Kio Edamatsu: artist, designer, professional fan

Kio Edamatsu, who goes by the nickname “Edakio,” has been working on Yamato as a “professional fan” since the remake era began. His position is not a glamorous one, but provides an essential layer to the foundation: prop design, backgrounds, and layout. You’ve seen his work over and over, built so seamlessly into the world that you forget it was made by human hands.

“Edakio” has distinguished himself by sharing a lot of his work on social media. Year after year, he has posted production art and fan art alike and even held his own solo art exhibition in October 2020.

Photo at left posted on Twitter by Chihiroo2202

In issue 14 of the Star Blazers/Yamato Premium Fan Club magazine, he was finally given a spotlight to talk in detail about his contributions and thought process.

Yamato 2205 prop design Kio Edamatsu interview

The “soul” of Yamato‘s world is contained in every detail

Along with mecha and character design, prop design (props used in movies, plays, etc.) is important in creating the world of the work. Fans know full well that special props are created even for the Yamato series. We asked Kio Edamatsu, who was in charge of prop design for 2205, about his particular points.

Not just props, but also mecha and backgrounds

Interviewer: You’ve been involved in the Yamato series since 2199. At that time, you were credited for “screen layout.” Were you doing design and layout at the same time?

Edamatsu: The order was, “If necessary, please also include designs for the objects that will appear in the layout.” So I was in charge of that.

Interviewer: At the same time, you’ve also been credited with the title of “Mechanical Detail Works.”

Edamatsu: I was credited for “Mechanical Detail Works” when I worked on Ark of the Stars. It was a position that replaced 3DCG with two-dimensional drawings. The process was to give hand-drawn textures to a 3D object. It can be said that this job adds warmth to CG.

Interviewer: Of the works you’ve been on so far, is there any scene that left a particularly strong impression on you?

Edamatsu: There are many, but if I had to pick one, I would say the scene in the 24th episode of 2202 where Analyzer protects Dr. Sado and is crushed. Analyzer had been done in 3D up until then, but was now drawn by hand. I also thought the direction itself was very good. The fact that I was able to draw the Analyzer was a memorable experience for me. I like this scene very much, along with [Character Designer] Nobuteru Yuki’s drawings.

Original layout of Analyzer AU09, destroyed while protecting Dr. Sado in Episode 24 of Yamato 2202.
The lower right corner shows a handwritten message from Mr. Edamatsu: “Thank you for your cooperation!”

Interviewer: This message in the corner was written by you?

Edamatsu: That’s right. (Laughs) I know it causes trouble for the person in charge of the next step, but I always try to include a single message as much as possible.

Interviewer: Scenes of broken mecha are hard to draw, but the finishing touches and special effects are also very important.

Edamatsu: That’s right! That’s why I try to convey the coolness of the picture at the line-art stage as much as possible. I also did the scenery of Kure as the backdrop for the end titles of 2202 Chapter 6. That left an impression on me, especially the scenery of the bus stop near Kodai’s parents’ house (above right), which was depicted in the original series.

Interviewer: You can do both backgrounds and mecha drawings. On the other hand, were there any scenes that were difficult for you?

Edamatsu: All the scenes were difficult. (Laughs) For example, in 2199 Episode 7,
Kodai and Yamamoto are working on Yamato‘s exterior for a long time. It was very difficult to draw the details that were only about 3cm across on the screen. However, I could tell that [Mecha Designer] Junichiro Tamamori had thought about the details of Yamato with great precision. It was a very rewarding job.

Interviewer: That episode itself was like taking the viewers on a tour of Yamato.

Edamatsu: It was like, here are some other places on the ship. Usually you only see them in wide shots, but the deck is actually structured like this, the turret like this, and so on. I loved this one because it allowed me to enjoy it from a maniac [otaku] point of view.

It’s precisely because it is a small item that it cherishes Yamato‘s world

Interviewer: You were also in charge of prop design for 2202 and 2205. When it comes to accessories in Yamato‘s world, I would think it’s necessary to change the style for Earth, Garmillas, Gatlantis, Dezarium, and so on. How did you see it?

Edamatsu: With 2199, I respected the original version from 1974. The methodology was to fill in the gaps between the original and 2199. The direction of the work was very tasteful. Even the little things like binoculars and vehicles are well thought out, yet simple and put together with good sensibilities. That had to be inherited when designing props for later series.

In the second episode of 2205, there is a depiction of new crew members sitting on chairs like at an initiation ceremony. It’s just a chair, but there’s no “pipe chair” in this era, so what kind of chair is it? I designed the chair while considering the technology in the year 2205. Props were designed for Earth, Garmillas, and Gatlantis. I designed them while considering the beauty of each faction’s style. I hope that even the most discerning people will be convinced.

Interviewer: In addition to the chairs, what kind of designs did you do for 2205?

