ONLINE FAN ACTIVITY
Though official Yamato activity ebbs and flows with production cycles, fans are always on point and always have something to contribute to the ongoing conversation. You can find examples of this every month in our regular news reports; here are the many ways they kept the original saga alive in 2019, chiefly on Twitter.
Of all the categories of fan activity, modeling was off the charts in 2019 following the explosive 2202 fleet war. Vintage models and other throwbacks always made an appearance, as seen in these galleries:
April: Paper Zordar
Meanwhile, in a category all his own, is this origami version of the 1978 Zordar. Posted on Twitter by Sudaashiya.
April: Roadside Yamato sighting
This large fiberglass model sits on Prefectural Road 30 in Hatsukaichi City, Hiroshima. Once in a while, fans spot it and post the pics on Twitter, making it a touchstone for the fan community. It was spotted again on April 29 by S Meijin, who commented that it looks like it just flew out of the sulphuric acid sea on Gamilas.
See his photos here.
May: Bicycle sighting
Whenever it pops up, we get to marvel at it all over again. The 1978 Yamato bicycle from Bridgestone is a work of art, and this one is in astonishingly good condition, as if it jumped through time to meet us. Read about the bike here.
Photos posted on Twitter by Kazumaofo.
May: News from Tibet
In December 2018, mountaineer/Yamato fan Akiakiakihisa posted photos from the top of Aconcagua, and on May 28 he reached even greater heights. Here we see his Cosmo Fleet Special Yamato at 7750m altitude in Mt. Everest Camp 1, Tibet.
May: Music videos on twitter
If you haven’t tuned into the Cosmo DNA Facebook page yet, you’re probably unaware that Tuesday is music day with a new find from somewhere online. Three new finds emerged in May, all with different versions of the Yamato theme.
The first was posted by H2gOscar on May 21 from a baseball game in which the theme was transformed into a fight song.
The second was a spirited keyboard performance posted on May 23 by Myujin.
And finally, the Waseda University Glee Club had their own go at Yamato on May 29, posted by Waseguri2019.
Click on each of those names and enjoy.
September: 2010 flashback
Some may remember the largest Yamato model ever built, a monster that was on display in November/December 2010 to promote the live-action movie in Tokyo. As with all such extravagant displays, it seemingly disappeared overnight when its time was served. But in this case, a Flickr user named Autumn009 captured the process of it being dismantled. See their photo gallery here.
See more photos of Yamato promotion here.
October: Space Battleship Namato?
You know you’re an anime legend when you turn up in other anime (see a collection of such tributes here). Yamato was given homage in the inescapable Doraemon series as seen in these stills posted on Twitter by hearyhat.
October: Leiji Matsumoto Symbol Road
October: Not forgotten
Twitter user arinaaburo shared a very unusual find; somewhere in the Kariwa district of Daisen City in Akita Prefecture resides an exhibition dedicated to actor Toshiro Yanagiba. In case that doesn’t ring a bell, he played the picture-perfect Sanada in the 2010 live-action Yamato.
December: Crossover doujinshi
Twitter user Getachan1 shared an intriguing find from yesteryear, which he captioned thusly: This is a flyer for Yamato 2520 vs. BORG, which I got at Comiket, probably around 2000. I really wanted to read it, but I couldn’t confirm it was published. If you see this Tweet and drew this flyer but didn’t publish it yet, I’m still waiting!
December/January: Usuki Illumination Festival
Usuki is a coastal city on the southernmost large island of the Japan archipelago, and a tourist destination thanks to its many stone Buddhas. On December 8 2018, Usuki’s annual Illumination Festival kicked off with plenty in store for fantasy lovers, including a WMG-firing Yamato made entirely of lights. The festival closed January 13.
See comprehensive video coverage of the festival on Youtube here. Yamato appears throughout.
