'Yuri on Ice' was one of the best things on Crunchyroll last year. In fact, it was one of the best things on television, full stop.
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9 Jan 2017 - 10:54 AM  UPDATED 9 Jan 2017 - 11:02 AM

Forgive us the brief segue back to 2016, but Yuri on Ice  – stylised in the title treatment as Yuri!!! On Ice (and those exclamation marks alone are enough to make us super pumped) – is the smash hit figure skating, kinda shounen-ai anime you never knew you needed in your life.

Directed by Sayo Yamamoto (Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine) and written by Mitsurō Kubo (Moteki), Yuri on Ice is a sports anime that follows a kind-hearted Japanese figure skater named Yuri Katsuki. At just 23 years old he’s already nearing the end of his career, contemplating retirement, especially after a crushing loss at the Grand Prix Final.

Depressed, defeated and battling anxiety, Yuri returns to his hometown where he plans to figure out what to do with his life next. But then a video of a spontaneous skating session – in which Yuri performs the routine of his skating idol, Victor Nikiforov – goes viral.

Next minute, the number one figure skater in the world, Victor Nikiforov himself – the long-limbed, silver-haired and silver-tongued Russian – shows up on Yuri’s doorstep in Japan. Or rather, shows up naked in his onsen. Victor has seen Yuri’s video, and wants to put his own competitive career on hold to coach Yuri.

The situation is complicated because, by by moving to Japan to train Yuri, Victor is leaving another Yuri, 15-year-old Russian skating prodigy Yuri Plisetsky, also called Yurio – in the lurch. Victor had promised to choreograph a program for Yurio’s senior debut in the figure skating world, and Yurio is not pleased that the seemingly insipid skater Yuri has taken his place. And so begins a fraught, figure skater triangle centred on these three men and the sport they love.

What makes Yuri on Ice so immensely engaging is that it has two storylines running concurrently. One storyline is focussed on Yuri’s attempts to finally prove to himself that he has what it takes to win – and the intense stress and strength that is involved in competitive figure skating. The show doesn’t shy away from the physical and mental strain of the sport, and viewers are given an insight into the hopes, insecurities and motivations of Yuri and his competitors during their routines.

The second storyline is the sweet romantic relationship that develops between Yuri and Victor. The romance between Yuri and Victor is as canon as they come with a delightful dose of comedy too. This is a rom-com, in the best possible way. The love and affection Yuri and Victor have for each other is so supportive and encouraging that you fall in love with their characters, as they’re falling in love with each other.

If this doesn’t grab you, Yuri on Ice is honestly worth watching for the animation and skating choreography alone. The skating routines have been choreographed by two-time Japanese national champion Kenji Miyamoto, and showcases each individual competitors’ personality, physique and emotions. It’s through their skating routines that we get to learn more about the show’s central three characters, as well as the other skaters who are both friends and competitors.

Just look at these opening credits, will you.

If you haven’t watched Yuri on Ice yet this is great because now you can binge watch the entire series, without that painful wait in-between episodes. Yuri on Ice is necessary viewing, and you don’t just need to take my word for it… It crashed Crunchyroll. Yuri on Ice is a show born to make history.

Follow Melissa Wellham on Twitter and Instagram at @melissawellham.

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