Go Yuuri Go!!! staff comments
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Yamamoto: Many of YoI’s skaters were inspired by real-life people, and Yuuri is no exception.
In Yuuri’s case, I’ve heard about someone who is usually timid, lacks confidence and believes to be mentally weak, but once he steps on ice, turns into a competitive skater who wants the audience, the judges, and the viewers from all over the world to look only at them. I found it to be a really interesting mentality and that’s where I got my idea for Yuuri from.
This Yuuri stands at the edge of the proverbial cliff - and then changes through his meeting with his hero and rival, Viktor. Thanks to this meeting, Yuuri himself starts reaching for more and more, grows stronger.
I find relationships with labels like “lovers” or “family” to be stifling, so I came up with these two characters that are not bound by names like that, who hold each other dear and who share a bond that would be difficult to replace.
As a skater Yuuri has an individual sense of rhythm, his steps his unique weapon, but even on a solid ground, he’s a great dancer. When he was young, Minako-sensei taught Yuuri the basics of ballet, and, as Viktor praises him highly, his skating feels like he is creating music with his body - it moves into dance on its own as he charms his audience.
Kubo: Yuuri is the kinda type of a glass-wearing character I draw often. (laughs) Many skaters have bad eyesight, and Yuuri too skates without his glasses. I though people would love the narrow-eyed, uneasy face he makes when trying to read his score, so I added that element, too.
I aimed for a design that would be easy for Hiramatsu to draw, so instead of deciding every detail, I drew a base that would later spring to life under Hiramatsu’s hands.
“Change” is an important aspect of Yuuri, so I gave him a seemingly ordinary appearance instead of making an easy-to-get pretty boy.
Yuuri is slightly taller than a typical Japanese person - that’s because both the director and I are around 165-170cm, and we though it’d be nice if he was taller than us. Yuuri’s eyebrows are in a slanted ハ shape, but turn sharp when he competes. Things that are easier to explain via animation, like Yuuri’s hair growing longer as the show progresses, are also present.
Hiramatsu: I made sure he looks different during his chubby and slim phases. His best body shape would be right after “Onsen on Ice”.
We based Yuuri on a typical Japanese body: he doesn’t have long legs, wide shoulders or a spectacular butt, but going with Kubo’s drawings, I gave him long arms and bony hands. Yuuri grows about 10cm taller when he dons his skating shoes, which makes his legs look longer. Yuuri’s Japanese silhouette was influenced by Yasuhiko’s style, who was in charge of many of his scenes.
Yamamoto: I think, surprisingly, there are many people like Viktor in the skating world (laughs). Viktor doesn’t care about what people around him think of him, he thinks it’s obvious that he is the center of all the attention. Viktor acts as he pleases and through it, he believes he brings joy to others.
I love it when characters like him appear out of the blue. In this case, Yuuri is the cause of Viktor’s sudden appearance. Yuuri barged into Viktor’s world that he closed himself in without noticing, believing he has to create all the new surprises. Yuuri offered Viktor a possibility he hadn’t thought about - becoming someone’s coach.
Unconsciously, Viktor is lonely, without anyone of similar circumstances, without anyone he could empathize together with. Viktor didn’t yearn for someone to understand him; he didn’t see it as a problem, but also didn’t realize how lonely he was. Yuuri is not the only one who became stronger by experiencing love - through Yuuri, Viktor learned new feelings and grew stronger.
Kubo: I challenged myself to create a character everyone would look at and find handsome, moreso than in my previous works. Viktor’s hair is silver, with some lighter streaks. At first I also thought about giving him a hair that looks silver, but once you see it from up close, turns out to be blond hair with many streaks of white hair. However, I couldn’t find enough information on how white hair grows on blondes so I gave up (laughs).
Thinking of balancing his height with Yuuri’s when they stand next to each other, I made Viktor slightly taller. I wanted Viktor’s face to be recognizable in gag scenes and so gave him a heart-shaped mouth. This is something straight out of the shojo manga era of “Tokimeki Tonight” or “Ohayo! Spank” (laughs).
I wanted there to be something unexpected in contrast to Viktor’s usual handsomeness. That aspect of him where he worries about his receding hairline, you know, where it goes slightly above the sweet spot? I wanted the viewers to watch it with a beating heart and confuse that feeling with falling in love. A suspension bridge effect. (haha)
I took heaps of inspiration for Viktor’s sexiness from Stephane Lambiel.
Hiramatsu: I paid attention to the flow and quality of his hair - and same goes for Yurio.
Viktor’s eyebrows are straight, rarely ever turn into a mountain-like shape.
Viktor’s posture is beautiful and adds to his brilliance; he sports a magnificent butt and long limbs.
Viktor has a confidence of an adult, but as someone still in his 20s, he can be quite childish. Viktor’s heart-shaped mouth was there in Kubo’s storyboards, which influenced the staff to emphasize that in the show.
Yamamoto: Russia is a country where skating can change your life - the country supports its strong skaters. When I learned that some families bet on their children or grandchildren becoming famous and make them learn skating I thought there must be many children with unrelenting spirit and a will to climb up - and created a deformed version of that in a form of a Russian badboy.
