In Yamato terms, 2019 will go down in history as the year 2202 came to a close. But as usual, there was plenty of attention given to the original saga if you knew where to look. Here then is our annual review of what went on with O.G. Yamato in the final year of the decade.
COSMO DNA HIGHLIGHTS
Cosmo DNA perpetually aims for the crest of all the latest news, but the archive of materials on the original saga is still very deep and may never be 100% explored. Therefore, the other purpose of this site is to keep on digging. Here’s what got dug up in 2019…
Following the History of Battleship Yamato and Space Battleship Yamato
In 2015, journalist Hiroyuki Ota wrote a serial for the Asahi Shimbun newspaper that examined the unique cultural aspects of the anime. In November 2018, he explored the attitudes and principle figures of the Imperial Japanese Navy that informed the storytelling of the first Yamato series. That serial is presented in full.
Yutaka Izubuchi interview, October 2018
It is a little-known fact that Yamato 2199 Director Yutaka Izubuchi got his start very early when he participated in both Yamato III and Final Yamato as a fresh-faced newcomer. Here, he discusses his earliest experiences as both a fan and a staff member.
Yamato in 1977: how history was made
In 2009, film journalist Morihiko Saito examined the unprecedented success of the first Space Battleship Yamato, writing with a passion that only an original-generation fan could bring to the table. It became a chapter in his book The law of Anime Hit Movies and is presented here in full.
Vintage doujinshi archive
Doujinshi publishing in the early years laid the groundwork for Yamato‘s explosive comeback in 1977, which in turn laid the groundwork for an entire industry. It all began with the ‘zines in this archive, which can be seen from cover to cover. New entries were added in March.
Rogue producer, 1997 – 1999
Focus, a weekly gossip magazine published by Shinchosha, was a celebrity-and-scandal chaser that kept tabs on cultural turmoil. Yoshinobu Nishizaki wasn’t high on their list of targets, but they tagged him on at least two separate occasions. In the interest of complete record-keeping, both were found and translated.
LB Nakasu Communication magazine, 1994
Just before Yamato reached its 20th anniversary, this extremely rare magazine published a cover story on its impending comeback. In addition to an exclusive interview with Exec Producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki, it included several supporting articles that added up to a perfect anniversary time capsule. Read them all here:
Yamato Resurrection novelization
The Resurrection novelization is unique in two ways. First, it was published on a very limited basis in October 2010, and second, it is the only Yamato novelization (so far) written by a woman, Rei Morimura. As with all well-rounded novelizations, it expands upon material seen on the screen and adds levels of characterization that work better in text form. In August, we started a chapter by chapter translation, to finish in 2020.
Masahiko Okura interview, October 2019
Countless young artists were inspired by Yamato in their youth, but only a few rose to the ranks of those who would keep it alive as adults. Masahiko Okura is one of them, having contributed from 1983 to the present day, and as you’ll see in this interview, he hasn’t lost an ounce of passion in all that time.
Yamato Resurrection 10th anniversary
To mark the ten-year anniversary of Yamato Resurrection, we presented vintage interviews with three of the most important members of the animation staff: Director Yoshinobu Nishizaki, Character Animation Director Tomonori Kogawa, and Mechanic Director Nobuyoshi Habara. Also on offer was an extensive mecha design gallery by Makoto Kobayashi.
June 15: 1/350 Paper model
Paper Model Workshop is a Tokyo-based company that specializes in complex kits of all kinds, as seen on their website here. They sell through mail order, but also occasionally offer models as free PDF downloads. Such is this case with this one, the “Sunken Battleship Yamato.” Consisting of six PDFs to print at home, it can be found here.
This is absolutely no-kidding FREE. Click on the link and poke around for the PDFs and the instructions. This is not actual Space Battleship Yamato merchandise…but you know the score.
Visit the company’s Facebook page here.
November 27: 1/1 Cosmogun water pistol
After a seemingly unending series of delays (it was initially announced for late August), this magnificent piece finally shipped out to eager fans around the world. Measuring 15″ long, it is available with one of four different nameplates on the grip that conceals the water inlet.
The gun was created by Model Works Grenade and distributed by Daiki Industries. As of this writing, all four versions can be ordered from Amazon.co.jp for international shipping:
Star Blazers/Yamato fan club magazines (quarterly)
This magazine (an upgrade of the previous edition Ship’s Log), gives most of its attention to new productions, but there’s always room for looks back in time. That mission took on a whole new aspect in issue 5 (published in November) when the first-ever serialized Yamato novella was added as a regular feature. Set between Final Yamato and Resurrection, it is titled Aquarius Algorithm: Yamato Resurrection Chapter 0.
