The source magazines: Cinema Cinema, Cinema Square, and T (for “Toho”)
To mark the 10th anniversary of the live-action Space Battleship Yamato, we present three insightful interviews with the star Takuya (“Kimtak”) Kimura all published prior to the release of the film in December, 2010. They all originated from a single press conference, so there is considerable overlap in their content, but they’re just different enough to warrant individual attention.
My Own Yamato
From Cinema Cinema magazine No. 28
Gakken publishing, November 1, 2010
Over thirty years after the broadcast of the TV anime, the live-action movie of Space Battleship Yamato that many dreamed of has finally come true. What made the dream into reality was the passion of the cast and crew that gathered together with the star Takuya Kimura. Here he talks about the driving force behind Yamato‘s launch into space.
Text by Tomohisa Koyama
Quote on far right: “For whatever reason, war is the absolute worst — Yamato taught me that”
In this movie, I wanted to show the human side of Susumu Kodai
When I first heard, “Yamato is next,” I thought it would actually be a war thing, the story of the so-called regular “battleship.” But when I listened carefully, it turned out that it would be the “space battleship.” I thought, “That’s easy to say, but…” (Laughs) The excitement surged in the conference room when we wondered who was going to do it. (Laughs) But after that I heard Takashi Yamazaki was the director, and it seemed like a sign. Maybe, maybe, maybe. I think everyone who saw his movie Always Sunset on Third Street felt how beautifully Tokyo Tower, which is deep in the consciousness of Japanese people, was depicted during its construction. If it was going to be the person who accomplished that, I was sure it would be possible to send Space Battleship Yamato out into the present-day world.
However, when it came to actually shooting it, it was a daily occurrence not to know the situation. What are we seeing, and how should we react…? The world that would be created with visual effects (VFX) was invisible to us during the shoot. But every time we looked confused, the director guided us very easily. “Earth seen from space? Hold on, yes, here’s what everyone sees.” And he’d show it to us. (Laughs) For example, it’s like when you go to the hospital feeling gloomy because you’re seriously ill and the doctor says lightly, “Ah, it’s Ok, it’s OK.” It’s like a reverse shock. (Laughs)
When we first met, Director Yamazaki said to me, “Thank you for taking on Susumu Kodai.” Even then, I thought, “Easy to say, but…” (Laughs) But now that I think about it, the director would already have had the overall image in mind, wouldn’t he? What he meant by “take on” was, “You only have to think about this role. Let’s enjoy this challenge together.” That’s what it meant in my mind.
When performing Kodai, I was conscious of his daily life. The image of the anime version of Susumu Kodai was an overachiever. You didn’t see him playing around with his best friend Shima or sneaking a glance at his crush, Yuki Mori. I thought it was a great opportunity to give him that kind of humanity in the live-action version. Of course, he has things to say in the story, and I valued the time leading up to those phrases. But I was never lost in thought or off on my own because there were a lot of people around who relied on me. In particular, this was the first time I worked with Naoto Ogata, who played Shima. There were points in our roles that brought us closer, so we hung out together and talked about various things. I think we were able to reflect that in the role.
Director Yamazaki is the type who doesn’t give direction with too much detail. Sometimes he’d call out to me and I’d look at him and he’d say the word “more” or just tilt his head a little. (Laughs) So I’d think, “he tilted his head“ and try it a different way next time with a smile or something, and it turned out that was the correct answer. That kind of thing was repeated all the time. Of course, I could have asked for specific instructions, but everyone on the site has their own responsibilities and I didn’t want to say “I can’t do it.” Wouldn’t that be rude to the director who is creating something that doesn’t exist? I think everyone on the scene was conscious of taking the director’s intentions into consideration.
I felt that what everyone had in common was a deep respect and passion for Yamato. But I couldn’t say that I loved Yamato the most. If a Yamato championship was held, Toshihiro Yanagiba (Sanada) would be in the running. (Laughs) The way he and Hiroyuki Ikeuchi (Saito) and Tsutomu Yamazaki (Captain Okita) got into their roles was unusual. With Mr. Yamazaki, there was an assistant director who referred to him on set as “Okita” without an honorific. He said, “On this set, the only guy who can call me that is Isao Hashizume [Commander Todo]!”
