First Look: Yuri!!! On ICE

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Anime Original by Mappa
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

Yuri Katsuki is a professional figure skater. After an embarrassing loss in one of skating’s top tournaments, he gets in a rut and ends up moving back to his hometown. Determined to shake his depression, his renewed passion unintentionally draws the attention of his idol, world champion Victor Nikiforov.

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Marlin’s verdict: Quality!!! On ICE

You know you are in for a good time when just the first few minutes have you bristling with excitement for what is to come. Yuri makes the best stylistic choice possible by prioritizing the movement in animation over detail. The result is an almost dreamlike capturing of what it is like to watch a figure skater. Add to that, Yuri’s story is incredibly heartfelt, flowing effortlessly from his fall from grace to his unintended comeback performance. It also shows that this is the first show this season to have a realistic, adult cast. It’s hard for the twenty to thirtysomethings of us on this blog to not relate to Yuri in his sheepish homecoming, not the conquering hero but still the son they love. There’s so much nuance in the scene with his parents and I really want to get some more backstory between him and his sister. Most parents will always welcome you back with open arms, but your siblings will always keep you honest. I’m already loving the short interaction they had at his lowest point. There’s also something really interesting about a character pining for someone who already has a family. Of course, you would never root for him to break it up just for the sake of his crush, but to see how he deals with those emotions now that he’s back home will be a breath of fresh air to the non-problems most high school romances go through. My only worry comes at the end, with Victor just showing up at his house. While, obviously, skating needs to be the focus of the show, I’m worried Victor and Yuri’s strong personalities will drown out or steal time away from his family, ultimately never getting us as much information about his life as we’d want. Still, everything is pointing to a knockout success, and I’ll trust the people behind it to follow through.

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Iro’s verdict: N-ICE-ly Done

Subtle storytelling in anime? What bizarro universe did I walk into? Everything’s supposed to be long-winded, on-the-nose explanations! Joking aside, Yuri!! on ICE is probably the standout premiere this season, with strong production values in basically every aspect. As a washed-up, failure, mid-20s guy myself, it’s easy to relate to Yuri’s struggles as someone who hasn’t accomplished as much as he wanted to in his professional career, and it’s a rare character type in anime compared to the plethora of 14-year-olds who are somehow capable of taking on the universe. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this one.

Zigg’s verdict: Warm at Heart

This was a marvelously understated debut, full of terrifically nuanced character writing, beautiful animation, and a surprising degree of introspection. Anime tends to be more about achieving your dreams, than failing at hem, and I’m sure we’ll get to that eventually, but for now Yuri’s struggles are believably grounded and realistic. Also wonderfully drawn is the stifling sense of small town living and the withering away of a local community, spoken eloquently through subtle details and animation. The unspoken storytelling here is top notch, never more so than when the show wordlessly communicates Yuri’s childhood crush, his uneasy relationship with the town bully and, heartbreakingly, how those two threads coincided. There’s also the gorgeous ice-skating sequences to consider, and though it’s clearly a little yaoi-baiting, the relationship between Yuri and Victor shows great promise right out of the gate. An absolute gem.

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Artemis’ verdict: HEAVEN (On Ice)

Knowing Sayo Yamamoto’s works, I just assumed going in that Yuri!! On Ice would be good. I didn’t think it would be this good. I like pretty much everything about it I’ve seen so far: the way Katsuki and his family feel completely natural straight off the bat; the way the drama is carefully balanced by the moments of humour, the comparative realism of the character designs; the gorgeous animation and choreography. All jokes about manservice aside (and I do expect a lot of them), this was a brilliant premiere and my favourite show of the season… and coming from me, that’s a pretty bold statement given my adoration of the also currently airing Natsume Yuujinchou. Basically, Yuri!! On Ice is everything I expected and more – delightfully bold, beautifully subtle, and visually impressive to boot.

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