Warning: Contains spoilers!
In this episode of Yuri!!! On Ice, Yuri competes against a few more skaters in Russia. Most notable is the appearance of Yurio, who’s also been in almost every single episode since he was introduced as Yuri’s main rival in episode 1. At the end, Yuri convinces Victor to leave for Japan because of his sick dog, who inhaled too many mochi while everyone was too engrossed watching the figure skating competition to look after him properly. Yuri will be coached by Victor’s old coach next episode, with no Victor to look after him
Overall, though I liked this episode, I was hoping to see more Yuri vs. Yurio. One of the highlights of the show for me was the tension and contrast between the two. I’m assuming my hopes will be addressed next episode—we’ll see how Yuri can fare against Yurio without Victor, even when he’s become so much more confident—but whatever thunder Yurio built up throughout the episode (and he did build up a lot, even more than Yuri himself!) was, at the very least, interrupted at the end by the surprise twist with Victor’s dog Makkachin.
Though I do feel for Makkachin, I was also a little bummed because the series has been hinting at the return of Yuri vs. Yuri since episode 2 and didn’t quite enjoy it as much as I anticipated. I suppose that it’s one way to ensure Victor isn’t with Yuri during his performance and show that Yuri can (hopefully) stand by himself. On the other hand, that dog just wanted some mochi, as do we all. Why is life so cruel?
This incident will certainly heighten the tension in preparation for the real bout between Yuri vs. Yurio. This episode, we see the effects of Victor on Yuri, who has calmed down considerably since past competitions. Yuri’s awakened potential has the unfortunate side effect of compromising Yurio’s serious competitive streak against Yuri. It can be seen in at least two moments: 1) Yuri was extremely impressed by his agape and exclaiming happily with Victor, and 2) a set of cat ears lands on Yurio’s head after his performance. These events made things a little too cute for me personally, but they do mesh with the humor and tone the series has been taking on.
I mean, just look at all the things that are unsaid in this picture.
Other things I’d like to mention:
- I’m a little curious about Yurio’s relationship with his grandfather, but I don’t think knowing will significantly change the main conflict. I’m okay with little or no explanation.
- The new skaters this time around were quite memorable, even though we only got to see them a little bit. I think this is pretty impressive, considering other series have characters who last the entire series but who aren’t nearly as distinguishable as the ones here. I particularly liked the quiet and somewhat rude (but cool!) Korean skater and the confident Canadian, who are polar opposites to Yuri’s kind and humble nature.
- On that note, a lot of different kinds of sexuality are being explored in this series. The brother-sister relationship from this episode also has a male who needs to learn to skate on his own without using their relationship as a crutch, much like Yuri without Victor.