The Making of Final Yamato, Part 5

Writer’s Summit Day 1

In our last Yamato adventure, we recounted the efforts of Executive Producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki and his inner circle of writers to lasso the beast that was Final Yamato and wrestle it to the ground during the summer of 1981. Story concepts were embraced, juggled and dismissed from May through August, at which point everything was set aside for the rest of the year. But the determination to send Yamato on one more grand adventure never waned.

In mid January of 1982, story-building got back on course when senior writer/science advisor Aritsune Toyota took the surviving ideas from 1981 and built them up into new scenarios to be worked over by a larger group. On January 28, that group assembled for a three-day summit at Shirakabeso, a well-known hot springs resort in the Izu Peninsula of Japan.

In 1981, the core group lead by Nishizaki included Aritsune Toyota and Eiichi Yamamoto, both of whom had been with Yamato since Series 1 went into development in 1973. Also present was Kazuo Kasahara, an accomplished live-action screenwriter, who had actual naval experience to bring to the table. For the January summit, they were joined by three more Yamato veterans: Toshio Masuda (co-producer of all the previous movies), Hideaki Yamamoto (a writer on the previous films and Series 3), and Takeshi Shirato (lead animator since Series 1 and director of The New voyage).

What follows is a transcript of their session on day 1 (January 28), which was published in the deluxe Final Yamato hardcover book by Westcape Corporation in late 1983. Space Battleship Yamato‘s history is rich with firsts, and this is no exception–never before had fans been given such an extensive glimpse into the creative process, even in other Yamato publications. As you will see, no topic was off-limits, every detail was subject to debate, and numerous paths were explored in this loosely-structured conversation. So buckle in, a long road lies ahead.

Since Hideaki Yamamoto and Eiichi Yamamoto have common family names, their first names are used here. Also, Aritsune Toyota only participated in discussions on day 2. None of the art shown here existed at the time, but is presented just as it was in the original text.

Special thanks to Neil Nadelman for translation support.

Kasahara: There were two points in our meeting the other day: the enemy’s objective in targeting Earth, and Aquarius as a sort of utopia. Did Mr. Toyota say anything about that?

Nishizaki: The purpose for coming to Earth wasn’t described, but I’ve decided to call it “emigration.” The purpose is to destroy Earth people by using the water of Aquarius, then build their own nation.

About the utopia, I don’t have a conclusion about it, either. I’d like to keep intact the origin of life and the essence of human kindness. In terms of how to show it visually, I haven’t yet decided what kind of feeling it should have. But it will open with the image of the Milky Way like ice, and the galactic collision. And people on the other side of the galactic center are running wild.

Since Dessler built the Galman Empire, it’s extremely difficult to work it in, like Bing Crosby making a cameo in a Bob Hope movie. Therefore, the Galman Empire is destroyed in the collision, and we don’t know whether Dessler is alive or dead. I think we’ll just let the Bolar Empire vanish. I haven’t yet decided if the remaining water planet is one body or several. I haven’t even decided whether to name the celestial body M or Aquarius, but I want to use the situation of it approaching the Earth.

Kasahara: Evil has invaded Aquarius, and wants to use the Aquarius people to destroy Earth. What kind of influence does it have to use Aquarius against Earth? If the time of the flood has passed and the water is brought to Earth again, it will become green and lush again. But does that mean death for all the humans?

Nishizaki: Simply put, yes.

Eiichi: This is the place where we really need Mr. Toyota.

Nishizaki: Aside from the issue of intervention, Mr. Kasahara asked the other day, “what of Yamato?” Rather than discuss the main story, we should consider that first since the story will come out of it.

Kasahara: In that case, Evil takes control of Aquarius to invade the Earth, and they conduct an attack on Earth while operating Aquarius. So I think Yamato will fight against two opponents. One enemy is overwhelmingly strong, but Yamato has weapons which can compete with it. The other enemy has only one weak point, and Yamato beats them by discovering it. If we don’t consider these two points, we can’t assemble a story.

Masuda: I was allowed to read everything that’s been organized, but please tell me again the points you want to make, Mr. Nishizaki.

