Yuri on Ice interview translation - Pash! 2016/12 (p14)
This is a translation of Mitsurou Kubo’s detailed commentary on episodes 1-6 (plus some about ep.8) that appeared on the Dec. 2016 Pash! issue. I wish I could’ve posted it yesterday, but I was too tired to double-check it… It’s very interesting and there’s lots of “behind-the-scenes”, so have fun reading while we wait for episode 9 (can’t wait already)!
In the magazine, some parts of the commentary are written in bold font and some in even bolder font. I recreated it with italic for the first and bold for the latter. (So yeah those are not highlighted by me, I’m just recreating how the actual article is.) The episode titles are left in Japanese because I’m not watching any sub/dub so not sure what to use as an “official” translation. As for character lines, for the same reason I’m not using the translations appeared in the sub/dub so they might be worded differently than what you are used to hear.
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***Re-translating into other languages is ok but please mention that this post is the source***
Mitsurou Kubo complete commentary!
Mitsurou Kubo-san is in charge of creating the original plan for the screenplay, in the form of a manga storyboard. We have asked her to comment on the story so far!
Episode 1 “Nan no Pirozhki!! Namida no Grand Prix Final”
-Looking back, this episode doesn’t have many gag parts compared to the others. We see Yuuri’s past, and since it was getting gloomy we tried lots of ways not to make it go too much into that direction.
-I completed the storyboard for this episode last year and it’s been quite some time since it left my side, so I was able to watch it forgetting that I’m the one who created it. That’s one of the reasons when people watch episode 1 and tell me “”YOI” is interesting” I reply “I think the same”, even though it sounds like self-praise. But indeed, I think I’m the only one that can draw this kind of story…
-The “pirozhki” in the title actually doesn’t appear in the episode (LOL), but it will come up later on.
-In the recording test for the scene where Yuuri gives his glasses to Yuuko and tells her “please watch”, Toyonaga-san played him really cool and made my heart throb (LOL). However, in the actual episode we used a version that sounds weaker. It’s no good if Yuuri starts being cool from the first episode (LOL), so I asked Toyonaga-san to make it something gradual. As the story progresses, Yuuri also becomes stronger!
-The recording of this episode is the only one I’ve been able to go to so far. I didn’t think about the voice actors at all when writing the storyboard, which resulted in Phichit’s voice actor Kenshou (Ono)-san coming to the recording even though his only line was “hahaha!”. This happened shortly after I went to see the “KuroBas” musical (where Ono-san is also starring), so I felt especially sorry for him… (LOL)
-One of the things I was going to do no matter what is to show asses in the hot springs (LOL). Though in fact, until that point I had never really drawn a guy’s ass in my manga. When I saw the finished footage I was like “this is so direct…!!” (LOL). But seriously, skaters have such a wonderful body!
Episode 2 “Futari no Yuri!? Yutopia no Ran”
-Some people realized from the preview at the end of episode 1 that Victor was going to become a coach, and I also spotted comments like “I don’t want him to quit competing!”, but that’s a hasty judgment (LOL). It was never said that he’s retiring!
-For weekly serialized manga the reader poll* is very important, and I remember one of the things I was told by my editor is that “manga whose 2nd chapter receives more praise in the poll than the 1st one tend to continue longer and become more popular”. So my hope for this episode 2 was that it would receive more praise than episode 1. And I think this actually happened.
[*translator note: Usually magazines come with a postcard where readers can choose which manga they liked the most and write comments. This actually influences the order in which manga appear in the magazine and can lead less popular ones to be canceled]
-When I wrote this episode I was still drawing freely, without thinking too much about the “30 minutes time slot” of an anime. I was told that “cutting a long story is easier than trying to expand a short story”, but when I found that just reading all lines aloud would take longer than 20 minutes, I realized that I needed to think more about the time too. Still, until episode 4 I wasn’t able to calculate time correctly.
-I’m careful not to make it look like Victor is completely guiding Yuuri with his advices, and that it shows that Yuuri is actually a person that can think about what he wants to do, that wants to create a new image for himself, and that he can come up with ideas that go slightly ahead of what Victor is thinking. As the story progresses, it should become more and more clear why Yuuri needs to be the protagonist.
