なんのピロシキ!! 涙のグランプリファイナル – Easy as Pirozhki!! The Grand Prix Final of Tears
Having gripped my heart from start till end, Yuri!!! On Ice is certainly not an anime to be missed this Autumn!
It all started with a recommendation from Akatsuki (yes we girls are still watching, albeit less actively) and a few gifs from Kiseki. I did raise some eyebrows at the title at first but mal-ing it reassured me that it was far from a certain genre featuring girl on girl action. Yuri!!! On Ice centers on pretty boys who figure skate competitively.
The opening was beautiful and it brought back some Ice Princess memories I had when I was young. We get to see our protagonist, your average boy Katsuki Yuri lose in a major competition, coming in last. It was a major defeat for him but Yuri held it all in, even after reading the news and probably getting bombarded with the pressure of how everyone in Japan was watching him. He only broke down after talking to his mother in a toilet cubicle. Unfortunately for him, this moment of vulnerability was witnessed by the champion, Plisetsky Yuri. At first I had thought that Yurio (let’s just skip to calling him Yurio for simplicity’s sake) was rather cool but he turned out to just a self-centered brat who couldn’t stand the fact that our Yuri had the same name as him. That was far from nice, and we soon get to see that Yurio might have came in first for his performance at figure skating, he has a long way to go in life.
After his first crushing defeat, Yuri went into a slump and didn’t win any medals during the competition season. He quietly went home a year later after finishing college and we were introduced to his lovely hometown of Hansetsu, along with a colourful cast whom I couldn’t resist falling in love with at first sight. Yuri was first greeted by loud and outspoken Minako-sensei who was still very proud and supportive of Yuri despite his failure. I love how supportive everyone was at his hometown, and how genuinely proud of him they were. Although it’s really difficult to imagine how this clumsy-looking shy boy, who occasionally seemed rather plump as well, could actually be a national pride in figure skating, his talent and experience in that field soon became apparent when he showed off a routine to his childhood friend, Yuko-chan. It was one of Viktor’s routine which Yuri had been practising in secret while trying to remember his love for figure skating. Viktor (voiced by Suwabe Junichi) is Yuri’s idol and he kind of reminded me of Yuzuru Hanyu somehow.
Now this is the moment we have all been waiting for. A video of Yuri skating Viktor’s routine went viral accidentally, garnering him sudden international attention and most importantly, Viktor’s attention. Seeing Yuri’s skating make Viktor see some light and he spontaneously left Russia for Japan, having made the unexpected decision of wanting to coach Yuri into a champion.
So far I’m loving this anime – figure skating, good-looking boys, Suwabe, a cute and likeable protagonist… it can’t get any better. The music is nice, I haven’t heard anything which really jumped out at me yet (I might have been too busy absorbing the story and images) but I’m sure I’ll find something to gush about in the later episodes. The progression of the story is perfect, I like how the first episode sums up the base for this season. The timely inserts of comedy were done in good taste as well, giving the scenes just the right dosage of funny without being too cliché. It might have been a while since I last watched any serious anime (Saiki-kun and One Punch Man somehow doesn’t feel serious) but Yuri!!! On Ice is, I feel, one of the rare few out there which kept me glued to my screen. Free! came to mind when I read the synopsis of this show – hence expectations might have been low – but this was really a pleasant surprise. I’m looking forward to my next episode of Yuri!!! On Ice, not just to see them boys get touchy with each other, but to see more beautiful figure skating and to see Yuri win!