Published by Westcape Corporation, June 25, 1982
Special Report: Meeting of Producer Nishizaki and fans
As we head toward The Final Chapter, we will now report the pattern of the interchange meetings currently being held in various locations. In these meetings, the story structure was the center of attention and various news items were conveyed. Here, we talk about the pattern of a “fan gathering” held in Tokyo on June 12. In front of more than 100 fans, Producer Nishizaki first talked about the determination and progress of The Final Chapter.
The presence of Okita is essential to a new journey for Kodai
I’m not really one for greetings, but how do you do?
With Yamato and Farewell, four movies have been made along with TV series and specials, and I think each work was good. However, I was disappointed that there was trouble in our company during Yamato III that took away a lot of energy, so I could not put it to rest. Although the company was in crisis, somehow we made it through the next year and a half, telling ourselves “Don’t let this break our spirit!”
I thought it was a shame that Yamato III was affected during that period. There was also the situation that The Final Chapter was planned for this summer, but it has been extended to March of next year.
So why am I trying to make a Final Chapter? As far as Yamato goes, I don’t think what we’ve done since Farewell can really be seen as The Final Chapter or the conclusion to the story. When I consider this question, while this may be me making a personal distinction, again, since 1975– Or on second thought, since 1978– I’ve been thinking that we needed to make a conclusion to the work which could be said to have singularly supported the animation mainstream for its era.
As for it continuing after Farewel to Yamato, if it ended with Be Forever Yamato, I think it would have been a rather ambiguous finish. The “conclusion I wish to tack on” is one for the hero Yamato itself and another for the couple called Kodai and Yuki. They have passed through boyhood and girlhood and are entering society. It is the end of the conventional, innocent love-like relationship between a man and woman, and becomes the starting point for them to grow a deeper love together.
In addition, Yamato was resurrected from Kyushu Bogasaki in the year 2199 and set out on a journey into space, and I want to say, “thank you for your years of hard work.” Also, from the idea that a time should come when Yamato is no longer needed, in what way should Yamato retire? That became a big point. The purpose of The Final Chapter is to tie together these last ten years.
Well, it seems a rumor has already appeared about the revival of Captain Okita–what is the reason for this? The first thing I want to present this time is Kodai going on a journey and leaving the nest. The existence of Juuzo Okita as the father figure becomes the crux of this. By bringing Okita back to life, the image can be presented of Kodai surpassing him, which could not be done with anyone but Okita.
Supposing Yamato goes off into an elephant’s graveyard, I don’t think it would be Susumu Kodai who takes it there, or Yuki Mori either. Yamato is a battleship, a battleship has a captain, and at the same time outer space is the sea. The one who serves as this final captain, even though you could call this my own sentiment, in my mind it has to be Captain Okita. And on top of that, it’s something for this production to do.
The consequence of a Final Chapter for Yamato…
Although the starting point of Space Battleship Yamato was the first work in 1974, my goal is that when you see the end of The Final Chapter, you will suddenly understand that it is based on the starting point.
For The Final Chapter, I got myself into a desperate spot, but good luck comes from the intention to make a fresh start. I worked hard so that The Final Chapter would become the work that brought ten years of Yamato to a close. For my part, even while I say things like, “don’t wake me ever again,” I go into this with the idea that it’s my return from Yamato.
I thought that I also wanted to make The Final Chapter as a true cinematic animation. When I look at the latest Japanese animation, I think there are many things in its structure that are too easy. I think the true meaning of being an animation fan is becoming lost. Therefore, with the dramatic composition in the hands of Toshio Masuda, the feeling of Leiji Matsumoto, the solid dramaturgy of Eiichi Yamamoto, and with the cooperation of Aritsune Toyota, we intend to make a theatrical film that will endure forever.
Production is well underway!!
Well, the current situation is not that the script is done, but the “first draft plot” is done. The spectacle scenes, which are the most important visuals, are now being drawn. To put it in terms of running time, we’ve gotten key animation done for about 40-50 minutes worth of scenes. [Translator’s note: despite the fact that the script was well into production, Nishizaki still referred to it as a plot for reasons best known only to him.]
As for the writing staff, this time I’m working with Hideaki Yamamoto, Eiichi Yamamoto, and Toshio Masuda, and ultimately it will be written by Kazuo Kasahara. The director is currently undecided. I think it should be someone who is good at bringing out and focusing everybody’s power.
The general director of the last one, Be Forever Yamato, was Kazuhiko Udagawa, who was in charge of dozens of staff members. Shinya Takahashi is designing the female characters, and the face of Yuki Mori is returning to her look in Farewell. Mecha animation is being done by Yoshinori Kanada. He drew what we call “100 poses of Yamato” before starting on storyboards, and found about 40 new poses. [Mecha designer] Katsumi Itabashi is also giving it his all. That’s what the production situation is like.
