Yuri on Ice didn’t have a fanbase when it was released, so it’s done very well if you take this into consideration.
So why is this anime so successful?
First of all, it has extremely good character development. The characters grow and change so much throughout the span of the series. Yuri goes from being unable to cry in front of anyone, including his mother, to being able to cry in front of Viktor.
The relationship between Viktor and Yuri is unusual, since this sort of relationship isn’t seen outside of shounen-ai/yaoi. Yuri on Ice is a sports anime, and the other sports anime I’ve seen tend to only stick to friendships and the sport itself, rather than branching off into a romantic relationship involving two characters.
Maybe the studio who created it realised that most girls who watch sports anime are also fujoshi (yaoi fans). So chances are the targeted audience will want to see their favourite pairing sail rather than have it hinted at for the whole season.
It wasn’t predictable either. No one expected Viktor and Yuri to kiss, nor did they expect Russian Yuri to win. Especially since it was made to seem like Japanese Yuri was going to win.
The series ended beautifully, and with a final note that left viewers expecting more. There definitely can be a continuation made, but the ending isn’t left in such a way that a continuation is necessary. The ending is satisfying enough on its own.
The story is also something that everyone can enjoy. It’s not too complex, nor is it too simple. It’s developt and written in a way that it’s easy to enjoy. It’s not too difficult to understand, but it’s not so simple that it’s boring.
The characters are all so unique, with their own personalities and flaws. Yuri isn’t perfect, and still has a lot of growing to do when he’s first introduced. By the end of the series, he’s grown in a way that he’s a much better version of himself. Even Yurio changes throughout the series.
The anime isn’t just for guys. Yes there’s fanservice that mostly girls will enjoy (guys can enjoy it too), but it isn’t so over the top that it would turn away male viewers who don’t like that sort of thing. The yaoi isn’t overdone either, and is more hinted at and not stated (although I’m pretty sure the kiss was confirmed). This means that the anime can be enjoyed by a wide range of anime fans, which is something that Free! Wasn’t able to manage since the muscles turned away plenty of male viewers.
Are there any reasons I left out? What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below!