Great Mechanics DX magazine #24 interview

Great Mechanics DX was the first magazine to make Yamato 2199 coverage a regular feature, and still stands above all others in the quality of its in-depth mecha design interviews. If it has just one flaw, it’s that new issues only come out quarterly. Issue 24 was published on March 15 by the Futaba Company, and dug deep into the Garmillas side of the story with this 10-page article.

Space Battleship Yamato 2199 Chapter 5 – The Sorrow of Intergalactic Space

Out of the galaxy, toward the Magellanic Cloud!

If we call it introduction, development, change, and conclusion, Space Battleship Yamato 2199 Chapter 5 is where change begins. The story of Yamato and Garmillas finally begins to change significantly. This time we learn secret stories of Garmillas design from Yasushi Ishizu, who is in charge of the main mecha on the Garmillas side.

The wonder of Yamato mecha seen in the Garmillas warships

In Yamato 2199, new mecha appears in each round. Various warships that exceed the original series have appeared, and it is a delightful place for a fan, especially with the warships on the Garmillas side. Therefore, we spoke with Yasushi Ishizu, who takes charge of warship design on the Garmillas side, and tried to learn all about the appeal of the design.

It has become an environment that can directly reflect what the designer wanted to do

Interviewer: You’ve been in charge of the Garmillas side’s warships.

Ishizu: Director Yutaka Izubuchi took charge of the Garmillas ships that appeared in the battle of Pluto, but I was primarily responsible for the others.

Interviewer: You’ve been working on the designs and concepts for quite some time.

Ishizu: For about three to four years. But I’m still working on mecha now. Satoshi Koizumi has put together the information on mecha concepts, and I answer questions about the mecha that appears in new chapters.

[Translator’s note: Koizumi was interviewed in the previous issue of Great Mechanics DX. Read that interview here.]

Interviewer: What kind of requirements have pushed design forward?

Ishizu: The first one I dealt with was the recon plane (FG156 Sumaruhe), the high-speed carrier (Polmeria-class Astro Assault Carrier), the strike fighter (DWG229 Melanka) and Shulz’ battleship (Gaiderol-class Astro Battleship). I think that’s how it went. I’ve finally been able to grasp the Gaiderol-class Astro Battleship name, but inevitably I call it Shulz’ battleship after the original series. (Laughs)

Interviewer: Understood. Even if we call it the whatever-class, a picture may not readily come to mind.

Ishizu: Because we’re spoiled. (Laughs)

Interviewer: Was the direction of the design pushed forward by the original?

Ishizu: When the project was first launched, the design direction hadn’t yet been clearly decided, but rather than making the recon plane more alien, I suggested that we draw from existing science of war machines on Earth and give the design a remote feeling. Then director Izubuchi came up with a direction for the alien side, and the weapons of the Earth side arrived at their present form by updating the original to a modern style.

Interviewer: What specific point would you describe as modern?

Ishizu: The touch of putting in form and detail in accordance with the expressive power of modern CG. Furthermore, since it will be viewed in HD, a lot of fine detail can be expressed. Because in this work we add fine detail to the CG with hand-drawing, it becomes the designer’s job to create that detail. Before CG, details put on the mecha in the scenes where they appear would have been done in the personal style of whoever was drawing it. But since it now becomes CG, you could say that it’s become the designer’s job to do that. Conversely, we could say that so far this has become an environment that can directly reflect what the designer wanted to do.

The “eyeball” of the Garmillas battleship is an engine of mystery

Interviewer: On the Garmillas side in this work, wasn’t it an order from the beginning to give it a stronger World War II Germany taste?

Ishizu: In the beginning, I wondered if it would be good to give it a more SF-like design. Director Izubuchi gradually decided the direction, and some of the references were illustrations he drew for original Yamato doujinshi [fanzines]. For example, a dive-bomber was drawn in the style of a German Stuka dive-bomber, and I think that taste has been reflected in various places.

Interviewer: Was it the recon plane that was first proposed to look more alien?

Ishizu: The wings had a harsher appearance, and it had a more SF feeling. However, since the original work used motifs for fighters and battleships that were contemporary for that time, I think it was good for a remake to gather up the taste of present-day weapons. At first Yamato seemed like an extension of war history, and then took a direction that adopted more SF elements afterward. I think the fun of it was the motif of taking World War II machinery into a battle in space. They took it to a place that you can enjoy even if it doesn’t take the function or concept of mecha seriously.

