Daisuke Ono interviews, 2205 Chapter 1

Before and after the premiere of Yamato 2205 Chapter 1, five interviews with Susumu Kodai’s voice actor Daisuke Ono were published online. He spoke at length about the evolution of the role, his relationship with fellow cast members, and what Yamato has come to symbolize. This is a hybrid of all five interviews, combined to minimize overlap and maximize passion.

The five headlines read as follows:

Yamato 2205 Daisuke Ono interview: Susumu Kodai and I have been linked

Animage Plus, October 8 (original post here)

Daisuke Ono’s thoughts on Susumu Kodai after ten years. “I really like Tasuku Hatanaka” and the new crew member, Ryusuke Domon

The Television, October 8 (original post here)

Interview with Daisuke Ono as Susumu Kodai in Yamato 2205

The remake series is a new start with new characters and new staff

V-Storage, October 8 (original post here)

Daisuke Ono: “I want to pass on my skills and thoughts as a voice actor to the younger generation.”

TV Life, October 8 (original post here)

Daisuke Ono Interview: “When I play Kodai, I always have in my heart the desire to be an ideal senior.”

Spice, October 19 (original post here)

Opening text from Animage Plus:

The first chapter of Yamato 2205, The New Voyage, began screening on Friday, October 8, 2012. This is the latest in the series of the new generation of Yamato, which began with Yamato 2199. Yamato finds itself embroiled in a territorial dispute between the Garmillas, led by Dessler, and a giant interstellar nation. What is the unimaginable enemy that awaits there?

A major highlight of the film is the growth of Susumu Kodai, who has matured through the battles he has fought so far. He has overcome many conflicts, made many choices, and endured the stormy seas, and now he’s ready to take on a new world. In this work, he’s appointed captain of Yamato to watch over and guide the new young crewmembers, including Ryusuke Domon.

Daisuke Ono has played the role of Susumu Kodai for nearly ten years. What are his thoughts on Kodai in this film? We asked him about his impressions of the new crew and the highlights of the story.

Daisuke Ono = Susumu Kodai

Interviewer: Since the debut of Yamato 2199 in 2012, it’s been almost ten years since you first played Susumu Kodai.

Ono: Listening to that question, I now realize that I’ve been on this road for a long time. The last ten years have gone by so fast, maybe because I was so desperate to save the planet. I set out on a journey with a great mission to save Earth, and on that journey I met an important love. It was the same with both my relationship with Yuki Mori, and also the interaction with aliens. Through the battles, my bond with Yamato‘s crew deepened. I’ve gained many things in my journey. Once again, I feel glad to have traveled all these years.

Interviewer: After playing the role for so long, what kind of person has Susumu Kodai become for you?

Ono: In the beginning, I felt I had to carry the symbolic role of Susumu Kodai of Space Battleship Yamato. I felt a lot of pressure. However, over nearly ten years of travel, I’ve met many different people. Through his many experiences, Kodai has become more and more linked to me. He doesn’t just rush forward, he also looks back and he’s hesitant and confused, but in the process, he finds an answer to his question. This is a process that overlaps with my own artistic career and life. It’s becoming more and more like Daisuke Ono = Susumu Kodai. It was a surprise for me to realize, “Hey, I’m like Kodai,” but now I’m proud of it.

Interviewer: And now you have come to Yamato 2205. What was your impression of performing in it?

Ono: First of all, every time a new series starts, I think, “Why are we taking this trip?” I wondered it again, because each time we’re caught up in a harsh fate. I feel the pressure to go on the road again, but at the same time I’m leaving to fulfill a mission that only Yamato can carry out. I also feel a sense of pride.

And this time, new young members are joining Yamato. When I saw the character of Ryusuke Domon, who is a symbolic presence among them, I remembered Kodai when he first boarded Yamato in 2199. At the same time, when I superimposed myself over that I was filled with passionate feelings. And the performance of Tasuku Hatanaka as Domon was passionate, clumsy, and straight-forward. He himself is that kind of man. I love his performance and his attitude as an actor, so I was very happy to see him in the role.

Someone else I’d like to mention is Director Kenji Yasuda. I’ve worked with him on various films before. He’s not from the generation that was directly hit by Yamato. But we’re a crew that is creating a new era, who embodies the timeless passion of Yamato. If I’m Kodai, Director Yasuda would be like Daisuke Shima as we embark on a new journey. I feel as if he’s guiding us along the way. I really felt that I could count on him.

Kodai’s “resolve” took over my voice

Interviewer: What were you conscious of in playing Kodai this time?

