I'm sorry, but about your post of not labeling YOI as yaoi or shounen-ai or not, I don't see something wrong with labeling it as that genre specially if it really has that element in it. Similarly to how some works of fiction can be a trigger to some people, can it not work the same way? If a person is not used to that kind of relationship as they were raised in a different culture--let's say a very conservative culture, don't they deserve to know what kinds of things are involved beforehand?
Alright, anon, first off I am going to apologize because I have a feeling I’m going to rant a bit here. The ask has sort of given me a platform to express some things as a fan and as a semi-closeted queer woman about representation in media that I’ve been holding in. I know you likely meant no offense in anything you said, but it’s hard to not take a bit of a personal blow when someone labels emotions in line with your own life as ‘triggering’.
I’ll start with the problem of the label shounen-ai/yaoi. First off, these are mostly Western used terms. The word shounen (少年) is for a young boy, thus it should not apply to this show in general. YOI does not feature young boy characters nor are young boys the targer audience. Shounen-ai as a term can be seen to have an almost pedophilic feel to it. As for yaoi ヤオイ– it is the shortening of yama nashi, ochi nashi, imi nashi ヤマなし、オチなし、意味なし(no climax, no point, no meaning) – and is a term that basically means male/male PWP. Graphic in nature. Also not really applicable to YOI.
The term BL, which is the commonly used term in Japan, short for Boys Love, could be a fitting term. However, the genre of BL also has certain feels and tropes to it. If you are to pick up a BL series you can expect the main driving force of the story to be the relationship aspect in terms of a love-relationship or a building one. While the growing relationship between Yuuri and Victor is certainly a key element to YOI, it is not meant to be the primary focus. The focus is Yuuri and his character development and skating. His relationship with Victor is used as a point to build up Yuuri as a character and to support his growth as a skater. Yuuri comes first, not the ship.
There are, of course, series labeled BL that break this; however, those tend to be shining gems.
Setting aside my personal feelings for the idea of same sex love being implied as a ‘trigger’ (which is already a term I despise quite a bit), just because a series has one sub-plot or element that others may disagree with does not mean that should be featured as the main genre. Neon Genesis Evangelion is not a BL nor a romance due to its sub-plot between characters. Fast and the Furious is not a romance movie despite a romance in the sub-plots. The genre of a series is the main focus of the story – and in the case of YOI that is the story of Yuuri’s relationship with his SPORT.
And sure, people deserve to know what they are ‘getting into’ when starting a series. But that is as easy as reading a quick summary. Clearly from that we could understand that there are implications between Yuuri and Victor, be it romantic or be it any other sort of more platonic love.
But that doesn’t mean the show should be labeled as something it isn’t just to make other people feel comfortable. Yuri!!! on Ice is not a BL series and should not be labeled as such.
On a personal level, it is amazing for me to see this show with overt same sex undertones not being addressed or labeled as a BL. The romance, like that of any other series with a romantic sub-plot that is never addressed in the genre, is treated as normal. It’s a level of acceptance that I don’t know if people can relate to if they are used to healthy media representations of their form of love. I’m a relatively open person in terms of my sexuality to anyone who asks, but that does not mean I present as being someone queer. I don’t mention it unless it is brought up to me because it is just a part of my life. Also, in part because it does not feel comfortable to bring up in casual conversation. Why do I have to address my sexuality to have it validated when others do not?
YOI breaks that need. No one has brought up Yuuri or Victor’s sexualities in the series. It’s just something there, obvious, accepted. And that’s just… so meaningful and powerful to me.