December 2009: the Explosion
Not since the production years has there been so much Yamato activity in a single month. Naturally, the final weeks leading up to the December 12 release of Yamato Resurrection were the most productive. That was the best time to be a fan, since new things were either being announced or released on a daily basis. For longtime fans, keeping pace with it was a call to action they hadn’t heard since 1983.
This is still ongoing, though the pace has understandably slowed since the premiere. Here’s a record of everything that happened in December.
December 1: Food Products
Circle K Sunkus is one of the biggest convenience store chains in Japan and their Resurrection tie-in compaign began on December 1. In addition to offering advance movie tickets and other products, they created their own “Yamato Bento” food items. The lineup included a Wave-Motion Dog, Wave-Motion Sandwiches, Black Hole Curry, and a Black Hole Roll. Yes, those are the actual names.
Other food items made their debut on December 1st, a set of five pastries by the Pasco company sold exclusively in the Kanto region (which includes Tokyo) in the month of December. The packaging included a mobile phone code to call for movie information.
December 3: Rocks Magazine No. 5
As magazine coverage goes, this one was a real oddball, a wide-ranging publication covering pop culture, travel, fashion, music, and whatever else seems to interest the hipsters at Shibuya Publishing. In this case, they lovingly devoted 34 pages of this issue to a feature called “The World of SF Animation” that focused almost exclusively on Yamato and contained some very unique coverage.
See a gallery of selected pages here.
December 5: Yamato Goods Fair
The biggest day of the promotional campaign was exactly one week before the movie opened. Yamato product exhibitions had been a staple of the production years, appearing in Japanese department stores as previous movies were about to premiere. The host venue this time was the Aeon Mall/Jusco Department Store chain. Think of Jusco as Japan’s version of Target with a mix of standalone stores and anchor stores attached to malls. In this case, Aeon malls.
Three such fairs took place over consecutive weekends in Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagano. They featured many of the displays from September’s Perfect Revival Exhibition, most notably the new 15-foot Yamato model. This became the backdrop for live trivia contests hosted by costumed players with Yamato goods as prizes. (Our roving reporters attended the first two of these events; read their accounts here.)
See a photo gallery of the displays here.
The new products making their first appearance at these events were numerous and unique, though some would not go into general release until late December or January. The real first here, though, was a comprehensive line of Yamato apparel sold exclusively at Jusco stores during the month of December. The only things missing were pants and shoes; otherwise, a fan could now be outfitted in Yamato gear from head to toe.
See a photo gallery of all these products here.
See a Japanese photosite here.
See a promotional video for the event on YouTube here.
One more new product that premiered at the Goods Fair was a second Resurrection calendar for 2010, separate and distinct from the one published in October (examined in our previous report). This one was larger, about 20″ x 30″ and offered plenty of stills from the movie.
See it from cover to cover here.
December 5: TV Specials begin airing
After taking in the Goods Fair, fans could run right home (remember those days, Star Blazers Generation?) and catch a brand new half-hour Yamato TV special titled Tracks of Yamato and Us on Japan’s Family Theatre network. It consisted entirely of an interview with Kouichi Yamadera, the energetic voice actor for Kodai. It kicked off a tie-in campaign of another kind, in which Family Theatre would rebroadcast the entire Yamato saga throughout the month of December with marathon reruns of all three TV series and all five movies. The network’s flyer for the month of December is shown above right.
This was actually the first of three specials that debuted over the following week. The second, Space Battleship Yamato: All the Charm premiered December 5 on TBS and was shown several times on other networks through the 24th. This entertaining program featured a cartoon dad teaching his cartoon son all about the wonders of Yamato. Japan’s History Channel began broadcasting the third TV special on December 11, which was titled The Age With Yamato. It included clips of the Yamadera interview from the first special and spoke to a few other members of the production staff including Yoshinobu Nishizaki.
December 7: Yahoo.jp website
Yamato Resurrection‘s presence on the web increased again with a special Yahoo promotional site that offered guides to the characters and story, and a “preferred customer” program that gave fans discounts on new products sold under the Yahoo banner. Visit the site here.
December 7: Mobile Phone App
The Yamato Crew website achieved another first with a Yamato-themed cel phone application with numerous bells and whistles including wallpaper, a calendar, news updates, and more. See the app’s home page here. Good news: this app IS available to US iPhones! Click here to get your download!
Two more zippo lighters joined the ever-expanding lineup. (Over 30 and counting.)
December 9: Symphonic Yamato 2009
The first of five new CDs was released on this day, a fresh new recording of the famed YamatoGrand Symphony. First performed in 1984 on Japan’s NHK TV network, this four-movement piece was written by composer Kentaro Haneda and is still considered his lifetime masterpiece. Producer Nishizaki had long wanted to honor his work by using some of it in a film soundtrack, and Yamato Resurrection finally gave him the chance. The first pressing of the CD came with three mini-postcards (shown above right)
Read all about the genesis of the Grand Symphony here.
