Born to Make History, Continued: Yuri!!! On Ice Episode 3 recap, Eros of the Pork Cutlet Bowl
It’s 5:30AM on Thanksgiving morning now–too early to put a turkey in, but I’m up with a headache again, it’s too early to start on anything because I’ll wake everyone else up, and yes, I’m still eager to talk endlessly about this show.
If you want to see what I said about Yuri!!! on Ice in general and episodes 1-2, you can start on this page. If you’re just tuning in, I seriously suggest you pop back there because this post will make zero sense. If you read my craziness last night, carry on, this is the next installment.
There’s going to be spoilers now, so they will be behind the cut.
Let’s talk about that gorgeous theme song, eh?
“History Maker” by Dean Fujioka is performed in English, yo, though if you listen closely you can tell this isn’t quite the singer’s first language. It’s a kickass song, and I would love to thank YOI for not making it some guitar-jamming thing I can’t even hum to, which is what these themes usually are…but then to have it be in English? Selfishly I’m pleased as hell, because as I stated in the previous post, I do love singing along. It’s perfectly in my range, and I belt it like a motherfucker. I could possibly be persuaded to do some kind of karaoke for charity or something, even though I warn you I suck balls at actually singing these days. I don’t care though. I just love this song.
What history are they born to make, though? How far did they think this through? Normally with anime you’d write it off, you’d say, “Oh, it’s just a catchy song.” I don’t think for one second there’s anything but a hidden meaning in YOI’s theme.
IS THIS NOT THE MOST FUN THING EVER, THAT WE GET TO DIG LIKE THIS? God, even if this is all accidental, even if the creators are sitting in an apartment somewhere binge eating chips and wondering what the shit they started with us all because they just wanted to ship some dudes for fun, who the hell cares? Art, man. They started art. May the gods never take it away.
Episode 3: I am Eros, and Eros is Me?! Face-Off! Hot Springs on Ice
We open with Victor giving the two Yuris their routines for their contest to see who gets to keep him as their coach. Which again, is really gross if you think about it. Victor is seriously a gross guy right now. The shit he gets away with because he’s pretty is unreal. The only reason we aren’t turned off utterly is that Yuri seems to get it, acknowledging he’s not after this guy’s bod, this guy’s friendship, this guy’s anything but his skill, his talent, and his spark, the something he’s been chasing this whole time. I even wonder if part of what Yuri’s letting play out here consciously is allowing his crush/infatuation to die. He’s nobody’s dummy. Maybe this is him allowing that bloom to fade in his hand, to see if it dies or something else appears in its place. A leaf, a new branch of a tree? Or is it simply gone, because there was nothing there to begin with but a bit of fuzz?
Right now, though, he’s got to get his head around the concept of eros, sexual love, and this isn’t easy for a man who has pretty much never felt sexual about anything except pork cutlet bowls. This is the inspiration he eventually uses to find the spirit of his dance, at least part of it, but more on that in a bit. The point is that Yuri doesn’t feel sexual. He’s clearly uncomfortable talking about sex.
I said in my first post about Yuri that there’s an argument for him being an ace (asexual), and someone on Facebook pointed out to me what he likely is (and I agree) is demisexual. I still think at this point you could argue he might be asexual aromantic, but the odds that this is what YOI is aiming for are low. Though given the constraints of what they’re allowed to show on this level of an anime and how heavily they censored That Moment in ep 7, you might be able to make an AA read of the show once it’s finished completion. In any event, once again this show has a lot of great groundbreaking elements to it for queer interpretation, and I hope to hell they don’t step in that.
Back to the recap. We’re getting our programs, Yuri and Yurio both. Yurio gets his agape routine, which is complicated technically (not a problem for Yurio) but requires a high degree of emotional performance as well (definitely a problem for Yurio). Yuri can’t even consistently do the jumps in his routine yet, and while he can do the step sequences in his routine, he still lacks that flair. He gets a leg-up with the think-of-pork-cutlet-bowls trick, but it’s not enough. He needs more.
Victor of course can perform both routines no sweat. His agape is flawless, beautiful, and his eros is “pleasure upon pleasure, enough to make me, a man, pregnant!” Yuri is unsure he can do the routine, but Victor is convinced he can. He believes Yuri has eros inside him. He wants Yuri to show it to him. Soon.
So this reinforces that demi arc, for sure, but it also pushes this idea of someone who simply has something inside them they’ve been too scared to let out of them. Victor is trying to push it out. And here for the first time you begin to wonder about how flighty Victor really is. Did he really come here on a whim? Would he really go back to Russia with Yurio if he won? Or is he here making sure Yuri doesn’t lose?
I think it’s a little more complicated than that. I think Victor is here to teach Yuri, yes, but the argument I’m going to begin now and keep making (and why I love this show so damn much) is that though Victor is the one Yuri has worshipped, what happened in episode one with that video is the script was already flipped. Victor has been quietly worshipping Yuri already. Or wanting to. Victor wants the man he saw in that video, and he has come here to get him. It may or may not be about sex. I don’t even think he cares. It’s bigger and more important than dick. He wants someone to follow, because he’s tired of leading. But then he got here and saw how much work there is to do, and these first few episodes is him debating, is it worth it? Did I really see it?
