The spring season anime are charging out the gates and Umamusume: Pretty Derby has distinguished itself as a different kind of racing and idol series. One of the key things to stand out from Umamusume is the outlandish names of its characters. Ranging from Mejiro McQueen to Grass Wonder, all of these less than normal names are actually the names of real-life racehorses which serve as inspirations for their characters. What could these girls have adopted with the names other than a fate of running? Today let’s take a look at the girls of Umamusume and the possible inspirations that went into them.
First up is the star of the show, Special Week! In real-life, Special Week was a Japanese thoroughbred racehorse, winning nine major races including the Grade 1 Japan Cup – the nation’s most prominent horse race. Let’s start with the easiest inspirations to see, the character design.
In Umamusume, Special Week has short dark brown hair with a white tuft hanging over her face. She also has purple eyes and purple ribbons in her hair as well as a white hairband on the back of her head. The real Special Week had a “dark bay” reddish-brown coat with a “blaze”, or a wide shock of white hair going down the front of its face. All present and accounted for in the design of her hair. Special Week’s eye color and the color of her hair ornaments also seem to match the color of the racehorse’s mask, which was also purple.
Even Special Week’s backstory references the real-life horse. Her birth mother passed away after she was born. Also in the show, Special Week also says she’s from Hokkaido in Japan. This just so happens to line up well with real life, too. Special Week’s mother, Campaign Girl, was an unraced dam who died soon after giving birth to Special Week. Additionally, when the racehorse retired, he went to standing at the Shadai Stallion Station in Hokkaido.
Next up is the amazing Silence Suzuka! The real-life Silence Suzuka was a Japanese thoroughbred racehorse. In his less than two year career, he won seven major races and placed in an eighth race. Unfortunately, Silence Suzuka had a short lived career due to a leg injury, meaning he never went on to race after 1998.
With that said, let’s take a look at Silence Suzuka’s design ine Umamusume. Our horse girl has long reddish brown hair, green eyes, a white and green headband, and green ear covers. As with Special Week, Silence Suzuka’s design lines up pretty nicely with real-life. The racehorse had a solid chestnut coat, which correlates with the horse girl’s hair color. Her green eyes and ear covers also correlate with the green mask the racehorse wore.
Silence Suzuka’s racing style is also faithful to her racehorse counterpart. In real-life, Silence Suzuka was one of the fastest turf racehorses in Japan. Six of his seven wins were back to back in his four-year-old season which lead up to his injury in 1998. He was popular for his “runaway” race style – rather than keeping a maintainable pace the entire race, Silence Suzuka would sprint out of the gates in attempts to get ahead of everyone as soon as possible.
Silence Suzuka’s introduction shows her sprinting from the starting gates and never letting up, even in the lead, holding on to the runaway style her real-life counterpart had. It’s possible that Silence Suzuka’s melancholic personality also correlates with her horse. In 1998, after Silence Suzuka’s injury he was put down. Perhaps Silence Suzuka has such a cool and sorrowful personality because of the racehorse’s 23 month short lived career. Could this mean misfortune in Suzuka’s future?
Lastly, let’s take a look at the cheerful Tokai Teio. In real-life, Tokai Teio won eight major races including the Japanese Derby and Grade 1 Japan Cup just like Special Week. Taking a look at her character design, Tokai Teio in Umamusume has long brown hair with a strand of white hair, a pin in her hair with a blue ribbon attached to it, and blue eyes. She has a more simplistic design out of the three, but nonetheless it still correlates with the racehorse she was named after.
In real-life, Tokai Teio had a bay, or reddish brown, coat color which is just like Special Week’s but a lighter shade. Also like Special Week, Tokai Teio had a facial marking, but hers was much less prominent, referred to as a “star”, a smaller white mark between her eyes similarly represented in the horse girl by her single strand of white hair. Like the other two, the color of Tokai Teio’s hair ornaments and eyes also connect to the color of the mask the racehorse wore.
Another connection, Tokai Teio’s real-life father was the famous Symboli Rudolf, who just so happens to be the student council president of Tracen Academy who Tokai Teio idolizes. It makes sense that Tokai Teio would want to be just like her father, who was famously known as the “emperor” and is to this date one of the most well-known Japanese race horses.
That’s only three of the girls running full speed into this anime season! It’s clear that Cygames didn’t just take the names of famous Japanese race horses, but did a bit of research to back up the name with some inspired designs, personal traits, and character history. These three are by no means the only girls to have this kind of connection to their real-life counterparts; the inspiration and detail in so many characters connecting to real-life horses is in its own way a little bit charming.