Yuri!!! on Ice – 10

Well, I’ve been asking for unambiguity – I certainly got it…

yuri-on-ice-10-1As we sometimes do around these parts, let’s start at the end and work our way back.  This was a mighty fine episode of Yuri on Ice, but it was surely overshadowed by the ED sequence.  It was everything a mid-series “special” ED should be – visually clever and hilarious and on-point.  But it also managed to be a game-changer, and provide some long overdue exposition about a certain plot point.  All in all, it’s hard to think of instances where the device has been used to greater effect.

yuri-on-ice-10-2This was a setup episode, in the classic sports anime context, but it certainly didn’t want for action.  It’s the day before the start of the Grand Prix Final in Barcelona, and the entire episode was told from Viktor’s point-of-view.  That runs the risk of being a bit precious but it works well, because (especially given the ED) it’s his perspective on these events that we need to see here.  There are six men (and boys) involved in this final, and each of them is important to the episode in their own way (including the one we’ve barely been introduced to until now) but obviously, it will ultimately come down to Yuri and Viktor.

yuri-on-ice-10-3Yurio has grown on me a lot, and not just because he’s the most consistently amusing character in the cast.  His derision for everyone is so transparently an overcompensating defense mechanism for his insecurity that it’s hard to judge him too harshly – if he weren’t such a cub he’d probably even see that himself.  He holds J.J. in special disdain, but he’s got plenty left for his “Yuri’s Angels” – the flock of girls who follow him everywhere he goes (even by smell).  Yes, they’re creepy – but fortunately Yurio is rescued by Otabek, the surly Kazakh skater who’s barely been a blip so far in the series.  His shotgun bromance with Yurio is a bit rote, but it’s another brick in the wall of Yurio’s character building.

yuri-on-ice-10-4I don’t think you can blame Yuri for being especially nervous on the eve of this competition, because he’s pretty much choked every time he’s been on the big stage.  Not only that, but this is pretty much his last chance.  While he sleeps Viktor is seeing a bit of Barcelona, crossing paths with Christophe at the pool (an outdoor pool in winter – in Spain?).  Eventually, though, Yuri wakes up and decides he wants to do a little sightseeing.  Does he really care about sightseeing in Barcelona?  No – but this is his way of not having to be alone with his thoughts.  Viktor’s company is part of it, but mindless activity is too – anything to keep Yuri from thinking about what he’s about to do.

yuri-on-ice-10-5That all changes, though, when late in the evening they come across a jewelry shop.  There, Yuri decides to buy “good luck” rings for he and Viktor – though at this point, I don’t think things could possibly be any less ambiguous (not even Yuri could be buying his story).  And when he and Viktor place the rings on each others’ right ring finger (as they do in Russia) that’s pretty much that.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is a bit of a watershed moment for anime – this is not a BL series, or an absurdist comedy.  This is a relatively serious and quite mainstream show that’s just set its two male main characters off in a committed romantic relationship, without treating it as a joke or puerile attempt at titillation.  It shouldn’t be a big deal – certainly not when it’s become dead common when the principals are female – and we shouldn’t be celebrating the fact that it is.  But we should celebrate that it finally happened, because it’s about fucking time.

yuri-on-ice-10-6There’s a certain suspension of disbelief here – there’s enough institutional homophobia in figure skating that if such a thing happened so publicly (and when Phichit makes an announcement at a restaurant, it could hardly be more publicly) things wouldn’t have been so chilled out (especially given that Viktor is Russian).  But that aside, it’s interesting to see the impact it has on the others – most notably Yurio.  For him, I would imagine this would be the last straw in Yuri stealing Viktor from him – not as a romantic partner, but as a mentor and even father figure.  Viktor, to his credit, is smart enough to realize that it’s better for Yurio to define himself through himself, not through Viktor.  But Yurio is an explosively unstable 15 year-old, and there’s a lot that he just doesn’t understand yet.

yuri-on-ice-10-7But really, it’s all about that ED.  It makes so much sense – Yuri being the only one who doesn’t remember the spectacle he made of himself after getting tanked at the banquet after the last Grand Prix Final.  Naturally Viktor and Christophe have it all captured (including Yurio matching Yuri move for move – to a point) on their phones – and the ED plays off that hilariously.  Now that we know what we know – not only was Yuri the only one who didn’t remember what was said and done that night, but the others in the cast all assumed he did – everything we’ve seen for 10 episodes is brilliantly recast in a brand new light.  It was fantastically done, both as a narrative device and as an entertaining piece of art.  But what I really want to know is this – just where did the stripper pole come from?  Perhaps Christophe carries a telescoping one with him in the event of such emergencies?

