How Russian Characters Are Depicted In Anime

Have you ever wondered how Russian characters are depicted in anime (Japanese animation)? Vu Van Ly would like to introduce you the anime called “Yuri!!! on Ice”, which has many Russian characters.

How Russian Characters Are Depicted In Anime

Yuri!!! on Ice" is a sports TV anime about figure skating. The series revolves around three main characters: Yuri Katsuki, Victor Nikiforov, and Yuri Plisetsky. Yuri Katsuki is a Japanese figure skater, who loses confidence in himself and intends to put his career on hold after several failures in the competitions he participated. In contrast to Yuri Katsuki, Victor Nikiforov is a Russian figure-skating champion, as well as Yuri Katsuki's idol. He comes a long way from Russia to Japan with the offer to be Yuri Katsuki's coach and they aim towards the championship in the Grand Prix Final (a figure skating tournament). In the end, it turns out to be Yuri Katsuki himself, who asked for Victor Nikiforov to be his coach. The last main character is Yuri Plisetsky. Yuri Plisetsky is a 15-year-old figure skater from Russia. In spite of his young age, Yuri Plisetsky is a rising, talented skater, who is also one of Yuri Katsuki's strongest competitors. The series is the process of Yuri Katsuki 's development from an unknown figure skater to a Japanese representative in the Grand Prix Final. To the end, while the golden medal belongs to Yuri Plisetsky, Yuri Katsuki receives the silver one, and at the same time breaks the free skate (also known as long program, one of the two segments of figure skating competitions, which comes after short program) world record of his own coach. After that the series ends with Yuri Katsuki continuing his career and moving to Saint Petersburg with Victor Nikiforov.

We have talked enough about the content of the series, now let’s change to Russian characters. Apart from Victor Nikiforov and Yuri Plisetsky, there are also Russian like Yakov Feltsman, Lilia Baranovskaya, Georgi Popovich, Mila Babicheva, etc. 

Yakov Feltsman is Victor Nikiforov's used-to-be coach before Victor Nikiforov leaves his guidance and comes to Japan. Yakov Feltsman is also coach of Yuri Plisetsky, Georgi Popovich, and Mila Babicheva. To me, he has an appearance of a typical Russian man with a severe face that rarely smiles. Yakov Feltsman is very strict with his skaters, he is the type that scolds his men when needed, but also comforts them when necessary. 

Lilia Baranovskaya is another coach of Yuri Plisetsky, she teaches him ballet and choreographs his long program. Moreover, she is the former ballerina of the Bolshoi Ballet, as well as ex-wife of Yakov Feltsman. Special features of Lilia Baranovskaya are her black hair and high cheekbones, which are very attractive, especially to Western people. 

Georgi Popovich is a black-haired, cyan-eyed man. To Yakov Feltsman, Georgi Popovich is an obedient and receptive student. He is also an emotional figure skater, who is willing to bring his love experience into his program. 

Mila Babicheva is a young girl with auburn wavy hair and deep-blue eyes. She is quite an  energetic Russian girl with a good sense of humor and she is also very good at taking care of her peers.

Victor Nikiforov is a skater and choreographer under the guidance of Yakov Feltsman and also the coach of Yuri Katsuki. His name is believed to derive from:

 Victoria - the goddess of victory in Roman mythology and Nike - the goddess in Greek mythology.

Perhaps that is why he wins so many championships and becomes the legend of the figure-skating world. Victor Nikiforov is a young handsome man with silver hair and light blue eyes. During warm-ups, he often wears a red and white jacket which resembles the Russian Olympic uniform. Victor Nikiforov is a sociable, easygoing and energetic person. We could see him smiling throughout the series and his heart-shaped smile has become Victor Nikiforov’s trademark. He is a person who is not afraid of change and has a particular interest in Japanese culture. Victor Nikiforov’s catchphrase is “vkusno" (delicious in Russian) whenever he tries new food. One more interesting fact about him is that Victor Nikiforov has a sincere love towards his companion - his pet poodle Makkachin. He loves Makkachin so much that he returns to Japan from Russia to oversee his beloved dog's operation. I have watched this series since 2016, when I have not come to Russia yet and I still hold the prejudice that Russians are cold and serious, they seldom smile. However Victor Nikiforov has broken my prejudice. The Russians turn out to be not cold at all, on the contrary, they are also very funny and caring about others and this again has been proven when I came to Russia.

Yuri Plisetsky is a Russian figure skating prodigy, who is believed to be inspired by real Russian skater Yulia Lipitskaya. He has typical Russian blond hair and a slim figure. Because he is still young, his personality is quite hot-tempered and straightforward. Yuri Plisetsky is ambitious and always strives to achieve his dream. He idolizes Victor Nikiforov and does his best to impress his idol. This kid may be cold to people he does not know well, but he treats very gently and affectionately with those he loves, especially his grandfather. Thanks to this character and his grandfather, I came to know a Russian food that I was eager to try when I arrived in Russia. It is “Pirozhki" - Yuri Plitsetsky’s favorite food.

Through this article, I hope you can see how Russian characters are portrayed in anime. They are not depicted in a stereotypical, one-sided way, but in a vivid, profound one.


Text by
Van Ly Vu