Zordar and Sabera voice actor interview, May 2018

Voice actors Hideaki Tezuka (Zordar) and Yuko Kaida (Sabera) finally joined the Yamato 2202 publicity party with the release of Chapter 5 in May, 2018. This interview was published in volume 3 of the Yamato 2202 Newspaper from Sankei Sports, and also features Director Nobuyoshi Habara.

President Dessler finally appeared before Kodai and the crew of Yamato, but the real enemy in this work is Gatlantis, led by Great Emperor Zordar and Sabera, two people who push Kodai to make the ultimate choice about “love.” Are Hideaki Tezuka who plays Zordar, and Yuko Kaida who plays Sabera and Touko Katsuragi, their alter egos? They share their thoughts about Yamato 2202 and talk about “love,” the keyword of this work.

How to make a new Sabera

Interviewer: What was your candid impression when your role was decided?

Kaida: It’s a very famous work that everyone knows from the past. Moreover, it’s a pleasure to participate in the remake version of a masterpiece that created the history of anime. It’s different from a feeling of responsibility, but when I looked up who originally took the role of Sabera,it was Kazue Komiya, who I have often worked with in dubbing. “It’s my big sister Kazue!” A sense of duty took over with a shock, and I thought about how hard I would try to make a new Sabera.

Interviewer: Was there pressure?

Kaida: There was some pressure. But the cast has been redesigned into a new, different form. I thought about how I’d like to build it with everyone else.

Tezuka: As expected, I was surprised [when the casting was decided]. I didn’t realize it at first, but it’s quite a role. How would I play it? Of course there was pressure, but I thought I had no choice but to do it. When I got the script for the first episode, I got right into it. I thought, “What should I do there?” I started with how I would play the role of Zordar with this worldview. After the visuals were completed and I was allowed to see them, that’s where the engine started. I truly felt that I had to do this.

An arrogant and proud…but clumsy Great Emperor

Interviewer: Zordar and Sabera are quite original characters. When performing them, what points were you careful to emphasize?

Tezuka: Director Habara told me to give it an arrogant and proud atmosphere. To express that, I didn’t think it would be possible if it didn’t properly come from the gut. When I watch the DVDs at home, I think “This is how it feels” and I drop my voice more than usual. Zordar has a really big presence in this work, so I can’t play it vaguely. I was really worried about how to express that huge presence.

Kaida: There was a strong feeling from the start of 2199 [Ark of the Stars] and I felt like I had been entrusted with something. First there was an explanation from Mr. Habara and Mr. Fukui about how this was someone with a considerable past. “This is a very important role, a key role.” When I get a script I don’t get details, and it seems like I’m doing something bad, but I don’t really know what I’m supposed to be thinking. There’s Sabera, and then there’s Touko Katsuragi who is thinking something else. “This is suspicious. I wonder what she’s thinking.” I keep meaningful expressions in mind that match this feeling, especially for Katsuragi.

Interviewer: Mr. Tezuka, did you hear anything from Mr. Habara and Mr. Fukui about playing Zordar?

Tezuka: I got an explanation at my first reading. The other way is to do it at the recording, and I know I have the correct answer when a take gets an OK.

Interviewer: What sort of consciousness did you perform with in the meaningful part when Touko Katsuragi’s story came out?

Kaida: She’s not intended to be a different person, so I didn’t perform her separately. Her appearance is different and her actions are completely different, but it was based on what I felt from the script. Sabera usually gives orders from above whereas Touko has conversations with people, and there’s a part where she provokes Keyman…something like that. For the other crew members, I ask leading questions in various ways, and I guess I was conscious of places where I’m trying to roll someone. It’s fun to play a villainess. (Laughs) I think it’s fascinating. I think it was interesting to interact with Akira Yamamoto, but Touko is more fun. (Laughs)

Interviewer: Do you put a slightly more humanistic element in the performance of Touko?

Kaida: When the two of them are synchronized [Touko and Sabera], they get considerably upset because they’re confused and their resonance is complicated. In that scene, there’s not much difference between them.

Interviewer: Do you go in the other direction?

Kaida: They were recorded separately, saying “It’s Touko” and “It’s Sabera,” and I thought about how to perform them being confused.

Interviewer: Mr. Tezuka, Great Emperor Zordar frequently advocates about love. I think “love” is the theme of this work. How do you think about love at that point?

