Space Battleship Yamato 2199, Report 20

Though two of the most anticipated new products were delayed (the second soundtrack CD and the design book from Mag Garden), May was still a busy month for 2199 fans with plenty of activity anchored by the video release of Chapter 5. But before diving in, let’s step backward to cover a remaining item from April…

April 10: New Type magazine, May issue

New Type has been comparatively light on Yamato 2199 coverage over the last year, but they invariably make up for it with custom art and attractive design. This issue was a hard one to get, since it also contained the long-awaited return of Mamoru Nagano’s acclaimed Five Star Stories manga, so 2199 fans had to work a bit harder to obtain this brief interview with voice actors Daisuke Ono (Kodai) and Kenichi Suzumura (Shima).

Spirit, courage, and hope to you

Interviewer: So, Yamato‘s voyage has reached its halfway point, but what changes have we seen in Kodai and Shima?

Ono: At first, I thought Kodai was an inflexible man. But in Episode 13, he disregards an order and makes a sortie. When I saw that side of him, I felt that in fact he could be flexible. This is him showing aspects of his brother, as well as acting on Captain Okita’s advice, so this could emerge in his personality.

Suzumura: When Captain Okita fell, there was the impression that the crew’s vector of thinking has begun to clarify. Kodai is a captain type, and flexibility is a necessary quality for a leader. On the other hand, it’s also necessary to have people like Shima, who see everything in terms of precise benchmarks to be hit. Things move as a result of Shima enforcing his opinion and Kodai making a judgment based on it. It gives you a feel for the reality of Yamato as a microcosm.

Interviewer: In the exchange about Melda of Garmillas, opinions were clearly divided.

Ono: In fact, Kodai is more flexible and is the type to say, “it will be done somehow.” Although it is a stance in which the Garmillas can be understood, Shima’s circumstances are more complicated…

Suzumura: I thought Shima was bright and cheerful, but he turned serious and stubborn. Kodai was more solid at first, and Shima had a more lighthearted image, but it turns out differently as things advance.

Ono: It gives the impression that you can’t categorize human personalities simply as “hot blooded” or “cool”.

Suzumura: Two people fighting like children may seem like a story of juveniles. This is a story about young people responsible for the fate of Earth.

Ono: Again, in terms of complementing the original, its about depicting the arrangement of human relationships among the crew. For example, the female characters increased to share the role of Yuki Mori, and they are also attractive.

Suzumura: But everyone gravitates toward Kodai.

Ono: Shima is not popular.

Suzumura: Yamazaki and chief engineer Tokugawa are also coming…

Ono: (Laughs)

Interviewer: The premiere of Chapter 5 is just around the corner.

Suzumura: There’s a lot of suspense as Chapter 5 develops. As Yamato‘s crew aims for a great goal, there’s an image that unites their hearts, but in fact different people have various thoughts and you could say problems erupt all at once.

Ono: While Garmillas strengthens the offensive, Yamato gets into a dangerous situation from the inside.

Suzumura: When everyone was together for the recording we all said, “AH!” (Laughs)

Interviewer: In April, the TV broadcast will finally start.

Ono: As one of the new Yamato fans, there is a feeling of wanting to pass 2199 on to the next generation. The TV broadcast begins with perfect timing as we Yamato fans of the next generation are increasing, so let’s start a new movement by all means!

Suzumura: If you watch Episode 1, your heart will absolutely beat faster. Doesn’t an underlying theme of human feelings flow through a story about facing a difficult challenge? Yamato shows us the courage to fight. I find it uplifting because it’s just such a world. I think that because this feeling transcends generations, it is inspiring and I’d like you to feel hope and courage.

Special thanks to Neil Nadelman for translation support.

May 1: Project Yamato 2199 CD Single

Lantis, LACM-14070

May kicked off in style with the release of the newly-recorded opening for the TV broadcast by the 30-plus member chorus named “Project Yamato 2199.” The disc contains four versions; full chorus, male only, female only, and instrumental. A long list of music stores in Japan participated in a giveaway program in which postcards were handed out with each CD purchase until supplies ran out. Proceeds were donated to a charity for 3/11 earthquake relief.

May 1: Hyper Hobby issue #177

The first magazine coverage of the month was the usual 2-page spread in Hyper Hobby. Primarily a toy and figure magazine, it focused mainly on the forthcoming Akira Yamamoto figure from Megahouse with other space given to TV progress, model kits, the opening talk from Chapter 5, and other odds and ends.

