With Yamato 2199 out of production in 2015 (except for the home video touch-ups on Ark of the Stars) there was a little more breathing room than usual for the classic Space Battleship Yamato saga, and something new popped up in nearly every category. Here’s a complete rundown to show what you may have missed as another 12 months peeled off the Space Battleship Yamato calendar.
Cosmo DNA Highlights
If you can pardon a little self-indulgence, we’ll start with some standout moments from this website. First, just to impress you with a big number, our 1,000th page was published in the April 2015 update. Since then, over 80 more have been added.
The biggest Cosmo DNA event in 2015 was the long-awaited conclusion of The Bolar Wars Extended webcomic, which started a full six years earlier on starblazers.com and stalled when that site was abruptly shut down at the end of 2012. The Cosmo DNA rebuild took about a year and then the comics got rolling again to reach the finish line in June, 2015.
The story was based on material developed for the full-length version of Yamato III and can now be read in one sitting here.
After The Bolar Wars Extended, the next Yamato project I (Tim Eldred) dreamed about tackling was a webcomic adaptation of the first Space Battleship Yamato novelization, a very different version of the original story. After the unexpected length of time it took to conquer BWE, I really needed a break from drawing Star Blazers to work on an original project instead. But I’ve always been fascinated by the mysterious contents of those novels, so I decided to go for a full text translation – which would reach a conclusion much faster if I didn’t have to draw them.
This project started with Chapters 1 and 2 in September and continues into 2016. Read it here.
Those who have been with us for a while have seen a long-term chronological look at the making of each classic Yamato production with extensive translations of story development and contemporary media coverage. If that could be considered a single project, it finally wrapped up in July with the last Final Yamato Time Machine article. Final Yamato got more coverage than almost the entire saga put together, taking two and a half years to curate here.
In that time, of course, more historical material trickled in, guaranteeing that there will be plenty of articles still to come.
Yamato goods from Redbubble
It’s a lot of fun to research and write about the enormous volume of Yamato products that come out from year to year, but there’s always an inconvenient (and unspoken) catch: it’s not easy to get most of them outside Japan. So, for a switch, here’s something you can get in the US with ease: T-shirts and iPhone cases from an online shop called Redbubble!
As of this writing, they offer eight of the former and three of the latter, all of which you can browse and buy here. Enter “Yamato” in the search window to find one additional T-shirt.
Space Settlement model kit
This is NOT from Yamato, but has a very interesting connection. Released by Wave Corporation in February, this kit bears a strong resemblance to the classic O’Neill type space colony which became a staple of science-fiction, particularly in Mobile Suit Gundam.
Such colonies are not seen in Yamato, but as it turns out the kit was designed from start to finish by Studio Nue’s Kazutaka Miyatake, a key member of the Yamato design team from the very beginning all the way through 2199. Lucky for us, the model comes with a 12-page booklet of his design work.
See it all here.
Visit Wave’s web page for the kit here.
Italian DVD movie set
As we’ve come to learn, anime is at least as big in Italy as it is in English-speaking countries if not bigger, since it’s been a presence there for much longer. In September, a company impressively named Yamato Video announced a new box set of the five original films. Visit their website here.
Spanish DVD box set
Don’t discount Spain when it comes to an anime presence. Here’s a complete 3-part TV series box set released by Sanver Productions, promoted November 19 on Twitter.
Message app stickers
LINE is a popular message app for smart phones in Japan, and messages got more interesting when a company called Oggi Pictures released a collection of Yamato “stickers” to add to your text messages. All are derived from Leiji Matsumoto manga illustrations (comic panels and cover art) to add a little wave-motion to your vocabulary.
Get a better look at them here. Hot tip: they’re also available to LINE users outside Japan.
Yuki Mori garage kit figure
This striking figure by garage kit maker “Abeshi” was first announced on Twitter. Abeshi originally tried to get permission to do a 2199-style Yuki but when that didn’t work out he decided instead to create his own version based on Leiji Matsumoto’s illustration style.
It’s a little hard to make out, but Matsumoto is actually smiling in this photo. That’s good enough to indicate consent.
Leiji Future 2015
The annual one-day Matsumoto mini-con was back for its tenth annivesary, in which fans gathered at Tokyo club/restaurant Culture Culture to watch the master draw on demand and hold a round-table discussion with guests who worked with him in the past. Unique products were sold in limited numbers. The opportunity was also taken to wish Mr. Matsumoto a happy 77th birthday.
