[Kanye voice] I’m tired, you tired, Jesus wept.
It felt weird to have a “first impressions” but no final (!!?) impressions post, so I’m just going to power through this and make it as short and painless as I possibly can. Naturally, spoilers for the series ahead, but my personal spoiler for this post (or, basically, the summary) is: I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have any fun while watching YOI, but I wouldn’t recommend it if other people asked me if they should watch it. Oooooooops.
Oh god, I don’t even wanna go back and take new screencaps. LOL
First and foremost, I’m really glad I was completely wrong when I said “ (because Let’s Be Real here folks, no real ~pairings are gonna come out of this)” in this post. Thank you. They’re gay. The end. (P.S. I’M REALLY GLAD YUURI MADE VIKTOR CRY LOL)
Though to be honest with you, I have little to no interest in VikYuu. I wouldn’t want to use the term inauthentic to describe it–I just don’t find it compelling as a pairing. Or maybe I don’t find them compelling as characters. Honestly at times it felt like the two mains were created for the purpose of showing a Strong Bond between two characters, to the point that it overshadowed their individuality. Maybe it’s just because I’m not a big fan of ~character growth dependent on someone other than ya self~.
And while I guess (I’m shrugging so hard my shoulders are gonna fall off) their relationship might have been treated better towards the end of the anime, part of me just can’t shrug off the initial gag-esque way it was portrayed at the beginning of the series. Even towards the end, it still kinda felt BL-y in a sense that it still feels ~female-oriented in the fanservice-y borderline fetish-y way BL can be? lol ok fetish-y is a Reach, but yeah, fanservice-y in the way BL can be.
But it was ultimately a love story, I guess. Though it wasn’t as straightforward as it could be, because of the way they used figure skating as a vehicle. Figure skating is great, and I love it, but I felt like the skating scenes were almost completely unnecessary to this show. I find that the problem lies within how in-depth they wanted the skating to be—there were a lot of skating tidbits and easter eggs and mentions of skating terms and scoring, but ultimately I feel like it wasn’t necessary. It was ambitious, but imbalanced.
(I once read a fic where someone had two step sequences in one of their programs and had the biggest ??? moment lol. And when I see people call competing skaters “professional ice skaters” I’m just so???? WHATEVER BANAN YOU’RE JUST A SNOB!! To be fair the latter I guess is ~pretty niche info~ maybe but the first is just a google search away lol. #lol)
(I STILL CAN’T GET OVER IT OMG)
The skating (which was… not even animated well, lol) just muddled the plot and restricted character growth, I feel. I personally think it would have been fine to have focused on training sessions instead of competitions—the way they went about competitions was so sports anime-esque. You know what I mean! Where there are a bajillion matches each spanning 10 episodes each, and everyone has a super special secret move. I’m kidding, but I think you understand what I mean.
While that style is fine and dandy with typical sports shonen, with figure skating, part of what makes it interesting as a sport are the changes that occur in the programs from competition to competition. Jump layout changes were very pronounced in the series but I personally find more minute choreography changes interesting, but that’s something difficult to portray in animation with a tiny budget, I guess. It’s pretty jarring seeing the same skating animation over and over again. It’s borderline painful when it’s not… very well-animated either. Though I’ve discovered in the reference they probably used when rotoscoping (Eros, Stay Close to Me), Kenji barely used up even a third of the ice surface… Which makes sense because it’s difficult to draw over a figure going at high speed, think of the frame rates, lol. But as I’ve mentioned in my previous post, ice speed and coverage are two important aspects of skating that really didn’t translate. Yikes! Thankfully their use of CGI is more tasteful than some other anime I’ve watched recently, lol.
