Yamato Year 2013, Part 2

Back up to Part 1


Yamato 2 Pachislo game

February 4

The Yamasa company added another Yamato pachinko game to the history books, this time based on Yamato 2 and named Teresa, Guidance of Love. It continued the style of Yamasa’s previous game, which was based on Series 1 and delivered plenty of energetic new character animation.

See a detailed overview here.


March 24, November 3

Toriroji is a Tokyo-based fan event, a smaller version of Comiket with doujinshi and cosplay. (They render the name as “Torilozi”.) Toriroji 1 was held September 2011, and subsequent events have taken place twice a year, in March and November.

Fan publishing groups (called “circles”) who share a common subject are arranged together at the event, and when ten circles teamed up at Toriroji 4 on March 24, they called themselves “Yamaket.”

The number grew to twelve groups at Toriroji 5 and they called themselves “Yamaket 2.” This looks to be a regular thing going forward; “Yamaket 3” has already been announced as part of Toriroji 6 in March 2014.

Visit the Toriroji website here.

Talk Show Event

April 23

To promote a Space Battleship Yamato Series 1 marathon, Japan’s Family Theater satellite channel held a special screening in Shinjuku, Tokyo and invited one of the most special guests around – the original voice actor for Yuki Mori. Below are two reports of the event. The first is from Nikkan Sports. (See the original post here.)

Hanako Takigawa is Yuki Mori

“That means…that means…”

Actress Hanako Takigawa (24) appeared as a guest at a talk show in Tokyo on the 23rd for a screening of Space Battleship Yamato. It was said that she “looked like” the heroine Yuki Mori, appearing in a yellow and black costume in her image.

Hanako said, “It’s fun to do cosplay. I want to spread Yamato around to a lot of people since the manly way of life and the strong core of women both come out.”

Also present was Yoko Asagami, the original voice of Yuki Mori, who complimented Hanako on her delivery of the line, “That means…Kodai-kun will die!” The Space Battleship Yamato HD remaster version will be broadcast on the Family Theater satellite channel on the 27th.

[Translator’s note: the “HD remaster” was released in a DVD box set in 2007. Read all about it here.]

The second report is from Geinou News Lounge. (See the original post here.)

Hanako Takigawa does Yuki Mori cosplay from Space Battleship Yamato! “I don’t have the skill” to be in the voice acting industry.

The audience was wowed by actress Hanako Takigawa in her Yuki Mori costume at the Shinjuku Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Hall for a special premiere screening of Family Theater’s upcoming broadcast of the Space Battleship Yamato HD remaster version. Also impressed by the cute cosplay of heroine Yuki Mori was professional storyteller Harumi Ichiryusai (formerly Yoko Asagami, 60), Yuki Mori’s voice actor.

[Translator’s note: originally born Yoko Okubo, she acted under the name Yoko Asagami beginning in 1972, then changed her name again to mark her career shift to storytelling. Visit her website here.]

Space Battleship Yamato was broadcast in 1974 and became a national anime favorite for more than 38 years, and is now revived by hi-vision image quality. Family Theater will broadcast a marathon of all 26 episodes beginning at 11am on April 27. To save the Earth from contamination by an attack from Planet Gamilas, Space Battleship Yamato travels to Planet Iscandar to obtain the Cosmo Cleaner (a radiation removal device).

The Space Battleship Yamato premiere screening

Harumi Ichiryusai, who is currently active as a professional storyteller, said, “I do a little bit of the Yamato story in my storytelling.” Looking back at the time of her audition, she said, “I thought if this was made by Mr. Leiji Matsumoto I absolutely wanted to do it. After I was chosen, I heard later that it was because I should do the voice exactly like my own, so I was very lucky.”

Describing the recording sessions with feeling, she said, “Everyone else was my senior, so I was very nervous. I was expected to stand at the mike and act with experts. I studied hard, and it was fascinating.”

She also told a previously unknown story; “Before coming here, I found the scripts for the first and last episodes. In the last episode of the series, there was no line in the script saying, “That means…Kodai-kun will die!” I added that line in my own handwriting.”

At this point, Hanako Takigawa appeared in the distinctive yellow costume. “Now the people of the Yamato generation can say they saw two generations of Yuki Mori,” she said. Harumi complimented her by saying, “Perfect. Her eyes are as captivating as Yuki-chan’s eyes.”

