How different languages work in Yuri!!! On Ice

Other than being endearingly heartwarming and setting my OTP feels ablaze, one of the best parts about this scene (as another post points out) is that Victor has no idea what Yuri said.

There’s confusion among fandom regarding whether or not Victor knows Japanese and what his primary communication language is. So on Twitter this morning I shot off a few tweets about how languages are handled in YoI and I’m coming here to explain myself more fully. 

Since episode 2, I’ve been completely in love with the voice direction given to Suwabe-san that helps demonstrate Victor’s foreign-ness via auditory cues. Of course, it’s not going to be readily apparent to non-Japanese speakers, but it definitely stands out to the native speaking audience. 

Basically, whenever Victor is “speaking Japanese,” his speech is foreigner-accented. His pronunciation is off in places and the rhythm isn’t that of a native or solidly fluent japanese speaker. The sentences are a bit less complex as well. My favorite example of this is from episode 3, when he was in full gaijin mode lol.


Anyway, when Victor is speaking a language that he’s fluent in (likely English with Yuri Katsuki or Russian with Yuri Plisetsky), Suwabe-san drops the “foreigner-accent” and delivers the lines fluidly. 

The best example of the “language switch”, perhaps, is in episode 4 when Yuri calls Coach Celestino. Celestino also has a foreigner-accent when speaking to Yuri at first, but then when Victor gets on the phone Celestino’s accent drops and he too speaks fluidly. 

So, an Italian-American and a Russian speaking to each other…? English is 99.9% likely to be their common language. 

And just to clarify, there’s no continuity error regarding language in the scenes from episode 2 when Victor goes to Minako-sensei and the Nishigoris to get more information about Yuri. He has no foreigner accent in these scenes as well, so he’s speaking in a language he’s fluent in. But we know now that Yuko-chan speaks English fluently and it’s likely that Minako-sensei does too since she had an international ballet career. 

tl;dr version

  • When Victor speaks Japanese he sounds like a foreigner and native/fluent Japanese speakers will pick up on that change.
  • Victor and Yuri are communicating with each other in English. (Smooth, complex conversation with no accenting.)
  • Victor maybe has rudimentary Japanese skills, but not enough for him to understand or participate in complex discussions. (Example: ep 4, when he has to ask Yuri what everyone is talking about.)
  • Every person Victor has had an in-depth conversation with so far has good English skills. 
  • And an injection from reality– most high level international athletes use English as a commonality language anyway. 

There’s a genius Yuri!!! on Ice Combined Dub that uses audio from the sub and dub versions to distinguish when people are speaking Japanese vs. when they’re meant to be speaking English.


Language in YOI



I’M STILL RIDING THE EMOTIONAL HIGH OF YURI!!! ON ICE EPISODE TEN, AND I’M TECHNICALLY ONLY FANDOM ADJACENT (I prefer watching things in one long binge session, but I still love watching the fandom’s reactions to episodes as they come out. Spoilers are not really a concern for me).

I am also absolutely in love with all of the analyses of the series post ep 10 plot twist (especially @tumblngkori‘s analyses of the series from Victor’s POV) now that we know the full story. I’m not sure if someone’s already brought this up but and this is just me being a dork who can’t find the right post, but…

I was wondering if anyone had perhaps analyzed the series with the matter of language during everything? Like, obviously, most everything is said in Japanese because that’s who the target audience is, but I wonder how much would be in what language if it were IRL. English is probably used most during the group scenes, but what do Yuuri and Victor use between them? Japanese? Russian? Some amalgamation of the three?

Especially consider Yuuri’s drunken state at the banquet? Maybe the only part Victor literally understood was “Be my coach, Victor” at the end in English and the rest of it was in drunkenly slurred Japanese.


The creators have confirmed that Yuuri and Victor speak mostly english with each other. Many fans speculate that Victor is learning japanese (he say “gambai” in episode 8 and his phone screen in ep 10 is in hiragana), and that Yuuri is learning russin (he say “davai” and “vkusno” in ep 10), some also speculate that Yuuri knows a bit of thai (and that Phichit knows a bit of japanese). For the ther characters I think Minako, Yuuko, and Mari all know english very well, Celestino cleary knows italian (look at how much moves his hands while talking! He his 100% italian XD). In general any graituitus english/russian/italian/ecc or used of dialect is used as a sign that the character are speaking in that language or slipping to their mother tongue (Victor saying “vkusno” or Yuuri slipping back to his dialect while drunk).
I hope you find my blabbing interesting and you find something useful ^^’ There are more knowledgeable people in the fandom, if you are interested I can give you some names. 🙂

😀 Thanks!

Given the ep 10 plot twist which completely upheaves a lot of fans’ perspective on events (especially Victor’s POV and the extent of Yuuri as an unreliable narrator), I was curious how much information is meant to be secret to which characters.

Like–early on Yurio probably talks to Victor in Russian, even when Yuuri is around, unless it’s to specifically complain about Yuuri or insult him. In which case they all use English. So I guess mostly I was just wondering which conversations were comprehensible to which characters at any given point in time, you know? And that would influence reliability of characters as narrators since they may very well not know what is being said around them.

God, I would love to do a “linguistically accurate” edit of YOI using different dubs. Not even just watch it? I would be all over that project in a dream world where time/equipment/content is available to me. Just shut me in a tiny room with Adobe Premier Pro and HOURS OF FOOTAGE (♥o♥)/ (GIVE IT TO MEEEEEEEE)