About events and interchange meetings
We’d like to conduct steady interchange meetings this time, and as part of a nationwide campaign we hope to have free screening parties in 150 locations. In addition, where we don’t rent the film out, we’re also thinking about returning Yamato secondary merchandise to the whole nation, free of charge. As for music, we plan to hold a large symphonic concert with new music across the country. This will also be free.
An appeal to many friends!
Well, this is now the last Yamato since it was first shown in 1974, and the number of people who watched it as children has decreased. So I’d like you to let a wide range of people know about The Final Chapter by word of mouth by all means.
Times are changing and the sensibilities of SF are also changing as Yamato reaches its conclusion. To make this a work that doesn’t lose out to others, please help Yamato to achieve the glory of the number one position. Along with the fans, Yamato let me grow. And now The Final Chapter may let me grow even more.
Next, the event moved on to questions from fans; lively questions about concepts, characters, and battle scenes in The Final Chapter were aimed at Producer Nishizaki. Because it lasted for nearly an hour, we could not record all the questions here, but we’ll share parts of it with you.
Fan: What will become of the fan club from now on?
Nishizaki: If the TV series continues until October of next year, there is no doubt that Yamato fan club headquarters, which organized this event, will continue as an organization for at least another two years. [Translator’s note: the only TV series being proposed at the time was based on Final Yamato. Obviously, this did not come to pass, but the fan club headquarters remained in service until June 1991.]
Fan: If Galman-Gamilas is destroyed, what happens to Dessler?
Nishizaki: Dessler doesn’t die easily. His existence is equal to Kodai, Okita, Yuki, and Shima, and he’s the character I empathize with most. But I can’t say right now whether he lives or dies at the end.
Fan: Will the white “anchor mark” from Be Forever Yamato be there this time?
Nishizaki: What should we do? Maybe it shouldn’t be there…? (Applause) Well, I guess we should lose it, then. However, I’m thinking that we should leave the “battle participation decoration” [white stripes] on the gun turrets. This is pretty much what we have as a practical matter.
Fan: When someone from the war generation sees Yamato as entertainment, I wonder if people from the World War II generation get confused over the differences between the historical Yamato and the space battleship.
Nishizaki: Between the first work and Farewell, I can say that it was accepted by the war generation, or they found empathy for it. The part about its origin as the Battleship Yamato was pinned down in the story, but in later works Yamato was turned into a space ship, so that part became diluted. Therefore, one reason we revive Okita for this Yamato is because we want to revisit Yamato as a battleship. This time eight destroyers or cruisers follow Yamato when they leave Earth for the last time. I thought about that area, and I intend to keep control of it. There will be a lot going on with the captain and crew in the story.
Fan: Is that why its name and other parts are based on it?
Nishizaki: That’s right. In fact, the name Battleship Yamato was also a number 2 warship, but because it sank in World War II and became famous, I think of it as a number 1. Therefore, the names we use in the film are based on history.
Fan: We saw the EDF commander’s daughter appeared in Yamato III. What happened to her afterward?
Nishizaki: That won’t come out this time. If it did, it could be in a form where she’s involved with Aihara, but the characters we think you’d like to see first will appear in some form.
Fan: Why did you have to kill Domon and Ageha in Yamato III?
Nishizaki: I’m sorry. It went that way because it’s a complicated story.
Fan: Although the characters Kitano and Sakamoto appeared in The New Voyage, Tokugawa is the only one there now. Why is that?
Nishizaki: They were transferred. (Laughs) There are various reasons. Because a movie is made with a time restriction, we have to narrow down the crew and characters. Well, in that area, think of The Final Chapter as putting that inconsistency to rights.
Fan: I’d like you to make the battle scenes more real.
Nishizaki: It will be amazing this time. You’ll be thinking how real some of it looks. Please look forward to it.
Fan: Please put in scenes in which the fighters play an active part.
Nishizaki: All right, count on it. All I can tell you is that the story has many battle scenes where the destroyers and Cosmo Tigers defend Yamato.
Fan: In the current flow of TV animation, the combo of Miyazaki and Otsuka builds stories from movement, the partners Yasuhiko and Tomino make stories with ethics, while the combination of Sugino and Dezaki likes to use “freezes” in making the flow of their stories. I’d like to hear what you believe to be your technique.
Nishizaki: Putting it simply, I think all the methods you just described are in Yamato. I think that the first series was built out from the origin points of dramaturgy and theme, even more than the fundamental morality, with meaning derived from that as well as the fans drawing an emotional attraction from the visuals. On top of that, it wasn’t a show that was based so much on movement or layout. When you come right down to it, I guess you could say Yamato has departed from that methodology.
Even if I were to take the one word “love,” though it is used in a lot of anime now, I think Yamato was the original in that regard. This may be an impertinent thing to say, but I wonder if Yamato became the “bible.” Also, in the “freeze technique” animation, rather than having sound cover a moving image, they freeze the image while still have the sound covering it, which is a technique to convey deeper emotion. I think Yamato deliberately did this quite a lot. Aren’t all these techniques contained in Yamato?
