Space Battleship Yamato 2199, Report 9

The voyage commences! Yamato 2199 Chapter 2, Desperate Struggle in the Heliosphere, debuted in Japanese movie theaters on June 30 and outperformed its predecessor on several levels as recounted here in Report 8. Most importantly, it was double the length of Chapter 1 since it contained four episodes that took us to the edge of the solar system. We now pick up where the last report left off, exploring everything that followed in the busy month of July.

Chapter 2 Program Book

The new program book was the most welcome sight among the theater merchandising. There is almost certainly a dedicated art book somewhere in our future, but even if one never appears, a set of program books for all seven films will fill the gap nicely. This one matched the length and format of the first and can be seen from cover to cover here.

Its text features also followed the lead of the first book with an introduction, voice actor commentary, and staff interview. The staff member this time was character designer Nobuteru Yuuki, and the interview is hefty enough for a page of its own; click here to read it.

The others follow below, starting with the introduction by the original Yamato superfan, Ryusuke Hikawa:


By Ryusuke Hikawa (anime commentator)

In Space Battleship Yamato 2199 Chapter 2, Desperate Struggle in the Heliosphere, the value and ability of Yamato, the ship that launches on an unprecedented journey from Earth as humanity’s extinction looms, are carefully presented.

The first experiment is conducted for a warp system that enables navigation across 168,000 light years of interstellar space. The Wave-Motion Gun is test-fired in combat, which applies the transcendent power of the Wave-engine used for the warp. If Yamato were a superhero, these two major abilities would be its killer techniques. These big SF concepts characterize the space battleship that was born from the vessel that roamed the sea during the era of great warships.

SF often make difficult things possible in reality. In many cases, things are done for “the sake of convenience,” but Yamato is based on a scientific idea called “process and rules,” which puts it on a heavy vector in the opposite direction of lightheartedness. There is a “borrowing” limit to the fictional warp theory, and the ability to leap through space and time is not infinite.

In the real world we live under scientific laws, and when we encounter a phenomenon which we perceive through this process, we always feel the weight of those rules. Conversely, the reality we sense is one firmly established by “process and rules.” Furthermore, when the rails of reality guide SF, it provides surprises that go beyond common sense. This “sense of wonder” of SF is the essence of Yamato.

In Chapter 2, it goes without saying that this intellectual characteristic appears in the Wave-Motion Gun firing scene. The mighty strength Yamato needs for its mysterious voyage combines the “power” of a huge mechanism and a crew working in solidarity. “Wave-Motion Energy” makes the impossible possible. This power to save Earth is accompanied by great risk, and the relative point of view can be felt there. This is an important attitude in SF, and in that regard 2199 properly inherits the charm of the original.

The “heliosphere” is the stage for this chapter, and though this is within the range of real observation machines, a few leaps are still required. From Saturn and its satellites to the orbit of Pluto, the site of a recent tragic fleet battle, Yamato engages the Gamilas military several times. The overall framework for this was set in the 1974 version, and fans of the original wait to see familiar enemies such as the Gamilas tanks and the Reflection Satellite Gun on Pluto.

However, the staff who did such a wonderful job with Chapter 1 would not prepare ordinary mechanisms. Up-to-date surprises await us even in a simple fighter launch sequence. The sense of “I should know this, but it’s been completely revamped” is fully loaded everywhere. Of course, new viewers have fully enjoyed the excitement of a rare SF battle in recent years, and even longtime fans can spend time warming up to the exquisite resonance between “same” and “different.” This is the important difference between “process and rules” and the “surprise” that lies ahead.

Space Battleship Yamato is loaded with such wisdom and effort, a story of people who rise up from defeat to seize a wonderful reversal. This time, a sort of “drama of repetition” becomes apparent. Hopeless situations have revisited us time and again over the last 38 years, and we have risen from despair to achieve reversal many times.

What we can achieve in the reversal will surely be clarified in the difficult journey Yamato will take.

Next, a short essay by Kenichi Suzumura, the voice actor for Shima Daisuke:

This is “Our Yamato.”

I am happy that I can say that about the work we’ve done.

Of course, I knew of the existence of Space Battleship Yamato, but my generation watched it in reruns rather than in real time. When I thought about what the original Yamato experience would have been, what suddenly came to mind was my father singing the theme song. My father was a man who never knew anime, but for some reason he knew only Yamato. It was a social phenomenon. That reminds me, I haven’t told him yet that I’m in the new Yamato. (Laughs)

In the old days I only watched Susumu Kodai, and thought about Shima only to the extent that he was a “character who supported him from the shadows.” But thinking more carefully about it, this was because Yamato benefited so well from Shima’s grip. When I think this way, there is a strange pressure when I play Shima, a feeling like pins and my spine stretching.

