Space Battleship Yamato 2199, Report 23

We don’t have enough context yet to know if August 2013 was the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning, but we absolutely know that it topped every previous month for activity with a non-stop avalanche that continued even after the premiere of Chapter 7. Settle in for a look back at this extraordinary month. (Starting with a make-good from July.)

July 20: TV Pia magazine

This is one of many TV Guide-style magazines that come and go on Japanese newsstands every week, published by the Pia Corporation (in pre-internet days, their flagship magazine Pia was a universal source of entertainment news). The content is as ephemeral as TV watching itself, but this particular issue had a short interview with Daisuke Ono, the voice actor for Susumu Kodai. Here’s what he had to say as the countdown clock for Chapter 7 moved toward its final month…

Everyone is impressed, and the
heart is moved by this work

A universal story in the Japanese DNA

Interviewer: Event screenings began in theaters last year, and broadcasting began this April on TBS. What has been the response been like?

Ono: I’ve heard from people of various generations, more than I expected. When you say Yamato, they understand that it is “that work!” Everyone in Japan is impressed, and feel that their heart has been moved. My parents called me and said, “sign something for us with the part of Susumu Kodai in Yamato 2199.” Even my parents like it, too. (Laughs)

TV Pia’s listing for that week
(Episode 16)

Interviewer: What do you think is the charm that attracts people to Yamato?

Ono: The purpose of Yamato is not to annihilate the enemy that has attacked. It is to come back with the technology to save Earth. The reason they fight during their journey is that their mission is “to save Earth.” Therefore, the Wave-Motion Engine of Yamato is not used to defeat the enemy. I was impressed by the point where it was said to be for traveling, and I thought it was really cool. There is also a belief in justice on the enemy Garmillas side. There is a fight for the people of space to find happiness. It is attractive as a story of people.

Interviewer: How about Susumu Kodai?

Ono: There was an introspective impression at the beginning of the story, and I thought of him as someone who looked back at the death of his older brother all the time. But as the story progresses, he comes to the forefront more and more as a person of passion. In the presence of Captain Okita, he has the opportunity to grow up with his words, and becomes a passionate character with conviction.

Interviewer: There are many cases of good will toward women.

Ono: Kenichi Suzumura [Shima] asked, “why are you so popular, and not me?” (Laughs) But I think it’s because he’s a very pure and honest person. There’s also a part like myself. I can sympathize with the part where he steps forward and makes up his mind, even if he’s wrong. It’s just natural. (Laughs) After all, Kodai can only stand up as the tactical leader because he’s surrounded by people who support him.

The voice recording site is just like Yamato‘s bridge, and I feel support around me like Kodai. Takayuki Sugo [Captain Okita] and first mate Houchu Otsuka [Sanada] are in the center, and surrounding me are the prime crew: Mr. Suzumura, Houko Kuwashima [Yuki], Cho [Analyzer] and Aya Uchida [Yuria]. I think this is what the bridge of Yamato feels like. There is tension, but it’s a comfortable place.

Mr. Suzumura has especially taught me a lot about Yamato. For example, the alien queen says her name twice; “I am Starsha, Starsha of Iscandar.” He says to me, “Ono, this is Yamato, you have to say your name twice.” (Laughs) He says things like that.

Interviewer: As expected of a true partner. (Laughs) What can we expect from Kodai at the end?

Ono: When Yamato is attacked, circumstances separate Kodai from Mori, and he changes the way he addresses her to “Yuki.” Their relationship progresses after this, and Kodai becomes more passionate. He’s also aware of his responsibility as the tactical leader. I want you to see his hot passion by all means!

August 1: Apparel, Bandai Fashion Net

“I put on character fashion of BANDAI in the body, and do not you transform yourself into a hero, too?”

Couldn’t have said it better myself. This branch of the Bandai empire rolled out a generous line of 2199 apparel in early August, which included patches, t-shirts (new and reissued), and the first-ever Yamato neckties.

See all of these products here. Visit the BFN website here.

August 1: Chapter 7 video announcement

The Yamato Crew website chalked up another exclusive when they announced that Chapter 7 videos ordered through the online store would include an extra bonus feature: an interview and music video for the last end theme, Star of Love by Nana Mizuki. The CD single for this came out in late July and became the first in 2199 history to reach number 1 in Japan’s Oricon charts.

August 1: Hyper Hobby magazine #180

Hyper Hobby gave us a nice big look at Deusla II, Dessler’s flagship from Chapter 7, and a quick rundown of forthcoming products. It was the third consecutive issue to also include a 2199-related interview, this time with producers from both Production IG and Bandai Visual.

