So! Here it is, my most-anticipated anime of the season…!
*takes a deep breath*
Yuri!!! on Ice is about Japanese figure skater Yuri Katsuki, who we meet in the opening moments of the episode right after he’s flubbed his appearance in the Grand Prix Final. Devastated, he’s unable to accept an offer from his idol and Grand Prix Final champion Victor Nikiforov to have their picture taken together, and the story skips forward a year. Yuri is back in Japan, he’s ditched his coach, and he’s gained a lot of weight, but it all belies the truth – he’s been practicing enough that he’s able to mimic Nikiforov’s routine, and he is ready to get back into skating.
I, and many, many others, had high hopes for Yuri!!! on Ice, and this first episode more than rewarded that optimism. Yuri himself makes for a lead who is easy to cheer for, a young man who has suffered a setback but is ready to give it his all again – he may initially seem a bit the ingenue, but the world of figure skating is fully his world. And the world of figure skating which the show depicts is fully realized, and also clearly equally as fully researched. The choreography for the routines is impressive (courtesy of former ice dancer and current actual figure skating/ice dancing choreographer Kenji Miyazawa), and the animation chops are wholly up to the task. And, ah, yes, there is some visual fanservice as well – it even has some, I shit you not, MAN TITTY NIPPLE. Prepare thyself.
In all seriousness, this is a hell of a polished production, and I’m eager for more. While a figure skating fan will absolutely get more out of it, don’t let a lack of familiarity with the sport keep you away (although I suppose the fact that there’s a set of triplets named “Axel”, “Lutz”, and “Loop” won’t be quite as funny). If it can keep up this level of quality, we’re looking at an easy contender for Anime of the Year.