Space Battleship Yamato 2199 Report 8, Part 2

Back up to part 1

June 8: Voice Actor Animedia July issue

Animedia, published by Gakken Marketing, is Japan’s second longest-running anime specialty magazine after Animage, and this spinoff title focuses entirely on the pop-idol-like world of voice actors. (Something else that got its start because of Space Battleship Yamato.) The July issue carried a lively interview with Daisuke Ono (Kodai) and Kenichi Suzumura (Shima) that almost reduced them to rabid fanboys. Translated text follows:

Traveling to Iscandar for the fate of the Earth

The original Space Battleship Yamato gets a complete remake, Yamato 2199. Daisuke Ono and Kenichi Suzumura become the key people, playing Susumu Kodai and Shima Daisuke. What are the feelings of these two as they take on the high expectations of this epic challenge…?

We’re excited that it goes beyond imagination and expectation

Interviewer: In Space Battleship Yamato 2199, Mr. Ono plays Susumu Kodai and Mr. Suzumura plays Shima Daisuke. What was your state of mind when your roles were decided?

Ono: It was unbelievable. Because Kodai is a role that many people know, it didn’t sink in that I would be playing it.

Suzumura: It was the same for me. But when I studied some materials beforehand to commit to the settings and lines, I felt “this is a work being made earnestly by people who love Yamato.” So I thought, “I absolutely want to participate in it!”

Ono: Did you watch the original?

Suzumura: It was rebroadcast many times. But I didn’t see it until after I grew up.

Ono: But Yamato is the pinnacle of SF anime, and since I knew that it was the basis for the SF anime that came after it, I got excited when it was first mentioned.

Suzumura: It’s something like the ancestor of SF anime. Therefore, I thought I had to meet the challenge with respect.

Interviewer: What was the reaction around you?

Ono: There are many seniors from the Yamato generation whom I respect, and though they said various things…the expectations and the pressure built up anyway. (Laughs)

Suzumura: It may be especially so for Kodai. I showed the trailer to [voice actor] Mitsuo Iwata and he was surprised at first by the high quality. He got goosebumps and said, “I think I’m going to cry.” I was glad.

Ono: My body tightens up when I have such a reaction.

Interviewer: Although this work follows the original, there are some changes in the two characters you play.

Ono: That’s right. Originally, Kodai was a hot-blooded type who would rush in, but my character is a little more restrained. It seems the setup with he and Shima has been reversed.

Suzumura: According to the director, the setup conversion of Kodai and Shima was done according to modern trends.

Interviewer: Such as?

Ono: Today, unlike in the old days, the people around a hot-booded leader like Kodai might not follow him. So you could say he was changed into a man with more composure.

Suzumura: Even if it is said that Shima acts goofy, it’s not true at all. He has a firm sense of duty when he boards Yamato. I think his role [in the story] was changed after thinking about what kind of people are truly suitable to board Yamato.

Ono: Ah, I see. The personality of the characters is certainly depicted clearly. Mr. Suzumura’s insight is a good one.

Interviewer: Chapter 1 is out now on DVD and Blu-ray. What are the highlights?

Ono: As expected, the scene of Yamato launching for space. When Mr. Suzumura and I watched it on the screen for the first time, we were impressed.

Suzumura: It happened! I unconsciously gave it a standing ovation. (Laughs)

Ono: I got goosebumps from head to toe. Also, I thought, “If it’s this good in Chapter 1, where does it go from here?”

Suzumura: Definitely. However, if you think about it calmly, despite all the expectations and attention focused on it, for us to have made something that exceeds those expectations is truly remarkable.

Interviewer: What are your recommended points, Mr. Suzumura?

Suzumura: The sound side. The score of the past is reproduced with modern technology, so I enjoy the wonderful music with both newness and nostalgia.

Ono: For me, it’s the “Wandaba.”

Suzumura: The “Wandaba!” This is definitely a point to check!! It’s the music that plays in the battle scene of Chapter 2 when the male chorus sings “dabadabadaba.” The source of this was originally the Ultraman series when it was used in the sortie, and it’s a classic for tokusatsu [special effects] fans. This is a good place to stop, Mr. Ono, or it will become a soliloquy of extreme mania! [Laughs]

Ono: I understand, that’s enough!

[Explanatory note from August Ragone: “Wandaba” is a famous repeating chorus line created by composer Tohru Fuyuki in his score for the Ultra Series, which began with Ultra Seven (1967) in a song of the same title, which used a “1, 2, 3, 4” repeating background chorus. But, the first official use of the “Wandaba” was in Return of Ultraman (1971) for the heroic theme of the Monster Attack Team as they sortie into action. Not only has Fuyuki used it extensively, but other composers have also incorporated it into both live-action and anime soundtracks over the years, such as Mobile Police Patlabor. If you hear one, it’s probably Fuyuki or inspired by Fuyuki.]

