‘Yuri On Ice’ Based On Real-Life Figure Skaters – Yuri And Victor Bear Uncanny Resemblance To Actual Athletes In Japanese Anime 'YOI'

Patrick Frye

Yuri On Ice has managed to capture and retain fans' attention owing to the immersive storyline. Incidentally, the reason why YOI appears so realistic is because it reportedly draws inspiration from real-life skaters, their highly demanding and intensive dance routines, and actual venues and stadiums. Combined, these aspects allowed the story to look and feel real.

Interestingly, the plot for Yuri On Ice, the immensely popular Japanese sports anime television series, is not the only thing that is realistic. Yuri and Victor's characters are based on multiple real-life figure skaters. In fact, while Russian figure skater Victor, who agrees to become Yuri's coach, is based on a real-life Russian figure skater, Yuri On Ice protagonist, Yuri Katsuki, is based on two Japanese figure skaters. Although the semblance is intentionally superficial, the animated characters certainly seem to take a lot of characteristics of their real-life counterparts.

As revealed by a real-life figure skater last year, Yuri Katsuki bears an uncanny resemblance to Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu. Interestingly, the similarities do not end at their identical facial structure, posture and stances, but go way beyond. Just like Yuri in YOI, Hanyu idolizes Russian figure skaters. Besides Hanyu, Yuri's life, career progression and even emotional state of mind seems to have drawn inspiration from real-life figure skaters.

Yuri's career path and life appears to be loosely based on Japanese figure skater Tatsuki Machida. The real-life skater finished last in his very first Grand Prix Final. Moreover, Yuri shares the same age with Machida. Both are 23-year-old. The figure skating world is a young man's game. Skaters start very early, and by the time they are in the mid to late 20s, these skaters have already begun contemplating retirement. While the emotional rigors are intense, the actual sport is very demanding on the human body, and requires extreme agility and strength to pull off the stunts.


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In Yuri On Ice, Yuri suffers from a humiliating defeat early on in his career, and despite being an able athlete, he suffers from poor self-esteem. While the protagonist does possess all the right technical aspects that make a great skater, he lacks the emotional punch that judges are keen to observe in top athletes. Interestingly, after the Grand Prix Final rankings, Tatsuki Machida had a chance to compete in the World Championships. Although he tried hard, Machida failed to win gold. Perhaps as a consequence, Machida reportedly suffered from a low self-esteem. Creators of Yuri On Ice may have drawn inspiration from Machida's "loser moments" and built Yuri's character accordingly. It is these finer connections that make the protagonist relatable and lovable.

On the other hand, Yuri's coach, Victor, may have been molded from the real-life character who Yuzuru Hanyu idolized. However, the semblance is quite brief. While fans would have liked Victor's character to have been a little more inspired from Evgeni Plushenko, the creators have infused several other elements from real-life skaters in Yuri On Ice.

Although Japanese anime Yuri On Ice ended last year, the series' popularity has only increased in the past few weeks. There have been persistent demands and rumors that indicate Yuri and Victor's story, and that of other figure skaters in YOI, have many aspects still left to be tackled.

Chances of Yuri On Ice getting a second season appear quite high. Besides the fact that creator Kubo Mitsuro hinted she wants to work on a sequel to YOI, many other renowned real-life figure-skaters and 2018 Winter Olympics favorites have endorsed the Japanese anime.

[Featured Image by Mitsuro Kubo/Yuri!!! On Ice]