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Interview: The Staff Behind Yuri on Ice




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Cutiebunny



Joined: 18 Apr 2010
Posts: 1114
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 3:04 pm Reply with quote
Good Interview.

I would have loved to have known what they thought of AnimeFest's inability to handle the crowds. While the guests were spared from such fun moments as staff threatening to have the cops stand around the area with their guns drawn (true story!), the YOI guests were not spared the police presence around them during their autograph session.
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Songster01



Joined: 05 Nov 2016
Posts: 31
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 3:31 pm Reply with quote
Excellent interview because of the thoughtful questions and responses. Interesting to hear (though not a big surprise) that Yamamoto was pulling all-nighters, considering from other staff interviews elsewhere how very intense working on that production was! I hope they got all got some serious sleep time in afterwards, though who knows considering how overworked people are in the industry. Sad

Love the beautiful normalizing of Yuuri and Victor's relationship. Unlike most BL (and tbh plenty of het and GL), they aren't just about Teh Sex or dokidoki, but, like many deep relationships, encompass different types of love (in this case, love between mentor and student, love between friends, romantic and sexual love--the last implied by the Eros program as Yuuri's sexual awakening and both in the multiple moments of clear romantic attachment). No fetishizing of deeply unhealthy relationships as is so common, just the beautiful gradual development of a life-long relationship that I hope to see grow even further in the film (unless a prequel ofc). As a queer person, this is a deeply moving thing to see because it is so rare to see queer main characters, and because tragedy and heavy angst dominate queer stories. Very lovely to have a mostly light-hearted romance be a queer one!
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HoboSoup



Joined: 06 Aug 2017
Posts: 34
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 5:31 pm Reply with quote
Songster01 wrote:
Excellent interview because of the thoughtful questions and responses. Interesting to hear (though not a big surprise) that Yamamoto was pulling all-nighters, considering from other staff interviews elsewhere how very intense working on that production was! I hope they got all got some serious sleep time in afterwards, though who knows considering how overworked people are in the industry. Sad

Love the beautiful normalizing of Yuuri and Victor's relationship. Unlike most BL (and tbh plenty of het and GL), they aren't just about Teh Sex or dokidoki, but, like many deep relationships, encompass different types of love (in this case, love between mentor and student, love between friends, romantic and sexual love--the last implied by the Eros program as Yuuri's sexual awakening and both in the multiple moments of clear romantic attachment). No fetishizing of deeply unhealthy relationships as is so common, just the beautiful gradual development of a life-long relationship that I hope to see grow even further in the film (unless a prequel ofc). As a queer person, this is a deeply moving thing to see because it is so rare to see queer main characters, and because tragedy and heavy angst dominate queer stories. Very lovely to have a mostly light-hearted romance be a queer one!


I think you have valid points and I'm not going to debate your beliefs and preferences with stories. I do think a lot of stories that have tragedy and angst aren't necessarily a bad thing however, fictional writing is a place for an author to tell a story with any style or tone they desire, even if it's over the top or heavily exaggerated in ways. Romance is different for everyone and what's more realistic for you might not be realistic for someone else, plus stories don't necessarily have to be grounded and realistic. Variety is great so everyone can get something they want, personally I'm someone that likes escapism more than realism in my stories and especially romance. As for unhealthy romances in stories, it's an interesting angle depending on how the author is writing the story and it can sometimes be a fascinating read. Over the years I've found these conversations to be interesting, people tend to say the romance story that they like is the ideal peak of romance, the very best writing, the very best characters and world, nothing else can compare. You may look down on me for example because I personally prefer as you call it "dokidoki" romance often times, I like deep emotional stories as well, but I also like light and fluffy doki doki. I think there's plenty of room for variety and romance is easily the most opinion driven genre, it's very emotional and lots of passion, so I think it's harder to be objective and not have a bias. At the end of the day I just always feel honestly kind of weird and bummed out because a lot of YOI fans seem to look down on me for enjoying romance anime and manga that they deem to be unrealistic nonsense. It stings in part because I respect YOI fans, I'm not even normally a yaoi fan but I think YOI is as good as some of the Het and GL manga I love. I've learned over the years that unfortunately there's nothing I can do about people's attitudes towards what I enjoy, however I can keep loving what I love and respect other people and what they love.
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Songster01



Joined: 05 Nov 2016
Posts: 31
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 7:51 pm Reply with quote
I do not hate romance, fluffy or otherwise. If you thought so after reading my initial post, I am sorry and I will explain further.

