My thoughts on Yuri On Ice and where it went
So I’ve been wanting to properly articulate what I feel is off about the Iceado production and how abnormal it is, what I think could be happening and my reasoning. So far I’ve only posted about these feelings on asks, replies and discord but I want to expand on them in writing. This is kinda long so I apologize in advance. Feel free to send me asks or reply to this post with your opinion.
First of all. Anime is a product and a property, and as such, it is usually milked until it no longer produces enough money to be profitable for the studio.
Yuri on ice was a total best seller, It trended #1 every Wednesday on both Tumblr and twitter. Episode 7 crashed Tumblr. They have a huge international audience, which is something that is so valuable.
The first 2 years after YOI ended we had had all sorts of events. Collaborations, pop ups, the live stage, all sorts of merchandise etc..
Please. just read this bit on the popularity and success of YOI ( X )
with that in mind,
what in the hell happened?
Here’s the two train of thoughts I see a lot in asks/replies:
It’s a “focusing on other bigger projects” kind of issue
It’s an LGBTQ censoring issue
Here’s why I think it’s neither of those two:
focusing on other bigger projects is the most popular theory and the one that honestly makes more sense. yoi being put on pause to produce the money cows JJK, AOT, CSM, and Vinland saga. It makes sense except for the fact that they still found the time to animate 12 episodes of a relatively obscure Ballet manga, Dance Dance Danseur. which already finished airing and despite being a MAPPA property, it wasn’t very popular online. Why take the chance to order 12 episodes from DDD and not Yuri on ice? which if you read the link I placed earlier had impressive statistics. This exact fact leads me to believe it's not a time or focus issue.
If LGBTQ censoring was the issue, we wouldn't have BL animes coming out every year, and since Yuri on ice came out we’ve had quite a bit of BL animes and movies, for example: Given, the clouds gather, Given the movie, Sasaki to miyano, Umibe no étranger, Yes Ka No Hanbun Ka, sankaku mado, and a bunch more including live actions.
and you might say “but yoi is not tagged BL so it could be censored” well, just a year after Yuri on ice aired Banana fish, a Mappa property, had a full on screen kiss between the main two characters. and that wasn’t tagged BL either. Y*richin B*tch cl*b got an anime adaptation and it doesn’t get more explicit than that so no. While I’m not claiming censoring doesn’t exist in anime, the laws aren’t a strict regime as some people make it seem. Implying the whole project got scrapped because of the main gay relationship is beyond unlikely. I don't think anyone could possibly deny that Yuri and Victor’s relationship was by far the biggest selling point of yuri on ice; the audience knows it, the creators know it, the producers know it.
So what is it?
I present my leading theory... simple yet I find it quite likely...
Creative differences and doubts about where to take the story.
what do Jujutsu Kaisen, Attack on titan, Chainsaw man, Dance Dance Danseur, Vinland saga, and hell’s paradise have in common?
they’re all manga adaptations.
Yuri on ice is an original story through and through. Thought up by the wonderful minds of Kubo Mitsuro and Sayo Yamamoto. Yuri on ice has been both the last anime they’ve worked on so far since 2016.
The thing about Yuri on ice is that the story, by virtue of being so original in it’s plot and setting, deviated heavily from the usual money-making structure of your average sports anime.
The characters were not teenagers in high school
A major plot point is that both of the main characters are nearing the end of their careers.
the story wraps and by the 12 episode mark you’ve already been to a bunch of competitions that in other sports anime would’ve taken seasons. EX: Kuroko no basket, haikyuu, slam dunk
Most important character arcs are resolved.
Main conflict in the series is resolved. Victor and Yuri get together.
The truth is, Yuri on ice is a series that really wraps up neatly. where can you go from there? go through competitions all over again until Yuri wins gold? when we’ve already stablished that Victor loves Yuri for who he is and will stay no matter what? what would be the point of that? Have Viktor keep being a playboy celebrity when already his search for live & love was resolved?
There is a danger of falling into the same story beats and a season 2 would have to be carefully constructed. Where do you take this franchise?
I used to not understand why they opted for a prequel movie instead of a season 2. Now that I look at this decision from a different perspective and while I do not personally agree with it, I can totally understand it.
Going forward with this original series is difficult, and I can tell the writers Sayo & Kubo care a great deal for their creation. The way YOI is so carefully structured shows that so much thought and care went into it. seriously, have you ever thought about how much detail, narrative, interaction, and character arcs YOI manages to have in just 12 episodes? it’s quite impressive. this is a project that they had no idea would get green lit for a second season and they knew the studio was taking a chance on them with this original series so they were incredibly concise as to have it end as neatly as possible.
but that “see you next level” was a promise to an eager fandom.
