My personal beef with Yuri On Ice and how gay it is…and at the same time, how NOT gay it is.
Now I personally am not a fan of the kind of anime that pulls in its audience through fan service–i.e. booby and panty shots. Such anime tends to rely on fan service rather than good story-telling to captivate its audience, and I don’t endorse that at all.
Therefore, I was really skeptical when I started Yuri On Ice…because HELLO MALE NUDITY. Seriously, there were so many butt shots right from the beginning, I just got a bit scared; I haven’t seen this many male butts since my figure painting class three years ago, and even then it was awkward!
However, despite this, I saw the potential in this anime and so decided to hang around, and man, was I glad I did–because once the competition starts to kick in full force by episode 3, the fan service backs off just enough to show these characters as serious athletes, and that’s the point where I finally saw the genuine passion behind this sports anime.
Now what I love so much about Yuri (the protagonist) is that he’s quite talented right from the start–he’s not one of those wimpy protagonists who by some miracle win at the end, but is rather someone who’s smart enough to acknowledge his strengths and weaknesses at the same time, and so find that balance to succeed. In that, I appreciate just how realistically the writers portrayed Yuri. Yes, he’s meek and doubtful of his abilities, but he’s still prideful enough to realize his own strengths as a skater, and this entire anime is just a way of showing how Yuri harnesses his potential with Victor’s help.
And I love that Yuri’s not so meek that he can’t stand up for himself. Like in episode 1 where Yurio is insulting Yuri and demanding to know where Victor was–there’s this one moment where Yuri is just standing there, and smirking at Yurio, thinking: “He’s totally underestimating me.” I was like “DAMN YO, YOU HAD A SPINE?!”
And oh, the visuals. Just check out Yuri’s Eros routine down below; it’s absolutely gorgeous! I just love how the writers show these skaters actually thinking through their moves WHILE conveying their love for the ice at the same time. Now the latter can get quite cheesy at times, but it’s so earnest and sincere, I bought into this after getting used to it.
By the way, my personal favorite by far was Yurio. I mean, WHAT a cutie pie–he’s an arrogant little pipsqueak, but his resting bitch face is on point and he makes me laugh every single time he comes on scene.
That’s why I was so happy when [SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!] Yurio won the entire thing at the end. I mean, I really thought that the skater who won Victor as a coach would be the one to win, but I love how quick Yurio was to back down and find his own way to win over Yuri. It’s a nice way of saying that when a door closes on you, a window will open for you elsewhere:)
Not to say I wasn’t happy for Yuri though. I think his second place win was a perfect way to end the anime, and I personally thought it was more satisfying way to convey the moral of this story. After all, Yuri just winning everything so easily would cheapen the struggles he had to go through, so I love how it turned out in the end for him:)
But now, I have a beef with the fan service in this anime.
Now fan service, for me, is totally fine as long as it’s done in moderation. After all, how do you fully enjoy things when you don’t get a moment or two to squeal in utter, geeky, unrestrained delight?
However, my problem with this anime is that there were so many homoerotic moments between Yuri and Victor, and it got to the point that it wasn’t fan service anymore, but straight-up an actual, legitimate romance.
Which is totally cool with me, but I was just left feeling confused as to why these writers never confirmed the romance–like, why didn’t they actually legitimize the attraction that Yuri and Victor have for each other?
Now fans would say that it was legitimized–the couple rings, the vows to “stay together forever,” the tons of cuddles and near kisses between Victor and Yuri…There’s a lot of evidence pointing to the fact that Victor and Yuri have an attraction to each other beyond their mutual love for figure skating.
However, I DON’T believe it was ever legitimized in a concrete way. For example, the engagement rings aren’t really engagement rings, but simply a tangible reminder to win the Granprix finals together. And the vows to “stay together forever” don’t mean romantically, but simply a relationship as coach and student. And all those countless touchy-feely moments between Victor and Yuri? Well…Victor’s an exhibitionist, I guess.
In that, the writers never clarify that Yuri and Victor are romantically attracted to each other, and that’s my beef with this anime. There’s always a logical explanation for these characters’ homoerotic behavior, and that just feels like an excuse to deny that Yuri On Ice is a gay anime; it feels like this show is happy enough to pander to fangirls’ penchant for homoerotic material, yet it doesn’t have enough balls to go all the way.
Now I understand why. This show would probably would lose a certain demographic if the writers did own up to these characters as being gay. However, isn’t it still wholly possible to have a gay couple come out of an anime without the entire thing being labelled a gay anime?
After all, you don’t see anime getting tagged “heterosexual” just because its protagonist makes out with someone of the opposite sex. So why is it that a sports anime, such as Yuri On Ice, which actually focuses on sports, would have to be tagged shounen-ai or yaoi just because it happens to have a gay protagonist come out of it?
A sports anime is a sports anime regardless of the protagonist’s sexual orientation, and that’s what people should focus on, not whether the protagonist is gay or not.
In that, I just feel like there’s still this unaddressed homophobia when it comes to the tagging of gay anime, and it just shows in the fact that Yuri On Ice skirted around the issue by never confirming Victor and Yuri as a gay couple. So when it comes to the homoerotic fan service….I’m not a fan of it.
But all the gripe aside, I do recommend Yuri On Ice. It’s a fuzzy, heart-warming adventure, and the skating visuals are totally worth it. Furthermore, the characters themselves are really, really endearing, and although I went into this anime with cynical attitude, I left feeling totally hyped. This anime brings a heart and joy to figure skating that really makes you want to root for these characters, and I myself (who’s not typically a figure skating fan) made me really interested in the sport:)
Thanks for reading, and happy holidays! It’s been a fun year of blogging, and I do hope to continue for a long time. So stay warm and hopping, and I will see you in 2017–cheers to you all!