Harutoshi Fukui & Daisuke Ono Interview

Space Battleship Yamato 2202,
Soldiers of Love

Daisuke Ono, voice of Susumu Kodai
Harutoshi Fukui, series composition

“The meaning of Yamato
starting on a voyage now”

Weekly Asahi, February 14, 2017. See all the pages from this magazine here

Interviewer: Space Battleship Yamato 2202, Soldiers of Love is the sequel to the big hit Yamato 2199, to be shown in theaters.

Fukui: After 2199 was over, Mr. Ono saw the original Space Battleship Yamato for the first time.

Ono: Yes, but I haven’t seen the movie that picked up from there, Farewell to Yamato, Soldiers of Love.

Interviewer: 2202 is based on Farewell, which premiered in 1978, and this will be the first of seven chapters, composed of episodes 1 and 2.

Fukui: Did you not see Farewell because you had a feeling of “repeat mission”?

Ono: That’s right. I sort of felt like that.

Fukui: If you haven’t, then you haven’t.

Ono: But when 2199 ended, there was a tremendous sense of accomplishment after finishing a journey with a really big mission. When it comes to the story of 2202, we board Yamato again, and I frankly wondered why I have to board Yamato again. However, when the crew of 2199 gathered at the recording studio, I realized that I had taken a trip with these people and I was happy to go on a new one. To me, the recording studio looks like Yamato‘s bridge. There’s a mechanical mixing table, and there’s sound supervisor Tomohiro Yoshida sitting there.

Fukui: It’s the captain’s seat.

Ono: He’s the captain of the recording. The crew of actors gathers together under the captain. If I think of it that way, you and Director Nobuyoshi Habara are in the Wave-Motion Engine position.

Fukui: Side by side chief engineers?

Ono: Maybe so. In the crew there is Yoshitada Otsuko as Shiro Sanada and Takayuki Sugao as Captain Okita. Shigeru Chiba is Doctor Sado, and Mugihito as Hikozaemon Tokugawa. They bring a sense of peace and stability. It’s as if it’s enough for them to just be there.

Fukui: That’s enough of an honor at this point.

Ono: On the other hand, there are the younger actors, Masato Kokubun as Aihara and Kenji Akabane as Nanbu, who bring a strong sense of fun to participating in Yamato.

Fukui: Being connected to this is a good thing for a voice actor’s career, isn’t it?

Ono: There’s the generation that knows Yamato from the past and the generation that’s getting to know it now. When I realize we’re getting on the same ship, it gives me an emotional charge. With this crew, I can accomplish what I need to accomplish. There is no anxiety about the recording of 2202.

Fukui: Why did you watch Yamato only after 2199 was over?

Ono: As Susumu Kodai, my thought was that I didn’t want to start the trip if I knew the ending. If I knew the original work, it would have diluted the excitement and surprise about what was to come, and I wanted to play it objectively. I thought that if I wanted to give the sense of being affected the same as Susumu Kodai, it was important not to know the ending. I decided to take in the old work after we were finished.

Fukui: I also wanted to play it as, “What the hell is going on here!?”

Ono: It was completely like that at the stage where we recorded the first episode. Since I had this feeling of resentment and anger for some reason, I went on a journey as a man. Just like Susumu Kodai, I felt that we had to do it.

Interviewer: Three years have passed since 2199.

Fukui: I think those three years have been very stressful for Susumu Kodai. However, you can’t show that stress around your subordinates. When I think about what has happened to him, It seems like it must be heavy.

Ono: That’s right.

Fukui: What kind of voice would come from Mr. Ono when he is placed in an unreasonable situation like Susumu Kodai? In fact, a really good voice came out from that. (Laughs)

Ono: Thank you very much. (Laughs) I also thought those would have been three very stressful years. Susumu Kodai’s humanity should not have changed, and while he is responsible for his subordinates, of course there is also a vigorous side to him. There are a lot of parts I can compare with myself.

Fukui: With yourself?