I spontaneously yelled, “Yamazaki is amazing!”
Of course, everyone on the crew had Yamato in their heart, and it was like a fever. Probably because of that, the objects that attacked us from the background designs that Director Yamazaki explained sort of vaguely floated in front of me. (Laughs) But it would have been worse if we knew too much. Since I had read the script and knew what was coming up, the explanation was slippery. For example, when Kodai is made deputy captain, at first it was only established in a conversation between him and Captain Okita. But then we realized that the other crew members might not know it happened, so we added a part where the captain broadcasts it to the ship. When you’re too far on the inside, it’s a common trap to miss something so sometimes you need see it through the eyes of a fifth or sixth person. I tried to conquer strange parts like that by talking to the director.
In addition to that, I had questions and ideas while the shooting was moving forward, and we talked a lot. For example, when Kodai takes his final action he has a flashback to Yuki Mori’s facial expression. I wanted to make it a look that only Kodai knew. That’s why we included Yuki showing her feminine side in the middle stage. It was something like planting a seed, the basic strategy of foreshadowing. When such elements are included from the first word, I think it becomes something interesting to look at.
I wanted to do as much as I could so I wouldn’t have any regrets. However, unlike previous works, the invisible parts were overwhelmingly large because VFX were used. So when I saw the finished film in the preview room, I was stunned into silence. The moment the image went off the screen and the lights came up, I spontaneously shouted, “Yamazaki is amazing!” (Laughs) There is a term, “The veil was lifted,” and the moment that veil was lifted was a great shock. Even though I shouted out loud, I was shy in front of him, and I could only say, “Thank you very much.” (Laughs) But after I got home I thought, “That’s not all” and I e-mailed him immediately. His reply came right back. From there we exchanged about ten e-mails. (Laughs) We already had a lot to talk about.
One more thing, by being involved in Yamato, I felt something for the first time. In the end, war is the absolute worst thing that can happen. I couldn’t wipe away the thought that when I was little, Yamato was something I watched with excitement. I didn’t notice it at all back then. I only received the beautiful story from one direction that “Yamato saved the Earth.” Of course, I think it’s fine for each person to receive a story in their own way. But for whatever reason, I think war is the worst. Personally, I wanted to say that out loud.
Space Battleship Yamato
From Cinema Square magazine Vol. 34
Hinode Publishing, November 25, 2010
After a veiled shooting period, Space Battleship Yamato has been sent out all over Japan. In addition to the wonderful surprise that Takuya Kimura plays Susumu Kodai, it is Kimura’s first game of tag with Japan’s pride, video magician Director Takashi Yamazaki, and an extravagant cast. At any rate, these topics are “just the highlights.” We dig deeply into the passion of Yamato with a long Kimura interview, a dialogue between Kimura and Yamazaki overflowing with “Yamato love” (read it here), and this magazine’s first interview with the famous actor Tsutomu Yamazaki, who played Captain Okita (read it here).
The adventure of a challenge. The film crew’s dark and hot Yamato voyage
Text by Yosuke Komatsu
There were zero women! The Yamato screening I saw, which was full of men, was exceptional
Interviewer: First, please give us your frank impression of watching the finished product.
Kimura: This is my impression, but it’s also my status report…I couldn’t go to preview no. 0 (only for those involved) because I was doing a live show at the Tokyo Dome on that day. But I really wanted to see it, so I contacted them at the end of my show and they said, “It’s a pretty big preview room, we can run it again.” I thought, “All right!” but then I learned that I would be the only one going. (Laughs) At the time I didn’t know that Director Yamazaki would come too, so I was nervous. “Only one person in a large space?” So I contacted all the crew members I knew who were within range and could quickly get involved, and everyone who could make it got there. But the sad part was that the overall theme of Yamato is “connecting lives” and there wasn’t a single woman there!
Interviewer: Only men… (Laughs)
Kimura: There were only about ten guys, and they all clustered in the middle of the screening room. The Yamato screening I saw was…entangled in that situation. (Laughs) The director sat down in a seat I had moved out of, and the moment we finished watching, I spontaneously shouted, “Yamazaki [who made this] is amazing!” I don’t usually do things like that…
Interviewer: What did you talk about with him afterward?
