Mecha designer interview, October 2022

From the Star Blazers/Yamato Premium fan club magazine Vol. 15, October 2022: Junichiro Tamamori has been designing UNCF mecha from the beginning of the remake era, up to and including Yamato 2205. Here, he discusses the process of evolving the supply carrier Hyuga into the elaborate 1/350 Diecast Gimmick Model, and shares his thoughts on the next phase of mecha design for REBEL 3199.

Hachette Collections Japan Yamato 2202 Diecast Gimmick Model (re-extended)

Modified Dreadnought-class Battle Carrier DCV-01 Hyuga 1/350 scale model

Series Supervisor Junichiro Tamamori interview

Pursuing the fun of an “aircraft carrier” model from internal structure to lights and sound

Following the Making Yamato 2202 Diecast Gimmick Model and the extension of the cutting edge armed spaceship AAA-1 Andromeda, this re-extenshion brings us the majestic 85cm-long aircraft battle carrier Hyuga! According to series supervisor Junichiro Tamamori, Hyuga has a number of concepts that were not represented in the anime. We asked him for his thoughts on this model in detail.

The photos of Hyuga shown in the article are computer graphics from development.

Full of the appeal of an “aircraft carrier” as Junichiro Tamamori sees it

Interviewer: What did you think when you learned that the Hyuga was decided upon as the gimmick model to follow the Andromeda?

Tamamori: To begin with, I was surprised that the series would continue, and I was even more surprised when I heard that the Hyuga had been selected. After all, it’s a big ship, isn’t it?

Interviewer: Is there anything that you were particular about in your supervision this time?

Tamamori: The internal structure. It was necessary to create additional concepts, so I started working on it as soon as the decision was made. Even I didn’t have a clear understanding of the internal structure of the Hyuga. The “cylinder” type hangars are lined up in parallel, and I devised a basic structure concept such as the internal decks being divided into many layers.

However, no one knows the correct answer for the parts that were not depicted in Yamato 2205. By having the factory do a 3D design, I feel like I was able to get a new view of the interior. Including the gimmicks, I think we were able to bring out a lot of the “carrier-like” image.

Interviewer: What do you consider to be the “carrier-like” elements of the Hyuga, and how are they reflected in the model?

Tamamori: When it comes to an aircraft carrier model, the main attraction is the huge flight deck, so we had to put a lot of effort into the details.

For example, the protection for people and equipment on the deck from jet blasts when an aircraft launches is generally called a “jet blast deflector.” Normally, a rectangular panel opens up from the flight deck, with the front edge acting as a fulcrum. However, since this is a spaceship, there is no need to use the same structure as present-day aircraft carriers. Therefore, we decided to make it a mechanism that opens with a rear hinge, like a supercar’s “retractible headlight.”

And instead of allowing the exhaust to disperse outside, it is captured and taken into the ship to reuse as energy. We produced an aircraft carrier that incorporates functions unique to a spaceship.

Interviewer: This is a function that wasn’t seen in 2205.

Tamamori: Yes. It wasn’t necessary to go that far in terms of production. The actual launch scene was part of the training sequence, so craft were launched without using the deflector. In fact, the Hyuga has a wide variety of onboard aircraft such as the Cosmo Seagull, Cosmo Tiger II, Cosmo Python, and other fighter-attack aircraft, so sometimes the deflector is used, and sometimes it isn’t.

The deflector is a fun idea that shows the uniqueness of the flight deck. Since aircraft are inevitably defenseless when starting up, I created a gimmick that raises the two barriers on each side of the runway. This concept is also reflected in the model. In addition, the protective walls are equipped with lights, so the flight deck can be illuminated by indirect lighting.

The hangar below Hyuga‘s flight deck can be seen by detaching the deck parts. There are two sets of hangar barrels and a staircase that allows access to and from the deck level. It is a pleasant surprise for Yamato fans to be able to see the inside of the Hyuga, which has not been revealed until now.