March 28: Masato Ibu’s 70th birthday
The legendary voice of Dessler and acclaimed actor of stage and screen was born in 1949. His 70th birthday was observed in an article on the entertainment website Sponichi, which added a nugget to the oral history of Yamato:
Ibu made his TV acting debut as an 18-year old high school student in 1967. When he was 20, a representative of his acting school said the only good thing about him was his voice. Normally such a thing would be shocking to hear, but in this case it was quite ironic, since it propelled him into voice acting. When Yamato came along, he initially wanted to audition for the role of Shima, but changed his mind after seeing a collection of character art.
“This other character had a blue face, so I told the producer that would be a better fit and I started doing Dessler. I didn’t know if he was good or evil, I was just overjoyed to get paid on a regular basis. Then work started coming in for radio commercials and other anime, so I was able to eat.”
As we know, he also voiced EDF commander Todo throughout the original saga and returned in 2009 for the role of General Gorui in Resurrection. Among his live-action roles was a part in Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun (1987). Visit his Wikipedia page here and his MUCH LONGER imdb profile here.
April 11: Space news
When the first-ever photo of a black hole was captured (in the center of galaxy M87), news media around the world stood up and took notice. Japanese media turned to Yamato Resurrection for imaginary footage, all of which happened to be exactly the right color.
Screen captures from the Asahi Shimbun news service (at right) posted on Twitter by Soraneko.
Read about the historic photo at JPL’s website here.
Read more about black hole imaging here.
This was actually the second time in 2019 that Space Battleship Yamato crossed over into the world of real space exploration. The first time was in February, when the JAXA spacecraft Hayabusa 2 touched down on asteroid Ryugu and fired a bullet into its surface for sample collection. During a live broadcast of the operation, on-screen subtitles ran through the firing procedure for Yamato‘s Wave-Motion Gun.
Read an article about the mission (with video) at Spaceflight Insider.
April 27 – June 2: Syd Mead exhibition
Progressions, an art exhibition devoted to the works of Syd Mead, was held at 3331 Arts Chiyoda. For the first time in over twenty years, his designs and paintings for Yamato 2520 were back in public view, most prominently in the giant 86″ x 31″ mural shown above. (Photo posted on Twitter by SydMode.)
In addition to the displays, which ranged from 2520 to Turn A Gundam to countless other works, a set of five 2520 postcards was sold.
Photo at right posted on Twitter by Jkumo.
Photo posted on Twitter by C Rogia.
The exhibition far exceeded its expected number of visitors, and was extended an extra month into June. After it closed, merchandise sold at the event was opened up to online orders. Yamato 2520 merch consisted of a standard-size clear file, postcard set, mini clear files, and a 128-page exhibition book.
The first three items shipped to customers on June 10, and the book followed on July 20. None of them are yet available to overseas customers, so you’ll need a friend in Japan to obtain them on your behalf.
April: Leiji Matsumoto on the road
A new Leiji Matsumoto tour began with an art exhibit called Worlds of Leiji Matsumoto. It took place from April 10-21 at the Joyful Honda Nitta store in Ota city. The man himself arrived for a talk show on the final day.
September 12: Yutaka Izubuchi lecture
2199 Director Yutaka Izubuchi emerged once again to spread the Yamato gospel, this time at a store in Hibiya, Tokyo. The entertainment site Comemo published the following article about the event…
Space Battleship Yamato examined in reintroduction course – the challenge of inheriting anime culture
by Tadashi Nado
On September 12, a lecture was held at HMV & Books Hibiya Cottage in Hibiya, Tokyo called “Anime Reintroduction Course: First Space Battleship Yamato.” It was a look back at Space Battleship Yamato with Yamato 2199 Director Yutaka Izubuchi and ATAC researcher Soichi Tsuji (ATAC = Anime Tokusatsu Archive Centre).
On that day, everyone watched the debut episode of Yamato, originally broadcast in 1974, then the two presenters took the stage. Their discussion brought out the love and passion of two people who were fans from the beginning of the broadcast, and often had to be pulled back on track after derailing. The method of assembling Episode 1 and organizing all 26 episodes must have been fascinating for those who knew Yamato and the younger generation as well.
