AROUND CHAIRMAN NISHIZAKI
A fan club discussion to commemorate the release of The Final Chapter
This unique round-table discussion was the second of its kind. The first took place in the summer of 1981 and was published in Fan Club magazine #24. At that time, Final Yamato was still just a name more than an actual concept, and Nishizaki talked directly with a select group of fans to get their impressions of what they hoped to see in it. That discussion can be read here. It’s interesting to compare and contrast it with this one on the other side of the film.
Note: the full names of the participants were not provided in the original text, only their family names. Some of the names appear in both discussions, but whether or not they were the same individuals is unconfirmed.
Impressions of The Final Chapter?
Nishizaki: Hello, everyone! Thank you very much for coming today. First of all, I’d like to hear your impressions from seeing the movie, though it may be difficult to say anything bad about it to my face. (Laughs) But movies have faults and questionable points, and if you say what you feel directly without thinking too much, that’s fine. What do you have to say, Furukawa-san?
Furukawa: Shima’s voice was different this time. I know there was no help for it, since Hideo Nakamura was ill, but I was worried about it.
Nishizaki: Rather than such a fragmentary thing, I’d like to know if you found the overall movie interesting.
Furukawa: Since it was the last one, I wanted it to be a little more impressive.
Nishizaki: You mean, to make you cry?
Furukawa: No, to stay more strongly in my heart…that’s what I mean.
Nishizaki: I understand. Sometimes being impressed is the same as being made to cry.
Sakamoto: I think the way Dessler was shown was a little unsatisfying, but overall I think it was very good. There were various opinions about the resurrection of Okita, but I’m quite satisfied as an individual. Okita has to appear, otherwise Yamato couldn’t come to an end.
Nishizaki: Thank you.
Ichikawa: I think the meaning behind the appearance of the Dengil boy was a bit weak. Even if he dies at the end, I wanted that boy’s purpose to be a little clearer. And somehow the last scene of Kodai and Yuki had a completely different sense. Rather than end on a big shocking part, it suddenly flows into that scene and left me wondering why they ended it on that.
Sasaki: I was impressed overall and I cried. Despite the big battle scenes, there weren’t many suspenseful parts, and some of it was slow.
Sekiguchi (younger sister): Shima’s death felt like it was tacked on…I wondered why Shima had to die there. And though Okita talked about a baby, a baby, it was a bit lacking that a baby didn’t appear.
Sekiguchi (older sister): There were some places where it was too short, and I would have liked it to be longer. I felt like we were on to the next scene without it being convincing. I personally love Yuki, so her image was disappointing. In our circle, Shinya Takahashi’s character design is very popular, with the exception of Yuki Mori. In the last scene I thought, ‘why are Sasha and Kodai co-starring here?’ And there was resistance to her white uniform, too. Since they’re space clothes, I think they should be a little thicker. It didn’t seem that way before when it was yellow, but this time Yuki’s costume called attention to it. If it’s possible, I’d like you to correct that.
Nishizaki: It isn’t.
Matsumoto: Speaking of Takahashi’s image of Yuki, it drifts away from Mr. Matsumoto’s image of Yamato.
Nishizaki: I’ve heard that, but did you like Yuki in Be Forever?
Matsumoto: She seemed a little more adult, but it was quite nice.
Nishizaki: Everyone has their likes and dislikes, but I didn’t really like the Yuki in Be Forever very much. Kazuhiko Udagawa directed her performance and it was a good representation, but some of Yuki’s essential purity disappeared. I think they broke the character in the name of giving her drama.
Mr. Takahashi himself said, “No matter how much I work on it, she still looks like Sasha this time,” but I didn’t know if you would feel the same as him. If you look at it carefully, Yuki has seven different images in Part 1. That’s because there were completely different animation directors. Drawing images of Yuki is difficult. I think Mr. Takahashi worked to model her on the original image.
Both positive and negative impressions appear one after another!
Kazama: About whether or not Okita was necessary this time, I understood it well after hearing what Mr. Nishizaki said on TV and radio. But as for the whole story, I don’t know why this story was necessary. Why was there a galactic collision? There was no scientific explanation for it. There was also how the Dengil were once an Earth race, and I started wishing it was less like the fake Earth in Be Forever.
