After the video release of Ark of the Stars the month of June 2015 saw a big drop in activity, back to levels not seen since the earliest months of the 2199 rollout. This is to be expected, since the anime is now essentially complete, but there are still things in play and other things to look forward to. For that matter, given that we still get spinoffs from the original saga, we can probably expect to see 2199 activity for some time.
(Also, this breather means more time can be devoted to curating other 2199 content for Cosmo DNA, so don’t you worry about missing it.)
June 8: Game news
The Yamato 2199 smart phone game Battlefield Infinity has been active since December 1, 2014, and special campaigns continue to keep it that way. Doing well in the game earns you digital “decals” and this month a limited-time campaign called Bride of War could get you decals of Makoto Harada and/or Elisa Domel in their respective wedding dresses.
June 8: Yutaka Izubuchi interview
Bandai Visual published a new interview with General Director Izubuchi that included more of his thoughts on Ark of the Stars. See the original post here. Translation follows.
Yamato 2199 Ark of the Stars General Director Yutaka Izubuchi interview
After a difficult voyage, Yamato receives the Cosmo Reverse System on Iscandar and faces the new enemy Gatlantis while returning to Earth, and a breathtaking fleet battle is depicted! We spoke directly with General Director Yutaka Izubuchi about the characters, mecha, and action that attracted many fans to Ark of the Stars! Don’t miss the “true intention” of Director Izubuchi, which can only be read here!
Though the Nazca-class was my favorite ship from the past, I came to like it even more!
Interviewer: When did the planning begin for Ark of the Stars?
Izubuchi: It was around the time when Chapter 5 of the story was done and production started on Chapter 6. However, we couldn’t start configuring it until the whole story (all seven chapters) was done, so from the time we finished the screenplay it took about one year. That’s not much time. When I thought about trying to make something original in that limited time, I thought it would be possible if it was an episode that took place on the return voyage from Iscandar to Earth. One reason was that we could reuse the current designs to some extent.
Of course, there should also be something new to freshen it up, but we had the advantage that 7 or 8 percent of certain designs could be reused. I thought that if it was in a form that could fit into the main story, it could be expanded to theatrical standards. Still, it was quite difficult. (Laughs)
Interviewer: Though Gatlantis emerges as a new enemy, it has the visual feeling of a race battle. When advancing the design of the characters, what were your instructions for Character Designer Nobuteru Yuuki?
Izubuchi: My instructions were to take a different approach from the White Comet Empire that appeared in Farewell to Yamato and Yamato 2. Rather than a glimpse of Great Emperor Zordar, we’d only touch a little on the backbone and revive him later after using Sabera as his mouthpiece. After that, it was just taking the designs from the original and then working together to find a way to cleverly barbarianize them.
Interviewer: The design of Gatlantis battleships had considerable impact. Please tell us if you struggled with any of them, and which is your favorite.
Izubuchi: We had a hard time with the design of Megaluda. Mecha designer Yasushi Ishizu was in charge of it, and I think it was tough. Compared to Garmillas ships, Gatlantis ships are a mass of structures rather than a single block. There were a lot of parts where it was “what’s going on here,” and the multi-layer structure of Megaluda and Nazca gave us a hard time. Even so, I personally like the Nazca-class. Though it was my favorite ship from the old days, I came to like the current design even more.
The “fleet warfare” sprinkled into the original Yamato finally came up in Ark of the Stars!
Interviewer: You’ve done mecha design for a variety of works, but here your position is General Director. Do you think about it from the viewpoint of a mecha designer?
Izubuchi: Of course I do. There’s something that didn’t appear in the main story, but I wanted it to appear in the movie version. It’s the Stork (Ki8 prototype skyboat). It has a role similar to the Cosmo Seagull craft that were loaded onto Yamato, but they were both lost in the main story. Therefore, when we needed something for planetary exploration, I thought about reviving the recon boat from the original and having it appear. But why didn’t it appear in the 2199 story before now? I thought the audience might raise that question, so we connected it to the Izumo Plan mutiny story. I thought it would make sense to have a craft in reserve to explore possible planets for migration. It was also possible for it to connect with Niimi’s position in the story. I thought we could configure it well with such a prop, and I wanted to do it that way.
