Dr. Yoshiki Tanaka (田中芳樹 Tanaka Yoshiki, born October 22, 1952) is a Japanese novelist. He was born in Kumamoto Prefecture and took his doctorate degree in Japanese Language and Literature in the Graduate School of Gakushūin University in Tokyo.
His major works include the fantasy novel series Arslan Senki (アルスラーン戦記), also known as The Heroic Legend of Arslan, and the sci-fi space opera novel series entitled Ginga eiyū densetsu (銀河英雄伝説), also known as Legend of the Galactic Heroes, both of which were adapted as anime and manga. His fantasy works also include the novel series Sohryuden: Legend of the Dragon Kings (創竜伝) that was also adapted as anime.
Tanaka is an avid fan of the Chinese history and writing some novels set in China. He also published two arranged-translations of Chinese literature: "Sui Tang Yanyi" (隋唐演義, "Romance of Sui and Tang") and "Shuo Yue Quan Zhuan" (說岳全傳, "Telling the Complete Biography of Yue Fei") as "Gakuhi-den" (岳飛伝, "The Story of Yue Fei").
Interview Excerpt (1996)
"The Legend of the Galactic Heroes" that began with just one episode.
The first volume of "The Legend of the Galactic Heroes" was published in 1982. After that, the novel series continued for 7 years and the anime, which became an epic series, running for over 10 years, began. In 1996, eight years after the anime started production, the father of the great legend, Tanaka Yoshiki, spoke about the birth of the series.
What was the impetus for writing "The Legend of the Galactic Heroes?" I had a vague desire to try writing something like the various "space operas" that I read when I was a kid. In 1978, when I received Phantasmagoria's (Phantasmagoria Co., Ltd. 1975-1979) rookie of the year award, some of the authors who got their start Phantasmagoria were gathered and a long-fiction commission competition was planned. At that time, I said "I'd like to try writing space opera," and I got to fulfill my dream. I came up with the title "Galactic Chess Game," and I wrote the overview of hundreds of years of history of the galaxy up through when that story was to take place. In that history, two people, Reinhard and Yang Wenli faced off in one episode from the past... or so the story goes... (lol). That's as far as that draft ever got. After that, I got a call from an editor at Tokumashoten completely out of the blue. At which point, I remembered the long work [draft?] I'd written three years ago already and showed it to him. And when I did that, because the outline of the history leading up to the story was more interesting than the story itself, he ended up telling me to try writing about that in the style of a historical novel. To tell the truth, ever since I started writing it, because I'd put so much effort into writing it [the history], I got really attached to it, even I thought I'd rather try doing a story from that. And so, without even deciding on a title, I started writing, and it became "The Legend of the Galactic Heroes."
When the planning for the anime version started, how did you feel about it? I think it was around the time I'd finished writing the eighth volume, I remember hearing that there was a plan to that effect in the works from the managing editor. When I said "Wha..." and went silent, he asked, "What do you want to do?" (lol). I'm pretty sure I said things like, "I'd like to meet them and ask some questions, but there's no way they could serious, right? I don't think it's for real." After that, it felt like it happened right away, the producer, Tahara called me and when he said "We really want to do it," I think I said something incredibly rude like "Seriously?" and he had to go as far as to say, "Oh, it wasn't a joke, you know" (lol). Knowing that it was "for real," I met them, but even though I actually met them, I still absolutely didn't believe just how far that talk would go (lol). When I thought that it was just going to be an hour, covering a particular episode, he said, "That's what we'll do at first, but eventually we want to adapt the entire series into a 100-something episode anime," and it felt even more unreal (lol).
Your impression of the producer, Tahara? When I tried meeting him, I understood that he was, "Seriously thinking about it," and brimming with enthusiasm. I didn't think I was that cynical a person, but, at that time, I didn't think it was really going to happen. When he said, "At any rate, we want to adapt the entire story," I remember tactlessly saying, "I really appreciate your saying that, but I think that's kind of impossible..."
Interview Excerpt (2001)
Crossing over the border between novel and anime and the jointly owned world of "LoGH"
It was the year 2000 when all 165 episodes of the anime, "The Legend of the Galactic Heroes," were completed and 12 years had passed since the first movie, "My Conquest is a Sea of Stars." The following year, the sale of a DVD-BOX containing all 45 volumes was to be announced, and the original author, Tanaka Yoshiki, looked back on the anime version of "The Legend of the Galactic Heroes" once again.
Now, having seen the anime, what are your impressions? Even the lines that made me think, "now that's clever," when I was writing them still make me feel embarrassed when I hear the voice actors actually say them out loud (lol).
How was it hearing the voice actors' voices for the first time? At the very beginning, I asked to be allowed to listen to the [candidates'] voices when voice actors for the main characters were being selected. When I heard the first set, I thought "It's this one for sure," but when I heard the next, I'd think "Ah, this one is great," I had to resign half way through (lol). I decided that I'd leave it to the experts and look forward to the finished product.
Why do you think they've supported it this far? Looking at the anime as an outsider, I think it's because the staff's earnest zeal got through to the viewers. As far as the original (the novel series) is concerned, to be honest, even as the author I don't know... If I knew that, I think I'd be able to put out hits one after the other, wouldn't I, but it's probably for the best (lol). When the images on the screen so clearly presented things like the sense of scale that I struggled with when I was writing, I remember thinking "this was so hard when I was writing this part" (lol).
Is there anything else you could tell us about the anime version? When people from the 20th century say things like "I'm reading LoGH" and "When I saw the anime in elementary school, I really got into it," I feel like I've been struck in the back and calmly think "Ah, I'm really old aren't I" (lol). Whenever I talk to fans who read the novels first and then saw the anime, and fans who got into the novels through the anime, I end up wondering if they understand each other (lol), but it makes me happy to hear talk of kindred fans sharing their feelings and getting along. Please watch it as you please, and, other people might not understand it but, if you find a point where you say "for me, this is the best!" that makes me the happiest.
- Legend of the Galactic Heroes (Ginga eiyū densetsu 銀河英雄伝説, 1981–1987)
- The Heroic Legend of Arslan (Arslan Senki アルスラーン戦記, Part One 1986–1990, Part Two 1991–on going)
- Sohryuden: Legend of the Dragon Kings (Sohryuden 創竜伝, 1987–on going)
- Yakushiji Ryōko no Kaiki Jikenbo (薬師寺涼子の怪奇事件簿, 1996–on going)
- Tytania (タイタニア, 1988–on going)
- Ambition Waltz (Yabou Enbukyoku 野望円舞曲, co-authored with Yuki Oginome)