ED Sequence:

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21 comments

  1. S

    Guardian Enzo, I almost usually never comment or watch sports anime dedicated purely to fanservice , but I must comment on your brilliant quick and timely reviews which hit spot on and give a beautiful layout to all the events in this amazing anime, Yuri!!! on Ice managed to not only become an amazing watch, but also pass the barrier of pretty boys doing beautiful things with hints of romance like the usual BL series.

    The concept in this specific anime is simply beautiful , it’s a type of a relationship and romance that I have never seen tried within an anime before, of course married couples , engaged couples etc has taken place as a plot within many shoujo anime I watched so far in my long history as an otaku , but I must admit it was never executed so well , Yuri on Ice simply has someone with a lot of inspiration and the guts to make it far beyond the usual main stream stuff.

    I am a very hard to please otaku kind of girl , so I must say this Yuri!!! on Ice after a long run of seasons of anime with not much to watch, is finally an anime that can keep me on edge, that can cause me to experience so many emotions the characters are feeling , it can make you cry along with them , cheer up for them, and just follow the plot right alongside each character individually.

    I am not sure there will be anything quite like Yuri!!! on Ice in the future, but I am certainly crossing my fingers the anime industry world would take a step forward from the usual boring moe , ecchi , and all those things that sell a Blu-Ray, and just focus on original plot & very well developed characters , beautiful music and simply the things that makes you want to keep watching a show.

    Well as usual always a pleasure reading your weekly Yuri!!! on Ice review~ keep up the amazing work you’re doing , and I shall wait for the episode 11 review till next week ^-^

  2. Thank you – that’s very kind of you to say. though as usual with good series it’s the series that does all the work for these posts, not me…

    As to whether we’re going to see anything like YoI in future, I think the best chance is more YoI – as I do think there’ll be a sequel, given what this show seems likely to sell on disc. And given that the anime industry is nothing if not driven by copycatting, if we see a series where two men are in a romantic relationship that’s treated seriously succeed financially, that makes it safer for other shows to do the same thing.

  3. H

    Seriously WOW. I really never thought I would see something like this in a non BL show. We don’t even really get something like this in BL (anime) to begin with. Just when I think that this show can’t possibly get any better than it already is, they give us an episode as wonderful as this. I was pleasantly surprised to have the narrative taken over by Viktor and not disappointed in the least by the choice. I also thought it was great to have an entire episode focused on the men and boys off the ice the whole time since they are all so downright entertaining. The ending sequence was sheer brilliance and certainly does cast new light on the previous episodes. Plus it was so damn funny. The entire episode I mean. The group ignoring JJ’s claims that he would win the gold, Yurio’s blatant bitchiness, the photo shoot at the pool, everything. I’m really going to miss this when it has finished and hope we will get more like it in the future.

  4. This episode was definitely made hugely amazing by how genius that ED and the post-credit scene were, but the rings scene wasn’t a small deal either.

    One more thing: I’ve been to Barcelona a couple years ago for a conference. I loved how they reconstructed the city, it felt very ‘real’ in some way, I recognised not only landmarks but even seemingly anonymous spots. And I wonder if it wasn’t chosen on purpose to set this in Spain – which under Zapatero I remember as possibly being the first country which introduced gay marriage? One of the firsts anyway, so it makes sense that people might associate it with it (for a while there’s been gay couples actually going there just for the sake of getting married).

  5. That may well be. Zapatero was indeed a pioneer in that respect, especially for a country that’s overwhelmingly Catholic.

  6. M

    Oh man this is the kind of BL we need in anime. Just as you said, it wouldn’t have mattered if either one was a woman, so it shouldn’t if both were male too. But yes, where did that pole come from??? The fandom needs to know…or maybe these banquet parties are secretly nuts and have all sorts of things that drunk people can use to have a party.

  7. We do need this sort of relationship more in anime, yes. But how about if we don’t call it “BL”? Do we have to stick that label on it just because it features two guys in love? There are associations and expectations with that term that I don’t think apply to YoI.

