So, the first question that everyone asks about this show, Yuri on Ice, is "Is it gay?" I just want to say, dude, really? It's a story about male ice dancers. It is gayer than gay. Yuri on Ice is the gayest thing since gay came to Gaytown.
Yes. Yuri on Ice is gay, but it is also one of the most fun sports anime series I've seen in a long time. Is it the be-all end-all, bestest show of the year like some people are claiming? No. But it is still enjoyable. I must warn you though, if you have any issues with two grown men bonding over a shared love of the Ice Capades, and lots of unapologetic shots of guys staring longingly at each other with sparkly eyes after a hard-won icy dance-off, then I do not recommend this anime for you. That shit happens A LOT in this series.
Men's Figure Skating? Really?
I never imagined that I would get so taken in with a show about male figure skating, but as Roger Ebert once said, "It's not what a movie is about, it's how it is about it." That goes for anime as well, of course, and Yuri is about the tragedies and triumphs of the human will. It tells the tale of a Japanese ice-dancer who hits rock bottom and has to ice-axe-climb his way back up to the top with the help of his new coach, who finds that he himself has no more mountains to conquer.
Let me back up for a moment. Victor is the golden child (well, technically the golden MAN) of the ice skating world. He's a Russian skater who has dominated the circuits and has been number one in men's singles for over five years... And he's bored. So when he sees that Japan's top skater, Yuri Katsuki, has hit a major slump, but can still manage to imitate one of Victor's (his personal idol for years) best dances when he thinks that nobody is looking, Victor gets motivated again, and is determined to bring Yuri back from the edge of skaters' oblivion, and in the process revitalize the entire industry by causing everybody else to get fired up by the freshly shaken field.
I still don't understand how figure skating is considered a real sport with an actual scoring system, but the crazy amount of strong characters all vying for the top spot for their own personal reasons made this short series worth watching even to a non-fan such as myself. It's not just about Yuri and Victor growing and figuring out their places in the world, but everybody else in their small circle of skating rivals. You grow to like almost everybody, and man, you develop a fucking HATRED for the "bad guy" of the story: JJ, the douchiest Canadian ever. JJ is so full of himself that he dances to a song written about him that uses his name over and over in its lyrics. I seriously don't believe that Canadians are legally allowed to be douchebags of this caliber in real life. And I firmly hold that all other countries should pass laws against this type of dick-baggery too.
This anime is essentially Yawara "on ice"! Only with a heavy gay overtone. But, unlike Yawara, Yuri doesn't drag on, and it completes its narrative very quickly in only 12 episodes. But still, within these short 12 episodes the many, many performances really blend together for non-ballet or dance enthusiasts like me. To me, it just looked like a lot of waving of arms, and spinning and jumping whilst spinning, over and over and over again. Especially when the main characters that we're following do the same performances at each competition with little variation. But that is my point. Despite this repetition and the fact that it looked like everybody was just doing the same dance as everybody else (to me), I still enjoyed the heck out of this show. Everything that a sports anime should have, Yuri on Ice has in spades: It's tense, it's cheer-worthy, and it's filled with characters that you like to hang out with week after week.
Having said all that though, if they ever do make a second season, I think I'll skip it. By the end of 12 episodes I found that I reached my limit of ice dancing. They used the perfect amount of episodes for this story, and the ending was a good solid one for me as well. If they continue on, odds are they'll mess things up and make it too predictable a finale. As it is, it's fine. Let a good thing just be a good thing, Japan. Don't milk it till it's a dead horse, or whatever.
What else did I like about it? Well, for one I truly appreciated that they DID NOT use shitty CGI to animate the skaters as they glided around the ice in every episode. Thankfully they seemed to have rotoscoped actual ice-skaters doing their thing, and the entire production feels a lot more organic because of it. If they used 3-D CGI to animate the dance routines instead, I can honestly say that I would not have given this show a chance beyond the first time that they pulled that stunt. And it would have looked awful. It's actually quite beautiful what they accomplished with the 'scoping though. I've never seen anything this well done using that style.
I also love how pretty much every skater in the world (including the US guy) dances to Japanese pop songs whenever they don't boogie down to classical music. And speaking of music, I quite fancied the fun op and ed songs too. I feel like I was "born to make history" after listening to them as well! In fact, I think that I will. I will be the very first person in existence to ever say "Hey, I want to run around naked, singing 'Jeremiah was a bull frog; Was a good friend of mine...' while watching gladiator movies with Mark Wahlberg!" Wait, Andy Dick already said that? I guess I'm not one for the history books myself.
I'm going to come on out and say it (get it?): I think that Yuri on Ice is at the top of most people's "Best Of" lists for the year simply because of the bromance/romance between Yuri and Victor. Not that this romance is great (it's only told in a so-so way, with LOTS of jumps in progression actually), but just that it exists. People seem to be getting super excited about "how an anime series can feature a homosexual relationship as its main, and serious love story," but this is not something new.
Anime has had more openly gay or bi characters featured in it longer than any other medium that I can think of. I mean, going back something like 25 years ago we already had two lesbian sailor senshi in a pretty unmistakable relationship in Sailor Moon. Not to mention the entire cast of Utena, and Ouron Host Club. And don't forget the princess in El Hazard. And Yoshino and Shuichi from Wandering Son had already broken the transgender relationship barrier long before Yuri and its "only gay" thing.
Granted, Yuri features the first main couple as gay in a non straight-up yaoi series (that I can recall), which is good progress for the LGBTQIA+?#Æ® community, but it's still not a super-great-fantastic show. Yuri's success means that it's becoming more and more acceptable for people to be who they are and to not have to hide it, but it also means that people don't have to keep rallying behind every last average (or below average) series or movie that comes out just because the lead character is not straight. Now people who had to make a point to rally around anything gay can be like the rest of us and like or hate a TV show or movie because of its story, or lack-there-of.
But what do I know? I'm not gay or bi or a lesbian or a seagull... or am I?
Yuri on Ice was FAAAAABULOUUUUUUUUUUUS! Seriously, from every toe pick to Biellmann spin to triple Lutz to the last glorious quad, this show had it going on!
If you like watching men slide around on the ice like angels amongst the clouds, give this bad boy a chance!
If you were only curious about the world of figure skating, well then, come on inside! It's always safe to come inside in the world of male figure skating!
Meh, I liked it. It was pretty good for a show about dudes who ice skate and who aren't playing hokey.
......Wait, the Rossman just told me that those two main guys were gay. Whoa.... I honestly just thought they were like reeeeeally Japanese or just slightly flamboyant or something. Ooooookay, that totally makes a lot more of this show make sense. Like why they'd exchange rings and why that one Russian guy liked to keep getting naked in front of the other guy.
Huh. Whatever floats your boat. Doesn't change my rating.