Yuri!!! on Ice Skaters Ranked from Worst to Best

(Per my mom’s advice, a major SPOILER WARNING goes into effect starting now.)

I knew I had depression when I couldn’t get through an episode of skating anime “Yuri!!! on Ice” without sobbing. Then again, the show delivers intense emotions and sympathetic plotlines that can trigger tears whether you have a serotonin deficiency or not.

I talk about this show all the time. I keep trying to trick my family into watching it. My friend Claire bought me an art print of one of my favorite characters (more on that later) that I look at every morning for inspiration.

But when describing the show to my friends or rewatching episodes by myself, I learned something disturbing:

I hate almost ALL of the characters.

More specifically, I hate the other skaters.

The show would interrupt meaningful conversations between Yuri and Victor with side characters’ performances, during one of which a character literally described the plot of an action movie. WHAT THE HELL, SHOW?

As much as I love this show, I thought the creators weakened the emotional core with an overabundance of characters. I have a few characters I love with all my heart, but those are outnumbered by the ones I hate or can’t bring myself to care about.

Which characters are worth watching and which are a waste of time? I made a handy-dandy list to answer that question.

(Note: I didn’t include any of the female skaters because, storywise, they don’t do much. They’re like animated window dressing for the male skaters.)

WORST: Michele Crispino of Italy

Michele

Let me get some uniquely-American beef out of the way: I went in pronouncing his name mih-SHELL cris-PEE-no. APPARENTLY his name is pronounced MEE-keh-lay CRIS-pih-no. WHAT.

Also, I couldn’t believe that I had to watch MULTIPLE episodes about Michele’s POSSIBLY INCESTUOUS relationship with his sister Sara. I kept asking, “WAIT, BUT IS THIS INCEST?” and the show DID NOT do enough to deny it. They framed Michele and Sara’s relationship as a romance, which left me screaming, “BUT THEY’RE SIBLINGS!”

Also, Michele supposedly learns a valuable lesson about giving his sister freedom, only to return to his creepy old ways in every subsequent appearance.

Gross. Get out of here. I hate watching you MOST.

LEFT COLD BY: Georgi Popovich of Russia

Georgi

Aside from Michele, Georgi makes me the most uncomfortable.

I honestly don’t know what to do with his dramatic makeup and costumes.

Georgi’s longtime girlfriend Anya dumps him some time before the show begins. That in itself isn’t so bad.

But then Georgi dedicates these creepy, possessive skating routines to his ex. In each of his routines, he promises to never leave Anya’s side…even though she DOESN’T WANT TO BE WITH HIM. I GET being heartbroken and angry after a breakup. I get dramatic revenge fantasies where you cast yourself as a villain and your ex as a helpless damsel.

But things get REALLY awful when Georgi promises PHYSICAL DEMONSTRATION of his UNWANTED love. He fantasizes about kissing an UNCONSCIOUS ANYA in the style of Sleeping Beauty.

DOES THAT NOT SOUND SINISTER?

Georgi brags that his newfound heartbreak adds emotional depth to his skating. THAT IS SOMETHING A SLEAZY EX-BOYFRIEND WOULD SAY.

Georgi’s final appearance shows him and his stupid hair on a date with a new girl. I wish I could warn her.

HATE FOR SOME REASON: Seung-gil Lee of South Korea

Seung-gil

Seung-gil is rude without being interesting.

He’s not clever or outrageous – he’s just a jerk.

That doesn’t make for fun viewing.

I accidentally attributed the infamous “Shanghai Blade” sequence to Seung-gil because I hated him SO MUCH.

Okay, so Seung-gil didn’t waste his performance summarizing an action movie.

But he did storm out of the rink after receiving a bad score.

Boooooooo. Bad form.

GRUDGINGLY RESPECT: Christophe “Chris” Giacometti of Switzerland

Chris

Chris is billed as the sexiest skater when he’s…not…very…appealing…

Most sexual skater, sure, but sexy?

Do you know how many shots of his butt I had to endure? Do you know how many times Chris manhandled another skater without their consent? Do you know how many times he orgasmed on the ice? MORE THAN NECESSARY.

All the female characters went NUTS over Chris. Watching Chris, I had to ask myself, “Am I even straight?” Because I felt nothing for him but irritation and mild disgust.

And then Chris was revealed to be a great friend and partner. Huh. All right, Chris: I don’t LIKE you  and I definitely don’t find you attractive, but I respect you. That’s all you’re getting from me, Switzerland.

IRRATIONALLY ANGRY AT: Leo de la Iglesia of the USA

Leo

Other viewers have pointed out that it’s cool to see a Hispanic man representing the U.S. in a genre where Americans are typically blonde, blue-eyed, and white.

Representation is neat.

But…THIS GUY?

