Cheer Boys!! From Beginning To End – A Viewer’s Journey Into Male Cheerleading

Cheer Boys Episode Thoughts

Cheer Boys!! or Cheer Danshi!! with its multiple exclamation points for no reason (I’m guessing it is just really excited about its content) is an anime series released in 2016 based on a novel about a group of college boys who decide for various reasons to start a cheerleading team. There’s 12 episodes plus a recap episode after episode 5 (not sure what was going on in 2016 but this happened a lot).

As cheesy as that sounds, the series ultimately had quite a bit of heart to it and while it isn’t going to rival anime sports giants such as Haikyuu anytime soon, Cheer Boys!! wasn’t bad viewing. Below are my thoughts from each episode of the series from my first viewing.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 1 – The Curtain Rises

Bandou’s family are into Judo but he was never all that good at it. Now he has injured his shoulder and finally has an excuse to quit. His best friend sees this as the perfect opportunity to start a male cheerleading squad.

Queue a whole lot of speeches about the power of cheers and positivity. Okay, this was actually a reasonable first episode but you get more or less what you would expect given the premise of Cheer Danshi!!.

The characters are introduced in a reasonably sensible manner, they discuss events that they probably shouldn’t need to in order for the audience to know what is going on, and then they hand out fliers to start a cheerleading team. There are some funny moments but mostly this one has had a slow start.

My biggest complaint is the jerk who came up to them while they were watching a cheerleading team and berated them over wanting to start one. Who does that? Even if you think they have no chance, just laugh and move on. Why set yourself up as an antagonist when there is no need for it at all?

Anyway, Cheer Boys is available on AnimeLab for those in Australia and New Zealand and this one is a wait and see.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 2 – Your First Cheerleader Smile

Bandou speaks with his sister.
Image from Cheer Boys Episode 2

Cheer Danshi!! is moving along slow and steady. Last episode they formed the team, now we’re recruiting members and setting goals. I like that they didn’t become spectacular after a training montage and that the small improvements feel genuine, though I still question whether an injured shoulder would be any more useful in cheerleading than Judo.

The dynamic between the boys is great and the new additions are keeping it feeling fresh. I’m not going to drop this one for a bit even though it isn’t my usual style of anime because it’s light and enjoyable without too much thought required.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 3 – The Seventh Squirrelurai

Philosophy and sport - just play.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016

Yep, Cheer Danshi!! is light and enjoyable and not too much thought is required. That’s the perfect summation of this anime. This week we get the standard messages about perseverance over talent while we’re introduced to another male soon to be member of the club.

Like most the other members he’s coming with his own motives and baggage but the show doesn’t seem to want to dwell on this but rather continues to focus on the boys developing into a cohesive team and that’s pleasant enough if not particularly exciting. It was nice to see them actually start to develop some tumbling skills though the speed at which they succeeded kind of makes me want to question whether the writers have ever tried actually tumbling.

If you want something light and easy, watch a couple of episodes of this.


Cheer Boys!! Episode 4 – What We Want To Break

Almost a team.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016

There’s something to be said about a show that just goes about it’s business quietly. Cheer Boys!! has a likeable cast of boys slowly learning the ropes of cheerleading. Some of them have personal baggage, they don’t always get along, and they sometimes don’t succeed. Otherwise, it’s just your usual never give up and keep trying anime with a power of teamwork motif thrown in because that’s what these shows do.

Haru’s fear of heights has been coming for awhile so it wasn’t a particularly stark revelation and the boys watching an experienced team train and realising their current limitations was a kind of necessary next step. This show is pleasant, amusing, doesn’t fall into the so little tension it is dull category, and continues to entertain but it isn’t particularly exciting.

This one also has a pretty cool opening song. It’s a little infectious and kind of fits the show nicely.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 5 – Let’s Go, Breakers!

Eating is a test of courage.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016.

This episode of Cheer Danshi!! just flew by. I got so caught up in the team prepping for their first performance and then the performance was on and the credits were rolling. This episode just feels right, like the culmination of the past four episodes and all of their effort.

Yeah, they still aren’t perfect and clearly the team is still growing (given how many boys we see in the opening) but this core group are finally getting things together and progressing and it is really satisfying to watch. My favourite moment this week goes to Haru’s outburst on the roof. For a normally quiet character when he let’s loose everything just comes out at once.