Yurio has many lines with swears, but there’s one in ep 10 that angered Viktor when Yurio implied he is now looking after a “pig”. This line goes back to my 20s - whenever I saw a pair wearing matching rings I’d think, “A pair of pigs tied with rings” (laughs). When I mentioned it to Kubo, she was like “Pigs! That’s good!” and we decided to put it in. Yurio is the only one with a potty mouth in the series, so coming up with his bad boy lines was fun.
Many growing skaters probably understand what Yurio said when he mentioned his time in his current body grows short. Girls change a lot during that period, but boys too have their muscles grow - it’s a big burden on the body that makes it impossible to perform some moves. We tried to put as many things that Yurio can only do now as we could into the show.
Kubo: There are many elements to Yurio’s design that make him popular, such as blond hair and blue eyes. He really does stand out. Looks-wise Yurio is probably most similar to Rabi from Madō King Granzort.
To quote the director, there are many elements from different skaters in Yurio. The base inspiration was Yulia Lipnitskaya. When I saw her at the rink, I realized there are many different kinds of skaters and that a more mischievous character could work too.
Yurio’s visuals were decided on early, earlier than Yuuri’s, as he is very anime-like, easy to animate. As story progresses, Yurio’s hair grows longer. I wanted to express how, when you haven’t seen him for a while, Yurio grows more and more beautiful. Is it Lilia who styles his hair, or is it Yurio himself?
Hiramatsu: Half of his face is covered with hair, which strengthens his expressions. It was fun to give emotions to that slightly visible eye. Yurio’s body is slim, girlish, with long limbs and not much muscle.
I draw him as I would draw a girl. His looks were heavily influenced by Tatenaka’s style, who was in charge of many scenes as well as the skating of our model Honoka Kawanishi. Yurio has a potential to grow, outgrowing Yuuri and reaching 180cm or so.
Yamamoto: I wanted to create a character who would share popularity with Viktor, a character overflowing with masculine charm. I wanted Chris to have this showy sexiness in him like an ice dancer, so he’s one of the taller single skaters in the series. It was so difficult to show a sexy man type of a character, as there aren’t many visual symbols associated with it. I am hoping to one day establish a new frontier of male sexiness.
Hiramatsu: Chris has a sturdy body, and the most emphasized butt in the whole series. I poured all of my drawing skills into that scene where Chris grabs and lifts his butt while skating. (laughs) Until halfway both his arms and butt are raised, and then arms go up, butt goes down, which is how I showed the butt’s bounciness.
Yamamoto: Yuuri is friends with Phichit because even if Yuuri doesn’t go to him, Phichit will come to Yuuri on his own. Yuuri doesn’t have to be suspicious of Phichit’s motives and he doesn’t show customary concern over him like Japanese people do which in turn is less stressful for Yuuri.
Yamamoto: I created JJ because I wanted a character type that falls into a “mentally a musclehead” category. JJ entered Toronto University as a top student, off season participates in charity activities. His girlfriend is his HS classmate, but as a devout Christian, premarital sex is a no-no - they’re in a pure relationship.
He often says JJ this, JJ that in conversations and in general only talks about himself. Even if he nods with understanding as someone speaks, he soon butts in and changes the topic to himself.
JJ talked to Otabek in ep10 because he found it sad that his old rinkmate was alone - couldn’t leave him out of kindness of his heart. Even when people find him overbearing, JJ believes he is doing a good deed, so it doesn’t bother him.
Hiramatsu: JJ could be considered a good catch if he just shut up. (laughs)
Yamamoto: First, I wanted a Kazakh skater to be a dark horse of the GPF and that’s how Otabek was born. There are many Russians in Kazakhstan and Russian is the official language so I thought Otabek could easily be friends with Yurio. Some Kazakh skaters are known to train in Russia, so the bit where Otabek participated in Yakov’s camp and became fascinated with Yurio came to me naturally. We created many qualities that Yurio finds cool in Otabek outside of skating - such as riding a bike and DJing.
Yamamoto: All Seung-Gil does is training, and has no interest in things beyond skating. To create a contrast with his personality, for his SP, I went with a passionate mambo. The idea to have him count his score as he skates during competition came from Kubo.
Hiramatsu: Because of his personality, I always draw him alone in the back of group images, but he still looks into the camera. (laughs)
Yamamoto: To protect his sis, Michele tries to be threatening to scare off others. This doesn’t work on Emil, so they’re on good terms.
Kubo: As an Italian who cares about appearance, I made him look like he visits a hairdresser once every two weeks.
But I also wanted to add something non-Italian to him, hence the pretty dark personality.
Hiramatsu: Michele also would be a good catch if he shut up.
Yamamoto: Emil is rarely scared and there is nothing two-faced about his personality; he doesn’t feel too down when he makes mistakes
which means he can still grow and become strong.
Kubo: I googled “Czech, male” and based Emil on one of the first pictures I found.
At the beginning Yamamoto was talking about making Emil the most handsome out of the European skaters, but I completely forgot. (haha)