Yamato 2199 Mecha Talk

An interesting feature popped up at the official Yamato 2199 website on January 18 2013, the transcript of a conversation about various aspects of the mecha scenes in Chapter 4. Naturally, the participants were Director Yutaka Izubuchi and Mechanical Director Masanori Nishii, who we’ve heard from more than anyone else on these matters. See the original post here. Translation follows.

Space Battleship Yamato 2199 Chapter 4 Attention Point Commentary!

The appeal of Yamato 2199 is the detail in its settings and expressions. Director Yutaka Izubuchi and Chief Mechanical Director Masanori Nishii comment on attention points in Chapter 4!

Attention Point 1

Type-99 Space Combat Fighter Cosmo Falcon (from Episode 11)

Nishii: I gave my personal attention the scene in which Rei Yamamoto escapes from the Cosmo Falcon!

Izubuchi: In this scene, the ejection seat for escaping from the Cosmo Falcon was hand-drawn instead of 3DCG.

Nishii: For this scene, we reached for the top with mechanic design by Mr. Junichiro Tamamori.

Izubuchi: Mr. Tamamori even drew the ejection handle into the design.

Nishii: In the designs drawn by Mr. Tamamori, function is included in the smallest details. For example, the sharp point on the headrest is for breaking through the glass canopy if it doesn’t separate for some reason.

Izubuchi: It’s actually equipped with a headrest and ejection seat like a real fighter. This emphasizes its image as a fighter, even though the inertia would be horrific in outer space. (Laughs)

Nishii: The design features incorporate meaningful function even down to the smallest detail, and on top of that, are presented in a futuristic manner as you’d expect from the year 2199. In a subsequent scene, Rei drifts through space, and there is a life-support system attached to the seatbelt. It might be interesting to study the detail in the drawing because it’s also firmly attached to the back of the seat, too.

Attention Point 2

Super Dreadnaught-class Battleship Domelus III (from Episode 13)

Nishii: In the scene of the Domelus landing, the gangway moves in 3D, but everything else is hand-drawn. In the scenes after this, the Domelus III can be seen behind Domel when he disembarks, and we blurred it with a photographic effect.

Izubuchi: Of course, a feeling of distance comes out with a blur effect. However, it’s difficult to see the hand-drawing when the blur is turned on.

Nishii: Nothing is lost, since I draw it with the assumption that it will be blurred. Some might say, “Well, if it’s going to be blurred, you can avoid drawing it and just leave it as CG, can’t you?” But I stick to drawing it.

Nishii: In addition, all the scenes of the Domelus III in the landing scene are hand-drawn. The ship in this scene is 400 meters from the gangway ladder to the tip.

Izubuchi: Here, it is expressed with aerial perspective.

Nishii: There is the huge hull of Domelus III and a tall structure behind it, and I think you get a tremendous feeling of scale from this composition.

Izubuchi: Also, because it is specifically met by a car, that just tells you how far it is to the base. That’s how you can understand the enormity of the Domelus III.

Attention Point 3

Dimensional Submarine UX-01 (from Episode 13)

Nishii: There’s nothing else to say, this scene is just plain cool!

Izubuchi: It is cool.

Nishii: For this scene of the Dimensional sub, we added detail with hand-drawing over 3DCG, and combined with processing for a water surface. I think it gives a good impression of a different dimensional space. Adding detail to the modeling has become a familiar situation since the beginning.

Izubuchi: This wasn’t so much a case of “We did it because we wanted to,” but the truth is there’s a scene in Episode 10 where Yamato falls into a dimensional rift, where the altered dimension was represented by what appears to be light filtering in from the surface of the ocean. Before the action with the dimensional sub began, we were free to experiment.

Nishii: It was expressed like ripples flowing over a submarine hull. This could probably only be done a work called Space Battleship Yamato. (Laughs)

Izubuchi: So, it WAS something we wanted to do, huh? (Laughs) Aside from that, it uses a screw rather than rocket propulsion. It has these twin sets of screw-like devices driving it, and the rotation they produce really gives it a nice feel!

Nishii: This part is more about looking good than being reasonable. Leaving aside the question of what “dimensional tanks” actually are, the words “Blow dimensional tanks” just have such a nice ring that lifts the scene higher.

Izubuchi: This screw is the device for a dimensional submarine dive. If it’s cruising in regular space, it flies normally with the rear nozzle. Therefore, the screw doesn’t turn when in normal space.

Nishii: The propellor is only for use in the different dimensional space.

