Born to Make History: Yuri!!! On Ice episode 5-6 recap summary
I’m doing recaps five and six together because I feel like I can. I’m tempted to put seven in with it, but for Reasons, I can’t put seven in with anything. So five and six together it is.
Also, I’ve had requests come through that I not include GIFS in my posts for disability reasons. I had a billion reactions to that at once, shame that I didn’t think of that, disappointment because I love GIFS, then frustration because I know other people also love them and I want to try to make everyone happy, plus sometimes I can only find GIFs (and I’m lucky to get any images remotely close to the ones I want at all, since technically we’re all thieves here, but we’re in that grey area where the anime studio is quietly saying sure go ahead, give us free promo but not actually giving permission). So what I’m going to do is make two posts of these, one with GIFs and images and one with none. So if you want an image-free post, click this link and you’ll go to my website, where you will see this exact same stuff with no images. I’ll do this from now on, and when I get a moment I’ll go back and do that retroactively for the other posts. There’s only one GIF in this post, as it happens, the first image after the cut, just FYI.
Episode 5: Face Beet-Red!! It’s the First Competition! The Chugoku, Shikoku, and Kyushu Championship”
In the way that often goes with epic episodes, this one is a bit of a filler, though important stuff happens here, and it’s in no way skippable. This is a national competition Yuri needs to get through in order to advance because he placed so low last year. Victor thinks he’ll do fine, no problem and tells the press so, but Yuri reminds him he did poorly last year and it was entirely due to his tendency to get nervous and sabotage himself. And he hasn’t competed in a year, either–he’s only been skating on his own and then with Victor for six months.
Victor is part coach, part cheerleader. He has a box of tissues at the warm up rink inside of a holder that looks exactly like his dog, Makkachin, who is of course back home at the hot springs. He tells Yuri Makkachin is cheering for him too, but Yuri is obsessed with self-doubt and no dog, stuffed or otherwise, can relieve him of his worry. He tries to focus, but he keeps reliving his past failures. And it doesn’t help him much when Victor shoes up in a suit and everyone fawns over him because he’s so handsome.. Or when Victor gets a bit too focused on what this moment should be about him as a coach. Yuri skates onto the ice for warm up before his short program, clearly nervous, and disaster seems imminent.
Before this can happen, though, Victor orders Yuri to stand before him and turn around. Yuri complies and Victor grabs him, hauling him into a backward embrace. The cameras of the press flash as Yuri sputters and Victor closes his eyes, savoring the moment before he whispers, “Seduce me with all that you have. If your performance can charm me, you can enthrall the entire audience. That’s what I always say in practice, right?”
“Right,” Yuri agrees.
As a technique, it’s a good one. Yuri focuses on being a beautiful pork cutlet bowl, skating like he always does in practice. When the audience gets a little lukewarm, he thinks of what Victor would like and takes himself back to Hasetsu, thinking of rehearsing at home for Victor alone. It works, and though he flubs a few technicalities here and there, he keeps thinking of the way Victor looks at him, touches him, speaks to him, and he performs well, earning a high score.
He also earns the admiration of another junior skater…and a lecture on what he didn’t do well on from Victor. It was his personal best, his score, but Victor thinks he could still do much better, seeing a great deal more potential in him. At the same time, Victor wants Yuri to lower the difficulty of his jumps for the free skate the next day, to better pace himself for the rest of the season. He delivers this advice through the stuffed kleenex dog as well. Yuri doesn’t care for it at all.
He’s also not wild about Minami’s admiration of him, even when it turns out to be real admiration, not ironic as he first suspects. Yuri is having a difficult time comprehending this idea that he could be someone worth looking up to. He decides he should simply ignore Minami and focus on himself, but when Victor chides him for not thinking of others, Yuri wishes Minami good luck and then allows himself to see his own former self in Minami. He realizes he’s already done some growing, that he does have control. Of course, at the same time, when he does his own free skate, he rejects his own coach’s advice and keeps his difficult jumps in, resulting in slamming his face into one of the walls.
But he also does well in his free skate overall–his mishap with his jump is minor, and after a stiff beginning, he loses himself to the feel of the second half of the program. While he skates, however, we get Victor’s narration, who is surprised to see that Yuri has changed the jump elements, and is worried because the part of the program that is supposed to represent Victor’s entrance into his life looks like he didn’t like it at all. Victor is so invested in him, not only cheering him on but clearly living the skate with him. The looks he gives Yuri…god, those alone are everything. But with the music playing, with Yuri skating? You see why I keep watching this. And you get more insight into Victor here too, as he muses about rebellious students, realizing he was one too. As the program ends, Yuri with a bloody nose from banging into the wall, Victor has to decide how to play it. Instant lecture, like he would have received? Or does he do something else?
