As Yamato 2202 Chapter 7 approached, another wave of staff/cast interviews started slowly and then exploded along with the March 1 premiere. Hiroshi Kamiya (the voice Klaus Keyman) was there at the beginning and the end. Here we present his first and last interviews for the final chapter of the series.
The two years spent with co-stars has been “plus alpha”
From TV Guide magazine (Tokyo News Service), January 24, 2019
Yamato 2202, in which Hiroshi Kamiya has been playing Klaus Keyman, is coming to a close. He looks back on this two-year “voyage,” the difficulty of playing a mysterious person, and the atmosphere at the recording site.
It has been about two years since recording began for Yamato 2202. Finally, I’ve been able to reach the last chapter. Keyman, who I played, boarded Yamato to fulfill a certain purpose at first. Until the middle of the story, I had only one response: “I act to fulfill this purpose.” So there was only one “sound” I could play. But as the story progressed, his feelings began to get shaken. At that point, if this was to be the approach, I could make suggestions. It was a fun experience as an actor.
There aren’t many recording sites where I could meet so many veterans. The recording was a lot of fun every time. For example, Koichi Yamadera, who plays Dessler; in scenes where Dessler and Keyman interacted, I felt that my acting choices were enriched. Every choice was left up to me, so I made my best sound and got the OK. Mr. Yamadera received it properly and threw a different ball back to me again. In this way, you have a sense of play while making the right choice from the options. That’s a lot of fun. When I communicated with such veterans in a performance, I was thinking that I wanted to work with them all the time.
The last time I met Unsho Ishikuza on-site in the part of Ryu Hijikata was February 2018 (he died in August 2018). At that time, I got the impression that he had a very pleasant time talking with Houchu Otsuka (Sanada) during break time in the lobby. It might be improper to say this, but he seemed fine and I didn’t get any hint of his physical condition.
As of now, I’ve performed from the first chapter to the last, and my impression of Yamato 2202 has not changed. If you can sing the Yamato theme song, which starts with “Farewell, Earth…the ship we’re sailing in is Space Battleship Yamato,” then you understand the story. The point is, it’s the same as old tales like Urashima Taro and Momotaro, a classic that everyone knows. Classics are always milestones that affect everything in later life. And new interpretations are made whenever possible. I think an excellent storyteller can restructure and deliver it in a way that can easily reach people of that time.
The battle scenes in 2202 are also impressive. CG is used for the battle scenes, and the more information there is in the CG, the more real it looks. It’s difficult to understand where you’d like to use the most animation, and I think there’s a contradiction in it. However, in 2202 the amount of information in the CG is reduced, probably to show only what is wanted. Therefore, every battle scene is easy to watch and remains impressive. Above all, I think it’s worth seeing the cathartic scene of firing the Wave-Motion Gun.
In Chapter 7, Keyman makes a choice. When I read the script, I couldn’t help but feel convinced by the ending. I played Keyman for about two years, but the time Keyman and the others spent on Yamato surely must have been shorter, maybe just a week. However, what happened during that time can be called quite turbulent. With your life always under threat and always forced to make the best choice, it was a situation where you couldn’t survive if you didn’t throw something away. If it was a 26-episode anime for TV, it would be done in half a year. It isn’t like a Noh play, but it’s hardly enough time to reach the emotions of a character…and in the end, I agree with Keyman’s choice.
I spent those long two years with my co-stars – veterans close to my own generation such as Daisuke Ono (Kodai) and Houko Kuwashima (Yuki), and I spent time in the studio with Kenichi Suzumura (Shima) – and I think it went “plus alpha” [over the top].
What kind of choice does Keyman make in the end? I’d like you to see and feel it yourself.
Interviewer: Based on the story I read in the big New Year’s issue, I felt that there is “gratitude” at the root of your work. Was there a turning point?
Kamiya: My feelings before and after my traffic accident in 2006 are completely different. How do the people around you think about you, and how do you think about yourself? Before the accident, I didn’t understand that correctly.
Interviewer: Your 2006 traffic accident was a life and death moment.
Kamiya: I used to have the very strong impression of, “I’m working in a place where no one notices me.” Therefore, I didn’t think anyone else cared about me.
Interviewer: But that wasn’t the case.
Kamiya: It seemed that Aoni Productions sent out simultaneous faxes to all the affiliate offices saying, “Our talent Hiroshi Kamiya has gotten into a traffic accident.” For the first time, I thought, “The office is aware of me as one of their talents!” My seniors were also worried about me, and I realized, “Everyone does know about me.” I never thought anyone knew about me, including the fans. My hospital room filled up with a thousand paper cranes. So many that it became famous among the nurses.
Interviewer: It was an event that changed the way you saw the world, wasn’t it?
Kamiya: Before that, I’d purposefully use strong words like, “Because you don’t care anyway,” and other things that weren’t actually in my heart, just to leave a lingering impression. There was a part of me that was performing for myself. I’m still recognized for playing “acerbic characters,” but that’s not the essential me.
