Not many sports anime could obtain popularity as quickly as Yuri!!! on ICE did. Spokon have always been among the most watched and loved animated series in Japan, but their impact on the public mainly depends on the interest of the watcher for that sport, the existence of enough original details in the plot, or the way the characters are designed. After all, no matter how much effort a studio put into creating a story which can tell about a sport in a way as accurate as possible, since a fan’s attention can’t be won without that “something” about an anime which makes it different, a cut above the rest. Well, that was the case with Yuri!!! on ICE which was able to combine the passion for the world of figure skating with a heartwarming love story. Indeed, Yuri!!! on ICE is not a sterile tale about a bunch of guys who compete against each other to become the best, but it also explores the inner dimension and feelings of a young athlete, Yūri Katsuki, who was about to give up before finding strength to keep on believing both in his own passion for skating and his love for his coach, Victor.
However, Yuri!!! on ICE isn’t only about Yūri’s inner self’s story. It is true that it only has 12 episodes, but its author, Mitsurō Kubo, has been able to give airtime to almost all the athletes appearing on the screen, giving them enough depth to make of them more than just secondary characters. Surprisingly, in just a few dedicated moments, we are able to understand that the Russian young dreamer Yurio’s jealousy of Yūri and his great determination to win were caused by his will to make his granddad proud of him, or that the self-esteem the Canadian JJ shows while skating is just a mask of uncertainty that will make him fall in the end. All of these feelings which transpire from the characters’ deepest hopes and fears, united to the way they interact with each other, have become the basis on which fandom’s fantasies were built, especially the ones regarding relationships. The result is a wide range of shippable couples which will make you look at characters in a new light. Curious to know great shippable Yuri!! On ICE couples? Then, keep on reading!
5. Jean-Jacques Leroy x Yuri Plisesky
Let’s open our chart with one of the most famous love/hate couples in Yuri!!! on ICE which sees the Canadian figure skating champion Jean-Jacques Leroy – better known as King JJ – and that young spitfire that is Yuri Plisesky – “Yurio” to his friends – as a pairing. What does the two of them have to do with each other? Well, if you think about the brief but intense moments they have together in the anime, then the reason for their ship looks quite obvious. What Yurio and JJ share is their strong will to win and top the greatest champion of all times, Victor Nikiforov. Having both the same dream and the objective to win the Grand Prix Final, they are rivals of course, and that rivalry is exactly the reason for them to be shipped so hard by the fandom.
In the scenes he is shown together with Yurio, JJ always looks full of himself, certain of his victory, and not scared by Yurio’s great talent at all. In fact, he treats the young Russian like a delicate lady and, although being respectful of his performances, JJ thinks Yurio is not a threat to him. On the other hand, Yurio knows that JJ is a fearsome enemy, and that is the main reason that he hates the Canadian so much. The hate-filled look in Yurio’s eyes whenever he looks at JJ and the superior look JJ gives to Yurio when they are across from each other are what made of them such a famous couple; after all, hatred and mockery are the elements which make a ship the most intriguing, don’t you think?
4. Seung-gil Lee x Phichit Chulanont
Position #4 is dedicated to another of the most loved couples not based on canon elements, that is the cold and introverted South-Korean Seung-gil Lee and the vibrant and cheerful Phichit Chulanont from Thailand. Actually, differently than JJ and Yurio who are explicitly rivals and are often shown glaring at each other, we can see Seung-gil and Phichit together in the same scene more than once. The fact is that Phichit and Seung-gil don’t know each other well and, since the young Korean is not even a great talker, Phichit has very little to do with him. Yet, the fandom thinks they look perfect for each other.
Probably, the reason for them to be so loved lays in the way the two characters were designed, both physically and psychologically. The pale Seung-gil is a calculating lone wolf who lives far away from his peers, in the darkness of his own soul, while thinking numbers are everything an athlete needs to win. On the contrary, Phichit lives his skating adventure with great enthusiasm, lets his body flow with the music, he is smiling and bright, and his caramel skin makes him look like the sun kissed him. They are basically like the day and the night, and that is what makes of them a perfect match for hard shipping!
