「自分を好きになって…完成!!フリープログラム」 (Jibun o suki ni natte… Kansei!! Furii Puroguramu)
“Love Yourself… Achieved!! The Free Program”
Okay, let’s keep it real. It’s evident that we’re not going to get the top-quality art and animation that the premiere offered us. I’ve been longing for that upper class of craftsmanship to return, but it seems the reliance on chibi faces and less than stellar character art is what we’re stuck with. It’s a shame, because if Yuri!!! on Ice had the consistency of Hibike! Euphonium, it would blow everything else out of the water week on week on week. Thankfully, the abundance of style and wackiness still resonates through every frame, even if the final output doesn’t make the most of the solid foundation. Some scenes are still pretty, like the brief moments of figure skating, and the occasional scene here and there, but the overall dip is noticeable, and it’s a crying shame.
Thankfully, the rest of what makes this show so fun to watch is still there, and this time the homoerotic tones were in overdrive. Personally, I think Yuri should let Victor sleep with him and also accept his boyfriend suggestion. I say that to play up to the self-aware gags going on with each passing episode, but I would also seriously appreciate a relationship of that sort blossoming between Yuri and Victor. I’m not crossing any fingers or toes, but I’m at least appreciating that Yuri!!! on Ice is aware of how these two seem like lovers. The sexual tension between them gets steamier each week, and this time Victor straight out offers to be Yuri’s boyfriend. Victor a funny character who you can’t take 100% serious most of the time, but my gaydar tells me he’s not the straightest tool in the shed. Yuri’s reaction is amusing, and I’m sure we’ll get a wave of fan art and fan fiction and theories depicting these two as lovers even if the show doesn’t go that route.
After giving Yurio plenty of attention week, this time it’s back to Yuri and Victor and their interesting bond as master and student. Yuri shows off some less than flattering sides to him that he never wanted his coach and idol to see, but this episode focused on them getting even closer (yes, that is possible), sharing ideas, showing their good and bad sides, and putting that hard work into the routine. It wasn’t high stakes, and didn’t have as much hype as last week’s showstopper, but watching these two on-screen for 21 minutes each week is more than enough to satisfy me.
There’s a load of yet to be introduced characters who look to be showing up from next week onwards, as Yuri!!! on Ice begins its global tournaments. Yuri still has a long way to go, but I’m keen to see his friends on the ice rink and find out more about their personal lives. I don’t know how serious Yuri!!! on Ice will get with its competitions, because so far every character has plenty of likeable traits that makes it hard to root against them, but I can see Yuri doing his darndest to win this whole thing. I don’t know if he’s earned that result just yet, but the journey and the passion that comes with it is what makes sports anime so fun to follow, and Yuri!!! on Ice is no exception.