So, in a previous Track Of The Day, I mentioned that Yuri!!! on Ice was a definite must see anime from this season’s currently airing choices. And one week and another episode later, my feelings haven’t changed at all! To quote myself again, “you’re one hundred percent, definitely, positively and completely missing out” if you haven’t been watching and keeping up with Yuri!!! on Ice!
So maybe you’re not into sports anime, but please, I’m begging you, listen to this for just a few minutes because I promise I’ll change your mind about this one, and have you typing in your Crunchyroll password faster than you can say “pork cutlet bowl”!
You still with me? Okay, good!
Ice Ice Baby
There’s no shortage of different sports portrayed in anime. Whether it’s basketball, volleyball, swimming or soccer, there’s bound to be something that’ll have you cheering on your favourite team. Much like a real sport, it’s anime counterpart will have your heart racing, anxiety welling up as you sit on the edge of your seat, your fingers crossed as you whisper “Ganbette!” to fictional 2D characters that will never hear you. Well, Yuri!!! on Ice is much the same! Who knew an anime about the competitive world of men’s figure skating could be so thrilling?
While the story centers around the main protagonist Yuri Katsuki, the anime also plays host to a huge variety of supporting characters, as well as Yuri’s idol-turned-coach, skating legend Victor Nikiforov, and Yuri’s skating rival, Yuri Plisetsky (who for the sake of not confusing you, will be so elegantly renamed ‘Yurio’).
Hot As Ice
After completely bombing his chance at winning big at the Grand Prix Finale ice skating competition, due to some crippling anxiety and the loss of his family pet, Yuri returns home in defeat. After his return, he picks himself up to get back on the ice again, his idol, Victor Nikiforov is banging down his door and telling Yuri that he’s going to coach him. It just so happened that the children Yuri’s old rink mate posted a video online of Yuri skating one of Victor’s routines that goes viral, leading Victor to fixate on how when he sees Yuri skate he believes his body is making music. And then, butt naked in the middle of Yuri’s family owned onsen, Victor declares himself Yuri’s new coach.
What an introduction, am I right?
Well after the whirlwind drama of Victor entering Yuri’s life, not too long after we have the ‘Ice Tiger of Russia’ Yurio, turning up too after following Victor to Japan! Now Yurio has already sworn his rivalry with Yuri, after the latter faced his crushing defeat previously. But while yes, this is a sports anime and the level of rivalry and grittiness is portrayed like many other series, Yuri!!! on Ice breaks the norm and throws all pettiness out the window, the characters are supportive and are constantly cheering each other on, which is evident in almost every episode.
Something else that rears its head in every episode, is Yuri’s confidence in himself growing. His personal demons and anxieties may never fully dissipate, but his character growth is really inspiring. Over the course of nine episodes that have currently aired, Yuri has shown us how incredibly brave, courageous and confident in himself he can be.
I need to reiterate something; Yuri!!! on Ice is a sports anime. A. Sports. Anime.
Why am I stressing that fact so much you’re probably wondering, right? Well, just like we see Yuri’s confidence grow every episode, we also get to see and experience the bond that forms between Victor and Yuri. From student and coach, to friends, and then settling into something so comfortable, you’d swear they were lovers…
Oops! You guessed it! Victor and Yuri are canon! So let’s give the Yuri!!! on Ice creators a huge round of applause for breaking the absolutely horrendous queer baiting sports anime trope, and making this show LGBT+ friendly!
Let It Go
This is a massive surprise to anime fans all across the board, as like I’ve said for the millionth time, this is a sports anime. It’s not shounen ai, nor is it yaoi, hell it isn’t even in the romance genre! But here we are, wrapped up in the middle of one the most beautiful and healthy romances to grace our screens in anime. So while we get to see Yuri climb to the top and try and win gold at this years Grand Prix with his skating theme of ‘love’, we also get glimpses into the adorable fluffy relationship he’s built with Victor.
But wait! Remember how Victor was also one of Yuri’s skating idols? Through their journey together, we learn about the real Victor Nikiforov. How Yuri has nothing but respect for him, yet sees passed what everyone else can, and views Victor as a real person with flaws, refusing to place him on a godlike pedestal. Yuri can perfectly see Victor for who he is, and not just as the genius figure skating legend with multiple gold medals under his belt.
I’m so excited to see how the end of the season pans out! Will Yuri win gold for himself and Japan at the Grand Prix, or will his anxieties rear their ugly head again? How will Yurio fair against his rival? Will Victor and Yuri ever skate a duet together? I have no idea but I’m sticking around long after we find out! And with a mere 3 episodes of the season left, that gives you plenty of time to catch up if need be! Or to rewatch it all if you’re as invested as I am!
Just perpetually screaming about fictional boys