Back to why I think creative differences and testing the waters as to where to take the story is what’s happening:
In January 2019 an Ice Adolescence teaser was shown in Japan only, in complete exclusiveness. the people who saw it weren’t allowed to record it so they talked about it in great detail on twitter. For more than a year, this very same teaser was kept from the international audience until it dropped on YouTube on November 2020. According to the people who saw it in the exclusive screening nothing had been changed or added, it was the very same. So why the long wait? It’s like there is an uncertainty as to where to take the project and if it should continue in the same direction. “Let’s give it a year and see if we’re still on track with the current story”
To be honest, there have been many times where I’ve genuinely believed the project has been dropped. I know there are franchises that take longer to produce, look at Evangelion’s last movie, it took like 9 years to be made. As I was reading on the story of EVA 3.0 + 1.0 and why it took so long to be made when Eva is a well stablished money making franchise, I learned that Hideaki Anno, the creator, developed severe burnout and had to take a break, he was undecided on where to take the story and other people who worked with him in the project left the studio.
Since I am a yoi blog, and I’m always scanning the tag, replies, twitter, reddit, I see that a lot of discussion surrounding Iceado always seems to point to the fact that people believe this is studio meddling. What happened to Hideki and EVA could’ve happened to yoi. That even a huge property like EVA took 10 years because the creator was not comfortable, and did not want to continue just yet points to the weight the creator holds. I believe that if it were up to mappa, given how much money yoi made them, we would've had yuri on ice season 3 by now. But no, this is ultimately Sayo and Kubo’s child and I strongly believe that if we do not have something by now, it’s because something is taking place between these two, perhaps burn out, perhaps creative differences, or perhaps they seriously just need lots of time to think this one through. Even though it’s hard sometimes because I love this franchise, I want to trust Kubo and Sayo as I did before. I want to trust they’ll deliver a product that is good, and campy, and fun, and deep and sometimes heartbreaking. I will wait until I can see this through
As the one time every four years that everyone watches figure skating is finally here, I’ve taken it as my God-given duty to educate you guys about the complete and utter CLOWNERY and the corruption that goes on daily in the Russian figure skating scene. I’m not joking when I say this shit is like bad reality TV. A famous coach has a cult following. Politicians get asked about coaches feuding. Putin, the president of Russia, got mad over unfair scoring and dissed a Canadian skater on live TV. It’s insane.
And there is a LOT of drama going on here, so I’ll try to explain it just in time for Olympics so you guys can understand why you are almost definitely not going to see a single ladies’ medallist over the age of 17 years old this Olympics (or possibly ever again).
If the only time that you tune in to figure skating is once every four years, here’s how things are going to go. You’re going to watch the 2022 Olympics. You’re going to casually watch the ladies’ figure skating segments. And if you’re a little bit observant, you’re going to think: ‘Why is every single medallist under the age of 18 years old? And why are they all Russian?’ And if you do your research, you’ll see that not a single girl over the age of 18 years old who is non-Russian has won gold in ladies’ figure skating for the past two winter Olympics. Why is this?
Well, it all started with Evgenia Medvedeva, one of the most famous figure skaters in the world. (If your last interaction with figure skating was with Yuri!!! On Ice in 2016, she’s that girl who wore a Victuuri shirt on the famously homophobic Russian national television, got illustrated into YOI official art, and did a routine to Sailor Moon. So. She’s really awesome and my favourite.)
Anyway, Evgenia won everything in the 2016 and 2017 seasons. She completed a Grand Slam twice, which is when a skater wins literally every major competition, at the ages of 16 and 17. Those two years were called the Evgenia dominance era, because she just kept winning. It was insane. She was Miss Stability because she literally never fell, she was reliable, she was unbeatable, she was the favourite to win the 2018 Olympics.
And then, just in time for the Olympics, at the old age of 18 years old, she started to fail.
The first time she fell in competition after two long years of straight clean programs, people thought it was a fluke. But then she fell again, and again, and again. And her younger, less injured teammate, 15yo Alina Zagitova, started to take the spotlight. Alina wasn’t struggling with back problems or a broken foot like Evgenia. Alina was born in the right year, at the right time, which made her 15 years old just in time to qualify for the Olympics, and she won the gold medal for ladies’ figure skating. Meanwhile, the favourite to win the Olympics won silver, being pushed aside for her younger and healthier teammate.
Now you might think, wow, that’s really sad. But it was just a one-time thing, right? Alina will surely go on to have the long and fruitful career that Evgenia, by some fluke of the universe, didn’t get to have. Right?
