What was originally simply expected as a fresh, new sports anime on figure skating turns into an international hype as Yuri!!! On Ice stole the hearts of not only most of its viewers, but also the figure skaters around the world. Gorgeously animated skating programs aside, the narrative and characters of Yuri!!! On Ice has given a much needed fresh wind—most of the characters are of older age compared to other sports anime, and more importantly, the relationships portrayed in the series offered different ways of looking into sports anime troupes. For us shippers, this is a very important thing!
One of the relationships in Yuri!!! On Ice that had simultaneously broken but also saved the souls of the shippers is, of course, Victor and Yuri’s relationship. Say what you want, but it is a relationship canonically defined as “love”, and Yuri!!! On Ice is a show about defining love in many ways. At the center of it all is Victor and Yuri’s relationship, drawing the audience into the narrative of a young man who initially lost all confidence in himself, and now has learned to regain everything (and maybe more) through this relationship.
Victor and Yuri’s relationship is so beautiful that it probably had saved your shipper heart in so many ways. Here’s five reasons why:
1. Their ‘life-goal’ couple dynamic.
Victor and Yuri’s relationship is definitely the core of the show—their relationship helps both of them grow both as characters and as figure skaters. It’s really almost an ideal relationship to have: a couple dynamic in which both characters respect and support each other’s choices. They might disagree and fight on some important things but neither Yuri or Victor ever even thought of walking out on the other.
For the first few episodes, where the audience only got to see Yuri being a fan of Victor’s, in which Victor’s appearance to put himself in the position of Yuri’s coach, the development of their relationship seemed a little unbalanced at first, especially since the story was delivered from Yuri’s point of view—someone with so little self-esteem after the crushing defeat he’d experienced. But their relationship dynamic is never needlessly dramatic. It’s one with a good communication habit; the scene where they had the talk on the beach is a good example. It is through this healthy communication habit that they grew closer, that they began to understand one another.
It doesn’t stop there, though. Although Victor was originally shown to be sure of himself and what he’s doing, by episode six, we had a Victor who had no idea what to do in the face of a nervous Yuri before his program. For some audience, this was what changed Victor and Yuri’s relationship—it’s no longer unbalanced. It’s not just Yuri, Victor have no idea what to do with their new coach-athlete arrangement and how to adapt to it, evidenced to how he handled Yuri’s nervousness by telling him that he’d quit being Yuri’s coach if Yuri lost, causing Yuri to break down crying and most importantly, finally told Victor what he should do: “Just stay by my side!”
And really, from this on out, we’re seeing Yuri and Victor learn from one another, progressing together, changing each other. There was the happy kiss after Yuri’s program, and the heartfelt reunion at the airport that made them realize that they’re simply unable to be without one another, and of course, the “lucky charms” that were the rings exchanged at the chapel, where at that point Victor was able to understand Yuri just from how he behaves. And of course, last but no less important: their not-quite-argument about their future. Victor might have lit back the fire of determination for gold in Yuri, but Yuri also turned Victor back towards the world of figure skating as a competitive figure-skater.
2. Their definition of “love”.
Yuri!!! On Ice is not only a series about figure skating, it is a story about love and its various forms. The fact that a large part of the story about love centers around Yuri and Victor’s relationship should, in itself, already told you that their relationship could be defined as love. And how do Victor and Yuri themselves see and define ‘love’? From the very beginning, the show has already given us a blatant contrast between the two Yuris in the series: Katsuki Yuri is given ‘Eros’ to skate while Yuri Plisetsky has to perform ‘Agape’. While Yuri Plisetsky learns, finds, and defines ‘selfless love’ throughout the show, Katsuki Yuri, along with the audience, discovers the many forms of ‘love’.
There’s the ‘Eros’ where he discovered how there’s sensuality and alluring parts in himself that draw people like Victor to him, of course, but most importantly, it is with the help of Victor’s ‘love’ that Yuri began to notice the many forms of ‘love’ he’d been surrounded with for his whole life. The support of his parents, his ballet teacher, his childhood friends, for example. For Yuri, who felt that he’d finally known love thanks to Victor and felt stronger for it, this was what made him decide that the theme he’d be skating would be “Love”. And much later on, in an episode he narrates, Victor adds to the musings on how Yuri has not only been receiving love, but also giving love to the people around him: to Victor, to the fellow figure skaters he cheered for, and even Yuri Plisetsky.
To Victor, Yuri’s life and love has taught him of a new world he’d never known before. But by the end of the series, Yuri sums up everything with one last perfect line: “We call everything on ice ‘Love’.”
3. The little things that say it all.
The best thing about Victor and Yuri’s relationship is that while it is the center of the story, the romantic part of it has never been blown up too dramatically if it doesn’t have anything to do with figure skating. No, their romantic relationship and its development was shown in little details throughout the episodes, in a blink-and-miss-it fashion that fans would only start noticing after their second or even third rewatch.
Examples? A more obvious example would be how Yuri had grown from completely rejecting Victor to sleep together in his room to the point where they had started getting the same hotel room and even pushing their beds together into one bed by the time they reached Barcelona.
