Yuri!!! on Ice – 06

Has Yamamoto Sayo finally found the right canvas to paint her masterpiece (or at least her signature work)?  Well, the caveat is that for me, with any Yamamoto series I can always faintly hear the sound of Fonzie revving the motorcycle – it never goes away, because every Yamamoto show I’ve watched has gone south big-time at some point during its run.  But so far at least, Yuri on Ice has the whiff or the one that might just break the string.

It’s not that Yamamoto has changed her style at all.  Far from it – Yuri!!! is very much her signature excess broken up only by brief bouts of extravagance.  But the themes of the series really work for it – let’s be honest, it doesn’t get much more theatrical than figure skating when it comes to the world of sports.  And figure skaters tend to be extravagant personalities to say the least, almost as if it’s a necessity to succeed in that arena.  Maybe that’s in part why Yuri is an interesting protagonist, because this series in a sense is a story of a reserved young man learning to be extravagant.

More and more the skating itself is becoming the centerpiece of Yuri on Ice, but that works well enough because it’s a sport where the personalities are deeply ingrained in the performances.  There’s yet another huge dump of new faces (and asses) this week, but four seem of greatest consequence.  Georgi Popovich (Hatano Wataru) is a 27 year-old Russian longing to finally step out of Viktor’s shadow (and working with his old coach).  Christophe Giacometti (Yasumoto Hiroki) is a Swiss who prides himself on being the sexiest thing on skates.  Leo de la Iglesia (Toki Shunichi) is a young American who represents a real threat to the top ranks.  And Guanghong Ji (Honjou Yutaro) is the sensitive 17 year-old Chinese skating in front of his home crowd.

Ji is of some interest to me, because of course he represents the return of Honjou-san, who as a mere cub was so great as Ao in Eureka Seven: Astral Ocean (and sadly didn’t get much work after that).  But it’s the other three more than Ji (or Yuri’s Thai pal Phichit) who seem to be the main competition for Yuri. They all make their mark in their own way – Georgi with a preposterous makeup job skating the role of Maleficient.  Christophe takes the “Eros” gauntlet Yuri throws down and basically does a pole dance on ice.  And Leo does a kind of aw, shucks, all-American all-arounder program with no major flaws.

At the end, though, it’s Yuri that’s in first place, a feat he accomplishes by nailing all his jumps for the first time and embracing the seductress role with abandon.  Yuri has always struck me as basically a classical dancer in ice skates – his spins and step combinations are his signature – but he’s raised his game under Viktor (as you would expect).  The issue now, of course, is that he’s the man with the target on his back – and with apologies to Joe Maddon, that’s not as easy thing for a man of Yuri’s temperament to embrace.  He’s the one everyone is watching – the one who’s stolen Viktor from the world (and from Yurio, who finished 2nd at his Grand Prix event) and seems to be reborn as a new skater.  How will he hold up under all those withering gazes?

As for the elephant in the room, well – Yamamoto still isn’t acknowledging that it’s there.  This doesn’t represent a major problem for me yet, but I am starting to get slightly annoyed at the continued winking at the audience as Viktor’s behavior gets more and more unmistakable (and Yuri’s too, in a different way).  If one of them (or both of them, if we’re honest) were a woman, I don’t think we’d be seeing this kind of charade – the two of them would just acknowledge the truth already.  But because they’re both men and Yuri on Ice is a “mainstream” (read; not BL) anime, they apparently can’t. That double-standard should rankle anyone who’d like to see anime move past this sort of nonsense once and for all…

 