Rather than simply say that something new just appeared, I thought it would be best for the prop to have a shape we could link to. You might be thinking that it was also done for the person who would design it, and that’s true because it was me. (Laughs) It wasn’t just to provide a design, but also to contribute something to the world of the story, which is what a designer hopes for. That’s a worthwhile goal for a designer, isn’t it?
Interviewer: Yamato and the Wave-Motion Gun are closely related, but in this story it has been sealed up. With that in mind, please tell us if you had a particular point in showing a battle where the Wave-Motion Gun isn’t used.
Izubuchi: From the first concept stage, I talked with Chief Mechanical Director Masanori Nishii about how to do a dogfight between battleships. Since the opponent Gatlantis is depicted as a race of barbarians, the fight between Yamato and Megaluda would come to blows at the end, and then after the fist fight ended, the question would be who would draw and shoot first?
It was depicted in the image of a duel in a western movie. In fact, there have been surprisingly few one-on-one battles in the Yamato series. It’s always Yamato vs. a majority. In order to eliminate the difference in strength for 2199, we came up with the concept of a Wave-Motion Barrier to make Yamato look naturally strong, but it was still difficult to depict Yamato as a single ship. But because the theme of the movie this time is “mutual understanding” and “joint struggle,” there’s a place where Yamato isn’t the only ship. The Berger fleet of Garmillas cooperates with them to clash with the Dagarm fleet of Gatlantis. In terms of fleet vs. fleet battles, “fleet warfare” was sprinkled into the original Yamato, and I hoped we could finally get to it here.
I think of the Wave-Motion Gun as Yamato‘s last resort. There are scenes in the series where Yamato uses it to get through a crisis, but Yamato‘s basic purpose is not to annihilate the enemy. The Wave Gun is used to open up a way to advance. But the Flame Strike Gun of Gatlantis is fired to annihilate the enemy. So, conversely, if a powerful enemy has such a dastardly thing to overcome, that gives us the direction to overcome it with confidence and wisdom, which is the right way to tell a story. Though you might wonder if it’s all right not to have the Wave-Motion Gun this time, the reverse was just fine with me. It meant there had to be a fleet battle because there was no Wave-Motion Gun. If there was, they’d absolutely use it, and it would show that they’ve come to rely on it.
Memories remain of Chapter 1 being shown at a theater!
Interviewer: You’ve been involved with Yamato 2199 over a long period of time, so what stands out in your memory?
Izubuchi: There is a variety, but in the end it’s the time when Chapter 1 was shown in movie theaters. It had finally arrived. I think that’s why everyone could proceed to the end without giving up. During the showing, there’s a bit when Kodai echoes Captain Okita’s line, “Don’t give up!” and I thought, “Yes, exactly!” Therefore, when the time came for it to be shown on screen, it’s a mundane way to say it, but I was “overwhelmed with emotion.”
Interviewer: Ark of the Stars is finally out on Blu-ray and DVD. What was it like to record the bonus audio commentary?
Izubuchi: I was able to tell a variety of stories, and it was really interesting. It was done with a large group of people. (Director Izubuchi was joined by Kodai’s voice actor Daisuke Ono, Berger’s voice actor Junichi Suwabe, Kiryu’s voice actor Eriko Nakamura, and Chief Director Masato Bessho.) Bessho is very witty, and there was something like a comedy act with the two of us. Everyone in the cast likes Yamato, so it was a lot of fun.
However, Mr. Suwabe told me, “deruderu sagi!” (Laughs) To explain that briefly, at the time of the Rainbow Star Cluster battle it had already been decided to make the movie, so I avoided clearly killing Berger since I thought we might use him. So when the voice recording was finished, I told Mr. Suwabe, “Berger is alive.” It seems he thought that he’d appear again at the end of the story, and when we reached the last episode and he didn’t appear, he told me, “deruderu sagi!” (Laughs) That recording was a lot of fun, and I think those who listen to the audio commentary will enjoy it.
