nineveh_uk: Photo of Rondvassbu in winter (rondvassbu)
[personal profile] nineveh_uk
Or to be precise,Yuri!!! on Ice. I don’t know why the exclamation marks are there, but they are. I’m not an anime watcher, it’s a genre that hasn’t really crossed my path since the days of French-Japanese co-productions shown dubbed on children’s television.* But I saw this mentioned as an anime about figure skating, and since though I am no skating devotee I class it under “winter sports I like” and as no-one going to make a series about cross-country skiing, I thought I’d give it a go. It didn’t hurt that the link I clicked made the skating look gorgeous.

Yuri on Ice follows Katsuki Yuuri**, a Japanese figure skater who is very talented, but lacks confidence and who has reached the nadir of his career after bombing in a major competition last season. He is miserable, out of form, and doesn’t know where to go next, but his luck changes when a bunch of infant skater fangirls post a video of him skating to a routine on the internet and it goes viral.

Because the routine is the impossibly hard and artistic one of Viktor Nikiforov***, all round Russian skate god who at 27 is ancient in skater years and wondering what to do next as it gets harder and harder to surprise the audience. Answer? Get on a plane to Japan and coach Yuuri, to the great confusion of the skating world, and the fury of Russian junior champion, now fresh-faced senior,15 year old other Yuri, who was counting on Viktor training – or at least providing choreography for - him.

So yes, there is a lot of skating, and it looks absolutely wonderful, as it should since they got professional consultants to help with it, and it is also funny and charming with endearing characters. But of course that’s not the only reason that there are suddenly a lot of fics for a 4 week-old fandom and the current women's skating champion's twitter is full of pictures.

That reason is the fact that Yuri on Ice is like an old-fashioned UST slash fic come to life, pining and all. Because Yuuri is not just a casual fan of Victor, he appears to be in love with him. Hell, in the last episode he pretty much declared that he was. He's been a fan for 11 years. His bedroom is covered with Victor posters. He got into skating seriously out of a hope to meet and compete against him. He skated his new routine in an attempt to get his love of skating back. He even named his (deceased) dog after him. And then the skate god he fancies like mad turns up in his family’s hot spring resort naked but for a strategically placed fountain and announces he is his new coach, at which Yuuri turns into a gibbering wreck and the entire show to massive fanservice, with the subtext, as Rupert Giles once put it, rapidly becoming text.

It is funny, endearing, with engaging characters and good-looking animation (at least to me, who hasn't seen it all before) and just the ticket for weary autumn evenings. For all I know it is massively full of cliches, but they are new cliches to me. The fic is, predictably, appalling. "Silverette" and "ravenette" is the least of it.

YouTube is failing me badly on clips of the skating routines, which only goes to show that fandom has its priorities wrong, but have an official trailer and opening credits.

*All together now, 'Children of the sun, see your time has just begun'...

**There are two Yuris, both transliterated from different alphabets. Japanese!Yuri tends to end up getting spelt Yuuri.

**Or as he is known in real life, Evgeni Plushenko. Although Plushenko, enormously charismatic skater though he is, does not as far as I am aware cause room-fulls of journalists to faint when he smiles.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-11-04 06:41 pm (UTC)
gramarye1971: (Snow Rune)
From: [personal profile] gramarye1971
Yuuri on Ice is one of those series that I am waiting until next season to watch, because the immediate fandom surrounding it seems absolutely exhausting to be part of or even adjacent to as the series comes out. ^^;; But I'm glad it's proving enjoyable. The fluid skating animation, I believe, owes something to rotoscoping -- redrawing live-action filmed footage -- and I can't begin to imagine how the animation staff is surviving on a gruelling weekly release schedule, and yet it does seem very pretty so far.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-11-04 10:13 pm (UTC)
gramarye1971: Fakir looking up from a library book (Princess Tutu: Fakir)
From: [personal profile] gramarye1971
I'd be happy to provide recs! One relatively self-contained series I've enjoyed in recent years is Time of Eve (Eve no Jikan), a semi-futuristic anime about a teenage boy who discovers that his family's household android has been slipping out of the house to visit an underground cafe where robots and humans are treated equally. It has some beautiful animation (not least of which is an accurate piano-playing sequence that I as a pianist greatly enjoyed) and is cute and contemplative by turns. The show started out as a six-episode short series, but the episodes were put together with extra material to make a movie. Either the show or the movie are fine to watch, whichever is easiest to find.