Interviewer: You stopped performing for yourself.
Kamiya: I understood that it wasn’t necessary any more. From that event I realized that there was a place here for me to be, that I should thank people when I’m grateful to them, and that there are people who hear my feelings. I needed a wake-up call, so I think the accident was a necessary thing. After all, human beings can only learn essential things from experience. I thought so. What I see and hear from people and learn from books can be stored as knowledge. I think there are excellent people who can learn the essentials that way, but I’m not that kind of person.
Interviewer: Please tell me your ambitions for 2019, 13 years after the traffic accident that became a turning point.
Kamiya: I want to be healthy. Also, the curtain is closing on the 30-year Heisei era. In the global worldview, animation is one of the big cultural topics. This is the year of opening the curtain on a new era with a new name, and I hope it will be more enlivened through animation. Also, 2019 is my tenth anniversary with the male voice actor entertainment label Kiramune, and it’s the 10th anniversary of my artist activities. The annual Kirafest will be held April 27 and 28, and I hope I’ll see you all there.
Hiroshi Kamiya Official Interview
From multiple online sources, February 28
Now that the last chapter of Yamato 2202 has opened on March 1, what happens to Susumu Kodai and everyone on Yamato…? Many people are paying attention. Meanwhile, an official interview has arrived with Hiroshi Kamiya, voice actor of Klaus Keyman. In addition to the work itself, he talks about the late Unsho Ishizuka, moments with Dessler’s voice actor Koichi Yamadera, and many other interestinging topics.
Interviewer: As of now, Yamato 2202 is over with Chapter 7, New Star Chapter. Please tell us your honest feelings about it.
Kamiya: It took about two years, but all the voice recording has finally ended. Since it consists of 26 episodes, that means basically one episode a month, and this was the first time I’ve been involved in such a long-term relationship. When we safely reached the final episode, I realized that those on the main cast had experienced this long journey twice, and I really felt like I should take my hat off to them.
Interviewer: I think the form we saw of Keyman in Chapter 7 was surprising compared to when we saw Chapter 1. What are your thoughts when you look back on performing him?
Kamiya: By using Yamato in the desire to achieve the purpose imposed upon him, I think Keyman has been following his fate for a long time now. He’s arrived here after making a variety of choices, and amidst that his human emotions present him with another choice.
In other words, I think there’s the path of living for the one who needs him, and living for those that he needs, and the timing of his birth at some point caused those paths to diverge. There’s a scene where Varel tells him “You have a pretty face,” which surprises Keyman, and it may be at that point where he unconsciously makes that other option distinct within him.
I played it without really thinking about it, and I noticed it when I did the recording for the drama CD (a bonus item with the DVD & Blu-ray), which is different from the main story. (Laughs)
Harutoshi Fukui writes the limited edition “story behind Yamato that no one is supposed to hear” drama CDs, which happen at the same time as the main story, and they gave me an opportunity to touch on Keyman’s clear feelings, so that’s where I fell into a trap. He does have human feelings in him, and it gave him the option of having feelings for the person he needed.
Rather than gradually becoming aware of it on the way to Chapter 6, it was something that came out suddenly in the moment, and how it plays out is one of the highlights of Chapter 7.[Translator’s note: he’s speaking here about an admission from Keyman in Chapter 7 that seems to come out of nowhere, but had been built up in the preceding drama CD stories.]
Interviewer: There’s been a story in past interviews about how you would often ask questions of Mr. Fukui. What kind of things did you specifically ask about? And did you ask any new questions before doing Chapter 7?
Kamiya: He didn’t tell me anything in the beginning, so I was confused. (Laughs) I couldn’t understand how Keyman suddenly got on board Yamato, so I went right over to ask Mr. Fukui and Director Habara, “What kind of character is Keyman?” That’s when Mr. Fukui first told me about his position, his background, and his purpose in riding on Yamato.
How that information comes out in the work changes with the situation, but in the end I think it was good to hear it. By knowing the background of the character, I could understand the movement of his feelings under the surface. There was almost no blur in Keyman’s outward feelings. He was always logical and made the best choices, so honestly it was kind of a boring role.
At the beginning I had the dilemma of, “I want to say everything, but I really shouldn’t…” so I just tried to make it convincing to myself. I just decided to trust that the words I was saying and the shaky thoughts in my head would meet in the middle.
Until his feelings started to blur, I was only able to make one kind of sound, but then I could suggest various acting approaches, which is when it gets fun for an actor. Before that I was told to just do it one way that was very straightforward, but I remember the moment when I was released from that place.
As for Chapter 7, the part I want everyone to see and feel is what kind of choice he makes when his feelings are no longer blurred.
Interviewer: What kind of approach were you thinking of when Keyman changes in Chapter 7?
