"There is so much writing in English on Japanese cinema that can't be accepted at face value — not because the writers are careless, but because the differences in culture and language are just too intricate. When I see August Ragone's name on a piece of writing, it gives me permission to place my faith in it completely. Among Japanese fantasy film historians, he's the best working in English." —Tim Lucas, Video Watchdog


Sunday, April 15, 2012

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TETSUO NARIKAWA!
April 15, 1944 - January 1, 2010

お誕生日おめでとう、成川 哲夫先生!



The internationally-beloved star of P-Productions' SPECTREMAN (1971-72), began his career by joining the Actor's School at Toei Studios while he was still a student at Hosei University, and made his first screen appearance in Episode 23 of LIL' DEVIL in 1967. The same year, he entered and passed as one of Toho Stuido's "8th New Faces Competition", and was given the role of "Detective Namiki" in the police series TOKYO BYPASS COMMAND (1968-70). He left Toho and joined Sachiko Productions in 1969, and landed a succession of guest starring roles on television, and the role of "Shunsuke Tanami" in the feature film, THE STAR OF JUDO (1970). After appearing in two episodes of Toei's STRAIGHT PATH OF JUDO (1967-71), he was cast as "Joji Gamou" by Fuji Television for SPACE SIMIAN GORI in 1971 (later becoming SPECTREMAN). In May of that same year, he married his "New Faces" alumni, Akiko Sekiguchi.

After SPECTREMAN wrapped production in 1972, Narikawa appeared in guest starring roles in a number of television shows, including some popular tokusatsu series, including KAMEN RIDER (1971-73), THE VIGILANT LION KNIGHT (1972-73), ROBOT DETECTIVE (1973), ULTRAMAN LEO (1974-75), and was a regular on the popular cop show, TOMMY & MATSU (1979-82). He retired from acting to focus on his martial arts career in 1983, and became founder and president of the Gensei-Ryu Seidokai International Karate Federation, based in Tokyo. Grand Master Narikawa also took time out to travel to conventions in France and Brazil, where SPECTREMAN still has a legion of fans, and appeared with notable tokusatsu stars such as Kenji Ohba (SPACE SHERIFF GAVAN) and Hiroshi Watari (SPACE SHERIFF SHARIVAN). He also authored a book about SPECTREMAN, published by Sony Magazines in 2000.

Grand Master Narikawa succumbed to lung cancer on January 1, 2010.

Friday, April 13, 2012

SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO: 2199 (2012)
Hideaki Anno's Opening Credit Sequence!




Originally slated as the series director, while in four years of development, Hideaki Anno (Neon Genesis Evangelion), had to drop out of the project due to other commitments, and Yutaka Izubuchi (XahZephon) stepped in. While Anno was unable to be an active participant in the new series, he being a huge YAMATO fan, was able to design the storyboards for the opening credit sequence (which were finalized by Izubuchi). Anno decided to stick close to the original, and update it slightly, and nails it right on the head, as far as I'm concerned. 38 years later, legendary vocalist Isao Sasaki returned to record a new version of the classic theme song for YAMATO: 2199! For contrast, see the original 1974 opening, below:



Stay tuned to this blog and the official Star Blazers website for more news and information on SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO: 2199 as they develop — and soon, we'll be off to outer space, singing all the way to Iscandar!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO: 2199 (2012)
DVD & BD Volume 2 Out in Japan on July 27th!

『宇宙戦艦ヤマト2199』Vol. 2 DVD/BD 7月27日発売!


Exciting disc jacket art for Volume 2 by Nobuteru Yuuki!

With the first installment of the SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO: 2199 saga, "The Long Journey", opening in ten select theaters in Japan this weekend, Bandai Visual has announced the second volume of the home video release — a month and a half before the first volume even hits domestic retail shelves on May 25th! Volume 2 will contain a total of four half-hour episodes, plus special features, clocking in at 130 minutes of content for ¥8,190 (Blu-ray Disc) and ¥7,190 (R2 DVD). The DVD will be presented in 16:9 Anamorphic, Dual Layer, and Dolby Digital Stereo. Conversely, the BD will be presented in AVCHD, BD50G, 1080p, 16:9 Anamorphic, and Linear PCM Stereo!

Special Features are to include an Audio Commentary (details to be released), a look at the Launch Event Screenings in Nagoya and Osaka, as well as a report on the Launch Event in Tokyo, and a special insert booklet. Both the DVD and BD releases will feature beautiful jacket art by character designer Nobuteru Yuuki and a slipcase sleeve by the legendary Naoyuki Kato. Now, while the DVD version will basically contain all of the special features of the BD, there's one very important exception: English Subtitles. Since the US and Japan are in the same Region Encoding for BD, this is yet another major incentive to snag the BDs from Bandai Visual. The theatrical version of Episodes 3-6, "Desperate Battle in the Heliosphere", opens in Japan on June 30th.

The episodes on Volume 2 will include:

03. ESCAPE FROM JUPITER (木星圏脱出): After completing the Warp Test from Mars to Jupiter, the Yamato suffers an engine malfunction and is forced to make an emergency landing on a continent floating in the atmosphere of the giant planet. While repairs are being made, the Gamilas attack the crippled ship, and Captain Okita decides to use their new weapon, the Wave Motion Gun!

04. A TOMB ON AN ICE FIELD (氷原の墓標): The Yamato picks up a United Nations Cosmo Navy distress signal and orders a search and rescue mission to Enceladus, one of Saturn's moons. But, the Gamilas are laying in wait. During the battle on the surface of Enceladus, Kodai discovers a shipwreck frozen in the ice — and is shocked to discover the truth of its origin.

