bro, kissanime, i love your site, but wtf is this???
*ahem* I suck at putting my thoughts in an eloquent and coherent manner but I’m going to try my hardest to do so without sounding totally assholish and stuff. Please forgive me if I sound “bitchy” or overreacting to this topic but this is something I feel the strong urge to address.
I’m not gonna lie: I use KissAnime for my good ol’ anime needs. Yes, I know I should be watching it legally, but that’s a discussion for another day. I came here to rewatch episodes 7 and 8 of Yuri on Ice because, as the entire fandom knows, these episodes were very impactful (7 with the kiss scene, 8 with the #PrayForMakkachin).
So I scroll on down, going past season 3 of Haikyuu!!, smile at the fact that Yuri on Ice is now ranked #2.
And then I see the tags.
“Genres: Shounen Ai, Sports”.
Okay, okay, sports is understandable. After all, that’s exactly what it is - a sports anime. Figure skating falls under the sports category, just like volleyball for Haikyuu!! or soccer for Days or rugby for All Out!! It’s pretty self-explanatory.
But this…this other tag? The Shounen Ai tag? Now that piques my curiosity, heh, because, ya know, Yuri on Ice is to shounen ai as Code Geass is to romance. It is so completely far from shounen ai (and, to an extent, yaoi) that I am failing to comprehend why the mods tagged it as such.
If I were to describe shounen ai to someone who couldn’t tell the difference between that and yaoi, I would say this: “Shounen ai focuses on the more romantic relationship between males while yaoi, as you know, is the lustful, sexual aspect” (If any of you have a better explanation that my crap one, lol, feel free to give one). KissAnime describes shounen-ai as “anime whose central theme is about a relationship (or strong affection, not usually sexual, between two boys or men. Shounen ai literally means ‘boy love’, but could be expressed as ‘male bonding’.” Anime that is considered shounen-ai on KissAnime (and by a lot of people, I guess) are Junjou Romantica, Loveless, Gakuken Handsome, Sekaiichi Hatsukoi, Papa to Kiss in the Dark, DRAMAtical Murder, and Gravitation (out of all of those, I’ll admit that I’ve seen some of Junjou Romantica and Sekaiichi Hatsukoi, and I’ve watched all of Gravitation and I own all of the Gravitation manga]). I’ve also read my fair share of manga that are considered shounen-ai or yaoi, so I like to think that I’m fairly educated within this subject. I may not be able to go super in-depth with it like someone who likes this genre could, but I know enough.
I also know that what I am about to address has been addressed many times already by people who can talk about this way better than I can. There have many a people who have beautifully discussed why Yuri on Ice isn’t a shounen-ai, and my points are more or less the same. But, there are still people who still say otherwise (and some of them have been more than a bit rude about it), so I will be glad to restate and add-on to these points and spread more awareness.
Yes, Viktor and Yuuri kissed. I’m still geekin’ out over that - the whole fandom is, too. It’s not really because everyone is a bunch of crazed fangirls and fanboys, but because we realized just how fucking important that kiss was. We all know about Japan and its view upon homosexuality. We all know about its strict censorship laws and the more conservative thinking it has, and we definitely all know how homosexual characters are treated in anime (for those who don’t, here’s a hint: it’s not that good). Honestly, homosexuality is something that is joked around with in anime, and I’m sure plenty of you know what I’m talking about: the ones that are in denial about their sexuality until the pretty female lead comes along and sets them straight (no pun intended); the ones whose homosexual tendencies mean that they are weird and strange as fuck; the ones who harass those of the same sex for shits and giggles. Yeah, there are many who seen that type of anime or read that type of manga. Those are tropes that, when I was younger, I didn’t think much about, but now, I know that even though it’s for the sake of so-called “comedy”, those are tropes that are impressionable and can produce harmful effects.