This show isn’t going to wow anyone but it has been a really pleasant ride so far and so if you haven’t picked it up it is well worth checking out the first 5 episodes.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 6 – Restart

Well that cheerleading team grew fast.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016.

So we now have a full team and a shiny new goal (though personally I think a national competition only a few months after assembling a team is probably overly ambitious) in Cheer Danshi!!.

We also finally confronted Sho’s predictable trauma but by the end of the episode he’s ready to move forward. I kind of get why we went from 7 members to 15 this quickly but it means that our new members are difficult to understand and remember (admittedly they clearly thought about how to visually differentiate the characters but their personalities for the most part remain a mystery).

It will be interesting to see how this plays out and it maintains its positive and upbeat tone.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 7 – Strain

Different goals and approaches cause friction.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016.

Well this episode of Cheer Boys!! is certainly an excellent case study on what happens when a team lacks a shared vision. It’s kind of hard to watch the inevitable break down of communication and the half-hearted and doomed efforts to patch over the problems rather than address them.

That said, it is kind of exactly what this show needed because the feel good and everybody just pulling together thing was really starting to feel a little artificial, particularly with so many new team members joining for so many different reasons. Kind of hoping they find a genuine way to deal with these issues next week.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 8 – The Dawning of a Bond

Unproductive conversation is more or less how we built society.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016.

This episode brings the in-team tension to a head, has Hisashi try to quit, and then has a touching resolution before we go to a New Year’s training camp for a training and cooking montage. It’s fun to watch and we finish on a nice positive, but I can’t help but wonder why the rigid guy has to loosen up to fit in and why it isn’t the irresponsible guy who never quite get’s it that doesn’t have to pick up his act.

The brocoli guy is seriously irritating and as a team member he kind of sucks. I would have definitely preferred an outcome where he started to take something a bit more seriously. Or maybe both characters realising they’d need to meet halfway. Though, Hisashi definitely needed to learn how to give criticism without being offensive.

Cheer Danshi!! remains an enjoyable, if fairly pointless, watch. I am however concerned about the fate of Kazu’s grandmother.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 9 – Tears of the Sun

Kazu having a moment of reflection.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016.

Kazu’s grandmother doesn’t remember him. I don’t know whether the lead up to this episode was good or bad. It’s been clear for awhile that Kazu’s grandmother is not going well and that Kazu is hiding that from Haru. So it wasn’t a revelation of any sort. That said, at least it didn’t come completely out of left field to add artificial tension to the story.

I really feel the issue was that this episode just didn’t hit the emotions I felt it wanted to get across. Which, given Kazu is a main character, is a shame because his episode had so much less impact than some of the other episodes of Cheer Danshi!! we’ve already watched.

Anyway, we’re moving onto the competition and we’ll see what our team have managed to pull together in too short a time period to actually make a team of novices competitive. Hopefully it will be inspiring because realism left awhile ago.

I know that sounds like I don’t like this show but that isn’t actually true. It’s an enjoyable watch. It just doesn’t offer anything else of substance to go with that so will be fairly quickly forgotten by me.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 10 – What I Wanted To Tell You

I'm sure that wall loves the attention.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016.

I think they made some smart decisions this week with the focus on the characters prior to and after their qualifying performance and leaving out lengthy scenes of various teams performing. We’ve seen enough cheerleading throughout this show to know what is happening and this way the story kept up its pace and didn’t feel dragged down by extended pretty animations.

Even a mistake in the routine was mentioned after rather than seen. Though realistically that is also probably because they haven’t really got the animation budget to bring these routines to life. So smart choices all round then.

I also liked the dual focus on Haru and Sho throughout the episode. All and all, this episode was more satisfying than anticipated because I was worried we’d be sitting through rounds of routines and the story was going to get stopped in it’s tracks.


Cheer Boys!! Episode 11 – Bittersweet Valentine

Hmm yum.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016.

Let’s put cheering on hold and deal with all those pesky relationship issues that continue to remain unresolved. That seemed to be the theme this week and while everything here felt a little bit contrived it also felt like they were wrapping up loose ends nicely before the competition.

