December 22: UN Cosmo Navy calendars
A Japanese Yamato fan by the name of Zenseava has been a hero to English-speaking fans for years, ever since he established his website Lighthouse Mechanics to explore the world of Yamato mecha with his fantastic art and bilingual blog. On December 22 he made three gorgeous Cosmo Navy calendars for free download.
December 24: Manga chapter 21
Artist Michio Murakawa delivered 37 pages of white-knuckle action in the double issue 112/113 of the online Nico Nico Ace manga magazine. He brought his adaptation of Episode 8 to a thundering conclusion as Yamato plunged through the sea of fire with Major Ganz right behind. This installment finished off the material to be published in the 4th paperback volume on January 26.
See all the pages here.
December 24: Akira Yamamoto Custom Color Figure
Scheduled to ship in May 2014, preorders for this new version of Megahouse’s 1/8 Yamamoto figure opened at the Yamato Crew website December 24. It reuses the long-haired sculpt of the first custom-color Yamamoto, but changes the uniform colors from white to ruby red. It’s enough to make you wish you had a Japanese address.
December 25: Dengeki Hobby and Hobby Japan (February issues)
The two major hobby magazines acquitted themselves well this month in terms of Yamato coverage, lavishing 12 and 18 pages respectively. Both covered the imminent arrival of the 1/500 Yamato model, the Soul of Chogokin toy, and news of other models and figures on the horizon. (Megahouse is planning another Yuki Mori, among other things.)
Over and above these topics, Dengeki featured photos of an amazing custom-built RC Garmillas tank. Hobby Japan countered with deeper looks at recent kits such as the Cosmo Falcon, Deusula II, and Garmillas Warships Set 3. See the articles from both magazines here.
December 25: Model Graphix #351
Model Graphix had only one page of Yamato news this time, sporting big photos of the prototype Garmillas carrier kits, but promised a cover story in the next issue.
December 26: Star Blazers 2199 News Video 4
This time, Shioro Kawana dealt with some turbulence over the cost of the Star Blazers 2199 videos to come in 2014. There will be some reductions in shipping and handling, but complaints over the retail prices themselves went basically unacknowledged. (“Shopping fee” was misunderstood as “Shipping fee,” defining a language gap still to be crossed.)
The question of availability in Europe was answered thusly.
The simple explanation for the high disc prices is that profits from video sales form the main revenue stream back to the production, and every cent counts. This is one reason why home video is so expensive in Japan. Reducing the prices to North American levels creates a risk of Japanese fans engaging in reverse-importation, so it’s a rock-and-hard-place situation. On the other hand, you can be proud of the fact that your hard-earned coin will go directly to the people who made what you love, and all thought of cost will vanish when that gorgeous footage starts to roll on your TV. Sales pitch over.
Steel yourself and watch this video on Youtube here.
If you’re wondering what the new “Aimersoft” logo refers to, click here.
There was some followup on December 28 when the ad shown above right appeared on the starblazers.com Facebook page. The “strap” it mentions is a trinket for your keychain.
December 27: Novelization part 2
Mag Garden’s second 2199 novel by Takumi Toyoda runs about 20 pages longer than the first volume (released in October) and goes all the way to the end of the series. The interior is 100% text, so this is a collectible for psycho-fans only.
By the way, interesting things happen when you combine the covers of both novels, painted by the great Naoyuki Katoh.
December 28: 1/500 Yamato model
If you’ve been holding out for just one Yamato 2199 model to rule them all, your wait is over. This beast clocks in at over 26″ long and brings just about every possible feature to the table, short of a cutaway interior or a working Wave-Motion Gun to melt all your other models.
The most striking feature is the wealth of detail on the hull, based precisely on the intricate mecha designs of Junichiro Tamamori. Snap-together construction is seamless, three hangars can open and close, four extra spacecraft are provided, all the guns rotate, and it’s even big enough to customize with LED lighting. (Promo poster shown below.)
See photos of the finished product here.
Above: a Bandai newspaper ad in the December 31 edition of Sports Nippan, featuring the 1/500 Yamato and 1/100 High Grade Sazabi kit (from the Gundam series).
December 28: Comic Blade February issue
Chapter 6 of Mayumi Azuma’s Red-Eyed Ace manga ran 16 pages. This time, Akira Yamamoto has further interactions with the crew, remembers her older brother, and finally comes face to face with Melda Dietz, her most significant turning point in the story.
See the pages here.
December 28: Hyper Hobby #185
Whereas this magazine used to arrive at the beginning of a month (and thus occupy the first entry in these reports), it has been skootched back a few days on the calendar to come close to the end. The February issue gave Yamato its customary two pages for product news, but included some welcome text features. Translation follows.
Mechanic Design Junichiro Tamamori comment
Interviewer: In the design of Yamato, how did you want to plus it up?
