Hiroshi Kamiya interview, June 2017

Interview by Yu Ishibashi. Published by Animate Times, June 22, 2017. See the original post here.

If you follow Keyman, you can see why everyone is excited about Yamato…?

Hiroshi Kamiya talks after seeing Yamato 2202 Chapter 2, Launch Chapter!

When talking about Japanese anime history, Space Battleship Yamato is one of the works that can’t be left out. Farewell to Yamato was a record-breaking blockbuster that became a masterpiece which is still handed down between fans. Yamato 2202, the reboot of Farewell, will be released on June 24, 2017. Characters appear that were not in Farewell, and there is a lot of attention on the mysteries still hidden in the story.

The new character Klaus Keyman is especially noteworthy in 2202. What kind of person is he? Animate Times interviewed Keyman’s voice actor Hiroshi Kamiya to investigate the answer. Because it is a character in a difficult position, Mr. Kamiya seems to look at Yamato with an original viewpoint.

I felt that Yamato was special

Interviewer: You’re continuing to participate after Chapter 1, Beginning Chapter. You’ve seen Chapter 2, Launch Chapter. How was it?

Kamiya: Like me, I’m sure you are anticipating it. Amid such anticipation, the staff made it under great pressure and you can feel their enthusiasm. The previous work, Yamato 2199 had original elements in it, and it gained success and ended safely.

In creating a sequel based on Farewell, which had the highest box office revenue in the history of the Yamato series, I think there was considerable expectation and pressure. It was a film with spirit that pushed everything else aside. Chapter 1 consisted of two TV episodes, and the greater part of the first episode seemed to be a battle. When you see visuals that catch up with that spirit, you can feel the momentum of the 2202 staff.

Interviewer: How was the scene in which Keyman appeared?

Kamiya: It’s still a character with a lot of mysteries, so I had no idea what the intention was there. That’s my honest impression. When we began chapter 1, I was given instructions from director Nobuyoshi Habara and Writer Harutoshi Fukui that “Keyman is this sort of role,” and I’ve run with it on that basis, so as a result his character’s been fairly well fixed for me. I’m interested to see how it suits everyone. As for me personally, there’s deep emotion from saying, “I appear in Yamato.” (Laughs)

Interviewer: It seems that the responses around every cast member who appears in Yamato was wonderful. What kind of reaction was there around you?

Kamiya: Unless I’m talking about a work, I don’t go around saying “I’m in that work” very much. But when I talked about 2202, I was saying “I will appear in Yamato” even before Chapter 1 started, since I felt being in Yamato is special.

Even if you haven’t seen Yamato, if you can sing the first verse of the theme song you get the basic story. Since the lyrics tell the main story starting with the melody of “Farewell Earth,” it feels like rare content, doesn’t it?

I also said at the time of Chapter 1’s coverage that Yamato has reached the same point in the animation world of Japan as a classical tale. I’ve never read the story of Momotaro, but somehow I know it. I thought Yamato was already a work of that dimension. There aren’t any other works like Yamato in Japanese anime, are there? That’s what I realized by how everyone reacts when I say, “I’m participating in this.”

Interviewer: Certainly, there aren’t many who get involved in a work of this magnitude. I think it’s a credit to its position in the history of anime. It’s amazing.

Kamiya: I appreciate that you think so. All the works I’ve participated in are important, and every role is important. Of course, Yamato is also important, but I don’t intend to insist that it is special. It depends on how everyone receives a work after it gets released. When everyone has received it, nothing will make me happier than to hear them say, “It’s great that the name Hiroshi Kamiya is in the credits.”

I hope you can imagine various things, even here. (Laughs)

Interviewer: After Chapter 1, how was the voice recording for Chapter 2?

Kamiya: Keyman appears in the second episode of Chapter 1, and in Chapter 2 he’s in three of the four episodes. I was able to participate in a state of relatively understanding his viewpoint.

