There’s something about sports anime that I get conflicted with. On the one hand, sports anime do a good job of telling engaging stories while giving us characters we can root for, and make the action some of the best in any anime. On the other hand, I hate sports. I find a majority of them boring, so the thought of an animated sport show seems even worse to me. Nonetheless, I find myself attracted to these shows once I start to watch them. What is the sport Yuri on Ice tackles? Figure skating … Really.
Our protagonist is Yuuri Katsuki, a professional ice skater from Japan who is not very good at the sport. Or more accurately, does not have the self confidence to make his talent shine. After coming in last place in the Grand Prix finale, Yuuri goes home and skates a homage to the person he looks up to the most in the industry—and fellow competitor—Victor Nikifrov, from Russia. Secretly being filmed, the video goes viral where Victor sees it and goes to meet Yuuri.
Yuuri and Victor are polar opposites. Yurri is timid and does not have much faith in himself. Victor is loud and boisterous, having won multiple Grand Prix. Their different personalities help them work well off one another, and it is always interesting to see these types of characters change as they come to know and understand each other.
Lastly, we have Yuri Plisetsky, who is entering his first competition, but is already showing immense promise in the sport. His rough attitude complete the trio of protagonists, and his talent gives Yuuri a rival of sorts to compete against. Each character has their faults, and while some may find certain attitudes more tolerable than others, each is not just a caricature. They learn and grow as the show progresses.
After meeting Yuuri, Victor decides that he is going to take a break from ice skating in order to become Yuuri’s manager and help train him. This sets off a rivalry with Yuri who was also hoping that Victor would become his manager. As they each train to become better skaters, the competition starts up again, and they each fight hard in order to make it to the Grand Prix finals.
The story is typical sports anime cliché (heck, it is almost just a sports story cliché in general), but like any story, it is the characters that keep the story going. That is no exception here. The different skaters that the trio comes into contact with are all colorful and fun to watch. The music and coordination of the skating routines are absolutely amazing, and are definitely the best parts of the show.
Two things; first the protagonist, Yuuri, can come off as a whiner at points. I understand that this is his conflict as a character, but it would be nice to see a shift from this as the show continues. At points it looks like he has overcome his timid nature, only to revert back to it in the following episode. This continues throughout the entire series. At the very least the show should have snapped him out of that by the final competition.
The second thing is the finale. Not that it was bad, but it felt rushed. They had to get through six skate routines in the last episode, when previous episodes only focused on three or four. If the show had been just one episode longer, it would have remedied this problem, but as it stand it felt like a rushed goodbye instead of a heartfelt farewell.
Not much to predict since the show is over. I hope it does not receive a second season. Not because it could not be done well, but because it feels complete as it stands. Another season just does not seem necessary.
Yuri on Ice is fantastic. Once again a sports anime has shown that it does not matter if you care about the topic at hand or not, the characters and the story are more than enough to push the show forward and keep you entrtained. Out of all the sports, figure skating seems like one of the toughest to make engaging. Those worries can be thrown out, as this is a show that I can whole heartily recommend. Check out those blades of glory.
If you’re interested in the series, Yuri on Ice! can be found in its entirety on Crunchyroll.