No qualifiers are necessary to make this claim: December 2014 broke the record for the most Yamato activity in a single month, EVER. The premiere of Ark of the Stars was accompanied by a massive campaign that put more products in front of the public than any other 2199 premiere month, and you’d have to go back to Farewell to Yamato or Be Forever to find comparable activity from the vintage years.
there was also a record amount of print media coverage, which is collected here. Each publication is also listed in this report with links to the individual articles.
There’s no purpose to be served by further ground-laying, so let’s dive right in…
December 1: Cast messages
The official 2199 website continued its daily countdown to the premiere with two new video messages from voice actors. Today, the speakers were Yoshimasa Hosoya (Kato) and Daisuke Hirakawa (Shinohara). Click on the names to see their message on Youtube.
December 1: Metro advertising
Tokyo commuters are a captive audience for print advertising in the metro subway system, and they suddenly found themselves surrounded by Yamato images on this day, both inside the trains and throughout the stations.
December 1: Hyper Hobby #196
As usual, Hyper Hobby was the first magazine of the month with Yamato coverage. Mecha and stills from Ark of the Stars accompanied product news, dominated by the newest figures in the Yamato Girls Collection from Megahouse. Meanwhile, Bandai’s next Mecha Collection mini-model, battle carrier Darold, was announced for February.
December 1: Weekly Playboy #50
Playboy exists in Japan, but it bears little resemblance to the famed US version. A handful of pages contain “glamor photography” with all the rest being a basic men’s magazine. In contrast to the dour cover, it contained a cheerful 4-page Yamato article that introduced the all-new lineup of Yamato Girls and interviewed Director Yutaka Izubuchi.
Read the article here.
December 1: Machi Suki #26
Machi Suki [Town Paper] is a free, bi-weekly community info magazine published by e-Machi Town Co. Ltd. This particular edition covered the Kanto region, which covers seven prefectures including Tokyo. This was the first publication of the month to sport a Yamato cover, and the feature article on the first interior page included a story synopsis and this short “review:”
Space Battleship Yamato 2199 is a remake that revived the first broadcast 38 years later. The main part appeared in theaters from 2012 to September 2013 and was also broadcast on TV. The settings were carefully rebuilt to ignite the feelings of the original fans.
Yamato 2199 Ark of the Stars is a completely new feature film. Yamato has safely received the Cosmo Reverse at Iscandar, but what happens on the way home? A mysterious fleet calling itself “Gatlantis” suddenly appears at the outer edge of the Large Magellanic Cloud. After a three-way battle with Garmillas, the true ending is revealed. You should see it with your own eyes, by all means.
December 1: Figuarts Zero Yuki Mori figure preorders start
Bandai turned many heads when a previously-unknown 2199 figure collection was revealed at a Tamashii Nations event at the end of October (as seen in Report 37). The set is part of Bandai’s non-posable Figuarts Zero line. This 6″ Yuki figure with two hairstyles will be the first on the market, priced at 2969 yen and releasing May 31.
See more photos here. Release dates for other figures are still forthcoming.
December 1: Neowing clear files
Neowing is the Japanese side of the mighty CD Japan, and they got in on the bonus-item game when they offered these two clear files with Yamato DVDs and Blu-rays while supplies lasted. The “character version” had key art from A Voyage to Remember on one side, and layout drawings by Nobuteru Yuuki on the other. The “mecha version” had Ark of the Stars art on one side and a Junichiro Tamamori mecha design on the back.
For anyone still curious about “clear files,” they are a common stationery item in Japan, a plastic document holder with just about anything you could want decorating the surface.
December 1: Battlefield Infinity game launch
Announced just over a week prior, the newest 2199 mobile phone strategy game in the ever-expanding collection was officially launched on this day for iPhone and Android (Japanese OS only, naturally). Get a look at the game’s colorful website here.
December 1: World of Yamachan collaboration
Yamachan is a chain of restaurants specializing in chicken dishes, and for the month of December they offered special menu items that tied into Space Battleship Yamato. The somewhat-foreboding promotional text on their website read as follows:
Limited-time collaboration menu with World of Yamachan and the movie Yamato 2199 Ark of the Stars! We make the Battleship Yamato with special Nagoya ingredients. The image of the Wave-Motion Gun is in chicken tempura (filled with red miso sauce) and the image of the deck is in the tail of shrimp tempura. Battleship rice is seasoned with original pepper over miso sauce. The Wave-Motion Gun fires the delicious taste into your mouth!!