Interviewer: So when Chapter 2 opens on June 30, we should pay attention to the sound.

Ono: Not just that, of course. There’s also a battle scene with the Wave-Motion Gun!

Suzumura: That and the warp scene. Every essence of Yamato will be unveiled in Chapter 2, so look forward to it!

June 8: New Type July issue

New Type (from Kadokawa group publishing) was among the first to cover Yamato 2199 back in its April issue (published March 10), turning heads with some eye-popping original art that provided the first closeup detail of the new Yamato crew uniform. (See it in Report 4 here.) They did it again in the July issue with the striking piece shown above and a short interview with Daisuke Ono. Translated text follows:

Navigator

Daisuke Ono as Susumu Kodai

The mission is to pass on Yamato to the next generation

Susumu Kodai. Inheriting that name means accepting a mission to save the Earth. Daisuke Ono says that he feels the importance of that responsibility.

Space Battleship Yamato is recognized as the origin source of SF anime in Japan. When it was decided to give me the role of Kodai, various voice actors told me, ‘that’s great!’ Then I thought about the fans and felt the pressure of carrying this important responsibility.”

But the heavy burden became a positive one after he entered the scene.

“The formation of the cast fulfills the same structure as the crew. Together, we support the tradition of Yamato as well as each other. When I understood that, I could relax.”

Also, the changes to Kodai in 2199 were helpful to Mr. Ono.

“The original Kodai was hot-blooded and burned for revenge, but this time I am concealing it inside. It can be felt from the picture. You can get a lot of information from the film in 2199. When I saw Sasha, for example, there was a sense of insecurity from seeing an alien, and on the other hand there is a complicated expression that is similar to love. General Director Yutaka Izubuchi told me, ‘That’s fine.’ Conversely, Shima is a bright and cheerful character this time. We’re placing part of the old Kodai’s personality onto Shima to balance things out.”

Although Yamato is a starting point, Ono feels that its power supersedes the generations.

“Our mission is not only to protect Yamato, but also to pass it on to the next generation. As for those who know Yamato from the old days, this is a work that everyone can enjoy, so by all means I want several generations to see it.”

Navigator Plus

A glimpse of Justice on the Gamilas side

“As for the depiction of the Gamilas side in 2199, I’d like you to pay attention to parts that have taken a step forward. In the past Yamato, they were portrayed as an enemy to be hated from the Earth side, and seemed to be thought of as “radical demons.” But in 2199 Gamilas has its own kind of justice. There are clear differences in their classes, and there are even glimpses of sorrow. In that respect, they are very similar to human beings. I think it’s interesting to see things from a Gamilas viewpoint.” – Ono

June 15: Great Mechanics DX #21

As everyone should know from the prodigious article we presented from issue 20 (seen here), Great Mechanics DX provides the most in-depth Yamato 2199 coverage found anywhere. They proved it again in this issue with 20 pages of art and text. It’s too much to fit into this report, so it has a page all to itself here.

June 22: new Gamilas characters

The official 2199 website added these two new profiles to their character page just a week before they would make their first appearance on the screen. Who are they? Find out in our own 2199 Character Guide here.

June 25: Hobby Japan & Dengeki Hobby, August issues

As the final days counted down to the premiere of Chapter 2, the rulers of Japan’s hobby kingdom gave us another round of coverage. Hobby Japan ran four pages on the film and forthcoming products; see them here.

Dengeki saw this bet and raised it with 17 pages. They lavished unprecedented attention on the mecha seen in the Battle of Pluto from Episode 1. Gorgeous scratch-built models and support materials opened the vault on the flagship Kirishima and its Gamilas enemies. A glorious 2-sided Yamato 2199 poster was also included. See all the pages from Dengeki here.

Kirishima (Kongo type space battleship)

It was a new and powerful ship designed and built by the Southern Shipyards that launched into space in 2171, but its propulsion engine became outdated in one fell swoop when it encountered the astonishing weaponry of Gamilas vessels in 2191. Since then, although its armor and weapons were built up and reinforced many times, the performance gap between it and the enemy ships could not be filled. By the time of Operation M in 2199 (the Battle of Pluto), Kirishima was the only remaining flagship of the Far East space battle group and the combined space fleet, commanded by Admiral Juuzo Okita.

Its hull is configured with flowing curved surfaces reminiscent of ancient warships. It is armed with four large-calibre, high-pressure laser cannons, eight torpedo launchers, and 16 missile launchers. In order to bridge the gap against the Gamilas warships in the late 2190s, remodeling work was carried out to provide it with increased anti-laser armor and additional anti-aircraft weapons.

It also received a bow-mounted, large-aperture (36cm) positronic shock cannon, a new weapon that became the prototype for the turret-style positronic shock cannons that were built for the Dreadnaught-class space battleship. Because of the bulk and complexity of its firing mechanism, the ship could only be fitted with a single firing gate at the time of its remodeling.

Its effectiveness against Gamilas ship armor was proven in firing tests, but the drawback was that it consumed significant power from the engine while recharging after a shot, so its firing opportunities were limited. However, in Operation K2 (the Second Battle of Mars), skillful fleet movements and effective use of the weapon by Captain Okita succeeded in repulsing the Gamilas fleet for the first time.

A unique feature of this ship is the upper gun turret, which is united with the enclosed bridge. Originally, the Kongo-type’s bridge was installed in the upper hull as on other warships, but after gaining more experience against Gamilas ships, the combined bridge and turret were built at the time of the late 2190s remodeling. This unified the process of targeting, aiming, and shooting to increase efficiency.

SPECIFICATIONS

Ship type: Kongo-type space battleship
Overall length : 205m
Ship number : BBS-555
Weaponry:
– 36cm positronic shock cannon x l
– 36cm high-pressure twin-beam laser cannon x 4
– Torpedo tubes x 8
– Missile launchers x 16
– Many anti-aircraft guns

June 24: TV Special

Yamato 2199: Before the Chapter 2 Premiere ~ Our Yamato Special made its debut on the Tokyo MX cable network. This was a followup to a special that preceded the first film and would soon be seen again as a bonus feature on home video. The new special was another half-hour interview with Yutaka Izubuchi and various cast members all about Chapter 2.

June 27: End title CD single (Lantis, LACM-4928)

New Yamato music is always a major highlight after the anime itself, and this was proven again when the second CD single for Yamato 2199 sold out on day 1, at least from online sources like Amazon.co.jp and CD Japan. The disc contains two entirely new ending themes, one for each of the two movies. May the Light of the Stars Shine Forever is sung by Aira Yuhki and was heard at the end of Episodes 1 and 2. You Who Know the Beautiful Earth is sung by Aki Misato for subsequent episodes. The disc also contains non-vocal versions of both songs for a total of four tracks.

June 30: Chapter 2 Premiere

Yamato 2199: Desperate Battle in the Heliosphere is the title of the second film, collecting episodes 3-6 in a single package. The rest of the series is scheduled to follow this format for a total of five more films. A few days before the premiere, some theaters announced that advance tickets had completely sold out. This was particularly true of the Shinjuku Picadilly in Tokyo (a name that should be familiar to Yamatour readers), which once again hosted an opening-day talk show. This time, Director Yutaka Izubuchi was joined by the voice actors for Nanbu [Dash], Ota [Eager] and Aihara [Homer] to introduce the film.

The secondary story to this was all about the swag, most importantly the limited-edition theater-exclusive Blu-ray disc for Chapter 2. As with Chapter 1, the plan was to sell it at theater gift shops from opening day. Note the past tense in that sentence. Only a few days earlier, it was announced on the official website that because of a technical glitch in the disc, the entire run was being canceled. In lieu of the disc, ticket holders could purchase a voucher to have the corrected version shipped to them starting July 12, just before the film ended its two-week run on the 13th.

This didn’t deter fans one bit. In fact, the vouchers for Chapter 2 sold out even faster than the discs for Chapter 1, all of them being swept up in just three days. The discs started showing up right on schedule July 12, bundled with an exclusive postcard and a booklet of storyboards for Episode 3. The standard Blu-ray and DVD were released just over two weeks later, on July 27.

As a sort of consolation prize for not being able take the movie home with them, moviegoers had a whole new line of theater goods to sort through, including bookmarks, keychains, mugs, coasters, trading cards and more. The clear files were the biggest seller with their big, beautiful artwork, and it was reported that over 5,000 were sold over the opening weekend. The real prize was a new program book, formatted exactly like the first one and suggesting that this too will be a mainstay for the rest of the series.

See a gallery of the theater goods here.

The box office figures for opening weekend showed a 15% increase over Chapter 1, a boost from 13,000 moviegoers to 15,000 in the ten theaters that showed the film. Since the running length was twice that of Chapter 1, ticket prices were higher. This accounted for a 70% rise in profits, from 13 million yen up to 23 million. The film was also available via pay-per-view from the Hikari TV cable network, and records recorded a purchase rate 40% higher than Chapter 1.

Last but not least, the release date for Chapter 3, The Endless Journey, was announced for October 13 in theaters and November 22 on video. This dashed all hopes that we would be getting a new film every two months, but it was also stated that the plan to release another Blu-ray disc on premiere day was unshaken by recent developments.

The month following Chapter 2’s premiere had plenty to keep everyone fed. Click here to continue to Report 9!

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