So I’m gonna try something somewhat new. I did an analysis and reaction to an episode of The Flash that I loathed, a couple of years ago. Now, I want to try a similar idea–pick an episode, react to it. See how it goes. If I love it and other people enjoy it, than I may continue this in addition to reviewing shows by season. Since these will be shorter, I will likely be able to publish them more often. If you have any thoughts about these, please leave a comment. I always want to know how to improve.
Spoilers for Season 1 Episode 1 Below!
This episode pulls me in from the start. The sound of blades scraping the ice. The way the shadow falls on the solitary figure skating. The way the music is so simple, a few scattered piano notes that bring attention to the simple beauty of the skating.
Seeing Yuri as a kid watching Victor skate is kind of confusing. I know in the present day Victor is 27 and Yuri is 23 (same age as me!). So how did Yuri grow up watching Victor, who looks like an adult in all his shots? Then again, Victor’s hair color being gray may factor in to why I think he looks so much older. Still…maybe that was a slip-up? I didn’t notice it the first time I watched.
Also, I don’t ever see people as hot or attractive really, but I have the feeling based on Yuri’s reaction that Victor pulls off the long hair and the short hair equally well.
The intro is absolutely beautiful, rendered like a drawing. The movements are graceful, and the song is one I just love to listen to. The usage of color is attractive as well.
Here are some of the lyrics:
Can you hear my heartbeat?
Tired of feeling never enough
I close my eyes and tell myself
that my dreams will come true
There’ll be no more darkness
when you believe in yourself
you are unstoppable
Where your destiny lies, dancing on the blades,
you set my heart on fire
Don’t stop us now, the moment of truth
We were born to make history
We’ll make it happen, we’ll turn it around
Yes, we were born to make history
Now during the first episode, I had no idea how hard it was to pull off a Grand Prix win. I figured it was tough, but the fact that Victor has had 5 Grand Prix wins back to back is nothing short of phenomenal. I didn’t realize how much constant training, grinding and polishing one’s skills, was necessary to make this feat even remotely possible.
The announcer says that Victor might retire after this season. Apparently figure skaters retire young. He’s only 27. I guess in my head athletes retired around the same age as other careers, maybe in one’s 50s or 60s. It does make sense that over time as the body ages, they would not have the same level of physical ability. But 27 still seems pretty darn young.
Yuri Katsuki performed in this same Grand Prix and it was an utter failure. The news articles say that he has “tumbled” into last place, and that his nerves got the best of him. Now, I cannot relate completely to this since he is at a professional level, but I had a similar experience.
It took me about four years of training to earn my black belt in Tang Soo Do. That’s pretty standard for that martial art since they emphasize muscle memory, which requires time to develop. After that, I spent two more years in serious training to prepare for my second degree black belt test.
On the day of the test, we drove for hours to the testing location. We arrived and I was feeling super nauseous since I get easily carsick, and I was way off-the-wall anxious. The pretests I had to take to get to this point were brutal, so I had felt prepared.
Long story short, I failed. My instructor and the masters that were present came to the same conclusion. I was off my game. I wasn’t myself. I let my nerves get the best of me and it was a complete flop. I’d like to say that I easily got over the defeat and tested again, but instead I avoided further testing and stayed my current rank. After a couple more years, I officially quit. I tried to hide how much it bothered me that I failed. I felt like I had disappointed everyone who had believed in me. I even wrote in the journal I only write in when I am at the low points in my life.
So, yeah. In some small way, I get it. Yuri probably felt that he had let everyone down, that he may as well quit because he wasn’t good enough. He probably compared himself to others. It was likely a major hit to his ego, even though I know he isn’t a prideful person.
Anyway, at this point, goofy cartoon narrator Yuri pops on screen and introduces himself. Hi chibi Yuri! (if you don’t know what chibi is, it’s a certain style that makes people look like a child-sized cute version of themselves.)
Yes, that picture is technically from a different episode, but it’s the only one I could find online.
Another thing many people can relate to. In addition to his anxiety, his family dog died. I know how much losing a pet can affect your mood and ability to handle general life stuff. It’s hard. When my own dog had to be put down, it had me out of sorts for awhile too, mourning her loss. And Yuri was really close to his dog, which will be apparent later.
Yuri even finds out his mom had a viewing party to watch the Grand Prix where he failed completely. Ouch…no wonder he apologizes and starts crying.
Another skater named Yuri, who competed in a younger bracket and is Russian, is less than sympathetic. (Since he is nicknamed Yurio later in the anime, I will use that name to distinguish them.) While the Yuri is crying in a bathroom stall–a very good place to cry, though I prefer the shower–Yurio literally kicks the bathroom stall door. Now if that happened in real life I would probably scream in panic that the stall was occupied. As if he didn’t know that.
Yurio wants Yuri to quit so there are not two Yuris in the same bracket. I can see why that would make sense for publicity reasons, but still, RUDE. Yurio gets in his face and calls him a loser. He obviously has some anger issues. At this point, I dislike him, but will give him a chance to grow into a likeable character.