  8. Y

    I have mixed feelings about the exchange of rings. On one hand I am delighted to see it even portrayed, but I am also disconcerted that the writers keep setting these situations up under the cover of “whatever helps Yuri skate better” such as Yuri calling the rings lucky charms (Omamori) for the Grand Prix and the many other instances of fan service where Victor calms Yuri down. Frankly, I’m still not sure if this is a completely romantic relationship or it’s just Victor’s unique way of helping Yuri cope with the pressure. But then the show also often goes on to blatantly suggest that their relationship is something more. Overall, this romance(?) aspect of the show has left me very confused.

    Anyways, the rest of the episode was pretty amazing: I found it hilarious how Yurio admitted that he lost the dance battle to Yuri even though he called Yuri’s behavior downright disgusting. Also liked how the piano bg for Yuri’s contemplative moments turned dark as he started stressing again. The attention to detail in Yuri!!! on Ice really makes this series shine, and I really enjoy how I could literally see the passion the creators have for this project bursting through the seams in each episode. The only other recent series I could really think of where I felt a similar level of enthusiasm is probably Haikyuu and Mob Psycho 100.

  9. I think it’s possible that they’re not pushing too much on the romance explicitly because they’re still trying to balance their act? I mean, this is a show that has been bold in many ways, and showing outright affection (a proper kiss or such) wouldn’t be out of place, but perhaps they want to avoid it being labelled as a “BL anime” or “fujoshi material”. It seems to me that they’re striving for this to be a mainstream sports show which HAPPENS to be featuring a gay male romance, and therefore they’re probably treading this ground super-carefully.

  10. Oh, I completely agree Simone – they are doing that tightrope dance. It sucks that they have to when they wouldn’t if the genders were reversed, but they’re doing it well.

  11. e

    @Yukie: agreed with Enzo and Simone they have to walk the tightrope to an extent. BUT cheer up!
    This week if you zoom on the payment receipt for those rings you can see they’re descripted as WEDDING gold bands – on top of looking like ones and the whole rings exchange and later ‘marriage’ group scene XD – . Talk about hiding their clues in plain sight…

  12. Y

    So a drunken Yuri in a banquet started this all… my God. I’ve re-watched Yuri’s proposal or *ahem* “invitation” to Viktor so many times. It was comedic gold. I laughed so hard for this guy. Get this guy a drink because Yuri knows how to party! I mean even Yuri’s engrish, “Be my coach, Viktor!” f**k how can anyone resist wanting to do so much for this drunken guy?? What an episode. I’m excited for the sports aspect next episode. Bravo.

    Enzo I’m glad you brought that up because that does beg the question… where, why, and how did that stripper pole came about?? ROFL.

  13. Z

    Waiter: The people in Banquet Hall #1 are asking for a strippers pole.
    Manager: Mierda! Maintenance hates having to remove the false column around that thing.

    I love how that ED repaints so many of the actions from the first part of the series, including why Chris was so overly familiar physically with Yuuri the first time we saw him. So many more things make sense now that I had just thought were trope driven tics.

  14. Except that Banquet actually took place in Sochi, so replace “Mierda” with a suitable Russian expletive XD.

  15. Z

    Derr’mo! I would create a whole back story about the Spanish speaking banquet hall manager in Sochi, but you and I would both know it’s a lie. 😉

  16. A

    Hahaha, Russian manager might say “Blin”, literal meaning of which is “Pancake”.

  17. T

    Seriously there was an interview with kubo sensei and the rest of the cast. And they very much confirm all og what we know already. I find it so amusing that folks are in denial about Yuuri and Victor relationship I mean shit they have exchanged rings what more do you all want? For them to have sex in the open? Plus victor essentially confirmed they are engaged.

    If this was a hetero couple most folks in the comment section would not be having this conversation.

  18. e

    Soooo… still recovering after watching this episode (out of all them) with a few friends since yesterday. It was a clever clever soul-restoring thing of humour subversion and whole lotta ‘L words’ significance. Talking of which, I really liked how they used the whole seagull and sea imagery to tie together the importance of Hasetsu (and the heaven Victor found in there. Dude it’s Yutopia. Literally XD. The triple puns in this show are too plus ultra) with his previous life in Russia and ofc that other reflective conversaton on a beach a few episodes ago… about who you are, wants to be, where you go, how you affect others even when you are unaware of it.
    In this every episode we see that in play from multiple angles including Yurio and Otabek’s interaction. Btw Otabek rescuing Yurio on that bike a-la Terminator 2 Schwarzenegger with young John Connor? Aw yeah XD.

    It feels even a bit unreal this week, not because I wasn’t trusting those two sweet devil ladies (who also drew the ED sequence themselves btw) to deliver but rather because as the ED rolled it unleashed my two pet secret theories just like that. I can speak at last… like Victor X,DDDD.