-What I needed to do first of all is make it so that viewers will want to cheer for these three, and that they will never get tired of watching them talk together. Therefore, to write this episode I gathered all the skills and experience I have gained so far as an author and did my very best.
Episode 3 “Boku ga Eros de Eros ga Boku de!? Kessen! Onsen on ICE”
-The episode where eros is compared to katsudon. The original idea came to me when I heard that the choreographer Kenji (Miyamoto)-sensei, when he teaches young children how to do sensual movements, tells them to imagine “having honey on your hands”. I thought that in that case, if you absolutely cannot come up with an image for eros, you could just try to substitute it with food. Plus I also heard that foreigners like katsudon. And there’s a “katsu” in “Yuuri Katsuki” as well. I also thought it would be cool if someone felt like eating katsudon the next day, influenced by the anime… However, I actually never asked Kenji-sensei to base the choreography on katsudon (LOL). I just tried to associate katsudon to the finished choreography myself.
-Yuuri is actually quite cold-hearted. He’s someone that doesn’t really try to get into other people’s hearts, but in this episode, through the confrontation with Yurio, he became aware of a side of himself he had never experienced before.
-Figure skaters, even if they’re rivals on the ice, can be quite friendly with each other off the ice. I wanted viewers to remember “Hasetsu” as a place where Yuuri and Yurio could spend some carefree time. I added this match because it would have been sad not to see them confront each other until the GP series.
Episode 4 “Jibun wo Suki ni Natte… Kansei!! Free Program”
-I came up with this part because I didn’t want Yuuri to just dance on a FS prepared by Victor, I wanted the two of them to create it together. I wanted to show that Yuuri is not someone that just waits for others to give him everything, he becomes more active and does something creative on his own too. It’s something to which I can relate too because it’s also what I feel when creating my works, so it was easy to put my feelings into it. This is also the last episode where they are training in Hasetsu, and I wanted to make this one of the precious days Yuuri spent with Victor.
-Regarding the “hair whorl” scene, in a manga it’s something that would be explained with words, but since this is an anime I wanted to draw something that cannot be explained with words, a moment when the wall between the two falls. As sometimes Yuuri acts rudely even toward the person he admires, can’t completely open up his heart, tends to get a bit hesitant about creating something new etc, I wanted to show this somewhat irrational side of him. Wouldn’t anybody want to poke Victor’s hair!? I had the feeling that if you poked it something would change. It’s like Victor “came down to the human world”.
-We made Yuuri’s theme “love”, but actually in the beginning the concept of “skating for love” was never in my or director Yamamoto’s mind (LOL). Then we heard actual figure skaters say that “they can work hard for love”. If we hadn’t heard that we probably wouldn’t have done it because it would have looked like something forced by the creators, but if the show wasn’t about figure skating I’m sure we would never have discussed seriously about love or portrayed it anyway, and with the director we just got all hyped up about love and decided to make it the theme. The portrayal of love is a key point in this anime, and I’m glad that we could convey it clearly in this episode.
-It seems to happen especially with young Russian athletes that some of them go well when they’re young but then suddenly start getting worse results above 16-17 years old, so considering this too Yurio probably feels the flow of time in a completely different way than Yuuri.
-I like the scene where Yuuri writes “YURI ON ICE” on the CD and it connects to the title of the series. It’s actually true that you have to bring a CD to the tournaments. Kenji-sensei also used to write titles on the CDs, so I took inspiration from that. I really like episode 4.
Episode 5 “Kao Makka!! Shosen Da yo! Chuu-shikoku-kyuushuu Senshuken Taikai”
-It’s a stupid title, isn’t it (LOL). I originally put “kao makka” (bright red face) in the title referring to Yuuri feeling embarrassed when he skates Eros for the first time, but in the end he collides with a wall and his face physically becomes red, so it sounds like it refers to that.
-This is the only tournament that takes place in Japan. I wanted to show how, like Yuuri admires Victor, there are also Japanese athletes who admire Yuuri, and this is where Minami-kun shows up. But seriously, Yuuri Katsuki mostly has a cold attitude toward athletes who admire him (LOL). He doesn’t really behave like someone who is the target of admiration, and that’s why Victor scolds him. After that he finally learns to encourage his junior. This is something where Yuuri needs to grow.
