Nobuyoshi Habara interview

From the Yamato 2202 Chapter 1 program book

Interviewer: First of all, please tell us how you encountered Space Battleship Yamato.

Habara: I saw the first TV series when I was a fifth-grader. I think many people have said this already, but it was a shock. It was completely different from what was said to be “TV manga.” That was the feeling. When you get to be in the fifth or sixth grade, don’t you feel more adult? I had a feeling like that, of wanting to stretch my feet. By that time I had already decided to become an animator in the future, so as you can expect I focused on visuals. I drew four or five flip books of Yamato flying from the background to the foreground. I drew it and noticed, “Oh, there’s one pulse laser missing!” and then I’d draw it again. (Laughs)

Interviewer: What was your impression when you first got the offer to direct?

Habara: Xebec Studio had been involved in the production of the previous work, Yamato 2199, and I’d heard for some time that they were planning on making a continuation. I had directed two episodes of 2199, but I thought “No way could it be me!?”

Could I inherit 2199, the work made by Yutaka Izubuchi? There was a lot of anxiety there. But I love Farewell to Yamato, and it’s a work that I can say is ingrained in my body. As someone who went to see the movie when it was released on opening day and cried, if you let me do it I’d have no choice but to give it all my effort. That was my feeling.

Interviewer: Was the order to remake Farewell to Yamato?

Habara: It was not. In the end it was an offer to “make a new work that continues from 2199.” I like Farewell, but I also think it’s good that nearly all the characters survive in Yamato 2. So this time we intend to make a work that is appropriate to the present day while picking up the good points of both Farewell and Yamato 2.

Interviewer: Did you feel pressure in following after Mr. Izubuchi’s 2199?

Habara: Immediately!!!! Because it’s the continuation of a work that was made so meticulously, there’s always the thought about whether or not I’m good enough. So I can only say that I will do my best. My parents and local classmates were happy when I told them I was going to direct it. It’s comforting to bet your life on it when you have encouragement, and I intend to put my soul into my work.

Interviewer: What do you think about being involved in a work that you have such passion for?

Habara: Yamato is a special work to me. I can’t avoid looking at it through a fan’s eyes. Because it’s a favorite work, there is the feeling of wanting to make it just as it is. In other words, it’s a “Yamato that I want to see myself.” But as a creator, I have to look at Yamato in a form to be properly handed down to present-day people. The balance there is difficult. In that respect, I think [writers] Harutoshi Fukui and Hideki Oka are also struggling.

Interviewer: What was your impression when you first saw Farewell?

Habara: First of all, the enemy is overwhelmingly strong. In such a situation, my beloved characters died one after the other. That was a shock. The situation and the music became tragic, especially with the death of Dr. Sado. What impressed me the most was that people would be kind to one another in such circumstances. The feeling behind it was that the driving force behind the battle in Farewell was, “I want to protect someone.” I was moved by that. Even at the end there is that feeling. Since I had already decided to become an animator at that time, I was attracted by the coolness of the visuals first. Honestly, the story didn’t enter my mind that much when I first saw it. (Laughs)

Interviewer: Isn’t there considerable pressure in remaking such a work?

Habara: To be honest, it’s hard. Here are all sorts of scenes that I think can’t be cut out, but owing to the story connection, I have no choice but to tearfully excise them. When that happens, I think that my only choice is to put in even better scenes.

Interviewer: How is the teamwork with writer Harutoshi Fukui and assistant director Makoto Kobayashi?

Habara: Mr. Fukui is an amazing idea man, isn’t he? His stories are packed with ideas like surging waves, and I started from, “This is not going to be the same. So now what?” If he’s doing it, it seems to have been thought up as a development of surging waves while also considering a sense of speed. On the other hand, as for me, I want to match a story with a heavy image and focus on the weight of a battle scene. I’m conscious of that balance.

