April 22: Art Exhibition opens
Seibu is a major department store chain in Japan with the flagship store located in the shopping district of Ikebukuro, Tokyo. This store is attached to the biggest mall complex Tokyo has to offer, and the Seibu Gallery is an annex within that mall. From April 22 to May 7, it was the site of the biggest Space Battleship Yamato event so far in 2014.
There were many Yamato public exhibitions during the production years (see a record of them here), but none quite like this. The Yamato 2199 Art Exhibition brought together design art from the Production I.G. vault, model kits, and a handful of newly-painted works (about 200 pieces in total) for their first-ever public display. Such a thing was never possible with the 1974 series, since most of its production art scattered into private hands after it wrapped in spring 1975. Needless to say, the attitude toward anime as an art form has radically changed since then, and this exhibit is a shining example.
Organized by a company called Traffic Promotion (who did a stellar Macross exhibit two years earlier) and sponsored by Nippon Cultural Broadcasting, it also gave fans a chance to interact with some of 2199‘s staff in the two weekends during the exhibit’s tenure. Mecha designer Junichiro Tamamori, manga artist Michio Murakawa, painter/illustrator Naoyuki Katoh, and special projects illustrator Kia Asamiya all did autograph sessions. Yamatalk events featured Starsha’s voice actress Kikuko Inoue, Mikage Kiryu’s voice actress Eriko Nakamura, and Yuria Misaki’s voice actress Aya Uchida. And, of course, there was the original merchandise described earlier in this report.
With such an anchor at hand, it was natural to find some tie-ins in the same location if you knew where to look – or listen. For a limited time, Kodai’s voice actor Daisuke Ono could be heard giving pre-recorded announcements on the PA system of Seibu Department stores. A Seibu-owned book store named Libro opened up its own mini-exhibition with additional artwork and a “Yamato Pop-up shop” with merchandise left over from the movie campaigns.
Equally enticing was the Yamato 2199 Beer Terrace of the Starry Sky (flyer shown at right), an outdoor rooftop restaurant with Yamato decor that offered free Yamato coasters to the first 50 ticket holders each day of the exhibit. As of this writing, the beer terrace is still open, and will be there through the end of September.
With such an event, you can bet there’s a lot more to see, so dig into these galleries for a visual feast:
April 22: Commemorative train tickets
Anyone at all could go to the Art Exhibition, but Seibu Railways gave hardcore fans a chance to go Yamato-style. Two sets of limited edition commemorative tickets, one for Earth and one for Garmillas, were sold starting early on the morning of the 22nd. 3,000 copies of each set were printed, both containing one-way tickets to subway stations in and around Ikebukuro. The “bonus” parts were booklets and postcards with new artwork by Michio Murakawa.
See both sets cover to cover here.
April 22: Synchroskin
Countless Yamato-themed iPhone covers have rolled out since 2009, but this “Synchroskin” is something different. Created by a company named Print-Online, it’s a customizing kit containing adhesive sheets that allow you to “skin” your phone, and downloadable software that provides matching wallpaper and icons. So, for example, if you want your iPhone 5 to look like it came directly from the year 2199, this is what you’ve been waiting for.
Visit the company’s website here, but if you’re looking for a way to use this product outside of Japan, you’re on your own.
April 22: Manga chapter 25
Michio Murakawa’s newest installment of the Yamato 2199 manga brought his adaptation of Episode 10 to a close in a beefy 31-page segment. It appeared simultaneously on the Nico Nico Ace and Comic Walker websites. On the same day, Murakawa posted a new color piece on his blog, a previously-unseen image of Starsha that had just been added as a high-end art print to the merchandise lineup at the Seibu exhibition.
See the manga pages here.
April 24: Hello Kitty collaboration set 2
After the first collaborative “Yamato X Kitty” products rolled out at the Winter Comiket in December, it was only a matter of time before we got more. They were offered simultaneously at the Yamato Crew website and the gift shop at the Seibu gallery.