Kimura: There were some parts that he and I had thought about and shaped together during the shooting, so we exchanged some impressions about it. Even though I’d shouted, I was too shy to talk to him…but when I got home afterward I thought, “That’s not all I wanted to say!” So I sent him an e-mail and a reply came right back. We exchanged about ten e-mails. (Laughs)
Interviewer: Please tell me about something specific you talked about with the director.
Kimura: Of course, anyone who reads the script knows the story, but when someone watches the story independently, the explanation of a scene can become insufficient to a third party…or a fifth or sixth party. We talked about that on site. You’ll notice that when you get too deep into it, traps tend to occur. When it becomes “shaky, shaky,” then everyone can fix it. For example, I was particular about something in the second half, when Kodai gets a flashback of Yuki Mori (played by Meisa Kuroki). “Shouldn’t it be an expression from Yuki that only Kodai saw?” So we worked backward from there. That’s the kind of discussion that goes back and forth on the mental side of people, and we did a lot of that.
Quote at far left: “I felt like the most taboo thing to say on the set was, “I can’t do it”
Director Yamazaki pushes through and is a “respectable otaku”
Interviewer: I’ve heard that you’re a passionate fan of the original work. In the end, are your feelings quite strong…?
Kimura: It’s not just me, there were so many people that we didn’t have to hold a “How much do you like Yamato” championship. To be honest, when I first heard about this, since I like it and know what a great work it is, I thought, “It’s easy to say, ‘it’s going to become live-action’ but…” (Laughs) However, even though I was in than mindset, I felt “Maybe it has a chance” when I heard that Director Yamazaki would be doing it. After all, if the person who made Always Sunset on Third Street is going to make it…that was my feeling.
Interviewer: Did you feel confident when you got on the set?
Kimura: When we first met, he said, “Thank you for taking on Susumu Kodai.” At first, I thought, “Do you know what that means!?” But as things advanced, he became a director who didn’t emphasize it. It was more like, “You don’t have to worry about the visuals, please just give me the role.” I thought, “If you go that far, then you’re a respectable otaku, Director Yamazaki.” I was very happy with that.
Interviewer: Was the shooting smooth with the heavy use of VFX?
Kimura: It was. There were some questionable scenes I couldn’t grasp, but it wasn’t something I had to worry about myself. If someone has an advanced medical condition and is seriously worried, they’ll ask the doctor “How much time do I have left?” And when the doctor lightly says, “Oh, it’s OK, it’s OK,” it’s a reverse shock where you return to normal. (Laughs) The director had an answer for everything, like a wiper that removes your anxiety.
Interviewer: What did you discover when you watched it as a live-action film?
Kimura: What was surprising was what I felt at the end of the shoot in particular. The simple feeling of, “War is absolutely the worst thing that can happen.” When I watched the original I received it as a beautiful story, so this was something I noticed only after the shooting. In the end, this work depicts a world that could never be expressed without VFX techniques. It’s not a complete copy of the original, I think of it as a 2010 “cover” of Yamato. Personally, I thought it would give a better impression after trying everything that could be done. There were always people around me creating something that didn’t end up on the screen. I felt like the most taboo thing you could say on the set was, “I can’t do it.”
Interviewer: This is a work that can be widely released around the world…!
Kimura: Is that so? (Laughs) It’s certainly unbelievable that all this could be made in Japan, so I want you to be proud of that. But as for me, I still think of this as “soft.” It hasn’t changed anything yet. Usually the DVD includes making-of bonus footage, right? As for this work, I wonder, “After you feel such powerful VFX, can we really show what went on in the studio?” When that time comes, I wonder if it can be watched in secret by only those who really want to know… (Laughs)
Interviewer: I want to see it, but then again maybe I don’t.
Kimura: Yep. I actually don’t… (Laughs)
Takuya Kimura’s Q & A
Q1: What was Director Yamazaki’s most impressive moment?
