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The Romcom Tropes in Yuri!!! on Ice (and Why I Love Them So)

They were born to make history!

 

**Spoilers for Yuri!!! on Ice.**

Dear kid me,

I know you think you hate romcoms and romance in general, but my sweet summer child, that isn’t the case at all. You just don’t like how they’re written sometimes (most times). You will, eventually, find several stories that really speak to your heart, but for the sake of celebrating that new ICE ADOLESCENCE PV for the Yuri!!! on Ice movie, we’re gonna talk about this series and the romcom tropes it embraces.

Now, I know it says nothing about romance when you look it up, but trust me, Yuri!!! on Ice is a straight-up LGBTQ+ love story about two men (Yuri Katsuki and Victor Nikiforov) at a crossroads in their careers who find solace in each other. It just is. You ever have that series where you struggle to write fanfic because there’s so much established content between the characters? This is that series for me. I’ll write a proper review someday, lol.

  • The celebrity crush

via GIPHY

Yuri’s about two steps away from having a notebook where he’s written his name with Victor’s last name. Of course, this is explained as admiration since Victor is THE ice skater of dreams, but I’m willing to bet that Yuri’s meticulous collection that he scrambles to hide from his idol includes at least one body pillow. After all, Yuri’s so enamored by Victor that he, once upon a time, had a puppy that was identical to the one Victor has. As you can see, I wholeheartedly subscribe to the fandom theory of Victor finding the posters and autographing them for Yuri.

The anime even has a dash of “embarrassing myself in front of my crush,” since Yuri’s major loss happens in front of the entire ice skating world. To add salt to the wound, Victor asks if he wants to take a photo with him. Ouch. Normally not the best “start” for a budding romance (I put start in quotes for a reason, you’ll see), but in the world of romcoms, it’s the perfect setup. One order of “lead character hits rock bottom” coming right up!

  • The impulsive (but necessary) life change

Since Victor is an extremely popular athlete, his actions come off as frivolous instead of genuine. To everyone else, it looks like he’s trying to coach Yuri on a whim. After all, the skater does a perfect rendition of one of Victor’s routines, and the video gets shared online. In reality, it’s perfectly natural to feel out of sorts about your next move when it feels like you’ve reached the limits of your career. (Also, Victor’s in love, but I’ll get to that later. I promise, you’ll see)

That being said … hopping the next flight to Japan without telling anyone, standing naked in a guy’s hot spring, and winking at him as you tell him you’re going to be his coach is top-tier celebrity nonsense.

via GIPHY

  • The overly flirtatious love interest (and the PDA that follows)

via GIPHY

It’s been zero days since Victor has leaned in kissably close to Yuri. He delights in taking any opportunity to flirt with the little pork cutlet bowl that is Yuri Katsuki. Initially, it looks like it’s going to be one-sided, but as the series progresses, the chemistry between them is clear. When Victor comes up with an extremely sensual routine for Yuri to perform, Yuri not only nails it, but he works to make sure all eyes are on him (especially Victor’s, who responds with a low whistle of appreciation).

You know that sexy lip bite love interests do? That’s Victor when he looks at Yuri, like, all the time.

via GIPHY

The two often have moments of being physically close to each other and, over time, Yuri begins to make his own advances (there’s a tie grab, y’all, mmph!) and there’s never really a time when they’re not holding hands, embracing each other, and resting their foreheads against each other.

via GIPHY

With each advance in their relationship, there’s a new moment of affection and intimacy, like:

  • The big ol’ public kiss

Sports anime enthusiasts have a wealth of ships to pull from in the genre, since it’s known for having male characters who get all close and personal with one another. The stories often have messages of teamwork and, more importantly, strong male bonds, so I wasn’t surprised to see Victor and Yuri getting closer. Victor gives Yuri reassurance, the two form a bond, Yuri comes up with a Grand Prix theme of love (hm), decides to prove to the folks who think Victor should return to skating that Victor belongs by his side (hmmmmm), and Victor kisses him on live television (HMMMMM????).

Ok. That miiiiight be a bit more than what we get out of sports anime.

First and foremost? AH OMG AH!!!!! We got ourselves a canon ship!

Secondly, ah, I suppose I should mention how the kiss is technically blocked by Victor’s arm so you don’t completely see it, but it’s obvious that he kissed the boy by their body language and the crowd’s reaction. More importantly, it’s obvious because of the developing relationship between Victor and Yuri before, during, and after this moment. When it comes to queer representation we oftentimes need undeniable proof so viewers can’t ignore what’s happening on the screen, because trust me, there are folks out there who will deny the gay away, but Yuri!!! on Ice isn’t exactly subtle when it comes to the feelings between our two leads. It’s not the kiss that solidifies their love, it’s every single second they interact with each other.

The kiss, really, is just the icing on a fantastic, multi-tiered cake. We don’t need it to prove that they’re in love, the series itself is the proof.

 

  • The part where they separate

This isn’t a breakup, I swear!

