「グランプリシリーズ開幕！やっチャイナ中国大会！フリープログラム」 (Guranpurishirizu Kaimaku! Yatchaina Chuugoku Taikai! Furi Puroguramu)
“China’s On! The Grand Prix Series Opening Event!! The Cup of China Free Skate”
They did it… they actually did it! Victor and Yuri kissed!
“Or did they?” people on the internet have asked, trying to bring us down from Cloud One Hundred, but I think all signs point to a kiss. First off, Victor and Yuri have embraced in loving ways before and the majority of the audience and Yuri’s friends and family don’t seem to blink an eye. The reaction this time around makes it seem like something happened that they weren’t expecting and haven’t seen before. Pair that with Yuri’s intense blushing in the moment, and it makes sense. And then there’s also Victor words after the fact, when he implies he had to do something that Yuri wasn’t predicting, and that would be a smooch on the lips. We may not have actually seen the kiss, but unless its retconned immediately next week, I think it’s safe to say it definitely did happen, and that’s a massive deal.
I’d liked to consider myself well-versed when it comes to anime, but I can’t think of a non-yaoi/shounen-ai anime that featured two lead male characters who have shown the affection for one another that Victor and Yuri have given us. It almost seemed to good to be true, and each week things just kept building up to the point where I was prepared for massive disappointment. But it turns out that build-up was there for a reason, and that reason is because there’s an intimate and very real bond between these two that resonates every time they’re on-screen together. I can bet many fujoshi are screaming at their screens right now (and I was pretty startled when I was spoiled for the moment earlier today on Twitter), but this feels like more than baiting at this point. I can only hope this moment gets referenced and hopefully expanded on in future episodes. All signs point in a positive direction, and if we get a legitimate gay couple out of Yuri!!! on Ice, I’ll call it a winner in more ways than I originally thought possible.
Believe it or not, this episode was brilliant before that kiss happened. I would have given it five stars out of five even if that extra cherry on top wasn’t there, because the blend between impressive ice skating visuals and heart-thumping music made for a lovely and also stressful watch. We’re all meant to be rooting for Yuri here, but every performer has their story to tell and their own perspective that’s worth getting to know. The mafia-inspired story to Guang-Hong Ji’s routine was entertaining and frankly deserved more points than it got, at least from what we were shown. Chris is as loud and sexual as ever, but also gave us a cute little flashback; Georgi’s longing for his ex is giving me JoJo vibes, which pairs well with the gothic dream sequence. I never picked up on it last week, but it feels timely to have an inspiring skater in Leo, the Mexican-American who skates with his own choreography; we saw little of him this time around, but I was rooting for him perhaps the most out of them all.
And then there’s Phichit, who absolutely deserved that gold medal for his display. It was near perfect, beautiful when it needed to be, and the backing track was euphoric. It’s one of the best we’ve seen from the series, easily, and I don’t blame Victor from hiding his applause from Yuri in their quieter moments together. That scene beneath the stadium was powerful, when Victor showed his lack of coaching experience by saying the worst thing possible to Yuri. With the floods of tears that came, we learned that Yuri isn’t nervous because he could tarnish his own name by losing, but could ruin Victor’s reputation as well. It’s one of many moments that prove these two care for each other more with each passing episode. Sometimes it’s played for gags, but as the weeks have gone on their intimacy has grown to levels I’m extremely thankful for. I never thought one of the most popular anime this season would feature two male leads who show obvious interest in each other that can only be interpreted as romance, and I couldn’t be happier because of it.