RL Japanese skaters on Yuri!!! on ICE part 1

ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating - Ljubljana Day 2

Kazuki Tomono of Japan competes during the Junior Men Free Skating on day two of the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating on September 23, 2016 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. (Photo by Joosep Martinson – ISU/ISU via Getty Images)

Well, here’s my first translation from the guidebook. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I chose to start on the real life skaters that Figure Skate Life interviewed: this time, I present the young bloods Ryuju Hino, Kazuki Tomono and Koshiro Shimada!

(NB: You can find full translations of the interviews with Evgenia Medvedeva, Stéphane Lambiel and Deniss Vasiļjevs translated by @soukatsu_ here.)

Ryuju Hino (p.79)

He normally does not watch anime—even Evangelion is something he has yet to watch—but despite that, he has seen Yuri!!! on ICE. The reason that this anime fascinates skaters is something that can be discerned from Hino’s comments.

“There were many realistic parts that you would not know about if you only watched our competitions.”

Do you know of the anime called Yuri!!! on ICE?

I do—it’s pretty interesting. Even the scores that they get are pretty realistic, too. And I could feel something of Kenji-sensei in the choreography.

The choreography does have Kenji-sensei’s hallmarks, doesn’t it? In Yuuri Katsuki’s short program, for example.

Like this bit (dances a little).

And how he uses his hands.

He’s got some of Kenji-sensei in him, huh?

Was the show interesting to you even as a skater?

Quite. It was all very realistic, like, the composition of the (skating) programs and the mental state of the skaters during the competitions. Depending on the competition, your mental state might change as well, and there are skaters who are really influenced by that. I could feel that the protagonist, Yuuri Katsuki, was such a skater, someone really sensitive in parts. Different skaters have different mentalities. And this was shown in a number of scenes in this show, so it felt incredibly real. This is a show that covers many things in figure skating that you really cannot know if you just watch competitions. If you watch this anime and then watch some competitions in real life, you might find them more interesting then before!

Profile: D.O.B. February 12, 1995. From Tokyo. Hino competed in the Grand Prix Series for the first time during the 2016-17 season, at the NHK Trophym and came 4th at Japanese Nationals, and 6th at Universiade 2017. Having graduated from Chukyo University, he plans to continue figure skating as a fully participating member of society.

Kazuki Tomono (p.81)

“If it’s about Yuri!!! on ICE, please ask me whatever you want! It’s true to reality—watching it, there was nothing that felt strange. Even the details of what happened at the regional competition seemed real plausible, so it was all very interesting.” It’s clear that Tomono has watched the show with a keen eye from beginning to end.

“The movement in the skating scenes was really amazing, such that I became quite worried for the animators.”

Could you tell us what you think of the show?

I like watching anime when I’ve got a bit of free time, so I knew beforehand that someone was making a show about figure skating. But since we’d never had one before, no one had any clue what it’d be like, right? Capturing figure skating in animation is difficult, so in all honesty, I was like “Will it be alright?” (laughs). And so, at first, I was just going to watch it for fun. But when I learned that that cast was full of stars, and that Kenji-sensei was doing the choreography, I was like “Whoa. They’re serious, huh? (chuckles). When I watched the first episode on TV and saw all the movement in the opening sequence, I just went “Wow,” and the hook at the end of the first episode also just drew me in. Like “this looks real interesting, huh?” To me, what was most impressive was the animation, that fluidity just had me going “Are the animators all still alive?” Furthermore, it was amazing how you could see the character’s edge work so clearly as well. The story is also authentic and interesting, so I really watched it with great interest.

Do you have any favourite characters?

I saw on Twitter that people were talking about how Minami was like me, so he’s one of my favs (chuckles). Yurio, too. The way he’s a bit of a tsundere also made him stand out in an interesting way. And there are also characters that you suspect are based on certain skaters, which was also interesting to watch for. Like “Victor might be Plushenko, perhaps?” or “It’d be nice if Minami was based on me.” Doubt he is though (chuckles). Oh, and personally, I really like Popovich. The way he just puts all of his personal feelings into his performances was just really amusing. I really love him—I burst out in laughter just watching him (chuckles).