Note the light that illuminates the deck and the protective walls that rise up from the side of the ship to protect the aircraft during takeoff and landing. The shadows of the Cosmo Tiger II and Cosmo Python are beautifully cast by the tangential lighting effect. The aircraft stored in the stowage deck are carried (manually) to the deck by the aft elevator, a gimmick that makes a realistic display possible.

Left: Instructions for marking and paint colors written directly on the reference material. Mr. Tamamori underwent eye surgery at the beginning of the year 2022, and some of these were written in a hospital bed before surgery to keep the work on schedule. You can feel the extraordinary passion and effort that Mr. Tamamori put into this model as a three-dimensional document of Hyuga, even from his hospital bed.

Right: Although it was not depicted in the 2205, the bottom of the ship also has a hatch for launching aircraft, like Yamato. Of course, it has been accurately reproduced.

Interviewer: As with Andromeda, do you think it looks better at night?

Tamamori: The lighting function is very good, but it is not just the LEDs themselves that emit light. The indirect lighting effect that brings out details on the deck is also very nice. That’s the kind of gimmick I put in.

Interviewer: What are some of the other notable features?

Tamamori: The elevators on both sides also go up and down. They can be manually moved up and down to reproduce the loading and unloading of aircraft from the lower deck to the flight deck. Also, although it was not used in the anime, a hatch on the bottom of the ship can be opened like on Yamato, and aircraft can be launched from there as well.

In addition, there is a large opening in the lower forward part of the port flight deck, which can launch one aircraft at a time. This is the same configuration used on the Andromeda-class carrier type that appeared in 2202. By incorporating the same system into the Hyuga, the worldviews of the two ships are connected.

The gimmick of lighting and sound, which was talked about last time, is also attractive

Interviewer: Andromeda also attracted a lot of attention for its built-in sound source. Is there a similar gimmick in Hyuga?

Tamamori: Of course. Like Andromeda, it also includes sounds for armament and engines. You can hold the model in your hand and enjoy playing along with the sound effects. (Laughs)

Interviewer: The lighting was also a hot topic for Andromeda. Is it the same this time?

Tamamori: The basic navigation lights were set up at the time of the anime, so they are reproduced as faithfully as possible. A combination of strobe lights that blink at regular intervals was arranged with an airplane image. When they are illuminated, even in the dark, the outline of the hull comes to life.

Interviewer: Like the Andromeda, it can be enjoyed as an object of art.

Like Yamato and Andromeda, the main guns and the Wave-Motion Gun have light-emitting gimmicks. The sound of firing is also reproduced. The remote control allows you to easily reproduce Hyuga in action. The main bridge at the front and the flight control bridge at the rear both light up. In addition to the navigation lights, the lights in each section and around the ship number also light up beautifully. The wave engine and auxiliary engine at the stern also emit light, and the engine sound is reproduced. Indirect illumination of the aft nameplate is also fun, as if you were looking at an actual ship. If you display all the ship’s aircraft on the deck, you will feel like Captain Shiro Sanada!

Remote design for lighting control by Tamamori. The design could
have appeared as is in a Yamato movie. It is also interesting
that the armament buttons are enclosed in a white frame.
Just operating this remote will put you in a good mood.

Tamamori: Lights that illuminate key points, such as the name of the ship, are called “logo lights” in the case of airplanes. They also illuminate the logo of the airline company on the tail. Since there are interior lights in the hangar, you can observe the interior from the hatch or through the elevator.

Lights are also installed in various parts of the flight deck. The main bridge is visible from the front, and the aft bridge is visible from the rear. The interior lights of the rear bridge facing the flight deck are illuminated.

The muzzles of the Wave-Motion Gun, main guns, anti-aircraft guns, and other close-range weapons are illuminated. Of course, the wave engine at the rear also glows. Each of them is controlled by a remote button, so you can select your favorite lighting condition. I think you’ll enjoy the lighting effects.

Interviewer: It’s not only fun as a model, but also a valuable reference for learning about Hyuga‘s settings.

Tamamori: Since 2205 itself was an 8-episode project, there weren’t many opportunities to introduce the detailed settings of the mecha. By getting a Hachette model and learning about Hyuga‘s various settings, we hope you will enjoy the world of Yamato even more.

