Yuri!!! on ICE

milkboys Anime & Cartoons, Television 8 Comments

The story of Yuri!!! on ICE revolves around Yuri Katsuki, who carried all of Japan’s hopes on his shoulders to win at the Gran Prix Finale ice skating competition, but suffered a crushing defeat. He returns home to Kyushu and half feels like he wants to retire, and half feels like he wants to continue ice skating.

With those mixed feelings swirling inside him, he confines himself inside his parents house. Suddenly the five-time consecutive world championship ice skater Viktor Nikiforov appears before him, and along with him is Yuri Plisetsky, a young Russian figure skater who is already defeating his seniors. Viktor and both Yuris take up the challenge on an unprecedented Gran Prix series.

Yuri is a young figure skater considering retirement after he plummeted from world championship level to failing to qualify at nationals over the course of a single season. He goes home for the first time in five years in poor physical and emotional condition, reconnecting with his family and trying to reconnect with his love of skating – not realising everything is about to change.

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We often get sports anime at the start of an athlete’s career. Picking up with elementary school Yuri as he first discovers skates then comes to surpass his friends, or middle school Yuri struggling to balance training for regional competitions with studying for high school entrance exams, or high school Yuri working his way up to his first national championship – any of these would have made for a solid anime. Instead, we meet Yuri when he is 23, at a crossroads and in a state of doubt. To the people of his no-name hometown he is a proud success, but to other skating professionals he is a failure; he is aware of both opinions, and they are equally painful to him. To start an anime with this kind of everyday, relatable complexity is pretty rare, and it is handled expertly.

The storytelling works by gently layering multiple elements, characters and settings to build up a world in which a story happens rather than spoon-feeding information to the audience. Throwaway comments in normal conversations hint at reasons why Yuri might have stayed away for five years, or what he sacrificed by leaving. There is occasional exposition given in voiceover or through SD imagery, but it is quick and lightly handled. As a general rule, the animation is used to convey both character details and set an atmosphere, supporting and elevating the storytelling, which is strong and sophisticated to begin with. The script sets up and subverts expectations, making a fairly slow-paced drama less predictable and even more satisfying to watch.

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Despite frequent use of cartoony facial expressions and visual gags, Yuri’s world is one of the most grounded of the season. His world is full of people who feel like people, not archetypes, with full lives which continue outside Yuri’s view. There are female characters of different ages, all with individual personalities, styles and mannerisms, none of whom are sexualised.

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This episode gives a lot of information on story, backstory and characters in this episode, but its focus is tight: Yuri is in a slump and needs to find a way out of it. To add stakes and complications, his idol, exceptional Russian skater Victor, has no idea who he is. His idol’s younger teammate told Yuri in no uncertain terms that he should retire, but Yuri knows that if he retires he will never get another chance to skate on the same ice as Victor. However, his performance has dropped so dramatically he may be forced into retirement anyway simply by failing to qualify for anything. Also, didn’t he love this once? What happened?

Review by Anime Feminist

Oh Tommen…

milkboys News, Television 31 Comments

…you sweet, sweet summer child. It sure seems to be the year of leaks. Bieber, Troye, now Dean-Charles Chapman. And much like the character he portrays on Game of Thrones, the British actor seems to occasionally have trouble with his sexual energy clouding his judgement.

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The little prince who could. Four times sin a row.

Yesterday a video surfaced that was captured on the video chat site Omegle. It shows the 19-year-old actor having a wank with his cousin (who seems to take more than one close look at Dean) and according to 4chan he confirmed the authenticity of the video on his Instagram account. Take that as you will.

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Both the thread and the video are gone by now but let’s all take this as a reminder to use common sense when we sext or get off in front of a webcam. The headache the potential aftermath can cause is rarely worth the few seconds of bliss that orgasm might bring. More importantly though, don’t record people without their consent. Duh.

Hold the Door

milkboys Music, Television 9 Comments

Oh, Game of Thrones. For a show being famous for killing off beloved characters left and right it sure upsets lots of people over and over again. I never really felt any emotional impact from any of the many deaths in the show. Spoilers ahead.

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Yeah, I was mildly annoyed when Renly got killed because he would have been a good king, I do miss Robert’s fuck y’all attitude and it’s a shame someone like Myrcella isn’t around anymore but emotionally all that was fine. As long as sweet, little Tommen isn’t touched by anyone (except for Margaery of course and maybe Tormund ;p) I’ll be all right.

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Last Sunday’s death wasn’t all that different to me. It was OK, it made sense and unlike most other deaths it actually served a purpose. But fuck me, the acting by the fantastic Sam Coleman still haunts me days later. That scene will be stuck with me for quite some time to come and I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling like that. What an outstanding young actor.

To make matters worse Sam just recorded a short but sweet song about the whole thing and boy, is it ever touching. Check it out below…

Is Steven Universe too Queer for the Queen?

milkboys News, Television 4 Comments

Cartoon Network hits like Adventure Time and Steven Universe might be the most progressive kids’ shows in the history of cartoons. Adventure Time features an on-going, complicated but charming romance between two of the female protagonists and  Steven Universe is the kind of fantasy adventure where even the villains are treated with kindness and sympathy, and where one of the major characters is literally the physical embodiment of a committed gay relationship.

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So it’s going to be pretty upsetting for fans of the show—not to mention the collected hivemind of fanart, “feels,” and animated GIFs known as Tumblr—to hear that some of the show’s more explicitly queer content is being censored from the show’s broadcasts in the UK.

As reported by Pink News—and shown in the Tumblr comparison video below—Cartoon Network UK has been editing moments of mild sexuality—as in suggestive looks and the occasional shimmy, not, like, full-on magical-alien-rock-women bacchanalia—out of its broadcast of the show.