I even think about parts such as textures and volume, and how to put in the four elements of paint colors, shadows, music, and sound effects, and nothing has been able to surpass Yamato. The origin point of every technique is included in Yamato. So I think it would be a mistake for me to put a limit on which of these techniques I might use. On the contrary, it would vastly limit me. Maybe that’s kind of become my area of expertise…
Fan: Currently the ace pilot Shiro Kato seems to be floating a little, and I wonder if he’ll get an awesome mission in The Final Chapter.
Nishizaki: Shiro Kato appears as an ace pilot again. The only pilot above Kato is Kodai. This is related to making Okita the captain of the ship. Kodai couldn’t get into a fighter plane if he became captain. Kodai can play an active part this time as a pilot. In addition, the look of the Cosmo Zero and Tigers will change. The amazing single-seat Cosmo Tiger appears in it, so please look forward to it.
Fan: In the battle scenes, I was impressed by seeing a human get sucked out through a hole [in the hull]. Are there any such scenes this time?
Nishizaki: Such scenes are being intensively drawn this time. Don’t worry.
Fan: Is what we call the voice of the fans reflected in this work?
Nishizaki: A lot of voices from the fan club and from individual fans have reached me. A lot of people felt that Yamato shouldn’t end with Be Forever. This unites with the voice of the fans who want to see The Final Chapter and the conclusion of ten years, so in that sense this work is for both the fans and for me.
Fan: You said that drawing has begun on the spectacle scenes, but where is it being done?
Nishizaki: At Toei Animation. The general director and chief animation director work together there.
Fan: Looking at the design sketches, there’s a scene with a waterfall on the third floating continent. Don’t you think it’s kind of strange to have the continent floating while the water’s falling?
Nishizaki: It’s not unnatural if you think of the floating continent as anti-matter. That’s why the underside of the floating continent is green. In other words, it receives internal light from underneath. Therefore, there is energy in the lower part, at the core of the planet. Since it passes through the sea water, the space inside the floating continent is bright.
There’s also that water ring, which is shaped like an electron. Due to reflection of that enormous atmosphere, the top side of the floating continent is tinted so that it isn’t the normal green light of Paradise. Related to the bottom side, it might help you to accept it if you think of it as a completely normal version of the Kantou Plains, just turned upside-down.
Fan: Please talk about what you think about the relationship between both a TV series and a theatrical film.
Nishizaki: The story content of introduction, development, turn, and conclusion are the same in both. But in a movie, scenes that aren’t relevant to the theme have to be cut down as much as possible because of time limitations. But in a movie you can have spectacle scenes that can’t be made for TV. Also, a movie requires dramatic expression, so instead of not being able to depict detail in this short time, you can configure something very active and dramatic, and that becomes the form through which the theme is conveyed.
However, one theme can be expressed in various ways if it is on TV. Also, there can be a theme that is not the purpose of the story, so it is possible to convey it by depicting each point. And if no people are killed, it is not necessary to make a dramatic part. Therefore, the reason for such a difference between the ending of a movie and of a TV series comes from those places.
Fan: If there is a TV version and it is different from the movie again, I’d like you to do a lot of scenes of human drama.
Nishizaki: That’s right. I’ve been thinking about how I’d love to do a TV series of this movie, and without getting into too much detail, there’s an essential truth that humanity or possibly even all of life itself evolved from “water.” And if there is a planet that shares that same source, human evolution could be the same there, and it’s possible that living things could follow the same process of evolution. The parts we can’t present in the movie this time, such as the human drama that is not included in the action, is something I’d like to present on TV.
Fan: At the time of Be Forever, the background scenery was drawn quite large. Is that the method you’re using for backgrounds this time?
Nishizaki: Yes, it is. We’re being especially careful with the BG’s this time. Special effects are important to the spectacle scenes in particular, so they are being made earlier.
End of Transcript
On a battleship flying through the heavens, the lone man watched over his young charges, his stern expression never breaking, urging them on to achieve their great accomplishment. Now that man has returned again as the captain shouldering the responsibility of taking the battleship on its last voyage…
The revival of Juuzo Okita was absolutely necessary for the depiction of Kodai’s journey to leave the nest. His presence was necessary for Kodai to grow up and make rapid progress. In the first memorable work of Yamato, he was sometimes a severe figure to young people, and other times he had a warm presence. Shouldn’t he appear in commemoration of the tenth anniversary in The Final Chapter?
When considering the end of Yamato, if Yamato were to disappear into an elephant’s graveyard, it wouldn’t be Kodai to take it there, or Yuki Mori. None but Okita could go to this place. In addition, space is an ocean and Yamato is a ship, and when considering a worthy captain with a great presence, only Captain Juuzo Okita is appropriate.
When Okita revives in The Final Chapter, there is no doubt that the depth and width of the drama will greatly expand. Okita is Kodai’s father figure, and he revives as a great character to round out The Final Chapter as captain of Yamato.
Special thanks to Neil Nadelman for translation support.