Homespun art blog Stargazey Zines recently decided to donate proceeds from their ongoing “Yuri!!! On ICE” fan-art project to OutRight. This is the third project the young charity group has initiated since its founding. In a conversation with OutRight, Jolyn, administrator of the zine, explained that this initiative publishes “art books made by fans, for fans [--] in homage to shows, comics, [and] video games.”
Their zine, “Selfie!!! On ICE” based on a Japanese Anime series," launched this past summer. It survives off the collective efforts of a close knit community. “Most of the administration, book formatting, and shipping,” said Jolyn, is handled personally, or “with help from various friends.” Jolyn further explained that the site, up since Dec. 2016, constantly self-publishes anime inspired “art books, whose profits are donated to various charities.”
The “Yuri!!! On ICE” series focuses on a same-sex relationship between two animated male figure skaters. As such, Stargazey was particularly keen on finding a LGBTIQ organization that represents these themes, “which is how we found OutRight,” Jolyn explained.
The original anime series, which debuted on Japan’s T.V. Asahi, Oct. 2016, was an instant hit among anime fans. Directed by Sayo Yamamoto (of the popular series “Michiko & Hatchin”) and scripted by Mitsuro Kubo (of the award winning rom-com “Love Strikes!”), “Yuri!!! On ICE” pivots around the lives of characters Yuri Katsuki, his coach Victor Nikiforov, and his competitors. Since its release, the series has taken home three awards from the Tokyo Anime Award Festival and topped charts as the second most popular media franchise in Japan as of 2017.
At the heart of this animation is a very serious discussion on same-sex relationships. “Yuri!!! On Ice” has been praised for covering themes of homosexuality in a way that no other Japanese anime has in the past. The widespread success and acceptance of this show is an impressive feat considering Japan’s largely conservative culture and the social stigmas/homophobia that still exist in Japanese society.
Stargazey members are partial to the way this series tackles “artistic pressure, anxiety, and personal relationships,” says Jolyn. It’s the complex character design that Jolyn believes “people responded so strongly to.” Yamamoto and Kubo’s characters, Jolyn added, “developed a relationship that felt real and genuine in a genre that often depicts such relationships poorly.”
The show’s writer has been vocal about the serious social issues portrayed in her work. “Regardless of how people in the real world feel,” Kubo said, “inside the world of this show, there will be absolutely no discrimination toward the things one loves. I will absolutely protect this world." Touched by the sentiment of Kubo’s statement, the Stargazey members set out to help benefit LGBTIQ groups like OutRight.
While they’ve yet to register as an official company or nonprofit, the newly minted arts group hopes to continue encouraging fans to create homages to shows, comics, video games, and more--for the sake of humanity. They’re methods involve selecting causes to support, recruiting artists and soliciting online interest. They allow pre-orders at exhibitions and trade shows, after which they print and ship all artworks to patrons. What profit remains after post-production is then donated to a hand-picked charity.
Published on December 19, 2017 | OutRight Action International an LGBT human rights organization