Can I just get a God Bless real quick? Although Best Anime of 2016 won’t be revealed until January 28th, all of the other category winners have been announced. And Yuri!!! On Ice has dominated the competition. And quick warning, there will be spoilers as I break down the awards.
Self-admittedly, I am a huge Yuri!!! On Ice fan. I came to the series a bit late, but boy am I glad I got sucked into this anime. I don’t even watch anime! (Other than Fullmetal Alchemist, which will always be my number one.) As soon as I watched the series, I wanted the best for it. To win all the awards, to gain all the fans. Feel bad for the poor staff here at WTFGO, I have been threatening all of them to watch it. So when the voting for 2016’s Anime Awards opened up, I felt that Yuri!!! On Ice had a really strong chance of taking the “gold” and winning best anime.
But Marissa, I don’t know anything about Yuri!!! On Ice, please, tell me more! Of course, I will, anonymous reader. The series tells the story of our protagonist Yuuri Katsuki after he suffered a crushing defeat in Figure Skatings biggest competition, the Grand Prix Final. Struggling with not only his own anxiety but also the thoughts of how he should just retire after such a disappointing season, Yuuri returns to his home in Japan and decides to stave off the depression he’s been dealing with by mimicking his idol’s most recent routine. However, Yuuri’s secret performance gets recorded and captures the attention of his favorite skater, Viktor Nikiforov, who decides to help Yuuri through one more season.
Aside from the touching story, Yuri!!! On Ice quickly seized a lot of attention for its characters, both main and secondary, its animation style, and having a canonically confirmed, healthy and un-stereotypical same-sex relationship. This has netted the series, not one, or two, but SIX anime awards.
Our main character, Yuuri Katsuki (spelled Yuri by Crunchyroll) took the award for best main male character by 58% of the vote. Not hard to believe if you have been watching the series. On-screen we watch this believable young man, filled with self-doubt and an extreme lack in confidence transform into a…slightly more confident, top-tier figure skater. Each of his performances improves as he begins to see how others view him and he grows closer to his new coach Viktor. However, he does not become a perfect character and his flaws are not miraculously ironed out in the course of 12 episodes. After all, no one sheds their personality and traits easily, but you can’t help but feel uplifted when you watch him try his best and give everything his whole heart.
I’m going to quote myself here when describing this: “Viktor Nikiforov’s animation is a sin.” I may not be an animation major, but I can’t imagine how hard it is to accurately capture performances like the ones we see in Yuri!!! On Ice. And that’s only talking about the Figure Skating. The emotions, the attention to detail, and bringing to life real locations in Japan, Russia, Barcelona and elsewhere, I give a huge thank you to the animation team! And so do the voters that made it win by 49% of the total vote.
Most Heartwarming Scene
I remember watching all the theorists and fans alike thinking, no. It’s not gonna happen. Yuuri and Viktor aren’t going to kiss. This is just like all the other sports anime that tease relationships by pouring on the sexual tension. Well, this is your last warning about the spoilers. It was the kiss seen ’round the world. It’s not often you see same-sex couples depicted in anime that isn’t either crude, mocking, or just distasteful. But ladies and gentlemen, Yuri!!! On Ice gave their fans everything they could have ever wanted. Because “The Kiss” brought us not only something we hadn’t really seen in the mainstream before. It gave the audience everything they wanted but didn’t really expect to get. And in return, The Kiss got 55% of the popular vote.
Which, of course, brings us to the Best Couple award. With (and please, hold your immature laughter) 69% of the popular vote, I’d like to say again loudly: Yuuri and Viktor are cannon! The next runner-up only got 14% of the votes! Which means that yes, we all love that Viktor and Yuuri love each other. And it’s not just because of the above-mentioned same-sex relationships. This was a love story that we watched blossom. From awkward encounters and not knowing what to say to one another, to loving gestures, sweet embraces, and THE PLOT TWIST TO DESTROY ALL PLOT TWISTS! Shout out to Episode 10. Good times.
This is a couple that we didn’t only want to see, but one we wanted to watch grow and one the fandom fiercely wanted to protect. If you didn’t watch it as the episodes we coming out, the entire fan base had a collective heart-attack after the 11th episode when their relationship looked unsteady. And then we broke the internet when episode 12 aired to be sure our boys were still together. And no, it’s not a joke. We broke Crunchyroll because so many people were trying to watch the episode at one time.
Okay, this is where you’re probably like, really? You’re going to break down the opening too? The hell yes I am! The opening for Yuri!!! On Ice is a piece of art! The opening was not only uplifting and showcased what we could look forward to in a brief minute and thirty-second introduction. It captured the emotions of our main three characters (poor Yurio, I haven’t even mentioned him once). We see doubt in Yuuri’s eyes. We see Viktor at first just focusing on his routine but then smiling and having fun as he is surrounded by these two younger skaters. Yuri Plisetsky busts up in the middle of it, showing off that he can do what the two older skaters can flawlessly. And more than that, IT CHANGED! The effects and background of the opening was manipulated to reflect the progression of the season and the characters. Maybe it’s not the most earth shattering thing imaginable, but those of us that sit through the openings each time got rewarded for it. And 57% of voters agreed with me.
Yes! Yuri!!! On Ice got Best Ending too! By 56%! Now, this is a bit more tricky to explain. Over the course of the season, it technically had 3 endings. The usual ending was great, for starters. It depicted the social lives of each of our characters through their, totally not Instagram pages. We got to see a peek into their lives during the course of the season. Phichit, who I would legitimately take a bullet for poses with food, JJ escorts some girls around (though don’t tell his Finacé), Viktor gets drunk. All of it is really touching and actually tells us a lot about our characters that we don’t get to see during the season. After all, this is a figure skating anime. Most of the time we spend with our secondary characters is during their programs.
Then, we have the ending to Episode 10, in which everything we knew about the show gets flipped upside down…while straddling a stripper pole. Once again through pictures, we are shown how Viktor and Yuuri really met, something that our unreliable narrator, Yuuri has completely forgotten. We also get to see the moment Viktor Nikiforov had his heart snatched away and no longer knew what to do with his life. Which is why he is MY favorite character. Poor, poor Viktor. He was living a peaceful life until a drunken tornado threw it all to hell.
And then, the ending to our last episode. We thought The Kiss was everything. But the fans teased about wanting more. They wanted to see Viktor and Yuuri on the ice together again. In fact, they wanted to see the two perform a pair skate. Well, we got The Pair Skate.
Is Yuri!!! On Ice The Best Anime?
As I mentioned before, the winner of Best Anime of 2016 won’t be revealed until January 28th. But if the slew of awards I listed out above have anything to say about what an amazing show this is, in my opinion, yes! Yuri!!! On Ice was beautiful. Personally, I was locked in within the first four minutes of watching. And I didn’t look away until the very last scene. This show has cleared my skin of acne, cured me of my migraines, and made me fall in love.
If you still have doubts, you can watch it for yourself and judge. Crunchyroll has the first three episodes on it’s Youtube channel and all of them on their website and app. If you want to get started, here is the first episode 😉
Kubo-sensei, you will most likely never read this, but I just want to say it one more time. Bless this show!