I do feel that the whole making a cake for Valentine’s Day thing was kind of needlessly silly as was the ‘twist’ but realistically it was obvious the girl was never making the cake for Haru. However, the resolution of the conflict between Haru and his sister felt needed even if it turns out they just needed to talk and then he just needed to go watch her match.

All and all, Cheer Danshi!! remains pleasant but superficial and I’ve enjoyed watching the season, however as they essentially wrapped up any existing plot point except the finals there doesn’t seem much left for these characters to do but either win or not next week.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 12 – Cheer Boys!!

While I liked that the focus of the episode was on self-reflection and the journey travelled rather than winning a national tournament after less than a year as a team, the note book gimmick fell kind of flat. It just felt like if they actually tried this someone would have grabbed the book and walked off and the team would have had a few more falling outs and misunderstandings the day before the competition which just isn’t productive for generating team spirit.

I am disappointed that we didn’t get to see the routine uninterrupted and instead we had flash backs and quotes from the note books over the top. For a show about cheerleading we’ve seen very little (thankfully, because otherwise it would get dull) but we’ve now watched the final episode and still not really seen a full routine.

All and all, this series has maintained its tone and ended satisfyingly enough but other than being reasonably enjoyable to watch it has also remained reasonably forgettable.

Cheer Boys the full team.

Find the full series review here.

Images from: Cheer Boys. Dir. A. Yoshimura. Brain’s Base. 2016

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Karandi James

Haikyu!! To The Top Episode 1 Review

Haiku1 Episode

Room To Grow

I was very late jumping on the Haikyu bandwagon. Largely because I just refused to watch sports anime of any kind for a very long time. Once I caved on that, the title that came up over and over again in my recommendations was Haikyu. And so I started season one. Three seasons on we’re now seeing the release of season four and I was definitely ready and actually super excited. However, season 4 faces a different kind of challenge as I’ve never watched Haikyu weekly. Last time I watched in batches of episodes so I didn’t need to wait for things to get to a point as I could just keep watching. So I guess we’ll see whether season 4 manages to be as exciting as the last three and whether or not I can handle watching weekly or whether I give up, wait for the season to finish and binge it.


The difference became quite apparent by the end of this episode. There’s a lot of set-up and reintroductions to characters as they get their heights measured and do some basic physical tests and then the supervisor drops the bomb that Kageyama has been invited to a national youth volleyball camp and Tsukishima is invited to a regional camp. It’s all really fun hanging out with the characters and seeing the rivalry between Hinata and Kageyama as well as the bonds these characters have forged, but it isn’t really moving things forward so much as re-establishing the cast (as you probably should after a gap between seasons when there’s a large cast). That outside of Hinata making a really obnoxious choice before the end of the episode is really all that happens and I’m sure it will all lead to fun later but it is set-up.


Of course, it was really fun to be back with this team. The usual bickering and silly antics were in full play and it was nice to see them all still really excited about the nationals. So there’s very little to complain about there. Also, visually it still looks fine transitioning to actually good when characters start moving. Hinata’s jump was beautifully animated and the wing motif is back which was welcome to see.


Affiliate Link – Blu-Ray

But the episode in itself leaves you with little to talk about, unless you would like to me to gush about Tsukishima. I could do that because his reaction to Hinata’s idiocy in the second half of the episode was golden. Of course, we could look ahead and start wondering if splitting up the core group in these early episodes and sending them off to training camps is a great move. Haikyu is more fun when the team are together and they literally just split two of the four first years we’ve really been following off to play with other players at training camps. While I’m sure it is a great growth opportunity did I come back to Haikyu to not spend time with the gang from Karasuno High School? Then again, I have no idea how many episodes this will go for and how they’ll bring it together so no complaints at this point.


Time will tell whether this is a good decision or not but Haikyu has definitely earned some trust having delivered three very solid seasons of entertainment. While I may end up putting this cour on hold and binge it before the second cour comes out depending on how it goes watching weekly, I will watch this season through. So how excited are you about the return of Haikyu!!

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

The Change of Seasons Welcome a Changing Wind

Run With The Wind Episode Review Title

Run With The Wind Episode 12 Review

Run With The Wind continues to be surprisingly compelling despite being a show about ten guys running around in circles. Okay, I’m not into watching marathons or track. What continues to sell this story are the characters and the way their progress is being handled. While not as overt emotional development as we are seeing in Tsurune, Run With The Wind excels at small moments and small triumphs. While Kakeru and Haiji continue to get the lion’s share of the focus each team member is given enough smaller moments scattered throughout episodes that we don’t forget them and they all feel like they are going on this journey.

