Japanese artist turns Estonian Olympic athletes into anime characters

Japanese artist MONQ portrayed the athletes who represent Estonia at the Tokyo Olympics as anime characters.

The idea came from the Estonian Olympic Committee, who contacted the Japanese illustrator through the social media.

“The idea for a campaign that celebrates Japanese culture came about a few years ago. The main task was to find the right artist,” the committee’s communication manager, Merili Luuk, said in a statement.

The organisation was able to contact the manga artist, MONQ. “He sent us a sketch, and we were extremely impressed,” Luuk said.

MONQ turned the following Estonian athletes into anime characters: decathlete Maicel Uibo, tennis player Anett Kontaveit, wrestler Epp Mäe, cyclist Tanel Kangert, women’s epee fencing team consisting of Julia Beljajeva, Erika Kirpu, Katrina Lehis, Irina Embrich, as well as members of rowing quadruple scull Kaspar Taimsoo, Tõnu Endrekson, Allar Raja, Jüri-Mikk Udam.

Tennis player Anett Kontaveit depicted as an anime character by MONQ.

Mauno Meesit, the arts director of the Estonian Olympic Committee, said the artistic techniques of manga did not allow achieving a portrait resemblance to a real person. Hence, he was not even sure Estonian athletes could be portrayed in the anime style.

“In Estonia and Europe, in general, we could not find an illustrator who would be equally masterful in the anime style and portraits. Japanese artists, however, usually do not exhibit their work on well-known European sites and rarely accompany works with contact details. When we finally managed to get in touch with MONQ via Twitter and saw his first sketches, it became clear that the idea was indeed feasible, and that the right person was finally found,” he said in a statement.

Decathlete Maicel Uibo depicted as an anime character by MONQ.

Communication with the artist was possible exclusively in Japanese. “I don’t know any Japanese, so I had to communicate with the help of an online translator. The artist, however, managed to convey all the wishes – the work proceeded amazingly smoothly,” Meesit added.

Members of rowing quadruple scull, Kaspar Taimsoo, Tõnu Endrekson, Allar Raja, Jüri-Mikk Udam, depicted as the anime characters by MONQ.

MONQ said in a statement that drawing the Estonian athletes was not easy, but “he loves challenges”, and therefore accepted the proposal without hesitation.

“I rarely receive offers from abroad, and I thought that participating in such a campaign would provide valuable experience. It was quite difficult to depict the athletes in motion in a believable manner. Although I am interested in sports, I am not familiar with some disciplines. I had to learn about unfamiliar ones, watch a lot of videos and photos to correctly depict certain details,” the artist noted.

Wrestler Epp Mäe depicted as an anime character by MONQ.

The artist added that this work piqued his interest in Estonia and Estonian athletes. “I once saw a photograph of Tallinn’s silhouette in a magazine and wanted to visit Estonia someday. Thanks to this project, the desire has become even stronger.”

Cyclist Tanel Kangert depicted as an anime character by MONQ.

At the Tokyo Olympic Games, Estonia is represented by 34 athletes from 14 sports. The games started on 23 July and will last until 8 August.

Read also: Estonia at the Olympics.

Cover: Women’s epee fencing team, consisting of Julia Beljajeva, Erika Kirpu, Katrina Lehis, Irina Embrich, depicted as anime characters by MONQ.

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