Nishizaki: Although it hasn’t been decided clearly, the time is 2205. Suppose that a few decades earlier, a military of German origin left Earth to fly about 3,000 light years away. Time goes on and pushes the story forward to a situation like the ending of Be Forever. What kind of nation would they form, and even if their planet is not barren, wouldn’t they have a desire to return to Earth?

It’s a phenomenon of nature that we got water from an aquatic galaxy (a planet of water) 4 billion years ago, and in the first concept a water planet was left behind after a galactic collision, but its orbit would be confused. So it’s a better approach if a powerful enemy knows that its best chance to destroy Earth is to modify the planet’s orbit. They’ll use their military forces to gain control of the planet.

Kasahara: If the orbit of Aquarius causes it to bring a natural distaster, the Earth would be destroyed even if Evil left it alone. So what would you do if there is no reason for Evil to function?

Nishizaki: I think it’s hypothetical. Even if 100% of the Earth was completely submerged in water, there are any number of ways for humans to escape. If humans return to Earth after the water recedes, it wouldn’t mean anything. Therefore, they have to destroy the military forces of Earth.

Kasahara: In short, we don’t have to reason out Evil’s mechanism. It’s as unavoidable as heavenly providence. So what’s the merit in Evil taking control of Aquarius?

Nishizaki: Since the Queen of Aquarius has the power to control the planet, they want to contain it.

Kasahara: In other words, Evil puts the Queen of Aquarius under control and allows the water disaster on Earth to progress, so the humans will lose their doorway of escape. And then, after the water is pulled in and humans can no longer return, they intend to live there. What will the Queen of Aquarius do?

Nishizaki: I’ve been thinking about it, but Mr. Toyota has a proposal, too.

Kasahara: If we make the Queen of Aquarius unrelated to Evil and assume she’s a goddess of good, she would naturally know about the Earth’s coming destruction. If that’s the case, then the concept is that it can be controlled by the Queen and she would attempt to avoid the flooding before Evil arrives.

Nishizaki: I’m not making that assumption.

Kasahara: After trying to avoid it, Evil arrives and takes over operations like a train.

Nishizaki: Although the water planet was left behind after a collision of galaxies, there is a method for it to approach Earth. But it is not an orbit theory. In short, a few days ago, Mr. Toyota told me about the Roche limit. The flooding of Earth by an approaching water galaxy is one possibility. Another is the concept of a crisis in which Evil attacks the Earth by taking advantage of it.

Life cannot thrive without water, but water can also drown. The planet of water is a picture of contradiction.

Shirato: I generally understand, but I think a few decades’ time is too short for the evil people to build a nation.

Nishizaki: It can be several hundred years. Because Part 1 happened in 2199, we could say it was 200 years ago.

Masuda: What’s a couple hundred years compared to 4 billion?

Nishizaki: It might as well be ten minutes. At that time the Earth Federation hadn’t formed yet, but it’s all right to say they left because of a disagreement.

Hideaki: A couple hundred years ago would have been the 17th or 18th century. I don’t think it should be more than 100 years ago.

Nishizaki: Ah, right. I got one digit wrong. The departure was few decades ago.

Masuda: How long ago was the legend of Noah’s Ark?

Eiichi: Three or four thousand years ago.

Kasahara: In the book Planet of Ice, a planet is approaching and the water level rises several hundred meters overnight, from the Gobi to the Himalayas. Some believe that floods built the sand of the Gobi and Sahara, similar to the flood legend of Noah. This is not something that would happen in a few decades.

Nishizaki: It is a period of 30 million years. The celestial body M probably grazed the solar system. We could make it a single planet about the same size as Earth rather than an aquatic galaxy. It would be more realistic for it to have a rocky core.

Masuda: 4 billion is an extraordinary number. Even though it is derived from the beginning of life on Earth, since we have the legend of Noah’s Ark, we’ve made it so that the civilization that existed up to that point was completely destroyed. One remaining group left and survived, and became a powerful enemy of present-day humans, and it is fate that they return to their ancient Earth home. However, since the setting is the same as when they left Earth, it’s important to consider a scale of decades for the powerful enemy.

Kasahara: That’s easier to understand.

Nishizaki: Definitely easier, but this time I want to link it with the origin of mankind.

Masuda: Like reincarnation, the flooding happened many times, and civilization was destroyed and reborn each time. At the same time water brings great destruction, it also brings a blessing by granting life. That’s interesting, isn’t it?