Talking about seeing the first episode for the first time, Takigawa said, “The captain has that line, ‘do not despair even if you’re the last one left.’ The current generation of men in our country doesn’t feel like that, and I wish Yamato‘s deep love of the Earth could be handed down.”

When the moderator said Takigawa should try to meet the challenge of voice acting, she humbly answered, “When I see such people with amazing ability, I think I’d like to do it some day when I also have amazing ability, but I don’t have the skill to take it on like others do.”

She continued, “The manly way of life and the strong core of women both come out the first episode. I want to spread Yamato around to a lot of people.”

Ichiryusai added, “Yamato was a dream that gave me so many things. I also want the younger generation to have those same dreams.”

In closing, Ichiryusai gave Takigawa a public lesson in voice acting. When Takigawa successfully performed the line, “That means…Kodai-kun will die!” the audience applauded loudly.

See the entire talk show on Youtube here (part 1) and here (part 2).

Family Theater marathons

April 27, 28

Fans with time on their hands had a chance to binge-watch Yamato when the Family Theater satellite channel broadcast Series 1 non-stop over 13 hours and followed up the next day with all five classic movies and both versions of Resurrection.

Yamato jingle, JR Kure Station

July 1

JR [Japan Rail] train stations each have their own unique musical jingle that can be heard over the PA whenever a train arrives on a platform. As of July 1, the Space Battleship Yamato theme became the official jingle of Kure station. This is entirely appropriate, since Kure is the city where the original battleship was built, and is now host to the Yamato museum. (In the photos above, a mascot from the Yamato museum and employees from Leiji Matsumoto’s Gallery Zero turned up at Kure station for the official unveiling of the jingle.)

This is not the first time an anime theme has reached this level of recognition; Mighty Atom [Astro Boy] is the official jingle of Takadanobaba station in Tokyo (where Atom himself was supposedly born).

Two different versions of the theme are used for the two tracks at the station. See and hear them on Youtube here: Version A | Version B

See an article about the unveiling here.

Live-action Yamato movie North American tour

October 19

Eleven Arts, a film distributor to independent theaters in North America, finally broke through an important barrier when it brought the live-action Yamato movie back to the big screen. Premiering in Los Angeles and proceeding across the country (and into Canada), the print carries the same subtitles that were seen when the film first appeared in a L.A. film festival in November 2010.

Visit the Eleven Arts website here, and see the Yamato screening schedule here.

Star Blazers movie news

October 30

Announcements about a live-action Star Blazers feature film made in the USA pop up roughly once a year and set fandom abuzz with equal parts excitement and dread. This year, Deadline pushed the button again by announcing that Chris McQuarrie had been named as the director. No further information was given, but at this point we have it on good authority that it’s only a matter of time until pre-production begins.

See the article published on Deadline here.

Leiji Matsumoto’s 60th Anniversary

2013 marked the 60th year of Leiji Matsumoto’s working career as a manga artist. The much-anticipated release of the CG Captain Harlock feature film was just one of the highlights. Numerous gallery exhibits, signings and talk shows became a regular occurence at various locations across Japan.

The flyer above was for an exhibit that lasted from July through September at the Ehime Prefectural Museum of Art in Matsuyama. Matsumoto himself appeared to open the event on July 6. (See him on video here, see online coverage here and see a video walk-through here.) Below right is a book that accompanied the event, published by the sponsor Art Space Co. Ltd.

An earlier version took place at the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum from April 26 to May 13. Exhibits like these display items from Matsumoto’s personal archive of original manga art, paintings, animation cels, 3D objects, and more.

Message to the Future was an exhibit that could be seen at the Harmo Museum in Shimosuwa (located in the approximate center of Japan itself) from August through September. Matsumoto attended a talk show and signing August 26.

Visit the Harmo Museum website here.

Living Legend was the name of a show at the Saitama City Cartoon Museum from September to November. This time, Matsumoto’s signing and talk show took place at Saitama Municipal Hall. Photos weren’t permitted past the front lobby, but online coverage can be seen at these links:

Source 1 | Source 2 | Source 3 | Source 4 | Source 5

Visit the World of Leiji Matsumoto website run by Art Space Co. here

Concurrent with all this was a multi-part publishing exhibit named Magnificent Universe of Matsumoto Manga at Media Art Gallery (affiliated with Wakayama Art Museum) in Ginza, Tokyo. Samples of Matsumoto’s works representing different themes were spread out across three time periods from April through December.

