The Gist: Yuri and Yurio’s competition begins in earnest, with Victor revealing their choreography and setting the stakes high for both skaters. Yurio quickly locks down his technical performance but his greed is too obvious for ‘agape.’ Meanwhile, Yuri can not lock down the quad salchow and struggles with his presentation of ‘eros,’ which feels too much like a cheap copy of Victor.
Eventually, Yurio locks in on the memories of his grandfather, who came to many of his early matches and his performance wows the crowd, and even earns high marks from Victor.
Yuri actually fumbles one of his own jumps but, having locked in on a feminine treatment to contrast Victor’s masculine ‘playboy’ structure, he gets more to the point of the competition.
Ultimately, the technical difficulty of Yurio’s routine is his undoing. The performance takes his all to execute, which leaves no room to think of the deeper artistic expression. He leaves before hearing the verdict.
“You’re gushing all sorts of fluids again…”
Yuri!!! has used intermixed multiple rendering styles in its frames since the beginning, but the technique really clicked with me this week. There’s a kind of forced depth of field and attention focusing that it accomplishes that is different from a typical anime, which would make non-focal characters ‘simpler’ but the same style as the focal character in the frame.
Using Yurio as an example, when he’s the focus, he’s leaned forward in a confrontational way, and his shadowing is higher contrast and sharply edged, and when he’s in the background, his eyes are always large and creased over to remind us that everyone disgusts him. This maintains a continuity for Yurio’s impatient teen personality without feeling redundant and without making that stronger personality dominant in each frame.
Compare this with Victor, who is rarely cartooned in the background, but often leans back with one foot tilted up when he’s the focus. It maintains his playful nature but also emphasizes he’s the most adult (being rendered like an adult vs the ‘boys’ being rendered like cartoon children).
Roll your eyes or not, this show is the stuff of art school term papers and graduate analysis.
The Verdict: Last week I was initially put off by the show and I couldn’t figure out why until I let the opening credits roll. (I usually skip anime openers to avoid spoilers) While the opening is technically competent on its own, with good music and one of the better Engrish Songs I’ve heard in anime, it isn’t remarkable.
But it does a remarkably good job anchoring the themes of the show in a way I didn’t anticipate. Skating is intrinsically feminine-looking (from my cultural perspective at least) but that does not necessarily mean homosexual. Even if the show gets there eventually, the opening’s ink style, which has each character repeating gestures and wearing similar (if not identical) costumes, sells me on the dance—the skating—presenting that sexuality over the performers themselves.
I can’t think of another anime that mind-spaced me so specifically, or adjusted my interpretation of the contents of an episode. Artistic thought, Yuri has in spades!