God I was reading Yuri on Ice fanfic the other day and reminiscing, and I still get fucked up thinking about its plotline.
Like, okay, so the big twist that shook the entire fandom was that Victor had been in love with Yuuri from the very start, and Yuuri just didn’t remember what happened because he was blackout drunk. Which, if this had happened with a straight couple (if either of them had been women), would have been a twist, but not as big of a shock as it was with the actual show.
I mean, I started watching when episode 2 came out. The fandom was brand spanking new. There were some people already drawing fanart. There were a few shippy ones going around of Victor and Yuuri, but that wasn’t anything new. There were some gifsets that caused a few raised eyebrows, and some people in the tags were all “omg do the creators know how gay this sounds? Are they trying to make this suggestive??”
But everyone knows how silly the fangirls are, right? Haha, so crazy, no way would they make Victor actually be gay. It’s probably just something lost in translation. At best it’s good old fashioned queerbait with a sly wink at the fans. So crazy, no way they actually have sexual tension!
Knowing full well it would never be canon I still ended up watching, because I like sports anime and deliberately misinterpreting canon so I can read it as queer. Except. Except that Yuri on Ice wasn’t giving me much to misinterpret. Victor was outright flirting with Yuuri from episode 2 onwards. Yuuri definitely had some sort of crush on Victor. As everything ramped up to episode 7, the common mantra among the fans was “HOW MUCH GAYER CAN THIS SHOW GET??”
And then the kiss happened, and the fandom fucking exploded.
We had a canon kiss between two male characters in a sports anime, a really really good sports anime, and the creators were kind! And understanding! And clarified that it was a kiss (though slightly censored) and that their world was free of homophobia so we wouldn’t get wrapped up in the real life ramifications of such a kiss and just enjoy the moment.
And then episode 10 happened. The twist happened, and the show was put in a whole new light. Victor had always loved Yuuri, and the entire show he had been pursuing him romantically. It changed the tone of every single episode, to the point where a rewatch would change the tone of entire scenes for me.
It’s just amazing how Yuri on Ice changed the entire game, not by doing anything crazy like give their characters a near death experience or some sort of dark past but by just revealing a character’s romantic feelings. And they succeeded in part by having it be a queer relationship.
Lesson for content creators: surprise your audience by making your show actually gay.
History geek note: Now I’m imagining an editorial cartoon from 1615 comparing “Ye Moderne Bible Reading Woman” with the good, old-fashioned women from 1315 who didn’t insist on learning to read the bible for themselves but were content to have a learned Man of the Church interpret it for them. I’d try drawing it myself if I could draw anything other then stick figures.