Yuri on Ice is One of the Best Things About 2016, and You Should Be Watching It


With a mix of skating, healthy relationships, and an incredibly relatable protagonist, Yuri on Ice is one of the best things about 2016.

I have a small confession to make here: I did not start watching Yuri on Ice until about two weeks ago, and I regret this decision. Sure, it had flitted here and there along the periphery of my vision on the internet, but I have the habits of a binge-watcher anyway. However, when I settled in to the series, I watched every single episode in under two days.

For those unfamiliar, Yuri on Ice (stylized as Yuri!!! on ICE) follows the exploits of one Yuri Katsuki. He’s a figure skater certified by the JPF. After placing last in the previous Grand Prix, he decides to give it one last go. However, this time around, he has a new coach: Viktor Nikiforov, a Russian who quits skating just to teach Yuri. It’s also the story of Yuri Plisetsky, a young up-and-coming Russian skater. More often than not, he goes by Yurio just to differentiate himself from Yuri Katsuki.

It sounds like your basic sports anime, and it does have the all-too-common theme of working hard and pushing yourself. Of course, that doesn’t make for a terrible theme at all.

But it is also an extremely healthy example of an LGBTQ relationship on television. It shows easy to read romantic overtones in the relationship between Yuri and Viktor. While I won’t spoil the events of the series, suffice it to say that it moves from subtext to very clear canon. Yes, canonYuri on Ice has the normal teasing, but it then gives up on the teasing and goes straight for the overt clarity. (Pun very much intended.)

Even when things move forward, though, Yuri deals with some very real issues of anxiety. He moves back and forth between confidence in himself and feeling that he’ll never be able to satisfy Viktor, to use Crunchyroll’s own translation. He grows and changes over the season, but that doesn’t magically solve his problems for him. It makes him an incredibly relatable protagonist, more so than many of his brethren in the world of sports anime.

Besides, who wouldn’t have a few worries if your idol (and we mean idol) decides to be your coach and then decides to take things to the next level?

Finally, it’s actually pretty accurate about how competitive figure skating works. I’ve been surprised to find out that the Grand Prix of Skating is a real thing. So are events like the Cup of China. (I am not a devotee to figure skating, though I enjoy watching it.)

While characters perform their routines, we hear commentary about scoring and how moves are difficult. Unsurprisingly, the soundtrack also rules. Don’t be surprised if tracks like “On Love: Eros” (Yuri’s short program theme) make it onto your phone. I definitely do not have some of those songs on my phone. Additionally, retired skater Kenji Miyamoto actually choreographs each skater’s routines.

Currently, episodes are available in Japanese with English subtitles on Crunchyroll, and dubbed into English on Funimation.

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Yuri on Ice will conclude its first series on Wednesday, Dec. 21. Go forth and watch it, because it’s one of the best things about the pretty-terrible year of 2016.