This report rounds up all the activity that occurred during the month of December 2013, except for the announcements that took place on the 1st and 2nd. You can revisit them at the end of Report 26, but here’s the short version: Yamato 2199 is officially being imported to the US in 2014 under the name Star Blazers 2199. It will be sold via starblazers.com on 6 DVDs/Blu-rays with subtitles in both English and Spanish. The only name change is to the series title.
2199 activities have steadily decreased since the release of Chapter 7 in late August, but December was the first month since then to show an increase over the previous month, roughly double what we saw in November. Let’s dig in…
October 27: Comic City Spark 8
But first, a look back. Occasionally something slips through the nerve center unnoticed, but since the internet is forever (isn’t it?) we can still backtrack when necessary. Comic City is a doujinshi convention similar to Comiket, but more frequent and with different names for different locations. Spark 8 took place at Tokyo Big Site in Odaiba (through which Comiket stampedes twice a year).
Despite the bluster of these graphics, it was not a Yamato-only event. But it was a good rallying point for any fan circle that had Yamato ‘zines to sell. The organizer (named “Yamapuchi”) billed it as an “all genre” gathering, meaning every part of the Yamato saga, but only 2199 doujinshi came out of it. Let’s hope they try again.
This event accounts for the surge of doujinshi seen in the November report, and many more can be seen in the Comiket 85 entry at the end of this report.
November 28: Ship’s Log issue 5
Running 36 pages, this issue of the Premium Fun Club Magazine (that’s still how they spell it) provided a look at the “Yamato Crew Deform” designs for upcoming character goods by artist Annin-Tofu, stills and design sheets from Chapter 7, a lengthy interview with sound supervisor Tomohiro Yoshida, a massive breakdown of Episode 25’s evolution (with a shot list of 470 scenes), an article on Nomura’s vintage diecast toys, and other odds and ends.
Also included was the first published information about the 2014 movie. From the editorial page:
Space Battleship Yamato 2199 Completely New Feature Film Production Decision!!
Photo caption: The on-screen message at the end of the broadcast exactly reflected a Yamato fan’s “hope for tomorrow.”
Recently, the TV broadcast for Yamato 2199 finished. At the end of the last episode, an announcement sent shock waves across the country: Space Battleship Yamato 2199 Completely New Feature Film Decision, to be released in 2014.
All Yamato fans rejoiced at those words. Starting in 2008, new works have been made continuously for five years: Yamato Resurrection, the Resurrection Director’s Cut, and Yamato 2199, allowing fans to experience Yamato as “a work in progress.” Since the beginning of September, we’ve heard voices say “the happy time is over now.” The surprise announcement was a news flash that delighted fans who lamented this.
The series is complete, the staff is taking a rest before plunging into the writing of the plot for the feature film, and meetings continue every day.
The official title, running time, release date, and further information is unknown at this time, but based on the fact that Yamato 2199 is part of the title, we can suppose that it might be a story of Iscandar. But everything is veiled and the entire picture is a mystery. Could it be a side story in the middle of the journey? If so, where does it fit in chronological order? Or could it be a recap with completely new footage? Until there is an official follow-up, let’s allow our imagination to run free.
We’ll report on it later when a followup reaches the editorial department, and we may deliver the latest information in the next issue, so stay tuned.
December 8: Chapter 7 screenings and Yamatalk event
December 8 is the actual day of Yamato‘s return to Earth in the 2199 series (the date was September 5, 2200 in the original) and this was celebrated in 2013 with theatrical showings of Chapter 7 – the full version this time, as seen on the home video releases. Simultaneous screenings happened in Shinjuku, Nagoya, and Osaka, but only the Shinjuku Piccadilly theater featured a new Yamatalk event. This time, series director Yutaka Izubuchi welcomed artist/designer Masahiko Okura for a conversation about the making of Chapter 7. Okura did the storyboard for the much-troubled Episode 25, and his association with the saga goes back to initial development for Resurrection in 1993.
Attendees received a copy of the thank-you postcard from the September Yamatalk and a commemorative bookmark (above left). But an unexpected surprise came in the form of an original Yamato birthday cake for Izubuchi – who was born on December 8. Coincidence?
Friend-of-the-website Gwyn Campbell was there, and will deliver his account in a future update. Meanwhile, a little more info can be found in the Hyper Hobby entry later in this report.
December 8: Siena Wind Orchestra Concert
Akira Miyagawa took up the baton again to conduct the Siena Winds at Omiya Sonic City Hall in Saitama. This was the concert at which he debuted a new selection of Yamato 2199 music, chosen in an online poll that closed in October. A track listing has yet to emerge, but if past events are a guide, it’s only a matter of time before it appears on CD.
