Interview with Tomohiro Yoshida, Sound Director of Yamato 2205
Creating the “sound” of Yamato to be passed on to the next generation
From issue 14 of the Star Blazers/Yamato Premium Fan Club magazine
The world of “sound” is absolutely essential to the appeal of the Yamato series. Sound Director Tomohiro Yoshida is responsible for all Yamato sounds, from the casting of the voice actors to the background music and sound effects. How was the “sound” of 2205 created? We asked him again about his thoughts and feelings.
The voice that inherits Susumu Kodai, searched for since Resurrection
Interviewer: What is the appeal of being a sound director for you?
Yoshida: The appeal of being an anime sound director is the fun of creating something from nothing. I enjoy giving a concrete form to a world that is only an image by adding voices, sounds, and sound effects.
Interviewer: What are some of the unique challenges and difficulties of the Yamato series?
Yoshida: I myself have been a big fan of Yamato since I was a child. It’s something really special. The sound alone, the voice actors, the sound effects, and the music are all balanced at a high level. It’s not like there’s only one thing that stands out. There is no difference in the duties of a sound director, but the pressure of working on Yamato may be greater than other works.
Interviewer: You’ve been involved in Yamato as a sound director since Resurrection. Wasn’t it quite a hard job at that time?
Yoshida: In terms of sound work, I’ve been involved, though only partially, since Yamato 2520. Yoshinobu Nishizaki told me about the idea of Resurrection back then, so I was prepared for it. Speaking of hardships at that time, there were a lot of them. (Laughs)
In terms of casting, right around the time we were working on 2520, Kei Tomiyama (the original Kodai) passed away. That was a big deal. It was a shocking event for Mr. Nishizaki, who was about to start work on Resurrection at the time. Since then, I’ve been wondering who would inherit Kei Toyama’s Kodai. For example, in the remake series, Hiroki Touchi succeeded Isao Sasaki (as Saito), Yuko Kaida inherited Sabera, and so on. But I really didn’t know who would take over for Mr. Tomiyama.
Interviewer: In the end, the role of Susumu Kodai in Resurrection went to Koichi Yamadera.
Yoshida: I think it was a natural choice, since he had already played the role of Susumu Kodai in the Playstation games before Resurrection. That’s why I wanted to give it a twist.
Interviewer: Now, Daisuke Ono plays the role of Susumu Kodai, and Koichi Yamadera plays Dessler. How did you decide to use each of them?
Yoshida: Yutaka Izubuchi, who worked on 2199, was particularly concerned about who would succeed Kei Toyama as Susumu Kodai. So it was decided to invite a wide range of people to participate in the audition and not set any boundaries. Even those who would normally be more suited to Ota or Hiss were invited. I was like, give every man a chance to be Kodai once. (Laughs) We finally said, “In the end, Mr. Ono is the right person for the job.”
Interviewer: What was the deciding factor for you to say, “In the end, Mr. Ono”?
Yoshida: The final deciding factor was the balance of casting. The combination of the Kenichi Suzumura’s Daisuke Shima and Daisuke Ono’s Susumu Kodai was the most suitable for me. I thought of them as individual actors who would be the best pairing for the two characters.
Interviewer: Kodai and Shima’s characters seem to be reversed between the original series and the remake series, don’t they? Kodai, who was hot-blooded and passionate in the original, is more reserved in the remake, while Shima is a little rougher. How did Mr. Yamadera come to play the role of Dessler?
Yoshida: I believe the plan to have Yamadera-san play the role of Dessler was decided at an early stage. I think it was first proposed by Mr. Izubuchi. I totally agreed with him. He and I have quite similar sensibilities. Not only in casting; there were a lot of moments like, “I know what you mean!”
What was the unexpected merit of recording during the Corona pandemic?
Interviewer: What did you pay special attention to in casting the new characters in 2205?
Yoshida: Mr. Fukui and I were both particular about Ryusuke Domon. He’s the first character from Yamato III and will be a key character in the future. That’s why Mr. Fukui and I and other staff members all submitted ideas for the audition. The one who made everyone easily agree, “Ah, that’s Domon” was Tasuku Hatanaka.
Interviewer: I think that most of the characters he played in the past have been softer or gentler male roles. That’s why I was so impressed by his passionate performance as Domon. From a fan’s point of view, it was like, “He can act like this!” Did you or Mr. Fukui give him any direction for his performance?
Yoshida: No, I didn’t give any specific direction. I was surprised at how hard he practiced. He read the script thoroughly. On top of that, I think it was his “physicality” that made the performance so good. I was very happy to have him on board as a newcomer to Yamato as Ryusuke Domon, and jumping into a group of veteran voice actors. I think there was a good sync between them. In that sense, he was able to play the role of Domon in a natural, life-size way.
Interviewer: Was there any other casting that you were particular about?
Yoshida: This may sound a little strange, but it was Deda. In my mind, if anyone could inherit Kosei Tomita’s Deda, it would have to be Masuo Amada. That’s why, from when the meetings for 2205 began, I was like, “Leave the casting of Deda to me!” Mr. Fukui felt cornered and said, “If you insist…” (Laughs)
Interviewer: I heard that you had a lot of difficulties in recording the voices during the Corona pandemic, such as recording them separately.
Yoshida: There was a guideline from the Haiku Poets’ Association and the Sound System Association that said it would be OK if we set up partitions and recorded only up to three people at a time. However, it didn’t mean that if the number of people was small, the disease wouldn’t spread. Yamato‘s voice actors are all very popular and very well-known. If something were to happen to them, it would not only cause great damage to the Yamato series, but also to the anime industry as a whole. I thought about it, and we had no choice but to go for them individually. Honestly, we couldn’t ask them to take the risk.
