And now, the big day.
May 27: Newspaper ad
Fans who opened their edition of the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper on the morning of Ark‘s release were no doubt delighted to see this handsome full-page ad for the video, which even gave a scale (1/570) for the huge Yamato illustration. Twitter user “ggrasperZX” had to see how it matched up to his 1/500 model kit (above right).
May 27: Nobuteru Yuuki on Twitter
Elsewhere in the Tweet-verse could be found a photo (above left) from Character Designer Nobuteru Yuuki with the following caption:
“Yamato 2199 Ark of the Stars was released today. It’s allowed to show these people. Please be kind to me. (The drawing of Sabera is a rough sketch.)”
What he didn’t mention is the far more attention-grabbing sketch of Great Emperor Zordar at left. (Most of his name is covered, but the kanji characters for “Great” is right there at the top.) As we know, only Sabera appears in the movie, so the drawing of her boss was probably done as an imaginary exercise. But it certainly gives us a flavor of what might come next.
May 27: Ark of the Stars home video release
At long last, the whole world could chow down on the last new Yamato 2199 anime we’re likely to get. And based on the sales data that followed, it was a popular dish – combined Blu-ray and DVD sales topped 30,000 units in the first week, easily pushing Ark of the Stars to the number 1 slot on the anime home video charts. If there was any concern about a loss of momentum after the end of the series, it seems to have been misplaced.
Packaging followed the same high standard of the previous 2199 discs: English subtitles on the movie, an outer sleeve (exclusive to the first pressing) with wraparound art by the great Naoyuki Katoh, jacket art by Character Designer Nobuteru Yuuki, and a full-color 24 page booklet.
See the booklet from cover to cover here, including a new interview with General Director Yutaka Izubuchi.
Then there’s the storyboard book, well over an inch thick with new cover art by Nobuteru Yuuki. It covers the movie from end to end and comes bundled with the 2-disc Blu-ray edition.
For psycho-fans, the must-have version was the Amazon.co.jp exclusive, a 2-disc Blu-ray which came with a foldout digipack big enough to store the entire 2199 series (plus movies) – if you can bring yourself to divide them from their original packaging. It is graced all around by background art, Kia Asamiya paintings and the following quote from Yutaka Izubuchi:
I feel the end of a long journey at last. Such good memories. [Captain Okita quote] Thanks for supporting us!
Amazon digipack, exterior
Amazon digipack, interior
The 2-disc Blu-ray edition comes with several hours of bonus features. (Revisit Report 45 for the full list.) The most anticipated one was produced exclusively for the Blu-ray, a “picture drama” by manga artist Michio Murakawa. It’s a set of three slideshow-style vignettes featuring the crew filling the hours in light-hearted ways while Yamato is sidelined over Planet Shambleau. The total running time is only about five minutes, but it was an occasion to bring the voice actors back for a new round, and it worked out beautifully.
Yamato Crew’s own special edition came with a trading card and a two-volume facsimile of the voice-recording script for the entire movie. They also threw in a sheet of emblem stickers. This extra incentive item also came with copies ordered from CD Japan.
Last but not least, the English subtitles do a fine job of conveying the story, but fall a bit short in the area of consistency. Some of the terminology doesn’t match what we became accustomed to in the series, some was inherited from the aborted Star Blazers 2199 edition, and some could have used a rethink.
Ark‘s first day on sale at Forest, a music and video store next to the Shinjuku Piccadilly Theater in Tokyo.
The biggest example of this is the use of the title itself. As we know, the official English title of the film is Odyssey of the Celestial Ark. Aesthetics aside, it is not an accurate translation of Hoshimeguru Hakobune, which contains no corresponding word to “odyssey.” (It literally translates to Ark Over Stars.) This becomes painfully apparent when the title is used in the following line of dialogue: “Odyssey of the celestial ark, awaken from your slumber.” This is one reason cooler heads prevail with the use of Ark of the Stars, Stellar Ark, or even Celestial Ark. Of course, everyone is free to call it what they like, but it’s always helpful to know the roots.
May 27: Ark of the Stars soundtrack CD
Previously available only on the fledgling Blu-ray Audio format, this disc arrived right alongside the movie. The track list is identical to the Blu-ray Audio, including the opening and closing songs. (See a translated track list and liner notes here.) The new opening Yamato theme was previously published on the 40th Anniversary Best Track Image Album (from December 2014), but despite an early CD single announcement, Great Harmony for Yamato 2199 didn’t make it to disc until now.
Find complete lyrics for Great Harmony here.