Among the many veterans and new faces, Daisuke Ono, Kenichi Suzumura, Daisuke Hirakawa and others, I was in a position to work freely on-site as a go-between. It sounds bad when I say “freely,” but when I was a newcomer I’d hear the veterans perform and I thought, “I’ll absorb something from that” and it ended up being more than I thought, so I was overwhelmed. But now I have some leeway and I’m more ambitious about hearing everyone’s performances, and the more I feel that the more fun it is to go to the recordings. (Laughs)

Interviewer: Does it feel challenging, too?

Kamiya: Every day is a challenge. It’s quite difficult to challenge yourself to do new things. After all, we have a passive job and you don’t get challenges unless they are demanded. Under those circumstances, getting to have various lines and exchanges with veterans is a rare challenge on other works. Now I think it’s possible to do new things.

Interviewer: What is the fun and difficulty of playing Keyman?

Kamiya: He is difficult to play because his identity is unclear, and when I say “his identity isn’t clear” or “Is there something behind this?” it seems difficult, doesn’t it? Even in this interview, I have to talk to you in a fog. (Laughs)

Interviewer: (Laughs)

Kamiya: When the character of Keyman appears before your eyes, I think he takes the image of “a mystery person whose thoughts you don’t know.” So far, that’s not wrong and I play the role with that intention.

Various characters appear in Yamato, and among them you can empathize with the ones who are sympathetic to your way of thinking. But I don’t know what Keyman is thinking, so you can’t have empathy for that character, and I think everyone is watching him with vigilance. Even in that sense, it’s a role with a disadvantage for the moment.

Since I was given the position of “a cool character whose self-will you can’t feel very much,” I have to fulfill the role. It’s a little strange for me to play a character who is cool to his surroundings rather than passionate. Normally, others perform with more passion, and I want to go to that side, too.

Interviewer: You’ve been pushed by the surrounding atmosphere.

Kamiya: But now that I’ve been able to participate in Yamato, I understand that such a role is also important, and I stand in front of the mic thinking about the balance of, “the more passionate the others become, Keyman must remain calm.” If I’d been assigned this role a few years ago, I would stand around in the studio with a gloomy feeling. Well, actually, It is difficult when I go there. (Laughs)

Interviewer: (Laughs) What is the direction like?

Kamiya: There’s not much to say so far. But since Keyman doesn’t express his feelings at all, I think I have to figure out what those feelings are behind the scenes. It’s important to build your own feelings to match a scene, and I perform while thinking about the role I’ve been given.

Mr. Fukui writes the script, the director makes the visuals, Mr. Nobuteru Yuuki designed the character that moves. Then, being the fourth one involved, organizing the feelings of the character to be recorded is imposed upon me. Still, I haven’t been told “That’s not it!” by Mr. Fukui or the director, so I think I’m doing OK for now. (Laughs)

Interviewer: I see. It seems you’ve heard about future developments for Keyman. I know this is treading on the boundary of what you may or may not say, but have you heard much about what’s to come for him?

Kamiya: I’ve asked what kind of person he is. Of course, I’ve heard a little about the future, but not about Keyman’s approach to it. For the moment, it’s just “Keyman is here with this feeling” or “this is being done with that intention,” so I don’t hear anything very deep. I don’t worry about it so much, since my feeling is that Keyman is character who conveys intentions as a subordinate of Varel, acting as a go-between for Garmillas and Earth people. As far as talking about things related to his future… Hm… (Laughs)

Interviewer: It is difficult, isn’t it? (Laughs)

Kamiya: Well, now I think I’m literally becoming Keyman! (Laughs)

Interviewer: (Laughs) The current state is the image of a person who advances the intentions of the Garmillas side. But there’s also the feeling of something floating around. Voices from the fans are also rising; “Is there a connection with Dessler?”

Kamiya: I hope you can imagine various things, even here. (Laughs)

Interviewer: By the way, is there a shocking scene for Keyman in Chapter 2?

Kamiya: Since I’ve taken the role of Keyman, there is a scene for him, a scene where he has a line addressing Kodai. It’s the only line that gives you a glimpse of his intentions, and that was shocking. Since his manner of speech is pretty thorny, I thought he was an incredible character. [Translator’s note: the line in question is essentially, “Do as I say because you don’t know anything.”]

This might be the key to understanding the idea of “Yamato should be this way!”

