows how popular it became and still is to this day. If one has never seen the series, they most definitely heard about the theme song at least once on any anime form in 2016. But the animation production does not end at the theme song, the animation in the opening was beautifully created and flowed very smoothly. This is a crucial example of how an opening theme and animation sequence is integral to a series and how they should not be neglected.
But what the most significant positive this series has going for it was the animation towards the figure skating was phenomenally created. The ability to craft something that looked like the moves came directly from a live-action movie was remarkable. This series production team deserved all the praise they got for this creation as they not only showcased their hard work but captured the hearts of many Olympic skaters, which shows how entertaining it was worldwide.
Yuri Katsuki is the main protagonist, and he is a twenty-three-year-old figure skater. However, he began to skate at a very young age and aspires to become a great figure skater like his idol, Viktor Nikiforov. However, he is not a prodigy like some of his peers, but he made up for that with rigorous training, granting him good stamina. He is Japan’s top figure skater, his greatest assets being his peculiar sense of rhythm and unusual steps. However, this is quickly overshadowed due to his inability to move on from trauma and lacking self-esteem.
Victor Nikiforov is a twenty-seven-year-old figure skating genius and living legend from Russia who Yuri Katsuki idolized since he was a child. Starting as a teenager, Victor has won numerous competitions, including winning five consecutive Grand Prix finals, following victories in Nationals and the European Figure Skating Championships. As the top skater globally, Victor is very popular and charismatic and is flirtatious, and likes to speak his mind. As stated by Yakov, Victor does whatever he wants and often gives a whimsical, carefree attitude.
Yuri Plisetsky is a fifteen-year-old Russian figure skater and a rink mate to Victor. Since he was young, Yuri has been a figure skating prodigy and has won two consecutive Junior Grand Prix Final and Junior World Championships. He won first place in the junior circuit during the year Yuri K. lost in his first Grand Prix Finale. Since he surpasses his peer group, Yuri is very arrogant, and his harsh personality earned him the nickname “Russian Punk,” though he is also known as the “Russian Fairy” because of his good looks.
After viewing this series, the viewer will understand why it got so much attention during its original run. The production was spectacular and well-created to the point it seemed unreal. The characters had a natural chasm that went way beyond what one would expect for a twelve-episode series, but who’s complaining about that? But what makes this series so entertaining is that it mastered the soap opera-type story. Giving little bits of fan service was what viewers were craving before the entire meal was served to its viewers. Whether one is Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Transgender, or whatever needs to watch this series as it has mastered so many aspects of anime storytelling that so many other popular series miss.
Cody Senpai is the creator of BakaNow, an anime review website that specializes in spoiler-free reviews for everyone. He is an avid anime watcher who has traveled to Japan numerous times to not only experience the culture and history but also to build friendships with people through a common interest. He is an avid animation fanatic from birth and even went on to major in communication to help share the importance of the stories we love to watch and listen to. Cody lives in Denver, Colorado and loves to do anything adventurous.