Izubuchi: Yasushi Ishizu did the mechanic design for the Dimensional Submarine, and since various expressions of it are shown at different angles, I think it’s a really good design.

Izubuchi: This scene is also cool.

Nishii: Since we’re “underwater” so to speak, you have the boat’s hull moving over the camera, which is tilted up. One of the two absolutely necessary shots you do whenever a submarine is involved. (Laughs)

Izubuchi: You can’t see the screw very well because it’s backlit, but I think it would be visible in a theater on a big screen.

Nishii: The scene of the launch tube opening to fire torpedoes is all hand-drawn. Since it would get a lot of attention, we put a lot of work into the paint scraping.

Izubuchi: Even though it’s a new ship, it has paint scraping! (Laughs)

Nishii: The cover of the launch tube opens when a space torpedo is fired, so there is some wear when the torpedo scrapes against it. (We used this to indicate the assumption that parts get scraped by the so-called “torpedo guard”.) So even in a test-firing on a new ship…

Izubuchi: Even a new ship would have scratches on it.

Nishii: That’s right. Mr. Ishizu made the point that there should be scratches. Also, there’s the cover that slides open, and another copper-colored one in the back. The model didn’t have this, so it came from the design drawing, and we adopted those instructions for it to open with a double structure in the animation. It’s a small point, but I think you’ll understand it if you look closely.

Attention Point 4

Subspace Torpedo (from Episode 13)

Nishii: The appearance of the subspace torpedo in normal space was the idea of Mr. Shinji Higuchi, who drew the storyboard for Episode 13. It ignites after it emerges into normal space from the different dimension. It was shown in Mr. Higuchi’s storyboard with the directions, “Let’s go with it!”

Izubuchi: Although cruising through the different dimension is like being underwater, a missile exits into normal space and then BAM, fires its afterburner. That’s its expression for advancing.

Nishii: That’s the uniqueness of Mr. Higuchi.

Izubuchi: Yeah, “Shin-chan does it again!”

Izubuchi: For the scene of Yamato‘s pulse lasers intercepting the torpedo, we put the camera behind the high-angle turrets for the first time.

Nishii: As for this, when the pulse laser hits the subspace torpedo, it twists and explodes after going past that point. A section of it gets hit, then tumbles off without exploding.

Izubuchi: This scene also shows the place where it impacts.

Nishii: Toward the rear [of Yamato], near the propulsion area. The idea is that it gets diverted and swerves in a new direction.

Izubuchi: In the scene where the upper area of the port auxiliary engine is hit by a proximity blast, although it gets damaged due to the close range, I wanted it to strike in a place where it wouldn’t damage the thrust. (Laughs)

Nishii: By chance, it exploded against a spot with thicker armor. (Laughs)

End of Text

Special thanks to Neil Nadelman for translation support.

Approaching the appeal of Gamilas mecha!!

An Interview with Mechanical designer Yasushi Ishizu, published in Hobby Japan magazine #525 (March, 2013)

In Space Battleship Yamato 2199, the appeal of Yamato as the standout protagonist mecha is contrasted with the Gamilas mecha that come up in the story one by one. The weaponry of the despotic Gamilas Empire has a kind of “formal beauty” that is reminiscent of the German military in World War II, and is no less appealing than Yamato. With that in mind, we interviewed Mr. Yasushi Ishizu, who supervises the design and layout of Gamilas mecha for 2199.

From Chiba prefecture. Previous productions: Mobile Suit Gundam 0083 Stardust Memory (1991, mecha art), Toward the Terra (2007, mechanical design), and game design for the tank game Panzer Front. Responsible for Gamilas mecha design in Yamato 2199. See more of his credits here.

For Episode 10 (Graveyard of the Universe), Mr. Ishizu was directly involved in scenes depicting the Gaiderol-class Astro Battleship of General Goer (camouflage version), and wanted to draw attention to its intricate detail. He labored over it for about a month and a half.

Interviewer: Please tell us how you got the opportunity to participate in the production of Yamato 2199.

Ishizu: I’ve been drinking buddies with Director Izubuchi for a long time, since my days as a member of Studio Nue. After resigning from Nue, I worked with him for the first time when we collaborated on mecha design (for Mobile Suit Gundam 0080 in 1989). In fact, I’d been wanting to work on Yamato since the 90s, and we talked about it often.

The direct opportunity to participate in the production of 2199 probably first came up in 2007, when I was working with Izubuchi on Toward the Terra. However, talk of 2199 started long before then. By chance, I was hanging around with Izubuchi at just the right time. (Laughs)

Interviewer: What kind of mecha design do you deal with?

