Left: signed poster at the Shinjuku Piccadilly theater. Right: Cast and staff backstage at the Yokohama Berg 13 theater.
Posted February 25 on Houko Kuwashima’s Twitter page.
February 25: Chapter 1 premiere
Beginning Chapter is the actual bare-bones title of Chapter 1, which consists of the first two episodes. When formatted for the big screen, there were no opening or closing titles. The movie began, played all the way through, credits rolled, and the teaser for Episode 3 finished it off. When the two episodes were repackaged for Blu-ray, they followed the standard TV format, though Episode 1 opened cold. They also had individual titles.
Episode 1: The Year 2202 ~ Revive, Space Battleship Yamato
Episode 2: Tension ~ Go to the Underground Lunar Embassy
Chapter 1 opened in 15 theaters across Japan, and by the end of the day it was announced that five more would be added for Chapter 2 for its premire on June 24. Of course, there’s a lot more to be said about attending an opening day screening for a brand new Yamato film, and you can find it in the Yamatour 2017 travelogue here.
Left to right: Kenichi Suzumura (Shima), Daisuke Ono (Kodai), Houko Kuwashima (Yuki), Harutoshi Fukui (writer), Nobuyoshi Habara (director) on stage at the Shinjuku Piccadilly. Each actor made it a point to wear the signature color of their character.
Live stage greetings
Principals from the staff and cast were part of the premiere, appearing at three different Tokyo theaters throughout the day to speak directly to the audience. Seven different online sources picked up the story. The most comprehensive description came from Animate Times. (See the original post here.)
After 3 years, Daisuke Ono says, “I’ve fallen in love with Yuki again”
On February 25, Kenichi Suzumura, Houko Kuwashima and others gave an opening day stage greeting at the Shinjuku Piccadilly for Space Battleship Yamato 2202, Soldiers of Love Chapter 1. Three years after the hit series Yamato 2199, the long-awaited new series Yamato 2202 begins. The film will screen for two weeks.
For the stage greeting, Daisuke Ono (Susumu Kodai), Houko Kuwashima (Yuki Mori), Kenichi Suzumura (Daisuke Shima), Nobuyoshi Habara (Director) and Harutoshi Fukui (writer) went on stage to share their feelings about the new journey along with secret stories from the voice recordings.
Mr. Ono said to the crowd that he was as “thrilled” as Kodai
After a three-year wait, many fans gathered at the theater from early in the morning for this new launch. The staff and cast members were immediately welcomed with a big round of applause when they took to the stage.
“After the long journey of Yamato 2199,” Ono said to the delight of the audience, “I am pleased to be able to ride this ship again. My feeling right now is the same as Kodai. I don’t know what will happen, but I’m thrilled.”
Ms. Kuwashima said, “I couldn’t believe it (about the new production) at first, but while doing the production presentation and the voice recording, I felt the uplifting atmosphere of gathering with that crew again. Now that all of you are here, I realize that the finished work will go out into the world at last.”
Ever a diehard fan of this project himself, Mr. Suzumura gave his own promising impression of Chapter 1. “As a remake of one of the most popular series, I think everyone looks at it with their own viewpoint. When I watched this earlier, it became a work for which I could say, ‘This is Yamato.’ I think you’ll all have various thoughts, but I think you’ll be relieved when you see it.”
Regarding Suzumura’s mention of “the popular series,” Mr. Fukui emphasized his work on the production. “I always care very much about the point of pleasing the audience, but this film is not the measure. It’s the accumulation of feelings that is most important. In light of that, I added meaning to doing this as a modern remake.”
As big a fan as Suzumura, Mr. Habara couldn’t stand on stage without talking about Yamato. “When I was told ‘you’re the director,’ it overlapped with Captain Okita saying, ‘Kodai, get on board Yamato,’ and that’s how I was able to get here.” On behalf of the passionate staff, he revealed that he felt like Kodai while engaged with the production.
