Yuri on Ice Guide To Episode 8

At last we’re heading to Russia in Episode 8: Yuri vs Yuri The Horror!! Rostelecom Cup, Short Program. Victor and Yuri overcame a real hurdle as coach and student in episode 7 and came to understand each other a lot more as people but how has that prepared them to take on the competition in Victor’s homeland? Not to mention the long awaited rematch of Yuri Plisetsky against Yuri Katuski.

That said, last week I asked on Twitter which was your favourite free skate routine. Here are the results:

 


Episode 8: 

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.

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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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Yuri on Ice Guide To Episode 7

We’ve made it to Episode 7: China’s On! The Grand Prix Series Opening Event!! The Cup of China Free Skate. After episode 6 left us with Yuri as the lead contender in the competition we now get to see how that will impact on his very newly found confidence. It was a tricky episode but one that I fell in love with even on the first watch through, and once again, not just because of ‘that’ moment. How will this episode hold up on the rewatch though?

Last week I asked on Twitter what your favourite short program was. Here are the results:


Episode 7:

We start straight away with the opening and then into narration that recaps the scores from last episode. However, unlike previous episodes this narration isn’t intended to be comical, nor is it drawn out. It just quickly recaps where we are and what has happened before transitioning into a phone call between Yuri and Yuuko and her family. The expression on his face tells you everything you need to know about his current mental state and I am glad they didn’t feel the need to directly state that he was feeling pressured but allowed his expression to speak for him. One of the main criticisms I’ll level at the earlier episodes is that they regularly over-explain things and this is one time where they refrained.

Yuri on Ice Episode 7 - Katsuki Yuri is feeling stressed

Never one to miss an opportunity for comedy though, we then have Victor’s reaction to Yuri’s current state. Yuri hasn’t slept and it shows so Victor, in a display of what is probably genuine concern, forces him back to bed and then lies on him (to stop him getting back out of bed of course). However, Victor is super impulsive and so we have Yuri, blindfolded and pinned down on a bed (wow, that sounds way more explicit than it is) crying out and asking if Victor set an alarm. The scene builds on what we know about both characters and so while the tension of Yuri’s emotional state is momentarily broken, the scenario plays true to both of them and ends up hitting its mark. Even if it sounds weird taken out of context.

Yuri on Ice Episode 7 - Victor puts Yuri to bed.

I really do love how small details play into this story. The next scene we see of Yuri is him trying to open a water bottle, his expression frozen and hands trembling. He’s confused because he can’t open it. Anyone who has ever started cracking under pressure knows this feeling. They’ve been in this exact spot wondering why something simple isn’t working and just getting themselves into a negative feedback loop. It’s these kind of moments that really bring Yuri on Ice to life and make it really connect with viewers in a meaningful way. Also, Victor’s distance in this scene is notable as it brings us back to Yuri’s relationship with Celestino rather than the fairly close and intimate relationship they’ve had so far prior to Yuri skating. Even when Victor does close the gap by standing in front of Yuri and grabbing his shoulders, the perspective very much makes Yuri look small and powerless and as though the gap between them is massive. It doesn’t help that Victor’s words, while once again sound advice, are delivered in such a way that they aren’t going to help Yuri’s confidence any.

While a lot of the time Yuri’s family and friends in Japan feel a little added on, there are moments, like this one, where they show us that Yuri really isn’t alone. Every one of them watching the warm up on TV can see the state Yuri is in. They recognise it in the way that anyone who is close to someone as anxious as Yuri would and they are worried because they know just how hard it is to get out of that mind set once it is in full motion. It might be a brief moment, but it continues to build Yuri’s background in relationships and as a person.

Yuri on Ice Episode 7 - Yuri's family

I feel bad for skipping over Guang Hong in my discussion here but to be honest he’s a character who doesn’t really come back again, so while I love the story and his thoughts while he is skating, I’m going to focus in on Yuri still. Yuri knows he stuffed up his warm up, and Victor’s glib remarks that he will do it better in the performance haven’t done a thing to reach him. Watching Yuri watch Guang Hong’s performance is almost heart breaking.

In case it hasn’t become ridiculously clear, I really can emphasise with Yuri and this was a huge part of what drew me into this anime.

Yuri on Ice Episode 7 - Yuri shocked by Guang Hong's performance.

In stark contrast to Yuri’s emotional implosion we have Chris. He’s a seasoned veteran and one who oozes confidence in what he can do. Even though he is second last position going into the free skate, Chris knows he can come back from that and we see it in his expression during his routine. He’s genuinely enjoying the moment and being the centre of attention. While he wants to win, as all of the characters do, for Chris there’s a genuine joy in being a performer. It creates such a different tone when we see him on the ice and provides a good balance for the viewer. As we get to the finals of the Grand Prix the different mind sets of each of the characters become more apparent and each one brings a different perspective on competition. However, it probably isn’t a coincidence that Chris and Phichit that are introduced in this round as both of their personalities contrast sharply with Yuri’s uncertainty without clashing with him (Yuri Plisetsky certainly contrasts with Yuri but there we end up with more opposition and rivalry).

Yuri on Ice Episode 7 Chris

Now I’ve taken a few jabs at Victor’s inexperience as a coach and how ineffectual he has been thus far in calming Yuri, but the one thing that this episode wants us to know is that Victor is genuinely trying. He can see the problem but because he isn’t the kind of person who crumbles under pressure he doesn’t have any ability to understand what is actually going on in Yuri’s head. He has no frame of reference to work from. But the concern is real and that is part of what we all need to love about Victor even when he does seem like an air-head sometimes.

Yuri on Ice Episode 7 - Victor taking Yuri to warm up.

One thing that is noteworthy about this round of watching the routines is the attention on the characters faces and their expressions. In some versions of the routines it is the overall movement that takes priority leading to some interesting facial expressions depending on where you pause the routine. However, like with Chris, when Phichit starts his routine we see his face and exactly the mental state he is when he takes to the ice. Where Chris had that small smile of confidence in himself, Phichit has the determination but even when he is focused there’s almost a sense that he wants to celebrate the music and just burst into a smile, something we hear in his voice when his internal monologue begins. Again, it is such a major contrast with Yuri’s mindset and it really helps establish Phichit more as a character. He isn’t just about social media, there’s a genuine competitor inside him and when he takes to the ice for the free skate we see exactly how determined he is to show everyone what he can do.

Though, once again, Yuri on Ice doesn’t hold its ground and feels the need to add in some fairly unnecessary commentary from Celestino about Phichit having more innate flair than Yuri. This is something that was already apparent from the routine and from the audience response. Celestino saying it adds nothing except perhaps making him feel smug that Yuri was the one he lost and Phichit is still his skater.

Yuri on Ice Episode 7 Phichit

And again, my apologies to Leo, but his routine is nowhere near as important as what is going on in the carpark between Victor and Yuri, and the anime knows this as well. Where Phichit’s routine was mostly shown with a few cuts to the main characters, Leo’s routine is almost entirely off-screen.  So let’s focus on this moment between Victor and Yuri. This moment where Victor, totally lost as to what to do to shake Yuri out of his despair, takes entirely the wrong path. Again, looking at their body language as Victor begins to speak, they are separated by many steps, their backs to one another, the distance between these two has never been greater when they’ve been onscreen. And then Victor essentially throws ice water onto a sleeping Yuri’s face with fairly predictable results.

Yuri on Ice Episode 7 - Victor and Yuri in the carpark

Yeah, Victor, this was a really bad idea. If I’m honest, this was the moment during my first watch that I almost fell out of love with Victor as a character. I relate too much to Yuri and just the feeling of someone saying that to me when I was in the middle of emotional turmoil, succeed or I’ll ditch you under the guise of taking responsibility, almost broke my heart in two. Rewatches have not softened the blow from this scene, however, Victor is redeemed many times over and I’ve come to love his awkward self who struggles to learn to deal with Yuri emotionally. Still think he’d have been better off keeping his mouth shut.

For an episode so fixated on faces, this sequence is brilliant in how it twists the knife into the viewer’s heart. Victor says his piece and waits. We get the long shot showing again the distance between them before the close up on Yuri’s frozen expression. Switching back to Victor, we see the first bead of sweat appear and the first hint of doubt showing in his eyes. Then tears roll down Yuri’s cheeks (using anime logic that everyone has an entire bucket of water inside their head), and Victor suddenly realises exactly what he just did but not how to fix it.

