Yamato 2199 Crew Testimony

When Yamato 2199 was released on home video in Japan, each of the seven volumes came with 12-page, full color introductory booklets covering the episodes found on that disc. Each booklet ended with a brief essay by a heavy hitter from the production crew, both old and new. Those seven essays are presented here.

Naoyuki Katoh

promotional visual collaboration

I think of my illustrations as the basic Yamato of a new age

I participated in Space Battleship Yamato in the early 1970s, at a time when the genre called SF didn’t yet have much acceptance in the world. Along with friends who were also interested in SF visuals, I started a tight-knit company after graduating from college, and it was a time of great pressure from the need to produce our own work.

One day, Kenichi Matsuzaki showed me a picture a rock-covered ship, a triangular battleship with small rocks flying around it. It was Asteroid Ship, a predecessor in the planning of Yamato.

Later, the title changed to Yamato. Kazutaka Miyatake and I were in charge of designing and sketching the concepts that came up. The sketches piled up in huge quantities as we both proudly worked in our field. I mainly did the underground city and accessories of Earth. Miyatake took the leading role on Yamato to do the pass images and orthographic views.

When seen at an oblique angle from the front, looking up at the bridge structure from the bow and the Wave-Motion Gun to the unique swell of the curved surface underneath, the things that were emphasized in the pass images were mostly drawn by Miyatake. No one else could imitate the deform, only Miyatake could have drawn it. However, when Miyatake was too busy to provide drawings of other angles, the staff and I drew them while referring to his orthographic views. When Yamato was seen from the rear, the picture I drew became the standard in the end. It is the same for the various people who specialized in key animation.

After the first anime broadcast, Miyatake and I drew Yamato in several places, including special features in books and magazines that introduced Yamato. Miyatake was always in charge of the putting the pen to paper, and I only did color painting under his instructions.

This time, when I was asked to do the bonus sleeve illustrations for the Blu-rays and DVDs, I was honestly nervous about whether I could draw Yamato on my own. Although I drew Yamato several years ago in a package illustration for the 1/350 model and a foldout frontispiece for Deagostini’s Weekly Yamato Fact File, it took me a lot of time to fix the form of Yamato.

When I attended my first meeting with the main staff at the studio, Director Izubuchi showed me the amazing detailed image illustrations by Mr. Junichiro Tamamori, and my worries vanished.

My painting technique is the pursuit of realism. In the theme of mecha, the work of creating a presence through the texture of metal and complex parts has continued for many years. Although I can’t beat Miyatake in capturing the form of Yamato as a whole, if I alone can paint Yamato with attention to detail, I may paint a Yamato that hasn’t been seen before. Nevertheless, it must be a Yamato that matches the image of many people.

For the sleeve illustrations, I proposed the ideas and compositions for all seven volumes from the beginning. Rather than finishing them one by one in time for the screenings, if I were to draw various Yamatos early on, I could take the time to make fixes before the final deadline comes, and the struggles of one volume could be effectively applied to another. Therefore, I drew about ten different sketches on the same day after the meeting was over and sent them in the mail. Discussions caused that group of sketches to develop in other directions. The Yamato 2199 production committee ordered other pictures of Yamato, and I got to paint illustrations for promotion. At this time, I have at least five Yamato paintings going simultaneously.


Born 1952 in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture. Works mainly as an illustrator for Starship Troopers and Legend of Galactic Heroes, and especially as a cover painter for SF novels. One of the founding members of Studio Nue, who was in charge of mecha design for the original Space Battleship Yamato.

Read a 2010 interview with Naoyuki Katoh here.

Nobuhiro Okaseko

First series character design

When I saw fans come to my house in those days, I realized it was a different kind of work.

I came to participate in Space Battleship Yamato in the wake of my work for Wansa-kun. I was inspired by what Yoshinobu Nishizaki had in mind. It seemed also that Mr. Eiichi Yamamoto recommended me, which was great.

I was not necessarily decided upon as the character designer in the beginning, and it is said that Yamato was chosen from drawings by several animators, so it was an audition, so to speak. By the way, Yuki Mori was designed by Toyoo Ashida, and I only put my hand in to unify the image. I made the pilot film after the character design. I proposed that it be made in about one week. Because I held the additional posts of director and animation director, it was a series of all-nighters. I was relieved when the film was completed, but shortly after that, I collapsed with a stomach ulcer. I was hospitalized for a while, and left the staff in a lot of trouble.