Yamazaki: I’m the poor guy among everyone who hasn’t seen it yet. As for why I haven’t seen it yet, it’s because I heard the film was changed after its release. So if it’s customary to wait until the end, I’ll hold off until the 70mm version comes this fall. We’ll just have to wait until then…
Takahashi: Speaking for myself, I think my perspective on the movie has changed. Before, Yamato was something I just couldn’t miss. At any rate, there are things about it that have to move me. I mainly saw this one for Yuki Mori, since I’m a Yuki Mori fan. At first she seemed like the older sister I always wanted, and as the years went by I gradually came to think I’d really like to have her as a friend. Her way of living is a strong one. I think she’s amazing in the way she risks her life to go after Kodai, and I’d like to talk to her in real life.
Watanabe: The influence of Okita in part 1 was entirely different from his influence in The Final Chapter. It felt very light this time. And probably because I read the novel before seeing the movie, the story felt like it just breezed over it.
Nishizaki: Thank you for giving your various opinions. There are some sharp ones in there. A producer is judged by the results of their work, so I won’t make excuses for each one. Even if I thought Farewell to Yamato was good overall, I have similar pros and cons for both The New Voyage and Be Forever. For The Final Chapter, the letters I get seem to be eight ones praising it for every two that criticize it. Like I said, I think what you felt as a result of the movie is correct.
I don’t think there’s much point if there can only be one opinion about something. I have a feeling that, while I begin the discussion in this manner, everyone has their own way of thinking about Yamato, and as the different views come forth we’ll start to get off track and the dissatisfaction will start coming out. While I’d especially like to consider those who want to go to and think about movies and animation, I’d like to ask how it was considering movies as a whole.
Not to get technical, but the composition of a movie is introduction, development, turn, and conclusion. It’s based on dramaturgy, and when it’s calculated with proper visuals and music, I think all these things are combined into one.
So what I’d like to hear is not whether or not a galactic collision is supported in SF, but your point of view of what it’s like to see it at your age. To be more clear, what was interesting to you, and what was not?
Furukawa: While not all of it felt this way, I didn’t think it was as interesting compared to the other movies made before.
Sakamoto: In think it was interesting, but compared to Farewell to Yamato, it was a little inferior.
Lines that were not in the script
Nishizaki: I think you guys have two different opinions. One is that the movie was basically interesting, but you’re dissatisfied with some points. The other is that it was a movie you were expecting to like, but you feel like it was a waste of money.
I feel that these two might be very different. Let’s talk about the second one. To be honest, some of the past decade has been about making something to suit many people’s opinions, and this can be painful. Therefore, The Final Chapter is like the first series in that it is accepted by some and not by others, but it was made with the feeling that I did it without permission. I wondered whether or not I could make a movie that satisfied people from elementary school age up to 24-25 years old. Since it was the last movie, rather than pandering, I made it the way I wanted to from start to finish.
Ichikawa: I think I’m probably the oldest of everyone here, and since I now see things from a different slant lately, I think (if I’d seen it years ago) I once would have loved it unconditionally. Maybe because I’m older now, I see things more objectively and I feel like, “Oh, I’m getting old.” It makes me sad. (Laughs) Overall, I’d give it about 70 points. What I really liked was at the end when Kodai said “father” to Okita in his mind. I think the whole movie was elevated by that, so I guess I’ll give it 80 points.
Nishizaki: (Laughs) Thank you. The word “father” wasn’t in the script, but I added it on the spot during the final dub. Since that is the theme of the work, I wanted to give a clearer purpose for reviving Okita. But Kei Tomiyama did about thirty NG [no good] takes for that word. It took about two hours. “Father” is terrific, isn’t it? It’s a good moment.
If I could give one piece of advice, don’t see this movie as a maniac. [Translator’s note: in this context, “maniac” had the same meaning as “otaku” or “geek.”] If you look at only a part of it, not just with movies, but with everything, you become a critic and find fault with it. This is never positive. It’s better to say what you genuinely felt about it and try to perceive the intention behind it to decide if it was good or bad. Putting it another way, did you see a meaning in the movie, and furthermore, was it worth watching? That’s what I’d like to hear. How about that?
Sasaki: I think it was worth seeing. At first, my feeling was that I didn’t intend to see another one, but when I watched Be Forever on TV before the release, I was impressed by it after a long absence. So after that I decided I would go and see it, and…when I went and saw it, I was impressed. (Laughs)
Sekiguchi: If you look at it partially, there are unsatisfying places and also good places, but I think it’s good overall. (Laughs)
Kazama: I think the version of The Final Chapter that was just shown was not ready to be seen yet. I’m not saying it was better not to see it, but it feels like it needs to be a little more organized. Maybe this is overstating it, but I got the feeling this movie was stuffed too full of things. I wonder if it could be more in the form of a sequel to the first part. If it was put together in that form, I think it should be seen by all means.
