Space Battleship Yamato 2199, Report 11

September News

September was the third month in the long gap between Chapters 2 and 3, the highlight of which (if you lived in Japan) was the first Yamato 2199 road trip. We’ll get to that in due course as we review everything that helped October 13 seem not so far away for the fans, while it probably loomed all too close for the animation staff.

September 1: Hyper Hobby #169

Tokuma Publishing

As seen in report 10, the previous issue of Hyper Hobby contained a list of 26 questions about Chapter 2. Evidently that didn’t go far enough, since this one featured 8 more. As before, they were answered by Mechanical Director Masanori Nishii:

Question 1: Why did Yamato do a warp-out while underway?

Nishii: The floating continent was not the cause. Because it floats in the atmosphere of Jupiter, its presence doesn’t interfere with warp navigation. It is not related to Gamilas. It means they met an obstacle on the route to Uranus orbit, like unobserved debris or small bodies.

Question 2: How long is the chain of Yamato‘s rocket anchor?

Nishii: The length of the chain is distributed to the left and right respectively. The chain is wrapped around the drum of the Wave-Motion Gun and stored there. When they want to use it on only one side for a longer time, it can be extended to three times the length of Yamato by connecting all the chains. It’s like the arm of a Kappa. (Laughs) [Translator’s note: a Kappa is a creature of Japanese folklore that comes in many varieties. Read more here.]
Question 3: Nanbu is the backup for Kodai and Yuria is the backup for Yuki. Is there a backup for Shima?

Nishii: Of course, but other backups have not appeared yet. The personnel of each section cover three basic shift operations. We haven’t yet established backups for everyone, but some characters will appear with names in the future.

Question 4: Did Yukikaze not explode?

Nishii: The hull didn’t explode, it was a drop tank on the underside that exploded. I don’t think you can see it, but when it has crash-landed on Enceladus in Episode 4, there is no drop tank.

Question 5: What is fired from the hole in the tip of the Cosmo Zero’s nose?

Nishii: That’s an anti-ship weapon which we call the cannon gun. You can think of it as a wide-beam light with large caliber bullets. In the original work, Black Tigers and the Cosmo Zero damaged Gamilas ships with machine guns. It doesn’t matter what rules you may hold when it comes to the minute aspects of these weapons, and you may just need to suspend your disbelief. By the way, the three right and left apertures on the base of the Cosmo Falcon’s wings are cannon guns. The diameter is smaller than that of the Cosmo Zero. It was fired at the Melanka [Gamilas’ flying wing fighter] in Episode 2.

Question 6: The third bridge is unharmed even when it collides with the floating continent and the sea of ice? Is there usually a crew inside?

Nishii: It was built stronger this time. (Laughs) Because it is the post for gravity control and not merely an entry way, it would be serious for it to be lost. There is a scene in Episode 6 where Enomoto reports to the captain that inertial control has been regained, and it is somewhere on the third bridge. In the original work, the upper and lower part of the internal structure was the same so it could be turned upside down. This time we’ve significantly altered the interior design. After all, the third bridge is a special place to people, and I’m often asked “will there be some action there?” I suppose you won’t see a highlight for a while since it’s in the second half of the story, but please look forward to it, because there is a scene to demonstrate its significance!

Question 7: What kind of missiles are equipped on the underside of the ship?

Nishii: It is basically the same as the twin 8-tube missile launchers behind the bridge tower. Although it began to shoot eight shots in Episode 6, it is also possible to fire another two from behind the third bridge, for a total of 10. Missiles on the underside of the ship were increased when Kazutaka Miyatake did the design for the Playstation game. That is the design source. We wanted to put other weapons on the underside, but if the design changed it would not be Yamato.

Question 8: What’s going on with Makoto Harada’s uniform?

Nishii: If you study the uniforms on the ship, you see a double line around the shoulder area of both the men and women. This is supposed to be a zipper structure so everything can basically be removed. Makoto has opened the zipper and removed the part at the base of the thigh. The design of her lower jacket is slightly different under the belt, but if that is closed up by the zipper it will become like the other women’s uniforms. We checked with [character designer] Nobuteru Yuuki and had this confirmed quite recently. (Laughs) Makoto made this change herself for originality, as a female high school student adjusts the length of her skirt. It means that the uniform can be stylishly worn as fashion. (Laughs)

Nishii provided additional comments for what he considered to be the four mecha-animation highlights of Chapter 2, which he described in-depth as follows:

Volume 2/Check this scene!!

