Sound Director interview, January 2018

Yamato 2202 Chapter 4, just before the premiere of Destiny Chapter!

Interview with Sound Director Tomohiro Yoshida,
the lynchpin of Yamato sound!

Published by Akiba Souken on January 24, 2018.
See the original post here

Yamato 2202 Chapter 4 will premiere in theaters Saturday, January 27, 2018. Based on Farewell to Yamato and Yamato 2, the series reaches its midpoint and its original development becomes stronger. Akiba Souken met with Sound Director Tomohiro Yoshida for this interview.

[Translator’s note: since portions of this interview were essentially the same as others conducted in this time frame, they have been deleted. See the other Yoshida interviews here and here.]

Music design unique to Yamato 2202

Interviewer: Isn’t it a difficult task to make a new work while inheriting the strong image of the music from Farewell and Yamato 2?

Yoshida: That was the case with Yamato 2199. First, it is based on inheriting Hiroshi Miyagawa’s music, which was strongly tied to the original works. 2202 delves into unique new concepts, and the basic idea for the changes is to fully showcase new music by Akira Miyagawa. I’m a big fan of the original Yamato, so along with Director Habara and the writer Harutoshi Fukui, I’m trying to surpass the good scenes of the original, and I grapple with that every day. Reading the script conveys the intentions, and the original music naturally begins to flow in my head, so it’s more fun than it is difficult. (Laughs)

Interviewer: Rather than just the BGM music, pieces from Symphonic Suite Yamato (1977) are also used, which is a happy surprise for fans.

Yoshida: When I read the script, I understood very clearly that Director Habara wanted to exactly recreate the scene of Yamato launching from the sea in Farewell. For that, we had to use The Birth from Symphonic Suite. Since I also read about the opening title and naturally heard the scat vocal in my head, it had to be combined with Overture, so I thought we had to rerecord both of those pieces from Symphonic Suite. I suggested it to Akira Miyagawa and he thought it was great. In the case of these two pieces, there was sheet music by Hiroshi Miyagawa that had been used in concerts.

[Topic shifts to re-arranging music for 2202]

Compared with my experience on other anime works, the degree of completeness in the strong musical image of Yamato is very high, but the other side to it is that it’s difficult to combine it with the visuals. The music has a natural flow and sometimes it doesn’t match will with the natural flow of the picture. Synchronizing that becomes the driving force of the music selection. On other works, I can easily edit the music to fit the scale of a scene, and there are often cases where original music is custom-made. But that’s not the case with Yamato. Matching the flow of a scene without compromising the music is something I pursue every day.

Interviewer: The Gatlantis Empire is a totally different civilization from both Earth and Garmillas. We started to see it little by little in Chapter 3. What are your intentions when expressing Gatlantis in music?

Yoshida: In the first Yamato TV series (1974) there was a piece with the image of Dessler, but there was nothing that conjured up the nation of Gamilas. Then in 2199 Akira Miyagawa added a wonderful motif with a Garmillas national anthem, Praise my light Forever. On the other hand, even though there was an intense musical image of the White Comet Empire in Farewell and Yamato 2, there was no music for Emperor Zordar. Using the opposite logic of 2199, we prepared a new piece for Zordar and wanted to emphasize it. The idea was presented at an early stage by Director Habara.

Interviewer: At a previous talk event at a theater, you said, “I change the musical mix depending on the situation of a scene.” What did you mean by that?

Yoshida: BGM music is usually a multi-track recording with each musical instrument on a separate track, and I use that to mix some of them down for the theater or a CD if necessary. I also store the sound source materials for the multi-track recording before the mix as well. Depending on the scene, music might clash with a sound effect or a line, making a situation where I have to reduce the volume of one or the other. For example, I can cut out a percussion hit that conflicts with a sound effect. That’s how I make use of music and sound effects. It’s actually a precise and time-consuming process, and I don’t think most other sound supervisors do that kind of work. It’s a unique part of the commitment to Yamato.

From the impact of Farewell to Yamato, the path to becoming a Sound Director

Interviewer: What was your first Yamato experience?

Yoshida: I liked the Giants [baseball team] back in elementary school, so I watched the anime Samurai Giants (1973) every week. So I was in the habit of watching the Japan TV Network on Sunday night at 7:30pm. The program that came on the week after Samurai Giants ended was Space Battleship Yamato, so that was my first experience watching it while thinking, “Huh?” My first discovery was, “Oh, the main character’s voice is the same.” I was a strange kid. (Laughs) From then on, I was hooked.

I went to see Farewell to Yamato with my father, and I watched it on the first day after standing in line all night. Anyway, there was that tragic ending and the music and sound effects and lines, and the overwhelming silence. The last line from Kodai by Kei Tomiyama had everyone in tears. “Life isn’t some tiny thing that ends after only a few decades. Shouldn’t it expand to fill the universe and go on forever? I’m going to exchange my life for that kind of life. This is not death!” I was amazed at how powerful it was. (Note: Mr. Yoshida perfectly recited this line on the spot.)

I was just ten years old, and this view of life and death made a heavy impression on me. Animation like that has the power to move a child’s heart. That’s what I personally felt. Therefore, I naturally chose this line of work from the desire to repay that favor even a little.

Yamato has been the catalyst for my work in sound-related jobs. I had a lot of education, but I never dreamed that I would be involved with work on Yamato like this after being a big fan as a child. It’s very deep and profound, but the pressure is stronger than the joy.

Interviewer: Thank you very much for your time today.

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