Originally published in the Yamato III Roman Album.
It was 1969 when I first envisioned Space Battleship Yamato. Production started shortly after the first “oil shock,” which demonstrated to an economically prosperous Japan that happiness and prosperity would not last forever. This sense of collapse was felt not only in Japan, but all over the world.
Amid this, I wanted to demonstrate that there was something more than desperation for people to believe in. Humans have a power that can overcome desperation, and that power is love. We often have a sense of being held back, but I do not want young people to lose the freshness of their minds and hearts. Young people can discover the future, and any person can discover the happiness of their own life.
Yamato is a work of entertainment, but I hope you can find my message in it.
General Concept, Original Story, Director
It has been seven or eight years since I started to work on Yamato. The series owes its longevity largely to support from the fans, and as a creator, I am very fortunate. The story was originally supposed to end with series 1, so it was hard not to destroy the initial image while creating new stories. In series 3, Yamato flew from my hands, and I largely left it to the staff. They had a hard time, and I appreciate their efforts.
In previous stories, Yamato saved the Earth from invaders, but this time Yamato takes off on a mission to find a second Earth, owing to abnormal changes of the Sun, and I think this shows a different aspect of Yamato. Also, Earth gets caught up in interplanetary wars between the Galman Empire and Bolar Federation, which closely reflects the contemporary conditions of our world. Kodai is appointed as captain, Shima and Sanada are appointed as deputy-captains, and the new crew members bring changes to both our story and characters
I have a great attachment to Yamato, but if another new work is created, I do not want to participate unless my heart is in it. Otherwise, I am afraid that Yamato will no longer be my work.
I was selected to direct series 3, and I had to get familiar with Yamato very quickly. The story was created in cooperation with Mr. Matsumoto, and since this is a continuation from previous stories, we had hard time developing a new story at the same high standards. Each story of Yamato has a theme, and the grand theme which pierces through the entire series is “love.” Having said this, I hope viewers can grasp the specific theme of Yamato III. That is; you need to face reality and act by yourselves, enduring the suffering and pain. In this story, the Earth will become extinct because of the abnormal changes of the Sun. Yamato searches for the second Earth but fails, and the Earthlings must find some way to deal with the sun. However, the projected 52 episodes were reduced to 25, and we were forced to conclude the story in the last five episodes.
I didn’t have trouble with the concepts, but I had a hard time making the new crew members part of Yamato so they would be recognized as true Yamato characters by fans. I regret not being able to give the new crew members more active roles. Finally, I hope Yamato will continue to be the home-run king until the end of the anime world.
I think the reason Yamato has been loved by so many fans ever since the beginning is because of its romantic depiction of mankind, and the drama of uniting behind the goal of improving the future. This time, since the basic concept was created by Mr. Eiichi Yamamoto, I had no problem with the big picture, but I did have a hard time with the details.
I hope that the viewers see Yamato itself as an equal to the characters, rather than a mere mechanism, and understand that the essence of things is important, not to be preoccupied by flashy battle scenes, which are merely surface images.
Next, Yamato will take off on the last journey. In honor of this, I am hoping to write a story which will forever remain in the heart of those who watch it, even if Yamato disappears. It will be best if Yamato stays in their hearts and travels with them wherever they may go in their own journeys.
Episodic Director, Storyboards
At the beginning, I only drew storyboards for Yamato as a pinch hitter. After seven times, I became an episode director, which amazes me. Prior to this, I had a creative pattern for myself and worked only within my pattern. This was possible because in previous jobs I could get away with it, and my lack of study gave me some bad habits. When creating storyboard for this series, there were many places that I could not apply my previous style, and that gave me some difficulties.
When dealing with a pre-existing series, I have to fully understand it in order to respect what has happened prior to my involvement. I did my best, but I regret that certain details got away from me. In the end, veteran animators fully covered my weaknesses, and I appreciate them for that.
Finally, personally, I hope the rich series of Yamato will continue for a long time.
When I was hired to direct sound effects for Yamato, I took time to watch all the previous works. However, because of the tight schedule, my work went day and night. In our job, the individual effects don’t matter as much as the image as a whole. The script and storyboard help me to understand the complete image, and I read them so thoroughly that I consume them as my own.
I believe animation is a comprehensive art which becomes complete only when the picture and the sound are combined. To think of it as drawing pictures adding sounds is incorrect. Instead, the sound is part of the creation. If the sound simply follows the picture, or the picture is affected by the sound, it cannot be regarded as true animation, I think. In this series, I’m glad that I could live up to my ideals.
Finally, I am thankful that I could participate in this magnificent drama.
I think the art in this series shows a great sense of consistency. As new Yamato stories were created, the artstyle became more colorful and showed deeper and more solid sensibilities. In series 3, I think it’s natural that outer space itself would be presented with deep, rich colors. For example, by selecting green for Galman Empire, red for the Bolar Federation, and blue for Shalbert.
Also, the surface of a planet should not look the same as the Earth simply because it has atmosphere, so I used different colors. On Planet Phantom, for instance, I emphasized the good points of the Earth and then re-arranged them. This was my favorite setting.
Unfortunately, since time was short, so when I created the art design for the Sun, I asked the filming staff to do in one camera-pass, which must have been difficult for them. I’m afraid they had a tough time.
I was in charge of the mechanical designs, and what I regret most is that my work was incomplete due to lack of time. I mainly worked on the spaceships of Galman Empire and the Earth. The producers side did have many special requests. I myself wanted to move forward from the previous works. However, the previous design work was so strong that if I had gone too far, the viewers would not have accepted it. I paid special attention to this point when creating designs.
