As Large as Life, Part 3

Events of the Legacy Years, 2008-2010

Back up to part 2

2008 Events

The only Yamato event that happened in May, 2008 was worthy of an entire month all to itself. On May 19 the Space Battleship Yamato theme got its first-ever live performance on American soil when it was played by the Port Angeles High School band in Washington. The sheet music was procured by superfans Ed Hawkins and Don Gaiser. Don attended the performance in person and recorded it for all time. Click here to see what will hopefully be remembered as the first stop on Yamato‘s US concert tour.

Yamato‘s real-life presence took another big step forward toward the end of 2008 when JAXA astronaut Naoko Yamazaki was named to the command crew of STS-131 Atlantis, scheduled for launch in 2011. The connection was a simple one: she explained that in her childhood she was a great fan of Leiji Matsumoto stories such as Galaxy Express 999 and Space Battleship Yamato, which inspired her to one day travel in space. In her, at least, the original goal of the series to instill hopes and dreams of the future in the youth of Japan was fully realized. Ms. Yamazaki further established her anime bona-fides when she provided her own voice in the 2009 TV series Rocket Girls, shown above right.

December 5
This date saw the second coming of “Leiji Future.” Held at a club called Culture Culture, it’s a year-end gathering for fans of Leiji Matsumoto; a chance to see the man himself and spend a day in his corner of the universe. The format is something like a one-day mini-convention, starting with a dealer’s area and autograph session. In the afternoon it shifts over to a talk show with Matsumoto and a few of his friends from the anime and manga industries. Correspondents of this website began to attend Leiji Future the year after this one was held, so much more info can be found further down the page.

2009 Events

February 5
The huge success of the 2007 Yamato pachinko game naturally cleared the path for another one named CR Space Battleship Yamato 2. Fujishoji held its grand rollout party for the new game on February 5. The Yuki army from the previous party was back in force, this time in both the crew and nurse uniforms. A promotional film was shown, the game could be played, and a mountain of new merchandise was introduced to the hungry public. See it all here.

March 18-21
The start of production on Space Battleship Yamato Resurrection had been announced online in the summer of 2007, but it took until this month for it to gain a live presence. Film company and master licensor Tohokushinsha promoted the movie in their booth at Tokyo Anime Fair, sweetening the presentation with lovely ladies in Star Force uniforms.

See a Japanese report here. Read reports from TV’s Patrick Macias here and here.

May 3
Yamato Party is a one-day all-Yamato event run by fans for fans, dating all the way back to 1984. After a five-year break, they roared back to life with Yamato Party 2009 and the roving reporters of were there to see it in person. Among other delights, it featured the world premiere of footage from the forthcoming Yamato Resurrection. Read a complete report of the event here.

May 16
Yamato music was heard live for the first time in a decade at a special concert that was celebrated as the 100th performance at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space. Conductor Naoto Otomo was a key member of the music staff during the production years, leading Symphony Orchestra Yamato through all the sessions for Final Yamato and the 1984 Grand Symphony. 25 years later, he would lead the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra through a new performance of that same concert for the score of Yamato Resurrection.

September 19-23
By this time the promotional campaign for Resurrection had begun to ramp up in Japan. The first live event was a gallery collection called the “Perfect Revival Exhibition.” It featured cels, original art, and vintage products from the archives along with production art from the new movie and a giant 15-foot model of the ship. Read an eyewitness account here.

This was the first of many live events that closely followed the pattern of the production years, when Yamato movies became pop culture flashpoints. Our complete record of all the Resurrection-related events begins here.

November 24
A new website went live to restore the connection between fandom and the home office which had been severed with the closing of the original Yamato fan club in the 90s. Called simply “Yamato Crew,” its first mission was to promote Resurrection, but it has since become a unique source of news and exclusive products. Visit it here.

December 5-11
Three TV specials began airing on Japanese television this week and continued appearing throughout the month. They all took the opportunity to re-introduce the saga to new viewers prior to the premiere of Resurrection. The first special, titled Tracks of Yamato and Us, premiered on the Family Theatre network and kicked off a month of rebroadcasts for the entire Yamato saga. Marathon reruns of all three TV series and all five movies were shown multiple times. The second special, Space Battleship Yamato: All the Charm, premiered on TBS and migrated to other networks through December 24. The third special was titled The Age With Yamato and appeared exclusively on Japan’s History Channel.

December 12: the Premiere

The 26-year wait officially came to an end. Space Battleship Yamato Fukkatsu-hen [Resurrection Chapter] opened in Japanese movie theaters and stayed in the top ten for its first week. Read a firsthand account of the premiere here.

December 20
“Leiji Future 2009” was held on this day, picking up where the 2008 event left off. Read an eyewitness report here.

2010 Events

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.

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 new pachinko games and also showcased new products being released by other companies. 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.

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.

April 5
Space Shuttle Discovery roared off the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center on this day, carrying 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 the photo above left will attest, they are both Yamato fans. That’s JAXA astronaut and ISS Expedition 23 flight engineer Soichi Noguchi at far left, 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 he missed the premiere of Yamato Resurrection. Where were his priorities???

See a time lapse movie of the STS-131 prep and launch 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 first full-length 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.