When asked by the MC about performing a character after an interval of several years, Ono said, “I was nervous about getting on board Yamato again, but once I entered the studio that space felt like Yamato’s bridge. When I looked toward the control room from the recording booth, I thought, ‘Yamato’s bridge!’ When I saw that, I thought, ‘I’ve come back to Yamato. Yamato is still here.’ So my anxiety about performing Kodai again disappeared as soon as I entered the studio.”
Kuwashima and Suzumura nodded in understanding at this, and she added, “It helps when that scene comes into view. Also, now that it’s three years later, Kodai hides his emotions behind a manly face instead of just saying ‘Yuki!’ all the time. (Laughs)” On the point of comparing how much they’d grown, Ono smiled and said, “I’ve fallen in love with Yuki again.”
On the other hand, Mr. Suzumura said, “As for me, I feel a sense of alienation. (Laughs)” In fact, Episodes 1 and 2 were recorded separately, and when he joined for Episode 2 the atmosphere on-site was that something was already underway, which he found exciting. He confessed that being welcomed so warmly by the cast and staff was overwhelming. “Yamato can overcome any difficult situation, so I could get over that.”
As other inside stories about the voice recording were told, laughter rose from the audience many times and the stage greeting started to wind down. Closing messages were spoken one by one from those on stage, concluding with Mr. Ono’s gentle statement to all the fans in the audience.
“This will be a long trip. Fun things, good things, and difficult things will strike at us, but the staff and cast will overcome. I said that the recording studio looked like the bridge, and now I realize that everyone in this theater is on the same ship. It will be a long voyage, but let’s all take it together.”
(by Kohei Toyabe)
Host and guests backstage at the Yokohama Burg 13, one of three theaters they visited on opening day.
As we’ve seen in past events, different reporters provide slightly different accounts of what is said on stage. The reporter at Cinema Today, for example, provided these quotes:
On the other hand, Mr. Fukui, the writer of this project, said, “I’m grateful to have gone to another much-loved universe with outer space content, Gundam UC. I was happy to be a caretaker for a while, but Yamato is something else entirely. Everyone on the staff is vocal and full of strong thoughts. I think a lot about those who will watch Yamato, and the accumulation of thoughts is amazing. In light of that, I added meaning to the making of this for the modern day. It’s going to be a long stretch, but thank you for your support.”
Ono had previously been skeptical about doing a sequel, but revealed, “When I stepped into the recording studio, the environment of the control room was just like Yamato. If the captain and Sanada and the young members were all there, then Yamato was there and I felt like I’d come home and my anxiety disappeared.”
Ono joked about seeing the many voice actors on the crew, including veterans such as Yoshitada Otsuka. “The presence of everyone around me was amazing. I felt the pressure of being surrounded by enemies even though I was on Earth. But Yamato is very open-hearted. Takiyuki Sugao (Captain Okita) and I didn’t talk in the past, but now we talk casually and everyone’s bond has deepened.”
And finally, another take from a reporter at Eiga.com…
Mr. Fukui revealed his production struggles. “I previously spent time in another universe (Mobile Suit Gundam UC), creating new content for something that had been beloved for a long time. I’m careful to try and please the audience, but the difficulty of the universe this time was not the measure. Everyone is loud (laughs) and their accumulation of passion is wonderful.”
Limited Edition Blu-ray
Let’s get the elephant out of the room here and now: there are no subtitles on the first Yamato 2202 Blu-ray, either in Japanese or English. There’s a lot to be said about this, and you can find this author’s thoughts here. The rest of this entry covers what IS on the disc.
First, of course, the episodes – both of which are magnificent. If you’ve seen the first half of Episode 1 on Youtube (here or here), know that it only gets better from there. Episode 1 ends with one of the best moments in Yamato history and Episode 2 thoroughly explores the state of life on Earth while spinning up propulsive subplots. The only segment that actually overlaps with the original story is what we see at Hero’s Hill. Everything else is new and still feels completely genuine.
