Yamato 2199 Report 23, Part 2

Back up to part 1 of this report

August 14: Fight for Liberty CD single by Uverworld

Gr8! Records, SRCL 8330 (slipcase shown above)

Fight for Liberty is the second opening theme for the 2199 TV broadcast, having replaced the original (a first in Yamato history) on Episode 16. The disc contains four tracks; the full and “TV size” versions of Fight for Liberty, and two unrelated songs.

Japan’s Excite website (similar in scope to Yahoo) published an interview with two band members on the day of release, vocalist Takuya Infinity (of course…) and drummer Shintaro. Mr. Infinity said that the lyrics for Fight for Liberty did not come easily, and he was striving for a worldview that would not disappoint Yamato fans. (Naturally, this will be tough for foreign fans to evaluate until those lyrics get translated.) His first thought was to try something more traditional, but since Uverworld was chosen for this job by the anime staff, he decided to stay “in character.”

The theme is essentially a fight song, but he pointed out that it wasn’t meant to encourage violence, instead taking the broader view of a fight against everyday challenges and internal conflicts. Shintaro took that moment to comment on the importance of harmony with his neighbors, which would be of particular concern for a drummer.

Takuya also said that, despite their difficulty, the numerous structural changes in the song were chosen to freshen up the standard 8-beat approach, and all the band members contributed to the complex composition. Despite the cacophony that resulted, the feeling was that no one in the band had taken a leading role and they felt that the balance of effort helped them to mature as a group.

Alternate sleeve art for the non-Yamato fans.

At one point, he put on a DVD of the anime and muted the sound so he could play Fight for Liberty over it, and he was happy with how they lined up. This opinion was not widespread, however. By the time this disc rolled out, it had already earned the dubious title of most controversial Yamato song in history.

When it first appeared with Episode 16 on July 21, longtime fans found it a tough pill to swallow. If the comments on Amazon.co.jp were a reliable barometer, it was reviled for being completely inappropriate. Oddly, the original opening came back for Episode 19, but was replaced again on Episode 20. Reactions were almost certainly mixed in the Yamato community, but fans of Uverworld ate it right up.

See the full online interview here.

August 17: Yamato 2199 Science Lecture

This lecture had been given once before on June 29 by Yamato 2199‘s astronomical advisor, professor Toshihiro Handa of Kagoshima University. This time it moved to a larger venue, the stereoscopic Synra Dome planetarium at the Tokyo Science Museum. (The name derives from “Shinra Banshou,” meaning “everything in the universe.”)

The presentation lasted 90 minutes, divided into sections interspersed with anime footage to demonstrate how real astrophysics informed the storytelling. These sections covered the Large Magellanic Cloud, the solar system in 2199, the outer solar system, beyond the solar system (including how exoplanets are detected), the star Gliese 581, and the concepts behind Planet Balan.

What made this presentation special was the fact that it was recorded for online viewing. As of mid-August, it could still be seen in full on Ustream here.

August 17: Chapter 6 rerelease

With just a week left until the finale, Chapter 6 came back for a week from August 17 to 23 in four theaters. Shown here are the original flyer from April 2013 and a theater poster from June.

August 18: TV Episode 20

The 2-hour Nico Nico simulcast opened with a seldom-seen trio behind the desk; Yuria Misaki (played by Sayako Toujo) was joined by Makoto Harada (Momoko Miyauchi) and Kaoru Niimi (Ryo Nanase). They goofed around for the first half hour, showing off their individual drawing skills with these self-portraits…

…but the mood changed dramatically when they got to the end of Episode 20 and were genuinely choked up by its ending. It took these three normally very chatty and lighthearted young ladies several minutes to gather themselves and get back into the regular features. One such feature is to write down the name of their favorite character for that episode, and the choice of “Domel” was unanimous.

At the end-of-show salute, it was quite obvious who’d had the most practice. A little coaching from Toujo got the others in line.

