Victor Nikiforov

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Character
Name: Victor Nikiforov, ヴィクトル・ニキフォロフ(Vikutoru Nikiforofu)
Occupation: competitive figure skater, figure skating coach
Relationships: Yuuri Katsuki (Fiancé), Yakov Feltsman (Coach), Makkachin (Pet)
Fandom: Yuri!!! on Ice
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Victor Nikiforov or Viktor Nikiforov is a protagonist of the ice skating anime Yuri!!! on Ice.

Canon

Victor Nikiforov is a Russian figure skater. He won five consecutive World Championships as well as five consecutive Grand Prix Finals. At the start of the show, he puts his competitive career on hold to become Yuuri Katsuki's coach.

Personality

Although there is much we don't know about Victor's life apart from his skating career, he still is a complex, multifaceted character. For example, he has multiple talents: he is considered a complete skater, which means he is a successful athlete, performer, and artist. Moreover, he is skilled at creating choreography and at being a celebrity. During episode 10 it becomes clear that he is a hard worker who has had no time for "life & love" outside of competitive figure skating for nearly all his life. His primary emotional relationship seems to have been with his poodle Makkachin, who he clearly adores. Because of that it's unsurprising he is often clumsy in dealing with the emotions of other people. He can play the role of successful skater and celebrity with practiced ease, but acting as a coach to and navigating a serious romantic relationship with Yuuri Katsuki is most definitely a challenge for him.

As a coach Victor clearly uses his own old-school coach Yakov as a model with a much more suave delivery than his very gruff mentor. As a result Victor is harsh at times, including fat-shaming during the first pair of episodes. In addition, he is prone to give long critiques after a skate. On the other hand, he can also act like a flake, disappearing suddenly, forgetting promises he makes, most notably a a promise to choreograph a program for Yuri Plisetsky. However, when called on that Victor gives Yuri one of his own new programs and coaches him through the early stages of learning it. Although it becomes extremely clear in episode 7 that Victor is very inexperienced as a coach as he struggles to emotionally support a panicking Yuuri, he is able to learn from his mistakes and change his behavior starting from episode 4. He asks what Yuuri needs from him in that episode and by episode 10 he comments on what he has learned about interacting with Yuuri more successfully.

Victor has a love of the good life, enjoying fashion, good food, a comfortable environment, and traveling first class. However, for Yuuri he will travel coach, and he clearly enjoys the opportunity to buy Yuuri a nice suit for his birthday. Although he mentions coaching fees, he seems comfortably wealthy and therefore the lodging and food at Yuuri's parents' onsen is likely his main "fee".

Fandom

Characterization Evolution in Fandom

Because Victor was a rather mysterious figure for much of the series, and says little that is explicit about his family or past, fans struggled to understand his motives. At first, there were fan theories suggesting that he might be hiding something, that he was an untrustworthy serial seducer, or that he was dying of a fatal illness, which were attempts to explain why he dropped his competitive career seemingly out of the blue to coach Yuuri, a struggling skater in a foreign country. Unsurprisingly, Victor as a sophisticated and sexually experienced playboy was a favorite characterization in early fics. Authors drew on the early episodes of the series; for example, Yuuri's imagined story behind Eros, which implies that Victor is a fly-by-night seducer and Yuuri is the seducer's target. As S.H. Marr acknowledges in hir meta advocating for a nuanced interpretation of Victor's character,
Victor is definitely presented as a playboy....he has millions of male and female fans who literally swoon over him, he’s noted for being “free with his charms,” is called “the world’s hottest bachelor,” and his initial behavior with Yuuri is very forward, physical, and flirtatious.[1]

After episode 10 aired, shaking the fandom with its epic plot twist, there began a re-evaluation of Victor as a character. People re-watched the earlier episodes and took in the later episodes in a new light. Gradually a "new" Victor emerged in fandom, one who was not hyper-competent in romantic relationships. In fact, inspired by Victor's confession that he has avoided "life and love" for most of his life, he is often depicted as a mess when handling human relationships in general. Sometimes this has lead to a Victor who cannot handle real life skills of any kind in comparison to Yuuri. He may even come across as pretty but unintelligent.

Because Victor has not said anything about his family, there has been much speculation about his parents, with many fans assuming he and his parents are estranged, or that they died before the beginning of YOI. There are expectations that if Ice Adolescence is ever completed, fans will finally get much more of his backstory and that there will be further adjustments to his characterization in fandom.

Tropes and Themes

Pairings

  • Yuuri Katsuki/Victor Nikiforov (canon) The predominant pairing in JPN and ENG fandoms by far. Greeted with great joy by the fandom as canonical beginning from episode 7, and further cemented with the boys' engagement in episode 10. It became one of the top ships on AO3 in 2017, an unusual feat at the time for a multiracial couple.
  • Christophe Giacometti/Victor (fanon) Seems to have been picked up largely because it's clear the two skaters have known each other for years and seem fond of each other, though there are hints that perhaps Christophe feels more strongly about Victor than Victor does about him, at least as a skating rival. Sometimes mentioned in Yuuri Katsuki/Victor Nikiforov fics as a past relationship for Victor, possibly as a casual friends-with benefits or maybe a light-hearted fling, considering Victor's canonical inexperience with romance.

Example Fanworks

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.

Fanfiction

  • Repeat After Me by queenieofaces. Victor learns language through mimicry, hears phrases and repeats them back until the inflection becomes second nature. Yuuri seems to communicate best through euphemism, through metaphor, through talking around the subject rather than approaching it head on, and so Victor tries his best to mimic him, to take his words and echo them back.

A brilliant exploration of Victor based on what we see of his growth over the series in communicating with Yuuri.

  • Rivals series / Of Bright Stars and Burning Hearts by Reiya. "Viktor doesn’t remember the first time he met Yuuri Katsuki. This however, is what Viktor does remember… Part 2 of the Rivals series and companion fic to ‘Until My Feet Bleed and My Heart Aches’. One small change alters the course of both Viktor and Yuuri’s entire lives, creating a rivalry that spans across many years and a world where they both tell a very different side to the story."

Art

Meta

Doujinshi

Resources

References

  1. ^ Link to source webpage, S. H. Marr. Untitled Meta on Victor Nikiforov, posted to Tumblr on January 26, 2017. (Accessed 14 June 2021.)