Harutoshi Fukui interview

Dengeki Hobbyweb, February 15, 2017
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Just before the premiere of Yamato 2202, Soldiers of Love! Harutoshi Fukui special interview released!

It has already been announced that Yamato 2202 is a remake of the immortal masterpiece Farewell to Yamato that shines brightly in Japanese anime history. How will life be breathed into it again in contemporary Japan? Are the odds in its favor? Mr. Harutoshi Fukui, who participates in the work by writing the series composition, shared his innermost thoughts.

Farewell to Yamato is a story for this day and age

Interviewer: What was the process for you to get involved with the series composition?

Fukui: If I remember right, I was first contacted in 2013. But since Gundam UC was still going at the time, I thought it would be too difficult to do both, so I declined. But after that project, which I’d been involved in for about ten years since the start of the novel series, it was hard for me to decide at my core what I could do next, and fortunately I was contacted again. I seriously watched Farewell again to see what sort of significance there could be in making it once more for the present day, and confidently said, “I think we can do this. Yes, we can!” And I decided to accept with, “I definitely want to do it!”

Interviewer: What elements of the old work convinced you that Farewell could be made again?

Fukui: It’s a sensational work in various ways, isn’t it? But it was also criticized by the adult generation at the time who had known war. “Doesn’t this glorify a suicide attack?”

Interviewer: That’s certainly what follows when Yamato plunges into the enemy fortress. Therefore, there could be some anxiety about it possibly being unsuitable for this day and age…

Fukui: Yes. I also understand that there are those who would frown on it today. But when I rewatched it, I felt that this was not done out of nationalism. Earth is saved by Yamato as a result, but rather it’s about what a human being named Susumu Kodai does to convince himself to “save the Earth.”

What will Teresa’s position be in this story of new love by Harutoshi Fukui?

Interviewer: What do you mean by that?

Fukui: Talking about it step by step, the previous work Space Battleship Yamato depicted a war between nations in the space war of Gamilas and Earth. But for the imperial government Gatlantis, which is the enemy power in Farewell, there is almost no depiction of it as a nation. It has an almost metaphysical existence. So when young people live with hope and idealism, it’s a metaphor of harsh reality that says, “No, reality is like this.” Reality wants to suppress human nature, and the true structure of Farewell is to show the resistance to that. “No, I want to live as a human being.”

Interviewer: I see. Consequently, while on the one hand the latter half of the film retreats from the reality and integrity of being a war chronicle, it can’t be argued that it worked on an emotional level. [lit. It presses on the heart] Thanks to that, I finally feel like I understand the nature of that force.

Fukui: How can people be convinced to live in such a suffocating age? How can you live a fulfilling life? Kodai uses his own life for that. That’s why the thing he stakes his life on is protecting his country, moreso than even a life with Yuki Mori since she is already dead at that point. When he thought about what he would try to protect, it’s a very fluffy word, but it’s “humanism” itself.

Interviewer: Humanism…do you mean “love”?

Fukui: That’s right. As the pinnacle of humanism, love is what brings meaning to being human. When I grasped that, I got the sense that this is the core of the work, and from there I directly proposed the subtitle Soldiers of Love to everyone on the staff. “Love” is a word that’s been severely abused in fiction, and it’s gone stale. Ten years ago, it wouldn’t have seemed that way. But ironically the straightforward use of a word like that now can feel a little scary because we live in a time when terrorism committed for a love of God and country is occurring all over the world.

While taking on the dangerous aspect of it that is close to madness, we may be able to say something about it there. The suffocation Kodai feels can also be connected to this time. In fact, in a time when life becomes increasingly stifling, the crushing ratio of “reality is like this” on humanity grows even larger. I thought this theme would resonate more acutely if it was included.

Interviewer: I see. It’s not just a dig for nostalgia or commercialization, it’s being done as “a story that should be told right now.” The expectations for Yamato 2202 rise even more.

Dr. Sado laments the present day in front of Captain Okita’s statue at “Hero’s
Hill.” The picture and sound effects are exactly the same as the original work!
By carefully integrating images from the old work, a feeling of “This is surely
Yamato!” is born in the new story.

Amazing development and a nostalgic touch

Interviewer: I’m relieved by what I just heard about the core theme of the original work. How much of the original is being followed in terms of narrative and setting? Conversely, in what areas should we be interested in seeing something new?

Fukui: Since Yamato 2199 went beyond its origin, the starting point of the story is changed from the old work, and differences inevitably derive from there.

Interviewer: To be specific, Starsha made Captain Okita promise to seal up the Wave-Motion Gun. Garmillas is not destroyed, and there is an alliance with Earth. There’s also Yuki Mori’s memory loss…the situation has changed quite dramatically.

