Yuri!!! on Ice immediately became a fall season phenomenon after its release in 2016. The anime has now achieved cult status, with the number of admirers increasing every year, thanks to the technical excellence of its animation sequences, a touching narrative, and a healthy LGBTQ+ relationship at its center.
Yuri!!! on Ice surely enthralled spectators with its realistic portrayal of figure skating in addition to its many other strengths. Yuri!!! on Ice kept to a realistic representation of both the sport and the athletes, making for a far more exciting and captivating watch than many sports anime that use "supernatural techniques" and powerful main characters.
The Grand Prix Series in Figure Skating and a Athlete's Career
The typical anime viewer might not be familiar with the rules of figure skating contests. Despite being a sport in which Japanese athletes thrive, it isn't the national sport; most nations throughout the world have the same situation. In light of this, Yuri!!! on Ice utilizes the show's less informed characters as a justification to introduce the Grand Prix series to the viewers.
As figure skating’s most prestigious event, the Grand Prix series is the anime’s main focus. Yuri!!! on Ice takes it step by step, explaining that each of the best skaters of the previous season is given two Grand Prix assignments, i.e. competitions. The skaters who get the most points -- a total of six -- will be able to face one another in the Grand Prix final.
Yuri Katsuki, the anime's protagonist, is participating in his second Grand Prix series ever. He is only 23, yet he accurately states that this might be ‘his last season’ since ‘figure skaters are competitive for a short time.’ This is true to the reality of the sport: Nathan Chen, the 2022 Olympic champion, retired this year at 22.
How the Jumps, Spins, and Scores in Yuri!!! on Ice Compare to Real Skaters
In Episode 1 of Yuri!!! on Ice, Victor Nikiforov, Yuri’s figure skating idol, is shown performing his winning routine. The jumps and spins are all real-life technical elements of the sport that were being performed by top skaters at the time. The anime also accurately describes the scores given to figure skaters as being a combination of technical -- the elements -- and program components' score, expression and musicality, the more artistic side.
One can properly understand the show’s obsession with realism by looking at Yuri’s short program. The jumps featured in the skating routine choreographed by Victor are a quadruple salchow, a combination of quadruple and triple toe loop, and a triple axel: the same jumps performed in 2015 by figure skating legend Yuzuru Hanyu, Yuri Katsuki's real-life inspiration. Similarly, all other characters in Yuri!!! on Ice are inspired by world-class real skaters.
If one had to find something to criticize, the only fault would be the scores given to the characters by the judges. In the Grand Prix final, both Yuri and Yurio get a total score of over 319 while Victor had previously obtained a total score of 335.75; this was almost unimaginable at the time, with the highest total score in real life being Yuzuru Hanyu’s 330.43. However, the show seemed to predict the sport's future with uncanny accuracy: in 2022, Nathan Chen broke the world record with a total score of 335.30.
Yuri!!! on Ice’s focus on details shows a passionate love for figure skating, which in turn grants the anime its undying charm. If one thinks of the overpowered high schoolers featured in other sports anime such as Haikyuu!! or Blue Lock, Yuri!!! on Ice shines even brighter as a model for future sports anime, proving that accuracy doesn’t mean losing viewers.