[Editorial Tuesday] Why Would You Like Killing Stalking if You Like Yuri!! On Ice?

There are more than a handful of people who lost their head for the acclaimed anime Yuri!!! On Ice which aired from October to December 2016 and kept thousands of viewers glued to the screen. The reason for its success is easy to say if we consider that Yuri!!! On Ice features a great story, epic soundtrack, superb graphics, a bunch of hot guys who compete against each other for the title of best figure skater in the world, and a complicated romantic relationship between the two main characters. One thing which Yuri!!! On Ice is often prized for is the way it deals with homosexuality; in BL and yaoi works, homosexual relationships generally take place in a universe which excludes the rest of the world to focus on the characters’ affairs that is, most of time, abusive. Instead, Yuri!!! on Ice is a more realistic story in which the protagonist Yuri, who lost self-confidence after having been defeated in the most important figure skating competition, has to face and overcome his own flaws, and find in his coach Viktor’s love the courage and necessary support to do it.

We can affirm that Yuri!!! On Ice is a healthy, positive anime about dreams and love, so… how is it possible that people who enjoyed such a fluff story suddenly went to Killing Stalking? Killing Stalking is the story of an abusive relationship between the stalker Yoon Bum and the serial killer Oh Sangwoo. The two happened to meet at school, but Yoon Bum was the only one to notice Sangwoo, back then. Yoon Bum fell in love with Sangwoo almost immediately, but never had the courage to tell him how he really felt. So, Yoon Bum ended up stalking Sangwoo and, eventually, broke into his house. There, Yoon Bum realizes his prince charming is a serial killer who keeps his victims locked in the basement and does terribly violent things to them. However, when Yoon Bum tries to run away from that place it is already too late.

It is clear that there is really nothing in common between Yuri!!! on Ice and Killing Stalking, so how exactly is it possible that it was Yuri!!! on Ice’s fandom which made Killing Stalking famous in the West? We tried to understand what triggered this Killing Stalking mania phenomenon among Yuri!!! on Ice’s lovers, and got some interesting reasons out of the fandom’s opinions. Let’s see them together, but if you haven’t read Killing Stalking yet, watch out for spoilers!

Yuri and Bum’s Fears

It might not seem like it but there is more in common with Yuri and Bum than you may think. Seemingly, they are walking on two different paths that will never cross; Yuri is a young athlete from the countryside who worked hard to reach the top of the world through effort in figure skating, while Bum is a grown-up from the metropolis of Seoul who has lived his whole life in misery, never really trying to step out of it. And destiny brought them to completely different places. Yuri is able to find his lost self-confidence and the place he belongs to with Viktor’s support, while Bum finds nothing but despair in Sangwoo’s hands.

How exactly can these two people, with so different stories and destinies, be related? Well, the way they think about themselves and life could be a good answer. In the beginning of the Yuri!!! on Ice series, we meet an insecure Yuri who has failed in what he had worked so hard to achieve and is uncertain about his future. Yuri thinks very low of himself now that he has lost the dream he tried to protect for so many years, suffers from self-doubt and anxiety, and has become a chubby, depressed guy scared of moving forward. It takes Yuri a long time to overcome his complex, so we often see him throughout the series feeling unsure, worried about every little thing, afraid to act or take any decision. Bum, like Yuri, has plenty of complex issues when it comes to both himself and interpersonal relationships. He lives in a sick world he has created to defend himself from people who has hurt him, and suffers from feeling unsuitable for the society. While reading Killing Stalking, what strikes one immediately is Bum’s fear, his shyness, and hesitation which made of him a mentally broken guy on who Sangwoo easily forces himself upon.

Now, we could assume that who found easy to empathize with Yuri’s lack of self-confidence has probably found easy to empathize with Bum’s mental troubles, as well. So, a first explanation for Yuri!!! On Ice’s fandom for liking Killing Stalking lies in the exploration of their protagonists’ mental health.

Those Twists That Shocked the World

When Yuri!!! On Ice came out, no one did expect that Yuri and Viktor’s relationship could go any further than usual BL fanservice. With spokon anime such as Free!, Kuroko no Basket, and Haikyuu, we are used to seeing hot, muscular guys who spend all their time together, fight over trivial matters as an old-married couple, promising to protect each other’s dreams, and touch more than necessary, so no one was really surprised when Viktor was shown happily jumping naked on his dear friend Yuri. After all, Yuri!!! On Ice wasn’t rated as a “BL” or “yaoi” anime in the first place and due to the problems that Japanese society still have with acknowledging the existence of a LGBTQ community in their country, it was unlikely to think the main characters’ affair could evolve in anything else but a strong friendship. That is why when Viktor actually kissed his pupil on the lips, the Web went crazy with surprise.

Still, what makes of Yuri!!! On Ice a shocking story isn’t just the unexpected evolution of Viktor and Yuri’s relationship, but also plot twists such as Yurio’s choice to come over his rival’s Yuri side, the result of the finals, the sweet ending. Whatever people may say, Yuri!!! On Ice is an average story which turned out to be shocking and unpredictable, and this is probably something it has in common with Killing Stalking. Everything can be said about Killing Stalking other than it isn’t a shocking story. As Yuri!!! On Ice, Killing Stalking also features the evolution of a relationship and how the two protagonists grow attached (in a very questionable way) to one another, but the way it happens is astonishing, and the environment and situations which Bum and Sangwoo has to deal with can really make your mind blow. Predicting what is going to happen, what does Sangwoo have in mind, how will Bum act to save his own life is fairly impossible, and the solutions which the author comes out with are shocking enough to create tension and make the readers wonder what will it happen next.

