The Ambition Applied to Yamato Part II
Mr. Tomoharu Katsumata from Toei Animation has newly joined the staff as Chief Director of Yamato Part II, so I asked him about his aspirations for it. He is a great creator who made Danguard A (series, 1977) and Thumbelina (movie, 1978), and since I imagined him as an intimidating, opinionated old man I was nervous about meeting him. But I was relieved when we met because he actually looked like a gentle, kind-hearted father.
I lost no time in getting to my interview.
Interviewer: What is your impression having looked at Yamato Part II?
Katsumata: The image, the plan and the script are very strong. The concept is wonderful.
Interviewer: What is your attitude toward the production?
Katsumata: I bring in my color for Toei, but Yamato began with Producer Nishizaki, Mr. Masuda, and Mr. Matsumoto, and the strong personality of the staff. I’m wondering what will happen if these strong personalities clash, but I want to add my color to make it a good film.
Interviewer: What is the color of Katsumata?
Katsumata: I cannot say that for myself, I think those who watch the movie must decide. Therefore, I want to trust in the judgement of everyone who sees Part II. In this case, my color is the storyboard for Yamato.
[Translator’s note: by “color,” Katsumata means “style” or “tone.”]
Interviewer: Does the structure of a production change according to the subject of the work?
Katsumata: I’m not conscious of that because I’ve done robot anime such as Danguard A for a long time and I wasn’t concerned with it. Yamato is the same in that it should capture the hearts of young people.
Interviewer: What part of Yamato?
Katsumata: It is a drama, after all. For example, when I draw Kodai I start to feel like Kodai and feel a kinship with young people.
Interviewer: What about the theme?
Katsumata: “The love of mankind,” according to Mr. Nishizaki. He wants to express a universal theme for young people.
Interviewer: How, specifically?
Katsumata: Through the youthful passion of Kodai, for one example. He incorporates the consciousness and concerns of a young person. Love and romantic adventure.
Interviewer: What kind of experience do you want to have with Yamato?
Katsumata: I want it to challenge me. For instance, if the hero is tormented and stands up to it, I want to applaud him. That causes me to see myself projected into the story. It gives me nostalgia for my boyhood and the junior high school days when I wanted to grow up strong.
Interviewer: What is your message to Yamato fans?
Katsumata: I think there are two types of fans; those who truly love Yamato and those just following the boom. I want to tell them never to cause trouble to others. As a bad example, a fan of Danguard A recently sent a blackmail letter and a razor to threaten Toei’s fan club.
Interviewer: Finally, what is your ambition for Yamato Part II?
Katsumata: I want to make a Yamato that does not come in second to the previous work.
Special thanks to Tsuneo Tateno for translation assistance.