Fans have questioned for a long time what the eyeball of the Garmillas destroyer is for, and even though it has been a topic, I still don’t know what it does. Of course, we can attach an explanation for its function, such as a ram scoop taking in interstellar matter, but there are other possibilities.

Interviewer: And the color changes.

Ishizu: It could be considered an intake or a torpedo tube. The eyeball was a hot topic in a meeting with director Izubuchi, and the talk lead to the submarine that appeared in Stingray. For my part, I think we should keep it an incomprehensible engine. (Laughs)

Interviewer: The eyeballs are attached to the side of the Domelus III, but are they the same size as the eyeballs on other ships?

Ishizu: The size is different on each ship. Because the Domelus III is gigantic, they are thought to be proportional.

The designs are heterogeneous because of different star systems

Interviewer: The Gaiderol-class battleship appears with painted camouflage. Did you decide the colors?

Ishizu: I didn’t design the colors. I think the camouflage was the intention of director Izubuchi, but I put in the line that splits the hull colors top and bottom in accordance with the setup in the original.

Interviewer: Is this also the waterline of a surface ship?

Ishizu: Maybe. (Laughs) It’s a space battleship, so I don’t think it can be called a waterline. It is on Yamato, of course, which reflects a feeling of ships and submarines. The line is slightly below the center, so I guess this is still a ship. I think Naoyuki Katoh was conscious of this when he did the original design, and it’s the basis for the fun of Yamato design.

[Translator’s note: Naoyuki Katoh was a member of the famous Studio Nue, the mecha design team for the original Series 1.]

Interviewer: Parts and details such as hatches and launch tubes are quite intricate.

Ishizu: By detailing it up, it has the feeling of armaments packed close together. I design such armaments because as a designer I want to see them used. (Laughs) On the other hand, we’d run out of instruction and caution marks. Anyway, it would be hard to do that with Garmillas language. (Laughs)

Interviewer: For the main guns on the Garmillas ships, some have gun barrels and some don’t. Is there a distinction between them?

Ishizu: When we look at Garmillas ships in the Pluto battle, there were no gun barrels, and they gave the image of the beams just stretching from them as they discharged. But ships equipped with gun barrels appeared in the original, such as the battle carrier. The Haizerad-class is a new ship equipped with main guns that have barrels, but it’s not a new style of the old type of guns because the thought is that the manufacturer made it differently. I think it will be interesting.

Interviewer: Although they’re all Garmillas warships, different design tastes have appeared.

Ishizu: I think the technology of the high-speed aircraft carrier (Polmeria-class Astro Assault Carrier) came from an entirely different system than Garmillas. I would think the star shape itself already makes it different. The armaments have different power and technical systems because they came from a different system conquered by Garmillas, so now they can use it. Doesn’t it have the feeling of a 38(t) tank of old Germany? I think the understanding comes out that the weapons look different because they come from a different system.

There is a form of beauty unique to Yamato

Interviewer: The characteristics of the three tri-deck aircraft carriers (Gaiperon-class Multi-deck Astro Assault Carrier) are more pronounced this time.

Ishizu: We considered various derivative types. I talked with Mr. Koizumi about some that might eliminate the second deck and use the space for accommodations, that sort of thing.

Interviewer: Or with the angled deck, I’d like to think they were done as a crime of conscience.

Ishizu: When you consider it calmly, it doesn’t need to be there, but that’s really beside the point. (Laughs) Generally, you shouldn’t need to do a deck landing in outer space. But this is Yamato. It has its own form of beauty.

Interviewer: Not everyone who sees it understands it.

Ishizu: When you consider the three decks, the hangars, and the engine space, space for the crew is practically nonexistent. But there’s no help for it, because it is what it is. (Laughs)

Interviewer: On the Kaga and others you based this idea on, I hear the living conditions were bad, so you can chalk it up to that, can’t you?

Ishizu: Please think so.

Interviewer: Did you refer to old model sheets for warships that appeared in the original?

Ishizu: The original sheets aren’t around any more, so I drew on reference from books.

Interviewer: What is it like to be involved in Yamato this time?