Ono: This film is three years after 2202, so not much time has passed. However, Kodai has grown up a lot in these three years. Not in terms of age, but in spirit. I think he’s now able to look at the world around him from a wider view.

In scenes when he talks with Yuki Mori, I think he used to see only her. But this time, he’s looking at not only the crew members around him, but also the people around him. I feel that above all, he’s looking at the younger crew members very firmly and straightforwardly.

Every time I perform in Yamato, I’m not only looking at myself and my immediate surroundings, but also at the younger members of the crew. I feel that I’m now able to see the world around me more broadly. I wanted to put my own experiences into Kodai for 2205.

Interviewer: I think Kodai has changed a lot from 2202 to 2205. Did you have anything in mind when you were playing the role?

Ono: It’s not so much that Kodai has changed. The environment surrounding him has changed drastically. I think the answer Earthlings and aliens arrived at together at the end of 2202 was the right answer for them.

I thought I had completed my entire journey with 2202. I was still struck with the proposition, “Why do we go on a journey?” However, in the three years since 2202, he has become much more mature. It’s not an age thing, but a mental thing.

Interviewer: Kodai has become the captain of Yamato and it feels like he’s become more mature.

Ono: I think there are still conflicts, hesitations, and insecurities. But he doesn’t show it anymore. I think he’s now prepared to never show it to his subordinates. And I feel like this is what Kodai was thinking when he looked at Captain Okita. In my imagination, he consulted with Okita for a long time, and I think he cried in front of Okita. After such a period of time, he is prepared. “I want to be like Captain Okita. This is how a captain should be.”

Actually, I myself was not really aware of his “resolve.” When I saw the finished film, I felt that his hesitation was gone. It was very strange, but I think the “resolve” must have subconsciously taken over my voice for Kodai’s lines.

“This is what a captain should be.”

Interviewer: What is your impression of the new crew, including Domon?

Ono: I felt very passionate when I watched the performance. I felt like, “We used to be like this too.” I mean this in a good way, but they’re all clumsy. In the first place, people who were dexterous from the beginning would not be on Yamato. It’s precisely because we’re all clumsy that we have the passion to get on board.

Other than Domon, there’s Tasuke from Mr. Tokugawa’s family (Tasuke Tokugawa, the son of Yamato‘s former chief engineer), who also has a good scent. I think that’s what makes him so cute and charming. Heiji Bando is a very hot-tempered guy, and Wataru Hatano plays him well. Hatano is wonderful; he has a very deep and nice voice, but there’s also something about it that’s a little green.

They’re muddy and clumsy and they’re all very fresh: Tasuku, Hatano, and Nobuhiko Okamoto, who plays Tasuke. All of them have already built up their careers, and they’re not newcomers. But they haven’t forgotten the freshness, excitement, and passion they had at the beginning. I think it’s really wonderful that the new crew has such members in its cast.

Interviewer: For Yamato 2205, Director Kenji Yasuda took over. I felt various changes in the tempo of conversations and the speed of battle scenes. Did you have to change anything in your performance?

Ono: I don’t think the actors intentionally changed anything. Animation is a process that involves the script, storyboards, screenplay, and direction. I think it’s the total power, including music and other elements, that makes the show. Therefore, it would be unrealistic to say, “Let’s change it like this,” based on the feelings of the performer. This has always been the case for me with Yamato.

First of all, I was thorough in my efforts to express what I felt from the script and the video. Rather than consciously making changes, there may have been changes as a result of that. For example, if you ask whether a person’s voice changes in three years, it doesn’t. You don’t suddenly become like an old man. But I think there’s a lot of mental change. I think people can change for the better or for the worse in one year, if not three years.

As for Susumu Kodai of Yamato, he was a tactical chief, then became an acting captain, and now he’s a captain. I think that’s enough to change a person. And the thing that has changed the most in him since becoming captain is embodied in “This is what a captain should be.” That’s why his words and actions are never shaky.

Only when he’s talking with Yuki Mori, he sometimes express his true feelings and reveals his insecurities. But he really became a captain in 2205. I realized that after I played the role.

I don’t want to perform knowing what’s going to happen next, so I get the script one episode at a time. Therefore, I don’t know the whole story. I don’t ask Harutoshi Fukui (the writer) things like, “What happens next? He’s going to get hurt again, isn’t he?”

Delicate human drama

Interviewer: Yamato 2205 is a compilation of elements from the TV special The New Voyage, broadcast in 1979. Did the staff give you any directions for the recording?

Ono: For the recordings of Yamato, Mr. Fukui answers our questions and tells us what kind of feelings he had when he started the story. He always says, “You’ll be involved in another harsh fate.” I felt pressure, anxiety and a soldier’s shakes on 2202, but this time I was able to listen to the story calmly. I’ve known Mr. Fukui for a long time, so it gave me a feeling of, “I understand. I’ll take that and stand up with it.”

