2012 will probably be remembered as the year Space Battleship Yamato completed a circle. With the Director’s Cut of Yamato Resurrection closing out that far-flung sequel just two months before a reboot of the origin story, there’s a pleasing serendipity at work. Of course, it would be the best of both worlds for each project to continue past its current horizon, but that’s a topic for the future.
In the time since our last report, Yamato 2199 moved into high-intensity production. Most significantly, it was announced on December 23, 2011 that the length will precisely match the original series’ 26 episodes. Unless the content of those episodes is being changed, it means the “lost 13” from the 39-episode plot will not be revived. (And in case anyone wondered, it was never in the cards for Captain Harlock to make an appearance since Leiji Matsumoto is not participating in this project.)
Interestingly, the feature film version of the two opening episodes (to be released April 7 in Japan) is only the first of seven. The plan is now for the entire series to be shown theatrically. The six subsequent movies will contain four episodes apiece. Shortly after their theatrical run, they will go directly to DVD and Blu-ray. No TV broadcast has been announced yet, and may not even be struck until after video sales run their course. This would be an anime industry first, entirely in keeping with Yamato‘s tradition as a groundbreaker. An overall time frame for this is still in consideration; it’s possible that it will be extended over a year to tell the story in real time.
Also announced on December 23 was the main voice cast for the series:
Daisuke Ono (from Bleach) as Susumu Kodai [Wildstar] Kenichi Suzumara (from Gundam Seed Destiny) as Shima Daisuke [Venture] Houko Kuwashima (also from Gundam Seed Destiny) as Yuki Mori [Nova] And Takayuki Sugo (from Hell Girl) as Captain Okita [Avatar]
After the loss of Kodai’s original voice actor, Kei Tomiyama, the role was inherited by voice acting superstar Kouichi Yamadera. Best known to Western anime fandom as Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop, he voiced Kodai for the Yamato Playstation games and stepped into the role again for Yamato Resurrection. This made him seem like the obvious choice, but no explanation has been offered for his replacement. Chances are good a younger voice was deemed more appropriate, but an actor’s availability often decides these things, too.
Another exciting announcement came in late January, when it was announced that anime auteur Hideaki Anno, who watched Yamato as a boy and grew up to direct Neon Genesis Evangelion among other things, was engaged to storyboard the opening title sequence. In Anno’s own words, “I would not be me if not for Yamato,” so we can all expect great things from this.
Other developments in December included updates to the official 2199 website that opened its gallery pages and announced a “Launch Event” for February 18. It is said to include a preview of the first episode, live art demonstrations, and a talk show with cast and crew. We’ve already arranged to have a correspondent on the spot for an eyewitness report in our next update.
December also delivered the image at the top of this page, which appeared online with no caption or attribution. Speculation washed back and forth over whether or not these were the real character designs by Nobuteru Yuuki, but an article in the January issue of manga magazine Newtype Ace (shown above in a photo by Gwyn Campbell) confirmed it.
Further confirmation arrived on January 21 when the character page opened at the official website, revealing these four images. click here to see them on the site at full size. Click here to read the descriptions in our character guide.
When this information became public, the fuss ignited by the “leaked” photo died down. But it was a valuable reminder that we once again have the rare privilege of seeing a new Yamato project emerge in real time, right along with our fellow fans worldwide. Another way to experience this is to track the media coverage that has begun to appear in Japanese magazines. We did the same with Resurrection in 2009 and the live-action movie in 2010, but a TV series is a different animal altogether with a lot more info to be scouted and reported. Thus, it is our proud duty to bring you the first round of that coverage in English as we did with the films.
The first article anywhere broke on November 25 in Dengeki Hobby magazine from Ascii Mediaworks. This 2-page featurette covered the basics of the new series and related matters such as the Resurrection Director’s Cut and the release of a book reprinting prior Yamato content from Dengeki.
Next out of the gate was Great Mechanics DX #19, published on December 15 by Futabasha. This quarterly magazine, a spinoff of Futabasha’s “Curiosity Book” series, specializes in mecha-oriented anime both old and new. Issue 19 rolled out a 4-page article that featured stills from the trailer as shown above…
…and some gallery art that had been added to the official website only a few days earlier. The text of the article offered a thoughtful essay on what this new series represents. Translation follows.
This is artwork by Mr. Junichiro Tamamori, which became the image source for Space Battleship Yamato 2199. Let’s think about 2199 while examining it. This concept art is strictly “image illustration” rather than the final version, though of course it plays an important role in the production. Moreover, the two renderings of Yamato were done before it was decided to make 2199 and the images of the surviving Earth fleet were done afterward.
2199 is Yamato for Yamato Fans.
History repeats itself again.
In both the East and the West, it is a time when remakes are fashionable. Have we arrived at a place where our civilization’s ideas are found wanting? Various works of the past have been remade in a contemporary style. And for enthusiastic fans who know the original work, there are many cases where it becomes a delicate subject. On this occasion, the animation work that will be remade is Space Battleship Yamato.
The first work to bear this name was the 1974 TV series. There were many productions, but most were pure sequels. And with each work, just like a battleship itself, it cannot be denied that its characteristics were lost over time.
Space Battleship Yamato Resurrection was released recently and proved that Yamato was alive and well. It was a pure sequel by Yoshinobu Nishizaki, and was Yamato itself. The word “remake” invokes the live-action movie released last year in 2010, but there is a certain light shining from 2199 that makes it particularly encouraging: the staff.
It is directed by Mr. Yutaka Izubuchi, who openly declares himself a passionate “Yamato fan.” Although it has not yet been disclosed elsewhere, many of the participating staff members are Yamato freaks from the “Yamato generation.” Furthermore, the content is based on the first TV series which will be revived with completely new animation. It can be said that it is dependent upon people who know everything about the appeal of Yamato, and you can watch it for that reason.
Also, since the work is being carried out by people fighting on the front lines of filmmaking, its “historical character” will be taken into account. There is probably nothing more appropriate for a new era of Yamato.
On the other hand, the Yamato generation now considers how to face this new “2199.” Each person has their own preference. Indeed, some will say “this is what I wanted to see,” and others will state, “this is not my Yamato.” But to everyone who sees it, it will become a certain kind of milestone. In other words, some might get a new feeling from it while others look back at their “own life after Yamato.”
This magazine intends to actively take up Space Battleship Yamato 2199 with the next issue. Don’t miss it!
Dengeki Hobby ran another 2-page article in its December 24 issue. After catching readers up on recent news flashes (the same info that opened this report), it offered the first overview of the redesigned Yamato by Nobuyuki Sakurai. As a professional modeler whose work has been published in Dengeki for years, Sakurai built many Yamato kits for past coverage and brought his expert opinion to the task. Translation follows.
It is Old and New!? This is the 2199 Version of Space Battleship Yamato!
Commentary by Nobuyuki Sakurai
This month, the ban was finally lifted on official designs for Yamato 2199. Take a look at various details illustrated here. Besides this, many things were seen in the promotional trailer released in November.
First, the radar panels on both sides of the bridge now have slits and support pylons through which the other side can be seen. When such details appear, the heart of a modeler burns to reproduce them through etching and painting!
The tip of the triple-mast is painted in the grey hull color. I can confirm that the third bridge is painted with one color of red, the molding on the front of the third bridge is not meant to be windows, and through this I understand how completely the staff knows Yamato.
Furthermore, it is noted that this 2199 Yamato has an “overall length of 333 meters” according to the isometric design sheets. Does that mean the Wave-engine nozzle is extended beyond the original Yamato‘s 263 meters?
The overall form returns to the style of the first series more than the redesign for Yamato Resurrection. However, don’t you remember seeing this Yamato somewhere before? Yes, the atmosphere is very similar to the new 1/500 scale Yamato model released in late 2010 (from Bandai’s hobby division). That kit was impressive in how it sublimated the image of the former work into a modern design line, and I can feel a deep impression of it in this new design.
No, looking back at it, I think the kit itself was an imaginative prologue to Space Battleship Yamato 2199.
The date of April 7…there’s a coincidence with 1945. It was the day Battleship Yamato was said to have “departed.” Also, the key visual again this time, the famous so-called “Sunset Yamato” now has extended wires on the first sub cannons as well as cut and suspended wires elsewhere. These two points suggest the creator’s feelings for Yamato.
The scene of the rust-camouflaged Yamato throwing off its armor and taking off into the universe as Space Battleship Yamato is an outstanding scene. It will be fun to see it again on April 7, 2012 when Yamato blasts off again with the fate of mankind on its back.
In the future we’ll see more of Yamato and the ban will gradually be lifted on its aircraft, the Gamilas mecha, and more. I would like to introduce it when the opportunity arrives.
1. The Bow
In the bow front, the fairleader (small antenna mast) can be confirmed. This is a detail that can be seen in several of the design sheets for “part 1,” but it disappeared afterward. The fact that it was revived shows that 2199 aims to return to the starting point.