(Translator’s note: according to a Japanese Wikipedia article, a “deruderu sagi” is a kind of manipulation scam in the music business, usually done with foreign talent, where they claim a new album is coming and drive up hype from the anticipation of it while never actually releasing it. The most direct way to translate it is the “It’s coming out! It’s coming out! Swindle.” It’s also used in films to dangle the hope of a certain star to appear in a project, with no intention of them ever being in it. In which case, the translation works better as the “He’s appearing! He’s Appearing! Swindle.”)
Interviewer: It’s been 40 years since the broadcast of the first TV series. What do you think is the appeal of the Space Battleship Yamato series that continues to attract so many people?
Izubuchi: In a way, Space Battleship Yamato is a road movie with various things that happen as you travel. I think there is romance in taking such a trip into space. Fans supported it in those days, and I think it still has universal appeal. The visuals were wonderful, and though there’s a fantasy part to it where a ship goes off into space, there’s also an SF logic to it that makes it “seem” possible. I think that may be the strength of Space Battleship Yamato that other works don’t have.
Special thanks to Neil Nadelman for translation support.
June 10: Concert 2015 CD and Blu-ray Audio disc
CD: Columbia, COCX-39088~89
Blu-ray Audio: Columbia, COCX-1115
Concert 2015 took place February 28 and March 1 (see two different reports at those links), bringing the Yamato 2199 music experience to a close in the most magnificent way possible. As of this day, the whole world could share some of the thrill that the live audience experienced.
This release is a huge improvement over the comparatively lackluster CD of the 2012 concert. The entire 94-minute performance is contained on two discs with only minimal narration. Disc 1 is a musical look back at the original story, and disc 2 brings us the first live performance of all the new pieces from Ark of the Stars.
Blu-Ray Audio disc label
From the liner notes:
Space Battleship Yamato 2199 Concert 2015
All the tracks on these discs are live recordings from three performances that took place on February 28 and March 1, 2015 in a concert called Akira Miyagawa Presents Space Battleship Yamato 2199 Concert 2015. Through two movies that were released in 2014, A Voyage to Remember and Ark of the Stars, it looks back on the story of Yamato 2199 through narration by Yuki Mori’s voice actor Houko Kawashima and BGM conducted by Akira Miyagawa with more than 70 people, including a chorus and musicians.
Over the 40-year history of Yamato, there were surprisingly few concerts that dealt only with music. Symphonic Concert Space Battleship Yamato Sound, Picture and Roman was performed July 5-30 1978, The Yamato Grand Symphony was performed May 4 1984, and the Yamato Music Group Big Ceremony 2012 took place November 10 2012 (although, strictly speaking, it also included a preview screening of Episode 11).
The Symphonic Concert started on July 5 at Nagoya Civic Hall, then went on to Hiroshima Postal Savings Hall on the 7th, Sapporo Civic Center on the 14th, Kyushu Electric Memorial Gymnasium on the 17th, Osaka Festival Hall on the 18th, and finally the Shinjuku Koma Theater for two days, the 29th and 30th. It had an orchestra + band format with Hiroshi Miyagawa conducting performances by a symphony orchestra and Nobuo Hara’s Sharps & Flats.
The Grand Symphony was performed five times at Postal Life Insurance Hall in a purely orchestral format with Naoto Otomo conducting the NHK Symphony Orchestra. Like Concert 2015, the Yamato Music Group Big Ceremony 2012 took place at the Maihama Amphitheater with Akira Miyagawa conducting an ensemble of the Osaka Philharmonic and the Toke Civic Wind Orchestra.
(Translator’s note: the writer left out other concerts that were a combination of music and stage performances, such as the 1980 Festival in Budokan and the 1983 Final Yamato concert.)
Left and center: a mini-clear file given away as a bonus with store purchase. Right: promo poster with both discs and the file.