This work is the third or fourth Yamato production for me. Compared to my previous work, this time my designs do not have excessive lines, and I think they are more suitable to anime. It’s up to the viewers to decide whether it is good or bad. My other regret is that many of my designs were not used, such as the robots which were only seen rarely.
My ambitions from now on are first to design mechanics for mecha fanatics, and second to work on live action films.
In Yamato III, I designed the look and mecha of the Galman Empire, including the Zeadora III fighter plane. (Named after the German ship Seeadler from World War I.) I also designed the Earth Battleship Arizona, the armory of Planet Shalbert, and settings for Planet Phantom and Planet Birth. I tried specifically not to disregard earlier designs, since the architecture and mechanics of the Galman Empire were descended from the Gamilus Empire.
I also submitted conceptual ideas, such as the multi-dimensional submarine, the six-deck aircraft carrier, and the hyper-Dessler cannon. Since I thought up a variety of things, I became a jack-of-all-trades. It became difficult when my ideas did not match those of the producers. I was a great fan of the first series, so I aspired to the strong images of Leiji Matsumoto, and I worked hard to take my designs in that direction.
I did a variety of things on this series, and I especially liked designing the Galman Empire. I incorporated the look of series 1, and gave my designs an organic sense. In particular, I liked Dessler’s Palace since I reworked two or three times.
I have always been interested in Yamato as both a mecha designer and a fan. In creating the mechanical designs for the Bolar side, I reviewed all of Yamato‘s previous mechanical designs. I found that mecha for Yamato and the Galmans feature sharp lines, so the Bolar mecha feature a fusion of straight and curved lines. Designs like that of the Legendra were the result of this thinking.
When I started this process, I simply drew rounded machines which failed to express speed, weight, or substance, and I had hard time revising them. The producers pushed further, searching for a variety of new possibilities.
At any rate, I always like to draw cool-looking designs, even at the cost of logic. This is my policy for creating good things, as both a designer and a fan.
What I felt during this production was that there were too many new characters. Is it ever possible to deal with so many in a limited time? Because the program was reduced to a half year schedule, I’m afraid it failed to fully explore their personalities. In particular, I feel as that with the exception of Ageha and Domon, the new characters just passed in front of our eyes, and I wholeheartedly regret this. If the program had continued, it would have been richer for it.
However, I was surprised with the depth of the story even with a half-year production, so when wondering what would happen if it had continued for a year, I get scared. At any rate, I learned a lot.
When designing characters for any program, it is important to understand the director’s intentions. In this production, I had hard time making my vision match that of the director. I got a solid image of Domon on my first try, but I revised Ageha twice. I lament that many characters ended up being mere decoration on the screen, though I enjoyed creating them. For example, I designed Keeling as a sensitive person despite his nihilistic and cold appearance. Yet he appeared merely as the chief of staff and his personality was not brought out.
Finally, to those who want to be animators, I suggest that you have lots of avarice. Don’t work by your preferences alone, but seek out all sorts of experiences.
If any series continues for a long time, it is easy to fall into a rut, and Yamato is no exception. I did my best not to destroy the previous image of Yamato. In series 3, I noticed that many of the main characters turned into honor students, and ran the risk of losing their personalities.
I originally thought I would only work on Be Forever Yamato, but I was asked to continue animating for Yamato III, and I eventually accepted. This time, I did not participate in development, and limited myself to doing key animation for one outsourcing studio. Because of the schedule, I didn’t get deeply involved, so I ended up doing merely a technical job. I left the details to the assistant director, and I still feel sorry about it. Had there been more time, I would have wanted to remake it completely.
I did animation for the first TV series. After a long time doing other projects, I came back and I had hard time because the characters were so different. In other words, I tried to follow Mr. Koizumi’s character designs, but it is undeniable that the visual flavor of my style did not match the current design sense.
As for the animation itself, it was good for me to harmonize the directing and drawing by introducing a new system. Previously, directing and animation were done by different people, so the opinions of the two weren’t always in synch. The opinion of the animator was not fully reflected, and this was unsatisfying. In this Yamato production, the animation could fully express the intention of the director, so although it meant more physical work, it was less mentally stressful.
“I never want to work again for that demanding Yamato.” Whenever I finished a job, I always thought this. Nonetheless, I’m still doing it on this series. It’s always tough to work with such a tight schedule, but since we adopted a new system to harmonize directing with animation, I found it very easy to add my own style to the work. However, this also caused some characters to stray from the original designs.
I myself like the world of Yamato. That’s why I have kept company with it until now. But I think this Yamato left many problems to be solved. I heard Kodai and Yuki will get married in the next story, but I am firmly against it. Yuki Mori is THE heroine of Yamato. She must remain so. Am I only one who thinks this way?
In Yamato, I think the action scenes were the most important to us in terms of animation, and because of this, drama or dialogues was de-emphasized. The part I enjoyed most was the missile fighters of the Galman Empire, and though I am proud of other scenes, after looking at the final program, I think it is my best achievement.
In this production, the schedule was as tight as Be Forever Yamato, but other than this and the fact that there were not many scenes I wanted to draw, it was easy to do. Personally, I wanted to draw a wider variety of scenes, not just the combat scenes and mechanics. If I can participate in the next work, I would like to draw different kinds of scenes.
Read our tribute to Yoshinori Kanada here
It is very difficult to come up with the new motifs since I have created so much music for Yamato. I always try to musically express the image of Yamato held by Mr. Nishizaki, so this places limits on what I can create as a composer. Also, there were many times when I created a piece that I liked, but Mr. Nishizaki asked me to revise it for the sake of the overall series.
As for the ending songs of this series, I wanted to express a feminine image. What do you think of it? In particular, I had originally composed “Parting” for the score of The New Voyage, and since Mr. Nishizaki liked the piece I re-arranged it for one of the ending title songs.