However, it does open Yuri up, albeit slightly destructively and Yuri tells Victor that all he needs to do is believe in him and stand beside him. As Georgi begins his somewhat hilarious Tales of a Sleeping Prince routine, Yuri and Victor return to the rink side by side for the first time this episode even if their expressions are still sombre and they aren’t looking at one another. I’ve mentioned this before but this relationship is what holds this anime together and elevates it to being so much more than just a story about ice-skating. At every step we see the back and forth as their relationship grows and the two bump heads, gain ground, clash, understand each other, misunderstand each other, and it all feels so incredibly authentic (if a little bit rushed given the time frame).

Yuri on Ice Episode 7 - Yuri and Victor

In case the discomfort between these two after their small spat in the car park isn’t already emphasised enough in their expressions above, after a brief cut away to Georgi and his delusions of Anya returning to him, we get an image of Yuri and Victor still side by side but leaning away and looking away from another. Again, this is so different from how these two have been presented as they’ve come together in every other episode. This moment is fairly critical not just for Yuri as a skater but for their ongoing relationship both as coach and student and any foundation of a romantic relationship in the future.

Meanwhile, the sign above Yuri’s head is just kind of ironic.

Yuri on Ice Episode 7 - Yuri and Victor

I do however, really enjoy the sequence when Yuri prepares to take the ice as he essentially plays Victor by dropping the tissues and then touching Victor’s part, reminiscent of his actions back in episode 4. For all that Yuri might seem like the one being led along at times or weak because of his anxiety, it is scenes like this that show that Yuri has some real fortitude. Afterall, despite his severe anxiety he did rise up to get into the Grand Prix the year before without Victor. While Victor is still at a loss for what to do next, Yuri is taking charge. And this doesn’t go unnoticed by Yakov who thinks that if the student is consoling the coach Victor has a long way to go. With so much focus on Yuri’s growth and improvement, I love that this sequence turns that entirely on its head and shows Victor as the one floundering and lost and Yuri being the one to show the way.

And then the routine begins. For the first time this episode we see Yuri calm and composed. Internally, he is thinking about Victor’s failings as a coach but externally there is a real sense of control about him. Despite how busy Yuri’s thoughts seem to be, Victor notes that Yuri is smiling and Celestino remarks that he seems unusually relaxed. After an entire episode of seeing Yuri on the brink, this moment is wonderful and while Victor’s approach was still dreadful the end result is the dam of emotions Yuri had been holding back had an outlet leaving him more composed than he might otherwise have been. Having seen the routine before, we get continued cuts to the other competitors, coaches and family as we see their reactions to the Yuri that exists now. The amusement of Yuri thinking about how much of an idiot Victor is right before he executes one of his jumps is fairly priceless as is most of this routine. We’ve seen this skate before, but not like this and we’ve seen plenty of Yuri, but this is a Yuri we haven’t seen before. I think that is the strength of the repeats in this series. Rather than seeing the repeated routines as a weakness, seeing what they can bring out of each character because the emphasis is shifted each time is an absolute joy.

Yuri on Ice Episode 7 - Yuri on Ice

And Yuri once again shows off the theme of surprise. Midway through the routine Yuri has a sudden thought wondering how Victor would react if he changed his last quad to a flip, Victor’s signature move. While the execution isn’t brilliant, Yuri does it and blows everyone away. And so, Victor being Victor, has to surprise Yuri more and does so by literally leaping into his arms as Yuri comes toward him from the ice. And then we have ‘that’ moment. The kiss that blew up the internet. Or the not kiss for those who still want to say it is just a hug – sorry, but I don’t buy it.

I remember when I first watched episode 7. Twitter literally exploded immediately after the episode. My episode 7 review, as poorly written as it is with a typo in Yuri’s name midway along (one day I’ll edit, I swear), is still one of my highest viewed episode review posts of all times. Just as Yuri surpassed everyone’s expectations, just as Victor wanted to surprise Yuri, this moment in the show blew away all the audience expectations. Those who thought it was just going to another story about two characters who were close but their relationship was ambiguous finally realised that the relationship being constructed here was more than just yet more baiting. It was a great moment and one that was executed with perfect timing riding on the high of the routine, on Yuri overcoming his anxiety, after an episode where a rift seemed to begin to grow between the characters. All of that was just blown away in a single instant.

Yuri on Ice Episode 7 - The Kiss

The episode ends with Yuri gaining a silver medal but that is almost beside the point. And that is where I struggle to see this one as a sports anime. The outcome becomes almost a beside the point compared to the personal successes and growth of the characters. Still, we are now set to go to Russia for the next qualifying adventure.

And be sure to check on Twitter for this week’s poll where I ask you which routine is your favourite free skate.

My original episode review: Yuri On Ice Episode 7


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Karandi James

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Yuri on Ice Guide To Episode 6

Episode 6 is here: China’s On! The Grand Prix Series Opening Event!! The Cup of China Short Program. This is also where most people who would criticise the repetition of the skating routines like to point to as the series low point. I disagree given we’re seeing a far more refined version of the routine every time with a different mind set behind it, but I guess I find sports anime repetitive for the same reason (you mean they are playing another game). Still, how does Yuri overcome his nerves and does Victor step up this episode as his coach?

Last week on Twitter I asked which country Yuri on Ice made you want to visit. No surprise with the results.

 

Let’s watch!!!!!!! (Hey, if Yuri!!! on Ice can keep capturing poor exclamation marks, so can I.)


Episode 6.

Unlike most episodes, episode 6 doesn’t start with narration but with Victor and Yuri fare-welling the family and the dog in Japan before heading to the event in China. There’s some foreshadowing in here that those who’ve watched the series will understand but for everyone else its a fairly innocuous scene and pretty standard transition. One thing that is noteworthy in a not so great way is that they seem to have saved all their effort with the art and animation for the skating that is going to dominate most of this episodes screen time. As much as I’m not one of those people that tries to pause the video in the most awkward place possible to prove some show or another has a bad frame in it, there’s honestly no other excuse for Victor’s face during the farewell other than time or budget constraints and given how amazing most of the rest of the episode looks you can probably figure out where that time and money went.

And don’t worry, the narration is coming. Just like with episode two where they waited until Victor was on the plane, this episode waits until Yuri and Victor are asleep side by side in the plane before launching into the introduction that is entirely unnecessary six episodes in. Still, we get to watch Yuri and Victor sleeping so I’m not entirely sure if I’m going to complain about it.

Yuri on Ice Episode 6
I mean, Yuri looks great but what’s happened to Victor?

The transition from the plane to the competition is handled by a news round up telling us the results of two other events, which lets the audience know which skaters are likely contenders that we’ll need to pay attention to. It also gives us a very low-key look at the frustration Yuri Plisetsky is feeling having come in silver at the competition in Canada (given it was his first senior event that is phenomenal but he wants the gold). Following the theme of the news cast we then see Yuri awkwardly answering questions about his theme of love while Victor is pretty much being a ditz suggesting they go and eat. Again, its hard to know whether we’re meant to take him seriously, or whether he’s actually just trying to keep Yuri from getting too stressed by the interview, but it leads nicely into the next section anyway.

The two seem closer than ever standing nearly shoulder to shoulder and looking at one another. I’d love to say that Victor caused that blush on Yuri, but he was mostly just intimidated by the sea of microphones and his own audacity at declaring he’d win a gold, so Victor had little to do with that one.

Yuri on Ice Episode 6 Victor and Yuri

Most of the next part is taken up with encountering the various skaters around town and Victor and Yuri meeting up with Phichit and other skaters at a restaurant. While all of the characters have been active on social media throughout the series, using it as all people do these days to document and share their lives, because Yuri is incredibly shy most of the time, we hadn’t really seen the social aspect of ice skating. However, despite these characters coming from all over the world there’s a definite connection between them because of a shared passion. However, Victor is probably taking things very easily because for once he’s not the one skating tomorrow (or maybe he would get just as drunk either way, who knows). Still, the sequence could be counted as down time or filler, except that it is actually giving us a look at these skaters and the lives they live. They might compete alone but they form friendships and connections that are crossing the globe.

