The festive season starts at the end of November (at least, it does in the United States with the celebration of Thanksgiving) and runs clear through to the first days of January. With so many holidays back-to-back, December is a time for sharing warmth and joy with family and friends. In the spirit of sharing these positive feelings, I wanted to pull out an anime that exemplifies themes of sharing warmth and joy in multiple ways, both in-universe and in our own world: Yuri!!! on Ice.
Welcome to December’s OWLS Blog Tour
Every month, I join the voices of the Otaku Warriors for Liberty and Self-respect (OWLS) blogging project. The OWLS bloggers and vloggers use anime and other media to explore a central theme promoting diversity, self-acceptance, and equality. I feel proud to work with the OWLS team, so keep an eye out for future posts exploring important social issues. If you’re interested in these topics, be sure to check out the other OWLS blogs for each blog tour, or consider becoming an OWLS blogger or vlogger yourself!
It has been a while since I participated in an OWLS blog tour due a few large projects I needed to work on for my masters program. I am excited to be able to participate in December’s festive blog tour, which focuses on the theme of “Warmth.” For the “warmth” tour, the OWLS are discussing moments in anime and pop culture media that convey a feeling of happiness in our hearts. These may be moments that inspired feelings of strength, hope, and happiness during a period of struggle, moments that brought us strong feelings of joy, or moments that we shared with friends and family.
Sharing Moments of Warmth and Joy
Yuuri* Katsuki, one of Yuri on Ice‘s central protagonists, has loved ice skating ever since he was little. Little Yuuri developed his love of the sport through shared experiences of skating and watching figure skating competitions with his friends Yuuko and Takeshi. These moments of shared joy opened a door for Yuuri that he skated through enthusiastically. He sets out on his own to chase his dreams of competing internationally like his idol, Viktor Nikiforov, who he hopes one day to skate in competition with.
Early in his competitive career, Yuuri hits some harsh roadblocks. He fails competition after competition and, other than his current coach, has nobody to share these experiences with. Taking substantial blow to his confidence, Yuuri returns home after a five year absence to decide what to do next.
While at home, Yuuri drops in on his childhood friends to share a moment of warmth with them like they did in the past. He performs Viktor’s current show for them after studying and practicing diligently for months. His private performance embodies his longing to follow his dreams, his joy of skating, his desire to continue sharing these moments with his friends, and the warmth that his idol inspires in him. Watching his performance fills Yuuko with the kind of joy that can only come from sharing powerful moments with friends.
What follows is an unexpected turn of events that leads Yuuri to cross paths with Viktor, who drags him back into the rink despite Yuuri’s trepidations about returning. Over the course of his competitions, Yuuri and Viktor share many warm moments together as their lives and hearts become deeply connected.
The pair also make powerful connections with their fellow competitive skaters, cheering one another on at every show and sharing in their joyful triumphs. They share moments of warmth and joy with these skaters outside of the rink as well, enjoying get togethers and downtime as a group. Individually, failure feels like a sharp blow just like it did with Yuuri during his first round of competitive skating, and victory can feel hollow. Having others to share moments of triumph and letdown matters a great deal and often increases the joy we feel in the end. No matter where their careers take them, the skaters in Viktor and Yuuri’s lives will always have someone to share their warmth and joy with.
OWLS Share Their Warmth
Deciding which narrative to write this month’s OWLS post about was tough. A cluster of possibilities popped into my head, each with their own unique characteristics that made them strong candidates. In the end, I chose Yuri On Ice not because it offered many strong examples of warmth and joy, but because of a shared sense of community joy among the OWLS bloggers and vloggers.
The OWLS are coming up on a full year of writing and vlogging about favorite pop culture, creating a year of shared experiences with readers and with one another. Over the year, Yuri on Ice has made multiple appearances in our blog tours, and has also made multiple appearances in our personal blogs. Although I’m sure that it would be incorrect to say that all OWLS members love Yuri On Ice, it is safe to say that we frequently share our love of it with one another. Shared experiences are often sources of warmth and joy, and I would say that these shared moments definitely demonstrate these feelings among our team. Here are a few blog posts and videos from the OWLS team:
Heyitszel offers a beautiful review discussing the way that this sports anime does not disappoint, and how it translates emotions into movement. She also treats us to an amazing piece from her Ani-Reality series in which she discusses the way that Yuri on Ice showcases real (and stunning) architecture.
In A Little Thing About Yuri On Ice, Zboudrie of Let’s Talk Anime breaks away from fears about oversharing an overhyped anime in order to share how two deeply-in-love figure skaters influenced her journey into understanding and becoming a part of the LGBTQ+ community.
Pinky’s Palace offers an enthusiastic review that’s bursting with excitement and offers highlights of some of the best songs from the show.
Taking a quick tea break at Takuto’s Anime Cafe, the cafe’s charming host treated us to a deeper look at the meaning of Eros and Agape in Eros and Agape: Behind the Lovely Ice-skating Veils. For dessert, we were offered a celebratory post in commemoration of the series’s one-year anniversary.
Our team has also written about this anime multiple times for OWLS blog tours:
Sakuradaisuki shares her experiences with Yuri On Ice when writing about sanctuary, failure, and freedom as exhibited in the series for her post A Figure Skater’s Sanctuary back in March’s “Sanctuary” tour.
The series makes another appearance in a video on Animepalooza for October’s “Dreamers” tour, where Gigi discusses The Broken Dreams of Jean Jacques Leroy.
In February, the team even worked on a blog tour dedicated to Yuri on Ice with the “Flight” tour, where the team discusses the ways that themes of dreams, goals, and ambitions are represented in the series.
Thanks for joining us for our “Warmth” tour. Up next in this month’s blog tour, check out a video exploring our theme of warmth in Skip Beat from Gigi at AnimePalooza. Do you have any thoughts or experiences that you want to share about warmth, joy, or community? Share them in the comments! You can also connect on Twitter at @Popliterary, or send a message on the “contact me” page.
And as always, if you have a literary device you want to know more about, or a game, comic, show, or movie that you want to see make an appearance on the blog, leave a shout-out in the comments!
*The most common romanized spelling of Yuuri’s name is Yuri, with just the one “u”. I spell it with two “u”s because the kanji that make up Yuuri’s name have an elongated “u” sound when read (this spelling also appears in katakana in the first episode on the banner that greets Yuuri at the train station on his return home). For me, his name doesn’t flow quite right without this extended sound. I conceded to writing the title of the show with only one “u”, however, as this is how the official title is spelled in English.