Yuri's mum might beat the mum in Erased for Anime Mum Of the Year, look how cute she is.

Yuri’s mum might beat the mum in Erased for Anime Mum Of the Year, look how cute she is.

Katsuki Yuri is a young man – now 23 – who has spent almost his whole life idolising the famous Russian world champion skater Viktor Nikiforov. He spends 5 years training in Detroit to fulfil his dream of performing on the same stage as Viktor, but a string of bad coincidences leads to him screwing up (as well as putting on a lot of weight due to depression-induced binge-eating) and returning back home. But not before he is yelled at by junior grand finalist – another Russian boy also called Yuri, who thinks he’s a disgrace.

Despite his loss, Yuri’s entire hometown of Hasetsu are still keen to treat him like a celebrity when he comes home and are overjoyed to see him after 5 years. He manages to reconnect with them all, including his longtime childhood friend he learned to skate with. When he shows her his own rendition of one of Viktor’s famous performances, her daughters film it and upload it to the internet without his knowledge…where it blows up massively and finally reaches Viktor himself.

Although Yuri had come back to his parents’ inn due to not knowing what to do with his life anymore, he soon has that decided for him, because Viktor turns up naked in the hot springs and declares that he’s going to be his coach.

cool face there mr otabek

cool face there mr otabek

Right off the bat, there are two Cool Things about Yuri on Ice that make me ridiculously happy, so let’s get those out of the way first. One, the main characters are adults. Yuri himself is 23, Viktor is 27, and I don’t know how old Russian Yuri is yet but there is no recent slow trend in anime that makes me happier than adult lead characters as opposed to awkwardly sexualized teenagers (along with being continually confined to boring classroom settings). I am overjoyed about this, and I am also overjoyed that I get to, once again, be overjoyed about it. It’s probably the only anime trend that isn’t going to wear out its welcome to me.

Number two, it’s set in my current home turf of Kyushu. I’ve noted before that I really enjoy when anime are set in less typical areas, but it’s a special kind of warm fuzzies when its Kyushu. I really appreciate hearing Kyushu dialect spoken in an anime – the last time I remember hearing it was in Sakamichi no Apollon (AKA Kids on the Slope). The weird thing is, unless it’s the most elusive town on earth I am reasonably sure than Hasetsu does not actually exist. (Googling it in any alphabet seems to bring up results for this show, furthering this theory). It’s a little sad that they’d go to the trouble of setting a show in Kyushu, only to set it in a potentially imaginary coastal town, which I assume is close enough to Saga for the ‘Sagantosu’  soccer reference to make sense (Fun fact, the official Sagantosu twitter actually tweeted about being mentioned in this show, which I thought was cute.). The truly perplexing thing to me is that the town is covered in snow. If you don’t know much about Japanese geography, Kyushu is almost tropical in parts and ridiculously humid for a good part of the year. I’m not saying it doesn’t snow, but it’s not exactly common. The fact that there’s as much snow as there is at all perplexes me, let alone in April (it’s true that Yuri remarked this was strange but he did it in the way we might remark that a store being sold out of something was strange, not a ‘the apocalypse must actually be coming’ strange that I would find snow in April in Kyushu to be) but enough about all that.

Obviously it’s not like that’s all I liked about the show, because I found so many parts of it enormously satisfying. The animation is absolutely gorgeous. I mean, you would hope that it was, being about figure-skating and all, but there’s a beautiful tranquility in watching how these boys move. It’s not just the skating that’s given this level of care either, there’s a lot of attention compared to minute details that really stand out to me – the way hair falls when someones head moves, or the absolutely adorably excited way Yuri’s mother moves. The vibrant and watercolour backdrops are also a real treat, and both the gorgeously stylized opening and Instagram-esue ending are fantastically unique.

Yuri is also a wonderful lead character – he’s got the right amount of emotion to make him endearing and entertaining to watch, and he’s also pretty chubby, which is cute. A lot of people didn’t seem to like the side characters introduced in this episode but I actually liked them a lot – Yuri’s family and friends in Hasetsu are all such happy and warm people and I honestly thought watching how they acted to be a lot more entertaining than any of the homoerotica promised in the trailer. There’s actually not a lot of that in this episode at all until the very end (courtesy of Viktor’s dramatic nude declaration)but that’s mostly because the pretty boys populating the opening and ending barely appear in this episode. I’m kind of curious what the show will be like once the focus shifts to them, especially seeing as Viktor’s proposal to be Yuri’s coach seemed kinda of bizarre to me.

If you can’t tell from that giant wall of text, anyway, I did enjoy this a lot. Looks like we’re in for a fun ride no matter what the outcome, and I’m really looking forward to returning to this beautifully animated world next week.

My favourite part of this is face of the tengu mask on the wall.

My favourite part of this is face of the tengu mask on the wall.

Out of 5,