A Love Letter to 2016, part 1: Reaching for Perfection in Yuri!!! on ICE

Back in April, I noted that “If there’s ANY show capable of knocking Rakugo Shinjuu off its #1 spot on my list this year, it’ll be the best year in anime ever for me!” Now, I can confidently say that this has indeed come to pass. The last time I enjoyed a year of anime this much was back in 2010, when Bakemonogatari and Durarara!! were the rage across the anime fandom.

So, to celebrate the love that anime has reawakened in me in 2016, I’ll be writing a series of love letters to twelve shows that contributed to this feeling in some significant way. And since this wholesome and giving love was the theme of my favourite title this year, there’s no better way to begin than this:

Happy Birthday, Victor! (from Yuri, of course)

** WARNING ** SPOILERS AHEAD **

I honestly don’t know where to start when it comes to Yuri!!! on ICE. This is a show that wasn’t even on my radar until the middle of the summer season, just a month or two before it started airing. Furthermore, I hadn’t ever seen or read anything by director Yamamoto Sayo or mangaka and writer Kubo Mitsurou before. The sole reason I watched it was because it was an anime about figure skating. And as a story about figure skating, what Yuri achieved in the finale was what I wanted to see above everything else.

This is something I’m not sure you’d be able to understand if you’ve never followed figure skating all that closely before. Unlike so many other sports, one of the key points about figure skating is that the skater’s core battle is against him or herself. And as fans, not only do we marvel when they pull of a clean, near-perfect performance, we all share in their frustrations at the elements that elude them, and their joy when they take even one step closer towards each of their own individual goals.

For Yuri’s journey to culminate in that gorgeously animated, record-breaking free skate was thus incredibly carthartic. He’d struggled with it the entire season until that point, and even his short program suffered in the GPF because he was still trying to pull off that quad flip. Hence, just as it had been for some skaters in real life, my heart was in my throat as Yuri took to the ice one last time (or so we thought at the point). And I breathed a huge sigh of relief when he landed that final jump and gracefully finished off his beautiful program.

But that wasn’t all. After that, Yuri’s decision to keep skating was the ultimate reward for those of us who became his fans. From early on, the main thing I’ve wanted is to see Yuri keep reaching for his dream, for that place on the ice that they all call ‘love’. And despite numerous production—and even factual—issues through most of the show’s run, I simply couldn’t have asked for a better ending.

And that’s why this is my first love letter to anime in 2016.

About karice
MAG fan, freelance translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

One Response to A Love Letter to 2016, part 1: Reaching for Perfection in Yuri!!! on ICE

  1. Cat says:

    👏👏👏👏👏👏
    I couldn’t have said it better, this IS the best anime of 2016, and completely wrecked anime for me. It’ll be harder to find something that holds me like this show did for sure 😻😻😻
    I love figure and ice skating too, so this was so amazing to see, plus it was just like you said, we wanted to see him reach further than he ever did, and i totally called who would win that gold 👀👌
    I can’t wait for season 2! 👏👏👏👏🙏

    Liked by 1 person

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