We learn a couple more interesting facts. Yuri’s dog had been named Victor, and because he had been traveling when the dog died, he never got to say goodbye. It would have been so much harder for me to handle losing my dog Rosie if I hadn’t had my chance to say my final goodbye.
When Yuri is leaving, Victor sees Yuri and asks if he wants to get a photo together. Yuri is so overwhelmed that he just walks out. I personally have never had a real celebrity obsession, so I don’t really get it. I would never get really excited to meet a famous actor or writer or athlete. To me, all people are just people. I’ve gotten a few autographs from some mildly….I wouldn’t say famous, let’s say popular….singers, back when I attended Christian music concerts. I think I threw them away, or maybe they are in a box somewhere. I’d rather discover the signatures of my long-dead ancestors (yes, I am a huge genealogy nerd) than from some famous person who has no real connection to me.
I can understand why he would walk away though. So many mixed up feelings inside. Disappointment, grief, anxiety, excitement, embarrassment.
There is a time jump of a year after this scene, and Yuri has just returned home to Hasetsu. It’s been five years since he has been home. To his utter horror, there are still posters up in the station with his picture on them advertising the Grand Prix. He is kinda like a town hero.
He has obviously gained some weight, which is likely at least partially due to his aforementioned habit of binge-eating when anxious or upset. Furthermore, we learn that he has always gained weight easily.
He arrives home and everyone is super excited to see him but he just wants to rest. The offer of a pork cutlet bowl is well-received by him, but he wants to pay his respects to his dog first.
Yuri’s family runs a hot spring inn, which is kind of interesting. I’ve never been to one but they sound nice, especially to a cold-hating person with Pernio like me.
Yuri heads to the skating rink for what seems like the first time in awhile. The owner of the rink says they are closed, but then recognizes him and….
Skip to commercial break. Except there really is none because this is streaming with premium. Yay! But the image right before the supposed break in Yuri on Ice is always some kind of delicious looking food that is eaten from the plate in the next panel. This time it looks like some sort of bread with meat or something inside. I wish I knew what it was.
The owner of the rink is a childhood friend of Yuri. She was the one who introduced him to Victor. Her name is Yuuko, and she was also a pretty phenomenal skater before giving it up to focus on her family. Her ice skating nickname was “The Madonna.”
The way that Yuri reacts when she gets excited to see him makes me think he has a crush on her. The awkward blushing and all, and saying she’s pretty. But Yuri is just a really awkward guy in most social situations, so it makes sense either way.
In a flashback, we see Yuri and Yuuko hanging out and skating together as kids. We also find out that the reason that Yuri got a poodle and named it Victor is because Victor has a poodle of his own.
Yuri performs a beautiful routine created by Victor. This episode is the first time I was introduced to figure skating language–a lutz for example, being a particular kind of jump. Every sport and art has its own lingo–it was the same for Tang Soo Do. As a former English major, I love learning new words. Also, I didn’t realize it before watching this anime, but figure skating appears to be as much about the movement of the arms as the legs. It’s a whole-body sport, like Tang Soo Do. The placement of every limb and the movement of every muscle counts.
Minako, a friend of the family, is simultaneously watching Victor on television. Even though she is a fan of figure skating, she clearly is primarily interested in watching hot guys. I absolutely cannot relate. I don’t even know how to identify someone who is hot. Just me here, being super ace.
She says the music does not really fit Victor, and would be better for a dewy-eyed youngster. Now, I mentioned before that I have watched this entire anime somewhat recently. I can say for a fact that this music fits Victor to a tee.
The animation that goes into making those fast spins look natural must be crazy hard.
Even though the routine is pretty short, he is sweating by the end of it. It is obvious that the routine is incredibly physically taxing. And beautiful too. Figure skating truly is an art.
Yuuko has triplet daughters and is married, which clues me off that there probably won’t be anything other than friendship between her and Yuri. Which is perfectly reasonable, despite Yuri’s crush-like embarrassment at first. I think he acted that way because he hadn’t seen her in five years. Heck, I don’t know if I would even recognize someone if we were apart 5 years due to my inability to recognize faces well. I can understand a little awkwardness on meeting someone again after that long.
The girls are named Axel, Loop, and Lutz, which are all kinds of skating jumps. It is no big surprise that they have an obsession with figure skating. They uploaded the video of Yuri skating Victor’s routine using their mom’s social media account.
We get a shot of Victor watching Yuri in the video and he looks super serious.
Yuri is bowled over by a dog that looks similar to his dog that died. He realizes it is Victor’s poodle and finds out he is in the hot spring. I don’t know why we needed a scene of Victor naked (I mean, at least they didn’t really show TOO much), but when Victor announces he is to be Yuri’s coach, I was so happy. When I first watched this, I expected them to be rivals or for Victor to just be all that Yuri aspired to be.
The outro is as much a work of art as the intro. The beautiful lights, the interactions between the characters, and the social media pictures all contribute to making this outro attractive and worth watching more than once.
So…that’s all I have. What do you think of my episode analysis? Any details you noticed in the episode too? Do you see why I enjoy this anime so much? Feel free to leave a comment or message me on any of my socials if you have any observations.