Wrong. Alina retires at the ripe age of 17 years old after peaking at 15 and the figure skating world. Goes. Crazy, because now people are beginning to notice a pattern. It started with Yulia Lipnitskaya, 15 years old at the Sochi Olympics, who skated the best programs of her entire life and retired soon after. It continued with Evgenia, who peaked at 16 and 17 and then developed chronic injuries that make her unable to turn her back to the left (a horrifying statement she revealed in a recent interview), and then with Alina, who skated her best at 15 and ‘took a break’ at 17, which fans have dubbed the ‘expiration date’.
Now, you might be remembering the figure skating greats like Yuna Kim, Michelle Kwan, Mao Asada. They didn’t retire at 17. This is not normal. This was not even close to the norm ten years ago, but now we’re heading into Beijing 2022 and a 15 year old is the favourite to win gold. So what is the the common factor that caused all these skaters to retire at 17, 18, 19?
The answer? Eteri Tutberidze, a famous Russian coach with a monopoly on ladies’ figure skating. Her students, which include Yulia, Evgenia, and Alina, have won literally every single competition under the sun for the past few years. And one by one, without fail, all her students have broken their bodies by the time they reach 17-18. She has never been able to successfully coach a student over 18 years old, but she doesn’t need to, because when one girl gets too old, three will come to replace her. If you’re talking solely about results, then sure, Eteri is a great coach. When her students shine, they shine bright. They’re one-season wonders, winning everything. But they’re one-season wonders, so after a few seasons, they’re replaced by the newest girl, the girl who’s 15 at the right time, younger and less injured. Why is this? Why don’t these skaters have longevity?
Well, it’s because of the body type you need to have to land jumps in figure skating. In skating, there are jumps called triples (where you rotate three times in the air) and quads (where you rotate four times). Quads were practically unheard of in ladies’ figure skating until 2018. That’s how recent they are. A quad in ladies’ fs has never even been landed at the Olympics before. This is because quads are insanely hard to do, and normally they require a lot of muscle, strength and grit to power through the four rotations in the air. Before 2018, the last quad jump had been landed by Miki Ando in 2002. 16 years before the next quad.
Before 2018, the highest technical jumps women did were the triples. Then Alexandra Trusova (aka Quad Queen Sasha Trusova aka the one to root for in the 2022 Olympics) came along and fucked shit up landed a quad toe loop at the age of 13. Sasha is the first female skater to land the quad Lutz, quad flip, and quad toe loop jumps, the second to land the quad Salchow (after Miki Ando), and the first to land two and three ratified quads in a free skate. She started the Quad Revolution and basically ensured that all the girls competing with her had to have quad jumps or a triple axel in order to win over her. And they did. Anna Shcherbakova, Kamila Valieva, Sofia Akatyeva, Adeliia Petrosian, all started landing quads too.
And that’s all well and good and all, yay for technical advancements or whatever, except that the reason quads started booming in the ladies’ was because a certain coach had figured out that you don’t need to be made of muscle, or have years of training, or experience to land a quad.
No. You just need very, very low body weight.
Yeah. Now you see where I’m going.
Girls have started landing quads like never before. At the junior levels (>15yos), it’s become commonplace to see Russian preteen girls train quads as if they’re jumping machines. Teenage girls have the perfect body type to quickly rotate four times in the air- a slender frame, narrow hips and short height. And once they hit puberty, it’s over. Quads rely in pulling in all your body weight as closely as possible to your centre, allowing you to maximise your speed of rotation- but you can’t pull in hips or a chest. That’s why most female figure skaters lose their jumps after puberty, and why so far only teenage girls have managed to land quads. And how do you delay puberty as long as possible so you can keep winning for as long as you possibly can? Well, it’s simple. You just don’t eat.
Even before the Quad Revolution, Tutberidze’s skaters relied on their low body weight to do triple jumps so much that during the 2014 Olympics, 15yo Yulia Lipnitskaya had to subsist on a diet of entirely powdered substances. The girl did not eat a single tangible meal the entire time. And by the time the 2018 Olympics rolled around, Tutberidze had forbidden 18yo Evgenia and 15yo Alina from drinking water for fear that a few grams of water weight might affect their aerodynamics. Alina mentioned in an interview that they could only rinse their mouths out with water and spit it back out.
The thing about quads is that no one really knows the long-term effects they can have on these teenage girls’ health, as the oldest girl to land regular quads turns 18 this year in 2022. However, Evgenia Medvedeva only did triple-triple jumps her entire career, and she ended up with a broken foot and can’t even turn her back to the left. So. Whatever the long-term effects are, they’re going to be bad. 15yo Daria Usacheva was supposed to be a strong contender this year, but a hip fracture during practice at the NHK Trophy made her unexpectedly withdraw. Alena Kanysheva lands a quad at 14 and retires at 16. And still, still even younger girls will come to replace them and drive older skaters who can’t land quads anymore out of the sport. Ladies’ figure skating has turned into a sport where 15 year olds dominate for one or two seasons, and get traded in for newer and less injured skaters.
