Yuki Mori greeted fans from the Yamato Crew website at the turn of the year with the following message: Best wishes for the new year. In 2014, a completely new feature film will be released. That’s the sum total of all the movie information we got in January, but early February brought the news that the new film will arrive in late autumn.
Yamato 2199‘s third year in the public eye began modestly, with a month of slower activity that still maintained the high quality and boundless potential we’ve come to expect. Here’s everything that went on in January, 2014.
January 1: Space Battleship Yamato & 2199 Big Launch Special
The month began with something fans could only have dreamed of one year earlier: complete runs of the original Yamato series (all three) and Yamato 2199 on Japan’s Family Channel satellite network. The first half of 2199 ran sporadically during the second half of the month and then continued throughout February. Meanwhile, the original Series 1 ran in its entirety on January 1 and again over two days on the 19th and 26th. Yamato 2 ran over four nights (20th – 23rd) and Yamato III followed (27th – 30th).
From this we can surmise that anyone who decided to hold off watching 2199 until the theatrical run was complete got what they wished for.
January 5: Star Blazers / Yamato news video 005
Shiori Kawana returned to Youtube for a 16-minute segment that communicated the following: shipping fees for the Star Blazers 2199 DVDs and Blu-rays from starblazers.com will be reduced, anyone who buys them from Kinokuniya bookstores can get a free strap (lanyard), and she will make appearances again at this year’s Anime Expo and Comic Con.
Surprisingly, she took on a question that finally addressed the oddity of the presentation style: “Why does the news has [sic] learning time and comment cards like kindergarten?” She explained that in Japan, text cards are common on internet programs, and also that “this news is for small children and big children,” since Yamato has fans across the board. Not the best wording, but it was at least made clear that Yamato Crew believes young children in the US will watch subtitled anime. If only it were true.
Shiori continued on with a character description of Shima and another display of salutes.
The next day, an article about these news videos appeared on the Otaku USA website that sums up what we’ve all been thinking.
See news video 005 on Youtube here.
January 13: Star Blazers / Yamato news video 006
Shiori had a bundle of news to share in this one, starting with another bonus item to come with the Star Blazers 2199 discs: a set of three postcards. She kept the art hidden, but did say that they would be available at both starblazers.com and Kinokuniya stores.
She also announced that the Star Blazers 2199 Poster Collection Book, first seen at 2013 convention in France, would be sold through the online store. Negotiations have been concluded for Right Stuf to carry the series, and you can find their product listings here.
When Q&A time came up, she used the following viewer comment to finally address ongoing complaints: “This marketing campaign is very odd. Nonexistent budget for these videos is weird.” Her answer: “This video is like my home video. Only 2 people (me & +1) are making starblazers.com. Information in the news is latest news from Japan and it’s official!” Not detailed or comprehensive, simply official. Well, that’s something the rest of us can’t claim.
After giving a character description for Yuki Mori, Shiori then did something quite unexpected – in addition to the Garmillas and Cosmo Navy salutes, she did what she called the “classic salute” for the first time. The best word to describe it is “heartwarming.”
See news video 006 on Youtube here.
January 13: Yuki Mori figure original color A version
Promoted at the Yamato Crew website since last August, this variant of Megahouse’s 1/8 Yuki figure comes in white/red medic colors with two variant right arms and a hypodermic pistol in her left hand. The box design is reused from the Megahouse version. An A version suggests a B version, and that was released in February (in white and black uniform colors).
January 18: 1/1000 Lambea carrier model kit
Right off the bat, we get another respelling from this box; those of us who have been writing “Gaipelon Class” must now retrain ourselves to use “Guipellon,” and “Lanbea” becomes “Lambea.” These spellings are largely apocryphal, and the Japanese version takes some liberties here and there. Whether or not these spellings continue consistently is a matter for the future. (“Garmillas” and “Gamilas” are still somewhat interchangeable, for example.)