Kasahara: That’s right.

Masuda: Water is the origin of life, and life cannot thrive without it. The fun of it is the contradiction of the water planet and the flood. It would be boring if the water just came and everything died in a flood. It’s also better to set up the relationship to Evil.

Kasahara: Visually, there’s not a great difference between 4 billion years and 30 million years. We can just refer to it as an ancient story, and it’s not necessary to specify the number of years.

Eiichi: The birth of life on Earth was 4.5 billion years ago, at the time when it was only rock. Water was produced from various chemical actions, and the synthesis of amino acids which were the wellspring of life happened 3.5 billion years ago. Then it evolved into bacteria, crustacea, and fish. The dinosaurs ruled the Mesozoic era, and then mammals appeared about 70 million years ago, in the Cenozoic. A kind of monkey came out of that, and something close to a human being appeared 10 million to 40 million years ago. A recognizable human being, which we call an Australopithecus, appeared around one million years ago.

Kasahara: There might have been a great flood when mankind was still just amoebas. They might have evacuated and then mankind was born and built a great civilization of its own.

Eiichi: Because Noah of the ark wore clothing, it would have been during Sumerian times, between 3,000 and 10,000 years ago. So it could have happened up to 10,000 years ago.

Nishizaki: The Earth Federation formed in the year 2200, and the Germans would have left 70 or 80 years ago, so what if they have come back in rebellion against the Earth Federation?

Kasahara: That’s a bit thin. We want to show a big, epic image like the origin of Earth at the beginning of the movie. Wouldn’t it be a bit uninteresting to make them World War II Germans?

Nishizaki: That’s not what I said.

Masuda: I want to think some more about that area.

Kasahara: I think it would be better to make the scale bigger.

Masuda: As Mr. Kasahara said before, it will look about the same to the viewer however many thousands of years ago it is, so it’s not so strange to imagine there was a civilization from thousands of years ago up to 10,000 years ago. Let’s at least put it on that scale.

Nishizaki: How does that square with reality?

Masuda: I think it is more real.

Hideaki: There are many such legends. There was a large culture.

Kasahara: It doesn’t matter if their descendants ended up looking German.

Masuda: A militaristic state comes out of a nationalistic society, and maybe they had to go that way so they could live in space.

Shirato: How about adopting both? In the days of Noah’s ark, certain units infiltrated and caused a revolt, and it got out of hand, so headquarters was informed. Then you could have the story of leaving Earth.

Masuda: Do you want the story of them leaving Earth, Mr. Nishizaki?

Nishizaki: Yes. But I don’t want to connect it just to the story of Noah’s ark. Whether they are the descendants of those who left thousands of years ago, or they left to explore the core star systems a few decades ago, what matters is the reality of their cause for rebellion.

Kasahara: The viewers who see this are young. The idea of an Earth Federation is supposition. If a rebellion against that Federation is a supposition, then we’re just building up suppositions. Putting it Frankly, it’s a story of lies upon lies. In that respect, as for Mr. Masuda’s theory of why there is water on Earth, the wonder lies in where the water came from. It would be natural to go with the Aquarius theory. The human race was nearly wiped out at that time, but those who survived built today’s Earth. Also, we bring in the children of those who escaped from Earth. I think it’s harder to understand when we pile up suppositions.

Nishizaki: The movie is set 200 years in the future, in 2200, but it will be present-day children who see it. Therefore, I don’t think it will be seen so much as supposition.

Kasahara: If it has such a flood, I’d like to think that older viewers could see it as a story about the present day. I’m afraid such a thing as the Earth Federation is more lacking in reality.

Eiichi: I think Mr. Masuda’s opinion is interesting.

Kasahara: Straightforward is better.

Though it looks into the unknown future, the drama may begin with the wisdom of the past.

Eiichi: I also think it is interesting as SF. Although it’s not connected to Noah’s ark, the ark rose from a river or lake all the way up to the area of Mount Sinai. That speaks of a tremendous flood. Although the ice age ended 15,000 to 20,000 years ago, the Sumerian civilization appeared around that time. I think we’ll explain it along those lines.

