Nobuyoshi Habara interview

Yamato 2202 Newspaper, February 24, 2017

Fan expectations are rising for the first chapter of Space Battleship Yamato 2202, Soldiers of Love. Mr. Nobuyoshi Habara (53) serves as the director of this work, someone right in the middle of the so-called Yamato Generation. We asked him to share his thoughts about Farewell to Yamato, which became the motif of this work, and the feelings he puts into 2202..

The director is one person who carries the energetic love of the Yamato Generation

There was pressure

Interviewer: Please talk about your enthusiasm for directing this.

Habara: I was very impressed by Space Battleship Yamato when I saw it for the first time as a fifth-grader. I was aiming at becoming an animator in those days, and if not for Yamato, I might not be in this industry. There have been many works of Yamato, and because each one became a big social event there was a lot of pressure in taking it over. But at the same time, my “Yamato love” is stronger than that of the average person, so I undertook it with the feeling that I could somehow make a contribution to the work.

Interviewer: What is your most memorable impression of seeing Yamato in the days of elementary school?

Habara: I intended to become an animator at the time. There was a flashback scene of the old Battleship Yamato in the second episode drawn by animator Kazuhide Tomonaga, and there was a lot of movement in the visuals. And there was very good movement when General Domel appeared. After that came the whipping scene in the last episode by the legendary animator Yoshinori Kanada. That was cool. Those were the main things. It started from there.

Interviewer: So you came to Yamato through the visuals.

Habara: The story was for adults, and seeing it as a child meant you had to stretch to really see it, so it had a very full feeling.

Interviewer: What is the biggest theme you are directing into this work?

Habara: I think it’s everyone on the staff rather than me. First of all, there was the plan book in which Harutoshi Fukui inserted “Soldiers of Love” after Space Battleship Yamato 2202. I was surprised by it at first, but my feeling was that if that’s the way to do it, then we’ll do it. When you say Yamato, the theme is “love.” That’s how I’m making it. Love of friends, love of parents and children, love of teachers and students. Since various forms of love are included, I will see it through to the end.

Interviewer: Is there a part where the concept has been changed from the original?

Habara: There’s the part that has to be newly-made for the flow of the big story. If we were to make it as is, some parts would be difficult in the present day. Mr. Fukui and Hideki Oka, who is also in charge of the screenplay, have spun a lot of things.

Interviewer: Are your opinions ever divided?

Habara: Some might be, but the basic form goes forward from what was prepared by Mr. Fukui. As for me, after receiving the “this goes here” ideas from Mr. Fukui, my stance is to choose the seasoning for the visuals.

I want to make it look cool

Interviewer: After you directed the mecha in Yamato Resurrection, was there any particular way you wanted to handle the mecha?

Habara: I think Yamato is cool, so above all I want to show that cool. Andromeda, too. As for mecha, it should be apparent that Assistant Director Makoto Kobayashi mainly keeps his hand on it. As for me, I want to show it with a heroic shape, and in the 3DCG I wanted to find new ways of incorporating and depicting 3D as much as possible. The Cosmo Tiger is a cool model that follows the shape of the design. We have a second kind called “Version K” for action scenes, and we use both appropriately. The “K” in “Version K” is for Kanada (mentioned above), with the wings tilted down. It has the effect of the nose seeming to steadily lengthen when it approaches the camera. When it wooshes by from front to back, we stretch it with a tremendous pass. By doing such things, we give it a taste of being drawn despite it being in 3D.

Interviewer: That’s the part you’re particular about.

Habara: It’s not shown in the theatrical version of Chapter 1, but the Blu-ray and DVD have an opening title. It has some homage-shots of the original. It reproduces a scene of the White Comet city fortress firing down on Yamato from the opening of Yamato 2. That shot will be in the opening of Yamato! That’s the feeling it has.

Interviewer: The newly-built Battleship Andromeda is also cool, isn’t it?

Habara: It has appeared as a plastic model and a Chogokin, but I think this is the definitive version. Designer Junichiro Tamamori thought about it a lot, and it’s really cool. The prototype plastic model came in the other day and it looks great.

Interviewer: What mecha scene do you want to see most?

Habara: It’s 3DCG that incorporates the work side and the greatness of drawing. A cool Andromeda and a cool fleet battle. If you hand-draw it, there is a limit on the number. You can even have a hard time with CG. Anyway, there is a fleet battle at the beginning of the first episode this time, so a great number will appear!

Interviewer: What’s your favorite scene or line in Chapter 1?

