Chronos Ruler hasn’t exactly been great. In fact, the writing and characters have been pretty terrible and these final episodes are certainly cementing that point. Episode 11 was basically a series of extended mini-fights with the side characters before we got back to the main boss and episode 12 pretty much screams boss fight from start to finish with a minor character moment mid-episode just in case they haven’t convinced us yet that Victo (Victor) is actually a really great guy (something they decided in the second half of the season because in the first half he was scum).
But hey, chain symbolism. Haven’t seen that in… Never mind.
If that wasn’t bad enough, we then get all the good guys together and they start overwhelming the bad guy. Who of course then does a final form reveal right before we cut to the end credits. Why don’t villains ever use their ‘true’ form from the start of a fight? It would save us a lot of time.
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Yuri Katsuki is a Japanese figure skater who kind of feels his not-so-glorious career is over when Victor (his idol from Russia) shows up to become his coach. I reviewed this week to week, it took out my best of the season and the year (and was the reader’s choice as well), and after episode 10 I wrote a feature on the appeal of Yuri on Ice to me (all of which can be found here) so now I have to try to review it as a series.
Given everything already out about this series, I’m not even trying to avoid spoilers and my review will outright tell you who wins the final competition so if that is an issue, please go check out some of my other posts on Yuri on Ice instead.
Yuri on Ice Review:
Let’s be honest, this is not going to be an overly objective view. I’m going to try, but I’m going to fail, because just saying the name Yuri on Ice still makes me smile like a bit of an idiot. I’m actually going to take this as a plus/minus review because that is going to help maintain some objectivity and it will also mean I’m not just reiterating stuff I’ve already said in my over posts on this series (or at least there will be less reiteration – I’ve written a lot about Yuri on Ice already).
The characters in this story feel real. That was kind of the main point of the feature I wrote back while this was airing. Are they the most well rounded characters in all history? Not really. Do they contain infinite levels of depth? Definitely not. But they feel real. In real life people aren’t always well rounded and depth is something that even if someone has it they don’t always show and these characters have enough depth to keep from being boring. Even the minor characters who get very little screen time feel like real people. One of the criticisms I’ve read of the show is that the support cast exist only to lose and from a narrative point of view that is kind of true.
However, someone has to lose the competition (or at least not win) and given our main characters (Yuri, Victor, and Yurio) kind of only interact with their family sparingly and then other ice-skaters and their coaches, it kind of makes sense that most of the support cast are competition and that at some point they are going to lose events. I don’t actually see that as an issue with the characters and more an inevitability of watching a sports anime. I love the cast of Yuri on Ice (even JJ who is really an obnoxious braggart but is never actually cruel to the other skaters which is an important point for when they switch things around in the final competition and make you see him through a different lens). They just feel like this could be a real group of people for at least 80% of the run-time of the show.
While it is fantastic that we got to see a romance between two male characters that didn’t involve either one declaring they weren’t gay, acts of violence, or acts that are borderline if not totally predatory, Yuri on Ice didn’t really delve into this. Rather, it feels like they wanted to just ignore the fact that this was a male on male relationship and just tell a story of a relationship which is fine and it would be lovely to see more shows just tell the story they want to tell (so not really a minus).
But while it was lovely to see the main characters just accept their attraction and relationship the fact that every other character in the story just accepts it as well and not one person ever raises the issue that they are gay or both guys or anything else, really shatters the realism that is built up almost everywhere else in this story. It is great that this relationship is accepted in the world of Yuri on Ice.
It is great that they didn’t need to spend half the run-time justifying themselves. But when you have a Thai character announce to an international group of competitors and a restaurant full of customers from Barcelona that his two male friends just got married and no-one says anything except congratulations (admittedly, he did make the announcement in Japanese) you just have to wonder about the reality being presented.
Certainly it would be great if this is how such announcements were greeted but for the most part I think most of us know that this isn’t how such an announcement would be taken. So, no, I’m not criticising Yuri on Ice for not being a political piece on gay rights but I am criticising it for this one critical break from constructing a believable reality in terms of the main relationship.
This is so pretty. Okay, people who know a lot about animation and people who are more critical in general of animation than me, will point out the terrible facial expressions some of the characters have if you pause at points during their routines. They will also point to reused sequences of animation for the routines. There’s a few other parts they’ll hold up to show you that this anime doesn’t have amazing animation.
