Space Battleship Yamato 2199, Report 8

With this report we walk through the entire month of June, which culminated with the exciting premiere of the second movie in Japanese theaters. Naturally, everyone was buzzing about what was to come in Chapter 2, but there was still plenty to follow up on in Chapter 1 as you’ll see in this collection.

June 1: Hyper Hobby #166

This issue carried a 3-page article that offered glimpses of what was to come in Chapter 2, mainly gleaned from the trailer, and devoted a page to the forthcoming line of 1/1000 scale model kits showcased at the Shizuoka Hobby Show in May (shown in Report 6). There was also a completely unexpected bonus in the form of a bound-in chapter of the extremely rare “lost” Series 1 manga by Yuki Hijiri. And not just any random chapter–the rarest of them all, reproduced in unprecedented clarity. Read all about it here.

Finally, there was a half-page mini-article about Isao Sasaki’s live mini-concert in Ikebukuro, Tokyo on April 27 to commemorate the release of the first Yamato 2199 CD single. It included a transcript of his remarks to the crowd, which are translated here:

A mini-live performance to commemorate the sale of a CD for Space Battleship Yamato 2199 [containing the Yamato theme and The Scarlet Scarf] took place in the open air at the Ikebukuro Sunshine Plaza fountain on Friday April 27. On that day, Space Battleship Yamato, The Rival, Yamato!! The New Voyage, and finally The Scarlet Scarf were sung with passion and wrapped in thunderous applause from the spectators who surrounded the open space.

A new recording of Space Battleship Yamato was done for the first time in 38 years. I figured they would have wanted a younger singer to do the theme song of the new show, so I’m grateful to have been chosen. Really, thank you very much. I think that making this new production “this Yamato” as opposed to “that (legendary) Yamato” makes me happier than you could imagine.

Although Mr. Hiroshi Miyagawa’s son Akira is in charge of the arrangement for the new recording of Yamato, the tempo is slightly slower than the original. Akira said that when the band began their performance, this tempo seemed to come naturally. With the tempo relaxed a little, it could be said that it brings out the dignity of Yamato.

When [Hiroshi] Miyagawa conducted the band, the tempo swelled and rose steadily. It flew over the Magellanic Cloud and was the thrill of the perfect Yamato score. (Laughs) Akira reproduced it faithfully, and I think he hasn’t revised it very much, but when I listen to it, I hear it becoming every “Space Battleship Yamato.”

Hiroshi’s music is intense. More than the tempo, the way he dives quickly into the brass. Akira brings a gentle feeling to it, which comes from his character. Naturally, Mr. Miyagawa was himself also a gentle man. (Laughs)

The first message in the song is the utterance of “su” in “Isucandaru-e.” To people in Tokyo, “su” is left silent. But Mr. Miyagawa pronounced the “su” clearly because he was from Kansai. Since it is quite different there, I’d like you to compare it.

The recording of the Yamato theme 38 years ago was serious work. The first sheet music I received the day before was wrong, so I had to practice desperately at the recording site. The producer said, “sing it romantically with dignity and sorrow,” and Mr. Miyagawa said, “sing it brightly and cheerfully.” (Laughs) By the end of it, I was dizzy. For the final recording I was in a state where my voice was almost gone, but I was able to sing it in good condition this time, so the bass tones come out considerably.

The Rival was an insert song for Farewell to Yamato. Yamato was a big hit by that time, so I was extremely busy every day and my voice wasn’t coming out during the recording. When I was told we were expected to do a grueling 3-day recording session, it was hardly surprising when my voice was incredibly hoarse by the time we got to the “Dessler” part.