I also wrote recently about Natsume's Book of Friends, which is on the longer side (four 13-episode series, with a fifth currently airing) but most of the episodes are self-contained and slowly develop the characters and plot. The main character is an orphan who has been taken in by kind distant relatives, and his ability to see supernatural creatures has been something of a curse for most of his life. But when he finds a book that his grandmother used to capture and bind the names of a number of spirits, he sets out to return their names and frequently ends up helping them solve their problems along the way. The Japanese call this kind of series iyashikei, or 'healing', and it's evident in the lushly drawn artwork and backgrounds as well as the soothing (if often melancholy) weekly stories. The first season is worth dipping into to see if you like it.

In terms of other shows with good attention to technical details, Princess Tutu is a 26-episode series that is a lot more intelligent than its cutesy name might suggest. It combines fairy tale elements (talking animals, captive princes, evil witches, doomed knights) with, of all things, very well animated battle ballet. I often recommend it to fic writers and readers for reasons that cannot be discussed without spoilers, save to say that it quite literally involves the Death of the Author question.

Other shows...hm. There are a lot of options. I can name some more modern realistic shows like Yuuri on Ice, or modern fantastical ones like Natsume, but anime as a medium is so broad that I'm not sure what else I should rec in terms of what might be most appealing. My tastes in comedy tend towards shows with weird cultural references or genre parodies/subversions, but if there's a type of show that you might like to see in anime format (historical espionage? space pirates? teen romantic comedy?), I'll try to provide recs!

(no subject)

Date: 2016-11-06 06:53 am (UTC)
gramarye1971: Taichi Keaton, with the text 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' (Master Keaton: Tinker Tailor)
From: [personal profile] gramarye1971
Some more historical anime recs, with espionage in particular:

- Joker Game is the most recent of the lot, a 13-episode series about a World War II Japanese spy agency run by an enigmatic commander who doesn't seem to subscribe to the imperialist nationalism of the day. It's based on a popular novel series, and received some good reviews. I've seen a handful of episodes and liked what I've seen so far.

- A slightly more fantastical 13-episode series set in the same period is Night Raid 1931, in which another Japanese spy agency operating in 1930s Shanghai uses agents who have superpowers that range from teleportation to time manipulation to telepathy. Their powers, however, are extremely limited, and for the most part they have to rely on their own wits and cunning to overcome their enemies. The plot involves a deep conspiracy about a new military technology and a secret prophesy, and the main characters find themselves torn between their duty as spies and their reluctance to let Japan get its hands on a world-changing weapon. I've talked about it a little bit here.

- Two other recent series I haven't yet had a chance to see but have heard good things about are 91 Days (a 12-episode series set in the 1930s, about a Mafia member who infiltrates a rival family and befriends the don's son to help secure his revenge for his own family's murder) and Sakamichi no Apollon / Kids on the Slope (a 12-episode series set in 1960s Japan, about a group of teenagers who are brought together by a love of jazz music). They're both on my to-watch list.

- Naoki Urasawa has written two longer series that I adore: Master Keaton (points to icon) and Monster. The former is an episodic romp through post-Cold War Europe with an Anglo-Japanese archaeologist who is a former SAS survival expert, and it tangles with plots involving everything from ex-Stasi cases officers to former Red Army Faction members to Yugoslavian refugees. The latter is a tense psychological thriller about a brilliant Japanese neurosurgeon working in West Germany in the 1980s, who saves a young boy's life after the boy is found shot in the head...except that the boy then grows up to be a terrifyingly charismatic serial murderer who is connected to a deeply disturbing chain of events in Cold War Czechoslovakia. These two series are not easy to find commercially, but I know there are torrents online. They're not short -- Master Keaton is 39 episodes, and Monster is a whopping 74 episodes -- but they are extremely faithful adaptations of the author's original stories, and are as intelligent and engaging as any live-action spy series I've ever seen.

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