Yuri on Ice Episode 6

However, if you want to make an insecure character more insecure, you should definitely include a scene like the next one. We’re first introduced to Chris in typical Chris fashion (he gropes Yuri’s butt and makes an insinuating comment) before a range of other characters appear. Essentially the message is the same. Victor should be competing. Yuri shouldn’t keep him from competing. How long is this whole coach thing going to last? It is probably the last thing Yuri needs to hear right before a competition and yet its something that everyone, even the audience, have been wondering. How serious is Victor about leaving the ice to coach Yuri? How long can Yuri’s fairy-tale last? There’s no real malice in anything the characters are saying, but it looks like Yuri takes some fairly heavy damage here.

Yuri on Ice Ep 6e

At last the competition starts and Phichit takes us into it with a truly energising routine. One thing that I have always loved about this series is that every skater wants to win, they are all passionate, they are all hard workers, and they all have a dream. There are no villains here, just competitors. So as we watch each of these routines, and part of me still wants Yuri to win, I can’t help but feel a little sorry for these other characters who are fighting so hard for their dream to be realised.

Yuri on Ice Episode 6 Phichit

Meanwhile, Yuri is once again internalising the conflict around him. People want to take Victor away from him because he isn’t good enough, that thought is burning around and around in his head while he prepares and he’s finding the determination to prove them wrong. During this time, Victor simply watches quietly and even when Chris asks about him, Victor shushes him as he watches fascinated by the transformation Yuri is undertaking before his very eyes. To Victor, the lover of surprises, Yuri is endlessly defying his expectations and Victor cannot look away at this point. I think the only person who doesn’t know how fixated Victor is, is Yuri himself at this point.

Yuri on Ice Episode 6 Victor and Chris

In stark contrast with last week, this time Victor holds Yuri’s hand as he gives him his instructions, their hands intertwined and resting on the barrier between them as Yuri stands on the ice. Victor tells Yuri he doesn’t need to visualise the pork cutlet bowl anymore because he himself can charm Victor. And then Yuri aggressively pulls Victor toward him and they lock eyes with Yuri demanding that Victor not look away. The distance travelled here for Yuri is phenomenal from episode 1 where he hesitantly asked his friend to watch, to episode 3 where he asked Victor to watch him with a little more determination, to episode 6 where he commands Victor to not look away.

Of course, all of this leaves Victor wondering what changed Yuri today. Which lets you know that even the perceptive Victor has a blind spot. He doesn’t seem to get how Yuri is feeling after hearing all those people asking him to come back to the ice.

We then get to Eros, a routine we’ve now seen from Yuri on two previous occasions in its entirety. This time however, as Victor has said, Yuri is quite different. While watching the routine we get commentary from the news casters discussing jumps he’s missed in the pass, his motivation, what the next part of the routine is, and this is interspersed with Yuri. In this run we get perhaps the most positive Yuri commentary ever as he has worked himself up to deliver this routine today. We also get a few moments where we see Victor’s reactions and the reactions of the other skaters. One thing everyone agrees on; Yuri is different today and that difference is noticeable in how the routine is delivered. There’s an almost violent energy running through a lot of it that makes the viewing distinct from the previous two run throughs.

Yuri on Ice Episode 6

Victor is obviously elated at the end of the routine but Yuri is surprisingly subdued. This difference is made clear when they are sitting together and the score comes up with Victor’s delight being clear where Yuri is more critical. It seems as though he still feels he can do more. There was a very interesting exchange where Victor asked Yuri if it felt great and Yuri replied in a fairly detached manner that he hoped everyone felt great watching him. Victor is taken back but only for a brief second. Part of me wonders what Victor wanted from Yuri at this moment even though it is clear that Yuri is still in a transitioning phase. He doesn’t know how to deal with success and is instead looking for the flaws rather than celebrating what he’s achieved. Which brings us back to a point that also comes up time and again, Yuri is his own worst critic.

Yuri on Ice Episode 6

They finish off with the final skaters and we get a bit more of a look at the mindsets of the competitors through their routines. Each skater has their own tone and style and that comes through loudly and clearly through their choice of music, costume and performance and it makes for a varied watching experience even as the second half of this episode is dominated by the skating routines. It is nice that each skater has their own voice and narration during their routine as it really allows the viewer to get to know each competitor even if their screen time outside of their skating has so far been reasonably minimal.

Of course, the real drama comes at the very end of the episode and contrary to normal stories where the protagonist would be the underdog and having to pull off something amazing, the drama here comes from Yuri having finished the short program in first place. The pressure of that is something he’s never had to deal with before and to be perfectly honest everyone knows he isn’t up for it. Still, it is the pleasant kind of drama and conflict that Yuri on Ice presents us with where the audience can understand it but it doesn’t feel forced or needlessly painful for the character to inject some sort of drama.

Yuri on Ice Episode 6

I hope you enjoyed my coverage of episode 6 and I’ll see you next time with episode 7.

Again, there’s no reason for me to include this image except that I’m going to:

Yuri on Ice Episode 6 Victor and Yuri

My original episode review: Yuri On Ice Episode 6 

And remember to check out my twitter for this week’s poll question.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Yuri on Ice Guide To Episode 5

We’re getting excited now as we begin episode 5 of the Yuri on Ice rewatch (okay, I was excited right from the start, but this is a good turning point for the series as well). The episode: Face Beet-Red!! it’s the First Competition! The Chugoku, Shikoku, and Kyushu Championship. Yeah, Yuri!!! on Ice abuses exclamation marks like there is no tomorrow.

Before we get into that though, last week on Twitter I was asking what genre people felt Yuri on Ice fit into. It was a close call between drama and sports for awhile but then sports raced ahead.

Anyway, hopefully you’ve enjoyed the guide so far and let’s get started with episode 5.


Episode 5: 

As with most episodes, episode 5 begins with narration by Yuri, though in this case it is actually kind of useful because we’re jumping into the competition in Japan and we don’t know where we are or who the other characters are so this narration just kind of speeds things along. We also don’t have any chibi Yuri on the screen, just the voice over, so I don’t find this as intrusive as some of the narration efforts.

That said, Yuri continues to worry about his age pointing out he’s the oldest of the skaters there. I wonder why he’s so hung up on it when Victor is older than him and still quite competitive? Admittedly, realistically age is a big factor in this kind of competition, but it just seems odd that Yuri is continuously reminding himself of his age but he almost never raises Victor’s age as a detrimental thing.

I do love however that of the four skaters, the only one with standard ‘anime’ hair is Minami and he’s the only one of the three sitting beside Yuri that we’re going to learn anything of note about. The other two are strictly there because it isn’t really a competition without competitors.

Yuri on Ice Episode 5 - Yuri and Minami

We transition from the order drawing to a press conference where we see once again the ease with which Victor deals with such situations and how frozen Yuri seems. The only time Yuri moves is when he practically shudders at Victor saying he’s going to earn a personal best. This isn’t the first or the last time we’ll see Yuri and Victor not on the same page and it is interesting that even though they are standing side by side there’s no direct eye contact between them. In fact, Yuri’s glasses are concealing his eyes entirely and Victor’s are closed for a large part of this scene. Immediately after Victor’s announcement though Yuri does make some very solid and slightly creepy eye contact as he glares at Victor and reminds him of his past failings.

Yuri on Ice Episode 5 - Yuri and Victor

Much like the commentators, I didn’t really pay enough attention to Minami my first time watching these episodes through. On follow up watches, I certainly paid attention, but at this stage he was just kind of a background character that had just kind of appeared in the show. However, we can clearly see in numerous instances how fixated Minami is on Yuri, very much echoing Yuri’s early attachment to Victor. What is different is Yuri’s reaction to attention, and the fact that Minami is a lot more assertive than Yuri ever was in chasing his idol.

Yuri on Ice Episode 5 - Minami and Yuri

Right before the competition we see Yuri looking for Victor. When Victor is found Yuri questions why he went to change clothes. Victor’s response, both the words and the tone, leave you wondering how seriously he’s actually taking the whole role or whether he is just playing at being coach. It was hardly reassuring to Yuri, and again adds to the ambiguous nature of Victor’s character where you never can tell if he’s being completely serious or not. That and he looks really good in that suit.

