Hey hey all you Heroes and Travelers out there today I’m bringing you all another super special awesome OWLS post!! Back in December I mentioned that I’d joined OWLS: Otaku Warriors of Liberty and Self-Respect, a group of bloggers and vloggers that hope to spread a message of acceptance and understanding through thoughtful community activism!
So, in order to spread our message of self acceptance and tolerance, we’ve decided to hold Monthly Blog Tours! During Blog Tours, we each write individual theme posts on our blogs that promote our group’s values, with a bit of an otaku twist. February’s Blog Tour topic is Flight in Yuri!!! on Ice!
The inspiration for this post came from a post I read a few months ago over on Pop Culture Uncovered (LINK). It’s a short post, but one that everyone can relate to, so when it was announced that Yuri!!! On Ice would be the topic for this month’s blog tour, I immediately thought back to this author’s post, and the rest was, well, history.
I’m a pretty literal person, so when I think of flight my mind automatically pulls up images of bird soaring majestically through the sky… or Haikyuu, but I’ll save that for another post! 😉
For now, I’ll leave you all with our February Blog Tour prompt:
An individual takes flight when there is a goal, a dream, or an ambition that he or she wants to achieve.
However, for this blog post, we are going to look at “flight” in different lenses: the underdog’s dream, the possibilities that Yuri on Ice allows viewers to think about, and also the dangers of greed and ignorance that can influence one’s dream.
So far we’ve had posts from Arria, Remy, Rai, Steph, Pink-chan, Katrina Sade, and Venus, with each blogger putting their own spin on the topic! Now it’s my turn… In my Blog Tour post, we’re going to look at the relatability of the underdog’s dream, by looking at Yuri Katsuki’s journey in Yuri!!! on Ice!
Yuri!!! on Ice has been called many things by the fandom: Gays on Ice and Yaoi on Ice, seem to be the most common epithets. Legions of fans, both from within the anime community and from without have lauded the series for its tasteful portrayal of Victor and Yuri’s relationship over the course of the 12 episode series. Whether you agree that Yuri and Victor are a couple or not, there is no doubt that Yuri!!! on Ice created a climate of acceptance that has, changed the way we look at LGBTQ+ relationships in anime.
YOI isn’t the first series to do this, but it is the most prominent right now, and that in turn has set the ball rolling on discussions about the portrayal of LGBTQ+ relationships in Boys Love (BL) and Yaoi titles both past and present. Of course I am glad to see such a positive message of acceptance on full display and I sincerely hope that other authors take note of this in the future. However, while this is the stand out take away from the series, it most certainly isn’t the only message YOI has to offer.
I could have written a post about the progressive depiction of same-sex relationships in YOI, but it has been done before by better bloggers than myself and I suspect there will be more in the near future as well… So, I decided to delve a little deeper to the core message of the series, something that I really resonated with, that being Yuri Katsuki’s journey over the course of the series.
I am a Pork Cutlet Bowl! It sounds silly when you say it out loud, but it’s the the truth, I am Yuri Katsuki, and while I lack the athleticism necessary for figure skating, his journey over the course of the series mirrored my own experiences as a 20-something, recent grad. Maybe not the, hot naked Russian figure skater in my bathhouse part or the resulting passionate love affair, but that scene from the first episode, where Yuri is literally sitting in a bathroom stall crying his eyes out… yeah, I’ve been there and let me tell you, crying my eyes out in a public bathroom was one of the lowest points in my life.
But, this is the reality for not just myself, but an entire generation of 20 and 30-somethings. Society sold us a dream: go to school → get a degree → get a job! Unfortunately, for myself and others, life isn’t that simple, that formula doesn’t work… at least not for everyone. When your hard work and efforts are met with failure time and time again, it’s not easy to keep pushing forward, it’s not easy to hang on and I guess that’s what really drew me to the series, that underlying message of hope. That despite the odds, even a pork cutlet bowl could take flight and for me, that is the true message of the series, the indomitable strength of the underdog’s dream.
Yuri Katsuki, is the embodiment of this generation’s plight… failure. Now, I know that sounds a bit harsh, but speaking from experience, failure is by far the most terrifying thing I have ever experienced in my life. The idea of not living up to the expectations of my family and peers is crippling. I saw myself in Yuri, his insecurities were my insecurities, his failures, my own… He’s not some prodigy, like Yurio, nor is he a ball of charisma like Victor; Yuri is just a regular 23 (24 at the end of the series) year old young adult trying to make his way as best he can doing what he loves, he an everyman… an underdog.
a loser or predicted loser in a struggle or contest
He isn’t meant to stand out, viewers are meant to see themselves in him and his journey is a message of hope for anyone that has ever found themselves at rock bottom. That’s what makes underdog stories so compelling, they speak to our insecurities and our failures. They resonate with us in a way that causes us to empathize, so that we feel invested in the character’s success. We want them to win, because if they win, it means we can win too.
After coming in last place at the Grand Prix and failing to qualify for the following season, Yuri loses sight of his dream. So, like anyone that’s ever hit a wall, he returns home, to pick up the pieces of his life and figure out what’s next, whether that’s skating or something else, Yuri uses the time back home to revitalize his broken spirit. His return to his hometown, mirrors that of a lot of millennial, who find themselves in crisis after failing to cut it in the “real world”. When the pressure becomes too much we find ourselves looking backwards, rather than forwards to fix the problem. Sometimes you just have to remind yourself why you got started on your path in the first place and that’s the beauty of hitting rock bottom, there’s only one way to go, and that’s up!
Sure the journey back to the top will be riddled with obstacles, and sure there will be plenty of setbacks, but once you find your center and reason for being, you lose that fear of falling. For Yuri, his center is Victor, he’s the standard on which he sets his career as a skater, his presence lights a fire in Yuri and renews his love of skating. Yuri relies on Victor for strength and at times it appears that without his support, Yuri will fall back into despair and self loathing… which he does on several different occasions. But, in true underdog fashion, Yuri, with the help of Victor and his fellow skaters, learns to pick himself up and starts to forge his own path. But, his journey is incomplete, Yuri still has a ways to go before he can truly soar, but with a little hard work and dedication… our Yuri can fly!
Well guys, that’s all I have to say about flight in Yuri!!! on Ice and I really hope you all enjoyed reading my post!! This was a much more personal post than I originally intended, but ultimately, I’m satisfied with the way it turned out…
Yuri!!! on Ice has a universal message of hope that seems to only shine through in underdog stories. Yuri Katsuki’s journey is one that a lot of people can relate to, his failures in the beginning only strengthen his appeal and his journey is one we can all relate to in some way or another… So be proud to count yourselves as one of the many Katsudon out there!!
There are still three more Blog Tour stops left in January from Stephanie of Anime Girls NYC, from Hazelyn of Archi-Anime, and finally, from Takuto of Takuto’s Anime Cafe so definitely be on the look out for those posts in the coming days!! Also if you haven’t already, please subscribe to the Official OWLS Twitter account @OWLSbloggers, to stay up to date on all OWLS news and announcements!
If you are interested in becoming a member of the OWLS team, please feel free to fill out the contact form, HERE! So don’t be afraid to reach out to any of us on our blogs, on twitter, or at the contact page to learn more about us!! You just need an open mind and a willingness to have fun!