Right now, I’m obsessed with the ice-skating anime Yuri on Ice! I love many aspects of it, from the realistic ice-skating routines, the beautiful animation, the music, and the burgeoning love between the two male leads. The greatest part I enjoy is the exploration of the mental health and psyche into the main protagonist, Yuuri Katsuki.
For those unfamiliar with the anime, here is a summary:
Yuuri is a top figure skater in his field but lacks the confidence to perform well in his programs. After he landed in the last place at the Grand Prix Final in Sochi and scolded by fellow ice skater Yuri Plisetsky, his esteem plunders, and he resorts to binge eating to cope with his anxiety and depression. On top of that, his dog dies. Having graduated college in Detroit and breaking off his relationship with his coach Celestino, he returns home after being away for five years to contemplate his future. At home, he heads to the local ice skating rink to reconnect with his friend Yuko Nishigori. He practices a skating routine that his idol, Viktor Nikiforov, performed and won at the Grand Prix Final. Yukon’s siblings secretly record and upload the routine to the internet. After watching the video, Viktor flies to Yuuri’s home and announces that he’ll be his coach.
Yuri’s Mental Health
There are subtle instances in the series that point to Yuuri’s unstable mental health. In episode one, Yuuri is in the bathroom crying after a series of losses in his skating season. Also, it shows him binge eating on pork cutlet bowls to deal with the anxiety and the depression. Each episode shows Yuuri doubting his abilities and freaking out when he sees fellow competitors. In episode 7, he breaks down in front of Viktor, confessing that before his mistakes only reflected himself, but now they are also going to be a reflection of Viktor’s coaching.
Yuuri is a relatable character because I’ve been in his position. I’ve suffered from severe anxiety and depression, and have had maladaptive coping mechanisms. Instead of eating my feelings, I’ve starved and self-harmed to deal with them. I’ve compared myself to others to the point where it broke me mentally and emotionally. I’ve cried both in private and in public when my emotions were on overdrive.
The Power of Love and Support
Fortunately, with the support of Viktor, Yuuri manages to turn his unyielding emotions into strengths and achieve his ice skating goals. Similar to Yuuri, I’ve had support from loved ones who have helped me see that my emotions aren’t my enemies, but my strengths.
The great part about this anime is that it shows that an individual can endure and accomplish their goals despite their mental illness and that the power of love can aid it.