Mr. Kobayashi joined me for the first time on Yamato Resurrection, and my intuition was that “this person is a genius.” Looking at what was made was a series of surprises. It was the same when I first saw the design for Zordar’s throne at the beginning. It was a design that couldn’t have come from the ideas of an ordinary man. I am often inspired, and since we always have a new approach, I think I can show you things in 2202 that have never been seen before.

Interviewer: The first chapter was an unexpected way to start. Zordar the enemy suddenly talks about love.

Habara: It was no accident that Mr. Fukui had already attached the name Soldiers of Love to it. From the beginning, I felt his resolve to take on the “love” theme head-on. Honestly, my opinion was divided on whether or not to use that subtitle. If that was to be the straight title, I thought present-day people might be turned off, but if it was decided to do it, then I was on board.

Interviewer: What kind of “love” do you want to depict?

Habara: The kindness of people. I’m glad to see people being kind to each other, and I like being kind to others. I think of how to put such feelings into entertainment as a challenge for the future.

Interviewer: Please tell me about your personal highlights of Chapter 1.

Habara: First of all, the scenes of the rebuilt Yamato starting to move. I thought it was the only way to surprise people who expected to see it. It’s a scene that wasn’t in the first script, but if Yamato was being refurbished it would be full of holes where the armor was removed. I thought it could be done in CG, and the staff was suddenly surprised when I told them. Moving Yamato with only a small number of people would pay respects to the scene that was in the second episode of the original. I think it’s a perfect way to express the situation of being rebuilt. It is a remake of Farewell and Yamato 2, but I wanted to show you that it’s not just that. I picked up on what wasn’t done in 2199. That’s one of the things I wanted to do this time.

Interviewer: It was impressive how Yuki’s depiction was changed considerably from Farewell, wasn’t it?

Habara: There’s a scene with Kodai and Yuki talking in a car. Yuki is very cute, and it’s entirely reasonable that Kodai would fall in love with her. (Laughs) I felt that the character of Yuki was brought vividly to life for the first time. Regarding Yuki, because we have to create a new character to the last, that’s my favorite scene. The conversation in the coffee shop afterward is good, too. The acting by Daisuke Ono as Kodai and Houko Kuwashima as Yuki is very good. I listened to it with fascination. As a director I have to check many things, and I almost forgot to do that. (Laughs)

Interviewer: After that comes the scene at Hero’s Hill, which is impossible to leave out.

Habara: That scene, those angles, those lines…I tried reproducing the exact scene from Farewell, so I hope you enjoy it.

Interviewer: It seems the design of Yamato is changing this time too?

Habara: The CG model is different from 2199. There is a noticeable change in the position of the red paint on the hull. This time, the upper surface of the stabilizer wing is also red. As for the design of the fairing on the bow, Tomonori Kogawa drew it that way back in the day for a copyright illustration, and it has the feeling of the letter U. (Laughs)

The radar seat on the first bridge has also been changed to the side-by-side arrangement specified in Farewell. I hope you can feel the commitment.

Interviewer: The appearance of Andromeda is a highlight, too.

Habara: Kazutaka Miyatake drew it at the time, and I wanted to reproduce the coolness of the design with the image of a diagonal pass. The mecha designer Junichiro Tamamori did a wonderful design, and it was brilliantly finished by the 3D team with Naoko Fukubi’s color settings.

Interviewer: This is the beginning of a long journey, but let’s finish with a few words to the fans.

Habara: I forgot to mention one thing. Because the Blu-rays and DVDs are collected in the format of a TV series, they include an opening title and another version of the end title that are not attached to the theatrical version. The opening is mainly based on the battle scenes in Chapter 1, the moment Earth regains its original blueness from the Cosmo Reverse System, and visuals harking back to a fierce battle are included.

Interviewer: I’m looking forward to Chapter 2.

Habara: The highlight will be the part where Yamato launches at last. I intend to reproduce that scene right down to the movement of the waves. Please look forward to it!

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