Another example that you might easily miss is at the end of episode 10, when Victor stands by the beach by himself to watch the rising sun’s light reflecting off his ring. Did you notice that Victor wasn’t wearing the usual coat, like the one he was wearing the night before? Take a second to look at the coat he’s wearing—it suspiciously looks like the same coat Yuri had been wearing the night before! There were also a few fans pointing out that when Victor had to go back to Japan for Makkachin, the suitcase he brought looks a lot like Yuri’s suitcase. Whether this is canonically true or not, we have no way to know, but isn’t it an exciting notion to think that Victor and Yuri are comfortably sharing their things at this point?
Not to mention the little things that showcase how close Victor and Yuri are in the official illustrations and interviews of the series! From two different pieces of illustrations that showcased a sleeping Yuri from two different point of views—Victor’s and Makkachin’s—that if combined could paint a rather intriguing positions, to how Kubo-sensei stating that Victor and Yuri decided that they couldn’t stay away from each other. It’s always these little things that keep us head over heels upon these two’s relationship, really.
4. The cutest “when did it start” reveal.
Every canon couple has a history of when did it start, exactly? Victor and Yuri’s interest in each other was not an exception. While we have been shown since the very first episode how much Yuri regarded Victor as an aspiration and how much Victor was his idol, the audience was left wondering about Victor’s side of the story. When exactly did it begin? Was it when Victor saw the video of Yuri doing his program, uploaded by the triplets to the internet? When Victor went all the way to Hasetsu to offer himself to be Yuri’s coach, was he already in love, then? The only hint the audience was given was that Victor felt like he was running out of how to surprise the audience, and going to Hasetsu was his decision to solve that particular problem. But did it really start that way?
Surprise, surprise, the trigger had been a year before Yuri even came back to Hasetsu. In the GPF banquet the year before, after his complete loss that left him feeling depressed and helpless, Yuri (not quite accidentally) got himself extremely drunk and unleashed an interesting sort of chaotic fun in the banquet which even involved the dancing pole.
Yuri failed to remember what sort of wild things happened in the banquet, but Victor definitely remembered. In the flashback later shown, we could see how happy Victor looked, even when he’s standing in the background as Yuri or Chris took the floor. And of course, when he had the chance to take Yuri’s hand and they danced together, the both of them had the utterly happy, blissful look of lovebirds clear on their faces. Furthermore, when later Yuri draped himself all over Victor and (sort of) propositioned him to be his coach, we could definitely see the moment Cupid’s arrow strike Victor’s heart.
All these, Yuri forgot. All these, Victor remembered, and it was with this memory he made his decision to go to Hasetsu after watching Yuri’s video. And this opened a whole new possible interpretation to the audience: had Victor been pining for an entire year, then? As it had been pointed by several fans, Yuri’s narration in the entire series is pretty much unreliable as his self esteem had hit the floor, so when the narration changes to Victor’s point of view, we were shown a contrastingly different world that puts Yuri in such a center—a trigger that gets Victor’s world going again. As sappy as it might sound, Yuri is someone who reminded Victor about the two ‘L’ things he’d neglected for most of his figure skating career: life and love.
In a way, this had been the most adorable reveal, especially with the fact that Yuri failed to remember the whole shenanigans!
5. Well-written canon gay characters and relationship.
And this, is perhaps the biggest reason of why Victor and Yuri’s relationship saved your shipper’s soul: this is one of the rare instances in which an anime has a very well-written main gay characters and relationship—in every way possible. It isn’t simply fanservice to fuel your fantasy, but is also written in such a way that it doesn’t differ from the much more common heterosexual relationship portrayed in most sports anime narratives. Well, okay, so there are parts that aimed to be fanservice-y, like the scenes of Victor in the bath or the pool, but when it comes to his relationship with Yuri, it’s never been empty of emotion.
The best thing is that of course the fact that their relationship is the main driving force of their character development as well as how they face their careers and the world of figure skating in general. If you’re in the fandom, you’d probably have read countless of meta written in odes to how well-written Victor and Yuri’s relationship is. But that’s not the only thing: as main characters, Yuri and Victor also had well-written individual narratives. They’re both humans, easy for viewers to relate to—from Yuri’s low self-esteem to Victor’s fumbling with his new position as a coach, from how they deeply love each other to how they also love their dreams as much as they do each other. It’s all wonderfully written, not putting them simply as one-dimensional characters, woven into beautiful narrative that brought the audience along to discover what, exactly, is “love”.
A lot of us fell in love with Yuri!!! On Ice because it is beautiful in almost every way it could be. It’s not a perfect series, but you can’t quite argue that Victor and Yuri’s relationship isn’t perfectly beautiful. For every time Victor casually hugged Yuri from behind, or every time Yuri clutched Victor’s hand either to seek support or to give one, we’re all left with the sense of being “saved” by this wonderful relationship. Here’s to rooting for more beautiful Victor/Yuuri relationship in Yuri!!! On Ice, and of course, for their dreams to come true.
Got your own thoughts over Victor and Yuri’s relationship? Did you notice any other small things about how much they love one another? Share it with us, and save more of our shipper’s hearts!