Interviewer: I think Keyman is a figure of attention for Yamato fans. What kind of position does Keyman have?

Kamiya: There are things I’ve noticed as I have been doing interviews. When the Yamato crew hears Teresa via telepathy, it plants images in their heads. Because the images exist only in their heads, they can’t be shared. However, all the Yamato crew members are fascinated by the images and their growing feelings lead to action. If you take that into consideration, maybe it can’t be understood when seen by a third party. A third party can’t see the images seen by the Yamato crew, so they don’t know why the Yamato crew is moved.

Interviewer: If you think about it rationally, that’s true.

Kamiya: But I know the history of Yamato, and the audience who sees the previous work 2199 can take the feelings of Yamato‘s crew into account. It’s possible to follow this work with your empathy centered around Kodai. Still, from a neutral standpoint, while they may know Yamato and have watched 2199, I think it’s natural to assume that there will be viewers who won’t be able to see that this show is about how they’ve inherited Captain Okita’s will and are acting according to that.

Because I’ve been assigned to the role of Keyman, I look at this work rationally from that perspective. Therefore, Keyman doesn’t react even if it is said “because it’s Yamato,” as if it’s possessed by something. So if you don’t have the feeling that “Yamato‘s crew shouldn’t be like this,” I think it’s good to follow this work on the Keyman axis. Following Keyman and seeing how his feelings change may be the key to understanding “Yamato should be this way!”

Interviewer: Because we like Yamato, we can take the crew’s feelings into consideration. But if a stranger looks at it, they might think, “Who are these people?”

Kamiya: I think so. Conversely, I think such a method can be taken just because it is Yamato. At least you can understand the key visual of Chapter 2, can’t you?

Interviewer: (Laughs)

Kamiya: Having this older guy as the main character, you don’t see that much in anime nowadays, and I think that’s really great. (Laughs) The fans of Yamato accept it, and I think they’re looking for something like this. Even as they say it’s Yamato, they say it’s not Yamato. (Laughs)

Interviewer: (Laughs)

Kamiya: Even if you suddenly say, “This is what Yamato should be” someone else would think, “Eh?” and I want such people to see Yamato, too. I think Keyman might be an access point for such people.

Interviewer: I see, a way to awaken to the truth. It comes out in the present story that Yamato is loved by many people. What do you think is the reason Yamato has been loved so far?

Kamiya: Well, let’s see…I think it’s important to say “the story is very simple.” The outline is, “because Earth has been invaded and polluted by aliens, a journey is taken to restore the Earth and as a result Earth is restored” with a happy ending. For some reason, everyone knows Earth is saved in the main story but may not understand the reason.

As I said earlier, I think the power of the song was huge, too. And that extra something, that step forward that supports Yamato is the ship CALLED Yamato. Originally, there was a battleship that became the basis of Yamato with the romance of flying into space in the future. And from there, developing from the old battleship Yamato, you build a weapon that, to a certain degree, conforms to that theory.

Human drama is mixed into that, isn’t it? I think it’s a story with favorable elements in all directions. Yamato is probably one of the reasons science-fiction has taken root in Japan. I know about warping from Yamato.

Interviewer: I agree.

Kamiya: But as for “why is it so influential?” I don’t know. That’s all. But I think the intention of the people who are making the anime is fully burned into the film. When the original work began, only the theme song flowed on a black screen for about one minute! Even when I think about that now, it’s crazy in a good way! [Translator’s note: Kamiya is talking about the opening of the 1977 compilation movie.]

Interviewer: (Laughs)

Kamiya: There was grounds for it to be accepted, and I think there was the thought afterward that it had to be told. As a result of their desire to meet, there was a movement at that time and the genes took root and now there are people who say, “Yamato has to be this way!”

I’m not a member of the Yamato generation, so I don’t think I can understand the truth. Therefore, the role of Keyman is perfect for me. Where will I finally arrive as a result of looking at Yamato rationally through Keyman? I’m interested in that myself, too. When I know, “Yamato has to be this way after all,” then maybe I will have found the answer.

Interviewer: I see! Thank you very much for today!

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