Nobuyoshi Habara interview

Dengeki Hobbyweb, February 21, 2017
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Four more days to the premiere of Yamato 2202, Soldiers of Love! Special interview with Director Nobuyoshi Habara!

Interview by Tetsuya Kobayashi, Dengeki editorial department

Prior to the premiere of Yamato 2202 in theaters, a completion screening event was held on February 6, in which a wide range of fans new and old gathered to greet the new work with enthusiasm. We witnessed the enthusiasm of Nobuyoshi Habara just before the screening.

“My initial assumption was greatly exceeded”


Director at XEBEC. Mecha designer, character designer, storyboards. A multi-faceted creator and supervisor who works extensively in planning and animation. He has been active in the front line of the anime industry since 1983, and worked on recent masterpieces such as Breakblade, the Fafner series, and more. He participated in Yamato 2199 as a storyboard artist and the director of episodes 9 and 19.

Candid thoughts just before the screening

Interviewer: Today (February 6), the first chapter will finally be screened by fans for the first time. What is your honest feeling right now?

Habara: I’ve been excited since yesterday. Everyone with expectations gathers together in one place. I have both anxiety and pleasure about how it will be received.

Interviewer: Of course, there are Yamato fans from the past, but there are also young women who are fans of the voice actors, aren’t there?

Habara: I’m glad. The characters’ representation is done very carefully. For example, a sense of distance between Kodai and Shima. I plan the visuals carefully, including slight gestures. You can appreciate it in that area. I’d like you to play attention to the tense relationship with the new character, Keyman.

Interviewer: It seems there was a pre-screening recently for interested parties. How was the reaction?

Habara: I watched the reactions from the front of the theater. They concentrated on it as they watched and gave a warm round of applause afterward. I remember feeling very relieved at the time.

Space Battleship Yamato was a direct hit on adolescence

Interviewer: How did you see the original series?

Habara: I was about 11 years old during the broadcast of the first Yamato TV series. I was hooked on it from the beginning. At the time, the word “anime” wasn’t yet common, and it was still called “TV manga.” It was a time when everyone stopped watching anime at about fifth grade, and you were judged if you said, “I am still watching.”

Interviewer: But then the big Yamato boom arose, which also absorbed the adult generation, right in the midst of your adolescence.

Habara: That’s right. I was 15 years old for Farewell to Yamato, Soldiers of Love. I was a chuu-san (3rd year middle school), but in my heart, I was chuu-ni (2nd year middle school). (Laughs)

[Translator’s note: he’s making a joke about chuunibyo.]

Interviewer: It was surely deeply carved into your heart.

Habara: Even if I see it now I’ll probably cry. (Laughs) I love it. The first TV series and Farewell are exceptional works for me.

On Nostalgic, New, And Straight-Pitch Yamato

Interviewer: How does it feel to become the director of a work for which you have such an exceptional special feeling?

Habara: Oh, yeah…when it was decided, I was like, “Are you serious!?” If I did a timeslip and told myself “You’ll direct Yamato in the future,” I wouldn’t believe myself. (Laughs) Because I liked it so much, my feelings were strong and I wanted to burn those feelings into the film.

Interviewer: You participated in 2199 on the staff, but how did you come to be appointed as the director this time?

Habara: When I first heard about a sequel being made, I never thought it would come down to me. Harutoshi Fukui hadn’t signed on yet, and I wondered, “Is there anyone who would be good to write it?” I originally recommended my friend Hideki Oka who directs live-action works, mainly tokusatsu (special effects). I was well-known for having a passion for Yamato, and after that I received an invitation and somehow I got in. (Laughs)

Interviewer: Surely your “Yamato love” overflowed in every word when you recommended Mr. Oka. (Laughs)

Habara: Maybe. (Laughs) That’s why I was surprised and said “Are you serious!” at that time. But rather than shrinking back, I embarked to face the challenge with my full strength once I got the news.

Interviewer: So what kind of vision did you contemplate for this work?

Habara: At first, it was to make it similar to 2199. I wanted to reproduce the good points of Farewell and Yamato 2 as much as possible. But it can’t be the same thing when it inherits 2199. I was thinking about that when I saw the proposal written by Mr. Fukui. I thought, “There is such an approach!” I was surprised and convinced at the same time. The first thing that surprised me was the title that was written.

Interviewer: I wondered if it would be refined into a modern style with Yamato 2202

Habara: In addition, it is Soldiers of Love. It’s like, “Throwing this kind of straight pitch in the present times!” I thought I wanted to take it in this direction and include the spirit behind it.

Interviewer: So, basically you’re saying that initial direction of “Recreating the good parts” is really working out well.

