Yuzuru Hanyu: RE_PRAY Ice Story 2
In the second installment of “RE_PRAY” ice story, Yuzuru Hanyu, a two-time Olympic champion, embarked on a unique journey. This odyssey seamlessly merged the worlds of figure skating and video games. The show’s grand premiere took place on November 4th at the Saitama Super Arena, captivating an audience of 14,000 eager spectators.
The performance began with a dramatic entrance—darkness, a controller, a loading screen, and electronic music. This set the stage for an extraordinary experience. Yuzuru Hanyu, donning the role of a pixelated video game hero, introduced the audience to his RE_PLAY-themed show, a groundbreaking fusion of figure skating and video game aesthetics.
The first part of the show, aptly labeled RE_PLAY, revolved around the theme of overcoming obstacles to chase one’s dreams. Hanyu’s mesmerizing program started with “A Fleeting Dream” from the popular video game Final Fantasy X (composed by Nobuo Uematsu). Behind translucent cloths adorned with projected white feathers, he brought the game’s enchanting world to life with breathtaking effects. With every graceful movement, he conjured floating orbs of light on the ice, transforming it into a celestial dreamscape.
Hanyu’s artistic interpretation went beyond gaming inspiration; he delved into the philosophical significance of life and self-discovery. Drawing parallels to video games, where one can retry and explore different characters, he encouraged the audience to apply this resilience to their real lives. Even in the face of regrettable decisions, the message was clear: always persevere and chase your dreams.
Throughout the show, video sequences on a large screen showcased Hanyu as both a gamer and a pixelated 8-bit hero while he tackled formidable bosses with a controller in hand. He embodied new characters from previous programs with a dazzling array of costumes.
The performance continued with “Gate of Living” by Japanese singer Sheena Ringo, featuring Hanyu in a striking black feather costume. His choreography synchronized perfectly with the mystic melodies of the song, captivating the audience. Next, he revisited “Hope & Legacy,” showcasing his technical prowess and executing a clean triple-flip.
The crowd erupted in applause as Hanyu skated to “Megalovania” from the American indie game Undertale. He seamlessly merged colorful 2D worlds with reality, displaying incredible speed and exhilarating spins.
The first half climaxed with “The Darkness of Eternity,” a battle theme from Final Fantasy IX. Dressed in fiery red, Hanyu performed quadruple jumps, a triple Axel, and a triple Axel-Euler-triple Salchow combo, infusing the atmosphere with the game’s doomsday intensity.
The second half, aptly titled RE_PRAY, explored themes of renewed hope, personal freedom, and the pursuit of dreams. Hanyu then revisited “A Fleeting Dream,” this time accompanied by a slightly melancholic piano rendition. Video sequences prompted philosophical introspection, touching on profound questions like “Who am I? Who controls me? Is it the Kamisama (God, gods)?”
The mood transitioned to melancholy with “Requiem of Heaven and Earth.” However, Hanyu ignited hope with “One Summer’s Day” from the beloved anime classic Spirited Away, earning resounding applause for his flawless execution of twizzles. The audience’s enthusiasm reached its peak during “Haru yo, Koi,” especially for his impeccable triple-loop and delayed Axel. His magical creation of cherry blossoms during the Ina Bauer almost drowned out the music with applause.
Hanyu’s encore performances included Robbie Williams’ hit “Let Me Entertain You” and Japan’s favorite program “SEIMEI.” It also featured his final short program of his competitive career, Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso. In his closing speech, he expressed relief that the show had come together smoothly, thanking his team for their hard work.
With RE_PRAY, Hanyu not only delivered a spectacle like no other but also accomplished his goal of uniting various programs into a single work of art. By leaving room for interpretation, he encouraged the audience to immerse themselves in his worlds and become characters in their own video game. Hanyu emphasized that the show aimed to provoke thought rather than provide answers.
The journey through the video game-inspired worlds of Japan’s multi-talented artist will continue until early 2024. Upcoming performances will be in Saga on January 12 and 14, 2024, and Yokohama on February 17 and 19, 2024.