I was supposed to be in charge of monitoring the design of guest characters, but because I had done character design alone up until then, I hadn’t communicated enough to the staff. I came to hear “Is this good?” in my hospital room. I also drew in my bed. (Laughs) The chief animation director asked Mr. Ashida to take over for me, since I could no longer participate because of the schedule, and I had feelings of regret in those days that what was televised ended up being inconsistent. But I’m grateful that the fans enjoy it for its personality.

Another achievement of Yamato was to bring me close up with anime fans. In those days, fans visited me in my home studio (which was different from other works thus far). This made me realize that Yamato was a first. It may have been impossible to make another one.

I assumed that stock drawings would be made for the movement of Yamato. When everyone saw that design, they would say, “I can’t make this move.” Therefore, I thought that if I made several scenes of Yamato in motion beforehand, only character drawings would have to be made later, and it would be easier.

I personally struggled to draw explosions in outer space. The theory was that since there would be no air, the smoke would expand forever. But if we did it for real, there would be no way to manage the number of sheets. Incidentally, Mr. Nishizaki prepared movies like The Battle of Britain as reference, and it was very helpful on the shows.

The last touch I made on Yamato was to make rough designs for the enemy characters that would appear in Farewell to Yamato. Since I was already working on Dokaben in those days, it’s all I was able to do. I did nothing else for Mr. Nishizaki, but I actually met with him shortly before he died. He called me himself, and we saw each other for the first time in 30 years. Sitting in my seat, I was surprised when he said, “Yamato became a popular work thanks to the characters you drew, so thank you.” I was told, “If we can stay in touch, maybe you can participate in making Resurrection.”

I thought Space Battleship Yamato 2199 captured the mood of the first work very well, and compared to the past the pictures are much better. I’d definitely like the staff to continue doing their best.


Born 1942 in Shimane Prefecture. Worked as a freelancer for Toei and Mushi Pro, currently represents Studio Victory. He participated in such major works as Dokaben, Captain Tsubasa, Game Center Arashi, and Warrior of Love Rainbow Man.

Mitsuru Kashiwabara

Space Battleship Yamato saga sound effects

I was desperate to make sounds that would not lose to the pictures and Mr. Miyagawa’s music

Before Space Battleship Yamato, I worked on Wansa-kun and met Mr. Nishizaki for the first time there. I was invited in by Atsushi Tashiro, the sound supervisor, who said, “I’m doing a project about a flying battleship, why don’t you do it?” I’m very interested in SF, and read a lot of the SF [novels] published by Hayakawa. I had images in my head that came from the printed page. When I heard about Yamato, I thought it was a chance to express such an image, and decided it would be interesting to take it on.

At the first Yamato meeting, it was said, “Although this is a ship flying in the sky, never forget that it’s a ship first.” Therefore, a scene in which Yamato flies across the scene was never an ordinary scene for me. I put in sounds of an engine from somewhere, and a creaky hull. I was born in Kochi [on the southern coast of Japan], so it may be that I had greater familiarity with boats from an early age since my father was a captain. It was a 200-ton ship, not comparable with Yamato, but it gave me some real experience. And since there were no demands like, “I want it this way,” I steadily made up my own images.

I made some basic sounds for the pilot film prior to the TV series, and they became the base for TV. When I put the “Pwooon” sound in the scene of Dessler’s royal palace on Gamilas, Mr. Nishizaki looked at me in surprise and said, “What goes on in your head?” (Laughs) For me the sound of the Gamilas side had to contrast with Yamato, and though I made it, it troubles me that I can’t think of where the idea came from.

I think the sound I’m most satisfied with is the firing of the Wave-Motion Gun. Rather than the boom it would make after being fired, I was more concerned with the buildup process. The process of energy building up was made with a synthesizer called a Mini Moog. Since it only made one sound at a time, I had to record it many times and made something like a score for an orchestra. I pieced it together like, “Take this up to here and this can take it from there” and so on. It could probably be made more simply these days, but it was just handmade back then. It was a lot of work, but I really like it myself. Anyway, the SF image of Yamato was wonderful, and Mr. Miyagawa’s music was also very good. As for me, I was desperate to create sounds that would not lose to these two.

Because I thought of sound effects as behind-the-scenes drudgery, I never thought there would be fans of my work. At the time of Yamato Resurrection [2009], I learned from the internet that I had gained a reputation. I found out for the first time. Therefore, when I was told that they wanted to use the sounds for the new work Yamato 2199, I was very glad. In this way, I have to believe that the work called Yamato has been blessed. Though I suffered from various hardships, I had fun making sounds not of this world like the Wave-Motion Gun and the warp.


