Daisuke Ono & Kenichi Suzumura Interview

Cinema Café, February 22, 2017. See the original post here

The fans’ long-awaited sequel to Yamato…the theme is “love”

The previous work, Yamato 2199, which was a remake of Space Battleship Yamato, had enough content to satisfy many Yamato fans, but at the same time they also thought – “I wonder if they will remake Farewell to Yamato?” The answer is a completely new sequel series, Yamato 2202, Soldiers of Love. Its motif is the feature film Farewell to Yamato, Soldiers of Love, which excited all of Japan in 1978, and it is a new interpretation of the story. Daisuke Ono plays the main character of Susumu Kodai, and Kenichi Suzumura plays his best friend, chief navigator Daisuke Shima. We asked what they thought when they heard the production decision had been made for the series.

Ono: When we finished the trip in the previous work Yamato 2199, I had a feeling of accomplishment after a long trip, and because of that…when I heard about going on a trip again I had a mysterious feeling of, “What do I have to travel for? Why will I fight? Why get on that ship?” But I was glad that it began.

Suzumura: As for me, I thought, “It finally came.” Since Yamato 2199 began, fans around me have asked, “When will Farewell be done?” because it’s a masterpiece and expectations are high. It had a lot of attention, and when it finally started I was happy that I could say, “It finally begins!” I thought it was a very happy event.

The relationship of Kodai and Shima doesn’t change, even if they feel differently

Mr. Suzumura says that “Kodai is an incredible hero with the strength to carry out his decision to the last” and “If Shima is not there, the ship does not advance, either practically or mentally, so you feel secure when he’s there.”

Mr. Ono comments that the physical and mental distance between Kodai and Shima in the first chapter was difficult because it started from a place that compared little with the previous work.

Daisuke Ono (left), Kenichi Suzumura (right)

Ono: Shima is not on Kodai’s ship in the first episode. I was anxious. I asked the staff, “Why isn’t he here? Where is Shima?” (Laughs) So I was genuinely happy when we reunited, not just out of friendship but also out of consideration for the situation we’ve now been put in. He says, “What about Mori?” (Shima’s line, referencing Kodai’s fiancee.) Even though three years have passed, I thought, “The relationship is no different than expected. It’s Kodai and Shima, after all,“ when it came time for Episode 2. (Laughs) I was really happy.

Suzumura: Same here. As for the first chapter, Kodai’s and Shima’s choices are out of sync, but still…rather than quietly walking their own way, there is a proper intersection. There’s a scene where their feelings clash, and Kodai passionately says, “Let’s launch on Yamato right away!” It was almost like a strange snort. (Laughs)

Ono: (Laughs)

Suzumura: And Shima says, “You have to consider reality.” Besides, Shima is the only one who could say, “Think about Mori.” For example, in everyday life if I were to say, “I’m going to leave this company and go independent,” there would be someone to say, “No, think about your wife.” A person with a deeply valuable relationship.

Ono: Yeah, yeah, a best friend, right?

Suzumura: So I think Shima and Kodai have a really good relationship.

The story is expected to depict various forms of “love”

As mentioned earlier, this work is a new interpretation of Farewell to Space Battleship Yamato, Soldiers of Love. “Love” is the key word. Series writer Harutoshi Fukui says, “Regard ‘love’ as one word that symbolizes humanity, and I’m proud to depict human beings more properly than any live-action movie.” Various forms of love will be depicted, more than in the previous work. What effect will they have on the story?

Suzumura: It adds to the reality. Human activity always comes with love. Even in a war story or a political story, there must be a living person as a backbone. Whether it’s friendship or romantic love, it is born out of involvement with someone, and it reveals character. Not only in 2202 but also in 2199, I think it’s nice to casually depict those things. But Kodai was too popular last time. (Laughs)

Ono: (Laughs) It’s different. I’m popular, but Shima isn’t. (Laughs)

Suzumura: Yeah, and that’s the only part I’m dissatisfied with. (Laughs) But after all, what is the motivation of a living human being for that mission? It’s only natural that it would be for someone, and also for oneself. I think it’s inevitable to have the feeling of, “I want to be with someone.”

Ono: Truly…I can understand it even in an alien. During 2199 as well, Kodai reached an understanding with an anti-Earth diplomat…pretty forcibly. (Laughs) Therefore, I think “love” in this case means understanding each other. In that sense, I think love will be depicted in various forms. The title is Soldiers of Love…so I want Shima to be popular this time. (Laughs)

Suzumura: Me too. (Laughs)

Why is Yamato‘s crew going off on a journey again?

The key in Chapter 1 is that Yamato‘s crew was disbanded after returning to Earth from Iscandar, and they all see a vision at exactly the same time. Kodai sees Captain Okita, Shima sees his deceased father, and the story leads to exploring the cause for this in Chapter 2. What does this striking scene really mean?

Ono: In the vision, I’m sure the people who appear are those with the deepest connection to my life. In other words, it is memory. When a person lives in your memory…I think that becomes one of the driving forces of your life. Without memories, the things you live for would not accumulate. I think what you see in that scene symbolizes the Yamato crew: “I live,” “I am involved with others,” and “There is a history.” It feels very alive, doesn’t it?

Suzumura: Yeah. We don’t yet know the true nature of the vision, so we have to imagine it…after all, I think Yamato is a story about saving something. In 2199, the big mission was “Save the Earth” and in 2202, I feel like it’s an image of “Save oneself.”

Ono: Oh…I see.

Suzumura: The person who appeared in Shima’s illusion was his father who passed away, but he’s connected to everyday people. When you think about it…if a strong enemy appears this time and endangers the Earth, it’s a good reason to say, “Save the Earth,” but why would you do it? As I understand it, I think the essence is “I live to save myself.” So I wonder if such a thing is expressed in the vision we saw this time. I think about it selfishly, but I don’t understand its true nature either. (Laughs)

Ono: There is some romance in pursuing it. It also has the meaning of going off to find “What am I?” Finding that out starts from where I go to meet the ambassador connecting Earth to Garmillas. Certainly, as Mr. Suzumura says, it could be something about saving myself.

Suzumura: In turn, it’s connected to everything else. When you do something for yourself, it’s interesting to think that it leads to you being there for someone else, as well.

Ono: It becomes clearer, doesn’t it? As I said earlier, there’s the part where I was wondering, “Why am I going off on a journey on this ship?” I may go off with the crew of Yamato to find out “Why are we alive?” and “What is our purpose?”

I want us to get on board in a passionate story that meets your expectations

When talking about Chapter 1 this deeply, it becomes passionate even though it consists only of two episodes. Space Battleship Yamato is still what it always has been. The story of Yamato 2202, to be depicted over seven chapters, has only just begun. Finally, we hear about enthusiasm.

Ono: In terms of age, I think we are the generation that came after the “Yamato Generation.” That’s why I now feel “Yamato is really interesting.” I think it’s universal. I talked about “love” before, which can be called a soul that doesn’t change no matter what era you depict it in. It shakes the soul of everyone regardless of age or gender. Once again, I feel that it’s a very passionate story. I also want to get on board this ship to convey that passion to the next generation, and I hope everyone can come along for the ride.

Suzumura: Concerning the sequel to 2199 that everyone expected, I think it’s attracted a lot of attention…and now that the first chapter has been seen, I feel that it doesn’t fall short of anyone’s expectations. It has become fascinating. The human relationships are more carefully depicted than in the previous work because everything is tied together in the future of the story. “What will happen to these people?” “How will they become involved?” It’s exciting, isn’t it? It will meet the expectations of the old fans who watched the original as well as those who did not know Yamato before now. It’s a solid human drama. I think it depicts an ensemble story that is perfect for modern times and I think you’ll enjoy it.

Text by Mai Tomita

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