Anime: Yuri!!! on ICE (Limited Edition)
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Retail Price: $84.98
Anime fans know that sports anime series are some of the fast growing in popularity, covering all sports from rugby, volleyball, or basketball - but now the next hit has elevated to a platform that exceeds the successes of these popular sport centric shows and has achieved popularity like no other, titled Yuri!!! on ICE. Depicting the intricate and artistic world of figure skating, Yuri on Ice contains an athletic tale that doesn't usually get the chance to be told as it hopes to bring beauty, creativity and passion to the genre as if it were a direct transition out of the sport itself. Just how did this anime become a juggernaut and even go on to inspire champion figure skaters around the world? Well let's dive right in, shall we?
Japan's former number one ice skater Yuri Katsuki is our series protagonist, with the young man suffering a particularly difficult (and embarrassing) loss at the Grand Prix Final and it's enough to make him rethink his career as a skater, leaning towards the possibility of retiring for good. However, one person and professional skater named Victor Nikiforov from Russia proposes the idea of being Yuri's coach and the younger skater is blown away that the five-time champion (who also happens to be Yuri's idol) would be interested in taking him on as a protégé. With the pair beginning an unlikely partnership, Yuri begins to train to be his best and the two start down a path of evolved passion in both their skating and personal lives.
In Yuri on Ice, the series tends to dabble in two major storylines - the first being Victor and Yuri's ever-changing dynamic, and the second being the dedication to skating. In terms of skating, the anime really hopes to recreate that magical energy of watching brilliance occur on the ice. The passion behind skating leads Yuri to this darker place in life where he suffers from depression, but it also brings out his best when finding inspiration. A major aspect of the series is that essential inspiration that keeps both of them constantly trying to better themselves (or each other.) While someone like Victor constantly wants to perfect his craft, Yuri's love for skating helps the Russian skater channel it into coaching. Their choice in activities, food, conversations, basically everything they enjoy comes back to ice skating in one way or another, making it ring true that it is what they absolutely love.
Though the passion they have is nearly identical, it seems to be even greater for another reason - the bond they have formed. Yuri has admired Victor from afar and even idolized the athlete (he has posters of the skater) with it not being unheard of to Victor either. When they meet, they experience more of the traditional fan-service instances, but underneath that lies a connection. The passion they have for ice skating makes their bond even tighter, by understanding what makes one another tick. Over the course of the series we really get to see that play out as each obstacle and triumph only makes them feel more attached to each other - igniting an undeniable spark. By the series end, it doesn't feel like it's forgotten, and Yuri on Ice begins to progress with the sport, but more importantly the relationship between characters. Seeing a bond flourish like that and knowing the series creator doesn't play things safe is proof of growth in anime, athletic depiction and overall storytelling for Japan.
The animation is an important piece of the puzzle to this particular anime series. Figure skating is already something that is beautiful to watch, but hadn't truly been attempted to animate in this method previously. Yuri on Ice uniquely animates the performances in each episode, the opening credits and any time they find an opportunity to. It truly is a visual wonder, showcasing some of the brilliant art that anime provides as a medium. Between the marvelous animation and stellar English dub cast, the completed project of Yuri on Ice completely smashes expectations and surpasses other sport series with ease, making it one title that you won't want to miss.
Overall Score: 8/10
Aedan's Final Thoughts:
- The romance between the pair is crystal clear, making Yuri on Ice a series that contains passion, romance, creativity and individuality.
- Yuri on Ice is an anime series that has rightfully become an instant sensation.
- Getting a second season seems like it could be a very simple choice given the all around success of Yuri!!! on ICE
- An easy choice as a new favorite sports anime, but also for it's forward thinking ideology.