Yuri on Ice Episode 5 Victor's Coaching Debut

After watching a tense Yuri warming up, we see Victor sizing him up as he prepares for his routine. I’m going to return to that idea of Yuri asking victor to look at him because in this first attempt at the routine in competition, Yuri is doing anything but. We see the distance between the two as the rink forms a natural barrier, but even then we have the tissue box (too cute) and then both Victor and Yuri are about half a step back from the barrier. This contrasts sharply with how they start the routine later in the series and is a nice way of keeping track of where they are in their journey as coach and student, as fan and idol, and their personal relationship.

Yuri on Ice Episode 5 - Yuri and Victor

In this we do see Victor’s ability to motivate Yuri as a coach. Understanding there’s a problem, but also not wanting to be too aggressive, Victor has Yuri turn around and then hugs him from behind. The camera lingers on the moment where Victor crosses the barrier to wrap his arms around Yuri in a way that makes it clear it is Victor reaching out to Yuri, meeting Yuri where Yuri is, in a theme we’ll return to again and again in this series. Their facial expressions here couldn’t be more different with Victor looking down with his eyes closed, and Yuri shocked by the moment, eyes and mouth wide open.

Yuri on Ice Episode 5 Victor hugs Yuri

And they want to really emphasise that contrast between the two here as they then bring the shot in closer before we see the reaction of the audience. here the music plays an important role, as does the sound of the cameras snapping photos. Again, we see Victor comfortable with himself in the public eye and Yuri very much concerned with having attention drawn to himself.

But Victor knows this and uses this as a teachable moment (I’d suggest not the best timing but this is Victor so why not). As he holds Yuri he whispers to him that Yuri needs to seduce him. If Yuri can just charm him he would enthral the entire audience. It’s sound advice and will help Yuri to stop thinking about all of those eyes on him and focus his attention on just one person; and that person is the one he most wants to charm.

Having seen Yuri’s routine before, this time the focus is very much on Yuri’s mental state. We hear his ongoing monologue as he considers why the audience is or isn’t reacting, whether Victor would like his step sequence, and so on. If you were just trying to watch the skating it would be distracting, but as we’ve seen this routine, it is more about Yuri right now and this is some fairly solid character work. He’s out there alone on the ice and we know he panics under the public gaze but his narration is calm. I wouldn’t say focused given his thoughts are wondering all over the place, but Victor’s words have managed to help him through the worst of his nerves. Still, the whole pork cutlet imagery makes me crack up every single time I watch this.

Yuri on Ice Episode 5 - Yuri skating Eros

Maybe you think I’m too fixated on Yuri’s nerves with performance, but to be honest this is a large part of what drew me to his character. He’s perfectly competent (actually better than competent) but crumbles under pressure. It’s an experience I can definitely relate to as I can kind of get where Victor is feeling lost because those around me know very well that trying to reassure me things will be fine usually results in me pushing them away. Watching Yuri slowly find his way through this mental block, occasionally prodded by Victor, over the course of the series, is one of the truest joys of watching, at least for me.

However, that also made me really angry the first time I saw this and I saw Victor’s reaction to Yuri’s routine. While I’m not big on praising things that don’t deserve it, Victor is particularly crushing with his polite clap and frozen expression. Sure it could have been better but all things considered, given how panicked Yuri was about his first competition since bombing in the nationals the year before, Victor really needed a little more tact here. Though, as much as I am angry at Victor in this moment, I also love the moment because it really does show that both Yuri and Victor are extremely human characters. They aren’t always perfectly nice and optimistic in their interactions.

Yuri on Ice Episode 5 Victor applauds?

It actually almost makes Victor’s next step logical and yet it is totally the wrong move. Victor tells Yuri to lower the difficulty of the jumps in his free skate and focus on the performance. From a coaching point of view it seems sensible. If the jumps are the issue, make them easier so the rest of the routine works. However, in dealing with Yuri, the very stubborn and competitive Yuri, this is kind of like waving a red flag at a bull. it has two impacts and neither one is desirable. Firstly it tells Yuri that Victor doesn’t have confidence in his ability to pull off the routine that Victor choreographed. That in and of itself is pretty terrible. The second thing it does is it creates a crack in the fairly fragile and new relationship these two have been developing. Now the wonderful thing about the relationship is that it gets cracks in it and is repaired over and over again, emulating what most real relationships will go through, but at this point in time it was probably not a great moment for Victor to test that out.

Interestingly enough though, despite looking eye to eye, Victor’s eyes are concealed by his fringe and he’s covered the lower half of his face with the Makkachin tissue box creating a physical barrier between them while Yuri leans away.

Yuri on Ice Episode 5 Victor asks Yuri to lower the jump difficulty

Minami gets an interesting sequence here. We don’t actually get to see him skate, yet, and I’m glad they held off on this because when we finally do see him skate its amazing. Instead we see him reacting to Yuri’s performance, getting fired up for his own, feeling crushed when Yuri says he didn’t see the routine, and lastly getting angry when Yuri claims he had a dark past and Minami somehow feels he’s being made fun of for looking up to Yuri. Minami is quite an expressive character and a bundle of energy. It probably isn’t a surprise that when he gets angry and confronts Yuri we get the same musical riff we had earlier when Yuri Plisetsky challenged Yuri. For all that Minami’s screen time is minimal, we learn a lot about what drives him as a character and his personality through this sequence of events.

Minami is also the catalyst that really drives the wedge inbetween Yuri and Victor during this first competition (though he didn’t do it on purpose). After Yuri ignored Minami in order to focus on his own preparation, Victor chastises him in a typical Victor manner and it leaves a sharp wound on Yuri’s psyche as he is trying to mentally prepare for the first public performance of his free skate routine. Timing is everything and in this instance Victor’s timing sucked. He wasn’t wrong in what he said, but how he said it and when was not what Yuri needed from his coach right then. That plays to the strength of the series. Victor isn’t the instantly perfect coach. He’s got his rough edges and some times things go wrong.

Yuri on Ice Episode 5

Yuri on Ice Episode 5

Still, Yuri does take the moment to reflect and ends up giving Minami encouragement right before Minami’s skate. And if you’ve never watched Yuri on Ice and don’t intend to, I full recommend going to YouTube and finding Minami’s routine because it is a joy to watch with youthful enthusiasm and exuberance that really seems to show Minami’s personality to the full. It is a highly enjoyable experience.

Yuri on Ice Episode 5 Minami

Watching the routine, Yuri reflects on how he used to be and the inconsistencies in the performance. It is a great moment for Yuri as a character. He’s very much an introvert and wrapped up in himself but Victor has forced the door open and he’s started to pay attention to those around him. This comes with both positive and negative experiences but it does push Yuri to continue evolving as a skater and a character. In the very short time before his routine, he undergoes quite a transformation as he tries to put it all together. It isn’t perfect and he isn’t where he needs to be just yet, but still, when Yuri takes the ice for the free skate as someone watching you are expecting something special. And before it, we get the genuine hug between Yuri and Victor. There’s still misunderstandings between them and they haven’t gotten anywhere near the end of their journey yet, but before the skate none of that matters. There’s no softness in the hug and Yuri’s eyes are looking over Victor’s shoulder toward the ice, so while they are physically close there’s still a gap between them.

Yuri on Ice Episode 5

Then the routine begins. This is the first time we see Yuri on Ice and it is something that was well worth waiting for. After the commentator addresses the fact that this routine is done to an original composition we switch to Victor’s narration as he watches Yuri perform this routine in public for the first time. And then we see Victor’s eyes widen as he watches Yuri modifying the routine. Given Victor is all about being the one to surprise others, it is fantastic watching his reaction to Yuri’s routine here and the choices Yuri makes. He critiques, he questions, he challenges and the whole time he wonders what Yuri is going to do. As the routine continues you see Victor getting more and more into it. Right now he isn’t the coach; he’s a spectator like the rest of us and his reactions draw us right into the routine.

These moments of narration here and at the beginning of the second episode by Victor are fairly important for setting up an episode later in the series where the perspective will entirely shift to Victor. I love that this show lays the ground work so that the shift isn’t jarring as we’ve had small glimpses of Victor’s thoughts along the way.

Yuri on Ice Episode 5 And then the routine ends and we have Yuri holding his hand out toward Victor. The routine that defines Yuri’s entire career as a skater ends with him reaching out to Victor. It wasn’t a flawless routine, it was riddled with errors in the jumps including smacking head first into a wall, but it was a spectacular unveiling of the potential Yuri has.

