LGBT Representation in Anime: Yuri on Ice

Written by Aesthel and CRM Contributors


Yuri!!! on Ice (ユーリ!!! on ICE) was an anime that originally aired in 2016. The anime was of the sports genre, focusing on figure skating; but this isn’t what made it such a popular show. Yuri!!! On Ice was regarded as groundbreaking for it’s depiction of a gay couple in anime. In the past, most depictions of homosexuality in anime could only really be found in the yaoi or “boy’s love” genre. While the genre does depict same sex relationships, it is usually done in a very unrealistic way and often has a focus on the sexual side of it rather than concerning itself with a realistic portrayal of the relationships.

Yuri!!! on Ice tells the story of Yuri, an aspiring figure skater, and Viktor, a professional figure skater who has retired from his career to become Yuri’s coach. Throughout the series, Yuri and Viktor develop a relationship far past that of a mentor and student, eventually becoming romantic in nature. Some iconic moments in the series include the kiss between Yuri and Viktor and later on the engagement of the two.

Through the depiction of Yuri and Viktor’s relationship, many fans found characters and a story that they could relate to and see themselves in. That is a big reason why this series became so popular during and after it’s initial airing. We heard from some fans of the series in the most recent issue of Cosplay Realm Magazine, and we loved learning about their love for the series.

We live in Russia, and in Russia the majority of people have a bad attitude towards LGBT people. We are confronted with misunderstandings and negative reactions of people in everyday life and at festivals. But our small LGBT community supports each other well and tries to show positive sides, helps fight misunderstandings and accept oneself. Our favourite project is Yuri!!! On Ice, maybe because there're some Russian characters which fall in love. These characters inspire us. With our cosplay, we (our team and friends) want to show that love can be different, but it is still pure and real feeling.  Do not be afraid and hate yourself. Love, be loved, be happy.

-Nero Hellsing

Cosplaying has given me more confidence than almost any other area of my life, and so much of that comes from validating my gender identity and presentation. In particular, I can give most of those thanks to cosplaying Victor Nikiforov. Something about emulating an out and openly queer character I admired so much gave me the motivation and confidence to try being sexy on camera for the first time, and seeing people respond positively in ways I only dreamed of made the more masculine side of my identity feel real and respected. Yuri on Ice as a show itself means so much to me- it's the reason I began taking cosplay seriously, the show that got me back into both anime and figure skating, and the show  that proved to me that the Japanese animation industry is ready to make progress again with the kind of LGBT representation the fans truly deserve. Every photo I take as Victor is truly both a love letter to the show, and to how far I've come with my own comfort and self-expression. I don't think I ever could have taken so much pride in cosplaying a character without Pride backing me up.

-Angelic Daze Cosplay

“Viktor is one of my favourite cosplays and I was really excited to bring him back for a Pride shoot this year.  He wasn’t the first character I was inclined to love in the series, but he certainly struck a chord.  We all know him as outwardly confident with himself, but I think everyone to some extent can relate to the journey it takes to get to that point whether it be in a sport, hobby, or one’s own sexuality and gender presentations.

Viktor was my first male cosplay since being teased in high school for often wearing masculine clothes (the boys’ uniform, a button-up and tie for concerts) or playing male roles in theatre and it was really nice to come full circle cosplaying someone who was much more feminine-presenting in their teen years.  

We shot the cosplay with pan colours since both the photographer and I identify as such so it has become a personal little head-canon between the two of us.”

- Wynnie