I haven’t had many opportunities to sing Yamato!! The New Voyage since it was the theme song of the telefeature, but it’s a good song and also seemed to be Mr. Miyagawa’s favorite. When I was listening to it before for some sort of timing thing, I said, “That song sounds pretty good after all this time, I didn’t think I made such good music, myself.” I sang my own praises. (Laughs)

The Scarlet Scarf is one of Mr. Miyagawa’s best-loved tunes, and even he cherished it himself. It used the melody of [his earlier hit] Una Sera di Tokyo. This new recording’s mixdown emphasized bossa nova chic with its rhythm. So conversely, its tempo may seem fast compared to the Yamato theme, but it hasn’t changed from the old days. Also, the way it ends has been clarified in this new recording. The one from 38 years just continued into a fade out, but with this one it’s easier to understand the timing for when to take a bow, which I’m thankful for [when I perform it] live. (Laughs)

When you listen and compare it to the one from 38 years ago, I think it is an enjoyable discovery. I think you’ll enjoy it by all means.

June 8: New Type Ace #10

The 4th chapter of the Yamato 2199 manga by Michio Murakawa reached the conclusion of Episode 2 with the launch of the ship and the start of the mission. As usual, it included extra scenes not seen in the anime. The two pages shown above promote the second movie and the first collected manga volume, which was published on July 7. Writer and superfan Ryusuke Hikawa’s second column on the making of the original series followed the manga as a companion piece.

See all the manga pages here for chapter 4 here. Mr. Hikawa’s columns can be read here.

June 8: Animage #409

The king of all anime specialty magazines, Animage got its start because of Yamato and finally gave Yamato 2199 a nod in this issue by publishing an extended conversation between Director Yutaka Izubuchi and veteran staff member Yasuhiko Yoshikazu. This intriguing article can be read here. Also featured was an interview with Kodai’s voice actor Daisuke Ono. Translated text follows:

Reviving the Legend from Across the Galaxy

Daisuke Ono Interview

37 years after its first broadcast, Yamato launches again for the fate of the Earth! The former masterpiece that adorned the first issue of Animage revives anew. Strangely, Animage is the same age as Daisuke Ono, who plays Susumu Kodai. And what is Yamato all about?

In 2199, Kodai’s connection to Shima does not change

Interviewer: The original broadcast of Space Battleship Yamato on TV occurred before you were born, and you are playing Kodai in the new work. Did you see the old one?

Ono: I only knew the theme song from that time, but in fact I saw the work itself after I learned that I would audition for the cast of Yamato 2199. At first I watched the original movie on DVD, and although I knew it was a rough version of the story, I enjoyed the story structure very much. It’s been called “the Royal Road,” and the “pinnacle of SF anime,” and I feel that when I touched it I understood it at last.

Interviewer: Do you feel pressure from being involved with such a big-name remake?

Ono: When I heard, “It was decide to give you the role of Kodai,” though there was the feeling that I couldn’t believe it, I also felt that “It happened!” and it would “become a role that will influence the actor’s life.”

As for the flipside, the weight of responsibility, various thoughts mixed together in my head, and my stomach hurt only a little. (Laughs) But the cast is a gathering of various generations from veterans to young people like me who were not from the “Yamato” generation. There is a lot of thought about the value of the original work, and the feeling of passing it along properly to the next generation.

Interviewer: Between the original work and 2199, the impression of the Kodai you play is very different.

Ono: Although I think the passion and purity at Kodai’s core has not changed, I feel that he’s a little more mature in 2199. The original Kodai was more aggressive and acted before thinking, but Shima Daisuke takes that role in 2199. In the previous work, the nature of their relationship was that Kodai was always pushing forward and Shima stopped him. Now it’s been reversed and Kodai admonishes Shima for being the light-hearted moodmaker. But Kodai’s attachment to Shima does not change, and I think their relationship is very balanced. It’s a part of the plot that is reliable.

Interviewer: Are there any other places where you feel 2199 has been changed from the original?

Ono: It’s remarkable that there are many more female characters. In the former work, Yuki Mori was responsible for a variety of tasks from communication to radar to taking care of injured people. But even when these are shared among the increased number of female characters, the delicate feeling and movement of Yuki is shown, too, so I think the charm of Yuki comes straight through.