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16 comments

  1. e

    Thank goodness for anime (and dark chocolate for me ) this week… enough said. Btw you’ve typed Yuki instead of Yu(u)ri a number of times in the post *patpat*.
    Re: Sayo Yamamoto. It might be useful to remember she is not the only one credited as story creator. For all that’s worth going by Kubo-sensei’s catalyst for Yuri On Ice’s plot http://iguana012.tumblr.com/post/152696808551/yuri-on-ice-and-the-true-story-behind-it and by what I’ve sampled of her work she can weave a story and her heart seems to be in the right place. You might wish to check out her current and ongoing ‘Again!!’ manga.
    —–
    I am of a different mind about the whole relationship ‘winking’ thing. Short of slapping us in the face with a rainbow trout I can hardly imagine what more they could than this do given the cultural and business model framework. Is there even anything more needed to convey their degree of intimacy – ‘Whatever this is I’ll call it love’ wasn’t it? Sublabels not needed. Embrace it as the fluid living changing thing it is -.
    – Yuuri was in ‘boku’ mode all the way through there. He nailed his performance without the atashi seductress/katsudon workaround.
    – Relatedly: Victor spelled out Yuuki could perform his Eros – and convey this nuance of his Ai theme – as himself. It’s literally in the text. Ditto on the lines of text uttered during his performance by Yuuri himself ( the lines are also a callback and an updated reply to Victor’s on the beach btw: ‘the way I show my love’ et cetera ) and by mr. sport journalist. It’s Eros. It’s Ai. ‘Love wins’ <— straight quote.
    – And then we have all their body language and physical interaction ofc. Give me those hugs and those entwining finger and the casual constant comfortable body contact action any day of the week. Who even need kissing at this point frankly imho. Again, sub-labels not needed.
    – On a lighter note: dat flying Vic's kuropan killed me XDDD
    – On a bittersweet note: Leo De La Iglesia's song lyrics and the role of the meaning of music for him… and the timing of it against the current RL scenario in his corner of the world. 'I sing the brotherhood of man' . May the brotherhood of man prevail, Leo. May it be.
    —-
    About the rest… even with the production strain they managed to keep at least a certain fluidity in all the skating programs while Yuuri's sequence got fittingly more refined.
    – It is very possible – expected even – Yuuri is in for some performance and score dip next but as long as his overall placement points here and in the Russian cometition is high enough he doesn't strictly need to end in first place here and there to be able to access (and win) the final Grand Prix ^^.
    – Poor Switzerland :,D. If that's is mature Eros… at best it was a skatesexual Hisoka wannabe. Sorry not feeling it XDD. I'll take Yuuri and the original creeper's schwing over that lapdance style & masturbation, thank you very much XDD. His performance was more suited to be an EX program – aka the third skating coreo you see in competitions. This one is not scored and it's purely for both the skater and public's fun and entertainment -. But on the positive he does have the skating skills, an awesome cat and a rather sultry voice. And he ended in 2nd place in the previous final Grand Prix after Victor hence we better watch out for him one way or another.

  2. What’s really funny is you did the same thing in your comment…

    You’d think putting it in the title would be enough to hammer it into my head! My thoughts are still scattered, as you can see.

    As a non-skating aficionado, I often found that exhibition skate more interesting than the actual event. I remember Phllipe Candeloro being especially good at those – it struck me that Christophe was based on him.

  3. e

    Glad to entertain you be it on purpose or not :,D. But oy I typed it wrong just once there you darling bud. You distract me! XD

    Uhuh ;_;. Just reading what some of my acquaintances there are either witnessing or going through already is a major downer. But actualy living 24/7/365 with the aftermath… That’s going to be a tough journey.

    Well exhibition skate are an outlet all-out by design so they offer much more freedom from costumes to attitude to musical choices (although at lest on the latter the regular competitions repertoire potential has now great expanded since they allowed non-instrumental-only pieces 🙂 ) .
    I can only remember Candeloro’s D’Artagnan off the top of my head now but thank you for the nudge toward my next figure skating/skater binge XDD. In terms of looks and training though the fandom has laserpointed the (different) Chris’ RL inspiration it seems https://www.facebook.com/YurionIceGodsoffigureskating/photos/a.1440370486258522.1073741827.1440369849591919
    /1605206849774884/?type=3&theater

  4. e

    P.S.: sorry for the link above you’ll have to just manually select the whole string for it to work :,) .
    Bonus: Javier’s Fernandez current FS program is the stuff older!Minami could go for. Just add rainbow sequins and mayoketchup hair dye XDD. Especially after the first third, as the ‘Fever’ section starts and then to the end. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IkMcujP9VM

  5. Z

    I love that in this universe there is a movie called “The King and The Skater”, and that the music from it is popular enough to be well known by the audience.

