AnimeNEXT 2017 – Yuri!!! on Ice with MAPPA panel (sunday)

Thankfully, the panel started on time and the host began with the same introduction as the day before. Yuri!!! on Ice is a 2016 anime about male figure skating created by Kubo Mitsuro-sensei and director Yamamoto Sayo. He jumped right into the intros of the guests from left to right of the stage with producer Ogawa Takahiro in charge of the animation schedule, prop designer Ito Noriko (designer for the cellphone covers as well as Yuuri and the triplet’s explanations,) color designer Hirose Izumi, animation director and many of the skating scenes Tatenaka Junpei.

As opposed to the Q&A the day before, the focus of the panel was for the creators to show how the show was made. They started with the opening ‘History Maker’ like the previous panel. Interestingly, though there was singing, it was not as loud as yesterday. I guess everyone was more focused on the screen rather then joining in. There were loud cheers for the showing though.

    Ogawa: Good morning! Thank you for being here today. Today I would like to show you a little of what we do to make the series along with prop designer Ito Noriko-san, color designer Hirose-san and animator Tatenaka-san. *points to the design papers in front of Ito-san to the applause of the audience*

As they spoke, Ogawa-san would assist with the PowerPoint presentation of sketches. Some of it was in color..

    Ito: I will start. I did alot of the designs for the items of the characters, like the cellphones, and the scenes for the major characters as well as the triplets.

Ito began with skate sketches for each skater. She started with Yuuri’s skate shoes based on real skating shoes by Kozuki (sp?) Sports. The designs of the blades are also based on real designs. The colors of the skates were shown. Ito noted that once the designs are finalized, they are given to the animators so they can draw with the same designs.

    Ito: Note the scratch marks on the boots. Yamamoto-san actually looked up what actual scratch marks will appear on heavily used skating shoes.

The fans applauded when she show the iconic IPhone 6s sketches of Yuuri’s cellphone. The differences was that the cellphone was blue with Viichan being brown instead of the usual blue. Ito noted that it was like the Sanrio style. There were some rough drafts for Yamamoto-san and Kubo-sensei to choose. There were some failed designs with a single Viichan in the middle of the case as well as a dozen Viichans on the phone. Ultimately, Kubo-sensei chose the one we all know to be Yuuri’s case.

The screen changed to Yurio’s and Victor’s cases. Apparently, they have IPhone 6s plus. “The information from the director was that Yurio’s like a yankee style. *audience laughs* So we went with a tiger.”

The sketches were shown first and then the color schemes. Ito pointed out that Victor’s case was based off of his Free Skate outfit. A few different designs for his case was shown. “After I came up with this design, his clothing design changed so I had to change it again. *audience laughs* So we came up with the final one.”

The cases for the triplet’s iPhone 6s were shown to the awwws of the fans. There were a couple of designs for the cases which were mainly Victor cases since they were huge fans. One of the case has Victor raising a hand up, Victor reaching to you, arms crossed. “Based on my drawings, the character designer Hiramatsu Tadashi made some corrections. Here is the before and after. We did a final drawing of this before it was given to the animators.” Ogawa added, “This is the final cut.” The color sketches and the final with colors of Phichit’s phone was shown in green sketches to the awws from the audience. Ito noted that she was only instructed by the director that he likes hamsters. *audience laughs* The color schemes were shown for Phichit’s phone as well as the triplet’s phones.

Ogawa moves on to the next slide, introducing it simply as “Now is…katsudon.” *audience laughs* Ito noted that it was a very important item with alot of orders from director Yamamoto. Ogawa quipped “She said that this was Yuuri Katsuki’s favorite dish. We need to make it delicious. Starting with the first draft, we’re going to show you correction after correction, after correction.” *audience laughs* Ito added that the comment that Yamamoto made in response was “Please make it look more eros.” *audience laughs* “Please make the egg part more fluid like lava. Not classy.” *audience laughs* Sketches were shown of each part of the katsudon. Each ingredient listed was a different color. More and more pics were shown. “You can see that the katsudon is shown more and more overflowing from the bowl. Hiramatsu-san had to make some more corrections to make the egg even more fluid.”