The topic expanded to anime as a whole and the tokusatsu (live-action special effects) culture of the 60s and 70s. Director Izubuchi explained that there were a lot of reruns in the evening at the time, which played a big role in the popularity of a work. In fact, he revealed that he had not seen the first episode of Yamato in real time, having to wait for a rerun instead.
He also pointed out that Yamato was influenced by a lot of contemporary culture, such as foreign films like The Guns of Navarone and Go Nagai’s skirt-flipping Harenchi Gakuen manga, which helped to spawn the sports anime boom. It was understood that Yamato was not born alone and that it led to the Mobile Suit Gundam generation. I’m sure the participants had a great time.
I do want to pay attention to the reason this project was realized, and why the 2-hour event was free. It was arranged by the cooperation of Hibiya Broadway University and the non-profit organization ATAC. Founded in 2017, ATAC is led by film director Hideaki Anno and others. Its purpose is to record, preserve, and inherit Japanese anime and tokusatsu culture. Japanese pop culture attracts a lot of attention both at home and abroad, but on the other hand the loss of works and materials is progressing rapidly. ATAC’s goal is to collect and preserve them.
Entertainment has a strong business side and always tends to focus on new trends. It’s easy for the general public to assume that pop culture made for the masses is preserved, but because there is no proper preservation system, works and materials are being lost in a surprisingly short time. There are even cases where popular anime, manga, and tokusatsu works have already disappeared and their content cannot be identified. ATAC’s purpose is to convey the cultural heritage of anime and tokusatsu into the future.
ATAC not only preserves these works, but also promotes their use. Exhibitions of preserved materials are in the planning stage. The “Reintroduction course” is part of that, and the first attempt at a talk event. This course has several roles:
• To convey knowledge of anime and tokusatsu through talk to the next generation.
• To preserve not only production materials and data, but also the live experiences and memories of the times (this event was recorded on video).
• To expand awareness of ATAC.
ATAC is a non-profit corporation and does not receive special support from the government or the nation. ATAC needs a lot of funds for the preservation of production materials (original art, cells, etc.), data organization, and research. Donations are accepted, and their activities will become known through events that encourage support.
Japan has built up a huge and rich culture of anime and tokusatsu that is unique in the world. But because it is so big, many things are left behind and their importance increases. ATAC is working on that problem head on. They would like to hold more “Anime Reintroduction Course” events in the future as opportunities arise. If you see one and participate, please give your attention to ATAC in the background.
Visit the ATAC website (all Japanese) here.
October 6: 45th Anniversary
If you didn’t want to mark the 45th anniversary of Yamato by sitting at home in front of your own television, another option was a limited experience at the Yakitori Yamato restaurant in Shibuya, Tokyo (owned by Exec Producer Shoji Nishizaki). There, customers could dine with a screening of Yamato 2202 Chapter 7, followed by the original Episode 1.
Photo posted on Twitter by Akira Hamada
November 2: Harvest Festival Yamato unveiled
The country town of Chikuzen (in Fukuoka Prefecture) throws an annual harvest festival that sometimes includes large “scarecrow” statues made of natural materials. For their 15th festival this year, Yamato joined that roster. Over and above the craftsmanship, its measurements alone are impressive: 54 feet long, 10 feet wide, and 16 feet tall, making it the second largest Yamato ever built (see all of its mighty brethren here).
The structure remained on display through January 2020.
November 15: Leiji Matsumoto news
Fandom got a rude wake-up call today when we were all reminded that Leiji Matsumoto isn’t getting any younger. While visiting Turin, Italy to mark the 40th anniversary of Captain Harlock’s first broadcast there, he collapsed during a screening of Galaxy Express 999 and was rushed to a hospital ICU where he was intubated for respiratory distress. Rumors of a stroke rippled through the international community, but he awoke two days later (the 17th) and began his recovery from pneumonia.