Three strikes against Leo:

  1. He says something to the effect of, “I can’t live without music.” Excuse me, boy from my English 102 class, THAT DOES NOT MAKE YOU UNIQUE OR INTERESTING.
  2. He skates to a rap song SO DUMB it sounds like a joke.
  3. His first act after falling during practice is to change the song on his iPod…WHILE LYING ON THE ICE.

I realize my hatred of Leo is NOT rational. Still, I groan every time he’s on screen.

Leo reminds me of the dude-bros that have surrounded me my whole life. He has no depth.

WILL NEVER FORGIVE: Guang-Hong Ji of China

Guang-HOng

Guang-Hong doesn’t have a TON of personality. Like Linda Belcher in Tina’s stories, he can’t talk to Victor Nikiforov because he’s “too shy.”

But he has a crush on Victor, which…is pretty cute.

Also, he may or may not be in a relationship with Leo? WHAT? The wikipedia even says he imagines saving Leo from an assassination. HOW DID I MISS THAT? WHAT A WEIRD FANTASY.

If only Guang-Hong hadn’t skated to “The Inferno” from “Shanghai Blade.”

I listen to “The Inferno” all the time. It’s a great song.

BUT DID GUANG-HONG REALLY NEED TO WASTE SCREEN TIME SUMMARIZING THE MOVIE?

COOL. I’M SUPER GLAD I’M WATCHING THIS NOBODY SKATER SUMMARIZE A FILM WHILE MY BELOVED YURI HAS A PANIC ATTACK. AWESOME.

CAN NEVER REMEMBER: Emil Nekola of the Czech Republic

Emil

The only reason I’ve listed Emil higher than Leo and Guang-Hong is because I feel nothing for him.

I heard the amazing song “Anastasis” on the soundtrack but couldn’t remember who had skated to it. My memory was a black hole.

Emil left so little of an impression, I attributed the song to Chris. In my mind, he and Emil were essentially the same person.

I deeply question anyone who calls Emil their favorite character. He is a nothing of a person.

WASHED MY HANDS OF: Kenjirou Minami of Japan

Minami

I should tell you Honey was my least favorite character in “Ouran High School Host Club.”

The “sexy little boy” trope does NOT appeal to me.

Minami doesn’t help his case by being REALLY ANNOYING.

But he’s barely in the show after one episode. My brain does not register his subsequent appearances.

And I really love “Minami’s Boogie.”

TOLERATE: Phichit Chulanont of Thailand

Phichit

I know I said I had negative feelings in the intro, but I didn’t know the list would be QUITE this negative.

A lot of people love Phichit. They think he’s a pure, perfect cinnamon roll.

I honestly find Phichit a little annoying. He ALSO summarizes his favorite film, and you know how I feel about that.

But the boy has dreams. He wants to increase interest in figure skating in his home country. He mentions wanting to perform in an ice show with all of his friends. That’s sweet.

He owns a bunch of hamsters, which is cute.

He supports Yuri in everything he does and is the first to congratulate Yuri and Victor on their engagement.

Okay…maybe I do like Phichit.

WANTED MORE OF: Otabek Altin of Kazakhstan

Otabek

I knew very little about Otabek when this show first came out.

I’d seen drawings of a beautiful man with a motorcycle and an undercut. In my supreme shallowness, I believed I’d found my favorite character.

From all the fanart and shipping and promises of this hottie’s prominence, I expected the show to be 50% Yurio/Otabek scenes. Claire kept telling me, “Just wait!”

Otabek doesn’t show up until the penultimate episode. He has MAYBE five scenes in the entire show.

What a disappointment.

Honestly, though, Otabek’s appearances, however brief, enhance the show. The show creators squeeze in a teeny-tiny character arc for him that creates a sympathetic, if underused, character. I LOVED his relationship with Yurio, even if I wasn’t quite convinced it was a ship. I loved that Otabek went from resenting Yurio to respecting and befriending him. I related HARD to his story of lacking natural talent for a sport he loves.

I love that Otabek brings out the best in Yurio, who finally shows care for someone besides himself (or his grandpa.) Yurio and Otabek’s brief exchange before Otabek’s final performance is one of my favorite show moments.

I even love when Otabek starts speaking in a series of motivational quotes during his last performance.

I wish there had been more of him. If only his and Yurio’s date hadn’t been RUDELY INTERRUPTED by the SUPPORTING CAST!

ANGRY LITTLE CINNAMON BUN: Yuri Plisetsky of Russia

Plisetsky

My favorite characters of all time include Kyo Sohma, Ronan Lynch, and Prince Zuko.

I love a good angry jerk.

Is a character prickly and bitter for no reason? Yes? I’ve already begun making T-shirts.

Yurio fulfilled this requirement in his very first scene. After hearing the other Yuri crying in a bathroom stall, he kicks the door down and screams in his opponent’s face. Sure, I’m HORRIFIED, but I’m also ENGAGED.

Then Yurio flew to Japan FUELED BY SPITE to bring Victor back to Russia.