Victor’s adorable pup ends up choking on some food so he has to attend to him. With the two separated, Yuri is pretty miserable, once again uncertain about his upcoming performance as he struggles to keep his head in the game. Up until now, he’s always had Victor at his side to give him words of encouragement or wrap his arms around him for support, so it’s maximum sad boy hours as he misses Victor and worries about the good pup, Makkachin. 

via GIPHY

Yuri debates retiring (again) and having Victor step down as coach so that he doesn’t drag him down, but then? We get this next romcom trope:

 

  • The. Airport. RUN!!!

When I tell you I screamed loud enough to scare my cats I mean that shit. 

Yuri goes to meet Victor at the airport (where we thankfully see an alive and well Makkachin) and the two RUN TOWARD EACH OTHER AT THE AIRPORT! Like. They never take their eyes off each other, running past the glass until Yuri gets to the door, Victor holds his arms open, and Yuri dives into his embrace. 

Yuri tearfully tells Victor to coach him until he retires, and Victor? Victor quietly admits that he hopes that Yuri next retires.

Y’ALL!!!!!

  • Oops, we’re engaged!

Did you just propose?!

While I definitely wasn’t expecting Victor’s grand gesture with the kiss … nothing, and I mean NOTHING, could’ve prepared me for Yuri’s. Most romcoms have that moment where a character does something big to express their feelings. Yuri!!! on Ice doesn’t relegate this moment to one character, they BOTH have a moment of supreme romance.

Victor’s is the kiss.

Yuri’s? Is him getting them matching gold rings. After they exchange rings we get to spend the rest of the series watching them stare fondly at their rings and even kiss them when thinking of each other.

KEYBOARD SMAAAAASH!!!

  • The supportive BFF

Good friend. Best friend. Amazing friend.

Every romcom’s got one. Meet Phichit, Yuri’s always and forever supportive friend both in ice skating and life in general. His absolutely delighted reaction when he sees the matching gold rings is the definition of pure. He even gets the rest of the restaurant to celebrate the engagement (much to Yuri’s embarrassment as he tries to deny the meaning behind the rings, oh you shy baby, give it up, Victor will accept the proposal if you win the big Grand Prix).

  • Alcohol-fueled courage

A night to remember.

Ok ok ok ok ok!

Remember all the times I said “I’ll come back to this later” in reference to how Yuri and Victor’s relationship started and how Victor fell for Yuri? Here it is, baby! In THE plot twist of anime 2016, we find out that Yuri was the first to make the moves on Victor after the Grand Prix event we saw a glimpse of back in the first episode. During the banquet, Yuri got completely shit-faced and let loose. Not only did a pole dancing contest with another skater, but he also swept Victor off his feet by dancing with him AND drunkenly asking him to be his coach.

So yeah. Victor wasn’t being overly flirtatious, he was reciprocating Yuri’s passion from the night at the banquet. He went looking for Yuri because of what happened that night, completely entranced by him. Yuri didn’t remember any of it because, well, he was wasted.

L OH L OH L!

  • The final conflict

It might come as a surprise to some viewers that the conflict between Victor and Yuri has nothing to do with homosexuality. I know that’s a common issue when it comes to stories about queer couples, but look, this ain’t one of them. And, real talk? Our conflict doesn’t have to always center on homophobia, ok? We got plenty of other shit to be stressed about. We can have a story where a restaurant cheers for our romance and characters have issues outside of their sexuality. In Yuri’s case, it’s his status as a figure skater and whether or not he should retire. Thassit, and that’s plenty. When he ultimately decides that this will be his last season, it hurts Victor, who admitted earlier that he never wants Yuri to retire. That’s code for “I want to be by your side forever” and Yuri deciding to retire makes it sound like he doesn’t want the same thing.

THAT is the conflict along with the general sports anime “must train to perfect my craft” mindset.

I’ve said this online before, but it’s exhausting for LGBTQ+ stories to always have some form of homophobia to combat. Like, it’s fiction, y’all, let us have an escape where we don’t have to deal with the hurt we face on the regular. I’m not saying you can’t explore homophobia in fiction, I’m just saying that it’s disheartening to be expected to talk about it all the time.

  • The final, romantic slow dance 

The happiest of ever afters.

So how does it all end? Does Yuri win the day and retire? No. It’s a perfectly realistic outcome for someone who took a break from skating, returned for another season, and is competing against folks who have been training longer than he has. The competition does reawaken that spark Yuri feels for skating, though, and he’s ready to prepare for the next season and go for first place then.

With Victor by his side (who teases him about their engagement again since Yuri didn’t actually win, lol).

The series, I kid you not, ends with the two skating together for Yuri’s exhibition after the Grand Prix. It is, undoubtedly, the most romantic thing I’ve seen in a while.

And they lived happily ever after.

(images: FUNimation)

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Briana (she/her - bisexual) is trying her best to cosplay as a responsible adult. Her writing tends to focus on the importance of representation, whether it’s through her multiple book series or the pieces she writes. After de-transforming from her magical girl state, she indulges in an ever-growing pile of manga, marathons too much anime, and dedicates an embarrassing amount of time to her Animal Crossing pumpkin patch (it's Halloween forever, deal with it Nook)