Wow, sorry for the delay on this. I was away all weekend and then I got sick. Also I dont want to do this as a batch review with the finale.
It’s the penultimate episode of Yuri on Ice, and the Grand Prix Final Short Program is as penultimate as you can get I suppose. The pressure is on – and Yuri is feeling it stronger than ever. Not only to win, of course, but to impress Viktor. Unfortunately for him, and despite (or perhaps because of) having his shiny new engagement ring to encourage him, he screws up the one move he wanted to impress Viktor with the most and feels terrible for it, despite the fact that he still finished strong.
The pressure doesn’t seem to affect Yurio at all though, and he not only gives his own personal best, he also breaks Viktor’s world record. Things go less well for JJ, who suffers an abrupt panic attack and gives his worst performance yet. Even so, his fans, and fiancee, have nothing but support for him.
After the eventful day draws to a close, Yuri makes a decision to himself and tells Viktor that they should ‘end this’ once the Grand Prix is over.
So here’s another episode that caused a bit of a storm with its conclusion, so I’m going to talk about that first. I really don’t understand why so many people think that Viktor and Yuri are breaking up, as aside from that being Erased-level bullshit writing that I really don’t think Sayo Yamamoto is capable of, the wording of what he said deliberately doesn’t mention exactly what he think should end. Don’t get me wrong, this is still an absurdly stupid cliffhanger that feels really cheap to me in a way that the ‘Makkachin might die!’ thing never did, but either one of two things is happening here: 1)Yuri wants Viktor to quit as his coach due to the fact that Viktor spent about 80% of the episode staring longily, from Yuri’s point of view, at the ice – especially when Yurio broke his record, 2) Yuri thinks he doesn’t deserve Viktor and is weighing him down and wants him to leave him for his own sake. I am 99.99% sure that either of these will lead to a happy ending and there is some serious talking about to go down in the last episode in which Viktor makes it perfectly clear that he has no intention of leaving Yuri and nor does he see him as a burden, and I’m not remotely worried about them breaking up.
What I am worried about is the opportunity for what Yuri said to be catalyst for a big stupid misunderstanding and they will spend most of the episode thinking the other one doesn’t like them anymore until they realise the truth right at the end. This would kill me inside more than anything else, to be honest, because ‘romantic misunderstanding’ is hands down one of my least favourite things. It’s annoying, it’s childish, and this show has been so unchildish and refreshing in its refusal to indulge the kind of cliches more common in shows with primarily teenage casts this whole time that I refuse to believe that it would do something like that. I have faith that it won’t, and if it does it might actually handle it well, but goddamn it, I watched Nagi no Asukara and that was enough stupid teenage romantic misunderstandings that could easily have been solved if any of the characters actually talked to any of the other characters to last me a lifetime, thank you very much. So please, Yuri on Ice. You spared Makkachin, please don’t play the misunderstanding-based drama game. What I’m hoping for is a richer exploration of Yuri’s very obvious anxiety, which has always been his greatest enemy. In fact, now that we’re an episode before the finale, it’s only natural that his anxiety would flare up as a ‘final boss’ – he already nearly had a breakdown just for flubbing the move he wanted to impress Viktor with.
To be honest, this episode disappointed me a little not so much for the cheap cliffhanger but because of how much it felt like it was just all padding for the finale. I realise why they did this, and I don’t mind getting a breather after the incredible episode 10, but there were definitely times when it felt obvious to me that they were trying to stretch things out for the sake of the cliffhanger ending. They even reuse pretty much all the footage of the skaters, although to their credit they pepper it with some commentary and flashbacks that shows us a few new things about them – such as the adorable baby Phichit, and the fact that Christophe has an adorable cat (and possibly a boyfriend? Who was that dude, Christophe?) Otabek was also actually a huge let-down for me, the show really hyped up how incredible he was but his routine – the only one with new animation – was completely forgettable. I realise that they’re saving the big guns for the finale, but I still thought ‘that’s it?’ when he was done. Yurio clearly steals the show with his smashing of Viktor’s record, and the implication that he has now replaced Viktor (whom he remarked to be dead in the previous episode), but somehow his moment got outshone (again) by goddamn JJ. JJ’s inevitable downfall was actually done really well – I genuinely felt bad for him, even while thinking he deserved it at the same time. What I really liked about it is that it didn’t feel like it was being cruel to him – in fact, his fans and fiancee continued to sing his theme song through their tears, proving that they would love him no matter what. While it’s a scene that’s pretty comical in its sincerity, it definitely mirrors what’s going on with Yuri. JJ’s fiancee doesn’t care if JJ doesn’t win gold, and Viktor most certainly doesn’t care if Yuri doesn’t win either. However, I have no doubt that Yuri believes not winning means that it’s over.
I’d like Yuri to win in the end, I feel like he deserves it, but at the same time him having to face the fact that no one would actually hate him for losing would work just as well, if not more so.
The final episode is tomorrow, 3 days before Christmas. Here’s hoping we all get a wonderful Christmas present.