The “pamphlet” for Ark of the Stars was a real beauty, 48 full-color pages of solid Yamato goodness: introduction and story synopsis, character design, mecha design, location design, cast and staff interviews, two paintings, and 15 pages of product ads. As usual, it opened with a short essay by Yamato superfan Ryusuki Hikawa.
Toward an open future
“The possibility of retelling”
by Ryusuke Hikawa (anime and tokusatsu researcher)
Space Battleship Yamato 2199 is not a work that fits into the general category of “remake” or “repeat’; it’s a work that shows the “possibility of retelling.” If there are new developments in the future, it will be seen as a starting point for years to come. I’m glad this latest work, Ark of the Stars, while taking on the appearance of a “side story on the way home from Iscandar,” does not show a closed attitude. It adds a bold “interpretation” to Yamato’s journey, with a flavor of lyrical fantasy and new concepts on a new stage, while maintaining the mood of 2199’s conclusion at the same time.
When thinking of the characteristics of director Yutaka Izubuchi as a designer and creator – organizing and integrating various elements while finding the best possible aesthetics with brush-up – he is “refining” through “tuning.” The direction of that tuning in Yamato stimulated the imagination in two big ways. One was to capture the “Yamato worldview and story” to comprehensively unify the “Yamato saga” The other was to polish its appeal as a “space opera.” I felt this again significantly in Ark of the Stars.
Space opera is a genre term which was long considered derogatory. Before World War II, it was a popular premise in space-action adventure stories published in pulp fiction magazines. Early critics dismissed it as “something that closes off the potential of SF” by likening it to “horse opera” (Western films) or “soap opera” (popular radio dramas). In fact, there were many scenes that simply reused the formula of a Western, such as a gunman with a ray gun in his hand defeating aliens to save a beautiful woman. Formulaic endings were also produced, such as the discovery of a mysterious civilization being found on a planet after a big uproar, and it is decided “this is something mankind shouldn’t know about.”
Over time, the possibilities of a “grand narrative” were rediscovered. The genre also evolved through the visual development of SF in film and TV with Star Wars (1977) at its apex. The presence of such classic space opera elements as “credits” (for currency), “tractor beam,” and the “alien bar” are irrefutable evidence.
In Japan, a popular essay collection by Masahiro Noda titled Classic Space Opera Era SF Hero Group (1969) rode in on the paperback boom and space opera was re-evaluated in its wake. Translated classics such as Lensman, Star Wolf, and Captain Future won new readers. A space gunman also played an active role in the Northwest Smith series (by C.L. Moore), in which a wild and rough man is captivated by the beauty of “Shambleau” in what is now considered to be a masterpiece. The importance of that in the context of Ark of the Stars should be self-evident.
At the same time, interesting depictions of the “Yamato saga” are scattered throughout this work. The Garmillas and Gatlantis empires, forces that battle for galactic supremacy, are repeated from the 2199 TV series, and the “space seeding plan” implied on planet Beemera 4 is also seen. In the old Yamato series, the “mystery” or “promise” of identical DNA levels in alien races increased with each sequel, and now the spirit of SF can be felt in trying to weave them together again.
Also this time, an exquisite gimmick allows not only Captain Hijikata to reappear, but also Hajime Saito. Of the two routes to a sequel, either Farewell to Yamato or Yamato 2, expectations of the latter are inspired by the appearance of the Flame Strike Gun. Whether or not this will develop into a springboard creates an atmosphere of unpredictability. Whether there will be a sequel in the first place is also unknown, and it’s a genuine pleasure to enjoy that anticipation.
Yamato 2199 was made by the generation whose imagination was ignited by the original forty years ago. They redefined the starting point because of the evolution that developed out of that initial contact. If the various elements embodied in 2199 further inspire the imagination of a new generation, we can expect a “chain of relationships” to be born. The response of “succession” is a supreme thing. The possibility of “Yamato can also be depicted this way” is the fruition of a “miracle.” Its timing almost exactly commemorates the 40th anniversary of the original broadcast, and I’m sincerely delighted to be present at such a rare moment.
Special thanks to Ryusuke Hikawa
See the Ark of the Stars program book from cover to cover here.
Read the translated interviews here.
The products that accompanied the film constituted the largest single haul in Yamato history.
Click here to see the complete collection as presented in Report 38.
Click here for a closer look at specific items.