The interaction between Yuri and Victor where Victor decides whether to lecture Yuri or not, and the look on Yuri’s face when Victor holds out his arms for a hug is amazing. The fact that this is set up for a cheap comedic moment isn’t a problem at this stage of the series. It lays groundwork for later developments and at least it gives us something to look forward to.

Yuri on Ice Episode 5

The episode ends with Yuri admitting he’s never had that much fun while skating in competition before we cut away to Yuri Plisetsky using his phone to check out what is happening in Japan and then horribly abusing the phone by throwing it (poor phone). Not sure if it was Yuri’s success or the image of Yuri about to get hugged by Victor (not that Yuri got that hug) that annoyed Plisetsky to be honest.

Finally, during the credits, Yuri unveils his theme for the season. While the theme of love might seem fairly simple given everything that has happened so far, when we hear Yuri explain it you realise that he’s thinking a lot more deeply about all the relationships around him and this is a starting point for him. He’s changing and Victor made that change possible. While the speech runs into the realm of unrealistic it perfectly captures where Yuri is at the moment and what he is thinking and that makes it a great turning point as we go from the local competition into the Grand Prix.

Yuri on Ice 5w.JPG

My original episode review: Yuri On Ice Episode 5

The twitter poll for next week asks, which country the anime most made you want to visit? Check out the answer next week.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Yuri on Ice Guide To Episode 4

Welcome back to the rewatch of Yuri on Ice. Today I’m taking on episode 4, “Like Yourself…And Complete The Free Program!!” At some point I am going to have to address the excess of punctuation this anime throws at us in titles. My previous episode thoughts can be found below and I would love to know what you think about episode 4 so please leave me a comment below.

And in case you missed it, the results of the poll for favourite minor character from Twitter. Is anyone surprised by the result?


Episode 4:

(I’m not going to discuss the ongoing transitions in the OP because I’m pretty sure that has been analysed to death already but episode 4 is where I first noticed the visuals during the OP were changing when I watch this the first time.)

In stark contrast to the first three episodes, episode 4 begins without dialogue or narration. We see Yuri waking up, realising he is late and then running across the bridge to the ice-skating rink with only the sound of his footsteps, breathing, and a few comedic sound effects while changing clothes at double speed. It’s a nice change given we’ve just overcome the first arc where Yuri has ‘earned’ the right to keep Victor has his coach and fended off his first rival for Victor’s attention. Victor’s passive aggressive comment about being kept waiting also works really well at ensuring we remember that he can at times be quite snarky even if he says it politely.  We also see that Yuri is still very much feeling  subordinate to Victor as both his panic and his apology attest.

Yuri on Ice Episode 4 - Yuri

After this sequence the episode goes into a brief narration by Yuri. However in case it hadn’t already been established by the previous sequence, Yuri outright says that having Victor around is more like having a god around than a coach. There’s a lot I absolutely love about Yuri on Ice and a lot of the repetition in ideas and themes help to make it a very cohesive work, but occasionally it feels like the show wants to hit me over the head with a hammer rather than just letting me see what is happening. Though, that blushing face, the upward gaze, Yuri truly adores Victor and having him around is an absolute dream come true so its no wonder Yuri is a little bit of a mess.

Yuri on Ice Episode 4 - Yuri

After a brief practice session we return to the hot springs where we once again get a narration dump, but this one is actually really useful considering the conversation being had and the fact that we’re going to be watching ice-skating competitions for the rest of the series. I’m really glad that the show didn’t just assume we all knew how the scoring works. While I watch ice-skating occasionally (one of the few sports I enjoy watching), I watch it because I like the music and its pretty. I don’t pay attention to the scores and had no idea how they decided who won. So while this does intrude upon the pacing of the episode, I feel like they timed when this information was given to the audience well.

Yuri on Ice Ep 4c.JPG

I find the other coaches’ reactions to Victor becoming Yuri’s coach interesting. Yakov was obviously annoyed and pointed out that no one as self-centred as Victor could coach. Celestino simply asks him if he is ‘playing’ at being a coach. And for a professional coach it probably does look like Victor is being whimsical and playing around. However, one thing that comes through clearly, is that while it may have been a whim that brought Victor to Yuri, it wasn’t done without thinking it through or without committing to it. Victor may have his rough edges as a coach but he’s definitely got Yuri’s best interests at heart when discussing reducing the difficulty of the jumps and the choice of music.

Yuri on Ice Episode 4 - Celestino

Returning to Russia, we catch up with Yuri Plisetsky, and while he’s still quite sharp tongued calling Mila and then Lilia hags within a few minutes, it is clear from his expression, his movements on the ice, and the way the others see him that his trip to Japan helped him grow up a lot and made him that much more focused on improving himself. Where prior to his trip to Japan, he wouldn’t have taken instruction from Lilia, he now accepts her instructions as long as it will allow him to win. Where before he was full of raw ambition and arrogance, he’s now driven toward a goal that he is not willing to miss and will do anything within his own strength to achieve it.

Yuri on Ice Episode 4 - Yuri and Lilia

The search for the piece of music is interesting, technically because Yuri already knows what he wants he just can’t say it. Starting from the call to Celestino, Victor listening to the original song and pretty much shutting it down, the discussion with Phichit about the composer, Yuri is progressing to where he will make the decision consciously, but it is clear he isn’t seriously considering any other possibility. It is going to be that song, it just isn’t finished yet. However, the song allows Yuri to focus on his qualities and his career and how it was going and where he wants to go, and so this time of reflection ends up being fruitful to him in consolidating what this routine will end up meaning.

Yuri on Ice Ep 4f

The music however ends up becoming a sticking point between Yuri and Victor. Having asked Yuri to choose the music, Yuri has become incredibly stubborn about it and pretty much shuts Victor out while he contemplates. This is shown really well through three attempts by Victor inviting Yuri to do something with him with the final one being answered with a slammed door. We’ll see this pattern repeat with Yuri throughout the series. When he has a decision to make he very much turns inwards and that leaves no space for others. This is also the first time since Victor became Yuri’s coach that there’s been clear distance and barriers between them. However, if there’s one thing Victor is very good at doing, it is inviting himself into Yuri’s personal space. When he throws the door open the next morning, having essentially been stood up at the skating rink, Victor isn’t in the mood for any more excuses. Again, this plays well with the relationship dynamic the two will develop and maintain over the course of the season. Yuri will push away and Victor will step in to close the gap. The two are both stubborn in their own ways but both are trying to achieve the same goal.

It also shows how Victor covers over his own frustration. Despite the dark cloud that literally covers his face on entering his room, in the next breath he has his public smiling face on and greets Yuri happily. Honestly, I think fake Victor is almost scarier. At the same time, he realises a new approach is needed and so he drags Yuri out to the ocean.

Yuri on Ice Episode 4 - Victor and Yuri

The scene by the beach is one of my favourite in the entire series. The sound of the seagulls, the wind, and the waves dominate, though there is some light piano music in the background of the scene. Initially we see Victor separated from Yuri with Yuri sitting with his knees bent up under his chin, arms wrapped around them, closed off and defensive. Victor, in typical style, asks Yuri directly what does Yuri want from him. On getting no response he prompts him. Father? Brother? Friend? Boyfriend? on that last one Yuri jumps up and declares he just wants Victor to be who he is. And that’s when we get the line that really paints the picture for why this relationship works: “When I open up, he meets me where I am.” We’ve seen this in action since Victor arrived in Japan. He pushes, but never too far, he prompts but ultimately he waits for Yuri. It’s a beautiful scene and one where the clarity of their relationship is emphasised by the grey clouds parting and giving way to rays of sunshine, but not clearing entirely. There’s still a long way to go until these two might find blue skies.

There’s the final choice of music and theme, but we’ll talk about those endlessly in future episodes, so let’s skip to the assignments. I find this really weird that the triplets are explaining to Yuri’s family how it all works. I get that Yuri is pretty independent but how can you have someone who has represented your country in a sport in your family and not even understand the fundamentals of that sport? It just seems really weird. I remember my dad learning how to transfer taps from one pair of shoes to another when I was learning tap, and my mum having to listen to me playing scales endlessly and count time for me when I first started practising clarinet. While I ended up doing a lot of dance and music stuff alone as I got older, when I was in primary school at least my parents were heavily involved by default of having to supervise and drive me to the various events (I should probably have been more grateful). Even if they’d had no interest, they’d have picked stuff up by default. Still, if I have to choose between the triplets or Chibi Yuri breaking in to explain stuff, I prefer this flimsy excuse because even though it creates a weird tone for the Katsuki family than a complete break from the narrative while Yuri narrates it to the audience.

