Space Battleship Yamato 2199, Report 22

After the massively busy month of June 2013, July couldn’t help but slow down the Yamato juggernaut a bit, but that didn’t make it any less of a juggernaut. July was still a very active month with plenty for fans to sink their teeth into–even on the international stage.

July 1: Hyper Hobby magazine #179

This issue lead the month with two pages covering Chapter 6 and the latest product announcements from June. Another two pages (not shown here) presented a new interview with Hirofumi Kishiyama, in charge of developing Yamato 2199 model kits for Bandai.

Read that interview (along with an earlier one from Hobby Japan) here.

July 3: Starblazers.com renewal

After more than six months of hibernation, the website that begat this one finally came back to life. Those of you who have been following these reports since they started know the basics, but here’s a primer for anyone new: I (Tim Eldred) was the managing editor of sb.com from the time it started in 2002 until it was shut down in late 2012 when the Japanese home office of Voyager Entertainment took it back from the US office in New Jersey. When that happened, I founded Cosmo DNA in order to continue what I started there.

The new mission of sb.com is to promote Star Blazers 2199 to the rest of the world. This mission is still in its infancy, evidenced by just a single home page and a press release, but if the world is lucky it won’t stay that way for long. There’s more news about Star Blazers 2199 below, so keep reading.

July 3: Best of My Love CD Singles

SME Records, SECL1354 (standard cover), SECL 1355 (Yuki cover)

American-born pop star Rei Yasuda performed the second end title song for the 2199 TV broadcast, Best of My Love. The single contains two non-Yamato songs, and was the first from 2199 to be released in two versions.

See the short version of the Best of My Love music video here.

July 7: Japan Expo, Paris

Star Blazers 2199 is taking you deep into science fiction, with spaceships, destructive aliens, the last days of humanity, and a last ray of hope comes from a faraway planet!

Those were the first official promotional words written for the series in English, which ironically made their debut on a French website. The Japan Expo is held in Paris every year, and this year’s show included a Star Blazers 2199 exhibit that promoted the show and sold some early merchandise with a new logo on it.

Friend of the website Charlie Martinet was there, and shared these impressions:

No big surprise, except the unexpected screening of the English-dubbed version of the first episode. Too bad they changed the ship’s name to Argo, but I found this dubbed version very good. Talking with the staff of the booth, it seems that the ship’s name change is a real choice for them, they think Yamato is too connoted in some countries (he mentioned China).

See photos of the 2199 exhibit (and more) at a French blog here; scroll down to find photos of the poster book.

See the online Japan Expo program listing here.

The same dubbed episode was also shown at Anime Expo in Los Angeles that weekend, but without a booth.

July 7: TV Episode 14

Star Blazers 2199 was also the first topic to come up on the Nico Nico simulcast that accompanied Episode 14. The Yamato Girls held up a sign commemorating Star Blazers 2199‘s journey overseas, and to forgive any annoyance over incoming comments from foreign countries. (Gee, thanks a lot, Japan.)

Other announcements included the forthcoming Red-Eyed Ace manga, soon to debut in Comic Blade, which gave Shiki Aoki (cosplaying as Akira Yamamoto) something to be very proud about.

Following the viewing of Episode 14, another highlight of the simulcast was video coverage of Japan Expo in Paris, which gave everyone a look at the Star Blazers booth and another for Nico Nico.

The simulcast closed with a little on-camera promo for items being sold in Nico Nico’s online shop, and the usual snappy Cosmo Navy salute.

July 8: Project Yamato 2199

When the Project Yamato 2199 CD single broke back in May, it was announced that its proceeds would go to charities related to earthquake relief in Japan. One result of that effort came to fruition on June 14 and entered the news stream on July 8: copies of the CD had been sold through the SLA (School Library Association), and 1 million yen (about $10,000) had been raised to purchase books for children’s libraries in three prefectures.

Singer Hironobu Kageyama (pictured here) visited an elementary school in Fukushima on June 14 to hand over the inventory list in a special ceremony.

July 10: Rest in Peace CD Single

Lantis, LACM-14100

JAM Project is well-known vocal group that has been producing anime themes and concerts for well over a decade (the name stands for Japanese Anison Makers; “Anison” is slang for “Anime Song”). They were part of Project Yamato 2199, and were next in line to produce an ending song. Rest in Peace was the closer for Chapter 6; the disc contains this song and an unrelated track, both in vocal and instrumental-only versions.

July 10: Uverworld Announcement

In other music news, a surprising announcement emerged from 2199 headquarters: for the first time ever, a Yamato TV episode would begin with a different opening theme song. As of Episode 16, the opening theme of Yamato 2199 would be a song titled Fight for Liberty by the A-list hard-rock band Uverworld. The band members were quoted as saying they worked hard to write a song worthy of Yamato.

