The fall anime season is here and out of all the new anime shows that are airing, two new shows stick out for their unique premises, popularity, and love of exclamation marks in their titles: Yuri!!! on Ice And Keijo!!!!!!!!. Rather than review these two separately, I’m going to cover them simultaneously. The reason being that they’re both still airing, so there’s not enough material yet to cover just one show, and they have a remarkable amount of similarities. If I tried to do two separate articles, they would be a bit repetitive and short. Having watched the first six episodes of each show, here’s my impression of the two shows.
Starting with the former, Yuri on Ice is a sports anime centered around figure skating and the protagonist Yuri Katsuki. He is an avid fan of figure skating whose dreams were crushed after he came in last at the Figure Skating Grand Prix last year.
He returns home to sulk and practice figure skating in peace, but when a video of him skating gets leaked online and seen by professional figure skater and Yuri’s idol, Victor Nikiforov, he tracks down Yuri and offers to become his coach. Yuri hesitantly accepts and Victor becomes his mentor, leaving Victor’s former student Yuri Plisetsky, (nicknamed Yurio for the characters’ convenience) to train with rival coach and scheme to beat the other Yuri. Now the two skaters must struggle to hone their skills and win this year’s Grand Prix while competing against skaters from other countries.
As for Keijo!!!!!!!!, it is an anime whose premise is…staggering. The story centers around Nozomi Kaminashi, a young gymnast that has recently been admitted to the exclusive Setouchi Keijo Training School to learn how to become a professional player of Keijo. There she must work with her new friends to train hard and become a professional Keijo player. What makes this sport so unique and popular is that the game involves several women standing on a platform in a pool trying to knock each other into the water, much like sumo wrestlers knocking each other out of a ring.
The big difference is the players can only use their chests and butts to knock each other off. That’s not a typo you just read, that is the actual premise of the show. Girls learning to play a game where they fight with breasts and butts.
Both shows follow the usual formula for sports anime where the protagonists train to be the best at their sport while facing against a colorful cast of rival players and teammates. Yet artistically the shows are vastly different in tone. Both shows have wonderful artwork and animation to them, with Yuri on Ice incorporating darker tones and sharper color contrasts while Keijo features brighter colors and lighter tones. Both shows manage to explain the rules of each sport in a manner that newcomers will be able to understand. Yet there’s one more similarity that’s not as obvious. That would be the ample amount of fan service contained in both shows, which I’ll get to momentarily.
I enjoyed both shows but for very different reasons. For Yuri on Ice, I enjoyed the well-defined characters and suspense contained in each performance. Yuri is a relatable character that is struggling to regain his self-confidence after his humiliating defeat at his last competition; every time you see him and the other skaters perform, you’re worried that they’ll mess up a move and not only take a painful fall but embarrass themselves in front of a crowd.
Not only is it relieving to see them pull off a set but its breathtaking watching the smooth, fluid animation of the characters skating incredibly realistically to a nicely composed soundtrack. Victor is an eccentrically enjoyable mentor that provides a nice contrast to Yuri’s serious personality. The supporting characters such as Yurio, Minako, and Yuko work well off Yuri and stand out despite not getting enough screen time.
As for Keijo, I enjoyed it simply because of the ridiculous premise. The story itself is pretty subpar and most of the cast is forgettable, yet the main four girls have some depth to them that make them okay protagonists. I will admit that as absurd as the sport is at least the writers put in some thought into making it feel like a sport people could play, though I honestly doubt anyone will try it out.
Plus, I was impressed that they attempted to include girls of various body sizes, from skinny to muscular to plump, instead of just making them all look like supermodels.
When watching Keijo, there were moments where I was tempted to stop watching but I didn’t because the fan service makes the show so bad that its good. The fact that the students and teachers can keep a straight face about a sport so silly is hysterical, and it seems like every episode it just gets more and more bizarre. It gets to the point where they not only name their moves, but fight at rapidly inhuman speeds like in Dragon Ball Z battles. I lost count of the times I had to stop, facepalm, chuckle at the absurdity, and ask myself “Did they really just do that?”. This is a show that is self-aware of its comical premise and just rolls with it. The only downside is that if someone catches you watching this without context, they might get the wrong impression.
Yuri also has plenty of fan service, but not in the same way as Keijo. What this show specializes in its homosexual overtones between Yuri and Victor. There are plenty of scenes clearly meant to provide shipping fuel for the fans. From Yuri and Victor hanging out in a bath house to Victor wanting to sleep with Yuri (as in share the same room), to moments where the two stand so close their lips are inches apart. Like with Keijo, these moments are hilariously obvious and self-aware though these are clearly meant for yaoi fans who may find the relationship sweet. It reminds me of when my college anime club showed Free! Eternal Summer and how over the top the scenes could get.
Overall, Yuri on Ice and Keijo are both enjoyable shows, though I consider Yuri to have a better story. Fair warning, you might want to skip these if you’re uncomfortable with scenes featuring guy and girl butts, sexual themes, and plenty of overt flirting. Otherwise, I recommend giving both shows watch, either by yourself when no one is around or with a group of friends to laugh with.