Yuri on Ice Episode 4

The episode closes out with us hearing Yuri’s completed music for the first time and a montage of Yuri Katsuki and Yuri Plisetsky’s training and preparation as they both practice their routines. The growth in both characters over just 4 episodes is amazing and we know they are just getting started (and did I mention how beautiful that song is, Yuri on Ice).

Yuri on Ice Ep 4m.JPG

This episode write up is slightly shorter but that’s because I’ve tried to avoid things like the skating itself that I’ll be writing a lot about in future episodes. In truth, this is one of my favourite transition episodes in a series ever. Episode three gave us the beautiful drama of the showdown between the Yuri’s but this is where we see the characters ground themselves and launch forward onto the next phase of the story. In short, it perfectly accomplishes its narrative purposes despite some of its flaws.

I didn’t really have any use for this picture above, but I couldn’t not include it:

Yuri on Ice Episode 4

My original episode review: Yuri On Ice Episode 4

And, if you have some time remember to vote in the poll for this week’s question where I’ve asked what genre you think Yuri on Ice most fits in. Results will be announced next week in the episode 5 post.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Yuri on Ice Guide To Episode 3

If you are just catching up with the rewatch you can find the previous episode thoughts here:

However this week is all about episode 3, “I am Eros, and Eros is Me?!” After watching the last two episodes I am well aware that I am still in love with this series. Rewatching hasn’t diminished my love of it over the past couple of years and now revisiting this for reviewing and even trying to be more critical of it, I’m still very much feeling Yuri on Ice. The flaws that are there aren’t enough to take the shine away. Anyway, I’d love to know your thoughts on the episode so be sure to leave me a comment at the end.

And in case you missed the results of the poll, History Maker came in as the favourite song from the series, though there were plenty of people voting writing in their own choice of songs (let’s just accept the sound track is awesome).


Episode 3:

After a very brief recap by chibi-Yuri that I’ll just ignore because I’ve already made my feelings about the narration clear, we get straight into Victor demonstrating the choreography for the Yuri’s routines. All things considered, we don’t see very much of Victor on the ice during the series, though it is worth noting that the season begins and ends with Victor skating, in episode one alone in the dark and at the end with Yuri. Still, there’s something really beautiful about the way Victor moves and it isn’t just that the anime has told me I should appreciate the world champion. He really is something special to watch and that draws you all the more to him as a character.

Yuri on Ice Episode 3 - Victor skating Agape

What really becomes clear as we move from Agape to Eros, is that Yuri is still very much a Victor fanboy at this stage (not that I can blame him). His eyes never left Victor while he was performing Agape and as Victor prepares to demonstrate Eros, Yuri feels this is an incredibly important moment where he will see the choreography Victor has prepared for him. One of the criticisms I’ve seen of Yuri on Ice is the repetition of the routines throughout and while I kind of get that we do see Agape and Eros many times, I feel that each time something new comes out of the routine and we see where the characters currently are in their journey. At this stage, having Yuri watch the routine he will later perform, the distance between himself and Victor is still very clearly established.

Yuri on Ice Episode 3 - Yuri watches Victor

The moment of seriousness however is swiftly broken as Victor begins his skate and Yuko’s nose explodes in a fountain of blood in one of the most often used anime tropes. Of course, it is followed by Yuri contemplating that he might get pregnant from just watching Victor (and people still want to argue about whether there are romantic feelings in this show despite the repeated statements that imply more than a coach/student relationship). However this quickly turns to Yuri’s panic as he considers whether or not he can skate the routine. Yuri’s biggest issue is his confidence and self-image and while Victor who oozes confidence regardless of the occasion can pull off the routine to Yuri it feels like it will be incredibly out of reach.

Yuri on Ice Ep 3c

The conversation that follows between Victor and Yuri again demonstrates a very different relationship than between Yuri and his previous coach. Again they stand facing each other meeting each other’s eye and Victor doesn’t shy away about asking the most important question: Why can’t you make it happen? Even at this stage, in the few days Victor has really had a chance to get to know Yuri, he realises that Yuri is the one standing in Yuri’s way. He doesn’t know why and he doesn’t really know how to fix it, but he wants Yuri to overcome his own block and show the world what he can do.

Yuri on Ice Episode 3 - Victor and Yuri

And that was probably what Victor saw in the video in episode 1. He’d seen Yuri skate in competition but seeing Yuri skate when he was calm and relaxed with Yuko in a rink he was familiar with and no other audience (that he was aware of) Yuri performed smoothly and without hesitation. While I’m not certain about Victor’s motivational methods, his intention is clear as he asks Yuri to practice the basics and chooses to train Yuri Plisetsky first.

Yuri on Ice Episode 3 - Yuri and Victor
Okay, I’m motivated.

I love the next part where Yuri is considering what Eros actually means and he talks about the story he saw in the routine. As the routine takes on minor changes and refinements, so to does the way Yuri visualises this story. However at this stage, Yuri is seeing the routine as Victor’s and so the story centres on a character who is very much the way Yuri still sees Victor. This also reveals Yuri’s fear that after Victor is done he’ll cast him aside, much as the playboy left the girl once he’d finally won her over. It is obvious that forcing Yuri into the same role won’t work and it is great that as Yuri finds his way the story modified to accommodate his view and personality.

Yuri on Ice Episode 3 - A Playboy comes to town

After discussing the story, and acknowledging that the way it plays out at the moment sounds more like Victor than himself, Yuri also laments that just copying Victor won’t allow him to surpass him. This is a real glimpse of the competitive Yuri who wants to come out on top even if his own doubts keep holding him back. Victor is the world number 1 and Yuri wants to do better than him. This is what drives Yuri over and over again regardless of how hard he has fallen and it is what ensured he wasn’t going to quit skating even after his last disastrous year. However, when Takeshi calls him on wanting to be better than Victor, Yuri realises the ‘audacity’ of what he has just said and quickly denies it. And yet, this is a rare case where Yuri has clearly and without his usual filter spoken his mind. Victor would have been thrilled if he’d actually overheard.

Yuri on Ice Episode 3 - Yuri

I also love that after the first day of training both Yuri Katsuki and Yuri Plisetsky end up in more or less the same sense of exhaustion and exasperation. As much as Victor has good intentions, neither one of the Yuri’s really understands what he wants of them or how to achieve it. While this process will later allow them to rise to greater heights, right at this point in the series they are both a little bit lost. I like also how the image of them in the hotspring together compares with the image from the end of episode 2 where they were first told what they would be skating. The distance between them hasn’t narrowed at all and yet they continue to be a warped mirror of one another in their reactions.

Next we get the training montage. I’ll admit though, I really enjoy this one (though much as I observed in my original episode 3 review, there’s some really cringe worthy dialogue. Some of that comes from the fact that Yuri is using a pork cutlet bowl as his image of Eros (the entangling of the egg line still makes me crack it every time and I don’t quite think that’s what it was going for). But some of it just comes from the fact that at this point Victor isn’t really sure what he needs to say for the two Yuri’s to really find what they need so he’s just kind of spouting whatever comes to his head. The first time I watched this it was really odd and on rewatches it makes more sense in context, but it still makes for some fairly odd lines.

That said, for a training montage we get a nice richness of variety in activity watching Yuri skate, then Yurio, watching them run and do other fitness training, and cycling through the range of activities, all punctuated by short snippets of dialogue and finished with a great choice in background music that gives us a sense of forward movement and a need to hurry.

Yuri on Ice Ep 3i.JPG

They also take the opportunity at the end of this sequence, while the Yuri’s are standing under a waterfall (that will help) to fill in a little bit about Yuri Plisetsky and we see him remembering his grandfather. This is the first real step for Plisetsky is finally finding Agape, which won’t happen for awhile yet but when it does it is stunning to watch. However, what is even more noteworthy is that this is perhaps the first scene where we see Yuri Katsuki reach out and touch Yuri Plisetsky. For all that they have been side by side in a number of scenes, and Plisetsky had no trouble with kicking and then standing on Yuri, this is Yuri’s first time initiating contact and showing that the distance between them has narrowed somewhat through this shared training experience.

