Cover art by Yoichi Fukano
From Ship’s Log #11, the Yamato Crew Premium fan club magazine • July 27, 2015
Here, we talk about future developments and plans for the next Space Battleship Yamato project with Yamato Fan Club & Yamato Crew President/Executive Producer Shoji Nishizaki, and Supervising Producer Hirotaka Furukawa. This interview was covertly carried out somewhere in Tokyo, covering projects now in progress and plans for the medium and long term. And now we can share this confidential information that Producer Nishizaki has cleared exclusively for Yamato Crew Premium members. In this “Producer Speaks” special report, the issues most important to fans will be clarified one by one.
Interviewer: Now that Ark of the Stars is finished, I think every one of the fans is eager to know about the “next.” I’ll ask this directly: when will we see Yamato again?
Nishizaki: If possible, we want all the fans to see a remake of the second season of Yamato in the second half of 2016, before the end of the year.
(Translator’s note: the word “season” is specifically used in the text, but Yamato 2 was not seasonal in the way Western audiences use the term, with a new broadcast once a year. Yamato 2 appeared a full four years after Series 1, and the debut of 2199 on TV occurred in 2013. But we’ll stick with “season” herein for the sake of an accurate translation.)
Furukawa: It is currently still in the staffing stage with choices being made for the main staff, such as a director or scriptwriter, and story meetings continue. Once the story is solidified, we hope to have something close to a final screenplay by the end of the year. We’ll determine the design direction for mecha and characters in parallel, and we expect to begin work on them.
Interviewer: Will the remake of the second season be the story of the fight against Gatlantis? Would you consider it a remake of Farewell to Yamato or Yamato 2?
Nishizaki: That’s right. The story content would be based on Farewell and Yamato 2. But, since Yamato would survive, the ending would branch toward Yamato 2. There’s also the possibility to add elements of other works in the series.
Interviewer: If elements are added from other works, would other enemies and interstellar nations appear and become involved in the story?
Furukawa: With respect to adding “other elements,” it’s just an idea and has not been decided. We’re also not saying it would be jusst a remake of Yamato 2. Yamato 2199 wasn’t a perfect copy, since original elements were added and details were rearranged. Our basic policy won’t change, so this would be the same. It hasn’t yet been decided if “other enemies” will appear. At the moment we’re talking about greatly expanding the story for more dynamic development, and considering many elements from that point of view. Since there’s the possibility that the story could vary greatly depending on the structure and the script, you should consider these elements undecided.
The full article from the magazine. The “official document” in the center reads: Ministry of Yamato – Top Secret Eyes Only – Producer Speaks Special Report no. 1. Warning: this is a TOP SECRET- EYES ONLY document containing compartmentalized information essential to the national security of the Yamato. EYES ONLY access to the material herein is strictly limited to those processing Yamato Crew Premium clearance level. (Followed by unrelated text.)
Interviewer: Will the setting and year make the title 2201, as people expect?
Furukawa: There is a variety of opinions about that, but we can’t talk about it now. The screenplay is not solidified yet, and if we said “The period of the story should be this and the title should be this,” it would place limitations on the scriptwriter. Of course, we’ll set the basic policy, but we don’t want to inhibit the writers’ ideas. That’s why we can’t talk about it yet. I think the title will be decided naturally as the script solidifies. We’re not putting the title first.
Nishizaki: When you compare the original Farewell to Yamato with the current situation, the scars of the fight with Garmillas would be impossible to realistically erase in only one year. There would have to be a reason to do that. Too much pursuit of reality would overshadow the thrill of the drama and the importance of the theme, but we feel it’s important to learn the lessons that all Japanese felt after the earthquake [of March 2011]. That’s the basic stance of the storyteller in spinning the story.
However, if it doesn’t take place one year later, I don’t think it would be good in terms of the characters’ ages to set it 8 to 10 years later, so we discuss it every day. Also, though Yamato 2199 puts the year in the title, we may not repeat that this time. If there’s a good title that can better express the theme, we may adopt that. It all depends on the content.