She spoke as she flipped the pics up and down to show the differences and changes in the sketches. The final anime color was shown. Hirose noted that they had to focus on how to make the egg look not over cooked, but undercooked so it has fluidity. Ito noted that the color for the egg white and egg yolk was different. There is even differences in the egg white which is cooked and the part that is undercooked with the cooked yolk. “All different coloring techniques. Hirose-san had to color this. That is how katsudon came about.”

    Host: I have to ask, how much katsudon did you guys actually eat?
    Ito: There is actually a really delicious katsudon place near the studio. But just once. We did go eat conbini katsudon.
    Ogawa: For the first episode recording, we decided to order for delivery. Everybody ordered katsudon. *audience laughs* We were very happy that everybody was looking at the image thinking ‘That looks so good, I must get katsudon.’ *audience laughs*

Everyone awwed and cheered when Ito show the Makkachin tissue box plush and sketches. Ito-san was very proud and pleased when she noted “I designed this myself.” Ogawa explained the next sketches of ‘Phichit on Ice’ show that he wanted. *audience laughs* The clip for the dream show that Phichit wanted to have was shown. *audience applauds*

Ito noted the differences in the BD release to the tv broadcast version, pointing out that Phichit’s hat has more a shine to it. “Even the elephant in the background has more sparkly eyes. It was an improvement.” *audience laughed* Ito noted that she didn’t get any rough draft from Yamamoto to make the designs, so Ito came up all the designs herself. Ito show some more costume sketches with sweets hat noting that the style was supposed to be “Harajuku kawaii style” since she was told that he likes Harajuku and hamsters. Ito thought up putting sweets, cupcakes and mixing it up with the Thailand theme. The sketches of the skaters were shown with the hamster hats. The skaters outfits were blue and pink. The last picture brought out cheers from the crowd. Ito noted that JJ was holding a magazine while doing the JJ style. The magazine cover show Hanyu Yuzuru doing JJ style as well. *audience applauded* Hirose spoke about the color of Yuzuru’s JJ style.

Hirose noted that Yamamoto talked about what she wanted on the costume as well as the design she picked out. Ogawa noted that Ito was told to have the designs done, but she forgot until the morning when it was due, so she had to rush it. *audience laughed and applauded*

Ogawa introduced Hirose-san who color coordinated the show. “I’m Hirose-san who did the color design for the series.” She show the color of the character model charts that they usually use for the series. She noted that Yuri!!! on Ice was difficult since there were so many characters and outfit designs for the series. “Compared to regular series, there were three times as many character references for colors.” They show Yuuri in his regular outfit, then with his jacket. The audience loved the picture of his as a young child on skates.

Hirose also show the bottom of the skates. She pointed out that there were bolts on the bottom of the skates and depending on the skater, some are bolted and some are not. She noted that is something real life skaters do because it depends on how they skate. “The directors wanted to make it as real as possible. If the bottom of the shoe was visible, we wanted to make sure it was consistent for each character.” Ogawa shared that he thought that details was a little too much.

Hirose show the blade covers for each skater. The director picked which colors went best with each costume and matched the characters. The audience awwwed with Guang Hong’s pic and laughed when Chris was shown. “We wanted it to stand out with interesting colors.” Next was Leo, Phichit and then George.

Hirose noted that the costumes were done by actual skating and ballet design companies, Chacott Pro. They create a rough draft and show them to MAPPA. From a couple of design options, the final one was chosen.

    Q: Were there any outfits that were physically made?
    Hirose: No, just the design and not the actual outfit.

Ogawa show a design that actually came from Chacott. A rough draft was shown from Photoshop CS2. Ito noted that since she needed to design Victor’s cellphone cover, she was given the rough draft for Victor’s final design. However when it changed from one with buttons on the front to the one with the gold threads in the front.

Hirose spoke about the blue and white scenes near the beginning of the series. “That was what we called it during the production: blue and white.” Hirose show the original background scene in color, then the background colors as well as the colors of the characters were changed as ordered by director Yamamoto, ‘Milky.’ *audience laughed* Ogawa noted that they were all confused at that order. Hirose added that they were able to get an okay from the director from just the first draft. Ogawa supplied that Hirose actually worked with Yamamoto-san the longest so they communicate well. Hirose quipped “When everyone else is confused, I’m like, ‘Oh, I understand!'” *audience laughed* Ogawa noted, “So when we are confused, we usually go to Hirose-san.” *more laughter*

The audience awwed with Guang Hong’s screenshots of his free skating scenes. “We wanted to make it like a black and white film, with limited color.” The fans laughed when George’s free skate dream shots were shown, with George as the prince trying to save Anya the sleeping princess. First the original with color was shown and the next was with the change of color with the purple and dark overlay of the scene. “We wanted to add more of a grainy texture to this. I added a couple of options of color.” The final cut of the scene was shown. The close up of George’s face was shown. “We had a couple of options of how much of George’s face we wanted to make visible.” The few lighting options were shown with the final. Ogawa shared that his favorite character is actually George. *audience laughed and applauded*

    Q: Does most scenes have that wide variety of options? Or was it just particularly difficult ones?
    Hirose: When I’m the one designing, I do a couple of options.

    Q: So that is not typical of all designers?
    Hirose: Everyone is different. I usually give a couple of options. Director Yamamoto particularly likes to see a lot of options. In episode 1, there were 40 different times where I had to come up with several options for those scenes, making 120 in total. It was almost like a movie. That is not typical of a 30 minute anime.
    Ito: Since director Yamamoto likes seeing options, it’s not just with color but props as well. I usually make a couple of prop designs for her to choose from.
    Ogawa: We actually requested of her if we could do a little bit less…she said no. *audience laughed*

The last episode character boards were shown along with the last scene on the bridge as well as the exhibition skate of Yuuri and Victor to the cheers and applause of the fans. There were a few options of whether Victor and Yuuri should have a black shirt or a white shirt under the outer layer of the costumes. “We decided to go with black.” The scene with and without lighting was shown. Ogawa shared that they changed the color of the characters based on the lighting of the scene so that it matches the tone. He pointed out a handwritten note at the top of the paper from Hirose to Yamamoto, “Is this okay?” *audience laughed*

Hirose noted that the colors of the clothing changes depending on the scene of the episode. From episode 11, various characters in various setting backgrounds were shown. Ogawa pointed out that Yamamoto wanted the characters to have different clothing since as in real life, they don’t wear the same clothes. “To make it realistic, we change to color to match the scenes and we have different clothes. Actually, because we were in the production for so long, I had to wear the same clothes for a few days.” *audience laughed*

There was scattered applause when the real photo of ice skater Stephane Lambiel was shown as well as his scene from the anime. “Three different options for his mustache.” The fans awwed when the pics of the sleeping triplets in ep11 and episode 12 with family and Minami watching the GPF competition on tv was shown. “To make it look like a different day, the colors changed.” Ogawa suggested that fans can watch the series again focusing on the little changes.

Ogawa noted that they get alot of questions about character’s eye color. Hirose clarified that when they were deciding on the irises of the main characters’ eye colors, they wanted to make it special. “I actually met a person in real life with orange eyes with a green shadow. He was Japanese and his eyes left an impression on me. They were special looking eyes. When deciding on eye color, I went up to director Yamamoto and suggested that they change the overtone to the undertone to get a special look. Her response was, ‘Yes, that’s great!'” *audience laughed* A close up of Yurio’s eyes were shown. “Yurio’s is blue eyes with a green shadow gradient. And Yuuri’s is brown with a gray a gradient. All the main characters have that gradient. Victor’s is two toned type of blue.” The fans applauded as Ogawa announced the end of the color portion.

