By Sophia Whittemore
Yuri on Ice anime recommendations are absolutely flooding my social media feed. Everyone seems to be talking about it, about how it makes them feel welcomed in a society where they don’t quite fit, or how the anime is inspiring them to fight even harder for LGBTQIA rights as allies. They spoke of how the romance in the anime didn’t feel false or too rushed, but was honest and true. So, seeing all this positivity, I finally took the plunge and decided to watch the anime.
And I wasn’t disappointed.
Yuri on Ice follows the story line of Yuri Katsuki, a 23-year old Japanese figure skater who’s in a horrible rut. He feels like a failure in his skating career, eats unhealthily to cope with his emotional pain, and has to fight anxiety to boot. His entire life is changed when Victor Nikiforov, a Russian celebrity skater and world champion, decides to coach Yuri to win the gold. Along the path of ice skating struggles and regaining his confidence, Yuri doesn’t just win competitions: he also wins Victor’s heart.
Writer Carli Velocci described possibilities for why the show is so popular. E.g. the reason why the love depicted in this anime seems so real.
Just like in Western media, the same-sex couple doesn’t end up together because one of them ends up dead. Heterosexual couples still take precedent, even sometimes in the homosexual couple’s own story. However, in Yuri on Ice, Victor and Yuri are at the forefront. It’s a shame we don’t get an explicit show of physical love, but maybe we don’t need it. Yuri and Victor’s budding relationship is gradual, and neither one of them has a moment when they realize that they’re gay and that it’s something to be reckoned with. Yuri, at one point, just proclaims his love for Victor in front of a TV audience, implying that it’s more than romantic, but that it’s real nonetheless. When they “get married” it’s more of a show of their pure bond and their effect on each other. When we find out that Victor came to Japan because Yuri showed off a different side of himself at a party a year prior, it brings him down to Yuri’s awkward level.
What makes this particular show unique is how it depicts a relationship between Yuri and Victor without setting it in a world of homophobia or general hatred. There’s only total support for the show’s non-gender-conforming or non-heteronormative characters. It’s a refreshing look on how the world should be: accepting instead of spiteful. As the wonderful writer of the blog Geeks Out: Where Pride Powers Up, puts it:
To me, Yuri on Ice represents a world that I wish could be my reality, in which queerness can be explored without fear of discrimination, and that is a vision that should be encouraged and protected. This series is important for a number of reasons. It’s important because we live in a world that has dating profiles that list no femmes, no Asians, a world that prioritizes masculinity over femininity and genderqueer-ness, a world that prizes Caucasian partners over partners of color, a world that shames and invalidates mental illness, a world that says that queer romance will never be as authentic or as beautiful as heterosexual romance, a world that says queerness in general is wrong, especially in the current political climate, in which the civil rights and safety of the LGBT community are more threatened than ever.
And isn’t that the type of story we need more of nowadays?
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