Yuri!!! on Ice is a Japanese sports anime television series about figure skating. The anime was produced by MAPPA, directed by Sayo Yamamoto and written by Mitsurō Kubo. Character design was by Tadashi Hiramatsu, and its music was composed by Taro Umebayashi and Taku Matsushiba. The figure skating was choreographed by Kenji Miyamoto. The series premiered on October 6, 2016 and ended on December 22, with a total of 12 episodes. It revolves around the relationships between Japanese figure skater Yuri Katsuki; his idol (and later coach), Russian figure-skating champion Victor Nikiforov, and up-and-coming Russian skater Yuri Plisetsky.
There is no skating on stage – “I can barely stand up on the ice,” says Timberlake – but there are backdrops of Curry performing and other illustrative material, shown as Timberlake explores his life and plays the half dozen or so witnesses he quotes. In less skilled hands, it would be a lecture rather than a drama of self-discovery. “That has been the challenge,” Timberlake admits. “I have to play Gillian Lynne and Millicent Martin [another close friend of Curry’s] or be in a gay club with one of John’s former lovers, but I like that. Being a gay man and a bit of a chameleon actor, I quite like hiding, and you can hide when you are playing all these other people. That’s one thing with a one-man show. You think: ‘Christ, will somebody else come on and just do a bit of talking.’”
Timberlake does eventually square the circle of his admiration for Curry and his desire to win his brother Chris’s approval. “I wasn’t brave like John. I didn’t come out to my brother while he was alive,” he says. But in the play he imagines that conversation, and his brother passes the acceptance test with flying colours, as Timberlake believes he would have if he had lived.
It may be, though, there was an even bigger test that had to be passed. “It’s about my own self-acceptance as well,” says Timberlake. Curry, he says quoting one of his hero’s lovers, “never shied away from his sexuality as a man or in his skating”. Despite the teenage Timberlake’s doubts about a male skater willing to flout the norms of the sport and skate with balletic, almost feminine grace, in the end Curry gave him the courage to be himself.