Space Battleship Yamato 2199
Report 15, Part 2

As for the actual premiere of Yamato 2199 Chapter 4, Gwyn Campbell was on the spot for all of us who couldn’t be there, and brings us the following account:

To commemorate the premiere of 2199 Chapter 4, another talk event was held at Shinjuku Piccadilly cinema after the premiere screening. We were now officially halfway through this re-imagining of Space Battleship Yamato, and the talk show once again featured veteran voice actors, this time two guests from the Gamilas Empire along with Director Yutaka Izubuchi. It seems to have become a tradition since Kouichi Yamadera’s appearance on the opening day of Chapter 3 that whenever a voice actor from Gamilas is a guest, the Gamilas Anthem plays and the crowd stands up to chant, in unison, “Garle Gamilas!” The event itself was even dubbed “The Great Gamilas Festival!”

The Guests: Norio Wakamoto (voice of Herm Zoellik), Jouji Nakata (voice of Wolf Frakken), Director Yutaka Izubuchi, MC Osamu Kobayashi.

Norio Wakamoto should need no introduction, having ben anime’s go-to villain voice for close to three decades. He is possibly best known to viewers outside Japan as the voice of Vicious in Cowboy Bebop and Cell in Dragonball Z. Other notable roles include Taiso from Giant Robo, Woodchuck from Record of Lodoss War, Geist from M.D Geist, and Dracula from the Castlevania series of games. (See a longer list of credits here.)

Among Jouji Nakata’s better known roles are Alucard from Hellsing, Folken from Escaflowne, Kirei Kotomine from Fate/Zero and MPU from the “Jamming with Edward” episode of Cowboy Bebop. Gamers might remember him as Kazuya Mishima from the Tekken games.

Izubuchi: Wakamoto plays Zoellik, who is the General of the military forces of the Gamilas Empire. Hiss is second in command after Dessler, but Zoellik is really Dessler’s second in command when military issues are involved.

Wakamoto: Although it doesn’t really feel that way. (Laughter)

Izubuchi: It will, it will. In the chapter that everyone has just watched, he has two main scenes which are rather intense, but he will have a larger role in the next chapter. (Applause)

Nakata: He had that scene where he was surrounded by women…

Wakamoto: That was a cabaret! (Laughter)

Izubuchi: Well, I did tell him that that was the image we were going for. His appearance is of this stalwart kind of guy. But his private life is a bit…

Wakamoto: That’s common isn’t it? The guy looks normal on the face of things, but you don’t know what he is up to behind the scenes. He could even be a cosplayer or something.

Izubuchi: I think I’d like to see that. (Laughter)

MC: When you became involved in Yamato 2199, what was your impression of Zoellik?

Wakamoto: Looking at his face he seemed thoroughly stubborn. Definitely a military type of guy. His actions in public seem to reflect the fact that he has sworn his allegiance to Dessler, but while I haven’t been shown all of his remaining scenes yet, it feels like he is hiding something. I feel like we should pay close attention to what he does from now on. As for how I perform a character like Zoellik, I just come down on it with everything I’ve got. That’s the only way to do [a character like him] in my opinion.

MC: So when Mr. Izubuchi was holding auditions for the role‚

Izubuchi: No, I actually wanted Wakamoto for the role from the very beginning.

Wakamoto: Whereas I’d like to have another shot at it. Maybe voice Kodai. (Laughter)

Izubuchi: As for Nakata, his character makes his main debut in Episode 13; Wolf Frakken, the captain of the UX-01, a Dimensional Submarine. He originally appeared in Yamato III, but it wasn’t clear whether he was a Lieutenant Commander or Captain, so I took the middle ground between the two and made him a Lieutenant Commander this time around. (Laughter) There were times in the original where he was referred to as one or the other, depending on which half of the season he appeared in. But anyway, he is a tough, cool, lone wolf kind of character. To me personally, he is an ideal villain. Again, I had Nakata in mind for this role from the beginning. I thought he had a good voice [for it]. (Applause)

When I first saw him on TV, I thought he had a voice suited to being a voice actor and, well, he went on to become a voice actor [NOTE: Jouji Nakata was originally an actor in popular Super Sentai shows in the mid-80’s.] He had a mustache and was kind’a cool‚Ķ

Nakata: I met Mr. Izubuchi for the first time in a while two years or so back, when another show I was doing had just wrapped. He said at the time that there was this role he had me in mind for. I expected the recording would start a month or so later so I said OK, but then ended up waiting until recently.