Concert 2015 started from the concept of using the same musicians who recorded the BGM so you could enjoy a live performance with the atmosphere of a BGM recording. However, it’s difficult to reproduce Yamato‘s BGM in a concert hall. The BGM recording is a formation centering on drum, electric guitar, electric bass, and orchestra. Each section is recorded in partitioned booths and screens, and the volume is electronically balanced in a remix afterward. But when you listen to the raw tones of this formation in a concert hall, the drums protrude while the volume of strings and main instruments recede. Since there is no choice but to coordinate the volume and balance of the raw sound, a number of instruments must be increased, such as the strings and woodwinds. Then the atmosphere is different from the BGM in terms of volume and the arrangement of the instruments. So that you can enjoy the atmosphere of BGM in a live performance, we’ve adopted the same form as a pops concert; each instrument is separately miked and when you hear the sound from the speakers, the volume is balanced in the PA system.
The concert’s overture begins with a choral and instrumental version of Galactic Route, and 17 BGM tracks are performed for Part 1, A Voyage to Remember. In the interlude (intermezzo) between parts 1 and 2, a striking version of Crossing the Beautiful Ocean is played with a light rhythm and carefree strings. The second half begins with the opening song, Space Battleship Yamato 2199, from Ark of the Stars. Taro Hakase played the violin solo in the original sequence arranged by Takefumi Haketa, but out of a desire to perform it live for this concert, concert master Shinozak Masatsugu played the violin solo in orchestration with Akira Miyagawa. 13 tracks of BGM from Ark of the Stars are played, followed by the ending theme Great Harmony ~ for Yamato 2199 in a special choral arrangement that brings part 2 to an end.
The encore is glorified by three vocal pieces: The Scarlet Scarf, Galactic Route, and Space Battleship Yamato. Also included are Yucca, who participated in the vocals for the BGM, and Kazuko Hashimoto. The concert was completed by a great chorus that united the entire venue.
– Tomohiro Yoshida
June 17: Kirin tie-in
Product tie-ins have been a fact of life since Yamato first made the world a better place, but this one is a first – a pair of commercials for the Kirin Company’s “Perfect Free” non-alcoholic beer. What does that have to do with Yamato? Find out here and here.
June 17: NTT side story, Chapter 2
After an unexplained 3-month gap, telecommunications company NTT resumed their 2199 side story spinoff on this day.
Before the Yamato Plan – information processing system supplemental case
2: Predicting the unpredictable risk
“I think everyone already knows this…” Sanada began.
“Needless to say, the computer system for Space Battleship Yamato, which is currently under construction…no, the system with which the UN Space Navy fleet is equipped is basically the distributed processing type. That means in the event of an enemy attack, it reduces the risk of causing serious damage to the ship’s operations.”
“But don’t Yukikaze and Kirishima use the same system?”
“Yamato…is different. This information is not yet public…but we’ll go to Iscandar using warp navigation. Therefore, the computer system to be mounted on Yamato must be able to obtain 3D coordinates in subspace and perform sophisticated calculations for the driving force of the wave engine (obtaining operational results within nanoseconds), and immediately calculate the warp end-point along the navigational path between Earth and Iscandar.”
Sanada spoke plainly. “If a mistake is made, Yamato could fall into a dimensional fault and destroy the structure of space itself.”
Hikozaemon Tokugawa, the candidate for chief engineer, had wandered in and muttered with a stern face.
“I don’t know anything about this…”
“If you have a manual for it, you’ll do all right, Mr. Tokugawa. The Documentech corps of the technical section will handle the details.”
“Of course, the basis for the system design construction of this program was a technical gift from Iscandar. One year ago…”
“Yurisha Iscandar? After she reached Earth, the story goes that she was killed in an accident.”
Sanada ignored that question and continued to talk.
“When passing through sub-space, a system failure is of great concern…when our ancestors tried to leave Earth long ago, the situation was that a bit in the computer was inverted when cosmic rays penetrated the ship, and it wouldn’t respond. This time, we have to pass through a different dimension with the warp.”
