Yuri!!! On Ice

Atsuko Ishizuka’s clever use of social media in A Place Further Than the Universe

#IFollowEveryoneWhoFollowsMe

Child actress Yuzuki Shiraishi chooses this hashtag for her Instagram post that depicts a fairly candid shot of her stepping away from an older woman splashing water and onto a cat. The woman is Shirase Kobuchizawa’s grandmother. Yuzuki is on her way to request that Shirase take over her job as “high school girl reporter” along for the ride in the Challenge for the Antarctic expedition.

A well-known actress who according to Mari Tamaki’s (Kimari) internet research has 38,000 followers, Yuzuki shouldn’t have to beg for followers in a hashtag. It doesn’t matter that her idol debut was with a horrendously-titled song, “The Follow-backs Don’t Stop,” there’s no world where someone as popular as Yuzuki should be begging for followers, never mind promising to follow them back, which is often seen as social media suicide. Yet she does, in this post that only has two likes, two reblogs, and zero comments, less engagement than I received last night for random musings about Madeline L’Engle’s A Wind in the Door.

The image doubles as A Place Further Than the Universe‘s third episode introduction, an episode where Yuzuki will later learn that she has made friends without having to try — also that having friends doesn’t mean that said friends will be the sycophants she’s used to, which is actually a very good thing. #IFollowEveryoneWhoFollowsMe might be Yuzuki’s #brand, but it doubles as a reflection of her personal insecurities, distain for certain aspects of her job, and desperate desire to have real friends. Yuzuki opens the episode by trying to pass off her job to the ill-equipped Shirase in order to lead a more normal high school life with her classmates. She ends the episode with three new friends — Hinata Miyake, Kimari, and Shirase — and a promise to go to Antarctica together.

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[Eight] Time Flies So Fast — Yuri!!! On Ice

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One of my close friends was a professional athlete. He hasn’t competed in five years and is, by all accounts, retired. I rarely see him anymore, but the few times I have visited in the past five years, there are still trappings of his career — tucked away in corners of the apartment, shoved behind his brother’s discarded motorcycle in the garage, photographs in his father’s living room.

He began when he was three, coaxed and coached by his father. He retired at 25, already older than his more successful counterparts.

Perhaps this is why, for me personally, Yuri!!! On Ice is a story about time, and has been since I first saw the series’ ending sequence — a series of instagram posts that only linger for a few seconds before scrolling down to the next.

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Yuri!!! On Ice on Social Media and Ephemerality

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I began watching Yuri!!! On Ice in a hotel room in Oakland, California during a month-long business trip covering the 2016 League of Legends World Championship. Perhaps that’s why Viktor Nikiforov’s phone case of his own outfit caught my attention — I had seen a similar occurance in professional LoL. SK Telecom T1 superstar Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, the best player to ever have played the game, also owns a phone case of his own likeness*.

Both Viktor and Faker are superstars beyond comparison in their respective fields, despite the former’s existence as a fictional character. Faker is an intelligent, courteous, and confident young man who would never say or do anything that would affect anyone’s perception of the SK Telecom T1 brand. All of his social media is handled by his organization, and he eschews having his own Twitter account — fellow teammates Bae “Bang” Jun-sik and Lee “Wolf” Jae-hwan both partake in Twitter, especially the latter. Faker is still in the prime of his career, on the cusp of winning a third World Championship title. By contrast, Viktor is eccentric, whimsical, and expressive above all else.

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