On the December Matsumoto Interview
Starblazers.com carries a lot of it, though apparently more will be released on Otaku USA.
It was an excellent interview. As one of the participants had described earlier, Matsumoto showed a (marked) tendency to generalize and repeat stuff as if from a script. However, the interviewers asked good questions and even when Leiji repeated something we’d heard before, the answers had more detail than usual. It’s also great that they asked questions based on fan input 😀
So how about the questions that our group Hotaru no Kai had prepared? Well, in the portion on starblazers you’ll find questions relating to the Ring of Time, Gun Frontier and the Ring of the Nibelungs. We asked about all of these things (!) though the interviewers’ questions were less specific than ours (it’s very possible many fans asked about them, and so the interviewers just abstracted single questions out of many).
To the question of what’s up with the Ring of Time, Leiji replied that it was a big 0 and it was endless [pardon me for paraphrasing, read the interview if you want the exact quote!].
The interviewers asked about the inspiration for Gun Frontier. Apparently they didn’t ask for specific film influences (the point of our question), so we didn’t get any. Matsumoto got away with saying he loved Westerns, which was something we knew already.
The interviewers asked about the status of the Ring of the Nibelungs. Leiji replied he was aware of this and he intended to finish it, but his answer left me with the impression that it’s nowhere near the top of his priorities. Nobody in the interview mentioned the issue of the missing webcomic volumes 😦
Here are some other interesting revelations, all dealing with origins…
Leiji tells us the name for the original enemy in Space Battleship Yamato comes from the female vampire character Carmilla (check here). This is hilarious, but it makes sense because this is one of those names sensei is obsessed with. There is a witch called Carmilla in Sexaroid (vol. II) and there is a Witch Planet Carmilla in Millennial Queen. If anything, this is just more proof of the pervasive influence of Matsumoto on Yamato.
The Downward Arrow
To me this is the greatest discovery in the interview! The arrow on the Yamato uniforms comes from the emblem of a WWII fighter pilot unit called the Kato Hayabusa (Tateo Kato was unit commander, Hayabusa is the plane’s nickname) . Just look at a picture of their fighters, the arrow is on the tail. The arrow color could be blue, white, red or yellow depending on the squadron.
The Kato Hayabusa unit was so famous that their exploits were made into a film in 1944. Since we know Leiji has always been a film fan, it makes perfect sense he would borrow from this unit. We should consider the following as well:
If you mention Japanese combat planes, the first thing that people think of is the Zero (Mitsubishi A6M). Matsumoto likely loves the Zero, after all his own penname Leiji means “Zero Warrior” (though he himself has given us several other interpretations of the meaning). Matsumoto’s father was a combat pilot. There’s a bit of a problem, though. Japan didn’t have an Air Force during the war, instead it had separate Army and Navy Air Forces. The Zero was a Navy plane. Matsumoto’s father was an Army pilot. How could Matsumoto combine his love for the Zero with his admiration for his father? The Hayabusa (Nakajima Ki-43) is a good solution. It resembled the Zero so much enemies dubbed it the “Army Zero”. Now, I don’t know if Matsumoto’s father ever flew a Hayabusa, all we know is that he regularly flew a Hayate (Nakajima Ki-84) which was designed to replace the Hayabusa. And actually, the Kato unit flew Hayate fighters in the last year of the war. Anyway, this is all speculation on my part…
Gundam and Nausicaa
Leiji states he came up with both names of the legendary anime. Read the interview for details 🙂
Matsumoto confirmed that Zero Desigze is happening, and it might come out in 2011 as an OVA or a TV series. I hope it’s a TV series, it would be his first since 2007 if I recall correctly.
Also, the Galaxy Express 999 live-action project is up and running. Leiji says female actresses have been found but an actor suitable to play Harlock still eludes them. How about Tetsuro?? Who’ll play him??