Sorry, but I disagree with them whole-heartedly. This is beautiful to watch. The colours, the movement, most of the expressions, everything is just gorgeous and if a certain action sequence gets reused multiple times I’m fine with that. Outside of the skating I loved how each of the venues was shown and I love the small details are included throughout. Yuri on Ice is beautiful and for something that seems pretty simple on the surface there is an incredible amount of detail that you can find when you start looking (and my rewatch of this series only convinced me that I’ll have to rewatch it again, soon, to pull out yet more details).
I kind of touched on this when I talked about the characters but the story is really simple. While this isn’t really a problem in a character driven show there really isn’t much going on from a story point of view. Even the other competitors aren’t really constructed as antagonists because they aren’t. Yuri is facing himself and his own self-doubts.
Yurio is trying to transition into the senior competition and prove he is better than what he has shown the world so far. JJ is trying to fan his own ego. The characters are all facing some inner-demon rather than an actual antagonist or conflict. The competition is more or less just a way to show us who is winning their psychological battle at any given moment.
Yurio winning overall was predictable early on and Yuri not winning gold was also nearly a foregone conclusion after Victor said they’d get married if he did. In light of wanting another season this ending was definitely needed. However, Yuri did need to show how much he’d improved and overcome through Victor’s presence so a silver medal and a world record will just have to do. Still, a lack of antagonist or real conflict won’t detract from the overall viewing experience so while from a narrative point of view this might be a minus, from an enjoyment point of view it probably won’t interere with the fun of watching.
Can we talk about the music for a moment? Because after you get past one of the most memorable opening themes of the year what you have is a show that just throws amazing music at you. Admittedly, given each skater has two separate songs and we’re introduced to a lot of different skaters over the course of the show, it was kind of easy for this anime to hit us hard with brilliant music. However, what really sold the music was the solid link to characterisation.
These skaters are revealing who they are through their music (part of that ongoing inner battle) and each piece has been perfectly mapped to the character. Some of these links are obvious with Yuri naming his original piece ‘Yuri on Ice’ and JJ naming his ‘Theme of King JJ’ but others are far more subtle and yet equally powerful. I am going to have to get the soundtrack to this anime at some point because the music is exceptionally well done.
This is a criticism I raised early on in the series when reviewing week to week and it is of some of the dialgoue. Between being cheesy, obvious, or incredibly lame there are some terrible lines of dialogue early on (though admittedly some of this may be because things got lost in translation). The instances of lame dialogue thinned out as the series progressed but there were definitely a few face palm worthy moments early in the show.
Actually, some of the interactions between Victor and Yuri later in the series border on brilliant, not because there is a stand out line that makes you go ‘yes’ but because they really develop a natural pattern of conversation (or arguments) as they spend more time together.
This is a truly emotional experience. Okay, that is beyond subjective but if the characters have drawn you in to their romance and their desire to win then you will find yourself incredibly caught up in the final episodes. I know I was. There were tears. Both first and second time through. They were mostly happy tears.
Yeah, that’s two in a row, I’m cheating. While the story is pretty basic I loved how early events impact upon later ones and flash backs are used with real purpose and make you reconsider both the story and the characters. I’m not going too much into this because it is something that is better to experience but information you gain as you go will continue to change how you view the early events and this definitely helps give the basic storyline a little bit more of a wow factor.
I’m going to leave this on the positive because even though I thought I’d said everything I wanted to about Yuri on Ice before this review still just spiralled a little out of control even after multiple rewrites and edits.
Final thought, if you are one of the very few people who haven’t already watched Yuri on Ice (or haven’t already totally written it off because of all the crazy fans) then you should definitely give it a go. Maybe it won’t rock your world but its definitely got a solid (if simple) story with characters that moved me (and clearly thousands of other crazy fans).
Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime. Join the discussion in the comments. Karandi James
A beautiful ending (or non-ending depending on how you choose to take it) to a beautiful character piece. This show has never been perfect and the final episode is no different. If you look you’ll find things to criticise and that’s fine if that is what you want to do. For me though, I didn’t even remember to get a screen shot and had to go back and rewatch.
I have genuinely loved being on this journey with the characters and this episode gave me exactly what I needed to feel satisfied while leaving just enough space that if they choose to make a sequel it won’t undermine everything that’s already happened. It’s a smart choice like most of the narrative choices that have been made in this series. I can’t wait to try to write a review of the whole show (I think I may be redrafting that for hours).
So what happened? Yuri broke Victor’s heart (probably unintentionally) and then they rebuilt from the ground up over the course of 6 skating routines. It was beautiful. Okay, someone won gold, silver and bronze medals and a world record was beaten but you know I somehow don’t think that was supposed to be the focus.
Yuri on Ice is available on Crunchyroll if you haven’t already checked it out.
Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime. Join the discussion in the comments. Karandi James
Wow, it’s a Yuri on Ice post. How original. By the way if you aren’t up to at least episode 10, maybe pass on this for now but come back. Of course, if you’ve watched episode 11 things have changed again but I’m not touching that until I’ve had a bit more time to think it through. But let’s ask what is beneath the squeals of all these Yuri on Ice fans?
Okay, I’m done making fun of myself but I actually kind of had to write this. I was asked by someone in the real world whether Yuri on Ice was any good and found myself gushing (something I avoid doing in the real world, not because people don’t already know I’m a massive anime fan but just because I don’t like to make people feel trapped listening to me blather about things they are only vaguely interested in).
But I wasn’t gushing about Yuri and Victor or the maybe kiss or the airport scene or even the ring (though those points did come up), what I found myself gushing about was the way that the characters in this show feel like real people.
By the way, this isn’t a post that is trying to convince you to fall in love with Yuri On Ice. If you aren’t already on board then you’ll probably stay that way. Mostly, this post is just looking at what is beneath all of that pretty animation that is keeping fans up as they anxiously await the next episode.
What is really making people Yuri on Ice fans?
For me the number 1 take away from Yuri On Ice since the initial episodes where the beauty of the animation swept me away has been the treatment of these characters. Pretty animation aside, without a story or characters worth following I’m not really willing to invest all that much time and thought into something.
Yet, Yuri On Ice is a coming of age or a general weakest becomes strongest (maybe) story that we’ve seen a thousand times before (though the second half of this series is definitely starting along a full blown romance pathway). So if it isn’t the plot and while the animation is appreciated and maybe the first draw but that isn’t what is making us hang around, then what we are left with are the characters.
And while there are definitely the fan girls out there who are happily eating up a dose of mainstream shounen ai and then the fans of Victor in the hot tub, what we are mostly seeing through Twitter is that fans have really taken to these characters and it isn’t really hard to see why.
Leaving aside Victor and Yuri for the time-being, the support cast of Yuri On Ice have been fabulous in the way they’ve been presented. While one of the criticisms I’ve heard of the show is the lack of screen time these characters have had and if you watch some episodes you will know that these characters get minutes at most, and yet they pack so much into those minutes.
I’m going to use Kenjirou Minami as an example. He’s a Japanese skater who appears in episode 5 and looks up to Yuri a lot. While you might see him as existing only to serve as a point of contention between Yuri and Victor and as part of Yuri’s character growth, in one episode Minami manages to establish himself as a person. He’s young and idealistic but still desires victory.
He’s under his own form of pressure from the expectations placed on him by others though he deals with it a great deal better than Yuri does. We also see his performance. Unlike Yuri’s beauty, Minami is a high energy performer and his personality is clearly shown in his routine. This character was on screen at most for ten minutes and I feel I know more about them than some characters I’ve watched for 24 episodes.
If we then shift to a crowd favourite, Phichit, we get a character who was spoken about long before he even made a real appearance in the show. We knew he was Yuri’s rink mate and we know that Yuri consulted with him in order to get in touch with the person who wrote his music but it wasn’t until episode 6 that this character really appeared in the anime.
By then we already had a sense of who this person was and he is definitely a likeable character. One of his persistent character traits is his ongoing use of social media and this is something that really has brought him to life. Not saying that to exist you must be obsessed with selfies, but it is one of many details that makes Phichit feel like he is living in the real world and isn’t simply a scripted being.
Episode 10 really highlights that Phichit is more than just moral support and friend though. He is the first to notice the rings and offer congratulations to Yuri and Victor but he is also the first to react when Victor claims Yuri is going to win gold. While this doesn’t form an actual rift between these characters it does show that beneath the smiles Phichit is definitely a competitor.
It’s kind of the same for all of the skaters. Yeah, there’s still heaps we don’t know about them but what we do know is painting a picture of a real person with real goals and desires and approaches to getting through things. While they each might start from a simple archetypal character there have been enough details layered onto these characters to make them feel like they are a person in their own right.
Those details are everything from the music and costume choices while performing to their small interactions with the other skaters. Even how they hold themselves and what they are doing before and after performing. It all adds to the rich detail making up the characters of Yuri On Ice and there have been very few moments where this element of the show have slipped.
And that is what, beneath all the fan baiting and obvious lures this show has going for it, is keeping fans hooked and coming back for more. There are plenty of shows out there featuring a cast of supposed good looking guys and while people do tweet their images and the like I’ve certainly not seen anything like the Yuri fever that has happened every week after every episode.
