A Battle with Destiny
In my later high school years, a classmate started bringing in English-dubbed tapes for a series called Battle Athletes Victory, as a way for my circle of school-buds to kill time between classes. We sat together as a small audience for the first story arc, and were entertained from the get-go as we watched Akari and Ichino compete in the Antarctic Training School with a multicultural cast of characters. The sense of the two protagonists having some suggestive moments between them was mutual among us, but one of us said not to jump to conclusions.
Then the second story arc began, where Akari journeyed to University Satellite to compete for the Cosmo Beauty title. If I was not hooked before, I was now from the moment Kris Christopher made her appearance and expressed her love-at-first-sight feelings for Akari, coming onto her to surprising comedic effect. It was not so much because of the lesbian flirting with a (supposedly) straight girl alone that drew me in—although that was definitely enough for my classmates—but because at the time the concept was just something that I had never seen on TV before. We watched Akari’s flustered reactions toward Kris’s semi-innocent obsessing, and yet not seem bothered enough to just tell Kris to leave her alone. We then discussed among ourselves on whether or not Akari may be in denial of sharing feelings for Kris, and whether or not she had feelings for Ichino first all along. The same person in our group reminded us again not to jump to conclusions, not until there was something definitive.
That was until the third and final story arc when the alien invasion began. Akari, Kris and Ichino are altogether. Kris questions their relationship, Akari and Ichino act embarrassed and blush, Kris points it out which makes them react more awkwardly. Like a chorus in unison, almost all of us said, “I knew it!” There was no denying anything anymore. The Tenchi Muyo-styled triangle of jealousy, rivalry and Akari’s indecisiveness made the third arc for us, although it finished unresolved. Our only other disappointment was when the series finally concluded.
So Battle Athletes was my first ever Yuri series, but this was long before I have even heard of the genre’s existence. I was not knowingly exposed until my early 20’s when I discovered Yuricon and found out about all other existing titles, courtesy of Erica Friedman. Aside from the Yuri, Battle Athletes is just a weird, creative, imaginative, funny, and simply fun and entertaining classic. Although I have seen a great variety of both Yuri and non-Yuri titles since then, I tend to look back fondly and revisit my special gateway title, for both nostalgia and be reminded why I loved this show, how it helped me get into Yuri and Anime in general. And by extension, why it is still one of my favorites today.