Yuri!!! on Ice Lacks Motivation

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 am FABULOUS!

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?

Oh young adults, mystified at the stupidity of the youth.

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.

I saw people going nuts over Twitter jokes being made in this anime. My god the bar is set so low.

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.

Minor Quips

  • 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.

13 responses to “Yuri!!! on Ice Lacks Motivation

  1. “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?”

    What kind of argument is that? You just finished mentioning Danganronpa as a comedy franchise, but I could describe it as “Danganronpa is about a bunch of teens getting imprisoned in a school and being forced to murder each other while outside the world falls into apocalyptic chaos” and that certainly doesn’t sound funny. Plot and tone of a show are two pretty independent things – you can have the same exact premise executed as either a drama or a comedy (unless the premise involves the Holocaust, I suppose – but hey, Benigni managed to pull off “Life is beautiful” so there you go). I mean, I understand complaining about jarring tonal shifts – I’m okay with them but I realise they are a weird and very anime thing (this season alone Drifter is certainly the most blatant offender). But that isn’t implied in the premise, the premise might make for an outright comedy from the get-go.

    • If you get that reductive about Danganronpa in regards to describing it, that’s true. But when you mention in the premise that the one orchestrating these murders is a talking bear, that’s when it gets more acceptably absurd.

      That premise I gave about Yuri on Ice is as far as I can really describe it without describing stuff that’s more “there” than part of the concept without saying “sports anime”. The only conceptual addition I can think of that would make Yuri on Ice’s humor more acceptable at the moment is how the men must embrace their femininity to succeed in the rink.

  2. Good to know I am not alone, my post also didn’t get as good response as I thought it would, surely if you forget yuri on ice is sports anime then it is an ok anime and if anyone thinks yuri on ice is sports anime then it is one of the worst sports anime. Happy new year buddy.

  3. This is my problem with the show too. I found it really hard to take anyone and everything seriously. The story is cliche and bland, characters are uninteresting and kinda annoying most of the time. I watched it…Nothing happened. It wasn’t even funny, the jokes & humor of the show were pretty mediocre and not even clever. It was honestly disappointing and really boring. But I think if it wasn’t labeled a sports anime, I would think it’s pretty ok. Nice review. I’m glad I’m not the only one that realized this.

  4. don’t know about you, buddy, but unless you know, this anime was basically given a low-ass budget, had to go through hell to get greenlit, and then got popular.
Part of the reason is the healthy, beautiful, and consensual same-sex relationship (which, by the way, is not yaoi), and other reasons include the beautifully orchestrated OST, the non-stereotyped representation of POC, how the show humanizes every character in the end of just 12 episodes, the gender-fluidity of the characters. and how mental health is treated with actual respect. 
If you’re one of those fans who are yelling about how it won ‘best animation’, here’s some insight on how hard it was to animate (part of the reason why so many companies turned the idea down).
    22 skating programs. That’s already thousands and thousands of frames. Given the lack of downtime in between competitions (episode 6 on must have been hell), the animators had to constantly be drawing these programs. Combine that with Yuri on Ice’s low budget and lack of time- of course it’s going to look a bit distorted. Yet it still managed to make the skating scenes presentable, and and even enjoyable, to the point where many ice skaters are able to recreate the choreography. Honestly, as someone who’s tried to animate,I can say that the animators really deserve some respect.
Should they have won? Maybe not. Did they? Yes. Should you go yell at a fan because of it? No and honey, you need to chill.
    You make it sound as if it’s only young females that watch this show. Like, it’s not as if a multitude of professional ice skaters such as Johnny Weir, Evgenia Mendvedva, Denis Ten, Michael Martinez, Stephane Lambiel, Deniss Vasiljevs, and Evgeni Plushenko and so many others have tweeted about it, some even spamming their followers about this anime. South Park referenced Yuri on Ice. The amount of men in places such as Indonesia and Malaysia, with a bit of a warped vision about homosexuality, stating that the show had opened their eyes and made same sex love look not so taboo.
So, just fangirls now?
    Maybe, the reason why Yuri on Ice won was because of its way of drawing non-anime fans into appreciating anime because of its realism. Because it had an OST that was more than memorable. Because the POC were represented so well (especially with characters like Phichit, Otabek, Leo, etc.) and were normalized, instead of treated like stereotypes. Because it humanized every single character, like JJ, Chris, and especially Yurio. Because it allowed characters to explore their gender-fluidity (Viktor’s past, and Yuuri performing Eros). Because it didn’t shy away from mental health, with Yuuri and JJ’s panic attacks, and how the people around them did nothing but give their full love and support. Because it refused to ever make anyone look like a complete enemy, every skater had their own dreams, goals and hardships. Because when we’re presented with Yuuri and Viktor’s romance, we don’t just see them as two boys who want to get into each others’ pants. We see them as two people, people who developed a relationship through consent and talking their feelings with one another, and in turn, are now on their way to being married. Because two women had a dream, and even with a low budget, high expectations and a smaller studio, made it happen and people all over the world are more than ready to share it.
    Yuri on Ice’s Bluray and DVDs already sold 50,878 copies in the first week, and 0.5% of animes actually reach that kind of result. The OST is the third best selling CD and first best selling in digital sales in its first week. We’ve already topped more bestselling anime soundtracks than Viktor Nikiforov has records.

    • My beef with Yuri on Ice is that every character other than Viktor has character development. Viktor never changes or learns anything or faces any real conflicts aimed at him. He never feels regret for his decision to leave the spotlight. His Russian parents never confront him about being gay. He doesn’t get flack for choosing to train a guy who, to everyone else, looks like a screw up. Everyone else progresses except him. It’s like if JK Rowling decided to write Harry Potter but Hermione turned into an eye candy cheerleader who always did everything right. Viktor comes off as a trophy for Yuri to win rather than a real person with fears and regrets.

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