There’s a fellow named Von Daniken who says that there are things depicted in the Old Testament which could only be seen as rockets. The question is whether or not there was probable contact with people from space at that time. Therefore, the water planet approached around 10,000 years ago and a great flood caused civilization to collapse, so we could imagine that some from that civilization used a rocket to escape.

Kasahara: It would be an ancient style of rocket. To include such history would be interesting. The water of Earth’s origin and the flood of Noah would happen repeatedly in the orbit of Aquarius.

Eiichi: It wouldn’t necessarily follow the same path every time.

Kasahara: There were at least two times. Earth’s origin and the flood of Noah.

Eiichi: The first time, it was able to provide a source of water and life four billion years ago. Another time was the Carboniferous period, three to three and half billion years ago, as well as when a lot of rain fell during the Devonian period. At that time, fish went up onto land and amphibians appeared. So the evolution of creatures began from there. The water receded, reptiles appeared, and the Mesozoic era began.

Kasahara: There were several approaches. Once it provided a large flood, and other times it caused rain to fall. It passed at its closest point at the time of the flood of Noah, and there was no way to escape.

Eiichi: There were several times over the history of Earth beyond those three.

Nishizaki: It’s rather a unique concept to pose such great history.

Eiichi: The extinction of the dinosaurs came about because of an accident that shifted the Earth into a large ice age and the Mesozoic gave way to the Cenozoic. Therefore, with the water generating life 3.5 billion years ago and the fish going up on land 300 million years ago, the end of the Mesozoic, and the end of the last ice age 10,000 years ago, that’s at least four times. It’s written in the Old Testament that there was a great civilization at that time.

Kasahara: A beat-up rocket made of stone goes cutting through space, and then some indian-type people start up with a war cry…

Hideaki: There’s a plate in South America like something from Raiders of the Lost Ark with an image of flying on a plume of fire. Just like a rocket.

Eiichi: It is in Daniken’s Memories of the Future. There’s a description in the Old Testament of seeing the Earth from above, and the sea boiling like soup. So Daniken says there might have been someone who flew in the sky at the time.

Nishizaki: Several people used the idea in SF of a disc from space made by advanced beings. That’s a good foundation to build a civilization upon.

Kasahara: And the descendants of Evil know the situation of Earth by some means of communication. It would be good if they created a culture of their own by imitating the history and culture of Earth.

Nishizaki: In that case, it should be the space people who sent it.

Eiichi: Daniken’s theory is that when apes evolved into Cro-magnon people, it advanced like a mutation. So space people might have done genetic manipulation. However, he goes on to say that many years passed and then the Sumerian civilization or Sodom and Gomorrah evolved in a wholly unexpected way and so they were attacked and smashed.

Nishizaki: That might be a good place to start. Until now, we’ve only seen the unknown future in Yamato. Depending on how we develop it, the story could come out of a strange event in the past.

Eiichi: After the ice age, the Tigris and Euphrates basin was a rich grassland, so why did it become such rough desert?

Kasahara: We should present a brief mystery at the beginning.

Masuda: The planet once gave us water 4 billion years ago, and the next flood will be the act of the powerful enemy. What if heat is applied to the Earth that melts the north and south poles?

Kasahara: I think it would be better to narrow it down just to Aquarius.

Eiichi: If we depict 3.5 billion years ago and 10,000 years ago in the movie, I think the rest will be implied by analogy. There are endless ways in which to depict the details.

Nishizaki: Water was given to the Earth 3.5 billion years ago. That’s fine, but what would be a suitable time be to carry out the rest of it?

Eiichi: Maybe setting it 10,000 years ago is the way to do it. There was some stimulus that brought the ice age to an end.

Shirato: Considering what has been done in Yamato up until now, I feel that pictures of waterways in the desert or the Nazca Plains or fish growing feet would not be a good match to Yamato. A goddess of the water like Starsha would be good. It’s necessary for the setting.

Masuda: We can decide on the images later. For now, we only have to determine the setting.

Galaxies collide in order to wipe out the clashing Bolar Federation and Galman Empire

Nishizaki: During the first ten or twenty minutes, we’ll begin the story with, “The Earth received water 4 billion years ago.” I think that will let you feel the scale.

Kasahara: There’s not wonder in just the scale, but also in our world. The mysteries of space, or the sea, or an iceberg for example, to take that point a little farther.