A1: An excellent conductor; Yamazaki’s unique production method
Director Yamazaki is like an orchestra leader. Of course, when he calls cut, he lowers the tact and gives instructions, and his instructions were amazing. I never asked specifically what to do. Never! I’d run over to the monitor and he’d look me in the eye and gesture for “more” with his finger raised. Then I smiled and went away. If it didn’t work, he’d fold his arms and tilt his head slightly. I’d think, “He just tilted! Just now!” (Laughs) It was the same for everyone. You couldn’t just blurt out, “Wait! I don’t understand!” because everyone on the set had their own thoughts and responsibilities…yet the feeling was, “I want to understand the director’s intentions.” Then the next time I did something good, he would look very happy and it all went away again. (Laughs)
Q2: Was Yamato Love great among the cast?
A2: The atmosphere from Mr. Yanagiba was amazing…
Everyone was really great…but if there was a “How much do you like Yamato” championship, I wouldn’t be able to compete with Toshihiro Yanagiba, who played Sanada. In the scene where Sanada and Kodai part, the whole atmosphere of the place was, “Are you really going to say goodbye today?” It was amazing.
Q3: Any other favorite moments…
A3: Only one person was allowed to address Okita by name without an honorific!
During the filming, the assistant director repeatedly said, “The camera moves to Okita here!” and “We’ll cut to Okita here!” Then Tsutomu Yamazaki (Okita) quietly called out the assistant director and said, “Hey, you, come on now. If you knew me before, you could just call me Okita. But on this set, the only guy who can call me that with no honorific is Isao Hashizume [Commander Todo]! So call me ‘Captain’!” (Laughs)
Q4: What is the significance of this work being released now, in this time?
A4: Because “now” historic rescue dramas are attracting attention all over the world.
When I watched footage of the people who survived the cave-in accident in Chile hugging their families on the surface, I cried. I think rescue work and working together is naturally something the world pays attention to, and the media sends out information every day. No matter where you look, there’s a small frame on a screen feeding you that information. Since there are such things in the age of “now,” I thought it would be good to do Yamato. The VFX that made Yamato possible are like the Phoenix from that accident. (Phoenix was the name of the rescue capsule.) This movie would have been impossible to make without VFX.
Q5: Is there any work that gave you courage?
A5: I saw it when I was a high school student.
I was really excited when I saw Outsider in the first or second year of high school. I was thrilled by the world view of that movie until I graduated. I can still say that’s a work I like with all my heart. There was no special visual processing. I think it’s a movie in the best sense of the word, like having each emotion as an analog photo.
Q6: What are the qualities of a leader?
A6: You can’t stand above anyone if you don’t have someone around to support you.
There are a lot of rules and disciplines in the world, and when playing Kodai, I felt the importance of having my own opinion. I think it’s considerably important whether or not you can put it into action. If you’re just talking about standing above people, I don’t think it’s possible unless you have friends facing in the same direction. You can have grand beliefs of your own, but you don’t have any power if there is no one around to support you, so it crumbles pretty quickly. In terms of specific people…if it’s a historical person, it would have to be Ryoma Sakamoto. More practically, it would be Masayoshi Son of Softbank. (Laughs)
Q7: What Yamato character are you most attracted to?
A7: The captain’s presence gave meaning as the shoot continued.
Captain Okita. Because of him, the big story moved forward. Even when we had any empty captain’s seat without him sitting in it, I felt like it gave us meaning as we continued shooting.
From T magazine 2010 Winter, No. 12
Kadokawa Media House, December 1, 2010
Text by Yusuke Kadoma
Takuya Kimura came to the studio and sat down at the front to the left. There was joint coverage by several reporters and exclusive coverage just for this magazine, two sessions that totaled two and a half hours. Though it added up to only a meager 0.00045% of his life, there were definitely moments when we could get a glimpse of his way of life in that brief communication.
At the end of the interview, I asked about three keywords recalled from Space Battleship Yamato: justice, sacrifice, and hope. Takuya Kimura expressed his thoughts with pride. The idea was very interesting. How do you see things when you look at them from another angle? Does one exist in relation to their surroundings? Basically, his answers were based on such a perspective and a view of humanity. At that time, I suddenly understood. Takuya Kimura has lived with the ideal of respecting others. Does it sound too flowery to put it like that?
After the final question and answer session, I said, “Thank you very much” and he replied by thanking me back. “Not at all, same here.”
