Yamato 3199 writer interview, April 2023

From the Star Blazers/Yamato Premium Fan Club magazine, Vol. 16 (April 2023): Writer Harutoshi Fukui and Scriptwriter Hideki Oka break the long silence to update fans on the status of Be Forever Yamato REBEL 3199 and hint at the intrigue to come.

Special Feature: Yamato is Coming!

Harutoshi Fukui (writer) and Hideki Oka (scriptwriter) talk about current status

Finally, the approaching “front line” of 3199 is revealed

The “suffering” and “enlightenment” that await on the road to opening up an unprecedented world of Yamato.

Since the announcement in Issue 15 of this magazine (October 2022), there has been no further information on 3199 for some time, official or otherwise. However, according to Harutoshi Fukui and Hideki Oka, who are both working on the script, production has continued interrupted. Here are their honest reports on the progress of 3199, as told to us for this magazine’s readers!

Photography by Shinya Ohira

What was the reason for the temporary lack of official updates?

Interviewer: At a recent talk event, the latest information on 3199 was newly announced (read about it here). From a fan’s point of view, it’s been quite a long time since the initial announcement at the end of the second chapter of 2205 (February, 2022). That’s why everyone was so happy to hear it. Therefore, on behalf of the fan club, I’d like to ask some more in-depth questions. For example, why there have been no official announcements for a while…

Oka: Well, that’s a very difficult question. To begin with, we have nothing further to say about the content of the video that was presented at the talk event.

Fukui: That’s right. We can’t even tell you who our staff members are yet, so it’s not easy to answer questions. However, I think it would be good for the fan club members to know at least this much: the production was changed from the original studio to another studio.

Interviewer: I see!

Fukui: In the initial plan, the production of 2205 to 3199 was to proceed seamlessly at the same studio (Satelight). But what does it mean when the studio changes? For example, the CG engine changes. So we had to wrangle all the data that had been created up to that point. I originally thought we’d be able to do it in the same amount of time and at the same speed and it would take the same amount of work calories, but it all fell apart.

Interviewer: That was a big event, wasn’t it?

Fukui: It was right after the release of the second chapter of 2205. That’s why I said back then, “It will take some time.” I would never have said that otherwise. Even if it was a year or so away, I would have said something like, “It will be released soon!”

Interviewer: So, for you there was some hidden anguish behind the words, “It will take some time.”

Fukui: I was at a point where I couldn’t even see how we should proceed with the production under such circumstances. However, since we had advertised it so loudly, we had to take responsibility for it. Of course, we’re now working to get the production schedule back on track. To be honest, everyone on the staff is struggling.

Interviewer: I now understand why there has been no update for a while. It seems that the production is progressing steadily. I think everyone will be relieved. By the way, as mentioned in the talk event, from the end of 2202 in 2019 to the premiere of 2205 in 2021, there was a gap of about 2 years. Considering that, it doesn’t mean that the production of 3199 has been “significantly” delayed.

Oka: I would be very grateful if you could think so. I’m sure everyone in the fan community who witnessed the announcement of the sequel at the end of 2205 had high expectations. Although various circumstances overlapped, the flow of information temporarily ceased. We regret that we caused some suspicion and misunderstanding.

Fukui: If the production had proceeded as planned, we would’ve been able to provide constant information. I’m truly sorry about that. The only way I can convey an apology is to assure you that we’re now making something worthwhile.

3199 has been moving forward from 2205 to the present

Interviewer: The promotional video shown at the recent talk event is also described in this issue of the magazine. Do you have any hints or information you can share here? For example, have there been any changes in the structure of the story since you first planned it?

Fukui: The storyline itself was not completely pre-planned. Of course, there are some things that have been reinforced in the process of production. But I didn’t change any parts because I thought, “Oh, this isn’t right.”

Oka: Nothing at all. Mr. Fukui always does what he says he’ll do. I feel like I’m following his lead, thinking, “Don’t get lost.”