Yuri looks at him hopefully, sheepishly. Victor allows himself a face palm. Then he opens his arms wide, welcoming Yuri into them….only to withdraw the embrace when he realizes Yuri is going to bleed all over his new suit.
And so now we are off to the Cup of China, where Yuri will face off against his friend Phichit, and some new rivals.
Episode 6: China’s On! The Grand Prix Series Opening Event!! The Cup of China Short Program
Victor and Yuri say goodbye to Hasetsu, flying (coach, to Victor’s dismay) to join everyone else in the competition. Yuri is besieged by press because of his declaration this season’s theme will be love and because his comeback is a great story, but Victor just wants to go get hot pot, and tries to pull Yuri away mid-interview. He also tries to drag along his old coach Yakov, who roundly rejects his offer and reminds him he will be nothing but a failure as a coach.
At dinner Victor as usual eats lustily, while Yuri mostly worries about the next day. They run into Phichit, who joins them with Celestino. Victor and Celestino have too much to drink, and Victor ends up disrobing at the table and draping himself all over Yuri. They’re joined during the meal by two other skaters, and pictures of half-naked Victor giving bedroom eyes to the camera while he makes out with a terrified-looking Yuri are all over social media the next day. And of course they were all over the internet in the real world too. It was this episode’s viral sharing that lured me into the net.
It may be important to not later that it was Phichit who posted the photos, so let’s note it now. It’s Chris, a skater from Switzerland, the next day who grabs Yuri’s ass and scolds him first for not inviting him to bed with him and Victor and then for keeping Victor to himself. Unclear here whether we’re to infer whether or not Victor was a playboy across gender lines or not. Since they don’t make it clear, ever, go ahead and draw your own conclusions as you like.
Victor does some gossiping with other skaters–female mostly–though he also catches up with Chris and Chris’s coach, briefly. Mostly though this episode is a display of short programs, first Phichit’s. He’s dancing to “Shall We Skate,” from the hit film, The King and the Skater. Which cracks me up every time. But I do love Phichit. So you rock your silly song and film, dude.
What we do need to note, though, is that while Yuri watches everyone skate, he also realizes what everyone’s been telling him, what he’s seen here in China with his own eyes: he has taken Victor from the sport, and Victor is terribly popular. People do resent him for that loss. They will hold it against him. They’re not there for him at all. They might well all be ready to resent him. He decides, fine–he wants to be hated then. He wants to be resented as the man who took Victor from them all.
Before the event, Victor tells Yuri the time for imagining pork cutlet bowls is over. He can seduce the audience with his own personal charm. He can imagine it just fine, can’t he? Yuri links their fingers and draws him in close, pressing their foreheads together. “Don’t ever take your eyes off of me,” he tells Victor. Victor is stunned at the difference, wondering what’s flipped his switch. The music starts, and and Yuri takes it away.
This is a wonderful clip to watch, because it’s Yuri’s most glorious performance of his short program so far. Technically his performance of it in episode 8 has a higher score, but there’s a joy to it here, because of how he gets there, plus it has triumphant Victor at the end.
He’s gone great, and he’s in first place–he doesn’t seem happy about it, though, which we’ll learn more about why in the next episode. First, though, we see performances by a few more skaters, Georgi P, another Russian skater, who is supposed to have a lot of promise but who mostly seems like he has serious stalker issues. Also we watch Chris skate, who should have installed a stripper pole on the ice, and Leo, an American skater who “wants to fill the world with things he likes” and hopefully goes home soon to do just that. In the end, Yuri is on top, bit it’s clear this cup is anybody’s to take. The whole time, also, Russian Yuri has watched, still full of resentment but also unable to look away.
There are so many secondary characters now that the main story of Yuri and Victor takes a little longer to progress because we’re sometimes busy watching smaller conflicts play out that we don’t care as much about, or we’re watching other people skate and mostly we’re wishing we could see whether or not Victor is nuzzling Yuri backstage or what. But by no means is any of this bad, really. Because at this point I’m starting to get invested in some of these people, like Phichit, and even sex-crazed Chris. Georgi and Leo can go home, though.
If I were recapping this in real time, there’s stuff in these two episodes I’d muse about and wonder where we were going with, like the way Victor holds Yuri while they watch other people skate, other protective gestures–but we’re to episode seven now, and we’re going to spend a great deal of time there. So let’s just give that one a clean post and get to it.