Kamiya: I never thought about changing the approach on my own. The idea could only be developed from the base created by Mr. Fukui and the information he gave me, so it wasn’t like I could suddenly come up with a completely new approach.
Before that, there was the mission I had to accomplish first, and when I was in that situation, I could only think about what the approach had to be in order to fulfill that mission. After the mission was fulfilled, he was left to follow his own judgment. For example, when Keyman points his gun at Kodai in Chapter 5, there was an exchange with Mr. Fukui and Director Habara about what would happen next.
Inside myself, the extent to which I could imagine wasn’t something that I particularly questioned, but when I didn’t understand an answer and got the wrong idea, I could only hear the distant sound of Mr. Fukui and the director, and each time that happened, I would ask. The one who always had the answer (Mr. Fukui) always sat in the back wearing weird T-shirts, so I felt very secure. (Laughs)
Interviewer: Please talk about a moment that made an impression on you during a recording.
Kamiya: There aren’t many works where I can get together with so many veterans, so the recordings were fun every time. The last time I saw Unsho Ishizuka [voice of Hijikata] was in February 2018. After that, he was so busy that I figured he’d record his lines separately, and I never expected what happened to him (When he passed away in August 2018).
At the time of our last recording together, he seemed to be having fun talking with Houchu Otsuka (Sanada) out in the lobby. When I asked, “What were they talking about?” I was told, “The endless topic of health,” but I didn’t think it meant he was in ill health by any means.
He struck a fine figure that didn’t give away a trace of his physical condition. It made me want to stay healthy forever and while we recorded 2202, I thought I’d like to work with these people all the time.
Interviewer: Were there any big moments when you had an opportunity to perform with Koichi Yamadera as Dessler?
Kamiya: Keyman was a tightly-wound character with only one kind of response, but that changed when Mr. Yamadera arrived. At the moment when I was in a scene talking to Dessler, it was a situation where I was trusted to make all the choices. When I talked with Mr. Yamadera, the choices became very rich. After being open to receiving whatever I threw to him, he kept returning a different ball, and I was able to perform with the sense that I made the right choices from all the options that were open to me.
It was a lot of fun, and afterward I said to Daisuke Ono (Kodai), “Today’s recording was really fun!” and despite myself I couldn’t help adding, “It’s been boring up until now.” (Laughs)
Interviewer: What did you think about Keyman’s choices in Chapter 7?
Kamiya: Mr. Fukui told me about the ending before I got the script, and outwardly I listened very calmly. But inside I was thinking, “Wow, I’m getting a huge spoiler from Harutoshi Fukui…” (Laughs)
When I read the script, I couldn’t help but find it convincing. The relationship of mutual trust that Keyman cultivated with the Yamato crew before getting there became really important. That trust relationship could only be built up over time. The usual TV anime would end in about half a year, but 2202 took two years to reach that point. The time that passes in the story is much shorter, but the events happening there are really tumultuous and your life is always at risk, so it’s a situation where you can’t survive unless you make the best choices.
I think it’s possible to reach that feeling by going in for a voice recording every week for half a year, but I’ve been involved in this work for two years, and had conversations with the veterans who I mentioned earlier. Spending time with Mr. Ono and Kenichi Suzumura (Shima) was a big plus. Therefore, I think when it comes to those choices the degree of conviction is increased. Two years of voice recording is a long time, but it was never wasted.
Interviewer: Now that you’ve been involved with 2202 for such a long time, what kind of work do you think Space Battleship Yamato is?
Kamiya: The same as I’ve said before; it’s an SF classic. If you can sing the Yamato theme, you know the story. Everyone knows it like the fables of Urashima Taro and Momotaro. Classics always get new interpretations, and an excellent storyteller of the age rebuilds it so it can easily reach the people of today. The form is changed and it gets delivered as a story that’s right for its time. It became so with the preparation of Yamato 2199, and then Mr. Fukui brought his sensibility to 2202, re-interpreting the classic Farewell to Yamato to be revived in the present day.
I don’t want to give it the image of being something “old” by calling it a classic, but it’s the starting point that’s influenced so many things, and has reached the point where nothing else is above it.
At first I wondered about how improvements could be made, but when I found out Mr. Fukui was in charge, I was convinced that this work would definitely be interesting. It started from a place where I got the feeling that participating in this work was like boarding a ship, and there was no blur at all in that feeling during the recording.
Mr. Fukui is a bestselling writer known all over Japan, but I didn’t know what he thought about writing such a difficult story, so I was scared at first. (Laughs) But I was thankful every time he came to a voice recording wearing his weird T-shirts.
I was surprised when I got the first script for the “story behind Yamato that no one is supposed to hear” drama CD, and I asked him, “You also write scripts like this?” And he answered, “Yes, I wrote it.” (Laughs) From there, it became easier to talk casually. Over time, I was able to build up a valuable relationship through my work. My image of Space Battleship Yamato and Yamato 2202 didn’t change at all.