Habara: It’s a scene that wasn’t in Farewell or Yamato 2. In Episode 2, Yuki comes to pick up Kodai when he comes out of the courthouse. There’s a scene of them talking in a car. Yuki’s lines there are very cute. There’s this sense of distance between the two, while she’s really thinking about Kodai. In Farewell they are two adults who refrain from getting married, but they are younger here and have an atmosphere closer to the current youth. It has a lively feeling, and I like it a lot. I read the script and thought, “nice.” After I saw the storyboard, I said “nice” again. Then came the voice recording and I thought, “nice!” No matter how many times I heard it, I thought “nice!” every time.

Interviewer: So this time Farewell is the original work where the motif comes from, and all the main characters died.

Habara: Well, what’s going to happen? (Laughs)

The kindness of people

Interviewer: Are there any difficulties from thinking about the different social conditions of those days?

Habara: Yes. I’m from Hiroshima where peace education was active in elementary and junior high, and I studied about war. I don’t know whether this is related, but the last scene of Farewell didn’t give me the impression of a so-called kamikaze attack at all. The “wedding of two people” made me think about Yuki’s feelings rather than thinking about how they could escape, and when the past characters all looked back and smiled, I was very moved. Rather than thinking about death and dying, I think I felt most moved by peoples’ emotions. Anyway, I hope I can express the kindness of people well through this series.

Interviewer: In Chapter 1, it seems the ending will be talked about, too.

Habara: That song [From Yamato With Love] will flow. The music is really wonderful this time, too. I want to make images that rise on those emotions.

Interviewer: There are a lot of fans who have special feelings from the old days of Yamato. Are you conscious of that?

Habara: Of course I am, I’m one of them. I’ve talked with Mr. Fukui about it, and though we are building a new story, on the visual side I’ll bring up scenes we’ve seen before and say “let’s put that in.” Since this was in the plan from the beginning, like the Hero’s Hill scene in Chapter 1, it has almost the same camera work.

Interviewer: What scene did you want to see in Chapter 1 by all means?

Habara: Wouldn’t it be the scene from the original of the great battleship coming out? Anyway, it’s quite exciting. The music called Gatlantis Surprise Attack was done for Ark of the Stars, and it’s very suitable when it comes up here. It’s great on a big screen with big sound, and watch it at home with headphones by all means. And the flow of the Dispersion Wave-Motion Gun! It’s quite a feeling.

Interviewer: I’m also looking forward to the activity of the Space Cavalry [Space Marines] who made a spectacular showing in the original.

Habara: It will appear properly after this, and Saito will be very active. There were many surviving members who appeared in Ark of the Stars, and we’re preparing for them to play active roles.

Interviewer: You previously said, “2199 had a high degree of completeness, so there is pressure.” Has this been difficult?

Habara: It’s consistent even now. There are various small details even in the voice recording, like how to pronounce the names of characters who appeared only a little in 2199. We have difficulty with things like that.

Interviewer: The number of characters increased significantly compared with the original.

Habara: This time we narrowed the parts we’re picking up. In 2199, there were a lot of drawings from angles that made it look like a movie, but this time our technique is to bring the camera up to each character to capture their expressions and feelings, so maybe it will feel hotter than 2199.

Interviewer: Do you have a favorite character?

Habara: After taking charge as the director, I’ve come to like all the characters. They’re like my children, so I can’t choose. I like the oldest son, but I don’t dislike the youngest. Similarly, while this may sound like an honors student’s answer, I like all of them.

Interviewer: The “goddess” of the previous work was Starsha, and now it’s Teresa. What is Sayaka Kanda like when she does the voice recording for the part of Teresa?

Habara: Good! Very good indeed. It was also good that we could create the role properly. It was too raw at first, but I said, “Please say it like a god” and it changed drastically. She’s a person with a lot of levels. She did a great job in Frozen, and when I saw that I thought, “That’s great.” When I was thinking about what to do with the part of Teresa, our sound director said, “How about Ms. Kanda?” The moment that was suggested I immediately said, “OK.” I even kind of stepped on his line when he said it. (Laughs)

Interviewer: You gave your “OK” as the director.

Habara: It was a unanimous “OK.” It’s really nice. I think it’s great.

Plenty of gimmicks

Interviewer: Finally, let’s end with a word to the fans.

Habara: Even for those who missed 2199, please take the opportunity to see this by all means, since it’s a new work that you can enter even in the middle. Anyway, there will be plenty of gimmicks. I think you’ll absolutely enjoy it because lots of material appears continuously over Chapters 1, 2, and 3. I would like you to see the fate of Yamato all the way to the end. Thank you very much.

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