We’re now a quarter down into 2017, but there are some things from last year that we can’t shake off. Before your train of thought goes down a more unpleasant route, let’s talk about one of the better phenomenons of 2016 – Yuri!!! On Ice.
Shall we skate?
To the uninitiated, Yuri!!! On Ice is a sports anime series that premiered in the Fall of 2016. Written by Mitsurou Kubo and directed by Sayo Yamamoto, YOI – as fans refer to it in shorthand – centers around Yuri Katsuki, a 23-year-old professional figure skater who’s hit a mid-career crisis. This turns into a wild rollercoaster ride when five-time world champion (and his personal idol) Victor Nikiforov decides to be his coach.
With only 12 episodes under its belt and no manga sources, one might find it hard to imagine holding a major event – similar to the spirit of Komikon and the like – solely dedicated it. But we should probably all know better than to doubt the power of a passionate and devoted fanbase, right?
Fast forward to last March 26, when Born to Make History: A Yuri!!! On Ice Fan Gathering (affectionately called YOIcon) took place at Unilab’s Bayanihan Center in Pasig, Philippines.
Organized by the team of Trisha Descallar, Nix De Pano and Judith Razon, YOIcon was initially pegged as a “small, intimate gathering of Filipino Yuri!!! On Ice fans”. Word got around however, and the event grew bigger and bigger, much like a “beautiful, ever-evolving monster”. In fact, just days before the event, the organizers had to announce that aside from the Main Hall of the Bayanihan Center, the merchant/artist alley would extend up to the front lobby. (Yay for more merch!)
If that’s not proof enough, maybe the line of devoted fans who waited outside the doors on the day itself would be more convincing. By the scheduled noon opening, the line had reached well beyond the corner of the Unilab parking lot(!) and didn’t significantly shorten until 2:30PM.
Yes, we were born to make history!
Inside the venue, the excitement and enthusiasm was palpable. Some fans looked forward to the panels and guest appearances, most were eager to scope the art and merchandise offered, but all were united in the same love for YOI and its charming cast of characters. Much like Mari and Minako-sensei in Barcelona, much squeeing and shrieking were directed at almost everything – the two sets of life-sized Victuuri standees, the custom team jackets, the sexy fanart and doujinshi – and it continued well into the afternoon.
Some fans were also complete troopers that day, braving the heat while dressed in their preferred character’s skate outfits. Victor and Yuuri’s matching free skate jackets were clear favorites, but there were also a few Yuri Plistetskys and, perhaps more memorably, a Georgi Popovich in all his witch-glory. There were others, meanwhile, who opted for the off-rink looks: a couple of Yuuris, plenty of Phichits (and selfie-sticks), and even an Otabae Otabek.
As for merchandise, the event offered a wide selection ranging from jackets and phone covers and even cookies(!) to perennial con favorites like stickers, prints, and commissioned art. And before you dismiss the latter, the large numbers of artists who participated in the event pretty much ensured a great mix of artstyles and designs sold across the board. You could also tell who the sellers’ favorites are by their names; I think I spotted Yuri’s Angels and JJGirls in the fray. One cannot just simply go home without buying at least something.
Welcome to the Madness
Other memorable highlights included the panels and guest appearances. Pam Punzalan (GGG’s very own EIC) and Paolo Tiausas took to discussing YOI on a more intellectual level, highlighting its impact and relation to sexuality and gender coding.
Note: As fascinating as it the talks were, the discourse didn’t reach its full potential due to tech quality and space issues, as well as lack of a proper moderator. Perhaps this could be improved on the next con (because let’s face it, there needs to be another con).
Moving on, the special guests to the event also included Q&As with Filipino figure skaters Jules Alpe and Joel Minas (who was looking mighty katsu-fine in his Eros costume). There was also a live Skype interview with Russian cosplayer Barimor, to the delight of many.
You Only Live Once
To say that YOIcon was a success is a gross understatement. And with a confirmed second season coming, it won’t be too far-fetched for the Filipino fandom to hope for a repeat of this event. After all, nothing beats the feeling of being with the people who get you.
Still hungover from YOIcon? Wishing you’d gone? We’ve got you covered.
Next week: “Queerwhatsitmaybes on Ice: Yuri on Ice, Boys’ Love & Gendercoding”, a panel discussion by GGG Editor-in-Chief Pam Punzalan.