Yamato Resurrection, Report 6

There was considerable anime merchandising before the birth of Space Battleship Yamato in 1974, but from that point on it was a whole new ballgame. As the first anime to appeal to fans across a broad spectrum of age and gender, it generated products never seen before and it set the tone not only for the entire industry but also its own numerous sequels.

With the release of Space Battleship Yamato Resurrection, it started all over again.

The first promotion for the film appeared in the spring of 2009 with the debut of a website from Yamato Studio (above left), the production arm of Yoshinobu Nishizaki’s Enagio Studio. An explanation of the content can be found here.

This site was the one and only source for a limited-edition promotional DVD that showcased 9 minutes of footage and was available by mail order through mid-June. The disc was labeled “part 1” but there was no follow-up. Read about it here and see the footage on YouTube here.

The first media announcements could be found in competing sports newspapers on May 18. (Despite the term, such papers carry a full range of tabloid-type journalism.)

The first official products turned out to be textiles. The 13″ x 31″ bath towels shown above combine old artwork with a blurb for the new film at the bottom. The tote bag was a promotional giveaway at convenience stores in June, 2009. The number was limited to 30,000.

A foldout flyer (above left) for the movie arrived in Japanese theatres August 10. Click here for a complete translation of its contents. September 1st saw the debut of the official Japanese website (above right), which is periodically updated with new material such as theatrical trailers. Visit the site here.

September 5 was the first day advance tickets could be purchased. Limited to 30,000, they came with free bonus items: a plastic “clear file” paper holder and a poster showing the same artwork seen on the flyer.

September 11 was the release date for the first solid-state products, a pair of pocket watches by novelty and game company Taito. See the rest of Taito’s Yamato lineup here.

From September 19 to 23, Japanese fans could attend a rare gallery showing of vintage Yamato artifacts in Tokyo. This included animation cels, original poster art, the 2-meter “cut model” from 1980, and other rarities. Yamato Resurrection was represented by animation art and an all-new 5-meter model of the ship. Read an eyewitness report of the exhibit (with plenty of photos) here.

October 1st added a whole new dimension with the debut of the official website for 2010’s live-action Yamato movie, which went into principal photography soon thereafter. Visit the site here. On October 10, the November issue of Animage magazine was published and featured the first official interview with Yoshinobu Nishizaki about Yamato Resurrection. Read it in English here.

The official Yamato Resurrection website was updated on October 24 to include two new movie trailers in addition to other features. Visit the site to see them, or jump to this page for a collection of stills.

The first Yamato calendar since 2006 was published by the Etoile Company on October 28. Measuring about 18″ x 25″, it features six pages of CG-rendered spaceships with three devoted to Yamato, one to the new Cosmo Pulsar fighter, one to Earth ships (including the new Andromeda) and one for enemy vessels. See the entire calendar front to back here.

Volume 5 of Animage Original, a spinoff of Animage magazine, was published on October 31 with two Yamato-related features: a retrospective of animator Yoshinori Kanada and an interview with the music staff of Yamato Resurrection. Read our tribute to Kanada here. Read a translation of the music article here.

A large-format press sheet became available on November 15. The artwork on the front matched that on the October 24 update of the official movie website, and was also offered as a poster to fans who purchased advance movie tickets online. The back of the press sheet included a notice about the involvement of rock band ‘The Alfee’ who perform the title track Dedicate My Love.

Like the movie flyer, this opens to reveal a wealth of information about the story and the ship. Also shown are several character profiles on both sides of the struggle.

The Tokyo Anime Center in Akihabara opened a mini-exhibition for the film on November 17. Most of the displays consisted of artwork seen on the flyer, posters, and press sheet, but it also inherited the 1980 “cut model” from the September exhibition. This display remained open through December 13. Photos by Anton Kholodov.

Two more websites went live on November 24, one of which will presumably see a long life as a support mechanism for upcoming productions. Called simply “Yamato Crew,” it currently features an online shop that offers a few new products, most notably a Yamato-themed laptop PC notebook. This site seems positioned to become a major hub for the fan community as more features are added over the coming months. Visit it here.