Run With The Wind Episode 12 Kakeru

After the gap between episode 11 and 12 we have a new OP and ED. I’m not sold on the OP at all but the ED is pretty great. The rest of the sound remains on point and this is one anime where the sound direction continues to need to be applauded.

Run With The Wind Episode 12 Celebration

Takashi and Yuki get a moment to shine and celebrate early in this episode and it was nice to see this small moment. They didn’t win the race but they both managed a qualifying time and it feels like a very natural development given how close both of these characters have been to this previously. I also loved that the team dynamic is still very much in tact with the twins stealing a lot of dialogue but each character having their moment. The one disappointment from this episode was the decided absence of Prince quips and his only real contribution was getting travel sick on the way to the camp.

Run With The Wind Episode 12 Twins

However, by the end of the episode all the earlier moments may fade from memory as the episode veers very much into another round of Kakeru has issues and the red-haired guy from the other school whose name I won’t ever remember is still being a jerk. It kind of leaves a sour taste as it feels like this whole plot line has lingered far too long without either being addressed or resolving and at this point I’d really like it to as almost everything else in the anime is more interesting.

Run With The Wind Episode 12

Still, Run With The Wind remains a compelling viewing experience and one that I’m still pleasantly surprised by. Looking forward to where it goes during its second cour.

You Have To Step Back To See What’s Really There

Run With The Wind Episode Review Title

Run With The Wind Episode 9 Review

As much as I hate to admit it, Haiji has a point. Kakeru really can’t see what the point of running is anymore, other than getting a great time and winning, and while I kind of get where Kakeru is coming from, given they are in a competition, I really do get where Haiji is coming from. Besides, Kakeru targeting Prince was a low blow. It isn’t as though Prince didn’t know he wasn’t good at running.

Run With The Wind Episode 9

Kakeru being benched this week on Run With The Wind created a chance for the audience to observe the others from a distance as well. While at first most were reluctant to join Haiji in his dream, and many were coerced, the five who competed this week gave it all they had and those who were on the side were moved by their effort and a desire to cheer them on. All and all, the power of the ‘team’ coming together even if none of the runners were successful this time around at getting an official time.

Run With The Wind Episode 9 - Running

Of course, Run With The Wind wasn’t really content just to give us a ‘go team’ kind of message and working at bringing Kakeru back in with the others, despite him being a massive jerk last week and at the start of the episode. Instead we layer in signs that Haiji isn’t as ‘recovered’ as he’d like people to believe and that escalates as the episode continues. Given we still don’t know what actually happened, I’m curious as to what is going on, but the eventual collapse of the team leader was a suitably dramatic end point for the episode.

Run With The Wind Episode 9 Prince

Where this anime shines is that none of the characters feel neglected at this point. It is quite the feat given the sheer number of characters. And while I don’t necessarily like all of them, they are all feeling very authentic and the group as a whole is becoming more and more interesting to watch.

The Best Revenge: Go Forth And Succeed Your Own Way

Tsurune Episode Reviews

Tsurune Episode 6 Review

Welcome to the world of Tsurune where even the coach with the potentially angsty backstory is calm, collected, and feels that being a better and more understanding teacher than his grandfather was is a way of getting revenge. It mightn’t be the most exciting thing to watch, but these are characters I can get behind and their emotions are real. 

Tsurune Episode 6 Masaki

Minato and Seiya having an actual conversation… not one strained with tears, shouting, or dramatic stances, but simply a sit down in the park with the dog and an actual conversation where they asked the questions they needed to and contemplated answers. Not everything is answered by the way. These characters are too complex for a simple conversation to solve all their problems. But they are acknowledging the challenges and the uncertainty and again, they are doing it in a calm manner where they try not to let their personal dramas inconvenience others or get in their way but they are acknowledging that the personal drama exists.

It is a balance so very rarely found in stories and while I’m not huge on comparing things, I’m finding the boys in Tsurune almost as nuanced as the girls over in Bloom Into You, only without the romance aspect. And the romance really isn’t needed here as we have friendship, ambition, regret and a whole host of other emotions and ideas to explore.

