Mecha Designer Junichiro Tamamori interview, May 2018

We can’t use the same design. The expression should be different.

From the Yamato 2202 Chapter 5 program book.

Interviewer: First, please give us an outline of your work in Yamato 2202.

Tamamori: Mainly the design of the main mecha, and I make some corrections to the mecha in 3D. To be specific, I draw an idea sketch and clarify the concept (intention) of the equipment and function, in addition to how it is used in the story. After getting approval and determining the direction, I make a 3D model for my own consideration and advance the drawing and pass it on. I will make explanation drawings if need be.

Interviewer: You’re mainly in charge of mecha on the Earth side?

Tamamori: I came to be responsible for the Earth side because that’s the offer I got from Director Yutaka Izubuchi at the time of 2199. When I originally published illustrations on a Yamato website in my amateur days, I drew mecha on the Earth side almost exclusively. This time I did Yamato, Cosmo Tiger II, Andromeda, the main battleship, the patrol ship, the escort ship, and so on.

Interviewer: What do you keep in mind when designing Yamato?

Tamamori: I weave a little anachronistic feeling into it, such as moving levers and circular meters, expressing it in a way that doesn’t extract too much of today’s world into 200 years from now. I think that’s a Yamato characteristic. It’s a work with a long history, so every fan has a personal fondness for it. I go along with the image of the fans as much as possible. Even if it doesn’t completely comply, I try for a design that fits the times (suitable for a remake).

Interviewer: Why did you change the impression of Yamato so much from 2199 to 2202?

Tamamori: The theme of 2199 was to carry out the characteristics of the first work. 2202 is the sequel with Farewell to Yamato and Yamato 2 as the motif. That’s why we can’t use the same design. The expression should be different. So I thought about how to shape it for 2202.

Yamato is greatly remodeled at the beginning of Yamato 2, but in 2202 it’s in a state of overhaul, so the shape might change. I built up what the design would be like for 2202 while considering that sort of thing. We checked the drawings for 2199 and put together a proposal amendment to change things here and there, and we exchanged opinions based on that.

Rough drawings of the Dreadnought class by Mr. Tamamori. It was originally planned to be the same length as Yamato, 333m.

Interviewer: What kind of interaction did you have with Director Habara?

Tamamori: We talked about how the upper part of the Wave-Motion Gun’s muzzle was relatively horizontal, and the circumference of the hole in the fairing on the bow, and the thicker shapes that became familiar in Farewell and Be Forever. That sort of thing. I got specific requests, such as dealing with the image from the opening of Yamato 2 where it breaks the surface of the ocean.

There was also a request from Assistant Director Makoto Kobayashi to slightly relocate the dividing line of the hull while maintaining a standard of detail that was consistent with the detail-up in 2199. In particular, I thought about keeping parts of the design firm, especially the skeleton, since it would expand the range of utilization from 2199 into models and copyrighted illustrations.

Interviewer: Please tell us your thoughts about the new mecha, Andromeda.

Tamamori: I was impressed by the design of Andromeda when I first saw the pictures in an anime magazine. The illustration was three-dimensional in a way I hadn’t seen before. It was different from the rounded, human appeal of Yamato with modern lines harmonized with curves. I was struck by the complex sense of the shape, and I was shaken. (“What is this!”)

In the midst of the 1970s, a feeling of anticipating the future overflowed with the prospect of the coming 1980s. In addition to being a symbol of strength and hope for the reconstruction of Earth in the story, it had a presence that questioned if the main characters and others were drunk on prosperity. It was disappointing to see it defeated so quickly by the White Comet Empire in Farewell, but it was active in leading the Earth fleet in Yamato 2.

Interviewer: A new carrier type has also appeared.

Tamamori: There are multiple Andromedas in the script, and there was a functional request to fill it with aircraft. However, as the design advanced, I could see that there no way to get aircraft into it at that scale using the conventional design and size. As a result, the original Andromeda’s design was faithfully preserved and the flow became to create a new variant type.

The carrier type was designed by Assistant Director Makoto Kobayashi. He is also a designer, and we respect each others’ individual design domains. This time, in terms of the actual work, we pushed back whenever there was hesitation.

Escort ship exterior drawing. It includes the silhouette of a Cosmo Seagull,
indicating that the underside of the ship contains a hangar.

Interviewer: Please tell me your thoughts about Farewell and Yamato 2.

Tamamori: It’s a memorable work not just for mecha, but also for the deep characterization of Kodai and Yuki. I think it was a work with overall appeal, including the wonderful art and music. I was a fifth grader when the movie was released, and the first Yamato book I bought was from Farewell.

I only experienced the first series on TV, and although it made an impression on me as a child, Farewell was a knockout in terms of the style and density of its mecha, which I received from the design pictures in the book.

Interviewer: There was a book before there was a video.

Tamamori: I think it was actually a year later when I watched the movie on TV. I looked at it and copied it to fill in the holes from the scenes, mecha, and characters published in the book. Yamato was popular in my class at school at the time, and some of us drew Yamato illustrations. I hit it off with some friends and we drew parody manga of Yamato together. It was a fulfilling day.

After that, I became addicted to Yamato records I borrowed from a friend, and I soaked in both the music and visual sides of Yamato. I liked the mecha, but I liked the Kodai and Yuki romance just as much. When I was in junior high, I dreamed of using Great Love from the BGM for my wedding. (Laughs) The conclusions of Farewell and Yamato 2 were handled differently, and it was an impressionable time. I constantly continue to ponder that as an ideal, and a universal theme.

Interviewer: A message for the fans, please?

Tamamori: Love is a big theme in this work. There is great affection for the mecha, but I also try to have an awakening perspective in the design work. You may lose sight of something if you fall too much in love with it, and there is also a larger love that can be called philanthropy. What kind of “love” will all the viewers find? Please stay with us to the final chapter.

When I look back on this decade, including the planning time for 2199, I’ve been responsible for the design of two versions of Yamato, from 2199 and 2202. I had a valuable experience. I want to work on Chapter 6, Chapter 7, and future design work while paying maximum respect to the staff who produced the original works which continue to hold their appeal to this day.

Patrol ship. One feature is that a tension line was added to the radar behind the bridge and the underside of the hull.

Read more interviews with Mr. Tamamori here:

Cosmo DNA interview, 2011/2012

Hobby magazines, July 2012

Otona Anime Vol. 28, March 2013

Model Graphix #352, January 2014

Hobby magazines, December 2014

Yamato 2202 interview, April 2017

2 thoughts on “Mecha Designer Junichiro Tamamori interview, May 2018

  1. So Kobayashi designed the carrier variant of the Andromeda-class huh? Why am I not surprised…. (slow clap) Although to be fair, I got use to Apollo Norm’s kit-bash looks and she is a cool ship in a weird way. But I wish she and her sister Antares could function as a carrier in combat instead of just spamming WMGs…

  2. It would have been really nice if they brought the EDF Battle Cruiser aka The Hood Class back in this reboot,that particular class of space cruiser from the SBY Movie 2 and the 2nd Series is one of my major favorite spaceship designs.

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