[Editor’s note: this interview actually begins on the third page spread shown below. The first two spreads are filled with story information.]
What happens to Dessler and Kodai?
“When I was a child — the Earth was grand”
The long-awaited Yamato III is on the air now, with a plan for 50 episodes! The story development is a topic of great interest among the fans. Therefore, we interview Producer Nishizaki about this new epic!!
The challenge to parts unknown!!
Interviewer: First, I’d like to ask you about the theme of Yamato III.
Nishizaki: Hmm. When we say “theme” it swings into a high-handed attitude, so let’s keep it reasonable. It is cheapened when it gets reduced to language. Up to now, we’ve said that the theme of Yamato is “love,” and now, really, it overflows with “love, love.” It’s become a bit embarrassing. (Laughs)
Interviewer: So is this next theme not “love”?
Nishizaki: No. There is no Yamato that does not flow from love at its foundation. There are two things we embrace this time.
Interviewer: Tell me about them.
Nishizaki: Whether or not it can be called a theme, there is always hope for the future, and the message of deciding how you want to live is one. When I was a child a long time ago, I thought the Earth was grand. There were a lot of unknown parts. We are surrounded by the challenge of parts unknown, so that’s why we go out into the vast Milky Way.
Interviewer: The galaxy is the stage this time.
Nishizaki: Yes. As children, it was a dream to explore the Amazon and the southern islands, and I want to revisit that dream with the Milky Way, too. The reality is that we belong to the galaxy, and I want to depict that in a way that is as practical as possible. If everyone’s dreams expand from there, I’ll be glad.
Interviewer: I see. The galaxy itself is the theme and the message.
Nishizaki: That’s right. And the other thing, though this may conflict with what I just said, this time it is a problem called reality. In the world of Yamato, the Earth is on the road to extinction. Of course, Yamato is on a voyage to find a second Earth. But there may not even be one. So, somehow, the sun must be returned to its original state. In other words, even if you follow your dreams, dreaming is not a means of escape from reality. If Yamato faces the reality of Earth perishing, I think it is something to think about.
Interviewer: Certainly so.
Nishizaki: In the reality that everyone lives in, here in the present day, the problem is how to make things better in your hometown. So far, we’ve explored “can you die for others?” and other themes such as, “belief in each other,” and it leads up to “how can you make things better?” This time, in a long series of 50, we intend to show this clearly.
The Drama of Dessler and Kodai?
Interviewer: How is the theme specifically expressed?
Nishizaki: Overall, through the behavior and attitudes of Kodai and Yuki, along with Domon and Ageha.
Interviewer: So to speak, this time Yamato III is about human relations, shown in detail.
Nishizaki: Yes. Speaking of Domon, he’s the lead protagonist in the new crew, though it will become two people when Ageha becomes a hero, too. The main reason this new crew was brought in is because I want to make the Final Chapter of Kodai and Yuki in 1982.
Interviewer: It will be in 1982?
Nishizaki: That’s right. There is this, too; Kodai can’t be the acting captain forever, and it’s odd to fly with no one in the captain’s seat. Because Kodai has already had the experience of going from a rookie to a veteran, other people are necessary to provide that anchor.
Interviewer: What is the reason for showing that process again?
Nishizaki: First, it’s for the new generation of fans. Those who recently became fans have not seen that area. Through their growth, I would like to show the process of Kodai’s growth to captain of the ship. If we make the Final Chapter in 1982 in the familiar setting of the galaxy, I’d like to have that sentiment there again. Besides, it’s always very fresh and good for Yamato when new faces appear. (Laughs)
Interviewer: By the way, I’m worried about Dessler and what will happen between Dessler and Kodai.
Nishizaki: (Laughs) That’s a tough one. I can’t talk about the conclusion yet. Besides, it wouldn’t be interesting if I gave it away. (Laughs) Dessler is the character who means the most to me, so in Yamato III we’ll treat him carefully.
Interviewer: In several episodes?
Nishizaki: That’s right. From around episodes 15-16, Dessler’s quest to unify the Galman race also comes out. Originally, we depicted Dessler as a nationalist with an unique sense of beauty and aesthetics. This time, the idea of unifying the Galman race appears with the idea that it will lead to happiness. Also, if Bolar unifies the galaxy, it will go badly for the Galman race.
