“Ever since I first saw his skating, it’s been an unending chain of surprises.”
In one of the most misleading titles of the season, the highly hyped-up Yuri!!! On Ice does not have anything to do with the yuri genre, which features girl x girl romance. Yuri!!! On Ice is the most recent entry from Studio MAPPA, known for their work on recent shows Zankyou no Terror and Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis. I’ve never been very interested in figure skating as a sport, though I am a big fan of hockey, so I was a bit skeptical about how much I would enjoy this one going in. The first episode has definitely impressed me with crisp, beautiful animation and a story that is very relatable in its core message.
The story of Yuri!!! On Ice features a young Japanese figure skater, Yuri Katsuki, who was once a well-known skater competing for entry into the Nationals in his college days. During his time in college, he competed in the qualifying tournament for the National Championship, only to finish dead last. Yuri idolizes a professional Russian skater named Victor Nikiforov, a highly-renowned skater who has won several championships. One year after his crushing defeat, Yuri returns to his hometown of Kyushu in Japan, where he is welcomed home by family and friends. However, Yuri still holds a sense of regret and what could have been and devotes himself to getting back into shape and skating again.
The story of Yuri!!! On Ice is nothing groundbreaking in terms of sports anime. A young athlete strives to be something greater than he is, idolizing a professional skater and aiming to become as good as them. The show definitely does have a certain sense of charm to it through its characters. Being down on his luck and after failing time and time again, Yuri wants to try one last time to achieve his dream. Towards the end of the episode, it is revealed that Victor, Yuri’s idol, will be Yuri’s coach for the upcoming season. I’m admittedly very interested to see how the show develops going forward, I feel it’s a story that has been done several times but Yuri has the chance to bring something new to the table.
Admittedly, it wasn’t really the story of Yuri!!! On Ice that hooked me in. The characters themselves were nice and kept me interested, but the animation was really where this show makes its case for being something special. The animation and scenes are all extremely crisp. Especially within the skating scenes, the movements are fluid, there is a significant attention to detail, and the “camera” rotation within the scenes make them a spectacle to watch. There are tons of little details, like the lens flares on Victor’s uniform and the rotation of the camera, that make the show really interesting to watch from an animation standpoint. Yuri has definitely set itself up as being one of the prettiest anime this season, so it will be interesting to see if the show’s story and characters can match up to the high-quality animation.
Should You Watch It?
Definitely. I wasn’t 100% sold on the premise for the anime going in and it gave me certain vibes from the heavily male cast and the depiction of the males. However, even with the predominantly male “pretty boy” cast, there were surprisingly few jokes and references to yaoi within the show. The characters all seemed pretty interesting from their first view and Yuri was a relatable main character who has tons of potential to see some pretty interesting character development. The animation for Yuri!!! On Ice, as I’ve mentioned before, is absolutely stunning, so I would consider that a reason to watch even one episode just to see how pretty the show is. Definitely don’t pass this one, it could be one of the best to come out of this season.
Yuri!!! On Ice is available for viewing on Crunchyroll, though new episodes will be on a one-week delay as usual for free members.