“…We’ll continue to make new Yamato works from now on…”
That claim was very easy to miss, buried as it was in the December 2014 Ark of the Stars program book, in which Producer Shoji Nishizaki was interviewed along with musician Taro Hakase. But there it was in print and now here it is for real.
Less than ten years ago, “what’s the next Yamato?” was an unthinkable question. Other than a few tantilizing games, no new Yamato animation had been produced since the calamitous Yamato 2520 and the stillborn 1993 draft of Yamato Resurrection. There was also the 2004 New Space Battleship Yamato, which never made it past the proposal stage, but that came and went without public knowledge.
Then 2008 brought the news that Yoshinobu Nishizaki would resurrect Resurrection and the engine started to hum. All the way back in the 1980s, Nishizaki announced his intention to make that project along with a live-action movie and a remake of Series 1. Year by year and inch by inch, they all came to be. And now, “what’s the next Yamato?” is a question with ready answers.
In March 2016 we learned exactly what would come next, but if you had been following the news here at Cosmo DNA, you already had an idea. Producer interviews appeared in two consecutive issues of the fan club magazine Ship’s Log, first in July 2015 (#11) and then November (#12) with a promise that a decision would happen at the beginning of 2016. If you care to track the evolution of this new series from the very beginning, that’s where it starts.
With this, the first Cosmo DNA report of the next step in Yamato history, we pick up where that coverage left off.
March 2: Yamato Crew announcement
After the previous Producer interviews in Ship’s Log, it became evident that issue #13 would be the one to watch for the formal announcement. That was confirmed on March 2 with this news flash on the Yamato Crew website:
New series full-scale startup! A special interview you can only read here!! An exclusive interview with the person who holds the key to the new series! Stay tuned to find out the person! To be published at the end of March!
March 28: Internet announcement
Even if you weren’t a subscriber to Ship’s Log, you still got to see the most important part of it. The image at left was on the inside front cover, and the title couldn’t be clearer: Space Battleship Yamato [Star Blazers] 2202, Soldiers of Love.
This brought all the title speculation to a close. Even those at the heart of the production had been puzzling for years over what to call it. The original date for the second Yamato story was 2201, but the March 2011 Tohoku earthquake gave everyone pause for thought; in the face of that, it was impossible to believe even magic alien technology could restore all of Earth to pre-planet bombing condition in a single year. But could they call it something other than Yamato 2201 and still preserve authenticity? The decision is now obvious, and the emphasis on “2” (as in Series 2) may have been the decider.
“Soldiers of Love” is a direct take from the full title of the historical 1978 feature film, Saraba [Farewell] Space Battleship Yamato, Soldiers of Love. Even the font is unchanged. Its origin lies in the desire of Yoshinobu Nishizaki (writ large in 1978 media coverage) to expand on the “love of humanity” explored in Series 1 into a new theme of “universal love” for all of space. He wrote about it directly in his first proposal for the film in November 1977, which can be read here.
The use of Star Blazers is an interesting move, but certainly not the first time it has popped up since the start of Yamato 2199. With the Hollywood version of Star Blazers currently in some undisclosed state of preproduction, the opportunity to tie into it was undoubtedly a strong motivator. The rest of the text in this image names the primary staff members and provides a comment from each of them. But we’ll get to that a bit farther down the page.
The image accompanying the text was the first key art with a 2202 pedigree, a new painting by the highly respected Makoto Kobayashi.
Another member of the “Yamato generation,” Kobayashi made a name for himself in the 80s with numerous high-concept SF works that made use of his skills as an artist, painter, and modeler. At the time he was best known outside Japan for a gritty anime OVA titled Dragon’s Heaven, and toward the end of that decade he was invited to participate in the development of both Yamato 2520 and Resurrection.
Kobayashi moved on when these projects met their fate, but eventually returned to art direct Resurrection along with Nobuyoshi Habara. The two of them stayed on for the Resurrection Director’s Cut and then eventually Yamato 2199. Habara directed two episodes and Kobayashi took the lead in designing Planet Garmillas.
As you can guess, Mr. Kobayashi has a unique perspective on Yamato productions, which he shared at length with Cosmo DNA in February, 2012. Read that interview here. Other interviews with him can be found in the Yamato 2199 section of this website.
All this made Kobayashi a natural choice to create the first official 2202 image, which ignites more questions the longer you look at it. Where are we? What are the main guns firing at? What happened to the Wave-Motion Gun cover? And – most importantly – what’s eating the ship?
On the other hand, it’s not the first image of its kind from Kobayashi. During the Resurrection phase, he seemed to develop a penchant for drawing chewed-up Yamatos in one image after another. The key art for the Director’s Cut in particular (below center and right) is very similar in tone to the new piece.
However, the thing to keep in mind here is that those pieces were entirely speculative. Rather than referencing a specific image or event from the film, they exist in their own context to evoke a mood rather than a scene. The same could very well be true of this 2202 image. We’ll just have to wait and see what develops.
