Yamato 2202 Director/Writer interview

Ship’s Log, the quarterly magazine for the Space Battleship Yamato Premium Fan Club, has been going strong since the early days of Yamato 2199 and still has the best content anywhere. Volume 17 was published March 27, 2017 and contained the following post-Chapter-1 interview with Director Nobuyoshi Habara and Writer Harutoshi Fukui. They offer insights on Chapter 1, hints about Chapter 2, and share fond memories from 1978.

Mr. Habara and Mr. Fukui, the lynchpins of the Yamato 2202 story and direction

These two share their thoughts just after the premiere of Chapter 1, their ambitions for Chapter 2, and their memories as the Yamato generation.

2202 properly develops a story that reflects the reality of adults

Interviewer: Please tell us your current state of mind after the premiere of Yamato 2202 in February.

Fukui: I don’t understand the box office performance at present, but I’m relieved that a lot of people are accepting it very favorably.

Habara: Before the premiere, there was a completion screening in Tokyo on February 6 and after going all over Japan, I feel like everyone gave me the power of their smiles after they saw it.

Interviewer: Previews were held in Tokyo, Fukuoka, Osaka, Aichi, and Hokkaido, weren’t they? What was your impression of Yamato fans at the stage greetings?

Fukui: What I noticed at each venue was that a lot of people in the publicity companies said “I’m actually a Yamato fan, too.” Among the local media reporters, there was someone who was born the same year as me, 1968.

Habara: There are many, many people who have deeply loved Yamato for years.

Interviewer: Is it your impression that the age bracket of those on the production side is close to Mr. Fukui’s?

Fukui: Their generation is slightly older than mine. My feeling is that fans spread up and down from the main layer. I’ve been using the word “Oniisan” [big brother] for the first time in a long while. (Laughs)

Habara: I think those of my generation, in their 50s, are the most abundant in that layer. However, I was surprised to see a lot of women in the venues where we did stage greetings. There are a lot of voice actor fans for Daisuke Ono and the other cast members, and I realized that 2202 is supported by a wide range of people. Among them were mothers who said, “I came with my daughter.”

Fukui: That’s where it’s different from the Mobile Suit Gundam series. There are a lot of female fans even now who liked Yamato in real time. On the other hand, there’s a vast fan layer for Gundam because each work is basically independent, but I don’t see the same generation of women who watched and liked all of it. It could mean that the Yamato layer is more pure, with the characteristic that many people keep loving one work all the time.

Interviewer: I feel like the Yamato festival is coming again for those in their 40s and 50s.

Fukui: To the people of that generation, the 2202 remake seems to include the scent of Farewell to Yamato, and it’s great that we could propagate it. There were some people who said they went to the movie forty years ago and stood in line with All Night Nippon. [A pop culture radio show at the time with regular Yamato coverage.] It’s a rare experience in the present day to look back on things from forty years ago. I’m looking back on the feelings of those days. “It’s been a long time since I parted from her,” and now, “I saw it with my current wife.” With such long-lasting content, new ways are born to catch and enjoy it.

Habara: Certainly. There are a lot of ways over forty years.

Fukui: A variety of stories.

Interviewer: In a previous stage greeting, it was announced that From Yamato With Love by Kenji Sawada would be the ending theme song of 2202 Chapter 1. The excitement rose and the venue had the atmosphere of a class reunion for fans.

Fukui: The whole place was united, wasn’t it? In terms of sharing memories, 2202‘s first bombing target was the 4 million people who went to movie theaters to see Farewell in 1978. Today the people with our voice who turned back to Yamato again should have no resistance to the production and style of a modern anime. We’re making it with that feeling.

Habara: 2202 properly develops a story that reflects the reality of adults.

Fukui: Even in the original stage greeting, the topic of Farewell being an anti-corporate work came up. Kodai and the “Yamato Corporation” gave up on the “Earth corporation” and became independent. Then they immediately encountered land price rigging by “Gatlantis Real Estate”. Considering how that last scene goes, I suppose it ends as a warning not to try and turn entrepreneur. (Laughs) When you become an adult, you can easily imagine the difficulty of dropping out of a company. Still, there were people from that time who took Yamato as a guide for living their lives for real.

Those in the real time generation were touched by Farewell during their adolescence, on the way to becoming adults. They passed through the exam wars into a period of rapid economic growth to become what we call cogs in society at a time when they were basically promised peace and security. Nevertheless, like Kodai’s organization, I didn’t want my beliefs to bend, and I can remember that I didn’t want to forget that feeling when I became an adult. Since we’ve declared that 2202 is a work for that exact generation, 39 years after Farewell, what is the point where Kodai drops out? I’ll be very glad if you watch that point carefully.

