「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.

 

Preview

27 Comments

  1. I’m impressed that they went there when it would be so easy to just keep it at subtle hints and fanservice and get away with it.

    I’ve seen my fair share of BL and yaoi shows in my time, but this feels a lot different than, say, Junjou Romantica. There’s a maturity and realism to Viktor and Yuri that is sadly lacking in most BL shows. I’m sort of ambivalent towards BL because a lot of it is very cheesey, trope-y and unrealistic, but this comes as a breath of fresh air as something tasteful and very thoughtfully put together. (assuming, as you say, that it isn’t ret-conned next episode).

    Also, gotta make my routine comment about how I want to see more of my man Yurio.

    Blue
  2. I was surprised a kiss was (heavily) implied in this episode. I’m not a fan of BL and tend to gear away from this genre, yet I admit I wasn’t too bothered by it. Despite all the hints dropped week after week, because at the core, I still don’t think Victor and Yuri’s relationship is romantic. Affectionate, definitely. Yuri strongly admires Victor, as shown in early episodes, therefore the way he doesn’t want to let go of Victor (to impress him, or wants to be his prime focus) made sense to me. On the other hand, the way Victor treats Yuri is harder to tell (for me anyways), there is a mix of emotions involved. From the reason why he wanted to be Yuri’s coach (a muse?), to becoming his coach/mentor and evolving into a friend, or possibly something more. The character dynamics and growth are amazing in this show, I really love it. On a side note, I too, was hoping Yurio would get more screen time and action soon.

    I love sports anime in general (One outs, Initial D, Free, etc.) and skating theme is a first for me, I look forward to it every week. Hope the animation maintains.

    dk
    1. I hope you also think Yuri didn’t have romantic feelings for Yuko, who he referred with the same label as Victor in episode 1. Yuri has a history for falling for the person who coached him in skating in a personal way.

      Annice
  3. Me last week; ‘even when characters kiss sometimes that’s apparently not enough confirmation of a romantic relationship for some people’
    People this week; ‘I don’t know if they even kissed, what if it was just a hug? This doesn’t mean anything’

    No, I’ll tell you what it means. We have an AMAZING anime of exceptional quality with a m|m romance between two leads, one of whom is RUSSIAN, one of whom is JAPANESE, two cultures that are not the most accepting.

    Also I loved the fact Yuri knew Victor so well he called him out on the ‘glass heart’ breaking thing before it even happened. THEIR RELATIONSHIP IS SO HEALTHY AND THEY ARE SO GOOD AND PURE AND THIS ANIME IS SO LIFE-AFFIRMING AND BEAUTIFUL.

    I had to calm down before typing this post as I had been crying, quite a bit, uh. I made a huge effort to stay off social media until I watched this episode and I am so glad I did. I couldn’t believe it was happening. I am so proud and so happy. Best anime series. Ever.

    kyaeos
  4. I used to think that I already knew everything about BL romance and already felt EVERYTHING that a yaoi can gave me. I WAS EVER BEEN SO WRONG. I dont have a name for what they made me feel today. YoI is breaking every stereotipe in anime and I can bet my soul they will surprise us even more,

    kahiry
  5. The fact that this wasn’t introduced as a yaoi show but still features two men who quite obviously have romantic feelings for one another has totally blown my mind. What I’m hoping for is that this is a reflection of a changing mindset in Japan and that we will see more of this kind of thing in other shows. I’ve always been offended when gay characters in non-yaoi shows are made fun of or presented in ridiculous ways (ex. Puri-Puri-Prisoner in One Punch Man for one). But I’m not here to rant :). Whether that was an actual kiss (IT WAS!) or not, this show has given me far more than I could have ever hoped for as a fujoshi. I can only look forward to how their relationship will continue to develop from here on out.

    HoTaRu
      1. It’s somewhat disingenuous to pretend that Kaoru and Shinji’s relationship and Yuuri and Victor’s potential relationship are comparable. Not least because (spoilers I guess if you still haven’t seen NGE) Kaoru dies pretty quickly before solidifying any sort of relationship status between him and Shinji. And also because Shinji has cannonical attraction to both Rei and Asuka and his relationships with them are often given more screentime in the anime (again because of death).

        Blue
  6. I really like how they eased into the relationship, it didn’t feel forced or overexaggerated like a lot of other BL shows (Chris is a tad bit too much though…like seriously, he wanted to come twice, lol). If I had known it would end up like this, I may have been less likely to have watched Yuri on Ice, but because the ice skating aspect and character development has been so phenomenal that I can’t help but root for their relationship, romantic or otherwise, they’re really adorable together, and this is coming from a straight guy. Rooting for them and also looking forward to seeing Yurio appear again and see how much he’s improved!

    ChromeNova
  7. I still don’t think there’s any relationship xD Sorry! they confirmed that they were not that at all already! and it was obvious to me that Victor did it purposely and they didn’t even show you a direct kiss, please xD I am sorry, I am not truly in it for the YurixVictor ship, and I don’t want that one to sail! Mainly because I enjoy it the way it is 😛 /watches people throw tomatoes at me x__x’ sorry!

    Ignoring the elephant in the room and the explosion across the internet last night – I think this episode had nailed the fact that Victor is still a newbie at being a coach, that scene in the garage was just far too beautiful in getting some development going – I wasn’t sure how Yuri would be able to finish his program and did not expect them to resolve it in that way ever. Beautifully done.

    Also for Yuri to perform Victor’s special move – that was like a confession of improvement: I will exceed your expectations.

    I am a Victor fan of course – and finally we know that he doesn’t have ill intentions with Yuri, he just is fond of him.

    Beautiful!

