In the first episode of the first season of Yuri On Ice, oh no. oH NO NOOOOOO. Intrigued? Then itâ€™s time for Mark to watch Yuri On Ice.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of mental health and depression, body image/weight loss.
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Now that that is out of the way: Oh no OH NO WHAT IS THIS. Oh, is this really happening??? HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO DEAL WITH THAT FINAL SCENE.Â
Letâ€™s back up.
The beginning of Yuri On Ice opens on such a strange note, though itâ€™s one that becomes necessary once you settle into Yuriâ€™s story. â€œEasy as Pirozhki!!â€ is about his failure, at least initially. Despite his talent and ambition, we find out that Yuri placed last in the Grand Prix Final. (Referred to as the â€œGrand Prix Final of Tearsâ€ in the episodeâ€™s title.) Right from the start, yâ€™all, I was pulled in because despite that it might not seem obvious to most people, I did competitive sports all throughout high school. I ran cross country every fall and track every spring. And I was pretty good!Â Not record breaking, but I was solid enough that I was often a strategic member of the varsity team, used solely to get us more points or to be the â€œrabbit.â€ That position was a lot of fun because of how easily other runners took the bait and chased after me, only to tire themselves out halfway through a course. Of course, one cross country meet my junior year, I was the rabbit and thenâ€¦ almost no one caught up to me??? I kept waiting for people to pass me and I ended up coming in third with my fastest time ever??? THAT WAS A GREAT DAY. My coach was SHOOK, yâ€™all.
Anyway, my senior year was upsetting because of other factors, and like Yuri, my mental health contributed to me feeling like I just couldnâ€™t win. Granted, our situations are very different, and I donâ€™t know exactly why Yuri felt off. I do know that depression affects athleticism and desire BIG TIME. Itâ€™s hard to feel motivated to do anything when you feel worthless, and honestly? Iâ€™m still dealing with it! I do like physical activity, but some days, itâ€™s hard to do anything at all.Â
Thatâ€™s the same sense I got from Yuri. After his failure at the Grand Prix Final, he slipped into a depression that caused him to mess up further and gain weight. And I do feel a little weird about all that stuff? I canâ€™t tell what the show is going for here, as if itâ€™s poking fun at Yuri for being chubby or itâ€™s trying to comment on the physical demands of figure skaters. Hopefully, Iâ€™ll get to return to that, but Iâ€™ll say this: it felt very real. Weight fluctuation and gain is something Iâ€™ve had to deal with a lot since I stopped running absurd distances every day for four years straight.Â
More on that in a second, as thereâ€™s something else I want to talk about. Yuri transitions from a sports dramaâ€”one that Iâ€™m already invested in because SPORTS and MOTIVATION are deeply relatableâ€”to something closer to a slice-of-life or a family drama. That switch is astounding, especially since the writers find a brilliant way of introducing us to a large cast of characters in Yuriâ€™s hometown of Hasetsu, Kyushu. His family is well-meaning, if intense at times. I feel like weâ€™re going to get some more conflict over that becauseâ€¦ well, I expected that maybe someone in his family might be brutally disappointed in Yuri. Instead, these people are all generally supportive of him. Thereâ€™s Minako, who I think is more of a family friend? AND SHEâ€™S SUPER INTO ICE SKATING, Yâ€™ALL. Super, super, super into it. But sheâ€™s not cruel to Yuri, just a bit overbearing about his role in the skating world. His parents are supportive and loving, but I donâ€™t know that they understand him. Thatâ€™s more of Mariâ€™s role, Yuriâ€™s older sister and resident excellent-hair-character. SERIOUSLY, SHE LOOKS SO PUNK ROCK, I LOVE IT.Â
Itâ€™s Yuuko, though, who seems most important to Yuriâ€™s life, and she is the first witness (technically) to Yuriâ€™s attempt to return to skating. Given that he feels like he flunked out of ice skating and missed out on truly meeting his lifelong idol, Victor Nikiforov, as an actual competitor, I get that he wanted to escape from competitive skating for a while. Through flashbacks, we come to find out just how instrumental Victor was in influence young Yuri. Despite only being four years apart, Victor was almost godlike in Yuriâ€™s life. Yuri even got a poodle to match Victorâ€™s because of how much he idolized him. CUTE POODLES EVERYWHERE.Â
Anyway, it felt important to me that Yuri let Yuuko watch his Victor imitation routine. Now, yâ€™all, the animation for that sequence was INCREDIBLE, and I was impressed how much of it managed to capture the excitement and fluidity of figure skating. Is this what I have to look forward to? BECAUSE YES. THANK YOU. THIS IS VERY PLEASING TO ME. But itâ€™s also a cool sequence because Yuri is just as good as Victor isâ€”as graceful and emotional, tooâ€”while being pudgy. WHICH I LOVE. One of my favorite, petty things to do at the gym or while running outdoors is to pass people or run faster than them when they give me disgusted looks because Iâ€™m not skinny. GUESS WHAT, I CAN STILL RUN A MILE UNDER 7 MINUTES ANY DAY OF THE WEEK WITHOUT EVEN TRYING. So, I expect heâ€™ll probably lose some weight just from training more heavily, but I just want to appreciate the chubby athleticism from Yuri that we get in this episode.
And then Yuriâ€™s life changes because of Yuukoâ€™s daughters, who upload his routine to the Internet, causing him to go viral, and lord, I am still reeling from the escalation that we witness here, yâ€™all. Look, all I know about this show is gay figure skating? I donâ€™t know if this is that thing where a show queerbaits the audience or just hints at queer/gay content, butâ€¦ holy shit. The fact that Victorâ€™s first appearance in Yuriâ€™s hometown is a naked shot of his muscular body from behind as he rises out of the hot springâ€¦ excuse me.
what the fuck!!! I wasnâ€™t expecting that at all??? And thatâ€™s such aâ€¦ oh god. I am fine. Iâ€™m fine.Â
(Yuri has a huge crush on him, right?)
(PLEASE LET THIS BE ACTUAL CANON THIS TIME, I SWEAR.)
The video for â€œEasy as Pirozhki!! The Grand Prix Final of Tearsâ€ can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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