A gallery of photos can be seen here and at the following sources:
Leiji Matsumoto art show
Another of Matsumoto’s perennial art exhibitions popped up at Cheepa’s Gallery in Ginza, Tokyo from February 7 to March 22. Admission was free, custom products were available, and Matsumoto himself appeared for a lecture and autograph session.
See some of the custom products on the Galaxy Railway Co. website here.
The world paused for a moment when Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen announced via Twitter that his exploration team discovered the long-lost wreckage of IJN Battleship Musashi in the Sibuyan Sea. This caught the attention of naval history buffs and Yamato fans alike, since Musashi was the near-twin of the vessel that served as the foundation for the space battleship we know and love.
SPA Magazine published an article on the discovery on March 10 which included comments from Leiji Matsumoto. Read it here.
Space Battleship Yamato Fever pachinko game
The Sankyo company’s last crossover with Yamato happened in December 2011 with the release of the hereYamato Resurrection Fever pachinko game. But Series 1 is always the eye-grabber, so it was transformed into a similar game for what is now the third time (preceded by CR Yamato in 2007 and Yamato Pachislo in 2013).
The new Fever game was announced on April 27 with the arrival of a shiny new website full of art and animation, which is always a visual treat for those of us with no access to the game itself. Visit the site here.
The physical game rolled out in August, but didn’t come with the lavish promotional press kits we’ve seen in the past, so we’re forced to cast a wider net to see images from the game…
See a gallery of promotional art here.
If that gives you a taste for more, a huge collection of footage from previous Yamato pachinko games can be found here.
Anime Weekend Atlanta panel
Ye editor (Tim Eldred) is lucky enough to get an hour of floor time almost every year at Anime Weekend Atlanta. I use it to present a continuing panel called The World of Space Battleship Yamato, in which I pull together all the news of the last year into a single slide show.
Most years you can only see the panel in person, but this time it was captured by friend-of-the-website Rick Zerrano and can be seen in full on Youtube here. It brought everyone up to speed as of the end of September, 2015.
Naoko Yamazaki interview
Ms. Yamazaski is probably the world’s most traveled Yamato fan, having spent some time in Earth orbit. She qualified as a space shuttle mission specialist in 2006 and flew on STS-131 in 2010 before retiring from JAXA the following year. She now serves on Japan’s Space Policy Committee and is a writer and educator.
She was interviewed for the Japanese website MyNavi in January, mentioning that she watched Yamato while in kindergarten. Most girls her age would have picked Heidi Girl of the Alps, but her older brother won the day and she found herself much more interested in his choice. She was fascinated by space even then, and found Captain Okita’s final scene to be her favorite.
According to her, there is a strong streak of Japanese astronauts who grew up on both Yamato and Galaxy Express 999. She found the man/machine conflict in 999 to be quite profound, and follows modern research that connects to concepts n Yamato, citing experiments with antimatter that remind her of Teresa in Farewell to Yamato. Her true passion is physics, but she is also still impressed by the poetic justice of Kodai’s “Why did we fight them” scene at the end of Series 1.
And now how about something from our own side of the ocean? Writer Charlie Jane Anders contributed an essay to io9 about how watching Star Blazers got her through an extremely difficult year of her childhood. Read her essay here.
Equally interesting was this response that appeared in the comments after Anders’ article. Hoping to learn more, Cosmo DNA reached out to the individual who posted it but there was no reply. So this will have to do.
HBO’s Silicon Valley
You needed sharp ears to catch this one, but when you did it spoke volumes about someone’s upbringing. In the May 3 episode of Silicon Valley, perpetual loudmouth Erlich Bachman (T.J. Miller) rampaged through his house with the following expletive-laced tirade:
“If I have to, I’m gonna keep my f**king Star Blazer VHS tapes in my ROOM! It doesn’t take an IQ-9 to know they should remain ALPHABETIZED! I want to watch specific episodes, and it’s not like they’re on f**cking DVD!”
Errors aside (Star Blazer should have an S and they were most certainly released on DVD), that qualifies as a deep cut.
See the clip for yourself on Youtube here.
