Sunday, June 11, 2017

Yuri!!! On Ice (2016) - Anime

Chosen Through Crunchy Roll’s ‘Random’ Feature
Anime Name/Year: Yuri!!! On Ice (2016)
Season/Number of Episodes: 1 (12 Episodes)
Tagline: None
Genre: Drama, Romance
Episode Length: 23 minutes
Rating: TV-14
Production Companies: Mappa
Producer: None
Director: Sayo Yamamoto, Kyohei Okazu, Takashi Kobayashi, Mihiro Yamaguchi
Writer: Bonny Clinkenbeard, Mitsuro Kubo, Sayo Yamamoto
Actors: Toshiyuki Toyonaga, Jun’ichi Suwabe, Josh Grelle, Jerry Jewell, Kristen McGuire, Micah Solusod, Koki Uchiyama, Colleen Clinkenbeard, Daman Mills, Alexis Tipton, Leah Clark, Cris George, Kristi Rothrock, Sonny Strait, Lara Woodhull, Hideaki Tezuka, Yuka Komatsu, Joel McDonald, Ian Sinclair, Mariya Ise, Akiko Yajima, Monica Rial, Kensho Ono, Jun Fukuyama, Caitlin Glass, Justin Briner, Jeremy Inman, Rachel Robinson, Christopher Sabat, J. Michael Tatum, Mamoru Miyano, Hiroki Yasumoto, Tomoaki Maeno, Tia Lynn Ballard

Blurb from Crunchy Roll: Yuri Katsuki carried the hope of all Japan on his shoulders in the Figure Skating Grand Prix, but suffered a crushing defeat in the finals. He returned to his hometown in Kyushu and hid away in his family’s home, half wanting to continue skating and half wanting to retire. That was when the five-time consecutive world champion, Viktor Nikiforov, suddenly showed up with his teammate, Yuri Plisetsky, a young skater starting to surpass his seniors. And so the two Yuris and the Russian champion Viktor set out to compete in a Grand Prix like none the world has ever seen!

Selina’s Point of View:
I haven’t seen anything with such a positive message that was so much fun to watch in a long time.

Before Cat and I decided we were going to start adding anime to our blog (separate from our Foreign Film Fridays), I had already seen a couple of episodes of Yuri!!! On Ice. I really only decided to watch it because a friend of mine told me not to. She insisted I wouldn’t like it.

What? I took it as a challenge. Shut up.

Anyway, my friend was wrong. I absolutely adored everything about this anime.

I took dance when I was young, starting right after I was feeling better. I dropped out when my life started to get rough and it’s one of my biggest regrets. Love for all things dance-related has continued to follow me. That includes things like gymnastics, cheerleading, and figure skating. I may not understand the point system, but I can appreciate the beauty and poetry in the movements and the difficulty of the maneuvers.

In this case, I think the animators had a very difficult job to do. Figure skating is full of nuanced moves and tends to be fast paced. That has to be a difficult thing to animate. I think they did a decent job of it. Someone more absorbed in the world of figure skating would likely find some issues, but for a layman like me, it looked pretty awesome.

There was one small issue I did notice.

In films or television shows that revolve around dance competitions or tournaments, there’s a common problem that surfaces. In real life, people use the same routine for each seed of the tournament – usually to the same music and wearing the same costume. Staying true to that fact can often lead a story to become repetitive.

I’ll be honest, there were times when Yuri!!! On Ice did fall into that trap, but a lot of the time the creators were able to find ways around it. Every time a routine was duplicated, there were differences to the story, or small changes to the moves, that kept things feeling mostly fresh.

Judging from the way IMDb listed the year for this anime, I’m thinking there might be more seasons to look forward to in the future. I sincerely hope there are, because I would undoubtedly watch more of it.

Also, I kind of love the theme song. I have already downloaded it onto my phone.

Cat’s Point of View:
I can’t tell you how excited I am for us to be delving into the world of anime. I absolutely love this genre. A good chunk of my personal movie collection on DVD are anime series.

This particular series feels like kismet to me, for it to be our first review out of the gate. I am pretty sure that I’ve spent some time gushing about figure skating in prior reviews where sports have been a theme. If you missed it, prepare thyself for a refresher. I adore figure skating – it’s my favorite sport to watch. It’s amazing to watch these athletes glide around on those blades and perform such beautiful and powerful feats with grace. I love the themes of the programs and how the music ties in with each performance. I actually like the new scoring system that came about after a rigged judging scandal. The component and grade of execution driven scoring is far more balanced than the antiquated scale to 10.

I digress.

Figure skaters make it look easy, but what they do is absolutely punishing on the body and even dangerous. We’re talking about ice, here. The surface is unforgiving if you land incorrectly after hurling yourself into the air at high velocity.

OK, back to the Yuri!!! On Ice series.

This one’s a good starter if you’re looking for a series that doesn’t have episodes in the multiple dozens or hundreds. This series currently tops out at a single season of 12 episodes. I do hope that there are further seasons to expand on the story. If there aren’t, I’m still happy with where this season ended. There’s nothing worse than getting sucked into the world of a show and then having it end on a cliffhanger that never gets resolved. I think audiences will be satisfied with the outcome here.

I found the story interesting, and the animation was simply amazing. Of course, there are the silly little bits that are common to the anime genre where characters revert to a more simplistic style in moments of alarm or in narrated intro or outro moments. The bulk of it is executed well – capturing the motion of skating nearly flawlessly. What skating jumps I actually recognize were even done correctly.

Can we talk for a moment about the sound effects? I mean come on! Did they stick a mic on a real figure skater to record those tracks? It was incredible. I felt like I was immersed in actual sports broadcasts when the skating was taking place.  The competitions of the Grand Prix were even accurately represented. The 2017-2018 season kicks off on October 20 with the Rostelecom Cup in Moscow, Russia – one of the competitions featured in the series.

I was swept up in nostalgia, remembering all the competitions I’ve watched on NBC and the various Winter Olympic Games. This was all of that and more – giving some story behind the scenes in the lives of the skaters and even delving into their thoughts while performing. There’s a bit of a romance that adds another dynamic to everything as well. Though, don’t get it twisted – the ‘Yuri’ in the title is a character name and not the sub-genre of this particular anime. The meaning of ‘yuri’ as a genre tends to feature female couples, and that’s just not the case here.

I would recommend this series in a heartbeat and look forward to an opportunity to add these blu-rays to my collection.

Sub v. Dub: Subtitles

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore - None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 8.8/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating4.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating5/5

Movie Trailer: