Yuri!!! on Ice – 09

yuri-on-ice-09-1If there’s anything that’s surprised me about Yuri on Ice (well, a few things have surprised me actually, but…) it’s just how much of a sports series this turned out to be.  Of course if I’d known that both Yamamoto and Kubo are apparently huge figure skating freaks that probably wouldn’t have been the case – but based on track record I certainly didn’t expect this.  The majority of the past few episodes have been spent on the ice, in competition.  And for me at least, that side of the series has proved to be the most involving, so as far as I’m concerned that’s not a bad thing.

yuri-on-ice-09-2All of that’s not to say that the character side of the story hasn’t been developed too, because it has.  But with Yuri on Ice that and the sports are inseparable, and if anything I’d say it’s the competition that’s driving the character arcs rather than the other way around. We’ve seen a lot of attention focused on skaters other than Yuri, especially lately, and that’s risky – but I think it’s worked out for the best. If you’re going to spend that much time showing guys skate we’d better have at least some interest in whether they succeed or fail.  That’s especially true with skating, where the tension comes from worrying whether the competitor is going to blow up or not.

yuri-on-ice-09-3Again, I see the story of the Crispino twins as the weakest one we’ve seen so far.  Honestly, would we really be expected to find an incest plotline moving and full of pathos the way Yuri on Ice clearly tried to sell this one?  It’s dumb, just as animanga’s obsession with incest is dumb – but hopefully we’re done with it, since (spoiler!) Michele is now eliminated from the Grand Prix final.  It’s through no fault of his on this day however, as he looked like a different man on the ice after Sara broke his heart – again, I’m very impressed with the way this series is able to communicate the personalities and moods of the skaters through their performances.  Michele’s free skate took on a kind of melancholic beauty – Sara should dump him before every performance.

yuri-on-ice-09-4I like Emil, but truth be told he wasn’t really a part of the drama here.  Neither was Seung-gil, who flamed out royally (a Korean in an anime never really stood a chance).  No, this was really all about three skaters – and it’s Yurio that goes first.  His development may be the most interesting of the main cast for me, and he too looks like a different man on the ice here – and I use that term intentionally.  Yurio looked older here, and it wasn’t just his hairstyle – he had a grim determination and fierceness to him that was lacking before.  The presence of Grandpa – and his katsudon pirozhki – no doubt had a lot to do with that.  But ultimately the sense was that Yurio just decided it was time to grow up and seize the day, and that’s exactly what he did.

yuri-on-ice-09-5Yuri was next, and that meant Yakov didn’t have to go anywhere – though truthfully, he didn’t have much apparent interaction with Yuri here.  We see Yuri once again stumble under the bright lights, and this is definitely the pattern of his career – we can use Viktor’s absence as an excuse, but the fact is that we’ve never really seen Yuri perform well when he was expected to perform well (except in the skate-off with Yurio, and that was a sideshow rather than a real competition).  Yuri flubs several jumps and generally seems distracted, which Yakov at least has the decency to rip him a new one for it at the “kiss and cry” – in effect, he’s let Viktor down.  But Yuri does manage to prevent a complete meltdown, which gets him fourth place – good enough to match Michele on overall points, sending Yuri to the final on a tiebreaker.

yuri-on-ice-09-6That just left J.J., and I was worried after last week that we’d see a complete breakdown from him as a pretext to get Yuri to the final.  But no, I really liked that Yuri on Ice did with J.J. here – there was a risk of him becoming a cartoon villain, but we saw him as a truly great skater who for all his arrogance does this out of love for the sport and competitive fire.  J.J. too has his sights set on Viktor, and he skates a flawless program despite having the highest difficulty in the competition.  Thus, it’s no surprise that he comes through in first place, pushing Yurio to second.

yuri-on-ice-09-7That leaves us to finish with the personal side of the story.  Yurio rooting for Yuri?  I liked that a lot – again, real development for him.  Yuri going on a hugging spree after the competition was a cute touch, and it does raise an interesting question – is he simply too nice to rise to the top of this sport (not to mention, why was he wearing a mask?  I don’t recall any mention of his having a cold)?  Back home, to no one’s surprise (not mine, anyway) Maccachin was fine – and Yuri effectively proposes to Viktor at the airport.  Setting aside the romantic implications, does this mean Viktor really is done with competitive skating?  That would surprise me a bit, but I think Yuri on Ice still has a few more surprises up its sleeve before we’re done.

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14 comments

  1. The wearing of the face mask could be due two reasons – to get some privacy and that he has sensitive lips. Yuri always seem to wear a face mask when he travels. Recall Episode 1 when he returned home and Episode 6 when he left for China with Victor. Sensitive lips – recall Episode 5 where Victor applied vaseline on his lips as it starting to crack prior to the free skate programme performance. Wearing a face mask helps to keep it a humid environment due to the moisture in the breath. The cold and dry air in-flight may be a problem for his lips as well.