Attractive women characters advance to various fields to share the role of the original Yuki; not just Yuria Misaki on the bridge, but also the nurse Makoto Harada, Akira Yamamoto who is transferred to the flying corps, and the cool beauty Kaoru Niimi who organizes data under Sanada. This is affected by the needs of the times. They’re pretty and fun, and I think this is one of the highlights of 2199.

Yamato is studded everywhere with manly romance

Interviewer: Chapter 1 has already been shown in theaters. Which scene left an impression on you?

Ono: I was never in the “Yamato Generation,” but “after all, this Yamato is for me, too!” I was thinking about that line from Captain Okita at the beginning, when he says, “Idiots.” Captain Okita says to the communications hand, “Tell them ‘idiots’.” And the communication hand asks, “huh?” And he says, “IDIOTS!” I’m fascinated by that scene. This is “manly romance,” and the work called Yamato is studded everywhere by manly romance.

In order to support Okita’s withdrawal at the Battle of Pluto, the Yukikaze crew charges at the Gamilas fleet and begins to sing. It becomes a chorus. The scene of them confronting an enemy with overwhelming firepower and then dying a noble death was really heart-rending. I can sing that song, too. But regrettably I couldn’t participate in the recording of the song, since it was only the Yukikaze crew.

Interviewer: It’s a very impressive scene, although it is hopeless and sad.

Ono: I think it’s just as good even if I see it many times. It’s an “impressive song,” and I think this commitment to music is another charm of Yamato. It seems the lyrics were written by General Director Izubuchi, and it also has a great melody. Speaking of music, the score for the original was by Mr. Hiroshi Miyagawa, and his son Akira Miyagawa inherited it to remake it now. I was impressed by the thought that a new generation also inherits the legend here. There is also the theme song, but I feel it grabbing my heart when I just listen to the BGM.

Interviewer: Chapter 2 will be shown in an event starting in theaters on June 30. Please talk about your enthusiasm for what happens next.

Ono: The new Yamato has finally launched. Whether you like the old work or you’re being touched by Yamato for the first time, it’s a work both can enjoy and I can recommend it to both with confidence. The staff and the cast I work with are engaged in it with that thought. Though we received many passionate comments from those who saw Chapter 1, regarding that production, I once again think about how there’s a palpable enthusiasm to it, one that builds upon a previous generation. The legend has been inherited. It’s not just me; I think everyone who is connected to the work wants to protect it well and had it down to the next generation.

We should all inherit the legend of Yamato

There is a story to be told to the present times

Space Battleship Yamato was born as a TV series in 1974, and the new interpretation carried out in the remake Yamato 2199 overflows with love and respect. Following Chapter 1, which was shown as an event in April, Chapter 2 contains episodes 3-6 and shows for two weeks starting from June 30.

No matter how you look at Chapter 2, the appearance of Emperor Dessler gets the attention. Standing before Yamato, Aberto Dessler reigns from the top of his nation and the mysterious Great Gamilas Imperial Planet. His cool-headed presence only increases in this remake when combined with the excellent performance of [voice actor] Koichi Yamadera.

In Chapter 2, Yamato shoulders the fate of Earth and the voyage to Iscandar finally begins. Yamato takes the first warp navigation toward battle with the waiting Gamilas forces, shows the firing of the Wave-Motion Gun, and one ability after another. You’ll have to keep your eyes on what lies ahead for them on this voyage after these developments.

June 8: CG World #167

Specializing in the industry of Computer Graphics in anime and film, the January 2011 issue carried a cover story on the live-action Yamato movie, and this issue put the spotlight on 2199‘s CG production in a remarkably informative 4-page article. It was one of three anime productions covered in this issue, hence the “Contents 03” headline. Translated text follows:

The ambitious work that built many battleships and fighters with CG

This product is a remake of the first Space Battleship Yamato TV series, broadcast in 1974. Needless to say, it is a human drama, but the fleet battle of mecha drawn with dense detail unique to CG is a big highlight. Here we introduce how it is made with great concern about detail.