Read that interview here.

August 3: Chapter 4 rerelease

The countdown to Chapter 7 was at three weeks when Chapter 4 came back in four theaters from August 3 to9. Shown here are the original flyer and lobby poster from October 2012.

August 3: Yamato Premium Shops

Kinokuniya’s flagship bookstore in Shinjuku re-opened its dedicated Yamato space, and this time it had an ally across town; the famed Yamashiroya toy store in Ueno opened its own Yamato section for the same length of time. During their tenure, they offered a range of merchandise from past movies, and new stock appeared with Chapter 7 on August 24, but that was just for starters.

As before, customers earned an original postcard for every 1000yen spent. In order to sweeten the pot, a “stamp rally” was held in which customers received different stamps by visiting both stores (Kodai from one, Yuki from the other). Upon receiving the second stamp, a customer could draw for a random prize number worth additional postcards. History tells us that almost none of them will ever be placed into a mailbox…

August 4: TV Episodes 18 and 19

Two episodes were shown back to back on August 4, and the Nico Nico simulcast expanded to three hours to accommodate them (starting half an hour before and ending 90 minutes after). For the first time, all five of the Yamato girls were on camera together, which resulted in a lot of goofing around with a little bit of Yamato content thrown in, especially when a sixth participant arrived: pinup idol Shiori Kawana, who previously appeared at Comic Con in San Diego.

It was later revealed that Episodes 18 and 19 hit number 1 in the TV ratings for their timeslot. The series has regularly scored in the top 5, but this was the first time it beat the competition.

Click here to see highlights of the simulcast.

At the same time all this was happening, viewers were standing by to see if they had won any of the special prizes they’d registered for the previous week: signed posters, special-color Yuki figures, or model kits. And as if winning one of these wasn’t exciting enough, the winners’ names were announced on TV by Koichi Yamadera, the voice actor for Dessler.

August 4 & 8: Yamato Media

Nana Mizuki’s closing song for Chapter 7 had just been released, and her profile was riding high when this article appeared in a Japanese newspaper with the headline Last of Space Battleship Yamato Decorated by Nana Mizuki. It was the first single containing a 2199 song to reach number 1 in the music charts, so it was well-timed indeed. See Nana Mizuki’s anime credits here and visit her official website here.

The pilot issue of Anime Busience magazine (above left) first appeared on August 8 with an eye-catching cover sketch by anime director Hideaki Anno. Published by Genco, Inc., its curious title is a mashup of the words business and science, and the intent of the magazine is to observe the industry without the baggage of licenses and promotional tie-ins that restrict the content of their competition. Respectable though this mission may be, it makes for a magazine that is very text-heavy and picture-light, which limits its appeal to non-Japanese readers. And this pilot issue didn’t feature any actual Yamato content, but we got a nice cover out of it.

You can keep tabs on the magazine via its official website here.

August 8: Maeda Construction Signs

In 2012, the Fantasy Division of Maeda Construction Co. (yes, there really is such a thing) wrote a prospectus on what it would actually take to build and launch Yamato. (See it all translated here.) Meanwhile, Yamato-themed safety signs were adopted by the company and posted at actual construction sites in Japan.

Yamato Crew made two of these available to fans, both printed on aluminum at about 17″ x 23″. Captain Okita barks at everyone to wear safety gear while Yuki encourages them to do their best and work together.

August 9: Chapter 7 TV commercial

15 seconds with only a countdown voice wasn’t much to go on, but it gave everyone a big taste of what was to come in the finale.

See it on Youtube here or at the Yamato Crew website here.

August 9: Official website home page

The home page at Yamato changed for what can only assume would be the last time in connection with a new movie release, sharing the same key art previously seen in advertising.

Visit the site here.

August 10: Chapter 5 rerelease

The countdown to Chapter 7 was down to two weeks when Chapter 5 came back from August 10 to 16 in four theaters. Shown here are the original flyer from January 2013, and theater poster from April.

August 10: Animedia magazine

The September issue of Animedia featured a 3-page retrospective on the series titled Yamato Log, which examined various aspects of the long journey. The text along the bottom of each page is translated here:

As the battle continues, a total Yamato crew and battleship check!

Yamato aims for Iscandar, 168,000 light years from Earth in the Large Magellanic Cloud. The journey to this point is long, and the battle with Garmillas has been tough, but a still harder fight lies ahead. We look back on the hard fighting of Yamato and her crew, to ascertain their journey across the galaxy!

