Hiroshi Kamiya interview, May 2018

Starting with 2202 Chapter 1, special Yamato 2202 newspapers with exclusive coverage were published by Sankei Sports. Newspaper 3 came out just before Chapter 5 on May 25, 2018. Among its stellar features was a new interview with Klaus Keyman’s voice actor Hiroshi Kamiya. Since it was still a no-spoiler zone, discussion treaded lightly around Chapter 5, but Kamiya was entirely willing to talk about the evolution of his performance.

The duty of this important role arose from a relationship of mutual trust…and the passion to take this once-in-a-lifetime chance and board this “ship” no matter what.

The depth of the story increased when Dessler appeared in Chapter 4. In Chapter 5, the identity of Klaus Keyman, the mysterious man who boarded Yamato as the lone Garmillan, gradually becomes clear. Hiroshi Kamiya, the voice of Keyman, shares his thoughts about appearing in the historic Space Battleship Yamato and his enthusiasm for Keyman’s important role as literally “The man who holds the key.”

This hurdle…will be jumped!

Interviewer: Please tell me your impression when it was decided that you would perform in Yamato 2202.

Kamiya: Of course, it was a pleasure. When my manager told me, “We have to talk,” he said it might be difficult to schedule, and it was at a stage where I was one of the candidates but I didn’t know if I would be chosen. I spent all my time hoping they would decide on me. So, when I heard “They decided on you,” I learned that this sequel to the historic Yamato was being made because the previous work in particular was a hit. When I looked into it, an intense hurdle appeared. The director was going to change, and the foundation for this work would be Farewell to Yamato. What was going to happen? I wondered who would dare take on such a high hurdle, and when I learned it would be Director Nobuyoshi Habara and Writer Harutoshi Fukui, I knew that hurdle would be jumped. (Laughs) No matter what, I wanted to board that ship. It was really the same feeling as Keyman; “It would be good to take me on.” I already wanted in.

Interviewer: Did you watch the 1978 Farewell to Yamato to see how it could influence you?

Kamiya: Well… not really. The past work is the past work and it remains a masterpiece, doesn’t it? It establishes the groundwork, but I think this is an attempt to make a completely new and different thing, if not parallel and surpass it. I think this is the best staff to do it now, and it will be something to compare. I did watch it once as reference to see how I’d feel afterward and I thought it would be good to take it in, but I couldn’t really utilize it in making this work because the situation is different and Keyman wasn’t there.

Interviewer: What kind of person is Keyman now that he’s progressed past Chapter 4? What do you think?

Kamiya: I still didn’t know what to think after Chapter 4. Maybe the people watching it can’t feel it either, but I don’t think they have to. Of course, there are suspicious moves and he could be some kind of spy. I think you just have to guess. I think everyone imagines that he has some intentions and a sense of mission. It will be depicted in Chapter 5 and beyond. I’ve heard from the Writer Mr. Fukui that it will be utilized after Chapter 5.

Interviewer: Director Habara once said, “Keyman is the voice of Kamiya.” How did you feel when you heard that?

Kamiya: I’m glad! That makes me very happy as an actor. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime work, and I’m glad to be working with a director who is so enthusiastic about making visuals. If you value your relationship with a director, wouldn’t you put your passion into it? Because we’ve worked together before, I’m thankful to have earned this position, and it’s one of the reasons I want to put so much passion into the role. Of course, even if a director I was working with for the first time said, “Please be Keyman,” I would be ready to take on the challenge. But because we have a relationship of mutual trust I can bring something extra to it when I go to the production site, and I hope such things help to nurture the work.

Characters that are fun to play

Interviewer: Keyman was depicted as a mysterious person through Chapter 4, but there’s a different, more vague feeling in Chapter 5. How was it to perform that?

Kamiya: It was fun. It seems like it would be easy to play someone vague, but it’s actually very hard. I’m someone who thinks it’s better to consider the meaning behind something to give it the proper sound. When I did the recording for Chapter 1, I asked questions of Mr. Habara and Mr. Fukui, and finally I can earnestly make use of such things. Until now I’ve had to hide my thoughts and not express them, but now it seems that my real intention is coming out. When you have an expressionless character you can see them like that, but if I talk like that then I become that. There’s a purpose and core behind what he’s doing, and I want to be someone who can say that properly. Now, Keyman’s expressions and sound finally seem to almost match what he’s thinking in Chapter 5.