Takahashi: I got a feeling of the frame being cut off, but other than that I could enjoy it as much as the others. In the part where Yamato launches, images from Farewell or The New Voyage suddenly appeared, and it made me nostalgic…
Nishizaki: That’s ironic! (Laughs)
Takahashi: No, it was like, “Ah, I’ve been watching Yamato for so long, and now this is the conclusion.” As I watched it and thought that, it was like I was seeing all the memories I’ve had ’till now and felt nostalgia. I felt like I had to leave on a journey that would take me away from Yamato…in other words, it felt like a graduation ceremony.
The Final Chapter TV version!?
Watanabe: When I compare movies and novels, I prefer the novels. But I don’t think there’s any help for that, because time is limited in a movie.
Nishizaki: The novel is my work, too. The original script reached to nearly five hours, and the novel was based on that. But here’s the problem, I wonder what would happen if I made a movie according to a novel? Even if I made it exactly the same, no matter how good it was, it would still be a pain in your butt to see it. [Translator’s note: in reference to the amount of time you’d have to sit.] I expect you’d forget about the beginning of it by the time it was over. Therefore, when making a movie rather than a book, wouldn’t there be a lot of scenes that you could do in a book that you couldn’t do in a movie?
Sakamoto: To change the topic, there were a lot of insert songs this time in The Final Chapter. I think it’s rare to have four songs in one movie.
Nishizaki: To explain them one by one, with Kodai (I) and Yamato, Yu Aku wanted to write it by all means after reading the script. The major theme of this movie is a “father and son drama,” which overlaps the drama of Kodai and Yuki becoming one. On the other hand, while we were writing the script, we talked about what is called Kodai’s attachment to Yamato. He is separated from Yamato, and it became an important point for him to define himself. With this in mind, it’s a poem about Kodai’s feelings, as I think you well know.
About Love of Two by Tomoko Kuwae, Kodai and Yuki couldn’t suddenly be bound together at the end of the movie. On the way there, the two launch in a Cosmo Zero and accomplish one thing there. When I try to write joy into a drama, it means that I handle it with a song so it becomes eternal.
Love Supreme is good because it’s a theme song. But Rainbow to Tomorrow was cut out because the picture at the end was very bad. The 70mm version will have all the songs with a proper picture, and I think you’ll understand when you see it.[Translator’s note: Here, Nishizaki refers to the first song in the epilogue. Since the epilogue’s animation was done in a rush at the very end of the production, it wasn’t up to standard. After a quality-check in a theater on the morning of the premiere, he ordered the epilogue to be deleted from all screenings. Afterward, this draft of the epilogue went unseen for several years until it finally turned up as a bonus item on home video.]
Ichikawa: Are there any plans to make The Final Chapter for TV?
Nishizaki: Everyone is requesting that, aren’t they? I’ve written a book in fine detail, and I don’t need TV to express what I intended this time. There are no plans for that at the moment.
[Translator’s note: the book mentioned above could either be a novelization (though Nishizaki is not credited as the author of any of them) or the deluxe Westcape Corporation hardcover that would be published later in the year.]
Sasaki: I didn’t like some scenes where the Queen of Aquarius appeared. Why did they have her appear like that?
Nishizaki: I didn’t like that scene, so it’s being reshot. The women who appeared in Yamato up until now all had bodies. However, since this new Queen of Aquarius speaks in a philosophical way, I was thinking of her as a goddess who created the whole universe, and as a goddess of life. The picture has to live up to that, and I got the feeling it didn’t have that sensibility. That’s why I cut the last scene of the Queen of Aquarius. Mr. Takahashi said before that there were no shocking scenes, right? Honestly, there are.
Everyone: (enthusiastic voices)
Nishizaki: Enough to rot you. That’s why this picture was made. (An image board is brought out.) For example, despite this, you can see Yuki’s breasts clearly. Hundreds of things like this were drawn. In other words, even when you film parts, unless you draw the whole thing, you can’t clearly make out what it is. This was drawn as a rough last January when Mr. Shirato came to Shirakabeso. And later Mr. Takahashi wrote that her facial expression was too erotic. In addition, it was written drawn clearly on the storyboard by Mr. Endo. Well, I just wanted you to know what kind of struggle we went through.
We also referenced various books like We are Nine Man Koshien and Misturu Adachi pictures, and the first consummation scene in The Pure Heart of Hokatakko.