Tamamori: Yamato was completed in the mid-80s, and the charm of the old series was missing from magazines for a while, well into the 1990s. During those times (when there were OAV’s showing the future), I thought “there’s not enough Yamato ingredients” and began to draw it for myself as the 21st century arrived. I also drew Gundam mobile suits, but Yamato didn’t pass through the anime system of the 1980s, and it felt like it had been buried by robot anime. I thought it should pass through like Macross. For Gundam, the mecha was investigated in a book called Gundam Century, and although Macross is located on the axis line, Yamato deviates from that.
Interviewer: The story is that this time the entire size of Yamato was indexed from the first bridge.
Tamamori: The idea is that it expands when viewed from the size of a person, and when you add it up the details drive the whole thing from two directions. For the original, orthographic views were done based on illustrations by Kazutaka Miyatake. After taking various plamodels, design sheets and original footage into consideration, I basically combined all the information and didn’t make any additions of my own. Starting out with the height of the first bridge and working out the width, I applied it to a drawing. The whole thing was checked and verified. But since the bridge structure is depicted a lot and the design sheets were sparse, a 3D model was adjusted in CG so there would be no contradictions.
Interviewer: What do you like about plamodel and the Chogokin [toy]?
Tamamori: They’re both three-dimensional objects of the same Yamato, but there are different views and expressions between them that I think are interesting. The plamodel comes from the world of plastic model products, and the experience focuses on seeing the parts one by one as you build it up. The Chogokin is very precise, and there’s a real thrill in feeling the weight of the finished product. I didn’t think there would be much difference in the texture and feel of a large product, but the Chogokin Yamato 2199 faithfully reproduces the 3D data, and it expresses a sharp break through space-time like a warp. I think it’s a joy to own. For the 1/500, its size is its biggest feature. The pleasure comes from assembling the finished product, and I think the fun of building something by hand is unique to plamo. You should be able to enjoy both products for a long time.
Oct. 12: Expansive Yamatalk hobby show business version
The Yamatalk hobby show business version was held on the main stage at the 53rd All Japan Model Hobby Show, featuring general director Yutaka Izubuchi, chief mechanical director Masanori Nishii, CG director Takashi Imanishi, and Hirofumi Kishiyama of the Bandai Hobby Division planning and development team. Mr. Kishiyama played a key role in the talk show, which revolved around the topic of plamodels of Yamato mecha. It came out that Kishiyama was a big Yamato fan from the time of the original, and he told the inside story of how the 2199 planning stage reached a satisfactory form after communicating with director Izubuchi and all the other creators. He confided that he had not yet submitted an internal proposal for the Deusular II and Domelus III at 1/1000 scale, since the Deusular would be 63cm long (24.8″) and the Domelus would be 73cm (28.7″). On the other hand, when director Izubuchi said, “those who would buy it, please raise your hand!” many hands went up and Mr. Kishiyama called his division director on the spot to seek approval, which caused a lot of excitement.
Nov. 3: Space Battleship Yamato 2199 Approach!
Tamashii Nation 2013 was held at the Akihabara UDX building November 1-3, and Soul Live Stage Space Battleship Yamato 2199 Approach took place on November 3. Present for this were general director Yutaka Izubuchi, mecha designer Junichiro Tamamori, storyboard artist Shinji Higuchi, and Captain Okita’s voice actor Takayuki Sugao. Mr. Tamamori said, “When Yamato was drawn for the sequels, such as Farewell, the line art was quite organized, but while I drew it, I took care to give it the taste of freehand drawing.” Izubuchi raved about Tamamori’s approach, saying, “When showing something that might possibly be real, whether it’s a battleship on the ocean or even a spaceship, it has to have a quality that is well-received by the viewer.” Mr. Sugao mentioned the new feature film coming in 2014, saying, “The role of a ghost is good enough, so I want to do it.” Mr. Higuchi also expressed his high hopes. The program was broadcast in real time all over the world via Nico Nico.
Dec. 8: Complete Yamatalk Night/Return edition
Celebrating the memorable day when Yamato returned to Earth on December 8, this event was held at the “holy land” of 2199, the Shinjuku Piccadilly. After watching the home video version of Chapter 7, the crowd gave a standing ovation. Storyboard artist Masahiko Okura and general director Yutaka Izubuchi saluted and took a bow. The first meeting between these two happened at a bar rather than at work, and after a passionate discussion about their love for Yamato, their friendship continued in private. After his work on Battle Fairy Yukikaze, Okura’s optimism and love for Yamato lead to an offer from Izubuchi to work on 2199, and his participation was decided.
“As for the storyboards on volume 7, the offer specified how they were to be done for all episodes. Even with that, Ogura was the one most often not drawing them according to the script. It was a nightmare getting his opinions in sync,” said the director with a laugh.
There was a surprise at the end of the talk! This day saw the return of Yamato to Earth and was also the birthday of general director Izubuchi, so a birthday cake appeared with an original illustration of Yamato. Finally, Izubuchi concluded by saying, “Yamato 2199 will continue to expand next year. Thank you very much!”
26 Secrets and Mysteries of Yamato
It has been a long time since the last appearance in the May issue! We asked chief mechanical director Masanori Nishii questions concerning Chapters 5, 6, and 7! They begin this month!