April 24: Star Blazers 2199 Volume 2
The next step forward into the US market was taken when Star Blazers 2199 Volume 2 arrived on DVD and Blu-ray from Voyager Entertainment. Limited to 1,000 copies (until further notice), it contains episodes 4-8 and comes with art cards. The episodes are subtitled in both English and Spanish, and – as has been said many times, many places – the subtitles are essentially the same as the Japanese Blu-rays. The only name change is to the series itself.
Volume 2 is now available at starblazers.com, and Volume 3 can be pre-ordered for a June 26 release. 2199 calendars and figures can also be ordered from the site.
April 25: Badge & sticker set
It’s the little things that make life sweeter. For the last five days of April, the Yamato Crew website offered this 40th anniversary pin and double stickers with any online purchase. Incidentally, pins and buttons in Japan are referred to as “Can Badges” for their resemblance to can lids. Gotta call ’em something.
April 25: Hobby magazines, June issues
Coverage was comparatively light this month, but still crafted with care. Model Graphix devoted 3 pages to Garmillas Warships set 4, which was to be released the next day. Hobby Japan focused on product announcements, scoring an exclusive with news of a forthcoming mini-Yamato Girls figure set.
See these pages here.
Dengeki Hobby magazine hit a variety of topics over 8 pages: two for upcoming products, two for the new Garmillas warships set, 1 for the new Mecha Collection models, and three for some newly-customized Cosmo Falcons.
See these pages here.
April 25: Nana Mizuki in concert
If you’ve read this far, you’ve earned a music break. On the 25th, superstar singer Nana Mizuki gave an intimate live performance in Yamaha Hall, Ginza. Her set included a new rendition of Star of Love, her touching end title song for Yamato 2199 Chapter 7. Luckily for the rest of the world, it was captured for YouTube and can be seen here. (Find the lyrics here.)
For those interested in further information, here’s some inside knowledge from Cosmo DNA member Daniel George:
When I heard back before seeing Chapter 7 that Nana Mizuki was singing the ending song for it, I was thrilled. In addition to being a top-notch voice actress, she’s also a popular vocal artist in her own right; she’s had two number one albums on the Oricon charts since 2009. Another of her songs is Vitalization, the opening for Symphogear G, a series that was airing around the time Chapter 7 came out last year and in which she had a lead voice role.
Vitalization reached #1 in the Oricon singles chart, and Star of Love, the song she performs so brilliantly here, was the B track for that single. It was the only Yamato 2199 song not to be released as the primary song on the disc and one of only a few that had no Yamato 2199 artwork on even a limited edition version. Nana Mizuki would be one of two voice actresses at the top of my list to play Teresa if they end up remaking Yamato 2 (the other being Maaya Sakamoto).
April 26: 1/1000 Garmillas warships set 4
Bandai’s big model kit release for the month was this new set, which bears a strong resemblance to Set 2 from June 2013. Both sets feature similar Astro Battleships as their main element, each with a variant bow design. Story-wise, this “underbite” variant is a newer vessel with heavier weapons named Haizerad-class. It measures about 15.5″ at 1/1000 scale.
The other elements in the set are a 1/1000 Delamaya assault ship (3.6″ long), a Mecha Collection-scale Sumaruhe recon plane, and a pair of VERY small 1/1000 ground tanks. For those keeping score, this brings Bandai very close to completing the entire line of Garmillas capital ships; the final carrier and the Domelus III are on the way, and the Deusular II is being readied as a mini-kit. After that, only fighters remain.
See photos of the finished kits here.
See photos of the packaging here.
April 26: Mecha Collection models 1 & 2
The 100 yen Space Battleship Yamato Mecha Collection mini-models were the products that truly put Bandai on the map back in the height of Yamato Fever in 1978, and are still in production today. The first few 2199 models included some of them as bonus items, and every set since then has included a 2199 craft in that size range (about 4″ long when built).
