It is LGBT Pride Month, and each week I will have discussions about LGBT media through entertainment. This week’s topic is the anime Yuri on Ice. Yuri on Ice is a figure skating themed sports anime that ran from October 6th 2016 to December 22nd 2016. The story follows Yuri Katsuki who after performing poorly in a national figure skating competition as a result of mourning the loss of his pet dog and performance anxiety. Despite his intentions to retire from figure skating Yuri’s idol Victor Nikiforof approaches him stating he will coach Yuri and turn him into a figure skating legend (completely naked when doing so too).
During the series Yuri grows in both his abilities as a figure skater, and a person as he slowly grows closer to Victor having his feelings towards Victor evolve from a crush/admiration to genuine friendship eventually leading both of them authentically falling in love with each other.
Watching this anime was a very wonderful for me, unfortunately I did not watch the anime as episodes premiered on Crunchyroll due to being unaware of it at the time, but a few months ago I watched and loved every moment of it. Even with the relationship between Yuri and Victor aside the story is very interesting and well told with Yuri frequently questioning if he should continue to be a figure skater despite gaining a considerable amount of skill with Victor as his coach.
The scenes where Yuri and the other skaters perform and compete are very intense and pulled me (and probably other viewers) closer to their tv’s and computer screens with heartbeats intensified. Despite the series being animated I did feel nervous watching Yuri and his rivals skate cringing when the performers had flaws in their routines. In addition to these routines sympathy and backstory is given to each character that aren’t Yuri, Victor, or Yurio (a third protagonist that I’m ignoring because I want to concentrate on Yuri and Victor) in the series. I consider the fact that all of the following was accomplished in the anime within twelve episodes very impressive.
Besides figure skating the main part of the story is the relationship between Yuri and Victor. Despite the original intentions of writer Mitsuro Kubo of having the relationship between the two be one of coach and student where at the end of the anime Yuri would retire so Victor could return to skating and the two could be separated once again, the two fell in love. I truly enjoyed seeing the two begin to synchronize their affection for each other, especially after later episodes hint that Victor was attracted to Yuri and chose to become his coach based on these feelings and emotions alone.
The voice acting in both Japanese and English are very good with parts of the Japanese dub giving the possibility that the voice actors were indeed crying while recording and some parts of the story possibly improved upon with the English adaption. The art and animation can be a little weird at times, but the figure skating scenes are amazing. The music compliments the skating scenes very well, and I rather like that Yuri and his friends tend to be social media junkies at times.
There is some criticism over the fact that there are no homophobic characters in the series despite two other figure skaters being hinted at Christian faith. Although I do understand the criticism over the fact that Yuri On Ice appears to be a world with no homophobia for Yuri and Victor to encounter (Victor is from Russia as well), I prefer the anime to be this way. If said two minor characters are indeed of Christian faith, then that makes things better in my opinion since at this current time Christianity is being hijacked by a bunch of assholes that are making all of us look like monsters that want to lynch anyone who disagrees with them. In my own opinion I think the show could be a form of escapism and provide an example of a happy gay relationship for lgbt viewers.
I highly recommend this anime to both hardcore and casual anime fans and give Yuri On Ice four out of five Katsu Pirozhki buns. Yuri On Ice is produced by MAPPA studio and has been dubbed in English by Funimation and is available on the Funimation website and for free on the Crunchyroll website.