He returned to Japan on December 4 where he said he felt very good despite being transported in a wheelchair. He expected to be hospitalized again for followup procedures. The official word is that fatigue is to blame for his mishap, which perhaps indicates less travel in his future. The man is now 81, so there’s no shame in that. He’s earned a rest.
November 29: RIP, Makio Inoue
One of the sad duties of this yearly lookback is to mark the passing of Yamato alumnus into the sea of stars. In 2019 we lost voice actor Makio Inoue. His role in Yamato was comparatively minor, Tetsu Kitano from The New Voyage. However, he was an absolute giant in two other major franchises; he was the voice of Ishikawa Goemon in Lupin III and the cosmic corsair himself, Captain Harlock. The baton for both of those roles was handed off to others before Inoue’s passing, but he played them longer than anyone and his voice is now immortalized.
Read more about his passing here.
See his full credit list at Anime News Network here.
December 30: RIP, Syd Mead
This is a tough one for reasons that go way beyond Mr. Mead’s contributions to Yamato. He passed away at 86 with cause of death not publicized, though he had previously visited a cancer treatment center in Southern California. If you’ve been a fan of SF movies for even a little while, Syd’s revolutionary design work almost certainly touched your life via Star Trek, Tron, Blade Runner, 2010, Aliens, and many others. He was even more respected in Japan where he not only designed the world of Yamato 2520, but also that of Turn A Gundam.
And now, on to happier news from 2019…
“THANK YOU VERY MUCH!” (Photo posted on Twitter by Giga)
New series announced
As you MUST know by now, fall 2020 will bring us the debut of the newest series, Space Battleship Yamato 2205: The New Voyage. Here’s a brief record of how the announcements unfolded through 2019.
March 28: 2202 Chapter 7 closes
New Star Chapter‘s final night in cinemas took place on Thursday, March 28. Director Nobuyoshi Habara and Writer Harutoshi Fukui both appeared on stage at the Shinjuku Piccadilly with perennial host Osamu Kobayashi for a heartfelt sendoff. There was also an elephant in the room to be addressed: what next?
Photo posted on Twitter by Giga.
SEQUEL PRODUCTION DECIDED!!! What would it be about? When would it be out? The news was yet to come.
September 1: official announcement
The full name of the new series was trumpeted in the pages of the Star Blazers/Yamato fan club magazine and the websites for Yamato Crew and Yamato 2202. The only staff members indicated at this stage were Exec Producer Shoji Nishizaki, Writer Harutoshi Fukui, and Composer Akira Miyagawa. More names weren’t far off.
October 14: Yamato 2202 Concert Close To You Tonight
The first-ever Yamato 2202 live concert was held on the evening of October 14 in Shibuya, Tokyo. Members of the Yamatour Adventure Team were there to take it in, and an eyewitness account can be found in the travelogue that resulted. (You can also find a full writeup of the event here.
Also on hand was a 28-page program book that can be seen from cover to cover here. The inside back cover (above right) gave us the first full staff credit list.
The director will be Kenji Yasuda, best known for Macross Delta (click here to see his other credits). Returning staff includes Shoji Nishizaki (exec producer), Harutoshi Fukui (writer), Hideki Oka (scripts), Nobuteru Yuuki (character design), Junichiro Tamamori and Yasushi Ishizu (mecha design), and Akira Miyagawa (music). Also joining the mecha design team is Mika Akitaka (known for Gundam The Origin).
Another previously-unannounced production (at the bottom of the page) is a Yamato 2202 compilation movie promised for 2020, presumably in advance of 2205. Specific and consistent terminology points to 2205 being another series with theatrical chapters, formatted like 2199 and 2202. This would indicate that the formula is working.
