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Alethea & Athena
The journey continues 
6th-Jan-2017 05:19 pm
Well, we're continuing with the Yuri on Ice viewing, and our work schedule has gotten to be a little wonky, so we had a little extra time today, so we watched two episodes! And now we're caught up to where we were when we decided to stop watching the first time. So far our opinion remains the same.

I spent most of the second episode wondering why I still didn't care. I think I finally figured it out. At this point in the series, basically what we have is Yuri, who's busy obsessing over his skating career; Yurio, who's busy obsessing over his skating career; and Victor, who nobody knows what he's thinking but they all know he doesn't listen to anybody. And basically it's just a bunch of people who haven't really shown any indication of caring much for anybody other than themselves. I really should have realized that sooner, since that's also why I decided I don't like Tiana or Frozen. Of the three, Yurio gets the biggest pass, though, because he's at least a jerk about it which makes it seem more honest, and he's played by Roxas.

Maybe that's not entirely a fair assessment, though, since Yuri is also clearly obsessed with Victor, which means he does care about one other person. Athena commented that Victor was inspired when he saw Yuri's skate video because he finally found someone who loves him as much as he loves himself. In Victor's defense, it is clear that he wants Yuri and Yurio to skate their best, but constantly forgetting promises reads as being rather self-centered, so.

So the first time we watched these two episodes, episode two failed to be interesting, so we thought, since everyone loved it so much, we'd give it one more chance and if episode three didn't get out attention, we could say we gave it a fair chance. And episode three not only continued to be fairly boring, but it got to be more explicit with the Victuri stuff.

Now, everybody who reads our blog knows we're devout members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and we believe that people shouldn't pursue sexual relationships with members of the same sex. I know it's considered to be a bigoted point of view, but it's not like we're demanding that the show be banned. If Victor and Yuri were real people, we wouldn't even think they were going to hell in the traditional sense. The LDS concept of hell is more like...well, our belief if that people can grow and improve throughout eternity, and hell is being stuck without being able to grow. Part of growing toward exaltation is having your own kids, which is why we're big believers in traditional marriage (for lack of a better term).

But that's not the point. The point is watching a series that prominently features a gay relationship is like if we were vegans watching a show that prominently features hunting. We're just not really interested in seeing that endeavor succeed. Not that we're rooting against them, just that we'd rather not be involved.

On a much more superficial note, I may or may not have mentioned in the past that when we first heard about Yuri on Ice, I was excited to see a series about male figure skating because I find men to be incredibly sexy when they're dancing. So Yuri's choice to dance as a woman was kind of a major letdown. (Not to mention that whole narrative he came up with about Don Juan and the most beautiful woman in town was not only not kakko ii as Fuku-Jun's character said it was, but it was stupid and annoying. If there's anything I like less than a story about people who don't care about anyone but themselves, it's a story about people who make bad decisions for bad reasons. On the one hand, at least the woman learns her lesson in the end, but the Don Juan still gets what he wants and he really really shouldn't.)

Speaking of that, though, one thing we've been noticing about the art is that a lot of the poses (not only when skating) are rather feminine. And again, I'm not saying that's necessarily a bad thing, but as a straight woman, I'm just not attracted to that kind of thing. So here I was looking forward to this series about hot male ice dancers, and it turned out to be a series of female dancers in men's bodies. Another letdown. And speaking of that, I got curious and checked the credits for ice skating models, and sure enough one of them is a woman. Did they only use her as a model for Minako's dancing, even though it lists her as an ice performer? They probably used her for Yuri's version of Eros, since he was skating as a woman...

Anyway. The point is, there are a lot of things about this show that do the opposite of appeal to me, and the reason for all of them probably has to do with my privilege, but that realization doesn't make those things appeal to me any more.

But now that the Hot Springs on Ice arc is over, there should be new characters in the next episode. Maybe they will be more interesting.

Today I'm thankful for making good progress on work today, Bamboo finally deciding it was okay to leave (we're starting to wonder if she's asking us to adopt her; either that, or she just really hates the cold), getting to listen to our new Pokemon CD, Pikachu's song, and finally catching a Shellder.
6th-Jan-2017 11:37 pm (UTC)
There's a female Russian skater in some of the later episodes (I think her name is Mila) who has a sort of snarky big sister relationship with Yurio. I'm not sure how much we actually see her skating. The scenes featuring her that stuck in my mind mostly involved Yurio and Mila watching and commenting on other people's performances, or trying to improve their general gracefulness by practicing ballet moves under the tutelage of an aging ex-prima ballerina who turned out to be grouchy Russian coach Yakov's ex-girlfriend.

Also, one of the other competitors in the various international skating competitions Yuri has to take part in to qualify for the final is an Italian guy named Mickey whose sister Sala is also a professional skater. The sister is competing in the women's division of the same competition, but I'm not sure we ever actually see her skate either, unless there are animated flashbacks of her and her brother doing pairs skating as kids. (There were a couple of still shots of the siblings in costume from that period, but I'm not sure any of their actual performances were shown.) So it's possible the animators and producers did research by watching the woman in the credits skate in case they wound up doing actual sequences involving Mila and/or Sala skating. But they probably ended up not being able to fit that in, since there are at least five or six other male skaters in the later episodes whose performances (and, in several cases, mini-story arcs) are shown.
6th-Jan-2017 11:46 pm (UTC)
There are actually different ending credits for each episode, so they wouldn't have listed her if they didn't use her. Your comment made us want to be doubly sure, so we checked the credits to episode two and sure enough, it only lists the male skater.
7th-Jan-2017 06:42 am (UTC)
IIRC, the female skater performed Yurio's programs for the animators' reference (since he is younger and more petite than most skaters, and has a more feminine/graceful skating style). Kenji Miyamoto (former competitive skater, now skating choreographer) choreographed all the programs and I believe skated all but Yurio's for reference.