Like the Blu-rays for Yamato 2199, the first edition available to the public is the theater exclusive (which could also be purchased online from Bandai Visual starting March 4). Fans qualify for one by purchasing a ticket for a specific screening, which becomes a voucher. The disc (and other items) can be purchased on-site at the participating theater. Naturally, demand was at peak on the first day, and some theaters ran dry after the first weekend, needing restock to continue.
The slipcase art is by Makoto Kobayashi, mecha designer and assistant director. Extra features on the disc are as follows: textless opening and closing titles, teasers and trailers, audio commentaries, and a 30-minute digest of the production presentation from September 2016. There is also a small booklet which you can see from cover to cover here.
What makes this a theater exclusive are the two books that come bundled with the disc: the screenplay and the storyboards for Episode 1. The storyboard book sports a cover image of Teresa by character designer Nobuteru Yuuki. The official 2202 website reported that the entire pressing sold out on Chapter 1’s final day (March 10) and that they went faster than any of the 2199 editions.
The standard edition of the Blu-ray (and the DVD) was scheduled to go on sale March 24. Order it from Amazon.co.jp here or CD Japan here. Don’t let the lack of subtitles stop you. Cosmo DNA will fill in the gaps as time goes on. Note: if 2202 follows the path of 2199, the slipcase will only be sold with the first pressing.
The movie program books from Yamato 2199 remain the some of the most pleasing publications on that series, full of large color images, exclusive artwork, time capsule content, and more. The 2202 Chapter 1 edition follows that exact format with 40 full-color pages.
See it from cover to cover here with links to translated text.
Every chapter of 2199 had its own collection of products manufactured by a specialty company named Froovie. Over time, those products built up into a mountain of Yamato swag that rivals anything done in the original production years. (See the complete catalog here.)
The Chapter 1 product line repeated some of the tried-and-true items (postcards, clear files, calendar, etc.) and experimented with some new ones as well. Also included were the 2202 newspaper from the previous day and all the new products from Under Armour.
Even if you came to a theater with no money for a blu-ray, program book, or souvenirs, they still didn’t let you leave empty-handed. While supplies lasted, everyone got a killer handout as they walked in: a facsimile of an animation pack from Xebec Studio containing two art prints. For week 1, they were a line drawing of Yamato and an animation layout [genga] of Captain Okita. As an incentive to come back for week 2, the prints were a line drawing of Andromeda and an animation layout of Yuki.
The handout didn’t go smoothly at the Cinema Frontier theater in Sapporo, however. A freight train carrying them actually derailed and prevented them from arriving on day 1. Moviegoers were given vouchers that could be redeemed starting on Monday the 27th.
If you happened to live out of reach of a movie theater, there was one more option to watch Chapter 1 by streaming it from either Amazon Prime or Bandai Channel. The stream included the bonus features and continued after the film closed on March 10.
Chapter 2 advance tickets
It was common practice during 2199 for the next chapter’s flyer to be distributed to theaters along with the current chapter. That didn’t happen this time, but we got the next best thing: advance tickets and a matching poster with the key art that had been revealed five days earlier.
The ticket is actually a voucher to be presented for a seat assignment on a chosen day. The lower portion of the voucher is torn off and you keep the picture portion for your scrapbook. As with Chapter 1, it will play for two weeks. Five more theaters will be added to the current lineup, bringing it to 20.
Chapter 2 is titled Launch Chapter. Standard-edition Blu-rays and DVDs will go on sale July 28.
February 25: Hobby Japan #574
Hobby Japan finally revved up with a nice, plump article the likes of which we haven’t seen since the heyday of 2199. Ten pages were devoted to Chapter 1 with new photos of the 1/1000 Andromeda (now scheduled for release on March 24 with the Chapter 1 Blu-ray) and plenty of space left over for mecha designs and product announcements.
See all the pages here.
February 25: Lottery campaign begins
Ichiban Kuji (Number One Lottery) is a prize lottery conducted at participating convenience stores, usually with different kinds of prizes available. This time the prizes are all “art canvases” with Yamato 2202 images, some of which appear for the first time.
