I asked the “developer” directly!
A look at the mysteries of the Garmillas “L’Andromede” class
An interview with Yamato 2202 SF advisor Shinya Ogura
Originally published in Star Blazers/Yamato Premium Fan Club Magazine Vol. 11, May 2021
A “Garmillas Andromeda” appears as a guest mecha in Chapter 6 (Episode 21) of Yamato 2202. Not only did it have a powerful presence despite its brief appearance, it has been the subject of a lot of fan art and plamodel mods. Andromeda is still a high-profile ship among fans. In the official settings, this variant is only described as “Garmillas-made,” and the details of this ship are still unknown. We spoke with the designer Shinya Ogura about the “mystery” of this ship.
Shinya Ogura is a freelance designer, born in 1965. His representative works include the anime version of Planetes (2003), Gundam Unicorn (2006-2014), Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet (2013), Expelled from Paradise (2014), and Yamato 2202 (2017-2019). He has also worked on Gundam NT (2018). He has a lot of experience in animation, original art, and concept design for anime.
The storyboard for Yamato 2202 Episode 21, directed by Nobuyoshi Habara. The storyboard was drawn in the
style of a Destria-class heavy cruiser, a standard Garmillas battleship. This is where Ogura’s hard work began.
A “Garmillas-made” debut that started with a two-frame storyboard
Interviewer: First of all, please tell us how you came to be in charge of the design of the L’Andromede class, which is referred to as “Garmillas-made” in the official documents.
Ogura: It seems that some of the fans have misunderstood. I’d like to start by saying that I didn’t volunteer to be in charge of the design! On 2202, my main job was to advise Harutoshi Fukui on SF phenomena and situations. I was not supposed to draw pictures, but I received a request from Director Nobuyoshi Habara and Producer Hiroki Komatsu. That’s how it all started. At the time, Mr. Habara was thinking, “I want everyone on the staff to have a moment to shine.” So he asked some of the staff members, in addition to me, who could draw.
Interviewer: For the Andromeda variations, Takahiro Yamada was in charge of the design of Amaterasu. Did you have specific instructions for the L’Andromede class design and concept?
Ogura: No, the first thing I was given was a storyboard from the episode. The rest was just, “Design this, please!” That’s it. (Laughs)
Interviewer: In the storyboard, the silhouette looks like a Destria class. So it’s actually an Andromeda made by Garmillas?
Ogura: In the storyboard, it says “the bridge and rear of the ship is similar to Earth ships.” At first I thought it was a main battleship. But when I asked Mr. Fukui about it, he said, “No, it’s an Andromeda.” The image he wanted to convey was that they were so overwhelmed by the harsh war conditions that they finally made something like this. So I used the layout of this shot as a base. What would it look like if the Andromeda class were to appear here? And then we proceeded with the design based on that.
Interviewer: What kind of communication did you have with Mr. Habara?
Ogura: Initially, I thought, “If I were to build the Andromeda using Garmillas technology, wouldn’t I put two Dessler guns on the bow?” But when I pitched the idea to Mr. Habara, his expression subtley said, “I don’t think so…” (Laughs) So I thought about it while trying to figure out his intentions.
Interviewer: Since there is not much information, fans fill in a lot with imagination, don’t they? It seems many of them assume that the detail of the Wave-Motion gun is a Reflection Satellite Gun.
Ogura: If you’re an aircraft fan, you’ll understand. The shape has the image of a 3D nozzle. Mr. Habara had difficulty with parallel Dessler Guns on the bow, so we couldn’t use that idea. If that was the case, I’d rather use the original “hexagonal mouth” and rethink the shape more like a “thrust vectoring nozzle.”
However, the rest of the design reflects the symbolism of the Dessler Gun. For example, the silhouette swells up from the tip of the bow, and then narrows down smoothly before the main turret. So there are remnants of what I was trying to do with the Dessler Gun.
Interviewer: I would have liked to see a scene where the enemy fleet is deflected and wiped out by firing the Wave Gun!
Ogura: Right. (Laughs) It would only have two shots in that case, but I was thinking about such a gimmick.
The first step was to place the CG Andromeda into the premade layout for shot 54
of Episode 21 in order to understand the size and volume of the L’Andromede class.
What is the deep meaning behind the name L’Andromede?
Interviewer: By the way, how did you come up with the name L’Andromede?
Ogura: There was a French submarine called Andromede that was captured by the Germans during World War II. I took the spelling L’Andromede from that. Also, the depiction of Garmillas has a German taste to it. I tried to pronounce “Andromeda” in German and it sounded like “L’Andromede.” The latter is more important to the origin of the name, and it is also related to the development procedure of the L’Andromede class.
Interviewer: What do you mean?
Ogura: In my personal concept, the L’Andromede class was built using design data from the Andromeda, which was “translated” by the Garmillas A.I. in the Time Fault Arsenal to operate as a Garmillas ship.