    – I had headcanoned since episode 2 Yuuri could have gotten very very drunk out of depression&grief the previous year and done things with/to Victor after the competition & the refused commemorative photo [and since episode #6 I suspected Chris to be involved and/or know something because the man was way too friendly with the butt groping] XD) as a first interest flag, then they mentioned the party last week and then the clues retro-domino-ed from there XD. He must have gotten drunk at that party! And both Chris and Vic were there! Then the guy disappeared because he retired but that fatal viral video rekindled Vic’s interest in skittish sad fan who resembles possibly-drunken-interesting person who turns out to be that crazy talented skating fellow one and the same. Ooooooh must pack now Nikirofov this creature is unreal! Fly to Japan NOW!
    And then this week we got the confirmation with the incriminating footage. YEEEEEEAH YESS YESSS Minus the dancing pole. Wasn’t expecting that X,D. Swiss brevet for that telescopic pole I bet. Dang Chris. Luv ya Chris. Pass me that champagne will ya? And I know you have more strawberries stashed somewhere to go with it.

    Among all the other things the reveal makes the whole Eros vs Agape thing take on a both more hilarious, more erotic yet more touching flavour than before.
    Yuuri didn’t think he could be the playboy in the Eros, Takeshi even mock-swooned ‘wooohoo so sexy! Take me now!’ at him back then… instead they were basically reenacting what had happened at the banquet without knowing :,D. Yuuuri had been doing the seducing and luring all along while the most beautiful woman in town was left pining and bereft for months (their dip dance pose in the ED mirrors the one in the Eros tale sequence even, Viktor is the woman being dipped down).
    Victor you poor besotted and lonely lost soul you XD, to think up a routine about the guy who charmed then dumped you http://lookiamnotcreative.tumblr.com/post/154189603987/further-support-for-headcanon-how until said guy answers you desperate Stammi Vicino plea and you end suffering and lowkey tearfully clinging to your doggie through a borderline torturous bait and switch relationship as you find out about the guy and yourself all over again XDDD. Aw baby. I knew it :,) . But you and Yuuri are turning out better and stronger than you used to and thought you could be.
    Broken Aesop angle: love and live. But first get drunk and provide to wax on wax off your idol crush with your hips. YOLO XD.
    More seriously: love wins when you (re-)meet (re-)find (re-)kindle your karma in The Great Passage of life. //meta

    – On the other hand: dang Russian love is intense. They even dropped the Sleeping Beauty ref this episode and a snippet from I’ll Save You just in case we missed the compare&contrast with Georgi’s Carabosse/Sleeping Princess skating program and love story. Glad to see Georgi is shown dating again, better luck this time I hope XD .

    – Glad they managed to slip some Gaudì goodness and genuine medieval architecture rather than just the Sagrada Familia. the SF is wonderful but Barcelona is much more than that :).

    – Sara Crispino was messaging Seung-Gil XDDD. Emil is still trying to cheer up and be noticed by Michele. Ganbatte Emil! XD

    – Looks like Mila (and possibly Sara) were taking pictures as well at the party XDD.

    – Victor’s recollection of the finalists… ‘I think…’ LOL oh JJ if you knew X,D.

    – I vote for Chris and Phichit best men at the wedding btw XDDD. And oh booyyy how everyone switched from festive!!marriage!congrats!yay! to challenger mode as soon as Vic mentioned the golden medal. Bring the competition on we are ready. BRING IT ON.

  19. e

    Bonus: snippets from Yuuri, Yurio & Victor’s VA + Kubo’s interview/commentary/reactions footage are available and partially translated here (there are a couple more post just before and after this in the same tumblr, just beware of the occasional NSFW material while browsing): http://fencer-x.tumblr.com/post/154203864796/toyonaga-the-katsudon-was-really-good-so-it
    Suwabe is cosplaying as Victor down to the Makkachin tissue plushie and Toyonaga really resembles Yuuri :,D. Quite funny.

  20. T

    Well kubo sensei has come and said this on twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/kubo_3260/status/806843079244201985

    Which essentially says this:

    “No matter what everyone in the real world thinks of this work, the world within it will remain a place where there will be no discrimination for what you love. I will protect that world, no matter what it takes, even if it’s the last thing I do.”

    I love her and this show.

  21. d

    thank you so much for covering Yuri, this show is everything I need in entertainment atm haha

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