A couple weeks before the debut, Yamato Crew published this message from the author:
On the Writing of Aquarius Algorithm
Yamato Resurrection Part 0 is set in 2215, 12 years after the sinking of Yamato. This is an original story that fills in the blank period between Final Yamato and Resurrection, spun with completely new perspectives and ideas while respecting the existing concepts.
This is my first time being involved with Yamato‘s world, and I’m uncontrollably nervous and excited. I hope you will observe it with warm eyes. When I was first asked, “Is there any time and place in Yamato‘s worldview that you’d like to write about?” I immediately thought of this stage. Over about a year, the original image has grown to be vividly illustrated by Ryuji Umeno [Umegrafix] and Shinji Nishikawa.
A new ship will be ready to sail into outer space with Susumu Kodai and others at the end of this month. What’s going on with Yamato? Where’s Captain Okita? What is the galaxy-scale escape plan “Magellan Exodus”? So begins Aquarus Algorithm.
An algorithm is a calculation method for solving various problems. Susumu Kodai and the crew of Yamato once again confront difficulty on the sale of outer space. This is the story of Kodai reviving with Yamato‘s crew. Please look forward to Aquarius Algorithm, starting November 2019 in Yamato Magazine Vol. 5!
– Katsuya Takashima
You’re probably wondering at this point if an English translation will appear here at Cosmo DNA, and the answer is…probably, eventually. It’s the policy of this website not to encroach upon works that are currently in print, which is why our past novel translations have focused on older material. Thus, as long as this one remains an active project in Japan (up to and including a collected reprint) it’s going to be off-limits. But all good things to those who wait.
April 9: Space Battleship Yamato: The Classic Collection
Has anyone checked the temperature in hell lately? Because after a decades-long wait, Seven Seas Entertainment has finally published the entire Yamato manga by Leiji Matsumoto in English. Translated by lifetime fan Zack Davisson (interviewed here), it runs a staggering 644 pages and is the only single-volume collection of Matsumoto’s entire body of Yamato work. It contains his complete Series 1 adaptation, his [unfinished] Yamato 2, and the “secret” chapter, Eternal Story of Jura.
Buy it at finer bookstores everywhere, order it from your local comic shop, or get it at Amazon here.
May 20: Captain Harlock Dimension Voyage, Vol. 10
In this final volume of the modernized Captain Harlock manga by Leiji Matsumoto and Kouiti Shimaboshi, we got one last nod to Yamato. As the final battle between Harlock and the Mazon begins, Deputy Secretary Kirita enacts a secret alliance with the unnamed leader of “Neo-Gamilas” to divert galactic upheaval. That leader is shown in one panel with no caption or pertinent dialogue to name him, but the cut of his jib is unmistakeable. It is later mentioned that “the Gamilans established a colony on the primordial planet Bemera, in the Magellanic Clouds.” The English edition of this volume was published in December by Seven Seas Entertainment. Get it from Amazon here.
May 25: Model Graphix No. 416
The cover story of this remarkable issue was a generous 40-page retrospective on the work of Studio Nue. Based around the skills of mecha designers Naoyuki Katoh and Kazutaka Miyatake, this pioneering art group was instrumental in taking anime to the world stage. Their catalog includes the original Yamato, Captain Harlock, Macross, Starship Troopers, Crusher Joe, and much more. Yamato only appeared on Katoh’s cover painting and one interior page, but this giant article offered plenty more with a special focus on model kits that originated from Studio Nue designs.
Order your copy of the magazine here.
June 20: Animage magazine anniversary
Today, Japan’s premiere anime magazine marked its 41st anniversary with a look back at the historic first issue, which is now an indelible part of Yamato history. The following article was published on Yahoo Japan…
Starting with Farewell to Yamato!
Examining Animage‘s first issue
The anime magazine Animage was born 41 years ago in 1978, spanning the Showa and Heisei periods and now into Reiwa. Since its inception, Animage has aimed to respond to anime fans’ demands: “I want to see,” “I want to know,” and “I want to read.” Do you know what the content of the first issue was, published 41 years ago? Let’s examine the legendary first issue of Animage.