Tezuka: It’s kind of embarrassing to talk about love face to face. (Laughs) But when you think about people you like, it sort of starts from there.

Interviewer: I think the core of this work might be how Great Emperor Zordar captures love. What kind of emotion do you think is in there?

Tezuka: I think he’s an unexpectedly clumsy person, and can’t convey feelings straight. But I do get the feeling that he thinks about it. That’s why he’s not just evil, though he’s not necessarily gentle. I feel like he’s looking for an answer that troubles him. Therefore, I don’t intend to give him a lot of bravado. It’s a vague feeling there, isn’t it? Therefore, as we advance toward Chapters 6 and 7, I think there will certainly be a moment where he’ll express it in his own way without knowing it. I can’t talk about it specifically…

Habara: There’s a small point in Chapter 5…

Tezuka: That’s right. He has power, but he worries. That’s why I think he has feelings somewhere inside. For example, his feelings of love for Sabera are not trivial. He doesn’t have doubt, but he does have questions, and even though he denies himself while he worries, he seems to be searching. It feels like he’s in conflict with himself.

It took four chapters to understand Sabera and Touko

Interviewer: Sabera might also have particular feelings about love, and I think it’s a role with various sides. How do you think of love, Ms. Kaida?

Kaida: It comes out well in the words of Sabera: “Love torments people” and “Testing love is a game.” But Sabera was made by the hand of Zordar. Maybe she was killed. And I think the Sabera who regained her memory knew a different form of love, and Zordar tries to prove that “Love torments people” by manipulating memories. But I want to say, “Hey, come on!” (Laughs) I’d like Sabera to regain her memory and say, “There’s no truth to that!” I wonder if a scene like that will appear. (Laughs)

Tezuka: I’m expecting it, too. I want you to say that. (Laughs)

Interviewer: Do you have any favorite lines or scenes in the story so far?

Tezuka: Mine is from the first shot. The first “Universe spreading into infinity” scene. When I saw that on video, my whole body tensed up. From now on, I can say it starts with my words. Anyway, that’s the impression it makes.

Habara: There was no narration in 2199. But when we started on 2202, Mr. Fukui said, “It will start with the narration we expect.” When I read the script it started with the narration just like that, but I was surprised to get to the middle of it and see that it was Zordar saying it. You performed it very solidly, so someone who sees it is probably thinking “Here’s the narration” and suddenly gets goosebumps the moment they realize it’s him.

Interviewer: Ms. Kaida?

Kaida: When I read the script for Chapter 4 and got to the synchronization scene, it was impressive. I thought, “Oh, suddenly I’m shaking. This is going to be tough.” But my favorite line was “Welcome to hell” from Chapter 5.

Interviewer: Do you have a best scene?

Kaida: It seems like it’s Chapter 4. I was able to do a lot, and we took a step forward in understanding Sabera and Touko. I finally understood Sabera. Of course, it was very difficult. But it was a fascinating scene.

The strangling scene was impressive

Interviewer: Mr. Tezuka, is there a Sabera scene that impressed you?

Tezuka: It’s the sequence where Zordar strangles Sabera. He is emotionally moved for the first time. The flow of that sequence really impressed me.

Interviewer: What was it like to be strangled?

Kaida: Being strangled…hmm. I guess that’s how it’s done. (Laughs) I want a different future to come next, because she repeats the same thing every time. Even if she’s restored, I think it’s a bit sad to return to the regular old Sabera again.

Interviewer: From the standpoint of Yamato‘s crew and the Earth, you’re both on a side that puts them through trials. What do you think about manipulating Yamato‘s crew?

Tezuka: I’m not very conscious of it, because it’s just something I orchestrate on my own. It could be amusing no matter which way it goes. You try it out, and does it go this way or that way? I’m just overseeing it and laughing, really.

Interviewer: When Zordar presses Kodai to “choose a love” in Chapter 3, the scene seems like biting an insect that tastes bitter. Is that generally how you reacted?

Tezuka: I think it is in that case, but I don’t think he feels that much about it.

Interviewer: Ms. Kaida, what is it like when you go from Sabera’s viewpoint to that of Touko on board Yamato? I think the part of Katsuragi that is on Yamato feels very much like a member of the crew.

Kaida: I guess she predicted it would go that way. Even when she ran afoul of Yamamoto, she said things like, “I knew it.” And when she throws lines back and forth with Keyman it feels like they have a relationship. I think it would be great to be able to see one or two steps ahead. I can’t usually do that, myself.