And we also know about the tropes that happen in shounen-ai or yaoi. I can hear some people now saying, “But shounen-ai has gay characters in a gay relationship and I’m 10,000% sure that is Yuuri and Viktor so????” And you’re right - shounen-ai does have gay characters in a gay relationship, but that relationships in shounen-ai and yaoi, unlike Yuuri and Viktor’s, have a tendency to be not fucking healthy. I’m not sure if there’s a shounen-ai manga or anime that portrays a normal, romantic relationship between the two male leads, but I sincerely doubt, because the things that keep the fangirls comin’ back for more are seriously messed-up. Once again, y’all should know what I mean: the whole “He treats me so coldly and says emotionally scarring things to me but I know that deep down inside he totally loves me!” and “We may have had plenty of sex and we admitted our love and affection to each other but eh, I’m still not sure about this???” and “We’re two dudes that happen to kiss and do other romantic things but it doesn’t really mean anything honestly - whoops, looks like I’m in love with I think I guess lol” and, most especially, “I’m going to be so servile to his every whim and overly-fucking-emotional and he’s like, barely emotional and is obviously the dominant one because there’s no such thing as being equal but it doesn’t matter because he loves me!!!!” That last one I’ve seen in a lot of uke-seme arguments, which basically goes as “Saki cries a lot and he overreacts so much while Tsuya is stuck in nonchalant mode but sometimes he hugs Saki after refusing to acknowledge his existence for months on end so obviously Tsuya’s the dominant and their ship name should be Tsuki!” (Saki and Tsuya are Names I Made Up™). And yes, I was one of those people, and hell, I’m guilty of writing things involving some of those very tropes as recently as my junior year of high school (I’m currently a senior). But I have since made an effort to stop all of that because I’d realized that a normal, meaningful relationship is where the two people are shown as equals, not who’s submissive and who’s dominant (which is why idgaf whether or not someone complains if I put MikaYuu or YuuMika or USUK or UKUS and I’m going to stop there because that’s going to lead to my thoughts about ship names).
Basically, the point is that shounen-ai is full of these tropes and points that do not accurately show how a true homosexual relationship works, looks like, etc. They usually pander to fangirls’ (and hell, I guess the author’s) fantasies or whatever. As many people have said before me, Yuri on Ice is taking all of those tropes and kicking them out the fucking door. It’s true, it really is true. Take a moment to reflect on how Viktor and Yuuri have treated each other, how they have interacted with one another, how they have shown their love and respect for one another, and compare it to the tropes that I’ve mentioned (and the other points that other people have made but I did not mention here). Do they look like they fit what would normally make a “good” shounen-ai story? Do they really have that kind of toxic relationship to you?
No, no they do not.
All of their growth and development are not representative of your stereotypical shounen-ai story. Nothing is rushed, nothing is idealized. Viktor and Yuuri care for one another, they treat and view one another as equals. If one makes a mistake and accidentally hurts their partner (as we all seen when Viktor made Yuuri cry), then they realize the mistake they’ve done and takes the time to hear how their partner feels instead of shutting them up with a magical kiss that will make everything all better. Yuri on Ice does not solely focus on romance, which is usually the case with shounen-ai. It’s a fucking figure skating anime with all the fucking figure skating terms and stuff that just so happens to have a nice, refreshing, developing, and well-portrayed romantic relationship between two characters that happen to be male. The main focus is Yuuri winning the Grand Prix. And that “male bonding” KissAnime mentions is fucking vague. At this point, Haikyuu!! is a shounen-ai. One Punch Man is a shounen-ai. FMA, Code Geass, Rurouni Kenshin, Black Cat, Inuyasha, Erased, Attack on Titan, One Piece are all shounen-ai because they all have male bonding. Wow, who would’ve known that?!
This brings me back to their kiss, that kiss that gets me fucking grinning every time I think about it. Just because they kissed doesn’t automatically make it shounen-ai, and it’s so fucking weird the genre was added like that when it is simply not the case. To mark Yuri on Ice as shounen-ai will produce a certain reaction to those who have never seen, and frankly, that reaction will most likely not be good. Yuri on Ice isn’t the first anime to portray a healthy and normal relationship - apparently No. 6 is (now, I haven’t seen that anime, so I’m not going to talk much about it). But it doesn’t matter whether or not it’s first, second, third, whatever - it’s the fact that Yuri on Ice basically said “Fuck you” to all of the harmful tropes that so many have grown accustomed to seeing in anime. They are literally making history, and I’m just so fucking proud of MAPPA and the director and the writer. Until the day Kubo and MAPPA come out and says “Yuri on Ice is shounen-ai!”, then it shouldn’t be identified as such.
I doubt the tags will change; the mods on KissAnime have a tendency to be really iffy characters. But I hope they change it. I’m sorry for this rambling mess, but I felt as though it was something that needed to be said. Feel free to add-on or give your own thoughts. Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to continue my original goal of rewatching those two episodes and being proud.