Yuri!!! on ICE is one of the most popular anime of last couple of years and certainly one of the highlights of 2016. It’s not unusual for a sports anime to attract a lot of fans, and since skating has many fans in Japan, the unusual thing was that this was the first anime to have it as its theme.
Kubo Mitsurou is a popular manga artist in Japan who illustrated Tokkyu!! and created Moteki, with the latter being adapted into a live-action movie in Japan. Kubo worked on the original story, characters, and script for Yuri!! on ICE.
Today I want to talk about the reasons Yuri!!! on ICE hopped on the highest step of the medal podium.
The anime collaborated with people from the skating industry
Yuri!!! on ICE is an anime about figure skating. While the story itself was wel-written, the attention to detail went beyond that. The creators asked former figure skater Kenji Miyamoto to choreograph the skating scenes. Kenji skated in real life and the production team shot him at different angles to use during the skating animation.
The sports commentator in the anime, Hisashi Morooka, was played by real-life sports commentator Taihei Katou.
They both gave the anime a sense of realism that contemporary sports anime usually lack. If not for the animation,Yuri!!! on ICE could have easily been a drama or a movie about figure skating. And the fact that it’s an original anime with no manga counterpart makes the story fresh.
Yuri!!! on ICE Has A Simple but Enticing Story
Yuri Katsuki is one of Japan’s top figure skaters. He spectacularly failed his first Grand Prix Final, coming in last place because of his weakness towards pressure and the death of his pet dog.
In order to think about what he should do after this failure, Yuri goes back to his hometown to get back the feelings he felt when he first started. It is during his visit home that he perfectly mimics the skating routine of his idol Victor Nikiforov in front of his first love Yuko Nishigori.
Yuri was suppose to show the routine only to Yuko, but her triplet daughters filmed the routine and uploaded it to the internet. The footage spread like wildfire and the whole world was in uproar. It even caught Victor Nikiforov’s attention. After that, Victor comes to Yuri’s home, which is a hot spring inn. While bathing fully naked in the hot spring, he tells Yuri that he is going to become his coach.
And from here the story of Yuri, Victor and many other international figure skaters begin…
Yuri!!! on ICE Has Vivid Characters
Japanese. Born November 29. 23 years old. 173cm tall. He likes Katsu-don. (Japanese food consisting of a rice bowl topped with a fried pork cutlet, eggs and onions.)
The protagonist of the story, Yuri, was raised in Hasetsu City. (this is not a real city. It was modelled on Karatsu city in Saga prefecture.) His parents run the hot spring inn ‘Utopia Hasetsu’. He has idolized Victor Nikiforov since he was little, and has a poster of him in his room. He also named his pet dog Victor. He is weak against pressure, but he doesn’t like to lose. He gains weight very easily, but because he can save energy in his body, he has a lot of stamina.
A bit of trivia: Yuri’s birthday is November 29, which is ‘good meat day’ in Japan [11/29 can be pronounced ii niku – ‘good meat’]. Fans held meet-ups everywhere in Japan to eat Katsu-don on his birthday in 2016.
Russian. Born December 25. 27 years old. 180cm tall. A charismatic figure skater who won the world championships 5 times in a row.
Victor is a skater who Yuri has aspired to since he was little. His stance is to ‘surprise the people with a performance’ in skating. One of his attractive points is his very handsome face. However, he has his own way of doing things and he often leads people by the nose. He comes to Japan to be Yuri’s coach because he ‘felt an inspiration’ when he saw Yuri doing his skating routine.
He is a little worried that his forehead is getting wider recently.
Russian. Born March 1. 15 years old. 163cm tall. Makes his senior debut in the series.
He had good scores in the juniors and people expect much from his senior debut. His looks are ‘Russian Fairy’, but his personality is more of a ‘Russian Punk’. He considers Yuri as his rival. He makes a promise with Victor to do the choreography for him at his senior debut, but Victor goes to Japan to coach Yuri K. Yuri P follows him to get him back and ends up competing against Yuri K. The Russian Yuri loses and ends up returning to his country. But this actually fires him up and he declares:
I’m not going to lose to them!
Since he shares his name with Yuri, Yuri K’s older sister gets confused. She gives him the nickname, ‘Yurio’ just because he looks like a member from a band she likes.
The anime has many different and charismatic characters that I wanted to cheer for. Many figure skaters from around the world have a certain passion towards representing their home countries!
The relationship between Yuri and Victor- Is it okay to look at it THAT way?
I have tried to explain what makes Yuri!!! on ICE so interesting in terms of sports, story, and characters, but there is that one thing that makes all the female hearts run wild and has certainly played its role on the anime’s success. One thing that I can’t get out of my head every time I see the episodes… the love between Yuri and Victor…no, no, I mean their relationship as coach and skater! That’s it, right?
For the person you idolize to come to you, live with you and teach you…this would have been the setting of a super standard love comedy if we were talking about a guy and a girl. Not just that, but there is constant Victor fanservice, physical contact between them, and, I can’t say it clearly because of spoilers, but ‘that’ scene and ding ding ding!!! There’s no way you can’t get excited and crazy!
What makes Yuri!!! on ICE different is that the hints are all there but the anime never goes so far as to disclose their real relationship. It’s like a constant tease that keeps the fans glued to the screen. It may seem a little weird to guys who don’t feel comfortable watching yaoi situations, but the eroticism is so subtle and on the surface level that you can still enjoy the anime without having to worry about explicit sexual scenes.
Yuri!!! on ICE is an Anime Success
DVD and Blu-ray sales are the yardstick when it comes to measuring the success of an anime. If a title surpasses 10,000 copies in Japan, then it may possibly get a second season. We can expect Yuri!!! on ICE, to easily surpass that amount. I’ve been wishing for a second season, a movie version, or just any kind of sequel.
Well, for now, thank you Mitsurou Kubo and Sayo Yamamoto! Thank you for making Yuri!!! on ICE!
How to Make Devilish Katsu-Don | Yuri!!! on ICE