「グランプリシリーズ開幕！やっチャイナ中国大会！」 (Guranpurishirizu Kaimaku! Yatchaina Chugoku Taikai!)
“China’s On! The Grand Prix Series Opening Event!! The Cup of China Short Program”
Thank god for the shows that air on Wednesday, cause we needed them after what happened on Tuesday. Anime isn’t going to save the world, but it sure eases the pain knowing we can always count on the over-the-top Yuri!!! on Ice to deliver what we’ve come to expect: Sex on ice. Not literally, but things just keep getting sexier and sexier, and gayer and gayer, as the weeks go on. That’s not a complaint (believe me), just an observation; and as it looks to be the second best-selling show this season based of pre orders (with my other Wednesday title sure to take the top spot), it’s nice to know the effort put into this project is paying off, and we may get more out-there and challenging shows like Yuri!!! on Ice in the future.
The difficulty of this production should be highlighted, especially with the feats managed in this episode. I’m sure we’ve all accepted that the premiere quality cannot be maintained, but this was the most impressive episode from a visual perspective since then. The challenge of animating six unique ice skating routines, and all done in 2D, is impressive, even if the result isn’t quite beautiful. In an industry as bloated as the anime industry, it’s a miracle that this episode looked as good as it did, and I’m grateful for all the staff involved here. The sense of individualism injected into every performance is worth heaps of praise, and watching Yuri finally succeed is just what he deserves and what makes for rewarding viewing. Just like last week, I thought Yuri really was the best of the bunch, and so his top spot is well-earned. I enjoyed every other performance, whether they included ridiculous face paint, massive man ass, or just plain adorableness. This competition is giving us variety and characterising these skaters through their routines, proving that Yuri!!! on Ice is close to reaching its full potential.
The only part that didn’t gel well with me was Chris’s character, as he’s essentially the typical flamboyant okama archetype which I don’t appreciate, especially after the steps Victor and Yuri seem to be making, even if their relationship isn’t technically canon. Chris can be easily read as a gay man, and his lecherous behaviour with Yuri left a bad taste in my mouth. But I’m willing to give it a yellow card for the time being as our two leads continue to grow closer in a way that feels genuine. It’s interesting that no one else really seems to acknowledge their intimacy as being something more than coach and student, but this isn’t happening by accident. Each week it keeps getting gayer, and I’m a-okay with that.
So while not a perfect episode, it was nice to see six well-animated routines back-to-back, and learning more about these characters, as they’re sure to play a part in the rest of the competitions. Yuri’s developments is going in an interesting direction as he takes pride knowing that he’s taken Victor from the world – everyone else wants him to return to his own skating, but Yuri relishes the thought that he may be blamed for that. It’s not the inner monologuing I’d expect from a main character, but I suppose Yuri and Victor’s relationship is different from the norm, and anything that manages to surprise is much appreciated.