MC: While your involvement starts partway through [the series], what are your impressions of Yamato?

Nakata: Well, apart from the music, which was great, I had this image of Yamato being a very important work. And in this one, Wakamoto and everyone else got to participate from the beginning, so I didn’t like being left out until the middle. (Laughter) For that reason, when coming on board, you could say I felt some pressure. Everyone here has already seen Chapter 4, but I get to say “Let the hunt begin.” It’s pretty cool, don’t you think?

Izubuchi: Yeah, very cool. And, many of those here today probably already know this, so I figure its OK to say it, but while many guest characters in Yamato end up dying, Frakken won’t be killed off. (Thunderous applause) And Wakamoto has a great scene.

MC: Have the voice recording sessions for the show finished?

Izubuchi: We’re due to finish them this month.

Wakamoto: What page is that great scene of mine on? (Laughter)

MC: What’s the atmosphere like in the booth, with so many veteran voice actors?

Wakamoto: We record the Yamato and Gamilas casts at separate times, so things go fairly smoothly. There’s a lot of younger members on the Yamato side, and more veteran voice actors on the Gamilas side. We do end up having to do some retakes, but overall I think we have some pretty rich lines.

Nakata: I’ve watched Chapters 1, 2 and 3 now, and when I watch the cast, it’s fun to hear their lines. And then I come into the series at the halfway point and when I go into the studio Akio Ohtsuka [Domel] is there, Wakamoto is there, etc., on the Gamilas side. We don’t have much time between rehearsal and actually doing proper takes, so I find I get quite nervous. Then when I go outside, I run into Captain Okita’s voice actor! We have such a large cast that if we were to all record together, there probably wouldn’t be enough oxygen in the room.

Izubuchi: We also don’t have enough seats for everyone if they were to come in all at once.

MC: As we go forward, I’m sure that these two teams of voice actors will have more scenes together as the war continues. How will you handle this? Is it possible to have both teams record together?

Izubuchi: Actually, it’s not possible. If we had some enormous venue it might be an option. But at the moment, as Nakata said, there just wouldn’t be enough space. So it would be difficult. The Gamilans and the crew of the Yamato are always onboard (their respective) ships, so there’s some physical distance between them, right? When acting, the thing we do the most is use this space. For example, Zoellik’s first lines are actually with other Gamilans, so we have to make sure we do that right.

MC: I’d like to ask about what’s in store for us. As you mentioned, voice sessions haven’t been finished yet, so is there anything in particular we should look forward to?

Wakamoto: Zoellik appears here and there, but mainly there’s that scene that was mentioned earlier. That one stands out. It’s pretty significant, and I’m hoping they’ll let me cut loose with it.

Nakata: Well, I’m a lone wolf character who enjoys battle, so as someone behind the mike, I think it can be said that this gives the character a rather fun personality. And when I asked the director, he said that there will be other such scenes further on.

Izubuchi: He’s actually a nicer character that you might expect. (Laughter) (To Wakamoto and Nakata) Given your respective ages, did you watch the original Yamato back when it aired?

Wakamoto: I saw [the original] quite a few times. As far as my impressions of it, while their voices are similar, the original Dessler’s voice was rather unique. He was played by Masato Ibu, who would have been in his 20s when he did the role, and was in the same agency as me.

MC: In his 20s?

Wakamoto: In his late 20s. He would put on an older voice, inject this air of importance. In Yamato 2199, (Koichi) Yamadera has a softer take on the voice, imbued with nuance, a subtleness you could say. So I have this impression of the different versions of Dessler in the two iterations of the show.