May 27: Yamato Shopping videos
The first version of Yamato Shopping went online April 9, a 4-minute promo video starring TV/radio personality Hiroshi “Yanopan” Yano and Yuria Misaki’s voice actor Aya Uchida. They talked excitedly about everything that was coming on the Ark of the Stars home video. Don’t worry if you missed it, because it’s still on Youtube here.
Two more versions went live on the big release day, both edited down from the original: a 3-minute version and a 30-second version. In addition to their online presence, these videos promote Ark of the Stars at people in Japanese video stores.
May 27 & 28: Yodobashi store event, Akihabara
Despite the name, Yodobashi Camera is a chain of omnibus multimedia stores across Japan that can set you up with everything from appliances and musical instruments to models and toys to music and video to books and magazines, and plenty else. (And yes, cameras.) The Yodobashi in Tokyo’s Akihabara district is a monolith that looms over all else, and (not for the first time) it played host to a Yamato video release with a two-day sales event.
The new Yamato Girls who were introduced last December (in Playboy, no less) appeared live on both days for the first time since Ark premiered in theaters. They were stationed on the sidewalk in front of Yodobashi to hand out flyers and direct everyone to where they could buy Blu-rays, DVDs, and CDs.
Buying any of the three could get you into a prize lottery to win a movie program autographed by Yutaka Izubuchi, or one of the Michio Murakawa drawings seen earlier in this report.
Another eye-grabber was the 1/100 Yamato model, newly-equipped with a Wave-Motion plug as in the movie.
Unsurprisingly, fans packed Twitter up to its eyebrows with photos from the event. See a gallery here.
May 27: Yamato 2199 Complete Works books
The last item that made May 27 a historical Yamato day was the second half of the Complete Works book set, the followup to volumes 1 and 2 which arrived December 7 when Ark premiered in theaters. (Read about them here.) To briefly recap, a legendary trilogy of hardcover books was published by Office Academy in 1978 that documented series 1 in unprecedented detail and went on to be called the “silver books” by collectors outside Japan. These are the “silver books” for Yamato 2199.
Volume 3 picks up where Volume 2 left off, covering episodes 23-26 with color stills and model sheets of characters, mecha, backgrounds and props. This is followed by an section on characters and mecha from Iscandar and elsewhere (Earth and Garmillas were covered in the first two volumes), and a short section on the new elements seen in the compilation film A Voyage to Remember.
Next is the main event, and the reason the book was delayed by a month from its original end-of-April target date: a deep dive into Ark of the Stars. (It was contingent upon all the upgrades done for the Blu-ray, so the book couldn’t proceed until they were completed in early April.) Coverage is heavy-duty, with a story digest and all the model sheets you can eat. There’s even a look at a deleted tea-ceremony scene and Michio Murakawa’s roughs for the Blu-ray’s “Picture drama” (including three additional vignettes that didn’t get produced).
Out of the book’s 320 pages, 182 are devoted to Ark of the Stars, a comfortable fit that makes it far less crowded than the previous volumes. Color reproduction is hugely improved as well. The book finishes with a gallery of all the 2199 poster and promo art and an event timeline (very similar to those here at Cosmo DNA) that culminates in mid-April 2015.
The fourth volume of Complete Works is of limited interest to non-Japanese readers: a complete screenplay collection of the 26 episodes and both movies. It’s 100% text, and it comes bundled with Volume 3.
If you’re wondering whether or not to invest in these, all you need to know is that there is no more extensive 2199 publication than this set. No matter what else you may have already bought, this has more. Fortunately, you can order them from the ever-so-helpful CD Japan here. It may seem steep at $370, but that gets you a whopping 15 POUNDS of Yamato books. And like the videos, you won’t regret one penny of it once you have them in your hands.
If you’re still on the fence, here’s a prime example of how detailed the coverage gets. Remember the label on the Wave-Motion Gun plug? Complete Works volume 3 delivers an image of it clear enough to translate:
Timed Wave-Motion Implosion Emission Device
Emission Port Seal Cap
・Emission port can be entered from the interior access door for inspection
・Refer to provisional T.O. [Technical Order] i-16 class A for maintenance.
This seal plug was installed based on the Earth-Iscandar friendship treaty. Unauthorized release is punishable by Earth law.
May 29: Character sleeves
Previously mentioned in Report 45, these sleeves are a smaller version of clear files, sized to hold credit cards, key cards, train cards, game cards, etc. Like clear files, they provide blank space that demands to be filled up with something, and in this case it’s a swimsuit gallery of all five Yamato girls.
They were released by Ensky in packs of 65. Each measures 2.6″ x 3.6″. See enlargements of all five here.