Likewise it’s as if they didn’t know where to strike the balance between realistic and fictional when it came to the skating. They did mention skating scoring (most prominent in Seunggil’s monologue while skating, discussing base values and plus points for jumping in the latter half of a program; Viktor going on and on about PCS as if I don’t hear/complain enough about it enough LOL) but there’s a disconnect in the sense that some of the scores… are impossible… meaning Yurio’s skate at GPF shouldn’t have been high enough to break the world record, JJ shouldn’t have ended in third, and Phichit shouldn’t have been able to overtake Yuri’s 20-point lead at CoC. Listen, I know skating judging can be dubious at times, but y’all… To their credit there was really an amazing amount of research done (the GPF arena looked exactly like the one in Barcelona from 2015, same with the pamphlet that Mari was holding), though it really… wasn’t… necessary… Sighs.
LMAO I don’t even have anything to say at this point about technical content because young skaters these days and their technical prowess are a Sight To Behold. (Hi, Nathan!)
So yes. The storytelling and direction kind of ruined it for me by filling time that could have been used to explore character and relationship growth with wonky skating scenes. Think of all the depth we could have had!!!!11! I personally would have liked it if they went more in-depth about Yuri K. and Viktor’s personal motivations (pre-series), because the way they were just got so. Stale by the end lololol. Thankfully the side characters made the show more interesting and added a bunch of flavor (and hamsters, thanks Phichit!). Furthermore…
My favourite part of this show (aside from Makkachin and the THEME OF KING JJ) was definitely the voice acting—like I mentioned previously Toshiyuki Toyonaga in particular delivered amazingly, in my opinion, and portrayed Yuri’s different feelings—desperation, elation, nervousness, silliness—with great conviction. I also feel really blessed by Kouki Uchiyama’s portrayal of Yurio, and Mamoru Miyano’s dedication to being King JJ. (PLEASE WATCH THIS!!!)
It would be easier to dive into this series with absolutely no expectations whatsoever. It was a lot of fun to watch at the beginning when the mains were still charming, but towards the end it really just got tedious to watch, and I was only really there for Yurio (+ Otabek! and JJ’s eternal suffering). To be honest? If I wasn’t a skating fan I probably would have never touched this series. But again, this all really boils down to personal taste, likes and dislikes, and how much of popular anime you can see everywhere you can tolerate. LOL
There’s a question mark in the title of this post because I have hella feelings about YOI!!, most of which aren’t really positive, but tend to fluctuate from time to time. What I mean by this is that over time I might end up liking this series more than I do now, or I might. Dislike it a lot. You can never tell, dude.
So all in all, for now, I’m pretty unsatisfied with YOI. It’s just not my cup of tea! So if you aren’t either and want to move on, here are some possible (?) recommendations from your friendly neighbourhood Banana:
- A recent anime with good animation, direction, and character development? Watch Mob Psycho 100.
- A recent sports anime from the same studio as YOI, but with better animation? Watch Days.
- LGBT+? Hourou Musuko, Doukyuusei (I’m a fake LOL I haven’t actually watched this but I’ve heard good things), Maria-sama ga Miteru, and read Shimanami Tasogare. Guys.
I’m half-tempted to say Cardcaptor Sakura if only because Touya and Yukito still have a better love story than VikYuu lol
- A character growth-centered (overcoming! psychological! obstacles!!! building!!!! relationships!!!!!!) sports anime with good direction, animation, and OST? Watch Ping Pong: The Animation. (PLEASE WATCH PING PONG: THE ANIMATION.) Honestly, if they had written Yuri on Ice!! similarly to Ping Pong, I probably would have absolutely loved it, but you_cant_always_get_what_you_want-the_rolling_stones.mp3.
And that’s a wrap! This post has been in my drafts since the anime ended, but thankfully I’m over and done with this. Very recently I just finished watching Mob Psycho 100, but there seems to be a bunch of interesting anime (ACCA, Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju SEASON 2!!!!, etc.) that I’m really looking forward to watching!
For now though I gotta kick it into high gear and finish some stuff for school and–crossing my fingers–my trip to the Four Continents Championship in two weeks!