Age of Yamato mecha notes

In these pages from the Age of Yamato movie program book, Mecha Designer Junichiro Tamamori and Animator Kia Asamiya discuss the thought process behind the highlight of the film, the opening segment that established a prehistory never seen before.

Age of Yamato Production Documents

Rough draft by Junichiro Tamamori

Junichiro Tamamori, who is in charge of the mechanic design of the series, participated in Age of Yamato as a conceptual advisor. As such, he provided ideas and rough sketches that went beyond the scope of mecha design. The following is a summary of his work, with materials provided by the scriptwriter, Yuka Minagawa.

Ships derived from the same basic design were built by the UN Space Command and other countries. It seems there are other variations in addition to the Japanese fleet.

“Thinking about Kirishima‘s past form has been a hobby of mine for about twenty years. I’ve always wondered why the so-called Okita Ship had stabilizing wings at the top, bottom, left and right of the bow, as well as vertical tail fins. It’s quite an interesting shape. As I was thinking about this, various stories came to mind. This time, I tried to give shape to the idea.” – Tamamori

“The grey Kirishima on the right is the first image of the ship when it was in service. The design was finalized based on this. The ships in Yamato are based on a seagoing vessels. There are many stories behind the construction and renovation of actual ships. I tried to incorporate the life of such ships into the design. In one of the novelized versions of the old series, Okita’s ship is called Hero, which is not a typical warship name. I thought the name Hero might have appeared in a movie of the time [so it was used here].” – Tamamori

This Martian warship was built based on the technology of an alien ship discovered on Mars. It also became the basis for Earth’s naval vessels. The shape is reminiscent of a surface ship with operations based on the galactic horizon, and it launches in a horizontal position. It is defined as the starting point for space battleship operation methods in the Yamato world. The Russian warning lettering is intended to cast the shadow of Russia, the former Soviet Union and a former leader in space development, at the center of the Mars immigration and space expansion policy.

Side note: Russian fan DashaKO cites the Russian names on ships seen in the film: Chapaev, Novik, and Varyag.

Image of the Battleship Yamato restoration work. Due to his commitment to this scene, Tamamori included the crane ship Sanko, which was used to build the original Yamato.

A draft of a scene showing the construction of Space Battleship Yamato. The asteroid ship and the asteroid ring are elements that respect the original series proposal.

Junichiro Tamamori Interview

Interviewer: You participated in this project as a conceptual advisor. What kind of work did you do?

Tamamori: My role was to think of ideas to connect the “real world” with the “Yamato world.” In the process of creating the prehistory of 2199, I made some rough designs.

Interviewer: The idea for the “200th Anniversary of the End of World War II” also came from you.

Tamamori: Mr. Fukui wanted to emphasize how human beings have overcome difficulties. So when I thought about future history, I was faced with the question of whether or not to include a World War III. We thought that we should talk about the future having no subsequent world war, and that it was avoided through constant efforts. Then, I thought, they must have held a ceremony to commemorate it.

At the same time, I thought it would be a good idea to restore the battleship Yamato as a requiem for the dead. By doing that, we could connect the world of Space Battleship Yamato with reality. Personally, I also wanted to preserve the existence and shape of the battleship Yamato for the future.

Interviewer: What else did you consider when depicting the prehistory of 2199, such as the Inner Planetary War?

Tamamori: I was aware of what had already been depicted, and I didn’t want to leave out the chronology and concepts that have been published in magazines and elsewhere. For example a program book said, “Kirishima was refurbished and modernized in the late 2190s.” If you look closely, you can find contradictions in other descriptions. Therefore, we weighed each of the “facts” that had been told.

Yuki’s narration of the history of the earth in 2199 and the government propaganda that Shima saw in Yamato‘s projection room were based on government announcements during the war. In fact, not all of them may be “true.” The scenes that Okita and Tokugawa remember could be subjective, so they may be slightly different from objective “facts.” But they are undeniably real to the fans who come into contact with the story.

Sometimes I changed the interpretation of the “facts” to see what might have been. It was a process of gently connecting the dots, rather than strictly connecting everything. I was constantly looking at various materials. I exchanged opinions with the scriptwriter Yuka Minagawa and the staff as we worked to solidify it. It was hard for me to switch my mind between Age of Yamato and the next work, Yamato 2205, because we were having meetings at the same time. (Laughs)

Junichiro Tamamori Profile

With his background as an industrial designer, he is active in mecha design and concept design. He has been refining Yamato mecha as a hobby since his amateur days, and is a genuine Yamato fan.

Strategy diagrams by Yuka Minagawa

The novelist Yuka Minagawa, who wrote the Yamato 2202 novelization, also wrote the screenplay for Age of Yamato. She wrote the new parts and the compilations of both 2199 and 2202. The material shown here was created by Ms. Minagawa herself as strategy diagrams for the 2202 novels. It shows the layout and formation of Gatlantis and the Earth fleet during the invasion of Earth. These were also used in the film.

