Yuri on Ice – 05

Today is an odd day. It’s a mix of hung over, exhausted from lack of sleep, and walking on air from euphoria. It’s still kind of hard to believe I woke up (not that I slept much) in a world where the Cubs are World Champions. Just doesn’t seem believable somehow, but here we are. The batteries are almost run down now (though I’m sure seeing the celebration in Chicago tomorrow will recharge them) but anime does still exist. And I guess it’s fitting that I jump back into it with a sports anime, even if I barely have the energy to type.

It would be hard to imagine a sports anime more removed from the world of professional baseball than Yuri on Ice. It isn’t even a series one thinks of as a sports anime first, but an episode like this one goes a long way towards reminding us that our perceptions can deceive us. If the measure of success for a sports anime is how closely the act of watching a fictional competition mirrors the feeling of watching that sport in real life, this episode was a smashing success. This week is a dream I still haven’t woken uo

I don’t watch much figure skating outside the Olympics, but watching Yuri and Minami skate brought out exactly the same reaction – a nauseating tension springing from the risk of a fall at any time. It’s hard not to get caught up in the moment because (when it’s the Olympics anyway) these skaters have so much at stake that can be dashed away in an instant – so much work and sacrifice and study. That makes watching the sport sort of exciting, though I don’t know if I’d say enjoyable – and that’s what this ep was for me. These skating sequences were really beautifully done (and splendidly animated).

Speaking of Minami, he’s Minami Kenjirou (Murase Ayumu, who’s pretty much a type-cast at this point), a teenaged kouhai who idolizes Yuri. Minami-kun – fang and all – is pretty over the top, but he kind of represents the shameless goofiness that makes Yuri on Ice good fun rather than insufferable. He’s the most important, but Yuri’s competition in the Japanese event are all kids much younger than he is, and it does call to attention again that for him, the clock is very much ticking. This is the level of competition he simply has to dominate if he’s going to be successful as a skater.

That said, Minami’s routine is a blast – a swing jazz routine perfectly suited to his impish persona. Like Yuri he’s not all that as a jumper, but he does have the ability to draw the crowd into his routine. As for Yuri, he’s still to an extent captive to his own limitations with jumps – which is exactly why Viktor tells him to ease off on them for the moment (cutting back from three quads to one) and concentrate on the artistic impression side. It’s sound advice but Yuri has become rather rebellious, and proceeds to ignore it – and pays a dear price with several falls and botched landings in his free skate (one especially bad one results in a bloody nose).

Is it realistic that a skater could have that many technical deductions and still finish so far ahead of the field? Frankly, to my limited knowledge no – even if the competition isn’t world-class here. But that’s a quibble, really – this is really just the jumping-off point for the rest of he series. The other headline moment here comes when Yuri more or less confesses his feelings for Viktor – though he does describe them as “not romantic” – and in the process, disses everyone else he’s been close to pretty hard. I don’t know whether Yamamoto is going to continue to dance around this or embrace her, but at least she isn’t making a joke out of it, and that puts her ahead of just about every other anime that broaches the theme.

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9 comments

  1. e

    Minami is a bit of a fanboy!Hinata on blades meeting his Little Giant 😀 . I like that they dedicated so much space to his free skate program. If this is going to be his time in the spotlight in the series it was a plenty effective way to go. It was a great piece to watch and listen in itself to boot.

    Re: performance, evaluations & mistakes. There are a few factors to consider here.
    – Even without Yuuri’s own tendency to choke in compettion it’s pretty normal for figure skaters to make more mistakes early in the season and for their performance to both get more and more refined and in character as they go – we saw some RL examples recently in Skate America and Skate Canada. It’s still early in the calendar and even the top world skaters can look a bit ‘off’ – .
    – We didn’t see Minami’s short program (the Lohengrin one) but we can infer easily it didn’t feature any quads and that his highest difficulty jump was the triple axel. Quads give you points advantages.
    If you put your hand down but otherwise complete the quad without falling like Yuri did during his Eros – or even hit against the rink like he does later in the free skate – you get a partial deduction but as long as you completed your jump rotation and keep going so that recover your original flow and pace afterwards it’s fine.
    When Minami tried a quad in his jazzy program instead he didn’t complete it and also fell in a way that broke the flow of his coreography [much more than Yuuri’s did] and also his in-character immersion. By comparison Yuuri was more consistent even after hitting his head and had a a more complex coreo overall. They are still the two best athletes in there but it makes sense for Yuuri to end in 1st place.
    – re: performing with bloody injuries and ending up on the podium. Just look at what Yuzuru Hanyu did durin the Cup of China in 2014 (where Yuuri is going to compete next week btw). He collided badly with another skater during the warm up https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jf84VzlzLhI , bled a ton, ended up performin with a giant bandage on his head and still bleeding, fucked the first quads, kept going all the same, as soon as the adreline rush eft him after he completed it he was limping out of the rink https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qI1CX_e7H2A . Still managed 2nd place for that program on a world senior stage.
    ———————————————————————–
    There are a few interesting comments translation-wise about Yuri’s ‘abstract love’ speech on TV on reddit. worth a read ^^ https://www.reddit.com/r/anime/comments/5art5f/spoilers_yuri_on_ice_episode_5_discussion/d9izl4z/ (this one and the reply by seiryu immediately below ) and this short one here https://www.reddit.com/r/anime/comments/5art5f/spoilers_yuri_on_ice_episode_5_discussion/d9jnp07/
    ———————————————————————–
    UGH. I LOVE EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE IN THIS EPISODE. Long live the power of Ai. And hugs. And pots of vaseline (vaseline is RL figure skating legit but a whole pot of it… *ahem* ). And I want that Makkachin tissue box :,).