Fans were quite thrown by the song and the re-edited opening title, which can be seen on Youtube here. The single was released August 14 with the cover art shown above right.

Visit Uverworld’s official site here, and visit a fansite here.

July 10: New Type Ace #23

Though this was the final issue of New Type Ace, very little evidence of it could be found in the body of the magazine itself. It contained a stunning foldout poster of Akira Yamamoto by anime/manga artist Koichiro Yonemura, promo pages for the anime, Chapter 16 of the manga by Michio Murakawa (taking us into the goodbye-Earth party from Episode 7), and another Lessons from the Past column by Ryusuke Hikawa.

See all the internal pages here. The Lessons column will be translated in a future update.

Not until readers got to the end of the magazine did they see a notice that the key titles would continue online at…

July 10: Nico Nico Ace

The same day New Type Ace #23 appeared (and quickly sold out in many locations), Kadokawa publishing revealed that many of the manga titles therein would transfer to other magazines and the online Nico Nico Ace manga site. The site would inherit Tiger & Bunny, Full Metal Panic, Yamato 2199, and others. No explanation was given for cancellation, but with such high-profile titles (Gundam and Macross among them), the magazine could not have been inexpensive to produce, so that sort of limits the possibilities.

The last page of the magazine announced that Yamato 2199 would resume on the Nico Nico Ace website August 27. It’s free to register at Nico Nico, and there doesn’t appear to be a paywall, so access should actually increase thanks to this move. The 2199 manga is due to resume in New Type Ace #95 on August 27.

July 10: Naoyuki Katoh Clear Files

Kadokawa had other news for Yamato fans on the same day when these clear files arrived for sale at the Niigata Manga/Anime museum gift shop, all derived from paintings by Naoyuki Katoh (first seen in the movie program books). Katoh had also live-painted a Yamato mural for the museum’s grand opening in May to kick off a 2199 exhibit. That exhibit was extended into early September when manga art by Michio Murakawa went on display at the museum annex, Niigata City Manga House.

July 10: Nico Nico Shopping

Nico Nico’s online shop added some new 2199 products that had previously been offered at movie theaters, hinting that the shop could be a clearinghouse for overstock. Either way, fans now had somewhere new to go for paper towels and neckstraps.

July 11-14: Brazil Comic Con

The next stop on Star Blazers 2199‘s international tour was Sao Paolo, Brazil for an event affiliated with the annual Anime Friends convention, now in its tenth year. Keep reading for more.

See Brazil Comic Con’s online program listing here.

July 13: Mecha Collection Present Campaign

Bandai Hobby found a new way to market the kits that put them on the map back in the 70s, the miniature Yamato Mecha Collection models that originally sold for just 100 yen and turned an entire generation into plamo builders. Six of the models were recast in translucent colors and renamed the “Mecha Colle Cosmo Clear Version.” “Present” in this context means “free gift,” which means if you buy a 2199 kit from Premium Bandai you’ll get one of these along with it.

See the Premium Bandai web page for the campaign here.

July 13: Yamato Lecture 5

This is a series of fan events that’s been going on pretty regularly since July 2010. (Friend of the website Gwyn Campbell reported on the first one here). Starting under another name, it switched to Yamato Kouza [Lecture] in April 2012 and continues to bring in elite fans to explore the wide world of Yamato at the Loft Plus One nightclub in Shinjuku, Tokyo. One highlight of each Kouza is a new round of promo images by some of the best artists in the fan community.

Visit the Yamato Kouza homepage here, which includes links (in the lower half) to art galleries.

This time, the theme was Yamato 1966. The mission was for the creative minds on the panel to develop presentations based on what they thought Space Battleship Yamato might look like if it had been created in 1966 rather than 1974. Contributions came from the worlds of 2D and 3D with art, animation, and CG images that have to be seen to be believed.

See a large collection of art and stills here. See fan-made animation on Nico Nico here and here.

July 13: Chapter 1 re-release

If Yamato 2199 were American-made, chances are good there would be a marathon showing of the previous films before the final one arrived, and this was apparently not lost on the Japanese home office. Six weeks before the premiere of Chapter 7, just such a marathon started when Chapter 1 returned for a one-week engagement in four theaters. Every other film would follow.

July 14: TV Episode 15

This time, the Nico Nico simulcast opened with a look at the Super Formula racing world and the progress of Team Le Mans’ Yamato 2199 racer in the 2013 season. In Round 3 at the Fuji Speedway, Driver Ryo Hirakawa placed 12th in the qualifier on July 13 and finished 11th in the race on July 14.