May 30: Mecha Collection model kit #17
The Galunt drill missile ship was previously available as a bonus item with the 1/1000 Gelvades battle carrier, and has now been retooled and repackaged as the next of Bandai’s mini-models. The drill missile itself is removable, optional landing gear is provided, and it comes with an extra – much tinier – drill that fits into the Wave-Motion muzzle of the Mecha Collection Yamato.
Counter-intuitive as it sounds, no plastic model of the drill missile ship was made before Yamato 2199. The closest we ever came was a miniature released with a rare and pricey box set of the Domel task force released in 2007 by B-Club.
See more photos of the Galunt here.
Photo by Gwyn Campbell
May 30: Megahobby Expo 2015 Spring
The last hobby show of the month was held in Tokyo by Megahouse, known for the 1/8 Yamato Girls figures and Cosmo Fleet Special miniatures. New additions to both of those product lines were displayed: the next Yuki and Yamamoto figures and CFSP versions of the UX-01 and ships from Ark of the Stars. (Release dates still to come.)
See a gallery of product photos here.
See Dengeki‘s online gallery here.
See a video walk-through by friend-of-the-website “Antibiotic Tab” here. Yamato items come up at 1:40.
May 31: Yamato Lecture 10
This thoroughly delightful month ended in a thoroughly delightful way, with the latest in the continuing series of fan events titled Yamato Kouza [Lecture]. These have been covered many times in past reports (with an eyewitness account of the sixth here.) Held at an underground nightclub called Loft Plus One in Kabukicho, Tokyo, they are 3-hour panel discussions that compare opinions from across the generations.
Hosted by anime writer Osamu Kobayashi, Lecture 10 was a particularly good one with manga artist Michio Murakawa as the main guest and his friend Mecha Designer Junichiro Tamamori as an unannounced “secret guest” calling in by phone.
For those of us who can’t attend, the promotional artwork is always a nice consolation prize. This time, the poster was a striking view of Megaluda by an illustrator named “Yoshimiru.” The almost-English in the upper left corner reads:
Although it is was wearing a big separated as “Star Around Ark” series “Space Battleship Yamato 2199”, Not separator is attached to our feelings enjoyed it. “Yamato Course” is I enjoy still in the Yamato 2199″! (Laughs)
Click here to see a larger version of the poster and other images from the event.
In keeping with tradition, there was another “special collaboration menu” with the following items:
Drinks (alcohol): Red Earth (Super spicy! With water), Blue Earth (Blue cocktail), Sawamura’s hole (Plum liquor + Hoppii)
Drinks (non-alcohol): Silver Sabera (Strawberry milk), Ceremonial Tearoom of Chief Purser Hirata
Food: Nazka-class mid-size space carrier, Wicked Berger, Space Creatures of Planet Cappadokia, Prison Planet
The menu doesn’t specify what foods those actually were, so let your imagination soar.
Also spotted in May
Twitter was a hotbed this month with interesting stuff from all corners of the Yamato-verse, starting with an Akira Yamamoto sighting at a Mandarake store. It’s probably one in Osaka, which is staffed by cosplayers whose job it is to set new standards of excellence.
Next up is this triple-threat cosplay team (named Ayame, Sei, and Mew) who tweeted their attempt to capture the three Iscandar sisters in real life. The pic above right mimics a poster image originally published in Nico Nico Ace (see it here for comparison).
Mew’s takeaway from this was that it tested the limits of the human skeleton.
But the award for outstanding cosplay achievement this month was slamdunked by “Kira 58” who commemorated the release of Ark on May 27 with photos of herself as a stunning Yuki Mori. Visit her Twitter page and see more pics here.
“Abeshi 15” Tweeted these photos of garage kit figures being prepared for the summer Wonder Festival, coming up July 26. One Yuki and one Yurisha, of course.
Above left: the NTT telecommunications company hasn’t posted a new chapter of their Yamato 2199 side story collaboration in a while, but the collaboration itself goes on. This photo was taken at a tech event called IT Week, where NTT flew its Yamato flag high. (Tweeted by “yukipowerup”.)
Above right: fan-favorite artist Umegrafix Tweeted this Yamaket flashback on May 21, a montage of the commissions he drew at the one-day doujinshi event covered in our last report. Get a better look at it here.
Last but not least is a rare contribution from our side of the planet, an exquisite Yuki rendering by professional artist Stanley “Artgerm” Lau. Stanley takes commissions, posts roughs on his Facebook page, then invites everyone to watch the finished art take shape via live streaming video. This one took place May 26. We can probably all agree that whoever bought this piece got their money’s worth.
Visit the Artgerm Facebook page and see more of Stanley’s amazing work here.