Interviewer: That notion hasn’t changed since Part 1.
Nishizaki: If Dessler changed, it was by the promise of chivalry to Kodai. In other words, even if he extends his hand to conquer the galaxy, Earth will be excluded. Because it is a promise only to Kodai, it doesn’t necessarily mean Dessler will deny his own drive.
Interviewer: How will he meet Kodai?
Nishizaki: I think it’s around Episode 14, when Yamato is captured by Gaidel. This area [of the story] is very elaborate, and it’s going to be fun.
Interviewer: I heard there’s another planet that comes out in addition to Bolar and Galman.
Nishizaki: That part is a long way off. It’s a planet of religious legend, so to speak–please ponder that.
The total production system was abolished!!
Interviewer: By the way, the plan for the staff directors to do one episode at a time is a great one. Though I think it’s also a hard one.
Nishizaki: That’s because I wanted to show the capability of the artists. Of course, it’s important to unify the characters, but I think it’s more important how you make use of the art. Therefore, I abolished the old production system for each episode and decided on a progressive new system for the directors to take total charge of individual episodes.
Interviewer: The new design is also wonderful.
Nishizaki: Over and above Galman and Earth, a lot of ideas came from [concept writer] Aritsune Toyota. In particular, the huge general headquarters of Gaidel is a sight to see. However, I took a lot of ideas out so we’d have something left for the movie. (Laughs)
Interviewer: Also, I’ll enjoy hearing the music again.
Nishizaki: Hiroshi Miyagawa does his best. There will be a lot of new pieces including the theme of the sun, the Bolar theme in the mood of Slavic folk music, and more. And some arrangements from Part 1.
Interviewer: Between the art and the music, it really is like a blockbuster movie. I’m looking forward to the future of Yamato III. Thank you for your time today.
Production Site Report
Hello Tokyo Animation
During the period of more than seven years since the first Yamato, the staff developed a more advanced technique. As the third TV series begins, they demonstrate all their power!
The quiet, passionate staff makes Yamato III!
As you know, Space Battleship Yamato III is produced by Tokyo Animation. This studio is absolutely off-limits for everyone other than official people, but I was specially-allowed to visit. There is a lot of manga and anime-related production along the Seibu Ikebukuro railway line, and Tokyo Animation sits in the corner of a quiet, residential area about 10 minutes from Nerima station.
Usually, the atmosphere of a studio is like a “battlefield,” but I was allowed in to write this report when production had just settled down. Therefore, General Director Eiichi Yamamoto and Assistant Director Kazunori Tanahashi seemed to be working right at home.
Anyway, Producer Yoshihiro Nozaki took the trouble to meet with me and guided me through the office. There were people in charge of production and their assistants working that day. This telephone, then that one, jingled in turns. All the necessary information about the production was gathered, and everything from the arrangement of cel paint to the checking of staff names for the end credits is performed here.
Character and mecha design packs were stored neatly. Yamato has many more design sheets than other works. Mistakes are not allowed, so of course they need to be organized so that they can be examined at any time. I got a special look at art boards that had been saved. Original paintings of the sun and other things we’re showing this month were done with a sense of fun.
Geki Katsumata, Art
There are a lot of art settings this time, and it has been a struggle to achieve variety. Speaking of outer space, for example, until now it was mainly one color, but we’re increasing the number of colors this time. But we have to be careful not to break the Yamato color [sensibility], so it’s very difficult. Producer Nishizaki demands a high quality of art. It’s different from a conventional TV series, because it’s no easy task to work at the same level as a feature film. I’ve been joined by two other artists this time, so it’s been very helpful to me. Anyway, we’re doing something deeper than the old series!
Eiichi Yamamoto, Writer/General Director
This time, since the Yamato story will be broadcast for a whole year, I wrote an outline so it wouldn’t be so difficult to finish. Although it’s large in Yamato scale, the size of space is shown with a sense of distance. In the first series, Yamato traveled 148,000 light years to a certain planet and returned in one year. But after the second story, although the numbers steadily increased the sense of distance gradually went away.
