Today, I present to you a review of the most popular anime of the season. The anime that got one of the biggest global following this year. And I will try to point out how the show is not as great as most people think it is (well, at least according to MAL) and how the show isn’t as bad as other might think it is.
Synopsis: Yuri Katsuki suffers a crushing defeat in the Grand Prix and returns home to think about his future. He performs Victor Nikifrov’s performance in the Grand Prix and his program gets recorded and gets viral. Victor shows up butt-naked in his family’s inn’s bath and declares that he is going to be Yuri’s coach. And so, Yuri reembarks on is journey to the Grand Prix.
Wow, I really have to improve on my synopsis writing. Just a quick heads up, this review doesn’t have my conventional structure (plot, sound, animation, etc.) but rather split into the good and the bad.
Yuri!! On Ice is not a bad show, but it isn’t great either. First, let me chalk out the things I liked. The character writing in this anime is really impressive and the character interactions were really well done.I really liked Yurio because he is one of the more realistic portrayal of a teenager in anime- angry, stubborn, dynamic and passionate (get them hormones flowing!)
JJ turned to be a really good character and Giacometti… I have nothing to comment on. Otabek had a late introduction but his interactions were one of the little things I took with a smile from this show. The motivations of Phichit were pleasant to watch in the midst of the competitive atmosphere of the Grand Prix. Katsuki Yuri was also a neatly fleshed out character and I really liked his interactions with Victor with exceptions. The non-finalist supporting cast was a vibrant batch and it is pretty impressive how the show picks up these characters and neatly molds them into interesting people in such a short time.
The performances in this show were nice to watch and had beautiful choreography which matched the characters perfectly. Even though most of them were repeated (with minor changes) I never got tired of watching them and I liked the way the character development is integrated in the performances. The music pieces were diverse and again, matched well with the characters. Speaking of music, the opening of this anime is one of the best of this season. I liked the style and music and I only shortcoming it had that it looped the animation midway. I don’t know maybe that’s the choreography. The ending had good shots in instagram style and I think it’s pretty interesting.
Now before I go on a tirade (or something like that), let me gush about the first episode, which is simply stellar. The first thing that caught my eye was the animation style in the performance. I liked the way details were kept constant and the way the camera zoomed in on the skaters more often than the other episodes. I liked the subtle way the anime tells us how Yuri lost his crush to his good friend because of chasing his dreams, that really impressed me. Overall, this anime set the bar really high in the first episode.
And the show didn’t live up to it. The animation got more and more basic in the later episodes- details were toned down, and so were the flair in the costumes; zooming in on characters were only done when the skater was thinking about something. Yeah, sure: there were good shots with stellar lighting and colors- but that’s not animation, that’s art (which is impressive in still frames)! But I am not saying that the animation is bad, it is good but not high quality like the first episode. Then again, the last two episodes did improve on the animation.
Next issue is the huge amount of unnecessary yaoi-bait (or fujo-bait) that the anime does between Victor and Yuri. I mean there is nothing wrong with gay undertones or full-on BL but the show does neither. The show just teases and episode 7’s kiss was the epitome of that. The show seemed hesitant to commit to BL and that wasn’t a good thing at all. It wasted air time. I mean that ring exchange scene was beautiful to watch even for a non-fudanshi like me but sadly, the anime decided to just use it to tease on them marrying and crap.
Victor had to be the worst character of this show because his motivations to coaching Yuri were really vague and his point of view narration was rather annoying to watch. I don’t get him at all. Next on the chopping board is the sports theme, the show fails to be a solid sports anime because the technicalities are not explained. I mean, when the commentator says that a quadruple flip is hard to do, I just take his word and when Yuri does it- I don’t feel anything I just think: Well, good for you, Yuri. I had no idea on the lutz, salchow and toe loops- seriously though, they all looked pretty much the same. I had no previous exposure to ice-skating, so for the whole length of the show, I had no idea on the point system. Then again, the show had little air time- so I guess my sports rant may not be fully justified. So, when the points come out on the screen, my expression is like:
Overall, Yuri!! On Ice, tries to touch on many genres: BL (not in a committed way, though), character-drama and sports. In my opinion, the character writing stands out from other anime and the premise is pretty unique. It does many things right and the fujo bait parts were pretty scattered honestly but then again, teasing cannot go without criticism. Yuri!! On Ice might not make my top ten of the year, but it certainly is going to be in my honorable mentions.