Nakata: I didn’t actually watch it when it originally aired. I’d heard about it, but didn’t have time to see it. But since asked to come onboard, I’ve gone back and watched it, though the character I play wasn’t in the original series.

Izubuchi: That’s right. He was originally in the third TV series.

Nakata: Is it OK to have him appear this early on?

Izubuchi: It’s OK, you’re safe. (Laughter)

MC: On that note, we are almost out of time. Do you have any final words for the audience?

Nakata: While you’ve all seen Yamato 2199 here at the cinema today, the series is now slated for broadcast. While it’s a great experience to be able to see it on the big screen, please look forward to seeing it on TV as well. Actually, what did you think of Chapter 4? I thought it was interesting to see how the story played out. (Applause). Thank you for your time today.

Wakamoto: It’s terrific to be able to see a show of this scale on the big screen and appreciate how animation techniques have evolved. The image resolution, speed of the plot, action and scale are all quite different from the original. Please continue to support the show in the future. (Applause)

Izubuchi: While originally conceived as a TV series, [Yamato 2199] will finally be shown on television. Having said that, we started out making it with the theatrical screenings in mind. This is one reason I think it has achieved such a favorable reputation, but there may be some elements that work best at the cinema, so while you might be tempted to just watch the TV broadcast, to get the full sense of scale I recommend seeing future installments at the cinema as well. Thank you for continuing to support the show. (Applause)

Finally, the icing on the cake: the first promo for the next movie. Chapter 5, titled The Sorrow of Intergalactic Space, will include Episodes 15-18 and premiere in Japanese theaters April 13. (A year and a week since Chapter 1.) General Domel and his wife Elisa dominate the promo art (the first Gamilas characters to have the honor), as shown above left.

The image above right looks an awful lot like the cover of an art book, but don’t get your hopes up. The flyer for Chapter 5 was a foldout, and this image was on the opposite side.

Open the flyer up and you see what the “Official Guide” business is all about; a rundown of the previous chapters with basic story and character info. This is, of course, helpful to anyone who might have missed a previous movie, but to fans outside Japan it was an annoying reminder that we’ve now hit the halfway point of the series with no dedicated guidebook to show for it. On the other hand, it’s also a reminder we still have one to look forward to.

January 12: Manga Volume 2

Even after seeing the movie, your Yamato day was not over when you left the theater. Volume 2 of Michio Murakawa’s manga adaptation was published the same day, with cover art by mecha designer Junichiro Tamamori. Running 180 pages, it contained his versions of Episodes 3 and 4, ending with the departure from Enceladus. If this format holds and the entire series gets done, we can expect a total of 13 volumes.

A limited number of copies sold on the first day came with bonus items; one of two postcards (above left) and also a “message card” from Murakawa (left). Those who ordered their copy from the Yamato Crew website got a limited-edition dustjacket by Tamamori (above) depicting the Yukikaze, in observance of the Enceladus episode.

January 12: Cosmo Falcon jacket announcement

If you happened to see Chapter 4 at the Shinjuku Picadilly theater on opening day and happened to walk a few doors down to the local Kinokuniya bookstore for your copy of manga volume 2, there was even more in store for you. As mentioned in Report 14, this store had its own Yamato section (called the “premium shop”) which sold specialized merch through February 11.

On the 12th, they displayed a very special piece of premium merchandise indeed–an authentic Cosmo Falcon pilot jacket from a company called Dreampass. 4,000 of these would be custom-made to order for anyone who could cough up the 52,500 yen manufacturing price (well over $500 US) before the cutoff date of February 11. A pewter flight pin was offered to sweeten the deal. Delivery of the finished piece was promised for May.

Visit the Dreampass website here.

It was also possible to expand your 2199 postcard collection at the premium shop, starting with set 2 of the episode title cards, covering Episodes 7-12. (Below)

In addition to that, you could also stock up on sets devoted to individual characters.

Each set contained 6 postcards with stills from the series. The two sets with Kodai on the front offered a variety of male character images while the various “Yamato girl” sets were devoted to each of the ladies. These were manufactured by a company called Sunset creative.

