Spoilers below if you haven’t watched Yuri!!! On ICE episode 11.
Yuri!!! On ICE is a fantastic anime about men’s figure skating which has many great and memorable characters. Most of these characters are only on screen for a few minutes during an episode which makes it all the more incredible how much character development we see as the characters skate around the ice and interact with other characters.
One of my favourite characters from this series is Jean-Jacques Leroy who is known to all his fans as King JJ. He is a highly arrogant character as seen by the music he uses for his short program which was written specifically for him by a famous band and is called Theme of King JJ, by the way he boasts about how awesome he is to other characters, and by how confident he is about winning the Figure Skating Grand Prix Finals. The best part about all of this is the fact that he is the lone Canadian character in the anime. He is literally the exact opposite of all Canadian stereotypes. He is far from polite. He never apologizes. He is just the character everyone loves to hate (even the other characters) and that is what I find so great about him.
If you have watched up to episode 11 you may have noticed something different with JJ as he skated his short program. All of his jumps became singles which didn’t score him any points. He was on the verge of panicking. He didn’t understand what was going on. He kept on thinking about how he promised everyone he would get gold, even going so far as to tell his fiance that he would marry her as soon as he got gold, and because of this he tried to hard. The stress of being in such a high level competition without any real competition since he had placed gold in all of the competitions leading up to this point finally got to him.
When he heard his score which was the lowest score during the short program portion of the Finals placing him last, he began to despair. Then his fans started cheering for him which made him cheer up and return to his good old arrogant self.This failure shows how the character who seems to be the greatest competition to Yuri during the Grand Prix is still only human and he has fears and weaknesses the same as any other character.
As an arrogant character this failure is the single best thing that could have happened to JJ. Since he failed he now has to accept that he won’t always succeed in what he does. He may even become less arrogant. He may use this failure to either quit or to push himself further so that he can get better at what he does. If he had placed first in the short program like mostly everyone had expected him to do as they watched this episode, it would have seemed like an empty victory since there was no real challenge. Yuri’s not good enough to beat JJ, neither are most of the other characters. The real joy of winning comes with the struggle and when there is no struggle there will be no joy. By failing he will literally be happier and by showing his more human side he becomes more likable as a character. When a character has nothing that redeems them they are a poorly written character. It’s great seeing JJ getting this attention.
So yeah. JJ had to fail this one time in order to show that he is human as well and to allow people watching the anime that he is relatable. Because of this moment he is that much more a better character. And also as a character he is able to improve that much more.
The next episode will show the free skate for the Grand Prix Finals. We already know that JJ has no chance at getting gold. Also Yurio seems to have taken his place as Yuri’s greatest rival. I wonder who will get gold. If it’s Yuri I will both be happy and sad. Happy because Yuri deserves to win. Sad because that is the cliched route that all sport anime’s follow. The protagonist is weak in some way and is the underdog yet ends up winning the big competition in the end. It may be interesting seeing him get second or even third. I just hope the next episode doesn’t make me tear up like all the other episodes that came before it.