Yuri on Ice is without a doubt the most popular anime of this season. It’s a show that is consistently talked about and spoiled online within half an hour of it appearing on Crunchyroll. People need to watch the show you know. It is sometimes impossible for me to watch this anime with a clear, unbiased, or unspoiled mind because it’s a show that airs hours before I get off work and there are tons of people obsessing about it on social media. You know who you are. How I think about this show is how I think about most of the popular anime in their individual seasons like Erased, Attack on Titan, One Punch Man, etc. It’s a very enjoyable and alright anime series, but it has a decent number of flaws as well.
This is a sports anime, but it has a little more emotional resonance to it than a typical one like Days. After losing the Grand Prix finale for ice skating, Yuuri Katsuki heads back home to think about his future. While randomly skating one of Russian skating idol Viktor’s routines, it is posted online, then Viktor sees it and immediately decides to be Yuuri’s ice skating coach. Of course, another Yuri needs to get involved in this equation. The youngster that is given the name Yurio is also from Russia and wants Viktor to be his coach as well. The first set of episodes ends with a skating competition between Yuuri and Yurio and you can guess who won. Angsty Yurio remains angsty and heads back to Russia for heavier instruction and the series turns into a standard sports anime with the bonus of having Yuuri and Viktor slowly growing closer together.
I don’t feel like I have to talk about characters that much because Yuuri, Viktor, and Yurio are the only characters that get any continuous and deep development. There are those people around Yuuri’s home town that are developed at first, but that those characters are only seen watching Yuuri on T.V. or waving flags in support of various ice skaters in later episodes. It’s like Yuri on Ice only remembers them at the last moment. There are also the other ice skaters that are developed during little cut scenes during their routines, but it feels like each one of them only has one trait because the show doesn’t have enough time to do anything else with them. This is a status quo that is even maintained in the tenth when all the grand prix finalist are spending time together relaxing at a restaurant. It’s kind of disappointing.
Another flaw of Yuri on Ice is repetition. Since we see Yuuri and other skater’s routines multiple times, it’s the same repeated bits of animation one time another. The only time there are changes are when characters either fall down, mess up, or do something unplanned. It’s almost like this series was over ambitious because Ice Skating requires a lot of movement and Studio Mappa does seem like it has the resources for all of it. Another bit of repetition that hurts Yuri on Ice is how a lot of the episodes are arranged. Once Yuuri goes into competition, each episode is predictable. They are just going to be filled with one skater after another doing their routine with cuts to show who they are after another. This show could use a little more variety because a lot of episodes were boring to me. I wish I could have seen more of each cup’s settings outside of the ice rink to make each occasion feel bigger. Yuri on Ice could have used more episodes to make this world and the characters more realized.
Now that I have hammered down on Yuri on Ice quite a bit, let’s talk about more positives. The sound design in this show is terrific. Not just the good soundtrack for the show and the sounds of skating itself, but the fact that each skater has their own music they skate to. I can’t imagine how much work has gone into that. There is also the fact that Yuuri and Viktor’s relationship is realistic. These two are exceptionally fun and goofy people at times, but when there is drama between them it is portrayed in an exceptional manner. Whether or not the shipping thing is intentional, which I think it is, these are character that belong together in one capacity or another. Also, the character designs. I love that each character looks like the correct ethnicity. Not many shows do that and I am floored that Yuri on Ice did. It means so much to a show that has a lot of international appeal to it.
Just know that I do think that Yuri on Ice was worth watching. Not only for the discussions on the internet, but because the positives outweigh the negatives. Yuuri on ice is not a perfect show, but what show is? If this series had twenty four episodes instead of twelve, I would feel a lot better about this show. The world could be explored more and the characters could have been developed more as well. That being said, I liked this show. It is highly ambitious and that is saying about in an anime world that tries to stick to a single formula and repeats it an infinite amount of times. It just couldn’t live up to all of the ambition that was on display. I just wish that I could have gotten more out of Yuri on Ice, but I don’t think it was aimed at me in the first place. That’s okay, because I had a lot of fun watching it and seeing the internet community talking about it all the time. If there is a season two, which it looks like there is going to be one, I’ll watch it. No problem.