This is the first of the three Garmillas tri-deck carriers, each of which will be packaged with two differently-scaled versions of its complementary fighter craft. In this case, the purple Lambea comes with the purple Astro Attack Dive Bomber DMB87 Snuka. It is included at both mecha collection size (handheld) and 1/1000 miniatures (20 standard and 1 flight leader). The finished Lambea is just over 16 inches long.
See photos of the finished kit here.
See photos of the packaging here.
The Lambea’s arrival was accompanied by a completely unexpected announcement for the future; despite earlier announcements to the contrary, Bandai has decided to complete the 1/1000 Garmillas task force lineup with a Domelus III model (which will stretch to a whopping 28.7″) to be released in July. By the way, though the graphics on this ad may look bold and commanding, the top line reads “announcement” and the bottom reads “release decision.” Maybe they’ll get more dramatic as July approaches.
January 19: Nico Nico webcast #32
This episode brought four of the five Yamato girls together, the largest group since the end of the TV broadcasts in October. Present were (left to right) Shiki Aoki as Akira Yamamoto, Momoko Miyauchi as nurse Makoto Harada, Rio Nanase as Kaoru Niimi, and Shiori Kawana as Yuki Mori. Some of the girls hadn’t seen each other for a while, so the banter between news announcements and a revisit to Yamato 2199 Chapter 5 ate up most of the 90-minute program.
The “drawing corner” exercise this time was to imagine what Dessler’s house would look like. Rio and Shiori (top row) guessed about the same, a fortress on a hilltop. Shiori gave him a dog. Momoko (bottom left) put guard monsters at the front gate to keep enemies away while His Lordship relaxes in the bath, and Shiki (bottom right) gave him a cat with a fortress of eyeballs all tucked into a bowl.
Everyone did their own cute pinup pose, and Momoko took another run at her “Gatlantis dance” for those who hadn’t seen it yet. This was the only webcast for January; the next one took place on February 2.
January 20: Star Blazers / Yamato news video 007
One day later, another news video popped up on Youtube that had been shot along with the Nico Nico webcast. Shiori Kawana was joined by Momoko Miyauchi and Rio Nanase – in her first direct-to-US appearance.
The 2014 movie was teased (no info, of course), and it was announced that arrangements are being made to offer other products via starblazers.com, such as figures, CDs, and calendars. The bonus postcards were mentioned again, and briefly shown to have artwork by Naoyuki Katoh (if you don’t know his name yet, you’ve got to get caught up on these reports).
A perennial question came up in the Q&A: “is the ship named Argo or Yamato in the DVD & Blu-ray?” to which the answer was still Yamato. Then, ye Editor himself got a question in: “Could you please explain that Yamato and Yamamoto are two different words? English speakers make that mistake a lot.” Rio Nanase herself told me that Yamato is the ship and Yamamoto is the character. I’d hoped for a little more in-depth explanation about the word origins, but it was nice to get the response.
And finally, the Yamato girls were never more adorable than when they all struck the “classic salute” pose at the end. Hopefully it will continue to make an appearance.
See news video 007 here.
January 23: Lottery products
Ichiban Kuji [Best Lottery] is an event run by Banpresto, a toy division of Bandai. Several times a year, special products are made available through lotteries at participating bookstores, convenience stores, or Namco game centers (where Banpresto toys commonly show up in crane arm games). Each location is allotted a certain number of items and customers buy up lottery tickets for those they’d like to win. Some of these products go to direct sale afterward.
In late January, all-new Yamato 2199 products were announced for the mid-February lottery, and the prize list was substantial:
A. Yuki Mori 7″ figure
B. Akira Yamamoto 7″ figure
C. Makoto Harada 7″ figure
D. YRA Radio Yamato special edition fan disc DVD (videos narrated by Yuria Misaki)
E. Face towels (30″ long) with life-size images of Yuki and Kaoru
F. Business card cases (two varieties)
G. Teacups (three varieties)
H. Collectible cel phone straps (eight varieties, 2.3″ long)
I. Art mats (four varieties with stickers, A3 size)
J. D Fleet remix (batches of D fleet toys released in spring 2013 by Banpresto)
LO (Last One): Yuki Mori gloss color version
(only available to whoever purchases the last available ticket at a participating location)
W: Yuki Mori warp effect version (only 100 available)
Learn more about Ichiban Kuji here.
