Yuri!!! on ICE – Preview
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, Viktor Nikiforov, five-time consecutive world champion skater, and Yuri’s personal idol, shows up to become Yuri’s personal trainer!
1st Episode Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Yuri!!! On ICE is going to be memorable for the animation alone. The sheer quality with which they’ve managed to depict such a visually intricate sport is wholly impressive and it takes a keen eye to spot the few flaws that pepper the animation. But even if Yuri’s art has me dazzled early on, can it really keep up this quality for long?
Linny: The movements depicted during the skating sequences are so fluid and mesmerizing. The opening sequence of Yuri!! stands out even more thanks to the usage of a sketch-like art style combined with an English song performed by a Japanese singer that sounds a lot better than what one might expect. Combined, it actually makes for a rather touching opening that encapsulates the intimate and artistic beauty of figure skating. There are moments however when the animation struggles to render the movements but overall, the show is a beauty to watch. When it comes to its characters, the show has a tendency to switch between chibi avatars for comedy, more rounded designs for some of the heavier cast members and bishonen designs for its sportsmen. This actually causes some confusion in the case of Yuki, the main character as he is shown to have put on weight in one scene, which then seems to disappear a couple hours later in the episode’s timeline, and then miraculously gains it all again in the next scene.
Tom: Another thing I love about the art here is the blue tones in the color palette, particularly surrounding Yuki’s more depressed moments, giving the whole show a very somber feel to match with Yuri’s mildly depressed persona. It melds so well with the character’s emotional state that I think it makes it easy for the audience to get inside his head and share in the disappointment he’s feeling.
Linny: Yuri is a character that people will either identify with or understand immediately as he narrates his frustration and tries to deal with his personal failures and nerves. Watching him remain stoic in public and then completely break down in the privacy of a public restroom is a scene that’s sure to connect with many viewers. Then later, watching him come home and have to face all the people from his past while being crushed under the depression from his defeat only furthers the viewers’ sympathy for this young and troubled protagonist.
Tom: Yuri is perhaps one of the most sympathetic and understandable leads I’ve seen this season. He’s human, down to Earth, and downtrodden like a lot of young people get when their dreams come crashing down around them. Compared to other sports anime leads like Days’ or Batterys’ Yuri presents a much more relatable hero, one who doesn’t just psyche himself up again to get going or says “F you!” to the world when things don’t go his way. He caves, gets depressed and gains a little weight. The one enviable aspect of his character is the family dynamic, his parents both eager and willing to support him once he’s fallen off his path, even enabling the weight gain when his trainer is totally against it.
Linny: If there’s something I would critique about this episode is how incessant its comedic chibi moments can get, especially in the opening moments. Of course, part of these comedic narrations are basically Yuki trying to convince himself and others that he’s handling his loss better than he actually is. But as the chibi avatars and random comedic gags pop up again and again, often at inappropriate or mood ruining moments, it starts to feel like overkill.
Tom: Indeed one point of contention is Yuri’s comedy, which takes a bit of getting use to. Yuri’s overall atmosphere is so subdued, so somber, that the sudden jolt of goofball comedy can feel almost off putting until you’ve warmed up to it. It doesn’t help that early on the “I’m a failure” attitude of Yuri’s and subsequent atmosphere feels very thick and laid on, but as we get to know Yuri as a character it becomes obvious why he’s taken these setbacks so hard.
Linny: At the end of the episode, Yuri!! on Ice still leaves you feeling moved by the beauty of its skating performances and an understanding and appreciation for its art and its protagonist. Yuri’s journey back to confidence and rekindling his passion for skating should make for an engaging tale and if the show can nail its comedy down, some of its jokes are pretty hilarious, that should up the entertainment value even further. The revelation about Yuki’s first brush with ice skating and his decision to pursue it passionately because of a childhood crush is sweet but feels a little disappointing as we quickly find out that Yuki has no chance of ever getting with her romantically.
Tom: Overall Yuri!!! On ICE is probably the best sports show of the season yet, particularly if you’re in it for drama, heartache, and learning to overcome your setbacks. It exudes passion both for its characters and figure skating itself. I’m doubtful the animation can keep up till the end of its run, but as long as the story holds out Yuri!!! On ICE is a must watch of the season.
Linny: With its beautifully animated story and engaging protagonist, Yuri!!! on ICE has much to offer viewers on the lookout for a heartwarming tale. Keep in mind though that this show seems catered to the ladies as is evidenced by a butt shot of one of the characters naked in a hot spring in the very first episode itself. For those uncomfortable with male nudity or female oriented fan service, you may have some issues. It’s hard to say if Yuri!!! on ICE will succeed in upholding its visual fidelity but hopefully its charming tale will come through regardless.