Nobuyoshi Habara interview, June 2017

It all depends on Director Nobuyoshi Habara

Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 (the first ten minutes)

Magazine pre-commentary

The theatrical premiere of Yamato 2202 Chapter 2 is finally approaching. We can expect an increase in the developments from Chapter 1 (Beginning Chapter), and there will be many points we’ll want to pay more attention to. So, continuing from our previous issue, we invited Director Nobuyoshi Habara to talk about the highlights of the opening 10-minute section from Chapter 2 that was released online. This time the interviewer is the supervisor of this magazine, Sergeant Yamazaki from the middle-age generation that serves 2202. By the way, we will add that this interview was done after watching the full version of Chapter 2.

The main battleship appears!!

As expected, the new fighting force of the Earth fleet is what most interests mecha fans in Chapter 2 (Launch Chapter), and the appearance of the Dreadnought class, formerly known as the main battleship. As you know, it is a very popular ship among the older fans.

Interviewer: The Andromeda class appeared in Chapter 1, and the fleet is assembled when the Dreadnought class appears in Chapter 2. When I saw a pre-release sample of the model kit planned for June, it was unexpectedly smaller than Andromeda.

Habara: At first, the size of the ship was going to be a bit bigger as the design was underway. But when we tried that, the Wave-Motion Gun on the bow became larger than the Dispersion Wave-Motion Gun of Andromeda.

Interviewer: It would be bad if it looked stronger than Andromeda even in a single shot.

Habara: Therefore, we made the size smaller.

Interviewer: When the 2202 model kit series expands at the same scale, Andromeda should seem stronger in a display.

Habara: When I first saw the optical prototypes the main battleship and its bridge looked much bigger I thought, “this is bad.”

Interviewer: When they line up on screen, it seems like the size of the cruiser class, but I agree when I hear your reasoning. When the old-guy generation heard that it would be renamed the Dreadnought class, we imagined something like a strong battleship of the old United Kingdom. (Laughs)

Habara: In the world of the story, the Dreadnought is this size, and the Andromeda class is larger. I think you can understand it that way.

Interviewer: It’s like you wanted to make it into a “super class.”

Habara: Well, that’s right. (Laughs)

Interviewer: It’s the Dreadnought-class, but will the next ship and those that appear after have names?

Habara: It will appear in the chapters following Chapter 2.

Interviewer: That’s fun for the fans, isn’t it?

A quality that’s better than real

Before talking about Chapter 2, we asked about the fan response and reactions to Chapter 1.

Interviewer: What kind of fan reaction was there to Chapter 1?

Habara: We received some tough comments, of course, but thanks to you it had a mostly favorable reception.

Interviewer: Tough comments?

Habara: Naturally, since everyone has their own “Yamato image,” the differences are significant. Since it’s the generation that also watched the original works, I don’t mind that they have such an opinion because we have no choice but to make it “our Yamato.”

Interviewer: Were there such opinions on the inside, too?

Habara: I wanted the fleet warfare to be real. I understood from the beginning that we’d get tough comments about it not having a real physical feeling since our policy is “we’ll go with what looks best.” Reality was taken seriously in the previous work, 2199, but we try not to be too confined by it in 2202. (Laughs) Sometimes I think, “I’m sorry, but I’m going this way.”

Interviewer: Then how do you show it?

Habara: In the script stage, the battle had scenes inside a Garmillas ship and also inside the Kalaklum-class battleship of Gatlantis. But I said, “I’d like this to center mainly on Kodai” and took them out. I also wanted the ships to move more heavily. If we left everything in the script, we’d have to move the ships faster. In order to avoid that, I devoted more time to the feeling of size and heaviness.

Because Yamato is also a musical anime, I wanted to defend the point of showing it that way by carefully coupling it with “dadan” music. People of today may get a slightly looser impression from that tempo, but I definitely want there to be “intervals” where you have time to hear to the music. I think that has a “Yamato quality.” It’s characteristic of Yamato.

Interviewer: I was certainly happy to think, “I want that to be here” and then hear that music.

Habara: The music selections of our sound director Tomohiro Yoshida are perfect.

Interviewer: In that case, giving priority to the music can dictate the visuals?

Habara: That’s right. There were times when I decided this would be the music, and edited it accordingly.

Asking Director Habara about Chapter 2 production stories

Interviewer: Chapter 2 has an explanation for the situation that came out in Chapter 1, and there were a lot of places where mecha scenes expanded with people standing in them to create a variety of highlights.

Habara: Our writer Harutoshi Fukui is an idea man, and he comes up with one idea after another in our meetings. It feels like collecting a lot of stones and lining them up. It’s as complicated as the mesh of a net and it’s all hard to understand at first. (Laughs)

Interviewer: There’s foreshadowing in Chapter 2 that sets up what will happen in the future, and the developments from here on will be a pleasure.

Habara: The highlights of Chapter 2 are the mecha scenes, with Yamato‘s launch above all.

Interviewer: When I watched it I thought, “Habara wanted to do this.” I mean, the raw spirit of a Yamato fan was reflected in this scene. (Laughs) That feeling of sunlight and water splashes in the pan.

Habara: Oh, yes. (Laughs)

Interviewer: I was excited. “Wow, this is cool!”

Habara: Yamato is rendered in 3DCG as you know, and I paused for a moment to wonder if we should go back to cels for this. But everyone else was opposed to that, so it stopped then and there. (Laughs)

Interviewer: When I saw it I had to wonder if that’s what had been done. (Laughs) Even so, it was a beautiful launch scene that feels like it will never come again in the future.