    Mi-Chan
  8. I just realized this story is everybody’s dream.
    You do something you love, but you can’t seem pass some barier that keeps you from achieving your goals. You have an unattianable idol. That idol suddenly sees the potential in you, and couches you into greatness. Plus, you fall in love with eachother!
    Can’t think of someone who woulden’t like that 😛

    NN4
      1. Interesting. The plot can definitely be thought of as a wish-fulfillment fantasy as you say, but I doubt that the fans are self-inserting themselves into Yuri, instead preferring to enjoy Yuri and Victor’s relationship from a third-person perspective.

        Dond
    1. =_= Unfortunately, it’s true. Er, I guess this comment is more to Dond…
      I’ll be browsing Wattpad for some good Viktuuri trash and I’ll stumble across all kinds of reader x and Viktor x OC crap. It really makes me shudder. There are few things worse than a self-inserting fanfic x a popular character when there is a clearly (almost) canon relationship going on between two of the characters, in my opinion (I’m sorry). Like, GUYS! YOU CAN’T INTRUDE IN THAT KIND OF RELATIONSHIP. YOU CAN NOT JUST PLOP YOURSELF INTO THE STORY AND RUIN THE RELATIONSHIP. Jeez! Not to mention they all have horrible grammar and dead, cliche stories!
      They are mostly x Viktor, ‘cuz he’s the most ‘compatible’ character, I guess.
      *Grimace*

      *Deep breath* I’m really sorry for that. I never rant like that, but I feel really strongly about this. Yuuri and Viktor’s relationship is a precious kind of bond. I’ve really never seen anything like it in my three years of reading shoujo manga and one year of shounen-ai + yaoi. It’s something… more than a typical, cookie cutter romance. It’s something more than the sweet romances I’ll look for in children’s novels (because the romance in teen fiction is f***ing disgusting). It transcends my previous idea of a perfect fairy tale true love story.

      Episode seven set me on edge. A new Yuuri was born, a combination of both Eros and Agape. I actually felt a foreboding that something could really go wrong and it would all fall apart. I still feel that way, but I’m hoping it’s nothing. Such raw emotion! The only other time I’ve felt my heart twinge with pain and my stomach clench with nauseous dread was when I was rejected by the person I’ve loved for 8 years (and counting).

      Hey, maybe the reason this isn’t labeled as shounen-ai is because you can’t just lump it in with all rest. It goes beyond shoujo, too. Yeah, it’s funny, but there’s another level to it. This is no Twilight. No Romeo and Juliet. No Underland Chronicles (Though the feels in that one are pretty big near the end, too), no Naruto x Sasuke, no Fault in our Stars or Yandere Simulator.

      It’s something… different. Can’t explain it, but it’s in uncharted territories.

      Wow this got so off topic I don’t even know how that happened like whut?

      Master_iPad
      1. If you are looking for good Viktor/Yuuri fanfics, why aren’t you trying Ao3? Generally you’ll find much better English-language slash fic over there, regardless of fandom. I can confirm that there are several good writers already active in the fandom and out of 1100+ V/Y fics I’ve seen @ 1-2 of the Viktor/reader fics. I can relate to your feelings though. Some people want to insert themselves by pairing their crush with a female character already existing in universe (no matter how far-fetched it would be), and a smaller number seem to go for the more direct route. I try to say “each to their own”, as long as they aren’t erasing the queerness of the fictional character.

        Songster01
  9. SO kubo sensei (creator of Yuri on Ice) on her twitter account right after this episode aired stated essentially “didn’t this episode synchronic with the episode of Nigehaji?” which is a TV shoujo drama and in that episode the two main leads finally kiss…..If that is not a HUGE wink at the audience (or at least the few that refuse to see they are witnessing a Queer romance) that they did indeed kiss I don’t know what is. Here is the Tweet https://twitter.com/kubo_3260/status/798945769747120133 and read the comment tweets. Its precious!!!

    Lizu
  10. Well that was certainly a great episode, but god damn, the KISS! I mean god I hope it was a kiss. If they don’t address it next week I’m gonna be pissed, but I really just don’t see how it wasn’t meant to be read that way, even if it wasn’t explicitly shown. It’s entirely likely that it was simply censored, which is why part of me doesn’t think we should be applauding too hard, but it’s hard not to celebrate what big a deal that is in Japan especially.

    By comparison, look at the American show The Legend of Korra. The show that preceded it, Avatar the Last Airbender, ended with a straight couple kissing. The creators wanted the same ending for LoK with a gay couple and Nickelodeon rejected the ending. Instead, the gay couple held hands and the internet exploded calling it a brave and daring artistic statement. That was in 2014. That’s how it went down in a country where gay marriage is LEGAL.

    Granted, I think there are a lot of cultural differences that affect that comparison, the role and audience of animation in each country for one, but it’s still something I’m gonna be thinking about as I continue to watch this show. Bravo Yuri on Ice!

    innerchihiro
  11. so they kissed. what a let down. as someone who actually wanted to see some real character development this was just a desperate attempt to pull in the audience with cheap fan service. who’s their target audience anyway? not middle aged men like me i guess.

    hwighting
    1. Thank you for your unflagging trollposting.

      I’m sure you haven’t even watched the episode, otherwise you couldn’t have missed the IN-YOUR-FACE character development of Yuri at the car park and at the ice rink. Was it still too subtle for you? Do you need characters having internal monologues in which they spell out how they changed between point Z and point Y to be able to notice character development?

      And how is kissing cheap fanservice? Did we go back in time 40-50 years and romantic kissing is still a big no-no on the TV? Or are you bothered because it was GAY kissing and this made you feel uncomfortable?

      SherrisLok
    2. Bad news! Not only are you NOT the target audience, but pre-sales indicate this show will be a smashing success even without people that feel that way you do! Don’t worry, you won’t be missed.

      musouka

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