2. The Lines Carved Above the Wave-Motion Gun
They step up in the center to match the rough sketches of the previous work. Although it is straight in the 3D line drawing animation, it reappears in the trailer and on the 1/500 model kit from Bandai’s hobby division.
3. Relationship Between the Waterline and Torpedo Tubes
In most of the original design drawings for Yamato, the waterline goes along the center of the second launch tube. In 2199 it is drawn so that the waterline passes between the second and third tubes.
4. Handrails on Deck
Although drawn as a “handrail” in illustrations from the previous work, this time it is bigger and thicker than a handrail. It becomes a multipurpose pullout elevator in 2199. It slides out from the line carved right under the handrail. Therefore, it is more like a “fence” than a “handrail.”
5. Position of the First Gun Turret
The position of the second turret is close to the first gun turret in the previous work. The 2199 version shows the first turret moved slightly forward with its barbette for better rotational clearance from the “Yamato slope.”
6. Main Gun Battery Range Finders
There is a vertical line inside the range finders, clearly reproduced from the famous Studio Nue designs for the previous work.
7. Bridge Deck Structures
Despite minor variations, there is no strangeness in the presence of each individual structure. The only significant change of form is in the overall area.
8. Relationship of Smokestack and “Rain Gutter”
In the old design, the smokestack is painted to go front to back with the “rain gutter” portion bent upward and painted in hull color. This part is reproduced differently from the model, with the “gutter” painted in a straight line at the top.
9. Secondary Hangar of the Upper Deck
The housing of the rear catapult (storage space for the spacecraft catapult machinery) has greatly swelled outward. Although this traces back to the fireboat entry way on the original Battleship Yamato, this is the first time the swelling has been depicted precisely.
10. Pulse Lasers
The shape and arrangement of turrets has changed little from the previous work, but their mountings have changed. The biggest difference is that the pulse lasers on the lower level do not protrude like before. They are now half-covered by side-armor plating.
11. Stern Plane Platform
The cross section of Yamato‘s stern is circular, leading to the engine nozzle.
However, because of the position of the stern platform, this became a point of individual interpretation in Yamato modeling for a long time. These contradictions were solved this time by raising the platform one step above the hull. In addition, I can confirm that only the “corner edge” of the platform was pictured in the redesigned model sheets for Be Forever Yamato. From this, I noticed the contradiction in the early days.
There are four searchlights arranged in a row on both sides of the smokestack (for a total of eight). This design is reminiscent of the old Battleship Yamato.
13. Area Around Auxiliary Engine
A central support structure can be identified between the left and right auxiliary engines [on the underside of the stern]. It was present in the previous work, but is extended forward three-dimensionally to encompass the lower hangar.
As the new year got underway, the official 2199 website began adding new material on a weekly basis. Their January 27 update gave us our first look at some of the mecha Yamato carries to Iscandar. Click here to see them at full size. Clockwise from top left, they are the Cosmo Zero, the Type-100 Scout Plane, the Cosmo Falcon (formerly the Black Tiger) and the Cosmo Seagull.
New issues of both Hobby Japan and Dengeki Hobby were the first to release this art in print, in their March issues which hit the stands on January 25. Naturally, we’ll be tracking future magazine and online coverage for our upcoming reports. Meanwhile, let’s examine some more design development straight from the nerve center, continued from our previous report. This time it’s the mecha of the Earth Defense Forces, including designs for the craft featured above.
Story. Characters. Mecha. All agree that these are three of Yamato‘s primary components. But there is a fourth, just as important and absolutely critical: the music. Over the years, the original score by Hiroshi Miyagawa has reigned as an undisputed masterpiece. No true fan would accept anything less, even in the wake of his death in 2006. Fortunately, the production staff consists entirely of true fans.
On January 12, the official 2199 website delivered the news everyone was waiting for:
Once again “Miyagawa Music” enflames the heart!
Akira Miyagawa, the son of Hiroshi Miyagawa, is in charge of the Music!!
The music of Yamato was wonderful. Just listening to it gave you the impact of the scene and set your heart trembling. Yamato is story, character, and mecha, not to mention great visual representation, and everything was brightened by the music.
It was performed by an orchestra at the time of broadcast in 1974. It captured the hearts of the fans and had a huge influence. The composer was the great Hiroshi Miyagawa. When Mr. Miyagawa passed away in 2006, it is said that many fans attended his funeral with their Yamato records. It is very rare for a film composer to be accorded that measure of respect.
Fans referred to his work as “Miyagawa Music.” It is well-suited to Yamato. Fans who continue to love Yamato have been asking for “Miyagawa Music” for a long time. For the remake of the first Yamato series, the thought of the staff was the same from the general manager on down…when asked about the music, “there is only Mr. Miyagawa.”
