In the fourth episode of the first season of Yuri On Ice, I truly did not anticipate that there would be so many naked boys on this show. Am I complaining? NOT I. If you’re intrigued, then it’s time for Mark to watch Yuri On Ice.
I? Am? Emotions??? How did I get so fucking invested in Yuri winning this competition???? Why is Victor naked all the time? WHY DOES HE GET SO CLOSE TO YURI? WHAT ABOUT MY FEELINGS?
I don’t necessarily like Yurio, but I still find myself captivated by his journey. He’s a deeply selfish character, but he uses that arrogance as a motivating factor to actually improve his skating. As I’ve said in an earlier review, he is technically spectacular, but he hasn’t captured the emotional aspect of the sport quite as well as Victor or Yuri have. So how is that going to affect him now that Lilia, his coach’s ex-wife, has taken over his training? She is the tonal and technical opposite of Victor. She’s strict, vicious, and unfeeling. (Rather, she doesn’t let anyone know how she’s feeling, I should say.) It’s brilliant that she’s having Yurio train ballet, and I feel like even the animation for his routines has become more fluid and natural. He doesn’t seem as stiff as he used to, you know?
But I also appreciate his perspective because it makes him a more interesting competitor. He’s not just a nameless face or someone Yuri will have to face once. I mean, I still want Yuri to win? But I do find myself intrigued by Yurio regardless.
The title is a command, isn’t it? “Like Yourself… And Complete The Free Program!” deals with the ever-important problem of Yuri’s self-esteem. (Or lack of it, that is.) He’s a talented figure skater who is easily distracted by his emotions, which rest on the surface. Any time he is preoccupied or worried, he messes up. This is, of course, exacerbated within the competitions themselves, where his anxiety swirls into such a mess that he keeps disappointing himself. And above all, Yuri is his own worst enemy. Because this episode makes a big ol’ point out of the fact that NONE OF HIS FRIENDS OR FAMILY HAVE GIVEN UP ON YURI. No one hates him or despises him for his career, and better yet, they still support him! So why can’t that translate to success?
The writers trace a few threads here to address that. There’s the subplot with the music for the Free Program, which he initially never used after his first coach, Celestino, felt it was too weak. And oh boy, IT’S A METAPHOR FOR HIS CAREER. Good, but mediocre. Meaningful, but still middle of the road. I admit it was a little odd that we don’t actually get the composer’s name or see their face, but perhaps that is unimportant in the grand scheme of things. But this part of the story is vital to Yuri’s training. If he can’t connect with the music, how can he immerse himself in his performance? How can he believe in himself if he doesn’t believe in every part of this?
Because he already believes in Victor, and Yuri finally admits that to Victor’s face. I got the sense that Victor was desperate to break through Yuri’s shell, and that’s why he invited him on so many excursions. Yuri gets lost within his own mind, and it took Victor pulling him out of his comfort environments to get him to open up. AND LET US ALL ACKNOWLEDGE THAT VICTOR OFFERED TO BE ANYTHING YURI NEEDED HIM TO BE, INCLUDING HIS BOYFRIEND. That… is canon??? And he clearly wasn’t joking???
This show needs to stop fucking around with me. MAKE THEM KISS, EVERYONE WANTS IT.
I also just want Yuri to succeed because I know how hard it is to struggle with self-esteem issues, even though one might be talented. I know I’m not a terrible writer, and I know that I’ve managed to find an odd success in the world. And yet, it’s so easy for me to insult myself, to assume the worst of my own work, and to believe that when it comes down to it, I am just not worth it. In Victor, however, Yuri has found more than a coach; he’s found a personal cheerleader, someone who believes in him and wants him to win. To have someone in your corner like that can be transformative, and I want Yuri to realize that Victor really does want the best for him.
AND ALSO TO KISS. THAT AS WELL.
So, I’m nervous about all these qualifying competitions, but with Victor and his new piece ready for him, it’s time for a new Yuri to emerge.
The video for “Like Yourself… And Complete the Free Program!!” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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