March 28: Makoto Kobayashi Twitter posts
A deeper look could be found that same day on Kobayashi’s Twitter page. Now that the shroud of secrecy had been lifted, he shared several work-in-progress sketches of the new piece which can be seen at larger size here.
He also published the Andromeda image at right, but don’t get too excited – it was done for the revised ending of the Resurrection Director’s Cut. The version we’re destined to see in 2202 may look something like it, but unless this design gets reused we still have a new Andromeda to look forward to.
This is probably as good a time as any to share some handy advice: The internet being what it is and the language barrier always looming in front of us, this is a time to keep your guard up regarding what’s official and what’s not. Twitter is already filling up with images that look new, but are either from something already released (like a pachinko game) or fan-generated (which can often look just as good as the anime itself). See examples of each below. Don’t be fooled – the only official image released so far is the painting by Makoto Kobayashi.
If you want to keep on top of this, simply familiarize yourself with the Series 2 section of this website. There you’ll find coverage of just about everything that has appeared over recent years. Enjoy it all in context and you can’t go wrong.
March 28: Twitter page opens
Right on cue, Yamato 2202 got its hashtag and fans started cheering. Fan art has already begun to flow there and elsewhere. Expect the rivers to run red with Andromedas until everyone gets it out of their system. The two above were posted by Jiyuon Eruma and Kamidekokoro.
The regular Space Battleship Yamato Twitter page is also a hotbed with crafty fans looking to start trouble. Above left is a transformed Cosmo Tiger posted by modeler Mg45Tallgeese, who said he wanted to give Kato an edge that will help him survive this new story. On April 1, satosiTS claimed the image above right was a new key visual that had just been published, following it up with “#Aprilfool”.
Finally, these striking portraits were posted by fan artist Edakio. There are many, many more where these came from, so make these Twitter pages part of your regular rounds:
March 28: Ship’s Log #13
The biggest chunk of 2202 news came from the ever-reliable Yamato Crew Premium fan club magazine, which carried interviews with both Producer Shoji Nishizaki and writer Harutoshi Fukui. Translations could not be completed in time for this update of Cosmo DNA, but will follow in the next one. However, thanks to this blog, we know some important highlights.
The interview with Shoji Nishizaki reveals the following:
• The Yamato logo has been changed from the style in Yamato 2199, which was lifted from the original 1974 series. Director Nobuyoshi Habara felt strongly that it should be changed to the more vertical style that became the standard from 1978 onward.
• The English Star Blazers name was added with an eye toward overseas developments and the Hollywood film version. The overseas expansion of 2199 was “delayed,” but this should be less so with 2202 in the mix.
• In one of the photos, a white board in the background has the rough image of what could be Andromeda. Details are blurry, but the outline is self-evident.
From the interview with Harutoshi Fukui:
• The bulk of the article is an analysis of Farewell to Yamato, which serves as the root of 2202. The theme of “love” is somewhat embarrassing since the word has been abused to the point of mediocrity. But since “love” was the motivation for Yamato, there is no choice but to embrace it. If it were rephrased to be more contemporary, it would be “putting love to the test.”
• The title became 2202 so that the number 2 could be emphasized for “part 2.” By doing so, it implies the possibility that the outcome could go in the direction of either Farewell or Yamato 2.
• 2201 was not chosen because an interval of one year was deemed too short. The added time also allows for more to have happened.
• If it was only a remake of Yamato 2, there might be a feeling that Farewell was being diluted, so it will be redefined to assume that Farewell is the original setting. New concepts will combine with original parts that are carefully reproduced, but it is first and foremost a continuation of Yamato 2199 rather than a remake of Farewell. Some concepts will be modified because of what was established in 2199. Two of the biggest are the Wave-Motion Gun problem and Yuki’s memory loss.
Magazine centerspread art: “Heroes Hill” by Yoichi Fukano
• The series will run for 26 episodes.
• Kodai feels alienated on the revived Earth, a sense of stagnation and despair.
• The treaty between Okita and Starsha (over use of the Wave-Motion Gun) is casually dismissed and the world is caught up in a Wave-Motion Gun fever.
• With both Farewell and Yamato 2, the story took a while to get going, but 2202 will move quickly from the beginning.
• There is no desire to dismiss any of 2199, but since the staff lineup has changed a few other changes should be expected. Like Gundam Unicorn (also written by Mr. Fukui), the direction will be to return to the feel of the original. The 2199 characters will not be completely changed, but the intervening years have been harsh, and their appearances will reflect this while remaining consistent.
• Yamato’s original naniwa-bushi [ballad of obligation and compassion] will be maintained in 2202 along with a feeling of urgency and density.
• As of February 25, the script was being written for Episode 10. The intention is to debut in early 2017.
• When the interviewer asked Mr. Fukui about the sad parts of Farewell that make fans uneasy, his answer was that they are creating a story that nestles close to the heart of a present-day person.
