Yoshinobu Nishizaki Q&A, April 1978

Originally published in issue 3 of the Yamato Fan Club magazine

Q&A Series: Page of exchange between Chairman Nishizaki and fans

Yamato is a roman of love and men!

Chairman Nishizaki talks extensively

The editorial department has asked Producer Nishizaki Producer to answer your questions and give you his advice about Yamato, animation, love and troubles in life

Q: The background music is very important for Space Battleship Yamato. How were you able to fit the background music so perfectly? What does music mean to you?

Kazumi Yamada (Junior high student, Fukuoka)

A: This is a very difficult question. Before going into the issue of background music, I would like to consider what music is. It can be classified into classical music, jazz music, and even popular songs. However, I don’t want to distinguish music by such names. Rather, I want people to know that the basis of all music is simply rhythm and melody. So, the music that you hear and feel in your heart is the best music. There is no difference between classical, jazz, and popular songs. I think it is important to listen to what appeals to your heart deeply and honestly.

Secondly, what does music mean to my work? For me, it is as important as story. However, when it comes to the relationship between music and story for a comprehensive art form such as film or theatre, first, there is story, and then there is the need for music. It is not the other way around. This is the position of music in my work.

To be more precise, in the case of Yamato, for example, the structure of “story” is divided into two major parts, the Gamilas side and the Earth side. The music that represents these two forces must be different from each other. In terms of the story as a whole, though, there is a unified musicality.

To answer your question about how to match the background music to the visuals, I would say that if you choose and apply the background music with the approach I just described, it is impossible for the music and the story to mismatch.

Let me explain in more detail. First, we have considered the story structure and divided it into two major parts. Over and above that, instead of just referring to the “story,” I select music based on an understanding of the “heart” of each scene, which is close to 200, and consider it shot by shot. For example, how should we connect the music from one shot to the next? Should it be one second long, or should it be O.7 seconds long? I will consider it to that fine a point.

There are many other ways to put background music over a shot. But it takes less than a second to give the viewer an emotional response. If you think about it too lightly, you’ll end up killing the effect of the visual rather than enhancing it. It’s a big mistake to think that you can impress people simply by playing music for a long time or by making loud noises.

I know this is a very complicated subject, but that is how much music means to me. It’s very important to my work.

Q: Yamato is a space roman. Animation films are generally considered to be for children, but Yamato was a little too difficult for children. What age range did you have in mind when setting up Yamato?

Yuki Washio (high school sophomore)

A: The age range of the target group was one of the most important issues for me when I started to make Yamato, because it largely determines the nature of the work.

Animation, now and in the past, has always been an anime version of manga, and the essence of animation has always been manga-like fun. That’s why animation was not taken seriously, because it was thought of as a plaything for younger children. With Yamato, however, I did not rely on superficial interest alone. I wanted to express the story through the technique of animation. And because of this, the target age group naturally became higher.

Q: Does Yuki Mori, the lone woman on the ship, have any worries? I’m sure she does. Who should Yuki go to for advice in such a case? After all, she needs a female friend.

Naoko Sato (2nd year junior high student, Fukushima)

A: At the conceptual stage, I intended to have more women appear in the story. However, this work itself is centered on the first bridge. I decided to limit the female characters to Yuki Mori, and focus on her relationship with Kodai and Shima.

However, I had many doubts before deciding on this. For example, there were some casting mistakes, such as the nurse in the infirmary appearing only once and then disappearing completely. But in Yuki Mori’s case, I’m sure she will be fine with Kodai-kun. (Laughs)

Seeking Love in the Universe

Part II Message

The main theme of this work is the same as the previous one, “love.” By learning that human beings exist not only on Earth, but also across the whole universe, we will learn the importance of living in harmony with each other. I would like to promote this as the most important theme under the term “space love.”

What exactly is love, by the way? In the previous work, Kodai said, “Like the Alien Gamilas were destroyed, if you fight, someone will always get hurt. Fighting is wrong. The important thing is to love.” Indeed, the ideal is for all of us to be surrounded by love, and that love will bring solutions to all problems. So I think Kodai is right.

But today we are in the process of seeking that love. There will always be conflict and sacrifice. That is the reality of the Earth we live on. I think we have to do what we can do now, to the best of our ability, so that we do not impose sacrifices on others. However, we must resolutely fight against those who try to violate peace and love. This is the true meaning of fighting. This is also what I would like to depict in my next work.

Next, I would like to consider the issue of death. People today think that everything ends when we die. However, Japanese and other Asian people traditionally believe that even if the body perishes, life itself continues. My idea is that life is eternally resurrected in the universe.

I said that it is important to know “space love.” I think it’s important to know that life, likewise, is beyond death. If we know this, we will be able to see the true nature of life, which extends into the universe. I would like to create my next work based on this idea.

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