Yuri!!! on Ice Review (Anime)on February 1, 2017 by Holly Williams
Yuri!!! on Ice exploded in popularity during its run last season, and continues to have a huge presence online. I, like many, quickly fell under its spell. Having been drawn in by its initial simplistic trailer, Yuri!!! on Ice turned out to be just as heartfelt as I’d hoped, and I soon found myself eager for the next episode to come out.
Disheartened by his performance in the Grand Prix Final, figure skater Yuri Katsuki decides to put his career on hold. However, when one of his videos goes viral, Yuri’s idol Victor Nikiforov suddenly shows up and offers to coach him! With Victor’s support, can Yuri go for gold?
The story is simple, but touching. It focuses on not only Yuri’s relationship with Victor, but also how he views himself and tries to find his place in the world of figure skating. Even the dramatic moments in the series felt fresh to me. The whole incident with Makkachin was a nice way of adding drama without straying into a romance cliche, and the few moments of miscommunication (which is so often overdone) are cleared up quickly, making them feel natural and not like you’re watching some weird anime Othello. It’s also really refreshing to have a mainstream title focus on a male-male relationship just as it would a male-female one, without constantly drawing attention to the fact it’s doing something unusual.
My initial thoughts when I started the series were that I liked how it was developing, but the premise from the first few episodes — Yuri’s idol showing up out of the blue to coach (and also maybe woo) him — seemed weirdly unexplained and out of place in such a carefully thought out series. This was remedied later on in the series, and in a fantastic way, so I have very few complaints as far as the story goes. Although the ending could be described as anticlimactic, I think it worked well, and sets up nicely for a season 2, which I hope will be just as great as this one.
The story is simple, but touching.
It’s really great that we get to see the routines for a lot more than just the main characters, even characters like Seung Gil Lee who were pretty much never in it again. These helped give a much better sense of everyone having their own reasons to compete and their own anxieties, as a nice supplement to Yuri. I hope we continue to get further development for some of these characters in a second season. Especially Otabek, who only got properly introduced towards the end, and whose relationship with Yurio is a really good insight into another side of Yurio from how he was at the beginning of the series. I’d love to see him, and Yurio himself, get more screentime in a second season!
The music throughout the series is great – from its very catchy opening theme, to the beautiful titular ‘Yuri on Ice’ for Yuri’s free skate. The different routines, with their range of music and costumes, were definitely one of the highlights for me. While I enjoyed the romance, I came to the series for the skating, and I was not disappointed.
The voice cast was also stellar. I watched the series subbed, but I’ve seen a few scenes in the English dub too, and it sounds pretty good, if you can put aside questionable Russian accents. I tend to stick with one version of a cast, but this may be a series that I have to experience in both. I’ll certainly be watching it again, either way.
I’ll certainly be watching it again.
There have been a lot of negative comments about the show’s animation, but animating ice skating must be super hard, and I think we’ve all seen worse in things somewhere along the line from basic movement or even just standing still. It’s quite possible that some of the less-polished shots will be altered in the DVD/Blu-ray release anyway, so it wasn’t a big issue for me. Besides, when it’s good, it’s very, very good!
A lot of work went into this series, and, for all its humour, it does its utmost in giving a realistic take on figure skating. Choreographer, retired ice dancer, and figure skating coach Kenji Miyamoto was behind the skating choreography, and costume designer Yuiko Sagiri works on costumes for real skaters. Not to mention the myriad references to famous skaters throughout the series, from visual cues to a full-on Stéphane Lambiel cameo.
So much thought and research went into this series, and it’s clear that it comes from a team that loves figure skating.
The commentary in the show honestly makes it feel like a real life competition, and has encouraged me to take more of an interest in watching real life figure skating (I admit, for all that I like sports anime, I generally have very little interest in sports IRL). The series also renders real life locations in loving detail. So much thought and research went into this series, and it’s clear that it comes from a team that love figure skating.
Yuri!!! on Ice was, without a doubt, my anime of the season, going so far as to be my anime of the year (although I’m sure I probably missed a few gems). It really did take the world by storm for a bit! Now though, as with all things that reach such heights in popularity, the inevitable burnout has started to creep in. It’s truly saddening to see such a positive series crashing, and so quickly. I really hope this won’t put newcomers to the series off, and that people will continue to fall in love with it just as I did. If you haven’t watched Yuri!!! on Ice, give it a chance – it deserved its time in the limelight!