Tsurune Episode 6 Opposition

On that note, we spend a bit of time this episode at the school that Seiya and Minato probably should have gone to with the characters who are most definitely going to shake up the calm of this anime. This week we meet Shuu, a former friend and fellow competitor, as well as two twins who were fun enough this week being a little bit blunter than most characters in this anime but I’m hoping they aren’t going to end up being nasty because that could definitely damage the calm of the show.

Tsurune Episode 6

Tsurune is in no hurry to get where it is going but we are steadily making progress both with the characters and the plot. While I’d love the female characters to get more of a look in and while I’d love Nanao and Ryouhei to get fleshed out a bit, I’m very much loving this show.

What Happens When Individuals Become a Team?

Tsurune Episode Reviews

Tsurune Episode 4 Review

I guess Tsurune really does want us to wonder how this group of individuals will come together as a team. Anime really has a fascination with team culture, though I guess that really is a direct result of the Japanese culture behind most anime. However, as Onogi points out, generally speaking Archery is a solo effort. Even when you shoot with a team it isn’t as though you can directly assist your team-mates during their shoot. All you can do is your best and hope that you’ve all helped each other enough during training that you are all at your best come competition.

Tsurune Episode 4 - Onogi

The problem facing the boys in this episode is that there are two distinct groups in this ‘team’ and they aren’t meshing well at all (wow, I really wish I didn’t have to use the word ‘mesh’ but it is the perfect fit here so I’ll banish the Hand Shakers trauma and move on). I’m assuming this training camp deal we’re about to start is either going to bring them closer together or tear them apart so they can be rebuilt as a team, but either way it is following fairly standard sport anime protocol at this point.

One thing that did really bother me in this episode was the treatment of the females in the archery club. Masaki introduces himself, all the boys get an introduction or introduce themselves, and then Masaki swiftly declares it is time to get started. Seriously, are the three girls just standing there to fill in the frame?

Tsurune Episode 4

And while they get to compete later and I get they are trying to get the boys to form something resembling a team, it seems a little bit like a dig at them that they are joined by the coach and the teacher in order to beat the boys (one of the boys already sufficiently suffering from target panic that he was never going to get a hit, so technically it was five against four in favour of the clearly stronger teacher team with the back-up support of the three girls who didn’t even get to name themselves this episode).

Alright, sexism in anime isn’t exactly new and this wasn’t really an overt attack on females or their ability at archery, but it all just kind of bugged me as a totally unnecessary element at all. How hard would it have been to have actually given the girls an introduction?

Tsurune Episode 4 - Minato

However, because I do not want to end on a sour note, mostly because this show is pretty great even if it is losing a little of the beautiful edge it started with, I would like to applaud the sound effects and just the ambient sound in this anime. Seriously amazing work and realistically you could just close your eyes during the shooting, hear the creak of the bow and release of the arrow, the whoosh of the arrow through the air and the thunk as it strikes (the target or otherwise). Absolutely amazing and something I can’t get enough of.

Tsurune Episode 3: It Isn’t Easy to Overcome Trauma

Tsurune Episode Reviews

We knew from the end of episode 2 that Minato was going to return to the archery club, and as expected things aren’t exactly easy. He still can’t shoot the way he wants, one friend keeps looking at him like he’s worried he’s about to bolt at any moment, another at first makes the casual assumption he’s over his whole trauma thing just like that, and new acquaintances are generally hostile given they perceive his actions as taking the whole thing flippantly (given he left the club and came back in seemingly a matter of days).

I’d like to know too, because that explanation made zero sense.

However, Tsurune may be wallowing in teenage drama this episode, but it feels like it is worth it. Minato’s problem isn’t an easy one and has left quite the mark on him and right from episode 1 this anime has played his trauma straight and given it the respect it deserves while not becoming self-indulgent by falling into angsty-back-story territory. It is a fine line to walk and one that this anime has the emotional control and strength of writing to navigate, or at least it has so far.


When the teacher takes a back seat and simply says he is observing the conflicts with interest, I had to nod along as I was also very much enjoying being the spectator for the goings on. It isn’t that Tsurune is doing anything we haven’t seen before (admittedly, this is the first time I’ve seen it in an archery setting), it is more that it is doing what it is with such incredible competence and an unhurried hand.


