*intro music* If you’re involved in niche circles of anime, you’ve probably heard about Yuri On Ice. Either you’re foaming at the mouth at how beautiful the pair skate was, or you haven’t watched it. There are no gray areas. For those who haven’t watched the show, it’s basically homoerotic ice skating. *funky gay montage* And although it is confirmed as queer and we know what’s going on between Yuri and Viktor, there’s a certain layer of ambiguity within their relationship that makes it… interesting. But, let’s talk about their relationship for a second and then how the story goes. Yuri On Ice starts off showing Yuri’s decline. His career has taken a down-turn, although he has potential for greatness. He suffered a devastating failure at the big ice skating competition, the… “Grand Prix Final” Yuri has an admiration, a sort of obsession that he’s held since childhood with a guy named Viktor. Basically, Viktor is like the Beyoncé of men’s ice skating, but Russian. And an ice skater. I think we all left this show a little obsessed with Viktor, to be honest. So, after returning to Japan with the question of his retirement, Yuri decides to imitate one of Viktor’s routines. After it gets uploaded to the Internet, like so many things shouldn’t be, it catches the attention of Viktor. Under the guise of some sort of fascination, or… love, for what Yuri had done with his routine, Viktor decides to become Yuri’s coach. And together, Yuri begins to show the potential he can reach, with the theme of… love. One of his routines is called “On Love: EROS.” He imagines it as the story of a playboy that comes into town to gain the love of the most beautiful woman, only to toss her aside. At first, Yuri decides to skate as the playboy, but soon learns that he’s definitely not a playboy at all. He tries to dance as the beautiful woman, When first debuting the skate, he said to the world he was going to imagine eating his favorite dish: the Pork Cutlet Bowl. But, as he said to Viktor, he would: “Become the Pork Cutlet Bowl.” He begins to gain his lacking confidence and slowly the love between him and Viktor develops. Although it’s evident that Viktor was fascinated with Yuri all along, their personal bond solidifies through the work they do together. But there’s a different story that’s being told through the lens of Viktor Niki – what?! It turns out that he and Yuri had met once before – at the banquet from last year’s Grand Prix Final. Yuri got a little intoxicated. He began to dance with the other competitors. *funky drunk Yuri dance montage* He seemed crazy and confident – a playboy. Him and Viktor shared that one night of passion. And we don’t really know the full extent of it, but to Viktor, Yuri was the playboy that came and stole his heart. And this story may provide a possible explanation why Viktor was so touchy with Yuri when they first met. Viktor just thought that Yuri was the kinda guy who’d like to get provocatively naked in hot springs. He thought that that night of passion was still alive in him, and at first a lot of people – including me thought these moments were just bait. “Queerbait”, to be specific. Making the audience think that these characters were queer, only to scream: NO HOMO! And although some scenes were provocative in the way they displayed the nature between the two characters, *homoerotic Victuuri montage* Eventually, the show delivered. *Entire world applauds* And that’s when people started to call it revolutionary. And in many regards, it is. It shows a healthy queer relationship between two main characters in a show that isn’t mainly focused on LGBT+ issues. They even have a sequence where before the big competition Yuri buys rings for him and Viktor – suggesting *marriage*. They both support each other, and their friends are supportive as well. But there are understandable questions being raised when it comes to the idea of just how revolutionary this show is. Of course there are definite admirable moments, like paying homage to gay ice figure skater Johnny Weir through Viktor. Or endearing moments, like the ring exchange. But still, the moment that made everybody know the pairing was real – that kiss on ice – is still debated among fans. The kiss in episode 7 can still be interpreted as a hug, and yes – we all know it was a kiss, I know it was a kiss. The creator even compared that scene to another kiss scene. Viktor, in the show, said that the gesture was meant to be a surprise. And considering that Viktor and Yuri aren’t… completely foreign to the idea of getting hot & heavy with each other, I don’t see how a hug is a surprise for Yuri. But, as we live in a heteronormative society, there are people who will doubt the fiasco, because of an arm. That DAMN ARM. And it is a reasonable question. Why have the arm there? We all KNOW what’s going on, but what’s the point of blocking the kiss? Several people have been pointing to Japanese Censorship Laws, but that’s not the case. Gay stuff is allowed in Japan all the time. Shows like No. 6 featured a gay kiss in a non-gay story, and it wasn’t banned. And that kiss was explicitly shown. Tumblr user saotome-michi explained in a detailed post that Yuri!!! on ICE had no reason to censor the kiss as far as restrictions in Japan go. As they pointed out, the show airs at 1am to 3am, I mean COME ON. I don’t even watch TV at that time. I sit in my bed reading fanfiction while I pretend to be asleep. And since it’s broadcast so late, it means it isn’t exactly broadcast to a wide audience, instead relying on DVD sales. It also isn’t an issue of the network banning them from airing the kiss because No. 6 aired on a national network as well. So, why block the kiss? Is it an artistic style? Was the artist just so determined in adding the extra ambiguity of the arm? That might be true, and we’ve seen Viktor hold Yuri in that manner through different pictures on the show. But because of that artist’s style, people are left to question, and LGBT+ people don’t need to keep questioning. Queer media shouldn’t be riddled with doubt, because we need it to be explicit. Especially in a place like Japan, where homophobia is prevalent, and often the topic of queer relationships are only spoken of in certain circles. The Japanese anime market has problems with queerbaiting. Inclusion of fanservice in non-LGBT settings, with the clear intention to never deliver, leave real LGBT people in the gutter. And even when queer themes are explicit, they’re usually not marketed towards LGBT+ people. Now, I’m not a Japanese person. I’m a clueless Venezuelan who takes the gay where he can get it, and when I was first introduced to the gay side of anime – Yuri and Yaoi, I thought “Wow, this is great! Let me watch every episode of Sekaiichi Hatsukoi in a night!” But genres like Yuri and Yaoi aren’t marketed to an LGBT+ audience. They’re marketed towards straight people. They aren’t realistic portrayals and are problematic in a lot of ways. It’s not real representation. Yuri!!! on ICE did a good job at overcoming some of these issues. But it would have been helpful to have seen it go that final step. Like how No. 6 actually DID include a clear and uncensored kiss. There are many ways that Viktor and Yuri’s love is shown without a kiss scene. It’s a bold choice to show the engagement between two men in a country where marriage between two people of the same gender isn’t even legal. Showing real love between them is bold, too; the nuance and ambiguity keeps the show interesting. Especially when the whole point of the show is change: change in Yuri, and his development as a character; change in all the other characters. Given how popular the show was, especially in how it attempted to tackle a queer relationship, it will serve as a hope for the future. It opens doors for other anime to try to represent queer people in a way that isn’t riddled with problems. Does Yuri!!! On ICE live up to its opening tune? Did Yuri!!! On ICE make history? In many ways, it did – while lacking in others. And although there are reasons to be critical about the show, the content is still compelling. It’s a wonderful ride through the world of Viktor and Yuri, and their hopes for the future. The love between the two characters is pure, and it was so refreshing to see a queer relationship represented in a positive light. And I hope it serves as an example of the potential of queer anime. So, in the end – were they born to make queer history? You decide.