Interviewer: Could you tell us about the current progress of the project?

Oka: Let’s see…in chronological terms, the second chapter of 2205 was screened in February 2022. Immediately after that, the development of the scripts and designs for 3199 started in earnest. There was the major event when the studio changed, but preproduction development didn’t stop at all. My impression is that it has continued to accumulate very smoothly up to the present.

In fact, it’s been building up for quite a long time. I feel that we’re making a very good product. We’ve been writing the scripts for a long time, and now finally…finally…I think we’re getting there. I’m not sure if it’s appropriate to put that into words, but that’s how I feel at this point.

War, Corona, and Yamato: the “connection” with the real world

Fukui: Going back to the very beginning, when we started the development of 3199, there was no sign of Corona or war, which is scary when I think about it now. And it turned out to be right on the money.

Oka: That’s really true…

Fukui: Taking that into consideration, the catchphrase I can think of now for 3199 is “War, Corona, Yamato.” The plot of the story is like Be Forever or Yamato III, but I think the theme behind the story will be something else. Strangely enough, what you see in the real world is happening in Yamato‘s world as well.

Interviewer: In that respect, we can expect some very deep development…

Fukui: But there’s no point in making fiction if it just reaffirms that “reality is hard,” is there? Because even if we see the state of the world we’re in now on the screen, how do we perceive it and overcome it? It’s the power of fiction to give you hints for living. Therefore, 3199 will be a work that faces up to reality even more strenuously than the previous series, and it will be like a dialogue with each and every one of our fans.

Interviewer: It seems that the way you depict the characters will also be different from the original.

Fukui: Compared to the original, it’s become even more difficult to define good and evil. In 3199, as in the real world, characters with diverse values will do the “right thing” from their own standpoints. In such a world, there is an “absolute constant” named Yamato. I’ll just say that will be the key to this story.

Interviewer: Wow, I’m curious!

Fukui: I think I can say that the dynamism of Yamato is the best part of the remake series at this point. I hope you’ll look forward to it. Furthermore, we’ll do as much as we can to meet the needs of the mecha and character fans who know the original series, so please look forward to that, too.

Interviewer: It’s awkward that I can’t ask specific questions like, “will XXX appear.” (sweat)

Fukui: I’m sorry, I know I’m making you wait. Regarding mecha and characters, there’s not much point in holding back. (Laughs) It’s still hard to pay that fee, but I think it will be pretty amazing when it’s done.

A new “scent” of Yamato‘s world in 3199

Interviewer: Mr. Oka, is there anything you’d like to tell the fans in response to what Mr. Fukui just said?

Oka: Yes. Regarding the theme, the structure of the story, and above all, the “scent” of 3199, he’s right. As someone who’s working on the scripts every day, let me say 3199 is the hardest Yamato to write in the series so far. (Laughs)

Fukui: Thank you for your hard work. (Laughs)

Oka: Of course, Be Forever and Yamato III are at the core of this project, but as I said earlier, the stories Mr. Fukui creates have a kind of “scent” that was never touched in the original. It’s always related to character and action. I have to unravel it in my own way and understand it, and I think, “Is this how it should go?” The process of exploring that place is quite difficult. I’ve already written about 50 scripts for Yamato. Among them, 3199 is really challenging.

[Translator’s note: Oka is including multiple drafts written for 2202.]

Interviewer: Is it because of the difficulty in terms of content?

Oka: It’s just a matter of difficulty for a writer. For that reason, I think the viewers will find it completely different and interesting. We don’t really know how it will turn out because it hasn’t been visualized yet, but we’re always visualizing the images in our minds while we write. And every time I finish reading a script, I think, “That’s interesting! Is it okay to have so many interesting episodes in a row?” There’s so much going on.

Fukui: No, no, no, it’s fine. (Laughs)

Oka: I think we may have overdone it a little bit. (Laughs) But really, no kidding, my first impression when I receive and read Fukui’s final drafts is, “Oh my God, that was fun!” That’s happening a lot this time.