  2. Y

    Hahahahahahahaha the hugging spree was hilarious XD

    Though kind of sad also, if you ask me I think it was mostly Yuuri being used to being hugged by Victor after every competition and trying to replicate the feeling without him there (and not being able to)

    Overall one of my favorite episodes, Yurio being thoughtful and caring was a really nice touch. As you say, he’s starting to grow up (finally showing his agape side :) . Also loved that for all their strictness, his trainers truly care for him.

    I wont say anything about Victor and Yuuri’s reunion (my ovaries still don’t recover from the implosion)

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    – Starting from the end: dat ‘gold and round’ triple entendre *applause* and ofc we all knew the dog was gonna make it didn’t we? ^^ Plus Victor ended up kissing the ring finger of his left hand *insert Cheshire grin here among the gushing * .

    – Yay Yurio is finally channelling his Agape (as predicted >D *mwahahah*). Dat precious smile of his over those pirozhki of non-ero love awwww kitty boy is growing up nicely on and off the ice :,) . On a lighter note
    1) dang son you gouged on those things before the competition and still managed to skate like that. Bless youth and youth’s fast metabolism :,D
    2) the egg inside looked to be in that perfect spot between cooked but not too much, the yolk still retaining a sort of creamy thick barely runny quality… Grandpa Plisetsky has skills >D .
    On a slightly more subtexty note, it was very sweet of him to share the love/food in the guise of his rival’s favourite flavour and signature meanigful dish as a cheerup. And he actually remembered his birthday too. Yay for sport frienemies – and hey he was also rooting for him during Yuuri’s FS program earlier. That’s the spirit mah pinkred firebord [ phoenix?] boy :,> -.

    – The Hug Zombie scene! I’m with Yeni’s comment on that. It was amusing with just that little bittersweet undercurrent. Loved how Emil returned the hug btw. Please be back if and when they make a season 2 Emil!

    – Talking of phoenixes [ remember’s Lilias words a few episodes ago about who are the strong ones btw ? ] we get to see his FS at last. And I can’t wait too see it again in the finals.

    – In the end Yuuri fumbled up but still managed not to self destruct under pressure and pets-in-peril looming at the horizon. He has a firm grasp over his Eros with scores to match but his ‘life self-portraitl’ programm is still very much a work in progress. It will be interesting to see his Yuri On Ice performance in the final any way you slice it.

    – Talking of performances and head space… it will be hard to beat JJ. Barring accidents/injuries the only apparent weakness I can see atm lays in the extra hybris bordering on delusional about Victor while dismissing Yuuri as a serious contender (both last week [he ignored the katsudon and taunted Vik about returning on the rink instead] and today if we exclude his freeze up freakout at the surprise hug XDDD ). His mindset, his condition and his program layout [he has the scoring advantage by virtue of technical components/quality and quantity of jumps alone. In modern men’s skating that can weight more than artistry score but even this he has in spades :,D ] are above his skating rivals otherwise. Both Yurio and Yuuri will need to both surpass themselves and possibly tweak their programs jumps at least a bit to increase their chances of winning.

    – I do think the Crispino Drama is also meant to be a meta commentary on that specific animanga bad trope btw. As a foil to the other ‘love/sport/growth’ stories it would have made its point even without blood relation in the picture after all. Anyway, sad!sacrificial!Michele is best Michele, even Georgi (Georgi!) approves from his apparently road-to-healing place (awww look at his empathic but serene face <3 ). And what's with Russian skating men and their Soulful Look'O'Love(dar)?

    – We actually got a Plushenko cameo this week btw. There's a man clapping his hands on the right of Yurio's grandpa sporting a very distinctive nose and suspiciously familiar eyes and haircut XDD.

    – Re: Is Viktor going to compete as a skater again? And will Yuuri quit after the GPF? If we go by the in-show clues (Giacometti: 'he has changed and found soemthing to protect and value vs the ice' + Yakov (between the lines) and Minako when they thought Popovich and Yuuri respsctively has something that Viktor was lacking in his performance + Victor's words and (re)actions peppered here and there on top of his songs + Yuuri and Victor's lines of dialogue in the pirozhki and airport scene this week) and by the meta ones (Kubo's wishes as a storyteller and her feelings about Tatsuki Machida's career) there is a variety of possible answer here, really.
    I'm pending towards Viktor feeling much more fulfilled in a supporting/coaching/mentoring role at this point after having won so much as a skater in his life but they still have left an opening for his comeback… and it really comes down at how that clicks with Yuuri's wishes imho: does our katsudon feel guilty? is he still thinking to return Victor to the skating world and release him from his coaching duties even after their airport reunion? does he need to compete against Victor to feel they're equals? 😀

  4. IMHO you’re giving the show too much credit on that “meta-commentary thing”. Love makes us see through rose-colored glasses sometimes…

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    @Enzo: lemme hug youuuuuuu that’s the statuette we saw in Minako’s ballet studio. She’s that good ) or to touch more on the whole dancer skills subset of skills and sensitivity he carries.

