MAPPA Producer Otsuka Manabu on the charm of Yuri!!! on ICE

Having writers’ block and what I’ll call “translators’ block” at the same time ain’t fun. I won’t promise anything—except Animestyle sometime before August, hopefully—but in the meantime, let me continue on this quest to translate all the Yuri!!! on ICE interviews that I can get my hands on.

This interview was published on November 2, 2016 on Mantan-web’s Anime Questionnaire, a column that probes creators about the charm of shows that are the talk of the town. In it, MAPPA Producer Otsuka Manabu shares what he thinks viewers should pay attention to as the characters head into the Grand Prix (episode 5 and onwards).

Personally, I found this interview to be pretty vague, which is to be expected given that it was published online just four weeks in. However, Otsuka did mention a lot of the elements that I personally found fascinating: the animation, the music, the figure skating choreography and most of all, the out-of-this-world characters. It is in no way a must-read, but it does contribute to the canon of interviews that continue to paint a picture of what the creators were focused on in Yuri!!! on ICE.

Also, in other news, I did write a 4,000-word essay on what I loved about this show, and it’s finally been published thanks to Josh on WMC. It might be a bit controversial, but I hope you will give it a read.

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Usual disclaimer applies: This translation is entirely my own work. Please do not copy and paste large parts of it elsewhere, though feel free to link to it if you wish. —karice

Anime Questionnaire: Yuri!!! on ICE

A hitherto unseen charm, stretching the limits of a TV series

—Could you give us an overview of the show and it’s appeal?

This anime is a show that depicts the growth and efforts of figure skaters through their sport, with a sense of realism that vividly reminds you of the real Grand Prix series, with laughter and sexiness mixed in. The delicate depiction of figure skating and the highly individualistic characters that writer Kubo Mitsurou and Director Yamamoto Sayo have come up with and projected onto our screens have a charm that hasn’t yet been seen, I don’t think. We’re leveraging the characters’ personalities rather freely in order to depict their relationships with each other, so I’d say that it’s worth watching at least once.

—What have you endeavoured to keep in mind in turning this into an anime?

We tried to place great importance on the attitude of tackling the challenge of animating figure skating head on. This was the element that the director cherished the most, so we threw ourselves into it in order to bring out her feelings in the finished film. But it really was incredibly difficult, so there were many parts where we struggled. We ended up stretching the limits of a TV series, so we might well have gone a little overboard.

—Did you devise something new in order to depict the figure skating scenes?

With the figure skating scenes, we have to mention three people: Kenji Miyamoto, who came up with the actual choreography and skated most of it, and Tatenaka (Junpei) and Abiko (Eiji), the two animators at the centre of the team turning that into animation.1 On top of that, we had the CG staff who did their absolute best supporting them. Since the animation that made it to the screen was all hand-drawn, you might think that this was all done traditionally. But there were lots of people involved in the process, and what you see is the result of a lot of trial and error.

—In making this anime, was there anything that you were particularly happy about? And anything that was particularly difficult?

I’m glad that viewers have responded really well to it. We have always kept the audience reaction in mind, but because we don’t know for certain until the show actually airs, there’s always this vague sense of worry hanging over us… I’m really glad with how everyone has reacted to the first half of the show. As for what was difficult—giving form to the demands of people who have an aberrant talent. Since they’re not normal, they can delight people, but now we’re frantically clinging to them so as not to be thrown off.

—Please tell us what you think we should look forward to from here on out.

Many new skaters will be introduced from episode 5 onwards. For each and every one, the music staff have poured their souls into creating wonderful songs that Miyamoto-san has choreographed programs to, bringing the orders that the director and Kubo-san placed into existence. And using that, the animation staff have frantically worked, to the last minute, to bring it to the screen, so I hope that you will enjoy it. Furthermore, Yuuri, Victor and Yurio are also going to be fighting in their own ways in the Grand Prix series, so I would be incredibly grateful if you would cheer them all on.

—Finally, please leave a few words for the fans.

There are parts that aren’t complete yet, but I really do think this is a show where you ask if you can make it or not once every few years. If you told me to make it every year, I’d tell you that it was impossible. In the story, we depict the ephemeral sparkle of Yuuri and Yurio’s competitive careers, but the animation staff have also decided that this is an anime that they can make only now, precisely at this time. And I will battle to the very end to ensure that the thoughts and feelings of each of these staff are conveyed to those of you who have chosen to accompany us.

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  1. As per protocol in figure skating, I’ve used (first name) (surname) for Miyamoto, and traditional Japanese name order for everyone else. 

About karice
MAG fan, freelance translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

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