Interviewer: Was there a part of your performance you were conscious of in your approach to Chapter 5?

Kamiya: Actually, I basically didn’t intend to change it that much. I think it mainly became, what kind of action would this character take in this situation? Before I can get an idea of what Keyman would do, I have to ask Mr. Fukui, “What kind of character is Keyman?” to hear the basic information (on the role), and if I didn’t know what to do I’d just ask him. “What do you think he’d do?” (Laughs) So I’ve gotten input in various ways, and I’ve learned what kind of person Keyman basically is. How do I approach it if the situation changes? Of course, his feelings might change, and some things might not change at all. I think it depends on the situation.

The joy of a title that holds up 40 years later

Interviewer: You’re saying that after suppressing Keyman’s feelings, now the truth of his origin can be seen in Chapter 5?

Kamiya: What I mean is, when he’s facing the table he says this, but the feeling behind it is that. There is only a hint in the script, so I start to think about it in various ways. There are standard facial expressions, but I don’t often follow them in terms of feelings. However, Yamato is very helpful because the stage directions usually follow the writing. If there’s no information in the script or the visual, the information is actually in the words, and I can take advantage of that when deciding how to express it. I think that’s how you have to prepare for a role in which you don’t know what you’re thinking. It’s probably ideal to do it without thinking. I think it’s a more efficient way to make things than when you do it flat and then later get told, “This is actually what he was thinking,” to which you say, “Ah, I see.

With Yamato, it’s a production where they think about these things in advance, and then you take your time with it. With so many long two-arc productions [13 episodes X 2], rather than take their time with the essence of the two arcs, you’re left going “Huh?” in the office. (Laughs) There’s no time for that when you’re on a weekly dialogue recording schedule. But I think it’s okay to have that kind of thing. It’s not just something with a Yamato brand on it, it’s a new masterpiece that will hold up in the future. For example, people are still talking about the first Yamato forty years later. Forty years from now, a work with my name on it will be talked about by a new generation. So I’m glad to be working on it. It’s a pleasure to join in on something like this, so I don’t think it’s a bad thing to take some time in making it. That way I can organize my feelings when I confront the acting.

Keyman’s unexpected sortie

Interviewer: Please tell me about some lines and scenes with Keyman that have made an impression on you so far.

Kamiya: Of course, that would be when he got on board Yamato. “Take me on, it would be good.” Nobody talks like that! That’s one ambitious alien, getting on board Yamato which only Earthlings get to ride. I thought that was a very persuasive line, since it’s an inverted version of “It would be good to take me on.” (Laughs) I didn’t think he would have such reckless lines. He wouldn’t get anywhere without it, and if you were to say that with a straight face, it can’t help but make an impression. I wonder why everyone was convinced by that. (Laughs) Kodai seems like a genuine person, but Sanada would say something like, “Wait a minute,” wouldn’t he?

Interviewer: That sounds like him. (Laughs) How about a scene?

Kamiya: It was surprising to me that Keyman would go on a sortie. Isn’t a fighter just one step away from death? If your mother ship goes down, you and your community are bound together by a common fate, but when you’re inside a fighter, the environment all around you is death, so I was shocked that he would put himself on the line like that. There’s no doubt that he marched onto Yamato with a personal mission, so wouldn’t this lead to the possibility of not achieving that mission? However, even though he pushes it, I think the probability of finishing his mission will rise, so he would have to have considerable confidence in himself. I think that’s an indication of strong belief. The impression is that when he goes off on a sortie he’s like, “Oh, I’m going over there again.”

Interviewer: The big mystery of Dessler and Keyman unfolds and becomes clear in Chapter 5. I think you heard talk of it beforehand, but what was your impression when you read the script?

Kamiya: It was unexpected. He has a mission, but I wasn’t able to guess how far his sense of duty went in that mission. However, since it gives him a reason to exist. It was a strong push. Like I said earlier, his going into the battlefield in a single-seat fighter convinced me that he would choose to leave the mother ship, so that’s how he would feel about meeting Dessler. His beliefs become pretty difficult to understand in Chapter 5, don’t they?

