Junichiro Tamamori interviews, Dec 2014

Dengeki Hobby

Mecha designer Junichiro Tamamori interview!

The Dengeki Hobby Magazine editorial staff interviewed Junichiro Tamamori, who was in charge of mecha design for the Earth side of Space BattleshipYamato 2199. This time, he talked about the highlights of the Ki 8-type prototype airboat and the Cosmo Reverse version of Yamato, both of which he designed for the new movie, Ark of the Stars.

Junichiro Tamamori Profile:
A mechanic designer. Born in Okinawa under US armed forces rule. As an industrial designer, he is currently active in the field of mecha design and concept design. For Yamato 2199, he was primarily responsible for the mecha design of the Earth side.

Interviewer: What are the attention points of the Ki 8-type?

Tamamori: The Ki 8 is fun because it’s a mecha packed with gimmicks, very much like a toy or plamodel. (Laughs) In the story it makes a spectacular landing on a planet. You’ll see a series of steps in which it separates from Yamato, glides in the sky, lands in the sea, and surfaces in a swamp. It changes form between flight and landing. The wheels have a characteristic shape that allows them to perform on rugged, off-road terrain, and the width of the wheels is variable. It can be used in various environments.

Interviewer: How about the Cosmo Reverse version of Yamato?

Tamamori: The 3D is a little more detailed-up, there’s more scale at the waterline, and a variety of markings were added, such as the turning radius of the turrets. In finer spots, the tips of the gun barrels have become slightly flared. A depth-charge launcher plays an active role in the movie, and the overall expression of details was added. There are also warning marks on the orange-colored cover.

Interviewer: Are there any other points, such as inside stories?

Tamamori: The Ki 8-type recon ship is a “boat.” The Cosmo Seagull had an airplane feeling, and I worked out some rules to create differences. For example, the thruster part. Because it’s a boat, I personally wanted to give it a rocket anchor. (Laughs) In order for the design to accommodate different missions, it has a form in which each part of the hull can be replaced. For example, you could add floats, or enhance its diving ability, or strengthen the flight maneuverability. I worked on the assumption that it can be variable depending on the purpose.

Other than that, there’s a work unit that repairs the hull of Yamato. They appeared in Episode 7 of 2199, but I designed them more intricately for the movie.

Interviewer: Finally, what are your impressions of production for a feature film?

Tamamori: Yamato 2199 was evaluated and improved in various areas, and I was glad to see one thing lead to the next. The overall highlight is that the battle scenes are a bit different, and more powerful than ever. And it’s good news that the rocket anchor plays an active role again. I like that. (Laughs)

November 16, 2014, Production IG meeting room

LEFT: It flew in the sky in the original, and now it’s a versatile mecha that also goes underwater. Tamamori says it was tough to make it realistic.

CENTER: Following the original, the seat placement allows for five passengers and Analyzer. Analysis crew members are seated on the side, making it easy to observe outside the cockpit.

RIGHT: The unique wheel shape makes it possible to run in any environment.

LEFT: The depth-charge launcher makes a spectacular showing in the movie. Since the Wave-Motion Gun has been sealed, One of the highlights is to see how Yamato survives a crisis.

RIGHT: Following the original, the Ki 8-type uses a smaller hatch (to preserve pressure), so a means of storage was devised. The wings fold up and it turns 90 degrees to go into the hangar where it is stored horizontally in the back. It is lowered by a crane and takes off in reverse.

Hobby Japan

Mecha designer Junichiro Tamamori interview

In Yamato 2199 Ark of the Stars, like the Yamato 2199 series before, Junichiro Tamamori deals with mecha design for the Earth side, including Yamato. This time, the Ki 8-type prototype airship makes its first appearance, and since we had the opportunity to interview Mr. Tamamori, we took it.

Junichiro Tamamori profile:
Born in Okinawa under the American military government. On Yamato 2199 and Ark of the Stars, he was in charge of mechanical design and layout supervision on the Yamato side. He has also participated in other anime as a mecha designer, including Amuri in Star Ocean (2008), Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet (2103) and Space Dandy (Episode 23, 2014).

Interviewer: What can you tell us about the new mecha you designed for Ark of the Stars?

Tamamori: The big one was the Ki 8-type prototype airboat. In the planning stage it was called the “Special Recon Boat (tentative)”, but in my imagination I called it the Ki 8. (Laughs) It appeared on Pluto in the original Yamato. The motif is “Special Recon Boat”, and I didn’t change its appearance. It preserves the original’s appearance as faithfully as possible.

Also, there’s the space repair unit for Yamato, which appeared in 2199 Episode 7 and was used for a welding operation. For production reasons, I designed it more intricately.

Interviewer: Which points were you particular about when designing the Ki 8-type?

Tamamori: It is a “boat,” so for example, in the markings around the thrusters I was carefully to give it a different feeling than the fighters. It’s contradictory that something must be light to fly in the air and heavy to work as a submersible, so I worked out the logic in various ways.