May 2: Manga & Anime Museum Opening, Niigata

As described in Report 19, this museum is the first of its kind (hopefully not the last), and Yamato 2199 was a major component in its grand opening. Visit the museum’s website here, and see photos of the opening events here. Translation of the text follows:

Live painting exhibition by Naoyuki Katoh

After the opening ceremony, the opening event for the Space Battleship Yamato 2199 exhibition was held, a live-painting of a huge Yamato mural by Naoyuki Katoh, a master of SF illustration. “Now I paint!” With that declaration, Mr. Katoh began. The gallery anxiously watched the first line. That stroke was probably the bow of the ship. Mr. Katoh carried his brush smoothly across the canvas of about 5 meters long. His look was serious. He occasionally stepped back to check the whole picture and kept drawing while keeping the lines balanced. Before long, Space Battleship Yamato gradually appeared on the pure white canvas. Seeing it with one’s own eyes was overwhelming.

Also, in the midst of the live painting, there was also a scene of Mr. Katoh interacting with all the fans. In response to a question about his paint container, he said, “This is reinforced glass. It’s easy to wash paint out of it, and I won’t break even if I drop it on the floor.” That was one example of the friendly conversations he had with fans.

During a break on Tuesday, May 4, he participated in a “Yuki Mori” illustration experience in a neighboring booth. In no time, he drew Yamato and a Cosmo Zero into the background, which was admired by everyone in the gallery. Seeing Mr. Katoh draw up close and interacting with him isn’t usually possible, and it seemed the fans couldn’t hide their excitement.

At 6pm on Saturday, the fourth day, the huge Yamato was completed at last! It had taken about 21 hours over three days. There were many congratulations immediately afterward, and Mr. Katoh posed for a ceremonial photograph before gladly signing autographs and interacting openheartedly with fans until the end.

The finished work is displayed in the facility during the session of the Yamato 2199 exhibition. The Yamato mural with an overwhelming length of 5 meters packed with detail is a must-see.

Radio Yamato‘s on-location report

In the Yamato 2199 exhibition room on the evening of Saturday, May 2, voice actor Aya Uchida who plays Yuria Misaki did a live report for YRA Radio Yamato. At first, she was surprised by the huge 5-meter model of Yamato. As she circled around it, she said, “It’s huge! Since the model is displayed so the whole thing can be seen, I can look at it from various angles. The view from behind is great and I can also get a close look at the Wave-Motion Gun.”

In the character display, she was glad to find the character she herself plays. She pointed to the character Shinya Itou next to her own and said, “I like Mr. Itou’s laughing face.”

Furthermore, she rushed over for an interview with Naoyuki Katoh during the live painting!

Uchida: At what point do you draw it?

Katoh: Because it’s so big to draw, a camera is set up in front, and I draw it while checking a sketch in the camera monitor.

Uchida: Isn’t it nerve-wracking to do a live-painting in a gallery every time?

Katoh: I try to let you see even my mistakes as much as possible. In fact, I changed the direction of Yamato on the fly this time. I don’t do a rough, because it would change while I’m painting it.

Uchida: How long does it take to paint this?

Katoh: Usually it takes six hours a day over two days. But I have more time on this one.

Uchida: Please tell me the highlight of this work.

Katoh: According to talk from the gallery, it seems to be more interesting to watch it from far away than close up. But I don’t know why. (Laughs)

After taking a ceremonial photograph, the report finished. The large number of fans who had gathered there enjoyed Ms. Uchida’s report with a smile from start to finish. The report will be broadcast on YRA Monday May 27. Whether you were there or not, please check it out!

May 4 & 5: Machi Asobi screenings

Regular readers of these reports encountered the term “Machi Asobi” back in Report 11. It means “City Play,” and refers to a twice-yearly festival in Tokushima city. The last one happened in October, and this one (the tenth) took place during Golden Week, when the entire nation of Japan goes on vacation. Dedicated to anime and manga, this became the first place where fans could see every existing 2199 film back to back; chapters 1-3 on the 4th, and 4 & 5 on the 5th. If history is precedent, revivals like this could go on for years to come.

May 5: Treasure Festa hobby show, Ariake

This traveling hobby show is held several times a year in different cities, and serves as a showcase for small companies who produce limited-edition garage kits of mecha and figures. Some unique Yamato 2199 products could be found here, starting with this eye-catching 1/6 Yuki Mori from Flat Factory.

