Don’t believe the hype is a popular saying that seems to be correct in quite a few cases. If I remember correctly this line dates back to a Public Enemy song from the 80’s. It pretty much means that sometimes a film or show gets so much attention, that it is almost impossible to ignore, much less dislike it. Last year the animeseries Yuri on Ice exploded all over the blogging community and beyond. Pretty much every animeblog that I followed featured a post about it, some even had multiple posts, saying how good it was. I usually get very cautious when I see something like that happening. For one thing, the theme for the series did not appeal to me. What could be so much fun about a series that dealt with figure skating? For another I have seen so many examples of movies or tv series that got hyped but ended up being a major disappointment, that I usually try to avoid those.
But in the end, my curiosity got the better of me, and I finally decided to give it a go. And I was spellbound by it….pretty much right from the moment when the opening tune of the series started playing I was hooked on this. So I guess in some cases you simply do have to believe the hype. Now when a series is loved by this many people, there is a certain pressure to do justice by it. I know a few of you have been saying they were really looking forward to this review. So to keep it in competitive iceskating terms, let’s see if I can bring in the gold medal by writing a good post for this one. This series definitely deserves it…..and really….no pressure, at all.
Yuri on Ice tells the story of the 23 year old Japanese figure skater Yuri Katsuki. Yuri has pretty much decided to put his entire career on hold after a defeat in the Grand Prix final. He is unsure of what to do next, but decides to head back to his hometown to figure out his next move. While visiting with one of his childhood friends called Yuko, Yuri performs for her at a local ice skating rink. The routine he shows her is a perfect copy of the one from his idol the Russian figure skating champion Victor Nikiforov. To Yuri’s surprise the footage from his performance was secretly filmed, and made it’s way over to the internet. And then the impossible really happens: Victor shows up with an offer to become his coach. Will Yuri be able to revive his career with Victor’s help? With a fierce competition ahead, and rivals that lurk around every corner, the answer to that is by no means certain. Especially when there is another figure skater that ironically is also called Yuri, who is hellbent on stopping him from reaching the gold…..
Now those of you that are not familiar with this series (and I doubt that there are many amongst you that are not), I can probably already see frowning. After reading the premise for this, you might be asking the same question that I did: How on Earth can this be exciting? Let me try to explain to you what makes this series so special. At the heart of this there is the relationship that develops between Yuri and Victor. Yes, these guys are both male, and yes they develop a bond that is definitely more than a simple friendship. Even though I am straight myself, I have never had any problems watching a relationship develop between two males. Really, what would the problem be? Unfortunately we are currently living in a society that does seem at times to take offense at that. To them I say: your loss! The heartwarming scenes that occur between Victor and Yuri are the absolute highlights of this series. It is all done in a very subtle and tasteful manner, and it is completely impossible not to smile when these scenes occur.
Speaking of highlights the figure skating animation sequences for this series are absolutely amazing. The animation is fluid, the accompanying music breathtaking, and it all deserves multiple rewatches to take it all in. It is also hard not to get caught up in all the excitement, especially during the later episodes, when the real competitions start. At times I felt like I was watching the Eurovision Song Festival, as the anime manages to create an atmosphere that just urges you to cheer for Yuri when he is about to perform. This series is all about creating a feel good atmosphere, and in that it succeeds very, very well. The characters are diverse, likeable, but also have their flaws just like real life human beings. And that for me is what makes this anime so amazing. At times I forgot that I was even watching an animated show.
Were there no negative things to this series? Well, one might argue about a few small fanservice moments that were not necessary in my opinion. Also at times we get a few pretty abrupt changes in tone, turning it into a slapstick comedy. But these scenes were also part of it’s charm, and at times reminded me of Your lie in April. These are very minor issues however for a series that has been an absolute joy to watch. If for some reason you are feeling down on a certain day, I recommend watching this show. I guarantee that it will help you lift your spirits. If after all this you are still not convinced that this show is worth the watch, just try out the first episode. If you are not hooked after watching that, you probably won’t be. But I honestly don’t see that happening. This series is definitely a gold medal winner.
I give Yuri on Ice a 9 out of 10 score.