January 17: Character Data

A new character entry was added to the official Yamato 2199 website on this day after many weeks of silence about the content of Episode 14, in which she appears. Her description reads as follows (SPOILER WARNING: skip ahead to avoid story info).

Mirenel Link/Voice: Akemi Okamura

Gamilas Central Intelligence Special Officer. The equivalent of 18 Earth years of age. Rank: Lieutenant. Born on the Planet Jirel.

An intelligence officer who works directly for Celestella, and a psychic. The two of them are also the last survivors of Jirel. By using the Akerius ruins hyperspace network at Balun base, she materializes her mind onboard Yamato, where she performs information gathering and sabotage.

January 18: Mecha Commentary

An interesting feature popped up at the official website on the 18th, the transcript of a conversation about various aspects of the mecha scenes in Chapter 4. Naturally, the participants were Director Yutaka Izubuchi and Mechanical Director Masanori Nishii, who we’ve heard from more than anyone else on these matters.

Read their complete commentary here.

January 19: Special Events

This was another good day to be a fan, especially if you could get to Shinjuku, Tokyo. The premium shop at Kinokuniya bookstore welcomed a special guest: Aya Uchida, the voice of Yuri Misaki and host of the Radio Yamato webcast. She appeared for an autograph session and no doubt moved plenty of Radio Yamato Volume 1 CDs.

This also marked the midpoint of Chapter 4’s two-week run in movie theaters, and a special offer was devised to get fans to pony up for another ticket: a limited-edition Yuki Mori postcard (shown above right) depicting her in holiday festival garb. This item was only available to ticket buyers, but the art will probably be seen again in some form.

January 22: Yamatalk Night with Hideaki Anno

By now, even casual anime fans should know this name. In addition to being the creator of Neon Genesis Evangelion, Mr. Anno has long been known as Japan’s biggest “professional” fan of Yamato, having watched it since its first broadcast and crediting it as the guiding light for his career. He is also perhaps the only anime director as qualified as Yutaka Izubuchi to helm the remake, and declined the job only because he was otherwise occupied on the four Eva remake movies.

Nevertheless, he and Izubuchi have been close friends for years, and this made for an absolutely unmissable Yamatalk event on the 22nd at the Shinjuku Picadilly. Our pal Gwyn Campbell was there, and provides a detailed account here.

There was a separate Yamatalk Night on the 25th which brought Izubuchi together with artist/designer/Yamato veteran Naoyuki Katoh at the same location, but regrettably no documentation has surfaced since then. If we’re lucky, we’ll see it as a bonus feature on a future video release.

January 25: Dengeki Hobby & Hobby Japan March issues

Both of the major hobby magazines had plenty to cover this month, starting with Chapter 4 and finishing with big photo features on the 1/1000 Gamilas Warship set that was fast approaching. Dengeki offered 11 pages of coverage with a look at the upcoming Cosmo Zero models. Hobby Japan topped this with 21 pages that included custom-built Gamilas ships, an interview with Gamilas mecha designer Yasushi Ishizu, and the first prototype shots of Megahouse’s 1/8 Akira Yamamoto figure.

See all the pages from Dengeki here.

See all the pages from Hobby Japan here.

Read the interview with Yasushi Ishizu here.

January 31: 1/1000 Garmillas Warships Set 1

There’s no getting around it now; this box officially informs us that despite decades of habit, we are now meant to say “Garmillas” instead of “Gamilas.” Of course, you can call them whatever you prefer, but you’ve got to swallow that word if you’re going to add this to your model collection. (Which you probably should.)

Included in this set are the Destria-class Astro Heavy Cruiser and Kelkapia-class Astro High-speed Cruiser. Both are based closely on their 1974 ancestors, and it’s the first time either has been offered as injection-molded kits at this size (about 1/2 and 2/3 the length of Yamato, respectively).

The previous 2199 models came with bonus mini-kits, and this set has one as well, which is also a first for plastic modeling: a Pluto reflector satellite. See a complete photo collection of what’s inside the box here.

Continue to Report 16

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