Interviewer: That’s why the base is Andromeda, but the armaments have been replaced with Garmillas ones. And the name of the ship was changed to “L’Andromede.”
Ogura: In other words, “translation” is an important keyword. Incidentally, the final decision to name the ship L’Andromede was made by Mecha Designer Junichiro Tamamori. He said, “L’Andromede sounds somewhat Iscandar-like, doesn’t it?” That was the trigger.
As you know, Andromeda is a feminine noun. For those of us living in the Milky Way, the Andromeda galaxy is our neighboring galaxy, and if it bears a feminine noun, then, oddly enough, it may have something to do with the name of Starsha, who is deified by the Garmillas as the “queen of the neighboring universe.” I got that inspiration from Mr. Tamamori’s comment. In other words, for Garmillas soldiers, the name “L’Andromede” may incorporate their feelings for Iscandar.
Interviewer: So there was a profound intention hidden in the name. By the way, what are the names of the second and third ships in the class?
Ogura: The name of the second ship, Vem Haidern, was one of the candidates that came up when I discussed it with [novelist] Yuka Minagawa.
I came up with the name of the third ship, Dels Gardola, by choosing words from the Garmillas word list. It is actually a combination of the words “glory” and “battle.” And the fourth ship is the Zalagion. This was a carrack ship from the German Empire, reworded in the Garmillas style.
In the Garmillas ship names, for example, Domelaze is named after the Dommel family estate, and Deusuler is named for the territory of the Dessler family. (i.e., “battleship” as a kind of “castle” for a lord.) Since that seems to be the style, I invented a fictitious place on Garmillas called “Zalagion.”
Interviewer: In the published materials, it only goes up to three ships: AAA-009 L’Andromede, AAA-010 Vem Heidern, and AAA-011 Dels Gardola.
Ogura: This is my personal opinion, but I think it’s natural that there should be a fourth ship. It is common for ships to be built two by two, or four by four, using the same design and the same dock. The construction period is staggered by one month so if there is a problem with the earlier design, the later designs can be revised. That’s the point of mass production as “~class”. If any fans build a fourth ship, I hope they will name it Zalagion. (Laughs)
The important meaning of the symbolic Garmillas color seen everywhere
Interviewer: What was the most important thing you paid attention to when designing the L’Andromede class?
Ogura: I didn’t change the layout or proportions of the bridge and hull of the Andromeda that Mr. Tamamori designed, but I tried to keep the outfitting and style of Garmillas. So if you superimpose the side views of L’Andromede and Andromeda at the same scale, their positions will be exactly the same. If I did that, you could modify the 1/1000 model kit into the L’Andromede. Even if Bandai makes a kit of the L’Andromede, they’ve already got the basic design. (Laughs)
Interviewer: You’re thinking of making it into a kit!
Ogura: I was thinking of using the main turret from the Haizerad class battlecruiser (a development of the Shulz) or the Gelvades class battlecruiser. That’s how big the Andromeda is. The turret I finally ended up with was the main gun of the Deusuler II. And if you put the Destria class triple gun turret on the side of the ship by the bridge, it instantly looks “Garmillan.”
Interviewer: So Garmillas features are scattered throughout the ship.
Ogura: I think that’s the reason why L’Andromede left such a strong impression on the fans, even though it only appeared in a few scenes. It has all the Garmillas symbols that everyone knows. But when you look at it in detail, you can recognize it as Andromeda.
Interviewer: By the way, what do you think are the typical symbols of Garmillas ships?
Ogura: It’s hard to put into words. In my case, by staring endlessly at design drawings by Yutaka Izubuchi and Yasushi Ishizu, I was able to extract elements that would become symbols. The angle of the bow is just like that.
Interviewer: The gull-wing-like antenna on the side of the bridge is also like that.
Ogura: This is a detail that we don’t often see on the Garmillas ships in 2199 and 2202. It was extracted from the design drawings of the original series. However, there is no doubt that it’s based on the Garmillas design method developed by Mr. Izubuchi and Mr. Ishizu for 2199.
Interviewer: Considering the schedule in the second half of the series, I think one hand-drawn original was just about the limit.
Ogura: The order was, “think about everything, including color specifications.” I thought that if I drew the original and specified the colors with color pencils, I wouldn’t be able to finish in time. So I proceeded to the stage before special effects were added, including the shadow colors. I got the color specification data from 2199 and went through several patterns of trial and error to decide which colors would work best.
Interviewer: Did you decide the colors by yourself?
Ogura: At first, I tried painting it Destria green, but I thought it was too bright. So I finally decided on Balgray green, which is the three-tiered aircraft carrier. The markings and navigation lights were created at Xebec studio. I did not have the data for the Garmillas markings.
Interviewer: I didn’t notice the Garmillas markings on L’Andromede‘s hull.
Ogura: The side view was only published in the Andromeda model kit manual or in some model magazines, so it can’t be helped. In the episode, the side view is only shown up to the front of the marked part.
From the bonus booklet included with Bandai’s 1/1000 Andromeda DX model kit. See all the pages here.