Tezuka: Oh? You can’t? (Laughs)

Kaida: I can’t do it at all, so I think it’s amazing. She’s got Yamato‘s crew in the palm of her hand, and she plays with them while she’s thinking. She plays word games, too. She makes a lot of suspicious moves in Chapter 5. I thought it was a little strange and sweet that she almost died and had a relationship with Keyman that changed her a bit. That’s what a villainess does, after all. I don’t know if she’ll extend the hand of evil to people other than Yamato‘s crew in the future, but I’m enjoying myself as I look forward to it.

The kindness of Keyman…?!

Interviewer: Another important person is Dessler. How do you think your characters view Dessler?

Tezuka: Zordar doesn’t show any preference for him, but I think there might be something behind it. I think he’s mulling it over on the inside.

Interviewer: How about you, Ms. Kaida?

Kaida: I wonder what Sabera is thinking. She was chided by Zordar once when he said, “Have respect for the leader of a nation.” (Laughs) She looks down on him as the king of a broken country, but Zordar properly shows respect for him.

Tezuka: While he hadn’t up to this point, for Zordar I think it’s the first time someone looks at him and thinks, “Huh? Why?” With regard to Sabera, too, in Chapter 3 or 4 she confesses something like that. It seems like I’m following along with that.

Kaida: In Chapter 5, I told Keyman that Dessler is such a person. “You played the part of a cold man,” she said. “You were like that.” After that, I wonder if she thought, “I was interested in that side of you, despite your kindness.”

Habara: You think about that nuance, don’t you? After all, there is no one like that so far in Gatlantis. The humans knew to some extent that Keyman was different from Dessler, but there are some confusing parts in there. But I think there are also some appealing parts, too.

Interviewer: Farewell to Yamato, the original work that became the foundation of 2202, came out about forty years ago. What do you remember from forty years ago?

Kaida: I hadn’t been born yet! (Laughs)

Tezuka: Forty years ago, I was in the second year of training school for my theatrical company. It was a turning point for whether or not I could rise in my next year [as an affiliate]. I was in four productions, and it was a time when everyone in the company worked hard.

Interviewer: Of course, Ms. Kaida hadn’t been born yet. (Laughs) After that, Yamato continued all the time. Do you have any memories of Yamato?

Kaida: I often heard the familiar song from that good old anime. I could see the figure of Isao Sasaki singing it. It had the image of a boy’s work. As for my anime, I finally got into Dragonball when I was in junior high. From there I started to watch anime for boys, but as a girl I didn’t understand much about battleships or robots.

Habara: Yamato was also very popular with girls at the time. The characters of Kodai, Shima, and Dessler were very popular. A lot of girls from my generation were addicted to it.

Interviewer: Yamato has been a beloved work for so long, what do you think is the attraction?

Kaida: Passionate men. There was the story about a lot of female fans, and I think everyone is attracted to men fighting for a mission while chasing their dreams. Present-day people may be attracted to men who are uncommon in these times. I want them to look back and see Farewell.

Interviewer: Mr. Tezuka?

Tezuka: This work is grand and romantic. I want everyone to see it because it’s jam-packed with that. I didn’t see it in my early days, but I’ve become a fan now that I’m seeing it on the big screen.

Big impressions!
Just like a live-action movie!

Interviewer: Finally, would you both please give a little PR for this silly newspaper that “only Yamato fans will see”?

Tezuka: It’s really loaded with density and information. I will read this newspaper again and again. (Laughs) Chapter 5 is really impressive. No lie, it’s like watching a live-action movie. I’ve seen it, and I often stay in the theater to the very end, when the last credit rolls. I think it has its own worldview right to the finish, so I want you to see it in a theater by all means.

Kaida: It’s Chapter 5 this time, but it’s still going and the human drama is really deep. I don’t know how to answer this, but everyone repeats various choices as we move toward the ending, and what kind of conclusion will it lead to? I always look forward to seeing a script. There are some episodes where I didn’t appear, and I bury myself in a hole until I can see the finished product. It’s a pleasure to perform in it half the time and get to be in the audience for the other half. It’s been said that big moves are made this time, and you can see what’s going on behind various people. There are also many scenes where you can see the past, and some of the mysteries start coming into view. So I hope you’ll experience it in a theater and watch closely.

See another interview with these actors from May 2018 here.

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