Habara: I’m particular about terminology throughout the entire work now. For example, when it came to the launch scene they say, “advance fine-speed 0.5.” It means slow forward 0.5, but when you hear it like that you think, “what’s that??” (Laughs)

Interviewer: That’s certainly what I said. (Laughs)

Habara: There’s also Sanada’s line in the first episode, “Heavy power line contact.” Personally, I think that’s important “Yamato language”!

Interviewer: I referred to the timing of music in Chapter 1, and the moment sound effects came in was also exquisite. Alarms sound when an enemy approaches and all I can think is, “enemy coming!” (Laughs)

Habara: It’s also the case with the scene of Andromeda‘s Dispersion Wave-Motion Gun firing. There’s a long silence just before the discharge, and this is not a sound, but there’s the flash of the light immediately before it. Proper timing is necessary for various situations, and I fussed over that part in particular.

What are the things to worry about in mecha scenes?

Interviewer: Speaking of mecha, we talked about the Dreadnought class in the beginning, but what about the Yamato vs. Andromeda pass? I’m interested in the development and relationships of it. Why did you make Yamanami the captain?

Habara: He was slightly aloof in 2199 and I thought he was a great person, so we took on that style since we couldn’t leave that position open for just anyone.

Interviewer: From that an older fan thinks, “Where’s Hijikata?” Could it be…he’s on the eleventh planet?

Habara: That’s right. In Chapter 2, the premise is changed not only for Hijikata and Saito and the members of the Space Cavalry, but also the situation of the new crew boarding Yamato.

Interviewer: So there are three people in the main poster for Chapter 2: Nagakura, Hijikata, and Saito in the center.

Habara: Chapter 2 can be considered the story of the three people on this poster. How do they fall into a crisis situation, and what do they do from there? Please see it in a theater by all means.

Surprising developments that cannot be revealed until the premiere

Interviewer: In this crisis situation, Earth itself is dangerous.

Habara: Outwardly it’s recovered, but the truth is…that sort of thing. In addition to that, Gatlantis is approaching, too. Yamato launches amidst this. Yamato is involved not only with the crew that gets on board, but also many people in the Earth command and Garmillas. I think the drama that is interwoven between those characters is also a highlight of Chapter 2.

Interviewer: In Chapter 1 we saw the current situation from Kodai’s perspective, introduced as “this kind of work.” And Chapter 2 explains that “the world is like this.” It’s a time when the key points of 2202 are explained, including the background and people’s trends. By the way, in the opening, you see Yamato‘s refitting depicted, with a lot of activity around the new weaponry.

Habara: It’s about that, right? (Laughs)

Interviewer: If you left it out, it wouldn’t be Yamato. Because it’s not the Wave-Motion Gun. (Laughs)

Habara: I think all the fans of the original have expected it since 2199. I wanted to get all that equipment out there early on.

Interviewer: It’s surprising to see it. “How will that get used?!”

Habara: In addition to that, but how its use can be changed depending on the situation. It will play an active part after Chapter 2, so please look forward to that.

Interviewer: Between the secrets of Earth and the new weapons of Yamato, the secrets that can’t be revealed yet are numerous. I hope you’ll be able to tell us more about them next time.

Habara: I’m sorry to incite that, but when you see it fresh in a theater I think you’ll enjoy it more.

Magazine supervisor Sergeant Yamazaki saw this in Yamato 2202!?

A feeling of “My Yamato is Back!”

I, Sergeant Yamazaki, am punch-drunk on 2202. In the 2199 series, I felt that some of what I considered key points of Yamato were subtly wrong (call it the grumbling of an old man!) but by the time we hit Chapter 2 of 2202, those key points were hitting pretty much dead on. It feels like “My Yamato from back then is back!” Here are those points.

[1] Power in the mecha action!

The depiction of mecha passing the camera left a strong impression in the original, and is preserved in 2202! Of course, there is the Cosmo Tiger II “Kanada version” and the views from beneath Yamato and Naska. It’s good that they put time and effort into parts that are barely noticed. (Laughs)

[2] The BGM and sound effects we expected

The scenes aren’t exactly the same as the original, but the sense of “This is that sound!” hits you with a whack! Furthermore, it feels so great when you can drop it in without a half-second delay. No, I’d rather be able to predict it. Though it’s a new work, the visuals are synchronized for pleasant sensations!

[3] The basic lines gives you an “I see, that’s how it is” worldview

There are all sorts of nods to the worldview of the old series, which is part of the charm of Yamato. Since 2202 was assembled by Yamato lovers lead by Mr. Fukui, there are no arbitrary changes to the original, and it’s a good feeling when the changes are subtle. Besides, it’s wonderful to see it function properly and to see the world of Yamato expanded!

[4] Effective new mecha and background art

The designs produced by Assistant Director Makoto Kobayashi effectively exceed imagination. The backgrounds that bring a different atmosphere to the world of the Gatlantis side in particular are masterpieces! Even though I was uncomfortable with the strangeness of the Cosmo Tiger I at first, that was shot down the moment it appeared on screen. (Laughs) Yamamoto’s machine is the best! I want the model kit!

I still don’t know what’s to come after Chapter 2, but the love and passion of the staff are overflowing. You can feel it, Yamato fans!

Continue to part 2 of this interview

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