Daisuke Ono interview, January 2017

From Yamato Crew Premium fan club magazine Ship’s Log #16, January 4, 2017

In Space Battleship Yamato 2202, Soldiers of Love, Daisuke Ono and Houko Kuwashima appear as Susumu Kodai and Yuki Mori. We asked them about their enthusiasm for the new series. Hopes and fears…we bring you the passionate message of these two people who faced the recording with various feelings.

From the end of 2199, there was the feeling of doing a sequel

Interviewer: What was it like when you heard about Yamato 2202, the sequel to Yamato 2199?

Ono: When 2199 ended, it was like the whole staff finally came back from a long voyage with the power of everyone, and it was a great sense of accomplishment. So when I heard that a sequel would start again, I thought, “Why?”

Kuwashima: You said “Why”?

Ono: Of course, I knew that the original had a work called Farewell to Yamato, Soldiers of Love, so in the sense that there was a sequel, there was “the joy of playing it again.” But personally, I had the same “Who do we fight?” and “Why do we travel?” feeling as Kodai. “I still have to fight…” It was a complicated feeling, and I was puzzled. I think the sense of accomplishment with 2199 was too big. It wasn’t burnout syndrome, but it was something close to it.

Kuwashima: But at the end of 2199, didn’t an atmosphere develop that it might continue? Somehow, out of nowhere, I had a feeling that it absolutely would. However, even if there was a sequel, it may not have included Kodai and Yuki Mori, so I tried not to get my hopes up.

Ono: I felt the sign of a sequel, but I decided not to expect it. (Laughs)

Kuwashima: I didn’t believe it until I heard the decision. It took a long time.

Ono: The hero and the heroine were both skeptical about a sequel. (Laughs) But that’s because we had a good trip with 2199. But even with Ark of the Stars, recording didn’t begin until the last minute. So I thought, “Is it OK? Are we really doing it?”

Kuwashima: I was doubtful. (Laughs) And then the word of 2202 really came and I said, “Oh, I can do Yuki again,” and I got fired up.

Ono: The recording for 2199 took about a year and a half.

Kuwashima: The recording ran into difficulties in synchronizing along the way, and there were several months of rest. “Next time, let’s try our best all the way to the end.”

Ono: I performed it with excitement, asking “Will we return to Earth?” 2202 has that feeling. In a good way, we don’t know what’s going to happen to us from here on.

Interviewer: The word is that 2202 will be produced as an interpretation of the feature film Farewell to Yamato, released in 1978.

Ono: That’s the year I was born!

Kuwashima: I only knew the title. My manager and his dad went to the movies together to see it. He was too young to really remember the content, but he still cried. Hearing stories like that, I got the impression that it was a legendary work. I’ve also heard that it’s a monumental work, a sensation for the generation that encountered Yamato.

Ono: I heard that story from Kazuya Nakai, in the same office as Ms. Kuwashima.

Kuwashima: Mr. Nakai regrets that he couldn’t appear in Yamato himself. (Laughs)

Ono: There are fans of all ages among us, including our sound director. When it comes to Yamato movies, Farewell to Yamato is the one everybody talks about. Along with the people who were around at that time, how much did it impact today’s creators and actors? I’m amazed. I mean, I still hear different versions of “It was an awesome work.”

Interviewer: Until Kiki’s Delivery Service was released in 1989, Farewell to Yamato had the highest box office for an anime movie.

Ono: It really is a legend, isn’t it? I felt a lot of pressure in 2199, and this time again we’re always being bombarded with, “We’re looking forward to it” from various sides.

Kuwashima: I’m hearing “I will do Yamato again” from the senior actors. Whoooah! (Laughs)

Ono: I keep hearing that pressure repeated from the senior staff. It’s really building up.

For 2199 it was said, “You can make a whole new Kodai and Yuki,” and the parts were left up to us

Interviewer: Have you seen the original Farewell to Yamato?

Ono: Since we finished 2199, I haven’t watched the old TV series. In the midst of 2199, I saw only the movie version released in 1977. Later, I heard, “The TV series is completely different from the movie version” and wondered if the results were good.

Kuwashima: I only watched Farewell to Yamato this time.

Ono: You saw it?

Kuwashima: It was such a sad story that it made me understand just what it was that could move a child’s heart to tears. When Kodai says to Yuki Mori, “We’ll get married and be with the stars,” it’s so shocking.

Ono: In 2202, Kodai and Yuki are also not yet married.

Kuwashima: It starts from there. It’s a disturbing flow…why didn’t they get married in the past three years?

Ono: Maybe they were busy with the reconstruction.

