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Yuri!!! on Ice Skates Into Our Hearts

Yuri!!! on Ice Skates Into Our Hearts

Over the winter a new anime, Yuri!!! on Ice, hit the US by storm — perhaps you could call it an ice storm. Written by Mitsurō Kubo, manga author of Moteki, Byooshi!!, and Again!! (Mitsurō sure loves exclamation points!) The anime tells the story of a young Japanese figure skater named Yuri as he tries to find the self-confidence he needs to compete in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating (which just so happens to be a real-life invitational skating competition).

yuriThe series starts with Yuri’s defeat at the Grand Prix Finale after his nerves get the better of him. He returns to his hometown of Hasetsu in Kyushu to take some time off, but his friends post a video online of his skating. Yuri’s idol, Russian figure skater Victor Nikiforov, sees the video and decided there and then that he will become Yuri’s coach. The rest of the first season takes us along Yuri’s path towards discovering himself (and perhaps love) as he hones his routine for the bit competition.

Yuri!!! on Ice has captured the hearts of the fan girls, but also LGBT viewers around the world. The budding relationship between Yuri and Victor is a will-they-won’t-they story that exudes a vulnerability and sweetness that many other narratives seem to miss. Yuri is inexperienced in love, having never had a real relationship before, but it’s obvious that he is struggling with an attraction to Victor that he doesn’t quite understand.

Yuri on ice 3

The series treats Yuri’s awakening as subtle and gentle, even as Victor presses with his own seemingly obvious attraction to him. Yuri has the typical embarrassing moments, such as when Victor changes in front of him or asks to sleep in the same bed, and these blushing, face-hiding-behind-your-hands moments are so relatable. Who hasn’t on occasion wanted to melt into the floor before when faced with the object of their affection?

Focusing on the emotional instead of the sexual, the series chooses to highlight the moments we fall in love, with lines like “When I open up, he meets me where I am. I shouldn’t be afraid to open up more!” and “Victor is the first person I’ve ever wanted to hold on to. I don’t really have a name for that emotion, but I have decided to call it love.” These are intimate statements that reflect Yuri’s sensitive nature and hint at the depth of emotion, which he comes to feel for Victor over the series. While some have criticized the show for not being explicit enough in acknowledging these feelings as a proper same-sex relationship (they never say ‘gay’ or anything else truly overt), Yuri is still a step forward. Same-sex marriage is not legal in a majority of Japan and it is still taboo to represent it, so you don’t get to see stories like this in anime and manga much.

yuri on ice skates

While there is no official date yet for season 2, Mitsurō Kubo stated in an interview on Tumblr, “For the rest of this year I’ll be pouring all my energy into “Yuri!!! on Ice,” but I do plan on cheering for the matches on TV and online!! I have a lot of plans in the works with the director for next year… including the wish to create a sequel. So I’m doing my best and working hard for that reason!!”

It will be interesting to see how the relationship evolves in season two. We can only hope that the show can maintain the gentle touch that gives it such a empathetic feel. If your interest is peaked, check out the trailer for Yuri!!! on Ice below.

Is Yuri!!! on Ice the hit of the season? What do you think of Yuri and Victor’s relationship? Let us know in the comments below!

Image Credits: Yuri!!! on Ice/MAPPA

 

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