Yuri on Ice!!! has been furiously sparking interest in the anime world since its opening episode. The two Yuri’s, Viktor, and the plethora of other skaters have charmed their way into the hearts of anime fans across the globe. Along with the charm Yuri on Ice brings up discussion on sexuality and its portrayal in anime.
I will begin by prefacing these are my personal thoughts on the matter and that this does not necessarily reflect what the original author intended in their work and if it does reflect anything they possibly intended it is more than likely a small, minuscule sliver of their entire work. This is simply a possible interpretation to what has been presented to us so far. Let’s get to the good stuff then. Yuri On Ice is something I’ve actually held off writing a full blog post for due to having some precautions towards it. Originally, I assumed this work would be the typical BL bait that is featured in a number of sports related shows, but boy was I wrong. Episode 7 proved me so wrong. At this point, there should be no doubt that Viktor and Yuri share with one another some type of intense bound that cannot be defined as friendship, but maybe romantic love is not the only thing they feel towards one another either. My current theory on the matter is that we, the viewers, are witnessing a sexual coming of age story.
Coming of age stories place large emphasis on their main characters as they transition from youth to adulthood, but what’s different about this within Yuri on Ice is that our main protagonist is already of age. Yuri Katsuki is an adult man, he’s twenty-three, so he has already made that transition, but what’s interesting is that the show reveals to us that he is very inexperienced when it comes to the romantic/sexual sphere of maturity. This is stated to us by Viktor asking him questions and by Yuri choosing food to draw a sexual theme for his performance from.
Yuri answers no to this and Viktor talks again in a later episode about how Yuri isn’t experienced in those kind of affairs. So when Yuri is confronted with having to come up with a routine for Eros, naturally he seems a little stuck and not sure what he’s trying to portray. What’s the next closest thing for him? Apparently, that’s food. My thought on this is that he’s thinking of feeling “wanting” or “longing” when it comes to the sexuality featured in Eros. What does he long for a lot? Probably those pork cutlet bowl things he’s always eating. So his original version of Eros was created, but here is where the performance begins to get interesting. Yuri and Viktor’s relationship had only just begun at that point, but now it has been growing throughout the past 5 or so episodes. We watch as the two become more intimate with one another and Viktor does what he feels is best when it comes to praising Yuri and getting him to where he needs to be to win. We also watch as the two grow not only emotionally close, but physically close as well. Viktor is very open with Yuri. In regards to hugging, little touches, and getting in his personal space. Viktor is there and is more than happy to open up to Yuri and get him to open up as well. Yuri also addresses this “opening up”.
A more accurate translation to the last line is something along the lines of, “When I take a step forward, he takes a step to meet me as far as I’ll go.” It’s an interesting showing of vulnerability and respect between the two! What I notice a lot between these scenes is that they’re a way of expressing sexuality. Little affectionate gestures can have erotic undertones despite the sweet nature of them. We sometimes don’t view erotic acts as necessarily gentle caresses of hands, or even sometimes kissing, but all of these can relate to sexuality and can be common within expressing erotic desire.
As their relationship filled with mutual respect and boundaries begins to grow more intense, so does Yuri’s performance for his Eros routine. As Viktor ups his display of affection (sudden hugs, hand rubbing, and little bits of flirtatious encouragement) Yuri becomes more and more into it. Yuri beings to perform with ridiculous vigor and charm. Yuri begins to even get possessive of Viktor, almost as if he has some sort of claim to him. We watch a man with no experience turn into someone who oozes sexual prowess. Yuri started at the cutlet bowl, turned into a woman seducing the play boy from out of town (Viktor), and after Viktor told him he could seduce him as his own, he became the only man who could satisfy Viktor.
We start here:
We move to here:
And we get to here:
Yuri’s performance and how it’s carried out is directly related to Viktor and his actions. Eros and its performance hinges on the actions and feelings that Viktor brings out of Yuri. Yuri began as food and now at episode 8 he’s telling Viktor that the whole word will view his love. After episode 7 that had the infamous scene, Yuri modeled his performance to reflect that and gave a kiss to the judges. Viktor and his expressions of sexuality influenced Yuri to open up and become aware of untapped sexual feelings he has. Sexual may seem like a strong word to use for his performance, but it is a performance centered on erotic love and intense sexuality. Viktor helps channel that into Yuri and Yuri realizes throughout the series the sexual feelings he has towards Viktor, the man he so desperately seeks to seduce and keep to himself.
Here is why I believe that while Yuri on Ice is prominently a story of revival of Yuri and his mental state, I also believe that the creator left in some little tidbits on his sexual coming of age story. We’re witnessing a man come to terms in his attraction for another man and work it out into his performance. Will this be fully discussed in upcoming episodes? I doubt it. Yuri on Ice has been a mostly show-not-tell work in this regard, but I feel we may see Yuri grow more and more as his sexuality begins to flourish. We now just wait for the final episodes that will hopefully showcase how the relationship between Viktor and Yuri progressed and how it will continue to grow.
Thank-you for reading! -As always. And feel free to comment with your own thoughts on the matter.
More accurately translated line and screencaps provided by: http://lookiamnotcreative.tumblr.com/