Yuri!!! on ICE – Mid Season Review
Note: Due to injury, Linny will be taking a diminished roll through the Mid Season reviews. She will return for the full reviews at the end of the season.
Yuri!!! on ICE:
Original Air Dates: October 5th, 2016 – ???
Synopsis: Yuri Katsuki had attained a placement within the Figure Skating Grand Prix, carrying the hopes of all of Japan on his shoulders. Unfortunately, Yuri suffered a crushing defeat in the finals that not only ruined his chances of winning, but sent him down a spiral of despair. Returning to his hometown in Kyushu, Yuri hides away in his family’s home, stuck between his desire to continue and his urge to retire. But after an accidental youtube upload of Yuri’s private performance for his childhood friend, Victor Nikiforov, five-time consecutive world champion skater, and Yuri’s personal idol, shows up to become Yuri’s personal trainer!
Mid Season (6 episodes) Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Yuri!!! on Ice wowed audiences with impressive figure skating animation that sold viewers on its underdog story of Yuri Katsuki and his gradual rebirth in the world of figure skating with the help of his long time idol, Victor Nikiforov. Unfortunately that gold standard level of quality isn’t maintained. Yuri plummets in animation fidelity, with frequent dips in quality that make the figure skating portions of the series at times painful, or perhaps embarrassing to watch. The color palette, which gives the show it’s melanholic, dreamy feel continues, and helps to mitigate the disappointing dips in quality.
But all isn’t lost. Even without its high quality art Yuri on Ice remains compelling, thanks to its characters and narrative. Yuri Katsuki himself continues to be a highly relatable character, attracting lots of sympathy. However, that underdog narrative gradually morphs into a story of Yuri’s rise and struggle to maintain his position as the new ‘top dog’ of the figure skating world. It becomes less about picking himself back up and more so about discovering his budding talents and personal drive.
Yuri’s instructor, Victor, who’s received plenty of fan attention, continues to be a fun, if aloof character, who can rub certain viewers the wrong way with his exceedingly nonchalant, almost self-centered attitude. The other Yuri of the series, the closest character we have to an antagonist, has gradually shifted away from a more central role as Yuri finds himself in direct competition with new obstacles and players before he’ll come back around to compete with this other Yuri.
Yuri’s shift in narrative has been fast, allowing for Yuri’s latent talent to shine through in just six episodes, all but abandoning the idea of Yuri as a underdog struggling to recover from his fall from grace. For people watching more for the rise of an underdog, that half of the story seems mostly concluded. With that conclusion, Yuri on Ice has gradually managed to find a balance between its more comedic tone and darker aspects, as well as its frequent Yaoi, homo-erotic pandering. This aspect of the series has only increased in frequency, and is something bound to make viewers less comfortable in their sexuality, well, uncomfortable.
For more open minded viewers, or those unbothered by homo-erotic pandering, there’s a lot to love otherwise. The characters are fun, enjoyable, and the balance between comedy and internal frustration is spot on. Yuri!!! On Ice is best aimed at viewers who enjoy the pandering of Yuri and Victor as closet lovers, but offers enough that more general audiences can still find an attractive story to enjoy.