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[Review] Yuri!! On Ice

Yuri On Ice is my very first sports manga and I have to say that I quite enjoyed it. I wasn’t expecting to be as invested in the show as I was but this show had a way of pulling at the heart strings when it mattered. That could very well be because I am a former athlete and even though I competed in a different sport, I could relate to a lot of the feelings that the characters went through.

Yuri On Ice focuses on three main characters, Yuri (age 23, from Japan), Yuri (age 15, from Russia; we will call him Yurio for the sake of confusion), and Victor (age 27, also from Russia). Victor is a famous ice skater that has gone unbeaten in the Grand Prix finals for five years in a row. He and Yurio train under the same coach. Victor is also Yuri’s (the Yuri from Japan) idol, although he does not know this.

After winning a gold medal at the Grand Prix, Victor decided that he was not sure what he wanted to do as the next step in his career. He is almost 30 which is around the time that figure skaters start to retire. At that same Grand Prix, Yuri (who was training in the US) had a horrible competition and was not sure if he wanted to keep competing anymore. So he flew home to Japan, where he hasn’t been for 5 years. While there, he ends up skating at his old practice rink to try and work out his emotions which he often does to calm his nerves and clear his head. He chose to skate to one of Victor’s routines.

While skating, the lady who works at the rink, her daughters filmed Yuri skating and uploaded it to the internet. It went viral instantly and Victor saw the video. In an instant, he decide that he would take time off of skating and coach Yuri because he saw something in him. This is difficult for both Victor and Yuri because Yuri is now being coached by someone he considers his idol, and Victor has never been a coach before. But they have no choice but to handle the issues that crop up and we follow along on this journey.

I liked both Yuri and Victor. Victor is a tad flamboyant but he is likable and is really trying his best at being a coach. Yuri is likable but a tad weak when it comes to handling his emotions. He is insecure and has a bit of anxiety which is often the main reason he experiences such bad performances. I like that this was showcased because it made everything much more realistic. 12" x 16" Yuri on Ice ユーリ!!! on ICE Anime Poster: Posters &  Prints
Left: Victor / Middle: Yuri / Right: Yurio

Now, Yurio was definitely my least favorite character. He’s rude, angry, mean, and completely disrespectful. I watched the whole series and still have no idea why anyone was ever nice to him. He treated people like crap, called them names, spoke to them like they were animals, and even hit and kicked people. I didn’t find it funny or entertaining. He was just a jerk. His character was only relevant because he flew to Japan to try and get Victor to go back to Russia. For whatever reason, he didn’t want Victor to coach Yuri so he tried to put a stop to it. I know he was supposed to be a complex character with much more to him than what he was showcasing to people. But I found him annoying and didn’t really enjoy his screen time.

Overall, the series was entertaining. I think I’ve found my niche in anime and that’s sports anime. I like how this show really showcased the inner thoughts and feelings of the characters, including the other competitors. It really helped allow the viewer to feel what the characters were feeling and made certain things just that much more emotional. Every character had a distinct personality and it was very fun to see and experience their approaches to competiton.

I’ve seen online this series being touted as a BL and honestly, I would have to disagree. To me this show showcased the growth of an athlete and the development of friendship which was very heartwarming. There were definitely BL undertones, but I still would not really categorize this series as boys love. The characters know they have strong feelings developing for each other but nothing is ever blatantly said or realized in a romantic sense. The romance felt more like a very intimate friendship and nothing more.

There is nothing wrong with this of course, but if you plan on watching this and are expecting heavy BL themes along with a love confession, you will be greatly disappointed. There is no love confession. Even the matching rings they got each other were meant to be a good luck charm for the final competition and that’s it, with Victor making a joke that it feels like a proposal.

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We also get a very beautiful dance sequence between Yuri and Victor for the final credits of the finale but in my opinion it kind of feels like a cop-out because the dance routine wasn’t actually a part of the show. I’m not sure if this was supposed to be the “confession” between them for the finale or something just added on the end for viewer enjoyment. It felt like the writers and director were just like, “here, we said it was a BL, so here’s your BL”. And that kinda sucks.

There was also apparently supposed to be a kiss scene but I surely didn’t catch it. Maybe the video I found to watch was edited, but there was definitely no obvious kiss. The scene where it was supposed to happen looked like a hug to me.

This series felt like it was tip toeing toward being BL but didn’t quite make it and that’s why I feel so funny towards it. I like a full commitment if something is being advertised in a certain way. I would have preferred one of the characters actually come out and say, “Hey…I like you”. But we never got that. But then again, I am someone who is very big on communication and words of affirmation. That’s my love language. So never having an actual confession of liking each other makes me feel strange. Everything, including the would be romantic scenes, was pushed more towards friendship. To put it simply, the romance in this series was very obscure.

I enjoyed this show though. I liked the heavy focus on skating and I found the inner thoughts and feelings of the skaters very relatable. The music in this series was also really good which aided in an enjoyable viewing experience. If I had to give a rating, I would rate this show between 3 and 4 stars out of five.

There was supposed to be a season 2 this year but there has been no final release date. I’m pretty sure covid-19 is part of the reason for the delay. If there is going to be a season 2, it would be great if we could see the relationship development between Yuri and Victor and actually have a declaration that they like each other romantically. But there was a certain decision made at the end of this series which would make any type of real development between them very hard. So I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what happens. I can’t say I’m feeling hopeful about it though, because the first season aired back in 2016. It’s already been 4 years…

I still recommend the series though. Give it a shot!

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