Right next to her was Flat Factory’s resin model of the Garmillas Zedora II fightercraft, which has yet to find itself on Bandai’s release schedule.

A company named Hagane opened the Garmillas Girls lineup with the first-ever Melda Dietz figure and two versions of Hilde Shulz, all at 1/6 scale. Revisit Report 16 for Hagane figures released in the February Wonder Festival.

And finally, proving that the past is not forgotten, MRD offered this 1/6 resin figure of another Yamato Girl, Maho Orihara from Yamato Resurrection.

Visit Treasure Festa’s home page here. See video coverage of the show here.

May 5: TV episode 5

The Nico Nico simulcast for the 5th TV broadcast established some new traditions in the program. In addition to news, fan interaction, and running commentary on the episode, a second camera was added to the stage (actually, a laptop feed from the desk) and dual salutes were added at the end; one for Earth and one for Garmillas. Host Akira Yamamoto (played by Shiki Aoki) gained a semi-regular partner who cosplays as a different Yamato girl every time she appears.

May 10: Animedia, June issue

Animedia devoted a page to 2199 for its second consecutive issue after the TV broadcast began. Their coverage tends to be on the gimmicky side, and this time the factors of 2199 were interpreted via pie charts with a food motif.

The popular, stolid man
replenishes his energy

Yamato arrives at Pluto in a big pinch! Susumu Kodai plays an active part, and we want him to be properly seasoned as a man. Therefore, we ask producer Mikio Gunji what is the quality of a man in the world of Yamato?

“It is self-control. I think the quality of manliness is in choosing between conflicted feelings and the responsibility of duty. Although Kodai is in the leading character class, the impression of his character is a bit thin, not very prominent…”

Uh, with Yuki Mori and Akira Yamamoto both showing an interest in him, isn’t there a hint of him being popular with the ladies flavoring the mix?

“He is cool, but there’s an insensitive side to him that doesn’t notice women’s feelings. That gap is also the charm of Kodai. When he recognizes a mutual feeling, what kind action will he take? His growth as a man will be seen there.”

While Kodai is still training in the treatment of girls, will we get a hint of spice in his activity as a hero in the battle of Pluto?

“No, a superhero does not appear in this work. These are life-size characters who make efforts to overcome their difficulties, not play superhuman roles. The movements of each character’s feelings is carefully depicted, and as the story builds we want the growth and change of feelings to be convincing. So if you watch to the end, Kodai’s quality as a man will come into view.”

We can’t wait to sample Kodai with his energy charge at 120% and his manliness at full-throttle!

Special thanks to Neil Nadelman for translation support.

May 10: Akimage magazine

Akihabara is widely considered the focal point of anime/manga commerce in Tokyo, so Akihabara-centric events and publications are commonplace. Case in point: the first issue of Akimage, a free 28-page promotional pamphlet. It only devoted one page to 2199, but the cover design was more noteable for mimicking the first issue of Animage from 1978. The two titles are meant to rhyme, in case you’re trying to figure out the pronunciation.

May 10: New Type Ace #21

This issue of New Type Ace was a real feast for Yamato fans, starting with the first-ever 2199 cover since the manga serialization began in issue 7. Inside could be found another pinup poster, this time featuring Melda Dietz by an artist named “Choco” (see his website here), five pages of color coverage, 25 pages of manga by Michio Murakawa (all set on Pluto), and the tenth installment of Ryusuke Hikawa’s Yamato Lessons from the Past essay series.

The essay will be presented in a future update. See all the internal pages from issue 22 here.

May 11: Yomiuri online article

We’ve heard from many different participants in the 2199 production team since the series began, but not everyone has had their moment in the spotlight yet. This was proven when Yomirui Online (the digital version of the Yomiuri Shimbun) ran a short article on Yamato 2199‘s science advisor, Professor Toshihiro Handa, a specialist in radio astronomy at Kagoshima University. He fits right in with the animation team, having been inspired by Yamato to seek out his path in life.

Read a translation of the Yomiuri article on August Ragone’s blog here.

May 12: TV episode 6

Akira Yamamoto was joined by Kaoru Niimi for the Nico Nico simulcast this time, which included the second mention of the still-to-come Star Blazers version of the series. Intriguingly, the sign shown above right indicated that the Nico program had been “scolded” by an outside party, perhaps the foreign distribution office of Production IG, for mentioning the project without prior clearance. Why they would bring it up again to point that out is an unsolved mystery.

