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Thoughts on Yuri!!! on ICE episode 4!

Under the cut!





Yuri!!! on ICE is based on the RW, but nothing exactly the same.

  • I was chatting with @Liuwdere about this, but the order of the GP series in the show is that of the 2013 series in real life, which matches the Sochi GPF being in 2012…

  • But the 2013 Worlds was in Canada, not Japan. The last time Worlds was in Japan was 2014 (Saitama); prior to that, 2007 in Tokyo)



Yurio and puberty

  • Puberty is a bitch for skaters, to say the least. It’s usually worse for girls; 2015 world champion Elizaveta Tuktamisheva and current Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova appear to have been struggling over the last two years. However, the men can also face problems adjusting, especially if they’re growing 4-6 inches a year, like Nam Nguyen over the last few years. This might be one reason a number of figure skaters remain in the junior circuit (age limit: 13 to 18 (women) or 20 (men) on July 1) even as their peers are making themselves known on the senior circuit. Another reason is that program requirements are lower, so that skaters can make sure they have a good foundation before they try to tackle the more difficult jumps in particular.

  • So I can understand why Yurio wants to win the GPF before he enters this difficult period. However, that he’s so focused on the win itself doesn’t sit well with me, for reasons outlined below.



Yuri and his last year?

  • To be frank, it’s strange that Yuri thinks that this may well be his last year, given that he’s only 23/24. If he stays healthy and passionate, then I don’t see why he can’t continue at least a couple more years. It’s not just that Victor himself continued to compete (and dominate) until he was 27—the real figure skating world is full of more mature skaters. Javier Fernandez (25), for example, only hit his stride a few seasons ago, and he’s been reigning world champion for 18 months now. The US and Canadian teams are a mixture of veterans (Adam Rippon (26), Max Aaron (24), Patrick Chan (25)) and rising stars (Nathan Chen, Nam Nguyen). And that’s not just amongst caucasians: Daisuke Takahashi won the 2010 World Championships just after he turned 24, and continued skating competitively until after the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Another elite Japanese skater, Nobunari Oda, retired in 2013 at the age of 26. If Yuri does well in the Grand Prix Series, then I hope the show will end with him intending to continue skating competitively, even on his own.

  • Speaking of Yuri and how this episode was about him finding his way, whilst the blocking and layouts arguably weren’t as interesting as they’d been in episode 2, for example, the backgrounds and use of music were, I felt, quite on point. The rain as he’s running to Hasetsu Ice Castle, with the song his friend had originally composed in as BGM, symbolising Yūri how little confidence he had in himself and in deciding his own direction. I’m not sure the little cut to Yurio was helpful, because it took me until my third watch to understand how his state of mind at that point led to him lashing out at Victor. Then we had the grey sky when they first got to the beach the following day (with fingers of god peeking through, representing the silver lining?)…before the clouds opened up when Yūri finally finds his feet. Incredibly evocative.



The mystery known as Victor

  • Unlike some people, I’ve never thought that Victor was all that frivolous. He was clearly looking for what he wanted to do next, and whilst he can probably make a killing from advertising and ice shows for the rest of his life, he seems to want to leave behind a different kind of legacy. As Yurio pointed out, Victor himself has hit a wall in terms of achieving what he wants as a skater, in that he is no longer able to surprise people.

  • But why Yūri? He explained that he wanted to do something that only he could do: create a program to draw out Yūri’s full potential. Should we take him at face value there? Or, as this blogger on tumblr suggests, should we continue to find Victor as mysterious as Yūri does?

  • It’s a fantastic post on Victor, btw… And I’d have to agree that coach and student will hit another snag somewhere down the track. Perhaps after Yuri doesn’t perform so well at one of the GP tournaments? Victor demonstrated so much cheerful patience in this episode, but there were a couple of moments where I wondered what would happen if he ever snapped.

  • What Yūri admires about Victor and wishes to emulate—choreographing his own programs, having music written to create stories he wants to perform—suggests that, in contrast to Yurio’s focus on the win, they are both focused on the performance. This is familiar to my ears: Yuzu often speaks about wanting to give his best performance, rather than being focused on the scores. If I recall from one commentary last season, the Shibutanis talk about it as well…



Given all of this, I have to say that I’m in Yuri’s camp.

Ah, and I really don’t want to say anything about the “love” that Victor and Yūri bring up at different points in this episode, except to note that the word they both use is “ai.”

Going forward, I'm also wondering whether the production will hold out. We've already seen wonky character faces in the skating scenes, especially with episode 4 this week... And we've also seen lots of repeated animation. I've commented on twitter that I hope to see the skates animated in full by the end of the show...but at the same time, I don't think it'll be as interesting if we've already seen most of it cut differently in the lead up to the finale. One of the draws of following figure skating in real life is that we get to see the programs over and over again; however, because the competitions are in different arenas, we're usually seeing the programs from fresh angles, adding to the joy of seeing the skaters improve (usually) over the season. To be frank, I'm not too keen on the idea of watching the same shots over and over again...