Yamato Year 2010, Part 3

Back up to the previous segment

November 20: Space Battleship & 70s Japan, Social Commentary Co.

This is the latest in a growing collection of books that analyze Yamato from a sociological standpoint. Written by Hiroyuki Arai, it examines the cultural and subcultural trends that began with Yamato and resonated throughout Japan in the production years. Naturally, it’s almost entirely opaque to non-Japanese readers, but stands as another testament to the phenomenon.

The intriguing chapter titles in this 367-page tome are as follows: Crisis Period, Yamato‘s Revival / Birth of Subculture / Who is the Author of Yamato? / The Most Important Lessons of Yamato / Is Yamato Militaristic? / In 2199 AD, a Journey to the Past / Susumu Kodai’s Chosen Path to Escape from Loneliness / Birth of Anime Business / Examining the Sequels: Treachery and Yamato‘s Unchanging Spirit / Stories Only the Japanese Crew can Tell.

November 25: Crew jerseys, Dive Toy Co.

Inspired by the re-imagined uniform jackets in the live-action Yamato movie, Dive Toy Co. created a polyster jersey that sits about halfway between the anime and film designs. When they were announced in early November, online orders poured in and the entire stock was sold out before the day of release.

The first two designs were for the Combat group and Black Tigers, which were followed in February 2011 by new versions for the Life group and Science group. The first two versions were re-released with them. In December, they had been limited to Japanese Medium and Large sizes (Small and Medium in the US) but as of February all were available in XL.

November 25: GX-57 “Soul of Chogokin” Yamato, Bandai

One of the best high-end Yamato toys of the decade was Bandai’s “Soul of Popynica” Big Scale Yamato from April, 2001. Stretching an impressive 17″ long and loaded with features, it seemed difficult to improve upon, but Bandai did just that with this newly-engineered followup.

Though exactly the same scale as the Popynica version, this one is a completely new sculpt from bow to stern with many structural improvements, light and sound features, a larger base, several fightercraft, and a bonus Gamilas Drill Missile.

Regarding the nomenclature, in case anyone is confused: both of these toys are named in tribute to 1970s toy culture. Popy Toy Company became famous for their mini-cars, which lead to the nickname “Popynica.” “Chogokin” is the fictional Super-Alloy of which giant robot Mazinger Z was built. Bandai now holds the copyright for both terms, and uses them for special products such as this one.

See a photo gallery of the GX-57 here.

The next toy in this line is the GX-58 Andromeda, announced for release in February, 2011.

November 25: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Talk about an unexpected surprise: seemingly out of nowhere, the Space Battleship Yamato theme was performed at the famous parade by the NYPD Marching Band and almost got heard on national television. NBC anchor Al Roker described it as Space Battleship “Yamamoto” just as the cameras were moving to the next attraction. See the clip on YouTube here.

It later turned out that this was not the first time Lt. Tony Giorgio lead his ensemble through this piece; they had previously performed it on June 6, Japan Day in New York’s Central Park. See that performance here.

November 26: Proverbs That Fly to the Future: Quotations from Yamato and Galaxy Express, Bamboo Books

This was yet another new book from Leiji Matsumoto, a substantial compendium of memorable (and quotable) scenes from his vault of manga titles. Yamato and Galaxy Express are just the beginning; Captain Harlock, Queen Millennia, Gun Frontier, and many more are included. While there is black and white manga art on almost all 195 pages, there isn’t much context; casual fans are better off going for the originals.

November 26: Yamato speaker, Taito

Taito struck again with another speaker system for computers and MP3 players, this time accompanied by an almost 8-inch Yamato with a light-up Wave-Motion Gun. Like the USB stick released in July, it is a scaled-down version of Taito’s Super Mechanics toy.

December 1: Live-action movie premiere

An event so big it can’t be left out of any record of 2010! This was the culmination of the “Year of Yamato,” and the 11-month-long promotional campaign definitely got the job done. The movie was number 1 at the box office for its first week, then continued to perform well throughout December and was into profit by the end of the year.

Reports of the film will continue on this website as long as there is news to be reported.

December 1: Space Battleship Yamato Great Chronicle, Glide Media

Hideaki Ito, renowned in Japan as Yamato‘s pre-eminent researcher, wrote what has to be considered the best Yamato book of the year. Working closely with Leiji Matsumoto, he assembled an unprecedented volume of production materials from the first TV series and collected them into this gorgeous 175-page treasury. A special edition with a unique dustjacket (shown above right) was published on December 4 by Mandarake.

For much more on the book, read our exclusive interview with Hideaki Ito here.

Beyond that, all that needs to be said is that this book belongs on the shelf of every Yamato fan around the world. It can be ordered from Amazon.co.jp.