While a lot of the attention has been on the kiss, the hand holding, the rings, the sleeping, a lot of the tweets have focussed on those more character driven moments and the moments where we learn something more about one of our favourites in the support cast. What really makes this special though is that all of these moments build on one another. That’s why this was a slow burn at the start where you might think pretty but aren’t seeing all that much more but all of those small moments and details have a snowball effect as the series goes on.
But let’s get back to Yuri and Victor. The are they/aren’t they arguments have raged, the fan art has gone crazy (and is incredibly beautiful given the short time frames some people have worked on) and both of these characters have been analysed to within an inch of their animated lives at this point.
For me these characters became amazing at episode 7. Up until then I’d enjoyed watching them grow closer and how Victor had learned how far he could push Yuri before he would have to draw back and how Yuri was starting to take steps toward Victor, but they were still just two good characters in an anime I was enjoying. At episode 7 they crossed some sort of line as they showed such an incredible depth of human emotion and their relationship became something that felt genuine.
It is in that sincere expression of emotion that the audience is completely blown away. These characters have real conversations, real conflict, they don’t understand each other sometimes, they try to understand each other, they dither, they hesitate, they act impulsively; they just feel real.
It’s really odd for me to say because normally when I talk about seeing genuine emotion or human expression it is relation to a psychological thriller or a moment in something that’s fairly dark. To talk about two characters in a reasonably feel good, rom-com, sports anime (not trying to be condescending to any of these genres) in this way is a fairly unique experience for me as generally I don’t connect with the characters in these stories the way Yuri On Ice has achieved.
I’m honestly going to say that I do not care if Yuri wins the competition. I don’t care if Victor and Yuri get married or whatever. I am watching this show to watch all of these characters grow and show us what they will do and what choices they will make. While I would be delighted if Yuri get’s a fairytale happy ending I will also be really satisfied with him coming to a sound realisation about who he is and where he stands in the world.
When I come to review this series as a whole I have no idea what I will have left to talk about but I’m certain I will talk at length anyway given I just never get bored of these characters at the moment. But now I’ll turn it over to you; why do you think Yuri On Ice has appealed?
Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime. Join the discussion in the comments. Karandi James
Normally, in a show like this when we have an episode almost entirely devoted to the characters taking a break from fighting (sport) what we end up with is a shallow filler episode filled with comedic moments that don’t really work and some very casual characterisation. Yuri on Ice shows us what an episode like this can really do in terms of furthering the plot and the character development.
Having Victor narrate and give his view of the events up to now and the skaters was a great choice given Victor has taken the back seat for the past four episodes. Bringing him back into the mix this way was fantastic and also gave us a bit more insight into his character and proved once again he isn’t just a narcissist.
We also spend time with each of the skaters who’ve made it through to the final and none of these encounters fill meaningless. Each one gives us insight into the skater and their relationship both with the other skaters and with skating itself. Probably my favourite moment in this episode came when all of the skaters (minus JJ) were eating together and Phichit announced that Yuri and Victor were married (then corrected by Victor to engaged) and everyone was celebrating until Victor said they’d get married after Yuri won gold.
The change in tone was palpable and very effective. Every person at that table wants to win. They’ve all got their own reasons but they want to win and while on a personal level they may be happy for Victor and Yuri they aren’t going to hand over gold without a fight. Of course JJ shows up and breaks the tension by being his usual self and they all return to their hotel.
This episode was exactly what we needed and hit all the right notes. The charcterisation was spot on and it felt like we grew closer to the entire cast. The upcoming competition was never far from anyone’s thoughts so it wasn’t like they just ditched the plot for a week. It underpinned everything the characters were doing. And the closing credits were hilarious.
Too many good moments to decide on an image this week.
There’s one thing that all sports anime have in common and its one of the reasons why I’ve seldom got into them. From a plot point of view, predictability is inevitable. Yuri made it to the Grand Prix (but we kind of knew that had to happen). Because Victor left, he only just made it through. Wow. Yuri had a tough time because his moral support left but not tough enough to completely fail because from a timing point of view we don’t have time to start the journey over.
It’s a very good thing that Yuri on Ice has never tried to stand on the strength of its plot alone because there just isn’t that much to look at there. Certainly where there is works well, but it isn’t anything special. The characterisation however is still soaring. Yurio’s genuine thrill at success and the combination of pride and aggravation that his best wasn’t good enough to beat JJ (and who else thought Yurio looked amazing and emotionally so much more mature than when we met him weeks ago).The Italian skater finding his feet after his sister essentially told him to get over his obsession with her. JJ just having an ego that is soaring all by itself.
