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MAPPA

If you’re a Twitter or Tumblr user, chances are you’ve seen (or at least heard of) the winter anime that took the world by storm: Yuri!!! On Ice. We might be a little late to the review game, and several great articles have been written already on the merits of an LGBTQ+ friendly Japanese anime that also addresses the pain and pleasure of competitive sports. But what is it that makes YOI such a powerful story? They tell us from day one: the recurring theme of YOI is love in all its multifaceted forms.

It may seem like a simple, trivial theme for a show that centers on a competitive sport, but that is precisely where its beauty lies. Of all emotions, love is perhaps the most complex; a unifying feeling that can bolster or break someone. It hurts, it heals, and it gives hope. It is the great motivator behind countless calls to action, and YOI draws upon it to tell the story of three lost figure skaters—Yuri (Yuuri) Katsuki, Victor Nikiforov, and Yuri (Yurio) Plisetsky. They are all unique, individualized personas. And yet, they are startlingly alike in that each one of them is desperately afraid.

For the first time since 1994, I will not be watching the Winter Olympics.

For most people, that’s not such a big deal. The American network affiliate, NBC, is lame and airs the footage late at night, and most people are busy with school/work/stuff. NBD, right? For most people, yes. I am, as my mother loves to remind me, not like most people. In 1994, I was 6 years old, and Oksana Baiul’s  performance of “Swan Lake” moved me to tears and inspired in me a lifelong love of two things: figure skating and Tchaikovsky.

I swore to one day be just like Oksana, and although my dream of figure skating was crushed by a 16-hand horse (yes, literally), I have never, ever, missed watching one figure skating competition since. I am certain that I drive my roommates to near madness with my constant DVRing of competitions and exclamations like, “Oh he did not just two-foot that double axel!” At the gay nightclub near my home, a couple oh-so-fabulous boys and I practice double loops on the dance floor (they’ve dubbed themselves my ‘figure-skating fairies.’)

And so it damn near breaks my heart to miss the Olympic games, but, as it turns out, there is one thing closer to my heart than skating, and that is human rights. Now, I realize that some people will say, “refusing to watch an American broadcasting network won’t affect Russia one way or the other.” And they’re right. It won’t. However, it was the decision of the IOC (International Olympic Committee) to give Russia the opportunity to host this year’s Games, and if I, and others who feel as I do, do not watch, they will notice and perhaps they will not make the same mistake in the future. Forgive me, dear Collectors, if I rant; this is a topic that I cannot and will not stay quiet about, no matter who it places me at odds with.