After the production of
Yamato The Final Chapter
Producer Nishizaki speaks
Although the spring release of The Final Chapter is over after a hot, fleeting moment, Chairman Nishizaki is now very busy with the 70mm version to be released in the fall with 4-channel soundtrack production. He shares his inside comments with the fan club…
I’m putting all my efforts into the 70mm edition now
Everyone in the fan club, you have my longtime gratitude. Thanks to you, The Final Chapter was successful beyond expectations. I thank every single one of you for your support and encouragement.
I think everyone knows that I plan to release a 70mm, 4-channel version of The Final Chapter this fall. To be honest, immediately after the premiere I had the feeling that I’d gotten it off my shoulders at last, but in this sense, it isn’t really over. The impression is that the Space Battleship Yamato series is on a break.
The producer bears the final responsibility for the filmmaking. The greatest point of reflection this time is that I misread the total schedule of a year and a half. Therefore, since the spring release in 70mm came down to the last minute, there physically wasn’t enough time to do it, and I had to leave out some valuable shots, for which I sincerely apologize.
I didn’t think this would be such a hard production. This was the first time the monaural sound dubbing took 11 days. The voice recording, rushes, editing, and dubbing work were all concentrated in the last month. It was hard work, and something I don’t think I want to do again.
Also, this was the first time I was working on the spot myself since the first series. No one would support a nameless producer at that time, either.  The people who worked on it really liked Yamato and very few people wanted to try something new, so just looking for a place to do it was very difficult. I prepared a studio by myself on the second floor of a bakery in Sakuradai, and I was always on-site. In that sense, it was appropriate after ten years to return to the origin of the work itself.
This time in particular, I strongly feel the weight of taking on the title of director. Director Toshio Masuda was the person who endured that on-site pressure for Farewell to Yamato and Be Forever. This time, while being a producer I also had to make decisions as a director, and I realized what a difficult thing it was to do.
Partly because of that, there was a sense of fulfillment for me. And since I have the feeling of wanting everyone to see Yamato on the big screen in 70mm, I’m not able to be done with it yet. That’s why it will be completed in 70mm this time, and is filled the feeling of wanting everyone to see it. So now, I’d like to talk a little more about the process of making The Final Chapter.
The attitude of The Final Chapter‘s production
If you make a theatrical film in any genre, it is essential to have a reliable self-standard. That is the role of a producer. This time, The Final Chapter is not just an extension of Farewell or Be Forever, it’s different. It had to be a work that brought ten years to a close. Also, you must add new and separate elements such as story, design, and music. You must enforce the producer’s policy for quality upon each and every staff member. This is difficult work that takes a lot of time.
For the staff involved in Yamato, everyone’s way of thinking is that they want to do Yamato their own way, so it’s not possible in the beginning for a producer to get 100% agreement, and there is various resistance. For example, I repeatedly wrote bulletins for the staff about why it was necessary to revive Okita, but it was very hard to make it physiologically convincing.
In the case of Yamato in particular, the main staff is made up of creators who work independently on other things. To place an order for a single work done by such people, there must be a firm plan on the side of the producer. When you place an order for a more demanding work, it is necessary to sift through what each staff member completes. In other words, if there are only one or two paintings out of ten that you can use, you can’t just throw the others away on a whim. Unless you have a criteria for selection, you can’t accomplish very much.
The point is that the role of producer is the loneliest, and the most mentally painful. However, when a repetition of such things is gathered into a single work, it has a feeling of unity and depth, and shows the strength of the whole.
The road to completing The Final Chapter
Anyway, we had to create a work that was worthy of ten years. I always thought about that. However, patterns often arose from each staff over ten years, and rather than fall into a rut, I wanted it to be thoroughly refreshing.
For example, a lot of time was spent on set design, for City Satellite Uruk in particular. Unlike the ultra-modern civilizations of the past, this enemy had to have a religious tone that originated from the history of Earth people, and since it was difficult to think about how to incorporate that, it took about five times longer than usual for the final design to appear. I had to express my producer’s policy to Tsuji Tadanao so he could translate it into a picture (and there was a huge amount of retakes in this process).
Another feature of this work was that I wanted to get away from the conventional blue tones of our space backgrounds, bringing new special effects with light and color to both the Yamato side and the Dengil side, and Mr. Takayama responded very well to ideas about changing the method of flying.