There is a child to inherit the passion of Hiroshi Miyagawa: his son Akira. The son will revive the music composed by his father and showcase new music as well. Once again, “Miyagawa Music” brings passion to Yamato!
Akira Miyagawa waves the baton and brings music to life for Space Battleship Yamato 2199. The performance was carried out by an orchestra that is exceptional for animation.
An Interview with Akira Miyagawa, Composer for Yamato 2199
Q: The Enthusiasm for taking charge of the music for Yamato 2199
Interviewer: First of all, please tell us about your enthusiasm for taking charge of the music for Yamato 2199. Many fans don’t actually know that you make music. Many have been asking, “Who will do the music?” and it has become a hot topic. Everyone is curious. Yamato 2199 has the goal of “returning to the roots” and the selection of the composer is really big news.
A: The duty to return to the roots
Akira Miyagawa: “Returning to the roots” is exactly what I want to talk about this time.
In fact, there were various sequels to Yamato, but because I was in the position to help my father as my debut, I personally really liked the first Space Battleship Yamato and was impressed by it–although that’s not a good way to say such a thing. I secretly read the planning book for Yamato in my father’s study, and I was impressed by it even then.
After that, several Yamato stories were made and my father took charge of the music. He was grateful to have the work while he was doing it, but I remember that he suffered greatly while composing it. While glancing aside at him, I watched Yamato with slightly cool eyes.
Mr. Yoshinobu Nishizaki died last year, and I went to the funeral. When I looked at his face, how shall I say it…I wondered what role I had to play in Yamato‘s accomplishments. I cannot say clearly whether I felt emptiness or loneliness. Anyway, I felt something even if I can’t describe it. A few months later, I got a phone call from Mr. Yutaka Izubuchi about making Space Battleship Yamato 2199, and I first met him along with the rest of the staff at a hotel lobby. That was the first time I heard about the remake, and I felt that I already had a role to play in it.
In fact, the people who had gathered in the lobby for that meeting all really loved the first Yamato just like me. Then it occurred to me, belatedly, that “these are all people who loved the first Yamato just as I did,” and I understood. For the first time in 37 years, I realized that “I fell in love with Yamato.”
For better or worse, I haven’t been involved with Yamato in recent years at all (laughs), so I believe I can pour fresh power and all my mind’s energy into Yamato 2199.
Q: Thoughts about the father, Hiroshi Miyagawa
Interviewer: While taking charge of the music in Yamato 2199, what thoughts have you had about your father?
A: My father experienced “a month when God came down.”
Akira Miyagawa: It was thought that the first Yamato had run its course, but then the Symphonic Suite Yamato came out afterward. In fact, there are quite a lot of people who were inspired to become composers after listening to that. The Composer Takayuki Hattori brought a copy of the record to one of my father’s concerts and asked him to sign it. My nose was up a little higher at that time. (Laughs)
When I go back and listen to it carefully, the Symphonic Suite is great and has some very interesting writing. It really was “a month when God came down.” I realized music that goes down in posterity is like that. It is written at the same speed as my father’s soundtrack music, but although it uses copies of pieces heard in the score, I got the feeling that I’d learned an extremely good lesson from him.
“This is the sort of thing I worried about.”
“I concentrated power in this area.”
“The wonder of music comes from a theme like this.”
I got the feeling of being initiated into all sorts of things.
“I have died, but the lesson goes on.” (Laughs)
It was a pretty unique experience. I think it was the sort of thing that was only possible for a son to experience. I definitely relived “a month when God came down.”
Needless to say, I’ve received a lot of enlightenment, since I struggled independently to become a composer. It was not necessarily my father’s instruction that got me there. I didn’t receive much teaching or direct guidance from him. Actually, even if I added it all up it was only a few dozen minutes out of his life. But when I write his music into new scores, I find knacks in his composing technique that I hadn’t realized for many years. I’m really looking forward to seeing how it affects my own method as a composer in future.
Q: Message to the Fans
Interviewer: Please say something to the fans who are looking forward to Yamato 2199.
A: I want to preserve the spirit of Space Battleship Yamato.
Akira Miyagawa: Speaking truthfully, I want to say don’t be too hard on me, please. (laughs)
Honestly speaking, I’m not sure if I can surpass the first Yamato or not. But I have a sense of mission that I have to achieve “something important” that audiences will enjoy. I think we must leave this Yamato to posterity, but we also have to leave an example of Yamato‘s philosophy and how to make it. We have to pass down the spirit that Yoshinobu Nishizaki and the makers of Yamato tried to create with their whole hearts.
