Yuri on Ice was undeniably one of the most popular anime of the fall season of 2016. It had a colorful cast of racially diverse characters. One of the ones I found the most interesting was Yuri Plisetsky, more commonly referred to as Yurio.
Yurio is a 15 year old Russian skater. His personality comes off as a little brash and over-confident, it would be easy to pass him off as just a ‘bratty kid’ that is openly antagonistic to Yuri and Victor.
However, there are multiple scenes in the anime that would suggest otherwise though.
Let’s take one example from the scene in episode 10, after the Rostelecom cup when Yurio seeks out Yuri to cheer him up and give him the Pork Cutlet Bowl Pirozhiki that his grandfather had made. He didn’t have to do this. The significance comes when you think about the pirozhiki. This is something that Yurio’s grandfather, who has been presented many times in the series as the most important person in Yurio’s life, gave to him. He also offers words of encouragement, though they are thinly veiled in insults.
Another scene to look at is the final skate of the Grand Prix. When we gain some insight into why Yurio approached him at all in the first episode, with a general curiosity about what kind of person Yuri was and an interest in seeing him skate without mistakes.
Even a year later, as they skate at the Grand Prix together in the same division. he still wants to see the heights that Yuri can go. That’s why he’s angry that Yuri is considering retiring. We also often see Yurio giving Yuri subtle support for his skating and even rooting for him on the rare occasion. While some of his support still may come off as rude comments, or criticism, the intent is always clear.
What I believe is the key to understanding Yurio lies in what drives his character to want to be a winner. This upcoming paragraph is going to be a lot of speculation on my part from hints that the series gives us.
I don’t believe that Yurio has parents. When he is searching for his ‘Agape’ early in the series the first thing to come to mind for him isn’t a parent’s love, but instead it’s his grandfather. Later in the series when the cast arrives in Russia for the competition, he is picked up from the airport by his grandfather. One of the first things Yurio asks his grandfather is about his health. This could lead us to believe that his grandfather is ill and may not have a lot of time left. So, in the event that his grandfather is his only family and his health is poor, Yurio’s drive to win could be to be a grandson that his grandfather could be proud of in the time his grandfather has left. Of course, this is all just my thoughts on the subject.
The most important thing to remember when looking at Yurio’s character as a whole is that he’s a 15 year old boy. He’s not as emotionally mature as many of the other skaters and he puts a lot of emotional pressure on himself. In closing, I think there is a lot more to be explored in his character past the front he presents to the world.