Great Mechanics DX #31 interviews

The new feature film Space Battleship Yamato 2199 Ark of the Stars has been released. Mr. Junichiro Tamamori was in charge of the mecha design for Earth vessels this time, and Yamato of course, and appealing new mecha appears in the film, including the debut of the Ki 8-type prototype airboat! Also, we hear about highlights and expectations from members of the Production Committee: Producer Fujisawa of Bandai Visual and Producer Suzuki of Shochiku. In addition, we’ll introduce the warships of Gatlantis, which sweep in to block Yamato‘s return voyage!

Junichiro Tamamori Mecha Commentary ①

Secrets of the Ki 8 prototype airship (a.k.a. Stork)

Ki 8, the versatile mecha that can fly in the air and run freely on land and water

The 2199 mecha of Junichiro Tamamori, who was in charge of mechanical design for the TV series, such as Yamato and vessels of the UN Cosmo Navy, will appeal to many people once again. One of the mecha he was in charge of for Ark of the Stars was the Ki 8, with its many variations and gimmicks. We asked him about the characteristics of this mecha.


[1] The rear wings fold up for compact storage.
[2] Variable wheels are stored in the underside
to make rough off-road running possible.

Interviewer: What is the concept of the Ki 8-type?

Tamamori: The Ki 8-type is the mecha that came up in the original work with the name “Special Recon Ship.” It was redesigned to fit the world of 2199. This is a versatile mecha that can fly in the air, run on the ground, and go underwater, so I thought about how to bring a reality to that.

Paying attention to the ground-based capability, off-road races favor wheels on moveable arms, so I thought that kind of suspension would work. Tire treads are variable, too. The tire can also be compacted to fit inside the fuselage.

Interviewer: There are six independent tires.

Tamamori: That’s right. The tires (wheels) turn 90 degrees and can be retracted into the fuselage.

Interviewer: It’s quite a gimmick-laden mecha.

Tamamori: It will make mecha enthusiasts happy. It has a 5-seat cockpit with three facing forward. The two rear seats are turned sideways to face outside. And Analyzer can fit on board.

Interviewer: Like a flight engineer on an old passenger plane?

Tamamori: It could be like that. However, of the front free seats, the center seat is shifted slightly. The front left seat is the commander’s seat. The pilot sits in the center, and the navigator is in the front right seat. The basic idea is that two analysis crewmembers ride in the rear seats. The pilot and commander share some instruments and equipment, so the commander can take over and steer it.

Also, in order to support every mission at the idea level, it’s possible to exchange positions in the cockpit, and I thought parts could be exchanged as well, to make it multipurpose. It could take on food and water for long-term missions, or load ballast weights for deep sea exploration. It’s only limited by the brain. (Laughs)

Interviewer: It’s a versatile ship.

Tamamori: It’s a machine, a boat, and a car. The vertical tail has the feeling of a ship’s mast. Mooring cleats are installed at the vernier thruster parts to tie on a bowline rope. The Ki 8-type plays an active part in this movie, so I hope everyone will see it at the theater.

The road to the new feature film

Shochiku / Shinobu Suzuki
Bandai Visual / Yoshihiko Fujisawa

Interview with the producers

The seed was planted at the time of the TV series!?

Interviewer: The new feature film Ark of the Stars was released continuously after the compilation movie. There aren’t many examples of that up to now. How is it perceived on the box-office side?

Fujisawa: In fact, the new feature film was conceived around the time Chapter 5 of the TV series was being made. We asked Director Izubuchi, “If we do a feature film, what would be the content?” At the time we were making the Battle of the Rainbow Star Cluster, seed-planting began with Berger and Mikage Kiryu.

Suzuki: Not all the staff members had a bead on the feature film in those days. I only had a small role in it, something like Junichi Sawabe (Berger’s voice actor).

Fujisawa: I appointed Eriko Nakamura in the part of Mikage Kiryu with the expectation that she might be in the feature film.

Interviewer: Did you ask Director Izubuchi if he wanted to do a 2199 feature film?