Interviewer: Speaking of the theme, could you tell the fans what the theme would be in the second season?
Nishizaki: I’d like it to reflect more heavily on the human drama. To communicate painful feelings; not being able to meet even though you want to…not being able to cry even if you’re sad…I think it should weave in human emotions on every aspect of life. The original Susumu Kodai was a character who rushed forward recklessly. I think he’s especially single-minded in Farewell when he makes the decision to defy the government and take off in Yamato again for the peace of the universe. I’d like to make a story that expresses such feelings in a straightforward manner.
That…and I’d like to make a story that is genuinely moving.
Interviewer: Speaking of elements in the original Yamato, which would you like to push more strongly to the forefront?
Nishizaki: This may be embarrassing these days, but I’d like to once again properly depict “love.” At the time my father was planning Yamato, there were still the scars of war, and the storytellers were of the generation that experienced it. Because the tragedy was entirely relegated to the side of the makers, I think it was accepted by the teenagers at the time since they were a generation that did not know tragedy. But now we have a generation that has not known war, so how we can continue to appeal to them is a problem.
Also, this is a year that began with the tragic incident of a Japanese national being sacrificed in a country of Islamic terrorism. It’s embarrassing to turn “love” into a theme in a time of such brutality, but I’d like to ask the world once again what the essence of “love” is. When we started 2199, it was just after the earthquake disaster [March 2011]. There’s a difference between natural disasters and man-made disasters, but precisely because we’re in such a time, it’s necessary to turn “love” into the prominent theme since that’s the mission entrusted to Yamato.
Interviewer: What will the structure be? Will it be a two-hour feature film like Farewell, or a TV series?
Furukawa: We have decided that. We’ll produce a work in TV format, 26 episodes for two quarters. The release format will be decided after we have a distribution company, but I think it will follow 2199 with event screenings with Blu-ray & DVDs to begin with, and a TV broadcast afterward.
Interviewer: I think 2199 was greatly enlivened by the new style of event screenings for Yamato that lead to its success. And being able to bring home a Blu-ray of the movie you just saw in a theater would be attractive to Yamato fans.
Furukawa: Of course, I’m pleased with the success of 2199 and the customers who did the legwork. I’m very grateful to all the fans who bought it on video. However, I can say that there’s another aspect I’m not satisfied with. This is because we think the content of Space Battleship Yamato has more possibilities and hidden potential. In the end, what we’re making is simply a continuation that combines the components of 2199 with a remake or reboot of the old show. I’d like to emphasize that point.
Interviewer: When will you make the official announcement of the second season?
Furukawa: I think it will be at the beginning of next year. The production committee hasn’t been organized yet, and in the current state we can’t make an official website. The committee will form up after the script, title, and designs are decided, so it will take a while to do the official press announcement. But in the meantime, I want to keep you informed of plans on the writing and design sides here in Ship’s Log.
(Translator’s note: one more issue is scheduled for 2015, to publish in November.)
Interviewer: Then would coverage continue on a regular basis?
Nishizaki: Of course. I think we must inform members of Yamato Crew Premium first and foremost.
In terms of plans on the writing side, speaking for Voyager Holdings, we want to make more Yamato after the second season, three or four new works. I think it would be a 7 or 8 year plan, and we’ll talk about these epic projects as they are prepared.
Interviewer: That’s great news. I think fans will be happy.
Nishizaki: Not only that, besides using the “ship” and the “title” of Yamato, I’d like to create a totally different story. I think such a work is necessary to expand the content of Yamato and penetrate a wider range of generations. Remakes for fans from the old days who love the originals, and fresh new stories with a new sensibility for the generation that came after them. I think that planning is necessary for Yamato.
