「Boku ga Erosu de Erosu ga Boku de!? Taiketsu! Onsen on Ice」 (僕がエロスでエロスが僕で！？ 対決！温泉on ice)
“I Am Eros, and Eros is Me?! Face-Off! Hot Springs on Ice”
This show is sexy and it knows it. I knew this episode and the performances were going to embody different elements of love and sexuality, but this episode managed to go beyond my expectations. You’d have to be blind to ignore the homoerotic tensions between Yuri and Victor. Is it there purely to titillate the fujoshi demographic? Will we actually learn there’s more than meets the eye here? Will we have a homosexual (or bisexual) character in Victor without it being the defining trait of his existence? It’s certainly possible, and would be another gold star on Yuri!!! on Ice’s early list of accomplishments. I won’t be disappointed if the teases stay as they are for certain fangirls (and boys) to go into frenzies week by week, but that extra conformation would be icing on the cake.
The centrepiece of this episode has to be the performances of Yurio and Yuki, as they take on the aspects of agape and eros respectively. Overall, the art hasn’t been as breathtaking as the premiere, as is to be expected, but at the very least the ice skating sequences remain sleek and emotive. We’ve got an abundance of chibi faces now, which may be a sign of cutting corners, but it fits with the comedy of the show which I quite enjoy. I get plenty of laughs each week, so I don’t have much to complain about, especially if the ice skating remains top-notch. In saying that, though, I actually found Yurio’s performance to be the more powerful and impressive of the two. Perhaps it was the delicate pace and careful, gentle movements that Yurio tried to hard to get to grips with, but it looked more appealing to me than the aggressive and sexual energy that Yuri channeled. The origin of their inspirations tells a lot about their characters, from Yurio’s respect for his grandfather to Yuri and his sexual inexperience and love for food, before eventually embodying the woman’s point of view in the performance. The result was a show stopper to be sure, but Yuri’s best quality seems to be his potential rather than his polished approach; he even slipped up part-way through, but managed to recover. He’s a spirited skater and that part is much more believable to me.
It’s a shame that Yurio lost, as I was warming to him a lot this episode. There’s clearly a disconnect between him and his birth mother, so seeing him bond with Yuri’s childhood crush (who is now a mother) was sweet and funny, even if their time together was swift. That’s the one aspect of Yuri!!! on Ice that is done so well: the pace. Fast pace is often considered a negative, and is seen as rushing through the source material or cramming as much as they can into an episode, leaving no breathing room or time for reflection. But here, the balance is just right, and we get a content-packed episode while also getting the quieter moments between characters that don’t necessarily need to be there, but does a lot to cement their bonds. Basically, this is a just a damn good anime from tip to toe.
And there we have it: Yuri has won, he’s hugging Victor, and Victor is now his coach! The real journey starts here, and I can’t wait to see what awaits us. Yuri!!! on Ice has given showstopper performances these past three weeks, and I don’t expect that to change. We’re in safe hands here, so if you’ve enjoyed what we’ve gotten thus far then chances are you won’t be disappointed for the rest of its run. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that there isn’t a production collapse mid-way through; a series as good as this deserves to be animated to its fullest.