After the last two years of major YAMATO revivals in the form of the feature-length animated follow-up to FINAL YAMATO (1983), SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO: RESURRECTION (2009), which was followed by big budget live-action mash-up SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO (2010; from Japanese Academy Award-winning director Takashi Yamazaki), there comes the news of another YAMATO production to debut this coming April: SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO: 2199! Shoji Nishizaki, the adopted son of the late YAMATO creator and producer, Yoshinobu Nishizaki. mentioned in the wake of the his father's untimely death last November, that their company, Enagio, would press on with new YAMATO productions, including an animated series. This past July, production designer Makoto Kobayashi announced at Anime Expo in Los Angeles, that the previously-mentioned series was indeed in pre-production, and that it was to be a remake of the original 1974 series.
The Yamato sleeps under the setting sun...
After months of silence, on November 10th (Japan Time), a formal announcement was made to the Japanese Media, that YAMATO would be returning in the form of a theatrical release scheduled for April 7, 2012 (67 years to the date that the original IJN Battleship Yamato was sunk off of the coast of Okinawa). On November 11th, the first teaser trailer was revealed on the main official YAMATO website, "Yamato Crew", and the same day, the official website for YAMATO: 2199 also went live. Immediately, there was a flurry of chatter and speculation in fan communities on both sides of the Pacific as to the announcement of this theatrical movie, including disappointment that the promised television series had seemingly been dumped in favor of a feature film, while most were grateful that a new YAMATO was in the offing. Discussion of the teaser trailer also praised the animation, which confirmed that the original mecha designs of the Earth Defense Forces and the Gamilas Empire appeared mercifully unadulterated.
Gamilas Cruisers repulse UNCN beams at the Battle of Pluto!
But, then more news was slyly revealed in the Member's Only sections of the Yamato Crew website:
Firstly, it was stated that YAMATO: 2199 would only be bowing in ten cinemas, nationwide, and that the total running time will be a mere 50 minutes in length (approximate). Why would they bother making such a short feature? Because, as it turns out, this theatrical movie is actually a special compilation of the first and second episodes of an all-new television series! That's right — YAMATO: 2199 is going to be a full-on television remake of the 1974 series! As I go to press with this news, there was no announcement as to the length of this new series or the network on which YAMATO: 2199 will be broadcast — but still, my fellow Yamato Fans, this is indeed the new television series that many of us have been hoping for!
A UNCN Cruiser takes a fatal blow at the Battle of Pluto!
According to the Yamato Crew website, the Supervising Director of the new series is the celebrated character designer and animation director Yutaka Izubuchi and the Character Designs were created by veteran Nobuteru Yuuki. Izubuchi first cut his teeth as an Enemy Robot Designer on Toei's FIGHTING GENERAL DAIMOS and FUTURE ROBO: DALTANIOUS in 1979, while a member of Studio Nue, and during that same period, he was also affiliated with Aritsune Toyota's Creative Group, Parallel Creation (Toyota being one of the founding fathers of YAMATO). For YAMATO III (1980), Izubuchi designed both the Space Battleship Arizona and the Zeandora III, and also contributed to the mechanical designs of the Denguil Empire for FINAL YAMATO (1983).
A Message Capsule from Iscandar — the last hope for Mankind!
A diehard fan of Anime and Tokusatsu, Izubuchi was tapped by Toei Producer Takeyuki Suzuki to design the villains for three consecutive Super Sentai Series, after he complained about the lackluster monster designs in GREATEST TASK FORCE: GOGGLE V (1982), starting with SCIENCE TASK FORCE: DYNAMAN (1983). Izubuchi quickly racked up his credits with scores of memorable mecha designs for Sunrise's BLUE GALE: XANBUNGLE (1982), AURA BATTLER: DUNBINE (1983), PANZER WORLD: GALIENT (1984), MACROSS: DO YOU REMEMBER LOVE? (1984), and went on to create mecha for numerous series and movies in the PATLABOR and GUNDAM franchises, and was the creator and director of RAHXEPHON (2002).
The last surviving Admiral of the UNCN Fleet: Juzo Okita!
Perhaps best known to Old Skoolers for his work on MEGAZONE 23 (1985), Nobuteru Yuuki started his professional career as an animator on SUPER DIMENSION CENTURY ORGUSS (1983). He built upon his portfolio as an manga artist and illustrator during the 1980s, as he was working on such television series as HEAVY METAL L-GAIM (1984) and DIRTY PAIR (1985), and feature films such as MACROSS: DO YOU REMEMBER LOVE? (1984) and ROYAL SPACE FORCE: THE WINGS OF HONNÊAMISE (1987). In addition to his prolific Anime credentials, Yuki has also created illustrations for numerous publications, as well as being a noted cover artist for fantasy and science fiction novels. He has also served as a designer for such video games as Chrono Cross and Solatorobo: Red the Hunter. Yuki is best known to younger Anime fans as the character designer for THE VISION OF ESCAFLOWNE (1996) and MAKEN-KI! (2011).
Combat Officer Trainee, Susumu Kodai pilots the Cosmo Zero!
The animation for YAMATO: 2199 is being produced by Xebec Inc. and AIC. As a subsidiary of Production I.G. (whose many credits include the animated segment of KILL BILL VOL. 1 and BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE), Xebec's purpose is to handle the production of TV Anime, and their long list of titles include MARTIAN SUCCESSOR NADESICO (1996) and HEROIC AGE (2007). In 2011 alone, Xebec produced three Anime series, BREAK BLADE, RIO: RAINBOW GATE, and SOFTENNI. AIC (or Anime International Company) was founded in 1982, and have worked on dozens of productions, including major benchmark titles in the 1980s, such as the MEGAZONE 2-3, ICZER-1, and BUBBLEGUM CRISIS OVA series. Still going strong in 2011, AIC produced the series R-15, WANDERING SON, PERSONA 4: THE ANIMATION, and I DON'T HAVE MANY FRIENDS.
The Cosmo Zero flying into combat above a scorched Earth!
As of this writing, there is no further information on the names of the other principals involved in the production, including screenwriters, voice actors, or music composers. Interestingly, the teaser trailer features music by the late Hiroshi Miyagawa, the famed composer whose scores are synonymous with YAMATO. Is it possible that cues from the original score, or new arrangements of those scores, could be incorporated — perhaps under the baton of Miyagawa's son, Akira, who has followed in his father's footsteps? As for the voice actors, can we hope for some of original surviving thesps to return to their much-beloved roles? Some returned for YAMATO: RESURRECTION... I mean, we can't have another voice actor for Dessler other than Masato Ibu, can we?
Stay tuned to this blog and the official Star Blazers website for more information on SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO: 2199 as they develop — we're off to outer space, again!