May 16-19: Shizuoka Hobby Show

Traditionally, this has been Japan’s first big summer event for modeling buffs and is THE place for hobby companies to promote their current and upcoming products for the year. Bandai was there in force with a huge Yamato display that included some of the elaborate custom-built models seen in Dengeki Hobby magazine.

Hirofumi Kishiyama, Bandai’s chief of 2199 development, talked up the event in his 4-part online interview and it seemed to pay off handsomely, based on the coverage at Bandai Hobby Net here. (Click on the A and B text in the white boxes to watch TV commercials.)

Meanwhile, fans posted plenty of their own coverage: Photoblog A | Photoblog B | Photoblog C

Youtube videos of the Yamato booth Source A | Source B

Of special interest were display models of forthcoming Bandai kits, including Garmillas carriers and a giant “Operation M” box set containing the entire Earth fleet as seen in Episode 1 (to be released later in the year).

See more photos here.

Visit the hobby show’s home page here.

May 17: Premium Bandai campaign 2

Bandai’s online shop has been running prize campaigns for Japanese users who sign up to receive news bulletins by email. Their second 2199 campaign offered voice actor autograph cards along with Yuki Mori figures and Hilde Shulz wall scrolls. (Only five winners for each.)

May 17: Premium Shop reopens

Kinokuniya bookstore in Shinjuku Tokyo, located only a few steps from the Shinjuku Picadilly theater, previously devoted some square footage to a special Yamato “Premium Shop” for a few weeks during the January run of Chapter 4. It reopened in mid-May to accompany Chapter 5 on home video and Chapter 6 in mid-June.

Among the special products available there was this exclusive set of episode-title postcards, covering 13-18. They were given out free with every purchase of 1000 yen or more. The shop was scheduled to close June 30, and presumably reopen again for Chapter 7 in August.

May 18: Voice actor talk event

In some ways, the TV broadcast of 2199 reset the clock in terms of publicity. Fans who see the theatrical releases and seek out the home videos have tended to be a self-selected group, whereas a potentially much larger audience of TV viewers are thought to be tapping in for the first time. That leads to events like this one, in which the two lead voice actors appeared live on stage to encourage renewed interest.

Journey to Iscandar Weigh Anchor Event (report published at Yamato Crew on May 24)

A special Yamato 2199 talk show was performed on Saturday, May 18 in the Space FS Hall in Shiodome, Tokyo. First, a video digest of episodes 1-6 was shown on the big screen in the hall to review the TV broadcast so far. After the screening, Daisuke Ono and Kenichi Suzumura appeared on stage and rendered a Yamato salute, then the talk show finally started. They began by introducing the major characters, both expressing their fondness for Sanada and Captain Okita. In addition, Suzumura described Kodai as “a man with an atmosphere that could become a captain in the near future.” Ono looked embarrassed by this.

In a segment called “Three major new battle scenes,” the Wave-Motion Gun was introduced. Both pointed out that this weapon was not meant to destroy the enemy; Captain Okita’s orders are to aim toward Iscandar and only use the weapon for self-protection. Everyone seemed convinced of the depth of Yamato‘s story. Among other topics, was there a chance to hear more about the “bridge” between Kodai and Yuki? The battle at Enceladus was introduced, and Mr. Suzumura expressed his jealously over scenes showing Kodai’s popularity with the women.

After that, there was talk about expectations for future episodes and the trailer for Episode 7 was shown. The event attracted male and female fans alike. It closed with messages from the two actors. Ono: “I’ll be glad if this work can bring together fans of the original works with the new generation of 2199 fans, myself included. Suzumura: “The staff really loves Yamato and are making it wholeheartedly with great care. I’ll be glad if as many people as possible can see it. Thank you for today.”

May 19: TV episode 7

Akira Yamamoto’s standard cohost returned for the Nico Nico simulcast with Episode 7, this time in the guise of nurse Makoto Harada. Among the news announcements for this round (which included lots of talk about the Shizuoka Hobby Show), a new version of Megahouse’s recently-released Yuki Mori figure was introduced in a repainted medical uniform. More information would soon follow.

May 22: Motion Avatars

Here’s something you didn’t know you needed: Yamato characters for your smart phone. Mobile service provider Mobage added these to their “Calico Town” domain, a virtual vending machine that offers various accessories to customize your digital Yamato pal as you see fit. View a sample of these characters here. Aren’t you glad it’s the future?

