Yamato 2205 mecha designer interviews, Oct 2021

With each new remake project, fans look forward to how the groundbreaking design work of the originals gets refreshed for modern eyes. Yamato 2205 takes that another step forward with today’s take on the Dark Nebula Empire. When the first film was released, two online news sources spoke to the mecha designers about the process.

Yamato 2205: What has changed in Yamato? We talk with Junichiro Tamamori and Mika Akitaka about Great Pleiades and secret stories of mecha design

Published by Mantan Web on October 16. See the original article here.

Yamato 2205 The New Voyage, the latest in the popular anime series Space Battleship Yamato, has been running since October 8th. When you look at the Yamato of 2205, you will notice that it is a little different from the previous Yamato.

New mecha such as the Great Pleiades have also appeared, giving a different impression from the original. As a matter of fact, the design of Yamato has been changing from work to work. What has changed in 2205?

We asked Junichiro Tamamori, the designer of Yamato, and Mika Akitaka, the designer of Great Pleiades.

Yamato is between 2199 and 2202; so are Asuka and Hyuga

The first Yamato series was broadcast in 1974. Yamato 2, Farewell to Yamato, and Yamato Resurrection have also been produced. Yamato 2199, a remake of the first series, was broadcast in 2012-14. Yamato 2202, a sequel to 2199, was shown in theaters and broadcast on TV from 2017-19. 2205 is directed by Kenji Yasuda, with Harutoshi Fukui in charge of series composition and screenplay. It is produced by Satelight. There are two chapters.

In 2205, Yamato‘s impression seems to have changed. According to Tamamori, who also designed Yamato in 2199 and 2202, he aimed for a design that was “in between” the two. If you look at it from the side, the Wave-Motion Gun has a slant that is somewhere between them. Compared to 2202, it is slightly tilted and extended forward. The rear nozzle is shortened by the same amount, so the overall length of 333 meters is the same.

The nozzle was narrowed in 2199, but enlarged in 2202. This time, it’s somewhere in between. In 2202, the image of Yamato seen from behind in the main visual of Farewell is strong, so it was made larger. It was also meant to be an enhanced version. Now the image edges back toward 2199. In addition, the side hangar doors are larger. It’s a subtle difference, but when you look at it as a whole, it gives a very different impression. It looks like the form has also changed.

“The shape of the main gun turret is also slightly different,” Tamamori said. “It used to be a polyhedron, but I made it smooth. The width of the first and second bridges and the window frames have been trimmed a little, so they look a little slimmer when viewed from the front. By increasing the number of striations and segmented lines, I’ve also made it more crisp. I also increased the thick segmented line that extends just below the rocket anchor. I tried not to make it too noisy. I was able to organize the surfaces, and it may be easier to grasp the three-dimensional feeling.”

Tamamori also designed the Asuka, a supply carrier captained by Yuki Mori (above), and the Hyuga, a combat aircraft carrier captained by Shiro Sanada (below). The two ships may look similar, but each captain’s personality can be seen in them.

Yamato has a strong personality, but we used parts common to other Earth ships, such as the antenna wings, to match the world view. The Asuka and Hyuga were initially discussed as two identical carriers that were modified from the Dreadnought-class. However, we decided to divide them into defensive and offensive roles. The more you look at the details of Asuka and Hyuga, the more they differ. In the remake series, I thought about the inside structure first. Hyuga is useless if you can’t fit a plane inside it. Asuka has one hangar and Hyuga has two. Hyuga has a hangar in the form of a sideways 8.”

Dezarium uses warning colors for effect, Bolar uses…

Mika Akitaka is a popular designer known for his work on Martian Successor Nadesico, Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, and Galaxy Fraulein Yuna. He has worked on the “Armor Girls Project Yamato armor x Yuki Mori” toy, and this was his first time designing for the Yamato anime. In 2205, he designed the Pleiades battleships and the Great Pleiades, which are controlled by the new character Deda of Dezarium.