The canvases come in large and small sizes. Pictured here are the larger ones. The Yamato image is a new one by mecha designer Junichiro Tamamori.
Left: lottery ticket display in a convenience store. Right: ad page from the Chapter 1 program book.
February 25: Yamato Jet in service
Easily the second-biggest Yamato event to happen on February 25 was the official rollout of Skymark’s Yamato Jet, a Boeing 737-800 with the registration number JA73NG. As described in the last report, it’s a one-of-a-kind custom-wrapped passenger jet that flies domestic routes within Japan. The interior is tastefully decorated with character art on the headrests, the Yamato theme plays you on and off, and Yuki Mori’s voice actor Houko Kuwashima can be heard on the PA giving safety messages.
The first flight was an equipment run from Haneda airport to Kobe on the afternoon of the 24th, and the first passenger flight went from Haneda to Sapporo on the morning of the 25th. The jet will stay in service through summer 2018.
This promotional clear file was given to passengers which places the Yamato Jet into a size comparison with the rest of the fleet.
You want more? We got more. The official 2202 website visited the plane in the hangar the night before and posted photos here.
Aviation Wire published an article the next day with pics of the interior and the first rollout. See the article here.
See the Yamato Jet’s official website here, which includes two audio samples of Yuki.
Flashback: Skymark’s Yamato Jet display at the February 6 preview event.
February 26: Opening and end titles on Nico Nico
As with 2199, the episode on the Blu-ray differ slightly from the theatrical version, presented in TV format rather than a continuous unbroken narrative. Opening and ending titles are attached, both of which are unique to these episodes and will be modified in Chapter 2.
Textless versions can be seen online at Nico Nico. A membership is required, but it’s free and so worth it. (Tip: upon startup, click the upper right icon to disable the scrolling comment stream.) See the opening here and the ending here.
February 26: Yamaket 9
Previous Yamakets have been covered here in 2199 reports. A nickname for “Yamato Market,” it is a sub-group within a larger single-day fan event called Torilozi that takes place in Tokyo twice a year. Fan circles gather to sell their doujinshis (fanzines) and other craft items. This time, members of the Yamatour 2017 adventure team were there to see them in person.
Watch for more in the Yamatour 2017 travelogue on April 15. Meanwhile, visit the Yamaket Twitter page here.
February 28: iTunes
With the arrival of 2202, everything old is new again. Example: the original 1978 recording of From Yamato With Love by Kenji Sawada was used as the ending theme of Chapter 1. The month ended with it being made available as a single on iTunes.
Take a walk down memory lane with the song on Youtube here:
March 1: SpeakerPodCast episode 76
If you still haven’t had enough (if you made it this far, you obviously can’t), we’ll edge into the month of March with two more entries. First, a conversation with the author of the very words you’re reading right now. (Me, Tim Eldred.) While in Tokyo for Yamatour 2017, my pals at SpeakerPodCast (formerly Macross Speaker) invited me to sit for a spell and share my impressions of Chapter 1. We recorded it the evening of February 28 and it went live the next day.
Hear it from start to finish here.
March 3: Promotion Meeting of Love, part 6 – Looking back at Chapter 1
The final installment of this video series was recorded prior to the Chapter 1 premiere, but released a week later so as not to give away spoilers. Several aspects of the content were examined with accompanying footage, only some of which had been seen in trailers. Fukui and Habara offered their final comments, well-worn from repeated media interviews.
See this episode on Youtube here.
Also spotted in February
Makoto Kobayashi on Twitter
Chapter 1 designer/assistant director Makoto Kobayashi continued his Twitter onslaught, posting exclusive artwork and cryptic comments when we least expected it. See a gallery here.
Fan art just kept on coming and kept on getting better from the new boost of Yamato energy.
Between the 2202 Beginners, the staff at the collaboration café, and a few more contributors, it was a banner month for cosplay from all directions. See a photo gallery here.