Memories of Be Forever with a “flip book?”

Interviewer: In this 15th issue of Yamato Magazine, we’re working on a special feature that looks back on Be Forever and Yamato III. As a Yamato fan who knows about those days, what is your impression of these two works?

Tamamori: In 1980, when Be Forever was released and Yamato III started broadcasting, I was in the first year of junior high. The first Yamato I ever saw in a movie theater was Be Forever. I bought a ticket with my allowance and went to see it.

Interviewer: Then please tell us about your impression of Be Forever.

Tamamori: I was very impressed with it. I really liked Sasha’s character. I copied the “Yamato & Sasha” illustration that was the key visual for the poster. I really liked Sasha’s beautifully drawn lines in the illustration.

My impression of the film as a whole was that the pictures were beautiful and the sense of color was amazing. There were also some profound images, including special effects using backlighting. I enjoyed this film because of its beautiful images.

Interviewer: What do you think of the mecha?

Tamamori: I think it was “stylish mecha” in general. I had the impression that Yamato‘s body shape hadn’t been decided until then. I felt that Be Forever made the lines more organized and more attractive. I also liked the new mecha, such as the space battleships of the Earth Defense Forces, which had a renewed worldview designed by Katsumi Itabashi and Submarine studio.

The appearance of ground troops was also a feature, so the troop carriers and other vehicles added depth and breadth to the worldview. While watching it, I thought, “Yamato‘s world is a really good one.”

I remember drawing something like a “heavy nucleon bomb” myself. I drew a flipbook of an approaching heavy nucleon bomb descending to Earth and piercing the ground, and its legs coming out, and it got me excited.

Examples of Yamato‘s aircraft to be offered in the future (timing and numbers still to be announced): Type 100 space reconnaissance aircraft, Cosmo Seagull, Cosmo Zero, Ki-8 prototype spacecraft, and others. Czvarke and Cosmo Tiger II equipped with the long-range flight unit “Warpstar” can be seen. The Cosmo Python, Hyuga‘s onboard aircraft, will also be offered.

I want to inherit the design that makes you feel the “future” foreseen in the 80’s

Interviewer: What do you think about Yamato III, which started airing two months after the release of Be Forever?

Tamamori: The most memorable emotion was the joy of, “I can watch Yamato every week again!” I came home from school and watched the first episode on TV in the evening. “This time it’s not the red Earth, but the sun that’s burning abnormally!” That surprised me. I was very excited that this was a new threat to mankind.

I was also impressed by the younger generation of the Yamato crew, such as Domon and Ageha. Kodai’s leader-like appearance made me think, “This really is a generational change.” Be Forever and Yamato III gave me a sense of fulfillment during my first year of middle school.

Interviewer: Is there any mecha that you particularly like?

Tamamori: Personally, Rajendora left a strong impression on me for some reason. The background music that played when it appeared was like ethnic Slavic music, and in my memory it remains closely intertwined with the images.

Interviewer: Mecha from Yamato III also appeared in 2205, didn’t they? For example, you redesigned the Cosmo Hound. What is your impression of the mecha from Yamato III, from the standpoint of a designer?

Tamamori: Katsumi Itabashi’s mechanical design is precise and clean. The visual is futuristic. It’s the kind of design that evokes the “future” that was foreseen in the 1980s. While designing for 2205, I paid attention to such parts. For 2199, I was conscious of the “muddiness” of the original, so I tried to give 2205 a more sophisticated feel.

Interviewer: Finally, there has been no official announcement of production staff or other details yet, but 3199 is currently in production, and we expect to see mecha from Be Forever and Yamato III in it. Since you did the Cosmo Hound for 2205, what are your expectations for the mecha of 3199?

Tamamori: I would like to see mecha that adds new value to the world of Be Forever and Yamato III without compromising their worldviews. I can’t say anything definite at this point, but I hope all the fans will look forward to the appearance of cool mecha.

Tamamori’s design drawing of the Cosmo Hound, a prototype dimensional submarine, being assembled on board the supply carrier Asuka in 2205.

BELOW: illustrated pages from the Hyuga instruction manuals

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