Born 1933 in Kochi City, Kochi Prefecture. After joining Aoi Studio, he studied under Tetsuya Ohashi, Matsuo Ono, and others. He entered the world of sound effects after working on Mighty Atom. He participated in such major works as Night on the Galactic Railroad, Wings of Honneamise, Space Battleship Yamato, Doraemon, and Sazae-san.

Read extensive interviews with Mr. Kashiwabara here and here.

Akira Miyagawa

Space Battleship Yamato 2199 music

I was glad to carry on my father’s work that was brought into the limelight in those days

Speaking or myself, I loved anime even before Yamato, and watched shows like Magical Witch Sally, Mazinger Z, and Gatchaman. I saw Yamato from the first episode of the broadcast. At the time, my father was staying at work, so he wasn’t able to come home easily. Therefore, it was good that his bedroom was vacant so I could slip in and watch it on a portable TV that was in there. I had no choice, because my less-than-5-year-old sister watched Girl of the Alps Heidi on the TV in the living room. (Laughs)

I was excited after seeing the first episode, and I remember telling my mother, “A great thing has begun! The music was great, too!” When she heard that, I clearly remember her saying, “So. Papa will be glad to hear that.” Because it was such a great work, I thought it would certainly gain a great reputation at school, but out of three classes, only three people had seen it. (Laughs)

Of course, I watched it on TV through the end, and went to the movie version. The movie version wasn’t very satisfying for me personally. After all, it was impossible to summarize the content of all 26 episodes in two and a half hours, and my favorite episode was cut. My personal favorite was the story where the Dessler mines get moved by hand (Episode 11). I like a story with such a human idea.

Yamato was amazing, and although there was the Symphonic Suite, the BGM was released on a record and sold so well that it pioneered the way of anime soundtracks to be established as a true business. I watched from the sidelines as my father worked on that album, fixing the arrangements and writing new tunes for it.

I occasionally asked my father for advice like, “I want to build up this ending to full blast, but I don’t think it’s there yet. What do you think?” Since many albums came out, father knew the popularity of Yamato, but there was no fan closer to it than me. Because I was also making music in those days, it was probably the ideal setup to seek out opinions. I was very glad that I did, and that father’s work was brought into the limelight. Because of his profession, the trade papers Oricon and Music Lab came to the house every week, and at one time the Yamato single was immovable in first place. I was proud whenever I saw “Composer Hiroshi Miyagawa” written there.

One thing I regret doing, now that I think about it, was to give away the scripts for all the episodes to a friend. I probably intended to throw them away because I didn’t need them any more. They were tied up with a string, and whenever I caught a cold and stayed home from school, I read them casually. It wasn’t only the scripts, but also a proposal from when Yamato was still a ship of rock. I remember cheekily thinking at the time (about the plan book), “This is no good.” (Laughs) I probably mentioned at school that we had Yamato scripts at home. One day my friend said, “Sell them to me.” He might have quickly realized their value. (Laughs) But I said, “I’ll give them to you,” and I did. They might have become precious documents if I’d kept them. Sadly, I’ve also forgotten his name. (Laughs) But I hope he’s taking good care of them.


Born February 18, 1961 in Tokyo. Took charge of the music in many musicals, such as Shintokumaru, Hamlet, and Miracle. His composition Matsuken Samba II for Ken Matsudaira’s show became a big hit. He actively appears in performances with the Osaka Orchestra and Akira Yamamoto Ensemble Vega in various places. His BGM work includes such titles as Little Prairie Angel Bushbaby.

Special thanks to Neil Nadelman for translation support.

Yasuhiko Yoshikazu

Space Battleship Yamato storyboards

The work called Yamato was a great thing for me as well.

When I participated in Space Battleship Yamato, I thought it was through a referral from Noboru Ishiguro. We worked together at Sunrise, and since he had also been in charge of storyboards for Zerotester, I thought that was the connection. However, I learned recently that it was Yamato‘s production manager Yoshihiro Nozaki who recommended me. “He doesn’t have a lot of experience, but he’s good.”

Mr. Nozaki had been involved in Yamato since the planning stage, and said, “Here’s what I’m doing this time.” He showed me a planning book in a stage from the very early days. When he did, he didn’t outright say, “Wanna try it?” but I have a feeling it was with the expectation of, “I wonder if showing this to you will pique your interest.” (Laughs) I remember Mr. Nozaki said I would be doing storyboards. At first, I thought, why me? In my earlier storyboards on Zerotester, I had only done about ten scenes.