The cover story of the first issue commemorated Farewell to Yamato, which premiered in the summer. According to writer Yoshiharu Tokuki, who was associated with Animage from the start and writes a serialized column on the official website, the name Animage is a combination of the words Anime and Image, coined by the first editor in chief, the late Hideo Ogata.
The sophisticated Yamato, printed in silver, was drawn by illustrator Nozomu Tanaka. The cover was not printed in the normal four colors (red, blue, yellow, and black) but used a total of 11 colors, such as silver and fluorescent pink. It was displayed for a while at the print shop, Dainippon Printing, as a valuable technological example.
For example, the background looks solid black, but if you look closely you’ll see Yamato line drawings printed with black lines of a different density on the black background. The cover image of the first issue is rather well known, but since you don’t notice the details until you see the real thing, many people are unaware of it. In addition, the first issue consisted of 120 pages and cost 580yen.
The frontispiece consisted of sketches and comments by industry people to commemorate the first issue. The first feature was the cover story on Farewell to Yamato, then “Animation World” presented highlights, synopses, and design materials for one month’s worth of TV animation. It would go on to become a regular feature to introduce the broadcast schedule of the current month. Special features continued with an article on the Space Pirate Captain Harlock TV series.
There was a spotlight on Akira Kamiya [Kato in Yamato], who was a popular front-line voice actor at the time, and this feature became serialized in the next issue with the title “Voice Actor 24:00.” Various voice actors were introduced therein, and it can be said that this was an opportunity that lead to the “voice actor boom.”
Other regular features included “Encore Anime” which introduced a nostalgic anime masterpiece (the first being the feature film The Great Adventure of the Sun Prince Horus) and “Production Visit” which introduced a production company (the first was Tokyo Movie, now known as TMS Entertainment).
In a section titled “Anime College,” five serialized columns started: Anime Cram School, History of Animation, Akira Hio’s Mechanical World, A Small Word from Makoto Tsuji, and Voice Actor Guide. A serialized manga titled Golden Warrior by Yuki Hijiri (creator of Locke the Superman) was also published.
According to Mr. Tokuki’s column, “The idea of the content and planning page [in the first issue] became the basis for the later video magazine mania. The policy of the editor, who wasn’t an animation expert, was an attitude of learning the basics and the fun of animation from the same perspective as the readers.” Whether or not this editorial policy worked, sales of the first issue seemed to be quite strong.
Thus, the long voyage of Animage got off to a smooth start.
– Animage Plus Editorial Department
See the Yamato coverage from Animage #1 here.
August 14: Yamato 2199 manga in English
Not a dream! Not an imaginary story! We actually have an official English verison of the Yamato 2199 manga by Michio Murakawa!!!
After a short delay, Dark Horse comics unleashed an omnibus which collects the first two Japanese volumes. This takes us through Episode 4 on Enceladus.
The translation is by Zack Davisson, who also did the classic Leiji Matsumoto manga for Seven Seas. In addition to the manga itself, he also painstakingly translated several pages of mecha design work, providing rare English-language access to Junichiro Tamamori’s thought process.
The collection is edited by Carl Horn with an afterword by Cosmo DNA editor Tim Eldred. Three more volumes will follow; order them from your local bookstore or comic shop today! (Or Amazon, if those options elude you.)
October 10: Zenbu Vol. 95
This one takes a little explaining, but there’s a surprise at the end. When visiting Japan, the very best place to spend your time is in a Mandarake store. (BTW, that’s Mahn-da-ra-kay, not “Mandrake.”) This is a chain of shops specializing in manga/anime/pop culture products of every category, both old and new. They’ve been around for decades and they are known to travelers from far and wide.
Zenbu is the monthly auction catalog of Mandarake, which also serves as a journal for collectors. You not only see what’s available for bidding in a given month, you also get some background articles to tell you more about what you’re looking at. It’s all in Japanese, of course, but the pictures are in English. (Ba-dumpsh! Still got it!)
Zenbu Vol. 95 lands on the Yamato radar because it contains an enormous amount of Yamato items up for auction, lovingly photographed to fill an impressive 100 pages. And here’s the surprise: YOU can order a copy. Yes, YOU!
Get one right here at Amazon.co.jp. This is HIGHLY recommended, and it’s a steal at just 10 bucks.
Meanwhile, see ALL of the Yamato content from Zenbu Vol. 95 here.