Ono: When 2199 first started, my thought was, “I’m still young.” I felt a lot of pressure from Yamato, but there were also veterans there and I had the feeling that I could get help. This time, a feeling has been born of having to shoulder it on my own. We’ll get knocked around, but Yamato is fun. I’m excited about what’s going to happen.

Fukui: That’s really great, because I wanted a voice that sounded steady while still being knocked around. I guess what I want is a sort of, “If we advance a bit more…Ah! So, that’s how it is!” sort of thing.

I saw Star Wars in 1978

Interviewer: What is Farewell to Yamato to you, Mr. Fukui?

Fukui: If I remember right, it came out in the summer when I was a fourth grader. Star Wars was out at the same time and my parents said to choose one, so I went to see Star Wars. (Laughs) After that, I watched the TV version, Yamato 2 (1978), and I saw Farewell when it was broadcast at the end of 1980. Even though I knew the series was continuing, I still cried. Farewell had a brooding feeling, and I want to properly reproduce that feeling in 2202.

Ono: The proper feeling…

Fukui: Not just as an homage to the past, but it’s how my generation feels in particular about the world we live in now. Maybe we’ll get a pension, and maybe we won’t. It feels like a future we didn’t plan on at all. 2199 lands in quite a different place than the old work, too, doesn’t it?

Ono: That’s right. The ending was quite different.

Fukui: When you try to connect the ending of 2199 to Farewell or the TV version Yamato 2, some discrepancies appear. I wondered if those discrepancies could be used. The world of 2199 lets me go where I couldn’t otherwise go, and it’s a very unexpected future for Susumu Kodai. I think the feeling of making a mistake somewhere along the way toward the future matches the world we’re living in right now. The atmosphere of Farewell is a good match with reality, and we’re not wrong to look for a correct future.

Ono: It’s amazing that you’re thinking that far. Yamato is in “full bloom” in a sense, isn’t it? There is the dynamism of a fleet battle that gets boys excited, and an eternal love is also depicted. It can be said that it reflects the times. It’s a covetous production, isn’t it?

Fukui: But it may be suicide for it to be too connected to the times. The universal part will be maintained as we bring fresh air to it. That’s the balance.

Ono: The meaning of making this work now and the meaning of Yamato launching again. I think it’s wonderful.

Hiroshi Kamiya is my true opposite

Interviewer: A new character appears in 2202 named Klaus Keyman, an attache to Earth from the Garmillas Empire that was fought in 2199.

Fukui: He’s played by Hiroshi Kamiya, who Mr. Ono knows well from other works.

Ono: We’ve done various things together.

Fukui: Have the two of you ever played roles like the relationship of Kodai and Keyman?

Ono: I don’t know yet if he is friend or foe. I don’t think we’ve ever had a relationship like this. They’ve never gotten close and their relationship maintains a sense of tension.

Fukui: Completely different from Osomatsu-san?

Ono: Very different. (Laughs) Mr. Kamiya would ask me, “How’s Yamato going?” Mr. Kamiya’s Keyman doesn’t appear until Episode 2 of Chapter 1, right? So, he’d be peppering me with questions like, “What was Episode 1 like?”

Fukui: He was curious about it, huh?

Ono: I think that Mr. Kamiya’s identity as an actor is totally the dead opposite of mine.

Fukui: In what way?

Ono: The crew of Yamato goes on even though we have questions and get knocked around. But Mr. Kamiya asked Mr. Fukui everything about Keyman. “What kind of role is it?” “What’s my position?” “What’s the current situation between Garmillas and Earth?” “Which side am I building a bridge to?”

Fukui: Yes, yes. It was very open. It’s the opposite of Kodai, where it’s better to perform in a situation where you don’t know anything. I was glad he asked me, since Keyman is a role that shows the Yamato crew, along with the audience, what they don’t know. It was helpful.

Ono: Therefore, I think Kamiya knows the present situation much better than I do.