Yamato 2199 Complete Works 1 & 2
As promised, the first two books in the ultimate Yamato 2199 set first appeared on December 6, packaged in a slipcase big enough to accommodate the third volume when it arrives in spring 2015. The A4 page size is larger than the original 1978 “silver books,” but the content follows the same interior format. The major difference is that the originals included scripts for their respective episodes. In this case, the scripts will occupy a fourth volume.
Volume 1 (336 pages) covers episodes 1-10 with color stills and model sheets. Designs for Earth characters and Earth mecha are shown in full. Volume 2 (352 pages) does the same with episodes 11-22. Designs for Garmillas characters and mecha are shown in full. (And the English spelling is definitively “Garmillas.”) Extra material consists only of mecha size charts. Information on the content of Volume 3 can be found in the next report.
Though the content is superb, in this reviewer’s opinion the books fall short in two ways. First, the color printing is darker than it should be overall, so make sure you read this under direct light. Second, a significant portion of the black and white design art is printed so small as to be impractical. The Earth and Garmillas books did a much better job in that regard, so their value remains high. On the positive side, there can be no more comprehensive print record of 2199 than this.
Believe it or not, these books CAN be mail-ordered from CD Japan here. (Though they got the release date wrong in their listing.)
1/1000 Gatlantis Carrier Kiska
This is Bandai’s first new 1/1000 model released since July 2014, and the first Gatlantis kit at that scale. At 334mm long (about 13.1 inches), it beats Yamato by only a hair, but is far bulkier overall with its complex double-hull shape.
It also comes with four to-scale Devastator fightercraft, and one at Mecha Collection size. Though there was no Devastator in the vintage Mecha Collection lineup, one was available as a bonus kit with the EDF Battleship (1979).
Though this kit is a first in many ways, it is actually NOT the first large-scale Nazca-class ship. That distinction belongs to a little-known (and now very rare) model released by Nomura Toy Co. in November 1978, during its tenure as a Yamato 2 sponsor. It clocked in at 11.4″ long and is now prized by collectors. See all the Nomura models here.
See a gallery of finished kits here.
See more product photos here.
Mecha Collection model 12
The Cosmo Falcon joined the mini-kit lineup on this day, released in Shinohara blue. Since the 1/72 version also has a variant in Kato colors, it’s possible that one may follow at this scale.
Readers with sharp memories will recall that this is not the first Cosmo Falcon to be released in this scale. Prior to the debut of the Mecha Collection, an early version was bundled with the January 2013 issue of Dengeki Hobby magazine (published November 2012).
Though both were made by Bandai, they are not identical; the parts distribution on the sprues is completely different, the base is different, and the first version included a clear cockpit piece. The fuselage was essentially the same, but a few details were refined for the newer one. This is how you drive collectors crazy for decades to come.
See a gallery of finished models here.
See more product photos here.
Mecha Collection Theater Special Set
It looks like two kits, but it’s one box. This unique double kit was sold only in theaters starting on December 6 and contained two of the prime vessels from Ark of the Stars: Yamato and Berger’s Garmillas carrier Lambea.
Originally released as Mecha Collection kits 01 and 04 respectively, they were bundled together in this non-numbered exclusive…
…and both molded in “Cosmo Clear” colors to make you want them all over again. At this point, however, they can only be purchased from second-hand sources such as online auctions.
1/72 Cosmo Zero “metallic coating” version
This was the last new model kit for the day, a reissue of the original Alpha 1 with new box art and reflective coating on the plastic. This, too, is destined to be pursued as an after-market item unless Bandai decides to reissue it for general sale.
YRA Radio Yamato Vol. 4
Tablier Communications, TBCD-0330
Originally announced for release on December 24, this CD went to press early so that copies could be sold in theaters with the movie premiere. As a quick refresher, YRA is a weekly program that can be heard (in Japan) via the Onsen online radio website. Its original 26-episode incarnation ran concurrently with Yamato 2199 in 2012/13, then went on hiatus until September 2014, when it resumed with Episode 27.