August 19 & 20: Bandai Hobby announcements

Bandai got some exciting news into the heads of modeling fans as the last few days before the final premiere. First, the “Fleet Display Campaign.” Custom bases had been designed for sets of 2199 model kits, and modelers were given a month to send in bar codes from their boxes to qualify.

Only available through the Premium Bandai website, the white version (2 pieces) could accommodate six UNCF ships, and the black version (5 pieces) was designed to display the far more numerous Garmillas ships. There was no indication that these would be available for commercial sale after the campaign ended, but this is always possible.

See Bandai’s online promotion here.

The other model news was far more interesting, since it involved new kits. Starting with the biggest, a new 1/500 Yamato was announced for December 25. A previous 1/500 was released in 2010 (only later revealed to be the 2199 version), but it measured to 53cm long, whereas this one will stretch to 66cm, or over 26 inches. That puts the 2010 kit in a strange hybrid category, since it was based on the original 265m length of the ship rather than the revised 333 meters. At any rate, that will make this the second largest Yamato kit ever made, after the 1/350 model.

In the spirit of true authenticity, it will be detailed-up to match the intricate mecha design of Junichiro Tamamori. It is reported to be a snap-together kit, seamless when finished, with three interior hangars and two of each support craft (Zero, Falcon, Seagull, and Type-100). It was also stated that the kit would be displayed at the 53rd All-Japan Model Hobby Show in October.

Second, the core ship of the recently-revealed Deusla II dreadnought was announced for November 30. It is likely to be a substantial length at 1/1000 scale, meaning the dreadnought itself would be considerably larger – presumably the largest 2199 ship to date.

Third, Bandai’s famous 30-kit Mecha Collection, which has been in production almost constantly since the late 70s, will be released in a box set November 30 and will include three never-before-seen additions: a Black Tiger, a Domelus II (saucer ship), and a Cosmo Cleaner D, all based on vintage designs! Hopefully they will also be sold separately.

August 22: Space Battleship Yamato Ship’s Log Vol. 4

This 36-page issue made it to subscriber’s mailboxes just in time to remind them that Chapter 7 was out, and coverage dominated the magazine with colors stills and designs, a short interview with Nana Mizuki, a longer one with Bandai developer Hirofumi Kishiyama, a profile of the Domel fleet, a painting by mecha designer Junichiro Tamamori (above right), and articles on the Yamato-wrapped train, vintage products, and the life of Yoshinobu Nishizaki.

August 23: Premium Night

The last of the 2199 Premium Nights brought members of the Yamato Crew Premium fan club out to three theaters for one more chance to get the jump on everyone else with a preview of Chapter 7. The special Premium-Night-only product this time was the travel pouch shown above right.

The Shinjuku Piccadilly in Tokyo had already put up a special display a week earlier, a gallery of posters and stills leading up a stairway to the theater lobby. Others joined the festivities with displays of their own; theaters in Kameari and Saitama inherited the character and mecha display boards from the Portopia Hotel’s Summer Festival, while the Namba Park Cinema in Osaka obtained one-of-a-kind model kit prototypes from Bandai.

See blogs with photos of the Osaka display here and here.

August 23: 1/1000 Yamato Model, Clear Version

Another item that made its first appearance on Premium Night was yet another limited-edition reissue of the 1/1000 Yamato model from Bandai. The “Space Panorama” version was released with Chapter 3 in October 2012, named for its upgraded stand (see it in Report 12 here). This one was cast in translucent plastic, and instead of the interior hangar barrel it came with a silver-coated Mecha Collection mini-kit from 1978.

August 23: Gelvades Class Astro Battleship Carrier Darold model kit

Originally scheduled for release August 31, this Bandai kit was moved up a week to capitalize on the arrival of Chapter 7. At 1/1000 scale it stretches to an imposing 15.3 inches when completed (more than two inches longer than Yamato), includes optional deck plates, and comes with two bonus kits: a 1/1000 Gallunt drill missile ship, and a Mecha Collection size version of the Domelus III‘s saucer bridge.

See a gallery of finished kits here. See photos of the packaging here.

