Daisuke Ono & Houko Kuwashima interview

Animate Times, February 20, 2017
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Daisuke Ono and Houko Kuwashima see the world of Yamato 2202 – and have no choice but believe in “Hope” and “Great Love.”

Finally, Chapter 1 of Yamato 2202 will be screened in theaters for two weeks only, starting February 25. At last, the curtain opens on a new adventure for Yamato’s crew, who completed their voyage in the previous work, Yamato 2199. Information such as new characters and trends has become the topic, which we discussed with Daisuke Ono and Houko Kuwashima, who just finished recording the voices of Susumu Kodai and Yuki Mori for Episode 1. The atmosphere was rough, but our questions flew around to the very limits of spoiler territory.

No choice but to believe in “Hope” and “Great Love.”

Interviewer: You both appeared on stage at the September 2016 production presentation. Did you do any preparation from there for the recording?

Ono: In the case of 2199, I decided not to see the original series. I would have ended up copying the original work, either consciously or unconsciously…

Kuwashima: Understood, understood.

Ono: When I performed the script just as it was, 2199 gave me the actual feeling of Yamato. I had the firm conviction that everything would return to Yamato when I went to the recording.

Interviewer: How about you, Ms. Kuwashima?

Kuwashima: When I went on stage for the production announcement in September, that was the moment I realized, “This is really going to be done.” Up until that time, my feeling was “I wonder if they’ll do it.” A lot of reporters came to the presentation Mr. Ono and I gave, and the atmosphere was amazing. (Laughs)

Ono: It was a solemn feeling.

Kuwashima: I thought, “I’m so fired up to do this promotion. It is a great work, after all.” The animation they can do is tremendously precious, and I’m excited to appear in such a work. Of course, Yuki appears as the main heroine in 2199, but there’s no image where I’m bathed in the spotlight by myself like Superman. She’s depicted as a realistic woman who works with her own hands, and I got the strong sense that I was playing her as a crew member. Then the staff of 2202 said “Kodai and Yuki will be in the spotlight…” (Laughs)

Then I thought, “There will be a press conference, so is it better to see Farewell to Yamato? It may have some hints.” So I watched it, and I was overwhelmed. (Laughs) It was such a painful story.

Interviewer: So at the time of the production presentation, you said, “It may not go in a good direction.”

Kuwashima: Yes. You’ve heard about it, right Mr. Ono?

Ono: Right. It’s a legendary work, and various people have told me, “This is what it’s about” and “It’s literally a farewell.” Ms. Kuwashima talks about the story at the recording site. I don’t dare to hear anything further, so I try not to listen too much. (Laughs)

Kuwashima: I’m not sure how much I should say, so I don’t say much. (Laughs)

Interviewer: Does knowing about Farewell give you any cause for anxiety?

Kuwashima: The ending makes me uneasy, But at the production presentation the director Mr. Habara and the writer Mr. Fukui said there was “hope,” so I think it might be OK.

Ono: I’m a super-positive guy, so I usually see things in a good way. Considering how it’s “Soldiers of Love”, when I attended the production presentation, I said “I hope I’ll be able to make out (with someone)”. I regretted that a little when I read it in various articles afterward. (Laughs) However, Mr. Habara and Mr. Fukui both said, “A great love is depicted,” didn’t they?

Kuwashima: I have no choice but to trust Mr. Fukui’s words when he said, “I wouldn’t make a story without hope.” You?

Ono: Yes, I have no choice but to believe.

Afraid of the calm before the fight

Interviewer: It seems the voice recording for the first episode has ended. Was there some hope born in Episode 1?

Ono: In the first episode, it’s the “enemy” that speaks of hope and love.

Kuwashima: It starts with shocking words. The script says it’s the voice of a man. My first thought was, “Who is the man?”

Ono: I certainly thought, “Who?”

Interviewer: I was surprised to see what was in the script before this interview.

Kuwashima: Was it spoiled?

Interviewer: Maybe a little, but I heard the story just as it is.

Ono: That person speaks honestly, and it feels passionate and romantic, too. To tell the truth, I thought that line was symbolic of the hope in this work.

Kuwashima: Here? What a positive thought!

Ono: Yes…it seems to be a very interesting story. Whatever kind of ending it comes to, this work conveys something quite positive.

Kuwashima: This line is really…is that a good way to take it?

Ono: I’m a super-positive guy. (Laughs)

Kuwashima: (Laugh) That’s something, I guess.

Interviewer: What kind of feeling do you get about the other characters? Is it the same as 2199?

Kuwashima: It is not exactly the same.

Ono: I didn’t make the voice sound older. But after all, I threw myself into the fight and returned to Earth. I feel a sense of accomplishment in the character. Therefore, you could say he’s calmed down a little. Regarding the first episode, I think I’m living in a relatively peaceful time…I think it’s in his nature to be calm and quiet, so I play him peacefully.

Kodai begins with a scene on the new battleship Yuunagi. With a name like that [Evening Calm], doesn’t it feel peaceful? It’s a strange feeling. Looking at everyone, while there’s a sensation that we’ve returned to Yamato, I think there’s also an aspect that he’s calmed down a bit since that death-defying battle. Conversely, it became a little scary when you consider how that tranquility and calmness are the calm before the struggle that awaits them.

Interviewer: How was the reaction of the other voice actors?

Ono: Houcho Otsuka, who plays Sanada, helped me relax. Takayuki Sugao also appeared in the role of Captain Okita, and Mr. Yoshida the Sound Supervisor introduced him by saying, “Please welcome him with a round of applause, please.” (Laughs) Seniors and juniors, looking at the cast members aside from themselves and hearing their voices, you don’t have to worry about the minor details.

