That was incredibly nail biting, exhilarating, beautiful, and wow do they know how to keep emotions running high throughout. It might be a bit predictable with Yuri not performing perfectly in the short routine and JJ taking a bit of a stumble. If Yuri had been brilliant again in his short skate there wouldn’t be much tension next week. If JJ had been flawless it would have been impossible to believe anyone could beat him.
The other skaters all did much what we expected, save the one we hadn’t seen which was refreshing. It was also excellent to see Yurio finally skate to his potential. However, what was with that bombshell at the end and where is that going to go next week? I cannot believe we have to wait a week to find out what is going to happen next because I really want to know now.
Normally, in a show like this when we have an episode almost entirely devoted to the characters taking a break from fighting (sport) what we end up with is a shallow filler episode filled with comedic moments that don’t really work and some very casual characterisation. Yuri on Ice shows us what an episode like this can really do in terms of furthering the plot and the character development.
Having Victor narrate and give his view of the events up to now and the skaters was a great choice given Victor has taken the back seat for the past four episodes. Bringing him back into the mix this way was fantastic and also gave us a bit more insight into his character and proved once again he isn’t just a narcissist.
We also spend time with each of the skaters who’ve made it through to the final and none of these encounters fill meaningless. Each one gives us insight into the skater and their relationship both with the other skaters and with skating itself. Probably my favourite moment in this episode came when all of the skaters (minus JJ) were eating together and Phichit announced that Yuri and Victor were married (then corrected by Victor to engaged) and everyone was celebrating until Victor said they’d get married after Yuri won gold.
The change in tone was palpable and very effective. Every person at that table wants to win. They’ve all got their own reasons but they want to win and while on a personal level they may be happy for Victor and Yuri they aren’t going to hand over gold without a fight. Of course JJ shows up and breaks the tension by being his usual self and they all return to their hotel.
This episode was exactly what we needed and hit all the right notes. The charcterisation was spot on and it felt like we grew closer to the entire cast. The upcoming competition was never far from anyone’s thoughts so it wasn’t like they just ditched the plot for a week. It underpinned everything the characters were doing. And the closing credits were hilarious.
Too many good moments to decide on an image this week.
There’s one thing that all sports anime have in common and its one of the reasons why I’ve seldom got into them. From a plot point of view, predictability is inevitable. Yuri made it to the Grand Prix (but we kind of knew that had to happen). Because Victor left, he only just made it through. Wow. Yuri had a tough time because his moral support left but not tough enough to completely fail because from a timing point of view we don’t have time to start the journey over.
It’s a very good thing that Yuri on Ice has never tried to stand on the strength of its plot alone because there just isn’t that much to look at there. Certainly where there is works well, but it isn’t anything special. The characterisation however is still soaring. Yurio’s genuine thrill at success and the combination of pride and aggravation that his best wasn’t good enough to beat JJ (and who else thought Yurio looked amazing and emotionally so much more mature than when we met him weeks ago).The Italian skater finding his feet after his sister essentially told him to get over his obsession with her. JJ just having an ego that is soaring all by itself.
Finally, Yuri’s genuine confusion about how to skate without Victor and still trying to figure out what Victor actually is to him. Is he a coach or is it something more and that question is confronted directly when they meet at the end of the episode and Yuri asks Victor to be his coach until he retires. Victor replies that when Yuri says it like that it sounds like a proposal.
All of this gets the viewer wondering because Yuri’s been pretty upfront that the Grand Prix is his last skate, which means his time with Victor will end, but will the two actually part os skater and coach or will their relationship continue. That part of the story is still a mystery and there are hints that it could go either way. Regardless of how they resolve this I anticipate that its going to be an emotional explosion and that is one thing this show has always hit the mark on. Those moments between characters and really connecting the emotions with the audience.
While this episode of Yuri on Ice doesn’t have quite the overflow of emotion that episode 7 carried with it the story and characters continue to progress. Admittedly, we’re once again sitting through introductions to yet new skaters in the Russian competition and then their routines and that eats a lot of the episode.
Still, Yuri’s character transformation hasn’t completely melted away and while inner doubts are plaguing him he is acting in a far assertive manner than the Yuri we met at the beginning. Yurio on the other hand is struggling emotionally and it will be amazing if and when he finally comes through his emotional turmoil.
The end of the episode also points at a critical moment for Yuri and Victor coming next episode. Last point, someone pointed out that the opening sequence had been changing throughout the series so I went back and rewatched just the opening to a few of the early episodes and yep, they’ve definitely been adding to that as we’ve gone along. Now I’m going to have to watch it more carefully.
All and all, episode 8 isn’t all that wow as a stand alone episode but definitely works with what we’ve seen from this series so far.
Episode 7 of Yuri on Ice is the episode I’m going to remember where it stopped being just a fun and interesting watch with some characters I kind of liked and it became a show where I truly respected the characterisation of the protagonist (and by characterisation, I don’t mean they finally kissed). Yrui’s journey isn’t anything new in storytelling, from underdog to finding his feet and using romance as a vehicle for it, it’s all been seen before.
However, the organic evolution of this character and the way it has come across finally won me over during this episode and Yuri is going to be a character I’ll remember for more than just likening romance to pork cutlets. This particular moment of clarity came while listening to his internal monologue while skating and instead of the puppy like adoration of Victor we get a clear and rational view of the situation he is in before he still determines that he wants to surprise Victor.