May 22: TV Broadcast end theme CD Single

The next item in the Yamato 2199 music catalog arrived when the TV broadcast’s first end theme Love Words was commercially released by Sony Music. Composed by legendary songstress Miyuki Nakajima and performed by pop star Mika Nakashima, this song accompanied the end title scroll from episodes 1-8.

This is the first 2199-related CD to be released in two formats. The standard disc (AICL 2536) shown above left contains the song with and without vocals, plus two unrelated tracks. The deluxe version (AICL 2534~5, shown higher up) contains the CD and a region 2 DVD with a music video of Love Words. It features only the performer with no Yamato footage.

Fans who ordered the disc from the Yamato Crew website received bonus postcards showing images from the end title scroll.

Visit Mika Nakashima’s home page here. The music video for Love Words is not available online, but you can see a fan perform a karaoke version of the song (really well!) here.

May 25: Pormelia Astro Assault Carrier model kit

While Americans observed Memorial Day weekend, Japanese fans indulged in a modeling day weekend when Bandai’s new Pormelia Carrier arrived in stores. The original version of this particular ship was previously released only once as a resin garage kit in Bandai’s B-Club line back in 2007. But stunning box art by the great Hidetaka Tenjin announced to the world that the days of neglect were over.

At 1/1000 scale, the carrier stretches to just over 15″ (longer than Yamato!) and comes with two versions of the Melanka strike fighter; a tiny pair at 1/1000 scale and a much larger bonus kit with a 6.6″ wingspan. As we’ve learned from earlier information, the goal with this one was to invoke the classic “mecha scale” mini-kits that put Bandai on the map in the late 70s.

See extensive photos of the kit and packaging here.

May 25: Hobby Japan and Dengeki Hobby, July issues

With Chapter 6 now just three weeks away, the major hobby magazines both rolled out preview coverage with first looks at new mecha along with all the usual up-to-the-moment product news. Hobby Japan published five pages and Dengeki doubled down with ten. See them all here.

May 25: Model Graphix magazine #344

Model Graphix devoted three pages of coverage to the Pormelia carrier with exclusive photos of the lighted display model that decorated Bandai’s booth at the Shizuoka Hobby Show.

May 25: Mega Hobby Expo, Akihabara

Anyone who went to Akihabara to pick up their Pormelia kit and the new hobby magazines could attend a related event, a one-day show called the Mega Hobby Expo. Yamato Girl Akira Yamamoto stepped out from behind her desk at Nico Nico to salute the cameras, accompanied by her pal Yuki Mori.

The purpose for this was to promote Megahouse’s Yamato Girls figures; Yuki Mori had finally appeared in April (after several months’ delay), and Yamamoto was on schedule for August with Yuria Misaki and Hilde Shulz on her heels for the fall. It was announced at this event that Megahouse would team up with figure manufacturer Alter in a joint venture named Alpha Omega to conclude the line with Makoto and Niimi (dates not yet given).

Special thanks to Antibiotictab for these photos! See more photos from this and many other live Yamato events here.

May 26: TV episode 8

Ms. Yamamoto had more to say about the Mega Expo on the Nico Nico simulcast for Episode 8 the next day. Joined again by Yamato Girl Yuria Misaki, they revealed other products that had been displayed at the event, two different repaints of the Yuki Mori figure in both Final Yamato colors and a medical uniform (the same one seen a week earlier). The relationship of these figures to the series is not yet known.

May 27: Chapter 5 on video

The Sorrow of Intergalactic Space finally arrived for the masses on May 27. As usual, the blu-ray contains English subtitles along with the internal booklet and slipcase with art by the great Naoyuki Katoh. Fans who ordered their copy from the Yamato Crew website received facsimile recording scripts for episodes 15-18. And with Chapter 6 right around the corner, everyone knew what was coming next.

May 29: Chapter 6 trailer

“I wonder why you never asked the reason she sent you the plans for the Wave-Motion Engine instead of sending you the Cosmo Reverse System directly?”

With those words, Yuria Misaki (channeling Yurisha Iscandar) sent chills down the spine of fans who have been asking that very question since 1974. Brimming over with infiltrators, Iscandarians, tri-deck carriers, drill missiles, and open rebellion, it definitely looks like the payoff segment of the series is upon us!

The short version of the trailer was released on May 29. See it here.

The long version was released on June 5. See it here. A fansubbed version can be seen here (click the CC button).

Bonus

Doujinshi (fanzines) spotted during the month of May. An all-doujinshi fan event was planned for June 16, which means the well is only getting deeper.

Continue to Report 21

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