Yamato Year 2012

The time has come once again for a look back at the previous year in Space Battleship Yamato. Obviously, the lion’s share of the attention went to all things 2199-related as my monthly reports described in detail, but the series didn’t quick suck all the air out of the room; some was still left over for other parts of the saga. That’s what we’ll examine here, since it was all worthy of preservation.

Cinema and Video

Yamato Resurrection: the Director’s Cut

The first project out of the gate for 2012 was the eagerly-awaited redux of the 2009 Resurrection feature film, which promised to address various points that fans found wanting in the original. Chief among these was the soundtrack, which was completely re-engineered to use the original Yamato sound effects and music library. There was also a handful of new and improved scenes, but unlike the conventional notion of a director’s cut, this version of the movie was actually shorter by 11 minutes. Most of that time came out of the ending, trimmed back to provide a stronger bridge to the sequel (now in development).

The project first got underway in 2010 under the supervision of Yoshinobu Nishizaki before his untimely death later that year, then it was picked up by co-directors Nobuyoshi Habara and Makoto Kobayashi. Preview screenings were held in mid-January, then the film opened in two independent theaters (one in Tokyo, the other in Osaka) on January 28 and played for one week.

Read all about it here.

It was accompanied by a modest collection of merchandising, and then later released on DVD and Blu-ray March 23.

Yamato 2199

The premiere of each 2199 chapter in Japanese theaters kicked off a two-week run. Chapter 1: The Long Voyage on April 7, Chapter 2: Desperate Battle in the Heliosphere on June 30, and Chapter 3: The Endless Voyage on October 13. Limited-edition blu-rays were made for early sale with standard-edition versions released a few weeks later.

For those not yet conversant with 2199‘s unusual release pattern, here’s a primer: 26 episodes are being made, all at standard TV length. Normally, a series would start on TV, go to home video, then see a feature film treatment later if enough interest is there. 2199 is essentially taking the reverse route; the episodes are being packaged into 7 movies that break in theaters first, then quickly go to video. Sometime after the series completes this course, it will probably go to TV (in 2014, according to early information).

Why go this way? Because TV broadcasting has an entirely different structure in Japan. There, an anime studio actually has to pay a network to broadcast a series. This means all the seed money has to come from up-front merchandising, which gives the licensors a controlling interest. Another anime series called Gundam Unicorn was the first to try this particular workaround, wherein that seed money could be earned in theaters instead. That paved the way for 2199, which has successfully added instant video sales to the mix. The entire industry is watching with interest, and certainly taking note.

Space Battleship Yamato original series Blu-ray box set

This remarkable set arrived on July 27 from Bandai Visual; 6 discs for the 26 episodes, plus a bonus disc. The entire series was remastered for unprecedented clarity and prodigious extra features. It was co-produced by Anime Commentator Ryusuke Hikawa, the original Yamato superfan who founded one of the first fan clubs in Japan and (by extension) founded anime fandom itself.

During the making of the series, Mr. Hikawa visited the anime studio many times and amassed an unparalleled collection of production artifacts, all of which were catalogued and organized to serve as the extra features; storyboards, scripts, designs, background paintings, layouts, cels, and more. The bonus disc contains the bulk of these, but some are also set up to run simultaneously with the episodes they belong to. There’s even a feature that puts a vintage TV frame around the 3×4 video picture to give you the experience of seeing it in 1974. Hikawa also participated in a few audio commentaries with Yamato 2199 director Yutaka Izubuchi.

As if the discs weren’t enough, there are two full-color booklets to deepen the experience. First is the “Standard Version File,” which covers the series episode by episode in 36 pages with liner notes and production art. The 64-page “Deluxe Version File” explores the making of Yamato with rare documents and artifacts, many never before published.

All the above can be found in the box set priced at 42,000 yen. A less expensive (36,750 yen) “Standard Version” was also released on the same day with less packaging, the first of the two books, and no bonus disc. It should be obvious which one the true fans go for. As of this writing, both versions can still be ordered from either Amazon.co.jp or CDJapan for international shipping. (CDJapan’s prices are a little higher, but their website is entirely in English.) Finally, shown above right is an exclusive Captain Okita ballpoint pen, a bonus item one could get if they ordered the set from the Yamato Crew website.

