If you could take everything I love about romantic comedies and marry it with everything I love about underdog athletes in sports films, you would get something like the anime, Yuri On Ice, my latest obsession.
After falling in last place in a major competition and suffering a nervous breakdown, 23 year old Japanese figure skater Yuuri Katsuki leaves his training rink and coach in Detroit after graduating college and returns to his family’s inn and spa in his hometown of Hasetsu, Japan.
Within days of his arrival, he garners the attention of his hero and idol the 27 year old Russian skater Victor Nikiforov, after a viral video is released (without Yuuri’s knowledge) of Yuuri performing Victor’s gold medal routine flawlessly . Victor sees the video and shows up at Yuuri’s onsen, offering to be Yuuri’s coach.
I love how Yuuri and Victor’s relationship blossoms. Their unequal footing brings about many comedic moments as Yuuri is still a fanboy and in shock that his idol would coach him. Yuuri has worked most of life to skate on the same ice as Victor, but his anxiety has held him back in many ways. It’s a fascinating dynamic–they bicker, they comfort each other, they grow closer with each day. I love this series’ journey as Yuuri becomes a more confident skater with Victor’s coaching. It’s probably one of my favorite romances in a long time.
I’m glossing over a lot of amazing characters such as the 15 year old Yuri Plitesky who also vies to be the only best ice skater named Yuri, and the many other skaters from all over the world who are all well rounded and unique. The skating sequences are also fun and spellbinding, each with its own unique soundtrack.
The series is so heartfelt and funny, and the progression of the character’s arcs feel so real–Yuuri is not in top form right away, no one really is, which is probably why I loved it so much. And there’s an amazing plot twist in episode 10! It’s why I’ve watched it twice in Japanese already, the plot twist paints the series in a whole new light. I’m working my way through the English dubbed version as well.