December 8: Team Le Mans Nico Nico webcast
They weren’t covered here in past 2199 reports, but Team Le Mans (home of the Yamato super formula race car) had its own regular webcast that ran throughout the racing season, parallel with the Yamato Girls’ own program on Nico Nico. (Which lead to more than a few guest appearances) Since the season ended in November, this was their final episode for 2013, and the occasion warranted bringing in some Yamato girls again.
The first was Sayako Toujo in her Yuria Misaki uniform. With her were regular hosts Noa Mizutani and Kaori Minami. It wasn’t the first such crossover – Noa appeared as Yuki Mori in the epic Nico Nico ‘cast for Episode 26 in October. The other guest was Yamato Girl Shiori Kawana, who delivered her regular pitch for Star Blazers 2199 in English for overseas viewers.
Though not as lively as a Nico Nico ‘cast, the show had similar content with banter about life, Yamato products, recent news, and personal anecdotes. (Toujo had a sore throat and had to keep her voice down, which prevented her from shaking up the program like she usually does.) Mizutani and Kawana are both professional models, so it was inevitable that they’d strike some poses.
Toujo did her best to keep up, but lost points for endless giggling. Signing off with a salute, the Team Le Mans webcast closed its doors for the year. It remains to be seen if they’ll team up with Yamato again for the 2014 season.
Meanwhile, several of these programs can be seen on Youtube here.
December 9: Star Blazers 2199 News Video 2
Fans on the English-speaking side of the internet saw Shiori Kawana in action again the next day when the second in an ongoing series of English-language news videos appeared on starblazers.com and Youtube.
Over the course of this 25-minute video (shot at Yamato Crew HQ in Japan) she laid out the basics for the American release of Star Blazers 2199: it will be released on DVD and Blu-ray with English and Spanish subtitles. All Japanese names will be kept intact, including Yamato. Prices will be $34.99 and $44.99 per volume. There will be six volumes, 4 episodes each on 1-5 and 6 episodes on the last one. They will be released bi-monthly beginning in February, available via mail order from starblazers.com or in person at Kinokunia Bookstores (it was later revealed that the discs can be ordered via Right Stuf). A dub version is “being considered” for the future.
Two more news videos were posted in December; keep reading for details.
December 13: Yamato 2199 “Crusade” card game
Despite their unfortunate name, Japan’s Carddass Masters has made great fortune with their “Crusade” card game, which began in October 2007 with an anime-based game called Sunrise Crusade and steadily expanded to include other franchises. The Crusade system allows cards from different anime worlds to mix, letting players assemble their very own “dream teams” and face off against their foes.
Yamato‘s entry into the Crusade system is a 63-card set (plus 13 variant chase cards) featuring artwork from the anime design catalog and some gorgeous new paintings that really need to be published in a larger format at some point. Like other Crusade sets, they are divided into Character, Unit [Mecha], and Command categories. Collecting a set is tricky for overseas fans, since there are as yet no direct channels. They can be purchased in packs of 10 or 15-pack boxes, but a complete set is not guaranteed in a box. (Ye editor bought two boxes and still didn’t get them all.)
December 14: Great Mechanics DX #27
Great Mechanics continued its respectable tradition of in-depth interviews with key 2199 staff members. This time, chief mechanical director Masanori Nishii returned to talk about his work on the second half of the series.
Read the interview here.
December 14: Sapporo campaign display
The Pokka Sapporo beverage company opened up a prize campaign in September for their customers to buy canned drinks, save up points, and win goodies. On December 14, a sample of the top prize went on display in Akihabara’s Radio Kaikan building: a mini-speaker for digital devices with a Yamato model mounted to it (the Wave-Motion Gun lights up in sync with whatever signal goes through it).
Game company Taito released a very similar product in 2010, but this one is entirely new. The ship may, in fact, be a duplicate of one coming out from Megahouse in February, but this is just conjecture. 300 of these will be won by Sapporo customers, after which they may or may not go into general release.
Visit the campaign website here.
December 14: Yamatalk music event
The Yamaha Music store in Ikebukuro, Tokyo celebrated its 50th anniversary with special events in 2013, and one very special event indeed was a Yamatalk with 2199 composer Akira Miyagawa that included an intimate music recital on piano with wind accompaniment. Miyagawa can be seen at the far left in this photo, which was originally posted by the maestro himself here.
December 15: Nico Nico webcast #31
The last webcast of the year was one for the record books, and will probably be remembered as the “Momoko Show.” Yamato Girl Momoko Miyauchi (who cosplays as Makoto Harada) has been gradually breaking out of her shell, and with this episode she had the bull by the horns from the moment she strolled into view.