Kuwashima: Let’s get married after the situation of Earth improves a bit more. But then you think a new enemy might come. After all, you should live in the now and not miss the moment.

Ono: You learned your lessons from Farewell to Yamato.

Kuwashima: Kodai’s words stuck with me one by one. Like, “Won’t my life expand out into space and last forever?”

Ono: I’m talking about life.

Kuwashima: Comparing it to space. These people live in space, so they’re at the heart of it.

Ono: It’s very romantic.

Kuwashima: It is romantic. But I hear 2202 will be a different story, and it seems to be a great trial.

Ono: Wow, that makes me nervous. (Laughs) I have to see Farewell to Yamato.

Kuwashima: On the contrary, because it has become such a legend, I thought that I could watch it as a completely different thing. When we were doing 2199, while I didn’t watch the old work, people around me kept saying, “You must be under a lot of pressure to play Yuki Mori, huh?” So I figured I couldn’t relax much.

Rather than the super woman of the original, Yuki Mori in 2199 was described as a modern girl in an ensemble drama, so I was allowed to portray her relatively freely. Of course, she has some impressively serious scenes in the latter half, and I think her tearful scenes with Kodai were partly in sync with the original, but there were no instructions like, “Play Yuki Mori this way.” For 2199, General Director Izubuchi and the sound supervisor said, “You can make a whole new Kodai and Yuki,” and the parts were entrusted to us, so I have the feeling that it’s OK to see Farewell to Yamato now.

Ono: I’ll see it, too.

Kuwashima: I think you’re busy, but please do. But it may be a very dark feeling.

Ono: Then I won’t watch it. (Laughs)

Kuwashima: It will be painful. It’s so sad.

Ono: As you say, 2202 is not just a remake of Farewell to Yamato, since it has the essence of both Yamato 2 and Farewell. It’s arranged for people who accept the current Space Battleship Yamato to say, “This is a wonderful work.” It is not the same as the old days, in a good way.

Interviewer: It’s also a sign of the times, especially in the way the female characters are depicted differently.

Kuwashima: There’s a scene with Kodai and Yuki on a date in Chapter 1, and Yuki is the one driving the car.

Ono: I don’t have a license. (Laughs)

In 2199, it was impressive that love was also shown on the Garmillas side

Interviewer: If it’s said that “love” is the theme, what kind of image does the work have?

Ono: The writer, Harutoshi Fukui, said that love was drawn from the subtitle, Soldiers of Love.

Kuwashima: So, various types of love are depicted, aren’t they?

Ono: In 2199, it was impressive that there was also a love story on the Garmillas side. There was both one-sided love and mutual love, and as a result they were connected. In Domel, there was a figure who had a family and subordinates who cared about him. It was very meaningful that love could be seen on the enemy side, so I also look forward to that in 2202. There are signs that it could be included on the Gatlantis side in one way or another.

Kuwashima: There’s a strong indication of it from the first episode.

Ono: According to me, who hasn’t seen Farewell to Yamato yet, it’s hot on the enemy side, too. (Laughs)

Kuwashima: That’s why love is necessary. Merely living is just too hard.

Ono: I’m interested in how straight Kodai and Yuki’s love design will turn out to be. Kodai’s such a dope, so they argue like middle-schoolers and have lover’s quarrels. You watch it with a sense of, “Oh, brother.” I like the promise of it feeling like a romantic comedy. They go on a voyage for the fate of Earth and risk their lives, but there is a humanity and warmth there. I hope that many such things can be depicted in 2202.

Kuwashima: There are great loves besides that; love for humanity, love for Earth…and Teresa is also “love.”

Ono: Who is Teresa? Teresa is praying for someone. Sounding the alarm to Earth. It makes me really wonder where that love is heading.

Interviewer: Three years have passed in the story. Have there been changes on the performance side?

Kuwashima: It hasn’t particularly changed. Yuki looks like an adult from the beginning, so rather than changing it to that, I thought I would leave it to the visuals in 2202.

Ono: I wasn’t really conscious of making Kodai sound older, either.

Kuwashima: Because the first episode ends with a battle scene, it’s a desperate situation where you couldn’t really bear that in mind. There may be a part where it could change a little in the area of Episode 2. But it’s enough to have Yuki back. She’s in lovey-dovey “Kodai-kun” mode.

Ono: They yell, “We saved the Earth” at the sky, don’t they?

Kuwashima: They’ve really become an itai couple, huh? (Laughs) [Itai couple: slang for a couple who act so goofily in love that it’s painful to watch.]

Ono: But it’s cute, isn’t it? In the script, in the line “This is the second time, you know,” the emphasis gives the feeling that they’re going to recover Yuki’s lost time.