Yuri on Ice Episode 3 - Yuri Katsuki and Yuri Plisetsky

It’s important that this scene occurs because soon after Yuri asks Plisetsky to show him how to land a quad. Barely days before there was no way Yuri could have asked, blocked by both Plisetsky’s confrontational manner and by his own need to overcome things alone and not looking vulnerable, but now he wants to perform the routine Victor has made for him and he wants to do it better than Victor. Yuri is willing to ask for help and the distance has narrowed sufficiently between the two characters that it doesn’t seem like it comes out of nowhere.

The way the characters and their relationships organically grow throughout the series is one of the things I love most about it. There are small steps along the way showing how things are gradually changing even if sometimes they aren’t noticed. Though it is worth noting that he asks from across the room giving himself plenty of space. Yuri may be able to ask for help, but he still isn’t comfortable doing it.

Yuri on Ice Ep 3k

However, if we thought the slightly cringe worthy dialogue was over and done with, Yuri decides to throw his own line in there. There’s just no way to listen to someone say “the Eros of the pork cutlet bowl” with a straight face and not just burst out laughing, which kind of takes away from the rest of the tone here. I get that comedy is one of the listed tags on this anime, but I’m not entirely sure if this line was meant to be that laughably bad (though it is pretty memorable).

Yuri on Ice Episode 3 - Yuri's Eros

The choosing of the costumes is a scene that is over with quickly and yet there’s a lot to think about in the sequence. Firstly, we have Yuri still showing how much a Victor fanboy he is when he remembers where each and every costume came from. Then there’s the costume he picks up that Victor explains was used to suggest both male and female gender at once. This line might be fairly throw away in the scene but it does suggest that Victor is not exactly hung up on gender norms, and more importantly it allows Yuri a hint as to how to start realigning the story of the playboy to more suit his current self. Yuri’s face as he chooses the costume speaks of the fact that he hasn’t just chosen something pretty or flashy, but something that spoke to him loud and clearly.

It’s fairly clearly in contrast to Yuri Plisetsky’s response to choosing a costume. Firstly he comments that there’s a lot of stupid costumes before he warns Yuri not to pick a costume more flashy than his own.

Yuri on Ice Episode 3 - Yuri chooses a costume

When Yuri Plisetsky draws close to the end of his performance, we finally shift perspectives to see how he is feeling about it. During the early stages we saw the audience reacting, we heard the commentator praising him, we’ve seen Yuri pointing out that he was an evolving monster, however Plisetsky isn’t happy at all with his performance and as he goes into the final spin he just wishes for it to end. That said, he finishes the routine as best he can but he’s aware that the lesson Victor has tried to impart hasn’t stuck at all during the performance and he wants to be better. That is probably the true genius of Victor’s motivation with these two. He makes them see their own flaws and want to be better. This drive will fuel these characters through a lot of the rest of the series.

Yuri on Ice Episode 3 Yuri Plisetsky

But knowing he didn’t do his best, Victor’s words immediately after the routine cut deep and you can see it in his expression. Victor praises him for the best routine he’s seen so far, and all that makes Yuri Plisetsky feel is inadequate. Victor does this a few times during the series where he doesn’t realise the feelings of those who haven’t found it quite so easy. That isn’t to say Victor is being insensitive (although at other times that might be true), he just sometimes misreads the situation.

Yuri on Ice Episode 3 - Victor

Then it is Yuri’s turn and he certainly knows how to get pre-performance jitters. This is something I can definitely emphasise with as I had many similar instances of freaking out before dance performances or musical performances growing up. Incidentally, as I got older I realised the nerves do not get any better, you just acquire more strategies for dealing with them and even then, freak-outs were still a pretty standard part of the preparation. But, rather than focusing on Yuri losing the plot, I’d like to focus on what he says to Victor right before he takes to the ice. It is the same thing he said to Yuko in episode 1, but the delivery is incredibly different.

Episode 1 Yuri looks slightly away and as though he is ready to be rejected by Yuko even though he’s known her almost his whole life and trusts her enough to skate in front of her. Episode 3 Yuri looks straight at Victor and speaks far more emphatically. As much as he is still worried about rejection, he’s demanding Victor’s attention and given his usual passive demeanour this sudden demand certainly catches Victor’s notice. This isn’t the last time we’ll see this scene play out between Yuri and Victor and it is again, through repetition, that we can see how Yuri changes incrementally over the course of the series.

Of course, after such a demand, Yuri kind of loses his nerve and more or less begs Victor to promise he will before hugging him. The hug does two things. One, it shows that Yuri is desperately trying to close the space between them, but it also means that Yuri doesn’t have to see Victor’s expression. He’s still worried about rejection and being cast aside and Victor returning to Russia. In short what seems like a bold move by Yuri is actually weak camouflage for his real intentions: he’s still hiding.

Yuri on Ice Episode 3 - Yuri and Victor Hug

In contrast to Plisetsky who lost the image he wanted to hold onto while skating, Yuri’s vision has never been clearer. He knows he is skating for Victor and between his choice of costume and then his all night practice with Minako he now knows exactly how he wants to perform this routine. While it will change and evolve again in later episodes, Eros has already given us a great insight into Yuri’s character.

Yuri on Ice Ep 3r

As the performance ends, Yuri Plisetsky concedes and leaves the rink without even hearing the official result. He knows his own performance and he saw Victor’s reaction to Yuri’s performance. It is a testament to the competitor he is that he doesn’t take this too hard but more as a chance to return and train again to get better. A battle may have been lost but the war is not yet over. Still, it does make Victor’s reactions kind of questionable when Yuri Plisetsky was unahppy with his performance, Victor praised him. With Yuri, who is fairly happy with what he just achieved, Victor immediately begins dressing him down for one of his jumps. It’s interesting how Victor’s response managed to keep both of them motivated even if they both found the experience slightly crushing.

Yuri on Ice Episode 3

And that brings us to the end of the episode where we see Victor and Yuri side by side, and totally comfortable in each other’s space with Yuri proclaiming their journey forward. While it might not be very subtle, it is highly effective at framing the next leg of the journey.

Yuri on Ice Episode 3 - Yuri and Victor

My original episode review: Yuri On Ice Episode 3

Next week the results of the poll for favourite minor characters will be out.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Yuri on Ice Guide to Episode 2

Last week I revisited episode 1 of Yuri on Ice and that post may have gotten a little bigger than intended (okay, a lot bigger than intended). But we’re not stopping there. We’re onto Episode 2, “Two Yuri’s?! Drama at Yu-topia”. Hopefully you enjoy this rewatch and re-review of one of my favourite anime that I have watched since becoming a reviewer.

Before we get to that, last week I asked on Twitter who everyone’s favourite character was and the results came in proving once and for all that Victor is just plain awesome. Okay, maybe the poll proved that there’s a lot of love for lots of characters, but Victor is awesome.


Episode 2:

Once again, I’m going to start by praising the choice for opening scene this week. The old style dramatic music with Victor walking through the snow (once again on a character is crossing a bridge) pursued by Yakov, and then Victor turning toward him… It’s fundamentally attention grabbing and yet ends amusingly with Victor doing his dramatic farewell scene as though he was heading off to war or something equally dramatic when really he’s kind of just being whimsical and ditching his coach. Although we will learn later there was a bit more thought put into his departure for Japan than the audience is initially aware. This is one thing that Yuri on Ice does very well.

This mix of real character drama with just enough of a twist to make you smile without pushing into full on comedy and ultimately detracting from what should be the focus of the scene. While there are scenes that are definitely just meant to be comedy, mostly Yuri works as a character drama and seeing Victor here in this scene really helps to establish his character a bit more without Yuri’s lens that dominated every scene we had with Victor in episode 1.

Yuri on Ice Episode 2 - Victor

However, like in episode 1, I am going to comment that the narration by chibi Yuri really just interrupts the flow. We had Victor’s dramatic departure already softened by his smile and antics on the plane and then Minako’s arrival. We’re already back in more comedy mode without this sequence and even if this was the first time watching this series through, we really don’t need the main character to introduce himself again. The rest of the information about him being in denial about Victor’s presence we already understood because of Yuri’s expression, and that Victor has made a giant leap to come to Japan was also already established this episode so there’s just no reason for this narration to exist.

