Yuri on Ice 1.4: Like Yourself… And Complete The Free Program!!

A song of nice and dire.

Time for a training montage! Yuri and Yurio receive their assignments for the Grand Prix, they both get to work training for the upcoming competition. Victor inspires Yuri to find original music for his performance, while Yurio butts head with his new ex-ballerina coach.

This episode is all about contrast. Yuri and Yurio have the exact same goal — win the Grand Prix — but how they plan to achieve that goal is entirely different. Like Yourself shows us how the two skaters go about training and preparing for the hardest journey of their lives.

Yuri’s journey is all about self-discovery. He has the talent, the skills, the stamina; everything he needs to win except the mental attitude. Yuri is completely in awe of Victor, and in his mind there’s an infinite distance between Victor and himself. Victor’s job is to narrow that gap, to teach Yuri that he can win without fear, and that he can fail without reprisal. In essence his job is to love Yuri, and convince him that love is all he needs to win.

Meanwhile, Yurio’s dealing with the opposite: he has determination and grit to spare, but he doesn’t have the physical prowess to back it up. Yurio doesn’t need love, he needs work. He needs to be stripped down and rebuilt, to be pummelled and polished back into fighting shape. Lilia is the perfect coach for him: someone who’ll force him to practice something a hundred times to get it right, then once more to make it stick.

One of the things I truly admire about this show is how emotionally open it is. This isn’t the usual sports fiction where an asshole coach berates his students into success; instead it’s about the hearts and minds of these athletes and how their insides can have a dramatic effect on their outsides. Yuri confesses so much to Victor — he’s never had a girlfriend, he’s afraid of appearing weak, he can’t handle his own anxiety — and Victor completely understands and absorbs these troubles. And even Lilia has an emotional core to her that she can occasionally put to good use.

The other admirable thing about this show is only now being introduced: the skaters. Yuri on Ice has a huge cast of skaters, coaches, and related members that Yuri is constantly coming into contact with throughout the Grand Prix. Again, these aren’t assholes or enemies, they’re real people with real goals who want the crown as much as Yuri does, and who have to work as hard as he does to get it.

Seeing Yuri talk to Phichit reminded me of the pure sportsmanship on display here. In any other show Yuri and Phichit would be bitter rivals who rarely speak to each other, but here they’re dear friends with so much to share between each other. And it’s not h Phichit, either; in the coming episodes we get to meet an entire family of good-natured, level-headed athletes who bond with and care for each other in such loving ways.

Some more notes before Lilia starts screaming:

  • I like how ballet is such a major element of figure skating. It’s one of those things you’d never imagine yourself, but makes perfect sense when you hear it.
  • Yikes. When Yuri accidentally steps on Macchan, that yelp is a little too real.
  • The chibi interludes continue to be cumbersome, but necessary. Figure skating is a weird sport, and someone has to teach the audience about it!
  • Yurio pulling off his hairtie was a nice moment, but I swear that thing was barely hanging on as it is.

That’s all for today! Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you tomorrow for the next episode of Yuri on Ice!

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