See the lottery’s Yamato page here.
January 25: Reflections of Yamato 2199 doujinshi
In our 2012 interview with manga artist Michio Murakawa, we got a privileged look at the intricate thumbnail drawings he does prior to his finished art. At the end of the year, he published all the thumbnails for the first 10 chapters in doujinshi form, titled Reflections of Yamato 2199, Volume 1 (above left). On January 25, he followed up with Volume 2, which covers chapters 11-21. Like Volume 1, it contains color pieces, liner notes, and outtakes.
The first volume was sold only at the Winter 2012 Comiket, and the second only through the Yamato Crew website.
January 25: Manga volume 4
On the same day, Kadokawa published this new paperback volume, with a dustjacket by mecha designer Junichiro Tamamori. It contains Murakawa’s adaptation of Episodes 7 and 8 as seen in the online Nico Nico Ace manga magazine.
As with previous volumes, this one came with free postcards at specific bookstores in Japan.
January 25: GX-64 Soul of Chogokin Yamato 2199
In case you hadn’t heard, “Chogokin” means “Super Alloy,” the magical substance of giant robots and space battleships that makes them greater than everything else ever invented. The “soul” of that is pumped into the most high-end toys Bandai makes and oozes off of them when they sit on your shelf, filling your life with greatness. Or something like that.
The GX-64 is actually the third Yamato in this line, preceded by the BPX-01 (2001) and the GX-57 (2010), both seen here. It is the first to be generated by CG data used for the anime itself. At 16.75″, it just barely edges out the others for length and has very similar features: light and sound, plastic and diecast metal parts, extra spacecraft, and moving turrets, wings, and hatches.
For those who may already have the GX-57, here’s some comparative data compiled by Cosmo DNA contributor (and Yamatourist) Daniel George:
A side-by-side comparison of the GX-57 Soul of Chogokin Classic Yamato and the GX-64 Soul of Chogokin 2199 Yamato. Some of the notable differences include:
- A much narrower bow section on the 2199 version.
- Much proportionately smaller secondary shock cannon turrets, along with the forward turret being semi-recessed into a curved forward section of the superstructure – a design feature neither on the classic Yamato nor the IJN namesake.
- A larger battery cover for the ship, with an annoyingly-placed screw to keep it fastened (you will need a small-gauge, long-nosed Phillips-head screwdriver to get at this).
- The remote’s battery compartment lid has a push-button to release it (which you need to push with a screwdriver or other thin pointy device).
Seven sound effects:
- Yamato power up (when power is turned on and all screens light up on the bridge)
- Engine sounds (longer edition than GX-57)
- Shock Cannons
- Forward turrets firing shells
- Pulse Laser turrets
- Battle Stations Alert
- Wave-Motion Gun firing sequence (charging/firing)
Five musical tracks:
- Original Yamato Theme (OST Part 1, Track 34)
- Yamato Advance (OST Part 1, Track 2)
- Yamato into the Vortex (OST Part 1, Track 21)
- Black Tiger (OST Part 1, Track 26)
- Enemy Ships Sortie (OST Part 1, Track 20)
(Overall, not a bad selection, but on a personal note again missing my favourite Yamato track, Yamato Launches From the Earth [OST Part 1, Track 17])
As of early February 2013, the GX-64 is in stock at Hobbylink Japan, but the US edition (in Star Blazers 2199 packaging) went on sale February 15 and is available from Amazon.com for a lower price. It’s the first official product to carry the Star Blazers name in a long time, so that’s another reason to consider it.
Visit Bandai’s interactive home page for the SoC Yamato here.
