Daisuke Ono interview, October 2017

“Love is necessary
to live”

Interview by Yu Ishibashi

Published by Animate Times, October 13, 2017. See the original post here.

“Various forms of love”

Yamato 2202 has already advanced to Chapter 3, the Pure Love Chapter. As the title says, “Love” begins to appear everywhere and the story accelerates into greater depth.

The catchphrase is The devil tells you. “Choose your Love.” What does that word mean…? With such a question in mind, we were able to interview Daisuke Ono, who plays the role of Susumu Kodai. His feelings synchronize with Kodai making a serious decision, and we asked him what he thinks about “love.”

There’s a kind of anxiety and anticipation of the adventure

Interviewer: The screenings of chapters 1 and 2 are finished. How was the reaction from people around you?

Ono: With Yamato 2199, beyond reviving Space Battleship Yamato for the present day, I think the implication was to speak to people of today’s generation. With 2202, I’ve realized from those who know Yamato that it’s a very meaningful and memorable work. Since its purpose is to depict the story and worldview of Farewell to Yamato, it’s a supreme pleasure for those who like Yamato.

I’m not a member of the direct-hit Yamato generation, but I heard that when Farewell was released it became a tremendous social phenomenon. That’s why all the fans smiled so much when I learned that “I will do Yamato again.” I was very pleased. I’m also glad that it’s the same for the other actors and the sound director.

Interviewer: The works that have screened so far were packed with things that people of the Yamato generation wanted to see, and new perspectives were also added.

Ono: It was revealed how Andromeda was completed at that speed, and it’s becoming a little clearer what kind of people are on the Gatlantis side. The Yamato fans are really guessing, and as we obtain information from the trailers and stills, they think more about it and continue the guesswork. I think it’s a wonderful passion. I felt it on my skin when I did a stage greeting. I hung on every word from Director Nobuyoshi Habara and Writer Harutoshi Fukui, and you get the exciting feeling of “Ah!” from some of the things they say. I really like seeing and feeling that. Since I’m not of the Yamato generation, I want to get more into it.

Interviewer: What has it been like for you to go from 2199 to the third chapter?

Ono: If the journey of 2199 was dropped into a TV series, it would consist of two arcs. Seven chapters in the theatrical version. Altogether, it took us a year and a half to go the distance of six months of a TV anime. That’s why I really feel like I went traveling with the staff, cast, and everyone else. And it was a really good trip. I also had a bit of anxiety along the way. “When will this journey end?”

The staff knew how it would develop, but the actors didn’t usually know. Of course, I think the staff also had some hardships. I was excited to the learn the story of Yamato, so I wanted us to get through it together. I spent more than a year and half with that passionate feeling, and I was overwhelmed with emotion when the trip was over. So even though I can say five years passed, it feels like 2202 came up in the blink of an eye after that long trip ended.

When we finished the trip, I felt like I was rewarded with a sequel to the story (Ark of the Stars), and my thought was, “Ah, my journey is over!” So to be honest, when 2202 started up I said, “Why?!” (Laughs)

There was a difference of mentality between me and fans of the original. While I don’t know the destination, it’s a pleasure to go on a journey again. There’s a kind of anxiety and anticipation of the adventure. “This time, how long will it take to accomplish what we need to?” Kodai was also troubled over whether or not he would get on board Yamato, and I felt that there was a link to my own mentality.

Among the seniors and young people, “What should I do now?”

Interviewer: What’s your impression of the script?

Ono: Kodai is troubled all the time. He was forced to choose whether or not to fire the Wave-Motion Gun, and the overwhelming Zordar of Gatlantis (voiced by Hideaki Tezuka) pressed him to “Choose who to help” with his love. Whose life do you save and do you fire or not? He’s always been pushed to choose. So it was painful to read the script. Could I possibly make such a decision that would have such an effect on a human life? I thought it was hard, and I’d really hate it if it was me.

He just chooses. The hardest thing would be to choose not to choose, because he’s the one most responsible. If I were to take on all that responsibility, I’d have to man up first. But it was especially impressive that it was Captain Okita who made those decisions. When it’s said that it will be necessary to show resolution, it’s great when you can follow your heart. It’s a little bit of ego, isn’t it?

When making the ultimate choice, I was even more impressed with the answer he chose this time. It’s really hard, but I can sympathize very much. That’s why I don’t want to fall into this situation. (Laughs)

Interviewer: Did you think the voice recording was hard?

Ono: Yes, it was. That was also the case at the 2199 voice recordings. There wasn’t a lot of direction from the sound director, Mr. Habara, or Mr. Fukui. They give us the necessary information in the script, and if I just express what’s shown in the picture, that’s the correct answer.

But this time the emotional side depicted in Pure Love Chapter was very difficult. Kodai is openly at a loss and his weakness comes out, so I asked, “How far can Kodai let go?” I think it was reflected in my atmosphere. Both Mr. Fukui and Mr. Habara came to me ahead of time and disclosed all the information before I thought I wanted to hear it. “This scene has such-and-such a feeling, so it’s good if you shake more than you think you should. You can be upset.”

