‘Yuri on Ice’ anime review
By Carlos Bilan, Staff Writer
You might have heard something about that figure skating anime called Yuri on Ice lately. In fact, the MAPPA-produced Japanese sports anime series, written by Mitsurō Kubo and directed by Sayo Yamamoto, has attracted such a massive online following that even non-anime watchers have been hearing about it. Its impact has been huge, to the point that it was the most-tweeted about anime during the season it was airing. Its season finale crashed the servers of Crunchyroll and Tumblr due to the high volume of people on both websites who wanted to watch and blog about it respectively. After watching the anime, I can really see why it has achieved historic success.
It is an ethnically diverse anime. The cast comes from different countries besides Japan, such as Russia, Thailand, Korea, Canada, and more. The figure skater who represents America is Latino, showing that the creators really wanted it to be diverse.
The soundtrack is riveting in that it complements every situation, atmosphere, and event where it plays, especially Yuri Katsuki’s theme songs on the ice.
The anime depicts a healthy same-sex relationship, which is unfortunately uncommon in most anime of the same genre. The Yaoi and Boys’ Love genres are usually presented with problematic tropes, such as the “seme and uke” dynamic, wherein the active or dominant partner (seme) is explicitly presented as masculine and the passive or submissive partner (uke) as feminine through their female or androgynous features. Another unfortunate trope is that the “relationships” stem from sexual harassment and the uke somehow falls for their “captor” like a form of Stockholm syndrome.
Fortunately, the relationship in Yuri on Ice takes a 180 approach , as there is a healthy romance that develops between the two male protagonists and it is depicted as consensual. They start off as friends, then show feelings of affection for one another. In addition, both have a realistic mix of masculine and effeminate qualities. However, it is evident that in the anime’s setting, homophobia does not seem to exist, as the protagonists’ relationship does not make anyone bat their eyelids. It might not seem realistic, but it can be argued that the anime can be an escapist form of entertainment.
The show has been praised by successful and prominent figure skaters. Openly gay American figure skater Johnny Weir, who has been a victim of homophobia throughout his career, said in an interview with TheGeekiary that he ended up binge-watching it and commended its “positive imagery on LGBT themes,” saying that “every little bit helps” when it comes to “chang[ing] the perception of gay athletes.” Russian figure skater Evgenia Medvedeva is also a huge fan of the show, and she tweeted about her favourite scenes from the show, most of which are romantic. Other figure skaters have also endorsed and praised the anime, with two-time world champion Swiss figure skater Stéphane Lambiel even playing as himself in the season finale. It is also interesting to note the nationalities of the two male protagonists in a relationship: Yuri Katsuki is from Japan, and Viktor Nikiforov is from Russia, two countries that have problems concerning LGBT rights.
The animation is visually pleasing for the most part regarding scenery, food, and everyday life, but during the skating scenes, it can be inconsistent. When you put the animation on slow motion and pause it, you can see that these segments were poorly animated. Despite this, these frames roll too quickly for a candid viewer to notice, unless you are an animator with keen attention to detail. It can be argued that since the anime is in its first season, it did not start with a huge budget, and the animation inconsistencies may be due to this.
The opening song for the anime is called “History Maker” performed by Dean Fujioka. It is an English song, which is a seldom-seen characteristic for an anime theme song. The chorus says, “Yes, we were born to make history.” The anime has done just that, given the success and popularity of the show, as well as the ground it has made with its depiction of gay relationships. If you want something feel-good to watch, Yuri on Ice has a good storyline, interesting characters, and cliffhangers that will keep you entertained. If you end up watching and enjoying it, then See You NEXT LEVEL!