Every once in a while, I see a complaint from somebody demonizing YOI because it doesn’t include homophobia or racism or whatever other thing, and uhm, no.
To be clear, Kubo and staff have said the YOI takes place in a homophobia-free universe. Cool, fine, good. But I see people sometimes saying the YOI isn’t proper representation and completely disregarding the series because of this. Like fine, you can have an opinion; I’m not prying your eyelids open and forcing you to watch anime, but to say that YOI isn’t “proper” representation or that it contributes nothing is completely misguided.
First of all, a show–or any piece of media, really–that has a queer couple and/or character in it doesn’t have to relegate itself to being about discrimination. Sure, it can, and it’s absolutely important that there are cultural records of the awful shit happening in the world. But our lives are more than that. We’re more than the hate directed towards us. We’re all individuals with our own problems, perspectives, preferences. Why should every story including us have to essentially be a form of torture porn?
For those who don’t know, the term ‘torture porn’ is used in cinematic circles to describe a subgenre of horror film that deliberately focuses on graphic depictions of torture, gore, violence, etc etc. That doesn’t mean any film with gore in it, it means a piece that has no real plot, emotional depth, or suspense; it’s only about suffering, plain and simple. Think of things like Bloodfeast (1963)–one of my personal fav b movies actually–the Saw series, and Hostel: Part II (2007). Films like Evil Dead 2 (1987), however, are splatstick because of the comedic tone.
I make this comparison because if every single story with queer characters and couples only focused on the suffering of these people, then it just becomes an emotional–and sometimes physical–form of what I explained above. If it has nothing going for it but that, then the story is nonexistent, plot is flat, the characters are caricatures rather than people, etc etc. Again, it’s not a bad thing to portray stories like this. But it’s important to keep in mind that we experience more than hate and romanticized depression.
Anyway, my point is is that YOI has a complex story on its own. Yuuri and Victor are people, not romanticized caricatures. They have their own problems separate from discrimination, and that’s so important in normalizing queer people and relationships. I mean, honestly, if we keep portraying queer people as “outsiders,” how are we going to get anywhere?
I was talking to my mother about this, and she made a great point: not only is the show a great step for normalizing queer relationships–especially since younger generations will be able to see it–but it’s also a wonderful blueprint of what the world could be. It’ll take time, and work, but this is a place we can get to. People can love and be themselves and hold their identities proudly instead of repressing and hiding out of fear of assault or even death.
If we don’t have a map, we’ll lose our way. YOI is a piece of the map to lead us to a better, kinder world.
This show has worth, and it means things to people, whether you think so or not. Opinions don’t change the reality.
Evil Dead 2 (1987) Dir. Sam Raimi Rotten Tomatoes: 98% IMDb: The lone survivor of an onslaught of flesh-possessing spirits holds up in a cabin with a group of strangers while the demons continue their attack. Stars: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks
Evil Dead 2:Dead by Dawn (1987) Dir. Sam Raimi Rotten Tomatoes: 98% IMDb: The lone survivor of an onslaught of flesh-possessing spirits holds up in a cabin with a group of strangers while the demons continue their attack. Stars: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks