If only this cool opening was indicative of the rest of the show.
You know how people found Terror on Resonance to be a bore despite its great production values provided by a talented director because of its “boring characters” and “shitty script” that it nevertheless took completely seriously? Well I’m having the same problem with Yuri on Ice at the moment, only my issues with it are the complete opposite end of that coin. Despite the show’s beautiful direction and great sound production, I struggle to pay attention to Yuri on Ice every time an episode airs partly (but not completely, as I’ll get into later) because I absolutely hate this show’s sense of humor. It’s simplistic, distracting, and most of all, not funny. And I wouldn’t mind so much if it was just an occasional thing, but I can’t think of a single serious moment in the latest episode. Every time it approached being serious, someone would make a goofy reaction face and I’d groan so loudly that Studio Mappa could probably hear it from across the ocean. I mean what exactly is supposed to be funny about this? Or this? Or this?
Yes, I know that Yuri on Ice is primarily for the BL crowd who wanted Free a little less moe and a little more sports. And my hatred of wacky humor that gets too over-the-top to the point that I can’t take it seriously has long been established, especially when Rolling Girls ended up giving me a migraine. Actually, in all honesty, my tolerance has decreased over time thanks to all the “funny” bullshit I was trying to meet halfway in shows like Death Parade, Garo: Crimson Moon, and Punchline, culminating in Kiznaiver’s atrociously shallow take on human emotions that were about as well-written as Dav Pilkey trying to be John Steinbeck. As such, maybe I’m being more annoyed with Yuri on Ice than I should be. But c’mon, that shouldn’t be an excuse for Yuri on Ice to let its primary motivations define its story. Hell, it airs on the same day as that other critically acclaimed well-animated competition show that is clearly marketed for a certain audience, and yet doesn’t let that define its story. It’s like Concrete Revolutio and One-Punch Man all over again.
I mean why exactly is there so much humor in Yuri on Ice to begin with? It’s not a comedy anime. Sure it has a lot of comedy in it, but so does The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and every single Avengers movie, and you wouldn’t label them as comedy films. I mean you don’t have to look beyond the last previous season to find successful examples of what a comedy anime is. Mob Psycho 100 was definitely one. Even when it took a more serious turn in the later episodes, it made sure that said ONE’s humor carried the drama and social issues that Mob dealt with in regards to his psychic powers when he was forced to use them to defend his brother. Danganronpa (in general, not just 3) is a comedy video game/anime franchise. I mean this is a series where the main villain is a black and white teddy bear with cartoon sound effects accompanying his every action and the apocalypse is caused by using anime to brainwash people. Plus, try to tell me with a straight face that you don’t laugh whenever someone gets murdered. That Classicaloid show that’s airing this season is a comedy anime. It’s a shit comedy anime because it’s not the least bit funny, but there’s no denying what its intentions are from the very premise. Yuri on Ice is about an ice skater trying to make it big in the next Grand Prix with help from his idol. Nothing about that concept invites humor, so why have it?
Okay yes, it’s not uncommon for a lot of sports anime in general to have humor, which is what Yuri on Ice’s primary/secondary genre is at heart. I’m currently watching Days and Haikyuu right now and they’re heavy on the jokes too. But whilst their humor is also crap, why is it not annoying me nearly as much as Yuri on Ice’s? Well that’s because the humor is merely a symptom of the larger problem I’m having with the show at the moment, and it’s that there isn’t much of a reason for me to want to follow these characters in the first place because there doesn’t seem to be anything at stake. And before you guys say “what about making it big in the Grand Prix?”, let me ask you guys a simple question: if nobody in this show takes the ice-skating seriously, why should I? Why should I care whether Yuri makes it big when clearly, it wouldn’t affect him too much if he failed other than maybe causing him to curl up in a corner and cry whilst his family makes fun of him?
Even Mob took his goal of wanting to fit in with normal life seriously, even if the rest of the world didn’t think it was all that big a deal. And of course, the protagonists in both Days and Haikyuu (along with most sports anime) take things seriously enough when they’re practicing or playing a game. I can even deal with March Comes Like a Lion’s tonal-breaking Shaft-y humor at times (although keep in mind, only the first episode has aired as of this time of writing so who knows?) because at least the dramatic stuff is there and is given a good amount of screen time to boot. I think the only time Yuri!!! on Ice has ever taken itself seriously was when Yuri (the Japanese one, who I should probably be calling Yuuri, but frankly who gives a shit?) copied Victor’s skating routine in the first episode, and you will not believe how disappointed I was when it seemed like we’d get something similar to that again in the latest episode, only for the two Yuris to have a “hilarious” cock-fight whilst Victor pulls out a goofy face (that’s made all the more ridiculous when you realize that the Russian Yuri is in his teens whilst the Japanese one is in his early twenties). All this beautiful animation and you’re using it on gag faces rather than something I can actually analyze or get swept up in? What the hell, Mappa? What the hell?
When I watch an anime, I want it come off as what I’m watching is “important”. That’s why I don’t watch most slice-of-life shows and anime comedies: because they have very little drive to them and they’re not funny. And it’s not like I ask much when it comes to something feeling important. I just want the anime to have a point conveyed through the visuals and dialogue (or lack of it), and hopefully I’ll find that point interesting. I don’t give a shit about any of the anime-isms that motivate most of the otaku crowd to keep with this medium, but I’m not inherently against most (but not all) of them. Cliches being used to ease the audience into the show’s story is something I’m perfectly willing to accept as long as that’s not all they have (cough 91 Days cough). Hell, I’ve liked everything Tetsuro Araki has made since Guilty Crown – although keep in mind I haven’t seen Highschool of the Dead – and those shows are as “anime” as can be. But you know what else is true about them? They take themselves completely seriously and have NO self-awareness (or care) regarding their stupidity, which is what makes them so hilarious to watch whilst giving their characters drive. I don’t care if you guys don’t think Kabaneri is funny (it is), but you can’t deny that the characters never treated their killer zombie situation like they were doing rehearsal for a comedy special on Netflix. If the show’s attitude towards ice-skating was more like that one good scene from the previous episode, I could at least latch onto that and tolerate the show’s BL moments more.
Yeah, we’re still early into the show’s run. Maybe things will change later on in a sort of Bojack Horseman-esque way. But I can’t think of an anime in recent memory that realized things needed to get serious fast when it had a start this “high-larious”, and I doubt any of them did the transition successfully even with that realization. Speaking of which, I should probably write that Rewrite review now.
- In case people are wondering, no I don’t like Shaun of the Dead or any Edgar Wright movie in general. I don’t like anime or over-the-top humor, so of course I wouldn’t like his humor either.
- Has anyone who proclaimed that Death Parade is a great show ever tried rewatching that anime? Because dear god is the humor and lack of momentum in the episodics annoying as fuck on a second viewing.
- I’m not putting all those exclamation marks in the title every time I say it.