December 2: Cast messages
December 2: Ship’s Log #9
The latest issue of the Yamato Crew Premium Fun Club magazine (yes, they still spell it that way) was primarily a roundup of all the biggest news items of the previous three months, with 11 color pages of design sheets as the highlight. There was also an interview with singer/songwriter Nana Mizuki and a striking pinup (above right) titled Jungle Battleship by Masahiko Okura.
Also notable was a 3-page gallery of photos sent in by fans who obtained the free “promo kits” offered by Yamato Crew in September and went to work as guerilla marketers.
December 3: Cast messages
December 3: 9-minute preview
Fans around the world rejoiced when a 2199 tradition was repeated on Youtube: the first nine minutes of Ark of the Stars was released for free. This finally answered the question of how Hajime Saito figured into the new story (a prologue), revealed the spectacular opening title sequence, and gave everyone their first look at the new Gatlantis enemy.
The preview can still be seen here.
December 3: 40th Anniversary Best Track Image Album
HATS Unlimited, HUCD-10172
Expectations were high when this new CD was announced in November, and it easily surpassed all of them when it was finally heard. Its 13 tracks reach back across the entire history of Yamato music, sampling liberally from the vintage catalog and rearranging the scores for new interpretations by some of Japan’s top artists. The most prominent among these is violinist Taro Hakase, whose rendition of the main theme provides the opening title for Ark of the Stars.
Stylistically, this collection is very reminiscent of the 1982 “Rhapsody” albums, which took the same approach for violin, guitar, and piano. In this case, however, each track showcases different instruments. Other than the new version of the opening theme, the real standout is a rendition of the White Comet theme with what sounds like a cathedral choir in full voice. Read much more about the project in Report 38 here.
One more bonus for listeners was a special tie-in episode of the streaming internet program YRA Radio Yamato that could be downloaded to mobile devices with a Japanese OS.
December 3: Great Harmony ~
for Yamato 2199 digital single
The other big music news of the day was the digital release of the closing song in MP3 format with three tracks: the opening theme from Ark with Taro Hakase, and two versions of the end theme Great Harmony (with and without vocals). It was initially announced that a physical CD single would be released later in the month, but these plans were withdrawn. (The full Ark soundtrack was also announced for February, then withdrawn as well. Further news is still expected.) Meanwhile, listen to the whole thing on Youtube here.
The story behind the song was published by several online news sources, including this article on Akiba Souken:
Ayaka Hirahara participates in the ending song for Yamato 2199 Ark of the Stars!
Like composer Akira Miyagawa, it is a “generational shift” from her father.
It has been announced that Ayaka Hirahara will participate in the ending theme for the anime movie Yamato 2199 Ark of the Stars, to be released December 6. Based on the hit TV series that was produced by a new staff in 2012, it is a completely new feature film that follows Yamato 2199 A Voyage to Remember, the compilation film that opened October 11.
Some details have been revealed about the ending theme. First, composer Akira Miyagawa, who inherited the original work of his father Hiroshi Miyagawa, is producing an ending theme for the first time. The title of the song is Great Harmony ~ for Yamato 2199. According to lyricist Ms. Yumi Yoshimoto, “Yamato was the name of ancient Japan. Spirituality comes alive during a time of harmony, which is important in this era, so I write the word 大和 [Yamato] as 大 [great] and 和 [harmony] with the wish that we can all unite in this great harmony.”
It was also revealed that Ayaka Hirahara performs the vocal. Her father Makoto Hirahara once played saxophone for Hiroshi Miyagawa as a core member of the “Maestro Miyagawa ensemble.” This “shifting of generations” from parent to child is a common theme in this project. In addition to this ending song, there is also an opening in which Taro Hakase participates with a violin performance.
Ayaka Hirahara comment
I was very happy when I heard about this. I saw my father (Makoto Hirahara) perform with the “Maestro Miyagawa ensemble” many times when I was little. Therefore, the music of Hiroshi Miyagawa is imprinted with fun stories. Yamato was always played there. Also, I’m indebted to Akira-san for this. This couldn’t have happened if not for our relationship, so I have to thank him first.