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    I replied but I think your spam filter is deeply in love with me by now Enzo. I didn’t even get the usual ‘your comment is waiting for moderation’ warning after I hit submit this time. Lemme know if you can find it before I try posting again. Pretty please? ^^

  7. P

    @elianthos: If I remember right in previous posts you seem to know about figure skating. Just wanted to ask you something which has been on my mind, hope you know the answer and I’m not bothering you… xD
    Do skaters usually skate their Short Program and Free Skate program’s in every competition in a circuit? Right up till the final? How long does something like say the GPF last then? The full year? So they’d be skating a routine or two continuously for the entire year in competitions?

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    @Pitchan: hi, I’ll try to answer and keep it short and sweet.
    1) The skaters do actually keep skating the same SP and FS programs in each competition they qualify for [plus an extra skating program that it’s done purely for fun&entertainment of both skaters and audience the day after the FS, but the anime just skipped it because time and resources. But Georgi’s OTT evil witch SP costume & makeup and Giacometti’s outrageous SP coreography felt like a nod of sort to these so-called EX programs]. So IRL they do end up performing 2 + 1 skating programs each and usually these stays the same for the whole year (the whole process from deciding on a theme to costumes to prep to master the execution itself is a long and all around resource/energies-intensive one) . Usually you can also see the skaters’ performance improve more and more competition by competition and observe better programs later in the calendar rather than the opposite. The skaters are still polishing their moves and artistry early on.
    2) Depending on nationality and rank they’ll perform in a variable number of regionals, nationals, European vs Four Continents competitions, Worlds, and Grand Prix circuit (the latter being a winter season competition[s] circuit and an early calendar series in skating terms) in a given year plus any special non-competitive show.
    The show focused on the road to Grand Prix competitions rather than Europeans, FC and Worlds because that’s what the anime’s TV sponsor TV Asahi holds broadcasting rights for ;).

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    *reply attempt n.3 , for some reason the comment went up but the middle paragraphs got eaten away*
    @Enzo: lemme hug youuuuuuu *squeeze* *pop*
    About the incest trope you may have noticed I had put an ‘also’ in that sentence rather than a ‘just’, ‘mostly’, or ‘only’…
    Furthermore I would have ditched the focus on the Crispinos altogether since last week in favour of else. More Yurio, some Victor’s backstory, the other skaters, anything. The barely-there interaction with Yakov can still be justified to an extent with the old man being Yurio’s coach (he’s not intruding in their rapport) and being… well… not-Victor XDDD + Yuuri’s own tendency to isolate himself and internalize whenever he feels troubled. But it seems like a missed opportunity not to have Yuuri at least lowkey fanboying over Madame Baranovskaya for instance (he is a ballet dancer trained by a former Benois De La Danse Prix winner after all… http://benois.theatre.ru/english/about/ the statuette on that site is the same we saw in Minako’s ballet studio. She’s that good ) or to touch more on the whole dancer subset of skills and sensitivity he carries.

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    This being a sports series (and an international one) is definitely the biggest draw for me right now. I’m so glad we finally got to see Yurio’s free program. I wonder what other changes he’s going to make in order to try and take down JJ.
    I also really liked how we got to know each character a little better through their skating programs. Otherwise, Michele would’ve been just another onii-san character played by Maeno Tomoaki and JJ another over-the-top Miyano Mamoru avatar-insert.

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    @elianthos: Thanks for the explanation! :)

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    Regarding the masks, I think they’re there so that they don’t get sick while traveling or out in public. We’ve seen Yurio wear one in episode 2 and Phichit wear one in episode 6 as well IIRC, as well as Yuri himself in the first episode. I don’t think it means anything here.

    About the incestuous romance, I think one thing this show has tried to do is depict love in various forms, and that was the show’s attempt at depicting unhealthy dependency. I think you could also look at it as a message about controlling female sexuality.

  13. I know what the masks are for (actually they’re worn as a courtesy to prevent getting other people sick, not as a means to protect the wearer – but either way they don’t work). My question is why Yuri was wearing one in this specific instance, since there was no indication that he was sick.

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    “actually they’re worn as a courtesy to prevent getting other people sick, not as a means to protect the wearer – but either way they don’t work”

    I know that’s why they’re typically worn. I’m saying that I think the skaters are exceptional cases, where they are maybe wearing them due to the threat that getting sick would pose to their season. I don’t think Phichit was sick in episode 6, or Yurio in episode 2, yet they were wearing masks.

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