I participated from Episode 6, and in the opening shot I gave the ceiling of the Gamilas base a feeling like an octopus trap. Yoshinobu Nishizaki was very pleased and told me, “You understand the design very well,” and I ended up doing about half of the episodes. Still, I never got a rejection from Mr. Nishizaki or Mr. Ishiguro. Mr. Nishizaki was tolerant of me making considerable changes to the script. It was mainly Kazunori Tanahashi who issued a NG (No Good). “The imaginary line is out of order.” It was the first time I had heard such words. (Laughs)

[Translator’s note: the “imaginary line” is one that connects the characters in a scene. To preserve consistent screen direction, the camera must remain on one side of that line or the other.]

Before I joined up, Mr. Nishizaki called me to the studio where we met for the first time and he showed me the pilot film. It was great thing at the time to use optical composites for anime, but he kept getting angry at the staff, saying, “This is no good!” with that physique and that voice. I didn’t know why he was so angry. In hindsight, I guess it was a performance to show that he wasn’t satisfied with such a thing. Without knowing that at the time, I thought, “Being on his staff is quite a job.” I never thought I myself would become the staff! (Laughs)

What gave me the most trouble was the storyboard for Farewell to Yamato, which I later took charge of, and how to express the enormous White Comet of the enemy. Toshio Masuda’s screenplay said, “the Comet approaches with a boom,” and I didn’t understand how big the boom was supposed to be, so it was tough to draw. Besides, when the enemy approaches the Earth, it narrows the stage of the story, and in the first place that’s not Yamato‘s target. I made the comment to Mr. Nishizaki that Yamato should always go on an outward voyage. As a result, the trip to Planet Telezart was born.

Mr. Nishizaki was intimidating and disorganized, but I didn’t hate him. He was a good person. Whatever you might say, he was a revolutionary in the world of anime, and I was able to see the world differently because of my encounters with him. Even if I forget almost everything about the content of the work, I still vividly remember the atmosphere of the meetings he often carried out in his office at Kudanshita. It could be said that for me the memory of Yamato is synonymous with Mr. Nishizaki’s office.

Yamato is often called a great work, and it’s the same for me. Its magnetic field is strong, and when I did subsequent works it was hard not to draw them like that. Even when I resisted it while working on Mobile Suit Gundam, it might be that it gave me the power to create a new work.

(This piece was reconstructed based on a video recording of the Yutaka Izubuchi X Yasuhiko Yoshikazu interview.)


Born December 9, 1947 in Hokkaido. In 1970, he joined the Mushi Pro training school. He became a freelancer in 1973 on Zerotester, and went on not only to traditional animation but also directing, scriptwriting, and a wide range of character design. Some of his major works are Brave Raideen, Mobile Suit Gundam, Giant Gorg, and Crusher Joe. He is now a full-time manga artist with many published credits such as Arion, Mobile Suit Gundam the Origin, and Bloodline of Heaven.

Special thanks to Neil Nadelman for translation support.

Kazutaka Miyatake

Space Battleship Yamato design,
Yamato 2199 concept design

The design of Yamato reflects the needs of the age.

When the working title was still Asteroid 6, Kenichi Matsuzaki (of Studio Nue) was participating in the planning, and Naoyuki Katoh and I decided to participate in Yamato later. One day, Matsuzaki showed us a sketch of what looked like a battleship bridge sticking out of a rock, and I said, “If they make it a Japanese battleship, the name should be Yamato.” I heard that when Yoshinobu Nishizaki heard that from Matsuzaki, he made the title into Space Battleship Yamato.

I was in charge of designing Yamato for anime, and I drew the front and the side. I also did the three orthographic views. I was born in Yokosuka, and during my days as a first-grader, I boarded a battleship with my grandfather from Yokosuka to Yokohama. When I stood in front of the ship, I was overwhelmed by its enormity. The huge rivets at the front, the vibration you could feel, the smell of oil…at the time I was surprised by every single detail, and it was impossible to get a complete picture. Because of that, even though I could draw cars and fighters, I wasn’t able to draw a battleship for a while. I didn’t know how to express the size in a drawing. Therefore, I only drew parts of it, like artillery or radar.

It was the manga artist Satoru Ozawa who taught me to express a battleship in a drawing. I discovered his work Submarine 707 in my first or second year of middle school, and it was an example of know-how for fitting the huge feeling and weight of a battleship into a frame of manga. That’s where I learned the technique I utilized in the design of Yamato.

The figure of Yamato‘s front pass was greatly deformed at the bow. In that case, in order to fit a battleship into a frame of anime, as in a frame of manga, I had no choice but to draw it as if it were seen through a wide-angle lens. Another thing is the dividing line drawn on the sides. That was done in consideration of the production technology which was still low in those days, in order to give a three-dimensional impression to a ship that was drawn in black, the technique used by Mr. Ozawa.