Part 2 (flyer shown above) was in full swing late August/early September and was seen in person by the adventurers of Yamatour 2013. See a personal account here.

There were also some international stops on Leiji Tour ’13. He stunned his legions of fans when he actually appeared in a tux on September 3 for the world premiere of Captain Harlock at the Venice Film Festival, along with director Shinji Aramaki and lead voice actor Haruma Miura. See online coverage and more photos here and here.

From there, it was a quick hop over to Paris for the French exhibition of Art Space’s traveling show in October and November. See video coverage here, here, and here.

Leiji Future 2013

December 8

Matsumoto finished off this banner year closer to home with his customary one-day mini-convention at a restaurant/bar called Culture Culture in Odaiba, Tokyo. Friends of this website have reported on previous Leiji Future events here (2009), here (2010) and here (2011). The same cannot be said for this one, but a report was published at Skull Dot, the official site of Matsumoto news and products.

See that report (with photos) here. A translation follows:

On December 8, 2013, a Leiji Matsumoto signing and talk show was held at Culture Culture in Odaiba, Tokyo (see photos of the signing session here). Before the talk show began, a minute of silence was dedicated to the memory of Mr. Hideaki Ito, who participated in the planning and talk shows of previous Leiji Future events.

Culture Culture’s special Leiji Future menu, featuring Dr. Sado’s Yamato cocktail for 600 yen.

After the moderator Mr. Anzai said, “Ito-san must be watching this day [from heaven],” the jam-packed talk show started when Leiji Matsumoto and his guests assembled on the stage.

The participants in the talk show were inspired by Matsumoto as they grew up, and some are now “manga masters” who are genuine fans of Leiji Matsumoto, participating for the first time! Each of them is now working in various directions and came together to throw radical questions at the master. Novelist Wachi Masaki grinned and said, “I’m just listening from the corner and smiling.” The venue was wrapped in tension, filled with expectations.

The guests were voice actor Keiko Han [Sasha from Be Forever Yamato], manga artist Kia Asamiya (first time), manga artist Masato Hayase (first time), and Wachi Masaki. The secret guest was manga artist Kazuhiko Shimamoto (first time).

As they arrived on the stage, some went to the wrong spot (there was only about one meter of space to move around in), and Leiji Matsumoto said, “I often make mistakes on stage, and also jumped off stages. (Laugh) I was a roughneck as a kid, you know, and I still am. It’s a great way to draw manga. And I also work with others to make anime works. I still try my best!”

It was a typically peppery greeting from Mr. Matsumoto to start the talk show. The first question to each guest was “what was your first Leiji Matsumoto experience as an amateur?” The discussion gradually heated up from their passionate thoughts.

For battleship Yamato, the “swell of the cheek” is vital, said Shimamoto while comparing it to the CG. Hayase related a secret story about Shotaro Ishinomori, prompting some nostalgia in Matsumoto. A roar of laughter was elicited as they talked about their boarding house days and their first experiences with ramen rice, the sempai episode, cup ramen, underwear, and Tetsuya Chiba.

Also, Masato Hayase talked about working for Ishinomori Productions, and Matsumoto joined him in telling deeply inspirational stories with lots of information. [Translator’s note: read an interview between Masato Hayase and 2199 director Yutaka Izubuchi here.]

Kazuhiko Shimamoto was itching to ask Matsumoto questions about [manga] Oidon Man and Yamato 2199, and the venue was filled with laughter over the merciless questions.

“Um, is it still all right for me to be up here?” (Laughs)

Kia Asamiya had been quite nervous, but enjoyed the talk very much.

Space Pirate coin cases.

While Mr. Matsumoto drew pictures during the signing portion of the event that were projected on a monitor, Kazuhiko Shimamoto watched from the waiting room and copied him. “Drawing reference is always helpful.” The soul of a professional manga artist never forgets such a moment.

“Don’t sell it on the net,” Keiko Han said jokingly.

Leiji Matsumoto said, “No matter how many times you continue to draw, how many times a production gets cancelled, for an author and a creator the most vital component is the feeling that makes you grit your teeth [and keep going]. In any case, like anything that’s topical, it’s important to stay in existence. If you live on in your work, you can then expect to make a comeback. I’ve had to abort hundreds of serials, and the regret and frustration I feel become an energy source for me, the same as food, and it drives me onward.”

“When I feel the blood rising in my head, I try harder. It’s the same for all of you, isn’t it? When people get angry, sad, depressed, or frustrated, the important thing is to channel those emotions into your work. That’s what the act of creation is all about. And so, I’m still, STILL, trying my hardest!”