The other was a tie-in with Cedyna, a Japanese credit card. The gimmick here is that first-time users can get a discount on the card fees if they use their new Cedyna card to purchase some upcoming merchandise, specifically big-ticket items scheduled for release in early 2010 (seen at the end of this page). Visit the site here.

Japanese print media steadily increased its attention to Yamato as the movie approached. Shown above left is a page from the December issue of Hyper Hobby (released Oct. 31) spotlighting various elements from characters and new ships to upcoming merchandise. At right is a page from the December issue of Nikkei Entertainment (released Nov. 4), a movie magazine that devoted a page to explaining some of the complex issues of ownership and distinction between Resurrection and the forthcoming live-action film.

The most unique and impressive Resurrection tie-in book appeared on November 26: an art magazine titled Hyperweapon 2009. Published by Model Art Co., it is a semi-annual spinoff of Vessels Model hobby magazine, a publication for navy modeling buffs. It is also the brainchild of mecha designer Makoto Kobayashi, who uses it as a showcase for his work (and that of a few select colleagues). This issue concentrated on Space Battleships and devoted the lion’s share of its 64 pages to Kobayashi’s prolific work on Yamato Resurrection.

Kobayashi’s history as a modeler, manga artist, and designer goes back to the early 1980s. He originally joined the Yamato production unit to work on Yamato 2520 and stayed on for the first attempt to make Resurrection (see details here). Rare examples of this early work were included in Hyperweapon 2009, including designs for the abandoned Dessler’s War project (shown below).

To date, Hyperweapon 2009 is far and away the most exquisite Resurrection-related publication and its large page size (approx. 10″ x 14″) also makes it the biggest. It is currently available from Amazon.jp and is highly recommended.

The Taito Company released a new version of their 15″ Super Mechanics Yamato toy on November 26, modified to match the ship’s redesign for the movie. The original 2007 toy measured 40 cm and was scaled at 1/665. This new one adds 5 cm to the length and is scaled at 1/590.

One advantage of creating an anime spaceship in CG is that the data can be used to generate a solid, real-life version, and that’s exactly what this is. The details and proportions precisely match the on-screen Yamato, which is a significant first. Comparing it to Taito’s previous Super Mechanics Yamato toy clearly demonstrates the modifications to the design.

See an extensive photo gallery of the new version here.

Advance Screenings of Yamato Resurrection began on November 28 at the Tokyo International Forum and moved through other cities over the following week. Isao Sasaki himself kicked off the first one in grand style with his classic renderings of the famous opening and closing theme songs. (He’s waving a scarlet scarf in this photo; everyone in the audience got one of these to wave back.) Yoshinobu Nishizaki was also in attendance, though stuck in a wheelchair since he fell and cracked three ribs a couple days earlier.

As Yoshinobu Nishizaki explained in his Animage interview, he made two different endings for the film and scheduled these screenings to determine which one audiences would favor. The movie was shown with one ending and then the alternate was screened immediately after. Audience members voted (via cel phone) for their favorite, which went into the final cut of the film for general release. There are early indications that the rejected ending will turn up as an extra feature on the DVD release. Shown above is the gift bag given to audience members. It contained a scarlet scarf, a crew ID badge, and plenty of promotional goodies.

See an online report of the event with additional photos here. Read about a close encounter with the event here.

Yamato Mechanic Memorial is a new book from Toho that starts with coverage of Resurrection, then spends the rest of its 52 pages examining all the Yamato toys and model kits released since 1974. In some ways it is a condensed version of the Yamato Modeling Guide released by Dengeki Hobby in 2007 with much of the same information and layout. This edition, however, was limited to 13,000 copies that were sold in both movie theatres and book stores. It was first sold at the Resurrection preview screening on November 28 in Tokyo.

See Toho’s homepage for this book here.

This brings us to the end of November, 2009. Continue to Report 7, in which everything explodes in the month of the premiere.

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