Gallery: Estonia Olympic team as you've never seen them before, anime-style

Estonia's olympic team has had the authentic Japanese anime treatment ahead of the games opening in Tokyo later this month.

Japanese artist MONQ was tasked with providing the official cartoons, with the blessing of the Estonian Olympic Committee (EOK), ERR's Menu portal reports.

MONQ said that they: "Very rarely get collaboration offers from abroad, and I felt that participating in this campaign as an artist will give me some great experience."

"It is true that it was quite difficult to achieve the right dynamic movement of the athletes in the drawings," MONQ, who says they have been drawing anime since childhood, went on.

"While I'm interested in sports, some events were unfamiliar to me. I researched a lot of the background of the areas, and watched videos and photos to get an idea of how to depict certain details correctly," MONQ went on, adding that the work had piqued their interest in a potential visit to Tallinn and Estonia some day.

Of the more than 30 athletes taking part under the Estonian blue-black-white in Tokyo, MONQ honed in on epee foursome Erika Kirpu, Julia Beljajeva, Katrina Lehis and Kristina Kuusk, cyclist Tanel Kangert, tennis star Anett Kontaveit, wrestler Epp Mäe, decathlete Maicel Uibo, and quadruple sculls team Kaspar Taimsoo, Tõnu Endrekson, Allar Raja and Jüri-Mikk Udam, ahead of the games, which open on July 23, following a year's postponement due to the pandemic.

EOK artistic director Mauno Meesit said that the characteristics of Japanese anime preclude both the immediately recognizable likeness of an individual in general, and the key facial characteristics of an Estonian in particular, adding that initially he was not sure if Estonian athletes could be effectively depicted in the anime style whatsoever.

Finding an artist up to the task was also hard, he said. ""First of all, we couldn't find an illustrator in Estonia or even in Europe who had mastered both the anime style and portrait drawing."

"Japanese professionals, on the other hand, do not usually share their work via familiar online environments, or do not have contact information to give them jobs. When I finally got in touch with MONQ, via Twitter, and saw the first drafts, it was clear that the idea was still viable and we had found just the right person to carry it out," Meesit went on.

Communication itself required online web translation, he added, since he does not write or speak Japanese, but nonetheless everything went surprisingly smoothly.

EOK communications manager Merili Luuk said that the idea had arisen several years ago, but reiterated that finding the right person in practice was harder. "Finally, EOK artistic director and designer Mauno Meesit reached out to the mysterious Japanese manga artist MONQ, who sent us their impressive test work."

The XXXII Summer Olympics run July 23-August 8. The EOK's site, replete with MONQ's illustrations, is here.

Inside Estonia, the games can be viewed on commercial stations Kanal 2, Kanal 12 and DUO.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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