Kubo Mitsurou talks Yuri!!! on ICE’s ending on the radio show!
December 28, 2016 8 Comments
And now, here’s a little interruption I planned into my year ender once I found out that Kubo Mitsurō would be appearing on the final episode of Yuri!!! on RADIO on December 26. This is a semi-translation of the main discussions that she had with radio host Toyonaga Toshiyuki [Yūri] and Uchiyama Kouki [Yurio], touching on the anime’s ending, what’s next for Yūri, Victor and Yurio (^^;), how she became BFFs with director Yamamoto Sayo and so-on-and so forth! Kubo-sensei is such an warm and excitable individual that some parts of the show are worth listening to, even if you don’t understand Japanese, so please see if you can find it!1
Disclaimer: As usual, this is entirely my own work. But please don’t take what I’ve written here as exact translations of the whole thing, because I didn’t parse every single line—if you do spot anything I’ve missed or misinterpreted, please let me know. And finally, please do not copy and paste more than one or two lines anywhere else, though feel free to link to the post itself if you wish. —karice
And needless to say, there are SPOILERS under this cut!
Part 1: BFFs Kubo Mitsurou and Yamamoto Sayo
Toyonaga (Toshi) and Uchiyama (Ucchi) start off talking briefly about the series. About how the time seemed to fly, and about how long the recording sessions were. And how you’re still learning something new in the final episode. And of course, about how Yurio won (Toshi: Congrats! But so damned frustrating!) And then they finally welcome Kubo-sensei onto the radio, and she makes quite an entrance, as you’d expect of a radio pro (she used to host the All Night Nippon radio, a few years back). Since she’s been listening to Yuri!!! on RADIO, she’s very happy to finally be the guest. Then they get to talking about the finale.
Kubo: In the GPF, Yurio gets the world record for the short program, whilst Yuri gets the record for the free. And of course, these are both personal bests for them. But the world record for the total score is still Victor’s.
Toshi: So Yūri and Yurio each surpass Victor in one program, but they still have to chase him on the total score.
Kubo: And then you find them deciding to continue skating…Victor returns, and they’re in St. Petersburg, and Yuri’s there too! But what’s ahead of them is “unknown.” “UNKNOWN” (she says “unknown” in English both times, so Ucchi’s like “why in English all of a sudden?” (laughter))
Ucchi then brings up how they received the ‘names’ (manga storyboards)2 that Kubo-sensei drew, an experience that’s unusual for anime, which were really long. She notes that they just got longer and longer. Like, at first, they were about 70 pages long, but the final episode was something like 120-130 pages long… They just had so many things they wanted to include, but even then, there was just way too much stuff! So the people in charge of the animation storyboards basically had to cut the material down into something that would fit into the standard episode running time.
Toshi: I wonder just how much work and time it would have taken to do that, like, these discussions about “series composition,” the script meetings. That process, like, going from the names to the storyboards/animation, was that basically done by director Yamamoto?
Kubo: Pretty much. But then as the anime was in production, I’d also be chatting with the director on LINE, saying like “OMG! A really interesting Instagram photo has just been uploaded!”
The two seiyuu didn’t really interact with the director during recording etc, so they wonder what she’s like. To them, she came across as a rather taciturn/quiet person.
Ucchi: Were the two of you always this close?
Kubo: No no. Only because of this anime, during planning, she said that she wanted to work together, and so we met around the time of the Sochi Olympics two years ago, in the summer of 2014. And TV Asashi had already said that they wanted to do it, a show about figure skating, and she was looking for someone to help develop the original story. And when we first met, I mean, I don’t really know what anime directors are like, but she was beautiful and very feminine, like very petite (Ucchi finds the word she used really amusing for some reason…), even now I don’t really know what a typical director is like, but after we’d chatted for a while, discussing what kind of story she wanted to depict, she suddenly let of this strange laugh, like “DOHOho!”
Ucchi and Toshi: “As if something just leaked out!” “That gorgeous person going “DOHOho!”?
Kubo: Like, “I’ll give you an overview now, DOHOho!” (and the two boys lose it)
Ucchi: That’s amazing, like whoa!
|And THIS would be why they were shocked…|
|Meet Director Yamamoto Sayo… (source)|
Kubo: But when I heard that, I was like “I can work with this person!”3
Ucchi: Like, you can trust her!
Kubo: That “DOHOho!” basically broke through my defences, and then, as we were researching it together… well, I wasn’t particularly knowledgeable about figure skating, but she had been a fan for a long time, and had wanted to do a figure skating anime for ages. So in making this new story together, especially last year, since the director had to determine the timing for the storyboards for the skating sequences in advance4, during summer last year, she basically came over to my place every day, and we’d cook and eat together. Like, we’d both get really into it and…
Ucchi: You’d get really into it and so you’d eat?
Kubo: Like, she’d bring something nice with her when she came over, so like, “I’ve got some mussels. And I also got hold of some nice asparagus!” And I’d be like “Mussels and asparagus…that’s good for pasta!” And so we’d make that. So we’d be making stuff like that in the oven and uploading it to twitter and Instagram and stuff. And we discussed what kind of figure skating we liked, and what kind of food, and how the story would go. We basically developed the image of the story then—of course, bringing in what we learned and found on our research trips overseas. Of course, we haven’t really met up as much since then because she’s gotten really busy with the production of the show, but we still chat on LINE, and not about the work, now it’s things like “OMG! Johnny’s watching Yuri!!!!”
Ucchi: You mean the skater Johnny Weir?
Kubo: Yup! So I’d be like “Hey, Johnny’s watching! Let’s reply to him!” Like, just filled with emotion, we’d do it in Japanese.
Ucchi: “Filled with emotion?”
