The lead feature of Star Blazers/Yamato fan club magazine Vol. 7 (published May 2020) was a pair of interviews with the Yamato SF and scientific research staff, which brought a new level of insight into their work on the series. The first of those interviews is presented here; the second (a round-table discussion) can be found at the end of this page.
Yamato Space Science!
The work of SF research into the deep, unknown world
In the production of SF anime, scientific “backing” is needed to give accurate advice to the staff in depicting the worldview and scenes, and bringing “persuasiveness” to the mechanical concepts. Of course, this is one of the charms of the Space Battleship Yamato series, and it goes without saying that it largely depends on the help of SF (and scientific) professionals.
Their existence is known because they are listed in the credits, but do many people understand what kind of work SF research actually is?
This time, we’ll take up a rare opportunity to thoroughly spotlight the work of SF research in the Yamato series. Through the testimony of scientific professionals including Shinya Ogura who is handling Yamato 2205, The New Voyage, we will approach the importance and appeal of SF (and scientific research).
Taking on SF Research for Yamato 2202 and Yamato 2205
SF Researcher • Shinya Ogura interview
What is SF Research in Yamato?
Shinya Ogura was a concept researcher for Yamato 2202 and is in charge of SF research for Yamato 2205, currently in production. In addition to working on many projects including the classic SF space anime Planetes, he is also a talented visual artist with an active role in original drawings and concept design. Even among anime fans, there are few opportunities to become acquainted with the real world of SF and scientific research. With Mr. Ogura as our guide, we talked about SF and science research for Yamato through the examples of 2202 and 2205.
Shinya Ogura profile
Conceptual researcher and designer. Born in 1965. Freelancer. His representative works in anime are Planetes (2003), Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet (2013), Expelled from Paradise (2014), Yamato 2202 (2017-2019), and Gundam NT (2018). He is greatly experienced with anime visuals, original artwork, and conceptual design.
Visit his Wikipedia page here.
Proposals that make full use of illustration are a feature of Ogura’s SF research
Originally, I hoped to work in SF anime and movies, and I joined a company called Ogawa Modeling to work on modelbuilding for Director Sakyo Komatsu on Sayonara Jupiter (1984). That’s how I came be involved in this industry. It happened to be useful that I knew more about space than others, and before long I came to be engaged in the work of SF research. [Trivia note: the mecha designer for Sayonara Jupiter was Kazutaka Miyatake, who was also instrumental on the first two Yamato productions.]
We talked about the difference between SF research and scientific research in the roundtable discussion, so I won’t go into it now except to say that I think my work falls into the category of SF research. Since I also do original art for anime and conceptual design, there are many cases where I can present a visual when proposing a concept. That may be different from other researchers.
The greatest concern in a proposal is the balance of reality and fantasy
I’ve been participating in Yamato‘s SF research since 2202, but the basis for the current Yamato series was established in the research done for Yamato 2199. So it can be said that the work I did to create material for the 2202 staff is built upon that of Tsukaso Kano (SF researcher) and Toshihiro Honda (science researcher).
Some of the materials I’m introducing here were created for the Yamato 2202 script meetings. Of course, not all of the concepts I suggested in these documents were used. In fact, almost nothing here was depicted on the surface of the series. (Laughs) But the main premise for an SF or science researcher is to point out misunderstandings and contradictions you should avoid in modern space SF – without being so particular about it that it spoils the fun of anime. In the work of SF research, keeping a balance of reality and fantasy is always a concern.
When an Andromeda with Garmillan specs appeared in Yamato 2202, “Who designed it?” became a topic among fans. In fact, Mr. Ogura was in charge of its design at the request of Director Habara.
What research is hidden in the power of the “bond” between Teresa and Yamato?
In that respect, the value of the 2202 SF research I worked on is symbolic. It comes out at the end of the story. It’s “the power of bonds.” Harutoshi Fukui asked me, “How can we establish (with scientific thinking) the combined power of Teresa and the feelings of Yamato‘s crew to overthrow Gatlantis?” In response to that question, I proposed the almost occult concept of “bonds” and tried hard to connect it with modern space SF.
To explain it roughly in order, according to theoretical physicist Lisa Randall, gravity penetrates through dimensions from the viewpoint of physics. If we had something that could penetrate dimensions like gravity, it would be possible for a “higher dimensional” Teresa to combine her power with Yamato‘s crew in the “real dimension.” The “prayer” of Teresa and the “feelings” of Yamato‘s crew became something like a “unified information theory” that can penetrate dimensions. If we reduce that concept to a familiar word, you could call it a “bond.” This “bond” is exactly a combination “prayer” and “feelings.”