Irate Little Plisetsky acts as a great foil to passive marshmallow Yuri Katsuki.

Surprisingly, I feel the same way about Yurio that I do about Otabek: I think Yurio was VASTLY underused. The show set him up as an antagonist of sorts, then seemingly forgot about him for episodes at a time. The lack of focus on Yurio and the overreliance on side characters undercut what could have been a great character arc.

Still, I’m into it. I love every time Yurio appears screen. He makes the show better. In my eyes, he can do no wrong. According to some viewers, he crosses the line many times, whether by insulting Victor’s fiance or by overusing the word “bitch.” I don’t want to justify his behavior – bad form, Yurio – but these things don’t stop me from liking him.

A quick confession: I HATE “In Regards to Love: Agape.” I roll my eyes every time I hear it. Yurio deserves better.

DARK HORSE FAVORITE: Victor Nikiforov

Victor

If Minami is the Honey of this show, Victor is the Tamaki.

(Speaking of Ouran: do you know how hard I shipped Haruhi and Mori? HARD. I’ve never gotten over the show’s disregard for my perfect ship.)

Charming pretty boys really don’t do it for me. Their presence brings my guard up. What good can come from these selfish narcissists?

Victor’s “surprise” appearance at the end of the pilot worried me. I was too aware of the power imbalance between him and Yuri to support their ship. I resigned myself to hating him.

Then Victor surprised me with his hidden depths.

The relationship between Victor and Yuri becomes more equal as the show goes on. Refreshingly, Yuri calls out Victor’s bad behavior. The two discuss issues and show deep consideration for the other’s feelings. It’s a beautiful ship; I’m on board.

Once I got past Victor’s flakiness and occasional nudity, I could enjoy the character. Victor is goofy yet serious, flirtatious yet earnest. He’s a good friend and role model and pushes Yuri to be better, kinder, and more honest. The scene in the airport when he and Yuri run to each other makes me WEEP.

You WON ME OVER, Victor Nikiforov! I DO NOT SAY THIS LIGHTLY!

SECOND BEST (his worst nightmare): Jean-Jacques “JJ” Leroy of Canada

JJ

IF ANYONE’S WINNING GOLD AND GETTING MARRIED, IT’S ME, KING JJ.

[Fun story: I told my dad about some of JJ’s best moments and he looked at me in horror. When I clarified that this was from a SHOW, he said, “Thank God…I thought he was a real PERSON!”]

I LOVE JJ, even though I KNOW I shouldn’t.

He’s so easy to hate. Arrogant people are bad enough, but arrogant people who are legitimately talented are even WORSE.

JJ makes a sexist joke at Yuri Plistesky’s expense, writes a LITERAL ROCK SONG about how cool he is, and crashes an engagement party to brag about his OWN upcoming union. His voice acting is probably the worst in the show – in a series that is already over-the-top, Jeremy Inman goes ABOVE AND BEYOND what was called for in terms of cheese.

My first time watching this series, I thought JJ was a terrible garbage person who didn’t deserve love or friendship.

To my dismay, a dramatic progression occurred.

First, I fell in love with the song “Theme of King JJ.” Cheesy and dumb, sure, but that song is downright inspirational. I would listen to it at work and mouth along, tears rolling down my cheeks.

Then, I rewatched the episode where JJ panics on the ice and dives into an anxiety spiral. I’m ashamed that it took me a rewatch to empathize. I’ve had anxiety spirals. I’ve buckled under the weight of others’ expectations. JJ imagines the other skaters as dark-eyed villains who want to see him fail. WHO WOULD HAVE GUESSED that the show’s most confident character is also a paranoid perfectionist?

So JJ chokes and the crowd sings for him. How DARE you try to make me feel feelings, show!

Then, in JJ’s final performance, rather than give into defeat, JJ cries, “That’s not how I DO things!” before completing an impressive quad.

That’s how you overcome…JJ STYLE!

BEST: Yuri Katsuki

Yuri

I watched this show without knowing how depressed I was.

In the FIRST EPISODE, Yuri ends up crying in a bathroom stall, wondering if he’s even good at the one thing he loves. He gains a bunch of weight, finishes school, and moves back home in defeat.

THANKS, SHOW, FOR DESCRIBING THE LAST THREE YEARS OF MY LIFE.

I watched the pilot and BAWLED.

I love how honest Yuri is about his feelings. He and Victor connect when Victor meets him halfway. Yuri’s confidence grows so much over the course of the series. I cheer him on every time, my heart swelling. Look at my precious baby go.

Also, drunk Yuri is a gem of the highest value.

Drunk Yuri

His dancing and attack hugs will be remembered for all time.

 

 

Shout out to Makkachin even though he didn’t make the list.

Makkachin

Those are my feelings on the subject. Post your comments and/or rebuttals. Defend Leo or Guang-Hong. Trash JJ (if you MUST.) I truly want to know your thoughts.

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