For all that I would love to see these guys shooting together, and I’m sure we’re moving toward there after the end of this episode given we’ve now got the hot-owl-carrying archer, Masaki, invovled as a coach, the time it is taking to really look at the starting point for this club feels like there’s a lot of care put into these characters. And while the lengths some of the friends seem to have gone to in order to help Minato might seem inordinate from a practical point of view, it makes for some fairly compelling watching and some fairly strong relationship building.

Three episodes in and I must say I am definitely enjoying this one so far.

Tsurune Episode 2: Finding Your Target

Tsurune Episode Reviews

There’s a couple of things Tsurune has gotten very right that makes this anime a fairly solid show and one I want to follow right from the beginning. Comparing to the other sports anime I’m watching at the moment, Run With The Wind, I feel I’ve clicked a bit more with this one. While Minato is also reluctant to continue in his chosen sport, unlike Run With The Wind, the other characters aren’t coercing and forcing him back. They are certainly nagging and encouraging (and a little overly intrusive), but ultimately the choice that he makes in this episode is his own decision that he has come to after his own reflection.

Tsurune  Episode 2 Seiya

The other thing that really grabs me in this story so far, other than just being gorgeous to watch, is that so far Minato, and all of the other characters, don’t appear to have some high minded goal like be the best in Japan or win some competition. The goal so far is to re-establish the archery club and now there’s a tournament they’ve decided to try entering, but ambition is so far being kept in check. Minato has been shown to be pursuing a sound and striving for the form that will given him that, and the other characters haven’t really established their motives just yet. I’m certain that at some point these guys will aim to win something, but so far it is more about pursuing the sport than pursuing victory and I really kind of appreciate that.

Tsurune Episode 2 Minato and Who
Did they really just name the owl W’ho’?

I did however have to do a double take in this episode, literally stopping and video and going back, and I’m certain that’s what they intended, when they suggested Takigawa was actually a ghost. It was a well executed moment because while you don’t really think this is an anime that is likely to actually have a ghost, it leaves you in just enough doubt that when Minato dives to stop him shooting the last arrow you are kind of glad, even if it does all turn out to be a silly misunderstanding.

Tsurune Episode 2

There’s a really relaxed feeling so far to this story but at the same time it feels like these characters have begun moving forward even as we’re only really just getting to meet them. Visually it has been pretty amazing with only a few group scenes where extras have looked a little bit off, and the music and environmental sounds have so far been really solid. I’m really enjoying this so far and I hope it continues as it has so far and I’d really like to start to get to know the rest of the cast a bit better now.

Tsurune Episode 1: First Episode On Target

Tsurune Episode Reviews

Well, here’s a second sports anime on my line up for this season, but unlike Run With The Wind, this one I was actually looking forward to because I kind of wanted to see an anime about an archery club. I wasn’t sure if I’d like it, but I was certainly waiting for the first episode, and it has not disappointed (though Run With the Wind is kind of blowing my expectations out of the water so maybe this season is just a season for me to enjoy boys playing sport, who knows).

Tsurune Episode 1

There’s nothing earth shattering about episode one. Minato is starting high school, a friend from middle-school is also going with him and they run into an old friend from elementary school. The school archery club is starting up again and they are getting roped into it but Minato has some past trauma that means he’s avoiding. When he finally gets dragged into shooting it becomes quite clear he’s got a bit of a psychological block going on.

Tsurune Episode 1

All and all, exactly what you would expect from a first episode of a school club anime focused on a sport. The cast are pleasant enough if not yet fleshed out and the pacing was really well done.

So why am I so happy about this episode? Because much like a couple of other titles this season, this first episode is just oozing effort and attention to detail. The sounds particularly are beautifully done but there’s a real care and effort in shot composition and visuals going on in this episode that makes it a sheer delight to engage with even as it goes through the usual kind of set-up. While I stand by my overall opinion that good visuals and animation aren’t enough to make up for a poor story or characters, when the plot and characters are sound, it is amazing how much more vibrant the experience can become with a little care and effort on the other elements.

Tsurune Episode 1

Really looking forward to more of this one and hopefully it can continue to be so beautifully put together.