Ironically, elsewhere I have written about being queer and enjoying BL and GL, but in this post I was reflecting on Yamamoto-sensei's words by speaking of prevalent tropes in romance anime, most especially BL, that because they are _so very common_, can be extremely painful to queer people and misrepresent a diverse body of people. If nearly everything you read has the "but I'm not gay" and "predatory gays" or "bury your gays" tropes, or features rape/non-con or dubcon, then you begin to see why many queer folks like myself are not impressed, even if we also consume this media as well (and we definitely do!). But let's not pretend that romance anime is full of diverse, rich, and complicated queer stories. If we were in fact talking about genres that had a diverse range of depictions of queer people, where for example normalized, healthy relationships was as common as darker/sadder ones, a thoughtful person should not then have reason to complain or deride either type, but simply go for whatever they prefer. I've read darker and lighter romances myself and tend to prefer somewhere between the two extremes. But BL and GL are far, far from that ideal state, which is why I reacted the way I did. Cis and het folk do get that diversity (with the caution that cis women as written by men are far too often not treated as full human beings), but queer people do not. And this is not just a problem in Japan, but everywhere to different degrees. Certainly we in the West are barely better. You have to go to Ao3 to find a large body of diverse queer stories in English, because elsewhere queer stories of any type are still comparatively rare and often ghettoized. And too many fictional works in English by mainstream media producers favour sad or tragic ends for queer folks, often because they are queer. Again, that's slowly beginning to change, but there's much work to be done.

YOI is on the fluffier end of romance, it's just not the main point of the series, which is focused primarily on Yuuri's growth as a person and skater by discovering the many forms of love that surround him. Believe me when I say I'd be thrilled to see Yuuri and Victor or other queer characters also in a romance-centric story as well, but without those unpleasant tropes, because they are practically the default in anime (manga's a bit better). I wouldn't be saying that if fluffy and healthy relationships were common in BL and GL. In the end as a non-Japanese person I will do what I can by supporting stories that do break this new or nearly new ground. It's why so many queer folk have become fans of YOI and bought the BDs (like I did) or watched it via CR (again as I did).

TL; DR: I agree with you that diversity in stories is wonderful and very necessary, but when certain tropes and plots dominate to the detriment of diversity and representation of an already marginalized group, then we are right to call them out. And support the things that combat those things in small and big ways.


HoboSoup wrote:

I think you have valid points and I'm not going to debate your beliefs and preferences with stories. I do think a lot of stories that have tragedy and angst aren't necessarily a bad thing however, fictional writing is a place for an author to tell a story with any style or tone they desire, even if it's over the top or heavily exaggerated in ways. Romance is different for everyone and what's more realistic for you might not be realistic for someone else, plus stories don't necessarily have to be grounded and realistic. Variety is great so everyone can get something they want, personally I'm someone that likes escapism more than realism in my stories and especially romance. As for unhealthy romances in stories, it's an interesting angle depending on how the author is writing the story and it can sometimes be a fascinating read. Over the years I've found these conversations to be interesting, people tend to say the romance story that they like is the ideal peak of romance, the very best writing, the very best characters and world, nothing else can compare. You may look down on me for example because I personally prefer as you call it "dokidoki" romance often times, I like deep emotional stories as well, but I also like light and fluffy doki doki. I think there's plenty of room for variety and romance is easily the most opinion driven genre, it's very emotional and lots of passion, so I think it's harder to be objective and not have a bias. At the end of the day I just always feel honestly kind of weird and bummed out because a lot of YOI fans seem to look down on me for enjoying romance anime and manga that they deem to be unrealistic nonsense. It stings in part because I respect YOI fans, I'm not even normally a yaoi fan but I think YOI is as good as some of the Het and GL manga I love. I've learned over the years that unfortunately there's nothing I can do about people's attitudes towards what I enjoy, however I can keep loving what I love and respect other people and what they love.
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SilverTalon01



