Newtype March issue, February 10, 2017
Three years after Yamato 2199, the long-awaited sequel Yamato 2202 sets sail at last. What is the story that Harutoshi Fukui will spin using the immortal masterpiece Farewell to Yamato, Soldiers of Love as a base? He shares his thoughts on Yamato before the ship sets sail.
Depicting “love” up front to the world of today
Interviewer: When talking about Yamato 2202, you can’t help talk about Farewell to Yamato, which laid the foundation. What kind of work was Farewell to you?
Fukui: When it was released (1978) I hadn’t yet been influenced by Space Battleship Yamato. My impression was, “This is a work older brothers and sisters are crazy about.” In terms of what flowed into my younger age group, it was The New Voyage and the plamodel boom that came after Farewell.
Interviewer: What is your impression of the Space Battleship Yamato series itself?
Fukui: Because I’m from the generation that started watching with The New Voyage, I thought Yamato was free-style, and I felt in my child’s heart that the first Yamato and Farewell had a special air. However, by working with the generation that was directly impacted by it, I’m realizing what kind of images those fans perceived.
Interviewer: So when did you see Farewell for the first time?
Fukui: I first saw it when it was broadcast on TV. Since time had passed since the premiere, I knew how the story developed and ended. But even in that state, I still cried. Even though I had all the information, it still made me cry and became a work that was “touched by God.”
Interviewer: Why did it have such an impact?
Fukui: In a word, it’s a “sense of feeling trapped,” isn’t it? There aren’t many works that give you that feeling. Even if you know the story in advance, Farewell really feels like a dreadful and hair-raising experience.
Interviewer: This time, you’ve confronted Farewell and decided to rebuild it.
Fukui: Farewell has the subtitle Soldiers of Love, and at that time the word “love” had significant meaning. The catch phrase that declared love overflowed loudly with Farewell as the spark. It only became obsolete when everyone else started marketing it.
Interviewer: Certainly, there were times when directly depicting “love” became embarrassing.
Fukui: But the form of “love” was vivid in those days. Love not only rescues people, but is also dangerous enough to break them. The intentions appear and disappear in Farewell. It took courage to add the title Soldiers of Love to 2202, and I just felt that I should properly confront the concept of “love” right now.
Interviewer: The time has come again to face “love” again.
Fukui: In the first place, Space Battleship Yamato was a work made to speak to its times. The original Yamato was a story that relived the war vicariously during the postwar era, and since Farewell came out ahead of the high-growth bubble period, it was a story that stuck out with the awareness of “These times are different.” Simply because it confronted the times in this way, I think it became a work affected people.
Interviewer: What kind of era does 2202 confront?
Fukui: These are the days when you can no longer ignore the earthquake disaster. We live in a contemporary world that’s quite different from the future we planned, and it’s impossible to get past it. You can’t just forget it. I’m conscious of Kodai and the others living in such a time. It’s not just nostalgia, I haven’t forgotten to spin a story that is necessary for us now.
Interviewer: Is that how you would describe your intention to be involved with the series composition?
Fukui: It’s because I felt this is a subject I have to deal with myself to the end. I reflexively hit on a configuration and thought, “This is the only way to do it in the present day,” and when it was approved, “This has to be seen through to the last.”
Interviewer: To what degree are you conscious of the content of the TV version, Yamato 2?
Fukui: When you see the title, you can understand that the number 2 is included along with Soldiers of Love. In other words, it could become both and it could be neither.
Interviewer: What part must you not forget when depicting Yamato?
Fukui: Yamato seems to have a clear worldview, but it has a somewhat fluffy side. It seems to be freeform, but it no longer feels like Yamato if it’s shifted slightly. It’s hard to get a breath in that area. For example, even if a space battleship takes up a stance, the fleets in Yamato are very dense, right? Originally, battleships were separated from each other so they didn’t get bunched up in a battle. That’s rational, right? But unless they’re packed together, it doesn’t feel like Yamato. It’s a “that’s not real” part you’re not supposed to question.
Interviewer: It certainly wouldn’t be Yamato enough if it wasn’t satisfactory.
Fukui: We work to find compromises while being conscious of the realism inevitably faced by human beings. For example, in speculating about the forces and reconstruction of the planet, people’s intentions always get in the way. In that sense, if you end up thinking “This story takes place in such a vague world that I can’t figure out how I feel,” then you’ve lost everything, which is why it’s so painstakingly depicted.
Interviewer: On the other hand, interest in the mechanic side is endless. Especially in Andromeda on the Earth Defense Force side, the Cosmo Tiger II, and the many other attractive mecha.
Fukui: As for Andromeda, rather than being “cool,” I’m conscious of depicting “fear” and “foreboding.” Then there’s the Cosmo Tiger. In Farewell, Yamato‘s aircraft shifted from the Black Tiger to the Cosmo Tiger II, and longtime fans have asked, “What happened to the Cosmo Tiger I?” So it’s being newly-established this time. The II is the main force, but the I also appears.
Interviewer: Regarding the fans who are new to Yamato, what kind of feeling should they go in with?
Fukui: The first film will soon be released. If you see it, you might get concerned about the later content, but there’s no help for that. It’s a work you can still enjoy if you don’t know the previous work, 2199, and all the minimal necessary information can be found by following the official website.
Interviewer: A new voyage of Yamato finally begins.
Fukui: All seven chapters have a considerable volume, and we’re making it so that when you begin watching you don’t want to stop. Its rival is overseas dramas. It’s made with a density and a sense of speed that guarantees you won’t get bored. When you decide to engage, needless to say, “Please stay with it to the end.”