When I was drawing the designs for Yamato, it was greatly affected by results that came out naturally. After the anime was over, the opportunity came up to redesign Yamato, and though I tinkered with it quite a bit, Yamato was Yamato after all. It can also be felt in 2199. There is a firm image of Yamato in our head, and it’s not easy to break it.

I feel that with 2199, this Yamato has become more SF. For example, the problems of genetics between humans and aliens is mentioned, and there’s a part that gives an answer, and it made me think about such things for the first time in forty years. We intended to do our best with the original work, but there were many shortcomings. Mr. Izubuchi gathered them up one by one and found answers. Even the size of Yamato, which was never actually big enough to squeeze in everything we needed; when I see the great effort that was put into this, I remember facing the same difficulties once. (Laughs) That’s why I think the idea of carrying that number of Cosmo Falcons is great. It’s very impressive, and Mr. Izubuchi was pleased that “we did it!”

In the past we used a doubling effect. (For example, when drawing the bridge interior, we pictured it twice as large as the dimensions derived from the hull length in the anime.) But such deception can’t be done these days. Including things like this, I think the design of Yamato reflects the needs of the age.


Born September 21, 1949 in Kanagawa Prefecture. Established Studio Nue while in college to deal with illustrations of anime mecha design and SF novels. His major works include Zerotester, Super Electromagnetic Robo Combattler V, Macross, Dunbine, and Mobile Suit Gundam Seed.

Read interviews with Mr. Miyatake here and here.

Yutaka Izubuchi

Yamato III design, Yamato 2199 director

The fact that I was able to remake the first series still feels like a dream

The theatrical screenings and TV broadcast have ended, but to be honest, I don’t feel like it has “finished.” The fact that I was able to remake the first series still feels like a dream.

One way or the other, you can’t say now that Yamato is some old show that’s past its prime, although that may come off as me tooting my own horn. Let’s just say that I’m no longer slightly embarrassed to talk about Yamato. Although, before doing this, even I was know to say stuff like, “Why don’t we just let it rest in peace?” (Laughs) As difficult as it is these days to create a giant nationwide boom like we saw at the time of the first show, I think we certainly achieved more than the minimum, that we managed to start a movement.

It has been 39 years since the original series was broadcast. Because a remake was done at such a time, a suitable strategy was necessary. It’s important to develop new Yamato fans, and it was also very important to satisfy the old core, myself included. But how you send a work out into the general public is a different story from the content of that work. First and foremost, we could not remove the core components. What you’re going for in the show doesn’t necessarily equal what will play widely upon transmission of that information. Where and how to mesh these together was vital. Consequently, we might have ended up with a case of chasing two rabbits and catching neither. People who were fans now have families, and I’ll be very glad if 2199 becomes a common language between parents and children.

Of course, like the journey of Yamato, there was a series of storms on this voyage. For some strange reason, such situations only lead to good things. For example, even in the development of media release, though it was originally produced as a TV series, the form became to show it in theaters at the beginning. However, after seeing the response to the screenings, [TV network] MBS stepped up to the plate. You would think it was too late for something that had already been shown in theaters, and released on Blu-ray and DVD, to air on TV. Yet, when the lid was opened the audience ratings were good. All the Yamato fans deserve the credit. Such a thing is usually impossible. (Laughs) I really appreciate it. I didn’t aim for that, but it went in a good direction. It was such a strange feeling. I was always certain that “only Mr. Izubuchi’s bad luck is strong.” However, it could also be that with 2199 I may have exhausted all the luck of my life. That’s the way I think. (Laughs)

As I said, I was a fan during the old days, but because I turned to the creator side, I had the chance to carry out the remake this way at this time. But I think that people who are fans are basically like friends. Even in becoming a creator, “My heart is closer to yours.” (Laughs) [Translator’s note: this is an inside joke – here, Izubuchi channels Dessler’s sentiment from Farewell to Yamato.] Therefore, if I went to extremes and said 2199 is “my Yamato,” I intended to make it with the belief that “this is the Yamato fans want to see.” Because a large number of fans got on board, I’d like to think this approach was a success. But maybe I’m just being presumptuous.


Born December 8, 1958 in Tokyo. Made his debut designing enemy mecha for Fighting General Daimos in 1978. Since then, he did mecha and character design for many works, such as Mobile Police Patlabor (1988) and Science Squadron Dynaman (1983). Yamato 2199 was his second experience as a General Director after Rahxephon (2002).

Special thanks to Neil Nadelman for translation support.

The End

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