05. THE INESCAPABLE TRAP (死角なき罠): Okita is determined to destroy Gamilas' outpost on Pluto, the launching point of the Planet Bombs dropped on Earth. The Yamato plans a strategic airstrike, but they are countered by Gamilas' long-range Reflection Satellite Gun. Losing control, the Yamato plunges into the frozen sea on Pluto...

06. HADES' TWILIGHT (冥王の落日): While the Yamato sinks to the bottom of Pluto's sea, the Air Wing begins a search and destroy mission for the Gamilas outpost. Then, Kodai spots Gamilas planes emerging from a Plutonian Aurora. Now, able to bypass the attack of the Reflection Satellite, the Yamato launches her counterstrike.

As you can see by these synopses, the staff of YAMATO: 2199 are sticking very close to the original 1974 series, which may alleviate the worries and concerns of some Old Skool fans. Now, to pre-order your copy of SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO: 2199 Volume 2, click here to visit Amazon Japan (with English language support)!

Stay tuned to this blog and the official Star Blazers website for more news and information on SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO: 2199 as they develop — and soon, we'll be off to outer space, on shiny discs of blue!

Monday, April 2, 2012

SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO: 2199 (2012)
Lyrics for the "Song of the Cosmo Pilots"!

『宇宙戦艦ヤマト2199』の挿入歌「宇宙船乗りの歌『銀河航路』」!


"Everybody, all together now: Today's a good day to die!"

Near the conclusion of the first half of the first episode of SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO: 2199, the crew of the Yukikaze sing as they fly into the jaws of death to allow Admiral Okita safe passage to Earth. This is a new composition from Akira Miyagawa (son of the original Yamato composer, Hiroshi Miyagawa), while melodically drawing from old IJN marches, its lyrics are that of old seafarers, and inspired by "We're Space Pilots," the Kan Ishii's anthem from Ishiro Honda's GORATH (1962).

This is probably not just a mere coincidence, since YAMATO: 2199's director, Yutaka Izubuchi, and other members of the staff, are hardcore fans of the old skool Toho Visual Effects Films. Below, I've translated the lyrics to "Galactic Passage: Song of the Cosmo Pilots" (composed and arranged by Akira Miyagawa), penned by director Izubuchi himself:





•「宇宙船乗りの歌『銀河航路』」
作詞 - 出渕裕 / 作曲・編曲 - 宮川彬良
銀河氷平波間を超えて、目指す恒星ケンタウリ
星の瞬き遥を超えて、宙に輝く星の船
抜錨!船出だ、いかりを上げろ
進路そのまま、ヨーソロー(ヨーソロー)
星に向かって舵を切れ
俺たちゃ宙の
俺たちゃ宙の艦乗りだ

空間航跡たなびく果てに、目指す地平が見えてくる
青い地球を今あとにして、カイパーベルトをひとっ飛び
抜錨!船出だ、いかりを上げろ
進路そのまま、ヨーソロー(ヨーソロー)
船行き先く星の海
俺たちゃ宙の
俺たちゃ宙の艦乗りだ

O’er the gelid waves of galactic streams, 
Set course for the fixed star of Centuri
Our glorious cosmoship crosses o’er the void far, 
Beyond those twinkling stars
Set Sail! We’re casting off, anchors aweigh
Stand on your bearing, steady as she goes
(Steady as she goes)
Weather your helm towards the stars
We are Pilots
We are Pilots of the Cosmos

Oh, now as we sail o’er the Kuiper Belt, 
we’ve left the blue Earth behind us
Far beyond the trails of cosmic wakes, 
We can see the event horizon, our heading
Set Sail! We’re casting off, anchors aweigh
Stand on your bearing, steady as she goes
(Steady as she goes)
The sea of stars is this ship’s destination
We are Pilots
We are Pilots of the Cosmos

While another translation of "Pilot" is "Sailor" or "Bluecoat", the latter of which I almost went with (as everyone is wearing a blue coat), I wanted to keep this translation closer, more or less, to the spirit of song from GORATH — and I'd like to ask Mr. Izubuchi and Mr. Miyagawa if they had Honda's film in mind when this song was penned. Speaking of which, just for contrast, here's the "We're Space Pilots" song from GORATH:


•「俺ら宇宙のパイロット」


狭い地球にや未練は無いさ
未知の世界に夢がある、夢がある

広い宇宙は俺のもの、俺のもの

はばたきい行こ宙の果て

でっかい希望だ、憧れだ

俺ら宇宙の、俺ら宇宙の

俺ら宇宙のパイロット



雲らぬ空は我らが心

今日も希望を乗せて行く、乗せて行く

広い宇宙は俺のもの、俺のもの

男度胸の見せ所
開け自由の、新天地

俺ら宇宙の、俺ら宇宙の

俺ら宇宙のパイロット

I leave this little planet with no regrets
Because the unknown is my dream, my dream
This vast universe will be mine, all mine
To soar across the limitless void
Is my greatest hope, my one desire
We’re the Space, we’re the Space
We’re the Space Pilots

Sudden Clouds won’t fill our hearts
We carry the hopes of tomorrow, the hopes of tomorrow
This vast universe will be mine, all mine
Where a man can show his courage
Free to open new vistas of heaven and earth
We’re the Space, we’re the Space
We’re the Space Pilots

Stay tuned to this blog and the official Star Blazers website for more news and information on SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO: 2199 as they develop — and soon, we'll be off to outer space, singing like it's 2199!