Strange story, while editing Chapter 6, there were a few places where you go, “Ah, I see. That’s where he’s taking it.” There’s a place where my decision is going to lead to the next development. I came in being flat all the time, but now suddenly it’s getting blurred. I’m really looking forward to seeing how far that blur goes as the story converges in Chapter 6.

A special feeling for Akira Yamamoto?

Interviewer: I think your relationship with Yamato’s crew is broken in Chapter 5. Are you conscious of a sense of distance?

Kamiya: I don’t specifically have that, since time creates a relationship of mutual trust, so I think future situations will be influenced by the time Keyman spent on Yamato. What kind of crisis will Yamato be exposed to, and how will Keyman handle that crisis? Originally, Yamato might have been destroyed if not for Keyman and he’s been on board ever since, supporting it with the thought that he might not achieve his ambition if he doesn’t get them out of that crisis. It can’t be denied that Keyman has taken responsibility for Yamato and he’s taken that kind of action in the time he’s spent there so far. That’s what I think.

Interviewer: I see.

Kamiya: I’m wondering if he has a special relationship with Akira Yamamoto. I wonder if there’s something unseen. There seem to be relationships between the men and women. When they’re in an environment of imminent death, and they fly the same kind of fighter on the same sorties, and because they are attractive men and women as well, there could be a romantic relationship. People who watch it tend to think so, but I’m not convinced. But I think it’s nice to take that kind of view.

Interviewer: Director Habara said he changed the way Keyman was depicted in Chapter 5. Were there any highlights for you?

Kamiya: Dessler’s past is depicted this time. Koichi Yamadera brought a subtle feeling of age to it, which was amazing. When I was there in the studio, the sound coming out of the speaker was completely different from what went into the mic. He said, “I’m going for this feeling,” and when I borrowed an advance copy of Chapter 5 on DVD I confirmed it with my own ear. I understood more about how to make effective use of such nuance in the sound that comes out of a speaker. Mr. Yamadera is incredible, isn’t he?

Interviewer: Is there a particular scene you want us to watch in Chapter 5?

Kamiya: The first contact with Dessler. The impact on Keyman when Dessler appears. How does Keyman feel about him? I’d like you to feel it from the visual and the expression.

Interviewer: The subtitle for Chapter 5 is Purgatory Chapter. That is said to be the stage before going to the Christian heaven, but what is your image of “Purgatory”?

Kamiya: It’s the turning point. Can I get into heaven, or not? How the story branches from here is an important chapter that can’t be overlooked.

“It was great fun”

Interviewer: Please give a message to the fans who will read the Space Battleship Yamato Newspaper.

Kamiya: There is almost nothing I can tell a fan who would buy and read a Yamato newspaper. (Laughs) Those who would buy this newspaper love Yamato more than I do, and if I have nothing else to say, please take that as my highest compliment. However, just as a reader will be more conversant with Yamato, I think I know a lot about Keyman as the person who has been entrusted with his voice. I would have to prevail there. I’m looking forward to Chapter 5 with some self-praise because I think once again that I got a very good role.

After the recording of Episode 15 was over, I felt a strong impression of, “That was great fun.” From the position of not fully understanding what the character thought before then, it was a surprisingly hard time, but then Dessler appeared, and I got to interact in the studio with Mr. Yamadera. When you can play off an actor with really great skills, you can go places where you couldn’t before. A Keyman beyond my imagination was on the screen, which made me think, “I’m really glad I could do Keyman.”

I suppose somewhere in themselves everyone will feel, “This is the sort of performance that Kamiya would do, huh?” (Laughs) I feel lucky when I’m able to activate that sort of circuit in everyone, and it makes me happy to know that I’m adding something on top of that as well. As the title Purgatory Chapter shows, the feeling is that things have changed and arrived at a turning point.

Interviewer: Finally, in a word, what is the appeal of Yamato?

Kamiya: Ehh? I can’t say. I have the sense that it was popular in the past, but I’m not of the Yamato generation. I haven’t seen the past works, so in a sense I look at it dispassionately. Strangely, Keyman also looks at Yamato that way. There’s a small link there. I wonder what kind of appeal Yamato has, and I wonder if that’s what I’m feeling through this work now. I think I’ll probably have the answer when Chapter 7 comes out. But for now, it’s really fascinating!

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