Episodes: 1st episode of the ongoing series (English Dub)
Yuri!!! on ICE Online: Wikipedia
Genre: Drama + Sports
I don’t usually watch sports anime, but based on numerous reviews (including one by anime roaster Gigguk) and a rather lovely trailer, I decided to give the first episode of Yuri!!! on ICE a watch to see if it is worthy of the level of hype that it received leading up to the release of the anime.
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW!!!!!! (Yes, I added more exclamation marks because the title does have three after all)
Professional Ice Skater Yuri Katsuki has been following his ice skating idol Victor Nikiforov ever since he was a little kid, but has recently hit a performance slump in his own career. After bombing the current season, Katsuki returns home to the dying Japanese town of Hasetsu in order to make a decision about his career. After a video of him emulating one of Victor’s performances perfectly at his local rink goes viral, Katsuki is shocked to find that his idol has arrived in order to coach him.
To begin with, this series has one of the loveliest intro songs and sequences that I have ever seen in an anime. The song, History Maker by Dean Fujioka, is freaking epic to begin with but those ice skating visuals kick it up a notch. Whoever decided on the layout, choreography and music is a freaking GOD! It is so gorgeous that I can easily watch it over and over again. I really dig the outro song as well.
Yuri Katsuki (Yuri.K) is a really sweet main character, with some mild flaws. One of those flaws is stress-related binge-eating. He also suffers from low self-esteem because he feels like he can never reach the heights of his idol. That being said, Yuri.K has a really supportive group of friends and family. His drunkard sister Mari does seemingly want to use her brother’s success as a way to meet hot ice skater guys but is otherwise supportive of her brother’s dream.
We get from the first episode that Yuri.K will have competition from Yuri Plisetsky (Yuri.P), one of Victor’s associates. Plisetsky is an ambitious fifteen year-old that to some degree views the mere presence of another Yuri as an affront. That is because Yuri.P is a whiny little bitch. Seriously, he’s proven to be an overly aggressive asshole so far. I look forward to seeing more character development from him though.
The storyline so far has been logical yet chaotic enough to emulate real people and circumstances that those same people face. That made it easy to relate to the situations. It appears that the writer also knows something about the sport as well, unlike some anime and manga writers that simply attempt to make shit up as they go. This allowed me to enjoy the episode without having to ignore things.
As for the art style, it was gorgeous and did justice to the ice skating sequences. There is also enough variation in the appearances of the characters to avoid them looking like clones of each other or of characters ripped directly from other anime.
To the voice acting, folks that have been following English dubbed anime for a while now will recognize some familiar voices. I don’t see this as a bad thing because many of these actors have been involved in a host of anime shows for more than a decade, series that have made me laugh, cry and gasp in disbelief. This includes Engish.Kirillon, that dude from Dragonball that voiced the talking Squirrel in Brothers Conflict and numerous characters in several other notable series.
In conclusion, this first episode has me willing to watch more of the show. It may be a bit slow for some viewers though, but I hope that folks give it a watch to see if they enjoy it. If you watch it, feel free to leave a comment to let me know what you did and didn’t enjoy about the anime. I look forward to reading what you thought about it.