Yuri!!! on ICE (Review)

In recent years we have seen a surge in the sheer number of sports anime. Everything from Basketball to Cycling has been done and more are set for the near future too. However, there’s one sports anime which has stood out from the rest and over the past season has entertained us, that anime is Yuri on Ice. Competitive figure skating is one of the last sports I’d ever be interested in. My knowledge of the sport extends to 1987 and the famous Bolero and to some extent the flop TV show where they took z-list celebs and had them trying to skate. However, Mitsuro Kubo has made the globe fall in love with figure skating by capturing the beauty and raw emotion and animating it for us all to enjoy. The show has caught the world’s attention with mentions on South Park catching the eye and even a cameo by movie star Ted but was it worth the hype?

Yuri follows the story of failing dime a dozen Japanese figure skater Yuri Katsuki. At 22 and failing to make the finals he is left heartbroken and considering retiring (figure skaters usually retire in their mid-20’s). However, he takes some time away to finish his education and decided to return to skating and one of his practices was caught on camera and went viral. The video caught the attention of his idol and 5 times Russian gold medalist Victor Nikiforov. Victor was considering retiring and after pondering his next move he has decided to coach Yuri. This causes the ice skating world to lose it. Think of Zlatan Ibrohimavich getting tired of banging them in for Man Utd so he moves on as he fancies the challenge of managing Hartlepool United. So Victor takes up an unfamiliar role and a relationship is formed between himself and Yuri. Where it is not exactly confirmed during the season, the relationship is heavily inferred as a romantic one which has been sending the online fujoshi community into a frothing fit of yaoi induced squee. There will be planets light years away that will be able to receive echoes of the collective screams from episode 7.

It is unprecedented and straight forward for a show to depict a homosexual relationship in a frank and honest way. The exchanging of the rings scene is groundbreaking when in a country like Japan where gay marriage is still frowned upon, Yuri on Ice takes a rather normal approach to it with no real fanfare or drama around it. The yaoi subtext aside, Yuri offers a touching plot of one man’s struggle in his sport and the anime manages to capture the struggle well. The beauty of the series is not so focused on  Yuri and Victor but the whole cast of characters and how well they are all developed. They have taken a group of international skaters and each one has been given their own characteristics and quirks the chemistry they have with everyone works perfectly. Another worthy mention has to be the musical scores in this show. Straight from the off History Maker is the opening tune of 2016 but the quality extends further with the routines music and background songs. Despite the spectacle of figure skating the key element to the sport is the music and the animators know this.

Great care and effort has been poured into this anime and the pay off is an amazing emotional ride which leaves you wanting more, especially with the groundwork for season 2 been laid so expertly at the end of season 1. The accuracy of the subject matter has been perfect and even drawn praise from ice skaters and a special compliment from the pole dancers association for how their end of episode 10 was bang on. Yuri takes a modern approach with this, as a sports anime, the use of technology and especially social media gives it a modern feel because it’s one of the things that is often missed in anime is the fact we all heavily rely on social media. With the Instagram coverage in Yuri on Ice, it brings the anime into the 21st century and I can’t believe it has taken so long for anime to catch onto this.

Yuri on Ice used social media to full effect.

Yuri on Ice can be found on Crunchyroll and the dubbed version is over on Funimation well worth a watch.

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