3. Leo De La Iglesia x Guang-Hong Ji (LeoJi)
Tired of impossible fantasies and need a ship based on serious stuff that didn’t just come out from fandom’s imaginary? So, what about the explosive American figure skater Leo De La Iglesia and his terribly cute Chinese enemy Guang-Hong Ji? Well, actually, we can’t exactly define them as enemies, since they seem more to be very close friends. Indeed, every time they appear in the series, they are shown next to each other, talking, eating together, or doing all those kinds of things that people usually do when spending time with someone they have known for a long time. It is pretty obvious that there is a deep bond between Leo and Guang, but is it really just friendship?
The fandom of Yuri!!! on ICE believes they are much more than just good friends, and that there is actually a love story – not even secret – between the two young skaters. Indeed, Leo and Guang make googly eyes at each other and are always happy with the victories achieved by the other, even if one of them is the loser in the competition. Moreover, Leo and Guang like to spend time together also when they don’t compete. Do you want an example? Then, what about episode 6 when Leo gets invited by Phichit to have dinner with him, Victor, and Yuuri? He was with Guang when the message arrived, and they looked absolutely lovely together when they decided to join the others!
2. Otabek Altin x Yuri Plisesky (OtaYuri)
The great news for the joy of all the fans of yaoi and shōnen-ai is that Yuri!!! on ICE is full of canon material on hot boys loving each other, and one of the best candidates among all possible shippable couples based on canon elements is, without a doubt, OtaYuri. It is not by chance that the charming Otabek from Kazakhstan and our beloved foul-mouthed Yurio are so famous as a pairing, although they have come to know each other just from the 10 episode onwards – and Yuri!!! on ICE has only 12 episodes. The reason for their ship to be so famous is, of course, their mutually supportive on-screen friendship and backstory which gives fans plenty to build on, to the point that there are considered to be a canon couple at least as much as Yūri and Victor are.
Indeed, Yurio and Otabek come to know each other after the Kazakh saves Yurio from members of his fan club who were stalking him. From that moment on, and especially after Otabek tells Yurio that he saw in the young Russian the “unforgettable eyes of a soldier”, a deep friendship between the two skaters starts and they grow more and more attached to each other. That is really some sort of a miracle since Yurio – because of the difficult path he chose and also because of his attitude problem – had never had a real friend before he met Otabek. Certainly, it is the glow in Yurio’s eyes every time he looks at his friend, and the faint smiles the severe Kazakh has on his face when he is spending time with Yurio the reason why fans went crazy with them. And we can’t blame them for it. Otabek and Yurio seem to have been made for each other, so they definitely deserve to be at position #2.
1. Victor Nikiforov x Yuuri Katsuki (VikTuri)
1. Victor Nikiforov x Yuuri Katsuki (VikTuri)
Of course, It is no surprise that position #1 could only be destined for the Japanese Yūri Katsuki and the Russian Victor Nikiforov, respectively the shy with low self-esteem main character of the series and his legendary coach. Why? Well, because Yūri and Victor’s relationship is not just ambiguous as for all of the other most loved shippable couples in Yuri!!! on ICE, but it is completely justified. The reason is that Victor and Yūri were never thought of as being super best friends as they were a little too friendly with each other, but they were considered as a real couple. In other words, Victor and Yūri act not for fan service, but actually fall in love with each other, and also end up together toward the end of the series.
Although there are still many people who weren’t convinced by the several explicit references to something important that was happening between the Russian and the Japanese skater, their love for each other is so evident that it can’t be denied easily. Indeed, Victor and Yūri share a lot of very sweet moments, starting from the startling kiss Victor gives to Yūri in episode 7 to the moment they exchange rings in front of a church, so there is no mistake about the fact they have feelings for each other. After all, it was the author herself, Mitsurō Kubo, who confirmed that the two are way much more than just good friends, so we can proudly enthrone Victor and Yūri as the queen of this chart!
And you? What is your favorite shippable couple in Yuri!!! on ICE? Let us know with a comment!