For the Pleiades and Great Pleiades, he followed the silhouette of the original, but changed the image.

“The basic design is the same as the original, but I added a red border to make it a little more flashy. As in the original work, the image is based on the warning colors of spiders and other predatory creatures. The whole image is black, but it has red and yellow in it. I tried to emphasize this more. I wanted to add more detail, but since the whole image is black, it was hard to see. So I added some unevenness and covered the surface with a thin, flowing gray texture. Personally, I also like the Hyades class destroyers. I made them orange to give an image of wasp-like aggressiveness.”

Dezarium’s weapon, the Dezarium Hammer, also has a large impact. The scene of many weapons the size of the Tokyo Sky Tree raining down on us is terrifying.

“The Dezarium Hammer is based on a design by SF Advisor/Concept Designer Shinya Ogura. On the surface, I added a striated texture that represents the image of Dezarium.”

And thus, the worldview was unified.

Akitaka also designed the battleship and aircraft carrier of the Bolar Federation.

“As you saw in Yamato III, there are many types of Bolar battleships and aircraft carriers. The captain of each ship is also different. I designed them in a way that would fit the remakes after 2199. Yamato III was designed by Katsumi Itabashi and Submarine studio. Submarine was also working on Legendary Giant God Ideon at the time. I’ve noticed that many of the ships in Yamato III, like Yamato, have a bridge in place. Is that one of the features? The concept now is that Earth ships were built based on the wreckage of a Bolar ship, so it shows the connection between the two. I also did the original drawing of the tank that appears on Galman at the beginning of the story. Many of the tanks in Yamato have multiple barrels, so I tried to follow that pattern.”

You can feel the “love for Yamato” in Akitaka’s words. Participating in Yamato was “tough,” he said.

“But it was very rewarding. Seeing Mr. Tamamori’s work and getting advice from [Garmillas designer] Yasushi Ishizu, I was able to adapt to the world view of Yamato.”

Tamamori praised Akitaka’s design, saying, “The flowing lines are beautiful and impressive, and there is a sense of cohesion and consistency.”

Akitaka said, “It’s a habit of mine. It’s hard when it comes to 3D, and the dimensions change a little. This time, the modelers on Yamato are wonderful, and there is no sense of discomfort.”

The mecha design of 2205 created by Tamamori and Akitaka is careful and delicate, protecting the original image while also arranging it boldly at times. It is a true work of craftsmanship. Seeing it on the big screen, you will be able to appreciate the craftsmanship even more.


Yamato 2205 Mecha Design talk with Junichiro Tamamori and Mika Akitaka

Published by V-Storage on October 13. See the original article here.

Three years after the battle against the White Comet Empire, Yamato sets off on a new journey. Junichiro Tamamori and Mika Akitaka talk about the secret stories behind the mechanical design of Yamato 2205, which is currently being screened to rave reviews!

First encounter with Space Battleship Yamato, which was different from previous TV manga

Interviewer: What was your first encounter with Yamato?

Tamamori: When I was in the second grade, I happened to see it on TV. It was the episode of the Floating Continent of Jupiter that made me feel it was different from the TV manga I had seen up to that point. [Translator’s note: “TV manga” was the term before “anime” came into common usage.] I remember thinking, “This is interesting.” I had always been interested in space, so I was the kind of kid who would only read color picture books about space and the stars.

At that time, we had a globe in our house. We used to shine a flashlight on it and play “Planet Bombs.” (Laughs) I know it’s a bit inappropriate, but we would turn off the light in the room and shine the flashlight on the globe. When you gradually moved the flashlight away from the globe, the circle of light expanded. It was just a game to recreate the depiction in the anime, and the scene was so fantastic that it triggered my interest in the universe.

Akitaka: In my case, my father was a movie buff, so he had a big influence on me. He told me, “I heard there’s an anime about the battleship Yamato going into space.” And I was just like, “Oh, really?” Like Mr. Tamamori, I turned on the TV one day and happened to see Yamato on the air. It was the episode about the planet Beemela, and it was a little unique in that Yamato was hardly active. (Laughs)

Tamamori: Yes, that’s right.

Akitaka: When I saw the Cosmo Zero flying around exploring the planet Beemela, along with the design of the Cosmo Zero, I had a strong impression that this was a different kind of anime for children. I didn’t really get into it until the rerun, but from the first time I saw it, I had the impression that it was different from other works.

[Translator’s note: Akitaka is actually referring to the Type 100 scout plane, since the Cosmo Zero didn’t perform this action.]

Interviewer: Did you see the movie version at that time?

Tamamori: I was still too young to go to the theater. I was in elementary school, so I had to go with my parents. I didn’t get the opportunity.

Akitaka: My father used to take me to the theater. In those days, you could enter the movie theater while the film was still playing, so we started in the middle, when the three-decker carriers of the Domel fleet were gathering. I started watching it from there, and after getting to the end I saw it from the beginning. (Laughs)

Interviewer: It’s been almost 10 years since Yamato 2199. How do you look back on your career so far?

Tamamori: Since I started working on this project, it’s been about a full cycle of the Chinese zodiac. I’m really deeply moved. The theme of this work throughout the series is to pass it on to younger people. It was very reassuring to have staff members who have continued to participate, not only in mecha design but also in mecha drawing. I’m also very happy to see the number of young people who want to participate in Yamato.

Akitaka: I’m participating for the first time with 2205. Of course, I watched the entire series from 2199. Personally, I was deeply moved by the new look of Yamato. But I was impressed by the comment of a friend who is much younger than me: “Yamato has finally started to be something we can watch.”

What he meant by that is, in the past, we had a strong sense that Yamato belonged to our seniors, and it seemed like the threshold to watch it was quite high. Then 2199 started, directed by Yutaka Izubuchi. When I heard that he was happy because “A Yamato for us will finally start,” I understood.

This is the fate of a series that has been running for a long time. The entrance is difficult to understand, and if you miss even one episode, you lose track of it. The same is true for American superhero comics. I think it was a good idea to do the Yamato remake series in order to attract a younger audience.


Dreadnought-class modified class supply carrier Asuka

Adding new elements based on the existing design

Interviewer: What were the main points you focused on in the mechanical design this time?

Tamamori: I’m in charge of the design of the Earth side, and there aren’t as many technical evolutions in this work as there were in 2199 and 2202. There are no major changes in the design concept. Rather, when designing a modified ship based on the existing Dreadnought class, I was worried that I would be dragged in the old direction. I had a hard time balancing it so I could add a timeless newness to it that didn’t feel strange.

For example, an actual aircraft carrier is a large ship with a length of more than 400 meters, and it requires a crew of several thousand people. If we were to use the 250-meter long Dreadnought class as a base, we could cut the hull into round slices and add a flight deck to make a 300-meter class light aircraft carrier.

In the planning stage, I thought of various ideas for a full-fledged aircraft carrier by increasing the width and length based on the Dreadnought-class hull, but that would make it bigger than Yamato. Harutoshi Fukui asked me to make it smaller than the 333-meter Yamato, so Hyuga and Asuka were born as light aircraft carriers. They’re positioned as testbeds for the Dreadnought class.


Dreadnought-class modified class aircraft carrier Hyuga

I also had a lot of trouble with the Cosmo Python and the Type 5 Space Mobile Armor. (Laughs) The Cosmo Python was designed with the intention of depicting the evolution of a different type of new machine as a rival to the Cosmo Zero and Cosmo Tiger II.


Cosmo Python, a prototype space fighter

Akitaka: The Cosmo Python had a clear image from the beginning, didn’t it?