CHECK 1: Cosmo Zero launch scene!! (Episode 5)

The detail-up work done by hand for Chapter 1 was done again in earnest for Yamato on Chapter 2. I personally think the number one highlight was the beginning of the Cosmo Zero launch from the rear of Yamato in Episode 5. There were a number of opinions about where Yamato‘s name designation should go. “Up to now, we’ve put them on the port and aft sides of the other Earth warships.” “Yeah, but Yamato‘s should go on the aft.” Which was pretty much how it was decided. It’s not a conspicuous place, but we see the name of Yamato on the ship, as with the rest of the Earth fleet.

When it comes to this scene, the third main battery tower is hand-drawn. An air boss is located at the base of the rear catapult, in a place where there are control personnel who communicate with Kodai in the story. There are a few things like maintenance hatches as well, where people can go in and out. At the base of the main engine nozzle, the root of Yamato‘s three stabilizers is actually moveable. In this setup, reverse thrust can be produced. Although it is not yet known if this will actually appear, the moveable parts are still drawn properly with a lot of detail.

CHECK 2: Yukikaze lying in the ice field!! (Episode 4)

In Episode 4, the Yukikaze that crash-landed on the ice field of Enceladus and became frozen there is hand-drawn rather than CG. The damaged ship and the surface of the ice are both hand-drawn with special effects for a surface treatment. Furthermore, it has the feeling that the yellow and red hull colors have faded and decayed. If asked what was the hardest thing to do in Episode 4, the crash-landed Yukikaze was most difficult.

Usually, this sort of thing is drawn as a background. Although there were a lot of voices of opposition around this, I absolutely did not want to process it as a [CG] background. If we used art processing, the texture of the ship would be changed for the worse, and all of the detailing on it would be for nothing. Although there are some combined scenes, we drew only about 15 points in Yukikaze. I quietly spent my own time laboring over this effort for Episode 4. (Laughs)

A lot of ice was put on Yukikaze and we used processing to attach frost to the surface. I can’t say if all the details we drew can actually be seen, but it was all drawn solidly. It’s useless to call this work wasted, since “it will not be Yamato if we leave it out.” In the production, there must be a certain degree of seriousness, a certain level of energy expended, which may or may not be picked up by the viewer. This is my attitude in making Yamato 2199, no matter the relative size of each part. Of course, I don’t want you to only look at such parts, but I think that the full image is realized because it is there.

[Translator’s note: Nishii’s basic message here is that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.]

CHECK 3: Pay attention to Yamato detail!! (Ep. 3)

In the scene where Yamato makes an emergency landing on the floating continent in Episode 3 and Enomoto descends down the side of the ship on a rope, there is a remarkable amount of detail in the background. Although most details are not seen on screen, Yamato has been drawn completely by hand. Also, in the pan shot which goes down to Analyzer in the front, Yamato in the background is a hand-drawn cel. The Yamato images behind Analyzer and Enomoto were not CG models, either; they were drawn by Junichiro Tamamori. Because various things overlap in the foreground and the photography has been processed, you may not see much of it on the screen, but the drawing is tightly detailed.

There are also places like a long iron plate on an airplane with irregularities where parts are attached, so it’s not just a smooth surface. It has some unevenness. In the great pictures by Mr. Tamamori, there is a sense of some function there. At the ordinary level of an anime TV series, such attention cannot easily be given to the art. An animator can add detail from their own imagination, but then it does not have persuasive power. Mr. Tamamori has a clear reason and intention for the design there. A picture is not complete until it goes through such a procedure. You can enjoy these parts if you give them more attention.

CHECK 4: Hand-drawn Reflection Satellite Gun!!
(Episodes 5 & 6)

All the scenes of the Reflection Satellite Gun in Episodes 5 and 6 are hand-drawn. The original design was by Kazutaka Miyatake, and I asked Yasushi Ishizu to do the final finish. I had Mr. Ishizu draw it for the scenes. Although the main body of the gun is mostly green, I was surprised by the amount of detail when I looked at the line drawing and said, “you drew all this!?” I think all the detail can be confirmed on the Blu-ray, so please look at it with a freeze frame. (Laughs)

How is the gun like the Yukikaze in “CHECK 2”? When it came up I said, “I don’t want to use background [CG] processing! I absolutely hate it!” I opposed that and made it hand-drawn. I wanted to show this kind of thing in solid form, so I was particular about drawing it by hand to show the cool details. Although it created burdens in various ways, I am conscious that it wouldn’t be Yamato if we took the easy way out. Since CG image works are not necessarily easy, we put in the hand-drawn portion for a fusion of digital and analog. It brings a feeling of greater density and power of expression to the screen.