Kuwashima: That’s why Yuki’s tension is a little higher in Episode 2? I say, “I’m already happy” to Kodai.

Ono: This is wonderful.

Kuwashima: Is the second episode the peak of their happiness?

Ono: It seems like as soon as we relax there will be an immediate backlash. But I think Kodai is living in a more peaceful time than 2199. In that sense, while the first episode is mainly a battle, I think it has a calm and peaceful part too.

Kuwashima: Kodai-kun grew up considerably in Ark of the Stars. Becoming more mature. Many junior characters appeared, and I thought it was cool that a greater sense of responsibility arose. I think 2202 is the extension of that.

Ono: “I have to return to Earth” and “I have to save the Earth” made 2199 exciting. But the tension may increase again from here.

Kuwashima: Kodai is dressed like Captain Okita in 2202. That’s significant.

Ono: That’s a big deal.

Interviewer: Did you have any instructions from the 2202 staff?

Ono: When we did the recording for Episode 1, we were already entrusted with it.

Kuwashima: The atmosphere is already solid, and it’s great. But on the cast side the scale of the work is big, so a lot more staff members are coming in.

Ono: The recording for Episode 1 was interesting. When you look at the control room from the mike in the studio, it looks like Yamato‘s bridge. It’s absolutely packed with staff. However, with us there aren’t many orders.

Kuwashima: There didn’t seem to be any gaps at all, and it started smoothly. It has the spirit of a first episode, but the usual feeling of Yamato seemed to start up naturally.

Ono: The veteran voice actors are all naturals, too, and we nestle in with them. There’s an amazing sense of security just being there with Yoshitada Otsuka (Shiro Sanada). And it’s naturally so with Takayuki Sugo (Juuzo Okita).

Kuwashima: Perhaps you could say that just seeing their backs establishes our place in this. Even if you don’t say it in words, you just feel like part of the Yamato crew when you stand in front of the mike.

Ono: In addition to the presence of veterans, I’m relieved by being with the younger ones, like Kenji Akabane (Yasuo Nanbu). There’s a very good “junior sense” feeling with Aihara and the others in the give-and-take during a battle. With 2202 it’s natural to feel “I’m aboard Yamato” again.

Relieved by everyone having a firm feeling of making Space Battleship Yamato

Interviewer: What was a memorable scene from Episode 1?

Kuwashima: In the end, the lines from Zordar. That was the most striking and shocking.

Ono: It’s the main theme.

Kuwashima: Those are the lines that determine the story, so I look forward to hearing it. Mr. Ono and a couple others saying, “I don’t think we can win.”

Ono: There are people who don’t feel like they can win every time. Even in Ark of the Stars, I didn’t think I could beat Ryuzaburo Otomo (Goran Dagarm).

Kuwashima: But doesn’t it make you happy with stuff like “Even though we’re enemies…”? It’s like you feel affection for the bad guy.

Ono: But maybe that goes for us. That’s why the enemy’s lines affect us. It seems like we’re being spoken to directly. Captain Okita’s “Get on board Yamato” impressed me. I’m glad we could meet Captain Okita and he spoke to me. With the way 2199 ended, I thought he would never appear again.

Interviewer: Finally, please talk about your enthusiasm for 2202.

Kuwashima: The small love of everyday life mixes together with the big love of space, and I’m excited about the great visual quality that it will surely have. I think there will be a lot of highlights in these episodes. How has Yamato‘s crew grown up and how will they come together? It’s a feeling of “Everything is nostalgic.” I think it will be a long journey, but now the screenings of 2202 begin, and the thrill will continue for a long time. I hear that Yuki will play an active part…but I don’t quite believe it yet. (Laughs)

Ono: There is such a thrilling feeling. (Laughs)

Kuwashima: I’m just going with the flow as I perform Yuki. I believe anything can be overcome in this love story with Kodai. So everyone please watch it to the end.

Ono: In 2202 I feel the same challenge as 2199; “I have to shoulder Space Battleship Yamato,” which to me is a different feeling than “pressure.” I have no choice but to do my best, and I’m genuinely happy to have the pleasure of advancing this ship and handing over to the next generation. There’s a situation where I say, “I don’t think we can beat this enemy,” but I’m confident that we can overcome it. I’m not alone, and I can relax in the firm feeling of everyone making Space Battleship Yamato. All the fans have anxiety mixed with expectations about how 2202 will develop and how it will change, but I want to tell you, “Don’t worry.”

Kuwashima: That was great. (Laughs)

Ono: Well, I’m a captain. (Laughs) With this team, I’m confident that “the Space Battleship Yamato of this generation” will be delivered, so please look forward to it.

Special thanks to Neil Nadelman for translation support.

The End

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *