Kubo noted that despite Yuri and Victor being the primary characters in Yuri On Ice, it was the character of Yurio, Victor's initial protégé, who took shape. Victor was conceptualized immediately afterwards. Kubo describes Victor as a "living legend of the skating world." Asked about Victor's origins, Kubo said it had to be Russia, because skating would come naturally to the northern country that has vast swathes of cold regions.
While Victor hasn't been created as a copy of the Great Russian skater Evgeni Plushenko, the resemblances are striking, and in some cases, even intentional. Incidentally, Victor's appearance has been based on American actor and director, John Cameron Mitchell.
Interestingly, what sets the characters apart from the regular Japanese anime is that there's significant gap between the appearance and personality of all the characters in Yuri On Ice. Explaining the unique aspect, Kubo said Victor is depicted as a suave-looking person who has tasted nothing but success throughout his skating career. While he is at the peak of his career, Victor is also about to age out. Competitive ice skating is a young man's game. Victor is 27-years-old, which in the skating game is a ripe age to either announce retirement or take up coaching. Hence Victor has many decisions and insecurities that need to be dealt with. This affects his personality a great deal. Episode 7 is the one in which Victo's inexperience is clearly visible. Once a legendary skater, who never knew second place, Victor is seen struggling as a coach to Yuri.
Similarly, Yuri is depicted as a rather ordinary-looking person, who thinks rather poorly of himself. Moreover, as a skater, he isn't one of the best, but manages to excel through his drive and determination. While his performances aren't perfect from a technical perspective, they additionally lack an emotional punch.
Interestingly, Kubo wanted Yuri to have the most average-looking appearance of the lot. Speaking about the protagonist, Kubo said the following.
"He's not particularly attractive or striking, but though he seems so normal, he completely changes once he steps onto the ice. So even though Yūri looks like someone who doesn't have much self-belief, he actually does have, hidden within himself, that special strength athletes possess."
Speaking about the brief 12-episode anime series, Kubo noted Episodes 1 through 4 were meant to endear fans to Yuri, Victor and Yurio. After the creators took pains to help the audience understand the skaters, Episode 5 had the Chugoku-Shikoku-Kyushu regional tournament, which explored the innermost thoughts of figure skaters. While the audience sees a flawless display of grace and agility, there's a different universe within the minds of competitive skaters, which is expertly explored in Yuri On Ice.
As fans have already realized, the story of Yuri On Ice develops largely through Yuri's point of view, which emphasizes "his view of himself as a weak person who lost big," but in actual fact, he's the top skater in Japan, revealed Kubo. It is only after Yuri steps out of the semi-urban town of Hasetsu do viewers and fans realize just how popular Yuri is. While Yuri considers himself a regional player who is already pushing his luck, the skater realizes he has fans not only in Japan, but across the world that follow his career.
Kubo also revealed why the supporting characters had such complex and multi-faceted personalities. She wanted even the supporting characters to stand out. And so, she gave each of them multiple personality traits and ample individuality. Kubo stressed that no supporting character must disappear into the background, reported Wave Motion Cannon. This essentially means there are ample stories of each of the character to take to Yuri On Ice Season 2. Moreover, fans can easily identify and even relate to each of the supporting characters, and not just with the main ones.
Incidentally, none of the six skaters in the final have ever won the title. "From the younger ones in their teens to the oldest, Christophe Giacometti—have never, ever stood at the top of the podium," revealed Kubo. Hence the title matters a lot to all.
For coaches of elite skaters, it is not about technical training, noted Kubo. Their primary focus is on preparing their prodigy's mental fortitude or how they should approach a particular competition. Till the end, Yuri has been depicted as a thorough skater from a technical perspective. Hence moving forward, the story could explore how Victor and Yuri's relationship influences the latter to go beyond the technical aspects and approach the tournaments with emotional fluidity. On the other hand, Victor is deeply interested in Yuri's close-knit community and the homely feeling that the latter enjoys in his hometown.
Victor too, is highly inexperienced as a coach, and that is reflected in his statements, added Kubo.
"He's trying to help Yūri, but what he does has the opposite effect."
As fans are aware, it wasn't until Episode 10 that Yuri mustered up the courage to call on Victor and request him to become his coach. Yuri got crazy drunk in Episode 10 and asked Victor to become his coach. Interestingly, it was the same episode that introduced a new character, Otabek Altin, a skater from Kazakhstan, who is "Yurio's first friend." Since Yuri and Yurio essentially want the same coach, YOI Season 2 could explore the rather tumultuous relationship between Yuri and Yurio, as well. But we'll just have to wait until the official announcement of the Yuri On Ice Season 2 release date to see where Kubo desires to take the figure skating characters next.
[Featured Image by Mitsurō Kubo/Yuri!!! On Ice]