It was quite casual, but beautiful words that I rarely hear in such a place. I felt like it condensed everything about Takuya Kimura. That sense of beauty certainly put him in touch with Susumu Kodai, who he played in this film.
What did he think about the live-action adaptation of that masterpiece anime Space Battleship Yamato, and how did he act upon it?
Quote on left side: “I think hope is something that you absolutely must have.”
Interviewer: First, can I ask you for your candid impression of the finished work?
Kimura: It became real for me in the preview room, and it’s a pretty standard report, but Director Takashi Yamazaki was sitting one row in front of me and to the side. There was no particular sense of distance, but after the credits ended and the picture went off and the moment the lights came up I shouted, “The person who made this, Yamazaki, is amazing!” (Laughs)
Kimura: I don’t shout in a regular movie theater. In the works I’ve been involved with so far, I knew all about the points that weren’t shown on the screen, since I had participated in shooting the scenes. But this was the first time I didn’t know the total picture. I describe it as lifting a veil. That was the first time I was able to watch the movie with the veil lifted, so it all opened up.
Interviewer: Did you exchange words directly with the director?
Kimura: When we were on site, there were parts that we thought about and shaped together. “Oh, like this? Do it like this?” So I had an impression of it. But even though I shouted, I was too shy to speak with him on the spot. I did e-mail him when I got home. Then I instantly got a reply.
Interviewer: He was waiting for you, huh?
Kimura: From there, we e-mailed for about ten times. (Laughs)
Interviewer: You said it felt like “lifting the veil.” This is a work that makes heavy use of VFX, so the set was mostly bluescreen, right? I’d think it would feel uneasy, shooting when you can’t see the whole picture of Yamato and space.
Kimura: It was like that constantly. Even if you’re on a set, there is some percentage that you can’t see, so when I had to express a feeling I had to wonder what I was seeing to make me feel that way. In the scene where we return to Earth, we yell, “Oh, it’s Earth!” but I didn’t know what kind of Earth it is, so there was always anxiety. When I thought things like, “How big is it?” or “What kind of sound is it, or how scary is it…” I felt foolish. But it was very easy for the director to show us a sample of the CG and say, “Yes, this is the Earth.” “OH!” (Laughs) Any time there was some anxiety, the director would wipe it all away.
Interviewer: So there was some confusion, but nothing too terrible.
Kimura: That’s right. At various points, I’ve been told that Director Yamazaki is the conductor of an orchestra. What I felt from him was that there was a stringed instrument, a wind instrument, and a percussion instrument, and the director swings his baton and says “Let’s go.” Then he stops swinging and says “Cut!” and gives instructions. The way he’d give out instructions at that time was amazing. There was never a conversation where he specifically instructed something. It didn’t really happen from beginning to end. When he said “Cut!” and I’d run over to the monitor at the front of the set, he’d just say one word. “More.” (Laughs)
Interviewer: And you could understand it just from that? (Laughs)
Kimura: I could have said, “Wait a minute” or “I don’t understand” when I wondered what the director meant by “more,” but I was on the set with the responsibility of Susumu Kodai, and I thought it would have been rude. In the first place, I was at a site where I’m right next to a director who is creating something that’s not there on the screen, so I thought it was taboo to say I didn’t understand it or couldn’t do it.
Interviewer: What was a part that you thought about and shaped with the director?
Kimura: The director listened to everything I felt at the site and decided each time how to incorporate it. One of the things I really thought about was the moment when Kodai took his final action. What kind of expression does Yuki Mori have when he suddenly flashes back to her? I thought it would be nice to have an expression that only Kodai had seen. We worked backward from there to Kodai getting into his fighter before the climax. Yuki kisses the canopy after she repeats a line Kodai says earlier. “Are you trying to show off?”
Yuki had maintained a dignified attitude until then, so it’s a very childlike moment where she shows her personal feelings to a member of the opposite sex. When we were on site, Meisa Kuroki (who played Yuki) did a silly gesture. (Laughs) That was the expression. Since that was something I wanted to do in a later scene, we planted the seed in the earlier scene. That’s something we did after I discussed it with the director.