Furukawa: While remaking the originals, it’s not possible to weave in new initiatives. The original has its own excellence, and the elements that impressed people should not be stripped out. However, it is possible to set a totally new stage and create new characters to perform the drama. The Magellanic Galaxy seen from Earth is an entirely new galaxy outside the Milky Way where we live, so that might become the stage.
Interviewer: I think there’s also an opinion that it’s only Yamato if Kodai and Dessler appear. What about that point?
Furukawa: Kodai and Dessler were certainly the major characters in the original series, and we cherish their strange charms, too. However, merely continuing to make their stories and sequels would narrow the range of expression and might possibly cause Yamato to diminish. It’s also not bound to the worldview of the original series characters or the conventional Yamato. We’d like to take the initiative to spin stories out of an entirely new concept based on it, a saga different from the existing mainstream. I think it’s inevitable that this project would draw on the same excellent content as Yamato.
Magazine centerspread art: “Happy Couple” by Yoichi Fukano (characters) and Junichiro Tamamori (mecha).
Interviewer: What you’re saying goes beyond imagination (laughs), but excellent content certainly exists for works that can be enjoyed by generations. In the past, there was a time extension of the original series called Yamato 2520 with different characters, too…
Nishizaki: There might be something like that, and possibly something completely different. I think there’s a strong possibility that there could be a completely different category from the conventional “Yamato saga.” It might be something for the grandchildren of the original fans. Either way, my long-term outlook is for Yamato to permeate all layers and generations.
Interviewer: Can you tell me anything about the continuation of Yamato Resurrection that everyone’s wondering about, and also about the Hollywood version of Yamato?
From Farewell to Yamato, 1978.
Nishizaki: Of course, I want to make a continuation of Resurrection. But we have to push forward with the second season remake first, so right now we’re concentrating all our energies on that. It’s difficult to maintain quality control over several domestic works that are moving at the same time, so it would be after the second season settles down. The Hollywood edition is being done overseas, so it’s possible to make it concurrently. Skydance Productions will take charge of production this summer. After sending out Mission Impossible Rogue Nation and Terminator Genysis, they’ll start on the script immediately, and it’s planned to be completed within this year. Anyway, Director Christopher McQuarrie is quite a deep Yamato fan. He says he’s been nursing the idea for 35 years, so it shouldn’t take much time to complete the script.
Interviewer: Thank you for everything today. Mr. Nishizaki, fans are waiting for the exchange meeting with you at Yakitori Yamato. I think I’ve heard every request from everyone, but what kinds of opinions are there?
(Translator’s note: Yakitori Yamato is a restaurant owned by Shoji Nishizaki; as of this writing, his first “Producer Premium Meeting” with fans was announced to take place there September 26. It was described in the Yamatour 2013 travelogue here.)
Nishizaki: Every two or three months, fans from Sengawa, Tokyo gather at Yakitori Yamato, and I’ll go as often as possible. I’d like to hear their opinions on the work. But rather than specific opinions, like “Do Yamato XX!,” I’d hope to hear simple wishes for Yamato. Anyway, I’m very grateful. Because for 40 years without fail, they continue to support us, gathering after all these years for new works, always calling to me with warm voices.
Inside Yakitori Yamato restaurant, August 2013. The sake labels at right are named for Yamato characters.
Interviewer: Rather than just Yakitori Yamato in Tokyo, would you also talk with premium members in nearby cities, and maybe sit down with them for a drink? I heard such requests the other day.
Nishizaki: That’s also a good idea. I talk with fans directly, and it’s very meaningful to hear their opinions and impressions. If everyone gathers together, I’d definitely like it to happen. Will you coordinate the planning for Yamato Crew Premium?
Interviewer: Of course. I think everyone will be pleased. Lastly, please let us hear your enthusiasm for the future.
Nishizaki: Because Yamato is entertainment, my first thought is to please the audience. As well as the music, it’s important to cherish the original elements so as not to disappoint expectations. Four million people watched and shed tears for Farewell to Yamato and the second season in the old days. The honest feeling now is that we want to make a second season those four million people will want to watch again.