Yuri doesn’t even know there’s a game on, though I think in this episode he begins to understand. With the eros assignment, Victor lays out an invitation, and Yuri eventually picks it up. But before I can explain how, we have to get back to poor Yurio.
Oh man, Yurio.
So Yurio is an angry asshole, and I suspect eventually we’ll get why. If you’re reading this and you’re one of my readers of the Love Lessons series, he’s the Elijah Price of the situation, but it’s all messed up because Victor would by extension be Baz Acker and the pairings are messed up, because Yuri would have to be some kind of morph of Giles and Aaron.If you’re not my reader and you ended up here by some link or tag and you’re thinking, what the hell are you on about, sorry. Link here, quick divergence and then we’ll get back. He’s not Elijah exactly, but the echoes are interesting because he’s definitely got some wounded past I’m waiting to find out, though the whole grandpa thing (who he uses to find inspiration for his agape routine) breaks me. Yurio just cannot relax. He’s so driven, like he can’t relax or feel safe until he’s on top. He’s so jealous and hateful of Victor even as he worships him. Total father figure thing going on there, which fits because Victor’s twelve years his senior.
Yurio has drive and talent, but he can’t relax and enjoy his sport. He can’t let go of his negativity, and when he does manage to do so it only takes one glance and his jealousy and rage come back. They always undo him. He breaks my heart, even though he also annoys me because he’s so mean to Yuri. I want to mother the hell out of that boy.
Victor does coach Yurio, but he’s not as invested as he is with Yuri. He’s more indifferent, always sending Yurio to a temple or a waterfall or random places to find inspiration, sounding bored when he does it. When he coaches Yuri, as mentioned above, it’s all touches and embraces and nuzzles.
Yuri keeps trying to find his eros, as already mentioned. He has the pork cutlet bowl inspiration, and he’s trying to work this angle of a playboy coming to town and seducing women. But nothing feels right, not like him. His friend suggests he do what he did in the video where he copied Victor, because he looked pretty sexy then. But Yuri says he doesn’t want to simply copy Victor. He wants to be his own kind of eros, because he wants to be more than Victor. This is met with laughs, and Yuri immediately downplays his dream.
But this isn’t the first or even the second time Yuri’s said this. Over and over Yuri has said he wants to surpass Victor. This makes me think the plot is going to arrange itself so that he has that chance at least to try.
It’s on the final night right before the contest that Yuri gets his inspiration, after he sees Yurio has found his own key to unlocking his program. Yuri goes to Minako and asks her to teach him how to refine his routine and move “like a woman,” because that’s closer to how he feels when he dances. He wants to be the woman who seduces the playboy when he dances.
I’m going to repeat that. The male lead of a popular anime said, with gravity and as a key plot point which solved his problem and gave him the win of the show, that he wanted to learn how to move like a woman. You saw that. It happened. We got here. How about that, goddamn.
Yuri does get his moves into his routine like he wants, and he’s gorgeous. He doesn’t really move like a woman–he moves like a Yuri. He finds his skin. He flubs a few of his technical moves, but his presentation is intense, and he takes everyone’s breath away. Yurio does well, but he’s so busy trying to get the moves right he can’t keep the feel of his agape, and he knows he didn’t do as well as Yuri. He leaves before he even hears the results, heading back to Russia.
There are other great moments in this episode–Yurio and Yuri wearing Victor’s old costumes, Yuri choosing the one Victor wore during his androgynous routine when he was young and had long hair, the one he wore the first time Yuri saw him. There’s Victor showing up for the event in Japanese costume doing tourism for Hasetsu instead of being a good coach–and boy do we have more to talk about with Victor as coach. There’s the contest itself, the town getting so excited for it, the joy of his family and friends getting to see him perform so seriously when usually they don’t. Of all of them getting to see this moment with him. And as always, there’s so much simple beauty in this, the animation, the cinematography—it’s a balm to your soul, every time, this show.
But what I really love is the moment right before Yuri goes out to skate. When Yuri realizes what’s on the line, when he claps his hands over his mouth and Victor comes up to soothe him, something he didn’t do for Yurio. But before Victor can do much, Yuri soothes himself and promises Victor, “I will be a beautiful pork cutlet bowl, so please watch me!” Then hugs him. Victor says of course he will. He loves pork cutlet bowls.
Oh, my fucking heart.
This is what I’m saying. How much does Yuri get it here? Does he know, and this is code? Would the writers have made this full on gay gay gay if they could have? Did they mean it to be demi? Is Yuri sexually interested at all?
We don’t know, and that’s what’s so great. The spaces in this are what make it so beautiful. You can write whatever you want in here. You can have whatever Yuri you want. You can have whatever Victor you want.
Happy fucking Thanksgiving. More to come.