Kamiya & Habara interview, May 2018

Space Battleship Yamato 2202 interview arrives with Keyman actor
Hiroshi Kamiya and Director Nobuyoshi Habara

Published May 25, 2018 by Pash Plus, Akiba Souken, Animate Times, Moviche, Nizista, T-Site, and the Official Yamato 2202 site. It is an expanded version of an interview previously posted here.

Director Habara:
“From the stage where I read the script, I heard Keyman’s lines in Hiroshi Kamiya’s voice.”

In this interview, we hear Mr. Kamiya’s thoughts on playing Keyman and the process by which Director Habara got him the role. We also hear about the highlights of Chapter 5.

Interviewer: The first question goes to Mr. Kamiya. When you played Keyman up through Chapter 4, what kind of person did you think he was?

Kamiya: A Garmillas man riding on Yamato…and you still don’t know what he’s thinking. For everyone seeing Chapter 4, I don’t think it’s possible to feel anything beyond that. I don’t think I should say anything about the future. I heard from Director Habara and [Writer] Harutoshi Fukui that they would make use of Keyman in Chapter 5. But what I can say up to Chapter 4 is…he’s a suspicious person from Garmillas. (Laughs)

Nobuyoshi Habara, director

Interviewer: Mr. Habara, what’s your perspective on Keyman played by Mr. Kamiya?

Habara: From the stage where I read the script, I heard Keyman’s lines in Hiroshi Kamiya’s voice, and at the time of recording he became Keyman more than I imagined, so I am very satisfied.

Interviewer: In past interviews you’ve said, “I only heard Kamiya’s voice when I read Keyman’s lines in the script.” Mr. Kamiya, what do you think of that story?

Kamiya: As an actor, I’m happy to have that favor. This connection to the work could be called a once-in-a-lifetime chance, and I always hate breaking up when a project is over. (Laughs) There’s great joy in being able to work with a staff I like so much. Director Habara came to know my voice through the audition for Break Blade (theatrical anime, 2010-11), and I was able to get a role in that work.

Compared to the connection level of roles I’ve had until now, the feeling I got from being entrusted with the role of Keyman made it feel like I wasn’t on a single crew for only one production where the association would be short, and I think that let me pour my passion into it.

One of the reasons I was able to achieve this role was because of the role I played in the past, and that’s why I put so much passion into playing it. I can participate in the field with stronger readiness, and a relationship of mutual trust helps to improve the work. In the animation world, it is often said that “It always has the same casting…” but I think there is absolutely something that can be achieved by a staff and cast combining many times. I hope I can express that in Yamato.

Habara: I really appreciate you being able to say that, and it makes me happy. It seems the schedule was very tight, and saying, “We have to have Mr. Kamiya, please!” was asking for an impossible favor. But as everyone can see, the results are wonderful.

Kamiya: Because it is Yamato, directed by Mr. Habara, the office adjusted the schedule. That’s also a sign of trust.

Habara: I’m so happy… (Laughs)

Interviewer: In a past interview with Daisuke Ono who plays Susumu Kodai, he said, “The sight of Mr. Kamiya eagerly questioning Mr. Fukui was impressive.” What kind of acting approach did you take for the role of Keyman?

Kamiya: I think the main component is the actions this character takes because of the situation he’s been put into, so I hit up Mr. Fukui directly for basic information about the character to build up a foundation. “What are your intentions?” (Laughs) I went into the performance after getting input in various ways. There is an axis for Keyman to be a certain kind of person, but I think the mind naturally changes as the situation changes, so I think his reactions have to follow that.

Interviewer: Mr. Habara, do you give Mr. Kamiya direction on his performance?

Habara: Basically, no. However, since we do voice recording before a picture is finished (Laughs), I give him some information like, “It’s about this far away.” There are several cases where I was surprised by Mr. Kamiya’s voice recording. He picks up all sorts of small expressions and changes in breath even though I don’t tell him anything. His perception is always sharp. When you can get the proper feel for a character even from an incomplete picture, I have great trust.

Kamiya: Sometimes Mr. Habara will draw the storyboard and I like his pictures a lot, so the tension goes up a little then. (Laughs)

Interviewer: Keyman is in a position to observe Yamato’s crew calmly and objectively. How do you think Keyman views Yamato?

Kamiya: I wonder what I’m looking at. (Laughs) However, I think the experience of riding on Yamato is going to change his behavior in the future.

“There is no worry” about recording many scenes with co-star Daisuke Ono

Interviewer: Please tell me about any Keyman lines that made an impression on you up to Chapter 4.

Kamiya: When I got on board Yamato, I declared to Kodai, “Take me, it would be good.” Nobody talks that way. (Laughs) He’s an ambitious person from Garmillas who gets on Yamato where only Earthlings go, so I thought it would have to be a convincing line. But Sanada seems to say, “Wait a minute!” (Laughs)

Habara: I worried a lot about that line in editing, about how much time there should be between “Take me” and “It would be good.” There are other Keyman lines that made an impression, like the one about “punishment.” From the stage where I read the script I thought that line would be changed, so I completely forgot that he would be wearing a helmet and I didn’t draw a helmet on him in the storyboard. When I noticed it later, I couldn’t see his expression and I got flustered. (Laughs) I managed to deal with it by making the glass transparent.

Interviewer: Are there some memorable scenes?

Kamiya: It was unexpected that Keyman would get on a fighter plane and sortie. There’s only one person in a fighter, so aren’t you always one step away from death? It’s shocking to me that he would put himself in such a dangerous environment. Even considering the risk of death, he trusts his own skill and that going it alone will raise the probability of successfully completing his mission. It shows considerable confidence and a strong feeling toward the mission. While his going into battle leaves a pretty good impression, each time he does it, I can’t help but think, “There he goes again!” (Laughs)

Interviewer: How is it to record so many co-starring scenes with Mr. Ono in the role of Kodai?