Interviewer: Was it difficult to schedule the recording studio for individual recordings?
Yoshida: No, it was rather easy. In the past, we would have had all the performers gather at a certain time, and It was difficult to coordinate with them. But with individual recordings, it was easier to accommodate everyone’s schedule. With individual sessions, we could say something like, “If you have about 20 minutes on this day, would that be OK?” The overall recording time was about four times longer than usual, but it was easy in terms of scheduling.
Interviewer: So it was a good thing, too.
Yoshida: We could ask for just 10 or 20 minutes, so we were able to make offers to people who I would have given up on before. Especially for auditions, we were able to reach out to a wider range of people than ever before, and I think it made casting more fulfilling.
The sound of 2205, which became an “achievement point”
Interviewer: I have a question about the new music created for 2205. Did you give any specific orders for the new tracks?
Yoshida: It depends on the track. For example, in the case of Domon, in addition to the main version, I wanted a small piano solo, or a composition with only woodwinds and strings.
Interviewer: Do you leave the images of the music to Akira Miyagawa?
Yoshida: It’s basically up to him. I explained the character of Ryusuke Domon, what was expected of him in the story, and so on.
Interviewer: So you conveyed it as a story, not as a sound image.
Yoshida: That’s right. It’s more important than the musical aspect. Of course, Akira himself reads the scripts and the storyboards, so I want to honor the images that come to him. Once the music production starts, we exchange e-mails and ask each other, “Which pattern is better?” We consult each other like that.
Interviewer: Are there any other tracks in 2205, including new ones, that left a particularly strong impression on you?
Yoshida: Yes, all of them left a deep impression on me. (Laughs) If I had to say, I would say The Truth of Iscandar and Sanctel, which used the motif of Blue Crystal. I asked Akira to use that motif from the beginning. I wanted to make it clear that 2205 continues from 2199. I wanted to make it a big epic. Just like Infinite Universe in the original series, I’m very much attached to the fact that there is a sound that runs through the remake series as well.
Interviewer: You mentioned the original series. What is the basic policy of the sound in the remake series that you value so much?
Yoshida: As you know, in the case of Yamato, the remake series also uses music and sound effects from the original. By nature, all works, including music, should harmonize with the times. I don’t know if using original tracks is always necessarily the right answer. In such a situation, the biggest theme for me is how how to fuse the old and new music and sound effects, and pass them on to the next generation. Just as the remake series was created decades after the original was born, I work with the hope that decades from now, people will want to remake the remake series again.
Interviewer: It’s very encouraging to hear the words of someone who is responsible for the world of Yamato.
Yoshida: Whether or not that will actually be done is a different story. (Laughs) I think I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that the Yamato I loved as a boy and the Yamato of today are different. But by using old music and sound effects…there’s a subtle feeling that I’ve finally settled down and come to a cohesive whole. 2205 is the one that finally brought me to that point.
What is the deep secret hidden in the classical music mixed with noise…?
Interviewer: As a sound director, is there any moment in the production of 2205 where you can say, “I can talk about that now”? I’d like to know about it.
Yoshida: There were several discussions about what to do with the music for scenes that correspond to the same situation as the original New Voyage. Both Mr. Fukui and I are Yamato fans, and our feelings are slightly different. I quite enjoyed the debate between us. (Laughs)
Interviewer: Can you give a specific example?
Yoshida: For example, the scene where Deusula III runs into Goruba. I recommended Dessler’s attack, but Mr. Fukui wanted to make it sound softer. In the end, Dessler’s attack was adopted by a majority vote, including Mr. Oka and others. In accordance with Mr. Fukui’s wishes, I balanced the dialogue so it had a softer tone.
Interviewer: In terms of the comparison between the original and the remake series, I heard the keyword “modern tempo” several times from Mr. Fukui and Mr. Yasuda. How conscious were you of “modern tempo” in terms of sound?
Yoshida: It is true that the tempo of dialogue and scene development is very fast. In the case of the original series, there are times where Yamato is flying through space between scenes, and that’s why the sound of Yamato in flight is so memorable. In 2205, dialogue for the next scene is often overlaid on the previous scene. It is a merit that this creates a modern tempo. On the other hand, I wonder if the generation accustomed to the remake series can still develop a memory of that in-flight sound. It’s a difficult point, isn’t it?
Interviewer: Regarding the question of sound, I think it’s interesting that Deda and his colleagues listen to Earth’s classical music with analog sound quality.
Yoshida: The music played in the film is Debussey’s Moonlight and Dream, Chopin’s Nocturne No. 2, and Mozart’s Fantasy in D minor. This was Mr. Fukui’s intention, since the music was selected at the time of the script. They had already used Swan Lake in Be Forever, so I think it was inspired from there.
Interviewer: The sound of the needle and crackling suggests that the sound source is quite old. What does that mean?
Yoshida: It’s sharp, isn’t it? (Laughs) Actually, there is a meaning behind it. I’m sure the mystery will be revealed in 3199…
Interviewer: Wow, I’m curious! Lastly, please give a message to the fans who supported 2205.
Yoshida: The next work will largely be a remake of Be Forever. We will be incorporating advanced 4-channel sound. I don’t have a specific idea yet, but I’d like to try something new in 3199. So please look forward to the next work in terms of sound as well.
Interviewer: Thank you very much.
Tomohiro Yoshida Profile
His involvement with the Yamato series began with his experience as a director at West Cape Corporation, where he produced CDs related to Yamato. He is currently active as a freelance sound director.
See his other credits at Anime News Network here.
Read more interviews with Tomohiro Yoshida: