A large cast of characters in an anime series can be both a blessing and a curse all at once.
On the one hand having several different character types in a series can broaden the audience you want to bring in as a creator, if there is a popular character type at the time you will probably want to include this character type in the cast. The drawback to this can be a lack of character growth throughout the series. Fans will have a type they like and if that character changes too much a creator risks losing the audience.
This type of character is most prone in the ‘Idol’ genre of anime I have noticed, a genre that I myself fell for in the past but have since grown out of simply because I got sick of watching cardboard cutouts brought to life and not characters.
This can also be a trend in the ‘Sports’ genre of anime. One off opponents that are there to fill a niche in the story or fandom. Even when it comes to team sports a member of the main characters team, I can even prove this point with an example.
Lets’s take a look at Kuroko no Basket, other than Kagami and Kuroko without looking it up can you name the other members of the team? Don’t worry if you can, I have been following the anime since it came out and I still can’t unless I just watched an episode recently.
Yuri!!! on Ice could have so easily fallen into this trap of trope filled characters because of it’s short length and large cast, but even though we have a large cast of many different characters they all get development and there is a big reason as to why and it goes back to the very sport on show in this anime.
I am by no way an expert when it comes to ice skating or any sport for that matter, but each performance on the ice by each skater is a window into that skater through the art of their movement and music. From Yuri’s personal journey outlined in Yuri on Ice, Minami’s playful youth in his Minami Boogie and there is a boisterous arrogance yet vulnerability that comes across in the lyrics of Theme of King JJ.
As we see through Yuri’s journey at the beginning of the series in finding a song for himself, music is just as important to these characters as the hours of practice they have on the ice. They become the music and in this sense the music of the series becomes a character all of it’s own.
Even the opening theme to the series ‘History Maker’ brings it’s own flare to the series. Think about this my reader how many anime do you know with an English opening that is so clear in it’s lyrics? The only other ones I can think of off the top of my head are the openings to Deadman Wonderland and Serial Experiments Lain. Yes Black Lagoon also has an English opening but can you tell me you understand the lyrics without the subs?
History Makers was a perfect fit for this series as I do believe Yuri!!! on Ice will go down as a history maker, you can be sure of that. After all just look at the recent results for the Anime Awards 2016 from Crunchyroll