What's So Gay About Yuri!!! on Ice?
November 3, 2016 7:19 AM   Subscribe

Just five episodes into its run, Yuri!!! on Ice has caught fire as a standout production that just so happens to be irrepressibly gay in subject matter, bolstered by the enthusiasm of squealing fangirls and LGBT otaku alike. [..] What makes Yuri!!! on Ice any different from the heaps of anime packed with various flavors of homoeroticism that we get with every new season anyway?
Jacob Hope Chapman examines the long history of gay subtext and queerbaiting in anime and why Yuri!!! on Ice looks to be different. (For a start the current world champion figure skating approves.)
posted by MartinWisse (13 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
I hadn't watched any anime in ages but I LOVE this show. It has a great sense of place and attention to detail, and the characters and their development are really heartfelt. It doesn't hurt that the skating animations are beautiful.
posted by sonmi at 7:48 AM on November 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Always catches me by surprise when weeb stuff shows up on the blue.

Yuri On Ice is a big deal in my circles. I agree with Chapman's conclusion that it's not queerbaity in the way a lot of shows (including, alas, my beloved Sound! Euphonium) are.

What I really, really want is an on-screen kiss.

Well, that and a Mika cover of the opening theme.
posted by Sokka shot first at 7:56 AM on November 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

For all people have been talking about Thurdays being "Thursgay" because Yuri On Ice, Sound! Euphonium, and Flip Flappers broadcast on that night, only Yuri is anything more than "bait" and even then we have to see if it fulfills its promises. I was actually heartened to see Magical Girl Raising Project be as "no questions asked" about the unabashedly lesbian couple living together and the boy who transforms into a magical girl. While its good to have these subjects explored, it's also good to see them simply normalized.
posted by charred husk at 8:01 AM on November 3, 2016

Apparently Ashley Wagner also has watched it. And Evgeni Plushenko seems amused by people making comparisons with him and Victor. This is despite some fans apparently now leaving really creepy messages on his fb page (same with Yuzuru Hanyu, I think).

In the previous anime thread, I mentioned a thing about the director (and co-writer), Sayo Yamamoto. It's one of the reasons I started watching YoI, since I want to see if she can do with the "fujobait" genre what she did with sexy female characters in her other work, The Woman Called Fujiko Mine and Michiko to Hatchin. It's kind of touched upon in the article, but aside from her inclusion of queer characters, the real thing that intrigues me about her is her storytelling ability. Some vague spoilers--Fujiko Mine took some rather overdone tropes about femme fatales and COMPLETELY overturned it into a very feminist theme. But you had to wait until the VERY LAST episode for this to hit you--everything leading up to that point seemed suggestive of giving into the tropes.

Whenever I watch Yuri!!! On Ice, it kind of feels like that. Every episode constantly pushes the edges of what constitutes "queerbaiting." The fans are constantly arguing over whether they should still call it queerbait, but in the end every suggestive element has a sort of loophole where they either backtrack or you interpret it like "Well he was just joking," "Yeah well, they're saying this in terms of skating," "Ok but this is just a metaphor for his performance," etc.

It isn't so much that the main characters have to end up in a relationship, or even kiss--even in the heterosexual romance genre, it's common for straight romance to be extremely long and drawn out, perhaps never even happening because the whole point of the story is to build up excitement over the possibility of a relationship, and once it happens the story ends. But at least with straight romance, there are certain points, either through dialogue or internal monologue, where a character thinks/says "I have romantic feelings for him" "I wish we were dating" "Does he really love me that way?" etc... and Yuri!!! on Ice hasn't done that yet. It just kind of dances around it. In that sense it's kind of frustrating, but I want to see to the end if it will keep blue-balling the audience or not.

If they DO cross that line and make the relationship (or someone's romantic feelings) explicit, then they really will have "made history" (har har) by managing to create a non-BL story about gay male characters that can still drive up a huge revenue and fanbase.
posted by picklenickle at 8:19 AM on November 3, 2016 [5 favorites]

Yuri!!! on Ice is a great show, but it struggles with production issues.
posted by Pendragon at 8:56 AM on November 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

The idea of a Mika version of History Maker had never crossed my mind, and now I can't think why. That would be just the best thing to happen to music since Bohemian Rhapsody.
posted by HypotheticalWoman at 10:46 AM on November 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

Holy shit that OP. Time to start watchin' this I guess.
posted by Sternmeyer at 10:47 AM on November 3, 2016

I've only seen one episode of this show. I'm waiting till the whole thing's aired, I guess. It seems really good, and the people I follow on twitter are freaking out about it more than I've seen them go for an anime in a while.

Judging by what they've been saying the answer to "what's gay" about this show is: Everything. Every single goddam frame is gay as heck.
posted by sparkletone at 11:28 AM on November 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

(slight derail: Evgenia Medvedeva is such a delight. Really. She's only 16 but she's quite an interesting and charming young lady and she's got an artist's soul. Spoiler: everyone in the US is going to lose their shit when they find out she's Russian and her freestyle long program this year is about the 9/11 terrorist attacks)
posted by stagewhisper at 12:21 PM on November 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

That's awesome fashion!
posted by RobotHero at 10:20 PM on November 3, 2016

Looks wonderful, thanks for the tip!
posted by Twang at 10:25 PM on November 3, 2016

This has been all over my (very very queer) corner of Tumblr lately, so I have a suspicion it's how I will be spending a chunk of my upcoming eight-hour train trip. I hadn't gotten as far as actually going in search of how/where I can find it yet, though, so thanks for making it easy for me!
posted by Stacey at 5:44 AM on November 4, 2016

This is an excellent romance show, and an excellent sports show. The physicality of their skating is so good.
posted by robcorr at 5:56 PM on November 4, 2016

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