Sayako Toujo opened the show on her own, interacting with live viewer comments and munching on giant Pocky sticks for the first few minutes. Yamato 2199 soundtrack music plays constantly in the background during these shows, and when the disco Gatlantis theme began its slow startup, Momoko lurked in silently. She paced back and forth until the music went to full throttle, then she did the same – ripping out a new version of her “Gatlantis dance” with elaborate moves that had Toujo alternately cheering and howling.
“Hey, hey, hey, hey, Gato-lan-TIS!” With that, Momo-chan plopped down in a chair and gave Sayako a moment to collect herself. She revealed that this was actually a big project when she pulled out her notebook and showed how she’d choreographed the entire routine.
A salute to the viewers, and the show officially started. During the news segment, Momo-chan held up an apology sign, saying that there was no new information about the 2014 Yamato movie.
She then spoke for all of fandom when she ripped the sign to shreds and bellowed that this was what everyone wanted to hear about! A rebellious moment such as this had never occurred on the show before, so Sayako needed some time to recover. From this moment, the quiet, demure Momoko of past episodes was long gone.
New products were examined: the goods lineup to be available from the Yamato Crew table at Comiket (coming up at the end of the month) and another limited-edition color variant of the Akira Yamamoto figure from Megahouse – now available for preorder at the Yamato Crew website and shipping in May (only to Japanese addresses, sorry).
General goof-offery for a few minutes…
…and then it was time to bring on a guest. The girls mimed for a bit to give clues. Someone who poses in front of cameras a lot. Shiori Kawana, of course. The December cold had reduced her voice to a raspy squeak, but she gave a little bit of Star Blazers 2199 news in English and stayed on for the rest of the show.
The disco Gatlantis theme recycled in the background, and Momoko was on her feet again for a redux. The viewers were asked if they’d like to see her special dance commercialized in some way. Stay tuned for followup.
The drawing activity this time was to envision Zordar of Gatlantis. Shioiri and Sayako imagined him as dapper and elderly.
Momoko’s version was so crazy and off the rails that it actually scared Sayako.
A pinup-posing session was next, with Shiori coaching the others. Sayako did her own goofy best, but Momoko hung back…
…until sliding up to the desk to deliver the cutest look she could muster…completely shattered a moment later by a decidedly un-ladylike victory pose.
One more group shot, the salute, and goodbye to 2013. Webcasts resume on Nico Nico January 19.
December 17: Mobile Phone App
Yamato Concier, a new app for Android phones, was offered for download by digital communications company Docomo NTT. With it installed, cute versions of 2199 characters become live hosts for Docomo services, offering help and advice on how to use them. The company promises that the app will continuously expand over coming months.
December 19: Starblazers.com renewal
The website got a face lift on December 19 when the online store opened for business and the first volume of Star Blazers 2199 became available for preorder after a somewhat bumpy start. The previous home page is shown at left, the new one at right.
December 20: Star Blazers 2199 News Video 3
Shiori Kawana’s next video appeared the following day to lay some more info on us, this time in a segment recorded in Burbank, CA at the studio of Bang Zoom! Entertainment. She reported that there would be an effort to make as much merchandise as possible available through the online store, including Yamato Girls figures.
In answer to a Facebook question about whether or not bonus features would be included on the videos, she said it would consist only of the episodes, but that “special items” were being planned. The unspoken reason was undoubtedly that bonus features would require separate translation and subtitling, which would incur extra production costs. Thus, any “special items” will probably be physical products. Another question was if the videos might become available through Amazon, and the answer was that they were talking with other online retailers. (Either way, it probably won’t offer much price relief.)
She then brought in a guest, Ms. Azusa Kudo of Bang Zoom! Entertainment, the company that will handle subtitling and packaging of the series. Ms. Kudo had previously presented the Episode 1 dub at Anime Expo and Comicon in July, and in this video she presented the package art for Volume 1.
After all this was over, some familiar faces popped on: Sayako Toujo and Momoko Miyauchi! This three-minute “bonus segment” had been shot in Japan immediately after the Nico Nico webcast five days earlier, and finally gave the Yamato Girls their Youtube debut.
See this video here.
December 20: 2014 Digest Calendar
Clocking in at about 12″ x 16″, this handsome calendar is sold exclusively by the Yamato Crew website (again, only to Japanese addresses) and matches the format of the 2013 version. It contains six scene montages from Chapters 4-7, each covering two months of the year. Yamato Crew evidently learned a hard lesson from the last calendar; the 2014 was shipped flat in a box, whereas the 2013 was tightly rolled in a tube (tight enough not to hang flat for the first part of the year, in fact).
December 22: Bandai model display bases
Bandai ran a campaign on their Premium website from August through October, during which fans who bought Yamato 2199 model kits could collect and send in the UPC bar codes to obtain these special display bases. They could opt for the ‘A’ course (Cosmo Navy, 2 UPCs per set) or the ‘B’ course (Garmillas Navy, 5 UPCs per set).