Joined: 02 Apr 2012
Posts: 1704
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 10:02 pm Reply with quote
How their story became a phenomenon? Decently written show with pretty boys, BL, and truly great animation... of course the still not that frequently tapped fujoshi demographic will buy the hell out of it. What else was going to happen when an ignored demographic gets thrown such a finely crafted bone.
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azhanei



Joined: 21 Aug 2010
Posts: 59
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 10:04 pm Reply with quote
I'm glad to see this interview. I didn't get to do anything YOI at AFest because the space and staff were overwhelmed by the response. It was bad, and sadly, the lack of cohesive decision-making by staff, and frustrated fans then refusing to follow instructions, came to a head Sunday and led to police intervention.

YOI really is a universal story, as I like to highlight, of love, period. Romantic love, familial love, self-love (both the way Cristophe expresses it Smile and loving yourself for who you are). In good ways and bad. Then add in the realistic portrayal of a gay couple. Heck, any couple. Let's be honest. It's more common for romance in anime to be hyperbole, humor, or a frame for sexual exploits.
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wohdin



Joined: 10 Jun 2011
Posts: 321
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 11:40 pm Reply with quote
I can't believe Yuri on Ice invented anime

this show is so important
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HoboSoup



Joined: 06 Aug 2017
Posts: 34
PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 4:21 am Reply with quote
Songster01 wrote:
...
(Since our responses to each other are so long I'm replacing the text with a few dots, hopefully if that's okay.)

Hey, I greatly appreciate how formal your response is. I'm someone who oftentimes is very passionate and my responses get intense, so I'm happy you didn't get angry with me.

I understand a lot of points you're making but don't completely agree with everything. While I don't have a ton of first hand experience with BL I have however had lengthy conversations about it with my friend who is very experienced with the genre, plus I generally keep my self up to date with knowing about what anime and manga exist and are popular among all fans. From my understanding there is a lot of BL material that does have a lot of relationships that are abusive either physically and/or mentally. There's popular BL with age gaps that are concerning, the predatory homosexual male trope leads to a lot of material with sexual assault. I think it's unfortunate that such material is often times very common with BL, however I do think fictional stories regardless of if they're straight/gay/lesbian should be allowed to have such unpleasant themes if handled properly. They're uncomfortable and oftentimes deeply disturbing, but the point should be to deeply disturb the audience and not fetishize harmful relationships. There should be more relationships in BL that are similar to Yuri On Ice, at the very least it would help balance out the other material out there.

