About half a year into the prodigious coverage for Yamato 2199 in the Japanese media, we already have a clear standout for the most in-depth reporting of the lot: Great Mechanics DX magazine from the Futaba Co. Issue 21 was only their second contribution (read the article from issue 20 here), but their journalistic standard and sheer page count puts them way ahead of the pack. Let’s hope this ultimately leads to a dedicated book on Yamato 2199. Until such a thing appears, let’s dive into the article from issue 21, which spanned 20 pages.
In April 2012, Space Battleship Yamato 2199, the remake of Yamato made by a staff of the “Yamato Generation,” finally launched. It is said that the number of customers who attended the limited-time event screening of 2199 far exceeded the predictions of the people concerned. Most of the audience are from the “Yamato Generation” and have enthusiastically supported them. Therefore, we bring you a big three-part feature on 2199 this time!!
We directly hit General Director Yutaka Izubuchi with questions about Chapter 2, which opens on June 30!
Furthermore, Director Izubuchi and Chief Mechanical Director Masanori Nishii look back at mecha scenes of Chapter 1 and call our attention to the details!
Story synopsis for episodes 3-6 and mecha guide for the Gamilas forces in Chapter 2.
Commentary on specific scenes from Chapter 2.
These will be translated in the future when we begin our episode-by-episode coverage of the series.
Click here to see enlargements of all four of the page spreads shown above.
Locus of the real journey that becomes the new Space Battleship Yamato
2199 “Yamato Soul”
After the event screening of Yamato 2199 showed an excellent beginning, Director Yutaka Izubuchi talks about the highlights of Chapter 2. As you know, the evaluation of the fans is high. When Chapter 2 is finally released, we’ll see noteworthy episodes that were popular in “old Yamato,” such as the warp, the Wave-Motion Gun, and the fight on Pluto. How will they really be depicted? We asked Director Izubuchi about this.
Will Yuki Mori’s clothing disappear during the warp?
Interviewer: Now that the premiere of Chapter 2 finally approaches, it is likely that it will expand on many of the highlights in Chapter 1.
Izubuchi: Chapter 2 consists of Episodes 3-6, and both the character story and the mecha story will be abundant.
First off, when all’s said and done regarding the first warp, we’re experimenting with a visual approach on the warp-in and warp-out that’s different from the old productions. When I talk about the warp in Yamato, I’m asked “Will Yuki’s clothing disappear?” (laughs) and I say that will also look different from the original. Initially I thought about whether or not it was simple [fan] service, whether or not it was necessary to show it, but even I wanted it to happen. (Laughs)
Then Shinji Higuchi, who drew the storyboard, said “There is a consistency to it. Because even Yamato becomes transparent during the warp, the clothing of the humans inside it would also be transparent!” (Laughs)
Also, a dinosaur appears during the warp in the original when it jumps beyond space and time, but as expected, that won’t happen this time. It was regarded as correct in the original work, but in the first place the warp of Yamato is an event between moments that can’t be perceived. The picture that I present as a director happens in a nanosecond and the feeling is that the crew doesn’t even perceive it.
Yamato is a work that differs from Star Trek and others; many excellent and original expressions were produced in Yamato. The expression of the warp is one of them, and it had a big influence on later anime works. Therefore, the warp in 2199 is different from the original…but the point was how we could do it while retaining the flavor of the original.
Interviewer: If it’s done by you and Mr. Higuchi, we can definitely expect it to have the flavor of the original.
Izubuchi: Well, don’t expect too much. (Laughs)
Interviewer: The influence of Yamato is seen in various works, even if it’s not always obvious.
Izubuchi: I think it’s had an effect on how space ships are shown, and on costumes and such, and despite how it may have influenced other productions, Yamato cast that aside later and incorporated expressions from the foreign works that influenced it in the first place.
Its influences came from here and there in the old days, and it looked fresh. Even points like designs traced from SF artwork were like fat that couldn’t be dropped. Sadly, Yamato‘s vaunted originality comes from that, I think.
Interviewer: Space appeared to be twisted in the warp of the original, but this time it will be different.
