Yamato Year 2010

Revisit our 2009 Year in Review

Usually we wait until the end of a calendar year to post our annual review of all Yamato-related events, but so much has happened in 2010 (which is, after all, the Year of Yamato as indicated by promotion for the live-action movie) that we need to get an early start. This, therefore, is a roundup of January through June.

Note that for the sake of space, everything related to Yamato Resurrection already has its own ongoing report, which can be seen here.

January 1
The year started with a big bang indeed, a 30-second teaser commercial for the live-action Space Battleship Yamato movie, directed by Takashi Yamazaki and starring Takuya Kimura. The commercial got prime-time viewing and all of Japan’s major newspapers contained giant ad spreads to trumpet the announcement. Not bad for something that was still 11 months in the future.

Our coverage of the movie begins here.

January 7
Media Factory continued to publish their newest edition (sixth and counting) of the vintage Yamato manga by Akira Hio. The first volume had appeared in November to coincide with Yamato Resurrection, and by January 7 they were up to volume four, the conclusion of Farewell to Yamato.

Read all about this manga here.

January 15
The “Spaceship Pins Collection” was released as a co-production by Plex and Yamato Toys. Limited to 1,000 sets, it included 43 different pins with five spaceships from Yamato Resurrection. See an enlarged image here.

January 18
The Fuji Company has made a yearly habit out of issuing new, state-of-the-art pachinko games with a Yamato tie-in. The real draw of these games are their production values, which include cinema-quality computer animation. 2010’s game was CR Yamato 3 with content based primarily on the third TV series.

Read a full description of the game here.

January 20
New issues of two popular music magazines were published on this day, Piano and Piano Style. Both featured Yamato compositions including the Infinity of Space theme and new material from Yamato Resurrection.

January 23
Media Factory’s reissue of the Akira Hio manga continued on this day with The New Voyage. And jumping ahead on the calendar, Be Forever followed on February 6 and Final Yamato wrapped it up on February 23. Click on each name to read about Hio’s adaptation.

Organic Hobby Co. signed on as a major licensor of Yamato Resurrection products in 2009 and began a slow rollout of merchandise over the summer that exploded (along with everything else) in December. They released a new wave of goodies in February that commemorated the film but used older images from the original production years. This included two styles of childrens’ t-shirts (each in several trim colors) that marked the anniversary of Resurrection‘s production.

Organic’s t-shirts were derived from this larger set released at the same time by a company called President Japan.

Next up was this unusual set of five plush mascot figures for your cel phone or keychain, including Captain Okita, Starsha, Sasha, and rather serious versions of Kodai and Yuki.

Organic’s very first Yamato merchandise was a pair of bath towels (above left) featuring Kodai and Yuki that promoted Resurrection in the summer of 2009. Smaller versions of these came out in February 2010 along with matching washcloths.

Finally, Organic had these products for fans on the go, all of which were manufactured by President Japan: a set of five egg-shaped ballpoint pens with Yamato characters, an aluminum lunchbox, and a cooler bottle.

February 1

A new issue of Dengeki Hobby Magazine included a Yamato cover feature. Inside was a 13-page article on Yamato Resurrection, a look at new products, and a modeling feature in which Noboyuki Sakurai (a member of Yamato Party) modified a 1983 Bandai kit into the Resurrection version circa 2220 AD.

Bandai added some more Yamato apparel to the growing pile on February 1, issuing the T-shirts shown above left and center through their online Lalabit Market. They took this opportunity to reissue two previous T-shirt designs from 2005; a straight-up ship profile (above right)…

…and the truly inspired crew shirt above. One of these actually made international news when this photo from the International Space Station was released on April 10. That’s JAXA astronaut and ISS Expedition 23 flight engineer Soichi Noguchi, a veteran of Discovery’s STS-114 mission (see him on YouTube here). He arrived at the ISS in December 2009 on Soyuz TMA-17, which means (A) he probably got the T-shirt in 2005 and (B) he missed the premiere of Yamato Resurrection. Where were his priorities???

Incidentally, that’s JAXA astronaut Naoko Yamazaki on the right, who was a crewmember of STS-131 Discovery and a devout Yamato/Leiji Matsumoto fan from her childhood; she cited both as her inspiration for going off to outer space–for real.

February 2
The Japanese branch of the international DeAgostini publishing company scored big in October 2009 with the debut of Space Battleship Yamato Official Fact File, a weekly magazine that built up a comprehensive Yamato encyclopedia totaling over 2600 pages. It actually started in 2009 in the test market of Hiroshima, then went nationwide when it was judged to be successful. It ran a total of 81 issues and concluded in August 2011. Read a detailed overview of the magazine here.

February 9
The Yamasa Company entered the arena of Yamato pachinko games on this day with a video slot machine that (like the first game from Fuji) turned the journey to Iscandar into an interactive experience. The highlight of the game was an extensive collection of animated cutscenes that did an excellent job of recapturing the spirit of Series 1 in a fresh, energetic style.

Read all about the game here.

February 13 & 14
Yamato Expo ’10 was held in the Akihabara district of Tokyo on Valentine’s Day weekend. Sponsored by Fuji, it gave everyone a chance to playtest the new Yamato 3 game and also showcased the many new Yamato products being released by other companies (most of which are shown on this very page). The centerpiece of the event was a big statue of Yamato‘s bow breaking through the ground with a light-up Wave-Motion Gun. See a full report of the event with extensive photos here.