I studied actual exploration vehicles for the mechanisms that store the wheels in the fuselage. It also has the image of a rally car, such as a roll bar in the cockpit and a mechanism for high-speed driving on uneven terrain. The retractable headlight has the same image as a Lancia Stratos. [footnote 1]

The roll bar was added so that if the glass canopy is damaged, there’s less risk to the crew. I wanted the seatbelts to have a 5-point system, but there wasn’t enough time, so I went with 4 points.

In the story, after the Ki 8 launches it makes a splashdown, and glides on the water like a motorboat. Then it goes ashore into a jungle, so the moment when the stored wheels come out might be a highlight.

Interviewer: The gimmicks are very interesting. For now, there’s a small 1/1000 version of the Ki 8-type in the 1/1000 Yamato Cosmo Reverse Version model kit.

Tamamori: I also want a Mecha Collection version, and also a toy. I think a toy would be fun just for the wheels. The protrusions are round, so a child could play with it. Anyway, I want a toy of the Ki 8 that I can hold in my hand.

Interviewer: Mr. Maker, please do it by all means. (Laughs) Other than mechanic design, did you do layout supervision this time, too?

Tamamori: That’s right. I added detail to CG drawings this time (detail-up sketches) and there were a lot of them. This was even more fired up than the 2199 TV series.

Interviewer: Does that mean there are a lot of improved scenes of Yamato?

Tamamori: Some parts were shown that didn’t get depicted in 2199. For example, the “Type 94 Depth Charge Launcher” at the base of the mast.

Interviewer: Speaking of that, there’s detail on the plamodel for that equipment, but it wasn’t used in 2199, was it?

Tamamori: There might have also been a Type 94 on Kirishima at the time, but maybe I’m just imagining it. [footnote 2] It plays an active part in Ark of the Stars. It’s quiet, but powerful.

In front of the third bridge, there’s a high-pressure vehicle storage hold. There’s a scene on Pluto in the original Yamato where it was used to launch the special recon boat, which was the basis for this. In a high-pressure environment such as a planet, a round shape is required. That’s the idea. The hold had been drawn for 2199, but my original design for the hangar was used for the first time in Ark of the Stars. Takeshi Takakura worked on the set design and Makoto Kobayashi worked on the CG.

Because the Ki 8-type prototype airship was part of the Izumo Plan [footnote 3], the concept is that it was equipped secretly. It’s depicted as if it starts like a Thunderbird from the container, wrapped up like a secret bell. When Planet Beemera was explored in 2199 Episode 16, there was an attempted coup d’etat by the Izumo Plan party. If this had been successful, maybe the Ki 8 would have been used. It’s possible.

Interviewer: Were there any new experiments made in how to show Yamato in Ark of the Stars?

Tamamori: Chief Mechanical Director Masanori Nishii and Chief Director Masato Bessho talked about that. In Ark of the Stars, it fights in a manner different from what was seen in 2199, in a good way. I looked at the storyboards, and felt that some amazing things were going to come up. In the final battle scene, the rocket anchor is used in an unprecedented way. Of course, any scene with the rocket anchor is a highlight. (Laughs)

Interviewer: You told me about a scene with the rocket anchor in 2199 Episode 3 in a previous interview [footnote 4]. You were passionate then, too. (Laughs) In a story taking place on the way home from Iscandar, Yamato is equipped with the Cosmo Reverse System, which means the Wave-Motion Gun is sealed up.

Tamamori: The Wave-Motion Gun can’t be used, so I think it will be interesting to devise other countermeasures against a powerful enemy.

Interviewer: Finally, this is sort of a personal question. What’s your favorite angle of Yamato?

Tamamori: The angle seen from behind. I like mecha seen from behind. When it’s approaching, it feels like it will pass quickly, but afterward you can watch the back of it for a while. In the case of Yamato, I like the diagonal view from behind and above, because you can look down on the structures all over it, such as the guns and the bridge tower. It’s tough to draw, but I like looking at it. (Laughs) The chimney partially hides the bridge. Even the Cosmo Zero and other mecha look good from behind. I like “talking mecha from behind.”

(One day in mid-November 2014, Production IG headquarters)


1: A sports car made by Italian company Lancia in the 1970s. Also known as the legendary rally car that was active in the World Rally Championship (WRC).

2: Kongo-type Space Battleship Kirishima (BBS-555). The last surviving vessel of Operation M on the Earth side.

3: The plan to escape Earth before extinction by the planet bombs. It was canceled due to promotion of the Yamato Plan to retrieve the Cosmo Reverse System from Iscandar, but followers of the Izumo Plan within the UN Cosmo Navy doubted its chance of success. This resulted in an attempted coup d’etat onboard Yamato while underway.

4: In the September 2012 issue of this magazine. When Yamato 2199 Chapter 2 was screened, we did an interview with Mr. Tamamori. When Yamato was forced to land on the floating continent of Jupiter in Episode 3, a powerful scene was shown of the rocket anchor being applied for braking. [Read the interview here.]

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