But at the same time, I heard from the staff that it might not be possible because there was no time, but I desperately said, “I’ll sing it even if there’s no time!” (Laughs) I really wanted to do it, whatever it took. When I got the lyrics I thought about how to sing them, and then the earthquake came to mind. There are many people who want to return to their hometown even while suffering from grief and loss, and I felt that I wanted to sing to such people. When I first heard the song and listened to its wide range, I was concerned about whether I could sing it fully, but you can’t give up during the recording process even if it is difficult, and Akira-san thought I had the range for it.
It became a song I wanted to continue singing all the time, and I’d like anyone who is troubled or suffering to hear it and pass it on to the children. I’d like to continue singing it at all cost.
Akira Miyagawa comment
I had the feeling that it finally happened. There are various relationships in 2199, and I finally got the chance to take charge of a theme song. However, then the time came to make it. (Laughs) My father also made a lot of ending themes and insert songs, too, and it seemed to be very hard. It was the first time my tears flowed during the recording of one of my own songs. I do enough crying when composing music.
Taking Ayaka Hirahara’s singing into consideration, I played catch-ball with Yoshimoto over the lyrics again and again. In most cases, mucking around doesn’t make for a good song, but I felt a certainty about this one. So when we finally reached the block where the singer came in, I was very impressed. I think it’s probably because I arrived at a place on the other side of the song.
Ayaka Hirahawa profile
Born in Tokyo. Made her debut in 2003 with Jupiter, in which Japanese poetry was added to Jupiter from Holst’s The Planets. Won the Japan Record Rookie of the Year Award in 2004. Afterward, she performed numerous themes for TV dramas and made a musical appearance in Love Never Die in 2014.
Makoto Hirahara profile
Her father Makoto Hirahara (62 years old, born in 1952) is from Osaka and plays eight different musical instruments. He performs in multiple genres from classical to jazz and rock. He gained success in a number of concert performances with Hiroshi Miyagawa as a member of the “Maestro Miyagawa ensemble,” and received favorable reviews for his duets with Akira Miyagawa on the album Acoustic Yamato in 2005. He performed with his daughter in a concert to commemorate the 30th anniversary of his career at the Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall on July 30, 2004. Since 2008, he has been active in the “Two-Man Orchestra of Akira and Makoto.”
December 3: TV Station magazine #26
This biweekly magazine from Diamond Publishing was the first to publish a voice actor interview on the new film, spotlighting Daisuke Ono (Kodai). He talked about the moment he first heard there would be a movie and gave fans a hint of what was to come.
Read the interview here.
December 3: Ark of the Stars Launch Special
TV specials have been a tradition since Yamato Resurrection arrived in 2009. (There were at least two for the live-action movie and one for each of 2199‘s first three chapters.) It premiered December 3 on TV Saitama and jumped around to other major networks throughout the month: one on the 4th, two on the 5th, three on the 6th, two on the 7th, and more on the 13th and 17th.
It contained a capsule history of the original saga, an intro to the new movie, the Yamato in 3 Minutes featurette, a montage of new footage, a Q&A with Director Yutaka Izubuchi (repeating information that appeared in a lot of this month’s print interviews), music recording sessions, Q&A with Akira Miyagawa, violinist Taro Hakase, and vocalist Ayaka Hirahawa, and a handful of the video cast messages. The Hosts were voice actresses Aya Uchida (Yuria Misaki) and Eriko Nakamura (Mikage Kiryu).
The complete program was uploaded to Youtube December 6. See it (with numerous commercials for Yamato products) here.
December 3: Bandai Channel premiere
The first chance to see Ark of the Stars actually arrived three days before the official premiere when Bandai offered the entire film via its streaming service. On December 3 and 4 from a period of 6pm to 6am the next day, the first 4,000 users who registered could watch it from start to finish. That was cutting it just about as close as could be, since Ark of the Stars completed post-production on this very same day.
The 2199 TV series and A Voyage to Remember were also available, and thanks to a special cross-promotion, users who watched any of these could download exclusive items for the Yamato 2199 Cosmo Guardian mobile phone game.
Click here to continue