16 Reasons Why You Should Watch Yuri!!! on ICE
There are easily about 50 reasons the Japanese animation, Yuri!!! on ICE, should be first on your to-watch list. But, going through all these reasons would result in too many spoilers and too much time wasted that could have been spent binge-watching Season 1. So, allow me to give you the top 16 reasons.
1. Character development of the protagonist
Yuri!!! on ICE is an anime about figure skating that ran in 2016 from October to December 21. After being ranked last place in a skating competition called the Grand Prix Final (GPF), Japanese figure skater, Yuuri Katsuki, thinks about retiring. This is when world-renown Russian figure skater, Viktor Nikiforov, flies to Japan to coach him. Yuuri is now determined to win gold at the next GPF.
In the beginning of the show, Yuuri is completely unconfident about his abilities as a figure skater and his uncertainties do not magically disappear overnight. As such, the show demonstrates tremendous character growth, as Yuuri becomes more self-assured in himself.
2. Character development of the other main characters
Having won competition after competition, Yuuri’s Russian coach, is set on a high pedestal by other figure skaters and frankly the entire world. However, being a coach has a humbling effect on him, as Viktor now has someone to look out for.
Heralded as The Russian Fairy, another figure skater known as Yurio Plisetsky begins the series doubting Yuuri's abilities and yelling at him to quit the sport. As the episodes progress, Yurio also undergoes growth. He becomes more mature in his thinking but all the while brilliantly maintaining his prickly personality at the same time.
3. Character development of secondary characters
Yes, I love character development. And with an anime with a relatively large cast, it can be easy for characters to slip through the cracks and become stereotypes or stock characters.
But every figure skater has a goal. It is not just about winning the gold medal (okay, maybe it is) but it is also about improving yourself, pushing yourself to be better and better even if you falter and even if you fall.
4. Depiction of mental illness
Yuuri’s anxiety is portrayed realistically in the anime. Seldom do we see fictional athlete characters struggle with any sort of mental illness and if they do, it is usually not an accurate portrayal.
Yuuri has panic attacks and binge eats when depressed. The anime never seeks to make his anxiety go away through simple means like winning a competition or curing it out of a romantic connection. Even at the end of the series, it does not suggest that Yuuri’s anxiety disappears. However, Yuri!!! on ICE provides a perspective on mental illness where the protagonist learns to cope with the illness and proves that he is more than just his anxiety; he is, first and foremost, a figure skater.
Viktuuri (pronounced Victory) is the name fans have come up with for Viktor and Yuuri’s relationship. The name is canon, meaning their relationship and love is real.
One of the fears that I had before when I was watching the series was that all of the flirting and physical touch between the two characters would be for naught. Despite all of the hints that Yuuri and Viktor would be more than just student and coach, I was afraid the series would end without confirming anything.
But the anime does not do that. I love how the writer made the romance subtle at times and overt in other times. Some Western audiences may find their relationship not obvious enough but I find that the way their relationship is written makes their relationship all the more genuine and sincere.
6. Opening sequence
“Can you hear~my heart beat?”
Don’t skip the opening sequence no matter how sick of hearing it you may get. If you look carefully, there are subtle changes that coincide with the progression of the storyline and character development.
I am an absolute sucker for soundtracks in animes and movies. Each choreographed performance by the figure skater in the series is set to music that corresponds to the individual character performing. Pay attention the lyrics and see which scenes are aligned with which line.
8. Gender Fluidity
The anime makes it a point to transcend gender binaries. For example, one time when Viktor Nikiforov performed on ice, he had long hair and his outfit suggested both male and female genders simultaneously. Viktor was wearing a flower crown, and a sparkling outfit that featured overlapping flower petals on one side and a sheer see-through sleeve on the other.
The flower crown and this outfit was a direct homage to Johnny Weir, an American figure skater who had faced homophobic comments about his skating for wearing a similar outfit during the 2010 Olympic Games.
Viktor is a highly regarded athlete and having him embody the outfit of an openly gay athlete who had been ridiculed, can be seen as the show's embracing of the LGBTQ community.
9. It is absolutely hilarious
10. It is adorable
Somebody protect this man and his heart-shaped mouth!
11. It challenges Russian/Japanese issues regarding the LGBTQ community
Yuuri and Viktor both come from countries where in real life, the LGBTQ community do not have rights equality. The writer, Kubo Mitsurou, made the conscious decision to have the two characters come from countries who do not have laws respecting the LGBTQ community. Yes, the story may be unrealistic because of the kind of stigma around same-sex attraction the two characters would face in reality, but that is what art is supposed to do: make the impossible possible.
12. It raises important reasoning behind feelings of loneliness
Figure skating is an individual sport and both Yuuri and Viktor feel the all-consuming loneliness of competing. It's only them on the ice, no one else. One of the reoccurring themes featured in the anime revolves around the question of, "Who do you skate for?"
Yourself? Or someone else?
It doesn’t matter how many times you win the gold medal—it won’t feel amazing if you can’t celebrate it with someone else.
13. It warms every inch of your heart
And then crushes it. Because that is the mark of every good anime.
14. It will make you rethink the entire story
Watch to the end of every episode. Especially Ep. 10. That is all I need to say.
15. It features incredible animation of figure skating
The writers hired an actual figure skater to choreograph the programs and it is gorgeous.
16. It does not romanticize the sport
Figure skating is an intensive sport and the anime does not hide how mentally and physically exhausting it is. It also highlights how small a window competitive figure skaters have to make it big. You know all those jumps and spins you see figure skaters execute so flawlessly on TV? It takes dedication, patience and a fierce love in order for them to be executed successfully.
Yuri!!! on ICE is truly remarkable in its portrayal of characters, social issues, and competitive figure skating all in an animated format. What are you waiting for? You can start watching the first season now on Crunchyroll.