Text: Hiroshi Okawara (Bit Planks)

From the right: Takashi Imanishi (CG director), Mr. Awaji
(CG technical chief), Hideao Shimizu (CG modeling chief),
and Mr. Uechi (CG technical chief) of Sunrise D.I.D.

A new Space Battleship Yamato drawn by modern imaging techniques

Here I want to introduce Space Battleship Yamato 2199, the anime work directed by Yutaka Izubuchi that opened in a theatrical event and video-on-demand service from this April. It is a work of completely new animation with Sunrise D.I.D. in charge of the CG portion. We asked CG director Takashi Imanishi, CG modeling chief Hideo Shimizu, and CG technical chiefs Masahiro Uechi and Rie Awaji about the production of Yamato 2199 Chapter 1, centering around the battle scenes and model production.

It is said the company got the offer at the beginning of 2009.

“Since I’ve known director Izubuchi for a long time,” said Mr. Imanishi, “I heard about the plan, and I was a bit surprised that they called on Sunrise D.I.D.”

Mr. Shimizu also expressed his surprise at being involved with Yamato. On the other hand, Mr. Uechi and Mr. Awaji weren’t part of the generation that watched the original, so they began by studying it to get a feel for the world of Yamato. Although they both felt the pressure of participating in such an important project, they also had a strong feeling that it would be a rewarding one.

The CG scenes, which the company took charge of, total 80-100 per episode. Actual production began before storyboards were completed, in the latter half of 2009. They started modeling sequentially based on finished mecha-related designs.

Model work advanced while conducting frequent communications with director Izubuchi, whose policy was “to produce a new Yamato while honoring the taste of the original,” and this became the focus of the entire staff.

“The commitment of the director was the commitment of all the staff,” said Mr. Imanishi, speaking for the craftsmanlike spirit of this long-established anime production company.

So let’s introduce the making of this work with a focus on creating mecha with CG.


Space Battleship Yamato is redesigned while making the most of the original work

A sharp body is produced, incorporating elements of modern mechanics.

New designs were done for Space Battleship Yamato‘s CG mecha models this time. It is said that the taste of modern state-of-the-art fighters and warships was included in these designs. Additionally, Yamato itself had more girth in previous works, but this time the form has become thinner and more stylish.

Although model building started when designs were completed, there were some areas where small details had not been decided. Beginning with a check of the rough form, additional parts and detail changes were done in consultation with director Izubuchi. Since he is a master of mecha design, the models for Yamato and all the other mecha were produced with great passion.

In addition, it became necessary to add details based on the storyboards even if they weren’t present in the design image, so the model was sometimes detailed up depending on the scene.

[Click here for an enlargement of the art on this page.]

Production of Space Battleship Yamato

The CG model was rendered based on the design drawings. Modeling was carried out with 3ds Max 2010. Careful instructions for detail were written on the design image. Although the model incorporates many fine details, some scenes are improved by adding further detail drawn by hand.

Space Battleship Animation

In this work, even in relation to the movement of the mecha, there’s some very obsessive animation added in there. To illustrate, in the scene where Space Battleship Kirishima turns, it’s cruising through space, so there’s really no need to show it rolling slightly as if it were on an ocean. However, since the director was insistent on the details, we added in a brief bit of roll to the hull as it turns.

Similarly, since this production’s Space Battleship Yamato has been designed with a more stylish form, though it’s difficult to impart a sense of mass and weight to the movement, we slowed down its turning speed and such to give it a nice anime-esque feel while still showing that sense of mass and weight.