Read more about the music of Yamato Resurrection here.
December 10: Magazine coverage
The January issues of New Type and Animage were published on this day, both of which carried Yamato articles with original artwork by character designer/animation director Tomonori Kogawa.
Animage had featured a comprehensive interview with Nishizaki in its previous issue, which can be read in English here.
December 12: the Premiere
The 26-year wait officially came to an end. Space Battleship Yamato Resurrection Chapter opened in Japanese movie theatres and stayed in the top ten for its first week. This, of course, is only the tip of the iceberg. Read a firsthand account of the premiere here.
This was also an ideal date to roll out even more merchandise to be sold in movie theatre gift shops, which have long been a staple of Japanese cinema. The movie program books that vanished from American theatres in the late 1970s never went out of style in Japan, and continue to be published for practically every film that arrives there from overseas. (Indeed, every major US feature film has its own Japanese program book, or “pamphlet” in the local vernacular. Used bookstores in Tokyo are a movie buff’s paradise.) It therefore goes without saying that Yamato Resurrection‘s program book was a real beauty, 40 glossy full-color pages including the centerspread shown above.
See it from cover to cover here.
Two other publications made their first appearance on this day, and from all accounts they seem to have been exclusive to gift shops in the Toho Cinema chain. Both followed an old-school Yamato tradition established many years ago. The Yamato Resurrection Model Sheet Collection (above left) was a 64-page book of animation designs direct from the studio, featuring characters and mecha. The Yamato Resurrection Papercraft set (above right) allowed you to build a 20″ paper model of the ship. It was co-produced by two companies, Fujitsu Zero Taro Store and Office Prion. Visit their website here.
Both of these publications appear to have had limited print runs. They have already begun to fetch high prices in the collector’s market.
Clear files, plastic sleeves to keep your papers organized, are a common merchandising item in Japan. These two went on sale December 12. The Yamato 2220 logo was a brand developed by the Movic company.
Movic also splashed this logo across a small lineup of commemorative products that included a foil sticker, ballpoint pen, lapel pins, and two types of keychain mascots.
Not everything at theatres cost money, though. A limited supply of card-sized 2010 calendars was given away to all ticketholders while they lasted.
December 16: Soundtrack CDs
Originally planned for December 9, the rest of the new Resurrection CDs were delayed for a few days, which only made fans more eager to hear them. The soundtrack of the film was accompanied by three versions of the end title song performed by rock group THE ALFEE. Each version contained the song (both with and without vocals) along with a bonus track.
Read about the music of Yamato Resurrection here.
The Yamato Crew website added new merchandise to its online store, specifically a new collection of towels in various shapes and sizes from Organic Hobby Co. The one shown at far right came from Movic, released with their other Resurrection products on December 12.
December 21: Charity Auction
The Yahoo.jp campaign peaked with an online charity auction to benefit the World Wildlife Federation, a nice tie-in with the “preserve life” theme of the movie. The prizes were two large-format movie posters, a complete collection of the crew badges given out at the advance preview screenings, and a one-of-a-kind gold plated strap mascot (another item unique to Japan, meant to attach to your cel phone or handbag). The winning bid on December 21 was just short of $3,000 USD.
December 21: Sunkus Campaign Part 2
Special Yamato food products disappeared from Sunkus convenience stores on December 12, but other items had been offered via pre-order in November that began to ship on December 21. This included new t-shirt and cap designs, another lighter, and the second Resurrection calendar.
December 27: Commemorative Set
This interesting mini-collection became available for pre-order from Nippon Broadcasting Projects on December 27 with shipping promised for January. It consisted of a stamp set, three postcards, and a two-sided folder with images from the movie.
More from December
Several other products appeared in December, but their release dates are hard to pin down. These items from the Movic Company were promoted in the movie program book, but were only available online. Above left are a pair of “crystal art” keychains and above right is a pair of 5″ x 9″ “laser crystal art” display pieces with LED lighting.
Here’s a closer look at one of the “laser crystal art” pieces, which retails for well over $300 US.
This one was something of an oddball, a keychain toy with an LED light in the Wave-Motion Gun released by Organic Hobby Co. If not for the label promoting the movie, this might have been a candidate for our gallery of bootleg merchandise.
These digital art prints were made available from an online charity organization named “Heal the Earth,” one by mecha designer Makoto Kobayashi and the other by character designer Tomonori Kogawa. Both were limited to 1,000 copies. Something else to fill up your walls was yet another 2010 calendar (above right), this time in poster form.
The Roman Temple company of Japan released a set of 6 “poster towels” late in December. This is a bit of a misnomer; they’re printed on a fabric that is much too thin to use as a towel, but they can definitely function as posters. Each measures about 18″ x 24.” The first four reproduce original movie posters, and the last two are from Yamato Resurrection.
Then, of course, there was the traditional Yamato shopping bag to drag it all home in.
This concludes our Resurrection coverage through the end of 2009. Click here to continue into 2010!