-Meanwhile Victor also grows when he needs to decide how to deal with a pupil that isn’t as good as he had pictured… I’m surprised we could fit all this in one episode.
-For the first time Yuuri skates in a public tournament in front of an audience, and I had to decide from who’s point of view to write the monologues. Since in the real world you cannot hear what athletes think when skating, I thought it would be interesting to have the monologues come from Yuuri, so I chose him for the first point of view. The second part is from Victor’s point of view.
-At the time I wrote this episode I wanted to draw the storyboard properly, so I did my best to ink it as neatly as possible. I really really wanted for the production staff to see, to understand that Yuuri Katsuki is strong.
-We actually went to the Chu-Shikoku-Kyushu Regional Tournament to collect data. It’s possible to watch the tournament from right behind where athletes enter the rink and also very close to the rink, so we pricked up our ears to listen to what people actually say. We saw an athlete coming back from the rink saying “I’m sorry, I know! I know!”. I believe they wanted to show their coach that they understood what they did wrong before the coach themselves said it. There were also athletes who pulled up their zippers with shocking speed. Some of the things we saw and heard there were actually included in the anime.
Episode 6 “Grand Prix Series Kaimaku! Yacchaina Chuugoku Taikai!”
-All the athletes participating in the China tournament show up. This is the episode I was most scared it wouldn’t fit within the allowed time slot.
-One of the things I absolutely wanted to draw is the characters eating “Shanghai mitten crab” (LOL). I’m sure we and everyone else would want to eat it, and I know that athletes sometimes eat it too after the matches, so yeah. I’m glad that we included that scene, because it was an entertaining way to show that the characters have gone abroad from the start of the episode, in a part that is not directly related to the tournament. Beside that, when we went there to collect data, outside the hotel there was a food stall selling something like Taiwanese senbei (rice crackers), and we spotted the Chinese skater Yan Han eating them, so we based the scene with Guang-Hong on that.
-The players that participate in the China Tournament are all sociable, so there’s lots of chatting. Many of the songs are also catchy. On the contrary, the Russia Tournament is suddently savage (LOL). I didn’t want viewers to find the tournament scenes boring or to be unable to understand the characters, so I did my best to make it so that you could grasp a character’s personality through their skating.
-Regarding the scene where Yuuri licks his lips, in the world of figure skating athletes actually do need to show a provocative attitude toward judges. The director and I always discuss about “what would be the most unusual erotic thing Yuuri Katsuki would do?”, and that’s how I decided to draw him licking his lips.
-I created Popovich as a very artistic character, but he’s amusing (LOL). It’s also common for Russian athletes to use very loud songs or songs with sound effects.
-In my storyboard, Giacometti is skating fully naked. The director told me that the recording for this episode was awesome (LOL).
-I was very straightforward when I wrote Yuuri’s line “I’m the only one who knows Victor’s love”… (LOL). But I think that using more lukewarm expressions would just not be good for the story, so I’m determined to go all-out.
-In episode 8 J.J. is shocking (LOL). We’re not planning to create chara songs for this anime, but his SP is basically like a chara song (LOL). Of course it’s not sung by (Mamoru) Miyano-san, but he skates to a song that he requested to write for himself, and the lyrics are just the best (LOL). There are also some visual expressions that normally would be impossible to see, however it’s J.J. so it’s possible… I wanted to make him the most thoroughly strong rival character. I was the one who thought his final pose, and I hope it trends after the episode is aired… Another big highlight is Yurio’s serious agape after he becomes more refined. We had a female skater perform Yurio’s program, her hair was the same length as his and she brushed it up while skating. It would be amazing to see the same in the anime too. Another point to look forward to is the song used by Seung-Gil, who’s already popular in Korea!!
[Translator’s note: She actually doesn’t mention episode 7 at all, she just skips right to episode 8. I guess she didn’t want to make any spoiler and everything she wanted to say about it is spoiler? Well I can kind of understand… I am sure we will get comments on episode 7 too in magazines issued at a later time]