They can’t think about “a peaceful life” on an Earth that’s about to be invaded, so they say let’s make a more advanced ship with a Wave-Motion Gun despite the promise to Iscandar. Still, what should be defended in the rough seas of society? I hope to communicate equally with those who were young 39 years ago and the young people of today.

Interviewer: It’s important to share that sensibility not only with the layer who knew it in those days, but also today’s youth. As you said before, a new fan layer is expanding from the popular voice actors.

Fukui: With the original Yamato, the atmosphere of “mecha is for men and characters are for women” hasn’t changed much, has it? For the female fans who emphasize the emotional points, I hope to do it well in 2202. Of course, I don’t mean that in a bad way. There too, we do it with a wink, with the implication of being able to do the essential feeling of Yamato. Let me also say that I wrote the drama CD that comes with the limited edition Blu-ray from Amazon, and absolutely everyone should buy it. (Laughs)

Habara: It’s really hilarious!!

Through ads in newspapers and weekly magazines, 2202 appeals to the 4 million dormant people who saw Farewell

Interviewer: Now that Chapter 1 has been seen in theaters, what particular points can you talk about?

Fukui: The various feelings of the staff and Assistant Director Makoto Kobayashi are at a level that goes beyond me.

Habara: The passion everyone puts into their work is staggering.

Fukui: On the story side, there was a point that the structure of the first chapter bears a close resemblance to Princess Mononoke. Because of the Wave-Motion Gun taboo, the cursed god Gatlantis is coming. Yamato grudgingly goes on a journey in response to that curse. I hadn’t noticed that interpretation myself, but I thought about it after it was said.

Habara: On the visual side, whereas 2199 used the logo of the original TV series, 2202 uses the version from the theatrical version of the first film. It evolved into a more slender image.

Fukui: I heard that you changed the balance of the original logo.

Habara: I changed the balance, but the “TO” character [in YA-MA-TO] was leaning a bit, so I straightened it up. Ultimately, I confirmed what the main staff designer had made. And the shape of Yamato‘s body becomes clearer from the second chapter. The specs for 2202 come from the Farewell version of Yamato. The points are the change in shape of the upper fairing and the wings become red with the raising of the waterline. You can check it in the image.

Fukui: That is important.

Habara: In the first chapter, it was a really big thing for me personally to ask Tomonori Kogawa, who was the overall art director for Farewell, to do some key animation.

Fukui: Will you be asking for more in the future? If he draws it, it will be a model for future animators.

Habara: That’s right. When it’s possible, I’d like to ask Mr. Kogawa for special scenes.

Interviewer: Mr. Kogawa has also published books on animation drawing, hasn’t he?

Habara: The Animation Drawing Method series is very helpful for our generation. The contents are packed full from basic drawing to how to do a pass. After that book came out, I think the ability of animators increased in general afterward.

Interviewer: How did you decide on the first subtitle, Koshi Hen [Beginning Chapter]?

Fukui: It was devised by Mr. Habara’s son.

Habara: Everyone suggested subtitles, but since there were no really good ideas, I asked my oldest son, “How do you say origin”? Since he is learning Chinese literature, he gave the word Koshi to mean the beginning of things.

Fukui: There was the opinion that it’s difficult to read, and might be an unreadable [kanji] character, but we decided it felt like a resolute expression, so it was good. A universal, classical expression would appeal to the 4 million people who once saw Farewell. I use military terminology in the work, but the content itself is not difficult.

Habara: On the other hand, the subtitle of Chapter 2 is very simple: Launch Chapter.

Fukui: I applied the idea of what kind of title would be attached to an old literary collection. And if no one has a better idea for Chapter 3, it will be Pure Love Chapter.

Habara: Funny. (Laughs)

Fukui: The motif is from The Human Condition films (Part 1 of the trilogy, Pure Love was released in 1959). It doesn’t necessarily sound like a subtitle of 2202, but because a movie with the title Your Name is popular, maybe it’s better to play it straight.

Habara: That title certainly couldn’t be seen as a straight pitch if it wasn’t attached to Yamato. It feels like Yamato.

Interviewer: It follows Farewell, but it’s not unusual for many voices to say, “I’m expecting it to develop differently from the original work” with regard to a remake.

Habara: I’m grateful for that reaction.

Fukui: Since 2202 is a sequel to 2199, it can’t be a simple remake that traces Farewell. So when you think about it, what’s interesting is how different a work it will be. Before 2199 was released, it was prepared so that you could see it without knowing anything about Yamato at all. Although this is a new work, I have gotten a lot of impressions that the flavor of Farewell is unexpectedly intact.

Habara: In Chapter 1, the Hero’s Hill part came out well.

Fukui: People have been watching 2199 for a while, but the worrisome point was whether or not those potential customers would see 2202.

