Yuri!!! on Ice is a sports anime series by MAPPA. It features a cast of competitive figure skaters sprinkled with yaoi themes. As a competitive figure skater who is representing Japan, Yuri Katsuki got depressed due to having lost his former pet dog. He took to binge eating and lost without winning any medal at a Grand Prix final in Russia, earning him the contempt of a young Russian figure skater Yuri Plisetsky, and the notice of a champion Russian figure skater Viktor Nikiforov.
Above: Various cover art of the anime series from MyAnimeList, Crunchyroll and MAPPA websites.
After Yuri Katsuki returns to his hometown of Hasetsu in Japan, he is approached by Viktor who offers to become his coach, get Yuri into shape and have a chance at winning a medal in figure skating. As Yuri struggles to overcome his own nervousness, insecurities and lack of confidence in his skating abilities, Viktor and Yuri start to develop feelings for each other and incorporate feelings of love into Yuri's skating programs.
This provokes strong reactions from Yuri Plisetsky and Viktor's former coach Yakov Feltsman who are both unsupportive of Viktor's decision to become Yuri Katsuki's coach. There are also different reactions of varying degrees from a large cast of competitive figure skaters around the world, Yuri Katsuki's former coach Celestino Cialdini and figure skating fans and supporters around the world. All of them greatly admire Viktor Nikiforov's worldwide fame as a figure skater before becoming Yuri's coach.
Promo video on YouTube by avex pictures
Opening theme on YouTube by CHING桐遙
Ending theme on YouTube by PASTEL KOREAN CAT
The initial episodes which show Yuri Katsuki at Hasetsu and training hard under Viktor Nikiforov to get himself back into shape while being cheered on by his hometown and fellow country's fans and supporters might seem predictable, and with the seeming ease in which Yuri Katsuki is shown practicing his skating moves on the rink, they might give the appearance of being exaggerated.
A lot of things will change significantly after that when Yuri Katsuki starts to compete against his rival Yuri Plisetsky to get Viktor Nikiforov to stay as Yuri Katsuki's coach. Starting with the background music and choreography, along with flashbacks of Yuri Katsuki encountering his setbacks and faults made during earlier skating competitions while also enjoying his happy moments together with Viktor, these help to establish the theme and backdrop in this series as a drama series.
The series will become more prominent with many of the main highlights in the later episodes when Yuri Katsuki starts to participate in the various figure skating tournaments across several different countries in order to fulfill the expectations Viktor has for him while also gradually developing feelings for Viktor. Prior to each figure skating performance, there are the various online blogs and news portals commenting on Yuri and Viktor participating in each figure skating tournament and Yuri and Viktor interacting with other figure skaters off the rink.
During the figure skating performances itself, there is a very large variety of background music being played during each contestant's figure skating performance and the use of the background music which has the same name as the title of this series Yuri on Ice makes this the main highlight of the anime series. There are also many memorable moments in this anime series. These include Yuri Katsuki experiencing tension and nervousness while waiting for his turn on the rink, the flawless performances as well as the mistakes some of the contestants make including Yuri Katsuki himself, the excellent choreography being displayed throughout in each skater's performance that is done by Kenji Miyamoto as a figure skater himself, the excellent sound effects each time the ice skates of each skater land heavily on the ice right to the heavy panting at the end of each skater's performance, all these serve to bring out and enhance the drama and best moments in this series.
Yuri Katsuki's skating performance with BGM Yuri on Ice at episode 7 on YouTube by book binder_vine (Contain spoilers)
Various close moments between Yuri and Victor on YouTube by Andrea K
Various moments featuring Victor on YouTube by AllThingsAnime
Various funny moments on YouTube by Shinpew
Among the flaws in this anime series, there is the mindless fan service that seem unnecessary and detract from the main theme of this anime series and somehow failed to bring out and convey the adult humor across. There is also this inconsistency where although it features different tournament venues across different countries with the appropriate advertisement signboards particular to that country and the flags and banners displayed among each contestant's fans and supporters, every contestant, coach and character including the fans and supporters seem to be particularly fluent in Japanese despite hailing from different countries across the world. It would be more believable if the series would feature a variety of different languages from across the world with the corresponding meaning in the subtitles.
The special feature Yuri Plisetsky GPF in Barcelona EX - Welcome to The Madness is a 2 minute snippet featuring Yuri Plisetsky figure skating in front of another figure skater Altin Otabek. This special snippet is too short to make any impression or to tell anything more about the characters in the anime series.
Special feature Welcome to The Madness on YouTube by criis Araoz
Overall, this anime series is highly recommended for those who like to watch an excellent drama featuring figure skating as the main theme of this anime series with excellent choreography, large variety of background music and an interesting cast of characters from multiple different countries in a modern international setting with a bit of adult humor and slapstick comedy where all these more than make up for the minor flaws in this series.