Junichiro Tamamori interview
HH: The beloved Ki 8-type prototype airboat plays an active part in Ark of the Stars!
Tamamori: I think of the Ki 8 in terms of a toy. There are gimmicks like the wings folding up and the wheels coming out that would be much more fun in a toy than a plamodel. I’m a hobby fair and toy lover, too, and I’d be really happy to see this done as a chogokin toy. (Laughs) A version that a child could play with wouldn’t have to be done faithfully, and I hope a low-priced version could appear some time in the future.
HH: Bandai’s Mecha Collection is quite reasonable. The feeling of size is good, too.
Tamamori: Sure. It would be a pleasure to see it in the Mecha Collection.
HH: Is it a recent thing for airplanes to have folding wings, like the Cosmo Zero and the new Ki 8? I’ve seen photos of the Osprey.
Tamamori: That’s from the old days. Airplane wings have been removable for a long time now. A hundred years.
HH: Is that so!?
Tamamori: Yes. Hayao Miyazaki depicted them in The Wind Rises. Rigging on biplanes was sectional, stretched over wires.
The Ki 8 takes off from the dome-shaped hangar located in front of the third bridge. The special recon boat launched from there at Pluto in the original work. Because the doorway of that hangar is small this time, it starts with its wings folded, a crane lowers it, it opens its wings, and takes off…the gimmicks in its launch scene are a highlight, too.
HH: The wheel parts have a special shape.
Tamamori: Storage and suspension were taken into consideration with that shape. Because it’s a recon boat, the assumption is that it can run on uneven terrain, and it’s designed to perform in various conditions. When the wheels come out, they twist 90 degrees, and the arm’s shape comes from the storage and deployment mechanism.
HH: Does such a method of wheel storage actually exist?
Tamamori: Well, the original design from the old days assumed the extreme conditions of an airplane, and though I could freely design something like a tank, an airplane has to fly, and the wheels become an obstruction. So the trick was how to find a way to store those wheels. The tires on the original recon boat were a little larger. I worked out a way to store them and summarized it in this form.
The recon boat is an airship and a submarine, a boat that runs across the water, and also on the ground, so it’s a versatile mecha. Inflating the tires with air would cause problems with water pressure when it dives, and I thought a tire with air pressure would run the risk of a puncture. On a real planetary spacecraft, the wheels of a car meant for the Moon or Mars don’t have air in them.
HH: Certainly, those wheels only have metal frames.
Tamamori: I took spacecraft wheels into account. To make a big tire smaller for storage, you can change the width of the tire structure. The tire width of an ordinary car is a bit different from an off-road vehicle, and the width and tread of the tires on this recon car can change in response to the road surface conditions (uneven surfaces on the tire). Because there are six tires, they can be configured to pivot like a tank, to turn around on the spot.
HH: Was such a function considered in the script?
Tamamori: The basic function was decided, and the details were worked out in the storyboard. Because it’s meant for recon, the situation is more unpredictable than exploration, so I thought it should be packed with gimmicks appropriate for recon on an unknown planet.
HH: Recon scenes are shown, too.
Tamamori: It takes off for an unknown planet and comes down in the sea. Then it enters a swamp and rises back up. I watched a number of those sort of research scenes.
HH: In A Voyage to Remember, landing scenes were added for the Cosmo Falcon that didn’t appear in the TV series.
Tamamori: The set design for the hangar was established by Takeshi Takakura. Deck landing scenes were originally made for the TV series, but sadly they were unsatisfying, so they were cut for time.
HH:Ark of the Stars occurs on the way home from Iscandar. Yamato appears in the state in which the Wave-Motion Gun is plugged up.
Tamamori: The plug has the image of a stopper, like a wine cork. In the old days, the inside of the Wave-Motion Gun was gold in an illustration by Naoyuki Katoh. I noticed that it looks that way when you see it from a distance.
HH: There are also some new designs for Yamato‘s body in Ark of the Stars.
Tamamori: The base part of the mast.
HH: Did this form come from the original?
Tamamori: That’s right. It was in the original, but the form is different. There wasn’t an explanation for why some of it was there, and there were mystery parts that had no concept. (Laughs) This time it was designated as a depth charge launcher. Makoto Kobayashi used it in Yamato Resurrection. It wasn’t called that then, but when something was fired out of it, I thought “RIGHT” when I saw it. (Laughs)
The shape wasn’t fixed in the original, so when the outer plating was removed, I made sure the inside could be interpreted to have a slightly different shape. I thought about this and prepared it for Yamato in 2199 just in case, and I’m happy that it got officially used this time.
HH: The role of each part is gradually revealed whenever a new work is made, and it’s fascinating that it seems to touch on the real Yamato.
Tamamori: There were various ideas in meetings about how to launch the depth charges. In the old days, the method was to drop drum cans filled with explosives into the sea, but the opinion was that instead of dropping something like a drum can it would be fine to fire out to the left, right, and rear, then the image was that it would be a bit clumsy, so we went with launching after all. (Laughs) In reference to the old days, I’d say it’s like the image of missiles fired from the shoulder pod of an Armored Valkyrie in Macross.
While it’s not like we did entirely new designs for this, when you look at the first storyboards, we used the depth charges quite a number of times. We ended up shooting a few of the scenes, making them smaller and plainer, but there’s a lot of activity with them.
There’s also a ladder on the back of Yamato‘s hull. It was drawn in detail by hand in the TV series, but this time it’s been done in CG. The side markings around the waterline and thrusters are also now incorporated into CG.
HH: And the tip of the main guns is a little wider, isn’t it?
Tamamori: I also found that out today. (Laughs) The tip of a gun barrel on an actual battleship spreads out in a trumpet-shape. This was added to the TV series with hand-drawing as necessary, but now it’s part of the CG. This area was done at the judgment of Chief Mechanical Director Masanori Nishii.
HH: Even if it’s CG of the same Yamato, various small parts have been readjusted.
Tamamori: Though the basic design is set, small parts can be further adjusted “for use in certain episodes.” The style is to maintain the base and adjust the small parts as the need arises. It isn’t possible to draw everything in fine detail from the beginning, so we divide out and design the smaller parts separately as necessary for performance in the story. Instead of “It would be cool to see this,” it is made according to need, then we take good care of it. Some of the detailed-up designs I prepared for Bandai’s 1/500 scale Yamato 2199 model were dropped in here.
Left: Image board from Yamato Resurrection, Nobuyoshi Habara. Right: Final version of the launchers from Ark of the Stars.
HH: In the story, various parts are depicted and Yamato accumulates more and more attachments.
Tamamori: General Director Yutaka Izubuchi is an attentive person. He’s attentive to people, too, but that also means he’s just as attentive to running jokes like, “We didn’t use this here, so we’ll use it next time.” (Laughs) Yamato has been accumulating for nearly 40 years. I noticed that the windows of the third bridge were open on Iscandar, and since it’s studded with a lot of small parts, I think you can enjoy it when you go back and look. Please look for it in the theater.
Special thanks to Neil Nadelman for translation support