Fukui: We were left with these concepts at the end of 2199, and we couldn’t contradict them in this work. It goes without saying that it can’t be exactly the same as the old work, and I don’t intend for it to be. However, there will be parts that can be appreciated by those who feel, “I miss this!” and “It’s been such a long time, now here it is!” I think mixing those parts with “What happens next?” is an ideal blend, and I’m aiming for an exquisite balance between those two poles.

Interviewer: But can the concepts that changed be fused well with what you described earlier as the core of the original work?

Fukui: Yeah, about that! Since the starting point is too different, I wondered what to do about it at first, but thinking it over, the only conclusion was to instead make use of it.

Interviewer: All of it? The Wave-Motion Gun problem, the Garmillas alliance issue, and Yuki Mori’s memory loss?

Fukui: They can all be applied to modern-day Japan. The “sealed-up Wave-Motion Gun” overlaps with the problem of nuclear power plants. The alliance with Garmillas overlaps with the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. It isn’t the best decision for the country of Japan, and there are many situations surrounding us now that reality forces upon us, and I noticed that they could be transplanted into the homework left by Yamato 2199.

By changing the style of shadows from 2199, the characters take on a more
serious impression. Although it results from bringing in the atmosphere of the old
work, the line work of the characters convincingly shows a change after a
three-year gap.

The problem of sealing up the Wave-Motion Gun in particular was a great help. The crew is troubled by it, and they’ll probably have to go off into space without being able to solve it. So what kind of decision will you make if you’re facing the enemy and you don’t think you’ll survive if you don’t fire the Wave Gun? I certainly want to know this. I feel that I’ve been given the chance to make the ending I definitely want to see.

Interviewer: I saw the first episode. Because of the Wave-Motion Gun sealing-up problem, Andromeda‘s character was hanging in the balance…

Fukui: In that area, I’m certainly proud of surpassing the original. (Laughs) I can’t tell you anything more about Yuki Mori’s memory loss problem, but it will have a lot of traction in the story, so please watch closely.

The landscape of Yamato as seen by Harutoshi Fukui

Interviewer: Did you watch the Space Battleship Yamato broadcast back in the day?

Fukui: I was a little younger than the original target generation, so Be Forever Yamato was the first one I saw in a theater. Just before the premiere of Farewell, I watched the movie version of Space Battleship Yamato when it was broadcast on TV. The drama rose and fell over two hours and it was an unprecedented experience. (Laughs) I watched it at my relatives’ house, and my aunt and uncle were absorbed by it, too. Anime is amazing, and it made an intense first impression.

Interviewer: In those days, there was no adult SF anime before then.

Fukui: That’s right. I lived in downtown Tokyo then. There were TVs in the noodle shop and the butcher shop. They usually just showed sumo wrestling or baseball games, but Yamato was the only anime that appeared on those old CRT screens. Even the guys in their 40s and 50s watched Yamato. It was something that had an impact. After two or three years, Be Forever Yamato opened in theaters, and I felt like Yamato’s biggest boom had come. I was just as excited as other kids my age.

The outline of a Diffusion Wave-Motion Gun muzzle eerily emerges from
darkness. The impression of taboo increases.

Expansive development with overwhelming density! Talking about the first two episodes

Interviewer: When I saw the first episode, I was overwhelmed by the density of information. It felt like watching a whole movie.

Fukui: Buying a DVD or Blu-ray and watching it repeatedly is the basis of this era, so you can’t grasp everything by watching it only once. The information is quite densely packed. It was the same with Gundam UC, but it seems like there’s something new every time you see it. I really want you to enjoy it, so I’ve applied such a gimmick.

Interviewer: Episode 2 is like a serialized overseas drama, and I certainly want to see where it develops from here…

Fukui: That’s also the same as Gundam UC because I saw overseas dramas as our rival. One of their factors for success is the speed of development, and people are used to it. Those who watch overseas dramas are quite willing to pay for it every month on Hulu and Netflix. There’s a layer that watches free content broadcast on TV, and another that is in the habit of paying money for fiction, and I absolutely think it’s better to aim for the preferences of the latter.

Interviewer: Finally, please give a word to those who will be watching from now on.

Fukui: I would think anyone who looks at Dengeki Hobbyweb is going to watch it anyway… (Laughs) You’ll watch it if you’ve come this far. (All laugh) Because 2202 returns to the feeling of the old work moreso than 2199 did, I want you to look forward to that part. And I think anyone who sees Dengeki Hobbyweb without ever watching Yamato would be an unusual person. (Laughs) Should they watch it sooner? (Laughs)

Interviewer: A lot of articles on Yamato 2202 can be expected on this site. Until now, Gundam has been the academia of otaku, but I get the feeling Space Battleship Yamato will hold its own as a legendary myth. It will be different from now on! Yamato 2202 will become academia as well. It’s being made with an enthusiasm for life, so please look forward to it. Thank you very much!

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