Grasping the “reality” of the original and the new work from the damage situation

Yamato is strong! By brushing off the onslaught of Garmillas, the high level of Yamato‘s defenses stands out.

When the original Space Battleship Yamato was broadcast in 1974, it delivered full-scale SF elements in a time when anime was called “TV manga.” Since the creators were from the generation that experienced real war, there was no mercy in the depiction of crew casualties and damage to Yamato. On the other hand, no matter how tattered Yamato became, it was restored by the next week’s broadcast and wear on the crew didn’t affect Yamato‘s journey very much, since cartoons were quite broad.

Although this work shows great respect for the original, it also seeks reality. Since, for example, the procurement of supplies is difficult and adding more crew is impossible, it is a realistic view that inconveniences will arise during a voyage if damage is excessive. Therefore, this work sets the “Wave-Motion Barrier” as a new cornerstone of defense. The reason for it is to reduce damage, and the result is that Yamato is stronger than in the original. The original’s damage was realistic, but its recovery was cartoonish. As a result of thinking about the reality of damage, comparison with the original in terms of overwhelming strength is the fun point.

The depiction of human relationships in 2199

One of the points where this work changed from the original in the pursuit of reality is the element of human relations. At the time the original was broadcast, the classic concept was of “the only woman,” a single beautiful woman for only one man. In Yamato, the only woman on the crew was Yuki Mori. In this work, out of a crew of 999 people, 30% are women. In such a situation, love affairs would naturally be born between men and women.

In the original, only the love of Kodai and Yuki was depicted, but in this one, Akira Yamamoto goes on the attack for Kodai before Yuki does! From this, the highlight of a love triangle is added to the story. Yasuo Nanbu is attracted to Yuki, and the complexity of human relationships appears in clashes with Kodai, his rival. Hiroki Shinohara of the flight group also seems to be concerned with Akira, and the hint of secret love is interesting. In addition, we cannot overlook the love of the adult crew member Kaoru Niimi. Although she is broken-hearted over the loss of her sweetheart Mamoru Kodai, she is attracted to Shiro Sanada with whom she has worked for a long time, and it could be that her respect evolves into love.

We are also likely to see love between different species. Since the day Yurisha wakes from her sleep, it is interesting to see what other kind of love will cause trouble. The Garmillas pilot Melda Dietz is a beautiful woman who regrets the end of her contact with Yamato‘s crew.

Another significant movement in human relationships is the revolt by proponents of the Izumo Plan in Episode 16. The Izumo Plan was Earth’s original escape plan, promoted by Adjutant General Kotetsu Serizawa of the UN Space Forces. When Yamato‘s launch was threatened by an energy shortage, Serizawa immediately suggested canceling the Yamato Plan, and persisted in leading the Izumo Plan to the last. Also, Security Chief Shinya Itou thought of hijacking Yamato, and there are other people with different ideas on the Earth side, but Yamato‘s crew still aims toward Iscandar at the risk of their own lives to save Earth. From this, we feel the nobility of the crew.

The rise and fall of crisis in the Great Garmillas Empire

The depiction of Garmillas in this work is the greatest difference from the original. In the original, the feeling was that they were bad people from space who aimed for Earth, and there wasn’t much humanity. In this work, Earth is just one planet on the frontier, not of much interest to Great Garmillas, which aims to unify the Magellanic Clouds with overwhelming military might. A rebellion of colonial planets and preventing a Gatlantis invasion are far more important than Yamato.

Also, patriotism and a nationalistic spirit are depicted in the Garmillas military, and the fight with Yamato is shown as a war. Furthermore, there are good people on the Garmillas side who have no patience for dying in battle.

Although the story enters its final stage, the biggest step is clearly the Garmillas problem. It is meaningless if overwhelming military strength cannot be demonstrated. Conversely, there can be great advantages if Yamato is used. The day of the decisive battle is near!

August 10, 11: Comiket 84

Comiket happens twice a year (August and December), and this one brought out more high-quality Yamato 2199 doujinshi – and other products – than all the previous shows put together. With Chapter 7 just two weeks away, there was no better time to capitalize on it.

Click here to see a gallery of what could be found that weekend.

The real standout this year was this one, titled Space Battleship Yamato 2199 Thin Book, a 32-page ‘zine that imagined what the manga would look like if Leiji Matsumoto drew it in his classic style. This is pure parody with a cartoon Matsumoto himself shouting KILL! on the cover as the Yamato girls beg the reader not to tell. The author, Keiichi Tanaka, is a professional who specializes in mimicking other artists, and he did so to perfection here. Incidentally, “Thin Book” is a generic term for an adult-rated doujinshi.