Interviewer: One keyword that impresses me in your comment is the “scent” not found in the original Yamato. Depending on how you perceive it, some people may feel uneasy about the “scent.”

Fukui: On the other hand, the original Be Forever Yamato also had a new “scent” to it. Kodai and Yuki got separated, and then Alphon got involved. That kind of melodrama was something that had never existed in Yamato before. I think it’s the same thing. For example, the melodrama-like development of those three is expanded to fit the current era. What kind of story could it be if we fuse the theme I mentioned earlier into it? You can think of it like that.

Interviewer: I think what you just said is a pretty big hint.

Fukui: Yes, it is. So, even though there’s a new “scent,” it isn’t something completely unfamiliar. Because it’s a remake…well…I’ll just leave it at that. (Laughs)

Oka: Of course, we don’t know how it will turn out. But ten years have passed since 2199“was released. My feeling is that the story of the remake series is reaching a different point than before. Of course, each series has its own charm, strengths and weaknesses. I think Mr. Fukui’s work this time is very aggressive.

A startling “turnabout” awaits us? Watch for the latest information!

Interviewer: That’s encouraging! I’m glad to have had the opportunity to talk to both of you this time. Finally, could you give a message to the fans?

Oka: As Mr. Fukui said, what you think will appear will appear. We won’t betray you there…or a different betrayal may be waiting for you. I guess it’s like saying, “Please come to the theater with an open heart.” (Laughs)

Interviewer: I’m waiting for a development that makes me say, “So that’s how it goes!”

Oka: Betrayal of a betrayal is called “turnabout,” isn’t it? That’s what I mean. I’d also like to add that Mr. Fukui has a very strong stomach. He can see things from a long-term perspective. On the other hand, my feelings are as close to a fan’s as it gets.

In the script development of 3199, there are times when our opinions diverge. For example, even if I suggest from a fan’s perspective that some “check-in” is necessary, Mr. Fukui will often reject it. It may be necessary from a short-term perspective, but in the long run, we don’t need it. I think this is what makes his attitude so great.

In other words, some of the information that will be released before the premiere of 3199 may confuse the fans. Even in the middle of the story, you may think, “Huh?” But I hope you can make it to the end without panicking. (Laughs)

Interviewer: This is a very important message. (Laughs) Now, following Mr. Oka’s words, please give us your message, Mr. Fukui.

Fukui: I think it will be a work that will stir up more emotions than ever. (Laughs) Seriously speaking, I’m thinking about a lot of things, not from the standpoint of being a Yamato fan, but of one of those who came in during the “second era.” I’m thinking in terms of a total of seven chapters this time, like 2202. I think the feeling of “fullness” when you finish watching each chapter will be quite amazing.

Interviewer: A feeling of fullness!

Fukui: That’s right. Among all the remakes we’ve made so far, I think this one will give you the best feeling of fullness. And when you look at the work as a whole again, you can enjoy it as a package. If it is completed as planned, I think it will be an ideal work for me.

So, like I said, I hope all of you who have been waiting for it will give me a little more time to complete the work, and I look forward to your continued support.

Interviewer: Understood! We sincerely look forward to the next good news!

Message from the 3199 production staff to all fans!

A message to all Yamato crew members has arrived from the staff members who are still working hard on the production of 3199. Here are some of them!

From the production team:

I am very honored to be involved in the historic title Space Battleship Yamato again after a long time. I’ll brace myself so Yamato can sail safely!

Someone has to do this!

From the progress team:

I’m happy to be involved with Yamato in my third year of production. I’m building my strength with energy drinks and sweet foods, and I’ll do my best to blast a hole with my Wave-Motion Gun when the time comes. Stay tuned for more information.

When I was a newcomer, I never imagined I would be a part of the Yamato series! I will do my best!

From the director of 3199!?

