Marin Honda: “I really can’t imagine myself not skating. Even though after moving to the senior level, it wasn’t always a joyful period.”
Interview with Marin Honda about her love for skating and performing in shows.
source: nikkansports.com dd. 9th August 2023 by Kengo Abe
Figure skater Marin Honda (21) will play the role of the heroine Vivi in the ice show “One Piece on Ice,” based on the popular anime “One Piece,” this summer. The show, which starts on the 11th in Yokohama, requires the accurate portrayal of characters on stage. Honda, who has achieved success on the international stage, including winning the 2016 World Junior Championships, spoke about her enthusiasm for acting, her future as a competitor, and her mindset in facing skating challenges in a long interview.
You mentioned that acting is something you haven’t done before, but you have also portrayed characters in figure skating. For instance, you have learned about expression from choreographer Lori Nichol and others and have conducted your own research. What is the biggest difference this time?
Marin Honda: I believe that since I was young, my favorite aspect of skating has always been the expressive part, and I’ve been meticulous about it. In skating, when it comes to a program, you either come up with a story on your own or if it’s a program with an existing storyline, you try to express it in your own way, based on what the choreographer has told you. There’s no single correct answer, but I feel that skating allows me to convey my emotions of that day very well. In the case of “One Piece on Ice,” each character has their own interpretation. It’s about how close I can get, and how I can raise the level of performance. Since there are sound effects and timing for lines, everything is predetermined, so there’s no room for mistakes.
For instance, Ms. Nichol often provides abstract guidance, right? So, you’ve interpreted that in your own way and performed it.
Marin Honda: Yes, that’s right. From start to finish, I have sometimes come up with the entire story myself, especially for programs like classics. I did it in collaboration with the choreographer, but there were times when I was quite skilled at improvising when the music flowed seamlessly. I’ve done it even at places like the Yobesunoyama training camp for promising newcomers. This time, I’m reproducing characters on my own, translating them into skating, so it feels fresh and like a new approach.
Amid these new efforts, do you feel a new perspective on figure skating?
Marin Honda: At first, honestly, there were parts where everyone had no idea what the choreography would be like. In the beginning, for the first two or three days, it was quite rough, like “we move with this kind of feeling in this line” and so on. But lately, it’s been getting more detailed and easier to manage. Initially, it felt like the actor’s side was more significant. Now, we’re considering how to synchronize skating with the dialogue to bring out the strengths of skating. For instance, thinking “wouldn’t it be better to spin here instead of just standing still?” We’re allowed to discuss our ideas. I feel that each of us is putting our thoughts into it.
In today’s practice, there was a scene where you changed from stopping and looking at the Straw Hat Pirates to a scene where you’re skating while gazing at them.
Marin Honda: It’s a scene towards the ship, so it’s not depicted in the original work, and it’s not shown in the anime, but since the audience can see Vivi’s expression in that moment, there’s a lot I’m interpreting on my own. Initially, the scenes where Vivi wasn’t speaking had choreography mainly centered around the Straw Hat Pirates. But I spoke with the choreographers about how those on the back side of the audience might be happier if we skated toward them and we came up with new choreography. Every day, we’re working on it together with these kinds of adjustments and innovations.
Ice shows are viewed from various directions by the audience. In cases like stage performances, the assumption is often that the audience watches from one direction, making it a unique aspect of ice shows.
Marin Honda: In the scene where I’m gazing at the Straw Hat Pirates, the audience behind me will be looking at my back the whole time. So, I hope to express things like crying or sadness through my back. There are challenging aspects as well, and while discussing with, I’m trying to figure it out. I think it’s fine to have unique elements in the show.
You’ve been challenging various genres now. What does it mean to you?
Marin Honda: Comparing to my junior days, there’s a bit of uncertainty about whether I enjoy skating, competitions, and rather than having fun, after becoming a senior, I’m a little confused about what’s going on. The rehearsals for “One Piece” have been tough, but I’ve really felt that “I do love skating.” It’s been a significant realization for myself. Everyone says the same thing, but as this rehearsal period is nearing its end, I feel a bit sad. Working together to create something and learning a new genre of skating has been really enjoyable. Even if I’m skating since the morning, I still feel that I love skating and it’s fun.
It’s like rediscovering the joy you had when you first started skating.
Marin Honda: Yes, exactly. Every day, I’m learning new things and getting better at what I can do. In those aspects too, it’s been fulfilling days for both me and everyone else.
It seems like you’re taking on a lot of challenges beyond skating.
Marin Honda: This time, in terms of performing, I became more interested after trying “One Piece on Ice.” When I was younger, I never thought I could do something like Miyu (Marin’s younger sister who is a child actress) does, but lately, I’ve been feeling that there are some similarities between skating and acting. Through portraying Vivi in this show, I’ve gained interest in these aspects. I want to try new things like this.
It’s a different feeling from before.
Marin Honda: It’s a new emotion. I initially felt like there was no way I could do it, but when I tried it, it was a lot of fun. I’ve been thinking that I might be good at portraying characters different from myself.
Have you never memorized lines and acted before?
Marin Honda: Never at all! The process of studying for portraying a character, aiming for completeness and accuracy, and the sense of accomplishment and enjoyment during the performance itself—it’s all completely new and really enjoyable.
By the way, have you ever performed in school plays or the like?
Marin Honda: School plays! I used to do them. But it was embarrassing. Usually, I think most people feel embarrassed performing in front of others. At the beginning of this show, everyone felt the same way. We were all conscious of our surroundings, but gradually, we became more engrossed in it.
In figure skating competitions, you appear very confident.
Marin Honda: I never feel embarrassed about skating. But acting was a genre I had never tried before. I’m not the type who gets angry or upset much in daily life, but Vivi has many scenes like that, so I was uncertain about how to handle them.
What about the embarrassment?
Marina Honda: Not at all! Everyone’s performances are of such high quality and completeness that I get absorbed in watching them.
Vivi’s character has a strong desire to protect the country and make that a reality. Do you have anything you want to achieve or realize within yourself?
Marin Honda: The closest goal I have right now is to make this “One Piece on Ice” show something we can truly feel we’ve given our best to. So, we discuss various things, exchange ideas, and grow together. In that sense, my immediate goal is to really complete the show successfully.
Interviewer: Do you have any goals related to figure skating?
Marin Honda: I’ve been skating for about 20 years now. However, I’ve started to think in recent years that the end might be closer than the time I’ve spent skating so far. I believe the best way to conclude my skating journey is to feel that I’ve given it my all. It’s not just about the actual performances, but also about cherishing each day of practice. That’s something I strongly believe in.
Earlier, you mentioned that after moving up to the senior level, it wasn’t always a joyful period. But you faced it without running away, right?
Marin Honda: Yes, I really can’t imagine myself not skating. There were times when I thought it was really tough, but the idea of not having skating, not having those days of practice, was scarier. So, skating was always the closest thing to me, and I think it will continue to be that way. Recently, I had a conversation with Shae-Lynn Bourne, and she said something like, “I can’t feel settled without skating.” Even if it’s just for an hour, even if nobody’s watching, she goes to skate on the ice, dances around, and then goes back. I heard that, and I thought maybe I’m that kind of person too.
In terms of rediscovering the joy, this show has been significant, right?
Marin Honda: I truly believe so. This show has been a really good period for me. Skating now is truly enjoyable for me.
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