Following Space Battleship Yamato serial in Asahi Shimbun newspaper
As a journalist for the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, Mr. Hiroyuki Ota writes a serialized column called Following ____. He chooses a subject and “follows” it for a time to see where it will lead him. In 2014, he wrote a Following Battleship Yamato serial, and he decided to continue with a Space Battleship version in 2015 which ran from February 25 to March 11. (As of this writing, he is planning to expand both into a book.)
Ota takes a broad cultural perspective, sharing his own views as a fan and discussing how Yamato affected different generations as social philosophies evolved in the wake of World War II. It’s a unique, passionate look at the saga that could only come from the land of its origin.
Click here to read the serialized Following Space Battleship Yamato column in its entirety, translated and published on Cosmo DNA by Mr. Ota’s kind permission.
Big Comic Superior
This manga magazine doesn’t have any features related to Yamato, which made it a nice surprise for readers to get a bonus item that did. The issue came with a sheet of stickers to personalize your IC cards (for the train, office, etc.) with one of four Leiji Matsumoto images.
Zero-Dimensional Machine Travelogue
This art book by mecha designer Katsumi Itabashi was long in the making, initially promised in the form of an “art box” in 2005. (Click here to see the ad.) That project stalled out due to copyright clearance problems, but the book we finally got instead was definitely worth the wait.
Co-credited to Itabashi and Leiji Matsumoto, it is a compendium of their many mecha design collaborations over several decades. Itabashi worked as a longtime assistant in Matsumoto’s manga studio, and specialized in gadgets, vehicles and spaceships. Over time, he did the same for anime. His Yamato contributions stretch from Yamato 2 all the way to Final Yamato with particularly significant work for Be Forever (details here) and the entire Bolar side of Yamato III.
This 272-page hardcover features Itabashi’s best and most elaborate works from Galaxy Express, Captain Harlock, Great Yamato, and many other titles. Itabashi presents them in their original form and also spruced up with modern digital color techniques. There is a smattering of his work from Yamato 2 and Final Yamato.
Order it from Amazon.co.jp here.
SF Manga of our Youth
Doujnshi, August 14
When you think classic Space Battleship Yamato manga, Leiji Matsumoto is usually the first name that comes to mind. But Akira Hio should always be the next. Several artists took their turn at Yamato manga in the production years, but Mr. Hio was the record-holder by far, having adapted Series 1 and all the following movies. (Explore each of them in depth elsewhere on this website.) Unlike Matsumoto, however, interviews with him were practically nonexistent until very recently.
The long silence was broken by another manga artist, Keiichi Tanaka, who specializes in mimicking the style of others. He caught the attention of Yamato fandom with his doujinshis of Yamato 2199 gag manga drawn so precisely in Matsumoto and Hio’s styles that they boggle the mind. It was in a doujinshi titled Heartfelt Traitor (December 2014) that Tanaka presented this interview with Akira Hio as a bonus feature. It turned out to be the edited version of a longer conversation that he published as a separate volume titled SF Manga of our Youth.
Fandom owes Mr. Tanaka a salute for his dedication to the subject, and it is with such a gesture that we present a translation here.
The Man who made Space Battleship Yamato ~ The Madness of Yoshinobu Nishizaki
by Yasumasa Makimura and Tetsuhisha Yamada
352 pages, Kodansha, September 9
History has not yet decided if Nishizaki was a hero or a scoundrel, but none can deny that he was a very unusual man. This is the first full-fledged biography to be published after his unfortunate death in November 2010, covering as much of his history as possible with a warts-and-all approach. Early reviews of the book were as mixed as opinions about its subject, but it seems to have confirmed opinions on either side of the love-him-or-hate-him divide.
A book this significant demands translation, and it will be done sooner or later at this very website. Meanwhile, the table of contents is as good a summary as any of what this book has to offer:
Intro: A man who can’t be dismissed even after he’s gone
Chapter 1: Lone wolf in the anime village
Chapter 2: Theater, jazz, and music shows
Chapter 3: Yamato was not built in a day
Chapter 4: The glory within
Chapter 5: The victor’s dilemma
Chapter 6: Big company on the sand
Chapter 7: Countdown to ruin
Chapter 8: Prison wars
Chapter 9: The resurrected soul
Final Chapter: Farewell, Nishizaki
That’s just the first half of this article! Click here to continue reading