Warning: Review contains spoilers!
I didn’t really like this episode. Most of it consists of 5 or 6 performances by different figure skaters, Yuri included, and some stuff at the beginning that felt like it was shoved in for the squeals. Another thing is that the relatability of Yuri was still there, but has been overshadowed by a quite intense obsession that seems on point with the direction the anime’s been going in, but involved a few choice lines that didn’t feel like Yuri we’ve come to know and love (a dark side, anyone? I don’t know yet.). We see Yuri’s eros sequence for the third time or more, except this time he’s performed it perfectly. This was supposed to be a defining moment of the series, but I just didn’t feel as motivated as I should have been, probably because of the repetition and the points I just mentioned. I haven’t watched many sports series, but I felt like this particular episode was trying to expose us to so many things, and required a special liking for ice skating to begin liking it. (Even then, it falls a little flat when compared to the real thing, but that’s probably an argument you can make for any anime and I’m not going to press the point.)
That said, as a fan of figure skating, I still really adored the performances, but the grand characterization from the first episodes wasn’t quite there. This is probably an inevitable consequence of introducing us to the wider world of figure skating—flinging in people the audience doesn’t really need to remember instead of focusing solely on three characters who had great chemistry and promise at the beginning—but it was still a little disheartening. We learned just enough about the characters to care about them, but I’m not sure if they were characters that you particularly wanted to care about (except, maybe, for Phichit, whom the anime keeps pointing to as possibly THE dark horse of the anime even though he just seems like a plain, nice guy with talent). However, I like how the performances are more realistic—the audience and commentary just made me feel like I was watching a live performance on TV.
With this episode in particular , I wasn’t sure if I should just write about a specific topic as per some of the other Yuri posts. Should I just post pictures of the different audiences, maybe Yurio’s reactions? There wasn’t really enough to write that much about them in the brief brainstorming session I had. Though there was a promising moment at the beginning where he looks extremely distraught at having won only silver, we just sort of see him pout and look super serious at the camera:
Here’s one thing I noticed. After scanning the episode for screenshots and having the opening sequence “History Maker” on repeat on the background, I realized that all of the characters are busily trying to make their own history. Yuri is the most obvious; his chin literally becomes more bold as he’s influenced by Phichit, who wants to “rewrite the history of a popular song that figure skaters skate to” and make it his very own. Guang-Hong Ji, the only skater whose performance is unfortunately cut off in favor of Yuri, but I think scores a personal best. Russian skater both is set to being the next Victor from the same coach and intensely recharacterizes his relationship with an ex-girlfriend as him being the “witch” who seduces her (when probably it’s the other way around). American skater shows how ice skating helped him rewrite his former miserable and lonely life. And of course, there’s the “mature eros” person at the end, whose performance was a tad uncomfortable to watch and whose point I didn’t really get. But he seems to want to solidify his expertise as Yuri’s butting in on him with his own eros.
Anyway, it’s a swell thing, albeit a cheesy one, and it was nice seeing all of these skaters come together, not just Yuri, under a common theme, married by an opening song that has described one of the driving forces of the series all along. I just wish it hadn’t taken another glance at the episode to appreciate it.