Fully realised romances are a rare thing in Anime. They’re something that many viewers, such as myself, always want to see happen. But for one reason or another, characters in Anime very rarely end up together, and when they do, it tends to be surprising, even in the romance genre.
And as you would expect, same sex romances are even more uncommon, barring the Yaoi and Yuri genres which are more or less made for the sole purpose of catering to their associated demographics. But the romances depicted in those shows often feel forced or overly fetishised to the point they don’t feel genuine.
So naturally, when Yuri!!! On Ice came on the scene, a lot of people were pleasantly surprised. The ice skating phenomenon shook the Anime world by not only incorporating a supposed romance between the two main characters, but a same sex romance between the two main characters.
Tumblr exploded. Twitter blew up. DeviantArt got flooded with fanart. It was insane. It remains insane because it’s all still happening. On a daily basis. Yuri!!! On Ice has become quite the unforgettable phenomenon due to its supposed unique forwardness when it came to depicting a same sex romance between two of its primary characters.
But I’m here to get something controversial off my chest, because once again I’ve been attacked for having an opinion that nobody agrees with and I feel the need to explain myself.
I don’t think Yuri!!! On Ice is a romance. In fact, I don’t think the show has any real romance in its story at all.
No. I’m not saying this for the sake of being contrarian, nor am I saying this out of a hatred for same sex relationships. I wanted Yuri!!! On Ice to have the implied romance that it continuously hinted at over the course of its story, but with what the show presented in its 12 episodes, I have no real reason to believe that there is any.
I already covered the infamous kiss scene that set off the fangirls and fanboys way back when it first aired. I was adamant that it wasn’t a kiss, because it didn’t remotely look like one, but by then it was too late. People who had been praying since the first 3 minutes of episode 1 for this series to be a Yaoi had already seen enough to jump to conclusions and declare the show to be a romance.
And that’s fine. I still feel the show has some genuine romantic feelings in there, but they’re never fully realised or ever made apparent for me to consider the relationship as anything but “really good friends”.
If Yuri and Victor kissed one another, why do we never see their lips touch? Why does Victors arm obscure the entire shot? Why is it left ambiguous and never properly shown? Why is it never brought up or mentioned afterwards by any of the characters?
There is absolutely no need for this ambiguity. If Yuri!!! On Ice was aiming to present a true, genuine, same sex romance between Victor and Yuri, it would have gone all out. It would have shown us something genuine instead of dancing around the subject and being nothing but completely suggestive.
And this rings true for every single “romantic” scene in the show. There’s a part in the series where Victor and Yuri are outside a cathedral and they exchange rings with one another in what feels like a moment of genuine romance. It’s very symbolic of a wedding ceremony and it seems really honest and heartfelt. Yet when they exchange the rings they talk about some kind of weird “coach and student” relationship that alludes to a romance, but never openly says it is a romance. It’s no less suggestive than the sort of things we were seeing from the likes of Free! or Black Butler, neither of which were romances.
I wanted Yuri!!! On Ice to be a romance. I wanted Victor and Yuri to enter a fully realised, romantic relationship with one another. But all I got were suggestive shots accompanied with innuendo that amounted to very little.
It’s frustrating because I want to get on board with this Victuri thing. I want to sail the ship, but I honestly can’t see a real relationship here. It’s incredibly artificial, and I feel that the consensus opinion of “there is a romance” stirred from the fact that many people had instantly decided this was going to be a Yaoi as soon as the show started airing.
If the goal of Yuri!!! On Ice was to represent the homosexual community, I feel that, in my eyes at least, it failed to do so. Clearly it hasn’t for everyone else, as I seem to be the only person that see’s the show this way, but I just find it strange that everything has been left ridiculously vague and obscure.
If you’re trying to showcase a romantic relationship between two characters, same sex or not, you don’t have the entire cast ignore the presence of said relationship. You don’t have the very people in the supposed relationship dance around the idea of having genuine feelings for each other, you have them fully embrace their feelings for each other in ways that clearly present them to each other and the audience. You don’t obscure a kiss, you show it.
This is a kiss:
This is also a kiss:
This is not:
Yuri!!! On Ice is a Sports Anime with sprinklings of romantic undertones, and until a second season proves otherwise, I will continue to view the show as such.
I’m fine with people embracing the idea that the show is a romance. Go for it. Have fun. Do what I wish I could do.
But don’t have the audacity to say I’m wrong for having a different perspective.
I just can’t see it as a romance. Perhaps one day my perspective will change.
Interested in my scores for Yuri!!! On Ice and other Anime titles? You can find them on my horrendously incomplete MyAnimeList page.