Interviewer: I’ve heard that you’re a considerable fan of Space Battleship Yamato. What did you think when you first heard about the live-action film adaptation?
Kimura: When I first heard “Yamato,” I didn’t think that could be it, so I thought it was about the Battleship Yamato. Then I was told, “No, not that, the Space Battleship.” Well, it’s easy to say, but… (Laughs) The people in the conference room were all excited when they said “Yamato is next,” but that was my mindset at first. However, when I heard that the director was Takashi Yamazaki, I thought it might happen. He has a great visual sense, like how he freshly presented Tokyo Tower, which everyone takes for granted these days, in Always Sunset on Third Street.
Interviewer: That’s right, he’s a VFX specialist.
Kimura: When I first met him, he said, “Thank you for taking on Susumu Kodai,” and I felt like I didn’t have to worry about the visuals, just my role. When we actually started shooting, the cast and the crew was filled with people who loved Yamato, so there were many times we were able to unite and overcome problems on the set.
Interviewer: You’ve loved Yamato since you were a child. What’s the reason for that?
Kimura: You say that like I started as a kindergartener, but Maetel from Galaxy Express 999 and Emeraldas from Space Pirate Captain Harlock and Yuki Mori from Space Battleship Yamato were all my type. (Laughs)
Kimura: Honestly, that was the starting line. But when it came to Yamato, when I noticed that there were sympathetic heroes, it became a grand story. I was drawn in more and more. But I do wonder how I was able to appreciate such complex stories as Yamato and Mobile Suit Gundam in kindergarten and elementary school. I still wonder about that.
Interviewer: Have you made any new discoveries as the work you’ve loved since childhood became a live-action film?
Kimura: It’s a work I’ve been watching with excitement for a long time, and what was surprising is that when we got to the end of shooting, I got the feeling that war is the absolute worst thing that can happen. It was something I couldn’t quite feel when I was watching it. Maybe I just didn’t understand. When I watched it, I just took it in as a great story. But for the first time while on the set, I noticed that simple fact was the case.
Interviewer: Yamato fans have been surprised by the new concepts in the live-action version. Which do you value more, “reproducing the original” or “Yamato as a new work”?
Kimura: I think it’s a work that could never have been expressed without the current technology. But the “music” originally existed. It’s like an acoustic song created by a band in a studio from nothing. When people listen to it as a song that could only be made now with full use of current digital technology, they can think, “This is part of my life.” In that sense, it’s not a perfect copy. I recognize it as a 2010 cover version of Yamato.
Interviewer: Speaking of songs, what did you feel when you heard Steven Tyler’s theme song during the end credits?
Kimura: Actually, I had listened to Love Lives before that, so it was exciting to hear it again with the credits. I really felt like the work had been finished as music. It has persuasive power, so I’m sure he read the script, and it was created after he became familiar with the content. He interpreted Yamato in his own way and finished it as music. It’s a treasure for both a performer and a fan. I thought, I don’t want the audience to stand up and leave while this song is playing. So I e-mailed the director again. (Laughs)
Interviewer: What did you e-mail him about this time?
Kimura: I suggested that it would be good to show the Yamato crew at their most lively during the end credits. The director agreed. I wanted us to do everything we could.
Interviewer: How did you perceive the character of Susumu Kodai this time? You must have had an original image for him.
Kimura: My personal image of Susumu Kodai in Space Battleship Yamato was like when a homeroom teacher is talking in the classroom, and I’m poking at my best friend Daisuke Shima under the desk while I’m secretly staring at Yuki Mori. I thought we might do something like that. Nothing like that was shown in the original anime, but I wanted to do it because it’s a live-action version. Of course, his lines are written in the script, and there’s a time and place to say those words, so added my bits while thinking I may be overdoing it. The director’s reaction was the same as I described earlier. I went running over there, looking into his eyes to see if it was okay. He tilted his head, but he didn’t say anything. (Laughs) It was one of those times when I thought about doing something different, and he looked happy, so I’m glad I did. I was able to do that not only with the director, but also with Tsutomu Yamazaki who plays Captain Okita, and by thinking about various things from start to finish with Naoto Ogata as Shima.