This time we return to the initial stage and carry out a voyage into our galaxy. But we want to show that the space of the galaxy is also big, so we’d like you to see Yamato in our galaxy. For that, we’ve set the stage for Dessler and Kodai with a variety of planets. Also, watch for the new crew and mecha. In this work, various problems happen in space on Yamato with the new crew. In addition, the sun is rapidly expanding, and whether or not there is a 2nd Earth becomes a problem. Please look forward to it.
Above left: Kenzo Koizumi’s autograph on a prank drawing? Above right: Directing and animation room
Next, the room of animation production. Animation Director Kenzo Koizumi and layout artist Kaoru Izumiguchi were working at animation tables. What was next to Mr. Koizumi’s desk? An interesting picture. It said, “Character of the Phantom of Kodai.” (photo upper left), an image of a brave Kodai wearing a hat. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen Kodai-kun wearing a hat.
“Okita, Hijikata, Yamanami, and all the past captains of battleships wore a hat,” Mr. Koizumi told me secretly. “I thought Kodai would also put on a hat when he became captain. But it doesn’t work well no matter how much I draw it. It doesn’t suit someone whose hair doesn’t go down. So I did a “Phantom” Kodai wearing a hat. (Laughs)”
Mr. Izumiguchi drew a layout of Yamato by hand. Looking at it, it was tightly detailed with a fine touch. He is a layout artist specializing in mecha. He says Yamato has come a long way since Part 1.
“It is very easy to move [animate] the mecha of Galman and the Bolar Federation. For me, the Gatlantis mecha of Part 2 was complex because of all the attached missiles and gun turrets, and I felt like I was going to die. (Laughs) I feel that my constitution is especially suited to the Galman-Gamilas mecha.”
Above left: Checking a storyboard. Above right: Mr. Izumiguchi draws layouts of Yamato.
As noted in the interview with Producer Nishizaki, Yamato III is produced by directors taking “total charge” of individual episodes. In addition to Mr. Kenzo Koizumi, Shinya Takahashi, Takeshi Shirato, Toyoo Ashida, and Yukiyoshi Hane are the animators at the forefront, each responsible for one episode at a time.
According to Mr. Koizumi, “I think the styles of the various animators comes out. Since Shinya Takahashi did the first episode, Yuki Mori was very pretty. I took charge of the second episode. Rather than saying the characters must be unified across the whole series, each of us takes advantage of our own characteristics, and everyone is enthusiastic.”
I wondered what kind of wonderful images whill come out on screen in Yamato III, and thought I wouldn’t want to miss any of it. My day of coverage ended with the setting sun and soon I had to say goodbye. However, Takeshi Shirato of Tiger Pro and Toyoo Ashida of Studio Live should be actively working to create the animation for their episodes. The photography division was taking a rest, but will come back soon to make Yamato III a great work.
Yoshihiro Nozaki, Producer
Yamato is a special work, different from other anime in both personal taste and overall taste. Also, the way it is made is unique. My job is certainly to convey the great intentions of Producer Nishizaki to the staff. In addition to veterans from Yamato Part 1, this time those who started out as Yamato fans are participating on the Yamato III staff. Young people such as Designer Yutaka Izubuchi and SF concept writer Takashi Hoshi are very enthusiastic.
Also, since General Director Eiichi Yamamoto developed the story plan beforehand, we can guarantee a work of high quality. I think that we’ll show you a taste unlike other works.
Kazunori Tanahashi, Assistant Director
In this Yamato, the director and animators take charge of individual episodes to produce each one with their own personality. While it’s meant to be taken as a whole, I do hope you see what they’re saying in each individual episode. And in addition to our regular Kodai, the number of new characters has greatly increased and creates a variety of problems on the ship. Although I’ve been associated with Yamato for a long time, I didn’t particularly want to do this one. But because it’s trouble for the staff if the schedule falls off, I want to do them a favor and keep them out of trouble.
Kenzo Koizumi, Animation Director
This time, I mainly put my energy into the new character design for the Earth side. Kodai has become an adult over the passage of seven years and has become a complete human being, so to speak. I’ve inherited the Kodai who was once an irrational boy, and now the young soldiers Domon and Ageha appear. I’ll be happy if I can express their “youth.” Moreover, with various people now handling the animation, I can’t be defeated. (Laughs) It’s best if people can feel something from watching the movement of a character. Anyway, we’re enjoying it to the fullest, so please look forward to it.