I kno everyone speaks Japanese in the show bc it's a Japanese show, but I've looked through the wiki and I don't think Viktor actually knows Japanese??? It's not listed among his known languages in the trivia section (Russian, English, and French). I couldn't find what languages Yuuri speaks but it's likely he knows English from living in the states, so maybe they communicate through English??? I bet Viktor learns Japanese over time, but I don't think he already knows it at the beginning.
Hey there!!! So, I scoured the net to find both canon and fanon sources. In this interview it’s confirmed that Yuuri and Viktor use English as base language of communication, and they’re both fluent. As you said, though, it’s also confirmed that Viktor’s fluent in Russian, English and French. Nothing is said about Japanese. In that regard, this post is super interesting. I’ll quote some of the tl;dr points here for practical reasons:
- When Victor speaks Japanese he sounds like a foreigner
- Victor maybe has rudimentary Japanese skills, but not enough for him to understand or participate in complex discussions. (Example: ep 4, when he has to ask Yuri what everyone is talking about.)
- Every person Victor has had an in-depth conversation with so far has good English skills.
So, from auditory cues we can tell that Viktor does actually know a little bit of Japanese, but his conversational skills are stilted at best. He uses English to communicate with Yuuri, Minako, the Nishigoris and other international skaters. I guess he does too with Mari? The funny thing about this is that, while in Hasetsu, people like Yuuri’s parents will most likely speak dialectal Japanese, which is harder to grasp and understand than regular Japanese, much less to learn.
Let’s keep in mind that Viktor already knows cyrillic and the roman alphabet, and has probably been studying English and French since he was 8/9 years old (even younger, if he was home schooled). Nonetheless, the fact that he’s fluent in both is still no small feat. If anything, I’d say he has a knack, or we can call it a talent, at grasping the basics and going with it. So a wild guess, before going to Japan he took like some online courses real quick to learn a general knowledge of it, for example how to ask for the bathroom and directions and food, drilled some useful vocabulary into his head and flew out because he just couldn’t make Katsuki Yuuri wait, now, could he? Once he got there, his skills gradually improved with time and practice. Actually, I really like thinking that he started learning Japanese directly after the banquet because he fell so hard he wanted to shorten the cultural distance between them immediately. (I read a marvelous fic about the whole language topic, I absolutely recommend it, it’s Repeat After Me by queenieofaces)
And now, my hcs on the thing because of course.