Habara: That’s right. There are also scenes that are deliberately reproduced, like when Yasuo Nanbu shouts “IDIOTS!” at Andromeda from Hero’s Hill. Various locations and positions are different from the original, but we arrive at a place where it properly meets the old work, and I think it was expressed well. In that vein, even as we tell our new story from here on, look forward to seeing scenes that will make you go “A ha!”

Interviewer: As represented by the Nanbu scene, the impressive handling of new concepts from 2199 was exquisite.

Habara: Regarding the handling of concepts from 2199, as a result of proposals from Mr. Fukui, Mr. Oka, and assistant director Makoto Kobayashi, I arranged and incorporated various perspectives from the old work.

Interviewer: There are many scenes that follow the old work even in terms of filmmaking.

Habara: That’s right. One way is to show an angle that’s very much like Yamato, and timing where Yamato looks its coolest. It shouldn’t be too fast, and there are subtle places where it shouldn’t be too slow. I’m very careful with that.

The CG model of a fighter matches the shape of the mecha design, but a model with a slightly inclined nose was also prepared in order to reproduce the powerful flyby of the old work. This is a precise fusion of artistic intention and the latest technology!

A hot “crew” gathers under Yamato!

Interviewer: It’s been said that the outlook on Yamato of those on the staff is going well, too.

Habara: That’s already happening! We adjust the balance slightly in the storyboard stage to keep the distinctive Yamato tempo.

Interviewer: Since everyone has a special feeling for Yamato, it sounds like a passionate discussion.

Habara: Right! Passionate opinions come from the directors of each episode and many others. On the other hand, rather than saying “No, this way is better!” as a director, I scoop up good opinions. “Oh, that’s good!” “That’s good, too!”

Interviewer: You had such opinions on the previous work, 2199

Habara: I was a talker. (Laughs) Since it was great to say, “I want to do this!” for something I like, thinking back now, it was an easier place to be. (Laughs)

Interviewer: You also participated in the Director’s Cut version of Yamato Resurrection.

Habara: That’s right. It was great to work with Tomonori Kogawa at that time. Partly due to that connection, it was possible for Mr. Kogawa to do the animation layouts for the Gatlantis scenes in Chapter 1.

Interviewer: I could taste the unquestionable authentic feeling of Emperor Zordar from the beginning!

An upshot of Great Emperor Zordar that matches the Kogawa original! This fan offers tears of gratitude.

Interviewer: Assistant director Makoto Kobayashi also worked on Resurrection, didn’t he?

Habara: Mr. Kobayashi has made many versatile accomplishments since then. He designed many shots for Resurrection. He added many effects to the photography, such as light shining on the Cosmo Pulsar. So the quality has really gone up. Sometimes the correct answer can’t be derived from ordinary logic. You might say that makes him a kind of “genius.”

Interviewer: I was surprised to see Mr. Kobayashi’s “Armor assault-type Zoellegut” brainchild this time.

Habara: It surely has a Yamato feeling when you see it for the first time. I was really surprised when he showed me a sketch.

Makoto Kobayashi’s brainchild, the “Armor assault-type Zoellegut.” The defense plan is for the “plate” to take
a direct hit from the Flame Strike Gun. Penetrating it overflows with a
Yamato-like sense of wonder.

Interviewer: The balance of the female characters was also exquisite. It is neither old-fashioned nor too inclined toward “Moe” ….

Habara: That’s a very difficult and delicate part. This time I’m trying to depict them as people living properly in the world. We’re avoiding expressions that don’t exist in reality. In that sense, it might end up feeling like there’s too little of it in there, but if you want to look at Yamato as being like that, then…

Interviewer: Um, no. For everyone who loves Yamato, I think there are more who burn for battleships than yearn for pretty girls, so on that point, I don’t think you have to worry too much… (-_-;)

[Translator’s note: there’s a pun going on here. Literally, the lines in quotes are “Bishoujo ni moeru (萌える)”, with “moeru” being the verb form that gives us “moe”, and “Senkan ni moeru (燃える)”, with “moeru” here being the verb “to burn”.]

Habara: Oh, there will be a lot of battleships, so don’t worry about that. We’re generous with that right from the first episode.

Interviewer: It was certainly surprising to see a fleet war in the first episode. The action and the amount of information in the story is packed and breathless. But it seems hard to keep up this density for seven chapters…

Habara: I’ll fight to my death. (Laughs) It’s really hard to choose one angle, because it’s a work that I never thought of, even if I think I did. Nevertheless, thanks to the power of everyone on the staff, I think we’ve made a film that greatly exceeds my original assumptions.

Interviewer: Please give your message to the fans will will see it now.

Habara: I think those who watched 2199 understand. It’s great to see the impact on the big screen and hear the big sound of the theater! The fleet battle in chapter 1 is particularly good. I hope you enjoy watching it with good sound on a big screen.

Interviewer: Thank you very much!

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