Thanks to the baritone voice of Hideo Nakamura who played the original Shima, he seemed to have more maturity than Kodai. But this time, Shima is presented as a lighter character in comparison. In other words, rather than just tracing the original, he has become a new character. If he retained his former image, I would not have been chosen in the casting. Therefore, I stopped being concerned about the original when I played the role. Although I’m conscious of how to play Shima when I focus on his position in the Yamato‘s crew, I believe that I will see the answer naturally in the script and the film. That’s what I think.

In performing Shima, I didn’t get specific instructions from Director Izubuchi. To tell the truth, he was a drinking buddy since before we started making Yamato together. I had a favorite bar where the directors of Ultraman, Kamen Rider, and other productions would gather, and we talked about our favorite tokusatsu [special effects] programs. Therefore, nothing in particular was said when I went to the audition, and I just thought this director “surely must know a lot of details about Yamato.” It seemed the thought of, “you understand even though nothing is said” was the atmosphere. (Laughs)

Although Yamato 2199 has just gotten started, I surely think it will become a wonderful work. In my surroundings, the general trend was to observe the original Yamato as the best work of SF. I would certainly watch a remake that was made with present techniques and included respect for the previous one. Now I’d like to shout it out to everyone that the Yamato everyone wants to see has been made.

When I saw it for the first time myself at the event in February, I was so impressed that I raised my voice in spite of myself. “This is what I wanted Yamato to be.” Therefore, I’m confident that I can say “this is Yamato” to both a fan of the original and one who sees it for the first time.

Space Battleship Yamato 2199 is a Yamato that meets everyone’s expectations! I’m happy that I was able to participate in a work about which that can be said.


Our last report included photos of all the new merchandising sold in theater gift shops. Since then, copies of the most popular items (the “clear files”) have made their way here to the nerve center. Click here to get a better view of them.

June 30: Hyper Hobby #167

This was the first magazine out of the gate with Chapter 2 coverage. A four-page article reviewed the action in the film (above) and gave a rundown of new products (below).

This included photos of the soon-to-come 1/1000 Yamato model kit from Bandai and Yuki Mori figure from Megahouse.

July 1: Premium Bandai

In the wake of Chapter 2, the month of July became a flurry of activity starting on the Premium Bandai website. A department named “Fashion Net” brought out a wave of new products including t-shirts, towels, and iPhone cases. They can still be ordered from this link, but you’ll need someone in Japan to seal the deal since overseas shipping is not available.

See the Bandai product lineup here.

July 7: Manga Volume 1

Next up was the first mass-market Yamato 2199 book of any kind, Volume 1 of the collected manga by Michio Murakawa. It had originally been announced for July 10, and even Mr. Murakawa himself was surprised to see it on store shelves three days early. (Read more about it here.)

With cover art by mecha designer Junichiro Tamamori, the book collected four chapters of manga into 164 pages, which included a section of Earth Defense Forces mecha design. The content matched the first movie, culminating with Yamato‘s launch from Earth.

July 10: New Type Ace #11

Right on cue, the next issue of Kadokawa’s New Type Ace picked up where the manga collection left off, commencing Murakawa’s adaptation of Chapter 2 and bringing us a new interview with Director Yutaka Izubuchi. The interview will be presented here in the future. For now, see the manga pages here.

July 10 & 12: Yamatalk Night 2

A new tradition was set when Yutaka Izubuchi reappeared at the Shinjuku Picadilly theater for the second evening of live discussion. The first Yamatalk night was held in April for Chapter 1, and this one had a followup in Yokohama two nights later. As before, friend-of-this-website Gwyn Campbell was in attendance and brings us his eyewitness account here.

The date of the event in Yokohama coincided with the release of the exclusive Chapter 2 Blu-Ray via mail to those who pre-purchased their copy in theaters. Revisit Report 8 for details on that.

July 18: YamatoCrew Clear Files

Five new clear files were released through the Yamato Crew website, two of whch included artwork by manga artist Michio Murakawa. They were offered by mail-order to Japanese addresses only. See them here.

July 25: Voice Actor announcement

On this date, we learned who had been cast in the role of General Eruc Domel: voice actor Akio Otsuka. Definitely one of anime’s heavy hitters, his resume includes such roles as Black Jack, Batou (Ghost in the Shell), Golgo 13, Goemon (Lupin III), Anavel Gato (Gundam 0083), Captain Nemo (Nadia), and Tony Stark (Iron Man anime). In the live-action world, he dubbed the voice of Will Riker in Star Trek: TNG, and has spoken for many high-profile stars such as Antonio Banderas, Nicolas Cage, Wesley Snipes, and Steven Seagal. See a comprehensive list of his credits here.

Concerning the role of Domel, his impression of the character is a man of “excellent ability, though self-righteous and somewhat awkward for a military man.” He cites Yamato 2199 as being blessed with a staff of rich personalities that brings a new feeling to Yamato while respecting the image of the original.

