SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO 2199: A VOYAGE TO REMEMBER Opening Day Report
The SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO (宇宙戦艦ヤマト, Uchuu Senkan Yamato) anime series premiered on Yomiuri TV in October 1974. It sparked a boom all over Japan, and YAMATO is now regarded as the foundation of the country’s animation culture. This year, the franchise celebrates its 40th anniversary with two feature films based on the recent SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO 2199 series. The new SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO 2199: THE STAR-VOYAGING ARK (宇宙戦艦ヤマト2199 星巡る方舟, Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199 Hoshi Meguru Hakobune) will be released by distributor Shochiku Co. on December 6th. It is preceded by the special compilation movie, SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO 2199: A VOYAGE TO REMEMBER (宇宙戦艦ヤマト2199 追憶の航海, Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199 Tsuioku no Kokai), which opened on October 11th.
While edited from episodes of the series, A VOYAGE TO REMEMBER still offers something new for YAMATO fans. The compilation movie presents a fresh perspective with a look back on the journey of Yamato from the viewpoint of the lead character, Susumu Kodai, with added shots, newly-recorded narration and (for the first time) 5.1ch sound.
The closing credits also feature new illustrations by Michio Murakawa (Space Battleship Yamato 2199 manga) that reveal what happened to many of the characters after the events of the series. Two of these — “Kodai and Yuki” and “The Wedding of Kato and Harada” — were included in advance publicity materials for A VOYAGE TO REMEMBER, while seven additional illustrations can be seen at the end of the film.
Ticket buyers also receive a free “Secret File” by SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO 2199 chief director Yutaka Izubuchi, detailing concepts from the series. Four Secret Files have been produced, with a new edition released each week.
The opening day festivities for A VOYAGE TO REMEMBER included stage greetings with members of the film’s cast and crew at Shochiku Multiplex Theaters’ Marunouchi Piccadilly 2, located on the 9th floor of the Yurakucho Center Building. The special guests were Captain Juuzo Okita’s voice actor Takayuki Sugo, Starsha Iscandar’s voice actor Kikuko Inoue, writer Shigeru Morita, and director Takeo Kato. They were joined by gravure idol and actress Yuuri Morishita (MONSTER X STRIKES BACK, BLOOD) in cosplay as Starsha, along with five Yamato girls. The event was MC’d by comedian Sankyu Tatsuo.
“They let me see a preview earlier and I enjoyed the new discoveries very much,” Takayuki Sugo told the audience before the screening. “I’ll give away spoilers if I talk too much, but the battle scenes are the highlight! Captain Okita has a very active role, so please look forward to it. I want you to watch Yamato fight.”
Next up was Kikuko Inoue, who played with the in-joke that the 50 year-old actress still looks like a teenager. “I’m 17!”, she said in a goofball voice, then switched to a stern, “Hey, hey!”
“I made a promise, but there’s not much I can say before such a great work,” Inoue laughed. “Women are women, and can enjoy this from a different perspective than the men. I’ve been living a fantasy life for the past several years, and being fortunate enough to have the role of Starsha fills me with happiness. The beauty of Starsha’s image is wonderful, and makes me think it will be good to live long. I can only imagine how hard it was to summarize 26 episodes into a single movie. But in the YAMATO theme there is the line, ‘If we don’t do it, someone must,’ so I’m sure someone had to accomplish this [laughs].”
Director Takeo Kato explained: “I was in charge of the direction and composition this time. I was really happy to be involved with this great work and get to edit it. It was done with the original work, but I was reminded that summarizing 26 episodes into a two-hour movie is very difficult. The plan was to show it only from the perspective of the Earth side, but that got flattened by Mr. [Yutaka] Izubuchi’s love for the Garmillas… that got taken by Garmillas love [laughs].”
Kato added that some shots that were not used in the area around Episode 20 of the series were incorporated into the film. “Mr. Izubuchi drew an enormous number of storyboards that went to waste, so we revived some of them with great effort. Also, we’ve added new sound effects unique to the movie with 5.1 channel audio, which I feel expands the structure. While I think most people will have already watched 2199 from the beginning, I ask that they please come back to enjoy these two hours and then judge it afterward.”
Writer Shigeru Morita said it was extremely difficult summarizing the 26-episode story into two hours. He told attendees that, “I was full of anxiety with thoughts like, ‘we can’t have this scene without that scene.’ I thought of different configurations at the beginning and when I showed them to the production committee, I told myself, ‘Don’t goof around’ [laughs].” His felt that scenes developing the characters suffered in his initial edit, but by restoring scenes that seemed irrelevant to the story at first glance the understanding of the characters seemed to deepen. “Although I made an edit on my own PC to work out the composition, I said, ‘It’s impossible to do this in two hours…’ but now it’s somehow been completed!”
“Congratulations on the 40th anniversary!,” Yuuri Morishita cheered. “I think everyone in Japan knows SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO; even my father was a big fan. Because I have two older brothers, I watched it as a child. We do a big YAMATO chorus when we all go to karaoke!”
Asked for her opinion of the film, Morishita answered, “I’m 29 this year, and I was really impressed. I think women can identify with Starsha and Yuki. As for my favorite character… it’s Captain Okita. The other characters are too young. I like the 57-year-old captain. I think men get more charming after their 40s, and Captain Okita is unbearably severe! If I went on a date with Captain Okita, it would be a nice adult date on the top floor of a hotel with a moody view of the night. But he’d probably get angry with me if I used my sex appeal, so we’d have to work out our relationship as a couple with the help of a counselor.”
While the audience was captivated by these statements, Shochiku reported that biggest attention-grabber was the “double planet” cleavage of Yuuri Morishita overflowing her costume. “I was allowed to wear Starsha’s dress this time, and it’s a comfortable feeling with a very good fit. But if I bend over it moves around and becomes a problem [laughs].” Takayuki Sugao concurred, saying, “I have trouble figuring out where to look…”
Kikuko Inoue was also inspired by Morishita’s cosplay, but in a different manner. “This is uncanny. I’d like to combine my voice with the three-dimensional version.” Recreating a scene from the story, Morishita lip-synced to Inoue saying “I am Starsha”, much to the delight of the crowd.
“That gave me goosebumps,” Morishita smiled. “There’s nothing better than that.”
Additional stage greetings were held at the Marunouchi Piccadilly 2 on October 18th. Returning guest speakers Takayuki Sugo, Kikuko Inoue and Takeo Kato were joined by ending theme composer Nana Mizuki.
For more information on SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO please see the earlier coverage here on SciFi Japan:
- The Miyagawa Legacy
- SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO, Part 1: The Anime Classic That Nearly Wasn’t
- SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO, Part 2: From Valley to Peak
- SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO, Part 3: ARRIVEDERCI YAMATO Goodbye Dark Ages, Hello Global Village
- SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO, Part 4: We’re Off to Outer Space
- SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO, Part 5: THE NEW VOYAGES Plural
- SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO, Part 6: BE FOREVER YAMATO…and the Kitchen Sink
- SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO, Part 7: SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO III: The Ground Shifts
- SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO, Part 8: FINAL YAMATO: The Legacy Begins
- SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO, Part 9: Dessler’s War and More: SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO IN THE 80s
- SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO, Part 10: The Rollercoaster: SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO in the 90s
- SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO, Part 11: The Leiji Matsumoto Renaissance, SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO in the 21st Century
- YAMATO REBIRTH: An Eyewitness Account of the New Beginning
- SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO: RESURRECTION
- SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO: Triumph and Tragedy
- SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO on Australian DVD and Blu-ray
- Win Tickets to SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO, CURE or ZOMBIE ASS at Japan Cuts!
- J-POP Summit Festival Announces Japan Film Festival of San Francisco
- Bluefin Bandai Tamashii Nations Space Battleship Yamato 2199 in Feb 2014
- SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO Finally Hits North American Theaters in October 2013
- SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO North American Presskit
- Live-Action SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack in April
- STAR BLAZERS 2199 on Blu-ray and DVD this Month
- STAR BLAZERS 2199 Vol.2 Blu-ray and DVD in April
- Win the SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack!
- SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO Celebrates 40th Anniversary with Two 2199 Movies
- SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO 2199 Event in Osaka
- SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO 2199 Partners with Japan Sankei
- SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO 2199: ARK OF THE STARS Update
- SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO 2199 Movie Update
- SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO 2199: A VOYAGE TO REMEMBER Blu-ray/DVD Commercial