Izubuchi: The music will be the same as the old warp scene. Other than here, there’s nowhere else to use it. (Laughs)
The newly-depicted Floating Continent and Wave-Motion Gun
Interviewer: Along with the warp, the Wave-Motion Gun is also a big highlight.
Izubuchi: I can say the same thing about both the warp and the Wave Gun. When we show each one for the first time, I wanted to show the process properly. In the original, the buildup was shown before the Wave Gun is fired and before the ship goes into warp. The importance of both was presented, and we have to give them the proper weight. Since it is Yamato, it can never look simple or easy.
However, it’s only possible to show it properly the first time. They can be shown at length here by all means, but afterwards the circumstances of the production mean it will inevitably be shortened. Later it will be a sample of the first time, so I think it’s important to take sufficient time to show the process precisely.
I was worried about what to do in the 3rd episode with the floating continent. First of all, in the original it is called the “legendary floating continent,” exactly the taste of SF in the 50s and 60s. Even as a 10th-grader at the time, I knew there was no such thing. (Laughs) In that sense, it would be safer for the Wave Gun test firing to happen on a satellite of Jupiter instead of the floating continent, but then it becomes natural and not very interesting.
However, it is certain that the floating continent is a great visual. So after considering the idea that it was brought to Jupiter by the scientific power of Gamilas, I decided to let it appear. After all, the first firing of the Wave-Motion Gun was not against a satellite. It’s better to let the world of fantasy enter a little, with the floating continent for example, and I felt there was no other way to do it.
I can’t reveal it yet, but there’s something hidden with respect to the Wave Gun that foreshadows a story in the second half. I’ll just say it’s something I want you to pay attention to, including the positioning of the gun.
Interviewer: The super-science of Gamilas was a highlight of the original.
Izubuchi: Why does the planet Gamilas have holes in it? Rather than erosion, maybe it was hollowed out on purpose. Could the hole have opened up because the surface was taken somewhere else? Or, whatever. (Laughs) Maybe it gets transplanted to other worlds, to assert territory.
Interviewer: One of those amusing contradictions, right?
Izubuchi: Such a thing also seems to be “Yamato,” which is good. That might be a wild notion in my head, or something brilliant that could be used. But bluffs like that should be in there a bit more, so I try to keep things Yamato-like by intentionally playing it loose in that area. After all, SF is a “magnificent bluff simulation,” and exploring such things is one of the ways to enjoy Yamato.
On the floating continent, how could there be plants in the atmosphere of Jupiter? That’s also due to Gamilas technology, meaning that it’s covered by a field that maintains the environment in the same way as artificial gravity. It’s not necessary to talk about that in the story, it’s just a way of thinking it out to its conclusion. However, I liked the representation of the dense atmosphere as semi-liquid, so I left it in on purpose. (Laughs)
In the image of Jupiter’s atmosphere from an American space probe, it descended in the middle of a blue sky. I looked into the science program to see whether or not I could go with that impression.
Various gimmicks what were not in the “old Yamato“
Interviewer: In Chapter 1 there was a glimpse of Yamato‘s capability, but in the second chapter it’s likely that we’ll see one development after another.
Izubuchi: In Chapter 1, a Gamilas carrier was taken out by a solid round and the giant missile was destroyed by the shock cannons. It showed that both could be fired. But when the carrier attacked, it was before the Wave Engine was started, so the shock cannons couldn’t be fired. So it was a solid round. It was cut for running time in Chapter 1, but in Chapter 2 we see the onboard portrayal of Yamato after a solid round is fired. It actually came about because it was glossed over so casually in Chapter 1 that we thought it would be interesting to explore.
In Chapter 2, in addition to the warp and the Wave Gun, the pulse lasers are also used and there are places where the rocket anchor plays an active part, so I think showing the functions of Yamato will be a highlight.
About the anchor, I saw the movie Battleship the other day, and it’s frustrating that our premiere happens to comes after it, but it’s a highlight that Yamato also uses the rocket anchor to drift. (Laughs)
Interviewer: Ah, that’s a really stupid movie (in a good way, of course). But it had its moments.
Izubuchi: Bluffs like that, and funny contradictions, and the completely false parts. I think it’s important to Yamato. It’s part of the “Yamato-ness.”
