「２人のユーリ！？ ゆ～とぴあの乱」 (Futari no Yuuri! ? Yuutopia no Ran)
“Two Yuris?! Drama at Yu-topia”
I’m in love. I’m floored by the passion and vibrancy and energy that Yuri!!! on Ice possesses, and I have nothing but praise for every aspect of this production. Perhaps it’s a little unfair that I have nothing bad to say whatsoever, but even after re-watching this episode twice, this is just as perfect as the premiere, even if the animation wasn’t as jaw dropping. Yamamoto Sayo has a winner here. Her passion project is practically bursting through the screen with every frame, and if, like me, you’re a fan of the zany comedy, fast pace, sharp dialogue, and consistently well-crafted aesthetic, then you’re likely enjoying this just as much as I am. If you’re not part of that love-fest, or if there’s any key element to this production that doesn’t mesh with your tastes in anime, then it appears Yuri!!! on Ice will never change its approach to telling its story. I feel bad for those left behind, though thankfully this is getting wide acclaim and massive love online, so let’s focus on the (many) positives instead.
There’s so many elements I could focus on that work well with Yuri!!! on Ice, and one that stuck out to me after this episode was how this feels like a true modern anime. If, in several years or decades later, I was asked to present an anime that perfectly sums up “2016”, I would show them Yuri!!! on Ice. This is an drama clearly aimed for adults (primarily women), and it captures what life is like right now in the world. I highlight that because so few modern anime manage to feel authentic to our current time, instead going back to the times before social media was all the rage, when high schoolers used flips phones and landlines. I could point to so many anime that feel like they’re set in 2005, even if they’re released in the past few years. And that’s not a terrible thing, but the fact that Yuri!!! on Ice goes the extra mile to make this feel like the day and age we live in right now, it pays off. Also, there’s clearly been extensive research put into the differing languages of the characters and the authentic locations, which make this feel more like real-life than your typical live-action.
It sure helps that every character here is a winner. Even with their limited screentime, Yuuri’s childhood love interest and her family (especially her kids) have made the most of what we’ve seen of them, and their presence on-screen is always amusing, and never annoying… which is more than can be said about a lot of children in anime. Yuuri’s family are also sweet and charming, going along with the flow of this whirlwind that’s taking over their inn. It’s mad what can happen with the power of social media, and Yuri!!! on Ice seems to understand that. Funnily enough, Victor and Yuri’s necessity to post on Instagram whenever they find a photo oppertunity goes back to my point of telling a story that feels like it’s set here and now. What’s even more clever is the official Instagram for Yuri!!! on Ice is posting the photos that the characters take in the episodes as and when they air – that’s a genius marketing method, and shows that the effort put into this show goes beyond what appears on-screen.
This episode was definitely more about our two Russians, Victor and Yuri. Victor is the best for me, with his love heart mouth and his broken English coming through at the best of times (“Really?” “#ninja”). He had me smiling through all his scenes, but his closeness with Yuri is bound to raise questions of his sexuality. He was ever so curious as to how many girlfriends Yuuri had had, and when he didn’t get the answers he turned it around to: “Let’s talk about me now” (which made me chuckle). There’s a definite sexual energy to Yuri!!! on Ice that isn’t there by happenstance; whether it will turn into genuine romance is unlikely, but the fact remains that this show is very, very gay. Expect more of that next week and all the weeks to come, especially when Victor is on-screen.
The ice skating scenes were limited this time around, but the set-up between the face-off of the two Yuris made up for the lack of on-ice choreography. I expect next week will offer plenty of spectacle as they both take on the tracks that they didn’t want to do. Victor is channelling some Taki-sensei energy (from Hibike! Euphonium) in his coaching methods, which contrasts from his easy going and joyous personality. In the end, I don’t think it matters which Yuri wins because surely both of them are going to get the training they deserve and want? From a conventional storytelling perspective, Japanese Yuuri has the edge, but I wouldn’t put it past Victor to make up his own rules as he goes just to satisfy his own wants.
Until next week! #yurioniceisgreat #animeissaved #ninja