I'm very well versed in Japanese GL material however, in my experience it usually doesn't have the very abusive relationships that BL has. Which I find interesting because a lot of BL is written by women and often times a lot of GL is also written by women. That's not something I'm generalizing however, I'm aware there are men that write BL and men that write GL, there's all kinds of people that write many various types of stories good and bad, as cliche as it sounds I encourage people to not judge a book by it's cover. Also I am of course aware that there are some GL series that have problems with handling abuse, I personally don't care for "NTR Trap" for example, the newly published series "Kago no Shoujo wa Koi wo Suru" is another one. However there are a good amount of GL manga and doujins out there that are fluffy and healthy, that is of course my opinion and we may differ in that opinion, which is perfectly fine and it's sometimes best to agree to disagree. There's a surprisingly good amount of authors that make some pleasantly sweet works, they aren't super well known and have fairly small but decent fan bases, those works tend to be one-shots or mini-series, but they are still highly appreciated and very enjoyable. One thing I can agree that BL and GL have in common is there are a decent number series out there that pull the whole "I'm not gay card" you mentioned. Sometimes another trope that happens is a woman that was portrayed as homosexual the entire series ends up marrying someone of the opposite sex, but I think that's because of the woman's family expecting her to marry a guy when she's an adult. It can be a cultural factor and apart of upholding the family image, also oftentimes it's about her parents wanting her to produce grandchildren. I'm aware this is something that happens both in fiction and in real life, also I know gay men have to deal with this as well. Ultimately some people feel obligated to give their parents grandchildren regardless of their own sexual orientation. I think GL manga are in a general better spot than BL manga currently, there are a good amount of GL authors and series out there that I personally really love, I'm not comfortable giving names and listing examples because of how much I love the manga that I enjoy. I simply rather not have the series I love picked apart and dissected under a microscope. That's my stance and you're free to disagree with me, but I stand my ground with loving the series and authors that I do. I can agree with you that the amount of GL manga that I love is a very small amount when compared to the amount of heterosexual manga that exist. I would love to see more series like that ones that I love and series that take things in a whole new direction, as I've said diversity is a good thing.

Moving on to GL anime, in fact I completely agree we're very much lacking when it comes to GL anime. To clarify my stances a bit, I wouldn't count Valkyrie Drive as a GL anime, it's entirely fan-service focused and meant to appease the audience's lewd desires. The target audience is males with a desire to see two women be sexual with each other, it's not about their relationships or love for each other in the slightest. A lot of anime only allude to a romance but don't clarify or confirm it, lots of undertones and subtext. Some of it is pretty blatant and the themes sometimes are explored in an interesting way. However I was talking with a friend recently that brought up an excellent point, here's directly what she said to me: "In the writing center we've talked about how people of certain cultures present ideas differently than Americans. We are extremely linear when we explain things, direct and to the point. Meanwhile Asian writers are more spiral in their presentation... they are more oblique and let the reader draw the connections and infer." I think that's very interesting to think about. We are a completely different culture and we write and express things vastly different than Japanese authors, we have different expectations and desires in what we want to see in stories that we read. I think we should tread carefully and try not to place our own cultural norms and ways of story telling on authors from other countries. We should adjust our expectations accordingly if we can.

In closing and to wrap up this conversation, I do hope you're able to get more BL manga and anime that handle the subject matter similarly to Yuri On Ice. I also hope we in the future get GL anime adaptations of the manga that (in my opinion) handle the subject matter well, plus it'd be great to see an anime original GL that gets direct inspiration from Yuri On Ice and handles the relationship in a similar fashion. This was an extremely long response from me that took a couple of hours to formulate and write so I'm going to move on now. I know there's plenty more we could discuss but I think we've stated our stances and opinions well enough to move on. Live long and prosper as Spock says.
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Cutiebunny



Joined: 18 Apr 2010
Posts: 1114
PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 8:52 am Reply with quote
azhanei wrote:
I'm glad to see this interview. I didn't get to do anything YOI at AFest because the space and staff were overwhelmed by the response. It was bad, and sadly, the lack of cohesive decision-making by staff, and frustrated fans then refusing to follow instructions, came to a head Sunday and led to police intervention.


Police intervention began on Saturday. Towards the beginning of the lining up period, when there was a huge crowd of people milling around the area, the convention higher ups told the police they wanted that area cleared. Unfortunately, two cops against a couple hundred people didn't work too well, and the most they could get is pushing people to both sides of the area. The officer then selected a person from the crowd to then go sit down in the waiting area. I was there for it, and a woman near me was having a panic attack while all this was going on.

