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What’s The Deal With ‘Yuri!!! on Ice,’ The Internet’s Favorite Gay Figure Skating Anime?

Where to Stream

Yuri!!! On Ice

The internet has a new anime obsession and it’s called Yuri!!! on Ice. This enchanting drama about the world of figure skating debuted on in Japan back in October and it’s already one of the most popular animes ever. I’m serious. I haven’t seen my American friends freaking this much about an anime since bootlegs of Cowboy Bebop tore their way through my college dorms nearly fifteen years ago.

So what’s the deal with this show about a bunch of male figure skaters? Why is it so groundbreaking? And what has it cribbed from the real world? Buckle in. Here’s everything you need to know about Yuri!!! on Ice (including where you can legally stream it for free).

What is Yuri!!! on Ice even about?

23-year-old Katsuki Yuri is a Japanese figure skater in a bit of a rut. He’s battling nerves, weight gain, and has been washed out of the season. That all changes when he goes home and gets caught aping his idol Victor Nikiforov’s performance in a viral video. The older Russian star bows out of his career to coach Yuri and Yuri’s main rival, Russian junior star Yuri Plisetsky.

Oh, and Victor and Yuri (the Katsuki one) fall in love.

Whoa, whoa, whoa! They fall in love?

Yeah, and I’m glad you understand why it’s such a big deal.

Because they’re both guys!?!?

Yeah, but no, but yeah. While American audiences might be past being shocked by homosexual relationships onscreen, it’s a big deal for anime.

I thought Japanese animation was full of weird sex stuff.

Sigh.

Don’t sigh. It is.

Yeah, but that’s just it. Yuri and Victor’s relationship isn’t sexual, as much as it’s emotional. In fact, without two telling scenes — a kiss and a cry — it would be hard to confirm that they *are* a couple. This is a big step forward for anime, which usually fetishizes the eroticism of gay romance without rooting it in the sentimental everyday. Plus, gay marriage isn’t even legal in Japan, so it’s a big deal. AND NOT ABOUT SEX.

Are you sure it’s not about sex?

I mean, okay, this is how Victor introduces himself to Yuri:

And it keeps going…

And going…

Whoa! He’s hot for an animated dude!

Yes, and that’s another reason it’s so popular. The hot anime guys. Well, that one hot anime guy in particular.

So it’s all about the hot dudes?

And the world of figure skating. Yuri!!! on Ice is straight up about the glamorous (and grueling) sport — the ups, and downs, and the costumes.

Yeah, I watched the trailer and Yuri reminds me of a skater I’ve seen before. Am I crazy?

Nope! Yuri!!! on Ice took style cues and inspiration from real-life figure skater Johnny Weir. Like Weir, Yuri changed his coaches at the age of 23 and staged a comeback. Weir has lauded the show for its accurate depiction of the figure skating world and is a fan. However, in an interview about the show, he made it clear that he did not fall in love with his Russian coach. (He is famous, though, for his love of Russian culture. During his heyday, Weir got flack for wearing a Russian Team jacket as an American figure skater.

Did you say that Yuri’s rival is also named Yuri?

Yes.

So shouldn’t it be called Yuris!!! on Ice?

Maybe, but really it’s about the first Yuri. He’s the central Yuri. The Yuri that matters to you and me and Victor.

Okay. Well, consider me intrigued. How can I watch this popular anime series? Please don’t tell me I have to pass around bootleg DVDs like you and your friends did in college (you dinosaur!).

No bootlegs! No DVDs!

You can stream all of Yuri!!! on Ice for free on Crunchyroll.

One last question: Is it in Japanese?

Yes, but there are English subtitles.

But I don’t want to read when I watch TV!

Well, I mean, it’s an animated show, so the visuals tell the story. Also think of it as multitasking: you’re reading and watching TV at the same time like a very successful person with great time management skills.

Stream 'Yuri on Ice' on Crunchyroll

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