Yūri!!! on Ice has attracted global attention from anime fans, figure skaters, and figure skating fans since its October debut. Following the story of Yūri Katsuri as he trains under the guidance of his idol, Victor Nikiforov, Yūri!!! on Ice is an original story created by mangaka Mitsurou Kubo (Moteki) and anime director Sayo Yamamoto (Michiko & Hatchin, Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine).
However, this series does not merely captures Kubo’s love of figure skating; it is also deeply connected to the real world of international competitive figure skating. Kenji Miyamoto, retired Japanese ice dancer, choreographs the skating programs for the series, and many characters resemble and are based on many real life figure skaters.
Those who want a dash of reality in their fictional work, look no further. The following is a short list of Yūri!!! On Ice characters and their potential real world counterparts.
Guang Hong Ji and Boyang Jin
Introduced in episode 6, Guang Hong is a seventeen-year-old Chinese figure skater making his senior debut this season. He had already won bronze at Skate America before competing against Yūri at the Cup of China. Considering his career, it is hard not to compare him with real life Chinese figure skater Boyang Jin.
Jin made his senior debut during the 2015-2016 Grand Prix season and received a silver medal at the 2015 Cup of China. This past spring at the International Skating Union (ISU) World Figure Skating Championship held in Boston, Boyang won bronze overall much like Guang Hong.
Phichit Chulanont and Michael Christian Martinez
Twenty-year-old Phichit, a figure skater from Thailand who trained with Yūri in Detroit, finally performed in episode 6 at the Cup of China. According to his coach, Phichit is the first Thai skater to perform to the song Shall we Skate?, and will make history for Southeast Asian skaters.
While not an exact fit, Phichit can be viewed as potentially comparable to Michael Christian Martinez. Also twenty-years-old, Martinez is a Filipino skater and the first Southeast Asian skater to compete in the Olympics. In this regard, they are both history makers for Southeast Asian figure skating. Maybe there is an Olympic future for Phichit too?
Leo de la Iglesia and Jason Brown
Hailing from America, Leo de la Iglesia is a nineteen-year-old figure skater fresh from his gold win at Skate America. Quite creative, Leo choreographed his own skate program for the season. Of note is his lack of quads during his short program. However, taking to heart the music he loves, Leo garners points from his interpretation and performance abilities.
Leo’s creativity is much like real life American figure skater Jason Brown. A skater who only recently added quads to his programs, Brown is known for his expressiveness, musicality, and the ability to make the audience feel the music as well. While he has not won gold at Skate America like his potential anime counterpart, Brown did win a bronze medal in the team event at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
Yuri Plisetsky and Yulia Lipnitskaya
Sharing the same name as the show’s protagonist, fifteen-year-old Yuri is a extremely talented and at times foul-mouthed Russian skater. He is making his senior debut during the series and is by far one of the youngest skaters in the Grand Prix.
Yūri!!! on Ice’s storyboarder Kubo stated in an interview published in the October issue of PASH that Yuri is modeled after Russian figure skater Yulia Lipnitskaya. Currently eighteen years old, Lipnitskaya is also a young powerhouse skater and the youngest skater to ever win a gold at the Olympics at fifteen years old.
Victor Nikiforov and Evgeni Plushenko and John Cameron Mitchell
Victor, winner of five consecutive World Championships, Grand Prix, and many other competitions, is the rockstar-esque and legendary retired Russian figure skater who decided to coach Yūri. With that record, isn’t difficult to find discern Victor’s potential real life counterpart.
Plushenko, four-time Olympic medalist, three-time World Champion, and four-time Grand Prix Final champion, is a legend with an attitude in his own right. Notable as well is how Victor rests his forefinger like he is signaling “hush” that appears to be a nod to Plushenko hush of the crowd in Sochi 2014 Olympics. However, Victor as Plushenko could be up for debate. According to a tweet from Victor’s voice actor Junichi Suwabe, Plushenko is not a model for Victor. Is Victor so legendary no one in real life can touch him?
Victor is also partially based on American actor John Cameron Mitchell. In a tweet from Kubo, when she first thought about Victor’s visual design last year, she thought of Mitchell, an actor she saw during a trip to New York.
Yūri Katsuki and ???
Who is Yūri’s real life counterpart? According to Kubo, Yūri is not merely one Japanese figure skater. Rather, she wanted him to be a character that could reflect all Japanese figure skaters and also be appreciated as a character on his own.
However, it is easy to find bits and pieces of other skaters in Yūri. As seen in numerous fan made videos, Yūri’s short program Eros matches Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyū 2014 Sochi Olympic Short Program. Beyond Hanyū, figure skater Tatsuki Machida influenced the series and potentially Yūri. The retirement of figure skater Tatsuki Machida’s retirement partially inspired Kubo to create the series and make it successful.
Yuri on Ice delves into drama, friendship, and joy within the world of competitive figure skating. With new characters and competitions to go, the excitement is only beginning. But for those who want more figure skating, the world is filled with talented skaters from all over the world. Be sure to check them out too!
Want to know more about Yuri!!! on Ice?
Yuri on Ice!!! website : http://yurionice.com/
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