In terms of the emotions, they said, “It’s okay if you go broad with it. Your weakness can come out.” That was very helpful.

Interviewer: Unlike in the past, the impression from watching this is that there are lot of scenes of heartache. What would it be like if the ultimate hero collapses?

Ono: In 2199, Kodai was just a tactical chief, and he’s the captain now even if he’s called the acting captain. When he becomes captain, he can’t let go of this idea of “It’s better for me to be alone,” and is really tormented by that. I thought that was something I could really understand. I think about that myself as a voice actor, as I move from being one of the new kids to a mainstay. Although I still think of myself as a new kid. (Laughs)

But I’m not the youngest. I’m among younger people watching me from below, and seniors who have trust and expectations of me. To be honest, there are things I worry about. “What should I do now?” I didn’t worry at all in the old days. I felt like, “Yeah, right now! Do it!” That part also links well with Kodai. I also thought I was like Kodai in the previous work, and as expected the Kodai of this work is also like Daisuke Ono now. I really like having a part to compare myself to.

I think pure love is not thinking logically

Interviewer: Previously, it was said that “the appeal of Yamato is that it preaches the spirit of love and self-sacrifice that every generation can sympathize with.” Has it changed in Chapter 3?

Ono: The crux of this part of the story will be familiar to adults who have a degree of work responsibilities piling up, building careers, who may be moving up or down. When they see it, they’ll say “Oh, there it is! That’s how it is!” (Laughs) “You should do that!” “But you have to do this job!” That sort of feeling.

There’s a part where you tell a friend, “I have to do this work because I like it,” and the friend stops you and says, “Think about the surroundings a little.” And that friend is Daisuke Shima (voiced by Kenichi Suzumura). (Laughs) Then there’s the awesome elite guy from another company who says it’s a bad thing. “That’s not good enough.” But that’s Klaus Keyman (voiced by Hiroshi Kamiya). (Laughs)

Interviewer: Keyman comes from outside, but there’s also a side of him that understands Kodai.

Ono: That’s right. What impressed me was that Keyman says lines to indicate he understands Kodai’s position. “He’s taken this burden onto his back alone.” He seems to be saying, “What about the other crew?” That part makes a great impression. Keyman says that. It seems that he’s on the outside looking in, but in Yamato it’s the opposite, and it sort of feels like something Kodai already decided beforehand.

But then Kodai says, “Earth now is someplace where you can’t simply do what obviously should be done.” So I think Kodai is in a state where you can’t tell his real intention as deputy captain, and I think it’s very hard. There is the thought that it may not actually be so, but I don’t really understand the surroundings. I think that’s what I’m working out. But eventually, someone will understand. I think that’s the part everyone can identify with.

Interviewer: In a previous interview, you said that the relationship between Kodai and Yuki was heartwarming. In this work she’s a stowaway, and there’s a scene where Shima talks about her being on board Yamato. What did you think about that area?

Ono: I thought Kodai was going to be more surprised and flustered when he found Yuki, but he adopts a resolute attitude and immediately says “Get out.” Paradoxically, I think he knows that she won’t, even if he tells her to. Then he’s flustered for the first time when she starts taking off her clothes. You get a sense that Kodai is clueless in that area. He’s clumsy with disobedience, and it should be good to have Yuki on board.

That’s why you think that he’d be more shocked and upset and seems to let it pass quickly when he realizes that she’s aboard, but that’s not the case. His feelings for Yuki are unwavering, always deep in his heart, and nothing more really needs to be said about it. It’s basically “I was glad. I was glad when I found you.” You could say that it’s not logical. I like that scene the most this time. Yuki speaks her thoughts without hiding anything.

When I saw the title of Chapter 3 for the first time and talked with everyone in the cast, the conversation was like “Chapter 3 is called Pure Love Chapter.” “Oh, I see.” You could say that there are lot of places where pure love is not the thing being depicted. But it enters a little bit in that scene. And Yuki too says, “I came out because I couldn’t stand it,” doesn’t she? She really should have stayed hidden, but you get this incredible sense of, “She thinks enough is enough!” (Laughs) I think pure love is not thinking logically. So it made me think again that this relationship here is pure love after all.

Let’s accomplish our Yamato well

Interviewer: Are there any characters appearing in the 2202 series that make an impression on you?

Ono: The scene I mentioned earlier with Keyman left an impression. This guy isn’t just cool, he looks at things from a broad point of view. When I admit that, I feel like I can admit it properly. Mr. Kamiya is an accomplished actor who is very trustworthy. He really is reliable this time. Up until now, including the parts we don’t understand, Yamato has always advanced by the fact that we perform what’s in the script, but there are many more mysteries this time, aren’t there?

Keyman is the sort of character you can’t perform unless you understand his purpose, so Mr. Kamiya has been listening to the director and Mr. Fukui about that. There’s a positive approach in that kind of attitude, and it’s the opposite of how we’ve engaged with Yamato so far. From his position in the role of Keyman, he couldn’t perform if he didn’t do that, so it’s very impressive that he pushes in there so boldly. Therefore, we follow his lead and I understand that I can rely on the words he says.