Yuri on Ice Guide To Episode 8

yuri on ice title

This episode opens a bit differently from normal as we don’t have an initial narration. Instead we hear the sound of a plane, we get some text that tells us we’re in Moscow and then we hear squeals as Yakov and Yuri Plistesky’s group are walking together. It’s a nice touch and a good lead in to getting some narration from Yuri Plistesky. Despite his fairly lengthy appearances in episodes 2 and 3, we really don’t know much about him nor have we heard his view on things. So the transition here is nice as is getting to see Yuri with his family.

Also nice to see how Yuri Plistesky goes from being a much softer more human character when talking with his grandfather about food and then instantly becomes irked when he hears that Victor has arrived in the country. Sometimes it is hard to remember that Yuri Plistesky is still just a teenager and moments like this really help to make sense of some of his more over the top moments.

Yuri on Ice Episode 8

I’m not going to spend a huge amount of time on them, but here we meet quite a lot of the other skaters at the hotel. After transitioning from Yuri Plisetsky arguing with Victor we run into Yuri Katsuki standing in front of the elevator where he is joined by Seung-gil Lee (and I’m just going to point out that if anyone ever wants to make a spin-off anime about Seung-gil I’m 100% for that).

Yuri takes the moment to once again show off his social anxiety and mentally notes there is no one in this round that he’s really friendly with making it a very different atmosphere. We then have the elevator door open and are introduced to Mickey and Sala (siblings who have their own dramas that play out as a minor plot point) and Emil.

Sala, probably sick of Mickey and Emil’s bickering and possessiveness makes a minor pass at Seung-gil and he turns her down flat before attempting to exit the scene. The storm this causes allows Yuri to sneak off to a different elevator and leave the scene.

You could view all of this as filler but at the same time we’re about to watch these characters compete against Yuri so it is kind of nice that we see a little of their personalities as they arrive in Russia and prepare for the competition. Much like with Minami earlier in the series, despite only appearing for a couple of episodes, each of these characters leaves a mark in the narrative and on the viewers.

Yuri on Ice Episode 8

Of course, Yuri’s plan to avoid drama backfires as Yuri Plisetsky also gets on the same elevator and after a moment of strained and awkward attempted small talk from Yuri, Plisetsky essentially declares war once again. The contrast between the two characters is nicely managed here though unlike in earlier sequences neither is looking down at the other and they are standing side by side. It shows the growth they’ve both had as characters, despite Plisetsky’s sour expression.

It also shows that the real rivalry between them is still for Victor’s attention even though Victor has made it pretty clear where he is interested.

Yuri on Ice Episode 8

Emil, Mickey and Seung-gil all skate in the first half and there’s a bit of build up around Mickey and Sala’s relationship and Mickey’s codependency, but I’m not going to focus a lot on that here. Finally we see Yuri preparing to skate and then we cut to Yuri Plisetsky who gets the news that his grandfather won’t make it to watch him skate. Now, all the way through the series Plisetsky’s seemed like the kind who isn’t very sentimental and other than his fixation on Victor doesn’t seem to hold onto emotional connections.

And yet, the look on his face and the tone of voice when he realises his grandfather won’t be there speaks volumes and given what we’ve seen on the show so far, it is clear this is going to have an impact on his performance just when he has the chance to face Yuri again.

Yuri on Ice Episode 8 Yuri Plisetsky

After the eye-catch we get a sequence at the hotsprings in Japan where we see the super cute Makkachin eyeing off some plastic wrapped offerings and you just know this isn’t going to end well. I remember the first time I watched this episode and how worried this sequence made me. Even knowing where it goes, I still feel a little sad for Makkachin as he watches the food so closely with that adorable look on his face.

Yuri on Ice Episode 8 Makkachin

But now it is time for Yuri to skate and once again we get a Victor and Yuri sequence to remember on the edge of the rink before beginning. It has been building up since episode 1 when Yuri asked Yuuko to watch him and every time since when he has been more aggressive in asking for Victor’s attention. Episode 1 he asks ‘please watch’ of Yuuko and that is the same request he makes of Victor in Episode 3. By episode 6 he tells Victor to ‘Never take your eyes off me’.