Question 1: Did the Izumo Plan group cause the OMCS to malfunction before the landing on Beemela?
Nishii: It wasn’t directly depicted in the film, so I can’t make a certain conclusion. However, during the preparation of the script it was part of the flow that manipulating the OMCS might be part of the Izumo Plan group’s scheme.
Question 2: Why did the people of Beemela die out?
Nishii: It was decided not to deal with them directly in the flow of the story, but in order to show that they existed, it was depicted that they had already fallen to ruin.
Question 3: Did the Iscandar ship make an emergency crash-landing on Beemela?
Nishii: It seems that Iscandar ships can only make emergency crash-landings. (Laughs) Anyway, that angle of the rear of the space ship has the most visual impact. Those who saw it recognized that “that’s the one Kodai saw on Mars!” because they saw it from the back. The ship could have arrived hundreds or even thousands of years ago, and it would be strange to see it in a normal landing position, so the image of it indicates an emergency landing.
Question 4: What happened to the Wave-Motion Core found on Beemela?
Nishii: It is on board Yamato.
Question 5: Did Domel’s wife Elisa take part in rebel activities?
Nishii: I think that she did. The flow of the script was based on that.
Question 6: Did the takeover of Altaria happen recently?
Nishii: I can’t say clearly when it was subjugated. However, though they’re probably not like Gandhi as individuals, the impression is that some [Altarians] believe in non-resistance and others do not. Although they don’t necessarily resist with direct military power, they don’t seem like they were disobedient to Garmillas.
Question 7: The Domelus III was resistant to Yamato‘s main guns. Is it only the front armor that was hardened?
Nishii: It’s simply that the front armor was thicker. I think the sharp bow is particularly dense. Garmillans don’t think about such defenses as the Wave-Motion Barrier. It’s their basic way of thinking to overwhelm with numbers, as represented by Zoellick. They could theoretically create a Wave-Motion Barrier, but Garmillans don’t consider that area.
(To be continued next issue)
Masanori Nishii: After the voyage of Space Battleship Yamato 2199
Nishii: Although it was to be a TV series in the beginning, it suddenly developed that it would be shown in theaters and it became very difficult. I don’t think it was perfect, but I always try to do my best in such situations. I think it came out better than a normal weekly TV series. We really had to struggle for that purpose, but since it is Yamato after all, we kept at it and I made ridiculous requests of people in various areas, and we somehow managed to keep it together. Thank you very much.
Interviewer: What’s your favorite scene?
Nishii: They’re all my favorite. I took it shot by shot, carrying out some one way and others another way. Of course, talking about it that way sounds like it didn’t take time and effort, but that wasn’t the case at all. I just continued shot by shot until the end. And it wasn’t just me, but the entire staff went to enormous trouble to pile up the shots. Conversely, there weren’t many shots that didn’t cause trouble.
Interviewer: Who’s your favorite character?
Nishii: Personally I love simple villains, so my favorites were Zoellick and Goeru. It’s interesting to watch them, and fun to see them so straight and rigid. It’s not easy to develop empathy for a character who’s hard to understand, so they can be divisive. When you depict a simple character the tolerance level is wide and it’s easy to please an audience. It’s funny how older men are a big part of Yamato. This time the female characters were significantly increased, and because I think older men are an essential part of anime, it needed attractive older characters. I’ll definitely be glad if older male characters appear after Okita. (Laughs)
December 29-31: Comiket 85
This being the first Comiket after 2199 ended, it was not surprising that a virtual avalanche of doujinshis could be found there. But the opening salvo in a new crossover between Yamato 2199 and Hello Kitty probably surprised many, with a wave of exclusive products sold by Yamato Crew at their official booth.
There were two sets of products available: the Hello Kitty package consisted of postcards and a clear file (seen at the top of this entry), and a more traditional Yamato package was made up of two clear posters (printed on vinyl), a drink bottle, and a Yuki Mori hug pillowcase.
These products were chosen to match the Comiket oeuvre, where cute girls, maid outfits, and hug pillows flow without end. Yamato Crew was also nice enough to have a custom shopping bag at the ready.
See more photos of these products and the biggest ever avalanche of 2199 doujinshi here.
Also spotted in December
Bootleg DVD package
This isn’t the first, and unfortunately won’t be the last. Asian bootlegs have dogged anime for many years, and they are always too good to be true. While it can be tempting to buy the entire series for the cost of a single legit volume, it is also ruinous to the future. As stated earlier, revenue from video sales is critical to the health of the franchise, so packages like this one should be avoided.
Back when the late, lamented New Type Ace magazine still existed, each issue had a prize contest for readers, and among the prizes offered were these 500 yen phone cards from the Quo Company. Each features artwork by manga master Michio Murakawa, originally drawn for New Type Ace covers. Photos of them turned up in online auctions in December, suggesting that it took that long for them to be awarded.
Yuki Mori Figure, Salute Version
Ending 2013 on a high note, a few copies of Megahouse’s next 1/8 Yuki Mori figure slipped out on the last day of December. The general release is scheduled for March.