Nishizaki: The mysteries of life and the birth of the universe are not only questions in the future, they are asked across the entire flow of time.

Hideaki: Is there a purpose to the part about colliding galaxies?

Nishizaki: We could drop it. It’s just an image that I like, and since we established the Bolar Federation and Galman Empire in the galaxy for Yamato III, I thought they should be wiped out.

Kasahara: If we keep the part about Aquarius being left behind after the collision, how would it connect to the theory about its orbit?

Hideaki: If we do that, does it take out Dessler?

Nishizaki: That would be setting up a big situation just to remove Dessler. Assuming that Galman-Gamilas is left behind at the center of the galaxy, it’s very difficult to have Dessler appear. Supposing he is off fighting the Bolar, then pretty soon we have to show them, too. Therefore, it will all get wiped away at once, and we’ll send Dessler out on a wandering voyage. It doesn’t have to be from a galactic collision at all.

Kasahara: If not a galactic collision, it could also be immersed in water by the trajectory of the planet. Would that be a bad idea?

Nishizaki: However, the idea at the time was a celestial body with a radius of tens of thousands of light-years, so if the water planet is reduced to Earth size, it couldn’t do that at all. Therefore, if there is a galactic collision, the central core should be entirely flooded and submerged. It wouldn’t be realistic for Earth to fight an entire galaxy of water. Even if we just think about fighting against a star or a cluster of stars, it’s hard to come up with a solution.

Kasahara: The basis of this conversation is to squeeze out the relationship between Earth and Aquarius. Because the galactic collision comes in as irrelevant to the story, it will be confusing. Therefore, since we’ve said that the orbital period of Aquarius is the basis of the story, we should start with that. So I was thinking of something like the opening scene of Raiders, for example. If we set up Yamato on a big adventure, it could be a scene of rescuing a planet that was troubled by the galactic collision. The operation of Aquarius is a big story, so it becomes confusing if we have to factor in simultaneous parallel collisions. It would be easier to understand if they are separated in the story.

Nishizaki: I see. And then, incidentally, we connect Yamato to it.

The story could start from the collapse of the old enemy Dessler’s empire

Kasahara: Yamato should probably do some followup after the galactic collision is over.

Nishizaki: Then we can launch Yamato at the beginning. Yamato is in the galactic center and sees the end of Dessler’s empire.

Kasahara: The collision wouldn’t need an explanation.

Nishizaki: Yeah, we can just show the image and start Yamato out with the collapse of the old enemy Dessler’s empire.

Kasahara: That’s better. More straightforward. You don’t link those factors together in your head.

Nishizaki: I don’t want to take out Dessler in a way that gives a different impression of him, because the audience has seen him a certain way since the first series.

Kasahara: That’s good, isn’t it? Even if we start with Yamato seeing the last of Dessler, it will be like Raiders since it’s part of the immediate aftermath of the collision.

Nishizaki: I like that. Yamato receives an SOS and goes to Dessler’s palace. Yamato finds it collapsed, and thinks Dessler died.

Kasahara: In other words, you feel that unless you square up the previously-existing connections, the existing fans won’t go along with the story. Because Aquarius is the core of this movie for us, I want to separate these factors so we don’t have the confusion of two conflicts in the galaxy. In fact, we could begin the story with the galactic collision, a cataclysmic event that wipes out Dessler’s empire, and we start with Yamato seeing it.

Nishizaki: Saying “Yamato is there” doesn’t have to mean Yamato is on Earth. I want Dessler’s empire and the Bolar to be swept aside.

Masuda: Is it a natural phenomenon?

Nishizaki: I’d like it be, if possible.

Masuda: Not related to Aquarius?

Kasahara: It doesn’t matter. It’s just where Yamato appears in the story.

Nishizaki: If it goes the way of the picture, we’ll just show two galaxies colliding without any explanation. The collision could happen behind the titles and we’ll go into the story about Earth getting water 3.5 billion years ago.

Kasahara: If we don’t have Dessler fall in the galactic collision, he could give Yamato some data connected with the Aquarius operation, which would be relevant to the story.

Nishizaki: It should be the end of Dessler. Otherwise it’s inevitable that he’ll make a guest appearance in the story, like on TV.

Masuda: What becomes of the galactic collision?