Habara: It’s not the layer of the so-called official fan club members.

Fukui: I think it’s a noteworthy point that the presence of 2202 has penetrated into such a layer. This time, the advertising level includes a lot of general newspapers, which is usually impossible for limited-event screenings. The power of newspaper media is still strong for those in their 40s and 50s.

Habara: The paper medium is still strong. Weekly magazines, too.

Looking at the Farewell poster, a child’s mind thinks, “This ship is departing for somewhere.”

Interviewer: Please share a memory from 1978 when Farewell was released.

Habara: In those days, it wasn’t common for an anime movie to go into general release because it was a time when the word “animation” was unfamiliar to the world. In that way, theatrical screenings of Yamato looked very new to our generation, so I jumped on it. When Farewell came out, I definitely had to go and see it.

Fukui: It was a movement, wasn’t it? The upper generation had Triton of the Sea and Gatchaman and fanzines were born, but Director Habara was a junior high student in those days and I was in elementary school so I hadn’t gotten that far yet. I saw a picture of it before I knew what Yamato was. There was a sign at a movie theater of the three-deck carrier in the Domel fleet, and I have a memory of thinking “What is this?” It looked something like a large sushi.

Habara: That might have been a visual for the first Yamato movie. There was the image of Yamato facing toward you from the distance.

Fukui: Yamato looked like sushi to me back then. (Laughs) So I knew that there was something called Space Battleship Yamato, and about a year later I saw the Farewell poster with Yamato turned away. I looked at it and thought, “I don’t know that ship, but it’s going somewhere.” Just after that, the first movie was broadcast on TV, so I got the feeling of meeting Yamato properly.

Interviewer: The title Farewell is still impressive.

Fukui: There was a feeling in the poster image that it had already gone away somewhere. I didn’t usually use words like “Saraba” [Japanese for Farewell] but there was a “Sabara” in Makoto-Chan, and I knew that “Saraba” meant to go somewhere. From the first movie and Farewell, the Yamato wave came, and full-fledged model kits were released, too. Until then, it was only a windup-type thing [referencing the 1974 Yamato kit’s windup moter].

Interviewer: Did you buy models?

Fukui: I jumped on them.

Habara: The first Yamato model I bought was the deform display model (later changed to “image model” when Farewell opened). When I opened the box I thought, “It’s different from what I imagined.” (Laughs) I didn’t know about the earlier windup model.

Fukui: Feelings-wise, you still sort of want to build than windup model.

Habara: When you opened up the box for the image model, the hull parts were on their side and it looked like an ocean sunfish. (Everyone laughs)

Fukui: Conversely, I have to ask what if an image model was done of the 2202 version. I think nowadays I also admire it for the interior.

Habara: The image model might be suitable if it were smaller, like a capsule toy.

With 2202 the word is “I’ll put my soul into it.” If there was no soul, it wouldn’t be Yamato.

Interviewer: The first chapter made good use of Yamato music.

Habara: Farewell has a good atmosphere of the entire work all the way through it, including the music. In the Hero’s Hill scene in 2202, I was particular about selecting the music and timing of the original. There’s another scene from Farewell that I am committed to using in the second chapter, so please look forward to it.

Interviewer: The subtitle of Chapter 2 is Launch Chapter, and Yamato‘s launch scene should raise expectations.

Habara: I think that’s an important highlight, so I’m researching the original from the storyboard stage. I’m concerned about the balance of 3DCG, including the balance of anime drawing and the expression of waves.

Interviewer: Are Andromeda and her sister ships also active in Chapter 2?

Habara: Please look forward to the scene of Andromeda and Yamato passing each other.

Fukui: There wasn’t an opportunity for Andromeda and Yamato to have a confrontation in Farewell, but there was that moment in Yamato 2 when they passed each other. I wanted the structure of 2202 to really show that off.

Interviewer: The topic of which is stronger often comes up among fans.

Fukui: If Yamato is an uncle who supported Japan’s high-growth period, Andromeda is the good-looking guy who came in from a brokerage firm in New York. What would happen if those two got into a fight? Wouldn’t you like to see that?

Interviewer: The journey of 2202 continues, so please share a message for the fans.

Fukui: The schedule is murder. If we can run the course exactly as planned all the way to the end, I believe 2202 will be a great work. I want to run powerfully from now on without losing sight of that course.

Habara: I’m thinking about how to take care of my body. I’ll take it to the limit, but I can’t collapse. I’ve said it many times, but if I were to describe my feeling in a word, it would be, “I’ll put my soul into it.” If I didn’t carve that into my heart and push it forward with all my soul, it wouldn’t be Yamato. I may be inadequate on my own, but I’m supported by the power of everyone. Thank you until the last.

The End

Special thanks to Neil Nadelman for translation support.

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