Tamamori: That’s right. Originally, there was only one Cosmo Tiger I in 2202. It started with the idea of what would happen if we made it smaller. Although the Cosmo Python is a prototype, it has been mass-produced to some extent, so it will be a rival aircraft for the mainstay Cosmo Tiger II. I actually wanted to name this Cosmo Raideen, a reference to the old Navy’s local fighter Raiden, but Mr. Akitaka stopped me. (Laughs)

Akitaka: Yes, I put a stop to that. (Laughs)

Tamamori: I was also told by Hideki Oka, who wrote the script, that it would be difficult because it would evoke characters from an older work called Raiden. (Laughs)

Tamamori: And then there’s the Type 5 Space Mobile Armor. This was originally meant for the space cavalry. The idea was that it was an armored version of the space cavalry.

Akitaka: Armored troopers. (Laughs)

Tamamori: Mr. Fukui told me that I couldn’t do that because it reminded him of the name of a particular work. (Laughs)

[Translator’s note: Armored Trooper Votoms.]


Type 5 Space Mobile Armor

Akitaka: It’s much smaller than the mobile armor in 2202, isn’t it?

Tamamori: That’s right. We made them smaller with humans in mind. It’s small enough to fit into a room inside a building. It’s positioned as equipment for the space cavalry, which has the same range of action as humans. In the main story, it is depicted with large movements like in animation. I think it became an interesting design.

Interviewer: Mr. Akitaka, you are in charge of mecha design for the enemy side, Dezarium.

Akitaka: Dezarium mecha has an eeriness to it as a mysterious enemy. The design concept for Dezarium was based on Mr. Fukui’s image, which was solidified by Mr. Ogura, who is in charge of concept reference. It was adjusted to be consistent with Great Pleiades, which I was working on.

For the Great Pleiades, I started by following the image of the previous work. I think it would be wrong for a remake to deviate too much from the original work, so I focused on keeping the image intact. However, having said that, this series, which began with 2199, has incorporated new design arrangements. I had to search for a way to incorporate a new design, or rather a new style.

In fact, Mr. Fukui said, “I want to see what happens if Mr. Akitaka draws the mecha of the Dark Nebula Empire.” That’s when I started drawing Great Pleiades. The design for Great Pleiades was adopted by Mr. Fukui, but fans from the old work will want to see the original mecha, so I designed a Pleiades that was closer to that version. That’s why there are two versions of Pleiades.


Pleiades-class offensive battleship Great Pleiades


Pleiades and Hyades battleships

Balancing the pursuit of realism with the “Yamato” style

Interviewer: From this work, the 3DCG depiction of mecha has become more like live-action. Did you have to adjust the expression method from the design stage?

Akitaka: I seem to remember that from the beginning of production, there was talk of creating a different look. After a lot of trial and error, we settled on that final image.

Tamamori: I got the impression that you were taking on the challenge of new expressions, such as making the light and dark in space very clear. At first, it seemed to me to be a bit more stiff and rigid. But I think it gradually became softer. When I add detail-up lines, I make the screen brighter and then draw them in. I try to be conscious of the expression on the screen.

Akitaka: To make it more like a live-action film, I would have to add more lines and details, but this is an anime film, so we don’t need that much information. However, if you want a more detailed screen image and you add details to the design, nobody can keep up with it. From the beginning, we often asked if we could use CG to supplement the details. I thought about the texture patterns to be applied to the model and had the CG team come up with various ideas.

I think they’re being utilized on the surfaces of the Dezarium Hammer, Great Pleiades, and the upcoming auto-planet Goruba. Goruba is just huge, so even if it’s CG, there are some things still that need to be created. We had a lot of time constraints, so I interacted with the CG team many times to create the huge, profound feeling of the mecha.

Interviewer: Mecha looks different in space and on the ground, doesn’t it?