August 23: Operation M Model Kit set

Another Bandai product to appear ahead of schedule was this massive box set of Cosmo Navy ships recreating the Pluto fleet from Episode 1. Comprising 22 ships, it was originally announced for November release, but it shipped early to those who pre-ordered.

August 23: YRA Radio Yamato CD Vol. 3

Tablier Communications, Inc. TBCD-0125

One more surprise for Premium Night was the early appearance of the third YRA CD, which would not go into general release until September 11. The disc collects highlights from the internet radio series that correspond to anime episodes 18-26, hosted by Yuria Misaki (voiced by Aya Uchida) and co-host Analyzer. This includes the portion of the story in which she “mind melds” with Yurisha Iscandar and…isn’t quite herself. A bonus segment features Captain Okita.

August 24: Chapter 7 Premiere

Yamato 2199 Chapter 7, And the Ship Sailed On opened at last, bringing the series to a close with episodes 23-26 and pulling in the most enthusiastic crowds of its entire run. The number of theaters was up to 16, having started out with 10 for Chapter 1. As always, the Shinjuku Piccadilly theater in Tokyo was the place to be for hardcore fans.

As forewarned, the movie arrived with a caveat: the exclusive blu-ray was not ready for sale. Instead, customers received handouts with instructions on how to order their copies online (which included individual number codes) and given until September 9 to register. The reason for this was that some footage for Episode 25 had not been completed on time (6-8 minutes’ worth). Since Episode 25 was due to air on September 22, that became a de facto deadline. The discs were promised to start shipping October 10.

But none of that, nor the long lines for entry or buying merchandise, could possibly tarnish the excitement of seeing the finale on its first day. The Piccadilly had gone the extra mile by decorating the stairway up to the lobby with backlit montage posters from each of the previous movies, and fans had plenty of time to study them while inching upward toward their goal. For many, that goal was the theater gift shop where an unprecedented variety of merchandise went on sale for the first time. Many of these items continued earlier trends (clear files, 3D posters, postcards, etc.) but others were entirely new, such as a complete captain’s uniform.

See a gallery of the entire Chapter 7 merchandise lineup here.

The program book this time ran to 40 pages with all the usual features, including a heartfelt introduction by the original Yamato superfan, Ryusuke Hikawa:

Iscandar Arrival!!

It is the year 2199. Space Battleship Yamato took a grand journey of 168,000 light years to revive Earth from the edge of extinction, and has finally reached its objective, the planet Iscandar. However, Leader Dessler challenges Yamato to one last battle on its way home. With Earth close at hand, what is Yamato’s fate!?

At the end of a journey, there are mixed feelings. If the goal is particularly serious, one’s state of mind is deep and complex. For those who have seen all seven chapters of Yamato 2199, now is the time to share their feelings while both cheering and holding tight to their emotions at the same time.

When Space Battleship Yamato‘s journey began in 1974, it was entrusted with the rescue of the human race, and a “voyage for the future” was undertaken. Over the process of that journey, “making the impossible possible by overcoming anxiety” was depicted. Since the story moved from being “a space voyage beyond a distant galaxy” and “the hardships Yamato and her crew encounter one by one” to a story about “the hardships one faces when taking action in the pursuit of possibilities,” before we knew it, we the audience were also questioning “intentions” and “actions.” In recent years, I’ve often tried to describe this “work that moves one to take action,” because I’ve felt this considerably over the passage of time.

As this “voyage of Yamato” concludes, its nature is not bring everything to an end; it becomes the starting point toward a more distant goal. In the case of 2199, emotions are especially deep. Its soul resonates with the message of the creators almost 40 years ago, since it is “the next wave” of the journey that inspired it.

That wave motion propagates from person to person, and my fondest wish is for this chain to become a catalyst for the future, infusing it with energy. This is because many of the people who shared that journey in the real world have passed away one by one over the past several years, and I have come to know the weight of lost lives. From that point of view, my feeling of grief has increased.