Sunday's line debacle was another thing. We were marched over to the autograph area as if we were hostages, with one hand on our head. Haven't seen an autograph session run this poorly since Anime Expo's "Running of the Otaku" in 2014. All of this could have been avoided if staff had listened to advice and allowed those wanting autographs to calmly sit down in the assigned seating area. If an attendee wants to wait hours for an autograph, they should be allowed to do so. The notion of not allowing anyone to line up until one hour prior to the session is an antiquated notion that leads to panic, confusion and injuries.
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fencer_x



Joined: 28 Jul 2011
Posts: 191
PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 9:37 am Reply with quote
SilverTalon01 wrote:
How their story became a phenomenon? Decently written show with pretty boys, BL, and truly great animation... of course the still not that frequently tapped fujoshi demographic will buy the hell out of it. What else was going to happen when an ignored demographic gets thrown such a finely crafted bone.


It wouldn't be nearly as popular if it was BL. The fact that it's NOT BL--that it tells a love story within a greater character-building story and thankfully bears no resemblance to that oft-maligned genre aside from the gender of the MCs--is part of what's earned it massive acclaim.

It's a story about Yuuri learning about all the different kinds of love (including loving himself, something he's struggled with) thanks to Victor's presence in his life--that's a story you don't really see in sports anime, one so emotional and personal. It's a love story, all kinds of love--not a BL story.

Sorry, it just irritates me when people use BL to describe YOI :/ BL is a genre in and of itself and has defining characteristics. YOI isn't BL--because YOI isn't a romance. It's got some romance in it, but that's not the point (and that IS the point of BL)--not every story in which two people become a couple or express romantic/loving feelings for each other is a romance. That's what's made YOI really stand out, as it was able to build a believable relationship, one you want to root for, without it becoming the be-all-end-all of the show, still staying true to the core focus of "people growing into their better selves, learning to love within and without".
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keichitsu0305



Joined: 24 Apr 2010
Posts: 1510
PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 5:09 pm Reply with quote
fencer_x wrote:
. It's a love story, all kinds of love--not a BL story. .

Good luck with explaining that to the US fanbase. Anime hyper

I went to 4 conventions this year (AX, Katsucon, Animazement, Otakon, and the woefully unprepared Anime Fest) and out of those, three had at least one "How Yuri on Ice saved/popularized the Boy Love genre" panel in their listings. It's funny but, personally the series didn't have enough time to actually explore all different forms of love as effectively as it has demonstrated the Eros of Victuuri or the Agape/Philla of the two Yuri characters. Trust me, I've heard more jokes about the Italian twins trying to f**k each other than any serious commentary on their familial love both online and at conventions. That's why I'm hoping the film will be successful enough to have a sequel; if not, than at least an ending with Yuuri earning a gold medal.

Speaking of AF, I was there since Friday but only on Sunday after a main staffer started crying, was I also chosen to get the YOI autographs. Worst part was how easy it was getting the Science Saru duo autograph (twice!) and the other guests (both Japanese and English) while the YOI fans were treated like a damn virus by the staff. I actually asked Yamamoto sensei to sign my Michiko to Hatchin DVD since I actually it resonated to me stronger as a black female anime fan. Hope she keeps making more original anime once YOI popularity cools down.
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kazenoyume



Joined: 18 Apr 2006
Posts: 384
PostPosted: Sat Sep 30, 2017 5:40 pm Reply with quote
keichitsu0305 wrote:
fencer_x wrote:
. It's a love story, all kinds of love--not a BL story. .

Good luck with explaining that to the US fanbase. Anime hyper

I went to 4 conventions this year (AX, Katsucon, Animazement, Otakon, and the woefully unprepared Anime Fest) and out of those, three had at least one "How Yuri on Ice saved/popularized the Boy Love genre" panel in their listings..


To be fair myself and A LOT of YOI fans are very irritated by the presence of those panels. I was especially upset to see one approved at Afest itself, a con that Kubo and Sayo were at. It's so massively disrespectful to see IS YAOI MAINSTREAM? A YOI Panel on the schedule at a con they're attending as the guests of honor.

They did treat the YOI fans like a virus though. It was awful, and apparently reports are that some of the upper staff held it in pretty open contempt even before the con, which is ironic considering how much money we brought to their event.
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