Ishizu: With the progress of CG, we can now draw fine details. On the design side, until now, we were asked to reduce the line work in our drawings, but with CG I feel we have an environment where we can put in the lines we really want to be there. It’s difficult, but I look forward to the future.

Interviewer: Thank you very much.

Haizerad-class Astro Battleship

Interviewer: This is a new type of Garmillas battleship that first appears in Yamato 2199.

Ishizu: I think it’s a design that lets you feel the historical flow of Garmillas space battleship development. I think it makes something like a unified flow through Garmillas warships.

Gaiderol-class Astro Battleship

Interviewer: The Gaiderol-class is a powerful ship, heavily laden with weapons.

Ishizu: The hull is equipped with many armaments, and I put in fine details such as shells and hatches. I think the feeling of mass weaponry comes out well. It’s based on the ship that appeared in the original, but the design was advanced with a touch that nicely modernized it.

Gaiperon-class Multideck Astro Assault Carrier

Interviewer: A variety of derivation types have been created.

Ishizu: The basic Lanbea form came first, then the improved Shuderg was simplified by shortening the rear deck, and the Bulgrey has a strengthened bow as intermediate model in development toward the battle carrier. That was my interpretation. With real warships, even if they are the same type, modification is done on individual ships, so differences between them are common. The elevator wasn’t clarified on the original tri-deck carriers, but it has been drawn this time. But there’s a problem with how to do it, since it opens a large hole in the deck. I’m still thinking about how to close the door…

Polmeria-class Astro Assault Carrier

Interviewer: When I think about this design, it makes sense for it to be made by a civilization that is certainly different from the original Garmillas.

Ishizu: On this one, the detail-up is based on the original work. I subtly change the lines of the hull around the fighter bay and missile launchers, and I put in slits and hatches and such.

Dimensional Submarine UX-01

Ishizu: For this special-duty warship, director Izubuchi did the original rough. We packed in the feeling of a World War II submarine, such as the I-400, and I think it has the feeling of a U-Boat. I had fun with this design. There is a special hatch on the deck, and Mr. Koizumi and I are still thinking about that concept. Maybe it could be an escape hatch. It could also be a rescue chamber.

Speaking of hatches, you run into questions like, “where do you load the torpedoes into it?” But they’re in space, so I realized it would be no problem at all to have them loaded in through the launch tubes. (Laughs) In addition, there are holes in the bow which could be for mooring or various things. At first there was the idea of giving it an open-air gun like a World War II submarine, but whatever the circumstances, it took its present form because it flies in space.

Super Dreadnought first class battleship Domelus III

Interviewer: In the original work, the Domelus III had an impressive disc shape, but this time it is depicted as a battleship with a huge hull.

Ishizu: The form of the Domelus III was sort of ambiguous in the original. The rear of the disc was drawn differently. I adjusted it when I did the design. I thought the idea of the disc becoming the bridge was interesting.

FS-class Astro Torpedo Boat

Interviewer: This is the first time we’ve seen this Garmillas ship.

Ishizu: It’s a fairly small ship, equivalent to a present-day torpedo boat. It seems to be equipped with the characteristic eyeball of a Garmillas ship, but it turns out to be a torpedo tube if you look in the back. The nationality mark of Garmillas is painted on the hull, and the feeling of a broken swastika is cool.

Recon Craft FG156 Sumaruhe

Interviewer: This is the flying wing aircraft that leads to the Strike Fighter Melanka.

Ishizu: The design started with an SF-like feeling, then moved closer to an aircraft of Earth. I thought about it making steep turns, so the wingtips are equipped with gravity control units.

Strike Fighter DWG229 Melanka

Interviewer: This looks like a tailless B2 bomber…

Ishizu: Also the German Horten of World War II (a tailless jet developed in the last years of the war). The fine details anchor not only the hull but also the missiles.

Space Combat Fighter DWG262 Tsvuelke (Melda’s machine)

Interviewer: This is the vehicle of Melda Deitz, a female pilot of Garmillas. The motif for it is the German Me262 jet fighter of World War II. Was it difficult to carry out a modern style of hull design in which engines are attached to the wings?

Ishizu: The engine pods are below the main hull, just like the 262. I didn’t design them as engines. Director Izubuchi drew a large rough, and the completed version followed that. There was no verbal order, but looking at the rough I got the feeling that “evidently this is the 262.” (Laughs)

The End

Special thanks to Neil Nadelman for translation support

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