Always interested in a new anime to watch, we tried out Yuri!!! on Ice after we had it offered to us to review. With neither of us being fans of figure skating (we've never once been tempted to watch Dancing on Ice, or any other shows similar to that), and tending to mostly be interested in animes that have some sort of super-power or sci-fi element to them, we weren't sure what to expect... but boy are we glad we watched it.
From the moment the intro starts, you're mesmerised. It is beautiful to watch, and the intro music "History Maker" is really catchy and inspiring - "We'll make it happen, we'll turn it around, yes we were born to make history" - even when it feels like nothing is going right, and all is against you, the song gives a very uplifting, hopeful feeling, which is extremely fitting for the series from the get go.
The series follows the titular Yuri Katsuki, nearing the end of his career as a figure skater after an embarrassing failure, and his idol, legendary Russian professional figure skater Victor Nikiforov, who discovers Yuri after seeing a viral video of him performing one of his routines, and instantly takes a shine to him. This then leads to him becoming a coach and mentor for young Yuri as he tries his best to improve and become a skater just like Victor.
23 year old Yuri is a very relatable character, in more than just the fact that this show is based entirely in reality - no fantasy powers or otherworldly locations here - but in that his battles with depression and anxiety, as well as sexuality and self-doubt just feel all too real. The relationship he has with Victor, going back and forward between loving him platonically, and romantically - and struggling with how to decide upon his feelings at first - feels genuine, and riddled with the expected confusion from a couple that at first don't quite know where they stand with each other. Their relationship blossoms, and leaves you feeling cheerful at how things are progressing with them, and how Yuri's confidence in himself grows as he learns to love himself - as he comes to terms with his emotions - instead of constantly feeling that he isn't worth it, and would never amount to anything. It's refreshing to see an anime have such a focus on the emotional aspect of things, at least in terms of mental health. With so many people now fighting their own battles against anxiety and depression, it's nice to have a kindred spirit in Yuri.
Watching each episode and seeing each challenge Yuri faces as he tries to progress and win medals in these tournaments never fails to keep me drawn in. I must admit, I did wonder at first how each episode would keep me interested when it would just be people competing at figure skating (as mentioned above, I'm not normally a fan) but there's so much more to YOI than just the figure skating, albeit that is the core premise of the show. Each tournament had you eager to see how Yuri's competitors would get on, and likewise, how Yuri would improve from his last appearance. It doesn't always go smoothly either, you regularly see competitors slip, fall and injure themselves in a variety of ways due to the difficult maneuvers they attempt, and Yuri isn't exempt from this - in fact, to begin with, he's probably one of the clumsiest of the lot (which further related to myself!). I thoroughly enjoyed watching the routines, and whilst I still don't think I'll take an interest in actual figure skating, I can certainly appreciate the beauty of the routines and the choreography that goes into them more having watched this.
The rest of the cast, whilst not as prominent as Yuri or Victor, is filled with characters with just as much life and emotion. From the cute, cheeky little triplets who are always up to mischief, to Yuri's rival - Victor's other mentee - 15 year old Yurio (also named Yuri, but nicknamed Yurio to differentiate), who is a little more rebellious than he is, and filled with teenage angst to boot, there's plenty of very recognisable behaviours and personalities filling out the series. Each of the voice actors behind the characters do a fantastic job also, from the hesitant Yuri and confident, alluring Victor, to stressed out mother Yuuko (who is run off her feet with the triplets).
Similarly to the intro, the end credits has a fantastic soundtrack with "You Only Live Once", another inspiring and enjoyable track - and one that gives me the feeling of those songs you hear at the end of a night out, when you've had a great time, but you're glad to be heading home to get some rest. The accompanying images are really well done and fit this too, with snapshots of moments and memories - giving a bit more insight into the characters and their lives. It's rare that I find a theme song (intro or outro) for an anime that I dislike, but it's not often that I enjoy both as much as I did with these.
Overall, I completely adored YOI, and would highly recommend it to others, particularly those who are a bit more open to less fantasy or action based animes, and ones more focused on character relationships and emotions.
In the end, we decided to give Yuri!!! on Ice the Collecting Asylum score of 9/10!
Have you watched Yuri!!! on Ice? What did you think of it?
Let us know in the comments below!
- V x