When I visited the director’s desk, I found an “OK” stamp on the shot envelope! It’s clear that the production is in full swing.

Please wait for further information on the director’s “identity” (from the editorial department)!

From the design production team:

We’re drowning in regret under the huge amount of materials from the past series to the remake series.

Yamato runs forever. Many designs add to its beautiful form. With the cooperation of a wide variety of people, we hope to continue rowing, rowing, rowing.

From the mecha design team:

We enjoy our work every day.

Supporting the remake series from the business side!

Comments from producers and distributors

The staff involved in “production” is indispensable to ensure that the the remake series, including scripts and visuals, goes smoothly and is released in theaters. Representing them are Mr. Aoyama of Bandai Namco Filmworks, the producer of the remake series, and Mr. Iizuka of Shochiku, commenting on 3199!

Struggling to get 3199 off to a good start!

Katsuki Aoyama (Bandai Namco Filmworks, Inc.)

I’ve been involved in the series since 2199 as a publicist, and I’m currently serving as a producer for the company that manages the production committee. I’m in charge of various operations, such as forming the production committee, securing the budget for production and advertising, managing the grand schedule, theaters, distribution, advertising, and more. My role is to manage all aspects of the business to maximize the success of the production.

I was in the third grade of elementary school when I saw the first episode of the 1974 version in a rerun. It was my first encounter with Yamato. I was overwhelmed by its serious mood, which was different from the anime I had seen before. I remember it well. It was truly an “adult anime.”

Now that I’m involved in the production process, I strongly feel the high level of “enthusiasm” of the main staff members. We have a long meeting every other week, after which we always go out for dinner. After talking about Yamato in the meeting room for a long time, we continue talking about it at the restaurant, and before we know it, the last trains have gone…

Of course, the love for Yamato from the fans is also a great encouragement. As Mr. Fukui and Mr. Habara said at the talk event, seeing the smiling faces of our fans at the theater is a great source of inspiration for us to continue the remake series.

The staff members, including Mr. Fukui and Mr. Oka, are facing the work with more passion than ever before. We’re creating a new Be Forever with respect for the original work. Everything about it can be called a highlight, so please look forward to it.

Without the fans who support the remake series, 3199 would not exist. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you again. In response to your wishes, the staff and we on the production side are working as one to launch 3199 successfully. Thank you for your continued support!

Looking forward to Mr. Fukui’s unique “gimmicks”!?

Hisao Iizuka (Shochiku Co., Ltd.)

I’ve been involved in the remake series since the beginning of the production of 2199. When I was consulted about distribution, I was convinced that it would leave its mark in the history of anime. I strongly encouraged my boss to join the project. As a distributor, my main job is to arrange theaters at the appropriate time and to deliver the work to as many people as possible. I also help with the promotion of the film, but basically, I’m in the position of supporting Mr. Aoyama’s work.

What’s important to me is to make sure the production staff and fans of the film have the same feelings toward Yamato. I believe it is my duty as a producer to make sure that the business responds to the “love” of those who have supported Yamato since the time of the original series.

I’m sure that Fukui-san, Habara-san, and Aoyama-san have already said this, but what makes me most happy in this job is when I meet fans at the theater. Whenever the people of my generation see Yamato, I see their eyes shining like boys and girls, and I’m reminded of how wonderful the theater is. I am truly happy to be involved in providing a theater space where people can gather together with Yamato as their bond, transcending gender and generations.

When I saw the promotional video shown at the recent talk event, I felt that the story of Yamato has evolved even more than the previous work. I also felt that there were some “gimmicks” that only Mr. Fukui could come up with. I hear that the production is progressing well, and I want to see the moving images with color as soon as possible! That is my honest feeling.

As you know, next year is the 50th anniversary of Space Battleship Yamato. I’m looking forward to seeing 3199 together with everyone on the big screen in this milestone year. I hope that all of you fans are looking forward to that day as well.

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