See art samples from this doujinshi here and here.

Big-name companies also got in on the action. Film distributor Shochiku offered this new movie-style merchandise: a Yamato girls mug, a t-shirt, crew cap, a towel, a hand fan (always valuable in a Tokyo August) and a tumbler.

Production IG rolled out products in a booth of their own: Iscandar Toutatsu Manjyuu (celebratory pastries), a poster set with two new Illustrations by manga artist Michio Murakawa, a shopping bag, and clear files with art by Naoyuki Katoh which were previously available only at the Niigata Anime/Manga museum.

All these products and many more would be sold again at theater gift shops to commemorate Chapter 7.

August 11: Nico Nico videocast

For reasons not self-evident, there was no new episode of 2199 on TV today. There was, however, a new 90-minute Nico Nico program that went a little off the usual script. For starters, Yuria Misaki (cosplayed by Sayako Toujo) started solo, only her second time since the series began.

She spent the first half-hour mainly interacting with streaming comments from viewers, posing some very basic trivia questions (“what is a warp?”) and answering a few of their own. Then she introduced some previously-unseen footage of herself and Shiki Aoki warming up for previous shows.

Toujo was overjoyed when Kaoru Niimi (cosplayed by Rio Nanase) strolled in with popsicles at roughly the halfway point, ready to get the show back on its feet with the regular Yamato news update and episode commentary.

During the last half hour, viewers watched Nanase struggle with brain freeze (from one of her popsicles) and recreating the pose-a-thon from the end of last week’s show. There wasn’t much new Yamato content this time, but there was entertainment nonetheless.

August 10-18: Yamato Summer Festival

For nine days in August, fans who visited the exotic port city of Kobe had a chance to participate in a very special event: the Yamato Summer Festival at the Portopia Hotel.

2199 soundtrack music played throughout the facility, Kobe’s own Yamato girls were on hand, and the staff was appropriately attired with naval hats and long coats. About 60 character and mecha panels were displayed along with the 5-meter Yamato, plastic models, and various other products.

A restaurant in the hotel was renamed Yamato CafĂ© “OMCS” [Omshis], and added some special items to the menu: Tea in Yamato cups, Space Navy Curry, Solar Flair Pilaf, Yamato Beer, Yamato Cider, Rainbow Star Cluster Dumplings, Planet Bomb Ice Cream, and Magellan Parfait. Because the latter was handcrafted by a patissier to be an authentic match for the anime version, only 30 were prepared at a time during three sessions per day.

There were also several live events throughout the week. Conductor Susumu Yamato (yes, that’s his real name) and the Aloha Brass Stars performed three 45-minute concerts of Yamato music on August 12 and two more on the 15th. Voice actress Aya Uchida (Yuria Misaki) gave talk shows on Friday the 16th and Saturday the 17th.

Finally, a 1300-seat theater offered special programming, including the Yamato 2199 MV [Music Video] four times a day, and a public viewing of Episode 20 when it was broadcast on the 18th.

Photography was prohibited in some areas, but a few heroic bloggers captured images before the Summer Festival sailed off into Yamato history.

Blog 1 (August 11) | Blog 2 (August 13) | Blog 3 (August 15) | Blog 4 (August 15) | Blog 5 (August 16) | Blog 6 (August 17)

August 13: Chapter 7 News

Ever since it was announced back in April that the release schedules for chapter 6 and 7 had been accelerated (presumably to keep ahead of the TV broadcast), observers began to wonder what impact this would have on the already-hectic production of the remaining episodes. Hints of rushed character animation in Episode 22 were the first clue that things weren’t going quite as planned, and a significant announcement on August 13 put a fine point on it.

Rather than present more rushed animation, it was decided that unfinished scenes would be left out of Episode 25 for the theatrical showings “to maintain an acceptable level of quality,” and viewers were assured the story could still be told without them.

Unfortunately, it also had a major impact on the video release; for the second time in its run, a 2199 film would open without a simultaneous blu-ray sale at theaters. Attendees could register for one instead, with October 10 as the shipping date. The standard video release was delayed from September 25 to October 25, which pushed it past the end of the TV broadcast by almost a month.

On the upside, at least for those living in Japan, it was also announced that theaters would give away three limited-edition Yuki Mori postcards during Chapter 7’s run; one the first weekend and two the second. (All three shown above)

Continue to part 2 of this report

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