Ishizu: In the case of warships, I’m responsible for the Astro Battleship-class vessels. Director Izubuchi himself handles the subordinate ships, such as cruisers. The Gaiderol-class Astro Battleship, the Haizerad-class Astro Battleship, the first-class dreadnaught Domelus III, the Polmeria-class Astro Assault carrier, the multi-deck Gaiperon-class Astro Assault carrier‚Ķand there’s also a ship that has not appeared yet. [Editor’s note: if your head is spinning from all those names, head on down to the bottom of this page.]

Then there are special things, such as the Dimensional Submarine UX-01. Other than that, there’s the Strike Fighter DWG229 Melanka, the Recon Craft FG156 Sumaruhe, and the Space Combat Fighter DWG262 Tsvualke. Incidentally, I generally design the interiors of every ship, such as the enclosed bridge.

Other than Gamilas mecha, I was allowed to design Scheherazade, the interstellar contact ship from Iscandar. In fact, that’s the first design I submitted. It was December 2008, just four years ago. I can remember how glad I was to learn what was possible. Sasha’s rocket from the original series is my favorite design, and I wanted to keep the same form. In the end, I changed the front side considerably.

Interviewer: What sort of points do you take into consideration when doing a design?

Ishizu: Mr. Izubuchi’s first design was the Destoria-class Astro Heavy Cruiser. When I took a look at it, I said “it hasn’t changed at all.” (Laughs) It became the design guideline for Gamilas ships. For example, the Gaiderol-class is based on Shulz’ battleship from the original. While I wanted to preserve the design as much as possible, I also wanted to refine it to a modern style. Longtime fans should know it at a glance. Therefore, I don’t get too adventurous.

Interviewer: I’ve heard that Director Izubuchi has a special fondness for mecha on the Gamilas side. When you consider a design, what kind of exchange do you have with the director?

Ishizu: In the early days, the things I submitted to Mr. Izubuchi didn’t always get an OK. When I dealt with the strike fighter [Melanka], I first thought about it in flight and shaped it that way, but “that’s not right.” I labored over it for a month and a half. Revisions were gradually added, and after my modifications I finally got an OK with, “I like this sort of thing.” That’s how it went.

Interviewer: I thought the camouflage on Melanka, which attacked Yamato in Episode 2, was really cool.

Ishizu: I thought the attack plane in the original was pretty cool, too. By the way, Izubuchi’s image for this was the Horten [the Ho229 flying wing bomber developed in Germany during World War II].

As for the Polmeria-class in 2199, in the original it was made smaller than Yamato to give it the appearance of a high-speed aircraft carrier, but we found that the scale wouldn’t allow it to carry many planes, so we made it considerably bigger.

The Dimensional Submarine started from the I-400 [a Japanese navy sub], which was the world’s largest at the time of World War II. It was set at the same length of 122 meters, but I thought, “that’s a little small” and made it 144 meters.

Interviewer: Is there a scene that you have particular feelings about?

Ishizu: The Reflection Satellite Gun in Episode 5. The design itself was by Kazutaka Miyatake, but I was in charge of the animation. In fact, this was actually the first time I drew a picture directly for animation production. I was nervous at first, but when the mechanism for the gun worked perfectly, I was relieved. I guess anime is hard. (Laughs)

The scene where the Gamilas fleet launches when Yamato attacks the Pluto base in Episode 6 is also good. I always wanted to see a scene like that. Also, the scene on the bridge. That’s when the captain can stand up to his full height, so to speak. However, I felt that many parts would not be understood unless they were drawn and that it would be difficult. But even though the design was very complex, I was glad that the animation was drawn very well.

Interviewer: Which mecha do you especially like?

Ishizu: I’m still drawn by my first impression, so it’s the Scheherazade. I also have a feeling of relief for how the design image for the Gaiderol-class was carried out. It will come out in various ways on future things, so I think I’ll be looking forward to it myself. (Laughs)

Interviewer: Have you built any 2199 mecha models?

Ishizu: I haven’t built any in a while. But I’d like to build the Gaiderol-class if it gets made, because I feel like I want to check the three-dimensional state of it myself.

Interviewer: Are there any points you’d like our readers to watch for in the future?

Ishizu: I’d like to make designs and animation that we can all be comfortable with. Because various mecha and gimmicks are coming up, I think you’ll enjoy them.

Interviewer: Thank you very much.

(Recorded one day in December at Xebec Studio, Kokobunji.)

Visit the Gamilas mecha archive at the official 2199 website here.

The End

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