So I’m writing this in the wake of the new interviews we got at Anime Midwest, specifically Otsuka-san’s words on Victor and Yuuri’s relationship and the ensuing salt by antis. What boggles my mind is that people who so desperately cling to the idea that Victor and Yuuri are just in a “strong platonic friendship” are now not only disregarding canon context but also actual words from the creators of the show themselves.
I just want to start out by saying that we shouldn’t even be having this discussion. I am 100% certain that if Victor and Yuuri were a heterosexual couple there would be no controversy at all. No one would have to sit here and argue the validity of their romantic relationship—we would all have automatically assumed it from the get-go. If Victuuri were a heterosexual couple we would all be under the assumption that they were romantically involved already without half the things we actually got to see between them on the show.
How many times have we all seen movies or shows that start out with a female character and a male character at the very beginning and have thought “okay they’re going to end up together” (unless they’re related, one of them dies, etc)? A lot—even if we aren’t always conscious of it. It’s a common conclusion we all make and directors of such movies and shows rely on this assumption as they weave the romance. And almost always, these assumptions are correct. “He was a boy, she was a girl. Can I make it any more obvious?” Avril Lavigne said in her infinite wisdom once.
We even see this very trope subversion in episode one, with Yuuko. When we as an audience are first introduced to her character, we’re done so under the guise of Yuuri having a long-standing crush on her. She’s his childhood friend, the girl next door, etc. It’s natural for us to assume that he’s in love with her and that his narrative will probably revolve around those feelings. It’s natural because we’ve been conditioned this way. And then at the critical moment, when we think Yuuri is literally about to confess his feeling for Yuuko, our expectations are smashed when we find out that she’s happily married with three children. Some antis even still cling to Yuuri’s past feelings for Yuuko as proof that she’s somehow Yuuri’s true love interest and this is hilariously reach-y. Yuuko is so far removed from the realm of possibility for being Yuuri’s love interest that it’s comical—and purposefully so. The same time that we’re presented with Yuuko as possible love interested, we are also introduced to Victor. Victor, who is shown as being Yuuri’s ultimate inspiration and who Yuuri’s narrative ACTUALLY revolves around. (Similarly, Victor’s narrative revolves around Yuuri, as we’re shown in episode 10.) This is not a coincidence. We are shown this here, in this manner, for a reason—and not only because Yuuko is the one who introduced Yuuri to the wonder that was Victor. This is storytelling.
Throughout the series we’ve been bombarded with clear evidence for Yuuri and Victor’s romantic attraction towards each other. And unlike in many other shows where these are played off as jokes, these moments are taken rather seriously. Even when presented in a funny light (such as the “naked hug” scene in episode 6), they’re not jokes. They’re actual moments that happen between Yuuri and Victor and are either proof of their romantic interest in each other or serve to deepen their relationship in that regard. A lot has already been said on this matter, however, so I’ll move on.
What I really, really want to address is the fact that antis are taking the “soulmate” thing and either twisting it or refusing to see both sides of the picture. Kubo and Sayo (along with other staff) have said that Yuuri and Victor are soulmates and that their relationship goes beyond conventional labels. This is a beautiful notion—the idea that their love, in all its forms, is transcendent. That their bond is so strong and unshakable. And we even have confirmation that the reason Yuuri and Victor are now together in St. Petersburg is because they cannot bear to be apart.
So let me deviate a little here by saying sure, yes: there can be “platonic friendships” which are very strong and it’s important that such friendships are portrayed well in media. It’s vital that people understand that friendships can be just significant as romantic relationships. However Yuri!!! on ICE is not setting out to do that, nor should it have to. We now know very clearly that Sayo’s intent for Victor and Yuuri’s relationship is distinctly romantic. The show itself pulls no punches on this matter. There is no room left for self-interpretation.
What I’m trying to say is that when we get a heterosexual couple, we assume romance first and friendship second. But when we get a homosexual couple, we assume friendship first and romance second. I don’t intend to sit here and say how unfair this is—how it forces same-sex couples to go through various hurdles that het couples don’t have to bother with in order to prove the status of their relationship. That’s a topic that’s already been discussed at length but I want all antis to take a step back and realize that this may be one reason why they’re still clinging onto the “they’re just friends” rationale.
Now going back to the soulmate thing. Yes, soulmates can be platonic, but why are they not allowed to also be romantic? Antis seem to cling to the snippet of their relationship going beyond labels and somehow try to weaponize this as evidence of them only being close friends. But “going beyond labels” and “being soulmates” is not automatically exclusionary. It’s inclusive of all forms of love, including romantic and sexual.
This is getting long enough so let me just end by saying I know a lot of people aren’t trying to downplay their relationship for any homophobic reasons but are actually just afraid of being queerbaited. And thus these people are wary of any representation until and unless it’s absolute representation. This is understandable and honestly for a long time, I was afraid too. But now we have confirmation from the creators that yes, Yuuri and Victor’s relationship was always meant to be a romance and also that the staff now understands that ambiguity in this case is not what people want. They’ve listened to us and now it’s time that we trust what they’ve been saying as well.
I implore all antis to ask themselves why they’re so intent on ignoring canon evidence and now actual interviews from creators on the matter in order to downplay Victor and Yuuri’s relationship. Please, just stop and think. If you’re so dead-set on thinking that they’re just friends then, fam, maybe this isn’t the right show or fandom for you. Life is short. Go away.
(There are several sources who have transcripts of what was said at Anime Midwest, including @hanleia on twitter. Please check them out if you are interested!)