When he talks with a smile on his face, it means, “We actors are going to be swept up into a whirlpool of harsh fate, but I’m sure it will make for great drama.” I’m able to derive this from working on the same project for many years. Before, I couldn’t think that far ahead. I thought he was a really terrible person until I started performing. (Laughs) That’s just his way of giving a pep talk.

Also, Director Yasuda is really sincere, and although he doesn’t say many words, he’s a man who burns quietly. He’s always watching over us from behind the scenes.

I think it was also the sound director Tomohiro Yoshida’s intention, but we actually recorded some of the rehearsal this time. During that stage, when the enthusiasm was high, there were many times when he said, “Got it.” At first, I was disappointed, but I never hold back thinking that it’s just a rehearsal. It was a very rewarding moment for me when they thought my first try was good.

Interviewer: How would you compare Kenji Yasuda to previous directors?

Ono: The director of 2199, Yutaka Izubuchi, really tried to create a film overflowing with love for Yamato, starting from how to read the captain’s name, the salute, military terms, and so on. His direction determined many of the accents in the reading of the words. He exploded with love for Yamato and laid the foundation for the new Yamato of the current era.

Nobuyoshi Habara, the director of 2202, took over from there. He gave it bold action, a sense of externality, and easy-to-understand dynamism as an anime.

Then Mr. Yasuda, the director of 2205, took over from him. Director Yasuda has been a great source of inspiration for the subtleties of human relationships and the subtle fluctuations of emotion. I felt that in creating the story, his eyes were more focused on the people.

The quality of the action scenes is also very high. The characters’ facial expressions are rock solid. I was impressed by how delicately he creates human drama in his work I’ve worked with Director Yasuda on films that have human drama at their core, but I felt more human passion in 2205.

Interviewer: The drama of various characters, such as Abelt Dessler, Ryusuke Domon, and Tasuke Tokugawa adds to the excitement of the story. Who are some of the other characters you’re interested in?

Ono: I like Yabu, played by Cho-san. Susumu Kodai overlaps with me, so when I meet up with Houko Kuwashima I think, “Oh, it’s Yuki.” Each of the members has grown up. I felt it most in Toru Hoshina. I was also happy to see his growth, as well as that of Motoki Takagi, who plays the role.

The maturing relationship with Yuki

Interviewer: What scene in 2205 was particularly impressive for you?

Ono: The scene where Kodai is talking with Yuki. In a whispered remark about Domon, he says, “That guy is me.” I also saw Tasuku Hatanaka exactly like that. “Oh, I used to be like that too. I remember when I was clumsy like that.” It makes me smile, so I can really sympathize. It was a scene that made me think, “I’m Susumu Kodai after all.”

I was also impressed by the conversation between Domon himself and Kodai. There aren’t many words, but it’s fascinating to see the aesthetics of a man who doesn’t speak.

And then there’s Sukeji Yabu. (Yabu was once involved in a mutiny on board Yamato and went over to the Garmillas side. In this work, he’s a technical exchange officer for the Garmillas and rides on Yamato.) Cho’s performance is very impressive. It makes me feel various meanings and emotions, and it’s very deep. Human muddiness, craftiness, sweat, heat…I could feel so many things from the performance. I can’t help but think that he must have gone through a lot. Yabu might be the character I can relate to the most. I thought that yes, human beings are like that.

So I hope Sukeji Yabu fans are looking forward to it. It makes me very happy to know that he’s still around. I also like the line, “A traitor and a malcontent traveling together.”

Interviewer: You mentioned the conversation scene with Yuki Mori. Did you feel any change in the relationship between Kodai and Yuki?

Ono: This time, Yuki has become the captain of the ship, and in a sense, she’s standing in the same line of sight as Kodai. I think their relationship has matured. I think they’ve finally stopped being driven by romantic feelings. I feel a touch of loneliness there, but I feel that they haven’t yet reached the point where they can deepen their love.

I’m looking forward to what lies ahead, and in fact, I’m a little worried. There’s an unsettling feeling in the air that the Earthlings are not monolithic, either. How will their love deepen? Or, conversely, will they drift away from each other? However, the conversation between the two is really very good. Kodai talks to Yuki about his juniors and expresses a bit of anxiety. That conversation could only happen with Yuki.

And Yuki isn’t very verbal in the scene. She’s a listener, isn’t she? It’s teasing to see her like that. She’s a good woman. I really like the atmosphere of that conversation. I’d like you to see it for yourself.

