I Am Pork, and Pork is Me?!
The battle begins! Victor reveals his themes to the boys: Yurio gets Agape (unconditional love), while Yuri gets Eros (romantic love). Both struggle with their themes, but eventually find the inspiration they need to make it work. At the Hot Springs on Ice event, Yurio performs technically well but is nervous and unfocused, while Yuri’s performance is much more seductive and appealing. Yuri wins the contest and Yurio heads home.
Before we get started, I’d like to say that I’m still madly in love with the OP, and I still watch it every time an episode starts. It’s like a microcosm of the entire show: the three main characters, dancing with each other in their own styles and costumes. It’s also helpful for these reviews, since it gives me a chance to study the characters and their movements before the episode starts proper. Best OP ever.
This episode has some neat subtext I’m only just noticing: the slowly-developing relationship between Yuri and Yurio. When the show started the boys could barely get along (mostly because of Yurio), but throughout this episode we see them both get worn down by Victor and gain some camaraderie from it. They train together, eat together, live together, and by the end they’re completely supportive of each other’s performance. It’s a nice little undertone to the whole episode.
Let’s move on to the actual text and talk about Agape and Eros. The first time I saw the show I thought it was a pretty obvious gimmick to give Agape to Yurio and Eros to Yuri, but as I pass through a second time I’m impressed by how deep these opposing themes work. Yuri is a nervous wreck who’s never had a serious girlfriend, never had the time or energy to invest in those things, never once given himself the chance to explore or enjoy that side of himself. But by using Eros, he can identify that side of his personality and finally harness it.
Meanwhile, Yurio is a lustful little punk who’s spent his youth doing whatever the hell he wants, regardless of whether it’s good for him or not. Agape isn’t just a revelation for him, it’s a life lesson he desperately needs to learn: there are other people in this world, people who love him fully and unconditionally, and he needs to grow up and respect that love before it’s gone. Unfortunately he doesn’t completely learn that lesson in this episode, but I’m glad he’s getting there.
Actually, while we’re on the subject of Yurio’s not-quite-Agape I wanted to talk about how his loss was presented. From an audience perspective (both the audience in the show and the audience watching the show) his performance was flawless. He looked great, moved perfectly and didn’t seem to fail or flounder at any point. The only “failure” we see is him thinking to himself and worrying that he hasn’t quite got it yet. It still works, but I would have preferred to see him actually failing, instead of just seeing him fear failing. Show, don’t tell.
Finally, allow me to gush on a tiny technical detail of the show. I’ve been noticing that the character’s faces are constantly changing to fit the scene. It’s as if the show exists on a spectrum from “chibi cute” to “darkly serious”, and each scene is set at a different point on that spectrum. I’ve never seen faces so malleable before: Yuri in particular is like a lump of clay that’s constantly being reshaped to fit the moment. Really nice work from the animators.
A few more notes before Victor forgets his promise:
- I love the posters Yuuko’s kids put up, such a nice little detail.
- Some fascinating animation with Yuri’s Eros story and Yurio’s Agape memory. I like a show that can deviate from its own norm to show us something novel.
- The exercise montage is great, mostly because it shows how strange and specific figure-skating exercise can be.
- Victor’s little whistle at Yuri is so cute. You can just tell these two will end up together.
- Wow, these reviews are getting long. I guess when you watch a show twice you have twice as much to say!
That’s all for today. Thank you so much for reading, and I’ll see you tomorrow for the next episode of Yuri on Ice!