Interviewer: One of the things I think about when I watch the story is what sort of leadership should come from the person who stands on top. I think Kodai is appointed as the acting captain because he has such qualities. You’ve even served as the prime minister of Japan
Kimura: In a role, anyway. (Laughs) [Translator’s note: Kimura played a teacher who becomes the prime minister in a 2008 TV drama called Change.]
Interviewer: (Laughs) What kind of person do you think should stand above others?
Kimura: I think there are a lot of rules in the world, but it’s still important to have your own opinion. Next, what I felt strongly while playing Kodai was, is it possible to put it into action? Anyone can think and think, but when you actually take action, you also take on considerable responsibility. Maybe lives will be affected. Well, that’s personal, isn’t it? In terms of the qualities of those who stand above, I think it’s essential to have friends around you who are facing in the same direction. Whether or not you have grand beliefs as an individual, unless you have someone around you to support you, it all collapses in no time, doesn’t it?
Interviewer: What kind of person do you think is an ideal leader?
Quote on right side: ”There is a side to sacrifice that is hard to agree with”
Interviewer: Finally, when watching the story, I personally thought there were three keywords. I’d like to ask what you think about it. The first keyword is “justice.” Kodai is a person who acts on his own sense of justice.
Kimura: There certainly is group justice, and as long as people are around, I think each individual will have their own justice. When the two differ, a big conflict is created, isn’t it? Even if one side thinks, “This is the right thing to do,” since it isn’t a common sense of justice, they both collide. It’s simplest when you think about righting a wrong, but it’s difficult to think about what is wrong.
Interviewer: Some things can’t be generalized.
Kimura: I think the anime I watched as a child was incredibly easy to understand. because they used easy-to-understand symbols, like the voice getting hoarse, or the eyes glowing red. But even without those symbols, there were things you needed to think about for yourself. In the old days, they gave you all sorts of easy-to-understand hints all over the place. This is good, this is bad. But nowadays, if you aren’t careful, you might end up in a situation where you jump to conclusions, won’t you?
When I think about it, the phrase that has been said for a long time is, I don’t want my loved ones to be hurt, so justice comes from the desire to protect them. Of course, depending on the actual action you take, it could be overturned. You can say that the distance between wisdom and foolishness is just the thickness of a sheet of paper, and I think it’s the same with justice.
Interviewer: The next keyword I felt is “sacrifice.” Toward the end of the story, Yamato‘s crew sacrifices themselves for the purpose of protecting Earth. What do you think about sacrifice?
Kimura: If you choose to sacrifice, there may be an unavoidable part as a result. However, there are acts that we know in advance will involve sacrifices.
Interviewer: Occasionally there are.
Kimura: No, I think there are plenty. Just take a history class. Countries compete against countries and decide upon sacrifice when they fight. There is a side to sacrifice that is hard to agree with. On the other hand, it’s all right if it’s self-sacrifice. I think there is a low percentage of cases where you can sacrifice yourself without troubling anyone. In this movie, there was honestly some anxiety that it might be over-glorified as a beautiful story [of sacrifice].
Interviewer: But I think that leads to the last keyword, where such a sacrifice is an act that goes toward “hope.” I personally thought that this work wanted to present that to the last. What do you think of the keyword “hope?”
Kimura: I think it’s something you have to have, absolutely. Regardless of gender, age, or job. If one person out of ten is losing hope, I think the next two or three or all nine should notice the person who is losing hope. I don’t think it’s necessary to respond just because you noticed it. But I think the person can feel a change just by being noticed. Right now, such an atmosphere is very thin, isn’t it? Even if they’re very weak, people who are losing hope will say, “Leave me alone, I’ll deal with it my own way.” I wonder, why would you say such a thing? Even if you notice it happening you may not know what to do. But I think it’s great just to notice it. If you do, the next person probably will. I think “noticing” is necessary as the first opportunity not to lose “hope.”
Bonus: Screen Plus magazine Vol. 25
Kindaieigasha publishing, November 15, 2010
This issue of Screen Plus came out around the same time as those indicated above. The Kimtak interview came from the same press conference and covered exactly the same content, so it does not merit translation. However, the overall article was more broad with a look at his previous films and a four-page retrospective of the original Yamato with a story synopsis and glossary.
All pages are shown below.