If it is true that Yuri!!! On Ice’s fandom enjoys shocking stories with unpredictable plot twists, then Killing Stalking couldn’t slip past undetected. Thus, a second explanation for Yuri!!! On Ice’s lovers love of Killing Stalking lies in the way the plot sequence was conceived and structured.

Yuri!!! On Ice, Killing Stalking, and LGBTQ elements

What was new about Yuri!!! On Ice was the fact it featured homosexuality as never seen before in the history of anime. Of course, there are many other characters openly homosexual in anime and manga, but in Yuri!!! On Ice, homosexuality is one of the main elements on which the plot is based on, and it is the protagonists who are directly involved in a romantic homosexual affair. Despite this, Yuri!!! On Ice is not a BL or a yaoi series and the homosexual element isn’t even the main focus of the story, since the plot concentrates on more crucial matters such as Yuri’s personality strengthening process, his internal fight, and his future career as a figure skater.

Unlike Yuri!!! On Ice, Killing Stalking is rated “BL”, but it gives the same impression of not being based only on the homosexual element. Actually, Sangwoo despises Yoon Bum exactly because of his homosexual and queer tendencies, which he finds ill and disgusting. We perfectly know that Yoon Bum wants desperately to get into Sangwoo’s pants, but this is left to itself most of the time. What Killing Stalking really focuses on is what’s in Yoon Bum’s mind, his distorted interpretation of the reality, and his efforts to read Sangwoo’s twisted mind. Depiction of a homosexual relationship (however unhealthy it may be) is not the purpose of Koogi’s manhwa, although – as for Yuri!!! On Ice – it plays a big role.

In short, we could say that it is not only the depiction of a healthy homosexual relationship what Yuri!!! On Ice’s fandom which moved to Killing Stalking liked the most about the series. Probably, for Yuri!!! On Ice’s fandom, homosexuality is an important element for a story to be great, but it is better for it to be just a mean for supporting a good plot capable of being intriguing and catchy. And Killing Stalking definitely is an intriguing and catchy story in its own way.

High Quality Works

What everyone will agree on is that Yuri!!! On Ice is an incredible work. Not only is the story touching and highly emotional, but also the plot sequence is engaging, the soundtrack is superb, the characters are designed to be complex, with a deep personality, their own reasons to act as they act, and their unique skating technique. Above all, the animation is the most surprising thing about Yuri!!! On Ice. The artwork is fluid and gorgeous, The camera angles make it looks like a movie, and the splendid choreographies conceived by the Olympic champion Kenji Miyamoto makes viewers feel like watching a real skating show.

If there is something that Killing Stalking has in common with Yuri!!! On Ice is exactly the researched illustration technique. Koogi’s work can just be described as “amazingly accurate” and is able to transmit sensations such as anxiety, tension, fear, motion, and even the flow of time. Characters’ anatomy, proportion, colors are perfect, being extremely detailed, and each time they appear on the screen their expressions tell you something about what is inside them, what they may be thinking, feel or would like to act. There is no particular detail in Killing Stalking left to chance and all expressions, frames, places, objects shown is necessary for completing the intricate puzzle which composes the plot.

Yuri!!! On Ice and Killing Stalking are both high quality works, and that can’t be denied. The style is very different, but the accuracy by which they were illustrated is definitely a point that the two titles have in common. For a tough audience as Yuri!!! On Ice’s used to fine art, Killing Stalking must have represented a good way to replace the series which have just finished airing, at least from an aesthetic perspective. Basically, Yuri!!! On Ice has terrible good tastes when it comes to art.


Final Thoughts

So, what do Yuri!!! On Ice and Killing Stalking have in common? Absolutely nothing if we judge them only by their plots. So, why would someone who loved Yuri!!! On Ice comes to like Killing Stalking as well? Actually, there are many reasons for it, and they all go beyond simple superficial similarities. Yuri!!! On Ice and Killing Stalking are each other’s antithesis, but they also are both shocking stories about two shy young men who suffer from lack of self-confidence with an interesting, unpredictable plot, and superbly drawn, in which homosexuality plays a big role, but it is not everything. This means that what makes Killing Stalking interesting to Yuri!!! On Ice’s fandom is the brilliant idea which lies behind its conception, the complexity of its characters, Bum’s mental struggle which reminds us of Yuri’s, and the complicated LGBTQ relationship between the protagonists. Namely, all those elements which made of Yuri!!! On Ice the great work it is.

And you? What is your reason for loving both Yuri!!! On Ice and Killing Stalking? Let us know with a comment below!

Dareka Nobody

Writer

Author: Dareka Nobody

I’m an Italian dirty little girl obsessed with Japanese language, culture, literature, anime, manga, games, but also with writing, reading, and travelling, in general. I lived in Japan and I’m about to be moving there forever. When I’m not working, I translate yaoi light novels for a hobby. I’ve recently started a partnership with the website Novelleleggere.org where I publish my works. I run a page on Facebook about my translation and I’m also a blogger who likes to write about her experiences in Japan. Akiba addicted and enthusiastic Honeyfeed’s writer!

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