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The highlighted moment comes from “We Need To Talk,” an episode in which a giant space woman’s jealous lover manipulates her into having quasi-explicit magical sex in front of her boyfriend as part of a complicated emotional power play. (And if that’s not weird enough, the resulting fusion dance turns them into a sort of multi-eyed Flashdance monster.)

But it’s not the Jennifer Beals homages or bizarre relationship drama that upset the censors; rather, a couple of longing looks between the characters Rose Quartz and Pearl were apparently too saucy for British audiences to handle. (It’s also possible that the watchdogs felt that the “Fuck you” look Pearl shoots mid-dance at her romantic rival Greg was so clear as to be borderline obscene.)

Cartoon Network UK blamed the lack of a British TV rating system for the cuts, telling reporters, “The U.S. broadcast system requires that shows are marked with a rating–in this case PG (parental guidance necessary). In the UK, we have to ensure everything on air is suitable for kids of any age at any time. We do feel that the slightly edited version is more comfortable for local kids and their parents.” (Said locals are apparently completely okay with the unedited heterosexual kissing that closes out the clip.)

via AV Club, Pink News & Polygon

America’s Youngest Gay Kiss

milkboys Clips & Spots, Television 66 Comments

Straight teens have watched their television counterparts smooch on-screen for years, but The Fosters made entertainment history by showing the youngest same-sex kiss ever on US television.

Teenage love—it’s hormonal, complicated, and makes for great television. On Monday night The Fosters featured a kiss between 13-year-olds Jude and Connor. So what’s the big deal? The boys’ lip-to-lip contact is apparently the youngest same-sex kiss on US television; 13-year-olds getting it on was something you’d only find in European films–until now.

Jude and Connor’s BFF-level friendship has been building over the past two seasons. Connor was introduced to the show when he hesitated to fend off bullies who were picking on Jude for wearing nail polish—only to end up painting his nails in solidarity with Jude, which made for a delightfully heartwarming television moment.

It’s inspiring to see that young characters on television are matching reality. On The Fosters, Jude’s journey of self-discovery regarding his sexuality has been an ongoing plotline. It became apparent that Jude had some sort of feelings for Connor early on, and more recently the chemistry had been bubbling, with subtle flirtation emanating from both sides. In the episode “The Silence She Keeps,” Connor adorably goes to link pinkies with Jude in the darkness of a movie theater, and there have been scenes where they hold their gaze long just enough to imply their true feelings, screaming on the inside.

So on Monday’s episode “Now Hear This,” Jude has that momentous “define the relationship” conversation with Connor to see exactly where they stand, and what all this tomfoolery really means. He brings up the time they’d previously kissed on a school camping trip while sharing a tent (the smooch had been off-screen and kept a secret masked as “something that was wrong”) along with the pinky-holding, and demands answers. Then Connor kisses him and… cue the fireworks.

The kiss between Jude and Connor isn’t a first in the world of American television teenagers. When endgame Blaine and Kurt kissed for the first time on Glee, it wasn’t even the first time the show displayed some same-sex lip-locking. And Teen Wolf has featured some steamy same-sex scenes between the students at Beacon Hills High School.

But Jude and Connor are in the 7th grade (their actors are 14 and 15 respectively), a good few years younger than their Glee and Teen Wolf counterparts. According to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey of LGBT Americans, 12 is the median age at which members of the community first felt they might not be straight, and gay men reported that at around age 10 they first thought that they might be gay. It’s inspiring to see that young characters on television are matching reality. Jude and Connor’s nervousness—capturing the nuances of a young friendship—turning to something more is teen naturalism at its finest, and in some ways more so than the passionate sex scenes that LGBTQ characters are chalking up in pop culture nowadays.

The Fosters is already lauded as one of the most progressive shows on TV, with the heads of household being an interracial lesbian couple raising a family of biological, foster, and adopted kin. With the kiss on The Fosters setting a fantastic standard, we’re inching toward more accurate representation of LGBTQ youth in entertainment. It reassures all the real-life Judes and Connors out there that their feelings of self-discovery during those middle school and junior high years are valid, while also providing a heartrending example for those who don’t endure this to understand and learn from.

Via The Daily Beast

The Fosters: Queer Childhood

milkboys Clips & Spots, Films & Cinema, Television 41 Comments

The Fosters Explores the Fear and Possibility of Queer Childhood

the-fosters-connorIn the Feb. 9 episode of ABC Family’s The Fosters, 13-year-old Jude goes to the movies on a double date with Connor, his best friend, and Daria and Taylor, two girls from school. It seems Connor and Daria are there to make out, and they have brought Jude and Taylor along as cover.

When Jude takes his seat, Connor pointedly lowers the armrest between them. But after the lights go down, their pinkies touch and then cross. The camera cuts back and forth between their flushed faces, their eyes wide with nervous excitement and surprise at the intensity, while Daria and Taylor absently watch the “chick flick” they’ve supposedly come to see.

The scene is unexpectedly and palpably erotic—a feat that speaks to the richness and complexity with which the show has developed Jude’s storyline over its first two seasons. And yet it is clear that this touch will not provide a neat resolution to the questions about Jude and Connor’s relationship or sexuality, but, rather, will only deepen the exploration.

Jude is not the first queer teenager on television, but he is among the youngest—and he is the first to be raised by queer parents. The Fosters follows a modern family of a kind rarely seen on television—an interracial lesbian couple, Lena and Stef Adams-Foster, and their five racially diverse children: one biological; three adopted, including Jude; and one whose adoption has been repeatedly stalled—Jude’s sister Callie.

It’s a sentimental teen drama that manages at moments to show foster care and LGBTQ parenting with sensitivity and texture. But its most radical move may be in its depiction of Jude, played with thoughtful nuance by Hayden Byerly.

Read on…