On Eros and Agape
I know Yuri!!! on Ice is quickly becoming the most overanalysed anime this season, but I still want to add my two cents.
About Eros versus Agape.
Agape is, as Victor
puts it, ‘unconditional love’. In the original Greek, it is the highest
form of love. It is selfless, the love for God and family. The bible tends to use it
for 'charity’ as well.
Eros is a much more sexual in nature. 'Passionate love’ in Greek. It is also 'love at first sight’, that little explosion in your gut that happens when you see someone flawless (like, say, Victor).
My main contention here is that, while Victor says he wants both of them to surprise the audience, what he’s doing is putting them in the song that best reflects them. Or at the very least, the part of them they need to connect with.
He even says it himself.
Yuri wears all the acoutrements of the sexy rebel: leather, studs, cat stuff and attitude. That and the fact that he’s heartbreakingly beautiful means that he projects a certain sexiness. He’s aware of this.
He chooses the Eros piece because superficially, it suits him: it’s fast, it’s feisty and Yuri, as an entertainer, probably realizes that this sort of stuff sells.
But Yuri is basically sexless. He is very much a 15 year old in the throws of puberty and the show makes it clear he hasn’t come out the other side yet.
This image pretty much sums up the difference between Yuri and Yuuri.
He doesn’t want to share baths with people and he either doesn’t
understand what sex *does* or doesn’t care. He seems mightily confused
by Yako’s bleeding nose syndrome, which could be a cultural thing. But then we see him admonishing Mila
for her relationships.
He doesn’t date and he doesn’t feel the need for a lover.
What he wants, is to win. His Agape is for his grandfather and I have a feeling he’s so set on winning to make his family proud. But most of all, this love fits him because of the absence of sex. In a way, Victor is putting him closer to this core aspect of himself, which he actually does turn into his new weapon.
We see in ep 4 that he is very aware of
his body, and he realizes that right now he’s still bendy and androgynous.
That makes sense, since the rigorous training involved in acrobatics
and ballet, especially when done from a young age, delays growth. And
Yuri wants to use that to win. His absence of Eros is what makes him strong.
As an aside, the agape piece has an extra effect on Yuri, in that it gives him back his love of skating. Yuri skates primarily to win and in his age group, he had no contenders. In a way, the face-off makes him regain his love for the sport (this is incidentally about the same character arc as, say, an Aomine Daiki in KnB). It grounds him and gives him the motivation to push through.
Agape, folks. All this with a single short choreography.
And then we have
Yuuri, who thinks with his groin a lot.
Especially when Victor’s around.
This is a guy who seems very blushy and shy and innocent, but who did have a crush on an older woman at a young age. Who never had a lover but feels particularly self-consious about that. Who keeps having to deal with a naked Russian in his onsen, and is extremely conflicted about that.
You don’t see Yuri getting red in the face at the sight of a skating Victor, because to Yuri, Victor is just a skater. A really good one, and one he wants as a coach.
To Yuuri, he is so
Yuuri’s main wish for Victor isn’t to coach him, but to hang out with him.
Yuri does not look at Victor the same way Yuuri does.
And it’s absolutely a sexual thing.
We keep making jokes about pork cutlet bowls, but there’s a reason Victor was all ‘ok we’ll go with that’. The link between food and sex has been studied for decades. It’s a thing.
But for Yuuri, it’s the only thing he can think of to link him to Eros.
Yuuri is a 23 year old who cannot think of sex in other terms. He’s not in touch with his sexuality at all. Even putting aside the *nature* of his sexuality for a second, he’s not comfortable within his own skin. He’s way less aware of his own body than a kid 8 years his junior who is planning to weaponize puberty.
Yuuri’s body is fully developed, but his mind is still stuck in the murky waters of a middle-schooler. As an adult male he needs to get in touch with his own sexuality, through the power of ice skating. And Victor seems awfully willing to help him do that.
Victor is a god among men and is basically pushing character development on both Yuri’s by giving them pieces that put them in touch with their inner strengths. The reason he’s still in Japan, is because Yuri only needed a little nudge while Yuuri is so deep in the closet he could be ruling Narnia.