This episode makes these characters equals in their relationship where both have something to offer and both have something to gain and finally romance between the two seems not only likely but actually like it could work really well (though not without dealing with a few more of either character’s issues).
Oh, yeah, I should probably talk about the actual episode though. I really liked that instead of just showing us all of the routines (as we did last week) we instead saw more of the imagery and memories the skaters were drawing on while skating (we also saw Yuri and then Victor go through their pre-skate freak outs). Visually really interesting, great music, but mostly forgotten and blown away by the final sequence of Yuri skating and his growth.
Do you like ice skating? Is that why you are watching Yuri on Ice? If yes, then this is the episode for you. Let’s watch all the skaters and their routines (and yes they are amazing and the music is great and I loved it but for the non-ice skating fans watching this show I can see them having enough at about the ten minute mark).
What is good about this episode are the ongoing conversations and observations made by characters about what is happening. It allows the characters to continue their journey even while the bulk of the episode is covered in pretty spins and dancing. Though, Victor’s coaching takes quite a few verbal barbs this episode and to be honest it kind of needed it even if Victor is playing totally cool.
Yuri’s routine (and this is the third time we’ve seen it) shows the full depth of his growth as a skater and is truly something spectacular this episode. That said, I would fully understand where some people might find this a bit of a gamble. The audience has been hooked but if your plot stalls entirely in favour of realism in portraying the competition of ice skating they might lose some viewers. For me, this episode was beautiful and just fun to watch.
Yuri on Ice spends a lot of this episode in competition so gear up for watching lots of ice skating routines. Normally I’d find that a negative in a show and its one of the reasons I avoid sport related anime in the first place. But… I like watching ice skating. It’s one of the few sports I find beautiful to watch.
And, one of Yuri’s key characteristics is his poor performance in competition conditions so watching him find his feet in a competition and begin dealing with this emotional block is kind of a necessary step for where this show seems to want to go. There are still some elements in this show that aren’t quite landing. Victor’s coaching technique leaves a lot to be desired. While he spends a lot of time building Yuri up, with one thoughtless comment he can send his skater emotionally crashing right before a competition and Victor isn’t exactly one to watch his words.
All and all, I thoroughly enjoyed this episode and look forward to spending more time with these characters but there’s a lot this episode that won’t appeal to people who aren’t interested in the characters or in watching ice skating routines.
After the show down with Yuri and Yurio (Russian Yuri’s nickname to save confusion), this week we get an episode of preparation and training for the ice-skating season. Both characters are working on their weaknesses and the continued contrast between the two remains a high point for this series rather than a detriment. We also have Yuri choosing his own music and we get some back story which further demonstrates his lack of self-confidence (in case we missed that, but at least we have some consistency in this character). We don’t get to hear the final piece but that’s probably a good thing at this stage given the competition is a long way away and there are a whole bunch of steps before that.
The inclusion of Thai in addition to the occasional English and Russian phrase was a nice add in (despite the fact that everyone predominately speaks Japanese no matter which country they are in). All and all, this episode was pretty solid and had less of those moments that broke the flow, though they are still heavy on ensuring a lot of the dialogue can be taken more than one way. It’s as beautiful as ever though much like the events in the episode, the story is in prep mode and is laying the foundation for future episodes.
However, unlike some other episode 4’s this week, Yuri on Ice managed to flesh out their characters and entertain while getting across the needed information.
I could continue to say how beautiful this is and how amazing the theme song is and so on and so forth but what I think this episode highlighted for me was the reason why this show hasn’t topped my must watch list. That said, I’m loving it and have no intention of stopping my viewing.
Between the beautifully animated movements, musical interludes, and moments of actual character depth we have some really cringe-worthy dialogue and characters falling back into basic archetypes rather than feeling like real people. These moments are few (only about four cringes for the duration of the episode) but they definitely break me out of the spell this show seems to be trying so hard to cast.
Yuri this week definitely hits a turning point as he finally seems to realise he can actually go after what he wants (just as soon as he fully realises exactly what it is he wants, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that Victor is high up on that list of wants). The way the episode explores Yuri’s development is fascinating and the contrast between Yuri and Yurio is brilliant (and at least they aren’t trying to make us hate Yurio in order to make Yuri look better). It’s a good episode and it maintains the high quality of visuals and movement that blew me away in episode 1 but there are definitely things about this that don’t quite sit right for me.
So the opening theme of this has blown me away. It’s completely distinct and I can just listen to it over and over and that rarely happens with anime openings. The visuals are pretty relaxing too and I’m just kind of losing myself in the whole package. But none of that has anything to do with this episode so moving on.
From a story point of view this is progressing much as expected. We’ve got a rival and a ridiculous challenge to push our shy protagonist out of his comfort zone, meanwhile Victor is interrogating all of Yuri’s family and friends and learning more about him (and incidentally helping the audience to appreciate him more).
Visually it is still really pleasing to watch and while the story seems fairly generic at no point did I feel bored with it. I’m kind of interested to see where we go from here and how the relationship between the two Yuri’s changes and whether or not Victor is actually as arrogant as he is coming off at times. This one has been a very calming watch so far and things are progressing predictably and beautifully.
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