And the spirit of the first half!? The fight with the Reflection Satellite Gun on Pluto
Interviewer: The impressive Reflection Satellite Gun in the first half of the original also included such a point, and it appears this time.
Izubuchi: When I think about a Reflection Satellite Gun, it seems like a defensive weapon. It has “the power of a Wave-Motion Gun, but it seems to have a shorter range.” I mean, Yamato takes several shots from it, and it’s still fine! (Laughs)
Speaking of funny contradictions, in the old days I wondered why there was such a thing on Pluto. Also, there was no scene in the original that showed how the planet bombs are fired. Therefore, I thought [the reflection gun] would be a device for ignition acceleration, to change the course of a planet bomb. If it is used for some other purpose, it could be converted into a defensive weapon. Yamato‘s attack on the Pluto base happens in a different way than in the original, and I’d like you to anticipate that.
Interviewer: It sounds like the content of Chapter 2 will be a deeper story.
Izubuchi: We leave the red Earth behind in 2199 Chapter 2, from being seen off by Kirishima to leaving the solar system after the battle of Pluto, which I think gives it a good unity. By the way, since Hijikata appears, it’s possible that some people might think there’s a chance for Andromeda to show up, but that ain’t happening! (Laughs)
Interviewer: Since Yamanami’s shown up, I expect that you’ll keep using him, you know. (Laughs)
Izubuchi: Since Yamanami was a subordinate of Okita’s, we made him a captain this time. Since Okita stands in the position of fleet commander, there should be a separate captain for Kirishima. Visually, he left kind of a weak impression on the old show, so in the new show he’s designed to look like a working man. It’s not just Yamanami, but there are many other characters who have changed position, such as Sanada being second in command.
Interviewer: Various patterns have changed on the Earth side in 2199, but the people on the Gamilas side have also expanded from the original.
Izubuchi: When I looked over the arrangement of characters on the Yamato crew and the Gamilas side, they were placed in such a way that a drama would naturally be made. I figured if I didn’t do that, there’s no point in doing this, is there? I’ll be glad if you can enjoy the new group drama in 2199.
Interviewer: Thank you very much.
Click here to see closer views of the black and white art shown on the interview pages.
Next, the text from the four “Original Yamato Playback” features (the black boxes in the page spreads above):
Original Yamato Playback 1
In Space Battleship Yamato (hereafter referred to as “old Yamato“), a warp was performed between the Moon and Mars. The theory is explained as comparing time to a wave, but surprisingly a detailed explanation was not actually given.
“It is a jump over time,” and “It requires the energy of the Wave-Motion Engine,” are all they say. In this area, the SF theory is described to some extent in Yamato 2199.
Incidentally, there was a drama that played out before the warp in “old Yamato” with Black Tiger pilot Yamamoto, now referred to as the older brother of Akira Yamamoto in 2199, who seems to have been previously killed in action.
It can also be said that the image of the warp scene is fantastic when seen today, with distorted space, moving through prehistoric times and the age of the dinosaurs, and the service scene that showed Yuki Mori’s clothes vanish. This presentation gradually sped up in the sequels, and it’s a place where opinions become divided.
Original Yamato Playback 2
Whatever else is said about the Gamilas people in “old Yamato,” their blue skin is a classic image even in subsequent works, but in the beginning they had the same skin color as humans. They started with a warmer tone, but were later changed to blue, and one of the jokes that went around in those days was that “Gamilas people turned pale when they saw Yamato coming.”
But instabilities in color design could be seen everywhere, not just on the Gamilas side. For example, the original Black Tiger corps had the same red/white uniform as the combat group.
In Yamato 2199, the people of Gamilas are treated more mysteriously, which is likely to be clarified as the story progresses. Since a few answers are provided in Chapter 2, we should pay close attention.
Original Yamato Playback 3
Reflection Satellite Gun
In “Old Yamato,” the Reflection Satellite Gun engages Yamato at Pluto. This weapon became a keypoint in that battle, and is very popular. It seems to be the latest weapon of Gamilas, and Commander Shulz of Pluto says it has “greater destructive power than the Wave-Motion Gun over short range.”
The mechanism is simple; reflector satellites in orbit are equipped with mirrors that reflect the powerful energy of the gun, which enable it to attack the other side of the planet. When Yamato got into a pinch, there was no way to tell where the attack came from. Yamato was hit but not destroyed, so its power is probably not as great as the Wave Gun.