Kamiya: He did 26 episodes in the previous work Yamato 2199, and since he has a track record of pulling everything together as the center of Yamato, I can perform with no worries. But Kodai himself is a pretty unstable human being. (Laughs), and there are several scenes where Keyman indirectly leads him in the right direction. Keyman is not a person who chooses words that are easy to convey, so I perform it by pushing myself into that way of speaking, and occasionally there are times I worry that Kodai might not get the meaning of my words. (Laughs)

In Chapter 5, you’ll see a Keyman you haven’t seen before

Interviewer: In Chapter 5, a big mystery is revealed about Keyman and Dessler. Mr. Kamiya, what kind of impression did you get from the impact of reading the script?

Kamiya: Before that I couldn’t measure how much of this mission was due to Keyman or think of the reason for him to be there, I just understood that some of his actions were taken out of a strong sense of duty. But I was amazed to see that Keyman would change the way he does by meeting Dessler in Chapter 5. He had come across as flat all the way through Chapter 4, and suddenly he begins to blur [with mixed emotions]. How far does that go, and where does it converge? I’m really looking forward to further development from Chapter 5.

Interviewer: How did you play a blurred Keyman?

Kamiya: It’s fun. Someone without mixed emotions seems like they’d be easy to play, but it’s actually tough. Until now, I couldn’t express the feelings that were actually there, and I didn’t want him to become a character who only ever says what he means, so now there is a feeling that the sound coming out of him finally matches his thoughts and expressions. When I saw Chapter 5, I thought again about what a good role I have.

After the recording of Episode 15 was over, I remembered that I had a lot of fun. Dessler appeared and I had interplay with Koichi Yamadera. When there is a lot of skill and you perform with someone who’s really good, you can reach places you couldn’t go on your own. A Keyman that even I didn’t expect comes out on the screen. I thought it was really good to play him.

Habara: The interplay between Dessler and Keyman in Episode 15 is really great, and I saw the staff in the booth holding their breath.

Interviewer: What did you do about Keyman’s changes in Chapter 5?

Habara: One theory about communicating drama is to show people from an elevated angle, which places them below you in a bird’s-eye view. For example, when Goenitz listens to Zordar’s words, we place the camera in a position to provide an overhead view. Since Keyman is basically a flat person toward everyone, the camera angles were often set up to match everyone’s eye level through Cahpter 4. From Chapter 5, there are some angles on Keyman we haven’t seen before, with shots representing his change of position, and I think that a new Keyman will come into view.

Also, in the scenes where Keyman’s emotions are blurred, I was very careful with how to express them in pictures. For example, if it is written in the script that he walks away in a trot, if it’s Keyman in this situation he would walk rather than run. I express his feelings with subtle differences in the drawing. Since a Keyman will appear that you haven’t seen before, including the camera angles, I hope you’ll look forward to how this connects to future developments.

Interviewer: What points do you want us to pay attention to in Chapter 5?

Kamiya: Dessler’s past is presented in Chapter 5, and Mr. Yamadera is really great at performing subtle differences in age. I thought it was amazing when I actually heard it in the studio. The sound coming from the speaker was totally different than the mic! When you see the actual visuals, you’ll understand more clearly the effective use of sound coming from a speaker, and I think Mr. Yamadera has a very unusual technique.

Habara: Of course, we understood that he was playing Dessler a little younger, but when we looked at the script and the screen we said, “Who said that just now?” He so naturally performed as a youth that we confirmed it in the studio without thinking. Because he so perfectly performed that subtle age gap, it was enough for me to think, “Can this guy change the shape of his vocal cords?” (Laughs)

Kamiya: That’s the part that was so amazing, because we were together in the booth. That experience was shocking.

Habara: Also, the guest actors are extravagant in Chapter 5.

Kamiya: That’s right, there are no corners cut for members of the Dessler family, are there? (Laughs)

Habara: I put in my casting request without thinking about the budget, and when I went to the recording site, everyone was really there. I thought, “Yamato is amazing!” (Laughs)

Kamiya: It feels elite, doesn’t it?

Habara: If there was a spinoff with the House of Dessler, they’d be completely fine, wouldn’t they? (Laughs) With these people, any story that unfolded would be all right!

Interviewer: Finally, please give a message to all the fans looking forward to Chapter 5.

Kamiya: I think commitments such as camera angles and the subtle differences in expression that Director Habara talked about are probably trivial things for the viewer, but when you think about someone actually drawing it, it becomes an enormous thing. Keyman is drawn by several animators, and it becomes endless when you think of the hard work Mr. Habara goes through to consolidate all of it as composite art.

Up until now, I could freely come and go without thinking about the production side, but I’ve recently thought about how I perform to such a visual by such a director. Because Director Habara is a person who makes such visuals, I think there is a very deep way of enjoying anime while thinking about the intentions behind these shots, and I think the next generation of Habaras may come from such a place. (Laughs) I’ll be happy if you can watch the work from such a viewpoint.

Habara: There are times when we have to use an incomplete picture in the voice recording stage, and if the person doing the acting is louder than expected, that’s the correct answer. In that case, rather than just opening the mouth slightly I will go back and rework the picture. This is a trick you can only do if you have no picture. (Laughs)

Animation works are never decided by directors alone, so in a way everyone makes it together. Yamato is especially remarkable. The film has a strong impression of being improved by everyone on the staff making the visuals, including the actors and the sound. I hope you’ll enjoy watching it all the way to the end, including the parts I described.

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