Yuri on Ice Ep 2c.JPG

Unlike last episode though, here Yuri Plisetsky’s anger is a lot easier to understand. His idol who had promised to choreograph for him had just upped and left the country without even a word. And even though Plistesky understands that Victor is pretty impulsive, he’s a teenager who was just ditched by his idol. The shouting that follows is entirely easy to emphasise with. As is the fact that a lot of his anger is misdirected at the other Yuri (then again, later we’ll get a reveal about events that happened earlier that actually make it easier to understand why Plisetsky is blaming Yuri for this one – there’s some very good cohesion in this series in that things make enough sense as is, but then as more pieces come into play it all just snaps together perfectly).

Yuri on Ice- Episode 2 - Yuri Plisetsky

Part of what makes Victor’s character so fantastic to get to know during this series is how dynamic he is. From scene to scene, from mood to mood, he really does follow his whims and that makes him a real joy to see in action. That and his reaction to a pork cutlet bowl kind of reminded me of my reaction the first time I went to Japan. I can definitely understand the joy of having something that yummy put in front of me.

Yuri on Ice Ep 2e

Of course this scene also reveals how callous Victor can be whether intentionally or not. As Yuri and Minako explain that Yuri gains weight easily and so only ate Pork Cutlets when he won something and Victor asks why Yuri had eaten one recently when he hadn’t won anything. While it comes across as an offhand remark, putting yourself in Yuri’s shoes, when his confidence is already low and his idol has just launched that kind of sideways attack, it would definitely hurt. But you can’t really feel annoyed at Victor because there is actually nothing wrong with what he has said. Yuri hasn’t won anything recently. Which actually leaves me in two minds given on the one hand I completely agree that Victor hasn’t said anything actually wrong; and on the other hand I really want to give Yuri a hug. Possibly I’m just too attached to these characters.

Yuri on Ice Episode 2 - Victor

Then of course we have the scene where Yuri has moved Victor into his room and Victor gets very close and hands on with Yuri while making statements that can quite clearly be misinterpreted (and will gladly be misinterpreted even on a first viewing by those who want these two to be together, and will gladly not be by those who insist they are just coach and student). But what we see with this scene is how Victor is hands on and pushes himself into Yuri’s personal bubble. Other than Minako, every other character has so far kept a clear physical distance from Yuri, so Yuri’s reaction of scrambling away is perfectly understandable.

I’m going to be clear now, I don’t buy the “they aren’t in a relationship because they don’t kiss or do anything physical during the series” argument. For me, while I would like to see more anime move romances along, the relationship that builds between these two characters is genuine, strong, and clearly romantic, though even I will admit that most of the encounters do leave some ambiguity. That said, one snow-flake doesn’t make a blizzard but if you get enough of them… Still, at this stage (episode 2) the relationship between Victor and Yuri is very ambiguous as are Victor’s intentions so it makes sense that this scene is really open to multiple interpretations.

Yuri on Ice - Episode 2 - Victor and Yuri

I mentioned this in my thoughts on episode 1, but right from the beginning Yuri’s relationship with Victor as a coach is different to how his relationship with Celestino was presented. Here, while we see a significant gap between the two in space, they are sitting on the same level looking directly at each other. Compared to every other relationship we’ve seen with Yuri, we see that despite Yuri holding Victor up as some kind of divine being (he admits himself he’s held him on a pedestal), Victor is working hard to be on the same level as Yuri and to understand him, even if he is doing it in a fairly uniquely Victor manner. At this stage Victor hasn’t tried to teach Yuri anything but he has been keenly observant and asked many questions slowly figuring Yuri out.

Yuri on Ice Episode 2 - Victor and Yuri castle

If we contrast this with Yuri Plisetsky’s recollection of asking Victor to choreograph for him, what we see is Plisetsky looking up and reaching up to Victor for the handshake. The two are never shown as being on the same level in the scene. While it kind of sucks that Victor would blow off a promise he made, while the scene has significance to Plisetsky, it seems to have little for Victor.

Yuri on Ice Ep 2i

That said, while I appreciate the use of the lief motif for Plisetsky in these early episodes (yet another nice musical touch), much like with the shouting at Yuri in the toilet, it is really hard to find a redeeming feature in a character who would kick someone in the back from behind and then stand on their head. While his anger is something that can be understood, these extreme actions which potentially are there for comedic exaggeration, damage the overall character arc Plisetsky takes because it gets the audience fairly off side. I do recall it wasn’t until my second watch through that I appreciated Yuri Plisetsky as anything more than a point of conflict and a catalyst for change.

Yuri on Ice Episode 2 - Yuri Plisetsky

But, it is Yuri Plisetsky’s extremely violent and confrontational approach that finally shows us a little bit of the competitive Yuri who we will see more often. As Yuri listens to Plisetsky’s verbal abuse, he can’t help but smile at being underestimated. This is the first real spark of confidence, backbone, and competitive spirit we’ve seen from Yuri and it is something that the ongoing rivalry with Plisetsky will fuel throughout the series though that isn’t the only thing that brings out these traits. Interesting also that this is the first character Yuri is really shown to be looking down on. While I get Yuri Plisetsky isn’t a tall character, Yuri hasn’t even been shown looking down on the triplets who are children.

Yuri on Ice Episode 2 - Yuri and Yuri

Once again the importance of surprises comes up as Yuri Plisetsky watches Victor skate. He tells Yuri that Victor was torn because no matter what he did no one was surprised any more. For someone as spontaneous as Victor and with his personality, that had to really hurt. It also shows that Yuri Plisetsky is just as much a Victor worshipper as Yuri Katsuki, even if he doesn’t want to admit it.

Yuri on Ice Ep 2l

And so we get another face of Victor. This is where he starts really listening to Yuri’s family and friends about what drives Yuri and his habits. Its a small thing at the moment but it is another building block in the trust the two will build later. Yuri’s been running from Victor and Victor is working to close the space between them. This quiet and contemplative Victor who listens and absorbs information is a stark contrast to his exuberant response to food, his callous laughter and apology to Plisetsky for forgetting a promise, or even the super seductive Victor who approached Yuri just a few days ago.

Just another sidenote: how does Victor not want to pin his hair back? That fringe would drive me absolutely crazy.

Yuri on Ice Episode 2 - Victor

With the next day finally arrived, we see once again Victor’s desire to surprise. He plays the music for the two Yuri’s and get’s their thoughts. He waits until the decide for themselves how the music will be assigned and he overturns it with a single proclamation. Its a deliberate tease to both the characters and the audience and it lands perfectly as it fits entirely with what we’ve seen of Victor’s character so far and the overall idea of surprise that continues to be carried through this series. Now this scene could have been left out altogether and Victor could just be working with one Yuri and introduce his music and then work with the other and introduced the other song. The plot would still function perfectly well, but this scene is exactly what we need to really consolidate all three characters and the relationships that will be built on throughout the season as well as to allow this episode, like the last one, to conclude with a worthwhile surprise.

Yuri on Ice - Episode 2 - Yuri

Of course what follows Victor’s announcement is another fairly savage attack upon both Yuri’s self-confidence. Still, it does shut down any argument and allows the plot to move on without any further delays so I guess we should be happy that Victor can cut right to the point even if he does do it in a pretty savage way sometimes. Though once again we see Victor looking down at Yuri Plisetsky while Plisetsky sets the terms for the skate before Victor turns to Yuri and looks on at almost even level while Yuri merely expresses a desire to eat pork cutlet with Victor. And Victor’s reaction to Yuri’s declaration is the best smile ever complete with sparkling eyes.

Yuri on Ice Episode 2 - Victor

The pieces are all firmly in place for the showdown between the Yuri’s with the direction of the plot hanging in the balance. Still, all the cues have been there to show which direction this is going and which coach/student relationship is going to catch and who is going to be left wanting. Hopefully you will join me next week as I take on episode 3.

Finally, there is genuinely no reason for me to include this image but here it is anyway:

Yuri on Ice Episode 2 - Victor

My original episode review: Yuri On Ice Episode 2

This week I asked on Twitter for people to choose their favourite song from Yuri on Ice and I’ll add the results to next week’s review of episode 3. New poll is up on twitter asking who your favourite minor character is. Be sure to have your say.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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