Immediately after the broadcast of the last TV episode in 1975, I remember that many people, both the senders and the receivers, didn’t say “that’s over, let’s move on,” Each of them stood on a starting line to take new action. The creators took revenge by starting work on a re-edited theatrical version while fans united to create doujinshis; three or five at first, and then hundreds. While chasing after new information, the thoughts of each person changed to tirelessly reviving the unfinished dream and allowing it to ripen.

If you’re wondering what this writer himself did back in 1975 immediately after the final episode was broadcast, I carried on writing a shoddy article of the kind you’d expect from a high school student, brazenly titled “How the Last Episode of Yamato Should Have Gone.” It wasn’t all good or all bad. Some parts I found surprisingly satisfying, and it touched off a dream that I continue to talk about elsewhere. I remember keenly that everyone seemed to be producing works with that wave running through them immediately after it ended.

It must have been the same for many members of the 2199 staff. For much of this new arrangement, I get a strong sense of the same nuances from the old show, while the new elements aren’t simply details added to the setting, but build up one after another to raise the potential of the show as a whole, leading to new surprises and impressions. Since it all propagates as a wave, it isn’t necessary for everything to agree perfectly. Rather, it’s better that it not all agree. When I saw Chapter 7, it was that aspect in particular that made me happy.

As Space Battleship Yamato 2199 comes to an end, and we turn toward a yet-unseen future and discuss how “That’s not how it is and neither is that,” we’re in for a fun time as varying opinions will clash. The fact that many people who are now participating in this conversation weren’t even born 39 years ago is priceless.

The energy of an individual human life has a limit, but the propagation of wave motion is eternal. Space Battleship Yamato 2199 is a work that reminds us of this, and I would like to offer deep gratitude to everyone connected to it.

End of introduction (special thanks to Neil Nadelman for translation support)

See the pages of the program book with translated text features here.

When the announcement rang out that the theater was ready for seating, excitement rose and the crowds started to move. As before, the Piccadilly was the only place to see the opening day talkshow. Demand for tickets was high enough to warrant both an afternoon and evening session, and competition to get them online was ferocious. Friend-of-the-website Gwyn Campbell is certain that he obtained the very last seat available for the afternoon.

After the screening, series director Yutaka Izubuchi walked out on stage to a standing ovation along with voice actors Daisuke Ono (Kodai), Kenichi Suzumura (Shima), and for the first time in public, all five of the Yamato girls from the Nico Nico webcast. After exchanging salutes with the audience, the guests began to speak with heavy emotion, choking up more than once.

MC: I’d like to know how you feel now that the series has concluded.

Ono: It was a very long, long trip. I’m relieved to reach the finale. I have the strong sense of making this journey with everybody else. I wondered how I would play it at first and the pressure was almost crushing, but I’ve come to feel nostalgic for the journey. I remember various things and I’m filled with deep emotion.

Suzumura: Because it was recorded over a long time span, it’s a feeling of “I’ve arrived at last.” When you see Chapter 7, it has the quality of modern anime with the feeling of the old atmosphere. I think this can be considered a legendary anime work of the modern age. We thank everyone for coming to see it.

Izubuchi: Although I’ve been working with these two for around two years since their audition, in fact we formed the production staff much earlier, so with all the various waves and storms and the TV broadcast, the journey has been going for nearly five years. Emotional words are easy to throw around, but please let me dare to say it, I am overwhelmed with emotion.

MC: Were you happy to be engaged in this work?

Izubuchi: I’m glad that the situation was to do the original Yamato. At first, I was surprised to hear about it. A lot of people from my generation were inspired by this work to enter the industry, and many others followed their dreams into surprising occupations, such as astronomy. I originally started out as a designer, and when I look at the rebuilt Yamato, I think it’s perfect. (Applause)

MC: How do you look back at the character you played?

Ono: When got the word that I would play Kodai, the pressure I felt from my industry seniors was huge. A lot of people told me, “Go for it, do your best!” The sound supervisor asked, “are you going to be all right?” There was a lot of pressure after I was chosen.