Toshi: Like “How should we translate this into English!?”
Kubo: Right right! Back to Director Yamamoto, though, she’s someone who really loves figure skating, and anime as well. So my role was to capture that love in the ‘names’ and convey it to everyone else. For myself, I’m really glad to have had the opportunity to work with her on this, and also that the details that she was particular about have been conveyed to the viewers.
And they’ve run out of time for this segment (because Kubo-sensei really talks A LOT!), so they put on the “Yuri on ICE” music before moving on to the next section of the radio.
Part 2: Q&A section
The first question comes from a listener who only came to anime with Yuri!!!, b/c she likes figure skating, has recently become interested in seiyuu/a particular seiyuu(?), and likes Kubo-sensei’s manga. She also lives near Karatsu, which is the town in Saga prefecture that Yūri’s hometown of Hasetsu is based on. So she’s wondering:
Why did you give Yūri’s hometown the fake name of Hasetsu?
Kubo-sensei has set a lot of her stories in Kyushu—she herself is from Sasebo. But there were two reasons. First, if they chose a place that’s famous for producing a lot of figure skaters, like Nagoya prefecture, Okayama, Kansai and even Tokyo, then viewers would assume that there’s a particular model (the location and the figure skaters)—for example, it might cause them a range of problems, like of distrust etc.
Kubo: The other reason is that Yuri’s home town isn’t exactly doing well—like, it’s a rural little area where “Katsuki Yuri is our town’s one beacon of hope!” But with that kind of setting, if you use a real town, then it’s like you’re saying bad things about that town, giving it a negative image. So we gave it the name of Hasetsu, and the rink is meant to be something that might appear in any other town that decides to build one in the future etc. But then, we thought that a town that sits under a castle would leave more of an impression on foreigners, so somewhere in Kyushu, a place with a castle, but one that hasn’t really drawn much attention as a tourist location…and that’s how we chose Karatsu. It’s also a place and a castle that’s not really that famous, there’s not much material on it (unless you go to visit). And the people (officials) of Karatsu were also pleased at the link up. We also asked Saga film commission for cooperation, but after the anime became a hit, they also helped us a lot with promoting the show down there. So we’re really thankful for that.
Toshi then asks if there were characters that were easy or difficult to write.
Kubo: JJ was really easy.
Toshi: Because he just moves of his own accord?
Kubo: Like, the lines of his monologue when he’s skating. We had his character set by the time of the audition and who was perfect for the role, well, we decided on Miyano-san. But his lines just kept flowing out, like, “JJ would say this kind of thing!” But the thing is, if top athletes don’t say that kind of thing, then they wouldn’t leave a lasting impression(?). But Yurio was also really easy to write—his appearance was the first one that we came up with. But when we thought about making him the centre of the story, he didn’t really pull weight in terms of getting the story moving. Someone like Yuri, who has some kind of weakness about him, like, that tendency to pull back; as a set with the character of Victor, Katsuki Yuri really got the story moving. We felt that so many times as we were writing, so we really were saved by Yuri in that sense. “Let’s do this, but he just wouldn’t budge.” I talk about it a bit more in the interview in the DVD/BD booklet. Like, Yurio’s got a bit of tragedy behind him, so if the story had been about him, then it would have been easy for it to head in a sad direction. We didn’t want to do that, we wanted the story to be something full of love, and that’s why we made it into the anime that it is.
Toshi: But Yurio’s relationship with his grandfather is, like, really warm.
Kubo: It is. We didn’t really go that deep into his family…it’s because we didn’t really want to make what he lacked into a handicap. And through meeting Katsuki Yuri and becoming separated from Victor, with Yakov and Lilia, his grandfather, and then later on, his new friend Otabek (“his first friend!” laughter)…there, you can see that there are people who will help him out from here on, and we wanted to leave it at that. We really wanted to write more about Otabek and Yurio, but we just didn’t have the time, especially with that final episode.
Toshi and Ucchi also find Otabek interesting, like the blunt way that he speaks, and his direct “Yes” or “No”…but with that, they’re out of time, because Kubo-sensei talked too much once again!!! The two seiyuu have to use the last few minutes of the radio to advertise the upcoming merchandise, like the BDs, and Kubo-sensei comments that she’ll be working hard on that manga extra that you’ll get if you buy all 6 discs from the same retailer! And in signing off, Kubo-sensei says that she doesn’t want to finish off cleanly here, so that they can all gather together again for YOI sometime! (Ucchi: and we haven’t chatted about Moteki yet! Kubo: or about Uchiyama “giragira” Kouki!) so…they somehow end up talking about the girls in Moteki, and who the main character actually likes—apparently Kubo has tweeted the answer to that before..?!)
And that’s all that we have from any of the creators about the ending to YOI for now…expect the next busload of information to drop in a couple of days, when Spoon 2Di comes out. And then another truckload will come out on January 10 (Animage, Animedia, Pash! etc). Unfortunately, whilst I’ve put an order in for those magazines, unless I decide to cancel and reorder the BD box set that’s coming out at the end of March, I won’t be getting them until then… I’ll see if there’s anything else I can do, but I’m making no guarantees at this point. In the meantime, I’m going to try and get through the huge backlog of interviews that has been built up because of my recent YOI obsession. There are a few more YOI interviews in there, of course, but there are several other series I’ve been dying to cover as well!
- You can DM me on Twitter or Tumblr if you like―I’m just not going to be posting any links here. ↩
- These are known as “thumbnails” in the Western comic industry. ↩
- You can read more about this anecdote in the Newtype October interview I translated for Wave Motion Cannon, which was posted this morning (my time). ↩
- Not entirely sure about this bit @~9:00. Something I’ll be looking out for when we finally get more information about production in the coming months. ↩