Other Mecha Design

Many of the mecha that appear in this work are revived by new designs that carefully follow the mecha images of the original. As for decals added to their hulls and bodies, they are designed to include fine distinctions between the UN space army and UN ground forces. It can be said that the commitment to detail for this work gives the mecha as much presence as the characters.

Point 2

Setting the Lines and Textures

The commitment to a cel look that reproduces a hand-drawn feeling

The mechanic models for this work are all expressed in a cel-look drawing style using Pencil+3. The degree of line thickness and density in rendering was repeatedly adjusted by direct communication between the director and the staff.

“The director requested some intimidating expressions from the CG side,” said Mr. Imanishi, “but because of Director Izubuchi’s commitment and perseverance, we feel that we have found a very distinctive look.”

Being a mechanical designer himself, Director Izubuchi’s precise expressions give the entire production a gravitas worthy of his previous works. In addition, because of the care given to the image of the original work, different line strengths are used for different types of mecha in order to carry out a freehand drawing style. For example, in the case of Yamato there are many thick and thin lines, whereas the lines of the Gamilas ships are comparatively flat. Also, to match the texture of the paint as seen in the original Yamato, brush expressions are used to show dirt and wear caused by flying and fighting.

Expression of the mecha according to the strength of lines and brushes

[Click here for an enlargement of the art discussed below]

[A] Design screen of Space Battleship Yamato in Pencil+3. The battleship’s lines are thick due to size reduction for camera distance settings, but the lines on a smaller ship like the Cosmo Zero are thinner for balance with Yamato. Additionally, [B] shows the texture brush circumferences for Yamato and [C] shows the texture setting windows for the Cosmo Zero. The brush + decal processing is finely tuned. Also, the texture of the brush uses Composite Material in 3ds Max to synthesize multiple fragments.

Retouching the lines with hand drawing

The CG image is composed and rendered with temporary effects and handed over to illustrators. The CG material is enhanced with fine details including weathering and scratchy lines to emphasize a feeling of weight and presence in the finished frame. It is said that CG scenes with hand-drawn detail-up enhancements amount to about one third of the total.

Point 3

Powerful 3D Effect and a Planet Bomb

Pursuit of a dynamic expression appropriate for anime

In this film, the powerful effect of battle scenes is also a highlight. Many explosion effects have been developed using AfterBurn, a plugin of 3ds Max. According to Mr. Shimizu, standard effects such as the blast that erupts from Yamato‘s main guns were developed before scene production began, but the people in charge of individual scenes develop effects for the warp and Wave-Motion Gun.

These effects are processed with After Effects, but because the CG department at XEBEC performs the final composite, we have to keep coordination between us in mind and use basic plug-ins as much as possible.

Additionally, even part of the planet bomb that attacks Earth is made with 3DCG. A miniature model was created in advance and read with a 3D Roland DG scanner, which the company owns, to convert it to 3D data. The glowing light effect from inside was accomplished after trial and error and the final finished look has great impact.

[Click here for an enlargement of the art discussed below]

An effect is adjusted to a cel-like tone

An explosion effect is produced with particles in 3ds Max and given volume with AfterBurn. The effect is given solid volume at the time of rendering and the enhanced glow is synthesized in After Effects. Also, according to Mr. Awaji who is in charge of effects, it is finished with motion that looks as much like a cel illustration as possible so there is no mismatch on screen.

Image [A] shows the trajectory setting for the particles of the explosion in 3ds Max. Texture effects are created in image [B] and then adjusted with further processing in [C] for rendering. [D] shows the explosion as it appears in the finished sequence.

Utilizing a 3D Scanner for the Planet Bomb

A miniature of the planet bomb [A] was created with material like a pumice stone. After reading it with a 3D scanner, there is a large number of polygons in the data [B], so they are reduced by about 60% [C]. Additionally, [D] and [E] show states of development for the look of a planet bomb. The location and strength of the glowing light is adjusted, then a steam eruption is added in this example of a completed scene with a synthesized Earth [F].

Continue to part 2 of this report here.

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