“I’m being tested…is this my destiny?”

Interviewer: I understand that the recording was done in a different way this time because of the Corona pandemic. What was the recording process?

Ono: We take the utmost precautions against infection at all of our sound recording sites. Yamato is a safe place to work, and we’re always on the safe side. Thorough infection control measures were taken and we recorded one by one.

This was really hard at first. But by “carrying the load together,” Kodai too was relieved of the pressure he was under. I think the story of Yamato is rooted in the idea of trusting one’s fellow crew members to carry on with the ship. It’s a story about people and people who can understand each other, including aliens.

I wondered if I would be able to record it alone. I was very nervous about it until it started. I thought, “I’m being tested…is this my destiny?” If so, we have a relationship of trust and bond that we have cultivated over the years. I was able to quickly switch over to “let’s make sure we show this bond.”

I’d been in contact with the other members at live events and various other places over the years. I got to thinking, “I like Tasuku Hatanaka…he has a lot in common with me…” Then when he was cast, I was able to imagine how it would be. I thought, “He would definitely do something like this.” Of course, I went beyond that, but when I saw the finished film, I was very impressed.

But I think it was very hard work for the staff. So, once again, I would like to say from the bottom of my heart, “Thank you everyone on the crew for your hard work!”

Interviewer: I felt your strong admiration for Hatanaka-san. Did you have any personal communication with him?

Ono: We recorded separately, so it was after the performance. I was like, “That was great! It was just as you said it would be.” He’s a straight shooter. He smiled and said, “That’s right, thank you!”

Domon looks exactly like him to me. This is really an oddity of casting, isn’t it? I was amazed that they brought Tasuku in, and when the decision was made, I told Mr. Fukui and Mr. Yasuda, “It’s perfect! I’m sure he’ll be perfect for it!” Casting isn’t a decision to be made by the actors, so I usually don’t say things like that. But I said, “Thank you very much for bringing in Tasuku Hatanaka! I was so happy he played the role of Domon.”

Interviewer: You pretty much recorded one at a time because of the Corona pandemic.

It was hard at first, but I thought this was also fate. We were able to switch it up and show the trust and bonds that we had cultivated from 2199 to 2202. I think Kodai is a “positive idiot.” (Laughs) I guess I got that feeling. I could imagine, “Houko Kuwashima would respond this way,” or “Koichi Yamadera would play it like this.”

When I actually saw the finished film, many performances exceeded my imagination. I was impressed once again by the amount of passion that everyone puts into their work.

Interviewer: You mentioned that you and Kodai are linked. Do you feel you are also a “positive idiot” as well?

Ono: I’m a very brooding, introverted person. Not someone who can think logically. I have a slightly negative image of myself. However, the people around me see me as a positive and cheerful.

I’ve realized since 2199, I’m rarely assigned bad characters. My voice tone is middle and low, and I think I can play bad characters. But I can always be a positive idiot, or someone who can’t be a bad guy, or a ruthless boss. The person who is really fighting for others…and most of the time I play the good guy.

When I think about it, while people around me think I’m a positive person, I think my characters also make me look positive. I’ve been a voice actor for almost 20 years, so it’s interrelated. Maybe I am a positive person now.

Kodai’s message to the next generation

Interviewer: Speaking of the title of this film, The New Voyage, is there anything new you’d like to start in the future?

Ono: This is the first time for me to say this, but recently I started to think that I’d like to nurture young people. I don’t have anything specific in mind. I want to pass on my skills and thoughts as a voice actor to younger people. Of course, I have to be well prepared for that. I’m entering such a phase, and I feel that this is also linked to Kodai.

Interviewer: Kodai sometimes puts himself in the shoes of the new crew member, Ryusuke Domon, and at other times he leads with a big heart. In this new series, we welcome young people who can be called the third generation of Yamato. What was important to you in playing Kodai when he interacts with them as their superior officer?

Ono: In playing the role of Kodai, what was always in my heart was the desire to be an “ideal senior.” I want to be the kind of person who makes his juniors say, “That’s the kind of senior I want to be.” Kodai has always thought, “I want to be a great captain like Captain Okita.” I think that with 2205, he’s finally hardened his resolve and settled that goal.

In this film, new crew members join one after another, including the son of Chief Engineer Tokugawa. I was very happy to hear that the son of a person who was a great help to me is in the crew. It’s an odd sort of pressure. But, despite this, Kodai has to accomplish his duties as the captain of the ship.

I don’t mean to sound clichéd, but I have to set a good example. The message that Kodai wants to pass on to the next generation is, “This is what a captain should be. A captain should be prepared.” This is what I mean.