Kuwashima: It’s just like becoming a member of the Yamato crew. Is this something you can only feel after a long journey?

Ono: I agree. It may be so.

Kuwashima: …I say as I puff myself up. (Laughs)

Ono: That is love, Yamato love.

I think the love of these two will be tested

Interviewer: What was the first episode like for you, Ms. Kuwashima?

Kuwashima: I remember Mr. Ono saying in the studio, “Yuki is fired up in that shot.” (Laughs)

Ono: It was so cute!

Kuwashima: It was beautifully and impressively depicted, wasn’t it? And a ring shines on her ring finger. “Oh, am I feeling happy?” (Laughs)

Ono: That was your personal impression?

Kuwashima: Yes. (Laughs) In the first episode, the battle scene is the main thing. Yuki is worried about Kodai-kun. Maybe Episode 2 will be all lovey-dovey.

Interviewer: The scene Mr. Ono was waiting for. (Laughs)

Ono: The love part is the easiest to accept.

Kuwashima: Because they are two people who have come through the fire in 2199.

Ono: They’re not completely at peace, but they don’t feel like they’ve thrown themselves into a war yet.

Interviewer: Will the love of Kodai and Yuki last?

Kuwashima: I think it will be tested. The love of two people. How deep is Kodai’s love?

Ono: Kodai will be tested?

Kuwashima: What kind of situation could they be driven to where their love is tested? What kind of circumstances could they fall into? What sort of situation could they fall into that would make them think “To hell with this!”

Ono: It seems parts like that will be depicted, too. They can’t just flirt all the time.

Kuwashima: That’s right. (Laughs) That wouldn’t be sensible. (Laughs)

Ono: Even I can understand that! (Laughs)

Interviewer: You’ll be recording Episode 2 soon.

Kuwashima: Yes. I just recently read the script.

Ono: I just skimmed it.

Interviewer: So, what about the content …?

Ono: It’s not like I recorded yet, so…

Kuwashima: Oh, Keyman (voiced by Hiroshi Kamiya) will appear.

Ono: It’s unclear at this point whether his name is Keyman.

Kuwashima: Keyman isn’t Keyman?

Ono: Keyman certainly talks a lot. He is definitely a key man.

Interviewer: I’m having a hard time following this. (Laughs)

Is there hope …?

Interviewer: Let me ask about some mysteries that were inherited from 2199. First of all, how do you two feel about the sealed Wave-Motion Gun?

Ono: There is a glimpse of that in the first episode. Andromeda fires a Wave-Motion Gun.

Kuwashima: It was shocking. I was surprised.

Ono: The gunner Nanbu (voiced by Kenji Akabane) will be glad. “I can fire this any time!” (Laughs)

Kuwashima: What a dumb thing. (Laughs)

Ono: It’s just a joke, But it’s a mystery that a Wave-Motion Gun that only Yamato previously had could be built so quickly.

Interviewer: Starsha (voiced by Kikuo Inoue in 2199) was promised that the “Wave-Motion Gun would be sealed.”

Kuwashima: “Please promise.” “We promise.”

Ono: Those were the lines of Starsha and Captain Okita, weren’t they?

Interviewer: Will you break that promise?

Kuwashima: We made a promise.

Ono: Kodai and Yuki are both frightened to see Andromeda‘s Wave-Motion Gun. They don’t know what’s happening, and feel anger over not knowing why it happened. I imagine they wonder if the Earth side has become monolithic…therefore, we become tormented by suspicion. Anyway, I’m scared for Kodai. Who built this? Who fired it?

Interviewer: The original generation was looking forward to the appearance of that cool-looking Andromeda. That question should have been expected.

Ono: I know neither the origin nor the destination of 2202. Even if you told me “Gatlantis is the enemy in 2202” I’d think, “Maybe not.”

Kuwashima: Is Gatlantis friendly?

Ono: I can’t say. They were depicted as barbarians in Ark of the Stars. Perhaps there is the possibility that they may not be enemies. Moreover, hasn’t Earth made an alliance to fight jointly with Garmillas?

Kuwashima: I was surprised by that, too. When I saw those ships together I thought, “What?”

Ono: There’s so much information in the first episode…it’s scary.

Interviewer: The various emotions from the first episode and also on the acting side seem to swirl around when you watch the work.

Ono: Mr. Fukui and Mr. Habara will make it happen.

Kuwashima: We’re in the palm of their hand.

Ono: It was the same in 2199.

Kuwashima: It’s fun.

Ono: I think fate has been decided. I entrust myself to them without second-guessing too much. The story is really interesting and I can’t predict it at all!

Interviewer: Are you watching Farewell, Ms. Kuwashima?

Kuwashima: At this point already, it can’t be used as a reference because it’s so different. (Laughs)

Ono: That’s great. That means the generation that liked the original can watch this with a fresh feeling.

Kuwashima: I agree.

Interviewer: In the meantime, the hope appears that you had in the story earlier.

Kuwashima: Hope lies quite a ways down the road, doesn’t it?

Ono: No! There’s always hope!

Although we heard about some spoiler topics in this interview, we learned something else. Yamato 2202, Soldiers of Love is not a simple remake. Apparently those who came to Yamato through 2199 and those who started with the original will be able to enjoy this as a “fresh work.” There is no way to predict the end of the story. What kind of ending awaits?

As for those who are avoiding it out of past memories, how about visiting a theater at the end of February and accepting the “new hope?”

Interviewer: Osamu Kobayashi

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