December 2: Super Mechanics Yamato reissue, Taito

Taito continued their own Yamato Year 2010 with this reissue of their 2007 toy. They had previously reissued it in 2008 with a 1/1 scale Wave-Motion Gun trigger that, when hooked up to the toy, could make it light up and fire. This time the trigger was left out, but the light-up feature remained.

December 5: 1/500 model kit, Bandai

All the way back in 1978, Bandai released what many thought had to be the largest Yamato model kit, a 1/500 scale behemoth that measured over 20 inches long. It took almost 20 years for a bigger one to topple it (Bandai’s 1/350 kit from 2007) but since that one was based on the heavily-modified Playstation Yamato, it left some fans wanting.

Bandai re-delivered with this new model, which corrected nearly all the shortcomings of the 1978 version and added some subtle new details of its own. One thing that set this model apart from its predecessors was the color of its plastic, engineered for the closest match to the original animation colors we’ve seen so far. The kit even has a backstory that sets it apart from all the models that have been released thus far: it does NOT represent the ship from the original anime. This is how it appears in the 2012 remake, Space Battleship Yamato 2199.

December 10: Leiji Matsumoto Seminal SF Anthology, Shogakukan Creative

“From Lightning Ozma to Space Battleship Yamato” is the secondary title of this unique box set of books from Matsumoto’s early career in SF manga. In keeping with other recent publications, its purpose is to examine the precise nature of his role in the development of Yamato. To that end, all his most influential manga has been gathered and reprinted in this collection.

The contents are: 1) a 2-volume reprint of Lightning Ozma from 1961-63 in which Matsumoto first revived Yamato as a space battleship, 2) Yamato Creation Note, a 32-page reproduction of his story notes for the anime, 3) A commentary pamphlet containing short interviews with Matsumoto, Aritsune Toyota, and Yasuhiko Yoshikazu, and 4) Seminal SF Anthology, a 160-page compilation of manga titles in which a key Yamato design or concept originated. Also included is a reprint of Matsumoto’s seldom-seen “Picture Story” for Series 1.

Owing to the eclectic nature of this package and the difficulty of tracking down each individual title, fans who are driven to have the roots of Yamato at their fingertips should make an effort to acquire this keepsake. Unfortunately, the initial print run appears to have sold out, so grab it wherever you can find it.

December 10: Yoshinobu Nishizaki memorial service

The Enagio Company held a public service for the death of their founder, and friend-of-this-website Anton Kholodov was able to attend along with the brethren of Yamato Party. In addition to paying heartfelt tribute to the founder, the agenda of the day was to officially announce the inheritence of the company by Nishizaki’s adopted son Shoji. With this comes the continuing rights to produce Yamato sequels, and it was made abundantly clear that Enagio plans to act on these rights in the coming year.

Read Anton’s report of the event here.

December 18: Leiji Future 2010

The next big thing on Anton Kholodov’s calendar was to attend this one-day symposium. He was also on hand for Leiji Future 2009, which was reported in full here.

Click here to read his eyewitness report of Leiji Future 2010.

December 22: 50th Anniversary Commemoration: Isao Sasaki TV Theme Song Collection DVD, Columbia

Isao Sasaki has been belting out manly tunes for over 50 years now, and has been singing TV themes since 1973. This outstanding DVD contains no less 51 of his best-known opening and closing titles, adding up to 63 minutes of non-stop manliness. His opening and closing themes for Yamato are included (from all three TV series) along with countless others–along with an even dozen OP and ED titles from live-action sentai ranger shows.

A 20-page insert book contains all the lyrics for karaoke purposes.

December 25: Mobile Solar Charger, Taito

Taito’s last Yamato release of the year was a trio of solar chargers, which store up power in an internal battery and transfer it to your cel phone via a USB cable. This is another one of those all-purpose products in terms of licensing; seemingly anything in Japan with a blank surface is fair game for licensed images. Had Taito plugged some custom sound effects into this one and figured out how to charge a cel phone to 120%, these would have truly stood out from the pack.

December 26: DG miniature toys, Bandai

Bandai closed the year with this set of miniatures. DG stands for Digital Grade, a computer-controlled painting system developed by Bandai to bring an astonishing degree of precision detailing to miniature toys. The process has previously been used to boost action hero figures to a new standard of excellence, and Yamato joined the lineup in spectacular fashion.

Four vessels were created for the set: Yamato, Andromeda, and two different Cosmo Tigers. Each of these also had an alternate version; the Tigers came in both blue and grey, and the bigger ships were both modeled in normal and cutaway form. This is where the DG process truly shines, delivering a level of intricacy that was previously possible only in a much larger model.

And that puts a lid on Yamato Year 2010. As one glance at our 2010 History Timeline will demonstrate, it was easily the busiest year for Yamato fans in some time. Let’s hope it sets a new standard for the future.

The End

Click here to continue to our year-in-review for 2011!

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