Fujisawa: 2014 was referred to a the “40th Anniversary of Yamato.” I stood up on the Production Committee side to talk about doing a movie. We got to talking and the question was asked, “How about a compilation?” I replied that it felt like we’d need two of them for three or four hours. That would be impossible with the box-office situation in theaters now, since the flow of the story was not new.

If a new one was made, including completely new designs, it would take two or three years, but we received a proposal from Director Izubuchi saying, “How about making a new work using the designs from the TV series?” which would be set on the way back from Iscandar. It would be a new story, since that part of the TV series was never depicted.

Interviewer: I guess Director Izubuchi had “I want to do a story about the return trip” in mind.

Fujisawa: It was thought about in various ways. A story solidified between episodes 24 and 25 of the TV series.

Interviewer: When Gatlantis appeared in the TV series, it felt like a stepping stone to this movie.

Fujisawa: At the beginning of Episode 11. That had a fan-service aspect to it, but we also wanted to show the spectacular strength of Domel when he destroys the Gatlantis fleet. Okita is amazing, but Domel is too, and I think that’s exactly why it was done.

Suzuki: It was not 100% calculated, but I think it planted various seeds for the director to decide how he wanted to use Yamato. I think the content of the feature film was the best thing to do at this time. The understanding is that this becomes the completion of 2199, and it’s a worthy story.

Focusing on Kodai’s action and the music!

Interviewer: What are the highlights of the film?

Fujisawa: The feeling in the TV series was that Kodai was under Okita, and when he finally takes command of Yamato in the movie, it takes us toward the next generation. In the TV series, all the Kodai fans worried and cried that “Kodai doesn’t play an active part,” or “Yuki!!” (Laughs), and I’m sorry we kept them waiting, but I think this is a must-see.

Interviewer: The composition pulls in the young people, doesn’t it?

Fujisawa: That’s one of the film’s highlights. After that, we don’t know the relationship of Earth and Garmillas, but by the movie, Kodai and Berger have taken on the kind of relationship that Okita and Domel have.

Suzuki: Speaking of the highlights of the film, and the characteristics of the theater, please focus on the music and sound. Taro Hakase performs the music of the main theme, and the score by Akira Miyagawa is wonderful, too. The theme of Gatlantis was played on a pipe organ in the original, and you’ll be able to enjoy that melody rearranged in the BGM.

Interviewer: In the past, Yoshinobu Nishizaki used to say “Yamato is musical,” and I think that’s exactly so of 2199. I think you’ll enjoy it in a theater.

Fujisawa: As well as the music and sound, there’s also the great mecha and a huge fleet battle builds up in the story, so I think it becomes very cinematic.

Junichiro Tamamori Mecha Commentary ②

Yamato‘s depth-charge launcher and Kirishima

Interviewer: We already talked about the Ki 8-type, and now I’d like to hear about Yamato.

Tamamori: There’s a scene in the film of Yamato using the depth-charge launcher at the base of the main mast. These parts were attached earlier, but this is the first time it is shown in action.

I only designed its shape in the 2199 TV series, and it was just designated as a depth-charge launcher to be used at some point. This is also the center for the brain, where the mast and antenna parts communicate to locate the magnetic N pole and S pole, which makes it the rational position to install a launcher. It fires anti-ship mortar shells, sort of like a Hedgehog. The cover of the storage container opens, and there’s a powerful launch.

This actually existed in the original design, but that part wasn’t used in the story. It was nice to use a previously unknown concept in 2199.

Interviewer: What else were you concerned with this time?

Tamamori: Kirishima appears again, and it got a detail-up. Since it looks like a warship hoisting its flag, I definitely wanted to give it some attention.

Interviewer: The long project of 2199 has finally reached its climax, and I’d like to get your impressions.

Tamamori: In making the 3DCG, I wonder if I can take advantage of that experience in my industrial design work, even a little? It was difficult, but quite enriching.

The End

Special thanks to Neil Nadelman for translation support

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