Special thanks to August Ragone for translation support.

The third page in this Hyper Hobby article (above left) was a pictorial roundup of recent events and forthcoming products, all of which are covered elsewhere in our own reports.

September 3: Official Website update

The Yamato 2199 website updated its character page with the last of the new faces seen in Chapter 2. Visit the official site’s character page here.

September 10: New Type Ace #13

Kadokawa Publishing

Chapter 7 of the Yamato 2199 manga continued Michio Murakawa’s adaptation of Episode 3 with Yamato‘s adventure on the floating continent. Over the course of 29 pages it went from the crash-landing up to the first firing of the Wave-Motion Gun. Also included was Ryusuke Hikawa’s fourth column in his Yamato Lessons from the Past series, which can be read here.

See the manga chapter here.

September 14: Anime Beat

Bandai Namco Live TV

This was the third time Yamato 2199 was the subject of this weekly streaming talk show on Bandai’s internet channel, which can be seen around the world. The trailer for Chapter 3 was shown and discussed, but most of the time was devoted to the recently-released Blu-ray box set for the 1974 Space Battleship Yamato TV series.

On hand was the original Yamato superfan himself, Ryusuke Hikawa, whose personal archive of original production materials became the foundation for all the bonus content, and Bandai Visual Producer Hiroki Hasebe who supervised the project. The two examined original cels and demonstrated some of the disc features, including picture-in-picture storyboards.

September 14: Great Mechanics DX #22

Futaba Co.

As regular readers of these reports know, Great Mechanics DX has consistently been the best source for investigative journalism on Yamato 2199 with art and interviews that go beyond other publications. This was proven at a glance when issue 22 came out with a stunning, never-before seen cover painting that has since been repurposed for other merchandising.

The writers sat down once again with Director Yutaka Izubuchi and Mecha Director Masanori Nishii to talk Yamato. Most of the 12-page article was filled with their scene-specific commentary on Chapter 2, which we will present when the time comes for our own episode-by-episode coverage. There was also a 3-page interview that looked ahead to Chapter 3.

Read the interview here.

Yamato 2199 on the road

The weekend of October 21-23 was a busy one with a flurry of events that broke 2199 out of its usual Tokyo confines. The destinations were three cities in central Japan: Kyoto, Osaka, and Tokushima, all of which are close enough for a dedicated fan to visit in sequence over three days.

September 21-23: Kyoto International Manga Anime Fair 2012

This is pretty much what it sounds like, a weekend devoted to the art and commerce of manga and anime with over 30 exhibitors at the Miyakomesse exhibition hall. Think of it as an anime & manga convention hosted by a city rather than a group of well-meaning fans.

The main portion of the Yamato 2199 booth seen in July and August was there, along with three special displays: the 5-meter Yamato model, Naoyuki Katoh’s 16-foot mural, and–standing in for the cosplaying Yamato girls–a lifesize statue of Yuki Mori

This is most likely not a new item, since it is essentially a scaled-up version of a Yuki figure released by Liberty Planet over ten years ago. She is also based on the original design instead of the 2199 remake, so chances are this statue was built for some previous event and brought out of mothballs.

Yutaka Izubuchi and Masori Nishii were on hand during the afternoon of Saturday, September 22 to deliver another 2-man “Yamatalk” event in which they discussed the production and answered questions. This became a rollout point for a brand new Yamato 2199 book titled Illustrated Book Re: Mechanics, a large-format (10″ x 14″) 32-page publication showcasing the groundbreaking techniques used to combine hand-drawn art with CG. (Ten lucky ticket-holders won free copies on its first day of release.) See more info about this book in Report 14 here.

