MAPPA’s Yuri!!! on ICE is helmed by Sayo Yamamoto and Mitsurou Kubo. This is Kubo’s first foray into the world of anime production. Originally she made a name for herself as the mangaka of Again!! and Moteki. On the other hand, Sayo Yamamoto is mainly known for directing the series Michiko & Hatchin and Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine.
I translated an article of the presentation talk with the two creators. This article was originally published on Comic Natalie on March 27, 2016.
Yuri!!! on ICE’s theme is the Grand Prix series, Mitsurou Kubo drew a large amount of rough manga drafts
The production presentation of “Yuri!!! on ICE”, the new original animation by Mitsurou Kubo, Sayo Yamamoto and MAPPA was held on March 27 in Tokyo Big Sight, inside the avex pictures booth during “AnimeJapan 2016”.
Yuri!!! on ICE’s theme is men’s figure skating. Mitsurou Kubo, known for “Moteki” and “Again!!”, handles the draft. Yamamoto Sayo, who is known as the director for series such as Michiko & Hatchin and Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, directs the anime series. Kubo and Yamamoto came together and took the stage in the production presentation. On the details of the work being released at this presentation, Kubo said: “I have a loose tongue and I wanted to talk about it on Twitter the whole time. For about two years I pretended not to work and kept my mouth shut (lol). There are plenty of things we’d like to show you.” The expectations of the public rose.
The Promotional Video and the Cast of Yuri!!! on ICE
After they showed a one minute PV to start with, the public in the assembly hall applauded at its quality. When Kubo excitedly said, “(The PV is one minute, but) you can see 30 minutes of this!”, the moderator joked, “So that’s only 30 minutes of animation, huh.” Today was also the first time they could show the visuals. Kubo excitedly said, “This is the first time I became involved with an anime. I am incredibly happy to show my drawings in the form of animation.”
The main cast consists of Toyonaga Toshiyuki who plays Katsuki Yuuri, Suwabe Junichi who plays Viktor Nikiforov, and Uchiyama Kouki who plays Yuri Plisetsky. Kubo commented on the voice actors. “Our first hopes were met.” Katsuki Yuuri is Japanese and the other “Yuuri” Yuri Plisetsky is Russian. She commented on Viktor Nikiforov who is also Russian. “He’s a strong skater and considered a living legend.” This trio plays a central role in developing the story.
Kubo wrote the script of “Yuri!!! on ICE” in so-called “name”, which are rough drafts of manga. “I’ve drawn all of the episodes,” Kubo said. She had drawn a total of 900 pages of manga drafts which are not publicly available and are only for the staff’s eyes. The first episode amounts to about a little less than 80 pages. If she likened it to a weekly serialization, it would be packed with story material of 4 chapters worth.
The Influence of Sochi 2014
Also, concerning starting up the project, Yamamoto turned around and said: “Although I had the plan of wanting to create a figure skating anime 4 years ago, it didn’t pass easily. They told me that it would be simply too difficult to do it as a television anime series.” And then, “In 2014 the interest in figure skating grew due to the Sochi Olympics[ref]Read more about the popularity of figure skating in Japan on this website: On Thin Ice: Figure Skating in Japan and Some Popular Japanese Skaters.[/ref], and the project easily went through.”
“At this time I talked to Kubo-san about figure skating on All Night Nippon[ref]All Night Nippon is a late night radio show broadcast by Nippon Broadcasting System.[/ref]. If I want to create an original anime, I have to look for a person who will create strong original draft for me. In normal cases, I work together with a scriptwriter. But I thought that it could go well if I asked a favor from Kubo-san.”
The two recalled the moment they formed a tag team. Kubo said, “I thought, if I were going to take part in an anime production for the first time, I would want to give it my all. I don’t want to only do something like creating the character design drafts for a brief period of time.” Also, she said her knowledge about figure skating was shallow at first, having only seen it on television. But since then she studied extra hard.
“We asked Miyamoto Kenji-sensei to choreograph”
Yuri!!! on ICE depicts the Grand Prix Series. Regarding the story, Yamamoto revealed, “The story is about aiming for the Grand Prix final”. Kubo enthusiastically said: “It’s not the kind of story about people who start out figure skating and gradually become better at it. We want to depict figure skaters who aim for the top.” To collect data on Grand Prix series matches, which mainly take place abroad, they went to see the those places in the flesh. The two enthusiastically talked about the data collection: “Barcelona, Russia, Beijing, Shanghai… We went to Barcelona twice. We took photographs and and videos by ourselves.” Again, regarding the depiction of figure skating, Yamamoto stated: “We used up an awful lot of sheets. Everything is hand drawn without the use of 3D.”. She revealed her obsession: “We asked Miyamoto Kenji-sensei to choreograph all show programs. We are recording all of those.”
Lastly, Kubo said: “I would like to create a work in which you’ll come to love all three characters, and enjoy the figure skating. I didn’t announce a manga which I have drawn, but it’s currently my greatest joy. I threw all of my strength into this work as a staff member in these two years.” Yamamoto finished with: “I approached figure skating as well as animation with my sincere feelings. So I am doing my best to create something that will satisfy fans of both sides.”