February 15
After a delay of about two months, specialty shop Anime World Star released this unique set of seven keychain mascots individually designed to match the graphic style of Yamato and six individual characters.

February 25
The Megahouse Company previously released several sets of miniature spaceships in the Yamato “Cosmofleet Collection,” and reissued five of them in a new “Cosmofleet Reproduction” set that was augmented with a new translucent, multicolored Yamato undergoing a space warp.

March 7
This was the premiere date for a completely new Star Blazers experience, an online audio drama titled Sea of Stars: A Voyage of the Space Cruiser Argo. This seven-episode adventure is the brainchild of superfan Devin Cox, who began with an imaginative oral-history-style documentary of the saga and lead into an all-new six-episode story set fifteen years after the events of Final Yamato. A second series is planned for later in the year.

Read all about this project here and start listening today!

March 11
Japan’s Plex Company (formerly known as Popy) has released several sets of Yamato miniatures in their “Mechanical Collection” series, but this figurine of the Hero’s Hill monument was completely new. Standing almost 8″ tall and 6″ square at the base, even the plaque at Captain Okita’s feet is readable.

March 25
Hobby Japan magazine runs a Yamato cover story roughly once a year. Issue 491 carried the latest, a generous 40-page article displaying exquisite custom-built spaceship models from Series 2 on both the Earth and Comet Empire sides.

March 26-28
This was the weekend of Icon 29, a science-fiction convention held at Stony Brook University, New York. It was a significant moment in Star Blazers history since it brought together the voice actors for Wildstar, Nova, and Desslok for the first time since the program was originally recorded in 1979.

Read a full transcript of their panel discussion here.

March 29
Kazuko Kawashima’s voice is intimately known to Yamato fans all over the world; she performed the vocal for the Infinity of Space theme that has haunted us all since we first heard it. This was one of six favorite tunes that she reprised for this new CD, titled The Second Story after one of its other tracks. It was released by independent music label Mr. Sirius with the serial number KAZZ-001.

April 5
Space Shuttle Discovery roared off the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center on this day, carrying for the first time in history, an astronaut who grew up on Space Battleship Yamato. Mission specialist Naoko Yamazaki, representing the Japanese space agency JAXA on STS-131, was inspired by Yamato, Galaxy Express 999, and other works by Leiji Matsumoto, to set sail for the sea of stars. The mission delivered the Leonardo module to the International Space Station and was successfully concluded on April 20.

STS-131 marked some firsts and lasts; it was the last space shuttle flight for rookie astronauts, the last flight for a JAXA astronaut, and the first occasion in which two Japanese astronauts were in space simultaneously. As it turns out, they are both Yamato fans (see their photo higher up on this page).

See a time lapse movie of the STS-131 prep and launch here.

April 17
The excitement of the teaser commercial for the live-action movie was renewed on this day when a Yamato News flyer was distributed to Japanese theatres. This large double-sided foldout gave us our first look at the cast in costume and a few other intriguing photos as well. See it up close in our first movie report here.

May 27
The Yamato Crew website, established November 2009, continued its role as a source for news, archival information and exclusive products. Beginning May 27 and continuing into June, they issued a series of stationery/office goods decorated with Yamato Crew logos. This included three different high-end ballpoint pens, an all-purpose lanyard, and a mousepad. This followed on the heels of some new Yamato Resurrection products released on the site in March. (See them here)

June was another big month for news on the live-action Yamato movie set to premiere in Japan on December 1. Shortly before the trailer made its debut on June 26, Yamato declared its approach “in person” at the 32nd World Hobby Fair in Japan, co-organized by publishing giant Shogakukan as a bi-annual showcase for the latest in manga, anime, and games. The event took place June 19 and 20, and featured a booth with Yamato rising up out of the very ground spectators walked upon.

Finally, the month of June saw Yamato break ground in two completely new ways. First, the world-famous Sanrio company announced a two-part “Yamato X Kitty Collaberation” campaign. Anyone who purchased advance tickets to the live-action Yamato movie on July 3 would receive a free strap mascot of either Hello Kitty or her friend Daniel in “Yamato battlesuit” costumes. Afterward, fans could plan to visit the Sanrio Puroland amusement park during the month of August for a live show in which Kitty and her friends celebrate Yamato on the stage. The connection is slightly more than skin deep here; Kitty was “born” in 1975, which makes her about the same age as Yamato.

The other new ground was broken in (of all places) the Polynesian island nation of Tuvalu. Queen Elizabeth II is the commonwealth’s head of state, so it should surprise no one that she appears on their coins. But now, for a limited time only, Space Battleship Yamato shares that distinction. To mark the saga’s 35th anniversary, the Tuvalu government has issued full-color commemorative $5 silver coins and $100 gold coins (Cast by the Perth Mint Bureau of Western Australia), both of which are legal tender.

But wait, there’s more! To enhance the beauty of your coins, there is an heirloom-quality display case made of the finest wood with a music box that plays the Yamato theme at the turn of a switch. NOW how much would you pay? Imperial Enterprises Inc., the exclusive distributor of these coins on behalf of the Tuvalu government, offers the gold coin for a mere $2,750 (only 500 copies made) and the silver for the low, low price of $598 (only 2,000 copies made).

At the time, this set the record for the most expensive Yamato items ever made. After Tuvalu’s gold coin, the $1300 PC Notebook computer (released in January) came in second. Both would be beaten in 2011 by a 24k gold Yamato miniature (covered in our 2011 review).

Continue to Part 2

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