However, episode 8 takes this to a very new level of aggression and possessiveness. Possibly spurred on by the crowd cheering Victor’s name and feeling left out, Yuri forcibly pulls Victor toward him and commands his full attention as he states the performance has already begun.

The sequence demonstrates where they are in their relationship as well as the uncertainty that Yuri is clearly still feeling about whether Victor is going to stay with him if he doesn’t make the final. There’s a lot of pressure riding on Yuri for his performance but he knows what he wants here. Even as he skates away we hear him thinking how embarrassing the scene was and yet he admits he’s trying to push back at the crowd and make his own stand.

For someone who never had any confidence in himself, he finally wants something enough to overcome that fear and try to grab it and hold onto it.

Yuri Katsuki follows this with a fairly brilliant performance of Eros. However, as the fourth time we’ve seen this routine, we cut away a lot to the judges, Victor’s reactions, and to Yuri Plisetsky’s preparations for his own skate. There’s a sense of melancholy surrounding Plisetsky and we see him mostly from behind and looking fairly isolated as he prepares and watches the final moments of Katsuki’s routine.

However, in typical Plisetsky fashion, he speaks with hostility when he Yuri Katsuki comes off the ice. Still, it is clear the young skater is putting up a tough front here and while he’s trying hard a lot of the usual impact is lacking from both his words and expression.

Yuri on Ice Episode 8 Yuri Plisetsky

I think one of the things that gets overlooked about Yuri on Ice is that it isn’t just the people like watching Victor and Yuri. What really works for both of these characters is that they are genuinely nice people. They both have flaws and rough edges, they clash and have issues, but overall they are really the kind of people you would want in your life. This is evident when they see Yuri Plisetsky take the ice and they note that he’s found his agape and are both overjoyed.

Yuri Katsuki is competing against Plisetsky and yet he is still happy to see his competitor has improved and has come a long way. This is just such a great part of the show and a lot of the reason it remains a joy to watch because it doesn’t let itself get bogged down in hostile rivalries that are actually destructive. Whether this is realistic is another story, but it is certainly a lot of the fun of watching.

Yuri on Ice Episode 8 Yuri and Victor

The final skater to take the ice in the short program after both Yuri’s is JJ. JJ is a character we’ve seen a couple of times in news updates but until now we hadn’t actually met him at a competition. If Yuri Katsuki is someone who is overwhelmed by anxiety and a lack of confidence, JJ is his complete opposite. He is oozing confidence both in the lead up to taking the ice and as he prepares to skate. I find it interesting that both Yuri and JJ have songs named after themselves, JJ for the short program and Yuri for the free skate.

Yuri on Ice Episode 8 JJ takes the ice for Theme of King JJ

Everything about JJ’s performance is big. His personality come across through his music that he created that tells his story. He inspires the audience to clap and sing along and he’s working the crowd at every moment. For the first time we see JJ take the ice he leaves a large impression as a character who styles himself as larger than life.

As much as you could call him arrogant, it isn’t as though he hasn’t worked to get there, and he isn’t actually antagonistic to the other characters. Still, JJ is the kind of personality I find hardest to deal with in real life and as a result he’s a character I find it difficult to feel anything for other than a hope that he doesn’t get in Yuri’s way. Still, he creates a fairly solid contrast in personality to a lot of the other characters and ultimately he’s a necessary personality in the final mix so he works well in the story.

Yuri on Ice Episode 8

For the most part, Yuri on Ice has avoided last minute cliff-hangers so it when this one came up while it did feel like a slightly cheap way of building some drama, it isn’t as though the event wasn’t foreshadowed earlier. At the end of the episode Yuri gets a call regarding Makkachin and he’s at the vet. This leads to Yuri telling Victor to return to Japan meaning Yuri is going to be on his own for the free skate. And I love this moment as Yuri desperately wants Victor with him but remembers his own pain at losing a pet when he wasn’t there and so tells Victor to leave. He does it without any strings attached and out of concern for Victor.

Yuri on Ice Ep 8o.JPG

While Victor does ask Yakov to take care of him, I think we all knew this wasn’t a great situation and wondered how it would impact on Yuri’s next performance. Not to mention, don’t hurt the dog. I’ll leave you with the final screen before the credits.

Yuri on Ice Ep 8p

My original episode review: Yuri On Ice Episode 8

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Karandi James