4 Stars

****

Ladies—and also gentlemen—do you like to watch figure skating?  Do you enjoy watching good-looking guys ice skating and developing relationships that revolve around that hobby??!  Then, you are in luck, because there is a newly and released Shounen sports anime called Yuri on Ice!!!  Those of you who already watch a ton of anime probably know about it because everyone is always posting content on social media about how much of a groundbreaker this anime is.  For the ones who have not seen the series, though, I will state later on in this review why Yuri on Ice!!! is so popular and groundbreaking among anime fans, especially the females.

So, Yuri on Ice!!! takes place of a young man the age of 24 named Yūri Katsuki, who lands a huge defeat at his national figure skating competition, returns home to Japan to retire.  One day after a video of him skating goes viral and catches the attention of Viktor Nikiforov, a five-time World Champion figure skater and also Yuri’s idol skater.  Viktor, then, flies from Russia to coach Yuri so that he can have another chance at trying reach first place in the world competitive ice skating competition.  Together, these two form a special bond that will help each other get through the skating competitions.

Now, this anime has a pretty simple synopsis, but the writer Mitsurō Kubo adds a lot of character development to the all of the main characters in this anime, to give more depth to the story.  For Yuri Katsuki, he starts off as a faint-hearted and weak character, but as the series moves along, he becomes a strong character as he learns from his defeat and past experiences on the ice.  Another example of great character development comes from Yuri’s rival, Yuri (or Yurio) Plisetsky.  He starts off the Russian punk teenager who just wants his rivals to stay out of his way so that he would not have a hard time performing for a gold medal.  But as the series moves on, he becomes a bit more soft-hearted and respectable to the other characters.  With Yurio’s wonderful development, he turned out to me one of my favorite characters throughout the series.  Throughout Yuri’s and the other characters’ growths, there are moments that will make you laugh out loud, feel bad for their past experiences, and even give you the feels!

The music in this anime—OH MY GOSH—I kid you not, I could listen to the soundtrack from this show for hours on end!  Composers Taro Umebayashi and Taku Matsushiba poised some of the best music that is candy to the audience’s ears, especially the opening, History Maker.  With the lyrics in the English language and classical ice skating music, it is pretty easy to have this tune stuck in one’s head for a while; I even sing along whenever I listen to the opening at the beginning of the anime and on my own time!  A lot of the music composed is classical, which fits since most ice skaters skate to classical music, but there are some peppy compositions that the skaters will perform to.  The music the characters skate to are special in their own unique way because they show what their personalities are.  An example would be the song “King JJ,” in which a Canadian character Jean-Jacques Leroy (a.k.a. JJ) performs.  This song describes JJ’s snarky, narcissistic personality as he calls out to the audience to pay attention to him on the ice.

As for the voice acting for Yuri on Ice!!!, I pretty much enjoyed it.  I could only watch it in Japanese because I was not able to find the English dubbed episodes on YouTube.  The Japanese dub is tolerable, but I definitely wish that I could have watched the full series on dub instead of having to watch the individual funny moments.  Those hilarious moments in English, though, have top notch voice acting.  Since a lot of characters come from different countries, the English voice actors decided to give them the right accents that come from the characters’ foreign country.  In the Japanese dub, the audience will not hear the accents, but hear some English words from time to time, which gives the show a bit of uniqueness to it.

Another huge plus for this show has to be the flawless animation.  From the nighttime scenery to the food that is realistically drawn, the art will have your jaw dropped to the floor; even the different and memorable character designs will have you shocked!  The animators also did a phenomenal job with drawing out the performances that were choreographed by Kenji Miyamoto, leaving the stunning performances awe-inspiring, even for me, as a dancer.

(Short story: I danced for about six years at different dance studios and then stopped a couple years ago, but four of those years I took hours of ballet lessons.  While watching this anime, I remembered some of the ballet steps that some the characters perform and would always play the game of Try-to-Figure-Out-The-Ballet-Step-Sequences.)

Now, with the dancing in mind, there are a few scenes where some of the characters have flashbacks of them taking ballet lessons so that they could rehearse for their figure skating performances.  I appreciated the series a lot more after watching these memorable dance scenes, but I wish there was at least one episode just about the dance rehearsals the main characters have. (Just a little answer for those who are questioning why the men are showing dancing ballet in this anime: Without learning ballet, one can’t perform in any figure skating competition without having any dance experience, especially in the Olympics.)

Although the performances were flawless throughout the series, they became quite repetitive after episode nine.  Our main protagonist Yuri kept performing the same routines over and over again, which loses the beauty his numbers had in the first few episodes.  It’s understandable of him to perform the same numbers, though, since he is going from country to country in a short period of time, but seeing some original performances would have kept me even more entertained with the anime.

Okay, now to the main part a lot of you otakus are wanting me to talk about: the relationship between Yuri and Viktor.  To be honest, I was not used to watching an anime where two guys build their relationship based on their feelings for each other, but as I continued watching the show, I grew to actually appreciate the relationship between the young skaters.  After a certain performance, though—not going to name it because of spoilers—Yuri and Viktor’s relationship felt a little bit rushed for a couple of episodes, which is probably to show the audience some fan service.  It got back on track, thankfully, showing some sweet, tender, and memorable moments that made my heart melt.

After giving this anime some thought, I gave this anime a four out of five stars.  If only this anime did not shove the relationship between the two male protagonists and show repetitive fan service for them in the middle of the season, then I would have given the show a perfect score.  (Yes, I said season!  Otakus, there might be a possible chance of getting another season of Yuri on Ice!!!)  I think that anyone who enjoys great music, animation, and a unique story line will definitely enjoy this anime.  Also, for those who are reading this and have never seen anime, then I’m sure you would enjoy this series, but there is quite a bit of fan service…just as a forewarning. Well, get ready to put on your ice skates and embrace your inner fangirl or fanboy as you skate your way through the wonderful and realistic world of Yuri on Ice!!!

Advertisements