Edamatsu: One prop that seems to have left an impression on everyone is Domon’s cart. I tried to create a cart with a bit of charm for the lonely Domon, a design with character. I thought it should look like a casual school lunch cart. I tried to create a unique silhouette with a slight slope on the front side. I also made the handle plate-like instead of pipe-like. Whenever I do something like a tire or regular office supplies, I try to make it a little more impressive, a slightly futuristic design.

Interviewer: Did you have any references for the cart design?

Edamatsu: I took over the cart design from another person who was working on it until the middle of the project. I thought, “This is what a Yamato design would look like,” and I gave it my own direction. The original design was well thought out in terms of the height of the handle and cargo bed. So I added Yamato‘s uniqueness without changing the original design.

Interviewer: Were there any other designs you were in charge of besides the accessories?

Edamatsu: The big one was the naval port, which is the main stage of the first episode. That set has become a hot topic among fans.

Interviewer: If you look at it, you can see that the Kure Naval Port was used as the model.

Edamatsu: That’s right. It is the Kure port. The entire topography of Earth had changed considerably by the time of 2202, so we incorporated that element into the design. I also tried to make the specifics “Kure-like, but not quite Kure.”

Interviewer: The topography is different, but the row of wharfs gives the atmosphere of the Kure Naval Port, doesn’t it?

Edamatsu: I thought it would be nice if the people who notice it are impressed by it. (Laughs)

What I keep in mind when fusing 3D and 2D

Interviewer: Many of the mechanics in current anime works, including Yamato, are drawn in 3DCG. The work you do is indispensable in fusing the hand-drawn parts with that. What do you pay attention to in your work?

Edamatsu: What I pay most attention to is the amount of information on the screen. Yamato is drawn in 3D, so it’s possible to display a huge amount of information, such as the spiky rigging on all of the ships. However, there is a limit to the expression of things like texture. Therefore, when showing a still image, it’s necessary not to fall short of what you see in 3D in terms of the sensory part.

Original design for the fireboat

For example, the policy for the fireboat that appears in 2205 was to use only hand-drawn pictures from the beginning. The design concept was done by someone else, and more detail had to be added for the screen. I tried to make it look as good as the other 3DCG scenes and Yamato. In the original design, the protrusions on the main wingtips were just bar-shaped, so I added some steps to increase the detail. I think the designer knew it would be hand-drawn, so he reduced the number of lines.

The touch is typical of the Yamato series, and I arranged it to add details in keeping with a ship of the Earth Federation Forces. I was nervous about it, and I hoped the designer wouldn’t get angry with me. (Laughs) In the series so far, I think Junichiro Tamamori was in charge of the inner fireboat and its details, but this time, due to the schedule and other reasons, we had to think of many things on our own.

The fireboat was used in 2205 for inter-ship transfer between Yamato, Ginga, Asuka, and Hyuga.
At right is a layout drawing by Edamatsu used in the film. By adding small details that are not depicted in the design,
the density of the image is increased and it maintains its presence on a big screen.

Please look at the attention to detail by the staff who loves Yamato!

Interviewer: What do you keep in mind on mechanical detail works?

Edamatsu: Basically, I respect the intention of the person who drew it. I try to read what the designer thinks is cool and try not to lose that aspect of the design. I don’t just add details, I hope to convey the coolness of the original design through my drawings.

Interviewer: When you’re doing this work, do you also want to include your own creativity in the process?

Edamatsu: Since anime is a collective work, I don’t really have that intention. Yamato is always a title that requires a little more than what I’m capable of at the time. I enjoy doing Yamato jobs more than creativity for its own sake. It’s like receiving a letter of challenge from the work and taking it on. Mainly in terms of production time. (Laughs) I also enjoy thinking about what I can do under limited circumstances.

Interviewer: Recently, I often hear that the number of animators who want to draw mecha is decreasing. What do you pay attention to when you draw mecha?

Edamatsu: For example, for Domon’s cart, can the handle be properly held? Will the structure of the door allow it to open correctly? I try to create a “feel” that pursues reality. When drawing mecha, it’s possible to make it look cool if you draw it with a lot of details. In my case, however, I make sure the picture conveys the impression that a “skeleton” is there. I try to be careful about the size of the object to convey that.

Interviewer: Lastly, please give a message to the readers of Yamato magazine.

Edamatsu: This series has been around for a long time, and I think the timing of being attracted to Yamato is different for each person. The same is true for the creators of the remake series. Each staff member has their own “favorite Yamato” point, and their feelings are expressed throughout the work. I hope that when you rewatch the films on Blu-ray or other media, you’ll be able to discover something new and interesting about the commitment of these creators.

Kio Edamatsu Profile

Born 1977 in Tokyo. Graduated from Tama Art University, Faculty of Art and Design. He is a multi-faceted artist in charge of art design, prop design, and original drawings. See his credit list at Anime News Network here.

Fan art gallery, 2016-2022

(shown in reverse chronological order)

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