April 17: Yamato Grand Symphony CD
Released by Denon, this was the third recording of the complex and magnificent Grand Symphony, composed by Kentaro Haneda. The first took place in 1984, the second for Resurrection in 2009, and this new live version was performed in August 2018 by the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra. Original conductor Naoto Otomo returned to wave the baton, joined by soprano Sara Kobayashi, honorary concert master Yasuko Otani, and reunited with solo pianist Yukio Yokoyama who participated in the 2009 session recording. The Yamato Grand Symphony resounded through the hall in a passionate, enthusiastic performance that was greeted by a storm of “bravos” and a full six minutes of generous applause. In response to popular demand and to mark the 70th anniversary of the composer’s birth, it was released on CD.
This performance adopts an original ending based on handwritten music that was discovered after the composer’s passing. Thus, this recording includes a completely original score not heard previously. In the words of his eldest daughter Ayako…
“Once a piece had its debut, my father usually threw away all the music he composed before it went out into the world, but only the score of Yamato Grand Symphony was put into a bag and carefully preserved in the shelf of his work room. I can’t help but think that he hoped a day like today would eventually come. A part of the handwritten score will be published for this release as sheet music discolored by cellophone tape. My father’s thoughts from those days come through in small notes written in pencil. What was going through his mind when he wrote “The End” in red after the fourth movement? He declined other work in 1984 so that he could give all of his passion to the Yamato Grand Symphony for over six months. I hope everyone can feel it again now, more than 35 years later.”
– Ayako, Managing Director for Music Office Co., Ltd.
Read a deeper history of the Grand Symphony here.
May 9: Naoto Otomo interview
On this day, the music-oriented website Real Sound published a new interview with Conductor Naoto Otomo. The occasion was the April release of the newly-recorded Yamato Grand Symphony, with which Otomo has been intimately involved since its first performance in 1984 (when he was in his 20s). He discussed the context of its creation and evolution through its 2009 and 2018 revivals.
Read the interview here.
May 4: Radio Suite Farewell to Yamato
Clover Radio, an internet station in Saitama Prefecture, made Yamato history a year earlier with Radio Suite Space Battleship Yamato, a revival of the famed 4-hour late night Yamato broadcasts of yesteryear. Their initial announcement earned the highest-trending Twitter hashtag in Japan at the time.
One year later, they revived their revival with a new 4-hour show devoted to Farewell (and the obvious 2202 tie-in). Host Andro Umeda was reunited with co-host (and manga artist) Michio Murakawa and two very special guests: Director Nobuyoshi Habara and Composer Akira Miyagawa. Together, they explored the world of Yamato music with personal anecdotes as both fans and professionals.
Autograph boards from both last year’s show and this year’s show, posted on Twitter by Cyuniapplelove.
The first hour consisted of songs from across the saga, all the way up to 2199. The second hour was devoted to music from Farewell, including remix comparisons and album trivia. The third hour brought Habara and Miyagawa to the microphone for conversation, and the fourth hour got through as many listener requests as they could while discussion continued.
May 22: WCDA single: Great Love
Pop/electronica group WCDA (Will Cinderella Dance Again) returned with a new Yamato cover song, this time two variations of Great Love. It can be found in their international iTunes catalog, which runs deep with other Yamato and anime themes, all of which are worth your time.
June 26: The Alfee album release
This entry is a sort of “honorable mention.” The Alfee is a Japanese glam/rock group that goes all the way back to 1974. They’ve performed more than one song for anime, finally crossing streams with Yamato when they wrote songs for Resurrection in 2009. This new disc doesn’t contain any of those songs, but they certainly didn’t hide their admiration with this choice of cover art and title.
September 11: Organ Odyssey CD
Yuka Ishimaru is an award-winning pipe organ player who has performed in Europe and Japan. This album, recorded in June 2019, contains 14 tracks including her cover of the famed White Comet theme. Also of note for SF fans is her renderings of Holt’s The Planets and the Star Wars march.
November 24: World Tour Concert in Japan 2019
Every year, marching bands from around the world convene in Japan for this music festival. One element is a parade of police bands with their own repertoire. As it happens, the New York City Police band added the Space Battleship Yamato theme to their routine for Japan Day events in New York, and they used this opportunity to repatriate it. They are shown above marching through the Ginza district in Tokyo.
See the full parade pass (21 minutes) here (NYPD band is last).
See the NYPD band startup here.
See them playing the Yamato theme here.