  2. c

    Oh, wow. Thank you for this comment. I watched the videos you linked. They were SO MUCH. Like, god. Yuzuru messed up more jumps than Yuuri did and got around the same FS score he did, but it was SUCH a performance. You could tell he was putting everything he had into it.

    I’m not sure what was in Yuzuru’s program, but I believe quad jumps usually have at least a 10 pt base value, and triples 3 or 4? So, even falling and getting deductions on attempted quads should get you a higher score on the technical side than just doing one quad and many triple, like Victor suggested and the younger athletes decided on. I guess Victor was worried that even with the bump in tech scores, his performance scores would be impacted too much for the boost to help?

  3. e

    @currycurry: the jump scoring system is a factor (depending on the kind of quad it can really boost your points vs a triple of the same kind https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISU_Judging_System#Base_values_and_abbreviations_of_common_elements ) but I think Vic was more worried about possible injuries here – he more or less ‘voiced’ that thought as Yuuri hit his face against the side of the rink too – compromising his performance on the following big(ger) competitions. And given the circumstances and general level/depth of field of this specific competition he also thought Yuuri could afford taking it a bit easier. The main contender in this event was Minami alone and he’s still not up to Yuuri’s level yet :) .
    On the other hand for Yuuri to have ended up in 11th place in the same event the previous year… boy that must have been an unmitigated disaster even compared to the rest of his annus horribilis world stage performances, poor fellow :,) . It makes his challenges and his anxiety even more harrowing in hindsight.

    About Hanyu, yes that whole performance is a lot to bear even as a mere watcher. In terms of scoring deduction I think he ended up with ‘just’ a minus five points, his stoic dedication and expression through the roof made up for that in the eyes of the judges too :) .
    Not nearly as dramatic but another ‘flawed & fall but made up for that with SPIRIT’ fav performances of mine is this Olympic SP by Plushenko btw 😀 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qut2CjxJ2tw

  4. r

    Congrats on the Cubs’ success, Enzo, my impression is that euphoria permeates your review of the episode and that is great! I am loving this series as well but couldn’t help notice a drop in the quality of the animation this week -skating scenes were very good, yes, that of Minami in particular, but it felt as if all of the production effort was actually spent on that; outside the rink like more than half of Minami’s shots were chibis; scenes with Viktor and Yurii didn’t fare much better, and even the editing and pace seemed to me a bit lackluster comparing to previous episodes. Anyway I loved it overall, especially the final tirade on love and also how the head bang worked perfectly as a pretext to have Yurii get a nosebleed just when he was looking and pointing at Viktor, at the end of his routine. This season this is the series I’m looking forward the most each week. Thanks for such a heartfelt and beautifully written review!!

  5. Lol, am I the only one who thought three quads was ridiculously ambitious? Even top Olympic gold medal winners like Yuzuru Hanyu has trouble consistently landing all three quads and he is undeniably one of the best figure skaters in the world.

    The power of anime is fearsome indeed. Yuri on Ice has woken up a lot of new interest from anime fans in male figure skating (myself included!)

    Also, here’s a very inspiring (AND RECORD BREAKING), GP Final performance with three successful quads by Yuzuru: http://web.icenetwork.com/video/v534440983

  6. Z

    I like how Minami’s idolization of Yuri mirrors how Yuri felt about Victor before he became his coach, except that Minami is a much more self-confident guy (willing to talk to his idol and ask for an autograph). There is a small bit of animation where Yuri is walking towards Minami, and Yuri looks so composed, and more masculine than we have seen him look yet in the series. I can’t help think that is a reflection of how he looks to Minami, even if it wasn’t an obvious “delusional” point of view. Yuri just looks so COOL and exactly how you would see a goal/idol/rival.

  7. e

    @Zilla: teheh. You mean this moment? https://67.media.tumblr.com/861e2e94968d04b6b03cbe792479d288/tumblr_og141gtFO21v1l7nfo1_540.gif
    I think there’s a bit of Minami FanGoggles effect but we are also meant to see he is genuinely focused and determined there. It’s not as visible but by the end of his solitary stretching just earlier he’s already in that state – look at his face profile closeup when he bends against the door… or even before he nails one of his originally planned jumps during his Yuri On Ice program later on – :) .

  8. Z

    @elianthos Yup! That’s the one. And yes, I think it’s supposed to imply focus. My brain just wanted there to be more with the hero worship and mirroring thing 😉

    Hopefully Yuri will keep this step forward with his self confidence and not backslide like he has done previously. I’m looking forward to the dynamics of him competing with his friend, Phichit.

  9. e

    @Zilla: ohohoh 8D.
    About what’s coming next… I think we can expect Yuuri’s mental state to still waver a bit but if we connect the peaks he has been on the upward since Victor showed up *wink wink* . His little chibi intro speeches alone went from ‘hello I’m a crappy pro skater’ to ‘ I may not look like it but I’m a pro world skater!’ to ‘I’m a top world class skater’ no ifs and buts. Wooohoooo rise oh mah boy rise *cue You Rise Me Up song surreptitiously playing* XD.
    Phichit intrigues me both in regards to Yuuri and in himself as a performer. Will he be the expressive type inside the rink as well or a suprise!technical or a suprise!intense one? Dundundundunnnn le suspense!

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