And it’s not like the girls themselves aren’t painfully aware of this- Sofia Samodelkina barely missed the cutoff age for the Beijing 2022 Olympics at 14 years old, and she revealed in an interview that she prays every night for them to be postponed to 2023 because she knows that when she turns 18yos in 2026, she won’t be able to compete with the younger and stronger 15yos. Evgenia knew that she couldn’t stay with Eteri once she turned 18, because the technique no longer worked, so she left Eteri to be coached by Brian Orser (but forgot to send Eteri flowers for thanking her for being such a great coach so Eteri went on a smear campaign against her and showed Evgenia ghosting her texts on Russian national television). Then judges started underscoring Evgenia just for the crime of training under the ‘wrong’ coach, so she had to return to Eteri.
So if everyone knows that this is going on- if everyone is aware that figure skating is built on the broken bodies of young girls who sacrifice their long-term health for the sport only to be cast aside at 17 years old- is anyone doing anything about Tutberidze’s borderline abusive training methods?
Well. The ISU (international skating union) gave Eteri an award for Best Coach, if that’s what you mean by ‘doing something about it’. Because apparently they don’t give a fuck that these girls are being used like products and discarded just as quickly as they come. They just care that her girls win.
And win they do. Enter: the 3A, the trio of elite Russian figure skaters Anna Shcherbakova, Aliona Kostornaia and Alexandra Trusova (nicknamed the 3A because all their names start with an a but everyone calls Alexandra as Sasha).
The 3A won every. Major. Competition. During the 2020 season. They didn’t let anyone else on that damn podium. They were playing musical chairs with those three podium spots. The main surprise when you watched fs wasn’t ‘omg who will podium’ but ‘omg in which order will 3A podium’. And if you recall, 2020 is the year our reigning Olympic champion Alina Zagitova turned 17, so she was already on her way out. Anna was 15, Sasha was 15 and Aliona was 16- optimal ages in figure skating. Aliona didn’t have quads, but she had a beautiful triple axel and artistry, while Sasha had pure raw athleticism and Anna fell somewhere in the middle. But unfortunately, they weren’t born in the right year. By the time the qualifiers for the Beijing Olympics rolled around, Anna and Sasha were 17 and Aliona was 18, and a new face entered and broke nine world records in her debut season alone- Kamila Valieva.
Kamila is, supposedly, better than all the girls who came before her. (Even though I still like Aliona better.) She has the artistry and consistency that Sasha lacked and the quads that Aliona lacked. She’s the full package of everything a skater should be, and she’s 15 years old in an Olympic year. She has it all, and tbh doesn’t really have any other competition. Anna and Sasha are still leagues ahead of everyone else but if they’re as unreachable as kings, Kamila is as unbeatable as a god. Kamila, Sasha and Anna are the three skaters representing Russia at Beijing (Aliona withdrew from this season due to a hand fracture she’s ‘not allowed to talk about’.). Anna is almost definitely injured nine ways to hell, Sasha is probably injured too, so Kamila is probably the only one who’s like. Even moderately healthy out of the Russian girls, if you discount the fact that she’s like severely underweight. Idk if she’ll be the one to break the cycle, but hopefully this monopoly on ladies’ fs ends soon and new rules are put in place to stop girls giving themselves chronic injuries by the time they turn 16.
Anyway, that’s the summary on the figure skating drama. Please cheer for Sasha and Anna! I want Sasha to be the first person to land a quad at Olys because she was the one who started this whole quad revolution so it’s only right that she should finish it. Wow this took me a long time to write and we only covered the tip of the iceberg. Hope you guys enjoy the Beijing Olympics btw happy cny 祝大家新年快樂￼, 身體健康 (god knows they need it) 心想事成￼ etc etc
Edit: Hi, it’s op here! I regret my poor choice of words in calling this as ‘drama’, I meant to refer to the ‘drama’ as all the issues I mentioned in the first paragraph like Putin dissing a Canadian skater unfair judging scores home bias etc etc, but I guess it was misread as the fact that I was calling this institutionalised child abuse ‘drama’. I wrote this post to bring attention to the child abuse happening because I think it’s wrong and unfair that no one is doing anything about it and I do NOT mean to trivialise it as drama. Sorry this was such a poor choice of words cuz I was fr gonna talk about those whole other stories but then I got sidetracked with this whole thing and I forgot to change the words ‘drama’ 😭😭😭 Thank you so much for understanding 😭😭😭