When younger people see him, they should not feel insecure. If they think he’s shaky, they won’t follow him. Therefore, the attitude is to always be prepared. It’s a completely different mentality from the previous series.

Interviewer: Before 2205, there were many situations where you had to make difficult choices.

Ono: Yes, there were. Kodai was always anxious and conflicted. But everyone around him helped him, and I think we were able to understand each other. But this time, I have to go to a higher level while watching over the younger generation crew. I think Kodai and I are now ready to do the same thing.

In a way, I’m more confident

Interviewer: Speaking of which, what do you value when working with junior voice actors, and have you noticed any changes in the way you approach your work?

Ono: When I look at my junior actors and the younger ones, I feel that many of them really have very good personalities. I’m very proud of that, and it makes it easy for me to interact with them. Some of them have seen my previous films, and they’ll say, “I really liked that one.” Every time they say that, I gain more confidence. I’m getting power from them.

As a senior, there’s only one thing I can do for these juniors, and that’s to give them a push forward. If they’re standing still, or feel like they’re having a hard time moving forward, I can help them. I want to be the one to give them a push. For example, if I see a good performance, I want to say to the actor straight away, “You’re doing great.” When I think something is good, I immediately praise it.

Interviewer: There may be cases where we’re left wondering if we did the right thing until we receive a compliment.

Ono: You’re right. Also, when we praise someone else, they praise us too. This leads to self-confidence, and I think it’s a very happy cycle. As we do this, it becomes easier to talk and interact with each other.

I’m also conscious of “not making them feel uncomfortable” as much as I am of praising them. If a senior staff member is onsite, you’ll definitely pay attention to them, right? But I don’t think that’s necessary for me. I try to make it that way intentionally. So when people get used to me, they start calling me “D-san, D-san.” That’s definitely better than being considered difficult to talk to. So I always keep those two things in mind.

Interviewer: Tasuku Hatanaka is very close to you, both in terms of the role and the relationship between the two of you. What did you say to him?

Ono: I had a chance to talk with him the other day. I told him, “Domon was great.” And he said, “Really? Thank you very much.” He was honestly happy to hear that.

I don’t think that the role and the actor’s image necessarily have to match. But when you have this much of a link, my feelings are heightened. His performance as Domon made me think, “Ahh! It’s a perfect fit.” I felt that I was in the same position as Kodai in 2205.

Harutoshi Fukui, the writer, and Tomohiro Yoshida, the sound director, said that our relationship was a perfect match for Kodai and Domon. Of course, the same can be said for the other cast members. Anyway, the casting is wonderful. This is a blessing for the work and for us as actors.

Yamato is a ship of hope.”

Interviewer: Do you have any highlights between the first and second chapters?

Ono: I think Dessler fans should look forward to the second chapter. “Dessler and Starsha” and “Garmillas and Iscandar.” Yamato has featured their thoughts and feelings for a long time. The human drama that runs through it will be clearly depicted. As the second half of 2205 progresses, a single answer will emerge.

I thought 2202 ended well, but after performing in 2205 all the way to the end, I finally had a chance to see not only Earth, but also Garmillas and Iscandar. I felt as if the thoughts and feelings of all the aliens I had encountered had come together in one great circle. I hope that everyone will find Yamato interesting! I’m sure the story will be developed in such a way that you can truly think, “Yamato is fun!” Please look forward to it!

Interviewer: For the younger generation who will be exposed to Yamato for the first time through this film, are there any particular points that you’d like people to pay attention to?

Ono: The appeal and theme of Yamato is universal. I think people of all ages can relate to the film. In that sense, I think that when we talk about the appeal of Yamato to the new generation who will be exposed to it, they’ll be able to relate to it. The language is the same as when talking to older generations.

What is depicted there is the adventure of people who travel into space and risk their lives for the sake of humanity. It’s love, and you can feel it. I hope people of different generations will talk about it with each other.

Interviewer: Lastly, please give a message to the audience who will see this film.

Ono: Now that Yamato is going on another journey, I feel it has a very strong meaning. I believe that entertainment is something that makes people feel something positive. I’m a voice actor by profession, and watching Yamato gives me hope.

This is exactly what Kodai means when he says, “Yamato is a ship of hope.” These words were a push forward for me and they support people in our time who are moving toward an unknown future. They’re a great encouragement to those who are going through painful and unreasonable things.

Many things happen in life. But no matter what happens, we must look forward and look up. If you look up at the sky and keep moving forward, there’s always a future of hope waiting for you. Yamato makes you feel that way. Please watch it. I’ll be happy if you get on this ship and set out for the future with us.

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