This proposal matched Mr. Fukui’s idea, so it was adopted. That’s the core of 2202, isn’t it? When I tried to explain that story concept in the Yamatalk for Chapter 6 (held June 14, 2018), I think some people saw Mr. Fukui rush in to stop me! (Laughs) Actually, what I was trying to talk about at the time was the “bond” forming that “core.” But I was stopped. (Laughs) That was my biggest task on 2202.
From Yamatalk night, June 14 2018: (L to R) Harutoshi Fukui, Shinya Ogura, MC Osamu Kobayashi
In Yamato 2205, we pay more attention to SF research than the previous work
In contrast with the space travel in 2199, 2202 had the story characteristics of Farewell to Yamato, so it was difficult to incorporate scientific things, especially astronomical elements. The fantasy was emphasized in this remake. Of course, that’s how it should be. On the other hand, the opinion might be, “Ogura didn’t do any SF research!” But no, I wasn’t playing hooky! (Laughs)
Therefore, on 2205 which is currently in production, I want to dig deeper into scientific research than the previous work. Personally, I’d like to examine Iscandar and Garmillas as planets. I’m looking forward to seeing how this will be reflected in the actual depiction. What will happen to a terrestrial planet if it becomes separated from its star? Professor Shosuke Hayashi, who is studying Planetology at Kobe University, has lectured about that.
The purpose of Yamato‘s SF research is to get closer to the world of roman [adventure]
For an SF researcher, one of the charms of Yamato as space SF anime is that each work is different. For me, it’s the “view of space.” From time to time, the people working on it take in the latest information, such as Aritsune Toyota on the 1974 series or Tsukasa Kano on Yamato 2199, and they organize it for the anime production staff to create concepts and visuals that attract the audience. Of course, because this reflects the view of space held by the audience at that time, the depictions will inevitably change, won’t they?
On the other hand, Yamato also has the world of adventure, which has remained the same since 1974. No matter how the times change, it shines brilliantly without wavering. Needless to say, this is the principle axis of 2202. As SF researchers, we hope to help increase that brilliance for you while getting closer to the adventure of Yamato.
First public release in Japan!!
“Precious” Yamato 2202 SF research materials (1)
On higher dimensions[Explanation by Shinya Ogura]
This illustration was drawn to present a scientific interpretation of the “higher dimension” in which Teresa mainly exists. It is based on the concepts that Tsukasa Kano handled in Yamato 2199. There are various ideas about how many dimensions there are, but here we deal with 11 dimensions since Mr. Kano went with M theory (M = Membrane) which unifies superstring theories where elements are affected by the vibrations of “strings.” We can’t see these “surplus elements,” which fits in well with the “higher dimension” in which Teresa resides. Extra dimensions are a frontier research area, but the leading thought is that surplus dimensions are in a compacted state, smaller than elementary particles. This illustration visualizes that “compacted” state. The illustration predits it to be shaped like a Calabi-Yau Manifold, a keyword that appears in 2199 when Sanada explains the principle of the Wave-Motion Gun.
First public release in Japan!!
“Precious” Yamato 2202 SF research materials (2)
Confirmation of “warp”[Explanation by Shinya Ogura]
This illustration is based on concepts handled by Tsukasa Kano. What’s important here is that space ships can accelerate to faster than light speed, which is prohibited by the Theory of Relativity. In other words, when Yamato travels faster than light, it moves in defiance of physical laws created by God. But there is a single exception to this, which is that the expansion speed of space itself is faster than the speed of light. So in order to eliminate the contradictions around Yamato going faster than light, it travels together with the surrounding space that is traveling faster than light. Here I’ve prepared an “alibi” to explain it. Even if it violates causality a little bit, does God not forgive?
First public release in Japan!!
“Precious” Yamato 2202 SF research materials (3)
Image of the White Comet[Explanation by Shinya Ogura]
These images were drawn for Mr. Fukui and the script team to share the image and sense of scale of the White Comet. The front view extracts the image from the original work, Farewell to Yamato, and the large figure shows how the White Comet moves forward like a spaceship. This is a consideration of how it works. On the assumption that a kind of “field promotion” is used, it is a mechanism that advances forward by moving the space in front of it backward. Its drive system consists of energy rings being sent backward from the tip of the White Comet through the surrounding outer layer of hot, high-pressure gas, so the outer layer of gas becomes “wavy.”
Click here to continue to the roundtable discussion