Yeah, Victor sure does seem to love himself. Yuri I interpret at this point in the show as being so inwardly-focused that he doesn't have the mental capacity/energy to care a lot about others, or to notice how much others care about him. That actually is something I can/could relate to at various points in my life and maybe sometimes still now, so I personally don't feel I have much room to be critical... But I also think the writers recognize it as a character flaw that he needs to address in order to move forward. (I'm reminded suddenly of the manga Warau Kanoko-sama and how you didn't care for that protagonist either, maybe for similar reasons?)

When I watched Yuri and Yurio skating in ep3, I felt the difference in their body types and skating style was notable—Yurio flits about and is compared in a later ep to a fairy, and he does remind me of something out of a Fantasia sequence. Yuri, even skating with feminine moves and gestures, has a more sturdy build and still looks manly enough that I found him and his skating attractive. His interpretation of the story when he skates his program isn't about giving the Don Juan what he wants... but that explanation might also have been from a later episode? The "Kakko ii~" line sounded jokey to me, I didn't think Nishigori was actually admiring the guy in the story but exclaiming as one of the girls—like how the Silly Girls swoon over Gaston? and again, I'm reminded of Howl the wizard who eats pretty girls' hearts.

On "Victuri"—my beliefs are similar to yours, so at some point I had to start considering how I feel about those two characters' relationship. (maybe I'm naïve: at the start I had no thought of it going that direction, and even as it started to hint at stuff I was never sure how far it was going to take it...) I still may not have sorted out my thoughts completely, but as portrayed in the show, I view it as a really positive and healthy relationship between two characters of any gender (this is my view based on the whole series; as of ep3 they have pretty much only shown that they both (and Yurio too) have lots of room to grow in all interpersonal relationships). The other thing is that other than stuff like hugging, it doesn't commit to showing a physically intimate (sexual) side to their relationship, so I believe the writers left room for it to be viewed as an especially close friendship if that is what viewers are comfortable with. One person on twitter whose thoughts on the show I respect shared this video feature about a real-life skating pair discussing their relationship, describing each other as "soulmates" even though they don't seem to consider it a romantic relationship—for them it's all about the sport and what they can achieve together. It's not my place to say that is certainly what the creators of YoI are going for here, but I do see it as a valid interpretation. Anyway, I don't say this expecting to make it more palatable to you, because I know with your other reasons for not enjoying the show, this is yet another hurdle.

PS: Ep 4 still takes place in Hasetsu, so it won't quite get into the rush of competitions and new characters just yet, but you're almost there...

Finally, even though you may not ever come around to enjoying the show, I appreciate you taking all this time to watch it, and write your thoughts about it, and respond in any amount of detail to my long comments, since, from the start, I really wanted to be able to talk about it with people. I'm enjoying these discussions and the thinking they provoke—I hope they're not a bother for you. That said, if at some point you decide it's never going to be for you and you don't want to keep watching, or even do keep watching but just don't wish to spend so much time discussing it, I'll understand. Thank you!♡

Edited at 2017-01-07 09:42 am (UTC)
7th-Jan-2017 06:50 am (UTC)
(I had to go over and over that comment to pare down the wording to fit the character limit, and then I edited it because the link wasn't formatted correctly, and then I just wanted to add that I still do hope you will come to enjoy the series—not because I need my opinion validated, but because it's a story that makes me happy and so I wish for others to have that happiness too. but by the same token, I don't want it to become something that makes you unhappy because you feel like it's being forced on you which is why I'm fine if you decide to quite at any point. okay, and that's enough words from me now.)
7th-Jan-2017 05:48 pm (UTC)
I did actually suspect as much, because the builds were more feminine for Yurio and more masculine for Yuri, but I didn't want to make the assumption because I've seen footage of animators watching ice skaters for a Minnie and Daisy cartoon, and their builds are nothing like the human skaters. It also made more sense to me that, since Yuri was deliberately trying to skate like a woman, they would use a woman for him.

Yuri I interpret at this point in the show as being so inwardly-focused that he doesn't have the mental capacity/energy to care a lot about others, or to notice how much others care about him.

Yeah, I was getting that, too. If he does get over that character flaw, he may start to interest me more. (Yes, that is exactly why we didn't like Kanoko.)

Whether or not Yuri's skating was more masculine, I was already turned off by the fact that he said he was going to try to move like a woman. It really didn't help to hear Toyonaga-kun's attempt at feminine speech on top of it, either. Some male voice actors can really pull off sounding like a woman (the best example being Akira Ishida as Fisheye), but others make me roll my eyes (although I admit the context of it may have affected my opinion even more).

All I know about the Don Juan thing comes in episode three, when he's trying to figure out how to skate the routine and he tells Nishigori that he saw a story in the choreography, and he tells Nishigori what the story is. Then he decided to skate as a woman, but there has been no mention of altering the narrative. I guess I misheard Fuku-Jun's line because I was still processing the story, but that fact doesn't change my opinion of the story.

All I'll say about Victuri is that if I saw a guy doing those things to a girl in a shojo manga, I would probably take all those things as relationship flags.

Oh yippee skippy, more of Yuri angsting by himself...
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