Yuri!!! On Ice

Yuri’s Smile Is as Bright as That Ring on His Finger in New Yuri!!! On Ice Special Illustration

Five years later and he looks happier than ever

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Spoilers for Yuri!!! On Ice

A couple of weeks ago I was listening to Dean Fujioka’s updated version of the absolute bop that is “History Maker,” the opening to Yuri!!! On Ice. That song isn’t the only thing that’s reignited the fandom this holiday season. There is now a new, official, special illustration of our sweet pork cutlet bowl, Yuri Katsuki, to celebrate the five-year anniversary of the anime.

Just in time for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

In collaboration with Mizuno, a major sportswear company originally founded in Osaka, MAPPA (the studio behind Yuri!!! On Ice) has not only released new art, but you can order Yuri’s Olympic gear from now until January 11th (though I’m unclear on whether or not it’ll ship outside of Japan).

The jacket is being made to order and is based on Japan’s jacket for the upcoming Winter Olympics.

Much fangirling ensued this Christmas from yours truly.

Unsurprisingly, I wasn’t the only one, as this is a fandom that will take any inkling of new content and run wild with it because, well, we’re kinda starved for something here.

This, of course, led to the not-so-subtle reminders that there has been no new information on Ice Adolescence in 84 years, something that comes up whenever MAPPA collects another anime series in their ongoing Infinity Gauntlet.

“Long Haired Victor, The Movie,” aside, the new art does show us two things that make me a very happy YOI fan.

 

Yuri loves being on the ice now

At the beginning of Yuri!!! On Ice, we meet Yuri at a low point in his career. We see him crying in the bathroom, frustrated and embarrassed after a crushing defeat at the Grand Prix Final. He’s thinking about quitting ice skating altogether because his self-esteem is completely shot to hell, so much so that meeting his idol, Victor Nikiforov, just adds more anxiety and stress. There’s also the fact that he’s already in his 20s, which should be a young age, but with the skaters around him being younger and better, his defeat just pushes him toward considering retirement.

While the series is very much a love story (I’ll get to that) it’s mainly about Yuri finding the passion in ice skating and taking another shot – his final shot, or so he says. He has to start from the bottom and work his way back up, more importantly, he has to learn how to love himself in a way where he can be a force that no one can take their eyes off of. He has to learn how to believe in himself enough that it can be felt as he moves on the ice.

The series ends in a way that’s a lot more encouraging, showing us a Yuri who is far from playing with the idea of retirement and is, instead, ready to hit the ice again. This new art really drives that point home.

Not only does it imply that Yuri is representing Japan in the Winter Olympics, but he’s HAPPY about it. The Yuri who started the series would never even consider being a part of Team Japan because that Yuri thought so little of himself that he would’ve rejected the offer – assuming he’d even get one. The Yuri in this picture looks euphoric, like he can’t imagine his life without figure skating, and like he knows that he’s earned that spot in the Olympics.

Also? For an extra bit of warm and fuzzy feelings, Yuri starts Yuri!!! On Ice at age 23, and the series aired back in 2016. The Winter Olympics are in February 2022, meaning that Yuri is in the Olympics when he’s damn near 30!

via GIPHY

 

That. Ring. On. His. Finger.

I go into sports anime expecting a bit of homoeroticism every time because the shipping goggles are self-activated when characters spend 12 episodes talking about “bonds” and “only feeling this way around you” and whatnot. However, NOTHING could prepare me for Yuri!!! On Ice and how every episode had Yuri and Victor grow to care for each other in a way that can only be described as “love.”

These two will openly embrace each other. Yuri will pull on Victor’s tie and demand that his eyes are on him and him alone.

via GIPHY

Victor will openly whistle at Yuri while he’s on the ice.

via GIPHY

Victor kisses him on live television.

Yuri gets them rings.

Of course, Yuri doesn’t call it that, but the rest of the series has moments where these two will KISS THE RING ON THEIR FINGER before an important event happens.

Yuri and Victor’s relationship is just as important to the series as Yuri’s growth, and it’s clear that the influence they have on one another is how they both get out of the rut they were both stuck in. It’s so genuinely presented and so beautiful to watch that the series literally ends with them skating together, leading to a shot of Yuri running toward Victor, who looks like he’s floating on a cloud higher than nine when he realizes that Yuri is coming toward him, and his future, instead of shying away from it.

In conclusion, they’re married, and this new art took the time to have that ring on Yuri’s finger. After 5 (going on 6) years these two are still close, and I bet Yuri kissed that ring before he went out on the ice.

via GIPHY

I’m sure we’ll get that movie by 2027 but until then this new art is my new wholesome anime boy support unit.

(Image: MAPPA/Mizuno)

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Author
Briana Lawrence
Briana (she/her - bisexual) is trying her best to cosplay as a responsible adult. Her writing tends to focus on the importance of representation, whether it’s through her multiple book series or the pieces she writes. After de-transforming from her magical girl state, she indulges in an ever-growing pile of manga, marathons too much anime, and dedicates an embarrassing amount of time to her Animal Crossing pumpkin patch (it's Halloween forever, deal with it Nook)