As described in the Yamatour Travelogue, Harutoshi Fukui appeared on stage at the end of the concert (prior to the singing of the Yamato theme) to announce 2205 and show a brief series of design images that removed all doubt about one significant detail: Yamato will face the Dark Nebula Empire. Lastly, the middle of the page featured the following commentary from Fukui:
The New Voyage. For the title to follow Soldiers of Love, let’s make it totally on point and in the realm of our childhood conception. Actually, while it has an element that will have old series fans happily saying “Yes! That’s it!”, will the story measure up to the ending of 2202? It’s impossible to approach by ordinary means. By getting new characters and new staff, the Yamato remake series finally begins to show its true potential as major drama. The third voyage begins, made for a Japan that’s heading into the 2020’s which will be a bit tumultuous. Please give us a moment to catch our breath until the next series begins.
– Harutoshi Fukui
(Special thanks to Neil Nadelman for translation support.)
Of course, this is only the beginning. More coverage came in issue 5 of the Star Blazers/Yamato fan club magazine (late November) that can be found here. LINK LINK LINK
As soon as activity warrants, monthly Yamato 2205 reports will begin here at Cosmo DNA to take us as far as we can go.
TV & CINEMA
April 28: Family Theater reruns
Satellite channel Family Theater began a complete rerun of the entire “new Yamato” saga on this day, and they weren’t kidding around. The entire 2199 series ran all day on April 28 with 2202 following all day on the 29th. Then they started the whole thing again for another round on April 30, May 1, and May 2. A Voyage to Remember and Ark of the Stars were presented as a double feature on May 1.
But wait, there’s more! When it all kicked off, Family Theater launched this mysterious website with no explanation. The text read simply, Space Battleship Yamato Project, October 6 2019, Launch!!
The date is not a mystery; October 6 is the anniversary of Series 1’s first appearance in 1974. We would have to wait a few more months to find out what they actually had in store.
See a video promo here.
September 23: Farewell to Yamato HD remaster announced
On this day, Family Theater released a 30-second commercial to promote a new remaster of Farewell to Yamato, to be screened in November. See it on Youtube here.
Above right: a magazine ad for “Yamato Project,” to start October 6.
October 6: Yamato Project begins
On this day it was confirmed: a complete lineup of Yamato reruns to commemorate the saga’s 45th anniversary. Right out of the box, viewers had their choice of the original series or the 1977 feature film (both in HD), and both of the Yamato 2199 movies (Voyage to Remember and Ark of the Stars).
As the final months of 2019 unrolled, the hits kept on coming. All of Yamato 2199 started on October 13, and both Farewell to Yamato (in HD) and all of Yamato 2202 started on October 20. Yamato 2, The New Voyage, and Be Forever appeared November 9. Yamato III, Final Yamato, and Resurrection appeared on December 30 and crept into the new year.
Most of these broadcasts were accompanied by newly-cut commercials, all of which can be seen on Youtube:
Photos posted on Twitter by Cody-chan
November 9: Farewell to Yamato screening in 4K
As the most popular and profitable of the Yamato films, Farewell has traditionally been the first to get new upgrades as technology advances. It happened again when it became the first to premiere in 4K for one screening at a single Tokyo theater as part of Family Theater’s 45th anniversary Yamato Project. The audience consisted of 200 lucky lottery winners (out of a whopping 10,000 entries) who were suitably impressed by its high-quality sound and visuals.
Photos published by Stereo Online. See the original article here.
The presentation was accompanied by an onstage talk between announcer Shinsuke Kasai and TV personality Thane Camus, who revealed that he was born the same year the film was released, and this was the first time he got to see it on the big screen. Both described Farewell as their favorite Yamato film. Kasai described seeing it as a junior high student: “I was embarrassed when my friends cried at the end, and most people stayed in the theater to see it a second time, which was a rare thing.” Camus first encountered Yamato on TV shortly after moving to Japan and was shaken every day when the “days left” caption appeared on screen.
An audience survey revealed that most were elementary and junior high students when the film premiered. Family Theater would later present this version of Farewell in HD on December 28.
As of this writing (January 2020) there have been no announcements about the 4K release on home video, but nobody goes through the expense of such a remaster for just one cinema screening. So…stay tuned to Cosmo DNA’s monthly reports for more news!