Finally, Yuri’s genuine confusion about how to skate without Victor and still trying to figure out what Victor actually is to him. Is he a coach or is it something more and that question is confronted directly when they meet at the end of the episode and Yuri asks Victor to be his coach until he retires. Victor replies that when Yuri says it like that it sounds like a proposal.
All of this gets the viewer wondering because Yuri’s been pretty upfront that the Grand Prix is his last skate, which means his time with Victor will end, but will the two actually part os skater and coach or will their relationship continue. That part of the story is still a mystery and there are hints that it could go either way. Regardless of how they resolve this I anticipate that its going to be an emotional explosion and that is one thing this show has always hit the mark on. Those moments between characters and really connecting the emotions with the audience.
While this episode of Yuri on Ice doesn’t have quite the overflow of emotion that episode 7 carried with it the story and characters continue to progress. Admittedly, we’re once again sitting through introductions to yet new skaters in the Russian competition and then their routines and that eats a lot of the episode.
Still, Yuri’s character transformation hasn’t completely melted away and while inner doubts are plaguing him he is acting in a far assertive manner than the Yuri we met at the beginning. Yurio on the other hand is struggling emotionally and it will be amazing if and when he finally comes through his emotional turmoil.
The end of the episode also points at a critical moment for Yuri and Victor coming next episode. Last point, someone pointed out that the opening sequence had been changing throughout the series so I went back and rewatched just the opening to a few of the early episodes and yep, they’ve definitely been adding to that as we’ve gone along. Now I’m going to have to watch it more carefully.
All and all, episode 8 isn’t all that wow as a stand alone episode but definitely works with what we’ve seen from this series so far.
Episode 7 of Yuri on Ice is the episode I’m going to remember where it stopped being just a fun and interesting watch with some characters I kind of liked and it became a show where I truly respected the characterisation of the protagonist (and by characterisation, I don’t mean they finally kissed). Yrui’s journey isn’t anything new in storytelling, from underdog to finding his feet and using romance as a vehicle for it, it’s all been seen before.
However, the organic evolution of this character and the way it has come across finally won me over during this episode and Yuri is going to be a character I’ll remember for more than just likening romance to pork cutlets. This particular moment of clarity came while listening to his internal monologue while skating and instead of the puppy like adoration of Victor we get a clear and rational view of the situation he is in before he still determines that he wants to surprise Victor.
This episode makes these characters equals in their relationship where both have something to offer and both have something to gain and finally romance between the two seems not only likely but actually like it could work really well (though not without dealing with a few more of either character’s issues).
Oh, yeah, I should probably talk about the actual episode though. I really liked that instead of just showing us all of the routines (as we did last week) we instead saw more of the imagery and memories the skaters were drawing on while skating (we also saw Yuri and then Victor go through their pre-skate freak outs). Visually really interesting, great music, but mostly forgotten and blown away by the final sequence of Yuri skating and his growth.
Do you like ice skating? Is that why you are watching Yuri on Ice? If yes, then this is the episode for you. Let’s watch all the skaters and their routines (and yes they are amazing and the music is great and I loved it but for the non-ice skating fans watching this show I can see them having enough at about the ten minute mark).
What is good about this episode are the ongoing conversations and observations made by characters about what is happening. It allows the characters to continue their journey even while the bulk of the episode is covered in pretty spins and dancing. Though, Victor’s coaching takes quite a few verbal barbs this episode and to be honest it kind of needed it even if Victor is playing totally cool.
Yuri’s routine (and this is the third time we’ve seen it) shows the full depth of his growth as a skater and is truly something spectacular this episode. That said, I would fully understand where some people might find this a bit of a gamble. The audience has been hooked but if your plot stalls entirely in favour of realism in portraying the competition of ice skating they might lose some viewers. For me, this episode was beautiful and just fun to watch.
Yuri on Ice spends a lot of this episode in competition so gear up for watching lots of ice skating routines. Normally I’d find that a negative in a show and its one of the reasons I avoid sport related anime in the first place. But… I like watching ice skating. It’s one of the few sports I find beautiful to watch.
And, one of Yuri’s key characteristics is his poor performance in competition conditions so watching him find his feet in a competition and begin dealing with this emotional block is kind of a necessary step for where this show seems to want to go. There are still some elements in this show that aren’t quite landing. Victor’s coaching technique leaves a lot to be desired. While he spends a lot of time building Yuri up, with one thoughtless comment he can send his skater emotionally crashing right before a competition and Victor isn’t exactly one to watch his words.
All and all, I thoroughly enjoyed this episode and look forward to spending more time with these characters but there’s a lot this episode that won’t appeal to people who aren’t interested in the characters or in watching ice skating routines.
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