Fans of the anime series Yuri on Ice were treated to a delightful surprise if they happened to be watching the first day of figure skating in the Winter Olympics. Miu Suzaki and Ryuichi Kihara, the Japanese pairs skaters, performed a Yuri on Ice routine in the team competition Thursday night. When the two began their program, fans of the Japanese television series recognized the piano music from Yuri on Ice's titular song. And they took to Twitter in droves to squee with joy.
A bit of background for those who have never watched Yuri on Ice (also written Yuri!!! on Ice to be consistent with the Japanese title): the series is a sports anime about a fictional Japanese figure skater — the title character Yuri — and his international skating career. The plot focuses on Yuri's evolving relationship with his idol, Russian figure-skating champion Victor Nikiforov, as well as his Grand Prix showdown with a younger skating prodigy Yuri P.
The animated series was made available for free streaming shortly after it began airing in Japan, which helped make Yuri on Ice a smash hit online. The viral show also gained popularity with real-life professional skaters, such as Russian figure skater and huge anime lover Evgenia Medvedeva, the biggest contender for women's gold in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
TV viewers who were clueless about the anime series had NBC commentator Johnny Weir to thank for catching them up to speed. The Olympian had no problem explaining the context, especially as Weir has binge-watched Yuri on Ice. Weir is one of the show's most famous fans and has skated to music from Yuri on Ice in exhibitions.
Four-time Olympian and Russian figure skater Evgeni Plushenko has also skated to music from the show, performing as the character Victor, Yuri’s idol. In the show, Yuri has to compete against his rival Yuri P. to win Victor as his coach. Yuri's relationship with Victor also has a lot of sexual tension.
But the recent short program performance by Suzaki and Kihara was the first time figure skaters performed to Yuri on Ice at the Olympics. Its Olympic debut was met with a lot of fanfare on Twitter.
The 2018 Winter Olympics can now go down in anime history. The Japanese pairs skaters performed to the series' titular theme, “Yuri on ICE,” which the character Yuri skates to in his free skate.
Critics lauded the much hyped about anime series for its artwork, storyline, and nuanced portrayal of a gay couple. The show has garnered such a massive following online that Yuri on Ice fans were seriously shook when they watched the Olympics.
Just the first few notes of the song got Yuri on Ice fans excited.
And maybe also a little emotional.
With the end of Yuri on Ice's first season in December 2016, followers were left in the dark regarding a second season. But in April, they found something to look forward to: It was announced Yuri on Ice will return as a movie, with the sequel continuing off where the story last stopped.
Japan’s pairs team earned a score of 57.42 for their skate program to Yuri on Ice music. While their performance stole the show and took the internet by a storm, Suzaki and Kihara ended up in eighth place. Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, competing as Olympic Athletes from Russia, took the top spot with a score of 80.92.
The program put out by Suzaki and Kihara still contributed three points to Japan in the team figure skating event, however. Combined with the results from the men's short skate that occurred the same day, Team Japan sits in third place behind the United States in second and Canada in first. The team figure skating competition will continue on Sunday and Monday, but for those who just want to see Yuri on Ice at the Olympics again, tune in Tuesday, Feb. 13 at 8 p.m. when the pairs skaters begin their non-team competition.