Kazuhiko Shimamoto: I think the Yamato 2199 staff is entirely made up of people who love Mr. Matsumoto. I would like to hope that everyone gets along and Mr. Matsumoto’s Battleship Yamato is made as soon as possible.

Kia Asamiya: Absolutely right! (Big applause)

Keiko Han: I [Sasha] want to be revived, too!

Leiji Matsumoto: Thank you very much. I understand. I’ll surely do it someday!

See more photos from the event here.

Hero’s Hill

Goro Naya

March 5

The Yamato saga lost another of its most significant voices when Goro Naya, the original Captain Okita, passed away at 83 from chronic respiratory failure. Known far and wide as the voice of Lupin III‘s Inspector Zenigata, he enjoyed a long and fruitful acting career both on stage and behind the microphone. He also regularly dubbed Clark Gable, Charlton Heston, John Wayne, and – thanks to some truly inspired casting – Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars trilogy.

Read more about him here.

Chiyoko Shimakura

November 8

Yoshinobu Nishizaki was a music expert before he made Yamato, and his broad love of music genres enriched the Yamato catalog in countless ways. One was to bring classical styles together with modern SF, and Enka vocalist Chiyoko Shimakura was a prime example. She sang Sasha My Love, the concluding song in The New Voyage. Enka is akin to folk music in Japan, a traditional style that dates back to the late 19th century. Called the “Goddess of Enka,” Ms. Shimakura was an award-winning performer who modernized the style, and her association with Yamato was a significant cultural crossover. She died of liver cancer at age 75.

Hear her on Youtube here.

Takeshi Aono

Mr. Aono, the original voice of Shiro Sanada and hundreds of other anime characters, passed away April 2012. His acting company, Theater Company Arts Association, disbanded in May 2013, but graciously reprinted one of his short essays from 2009 at their website on October 4.

See the original post here. Translation follows.

In this column written for Actor’s Line, Takeshi Aono gives his state of mind when playing Shiro Sanada in Yamato Resurrection…

Just the other day, I worked on Space Battleship Yamato for the first time in decades, since I was in my forties. It was a job for the feature film, Space Battleship Yamato Resurrection. Was it just like a live performance in our theater company?

Out of all the voice work I’ve done, the role of Shiro Sanada for Yamato occupies the most important status. The memories are a little odd now, but over thirty years ago there was the Yamato audition. I forget what role I was trying out for, but after I went home, Mr. Nishizaki who was the producer at the time said, “Hey, I’d like you to come back and try out for one other role.” The role I’d auditioned for was no good, but I was chosen for a different role in passing. It was the role of Shiro Sanada.

Although we’d heard rumors that a Yamato feature film would be made again, I was doubtful. And many years passed. Even if it was made, I didn’t know whether or not I’d get to play the role of Sanada. But of course there were other versions of Yamato, such as games and pachinko.

One day, the office told me, “there’s an offer to perform in Yamato.” There was a tingling in my chest for just a moment. The script and video arrived immediately. Looking at the script, I saw that most of the voice actors had changed, but three people were the same as the original casting: Mr. Ichiro Nagai as Dr. Sado, Kenichi Ogata as Analyzer, and me. I watched the video, and the picture had wonderful power. Because more than 30 years have passed, it obviously looks different from the movies of the old days.

On the day I went into the recording studio, Producer Nishizaki was sitting in the director’s chair. It seemed he himself would direct.

Mr. Nishizaki spoke: “It’s been a long time, Mr. Aono. Since it’s been so long, let me hear your voice a little.”

I was nervous. More than 30 years had passed, after all. But of course, even on the screen Shiro Sanada had some age in his face. After I read the line, Mr. Nishizaki’s voice sounded in the studio. “Your voice hasn’t changed at all, I’m surprised.”

I was very pleased and proud as an actor. When the recording was finished, Mr. Nishizaki greeted me, saying, “I still have some more good things to make.” He is certainly older than me. I bow my head to his vitality. I have the deep impression of a still-living giant.

Furthermore, it has been more than 40 years since my voice was heard from Zareb in the movie version of Ultraman. If you live a long life, many things happen!

The End

Special thanks to Neil Nadelman for translation support.

BONUS: Just as 2013 was crossing the finish line, these T-shirts showed up on E-bay. You can take it from here.

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