Anime

Does Yuri on Ice Reach Its Full Potential? My Thoughts on the Last Few Episodes

The simudub for Yuri on Ice ended last week, and is the reason why I tend to wait until a series is over to watch the entire thing.  I enjoyed watching the show as it aired with the blogosphere and Twitter, but having to wait two weeks for a dubbed episode to air and be two episodes behind everyone was torture!  That being said, I’m not sure if being pre-exposed to all of the spoilers and commentary on the show effected my viewing of the last three episodes (I waited for all three to be released before finishing the series) but there just seemed to be something…missing from the series for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the series, and think the characters are amazing.  But I do think there were a few missed opportunities  by series end that we could have seen happen instead of some things that did happen.  Spoilers for Yuri on Ice below!

 

My first nit pick is, why did they show us so many characters, when only three of them were important?  Or rather, they only cared to flesh three of them out fully.  I get that it’s a tournament style show, but we saw the main six skaters so many times and didn’t get any more motivations from them than their internal monologues while skating.  I loved the first half of the series, when Yuuri was still unsure of himself, and Victor had to help him overcome his fears and deal with his shortcomings, and when Yuuri was growing more confident in himself with minor lapses I thought it would have been a great time to focus more on the other skaters, off of the ice.  As it stands, the only characters we got a decent amount of focus on were JJ and Yurio, and I felt the Yurio spotlights near the end were a bit under-developed too.  The format of skate, monologue, next opponent skates wore on me in the last two episodes as well, mainly because of one thing:  JJ was getting some character development, and I found it way more interesting than the skating in the finals!
That’s my next point, the way they treated JJ.  First of all, why do we need an “antagonist” character?  Especially when the series was painted more as a compete against yourself to be the best you can be motif  from episode 1.  Plus, JJ was full of himself sure, but far from an antagonist, especially since he didn’t interact with the other characters more than saying he was going to win, which everyone was doing!  When they focused on JJ in the last three episodes, I found him so fascinating.  Those flashbacks were really great, and the fact that he obviously is far more sensitive and caring then he lets on, and uses that confident mask to keep himself a float during competitions, as shown with the flashback with his Mom was really touching to see.  So, why didn’t we get to see more of that development?  Why couldn’t we see him interact with his girlfriend a bit more?  The scene where everyone was still cheering for him after he choked got me all emotional and teary-eyed, more so than anything Yuuri was going through at the moment because let’s be real here:  His character arc was done by the final few episodes.  I would have much preferred to focus more on the side characters, more than just the throw away lines they were given in the end that seemed like the writers wanted to do more with them, but were restricted by the show’s title characters having to be in the spotlight, whether their stories were done or not.

 

I know I’m going to be in the minority with this, but I, uh, really don’t see Yuuri and Victor as a romantic couple.  Like, I saw everyone all over the internet gushing about “The rings!  The dancing on the ice, EEEE!” and that made me think that for once, the subtext of the will they won’t they relationship prominent in sports anime hadn’t happened. But, it pretty much did?  Like the rings lean more on the non-subtext side but still are subtext.  I don’t find saying they’re a good luck charm to be a declaration of love, and Victor saying that they’d be married if Yuuri won seemed like one of Victor’s I’m joking, but secretly serious lines. There was never a straight up conversation between the two that was like “Hey Victor, I think I’m in love with you” or not even something so blunt, but just a conversation about where they stood emotionally would have been a nice touch to throw any subtext out of the way.

 

What was I hoping for, you ask?  An actual conversation about their feelings.  They tip-toed around it the entire series, and in my opinion saying you want your skating coach to stay with you and help you train for next season isn’t really cementing a romantic relationship.  They said far more heartfelt things than that, but for me they didn’t bridge the gap from being close friends and colleagues to something more.  It was a really, really missed opportunity considering all of the build up, and honestly was disappointing for me by the end of episode 12.

 

This last one may be because I was pre-exposed to a ton of spoilers, but the pointless mellow drama in episode 12 was just…there.  Like, we know Victor and Yuuri aren’t going to break their coach-skater relationship, so why make all of this build up happen when it’s not going to?  Was anyone surprised when they didn’t split up at the end?  Instead of providing that senseless conflict, I would have much rather seen Yuuri go through something else.  Maybe instead of wrestling with that weird decision that he found a loophole for (which I really didn’t get because he made the initial decision in the first place) why not have his inner conflict be something else?  Or maybe not even have an inner conflict for Yuuri:  just show how far he’s come, how confident he was all the way instead of the halfway they did in the final episode.

 

I don’t mean to bash Yuri on Ice, by any means:  like I said, I loved the series, and these are all minor nit picks that stopped me from enjoying the show fully in its last few episodes.  My main complaint was the JJ character development that was super interesting to me that they just…dropped and resolved super quickly, and that got me thinking about everything else in the final episodes that made me go hrmmm.  I think Yuri on Ice is a show better to binge watch, because I really enjoyed it a lot more when I watched episodes in chunks.  Having to wait two weeks for an episode made me enjoy it a bit less then I think I would have if I just watched it in one sitting, but that may just be me and my preferences.

 

Now that Yuri on Ice has been over for a few weeks, do you have any different opinions on it than when you were watching?  Do you think it had any shortcomings, or did you love it all the way through.  Would love to hear in the comments!

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2 thoughts on “Does Yuri on Ice Reach Its Full Potential? My Thoughts on the Last Few Episodes

  1. I’m completely with you on JJ. I didn’t like how they kind of derailed his character. I was actually waiting to see the one good skater because when I used to watch skating on TV I didn’t see people make as many mistakes as these guys. JJ was skilled and he was confident about that. That doesn’t make him a villain, which he got treated as a little bit.

    I also think Yuri’s conflict could have been done better. Yes, getting to know Victor was more important to him than the medal, but it was like that was never really at stake. Not winning the gold didn’t change that, so really what was he fighting against?

    It’s small things like this that you notice after you give the series some time to settle. Great post in any case. There was so much to enjoy about it and doing these few things cleanly would have made it much stronger still.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I wish they had cut out a bit of the repeated skating routines we kept on seeing to flesh out the important side characters a bit more, I think that’s the only way they could have done it in a 12 episode run.

    I want an entire episode dedicated to JJ, he’s so interesting! Glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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