Yūri!!! On Ice is very quickly turning into something that I will hate when it finally ends because then I won’t be able to love on it and enjoy its company every day. While I still have quite a ways to go, the notion of it still makes me very sad.
With that mini-rant out of my system, let’s talk about episodes three and four. Holy shit, how gorgeous is this series? The animation never seizes to impress me. The virtual cinematography and the fact that the creators stuck entirely with 2D animation is so stunning and shows a dedication to the art that I have not witnessed in years. Episode three’s skating programmes with the shiny bits on Yūri’s and Yurio’s costumes made me feel like I was watching an actual, live-action skating event.
The episode also depicted the importance of having to step outside of one’s comfort zones in order to pursue their passions with every single ounce of effort and diligence that they have within them. Most of the time this includes not only stepping out of that familiar cosiness, but also diving head-on into the most frightening options available. I found it inspiring and beautifully captivating. I was expecting the themes to start getting more serious, just not this soon, and while the episode did retain tons of humour to it, the blossoming of those motifs here is working to get me fully addicted to the narrative.
Other things that the episode offered up was a morsel of Yurio’s background. It gives him more depth beyond the “you stole my coach so I hate you” attitude he’s got going on. I’m wishing that more of his past will be explored later on because I know it’s going to be quite impactful on him as a performer and artist. I was also quite surprised to see the Hot Springs gig presented and wrapped-up all in one 24-minute block! This is a sign of marvellous time management and plot progression from the creators.
Episode four had a major shift in its tone from the first quarter of the series thus far, but even then it didn’t feel obscure or out of place. The suspension of comedy is gradual and fluid, so as the focus changes towards the hard-work and internal struggles that the athletes face, it doesn’t sacrifice the storytelling quality to do it. Additionally, this episode had its own inner conflict that contributes to the overarching struggle for the series, and it once again resolved itself—for the most part—in a single segment.
The centre of the episode was on the inner strife that both Yuris need to overcome in order to become the best performers that they can be. For Yūri, it has to do with insecurities and fears that were self-instilled in the wake of his shortcomings during the previous Grand Prix Finale. For Yurio, it’s realising that he’s no longer the best of the best, and half-arsing it won’t get him the gold this time. They work as contrasting parallels that is psychologically very fascinating to me.
Every time I think that I can’t be impressed, this thing goes on ahead and impresses me some more. I think I already said something to that affect above, but I’m shook so I said it again.