Space Battleship Yamato movies on Blu-ray

You can be forgiven for wondering why this hasn’t happened already, because it’s long overdue. And it still hasn’t happened as of this writing, but on December 27 the classic Yamato movies were finally announced for Blu-ray release in 2013 from Bandai Visual. They’ll be spread out over several months; Farewell will be the first out of the gate April 24, followed by Space Battleship Yamato June 21, The New Voyage August 28, Be Forever October 25, and Final Yamato December 25. Some bonus features are promised, but other than new booklets they have all been available on previous formats. As for picture quality, the first three films have always looked their best, but there is room for significant improvement on the last two. Be Forever and Final Yamato received less QC than they should have when Bandai released them to DVD, but this is a chance to make up for it. (For one thing, this will be the first opportunity to do justice to Be Forever‘s “Warp Dimension” effect on home video, so let’s hope they take it!)


Publishing

Yamato Resurrection Art Calendar 2012

January 10, Yamato Crew

Yamato calendars were a regular product back in the production years, then disappeared for a couple decades. They made a roaring comeback in late 2009 when three new ones were published for 2010. There were none for 2011, but things got back to normal when the Yamato Crew website announced this one (in the fall) for 2012 by mecha designer Makoto Kobayashi. Development art appeared on the site and those who placed pre-orders were offered a page for download on November 28 (shown below). The calendar contained the six pages shown above right and shipped on January 10.

Space Battleship YamatoShip’s Log Magazine #0

April 25, Yamato Crew

Japanese fans who had signed up for a Premium Fan Club membership at the Yamato Crew website received a free copy of this full-color, 24 page magazine which picked up where the original fan club magazine ended almost 21 years earlier. It featured an introduction by fan club chairman Shouji Nishizaki that mentioned (among other things) the beginning of work on Yamato Resurrection Part 2, interviews with two key personnel from the original saga: Director Eiichi Yamamoto and Production Designer Nobuhiro Okaseko, interviews with original superfan Ryusuke Hikawa and vocalist Isao Sasaki, pinup art by designer Masahiko Okura and manga artist Michio Murakawa, Yamato 2199 design art, messages from various staff members, and a remembrance of Yoshinobu Nishizaki. It was announced at the time that future issues would ship quarterly to those who paid for a full year’s membership in the Premium Fan Club.

Space Battleship Yamato Ship’s Log Magazine #1

September 30, Yamato Crew

Hooking fans with an amazing giveaway issue was a great way to convince them it was worth buying a club membership for more. The cover image on issue 1 was brand new at the time, linked to Yamato 2199 Episode 9 and drawn by its director, Nobuyoshi Habara. It’s also interesting to note the English spelling “Fun Club” on the cover, which is exactly how “Fan Club” was spelled on the very first issue of the original club magazine from 1978. We’ll have to wait for issue 2 to see if this was intentional. This issue’s 36 pages contain color and b&w design art for 2199 chapter 3, interviews with Director Nobuyoshi Habara and Character Designer Nobuteru Yuuki, articles on Yamato history, staff messages, and more.

Proud of Yamato Visual Book

May 5, Office Legacy

The title was perfectly chosen for this landscape-format hardcover, assembled in cooperation with Voyager Entertainment: 112 pages of cels, backgrounds, and promotional art culled from the personal collection of Yoshinobu Nishizaki. It premiered at the one-day Yamato Party convention and became available for purchase a few months later at the Yamato Crew website. It is not currently offered by other sources.

Back Issue Magazine, #59

August, Twomorrows Publishing

And you probably thought everything on this list came from Japan, didn’t you? This magazine covers the comic book industry with some excellent journalism that stretches far and wide. This particular issue focused on specific crossovers between comics and animation with extensive articles on titles such as Space Ghost, Jonny Quest, and Star Blazers! An 8-page piece by Daniel DeAngelo walks through the various incarnations of Star Blazers in American comics from the Comico titles all the way through the webcomics at ourstarblazers.com.

It is highly recommended that you seek out your own copy, but for the time being you can read the article here.

Geek Magazine #2 (October 2012 issue)

August, Source Interlink Magazines

One other welcome addition to the slowly-growing US publishing list was this issue of Geek, specifically for its foldout poster which puts some very well-known SF spaceships together in a single image titled “Starship Smackdown.” This was a tie-in to a special event of the same name at Comic Con International in San Diego, in which the topic was discussed at length (with a surprise special guest in the audience). Look carefully, and you’ll see Space Battleship Yamato among these proud ranks.

Click here to read all about the Comic Con event and see it on video.

2013 Calendars

December 10, Yamato Crew

What could be a better ending to this list than an inherently optimistic look into the future? Measuring about 11″ x 16″, they were both offered for pre-order at the Yamato Crew website in late November for publication in December. The 2199 calendar features images from the first two episodes, and the other features selections from the Proud of Yamato Visual Book described above. Both are available exclusively from the Yamato Crew website.