Kia Asamiya’s Art Collection

Kia Asamiya, a veteran animator and manga artist who has been working on this project since 2199, did all the storyboards and layouts for the new parts of Age of Yamato. Here are some of them with his comments.

The Apollo Project

“In our first meeting, we had the idea of using a live-action film, but in the end I decided to draw it. I was born in 1963 and saw Apollo 11 in real time. It was a lot of work, but I was also happy to be able to draw the Saturn rocket. It’s not often that I get a chance to draw one. The ice that falls off the rocket during launch is hand-drawn. I thought it could have been done with CG. When I draw storyboards, I don’t decide whether to hand-draw or use CG, because I don’t want to constrain the image.” – Asamiya

Battleship Yamato

At left: The original drawing, called the “layout,” showing the elements that will fit on the screen. It utilizes a low-resolution CG model.

“The CG model of Battleship Yamato was borrowed from the data used in Ark of the Stars. So the Yamato itself is CG, but the water is drawn, so that part was very difficult. I wanted to ask a real effects animator to do the scene where Yamato sinks. (Laughs) the original series also had such a scene, and I tried to draw my own image of it in the storyboard.” – Asamiya

1974 version at left, Asamiya version at right

The Inner Planets War

“The CG team’s work was so amazing that I thought I might want to watch a movie just about the Inner Planets War and the Battle of Mars. The flashing lights when the Earth fleet launches was cool. The cinematographers did a great job.” – Asamiya

Art: The Kongo type in flight. Before the bow positron shock cannon and bridge cannon were installed, the shape of the details were different. It was drawn instead of using the existing CG model. It is not shown in this drawing, but Junichiro Tamamori eventually decided to make the bridge guns smaller than the shock cannon. A muzzle for the shock cannon was added to the bow.

A battleship of an alien civilization crashes on Mars. Since it only appears in one shot, the detail of its destruction was rendered only in the layout drawing.

Phantom scenes

Asamiya drew layouts for the new scenes, and the total number of shots was over 100. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, many scenes were cut from the film. The Kirishima‘s bridge rotating gun (Shot 62) and a scene of the Garmillas’ “eyeballs” changing to warning colors (Shot 65) were both cut. Both of these scenes, as well as the first ever Kirishima shock cannon firing scene that is the centerpiece of this sequence, were shot in the same way. Asamiya was very particular in drawing this scene as a situation that had been imagined but never actually depicted. Asamiya is said to have drawn these shots with great care.

Message from Kia Asamiya

When I was asked to do all of the new parts (both storyboards and layouts), I was happy to do it because, “It’s Space Battleship Yamato!”

Since not all the conceptual details had been decided yet, I thought it would be more efficient to do everything myself, and since the basic idea had an end goal, I thought I could do it. But even though I did everything, Animation Director Meiju Maeda drew Sanada’s new shots.

At first, I worked on 2199 as a staff member, doing original drawings and layout corrections. I also created ending illustrations for the TV broadcast. I was happy to be able to do the plamodel packages for Yamato 2202. I drew the storyboard for the 25th episode of 2202 while listening to the soundtrack from Farewell to Yamato. (Laughs)

Yamato is the reason I am working in this industry. In the past, I’ve had the opportunity to draw illustrations on various occasions. In fact, the first work I did after becoming an animator was for Final Yamato (a scene where the Dengil Empire attacks). When I think about it, I’m deeply moved to be able to participate in this project in this way.

Kia Asamiya Profile

Manga artist/animator, born in Iwate Prefecture on March 9, 1963. Representative of Lab Garnier. As an animator, he used the name “Michitaka Kikuchi” and was active mainly in the late 80s and 90s. He also gained popularity as a character designer. After participating in 2199, he was in charge of the ending layout for the TV broadcast version from Episodes 9 to 17. In the latter half of the series, he worked on many illustrations, and continued to participate in 2202.

See his credits at Anime News Network here.

For much more of Kia Asamiya’s work, enter his name in the search bar at the top of this page and the gold will flow.

One thought on “Age of Yamato mecha notes

  1. Dang it! I really wanted those battle diagrams of the Battle of Saturn to be translated! Oh well I guess I would have to wait a little longer to dissect and breakdown that massive Calaklum vs Dreadnought spam fest. Also reading the Russian names of the Mars ships are giving me some Expense vibes as the Mars Congressional Republic (MCR) which also had a Soviet styled military and government.
    I don’t recall seeing the greenish variant of the Kongo in the ten minute sneak peak of the documentary movie though. But if it is canon, can we assume that there are three design variants of the Kongo-class throughout it’s thirty plus year history?

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