July 17
“Otaku Award R7” is the name of a special-interest group that meets periodically in Tokyo to do what Otaku do best: talk about their interests. They hold small-scale talk-show events for similarly-minded fans on a variety of topics several times a year. At this gathering, a handful of big-name fans came together under the banner of “Men of Yamato” at ‘Loft One’ in Shinjuku. Friend-of-this-website Gwyn Campbell was there and submitted this firsthand account:

‘Loft One’ has specialized in holding talk-shows for several years. Unfortunately, they have a stringent no-photography policy, so I couldn’t get pics of the hosts were on stage. Our host for the evening was Otaku Awards regular Ryoda Fujitsu, along with guests Ryusuke Hikawa (anime academic and freelance writer) and Shoji Harahachi (modeler). The talk lasted around four hours and was one big trip down memory lane for the Yamato faithful. A 10-minute slide show called Yamato for New Recruits introduced the series and movies. Harahachi then made a few comments about the first generation of Yamato models and how kits from the 70s still seemed better to him than the majority of kits from the 80s.

This lead into the main event, a screenshot-by-screenshot examination of all the series/movies accompanied by commentary from the guests. As you can well imagine, this went on for hours, yet didn’t seem to drag at all. The guests were intent on playing up as many discrepancies as they could find for laughs, interspersed with some personal observations.

A few nuggets included:

-Hidden meaning behind the shape of the Wave-Motion Gun: while originally conceived as round, it ended up being a hexagon. Fujitsu felt there was probably some sort of imaginary or scientific reason for this change. It was agreed that the hexagon made the gun stand out more, almost a character unto itself.

-Even though the Black Tigers/Cosmo Tigers launch toward the ship’s stern, it’s hard to tell this in some shots. As a result, a lot of people mistakenly think they launch forward, even today.

-Original theatrical poster: why on earth is the Earth behind Yamato blue?

-The Black Tigers’ namesake was not the snake but rather an actual black tiger. This name was apparently also used by some units during WW2.

-The memorable ‘Warp Effect’ was achieved by moving a sheet of warped glass around over the cell. This is a technique that has since been lost since it can’t be recreated digitally.

-Why do Matsumoto’s guns and missiles all look rather phallic?

-WHY is there an entry hatch in the front of the Gamilas drill missile?

-How is it that whenever Yamato launches, it passes all the planets in order? Either it’s secretly zig-zagging throughout the solar system, or it has a very limited launch window!

-At the end of Farewell to Yamato, why is Shima’s ‘ghost’ on the bridge even though he didn’t die?!?

After all the series/movies had been thoroughly examined, each guest showed their favorite clips. Finally, they spoke of their hopes for the future of Yamato and where it might go from here. Overall it was a low-key yet enjoyable night full of laughs and nostalgia for all while hinting at better things yet to come.

Visit the Otaku Awards R7 website here.

August 29
Kure, Japan, has a special place in Yamato history, since the original IJN battleship was built at its naval yards. Now it is home to the Battleship Yamato museum, which was profiled here in our first Yamatour travelogue. At the end of August, all the display items in the Leiji Matsumoto pavilion were moved to a new home just around the corner: Yamato Gallery Zero.

Matsumoto himself opened the 4-floor gallery in full captain’s regalia, supported by uniformed crew. So far, this is the closest thing Japan has to a Leiji Matsumoto museum, complete with a gift shop. Attendees received a “welcome” pack that included a biographical booklet of the man himself. See it from cover to cover (along with some merchandise images) here. Visit the gallery’s homepage here.

October 17
Tokyo’s “All Japan Hobby Show” (celebrating its 50th gathering) was the first opportunity most fans had to get a close look at the forthcoming 1/500 Yamato model kit from Bandai, and it created quite a stir among the blogging community. The kit was released on December 4 and turned out to have a secret origin that was finally revealed in late 2011–it is the redesigned ship for the Yamato 2199 TV series.

November 20
A traveling prop exhibition for the live-action Yamato movie arrived at its next stop at the TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting System) headquarters in Akasaka, Tokyo. As a primary sponsor of the film, TBS upped the stakes by adding a giant 15-meter Yamato model built from CG data supplied by the production unit. As with the previous two mega-models seen earlier in the year (at Yamato Expo in February and the World Hobby Fair in June), its Wave-Motion Gun could light up and fire, this time igniting a laser lightshow. Read an eyewitness account of the exhibit in Yamatour 2010 here.

See a photo gallery of the Sanrio prop exhibit Blog 1 | Blog 2 (with stills from an on-site video for tour stops in Kyoto, Fukuoka, Nagoya.)
Special thanks to August Ragone for this find.

See the giant Yamato in action on YouTube here.

See photos of the prop exhibit here.

See video footage of the props here.

November 25
Talk about an unexpected surprise: seemingly out of nowhere, the Space Battleship Yamato theme was performed at the famed Macy’s Thanksgiving Day 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 28
A few days before the premiere of the live-action movie, a “Countdown Event” at the TBS exhibition in Akasaka. Three heavy hitters took the stage to address the crowd: Director Takashi Yamazaki, singer Isao Sasaki, and…Analyzer! Sasaki only spoke one line of narration for the movie, but wherever he goes the classic Yamato theme follows, so he naturally performed it for the appreciative crowd. The event was promoted at the movie’s official website with ticket availability for only 500 people drawn at random. The next personal appearance would be by Yamazaki and the actors at a Ginza theater on the afternoon of December 1, with seating for lottery winners only.

Read an eyewitness report in Yamatour 2010 here.

December 1
The “Year of Yamato” culminated with the premiere of the live-action movie, and the 11-month-long promotional campaign definitely got the job done. Yamato 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.

As before, correspondents of this website were there to see it in person. Read the eyewitness account here.

December 10
The Enagio Company held a memorial service for the death of Yoshinobu Nishizaki, 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 by the end of 2011 they had announced two: the Resurrection Director’s Cut and the Yamato 2199 TV remake.

Read Anton’s report of the memorial service here.


The next big thing on Anton Kholodov’s calendar was Leiji Future 2010. Click here to read his eyewitness report.

Click here to continue to part 4

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