Music

February 16: Eternal Edition CDs reissued

Columbia Records has been Yamato‘s music publisher from the beginning, but they won the hearts of Yamato fandom forever when they released the long-awaited Eternal Edition series in 2000 and 2001, bringing a large volume of previously-unavailable tracks to CD for the first time. This re-release consisted of volumes 1-10, The Best II (a followup song collection) and the Premium box (symphonic albums). Volume 0, which contained tracks linked to Leiji Matsumoto’s Great Yamato manga was deleted from the set for legal reasons.

As it turned out, this was a preparatory move, since Columbia had something even bigger in the works.

April 9: Sound Almanac series announced

And this was it. Nippon Columbia revived the “Eternal Edition” brand name in order to expand it. The purpose of the Sound Almanac series is to remaster the entire Yamato catalog, 30 CDs released bimonthly over two years. This is scheduled to include not just additional bonus tracks, but also complete albums only previously available on LP.

The discs are named chronologically and divided into four sets in connection with special premium products: storage cases that can hold 15 discs apiece and something else to be announced later in the run. As of this writing, 10 discs have been released and are covered below.

See the official website here.

Spring Concerts

Akira Miyagawa had a very busy year with numerous events related to Yamato 2199, but there were a couple of “classic” Yamato concert stops on his calendar as well. On April 22 he partnered with the Toke Civic Wind Orchestra at Suntory Hall in Tokyo for a performance that included four tracks from the Acoustic Yamato album which paired Miyagawa (on piano) with violinist Iwao Furusawa. Since the actual album had put him together with a sax player, this brought a different flavor to the pieces.

The other concert took place May 26 in Osaka, and was titled Space Battleship Yamato Miyagawa Music Symposium. This was a bigger affair with Akira conducting the Osaka Symphony through six Yamato tracks and other works by his father. This particular set has been performed on other occasions, and was the subject of a TV special covered in Yamato 2199 Report 13.

The short list of American performances of the classic Yamato theme got slightly longer on May 19 when the US Marine Corps III MEF (Marine Expeditionary Force) banged it out with gusto at a festival marking 40 years of Japan/US friendship in Okinawa. See the performance on YouTube here.

Sound Almanac Series 1, set 1

July 18, Nippon Columbia

The kickoff to the new series was a group of four discs from the early years. The naming convention made it instantly clear how future discs would be organized. One by one, the first four discs were: 1974-I Space Battleship Yamato BGM Collection, 1977-I Symphonic Suite Yamato, 1977-II Space Cruiser Yamato, and 1978-I The World of Hiroshi Miyagawa. The potential of the series was revealed right off the bat since the latter two albums had never been released on CD before.

Click here for full details on these discs.

Iskandall Part II Single

July 27, WCDA

Will Cinderella Dance Again is an unusual group that has blazed a trail of highly eclectic digital releases that happens to include some Yamato music. They released their first Iskandall single in June 2009, and this 2-track followup revisited the same piece in different ways. Both Iskandall singles and another titled Bolar can be downloaded at iTunes.

Yamato Resurrection Director’s Cut soundtrack

August 29, Nippon Columbia COCX-37547-8

The most significant change in the Director’s Cut was the music, and that alone was reason enough to add another jewel to the crown. This 2-disc set covers the entire film in narrative order with most of the re-engineered music in the second half. Only two of the classical tracks heard in the 2009 score are still present; all others have been re-arranged and newly recorded from original Miyagawa film and TV scores. Even if you haven’t seen the Director’s Cut, the album still serves as a fitting love letter to Yamato music. The end theme by The Alfee is still in the film, but an orchestral version subs for it on this release.

Sound Almanac Series 1, set 2

September 19, Nippon Columbia

With the rollout of this set, the reason for the series numbering became evident: fans who bought all seven discs in series 1 could now send in the proof-of-purchase tabs to receive the first of two CD storage cases. The discs in this grouping were as follows: 1978-II Farewell to Yamato Music Collection, 1978-III Farewell to Yamato BGM Collection, and 1978-IV Space Battleship Yamato New Disco Arrange. The third disc in particular was the head-turner for this set; the coveted “Disco album” had never been released to CD before, despite containing three tracks heard in Yamato 2.

Click here for full details on these discs.

Sound Almanac Series 2, set 1

November 21, Nippon Columbia

Series 2 of the lineup brought three more discs into the fold, all of which included bonus tracks: 1979-I New Voyage Symphonic Collection, 1980-I Be Forever Yamato Music Collection Part 1, and 1980-II Be Forever Yamato Music Collection Part 2.

