DID YA KNOW? The new anime Yuri On Ice!! is generating buzz for a lot of reasons. It centers on the arguably more unconventional sport of figure skating, for one, with choreographed sequences to match. It’s also not based off of a manga, making what’s in story a mystery to viewers. But the director might be familiar to you. YOI is actually directed by Sayo Yamamoto, the woman behind another unique series, Michiko to Hatchin.
MTH was a series that took place in a fictional South American country, chronicling the adventures of protagonist Michiko Marandoro. Yamamoto has also made her name in the anime world by directing the 2012 Lupin III series, The Woman Called Fujiko Mine. Yamamoto is known for her strong creative sensibilities, as well as being one of the more well-known woman directors in recent anime history. She has previously worked on popular series such as Samurai Champloo, Space Dandy, Eureka Seven, and Texhnolyze.
Yuri on Ice interview translation - Pash! 2016/12 (p13)
Interviews from December Pash! are not over yet. This time I bring you a short interview with character designer & chief animation director Tadashi Hiramatsu that was on page 13.
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Character designer & chief animation director Tadashi Hiramatsu comment In this anime Tadashi Hiramatsu is in charge of the character designs and, for the first time in his life, he is also the chief animation director. We have asked him about his exchanges with director Sayo Yamamoto and Mitsurou Kubo-san, and about what he feels from the point of view of a chief animation director. —Could you tell us how you got involved with this anime?
I have previously worked with director Sayo Yamamoto to help with the key animation of the opening for “LUPIN the Third -Mine Fujiko to iu Onna” (2012) and the ending for “Shingeki no Kyojin” (2013). I am used to being asked to draw “cute girls”, but this time I was asked whether I would be interested in drawing “beautiful boys”. Since it was an unusual request, they got me curious. Knowing that director Yamamoto’s style is to always bring out provocative ways of expression in her works, I was hopeful that she’d come up with something interesting even with the theme of figure skating. —Did you feel anything new in your first time as the chief animation director?
The chief animation director is the one who superintends all episodes, therefore their job is to think about the flow of the story and enliven it. Until now it was common for me to entrust each episode to episode and animation directors that I’m familiar with, but this time I’m working with lots of people that I meet for the first time, so it’s quite stimulating. —What kind of requests did you receive from director Yamamoto and Kubo-san?
“Asses”. And they also gave me directions regarding the proper posture of a skater. I realized that there is an interesting gap between the graceful impression that you have of skaters and their actually well-trained bodies. From my side, I don’t remember advancing any suggestions vocally. Most of the discussion happened through the exchange of drawings. —What did you think when you first saw Kubo-san’s original character plans?
Because of her existing works, I remembered Kubo-san for her comical touch, but her designs for this anime were very elegant, so in a way I was a little surprised. I was especially impressed by Yuuri. Among so many athletes who “love themselves”, he has no confidence and always looks somewhat dim, so the way he completely transforms when he’s on the rink was intriguing. —Did you have any difficulty translating the character plans into drawings for animation?
Normally, character designs for anime tend to give importance to the physical appearance, but in Kubo-san’s sketches, beside the appearance, lots of importance was given to facial expressions and gestures, in other words details that come from the inside of the characters, and that is actually something I’m very interested in too, so it was easy for me to draw them.
—Is there anything you have found difficult when working for this anime?
Until now I’ve been involved in a few extravagant shows, so compared to that I found everyday life scenes very standard… very ordinary, in a way, so I’m actually having a good time. Regarding the figure skating scenes, the “raw gems” created by the staff in charge of the figure skating animation (Eiji) Abiko-san and (Junpei) Tatenaka-san are fantastic, and I was very careful to polish them up without ruining them.
—Who is your favorite character?
Otabek (Altin). I like that he’s difficult to understand.
—Is there a scene you are particularly attached to?
Choosing from episode 1, I would say the recollection scenes. I paid attention to portray Yuuri and the others as cute when they are children, and to draw Vicchan like a puppy should look.
—Please tell us an anecdote about the animation studio.
You often feel like eating katsudon. —Kindly leave a message for the readers!
I hope that people who are going through hardships and have lost confidence in themselves, and people who are hesitant to take a step forward because they cannot see what lies ahead, will enjoy this series.