Yuri On Ice: The Gateway Drug To Watching Figure Skating
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Yuri On Ice: The Gateway Drug To Watching Figure Skating

A story of how sports anime lead to an actual interest in sports

Yuri On Ice: The Gateway Drug To Watching Figure Skating

I'm part of a very small minority of people: I don't like sports.


It's been that way my whole life, to be honest. I never really showed any interest in it. I'm a theatre kid that loves to read and write and appreciate the arts - practically the polar opposite of sports fans. I find myself rejecting invitations to games all the time because I found nothing appealing behind watching the sport. My extent has been gym class or whenever I would go to a beach.

However, the other day when I was browsing the television, I saw an ice skating competition on my guide, and I clicked on it without thinking twice. It wasn't until my sister walked in and saw what I was watching and simply asked me, "Elena, are you watching sports?" when I realised that something changed in my mentality; and I knew exactly what changed it.

Sports anime.

That was probably the most pathetic thing I have ever confessed to, I'll be honest, but I noticed my interest in sports started to gradually increase after watching sports anime. Animes like "Free! Iwatobi Swim Club" and "Haikyuu" were never one to grab my attention until I noticed the hype behind it. Call me a follower, I know, but it takes a lot to get me interested in anything that has anything remotely to do with sports.

Now, Free and Haikyuu didn't really get me into sports because they were over swimming and volleyball, two sports I enjoy playing for recreation, so I didn't want to get so invested in something and ultimately let that competition sink into my games that were meant to be just for fun. I'm already competitive enough.

Because of it, I didn't watch those sports animes. Also because I was too stubborn to give it a chance.

However, there was one anime in particular that sparked a love and appreciation for something that has gone underestimated in sports competitions all across the globe. This anime is called "Yuri!!! on Ice."

I won't go too in-depth about the story, but it centres around Ice Skating and their competitions. One of the first things that caught my eye about this anime is the animation. I mean, just look at it. It's stunning.

Since I appreciate the arts, I'm actually surprised at myself for not getting interested in figure skating sooner. It's a mixture of theatrics and sports, combining incredible costumes and interpretive dancing with statistics and logical methods behind every move. I don't know how they do it, but they managed to combine all these things and make it into an art form.

On ice!

It's like #SaltBae adding that extra seasoning to the sport. Putting all this on the ice makes it *that* much more graceful.

Ice Skating wasn't an unfamiliar concept to me; I grew up regularly watching Disney on Ice with my Girl Scout Troop and I've seen the movie "Ice Princess" while on a Girl Scout Camping Trip. Now that I think about it, most of my exposure to ice skating came from Girl Scouts (it's like they were trying to tell me something).

But even after all of that, I wasn't interested in it the way I am now. There's an ice skating rink only 20 minutes away from where I live, and I've asked my mother if I could go at least six times in the past month.

I knew it had to take talent to do some of the things I've seen these characters do in the show, and I started noticing that my dancing had changed after seeing it. I'm not joking, during one dance I did the exact movement as the gif below.

It was just so beautiful on the ice and I thought it would be graceful to imitate it in real life. I think this was the final nail in the coffin to me that I was in fact not a graceful individual, especially when it came to dancing.

Thankfully, not too many people noticed.

I was watching this show and I learned exactly how tedious it is to put on a performance. It reminds me of when I was in the musical, and it ultimately has the same result when finished rehearsing. Except instead of this is being on a stage, it's on ice.

These people are dancing on blades on ice. I'm still not over this.

From the rehearsals and the constant re-evaluations of the movements done in the choreography, these skaters have to maintain a shape by tremendous exercise and dieting. It blew me away, considering they don't do any weightlifting or things of the sort while skating. However, I noticed the exercises they did were to improve their agility, stamina and flexibility.

A key element that I noticed skaters have in their mentality (accurate or not) is that they need to keep the audience surprised. If the audience can expect a performance out of you, then you won't be as impressive as if you were doing something new every time you performed.

There's even a scene where Yuuri Katsuki and Yuri Plisetsky are going to be skating to two different pieces on the same theme: love. One song represented unconditional love, called "Agape," and one represented sexual love, called "Eros."

Viktor Nikiforov, their coach, made them choose which one they wanted to dance to. Obviously, the two chose their songs based on what they felt represented them the most, and Viktor switched their songs to have them skate to something new and unfamiliar. This way, their audience is surprised by what they see.

Even though it took tremendous training and soul-searching so they could properly captivate their audience and sell the roles perfectly, they were able to do it. Agape and Eros end up being an essential part to both of their programs, and they made it their mission to keep everyone on the edge of their seat wondering "what are they going to do next?"

It also addresses what happens to skaters as they lose passion in what they're doing. Many would point to Yuuri Katsuki for being symbolic of this for ending last place at the Grand Prix Final; however, the essential target of losing interest in what they love would be Viktor Nikiforov.

He goes from being the skater above to the skater below.

If the difference isn't obvious, look at his face. Specifically, the eyes. When he was younger, they were full of life and joy and he was clearly loving what he was doing. However, as he got older, he became a 5-time consecutive gold medalist for the Grand Prix Final and a gold medalist in the Olympics.

And he got bored with it.

Look at how he is when he's older. He looks sad and lonely - but when people first watch him skate this they think it's just him acting along to the music. However, it comes from something he mentions much later.

"I've been neglecting both [life and love] for twenty years."

He's 27 or 28 years old in this anime if that tells you anything. Skaters like Viktor and Yuri Plisetsky have been skating since they were children and have been non-stop in their efforts. So much so that twenty years of Viktor's life had gone by without him ever properly living.

And he still wants to surprise his audience. He drops out of skating and becomes a coach, he trains his opponents, he desperately does whatever he can to search for something that makes ice skating worthwhile.

This not only showed me exactly how obsessed some skaters are with captivating their audience, but how hard and long they have to work in order to be able to skate the way they do. It takes talent, and apparently talent that they have been practicing ever since they were barely old enough to skate.

Now, I'm sure that these may be extreme cases, but it's just unreal to think about. I'm not sure, I haven't gotten that far in my research about ice skating so far.

That's right, Yuri on Ice got me researching ice skating. If you were to look at my search history, you would see a whole day's worth of questions regarding how the competitions work, the differences between jumps, rules and other things that are important in skating that I as a viewer would need to know.

I think that was a triple axel. I may be wrong, I just started learning.

Side Note: Johnny Weir, Joe Johnson, Evgeni Plushenko and many more well-known figure skaters have tweeted about this anime. You know you're doing something right when people that don't watch anime are watching an anime about the sport they compete in and they love it. Just saying.

What the heck is going on with me? I, a girl that has never shown any interest in sports in my life, is becoming obsessed with figure skating because of a sports anime. It's like this gateway drug to watching the Olympics, and I don't know how to feel about the fact I was suckered right into it.

It makes me wonder: what comes next?

If another sports anime comes out about God knows what, will I watch it and get pulled into an interest in that sport as well? Or is Yuri on Ice just a coincidence for me because it does have a lot of artistic similarities to my interests?

Either way, I know what I'm going to be watching every season.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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