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Goin’ Japanesque!

Anime “Yuri!!! on Ice” Is a Hot Topic Even among Top Ice Skaters

Ice skating is one of the winter Olympic sports and Japan has been sending not a few talented players. I am introducing “Yuri!!! on Ice” this time, which takes the ice staking as a subject.

In fact, immediately after the anime aired in Japan, it became a huge hit of Winter 2016 from not only fans of ice skating but athletes of the sport as well.



The main character Yuri Katsuki is 23 years old and an ice skating competitor. His performance has suffered this season and he comes back home from the United States to Hasetsu in Kyushu, wondering if he should retire.

Victor Nikiforov, a top figure skater in the world has happened to watch Yuri’s skating in a video on the Internet, and he proposes to become Yuri’s coach.

In addition, Yuri Plisetsky, a junior gold medalist to whom Victor also promised to coach, comes to Yuri Katsuki’s place, following Victor.

Two Yuris, Yuri Katsuki and Yuri Plisetsky, compete in techniques and prepare for the challenge of “Grand Prix Series”, the pinnacle of ice skating competitions.



The photo shows a person cosplaying Yuri Katsuki the main character, but this person is actually an Olympic skater from Russia, Evgenia Medvedeva.

It is not only her; Evgeni Plushenko, Johnny Weir and other famous people in the ice skating world have mentioned in Twitter and other media that they are watching this anime.

In the world of ice skating, women’s figure skating tends to be most popular, but this anime mainly deals with men’s figure skating.

In the world of Japanese anime, “moe anime” for men is the mainstream in which many cute girl characters appear.

However, the intended audience of this work is women, specifically it is not girls in lower grades but girls in middle schools and older.

There are good reasons for real ice skaters to be fascinated by this work.

Scenes in skating competitions are produced with the involvement of real ice skating choreographers in this anime. In the dance scenes, hand-drawn pictures by animators are employed rather than CG graphics using 3D models. The anime is created to present bold compositions and actions with clear intention in mind to impress viewers.

Especially skating scenes in the beginning part of the show are created from footage of actual performance by skaters and they are drawn meticulously down to small details, making them convincing enough even for ice skating fans.

Furthermore a former ice skater Nobunari Oda and Stéphane Lambiel, a Swiss Olympic ice skater appear in the story as themselves, too.

The female director of this work, Sayo Yamamoto is a proven talent who is responsible for direction or storyboards of “Samurai Champloo” and “Attack on Titan”.

And prior to this work, she had produced “Endless Night”, an experimental work also dealing with ice skating to be published on the net in Japan Animator Expo.

With regard to Endless Night, its showing on the homepage of Japan Animator Expo has ended already, however the video is available for viewing on YouTube.


Story and character design of this anime was handled by mangaka Mitsuro Kubo.

Kubo’s representative work is “Moteki”, which was adopted for a live-action film, and in fact she is a successful mangaka working on the front line including drawing illustrations for TV in addition to manga.

I believe this anime became such a hit because these talented people were responsible for the production.

“Yuri!!! on Ice” aired in Japan between October and December in 2016, aimed to synchronize with the real ice skating season.

The story proceeded to the grand finale, adding a finishing touch by broadcasting all the characters’ exhibitions.

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Berial the Demon

About the author

It has been over 40 years of reading manga in the deep world of manga. Japan’s manga has an endlessly wide variety of genres. I will be recommending special manga for you to read from such infinite amount of works.

View all articles by Berial the Demon