Yūri!!! On Ice (ユーリ!!! on ICE) is an original sports (figure skating) anime series produced by studio MAPPA that I decided to pick up after many stellar recommendations from quite a few fellow otaku bloggers. I will confess that I felt very hesitant about starting this due to how hyped it is. I have noticed that most hyped serials, or even books, usually aren’t worth all of the fuss that they garner. Now that I sat down and watched the first two episodes, I am starting to understand the passion that fills the veins of fans everywhere because, damn, it’s got some serious potential.
Yūri!!! On Ice follows a boy of twenty-three named Yūri Katsuki, who was once Japan’s most promising figure skater. However, after an agonising loss during the Grand Prix Finale, he returns home to consider his options for the future. One day while practising some skating at a local rink, a video of him performing his idol’s—Victor Nikiforov—programme gets secretly uploaded to the internet, where he reaps near-instantaneous fame overnight. In the wake of this viral video getting released, Victor catches sight of it and decides on the spot to head to Japan so that he may coach Yūri with his skating endeavours.
My very first impression after finishing the first episode, which was then further established after episode two, is that the series is beautifully laugh-out-loud. I mean literally beautiful and laugh-out-loud.
The animation quality is absolutely extraordinary, particularly the shots of the scenery around town. The stunning calligraphy inspired watercolour designs are so breath-taking that they are essentially porn for the eyes. I couldn’t stop admiring the art, so much so that I would miss a lot of the dialogue because of how enraptured I became. There are so many details, intricately woven into the backdrops as well as the foreground to create a vividly traditional aesthetic, while following an atmosphere that is quite knee-deep in modern technology (references to Instagram, Twitter, and social media in general more than any other series I’ve seen). These two contrasts worked so well together. This is what makes Yūri!!! On Ice so damn beautiful, as well as very unique.
The show is laugh-out-loud because the characters are all idiots in one way or another, but they are also rather charming and entertaining. Yūri himself is very awkward and timid and has no sense of how to act around this guy whom he’s idolised since he was a kid. Honestly, I can’t blame him. I’d probably lose whatever cool I had (which is exactly none) if I ever found myself in the company of a person I admired so wholly. Then you have Victor who is a flamboyantly passionate goofball that is a brilliant skater. His inane personality and slight arrogance can be quite endearing in the right moments. Even the rival, whom I shall refer to as Yurio to keep the confusion away, is a whiny self-entitled brat whose tantrums are more comical than irritating. When I wasn’t empathising with Yūri’s self-doubt and indecisions about his future, I was laughing and shaking my head at all of their ridiculous theatrics.
Aside from the humour, I get the vibe that Yūri!!! On Ice is going to be a series about perseverance, whether it’s with the sport, relationships between people, or something else. That is going to be the key here and I eagerly look forward to seeing how things shall progress and develop.
Some other minor titbits that I found to be fun include the opening sequence with the sketch-drawing animation that is utterly lovely, particularly when coupled with the sweet sound of the music; the trio of kiddos that will cause quite a bit of trouble with their mischief; and Yūri’s family, including his coach, who seems like they’re the most supportive and kind-hearted group around.
You can watch Yūri!!! On Ice over on Crunchyroll.