Yamato‘s feeling of weight
Sekiguchi: In previous works, Yamato‘s Wave-Motion Gun had a great sense of weight to it. It had a real sense of power. What happened with that?
Nishizaki: Maybe that’s because you’re used to seeing it. In the case of a movie, you can’t take 15 or 20 minutes to shoot the Wave-Motion Gun in a framework of two and a half hours. Also, you remember that the Wave-Motion Gun was fired in the movie of the first series, and Earth was saved when it was fired in Farewell. But not in this one. The opponent is water. Maybe that’s the reason it felt that way to you.
Quote at top: Since it’s the last Yamato,
I was hit with all sorts of feelings
Kazama: I heard some talk about this at the youth center last June. There was a scene where the Cosmo Zero is going up to the catapult, and I wanted to see Yamato with a heaviness like that of the Okinawa suicide attack.
Nishizaki: I was a little unsatisfied with the Cosmo Zero, too. However, the catapult’s movement from left to right was done as it was depicted in the design materials, but when we did it in the movie, we just couldn’t get the tempo right, so it was cut in the storyboard stage.
It’s the difference between what you can show in parts and what you must show in total. We also worked really hard on how we would next show Yamato. The point of “Yamato is a ship” was made more than in previous movies, and I wonder if that was understood clearly. That’s why, at the end, we had the bow tip up and then sink.
Takahashi: Compared with part 1, I thought Captain Okita was a little too energetic.
Nishizaki: I think that’s because of the impression part 1 left on you. Although Okita played a very important role in the growth drama of part 1, the Okita who was weak from old age isn’t in this movie. Would the people seeing him for the first time think of him as a lighter Captain Okita? I think so. The part I put most of the emphasis on this time was the scene with Kodai in the captain’s room before and after he says “Leave this work to me. You still have another fight ahead of you.” I think I was able to have Okita express himself sufficiently in that area.
The Yamato series is heavily connected to me, and each movie expresses different ways of thinking. The one I’d like you to understand here is that the basic spirit of Yamato never changes. From the beginning, it’s a forward-looking drama, a future-oriented drama. We have hopes and dreams for the future of humans. That’s why, while the circumstances we may have now are by no means good, rather than shrinking back from it, we must face it and move forward.
This theme has never been left out. And within it is depicted various human loves and conflicts. In that sense, it finally became possible to bring an end to the drama of those human relations this time, and to be honest I am relieved. The drama that centered around Susumu Kodai and Yuki Mori since 1974 is over.
But when I talk about the material of Yamato itself, if I think of a new work that I’d like to see, I might make it once again. At least, I can’t promise not to make one. Of course, Susumu Kodai and Yuki Mori would not appear in it. Rather than making it for you, I would make it for myself. In other words, a producer does not work for others. You can’t make a good movie if you don’t have the posture of wanting to make it for yourself. It’s my pet theory that a producer should never pander to others.
As a result, I don’t know if this next one will be a hit. By chance, when we made the first series back in 1975, it just happened to really click with the zeitgeist of the time. I think that I’ve been very fortunate, but it’s a mistake to think of a producer as God. In other words, I think it’s a mistake to think that the producer is there for the fans. Another thirty years from now, the name Nishizaki will fade away somewhere. But I’ll be very proud if thirty years from now you suddenly remember your youth and the name Yamato remains on one page from those days even if the name Nishizaki is forgotten. I think it was good to have been able to make such a work, and it makes me proud as a producer.
What I want to say to everyone in the fan club is, don’t think about what Producer Nishizaki was. Rather, think about what Yamato was for you. And don’t just think about it partially. It wasn’t just me. All the producers and directors worked very hard to make something good, and we’ll see the result of our efforts. Over and above that, you shouldn’t think that you want to do it this way yourself. What I want you to keep in mind is the spirit of Yamato. Please don’t become a fan who is only a maniac [otaku].
Genuinely laugh, genuinely cry, cherish what is important to you forever, and rather than staying in one place, don’t forget to keep advancing forward. If you don’t do that, this Yamato we worked so hard to make will be meaningless in the end. If I can just make that one point today, I don’t need to say anything else. Thank you so much for your support over such a long time. Really, thank you.
Special thanks to Neil Nadelman for translation support
Ads for the Final Yamato Super Deluxe book and music albums from Columbia.
Last page and back cover (Bandai model ad). The Yamato III compilation movie is
mentioned for the first time at lower left with an upcoming broadcast date of December 28, 1983.