  6. By “this universe” I assume you mean in the show and not RL? Because if that’s a real movie I’ve never heard of t!

  7. Z

    Yup, in the YoI Universe. My guess is that it is supposed to be a play on “Shall We Dance” from “The King and I” since that takes place in Siam, and Ciao Ciao makes a bit of a deal about this being the first time a person of Thailand has skated to the music. But since the two songs sound nothing like each other it’s only speculative on my part.

  8. I felt there was a reference to “The King and I” too. The costume looked remarkably similar to the one I remember.

  9. e

    P.S.: The King and I was (still is?) banned in Thailand. Phichit skating to it? Born to make history :p

  10. C

    Welp, now I get that rumor I heard about the anime “barely passing the censors.” I’m amazed at how it tries to push the envelope, though it’s being more cringey than sexy as of late.

  11. Yuri on Ice has been on a roll lately, the comedy seems to have been toned down a lot and the skating sequences more frequent(I counted 5 this episode!). Its not even close to being the best show of the season, but its getting to be an increasingly enjoyable watch.

  12. Y

    It was all right for me until Chris’ performance. I honestly am not surprised by his score…it was hardly beautiful (I was cringing through the whole thing).

  13. R

    From Reddit, the “Skater and I” is a song from a movie in the YoI universe. Amusingly, the writer even posted a summary of that movie on her Twitter. It sounds like Yugioh on Ice!

  14. P

    Just thought I’d post it here…the movie summary as translated very quickly for me by my friend on tumblr xD
    ‘Arthur Stuart is an English skater from Manchester who’s been losing his motivation and has decided to retire. With his attempts to find a job at this age ending in a string of failures, he spends his days working part-time at an ice rink in the countryside. The only thing he could enjoy in the day-to-day is his hobby of collectible trading card games. Then one day, something happens and he finds himself traveling back in time! He ends up in a fictional country that closely resembles Thailand in the 19th century. Arthur manages to steal the identity of an English palace tutor and sneaks into the palace. The king, who’s been wanting to change the feudal dynasty, takes a great interest in him. He has trouble adjusting to his new life and getting along with people at first, but with the trading cards he’s brought together with him through time, he eventually became a figure of respect for the children of the royal family.

    (TN : If they’re being historically accurate, there should be like 50+ children in the family at the time, of different rankings.)

    Arthur then began to realize the magic card powers sleeping inside him. Using the magic of the cards, he freezes the pond in the palace gardens and tries skating on it. The king sees this and feels deeply moved, telling him to teach it to the children and his retainers. Eventually he ends up coordinating an ice show based on the novel ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ at a diplomatic event. Mixing the moves of a traditional Thai dance into a modern ballet, the production becomes a great success. Thailand (or something like it) then gains the approval of foreign nations.

    (TN : this is based on some actual history during the colonial hunt years. We never became anybody’s colony, lucky us, but man did we do some pretty tryhard things in the name of getting European approval and pitting the Europeans against each other.)

    That night, Arthur confesses to the king that he came from the future. While surprised, the king accepts his confession as truth. He asks him about a lot of things, like what Thailand (or something like it) is like in the future or why Arthur is quitting figure skating. They then realize that they’ve been changing in many ways ever since their first meeting, and this realization is surprising. Maybe this is what they call ‘true friends’.

    Having learned that skating can also be done for two and not just for one, the king asked Arthur to teach him skating.

    ‘Shall We Skate?’

    Right then, the palace erupts into flames. The fire begins spreading to the capital city. The anger of the people oppressed by the despotic rulership reach the boiling point. (TN : this is the part I’m not so okay with, because this didn’t exactly happen back then. We were mostly okay with the despotism until the 20th century….though there were plenty of ethnic clashes, mind.) To save the country, Arthur must fight using the powers of the trading cards! What’s the fate of the country? Will Arthur be able to return to the present? Can he find some compromise with the sponsors of the trading card game!?

    **The movie is very popular, but between the juxtaposition of trading card games and figure skating, there’s a lot of viewers who are just shouting ‘JUST PICK ONE TO FOCUS ON ALREADY, GODDAMMIT!’

    ***The movie released in 2000. Genre : musical.

  15. S

    That’s absolutely hilarious! Thanks for posting it.

  16. s

    Oh, and thanks for the historical notes, too!

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