Ogawa turned our attention to figure skating animator, Tatenaka. *audience applauded* “Hello, I’m Tatenaka.” He noted that he doesn’t have any rough drafts or designs like the others. He explained that he was jetlagged the day before which brought out awws of sympathy from the crowd. “I woke up at 3am…and drew something.” *audience applauded* He shared that extra for the Japanese BD release was Yurio’s exhibition skate. “I did a couple of sketches from different angles.” Using the projector, Tatenaka-san presented some key animation sketches that show the progression of a shot when you turn the pages like a flip book. It amazes me every time that even with the advance in animation and CG, scenes are still drawn in hand, second by second, change by change by the turn of the page. Different parts of Yurio’s skating were shown to the awws and applause of the fans. Cheers erupted as the drawing reveal details with Yurio raising his arms and showing a turn on the ice. Even in rough sketches, the animation took form. Amazing at 3am!

    Tatenaka: When I first started in this industry, I started with Disney Japan, working on the tv production. I’ve been in the industry about 20 years. I had to learn alot of techniques. I focus alot on the character’s heads. You focus alot on the character’s face, so I wanted to make sure the focal point is beautiful and is as well drawn as possible. That is where I mostly focus on the drawing of the skaters. Then the clothing and hair. How the hair flows. It completes the animation when the clothing flows with the movement. There is a time lag when the body moves, the hair and clothing follows it. When done properly, it completes the movement.

Tatenaka continues to describe the different details he focuses on, big movement as opposed to small movements. Showing a part of the skate where Yurio turns, he notes that the upper body moves alot, but the hand does not as much. He show the two changes in scenes, noting that the scenes need to be connected. “We make sure the two images flow together. *pause* I never imagined that I would do this kind of talk in the United States.” *audience laughed* “I feel like I will cry a little bit.” *audience awwed and applause*

Ogawa shared that he will show Yurio’s exhibition skate extra that was only on the Japanese BD extras to the applause of the fans. First, the actual sketch by Tatenaka was shown. Rough sketches still show the movement and details of the skate and fans were still excited when Otabek appeared. It cuts when Otabek looked down. It’s exciting and rare to actually see the sketch draft of the animation. Hirose’s exhibition skate character board was shown with the original colors of the characters and clothing along with the final cut under the lighting, hue during the actual performance. Although the lights are purple, it actually has a blue undertone. It’s amazing to think about how the lighting of the scene changes the color since the true color of the clothing is shown. Makes you think about how many cosplay outfits are actually wrong if a certain character is only seen under one light. For example, Otabek’s outfit is actually lighter in color and not completely brown. His gloves in the scene was perceived to be black is actually brown. (So many cosplayers need to revamp their cosplays now. These concepts of lighting actually apply very heavily in photography as well.) As expected, Otabek’s character board was met with much applause to the amusement of Ogawa-san.

    Hirose: Actually he [Otabek] is actually standing at the sidelines of the rink and not the middle, so he is a slightly darker color and undertone since he is not under the spotlight.

Ogawa noted that every time they had to change the setting, the color needed to be changed to match the setting. Ogawa show the actual anime of Yurio’s exhibition performance. The cheers were more subdued then the day before but everyone still cheered loudly when Otabek appeared. The hand to mouth glove scene was also met with much cheers. (I personally don’t think it was because the fans today were less passionate about the series, but they were probably also present during the panel the day before. The cheers at the end were very loud to show our support.)

    Tatenaka: Thank you so much for coming. *applause*

    Ito: It was the first time we have this event so we didn’t know how many people would show up. Thank you to all of you here!

    Hirose: Thank you so much for coming today. I really enjoyed all your cosplays. *applause* I will work very hard on the movie as well. *cheers*

    Ogawa: This production was actually very hard to work on. After seeing all your responses and support, we are very glad you did this. *awws and applause* We hope to be back soon! Thank you very much!

The cheers was deafening as the panel ended. Ogawa asked us all to gather near the front for a photo. The staff asked everyone to say ‘Yuuri!!!’ as they took the photo. Ogawa called out in English, “Thank you!”