Click here for full details on these discs.

Looking ahead, here’s the rest of the Sound Almanac lineup. (Shown below right are the exclusive Sound Almanac trading cards that come with orders placed at the Yamato Crew website.)

* to contain unreleased tracks
** first time on CD
*** previously released on CD, currently out of print

January 23, 2013
1980-III Yamato Festival in Budokan (concert) ***
1981-I Yamato III Symphonic Suite

March 20, 2013
1978-V Yamato 2 BGM collection part 1 *
1978-VI Yamato 2 BGM collection part 2 *
1979-II New Voyage BGM collection *

SERIES 3

May 2013
1980-IV Be Forever Yamato BGM collection

July 2013
1982-II Mellow Guitar album ***
1982-II Fascinating Piano album ***
1982-III Romantic Violin album ***

September 2013
1982-II Yamato III BGM collection part 1 *
1982-III Yamato III BGM collection part 2 *
1982-I Prelude to Final Yamato

SERIES 4

November 2013
1983-I Final Yamato Music Collection 1
1983-II Final Yamato Music Collection 2
1983-III Final Yamato Music Collection 3

January 2014
1983-IV Final Yamato BGM collection
1982-V Yamato Digital Trip ***
1983-V Final Yamato Digital Trip **

March 2014
1984-I Yamato Grand Symphony (concert)
1996-I Yamato Sound Fantasia ***

Yamato 2199 CDs

No listing of 2012 Yamato music would be complete without a mention of the 2199 CD releases, so here they are: two CD singles from April and June, and Original Soundtrack Part 1, which came out on November 7. Read all about it here.


Online Activity

Space Battleship Yamato Portal

February 17, Bandai Visual

With so much new activity on the home video front (sparked by the Resurrection Director’s Cut and continuing with Yamato 2199), Bandai Visual created their own site-within-a-site for announcements and coverage. It was the first source of breaking news about the Series 1 Blu-ray box set and some early Yamato 2199 character art.

Yamato Crew Premium Membership opens

March 7, Yamato Crew website

Yamato Crew was first established in late 2009 during the runup to Yamato Resurrection, giving the fan community its first rallying point since the disbanding of the original fan club in June 1991. Yamato Crew Premium picked up where it left off by offering members a subscription to the new Ship’s Log magazine, a membership card and dog tag, an exclusive trading card (#001), and access to special offers at the website. Membership is only available to fans with Japanese addresses, alas.

Cosmo DNA launch

December 1

In late October, the Japanese home office of Voyager Entertainment took control of the US website starblazers.com and gave no indication that I would continue to be involved, so I decided to forge my own path and continue doing what I enjoy, exploring the worlds of Yamato and Star Blazers to uncover hidden gems. With your support, this fansite will continue long into the future.


Live Events

Yamato Cafe the 4th

February 11

This gathering is a little bit like Yamato Party, a moveable feast in which Yamato fans assemble at a pre-determined restaurant, some in costume. The inaugural outing happened February 2010. As the number indicates, this was the fourth time, and it was also the first year they could convene at an actual Yamato restaurant, since Cafe Crew opened in late 2011.

45 attendees turned up to celebrate, including friend-of-the-site Anton Kholodov (who took these photos). Unfortunately, the restaurant’s Yamato sponsorship expired shortly afterward and it returned to a conventional Italian eatery.

Mandarake showcase

March 31-April 13, Akihabara

In their own tie-in with growing Yamato 2199 Fever, the Mandarake Complex store in Akihabara, Tokyo devoted its front showcase windows to Yamato and the works of Leiji Matsumoto. These photos were taken by friend-of-the-website Gwyn Campbell.

Yamato Party 2012

May 5, Wakoshi, Tokyo

Along with Gwyn Campbell, I had the pleasure of attending this event for the second time (the first being three years earlier) and spending a day with the core group of Yamato fandom in Japan. The primary change since 2009 was that the children were now old enough not to need a dedicated play area. Instead, their space was given over to an enormous “flea market” of vintage Yamato merchandise in amounts I’d never seen before.

The day progressed essentially as it had in 2009 with occasional group events taking over the main room; quizzes, cosplay, a video presentation, an auction, and the end-of-day singalong. There wasn’t a presentation from the “home office” this time, as there had been with the first reveal of footage from Yamato Resurrection in ’09, but a display of the vintage cels and production art featured in the Proud of Yamato Visual Book was a great highlight, not to mention purchasing the book itself along with the latest in fan-made doujinshi.