YRA is the real-world equivalent of Yuria Misaki’s shipboard radio program, hosted by her voice actor, Aya Uchida. In this revamped version of the show, Eriko Nakamura (Mikage Kiryu) joined as a co-host. This CD collects the “drama” portion of the show, a side-story to the anime. The two characters team up with Analyzer for various escapades with these titles:
(27) Start the return journey, a new friend (I know)
(28) Confrontation and reconciliation and confrontation
(29) Yuria, Mikage, and Analyzer, all partners
(30) Listening message
(31) One-way radio,
(32) After talk till dawn
(Bonus) Kodai-kun’s close call (with guest star Daisuke Ono)
Bandai fashion net
Several apparel items from this division of Bandai were included in the run of products available in theaters, but the company made a point to promote these two crew jerseys on Twitter in case they got lost in the shuffle of T-shirts, mugs, posters, and everything else that competed for attention.
Best lottery products
The Ichiban Kuji [Best Lottery] is a prize campaign operated by Banpresto (a game-prize division of Bandai) through convenience stores. During these campaigns, fans can purchase lottery tickets and win prizes on the spot. The first Yamato 2199 prizes were awarded in February 2014, and this modest mini-campaign was a follow-up to tie in with the new movie.
Prize #1 was an art print (above left) and prize #2 was a series of nine “visual sheets” with design art from the anime. An additional and much rarer prize was a color variant of a previously-made Yuki Mori figure (not shown).
Satellite Gallery exhibition
Tokyo was certainly the hub of all the action on December 6, but it was not the only place one could absorb Yamato that day. The 2199 Art Exhibition, which had been traveling since April, was partially revived at the Marui Family department store in Ebina, roughly a one-hour train ride out of central Tokyo (as described in the Yamatour 2014 travelogue).
Here, fans could see a sampling of the full gallery collection, along with one of the two 1/100 Yamato display models and a full range of merchandise not sold in theaters. Those who made a point to visit on opening day were lucky enough to take the virtual tour of Yamato via the Oculus Rift VR viewer.
Namba Parks Cinema display
Osaka is much farther away from Tokyo than Ebina, but here too there was something special. Made of chocolate. Namba Parks Cinema is located in Osaka’s Namba district, and has seen its own share of special events. If any live presentation traveled outside Tokyo, it went to Osaka, and if it went to a theater it ended up at Namba Parks.
On December 6, the 1/500 chocolate Yamato introduced at Premium Night reappeared in its home town, where it would be reside for the next eight days. (Side note: if this information was known in time, we could TOTALLY have seen it in person on the 7th when we visited Osaka for Yamatour 2014. One day I will get over this, but that day hasn’t come yet. -Tim Eldred)
A local website named Namba Keizai published an article that gave us more information on how the model was made…
Chocolate Space Battleship Yamato with LED lights and moveable guns at Namba Parks Cinema
To celebrate the premiere of Yamato 2199 Ark of the Stars on December 6, Namba Parks Cinema began the exhibition of a 1/500 scale Space Battleship Yamato miniature made of chocolate. This work, which even faithfully reproduces the rear engine, was made by chocolatier chef Motohiro Okai of Chocolate Boutique L’eclat, the chocolate shop of the Rihga Royal Hotel, Osaka.
A longtime Yamato fan, he said, “I built Yamato plamodels in the old days, and now I’ve built it in chocolate.”
The production period was about three months and used about 6 kilos [over 13 pounds] of chocolate. It was created in a chilled room with multiple layers of gloves so that it would not melt from room or body temperature. Okai made the gun turrets moveable, thinking that “I want it to be close to the real thing.” The Wave-Motion Gun, bridge, and main engine port are lit with LED lights, faithfully reproducing the original image.
The total length of the model is 66cm with detailed reproductions of its fighters and white clouds made of white chocolate. The display will be exhibited at Namba Parks Cinema through the 14th.
Chocolate Boutique Leclat also features the popular “Planet Chocolates,” a collaborative, limited-edition product that releases “the cosmic glow of Yamato 2199” with five pieces for 2700 yen. The desolate Earth, Garmillas, Iscandar, the restored Earth, and Yamato’s bow are all expressed in chocolate.
See a photo gallery of the 1/500 chocolate Yamato here.
Stage greeting in Sendai
Last item of the day: after the morning stage greeting at the Shinjuku Piccadilly, Eriko Nakamura embarked on an ambitious solo tour that would take the rest of the weekend. Her first stop was Sendai (188 miles from Tokyo) for a 3pm stage greeting at a MOVIX theater. No photos of the greeting could be found, but Nakamura herself Tweeted the photo above left of a welcoming message board. Afterward, a fan with the Twitter handle “Shugaotto P” posted their personal account of the event (above right).
This is where December 6 ends, but the rest of this historic month still lies ahead.