Yuri!!! on Ice: musings from episode one.
This is not a review.
If you think this reads as unprofessional and fangirl-y and too poorly written for a review, that’s because it is. This…. rant was posted on an anime Facebook page that I used to admin, immediately after I’ve finished the first episode of Yuri!!! on Ice on the night of the 6th of October, 2016. Any semblance of an attempt at objectivity was quickly overshadowed by my then state of exhaustion, (actual) feverishness, and the overwhelming urgency to just put into words whatever was on my mind, right then and there. Honestly this is pretty embarrassing to post, but I thought I’d archive it anyway– since overly excited, riddled with profanity, at-the-moment thoughts are always amusing to look back on, are they not? 🙂
If that didn’t phase you and you’re still willing to read on, then by all means, be my guest.~
*clenches fist* Suwabe Junichi.
–No, no wait, I swear I have a lot of things to say! (Other than Suwabe Junichi! 😂) But first, let me preface this with: Do you know how hard it is to bite your hand to avoid screaming because your mom is sleeping literally a wooden wall away? Yeah…. I do.
Okay. Here we go, ice skating anime.
So…. remember that one swimming anime? Yeah? Do you miss the quirky characters? The friendship? The well-written character interactions? Do you miss the beautiful backgrounds, like they spent days and weeks crafting just a single landscape? Do you miss the breathtaking animation, like every single frame was put together by the most delicate flourishes of fingers, like every single frame was given the utmost amount of love and care an animator can give? Do you miss the music, those that hit you so deep you can watch an entire episode blindfolded and still end up in tears? Do you miss the angst? The drama? The struggle of a protagonist just trying to find his own path in the unforgiving world of reality?
And you know what, to hell with it… do you miss the fanservice? Do you miss laughing at the disgust of straight men turning their nose up at frames made specifically for the female gaze, as if 75% of modern anime don’t already cater to their male gaze?
Well, if you do… then you’re in for a treat, because Yuri!!! on Ice is literally a fucking delight.
I cannot stress this enough: If you’re planning to watch only one sports anime title this year– watch this one. And I’m saying this, fully aware that Battery came out, Cheer Danshi!! came out, Days, my favorite anime, is ongoing, and All Out!! and the third season of that one holy volleyball anime is about to start.
Of course that’s just the opinion of one lowly page admin, so what do I know– but, you see, I finished watching this episode an hour ago, and…. my heart is still beating so fast right now that I can’t even concentrate properly on typing. Whatever they were trying to achieve with this first episode, they did it, and they did it magnificently. I feel like I’m just repeating myself here, but the animation…. was topnotch. It was literally art in motion. I have no idea how much budget went into this, but one thing’s for certain, they sure put it into good use. I’ll tell you a secret: I’m a screencapper. I download my anime, so I screencap. A lot. Sometimes a 23-minute anime episode turns into an hour of watching, because I’d keep pausing it just to get the good frames for screencap material. But right now, I have zero screencaps of that one Yuuri-Viktor figure skating routine that was, as everyone would agree, the star of the episode. Zero. None. Why? Because I honestly could not bring myself to pause at any second of that impossibly stunning animation sequence. When it was over, I just sat upright, and clapped. Doesn’t matter if my mom was next door and I had a budding cold; I clapped.
If we’re going to see more of that kind of beautiful figure skating routine animation in the episodes to come, Yuri!!! on Ice could easily become a strong frontrunner for Anime of the Year. Again, I’m just a lowly page admin with too many thoughts for her own good…. but it was — and I say this with all the honestly I have left in my being — seriously that good.
And while we’re on the topic of that Yuuri-Viktor figure skating routine, can we just…. can we just appreciate the fact…. that at that point in time when Yuuri executed that routine…. he was, quite literally…. big? It’s already such a surprising thing for sports anime to recognize that there are plus-sized athletes (hello Cheer Danshi!!), and that sometimes athletes get big whether they want to or not, even more surprising when it’s the actual protagonist we’re talking about, since sports anime protagonists are usually small and tiny and weigh like 50 pounds…. but the fact that Yuuri — who, at this point in time, is unapologetically big — actually went to a skating rink, put on his ice skates, and confidently and perfectly executed a routine that his idol, a multiple-time world champion, excelled in…. is fucking astounding to me. I was honestly expecting him to miss at some point, or to stumble at the very last stunt like how it usually happens with these things, since he’s “fat” and “not at peak condition” or any of the other usual generic excuses thrown at sports anime athletes who are not in possession of the typical, cookie-cutter sports anime athlete build, but he nailed it. He nailed it, and I was so proud of him.
(I even snapchatted myself crying; that’s how big a deal this was to me!)
And I know I’m jumping from topic to topic here — I’m not a very articulate person, I realize that — but can we also talk about that girl for a moment…. Yuuko, was it? Can we talk about how I, and probably everyone else, legitimately thought she was going to be the token ~straight love interest~ for a good while there? (Since every sports anime usually has that one girl in it as a potential love interest for the protagonist, I don’t know why…. oh wait, who are we kidding– of course I know why!) But then it was revealed that she is actually married and even has three children with that big guy, and I was…. really shook. Yeah, actually that’s all I have to say on the matter. I didn’t expect that at all. I mean– they literally took out the protagonist’s only straight option, how could I not be shook?