In Yamato 2199, the Reflection Satellite Gun “was not installed for this particular reason,” so because of this way of thinking, a new interpretation is added.
Original Yamato Playback 4
In the time of “old Yamato,” Pluto was still considered a planet (and has since been reclassified as a dwarf planet). Gamilas built an advance base there. In the story it is said to be 200 degrees below zero, but for some reason there is an ocean. The secret of Pluto was that living organisms originally appeared there.
Yamato repeatedly rose from the sea to expose itself as a target so the location of the enemy base could be identified. This was a way to provide Kodai’s group with a thrilling breakthrough that made the Battle of Pluto a favorite scene.
Incidentally, the enemy base could be thought of as a dungeon in an RPG with traps such as hidden alcoves and an electromagnetic wall. Why they were installed is an eternal mystery. The Battle of Pluto is cool, but looking back on it now, it’s full of oddities. How will it be presented in Yamato 2199 Chapter 2? Is this the major point!?
The last part of the article was a six-page collection of design art dedicated entirely to the Cosmo Zero.
See enlargements of the first four pages here.
The final two pages showed a collection of development drawings with descriptive text. The text is translated below. Click here for a better look at the art.
More precision and more detail
The designer wrote in ideas and gimmicks in the drawings shown here. Although they are hard to read because of image reduction, the suggestions are very detailed.
(1) and (2) are detailed drawings of the area around Yamato‘s rear catapult, and (3) and (4) show the internal structure of the engine. Caution notices indicate the engine’s rotary direction. (5) includes details about the area around the Cosmo Zero’s nose, including notations, panel numbers, and other instructions. (6) to (9) examine gimmicks in the body when changing to parked position. (10) and (11) refer to various details and instructions for other gimmicks.
Cosmo Zero = Zero Fighter of Space
The Cosmo Zero is a carrier-based aircraft that appeared in Space Battleship Yamato, formally referred to as the Type 52 Zero Fighter. The airplane version was also carried on the original IJN Battleship Yamato.
Type Zero Aquatic Observation Plane and Type Zero 3-seat Aquatic Reconnaisance Plane; they had the role of target observation and general-purpose reconnaissance. However, they were also amphibious [with floats] so their performance was inferior to land-based aircraft. The battleship could not take on land-based planes, since it was not equipped as a carrier.
Two kinds of aircraft were carried on Yamato in the original anime: the Cosmo Zero and the Black Tiger. As a result, Yamato also became an aircraft carrier, which expanded the options for the production.
The Cosmo Zero functioned as the exclusive plane flown by Kodai. The model for the Cosmo Zero was the warship-based Zero Fighter. While sharing the name of the aforementioned sea planes, it’s a completely different sort of plane. At the time of the Pacific War’s outbreak, it could be said that the Zero Fighter was the best in the world. At first glance, the Zero Fighter doesn’t seem to resemble the Cosmo Zero, but there are some very similar points.
The Zero Fighter can be understood as the model for the Cosmo Zero when it is examined front to back. It could even be said that the body colors of the Zero Fighter, grey and yellow, provided the motif. There is as much thought behind the Cosmo Zero as you’d expect for something taking place in the year 2199.
Differences to look for between the original Zero and the Cosmo Zero of 2199
However, there is a point where the Zero Fighter and the Cosmo Zero differ greatly. It was dedicated to Kodai’s exclusive use. Furthermore, the launch position is unique, using the upper catapult. It was different from the mass-produced Zero Fighter.
The Zero Fighter was a popular machine with a special body flown by a hero, so for the technique of animation it was a natural choice for the Cosmo Zero to be used exclusively by the main character. In many mecha anime works, a special-purpose machine appears along with a mass-production machine. This style was established in Mobile Suit Gundam, but the Cosmo Zero is arguably its origin.
Today, it appears as a state-of-the-art craft in Yamato 2199. It is reasoned that there is a small number of them compared to other aircraft, but rather than being dedicated solely to Kodai, another one does appear. As we examine this subtle change in the setup, it helps us to understand not only 2199 but also interesting changes of the times as well.