• Finally, it was mentioned by Makoto Kobayashi that the design of Andromeda is in the capable hands of Junichiro Tamamori (who designed all the UNCF ships from stem to stern, including Yamato).
March 31: Official website opens
The website was very bare-bones on day one, consisting only of the same information that was seen a few days earlier. (See it here.) But the names of the key staff members were even more prominent, so this gives us an opportunity to learn more about them. Short version: we’re in very good hands.
Original Producer: Yoshinobu Nishizaki
Producer: Shoji Nishizaki
”As for me, the most important thing to work on is finding new talent. I have to search for them. Now I feel I have accomplished this” (translated by Hiroshi Ban)
Series Director: Nobuyoshi Habara
“[I will] put my heart and soul [into the new series]” (translated by Hiroshi Ban)
Nobuyoshi Habara has been earning his Space Battleship Yamato street cred since 2009, when he co-directed Yamato Resurrection and the subsequent Director’s Cut. He then shifted over to Yamato 2199 where he landed in the director’s chair for episodes 9 and 19, considered by many to be two of the finest of the series.
Cosmo DNA had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Habara in person on two occasions, first in May 2012 as he was getting started and again in September 2013 just after 2199 ended. Anyone with questions about his craft or motivation can find all the answers there. Suffice to say, after Yutaka Izubuchi, he is the best possible choice to steer the ship on its new journey.
See a list of his impressive credits at Anime News Network here.
Series composition/Writer: Harutoshi Fukui
“Love” is by no means powerless, while dangerous words cannot be turned into a deadly weapon. Harsh reality and compromise encourages change by force. In perfecting humanism, each of us must be aware of our strength and ponder the fact that force was bestowed upon us as a biological instinct. Speaking to ourselves, we must repeat this message lest it be broken, and be confident that a true revival of Yamato is being created. Space Battleship Yamato 2202, Soldiers of Love. I will devote my life to making this. Please stay tuned! (translated by August Ragone)
Harutoshi Fukui is a highly-respected writer whose best known credits are Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn (novels and anime, later renamed Gundam UC) and the 2013 Space Pirate Captain Harlock feature film. He is also an award-winning novelist who has been touted as Japan’s answer to Tom Clancy. Like his American counterpart, his stories have been adapted into high-octane movies such as the WW2 SF story Lorelei: Witch of the Pacific Ocean (trailer here) and the contemporary naval thriller A Lost Country’s Aegis (trailer here).
March 31: Online coverage
The online anime news community in Japan was quick to pick up on the announcement once the official site went live. Most stuck to the basic info and reprinted the quotes, occasionally adding a capsule history of the Yamato saga. The standout was Dengeki Hobby (screenshot at right), one of 2199’s best supporters, which added a round of cheerleading to their coverage:
Yamato journeys into space again with the passion of all the fans.
The impression of eternal love and romance…
Space Battleship Yamato 2199 started in April 2012 and ended with the feature film in December 2014. The long-awaited sequel has been decided upon, and the title is Space Battleship Yamato 2202. A key visual teaser was released along with comments from the main staff.
The director is Nobuyoshi Habara, known for the Fafner series. He was involved in mecha production for Yamato Resurrection, animation directing for the Resurrection Director’s Cut, and directing & storyboarding for Yamato 2199. He is now an essential person to Yamato.
Additionally, Harutoshi Fukui of Mobile Suit Gundam UC is in charge of the series composition and scripts. What kind of Yamato story will Mr. Fukui create?
Furthermore, what is the hidden meaning behind the new key visual? The format and release date of the series has not yet been announced, but let’s wait with high expectations!
There is a little information that has been published. First, the title 2202 indicates the year 2202, three years after the story of Yamato 2199. The number 2 is emphasized along with the subtitle Soldiers of Love from the feature film Farewell to Space Battleship Yamato, Soldiers of Love. It also seems to be conscious of the TV series Yamato 2.
There were two very different endings in those works, and the ending to be chosen for Yamato 2202 is the point fans will be most concerned about!
Also, why has the Wave-Motion Gun cover from Iscandar has been removed in the key visual? These endless questions expand the imagination, so we’ll wait for more news.
See online news reports at these sites:
Continue to Report 2 (July, 2016)
Hi, everyone! Tim Eldred here, stepping out from behind the editorial curtain to thank you for your continuing attention to Cosmo DNA. It’s a rare treat to stand together at the edge of a completely new Yamato era. As it happens, another adventure is also just getting started right here at home.
Many of you followed my Star Blazers webcomics over the years, and after I finished The Bolar Wars Extended in the summer of 2015 I launched into an original project that made its online debut April 5, 2016. It’s an SF story titled PITSBERG and it’s unlike anything I’ve done – or seen – before. The opening chapters of the story are waiting for you right now (free of charge) with much more to come.
Click here to see this experimental tapestry of art, music and animation for yourself. I hope you like it!