July 25: Dengeki Hobby and Hobby Japan, September issues

If you’ve been reading our reports regularly, you’ve seen these titles over and over–they’ve kept right up with all the big news announcements and broken many stories of their own. The September issues arrived in the wake of Chapter 2’s theatrical premiere and had a lot of new products to cover, so they both rolled out their biggest articles yet.

Dengeki filled 14 pages with coverage of the new 1/1000 Yamato model and several other forthcoming products, including a limited-edition Kodai figure and some new garage kits. They also announced the next model (a 1/1000 EDF fleet set), and that Bandai was gearing up to restart the famous “Mecha Collection” mini-kit line of the 70s and 80s. The first taste is to come in November, when the January issue of Dengeki will come bundled with a free mini-model of the Cosmo Falcon.

As if all that wasn’t enough, another three pages were devoted to 2199‘s mecha design and an interview with our old friend mecha designer Junichiro Tamamori.

See all the pages from the Dengeki article here.

Hobby Japan went even farther with a foldout poster and a cover feature that filled up a generous 27 pages. The first 12 were devoted to the 1/1000 Yamato model, and the next 12 featured custom-built kits and new product announcements. And then another interview with Junichiro Tamamori. Simultaneous interviews in two competing magazines may not be an industry first, but it’s certainly a first for 2199.

See all the pages from the Hobby Japan article here.

AND…read both of the Tamamori interviews here.

July 25: Model Graphix #334

Dainippon Kaiga Co. is the publisher of this long-running hobby magazine, which offered its first-ever 2199 coverage in this issue: five color pages devoted to the 1/1000 Yamato model. See them here. (3 images)

July 27: Chapter 2 DVD/Blu-Ray

The long wait for the rest of the world to sink their teeth into Chapter 2 finally ended on July 27 when it was released on mass-market DVD and Blu-ray. As before, it lacked the postcard and storyboard booklet that came with the theater-only edition, but everything else was intact: Episodes 3-6, audio commentary, a half-hour version of the February launch event, and the New Life Yamato Launch Declaration TV special from April 6.

The outer sleeve featured wraparound art by Naoyuki Katoh, and a 12-page booklet of art and liner notes completed the package. See it all here.

Japanese fans also had the option of buying the Yamato Crew edition (only available at the website), which included an exclusive trading card showing Dessler’s crest and facsimiles of the recording scripts for each episode. It is likely that there will be a Yamato Crew edition of all upcoming videos as well.

July 28: 1/1000 Yamato 2199 model kit

Bandai’s previous Yamato model, the 1/500 edition released in December 2010 to capitalize on the live-action movie, surprised everyone later when it actually turned out to be the first 2199 kit. This one, scaled at half its size, was the first to carry the 2199 logo and is no less detailed than its predecessor.

Like most previous Yamato models, its turrets rotate and the hangar hatch opens. Its new feature is a partial cutaway in which the rear port hull sections can be removed to reveal pull-out fighter decks and a Wave-Motion Engine.

One tradition of the original Yamato models from Bandai was the inclusion of a bonus mini-kit, and this was repeated here in a very interesting way, as announced at the Shizuoka Hobby Show back in May. The bottom of the box, usually devoid of any markings, was printed with a simulated “mecha collection” mini-kit box to be cut out and assembled. It reproduced kit #18 of the original lineup, a Gamilas Tri-Deck Carrier, and the part runners could be found inside the box with Yamato.

However, the original Tri-Deck was only available in green, and in this case both the parts and the simulated box art were remade in blue. Based on earlier announcements, this will be done again in the future, with the Tri-Deck remade in purple. All three colors will allow you to build General Domel’s task force from the original series.

See a gallery of photos and materials for the 1/1000 Yamato here.

July 29: Yamato 2199 at Wonderfest 2012

All the news and product releases culminated here, in the first-ever official Yamato booth at Wonderfest, a one-day convention for the conjoined worlds of anime and modeling. By all accounts, the booth was spectacular, showcasing the 5-meter Yamato built in 2009 (and now slightly repainted), new limited-edition products sold by Yamato Crew, and showcases of the custom-built models that have graced the pages of Hobby Japan and Dengeki Hobby.

There were also some live elements. First, a talkshow on Yamato modeling that included representatives from Bandai and Production IG, along with resident expert Nobuyuki Sakurai. Second, the Yamato girls themselves, five young ladies in costume as crew members. It was the first time they were seen together in a public event, but not the last–the booth appeared up again at the Chara Hobby convention in late August.

See video coverage of the Wonderfest booth here and here.

See a gallery of photos from Wonderfest (including all the new products) here. (most photos by Gwyn Campbell)

Continue to Report 10

Bonus: Megami Magazine, September issue

The large number of new female characters in Yamato 2199 has lent itself to “alternative” coverage in magazines like this one. “Megami” means “Goddess,” and the magazine is completely dedicated to anime cheesecake. The May 2012 issue was the first to examine the girls of 2199, and this one followed suit with another single-page article and foldout poster.

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