I hope the audience of Yamato 2199 will feel the Yamato spirit and spread it around. At the very least, I want them to feel sympathy toward the spirit of Yamato, and make good use of it in their own mission.
Interviewer: When I reviewed the music of Space Battleship Yamato, I was surprised that I remembered it after an interval of 37 years. It really is wonderful music. We look forward to hearing it anew along with your new pieces. We conducted this interview today during a short break between recordings, so thank you very much.
As the months go by, the official 2199 website will undoubtedly be the first to reveal new information, so make a point to bookmark it for regular visits. A lot of that information is going to be visual, but since it’s a Japanese site the text-only content isn’t terribly useful to non-Japanese readers. This is where our reports will step in to fill the gap.
To wit, here’s the first installment of what appears to be a series of essays by Ryusuke Hikawa, the quintessential Yamato superfan, publicist, and head writer of 2199. It is our pleasure to bring Mr. Hikawa’s words to the English-speaking world.
Future pioneering ship, the name is
Space Battleship Yamato
Everything changed with Space Battleship Yamato in 1974
Commentary by Ryusuke Hikawa (anime commentator)
January 6, 2012
On Sunday, October 6, 1974, a program series began airing nationally on Yomiuri TV at 7:30pm. The title was Space Battleship Yamato. Afterward, it would rewrite the history of Japanese animation. Programs on other channels at the same time were Girl of the Alps Heidi and a variety show titled Laughter on Stage. These were popular, highly-rated shows, so it was a big deal to be on at the same time. An SF drama series began the same day from Tsuburaya Productions titled Monkey Army. Against such competition, Yamato only received limited viewership.
But from the junior high and high school students who were there for its birth would come a huge number of artists and writers. Anime and tokusatsu [live-action special effects] programs became the subjects of amateur publishing, and it can be said that a cultural movement began there. Many things changed after this day in a flow that continues to the present.
Although the word “anime” has now taken root, in 1974 the general term was “TV manga” and it included children’s programs, tokusatsu and puppet shows indiscriminately. Anime specialty magazines would not take shape until 1978, and there were only children’s magazines for lower elementary grades such as Terebi Magazine and Terebi Land.
Therefore, anime and tokusatsu were framed as “children’s products” and it was an unrealistic dream to think they would outgrow that description. However, by this time manga for young people had greatly begun to evolve. 11 years had passed since the first TV anime series, Mighty Atom, had been born in 1963. The “first TV manga generation” that had been born in 1960 were entering junior high school, and it was just a matter of time before the next step was taken. Against this background, Lupin III (1971) and Triton of the Sea (1972) were made for the growing audience which became the “high target” that would be impacted by the first episode of Space Battleship Yamato.
So what was the impact of that first episode? The audience was thrown into a realistic battlefield in space and overwhelmed by the view of Earth on the losing side, both of which connected very much with the “high target.”
When the first half begins, there is suddenly a decisive battle of spaceships with no setup. We don’t know who is fighting, or where, or what the time period is. There was no specific explanation, which made it very difficult for lower elementary schoolchildren. However, after a fleet war in which beams of light are used rather than cannon shells, the Earth side is severely defeated. In this SF depiction of a battlefield, crewmembers are sucked out into space vacuum if their ship is hit. Certainly the clues from this information pile up fast and hard, and the imagination of the audience is a catalyst that gives birth to the sense of “reality.”
This fast-hitting technique demanded some literacy from the audience to figure it out. Viewers who could not imagine what was going on changed the channel. After all, it was difficult for a child to follow, which is not a strength of TV media in the first place. However, if it was embraced, the power of absorption was created and surpassed all others.
Ryusuke Hikawa Profile
Born in Hyogo Prefecture, 1958; plays an active part in various fields such as TV, radio, magazines, web, product commentary books, and many more. His major recent work is 20 Years of Zanbot 3 (Ota Publications). Also served as a judge in the animation division of the Media Art Festival held by the Agency for Cultural Affairs.
Click here to read Hikawa’s article on Yamato filmmaking from a 1999 issue of Gazo Magazine.
First, you can read a much longer interview with Akira Miyagawa here.
Second, click here to read our special interview with concept artist and Yamato superfan Junichiro Tamamori
Then click here to read correspondent Gwyn Campbell’s eyewitness account of the February 18 “Launch Event” which he attended after scoring a ticket like the one shown at right.
Special thanks to Sword Takeda and Tsuneo Tateno for translation assistance.