Ok, I've been meaning to translate parts of this book, but I haven't had the time.
I wanted to share one part that I've been thinking about recently, as I've watched Mao struggle through her programs.
It's from the part right before the 2008 Four Continents Championship.
(Note that this is written from Naoko Utsunomiya's point of view. She's a close family friend of the Asadas.)
[middle of page 78-page 80]
In Korea, there is a national star. It's Yu-Na Kim, who won this season's Grand Prix Final.
"Seventeen-year-olds--there's only me and Yu-Na, and we're skaters who are often together. So we talk a lot." [Mao said].
Kim's appearance is graceful, and she seems quiet, but when she speaks, even if it's using a translator, the unique strength of her heart/mind is expressed.
"When we talk together, it's in English. When was it--that time we ate together--Yu-Na was talking about the Korean actors. I also asked, 'Do you know Bae Young-joon?' We talk about those kind of normal things." [Mao said].
In the past, Kim once spoke this way about Asada.
"Because Mao was here, I was able to feel like trying my best."
When I told Mao what she said, she answered the same way.
"I think it would be good if we can keep this relationship where we push each other.
Yu-Na's movement is flexible, and I think it's really pretty. If I compare my power of expression to Yu-Na's, I think it's really inferior."
Asada gave this comparison of herself to Yu-Na extremely naturally. I had the impression that she just said exactly what was in her heart.
I did not nod my head to that.
It's true, Yu-Na's performance is overflowing with emotion, and she draws viewers in. However, Asada's performance is by no means "really inferior."
The worlds that the two express are different. Mao expresses a lovely, lively beauty, and Yu-Na expresses a mature, relaxed beauty.
Right now, a glamorous/sexy program wouldn't match Mao, and conversely, Yu-Na probably wouldn't be good at a dignified program. The music she uses in competition, the musical themes are always somehow similar.
Mao seemed to think my strong verbal objection was funny. She laughed softly. And she said this brightly:
"Somehow, listening to you talk, I was able to think, 'Ah, I guess there are some good points in my power of expression.'
I think that as the years pass, maturity will come out naturally, so for now, I'll try my best with Mao-like expressions and my personality. But someday, I want to dance to something that seems sexy. I think that if I work hard at it, I can do it. Because if I don't challenge myself with new things,
I think it will be boring for me and for the people watching."
First, I want to point out that this was almost two years ago, so Mao's thinking (and Yu-Na's thinking) may have changed.
But still, I do think that Mao perhaps doesn't realize how beautiful she is just skating naturally and how expressive she can be even she is soft. I'm sad to say, but that Asience commercial where Mao did all the choreo herself may be my favorite thing that she's skated all season long.
No Mao, I agree with Utsunomiya-san, your expression is NOT inferior to Yu-Na's in any way, so I don't think you have to try to be like her.
However, I understand that it's a challenge you want to undertake, so I respect that decision....