The Playlist

The Playlist | Yuri On Ice by Taro Umebayashi

When I study, I usually listen to one album or one song on repeat. A while ago, that was the Your Name soundtrack, which I played on repeat during midterms.

For finals, I made a playlist of soundtracks from both anime and movies (that I still need to properly refine), but sometimes I would just play one song on repeat because I loved it so much.

And that song is “Yuri on Ice”.

The song shares its title with the anime it was written for, and is a sports-anime following the figure skater Katsuki Yuri, as he tries to redeem himself after a crushing loss at the Grand Prix Final one year prior. Suffering from anxiety, depression, and fear that he is alone, he is surprised by the appearance of his idol, the Russian five-time gold medalist Victor Nikiforov, who arrives at his home and offers to be his coach.

Together, they design his free program to a song composed specifically for Yuri, a musical interpretation of his skating career so far. Yuri names the piece “Yuri on Ice”.

And I can’t stop listening to it.

I’ll admit: I procrastinated on studying to watch this anime. It was constantly on my Tumblr dashboard (another means of procrastination) that I finally gave in and watched it.

I’ve never watched a sports genre anime before, ignoring the hype around shows like Free! and Haiyku!! 

So why did I give in to Yuri!!! on Ice? I’m not really sure. And for the first few episodes, I still wasn’t sure. I could tell there was going to be some fan service, and the plot was sort of weak, but the animation was beautiful and so was the music, which is probably what got me to episode 7.

Episode 7 is probably my favourite, and not for shipper reasons (I see you shippers, just calm down). Yuri makes his second attempt at performing to this song in competition, and after it, I immediately understood  why I liked watching it.

I love character-based storytelling. I’d take it over plot-based storytelling any day of the week. And in sports anime, the athletic plot is sort of a structure, a frame to build characters around. And because sports are sort of repetitive in their nature, it’s the character growth that you follow, not the sport itself.

In Episode 7 it is very clear that Yuri has grown as a person, and you can see that in his thoughts during the performance. He’s relaxed, he’s realized that his idol is a human too, and he’s not worrying about screwing up. It’s my favourite because of how Yuri feels while performing it.

But even without the scene, I would love this song. I love the way the song builds and then quiets itself, only to build once again. I love the way the piano layers on itself and with the violin and drum. I love how it sounds so complex and so emotional and so up lifting.

And I can’t wait for episode 12, where (I hope) Yuri finally nails the program he’s designed for it.

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