As you can see by the photo below, even Team Le Mans is getting in on Star Blazers 2199 promotion.

Hirakawa improved his performance in Round 4 at the Twin Ring Motegi speedway three weeks later, qualifying 13th and finishing 7th. Those interested in continuing to track his progress can do so at the Super Formula English-language website.

Visit the Team Le Mans X Yamato 2199 website here, and see the home page for the Yamato racer here.

After all the other simulcast activities were over, the Yamato Girls got to watch a kindred spirit from across the ocean in video footage from an event in Brazil called Japan Fest. The camera followed a Brazilian Yuki Mori (who only communicated by handwritten signs in Japanese) as she showed off the Star Blazers 2199 booth and wandered out into the cosplay zone to mingle with other colorful characters.

July 20: Comicon International Presentation

Another week, another country. Star Blazers 2199 arrived in San Diego for the mother of all American conventions. As with Anime Expo, there was no booth, but a screening of promo videos and the dubbed version of Episode 1 played to a packed house of several hundred fans. The screening was held by Bang Zoom Entertainment, who have dubbed the first two episodes for promotional purposes and are currently tasked with finding a distribution partner. They had even flown in a Yuki Mori (pinup idol Shiori Kawana) direct from Japan to hand out flyers for the screening.

As an eyewitness to the event, I can share some impressions. First, the promo videos are exactly what you can see on starblazers.com, so head on over there to form your own opinion of them. The dubbed Episode 1 was identical in content to the original with no edits of any kind (though there was no end credit roll). All the Japanese character names were intact, and the translated script was completely faithful. When holding up a bottle of booze, Dr. Sado actually calls it sake, not spring water. (Though I have to admit, it would have been funny to hear it again.)

Some pronunciations were a bit off; Okita was Okeeta and Gamilas was Gameelus (not even “Garmillas,” which means somebody didn’t get the memo). Planet bombs were referred to as “long-range meteor bombs,” and some of the other material I’ve seen indicates that the term “Wave-Motion” is due to be replaced by “Tachyon Wave.” But the biggest change of all is the one tipped earlier in Paris — Yamato to Argo. The best I can say about it is that this dub is not necessarily the final product.

The voice acting, while not in the league of the original Star Blazers, is definitely competent and could become very good if the actors are given time to develop. Captain Okita and the other UNCF officers were perfectly cast with experienced, authoritative voices. Many recognized Johnny Young Bosch in the role of Kodai, and I could get used to him. The one area of the performance that was universally panned in later discussion was the space sailor’s song in the middle of the episode. The lyrics were less than accurate, lip sync was way off, and the sentiment was jolly rather than resolute. But again, this is not necessarily the finished product.

In a nutshell, if Bang Zoom lands a partner for this, the potential is there for it to be done right. Time will tell.

The only other Star Blazers presence at Comicon (aside from bootlegged DVDs, which turn up every year) was a Bandai hobby booth with a display case of model kits, all parked behind a Star Blazers 2199 logo card. Regrettably, none were on sale — possibly because all the boxes say “Yamato.”

Continue to Part 2 of this report

6 thoughts on “Space Battleship Yamato 2199, Report 22

  1. I’m placing this here because I can’t find the relevant location. Are the “In our next Star Blazers” segments still needed for restoration or have they been found? I have most of them from off-air broadcasts of varying quality. Is there someone I should contact?

  2. When will Star Blazers 2199 be released in the United States, i would like to own it in Blu-Ray to watch the epic tale of the crew in the new animation style.

    • No idea. It depends on a lot of things that haven’t happened yet. News like that will break on our Facebook page before being reported on the website.

  3. It’s the 21st century, did they really need to release this new series under the starblazers name?
    Haven’t we grown out of this yet?
    This animation is called Space Battleship Yamato 2199. The stories focus revolves around the resurrection and travels through space of the Yamato (not argo).
    I don’t understand after all this time why this animation like others in the past have to go through a
    no longer necessary name change. Are we really so sure that this franchise will not sell well enough under its original name?
    The 1980′s are over, WWII has been over for far longer, whatever reasons or fears of resentment over the name or history of Yamato are as far as I am concerned are no longer valid.

  4. Unfortunately, we’re not dealing with people who have a strong working knowledge of English-speaking fandom, and they vastly underestimate how far Yamato has penetrated outside their own country. (Some are surprised to learn that the rest of the world even knows about anime.) All they know is that the English version of the show is called “Star Blazers” and they believe it will be more recognizable under that name. On the positive side, only the show title is changed. All the subtitles are 100% authentic. (The name “Argo” never comes up.)

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