Interviewer: How about Sayaka Kanda in the role of Teresa?

Ono: She’s a very humble and deeply gracious person, saying “Am I doing OK?” and she started out very fresh. She seems to be very conscious of being a rookie voice actor, and I’m conversely grateful for that. (Laughs) I think Teresa is a difficult role for an actor, because this person is surrounded in mystery. I think it’s also difficult because we don’t know her purpose, so she’s very sincere in treating that properly and taking direction and turning it around immediately.

I think she’s has a good ear and a lot of intuition. That’s the most important thing for an actor. My teacher taught me that a good actor has a good ear, not necessarily a good voice. I think it’s a wonderful actor who can correctly take a director’s intention and reflect it immediately.

Interviewer: Was there pressure on the two of them with regard to creating a role while entering into a new series?

Ono: I think there was. It is Yamato, after all.

Interviewer: And how about you?

Ono: I can talk about it by comparing it to the previous season, which I felt responsible for. The pressure was great. I think I took on too much of the responsibility. In those terms, there are a lot of parts being shouldered by everyone this time. Of course, I carry it on my back, too and I’m worried and lost, but we always look forward to Yamato, including that part.

Various people have said, “Are you doing 2202?” and “Will it follow Farewell to Yamato, since it’s called Soldiers of Love?” and “Is the theme song (in Chapter 1) by Julie (Kenji Sawada)?” And though everyone says “Do your best,” there is the same pressure as before. But this time it’s really overwhelming and now I’m burning with the mission to accomplish our Yamato well.

There is no logic behind a preference. You can only say, “It’s because I like it.”

Interviewer: Kodai has a scene this time where he makes a big decision. Do you think you could make that same decision yourself? Also, did you understand Kodai’s decision?

Ono: To be honest, I think I understand Kodai’s decision. Kodai couldn’t get out of the situation without making a decision, and I understood that intellectually. In the absence of one last push to put it in motion, I think he was able to make a decision because there was the word of Captain Okita.

I’m the kind of person who respects the people I work with, and if they trust me and support me in return, “I get it. Go,” then I feel like I can go. I regret Kodai’s decision, but I can understand it. He had to do it. However, I thought his last decision was a little unclear. (Laughs) “Like, seriously?” (Laughs) I think that shows the greatness of Susumu Kodai. If it was me, I don’t think I could escape from that way of thinking. What should I do…I really don’t understand it. But even though I didn’t understand it, I thought it was great to go forward.

Interviewer: It seems selfish, but there’s a good reason behind it, and you could say it created a certain kind of third way.

Ono: I agree. It was choosing “not to choose.” I guess that was actually clever. I don’t think it was foolish. It wasn’t possible to choose because none of the choices were convincing. It was clever and sincere, wasn’t it? He wasn’t lying to himself. Moreover, he didn’t lie to his opponent. There wasn’t even a bargain.

I’m in the role of Kodai and I show favoritism and I trust Hijikata just a little bit. If I asked Mr. Fukui about that, he’d probably just say, “No, Kodai doesn’t think about such things.” (Laughs) It may not be clear, but he made that choice, and I think there was a trust that someone other than himself would be able to overcome the situation. There is Shima, and Sanada, too. So I shudder when I think of what would have come from making a different choice.

Interviewer: Love is the theme this time, and in Chapter 3 I feel that love has become specific. Is there something about love that you could identify with in this work?

Ono: As I said earlier, about how “absolutely glad” he was, this part is about how his thoughts toward Yuki aren’t logical. Even in a scene of making a decision, he speaks from the heart. Therefore, I feel that love goes beyond logic. Rather than explaining it with words like, “I like it because of this” or “I will leave it because of this,” Kodai takes actions that aren’t logical.

He goes off because Teresa is calling from space. “You heard the same call I did, Shima, so why don’t you go?” That’s all he can talk about. (Laughs) As far as how Shima sees it, he can’t understand this guy. I think he wonders how Kodai can come to that decision. But it must be love. Someone’s calling for help, so I have to help them. It’s a matter of course. I think it’s wonderful to be able to say that. It’s unconditional love, not logic that makes you take that on, right?

Great Emperor Zordar of Gatlantis also brings up love, going beyond the likes and dislikes of a person, and it’s regarded as a necessary thing to perpetuate families. Gatlantis is different from Earth people, isn’t it? The feeling is different, but it is not logic. I think love is necessary for life. That’s what is being depicted.

To be honest, I can’t explain love. I just think, “Can’t do anything about it!” But this Yamato is depicting it. Where work is concerned, the important thing for me is to like it because it’s interesting, and I can talk about various things because of it. If someone asks, “Why do you like it?” there is no logic in the end. I can only say “Because I like it.”

With all this scale and all this entertainment, with all this quality and what can be depicted with this technology, I think again about how amazing Yamato is.

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