「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.

 

Preview

16 Comments

  1. There’s some significant quality differences between the Crunchyroll and TV airing versions of Ep 4.
    http://imgur.com/a/oyLSD

    It’s likely MAPPA sent Crunchyroll an earlier QUALITY-copy of episode 4 for translation and subtitling, leaving them enough time to correct EP 4 for TV release – there’s concerns the production is struggling to keep up.

    PS. TV version removes steam censorship in the onsen scenes – Score 1 for them.

    zztop
    1. I say this on Twitter shortly after the broadcast. It’s interesting to compare the two versions, especially knowing that Crunchyroll got the less than perfect one. Obviously they had nothing to do with ‘adding’ steam like some people blamed them of.

      Samu
  2. Again, another aspect where the series differentiates itself from the majority of sports anime is the honest and thoughtful acknowledgment on the issue of aging for athletes.

    I like how the contrast between the two Yuris are played out–Yuri who is already at his physical prime, and Yurio who is just about to puberty and anticipating the possible changes it can wreak havoc to on his jumps and techniques. And you have Victor who is technically past his peak, which is referenced when the show highlighted the stamina and endurance required for doing jumps during his coaching session.

    Going back to the two Yuris, I appreciate that the series highlighted their individual concerns and didn’t play out their rivalry in the usual battle of the the creatively artistic versus the technically proficient. Figure skating is a balance of both, and the two Yuris have different but equally important concerns.

    One of the meaningful close-ups we have on this episode is Yuri’s bare feet after removing his skates. It’s bruised and probably blistered, typical for any figure skater. I think it’s also a significant nod on the long term effect of playing competitively on their health, especially in a sport where injuries can still linger long after their career has ended. And it’s kind of bittersweet considering the short amount of time they can be in their prime to play as pro.

    What I really liked in this episode is Yuri’s character development. He is a pro skater, but the show reminds us that even pros also have their periods of doubt. His insecurities about his self-confidence and his deliberate isolation during his moment of lows makes him so much relatable and even more fleshed out as a character. There are so many things in this show that I can go on and on about, but Yuri’s characterization is one of my favorites.

    onceagain
    1. I was wondering what Yurio was talking about. Totally forgot about the messed up centre of gravity. That does raise the question on how does a figure skater go through puberty. Imagine getting a growth spurt just before a tournament.

      theirs
  3. Kyoani would never have allowed quality issues to occur if they were doing Yuri on Ice.
    Sometimes I wonder how Kyoani’s able to manage it where so many other studios can’t.

    zztop
    1. How? Effective forward planning, finding young animators through their training programs, putting their budget to good use, and having a (relatively) small but strong in-house team without relying on outsourcing to those that don’t truly understand or share their vision. Also, it seems like a fun place to work when you compare it to the terrible conditions of many studios out there.

      Kyoto Animation is an exception in the industry, that’s why their model should be aspired to.

      Samu

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