See a photo gallery from the event here.

Shizuoka Model Show

May 17

Model builders from all over Japan assemble for this event every year, which is as good a kickoff as any for the summer hobby shows. This one in particular attracts a group called Space Waterliners who specialize in Yamato modeling. See photos of their work here.

Mystery Model Sighting

November, Kokura

Reported (and photographed) by friend-of-the-website Kevin Callahan:

AruAru City is a shopping mall in Kokura which only has anime stores in it. Animate, Melon, Mandarake, Gamers, and several I had never seen in Tokyo or Osaka. It has a manga museum on the top as well, so far featuring Galaxy Express 999 (the monorail I ride every day has the GE999 crew on it) and Lupin III. And there are Captain Harlock and Maetel statues outside. This model belongs to the mall. It is not the property of any of the individual stores…and it is not for sale. I asked.

This is actually something I previously spotted on a Japanese auction site back in the summer of 2006, a 2-meter behemoth that was most likely handmade and one-of-a-kind. See workshop photos of it here.


Merchandising

There wasn’t a huge amount of Yamato merchandising in 2012 that didn’t stem from 2199, but most of it came from a single company named Exario. In April they released these special “Anti-Flash Protection” goggles (that’s really what it says on the front) for viewing of the upcoming solar eclipse on May 21.

Next up were these Yamato “can badges,” simply buttons the size of aluminum can lids.

Then this set of four clear files, printed on both sides with images derived from Series 1.

The last products in Exario’s lineup was this pair of “poster towels.” Towels the size of posters. Because you need them.

On the apparel side, there were three new options: Froovie, the company licensed to produce Yamato 2199 goods for movie theaters, reissued two Yamato T-shirts previously sold by Bandai. The Dive Co. added another crew jersey to its collection, this time from the navigation group. These products came out in April and May, respectively.

Completely new ground was broken on August 1 when the internationally-known Pearl Izumi company released a colorful line of Yamato cycling wear for bikers. Designed with flair and imagination, they came and went quickly via online retailers.

Yamato Resurrection Garage Kits

October 15, MEF

Previously known as Team Strike, MEF was the first company authorized to produce garage kits from Resurrection, and their initial lineup came out October 2010: two Yamatos (in 1/1500 and 1/2000 scales), a 1/700 Shinano, and a tugboat seen briefly in the film.

All four were reissued two years later with these new additions: a 1/2000 Blue Noah, a 1/1500 Super Andromeda, and a 1/144 Cosmo Pulsar. Between both MEF and another garage kit maker called Ndopara Shop, most of the new mecha from Resurrection is now available in garage kit form. The holdouts are the new Cosmo Zero, the EDF shuttle, the Earth emigration barge, and ships of the Amare space navy. And, of course, none have been released as standard plastic models. Yet.

Yamato 2: Teresa, the Guidance of Love

Pachislo game
December 11, Yamasa Co.

Yamasa rolled out a very lively new pachinko slot machine for Japan’s arcade circuit back in early 2010, and announced this new one with the same fanfare. See a full report on the game here. Watch the teaser video here and visit the website here.


Hero’s Hill

Noboru Ishiguro, 1938-2012

After Yoshinobu Nishizaki and Leiji Matsumoto, it can be argued that no one made a more significant contribution to the Yamato saga than Ishiguro, who worked as the supervising director of both Series 1 and Series 2. His decisions more than anyone else’s set the filmmaking standard that keeps those two productions on everyone’s favorites list. He died on March 21.

Read our tribute to him here

Takeshi Aono, 1936-2012

What do Shiro Sanada [Sandor] and Doc Brown from Back to the Future have in common, other than being pure badasses of science? Both were voiced by Takeshi Aono, who enjoyed and long and fruitful career as a popular anime voice actor. He died on April 9 and was grieved by several generations of anime fandom. His last contribution to Yamato was as a cast member in Yamato Resurrection.

See his extensive list of character roles here.


Looking ahead, 2013 is already shaping up to be a significant year in Yamato history, since the rest of Yamato 2199 will almost certainly play out before the year ends; if the recent pace holds out, the last movie should be released in the fall. Each movie release so far has been accompanied by new merchandising, a trend that will certainly continue. A wave of model kits has already been announced for the weeks surrounding Chapter 4 in January, and other things will follow as well, not the least of which will be the bulk of the Sound Almanac CD series.

Keep watching this website for reports on anything and everything–and join our Facebook group to get the news as it happens!

The End

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *