What’s the show? Yuri!!! On Ice (2016).
How am I supposed to say the show title? Do I shout the name and then add the ‘on ice’ bit like a coy whisper? If you want.
And are the three exclamation marks really necessary? It’s Japan, they love exclamation marks. The sooner you come to peace with this fact the quicker we’ll be able to get on with the rest of the questions!
Fine, what’s the show about? It’s about male figure skating and it’s fabulous!
So I’ve heard… But what if I don’t care about figure skating? You will.
No but really, what if I literally couldn’t think about anything more boring than watching an anime about figure skating? You’re wrong.
No but imagine, err, imagine I live in a conservative household and my father already worries that there’s something wrong with me because all I do is watch anime and collect figurines of all my best girls. What do I do then? Make him watch it with you, then kiss him goodnight afterwards.
You’re not helping! I mean… I didn’t want to say it so bluntly but you’re being difficult so I guess I have no choice. Isn’t this show… kind of… gay? Yes. Yes it is.
Okay, so what do I, a straight male do about this? It doesn’t seem relevant to my interests at all. So watch an episode of Yuri on Ice then follow it up with an episode of Keijo if you’re so worried. No anime has the power to magically turn you gay… well maybe JoJo’s Bizzare Adventure.
Fine then, what makes it so good? Everything! The characters are complex and well rounded, the stakes feel real and the tension waiting for the scores is like watching the Olympics only you actually care about these people! The animation is flawless, the music is phenomenal, there are laughs and there are tears. It’s a sports anime done to perfection because it’s not just about sports; it’s about people who are passionate about something they love and try their hardest to be the best!
Hmm, well that does sound good I will admit. Sports anime are supposed to be really good on the whole, yeah? Indeed! Plus Yuri and his new coach Victor make a really cute couple!
Huh? ‘Couple’ as in romantic? They are this generation’s Romeo & Juliet! Except without the feuding families and suicide. So, uh, nothing like Romeo & Juliet now that I think about it.
Romance aside, what is the show about? What’s the central conflict? Our protagonist Yuri is a Japanese figure skater, he’s very good but he always chokes when he’s in big competitions, and at 23 he’s on the verge of being too old to learn new tricks in the sport, so legendary skater Victor shocks the world when he quits skating to coach Yuri full time. This decision doesn’t sit well with the other Yuri, a 15 year old up and coming Russian figure skater that Victor had promised to choreograph a routine for if he won the Junior World Championship, which the young Yuri did. Seeing this bond quickly forming between Japanese Yuri and Victor, Russian Yuri immediately declares him as a rival.
Two Yuri’s? Doesn’t that get confusing? Not really, no. The most confusing thing about it is that the term ‘Yuri’ is associated with lesbian fiction in Japan!
Is that why you ended up watching it? Did you mistake it for something else? I did nothing of the sort; I watched it because it was the most talked about most popular anime of 2016, that kind of hype is inescapable. I knew what I was getting into before I started it.
And did it live up to the hype? It exceeded it.
Well for something so popular what’s next for it? A second season? Unfortunately the level of popularity it attained meant they prioritised a movie instead. While I’m sure it’ll be good, a second season is always preferred, at least in my opinion. A movie’s too short to continue a story in a satisfying way, not to mention it’ll take longer to get made than a series.
Anything else to add? Pork cutlet bowl!
Is that a euphemism? Probably.
Final score? If you think you already know what kind of show this is based on preconceptions about ‘BL’ anime or from out of context gifs and quotes then you’re really only getting a surface level interpretation. ‘Yuri!!! On Ice’ transcends genre, it transcends memes and presumptions and stereotypes, it’s just a fantastic show from beginning to end and really doesn’t do anything wrong. The judges have their scores; it’s mostly tens across the board with a couple of nine’s; 94 out of 100.