See more photos on a Japanese blog here.
January 25: Hobby magazines, March issues
With the Lambea carrier and GX-64 hot on the shelf and the 1/500 Yamato model newly released, all three of the big-leaguers outdid themselves with Yamato coverage this month, giving each product a loving look and also carrying ads for the giant Domelus III announcement. They included the first color shots of the 1/8 Kaoru Niimi figure from Megahouse, and the first announcements anywhere of a whole new Mecha Collection model kit line, coming from Bandai in April.
The first two kits will be Yamato and Yukikaze, both scaled to a length of 5 inches. Unlike the larger models, they will not share a common scale, but they will retail for less than $5 US, so they’re MUCH more affordable. The third kit in the series will be the Garmillas Destoria-class cruiser.
Dengeki Hobby‘s article ran 13 pages featuring all of the above and a single-page feature about aircraft carrier technology. See all the pages here.
Hobby Japan‘s article ran 18 pages featuring all of the above, a foldout poster, photos of a scratch-built Domelus III, and a page on the lottery products. See all the pages here.
Model Graphix came from behind to leap past all the competition with a record-setting 36-page cover story titled Yamato Mechanics. The name was borrowed from a seminal website created by 2199 mecha designer Junichiro Tamamori, and much of the content was a tribute to his work. In addition to the latest news, five pages were devoted to the exquisite work of professional modeler “Wild River.”
See all the pages here.
January 26: Star Blazers / Yamato news video 008
No delicate questions this week; Shiro Kawana spent the whole time introducing special products that can now be ordered from starblazers.com, and they’re actually quite special indeed. On offer are the 2014 calendar, the Star Blazers 2199 poster book, and the color-variant versions of the 1/8 Yuki Mori and Akira Yamamoto figures (2 each).
Watch news video 008 here.
January 28: Manga chapter 22
This chapter of the Yamato 2199 manga by Michio Murakawa earned the cover position on the online magazine Nico Nico Ace #118. It was a shorter chapter than usual (13 pages), and for the first time Murakawa skipped material from the series, jumping over Episodes 9 and 10 to pick up with 11. Time will tell if those episodes get covered in another way.
See the pages here.
January 30: Comic Blade, March issue
This month’s chapter of Mayumi Azuma’s Red-Eyed Ace manga was also a short one, just ten pages in which Kato and Shinohara discuss Akira Yamamoto’s unorthodox rise up the pilot ranks.
See the pages here.
January 30: Megahouse Treasure Station vidcast
The first hobby show of the year in Japan is the Winter Wonder Festival in February, where toy and model companies roll out all the latest products – including Megahouse, maker of the Yamato 2199 figures. In advance of the event, they devoted the 34th episode of their vidcast to the new 2199 figures to be sold and displayed. Click here to see this 20-minute program, hosted by three young ladies who are more excited about these figures than you ever thought possible.
January 31: First Bridge paper model
After first being promised for November, this interesting product was delayed multiple times as pre-orders filled up on various Japanese websites. By the time it was released, the print run was sold out everywhere – except on Amazon.co.jp, which never carried it. Anyway, papercraft models have been part of Space Battleship Yamato merchandising for decades, but this is the first of its kind; printed on foam core sheets, the parts pop out and fit together to build Yamato‘s bridge with a few figures thrown in. The finished model has a footprint of about 8″ x 12″ and was released by Plex, the division of Bandai formerly known as Popy.
See the pieces here.
Also spotted in January
The Premium Bandai website offered its first 2199 apparel for ladies this month: a parka festooned with icons. See the listing here.
After the giant blast of the winter Comiket (see report 27) there weren’t many new doujinshi to be found in January, but these three were part of the fallout.
Just as January began with a new year’s message from Yuki Mori, this artwork debuted February 4 on both Yamato Crew and the official 2199 website as the first promo art for the 2014 feature film, which is promised for a late autumn release! Yamatour 2014 is a go!
Continue to report 29