These are the first two in a brand new Yamato 2199 Mecha Collection series: Yamato and Yukikaze. Both had counterparts in the original lineup, and the amount of detail in the new versions demonstrates how far the craft of model engineering has come since 1978. Here are the originals for comparison:
The next three models in the “Mecha Colle” series have already been announced, all Garmillas ships: a Destria heavy cruiser in May, a Lambea carrier in June, and a Deusular II dreadnought in July.
See more photos of these first two mini-kits here.
April 27: Yamatalk with Starsha
Queen Starsha’s voice actress joined the fun at the Art Exhibition, and a description of it was published at this blog (click on the link for more photos). Translation follows:
A talkshow event related to the Yamato 2199 Art Exhibition was held in a meeting hall of the Seibu department store annex. The featured guest was Kikuko Inoue, voice actress of Starsha Iscandar. Conversation began with talk of the event; she had seen the art exhibition before the show and was impressed by the passion of the creative staff. Then other topics were discussed, such as her recording work and her favorite character.
Her initial directive in the voice recording was, “Please don’t sound too sexy.” Laughing, her answer was, “But it will come out anyway.” However, she did her best to find a balance between strict and gentle. Her favorite character is Dessler on the Garmillas side and Kaoru Niimi on the Yamato crew side. She also mentioned that her favorite illustration is the tapestry in the Garmillas presidential office.
She was asked to read a few lines as Starsha, and she gave it a go while looking at storyboard art. The session concluded with a rock-paper-scissors tournament.
April 30: Comic Blade, June issue
This issue contained the 10th installment of Mayumi Azuma’s Red-Eyed Ace manga, which ended not only her adaptation of Episode 18 (through the eyes of Akira Yamamoto), but also the manga series itself. No explanation was given for what seems like a premature finish, but there aren’t a lot of reasons to choose from. What is firmly known, however, is that a paperback collection will be published in June that will be 20 pages longer than all ten chapters.
See the manga pages of the final installment here.
Also spotted in April:
In addition to the various forthcoming products that graced the pages of this month’s hobby magazines, Mag Garden publishing announced another must-have book for your Yamato 2199 shelf: Naoyuki Katoh Artworks, an 80-page color collection of his many paintings and illustrations. It will be published June 30. See some samples of the interior at Mag Garden’s website here.
Premium Bandai made noise about another limited-edition Garmillas model kit set, the Haizerad and Meltoria-class ships in Imperial Guard colors. All of Premium Bandai’s products are sold online only, so you’ll need a friend in Japan to help you with this one. See product info and photos here.
In other news, Yamato 2199 landed itself a Nebula Award nomination! Nebulas are awarded by popular vote at the annual Japan SF Convention, to be announced this year on July 19. The series is nominated in the Media category against such worthy contenders as Gargantia, Arpeggio of Blue Steel, Psycho Pass, Girls and Panzer (all anime) and the live-action feature films Pacific Rim and Gravity.
Last but not least, another Yamatalk event was held May 13, just days before this report was posted. This was the first one to include content on Ark of the Stars – including the first teaser trailer – so watch for info on our Facebook page and in the next report.
A few new doujinshi appeared this month, including the first to feature up-and-coming Yamato Girl Mikage Kiryuu on a cover.
Another doujinshi to pop up was one that probably deserves mass-market consideration (upper left) titled Traced in the Latest Astronomy, Voyage to Iscandar. As the name suggests, it is devoted to the astronomical science behind the anime. From elsewhere in the fan world came a new Yuki Mori illustration (above right) by pro illustrator and game designer Kou Kawarajima.
It’s always fun to check in on what fans are doing in the modeling community. One such project, which came up for sale in an online auction this month, was a beautifully-customized 1/500 Yamato. The modeler’s name is unknown as of this writing, but his work is definitely worth a closer look; see it here.
That’s it for this round. The next report appears here on June 15. Meanwhile, join our Facebook community for daily posts and breaking news. We’ll finish with one more gem from the fan community, a faux magazine cover published on April Fool’s Day by Twitter user “Bowstring Apollo.” Enjoy.
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