The animated series Yuri!!! On ICE and It’s Slavic LGBTQ+ Representation

A photo of Yuri Katuski preforming a skate routine at the Grand Prix Finals.

A photo of Yuri Katuski preforming a skate routine at the Grand Prix Finals.

Polina Kurland, Journalist

The animated series Yuri!!! On ICE and It’s Slavic LGBTQ+ Representation

 

 

The story of Yuri!! On ICE starts by a young man named Yuri Katsuki (picture shown to the right), a 23 year old figure skater. After he lost in the Grand Prix Final, he felt defeated and decided to put his skating career on hold. He then returns to his hometown in Kyushu, where he reunites himself with his family and friends. One afternoon, he goes to an ice skating rink near his home and meets up with his friend Yuko. She lets him practice skating on the rink, where he then mimics a perfect skating routine that his idol, Victor Nikiforov, had once performed. When Yuko’s three little daughters recorded Yuri skating behind his back and uploaded it to the internet, there was an uproar. It had gotten millions of views, showing off Yuri’s talent in performing an advanced skating routine that was made by Victor. Victor himself saw the video, and saw the potential in Yuri. Victor Nikiforov is a Russian internationally ranked figure-skater, a five-time consecutive Grand Prix champion at the height of his career, so being acknowledged by someone like him was almost unreal to Yuri. Victor’s life soon becomes intertwined with Yuri’s, when he offers to become Yuri’s coach and mentor. He proposed to Yuri that he could coach him on how to skate and revive his figure-skating career. Yuri, being baffled that his skating-career idol was in his own home offering such a thing, accepted the offer.

 

Meanwhile, Yuri Plisetsky, a young Russian prodigy skater at the age of 15, travels to Kyushu to train with Victor, back when Yuri P. was still young, Victor promised Yuri if he won the Junior World Championships, which Yuri P. presumably did, Victor would personally train him. Victor, having forgotten about his promise to Yuri P., decides to train both of the Yuri’s. Yuri Katsuki’s older sister Mari decided to call the russain Yuri “Yurio” to differentiate the two.

 

Victor then assigned each Yuri two songs with the same melody but meaning different things, and made them compete against each other to decide which one he will coach. Both wanting to have their idol as their coach, worked hard for several weeks exercising and practicing their skating routine. The first song, “Agape”, is about unconditional love, and is given to Yurio.  The second song, “Eros,” is about more intimate love, and is given to Yuri. After Victor sees both performances, he chooses Yuri. Yurio, angry by this, returned back to Russia and both Yuris vowed to win the Grand Prix championship. From then on, the two form an enthralling creative relationship, training together for Yuri’s Grand Prix comeback, while also delving into an intense romantic relationship.

 

During the Grand Prix Series, both Yuri and Yurio qualify to represent their countries (Yuri being Japan and Yurio representing Russia),  while meeting many other competitive skaters, some more kind than others. Later, both Yuri’s qualified to the Grand Prix Finals. During the time period between the Grand Prix Series and Grand Prix Finals, Victor and Yuri announced their relationship to the public and their friends. This is where Slavic LGBTQ+ representation comes in. During the entire show, it shows Yuri and Victor having feelings for each other. When buying golden rings for each other and officially announcing their engagement with a pair of golden rings, they were openly accepted and many celebrated. While some have criticized the lack of homophobia as unrealistic, the show’s open and loving acceptance was something many people loved to see, making it a more popular anime then anticipated. To see a relationship like Victor and Yuri’s, a queer interracial relationship that is celebrated instead of being hated, was something that everyone enjoyed to watch. At finals, Yuri decides to quit skating so that Victor can return to the sport and tells Victor of his decision. Victor, in tears, declines Yuri’s proposition and they agree to choose their paths after the tournament has finished. With a long awaited competition mainly between Yuri and Yurio, the tournament ends with Yurio winning the gold medal and Yuri winning silver. As a result, Yuri decides to continue skating and moves to St. Petersburg so that he can continue to live alongside Victor, and train alongside Yurio and Victor, as he begins to start skating again.

 

Overall, the show has been praised multiple times over for its natural diversity, showcasing characters of Russian, Korean, Thai, Japanese, and Mexican descent, among others., while also showing both Slavic and general LGBTQ+ representation for all to see, causing it’s spreading. The show is a great way to entertain yourself and understand the representation of the LGBTQ+ community, and is greatly recommended for all anime watchers.