One more point is that the music is different from previous Yamato. This time, in addition to Hiroshi Miyagawa, Kentaro Haneda participated as a composer and arranger. To give an example, in the scene where Yamato confronts the rising column of water from Aquarius at the end, Mr. Haneda composed and arranged a piano concerto for Aquarius. In that case, what I most wanted to express was the grand final moment of Captain Okita and Yamato. Rather than merely ending in tragedy, I wanted to show their solemn dignity to the last.
TOP: Yamato has ended up having a very large role.
And from it has sprung a large number of veterans who
are currently serving on the front lines.
It doesn’t match the music’s pop origin, but I wanted an arrangement that incorporated the compositional techniques of classical. Between the story, the picture, and the calculation of the music, that was the first time such a heavy scene was developed.
Anyway, because such mental concentration went on for 14 months, I was really tired. But given the content and the schedule, everyone on the staff did very well under such severe circumstances.
Toei Animation did the on-site work such as drawing and photography, and it was the conscience and enthusiasm of each person on the staff that got us to completion. I was again reminded of the magnificence of Toei Animation. I want to work with that staff again.
When I look back at it, Yamato was really blessed with its staff and also brought up a good staff. Yamato was made possible by Leiji Matsumoto going from manga to anime, and Yamato became the starting point for Noboru Ishiguro, Kazunori Tanahashi, Takeshi Shirato, Shinya Takahashi, Kenzo Koizumi, Toyoo Ashida, Kazuhiko Udagawa, and Yoshikazu Yasuhiko. If you consider any of them now, they’ve either made a name as a director or a big-time animation director. At the time of the first series, most of them were just 21-23 years old, and I think Yamato played a major role for them.
This may seem impertinent, but looking at recent anime movies, I think one thing has been forgotten. In movies, the art of the picture is more integrated than in TV, and I would say that no single genre should be dominant. You could say that anime in particular is the unification of ten thousand stitches, and the principle of having a producer to sift through it is indispensable.
It’s well and good to try different things, but since people have to pay 1500 yen to see this in the theater, you need to learn animation production techniques while maintaining a clear eye on the fact that this is a commercial product. It doesn’t mean that we can all be directors. No matter how hard he tries, a writer can’t do animation. When you lack the attitude of seeing it all as a single film production, you don’t have something for people to pay you money to see.
You must use your beliefs and policies to consolidate the three big elements of an animated movie — picture, story, and music — in a certain direction. That’s the core of a producer’s job, and if any part of it is neglected the work cannot endure.
In terms of the design problem I mentioned earlier, you have to judge it comprehensively. (1) Is it interesting as a design? (2) How is it involved in the story? (3) How is it involved with the location? (4) How is it involved with the music? Then I give a single direction in the instructions for the designer. Such an overall orientation is essential.
However, in the old days, a simple thing was good even if there wasn’t much drama to the story. In the 1940s, a lot of animators didn’t need a script to do the storyboards. Animation was a combination of picture and music. You might be able to get away with that in the so-called cartoon genre, but when you consider it as a comprehensive work of art, the old major Toei Pictures productions in the vein of Panda and the Magic Serpent are made much more as animation productions.
Since it hasn’t been very long since the element called drama was added to make it a theatrical production, I think everyone is in the middle of a stage of study, and the process of making an anime movie will mature. I think producers, directors, and animators with new sensibilities will come from among you in the future, but I’d like you to comprehensively study what is called a movie from this point.
Thank you very much, everyone
Now that we’re going into the summer, I’m doing my best to complete the 70mm 4-channel stereo version, but I may not be satisified with this one, either. However, if you think, “This should be good enough for people,” it’s all over.
It’s important to continue being particular. I think that never being satisfied is one of my merits. This is not something I’m proud of, but in this movie, I cut the last scene of the Queen of Aquarius after the premiere day. I think some of you saw it before it was cut, but there is the image of Kodai and Yuki embracing as a couple. They cross-dissolve into the world of the Queen of Aquarius, and I didn’t like the overlapping pictures. And the queen wasn’t good, either. I just couldn’t put up with it. So it was cut from all the prints in Tokyo on midnight of the opening day. This could be a first in the history of Japanese film. But the important thing is that a producer must make the effort for the work to be better right up to the end. I believe in taking full responsibility for the work.
But even if I say the next work may not be satisfactory, there will be some wonderful shots in it. Now that it has premiered, I’ll work only on those. The important thing is that when you start thinking “Ehh, good enough” for not just young people, but for adults as well, you aren’t able to make something.
Unfortunately, the person who could be considered the Spielberg of anime has not emerged in Japan. But the future-orientation of Yamato has characteristics similar to the movies Spielberg makes. But rather than trying to be Spielberg, the problem is in the movie itself. If producers and directors don’t do their studying, a work that surpasses Yamato will not appear.