Interviewer: If the order had been placed earlier, it might have been treated differently in the story.
Ogura: I think that would have been difficult. For the Garmillas and Gatlantis ships, it was really up to Senior Mecha Designer Yasushi Ishizu to do the work. The fact that the design of L’Andromede came to me was only due to Mr. Habara’s consideration. I think it was allowed because it was the “flower of each episode” in terms of guest design.
Interviewer: As an aside, is it correct to say that Earth and Garmillas formed an alliance and exchanged shipbuilding technology because both sides saw merit in it?
Ogura: I don’t know about that, but I think many Garmillas are pure-blooded, so the alliance at that time was only created because they were cornered in the battle against Gatlantis. It may not have been advantageous for the Garmillas side. The L’Andromede class may exist as a symbol of the security treaty in their alliance. But I personally don’t think it’s protecting anything important for Garmillas. At most, it could be used to protect the airspace over the Garmillas embassy on Earth.
Interviewer: So it’s not a ship that will be painted a noble blue?
Ogura: Of course, what we’re talking about today is not official, it’s all personal opinion, and I don’t think there will be any more information released about this ship.
The “evolution” of spacecraft beyond the spell of Yamato
Interviewer: What do you think is the appeal of “space battleships”?
Ogura: I think that Yamato is the first work to have a military flavor, and to have a mechanic character that was not intended to be a toy. In that sense, Yamato is a big icon. Until then, the word “spaceship” in Japan and abroad meant a streamlined rocket or a saucer.
What’s amazing about Yamato is that the symbol of the streamlined rocket is included in the design. By adding detail to the rocket image, we were able to give the mecha a different kind of “ruggedness” than previous spaceship designs, and make it look like something the military would use. It has the image of both a rocket and a battleship.
Interviewer: Star Trek has a military element, but this is more of a “space adventure thing” like Lost in Space, isn’t it?
Ogura: The “spaceship” in Hollywood films is basically a saucer. The rocket type leading up to that point seemed old, so it became a disc. Star Trek added cylinders to the disc to show that it was made with more advanced technology than a rocket. However, the foundation of the Enterprise was developed from the flying saucer type spaceship.
Interviewer: We can say that Yamato is a breakthrough from conventional spacecraft. Are there any space battleships, including both the original series and remake, that you have a special attachment to?
Ogura: That’s a tough one. If you’ve seen my most famous work, Planetes, you’ll know that I feel like my thoughts go far away from Yamato. In my current works, I have to create new spaceships that are not Yamato. For example, when I was a staff member on Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet, which started at the same time the 2199 TV series went on air, we had to fight Yamato, the “ghost of 40 years ago.” (Laughs) So I have to start by defying the idea of spaceships depicted in Yamato.
Interviewer: That’s how strong the impact of Yamato is, isn’t it?
Ogura: That’s right. It’s the work that inspired me to take action. I don’t think I would have been involved in this work without Mr. Fukui’s request.
Interviewer: That’s how Yamato dares to take a step back from the design work, and sticks to science fiction research, isn’t it?
Ogura: I don’t think there’s much room for me because the line between Mr. Tamamori and Mr. Ishizu is already complete. Of course, if they ask me to help with development, I’d be happy to.
Interviewer: Lastly, please give a message to the fans who love the L’Andromede class that you created!
Ogura: All I can say is, “Please follow the rules and enjoy your fan activities.” (Laughs)
Production material (1): Preparatory drafts for the L’Andromede class design and its transition
The top figure shows the rough draft of the L’Andromede class drawn at the beginning of the project, which shows that the design had already been changed from a “Dessler gun” to a “deflector nozzle” type detail.
On the other hand, the bottom figure has been revised to be closer to the Andromeda-class based on the opinions of Director Habara and others. At this point, the styling has been decided.
Production material (2): Consideration of design translation from Andromeda class to L’Andromede class
For the L’Andromede class outfitting design, the following materials were laid out for reference: Haizerad class, Andromeda class, and Gelvades class. To confirm the volume of the Andromeda class, it has already been given the main gun of Deusuler II and the Haizerad class’ main gun as a secondary armament. They also considered the detail of the source ships by placing them in the same scale.
Production material (3) Original L’Andromede class color drawing by Shinya Ogura
The original L’Andromede-class drawing that was OK’d by Director Habara was colored by Ogura himself. You can see that the CG Andromeda was used as a reference for the 3D effect. This data, drawn by Ogura, was then further processed by the special effects staff to create the finished scene.
Production material (4) A shot of the L’Andromede class that was brushed up by the special effects staff
Each part of the ship has been graded and highlighted. Two finished images of the L’Andromede class with various lights were used on screen. Garmillas markings are applied to the side of the ship, and the effect of the light illuminating them is really impressive. (Please compare with the previous drawings.) The bottom image is a profile angle used when the ship takes off from Earth’s atmosphere and joins the fleet.
A life story in three shots: