By definition, the month following the busiest Yamato month of all time is going to show a decline in activity. From a broad overview, January 2015 looked like a well-deserved break, after what must have been an exhausting stretch for 2199‘s production and marketing crews, with less than a quarter of the action we saw in December. But it was still a good time to be a fan.
Of the 88 theaters that opened Ark of the Stars on December 6, 65 of them discontinued it on January 9 and the rest trickled away throughout the month with the last ones closing on the 23rd. One by one, seven new theaters picked it up from there for a second run into February. On the date this report was posted (Feb 15), it could still be seen on the big screen if you looked hard enough.
Here we pick up at the start of a new year of Yamato, but first we’ll jump slightly backward for one last dangly-bit from December 2014.
December 28: Comiket Anime Guide
Fans who visit the twice-yearly Comiket convention get to take home a free magazine titled Makers Across Anime Guide. In the spirit of cooperation, anime studios pool their resources to publish it, each taking the opportunity to promote their projects. The page spread above promoted Ark of the Stars with this short interview:
What does Eriko Nakamura, the voice actor who plays Mikage Kiryu,
find appealing about Ark of the Stars?
Interviewer: Now that the new feature film is out, please tell us how you feel.
Eriko Nakamura: I’m really excited. I’m really glad that fans can finally see it, and it’s fun to see their reactions.
Interviewer: Mikage Kiryu has a very important role in this film. Was there pressure when performing it?
Nakamura: The pressure I put on myself when performing it was huge. (Laughs) But I didn’t feel any particular pressure or fear toward the fans who would see it. It’s not something I’m making all by myself, and both the staff and cast are made up of many people who worked hard to give it their best. I learned about it during the studio recordings and the radio show and related events.
Interviewer: What was the atmosphere at the voice recording?
Nakamura: The only recording that was done since everyone worked on the TV series was narration for the compilation film, A Voyage to Remember. For me, after the long absence, the feeling of “finally” was strong. Of course, a new enemy appears in Ark of the Stars, so some voice actors joined Yamato for the first time, but there was no difference in the environment at all. And since it’s the great work called Yamato, I think everyone entered it smoothly.
Cover of the Makers Across Anime Guide
Interviewer: Please tell me the highlights of the film.
Nakamura: I think the biggest highlight has to be the dynamic battle scenes that are suitable for a completely new feature film. I didn’t participate in the recordings for the tense battle scenes on the first bridge, but I was in the studio when they were recorded. At that time, the entire studio basically became the bridge, and there was a tremendous sense of realism. In addition to the “dynamic” parts, the “still” parts with the exchange of people’s thoughts and emotions was depicted very carefully, so the “stillness” and “dynamics” are a perfect combination.
Interviewer: Please tell me what you think is appealing about Yamato 2199.
Nakamura: Since Ark of the Stars takes place while Yamato is returning to Earth from Iscandar, the enemy from the TV series, Garmillas, is actually no longer the enemy. But there are still a lot of people on Yamato‘s crew that don’t believe this. Meanwhile, they come across people from Garmillas who were the crew of a ship that ran aground during the Battle of the Rainbow Star Cluster. They don’t know about the outcome with Garmillas, so when they meet the crew of Yamato, their feeling is still, “We should defeat this enemy.”
From Yamato‘s point of view, we don’t necessarily think Garmillas is an enemy any more, so if there’s an opponent from that side, you can’t show it as a simple conflict since the thought is, “Are they really the enemy?” They’re baring their teeth at us, so they might be the enemy, but what we’ve seen through the TV series to this point is that the Garmillas have their own sense of justice for themselves, things that they want to defend, and reasons for wanting to enforce their will as they fought Yamato. So, this wild idea took flight in me, wondering if the enemy Gatlantis this time have their own circumstances driving them. Parts that can’t be expressed in simple morality can be very thought-provoking, and I think that’s the appeal of the Yamato series.
Interviewer: Finally, please state your message to the fans.
Nakamura: Please go visit a theater for the New Year’s holidays and see Ark of the Stars. I think everyone knows Space Battleship Yamato is a work that can be enjoyed across the generations. If someone who has already seen it goes back home and invites their family and friends to come and see it with them again, I’ll be very happy.
Special thanks to Neil Nadelman for translation support.
January 1: New year artwork
Starting on the first of the year, the official Yamato 2199 website posted a new image on their home page each day for six days. All of them are shown here.
Each image was up for one day only, reusing artwork that was only partially seen on postcards given away with 2199 videos and at special events. (See a comparative gallery here.)
Below left: Character designer Nobuteru Yuuki also got into the spirit by posting this drawing on Facebook of Kaoru Niimi, dressed for the Year of the Sheep, accompanied by a thank-you for everyone’s support this year.
January 4: Yamatalk event
Voice actor Eriko Nakamura Tweeted the photo above right on the 4th, showing the stage she would soon occupy for a Yamatalk session at the final 2199 Art Exhibition in Fukuoka. A ticket lottery was held and 120 people scored seats for the event. The exhibition closed for the last time on January 6.
January 11: Comic City convention
Comic City is a single-day convention in Osaka, one of the many that brings fans together to buy and sell doujinshi [fanzines] and whatever else their imaginations cook up. This year, 25 fan groups (called “circles”) united under a single banner to sell homemade products based on Yamato 2199. The name of their sub-group was Raise Anchor! and they had plenty to offer. The organizer was a fan artist named Uri Hoshino (going by the online name ASIA02), who began planning the event in May 2014 to ride the anticipated momentum of Ark of the Stars.
The circles all contributed to a “memory book” (shown at right) that was sold along with the many doujinshi they each created on their own. It seems most of the planning went into an event-within-the-event, a stamp rally in which the participants would fill up a 2199-style “disciplinary action card” and win beautifully-made prizes for their efforts:
Wrapping paper, dust cloth, twin-planet Smart Phone decorations
Garmillas herbal tea package, bookmark set
2015 desk calendar with fan art
Visit the Raise Anchor! website here.
Visit organizer Uri Hoshino’s Pixiv page here.
Along with the return of Yamato, Radio Yamato also ends today. We give our cheerful goodbye
and hope for the day we can be reunited with everyone. Thank you for your longtime support.
January 16: Yamatalk event
Voice actors Aya Uchida (Yuria Misaki) and Eriko Nakamura (Mikage Kiryu) have made more personal appearances together than anyone else in the cast, and this event would be their last. One more time, the Shinjuku Piccadilly theater was the site of a Yamatalk, this one titled Yamatalk Business Trip ~ YRA Radio Yamato Last Time Special. After one more screening of Ark of the Stars, the two spent an hour on stage looking back over their entire Yamato 2199 experience. The image that loomed over them on the movie screen was drawn especially for the event by manga artist Michio Murakawa.
Audience members walked away with a special commemorative card using another piece by Murakawa from the end titles of A Voyage to Remember. (The signatures are printed.)
January 19: Phoenix Darts game cards
The game of darts now has a presence in the digital world, thanks in part to Phoenix Darts game machines made by Pacific Amusement. The game works just like its analog ancestor, but with a digital screen and precision scoring. Regular players store their records on IC cards, and as of January 19 you could wield custom Yamato 2199 cards to make you cooler than all the other dartists.
Visit the English-language Phoenix Dart website here.
See a tournament on Youtube here.
January 21: Manga chapter 32
After the irregular schedule of recent chapters, due entirely to Michio Murakawa’s drawing skills being diverted to movie and promotional projects, he plunged back into his adaptation of Episode 14 (The Witch Whispers). In what must have been a particularly grueling schedule, he delivered two chapters in a single month, totaling over 80 pages of art. As usual, they appeared on the online manga sites Nico Nico Ace and Comic Walker.
The results are astounding, a greatly-expanded version of the story that digs deep into the intimate, tragic, and sometimes brutal backstories of the crew as uncovered by Mirenel Links.
See chapter 32 here. Chapter 33 comes up later in this report.
January 22: Ark of the Stars home video announced
As Ark of the Stars wound down its time in movie theaters, Bandai Visual made the announcement that it will begin its life on home video May 27. Best news up front: the movie WILL have English subtitles. Now the complicated part: there will be four separate editions. Six if you count the Yamato Crew versions.
First, the running length of the film is 112 minutes, and the disc will include 38 minutes of promotional extras, including event coverage, commercials, and trailers. Like the previous 2199 discs, it will be packaged with a booklet, an inner jacket by Nobuteru Yuuki and an outer sleeve painted by Naoyuki Katoh.
Single disc editions:
DVD: 7344 yen (region 2, no subtitles)
Blu-ray: 8424 yen (region free, English subs)
Two-disc editions will come with three hours of extra material. The complete list of features has not been released, but it will include TV specials, more event videos, voice recording footage, and a storyboard collection. An exclusive Amazon.co.jp edition will come with a storage box for the entire 2199 series and both movies.
Limited Edition Blu-ray: 10584 yen (region free, English subs)
Amazon Limited Edition Blu-ray: 11880 yen (region free, English subs, collector’s box)
Finally, Yamato Crew is releasing a 1-disc DVD and a 2-disc Blu-ray. Both come with trading cards and voice recording scripts in their own slipcase. These editions ship to Japanese addresses only.
January 23: Manga volume 6
For the first time ever, Kadokawa published the paper edition of a 2199 manga with material that hadn’t been serialized yet. Due to the length of Michio Murakawa’s Episode 14 adaptation, it takes up the entire volume and goes all the way through chapter 33, which would take four more days to show up online. It’s worth noting that the volume opens with chapter 28 (which first appeared July 2013), in which the first four pages are redone in full color.
In keeping with tradition, Murakawa drew new illustrations for two cards to be given away with purchase in some Japanese stores while supplies lasted.
Order your copy from Amazon here.
January 24: Hobby magazines, March issues
With all the heavy-duty Ark of the Stars activity now in the rear-view mirror, coverage in the monthly hobby mags dropped quite a bit; two pages from Dengeki Hobby and six from Hobby Japan. The next two upcoming mini-kits were profiled, and since Hobby Japan was about to publish another special, a few pages were previewed.
See the pages from both magazines here.
January 25: Cosmo Fleet Special Deusula II
The last capital ship to be introduced in the Yamato 2199 series became the next ship in the Cosmo Fleet Special series from Megahouse. At 6.5″ long, it is about half-again the length of the Mecha Collection mini-model. (Actual size shown below.)
The larger size allows for some versatility; the core ship is removable, so the Deusula II comes with extra parts that permit you to display it in docking or flight mode.
All the CFSP miniatures are exquisitely detailed, but this one is a step up even from them. (These photos are all about actual size or slightly larger.) One would hope that a 1/1000 model kit from Bandai is still in the cards, but this version nicely fills the gap until then. Meanwhile, it was learned at the Winter Wonder Festival on February 8 that Megahouse will continue the CFSP series with four new ships:
Left to right: Cosmo Reverse Yamato (metallic color), Mirangal, Nilvares (both from Ark of the Stars), and the UX-01 Dimensional Submarine. Release dates not yet announced.
See more photos of the CFSP miniatures at the Megahouse website here.
January 26: My Navi article
On this day, the entertainment website My Navi ran a short article about the upcoming Ark of the Stars video release and used it as an opportunity to publish a new set of stills from the movie.
Get a look at them here.
January 27: Yamato 2199 Rough Illustration book
Previously available only at the 2014 Winter Comiket, this new art collection by character designer Nobuteru Yuuki became available via the Yamato Crew website. Clocking in at 176 pages, it is a substantial collection of Yuuki’s rough drawings from various stages of the production, all presented chronologically. There are five sections devoted to different drafts of character design (including a section of his unused designs for Yamato Resurrection), an “Idea Sketch” section with random concepts, and a “Main Visual” section full of rough drawings for posters, magazine spreads, and product packaging.
The book is not yet available through a mainstream source, alas.
January 27: Manga chapter 33
At long last, Michio Murakawa’s adaptation of Episode 14 finally wrapped up with this installment after six suspenseful months (it began in July 2014). The ending differs from that seen in the anime in that Yurisha does not confront Mirenel. Also, we get a glimpse of Alter (though Episode 9 was not adapted) and the groundwork is laid for Domel’s arrival at Balun.
See the pages here.
January 28: 1/8 Yuki Mori bikini figure
Here to take the edge off your winter blues is Megahouse’s latest Yamato Girls figure, two versions of Yuki in swimwear (white and yellow). It’s not Yamato-issue swimwear, but a girl can’t get be expected to limit her beach options. Optional arms allow her to pose with either sunglasses or ice cream.
January 31: Hobby Japan special
Titled Fleet Model Collection, this book is devoted to Ark of the Stars as you can see from the striking cover, which perfectly recreates a movie poster with model kits. The book comes in at slightly under 100 pages, a large percentage of which consists of reprints from the monthly magazine. However, some of the more recent articles are appended with additional material, and a product catalog in the back brings us right up to date.
Hobby Japan‘s previous 2199 special also went by the name Fleet Model Collection, and though it had the same page count, the paper was slightly thicker. At any rate, both books make excellent companion volumes.
Order your copy from Amazon here.
January 31: Mecha Collection model #13
Garmillas carrier Balgray finished out the first month of the new year. It is the second mini-kit of its kind; Lambea came out June 2014, and Schderg is scheduled for April 2015.
See a gallery of finished models here.
Also spotted in January
Comiket and other such events always brings new Yamato doujinshi into the world, far too many to catch ’em all. Over subsequent months, they pop up here and there online, the backlog gradually builds up, and the time comes to unload it. That time is now.
See the latest finds here.
Another month, another Mirangal. These custom-painted battle carriers have been appearing pretty regularly in online auctions, and they’re always worth taking a moment to admire. This month, we’ve got one by a Yahoo Auction seller named “kingyassu.”
See a photo gallery here.
Okita’s coat, Cospa
First announced in October 2014, this high-quality Captain Okita coat went on sale in January at Cospa, a chain of stores specializing in anime apparel and character goods. Get a closer look at the Cospa website here.
Cosmo Navy box set reissue
In November 2012, the online-only Premium Bandai shop rolled out this box set of 1/1000 model kits: the United Nations Cosmo Navy Combined Cosmo Fleet. The set recreates the Earth fleet seen in Operation M at the beginning of the 2199 series: Battleship Kirishima, nine Murasame-type cruisers, and twelve Yukikaze-type destroyers.
See an extensive photo collection of all these kits here.
Pixiv is a portfolio site for Japanese artists much like Deviant Art is for English speaking artists. Pixiv Booth is a merchandising component, a bit like Cafe Press, in which artists can apply their work to physical objects and sell them online – apparently with the same carte blanche given to doujinshi publishers.
Shown above are just two examples of the products that can be found at Pixiv Booth: a dust cloth and a tapestry, both adorned with Yamato 2199 fan art. See other fan-made Yamato goods at Pixiv Booth here.
Ark of the Stars lives on! Here are two Twitter photos that prove it: a poster at Kadokawa Cinema in Shinjuku, Tokyo (above left) and an exclusive display in the lobby of a Kurashiki theater. This is one of the live-painted murals by the great Naoyuki Katoh, previously spotted in an Osaka mall exhibition held November 2014.
Here are a couple of interesting finds that were posted to Twitter in January. When it was realized that certain names in Ark of the Stars, specifically Jirel and Shambleau, were both derived from SF stories by the American author C.L. Moore, fans started digging.
One discovery was the book at far left: an anthology from the Northwest Smith series titled Witch of the Universe, published by Hayakawa in 1971 with a cover painting by none other than Leiji Matsumoto. Witch of the Universe is the Japanese title for Shambleau, and the painting is of Shambleau herself. (Click here to see Matsumoto’s interior illustrations.)
If you’d like to investigate the parallels for yourself, get started here with a reading of Shambleau by C.L. Moore herself.
The other book cover is even closer to home, a biography of Helen Keller for Japanese children, published in 1998. We can’t be certain until Ark of the Stars comes to home video, but it seems like a close match to an edition of the book that actually appears in the film.
CG art by Haru
Haru is a name that came up at the end of Report 41: a CG artist who is building his own Yamato and its support craft. On January 5 and 6, he posted these stunning new images on his Twitter page of the Cosmo Seagull and Type 100 Scout Plane.
IJN Yamato revival
Elsewhere in the world of homemade CG comes this image, first tweeted by a user named Zozi. The building with the green roof is the Battleship Yamato museum in Kure city. And parked in the water, more or less where the original was built, is a resurrected Battleship Yamato. It was added to the photo with CG, of course, inviting us to imagine a different flow of history. Incidentally, the flat area directly below Yamato is a walkway upon which half of the forward deck has been reproduced at 1/1 scale in tiles.
See what the museum looks like from the ground here.
More from the Twitter-verse: a series of three gorgeous paintings of three 2199 characters (Norrin, Sawamura, and Berger) by fan artist K. Masami.
Michio Murakawa originals
Does this guy ever take a break? On January 31, this image was posted at the website of Elysian Office, a fan circle that curated an exhibit of Murakawa’s original art at Hokkaido Comitia (a doujinshi convention) in November, 2014. There, the crowd participated in a rock-paper-scissors competition to win original drawings by Murakawa. They took a little while for him to finish (understandably), but Elysia shared them with the world before shipping them off to their lucky winners.
And finally, we go out with a bang. A user named Kumataruhome posted this image on December 24. He/she attended the Yamatalk event on December 22 to see artists Naoyuki Katoh and Kia Asamiya on stage, and scored Asamiya’s autograph on this pre-printed art board. That is what we in the fan community call a “keeper.”