Nishizaki: Although any stars that crash into each other are destroyed in the event, there is a lot of distance between them, and most are not destroyed. However, a magnetic storm occurs and everything even tens of thousands of light years away is destroyed. Dessler’s empire was at the center of it.

Masuda: The galaxy’s incredibly huge, isn’t it?

Eiichi: It’d be better to say that Aquarius is a part of the galaxy which is passing through.

Hideaki: When you think on the scale of space, a galactic collision is much greater than the approach of Aquarius. I have a feeling that when we talk about Aquarius, the audience will feel like we sidestepped it.

Masuda: Even when we refer to it as “the galaxy,” I think kids today have a good idea of how big it is and what it entails. And then we can go on to say that the planet left behind becomes a great enemy that wants to return to Earth.

Hideaki: I think we can make that work.

Kasahara: Let’s include the origin of the outbreak of Evil while depicting Dessler, together in one.

Hideaki: However, since he escaped from the galactic collision, it would be the year 2205 now. And if Dessler’s empire collapsed from the collision, it would no longer be connected to the 5,000 year orbit.

Eiichi: Therefore, the intersection of the galaxies doesn’t happen in an instant. After all, there is a time lag in some places. I think there would be a long gap of time for the tip to cross all the way through the intersection.

Kasahara: That could be the reason for Evil to target Earth, then. Although the galactic intersection is a huge and terrible thing, they would think of it as part of the natural order.

Masuda: Is the other galaxy different from Earth’s galaxy?

Nishizaki: I assumed it would be another galaxy.

Eiichi: As for how much time it takes the galaxy to cross, it would be comparatively soon because it flies at high speed. If it surpasses the speed of light, it would go through in an instant.

Masuda: But it probably has a diameter of about 100,000 light years. Therefore, it would take 100,000 years even at the speed of light.

Eiichi: There wouldn’t be a story if that happened. It wouldn’t be good if it didn’t travel faster than the speed of light.

Kasahara: The galactic collision is something like a traffic accident.

Nishizaki: Mr. Toyota is trying to solve the problem with a dimensional timeslip. There’s a feeling like “ripple glass” [Translator’s note: an animation tool used to simulate an underwater environment] and suddenly this huge thing comes out and charges with a GAAAASH. Flashes break out here and there and it moves with a swish, then disappears again with a ripple glass feeling. Then the problem of confusion is answered with the timeslip theory. Matter, speed, and time are all part of the same thread in current physics, so the order is mixed with the past. It’s caused by a severe galactic tremor, and it would be best to keep it under 20 minutes.

As a result, Yamato meets with Dessler’s old battleship. You could say that, with this, we can bring out all of Yamato up to now. It is thought that the orbit of Aquarius was advanced by the collision or intersection of the galaxies. Therefore, it’s not really related to Aquarius, and if there’s no galaxy other than Andromeda, 2 million light years away, then the galaxy that collided does a dimension slip and disappears. Thus, it’s separate from Earth getting water 4 billion years ago, so we can take that method.

Couldn’t Earth’s advanced science predict the approach of Aquarius?

Kasahara: I just realized, since Earth’s science has evolved considerably in the year 2200, it should be possible to predict the approach of Aquarius. The Earth Federation looks into past history, and because they know Aquarius comes around at a regular interval, they should intend to prevent it somehow. Then draw up a plan to escape using high technology. But if this is all completely set up already, the story wouldn’t be interesting any more. Therefore, if the orbit of Aquarius is advanced by the distant galactic collision, it would be interesting if that certain day suddenly gets closer.

Nishizaki: According to Planet of Burning Ice [Minoru Takahashi, 1975], you can see a class-6 planet with the naked eye, so it would be visible roughly when it reaches the position of Saturn. From Saturn’s position, celestial body M would take a year and a half to reach Earth. From Jupiter’s position, it would take one year. And so, after it enters the solar system, there would be a period of about a year and a half.

Kasahara: Therefore, it can be predicted.

Nishizaki: Then let’s put it farther away. Tens of thousands of light years at least, so that Earth doesn’t know this great enemy is coming for a while. We’ll say that its speed was increased by the galactic collision.

Kasahara: It would be strange not to put it in.

Nishizaki: Then they will close in very quickly.

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