(This review contains spoilers. Read at your own discretion.)
I’ve noticed something in common with the things that I love and rave about: they all start out as things that I hear about everywhere (and by that, I mean Tumblr) and I don’t expect much out of it in the beginning. Exhibit A, Hamilton. Same goes for Your Lie in April. I end up being ridiculously happy over it but will also cry massively towards/at the end of both.
Safe to say that the hugely popular figure skating anime, Yuri!!! on Ice, fits these criteria perfectly.
I’m just going to copy and paste (with some minor edits) the synopsis of this anime from Wikipedia. Trust me, I tried to summarise it, but I had to refer to the Wiki to double check and, my god, this anime has come so far since the first episode:
Yuri!!! on Ice follows Japanese figure skater, Yuri Katsuki, after suffering a crushing defeat during the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final. Following more failures, Yuri develops mixed feelings about ice skating, among other troubles in his life, and puts his career on hiatus. After graduating from college in Detroit, he comes back to his hometown of Hasetsu in Kyushu. Yuri visits his childhood friend at an ice rink and perfectly mimics an advanced skating routine performed by famous Russian figure skater and Yuri’s idol, Victor Nikiforov. When secretly recorded footage of Yuri’s performance is uploaded to the internet, it catches the attention of Victor, who decides to suddenly travel to Kyushu to become Yuri’s coach. Together with Victor, Yuri aims to win the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series as he battles against his rival, Yuri Plisetsky, a 15-year-old rising star skater from Russia, as well as many others.
I’ll admit, I’m not big into sports animes and YOI sounds like a run-of-the-mill sports anime. At least, that’s what I thought. Boy, did they prove me wrong quickly.
I joke about this with my other anime-watching friends that sports animes just get gayer and gayer every time a new one comes out (someone also posted on Tumblr, noting that the more exclamation marks are included in the title, the gayer it is). Only YOI didn’t just involve two shippable characters (though in the world of anime, anyone can be shipped with whoever) nor was there any queerbaiting (or “fujobaiting”, as the Japanese call it) nonsense—it was go big or go home. And, boy, did MAPPA & Kubo-sensei pull out all the stops.
I thought YOI was alright at first, but it really got me hooked from this scene onwards. I was sold and on board with everything that was to come.
And that final episode? The credits scene on episode 12? Deceased. I am gone. But at least I died so ridiculously happy for everyone involved. Bless them. This is one of the things that saved 2016. I am never getting over it.
Thinking about it, this anime has everything that I love. It’s got flawlessly animation (it was mostly focused on choreography in this one, seeing as it is all about figure skating).
It’s got some catchy soundtrack as well as some beautiful, emotional ones:
Everyone’s so damn likeable as well. We got Yurio being pretty as all hell with his short fuse and character development:
Phichit, my child, too precious for this world, too pure:
And then we got all of them:
Another thing that this anime covers, though not as obviously but I love and greatly appreciate, is mental health. Yuri displays signs of anxiety and depression. He’s an emotional character; he cries a lot, expresses his doubts constantly, and despite being a professional on the rink and having made a name for himself, his self-esteem and self-worth constantly fluctuates. The support that his friends and family showers him with often doesn’t go through his head and he downplays his successes more often than not. And this comes into play a lot during competitions, his relationship (especially with Victor), and especially when he’s coming to terms with it himself.
I’ll be honest, if it wasn’t for Tumblr, I would’ve completely missed it since it was quite subtle (or not? I’m also really dense). But once you notice it, the subtlety of it is what made it so damn effective. Because that’s what having mental health issues is like: it manifests itself in many different ways and takes the form of so many different things. And, sometimes, it’s not as obvious as you think it is.
To conclude, Yuri!!! on Ice is a beautifully animated series with a compelling storyline, a massive cast of characters with their own unique developments, and a catchy and emotional soundtrack. I’m not that well-versed in anime and how far it’s come in the past years, but this one of the most inclusive ones I’ve seen recently, what with its same-sex romance as well as shedding light at how mental health affects a person in their day-to-day life. I highly recommend it.
If you made it this far into my post, then thank you for reading! Have you watched this anime? If so, what did you think of it? And if not, I hope this convinced you! I’ll see you in my next post!
Until next time,
Feliz Navidev 🎄