Akitaka: Yes, it does. I think it’s especially difficult for Yamato. (Laughs) Because you start out on a bright Earth, and then you go into dark space. Yamato‘s hull is grey, so even if I drew lines on it, they would get squashed. There are some things that can’t be dealt with simply by adding more detail.

In terms of this detail, the way CG is being pursued now uses the methodology of live-action. That may be workable, but it gives a different impression from the series we’ve seen so far. I also realized halfway through the project that the current approach was to pursue live-action style, so I decided not to do that.

Tamamori: I think it’s important to have a sense of balance.

Interviewer: Were you able to share your design ideas during the production process?

Akitaka: No, we didn’t see each other’s work because we were working on our own designs.

Tamamori: We didn’t know how it was going to turn out at all. (Laughs) That’s why I was so surprised when you showed me a glimpse of it in our monthly meeting. I was surprised that there was such a method. Mr. Akitaka was visualizing it with the same momentum as the concept and form of car design. When I asked him if he draws the plans, he said that he decides on them through communication with the CG team, which impressed me. Also, Yasushi Ishizu said that he was doing it for himself. He pursues the work in order to satisfy himself.

Akitaka: I made my own 3D model, to try and figure out why some parts were inconsistent before handing it over to the CG team. (Laughs)

Tamamori: Yes, I try to express a design that will please Yamato fans, so I learned a lot from the way everyone else does it.

Akitaka: You started with the colors, and after you created the silhouette to some extent, you went on to fill in the details, didn’t you?

Tamamori: That’s right. I couldn’t get the pass out easily. When I saw your method, I thought I should have drawn the pass earlier.

[Translator’s note: in this case, “pass” refers to an overall drawing that unifies all the shapes before focusing on tighter areas.]

In addition, the Corona pandemic struck just as we were starting production, so we were not able to communicate well on site. There were things in my mind that were not drawn in the setting designs, things that I have not yet been able to verbalize. I think it would have been better if I could have shared them with the people on site and delved into them at the screen design stage.

The same goes for the script. I understand that human drama is the main focus of the story, but since Yamato is a technology-based work, I wish I had been able to share more about that aspect of the story. Of course, because of the delay in the design work, Director Kenji Yasuda did his best to incorporate the undefined parts. For the second chapter, I’d like to do my best to reflect on the things that were not done in the first.

Akitaka: There’s a decisive battle in the second chapter, and the calories in that scene are going to be outrageous, aren’t they? (Laughs) In my case, it’s an alien mechanical design, but I think it’s universally accepted that anything made by a humanoid intelligent life form will have universal commonalities in their structure. Airplanes have wings, cars have wheels, and so on. That’s why I think it’s a good opportunity to show off our sensibilities. This is something that has been done a lot in the world of classic science fiction art, such as in America.

I think it’s important to refer to such things, not to come up with something outlandish, but to propose something that fits Yamato. I’d like to express a design arrangement that fits the times as well.

PROFILES

Junichiro Tamamori participated in Yamato 2199 and Yamato 2202 as a mechanical designer. He was in charge of the mechanical design of the Earth side space battleships, including Yamato. In 2205, he continues to be in charge of the mechanical design for the Earth’s military. He is responsible for the design Yamato (3rd refit) and the Dreadnought Kai class, as well as the Type 5 Space Mobile Armor and the Cosmo Python, a test space fighter.

Mika Akitaka participated in Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ as a mechanical designer. He later worked on the illustrations for MS Shoujo, which combines mobile suits and beautiful girls. He has been active not only as an anime creator, but also as a game creator, and on the Galaxy Fraulein Yuna series. In 2205, he created the mechanical design of Dezarium and the Bolar Federation.


Bonus

An excellent way to compare Yamato‘s subtle design changes at a glance is to look in an unexpected place: the back covers of various program books published over the years. From left to right, we have the 2199, 2202, and 2205 versions side by side. The closer you look, the more differences you will find.

The following mecha design images were released in a “making of” video on October 15, 2021 (see it on Youtube here).


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