My very first review for a very special anime. Yuri!!! on Ice is a show about Yuuri Katsuki, a 23 years old top figure skater from Japan. He trained in Detroit and qualified for the Grand Prix Final for the very first time in his life, but he became last place with a very low score due mental and physical problems. His idol, Russian champion Victor Nikiforov takes the gold once again. Yuuri doesn't know whether to retire or to continue, he feels like his career is over but he also wants to skate on the same ice as his idol again. He visits his home town to think things over, and suddenly Victor Nikiforov himself appears at his home and tells Yuuri he'll become his coach and will take him to the Grand Prix Final. And that's how the heartwarming story about figure skating begins.
Please do not compare this show to anything BL/yaoi/shounen-ai related because it's not what this show is about. Sure, Victor and Yuuri share an emotional and romantic bond but it's very subtle handled. The romance is there to make Yuuri stronger as a competitive skater and to accomplish his goal to win a gold medal at the Grand Prix Final. Yuri on Ice is enjoyable for both male and female audience. The main theme of the show will always be sports, so you won't hear any love confessions from either of them but you'll definitely notice there's something going on between them.
Yuri on Ice is very realistic to the real figure skating world. The creators of this show are big fans of figure skating, and they definitely know a thing or two about how the skating world works. That's why this anime has been praised by many real life figure skaters. Figure skating is a very beautiful and passionate sport, where people can express themselves in routines, music and glittery outfits.
The story is very simple and the pacing seems a little off here and there. There is a time skip of five months or something between episode 4 and 5 while the last three episodes happen in three or four days. The story is very rushed near the ending, and the dynamic between Yuuri and Victor changes drastically (read: they give you the feeling theyre dating) but no one in this show talks about it, neither the main characters or the side characters. They all just kinda let it happen. This felt a little frustrating to me because I wanted to have a deeper look into their relationship, but the show is all about the sports and their relationship will be up for interpretation until the very end.
The comedy in this show is actually funny and very solid, but that's just my opinion. I think the comedy doesn't work for everyone, for example manservice is used for comedic purposes in the first 4 episodes. Yuuri's family runs a hot spring and there will be a few scenes where Victor appears butt naked.
Yuri on Ice has a few sudden twists and turns during the story, and all of them are positive and mostly heartwarming. There will be moments you'll feel shocked, extremely happy, sad and you'll feel for the characters, even if they're not that important to the story.
The ending left lots of people unsatisfied, but personally I didn't feel that way at all. Many things happen in the finale and I had to rewatch a few times to fully understand what's going on because it's a little bit rushed and fast paced. The ending hints at a season two and that's why I liked the ending: everything you wanted to happen in the finale can still happen in season two!
I can assure you the ending of season 1 is a happy ending, even though things won't go as you expect.
Yuri on Ice has a huge cast of lots of international figure skaters. They all have their own reasons to win, different outfits, routines, music and lots of personality. The characters aren't stereotyped and are unique in their own way. Some of them skate for love, some for their country and some of them just to beat Victor off his throne.
- Yuri "Yurio" Plisetsky, Yuuri's main rival from Russia is a 15 year old, very talented but rude character. I didn't like his character at all in the beginning, but I came to like him because his skating is absolutely wonderful. It's a treat for your eyes, the music he uses for his program is phenomenal and his outfits are the best. Yuri fricking Plisetsky, a cold hearted lil tsundere crawled his way into my heart.
- Phichit Chulanont from Thailand, Yuuri's rinkmate in Detroit, is an extremely likable character who skates to make history for his country,
- Flamboyant Chris from Swiss who wants to beat Victor no matter what and doesn't feel motivated because Victor isn't skating this season,
- JJ "the King" who wants to take over the whole skating world but he realizes the pressure of being number one can be overwhelming,
- Michele "Mickey" Crispino who skates for his twin sister and breaks his personal record by a mile when he realizes his love for her is unhealthy and let's go of her. Mickey isn't a very important character but his free skate performance made me cry like a baby
- Yuuri's family, childhood friends, ballet instructor Minako-sensei and his fellow Japanese ice skater and fan Minami-kun who supports Yuuri no matter what. They don't appear a lot, but they are likeable and they add a good amount of comedy to the story
- The two characters who nestled their way in my heart are Yuuri and Victor. Yuuri gets an immense amount of character development, he has major anxiety problems, (sometimes so bad it's unpleasant to watch). Luckily he has Victor by his side who'll support him as much as he can and together they'll work things out. He grabs on to Victors love and rises himself to the top. Victor may seem like a mysterious character with unknown reasons to coach Yuuri, but near the end of the series it turns out he's nothing but a big sweetheart who had no inspiration left to surprise people and felt imprisoned by skating. He took a break to coach a failing Japanese figure skater and found his love and life in the boy and his home country Japan.
There are even more characters, but these are the ones who left the biggest impression on me
The art itself is amazing. The realistic scenery which includes different countries (Japan, Russia, Spain) and real life ice skating venues is amazing to see. The outfits were designed by real life figure skating designers and Yuuri's free skate outfit was even made in real life. The routines are choreographed by Kenji Miyamoto who is a figure skater himself.
The characters all look great on the ice, but the animation was rushed and felt incomplete. The expressions of the skaters looked awkward and unfinished. The body movement is amazing to see though and the jumps are awesome. Overall, most skating routines didn't really grab my attention, but it didn't affect enjoyment one bit.
You know why lazy drawn routines didn't affect my enjoyment? Because the music is absolutely outstanding! The show uses both real life music and new created music for the show. On Love: Agape and Allegro Appassionato in B Minor (Yurio's music) and Stay Close to Me (Victors Free program) are the ones who just left me speechless. Another favorite is "Theme of King JJ" which is an incredible catchy song, you can see the public singing along while he skates to this music and even I had to sing along because it's just too good! Yuuri's free skate "Yuri on Ice" is the most memorable, it's a song which expresses his entire career in a beautiful way.
The mix between classical and pop music is great, and it's one of the best aspects of this anime.
The OP is catchy, and don't even get me started on the ED: it's perfect. One of the best and unique ending songs I've ever heard!
When I first started this anime I had very low expectations but it turned out to be my absolute favorite. I love the OST, the characters, the story, the comedy, the art style, the realistic and professional view of a very beautiful and interesting sport. Everything just works for me. The gay romance was such a treat since I like yaoi slightly more than yuri or straight relationships, but I would've rate 10/10 anyway. You shouldn't shy away from this anime just because it has a few gay moments!
Everything about Yuri on Ice is just so satisfying. The creators put so much effort in this show and their hard work has payed off. I really think this show deserves its hype.