I actually wanted to watch and review Slayers, as it was one of those old series I wanted to catch up with, but after episode 14, I just couldn’t watch it anymore, as it didn’t seem to have a consistent story. I really wanted to like it, and to some extend I sure did, but it just wasn’t enough for me. So I decided to watch Yuri!!! on Ice instead, as I wanted to pick that one up afterwards anyway. Boy, does that series have a catchy opening!
The Japanese figure skater Yuri Katsuki comes home after being away for a few years, not only due to him finishing college, but also because of him failing horribly at the Grand Prix Finals, which haunts him. He doesn’t know what to do with his life now, but decides to go figure skating for fun. While he copies every move of his idol, the Russian world champion Victor, he is unknowingly being filmed by a friend. The video goes viral and around the world, until it is actually being watched by Victor himself, who decides to visit Yuri in Japan, without anyone knowing.
As Victor makes himself at home in Yuri’s house, freaking the poor guy out in the process, he tells him that he wants to become his coach. As someone who basically has given up due to failing at his profession, Yuri can’t believe his ears, but can’t say no to his big idol, and agrees to do his best. This includes losing weight, as he has become rather fat after being lazy for so many years. Of course, the news of Victor being in Japan to coach someone who is known for failing can’t be kept a secret, and other skaters and coaches quickly find out. This again leads to another Yuri showing up in Yuri’s house; the Russian figure skater Yuri Plisetsky, who gets dubbed Yurio to tell the two apart.
Angry as hell over Victor’s decision, Yurio decides to prove his worth against Yuri, whom he already deemed unworthy at the Grand Prix Finals. Victor has already promised to coach them both, but as this is not possible, they all agree on the two Yuri’s skating against each other in a local competition, where the winner gets Victor as coach. It’s probably needless to say, but Yuri wins, and Yurio goes back to Russia to train there, and win the next time they meet. This is not only the beginning of a new chapter for Yuri, but it’s the first chapter in the rest of his life, as nothing will ever be the way it was again.
First off; it was hard not to compare it with Free!, as that series already set the bar for bishonen sports anime pretty darn high (and that J.J. Sousuke…), but after a few episodes I quickly realized, that there was no need to compare. Yuri!!! on Ice tells its own story, and feels completely different. What I think dragged it down a bit though was, that the quality of the art changes a lot during the first half of the series, even to the point where characters look like someone else for a few scenes. During the skating scenes though, the animations are really nice, and quickly drag you in.
The main focus though is of course the relationship between Victor and Yuri, which starts out pretty awkward, for reasons explained later in the show. While it’s never officially announced in the series, that they actually do love each other, it’s hinted so often, even so heavily at some points, that you have to pretty dense not to grasp it. Does it make it a shonen ai series then? Nah, because as stated; it’s only hinted, and not shown. You don’t have to like shonen ai to enjoy this show, and you don’t have to like figure skating either, which brings me to my next point.
While the sport takes up a lot of screen time, due to the plethora of secondary characters that we have to watch skate over and over again, it’s more about the drama behind the scenes. Yuri starts off as a failure, but evolves into a budding star. While the same can’t be said about Yurio, as he already is a promising skater, he too has to evolve a lot to keep up with the others. Victor on the other hand has already won the world championship 5 times, but as this is his first time as a coach, he too has a lot to learn. The character development is the main focus of this show, and it’s good! I just hope that some of the secondary characters get more time during the second season (yes, I root for a second season), because they lack depth, but bring so much humor into every episode.