I know a lot of people are trying to dissect Viktor and Yuuri and the dynamics of their coaching relationship. (It’s really hard though since there are literally no boundaries between them as student/coach, fiancés/lovers.)
But anyways: let’s talk about the single most underrated teacher/student relationship in the series.
The easy route to go with these characters is to parallel them with Yurio/Lilia. Both Lilia and Minako are celebrated dancers (they probably knew each other or of each other) and both are extraordinarily influential in their students’ skating styles. Yurio’s FS isn’t possible without Lilia’s ballet-boot-camp. We joke about how Yuuri’s dance mastery—and subsequent banquet shenanigans—is all because of Minako?
What sets him apart as a skater?
His ridiculously high PCS scores? That’s Minako’s lasting influence—she trained Yuuri as a dancer, probably made sure he was as skilled in it as he possibly could be, and as a skater he made up the score gap with his artistry. Even notoriously hard to impress Yurio is intrigued by Yuuri’s step sequences—the figure skating component more “dance-like” than anything else.
But let’s go to the Scene that Keeps on Giving
1) We get Viktor and Minako in a room together. Please people, keep imagining them talking with each other. They are in many ways, very, very similar and very, very much in awe of Yuuri. If Viktor is an unending source of romantic love, Minako is basically his second mother, and an unending source of familial love. They are both Yuuri’s eccentric teachers. They both are prodigies in their given fields.
(That pretty statue we see in Minako’s studio? That’s a Prix Benois and it’s the highest dance-award you can get. On that note…
Hell: if Minako is in her 50s, she was most probably, in-universe, The First Asian Woman to Win All her Prizes. She was probably, in-universe, The First Asian Woman to Dance Principle in X, Y, Z Ballet Company Abroad.
I know homophobia is handwaved in the Yuri on Ice universe, and to a lesser extent, racism. But Phichit and Otabek are always pointed out as trailblazers. When you see them crying or proud because they’ve done something for their country that no one else has? Minako’s been there, done that, and still hasn’t aged.
But going back to Viktor and Minako… Just think of all that underlying tension. Minako is all “Take advantage, Yuuri” to Yuuri’s face but you can bet she’s somewhat leery of Viktor. Because she’s heard the stories. If Yuuri’s idol-worship is keeping him from realizing how creepy Viktor’s arrival is… I’m imagining the good people of Hasetsu are all… “So this Viktor guy just shows up naked, unannounced, and he says he’s teaching Yuuri.”
“Hand me another drink ji-san. He kept staring at my boy’s ass for all two hours of our ballet class.”)
Minako would probably be the first person to cut Viktor if he doesn’t make good on his coaching Yuuri promise.
2) The scene is used to establish that Yuuri is a genius of hard work.
(This distinction probably only means anything to Minako and Viktor, who most likely both worked their asses off but had the sheer talent to boost them up to living legend status.)
but: Here’s Where This Becomes The Most Enlightening Scene Ever
To unpack this:
Minako is low-key telling Viktor: “Yes, Yuuri gets anxious. It’s not just a competition thing. He’s been anxious his entire life. This is his coping mechanism.”
And then: *bam* “I usually go along with him.”
Can we just?
Imagine baby Yuuri, who probably has used up all his spoons for the day, and then there’s his teacher Minako, who notices and goes all “Okay, what do you need? You need to skate? Ok. Let’s tell your parents, I’ll go with you, and I’ll stay with you.”
No questions asked, she’s just there.
Like—she’s either dancing with him or just watching him ice skate for however long it’ll take the anxiety attack to go away.
For the entirety of his childhood, Yuuri has had this one woman support system of “You need to skate/dance right now? Kay, let me just find my coat, off we go Yuuri!” Can you imagine? How many hours? How many times a week? And she’d just go with him.
Minako is the ideal teacher: She saw what Yuuri needed and gave it to him.
Bonus: She wasn’t at the GPF where Yuuri failed. She didn’t fly into Russia for the Rostelecom Cup where he was alone for the second half. You can imagine that before Viktor arrived, Minako was the person most likely to help Yuuri during an anxiety attack.
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