Over the last ten years, various anime movies appeared that I can assert did not threaten Yamato in terms of content and quality. I think it’s better if those who only thought about riding the boom should quit.
Finally, speaking about future plans, if I make another work within three years after finishing the 70mm version, I’d like to do something different from anime. I won’t say I’m parting from anime, but when I make something I like it will come out very different. This is because after ten years I want to take the challenge of a different genre in the next three years, and I want to make something other than anime.
If I make anime in the future, it will still be space opera. Space is good. It has infinite possibilities. Since an Earth-based story in anime is definitely limited, it doesn’t interest me much.
Anyway, Yamato concludes with this. But also, there’s an urge to make another Yamato. Actually, I think the image of Yamato sailing through space will remain wonderful material forever. However, the story of Kodai, Yuki, and Okita as the main characters was finished over these ten years.
As for the next work of Yamato, if the creator is the same, the quality of the work cannot change. Therefore, if you can accept that the Yamato fan club is an extension of Yamato, I’ll be very happy if you can develop something through the fan club. Finally, it was thanks to everyone that Yamato could continue flying through space over the last ten years.
Thank you very much.
– Producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki
Serialization: Genga & animation[Translator’s note: Genga is the native Japanese word for original art, in this case referring to the line drawings that get transformed into cels.]
Let’s read the intention of the animators from the genga and animation!!
Genga & Animation
Lots of unreleased original art, an exclusive for the fan club
The pictures of Yamato are famous for their beauty and good movement. Of course, the original art is not just drawn, but is informed by carefully crafted storyboards, story development, and screen configuration. And if the animation doesn’t grasp the goal of the production, all meaning would be lost.
Every animator who participates in Yamato goes through hardship, both veterans and young people, and they do wonderful work.
By looking at original art and animation pictures that are just line drawings, the struggles of an animator become more apparent than on film.
Genga is the source of life
When The Final Chapter was released in March, many impressions and opinions were sent to the fan club. Above all, ‘Utsunomiya of Forever Love’ said, “I went to see The Final Chapter four times. Each time, I shed tears when Shima died and Kodai-kun and Yuki were bound together.”
Chiyako Kodai of Saitama Prefecture said, “When Yamato exploded, I was opposed to it. But this is the joy of Yamato. I had to feel the joy of seeing Yamato off! Also Captain Okita. We shouldn’t forget about the death of Shima-kun and the Dengil boy. Something resounded loudly in my heart over the death of those two.”
There seemed to be many opinions on the death of Shima, who has been Kodai’s close friend and rival for many years. “Both of you…be happy…you owe it to me…OK?” Shima smiled with the last of his strength.
It is well said that Yamato brought dramatic characteristics and musicality into animation, but there are other unforgettable achievements, such as how to depict the fun and action of novel mecha designs with reality. The mecha on the enemy side, in particular, was previously often done in a perfunctory manner. Yamato was the first time it was depicted attractively, and everyone agrees that there were no equivalent works after that.
The appeal of this Yamato‘s action is in its depiction of the various friends and foes, the mecha design, the movement, and how precise it is. I think that these give a glimpse into the struggles of an animator, which normally can’t be seen.
Here we introduce some of the new and revised shots for the 70mm version. All the scenes are suitable for the power of 70mm presentation. The dense 4-channel Dolby sound will further expand the depth of the screen.
70mm release decided!!
Once again, you can meet the Space Battleship Yamato movie of this spring that has disappeared. The 70mm version of The Final Chapter is scheduled for this fall. Of course, the development of the story is the same as in the spring. Many shots will be redrawn according to the great power of 70mm, and many shots will be added.
The first highlight will be a change of the last scene. It is presently being redrawn from new storyboards. Even though the 35mm edition this spring was beautiful and popular, it will become even more so with fantastic scenes and more beautiful screen structure. The scene of Kodai and Yuki dissolving into the heart of Aquarius at the end, which was shown only on the first day of the 35mm version, will be newly revised and restored. Among a number of new scenes, it will be one of the best.
In addition, there will be a soccer scene with Daisuke Shima and his brother Jiro, which will be a must-see for Shima fans. With these additions, the retakes will come to 300 shots.
It will also be newly remixed in 4-channel Dolby sound. With the huge 70mm screen and sound system, The Final Chapter should be an even bigger and more powerful film.
Product advertising from this issue: the Final Yamato Super-Deluxe Hardcover book
and record albums from Columbia. (With the first appearance of Digital Trip Final Yamato.)
Special thanks to Neil Nadelman for translation support