Fukui: (Laughs)

Ono: I’m really glad he’s involved with Yamato, and I say that with pride. I want the best for us.

Fukui: It’s a pleasure.

A straight love is consistent

Ono: Mr. Fukui, I want to ask you, what kind of “love” is depicted in Soldiers of Love?

Fukui: The love seen in the original work is a love from one direction. I think it’s exactly like the line in the song From Yamato With Love by Kenji Sawada: “All you need to think about is the one you love.” It’s one truth, but what happens when a lot of people think only about those they love? If you love a “person” and you love a “country” and you love a “God,” a conflict arises when you love different things. Is the notion of this so-called “love” think even correct in the first place?

Ono: Love is also a just cause and is the truth. I think Susumu Kodai and the others are depicted differently from the old work, but one thing that is consistent is his straight and pure love for Yuki. I think that is unchangeable. Is there a rumor that Yuki’s love will be tested in 2202?

Fukui: It will be tested quite a bit.

Ono: There will be an embarrassing scene in the recording. (Laughs)

Fukui: I’d probably surrender if I had to do that.

Ono: Really!? I’d better be prepared…but there’s a lovey-dovey scene in Episode 2.

Fukui: That’s really well done.

Ono: It’s a heartwarming scene that symbolizes a peaceful Earth, but I don’t think it can last forever.

Fukui: There’s a scene we didn’t use from Farewell where Kodai returns to Earth, and after he meets Yuki they go furniture shopping.

Ono: At IDC!? [A Japanese furniture store]

Fukui: Yes, yes. Yuki speaks joyfully of their future. “We can put this bookcase in your study, Kodai!” Kodai just gives a halfhearted answer. “Yes, yes.” It might not be good to see these people grow into adults. (Laughs)

Ono: The lovey-dovey scene in 2202! It’s a really sudden change, isn’t it? (laughs) The scene where Yuki yells out loud while driving was impressive. “Susumu Kodai saved the Earth!” “I know, thanks! This is the second time!”

Fukui: That actually makes Kodai angry, too. That whole “You didn’t even call!” thing. (Laughs) Like, “It’s doesn’t even enter my mind!”

Ono: It flows like a lover’s quarrel, like the scene in 2199 when they’re both in the Cosmo Zero. “You said it!” “You said it first!” I remember that scene.

Fukui: I wasn’t conscious of that, but I wonder if it happened as a result.

Ono: Even if the situation of having that exchange in a car is different from a war in space, it’s still a relationship between two people and it makes me happy. Kodai and Yuki are like that, after all. I don’t yet know what will happen to those two after this.

Fukui: But I do. (Laughs)

Ono: When we started on 2199, I laughed when Takayuki Sugao, the actor for Captain Okita asked, “Do I die?”

Fukui: (Laughs) That’s right. I was worried about that.

Ono: With 2202 it’s, “How long will I be around?” (Laughs)

Fukui: If you think about it with common sense, he shouldn’t appear, should he?

Ono: Captain Okita died in 2199. So it was a great thing when he came in for this recording. At the end of 2199, there was the sense that Captain Okita became Yamato itself. That’s how I’ve come to think of it.

Fukui: There’s a surprise development waiting for Captain Okita.

Ono: Eh!?

Fukui: There was once this super plot twist that he actually wasn’t brain dead, but it won’t be like that. It’ll be intimately tied to the story, and it won’t be in a flashback, either. We’re planning to have him actually appear.

Ono: Ohhhh. Once more, I feel the scope of the work. Our “bonds” are strong on the Earth side, but we’ll surely still be knocked around by a Fukui script.

Fukui: I can certainly promise you that.

Ono: It sounds really fascinating!!

Fukui: The thing is, we didn’t know how far we should take it before we were playing around too much. Everything has a meaning. Anyway, I don’t think it’s necessary to despair right now. It will be a long stretch and it will definitely be worthwhile to attend.

Ono: What kind of trip will it be, and what kind of love will be depicted? I’m looking forward to it.

Composition: Satoru Ota

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