September 22: Awa Odori Airport, Tokushima City

The 5-meter Yamato spent all of one day in Kyoto before it made the trek to Tokushima City, about 90 miles away on the other side of Osaka Bay. It was put on display in a public space at Tokushima’s Awa Odori airport for two weeks leading up to the city-wide Machi Asobi festival.

See photos of the display here. See it on YouTube here.

The Yamato 2199 website used the occasion to post a photo-blog of what it takes to haul that monster around; see the photos here.

September 22: Osaka Station City Cinema

Osaka sits between Kyoto and Tokushima; a train can deliver you to Osaka from Kyoto in under an hour, which is what made it possible for Yutaka Izubuchi and Masanori Nishii to deliver another Yamatalk on Saturday evening after the one at the Kyoto Manga Anime Fair. A selection of Yamato 2199 theater goods was available for sale along with two new postcards.

September 24: Figure King #176

World Photo Press

Figure King is another hobby and toy magazine that regularly touches on Yamato 2199 in a two-page spread. Despite this comparatively small real estate, this was the first magazine to publish color images from Chapter 3, now less than a month away.

September 25: Model Graphix #336

Dainippon Kaigo Co.

Chapter 3 wasn’t the only thing on the horizon as September drew to a close; the world was now about a month away from getting a brand new entry in the lineup of Yamato model kits: the United Nations Space Force Fleet Set 1. Set for an October 31 release, this three-ship set had been previewed for months, but now actual photos of the finished kits could be published, and Model Graphix devoted a two-page spread to them, which included this short essay from the kit producer:

A Proper Method Without Deform

comment/Hirofumi Kishiyama (Bandai hobby division)

This time the main vessels of the United Nations Space Forces have been made as a fleet set. It includes ships that were in the previous Mecha Collection series, but they differ in scale and size and I believe they are quite different. When designing our previous product, the 1/1000 Space Battleship Yamato 2199, we basically used 3DCG data from the production.

Of course, with that being said, the injection molding parts of these plastic model kits [plamo] can’t be too thin, must preserve conformity to shape, and not fall into the realm of tasteless exaggeration. For example, in scenes like the firing of the Wave-Motion Gun, Yamato has a big bow in the original work. This time, in 2199, the picture makes it look big using camera lens effects. We made the plamodel in a proper way without deform, and were very curious to see what we could accomplish.

With respect to the division of parts, it may give the impression at first glance that they have been divided up into more parts than necessary. However, in the UN space fleet, there are ships in grey/red in addition to yellow/red/white, so the division of parts is necessary to reproduce those color differences in the future. Because of this yellow/red//white or alternate grey color scheme, the parts that change color in the variants are the red ones. It was necessary to divide it there to fully reproduce it.

Of the three ships, I’d like you to pay attention to the Yukikaze. In order to reproduce the color pattern of this ship class, even though it is just an 80mm model, it was split up into about 40 parts. For instance, three parts are used for the gun turret including the antenna, so the possibility to reproduce more detail increases.

The supervisors of the Yamato 2199 Production Committee looked at it and complimented me by saying, “You went so far…you did too much. That was stupid!” (Laughs) I think if you’re going to do it, you have to do it thoroughly.

Special thanks to August Ragone for translation support.

September 25: Dengeki Hobby and Hobby Japan, November issues

The “big two” hobby magazines batted cleanup for the month as usual, bringing all the news and product announcements together for review.

Dengeki devoted six pages to Yamato 2199 including photos of the forthcoming Cosmo Falcon mini-kit (to be bundled with the January issue, published in November), design art from Chapter 3, Photos from August’s Chara Hobby convention, and other tidbits. See the pages here.

Hobby Japan did roughly the same in four pages, sweetening the deal with several stills from Chapter 3. Both magazines showed off the completed Yuki Mori figure from Megahouse (finally announcing a release date of February 2013) but Hobby Japan got a scoop by plugging a set of 4 “Deform” toys called the Yamato 2199 D-Fleet, coming from Banpresto in March. See the pages here.

September 30: Jigsaw Puzzles

Finishing off the month was a pair of puzzles from the Ensky Company: a 300-piece reproduction of Yamato‘s front view (seen in our “New Productions” gallery), and a far more challenging 950-piece schematic of the ship. This one is a whopper, measuring about 13″ x 40″ when completed–if you ever get that far. Judging by the artwork, most of its 950 pieces are sadistically colored black.

Continue to Report 12

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