“We must be prepared for impossible events to happen to the ship that do not occur in normal space. Bit inversion will be the least of our problems. With dimensional warpage effects as a factor, we can’t be sure the network’s physical interconnections will work properly unless we try it out.”
“Of course, the message from Iscandar describes how to deal with it, but no one on Earth really understands it, including me. This science is sufficiently advanced so as to be indistinguishable from magic.”
The top secret program for the Izumo Plan was hidden in Niimi’s terminal. Hidden in a deep level with double and triple blocking, it allowed no external access. She had built it carefully, sneering at the “2199-type fire wall.”
“It sounds like a time bomb when I say the human race has one year left until extinction, but humans will not suddenly die out after one year. What I mean is that we have only one year before we start progressing gradually to the end. So when I consider the feelings of the people who will be left on Earth, what will their thoughts be as they wait for Yamato…? If we can at least knock out the advance base on Pluto in Operation M2, the planet bombs will stop falling on Earth. The lives of humans on Earth may be extended a little farther.”
“But the strategy for Operation M2 is very difficult for the computer system section. After completing humanity’s first attempt at faster-than-light navigation, a mountain of problems will come out in the system that must be solved with practice.”
“If we don’t resolve those problems early on, we will not be able to complete the next warp. We’ll be far from Earth, and we’ll be unable to rely on remote support from the computer group on the ground. Yamato will literally be just one particle in the vastness of the universe. The system forces in that grain will struggle and suffer.”
“In other words… (Sanada smiled for the first time) the lives of the programmers must stick rigidly to the clock over the next year, day and night, to guarantee on-time delivery.”
To be continued
June 18-21: Tokyo Toy Show 2015
Bandai’s model kit releases have slowed to bi-monthly, but their commitment to Yamato 2199 is demonstrated at every continuing hobby show. This time they displayed all 18 of the Mecha Collection mini-kits, up to and including the Deusular II core ship, due out in late July.
June 22: Stamp and seal sets announced
The Tanikawa company is a new entry into the Yamato merchandising roster, specializing in stationery items that produce personalized name seals for mail and other uses. Tanikawa offers these items with a variety of pop-culture packaging, and in the month of July they would add Yamato 2199 to their lineup.
Yuki, Yurisha, and the ship itself adorn a set of 9mm pens, 12mm stamps, and storage cases. Also offered is a set of character stamps in multiple colors.
June 22 & 26: Book news
Yamato 2199 Hyper Mechanical Detail Artworks is on course for July 31 from Mag Garden, the publishing arm of Production I.G.
On June 22 and 26, the 2199 Production Committee released these photos on Twitter from two review sessions with Chief Mechanical Director Masanori Nishii.
On the first occasion, he was present for an interview to be included in the book. The second time was for a color-check. This looks as if it may be the final book for the series, and is being treated with the care it deserves. Order your copy from Amazon.co.jp here.
June 25: Hobby Japan #554
Soldiering on as the last regular source for 2199 hobby info, this issue’s page covered recent news and announced that Megahouse would release their Cosmo Fleet Special UX-01 Dimensional Submarine miniature in September. Bandai later announced the Mecha Collection UX-01 mini model for the same month.
June 30: Manga Chapter 36
Michio Murakawa kept the flame alive with a whopping 36-page segment that takes the ongoing adaptation to the end of Episode 13 with plenty of interesting variations on the anime plot. It was published online at both Nico Nico Ace and Comic Walker. Episode 14 was adapted prior to this one, which means the white-knuckle encounter with Domel should be coming up next.
See all the pages here.
Also spotted in June
You can always count on fans to keep a story alive in the DIY fanzine world. Here are a few of the latest discoveries.
Fan favorite artist Ryuji “Umegrafix” Umeda tweeted a new image this month from his Yamato Art in 60 Minutes Twitter feed. Brighten your day with it here.
Two new entries in this category appeared in online auctions. See more photos here.
“Haru” is a name we’ve seen here before, a CG modeler whose astonishing Yamato renders occasionally appear on Twitter. This one showed up June 23. Visit Haru’s Twitter page (and get to know his pet turtles) here.