At first I felt I had a responsibility to play the Kodai that everyone remembered, but as time went on I just ended up playing the character the way I naturally act. But that in itself is the sort of thing that Kodai would do.

Prior to recording of the final chapter, I had a lot on my mind and I was restless. But I made a breakthrough on the spot. In the beginning there were times I felt that [my performance] was held back by the way I was supposed to act, but I was really glad that by the time we got to the final chapter I was able to act in a way that wasn’t so calculated.

To illustrate how he made the final breakthrough with his character, Ono reproduced his anguished cry of “Yukiiiii” from Chapter 6, which had the audience cheering. After that, Ono said, it was like Kodai had possessed him.

Suzumura: Shima doesn’t really have luck with women. (Laughs) Though this chapter included Yamato‘s first swimsuit scene, I only looked at Kodai. (Laughs) When you see the last chapter, Shima now seems to have the face of an adult. I think he’s become a different character than his image in the beginning.

And while Shima might not look it, he is actually a pretty thoughtful kind of guy. Even when he notices what Kodai is going through, he knows better than to say anything. I think he was a cool character in that way, although, much to my dilemma, I didn’t have all that many lines. I thought I was expected to stay at the helm in the last scene even though everyone else was saluting. (Laughs)

MC: Was there any scene where you were worried about the others?

Ono: There were many, but I’d have to say the one where Dessler boards Yamato.

Suzumura: At the time of recording, I was worried about what would happen with Dessler. Also, I wanted to intervene more for Yuki. I wanted to intervene and die an honorable death. (Laughs)

Ono: The ending came on strong!

Suzumura: I expressed a bright feeling of love for Yuki.

Izubuchi (surprised): Until I just heard you say that, actually I didn’t realize you had invested such a strong feeling of love into the scene. (laughter)

MC: I’d like to ask each of you for a final message.

Ono: Thank you, that is all. I borrowed those words from Okita, but I have various thoughts that I’m unable to express. When I see the people who were involved in the staff, I want to thank all of them.

Suzumura: At the beginning, when this started as a remake of Yamato, it began without knowing what kind of journey it would become. While uncertain of how the show would be received, I embarked upon this voyage and managed to turn the support I received from everyone into the energy I needed to reach where we are here today.

The love of the production staff and the passion of the voice actors are important, too, It was a good journey made by the love of a lot of people. Since there won’t be any romance for Shima if it doesn’t go on to the next work, I want it to continue. I’ll see you for the next film! (Laughs)

At this, Izubuchi gave a worried look and joked with the audience that although Shima may be destined for Teresa, Suzumura didn’t have permission to announce a sequel. In fact, Izubuchi himself didn’t know what would come next.

Izubuchi: By the time we finished making the show I was pretty distracted [busy], but when I watched the trailers and saw the audience reaction, I was completely overjoyed.

I wrote all of the episode previews myself. Director Ryosuke Takahashi [for whom Izubuchi once worked] once said, “an anime director should be able to make a good trailer,” and so I decided to do them all myself.

In Chapter 7, there previews are only in the [non-theatrical] version, but certainly until now I’ve been using the phrase, “there are so many days until the extinction of humanity” when writing the trailers. But the trailer at the end of episode 25 was the only one where I used my own words. Perhaps they’re my words to you all, my feelings, and so I’ll sum it all up with this: “The journey has no end.”

August 24: Pasela Tie-in

Pasela Resort is a chain of entertainment karaoke clubs/restaurants known for their individuality and special media tie-ins, such as the Thunderbirds Cafe, the Kamen Rider Diner, the Capcom Bar, and various anime-themed karaoke rooms.

From August 24 to September 23, several of the Pasela locations in Tokyo offered a Yamato 2199 “Collaboration Menu,” which included the Magellanic Parfait, a Garmillas “drill missile” honey toast [cake], Asteroid Bowl, Super-Hot Planet Bomb Curry, and Cold Neptune Pasta. Ordering any of these would earn visitors a free 2199 coaster (from a set of 10).

Continue to part 3 of this report

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