And then we get to Suwabe Junichi…. oh sorry, I mean Viktor. I have to be honest, a big chunk of my drive to watch this anime was to see Suwabe Junichi as Viktor. I just really missed him in sports anime, could you blame me? (He was in Prince of Tennis as Keigo! And he was also technically in Yowamushi Pedal…. but just as Tooji, so that doesn’t really count. And of course, Kuroko no Basket’s Aomine– though you already knew that. But there’s this one belief that I hold very dear to my heart: Sports anime can never have too much Suwabe Junichi.) And, well, from the very few lines he had, let’s just say…. damn, he delivered. Look at that screencap. Tell me that doesn’t ooze Suwabe Junichi to you. He’s white-haired and trash, that is literally Suwabe Junichi through and through. 😂
(I mentioned Suwabe Junichi seven times in this post…. oh, that makes eight.)
And while we’re on the topic of seiyuus– damn, this anime is loaded. Of course we have Toyonaga Toshiyuki [ Ryuugamine Mikado in Durarara!!, Nagachika Hideyoshi in Tokyo Ghoul ] as my child Yuuri. And then there’s Uchiyama Kouki [ Tsukishima Kei in Haikyuu!!, Ichijou Raku in Nisekoi ] as the other, more tsundere Yuri. I’m already expecting a great performance in the episodes to come– given how that other Yuri is! Then Hosoya Yoshimasa [ Yamazaki Sousuke in Free! Eternal Summer ] is also here, and Maeno Tomoaki [ Son Hak in Akatsuki no Yona ], and Nojima Kenji (!!!) [ Ginoza Nobuchika in Psycho-Pass ], and Hino Satoshi [ Sawamura Daichi in Haikyuu!! ], and Murase Ayumu [ Hinata Shouyou in Haikyuu!! ], and Fukuyama Jun [ Lelouch Lamperouge in Code Geass ], and Hatano Wataru [ Gajeel Redfox in Fairy Tail ]… and there’s also Miyano Mamoru [ Matsuoka Rin in Free! ] in there, and he’s Canadian! And of course– my bias is showing because my number one, Ono Kensho [ Kuroko Tetsuya in Kuroko no Basket ], is going to appear at one point, and HE. IS. THAI. ❤
Ah, yes, this post has gotten way too long. But before I leave…. let’s talk about that scene first. Yeah, that scene. You’ve probably seen that scene a million times on your feeds today. The one with the butt. Because, I swear, that one really caught me off guard. I was not expecting that at all. Even Free! didn’t show a butt, only the fabulous, clenching, speedo-clad butt of our favorite megane. And, might I add…. that was…. an amazingly drawn butt. Someone drew that butt, nitpicked and edited that butt, color-corrected that butt, stared at that butt for a really long time to perfectly animate that butt. And it was, I repeat, a really nice butt. It was shiny and fluffy and shit. In Kamisama, truly, we trust.
And, uh, another thing. We all know that this anime is going to be one big fujobait, am I right? It was going to be like that from the start, and we knew it, and I even added it to my fujoshi/fudanshi recommendation list because we all knew it. But there’s this one persistent voice in my head that’s telling me…. maybe, just maybe, it might actually go past the point of mere bait? ….Hear me out. The one straight love interest is married, and I can’t imagine NTR as being a very sports anime thing. Yuuri is 23 and has graduated from college (god bless legal anime characters), and Viktor is 27; there’s no “but they’re still high school students!!!” excuse here. This is an original anime, so there’s no actual source material that can provide advanced canon reference. And, this is purely subjective (as with the entirety of this rant, as you can see), but it…. doesn’t give off the vibes of a, uh…. typical anime? Like there’s something…. different…. about it somehow, that makes you think, “Hey, maybe this show might just push boundaries!”
Like maybe it was born to break free and shatter walls.
….Like maybe it was born to make history.
Or maybe I’m just getting spoiled by Danganronpa’s progressiveness, haha. But hey, there’s nothing wrong with wishful thinking, right?
Before I end this, let’s not forget to give our thanks to MAPPA for this weekly masterpiece! It’s not Kyoani, it’s not Ufotable, it’s not Madhouse, it’s not P.A. Works! Nope, this lovely animation is brought to you by the one and only, studio MAPPA~! (The same studio behind Days, Shingeki no Bahamut, Ushio to Tora, and the ever beautiful Zankyou no Terror– the more you know!)
And lastly, if we clapped for MAPPA, let’s clap just as loud for our two female lead creators who brought Yuri!!! on Ice to life: our amazing director, Yamamoto Sayo-sensei, and our amazing writer, Kubo Mitsurou-sensei! On behalf of everyone blown away by this first episode, thank you very much! XD
P.S. Doesn’t Yuuri remind you of Izumi Shinichi from Parasyte? They even have the same color scheme! I swear I could hear Migi saying “~Shinichi~” whenever he’s on screen. And it’s not just him, though. I could swear all the characters have Parasyte vibes. Hold on, let me try to find the common link….
P.P.S. So apparently, Yuri!!! on Ice and Parasyte have the same person on character design! See, I told you.~ Thanks, Hiramatsu Tadashi-sensei!