Border Crossings in the Japanese Anime Yuri!! on ICE

Tien-yi Chao

Abstract


Yuri!!! on ICE (broadcast in Japan between October 5 and December 22, 2016), a Japanese anime featuring male figure skaters from across the world in the International Skating Union Grand Prix Final, has unquestionably become very popular globally. Most significantly, it even attracted the world’s top figure skaters, such as Evgenia Medvedeva, Johnny Weir, and Stéphane Lambiel, who not only recommended the anime on their Twitter accounts but also were involved in various promotional events. The anime’s huge success lies in the production team’s intentional effort in crossing the boundaries of nationality, sexuality, and virtual reality. In this article, I analyse the ways in which Yuri!!! on ICE creates a ‘Third Space’ (in Homi K. Bhabha’s words) between Boys’ Love and gay life; between Japan and the world; and between virtuality (2D) and reality (3D). The anime serves as a tribute to both real-world competitive figure skating and an ideal Utopia in which all competitors and lovers, whether gay or straight, are treated equally with respect. The anime demonstrates a brave and bold attempt to challenge established cultural and social norms, making it a ‘History Maker’ in the Japanese anime industry, as its opening song suggests.

Keywords


Boys’ Love; Japanese anime; Third Space; globalisation; Cool Japan

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.6667/interface.15.2021.129

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