Finally, could you leave a message for the fans?

I think it’d be wonderful if any anime fans watch this and become interesting in figure skating as a result, going skating themselves or coming to watch our competitions, so I’m very grateful for this show. And if they watch my performances and become my fans, I’d be very happy (laughs). I’m going to keep doing my best so that they will become more interested in figure skating.

Photo caption: On Minami–“When I first watched it, I thought ‘Huh? He’s pretty similar to me,’ and people I know have also said that he’s a bit like me.”

Profile: D.O.B. May 15, 1998. From Osaka. Tomono is the Japanese Mens Junior Champion, and also came 5th in the senior competition. He came 9th at the Junior World Championships. Tomono has had a reputation as a performer since he was a novice skater, and he’ll be skating in the senior devision in the next season.

Koshiro Shimada (p.81)

Shimada says that he likes the choreography and the performances of this show. But to tell the truth, “I think about a lot of things before competitions, so mentally, I’m kinda similar to Yuuri (laughs).” Another link between them is the theme of “love,” as Shimada has been skating as Romeo in his free program this season.

“A trusting relationship with one’s coach is a skater’s dream.”

Could you tell us what you think of this anime?

I felt that it was authentic and filled with rich content. The feelings of the skaters also felt real, and stuff like ‘what should you do if this happens to you before a competition’ made it really interesting to watch as a skater. I also liked how the ending gave you the feeling that this story still continues, because Yuuri wasn’t able to win gold, coming second instead.

Emotionally, which parts in particular did you think felt real?

The parts that made you think “this is a good idea” or “this is a bad idea” or “if you put these two together, you’ll become stronger.” Also, everyone has something that he or she is missing, and this show really made me think about that as a skater. Though Yuuri is weak, he trusts in Victor and moves forwards. And the point he reaches at the end, where he’s gazing ahead with those strong feelings, I think the show really hits the nail on the head there. But most of all, I felt that the idea of trusting your coach fully and having confidence in yourself and becoming stronger as a result is probably an dream that all skaters have.

And I’ve heard that you skated to “In Regards to Love ~Eros~” at a recent recital show.

It’s something I did after the thought just crossed my mind, for a small recital show in my hometown. I watched the video and remembered the choreography, and got permission from Kenji Miyamoto-sensei. So I really had no idea about the reaction and stuff. Though I heard from a friend that it even ended up as the top news piece on Yahoo at one point (laughs).1

Photo caption: He skated Eros at a recital show in Okayama, but “That was something I did for fun, and I have no plans to perform it anywhere else.”

Profile: D.O.B. September 11, 2001. From Ehime Prefecture. Shimada came 2nd at Junior Nationals in 2016, and 7th at the senior competition. In 2017, he competed at the Junior World Championships for the first time, and came 14th. From here on, Shimada will be one of the representatives of the Japanese junior men on the world stage.


  1. Yahoo has pretty much died in the West, but Yahoo Japan is still the country’s no. 1 search engine, or at least, it’s one of the top sites. 

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

2 Responses to RL Japanese skaters on Yuri!!! on ICE part 1

  1. inksquid43 says:

    What struck me was Tomono musing “the animation was so fluid, are the animators still alive?” (苦笑)

    Like

    • karice says:

      LOL. Yeah, I love that Kazuki can tell how impressive it is, because that’s probably the most difficult thing about animating figure skating. Unlike a lot of action series, where actions are short and ‘sharp’, so to speak, figure skating has long segments of continuous motion with less variation in speed. I remember Tatenaka mentioning that animating spins is actually quite difficult (he was really impressed with Abiko’s work, especially on Yuuri’s spins), and I suspect it’s because of things like this.

      Like

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