"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

Friday, June 29, 2012

DVD & BD Volume 3 Coming November 22!

『宇宙戦艦ヤマト2199』Vol. 3 DVD/BD 11月22日発売!

Analyzer, Niimi and Sanada grace this jacket art by Nobuteru Yuuki!

UPDATED WITH NEW PHOTOS! With the second installment of the SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO: 2199 saga, "Desperate Battle in the Heliosphere", opening in ten select theaters in Japan this weekend, Bandai Visual has announced the third volume of their home video release. Volume 3 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.

Evocative slipcase art by Yamato veteran, Naoyuki Kato!

Special Features are to include an Audio Commentary (details to be announced), an interview with singer Isao Sasaki, a "Director's Cut" of the "Yamato: 2199 Special 2", 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 Naoyuki Kato. 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 7-10, "The Endless Voyage", opens in Japan on October 13th.

Leaving our Solar System behind, the Yamato finally embarks on it's voyage into deep space. Meanwhile, with the Gamilas base on Pluto destroyed, Shultz relentlessly tracks them, while Dessler throws the Yamato into an even more deadly situation — will the Yamato survive? In addition, these new episodes will be expanding beyond the original 1974 story, so we can all look forward to this new interpretation of SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO!

The episodes on Volume 3 will include:

Episode 7. BID FAREWELL TO THE SOLAR SYSTEM (太陽圏に別れを告げて): The Yamato proceeds to breech the boundary between the heliosphere and interstellar space, known as the "heliopause". Before they proceed, the crew is allowed, one at a time, to communicate with their family to bid their farewells. Despite this festive occasion, Kodai, who lost his family in the war with Gamilas, tastes nothing but ennui. However, one amongst them is not human...

Episode 8. WHEN YOU WISH UPON A STAR (星に願いを): At Balares, the Capital City of Gamilas, Leader Dessler decides to exercise his power in front of his ministers by unveiling his own plan to sink the Yamato. His strategy involves pitting the Yamato between the deadly solar flares of Gliese 581, and a vaporous creature of his own design, to crush her. Will this strategy seal the Yamato's fate!?

Episode 9. A CLOCKWORK PRISONER (時計仕掛けの虜囚): AU09 (aka Analyzer) is called into duty to extract information from Alter, a mechanical solider of Gamilas, which has been captured. Soon, the two machines begin to develop a relationship akin to a human friendship. But, when Alter begins to escapes, Security Chief Ito tries to destroy the mysterious Gamiloid... Can a machine truly have a soul?

Episode 10. THE COSMIC GRAVEYARD (大宇宙の墓場): The Yamato becomes trapped in a dimensional faultline, where they discover a vast graveyard of alien spacecraft. Meanwhile, a Gamilas ship, also trapped in the cosmic drift, seeks permission to communicate with the Yamato. They soon discover that in order to extricate themselves, they must cooperate, or both crews with perish...

You can pre-order your copy of SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO: 2199 Volume 3, by clicking 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!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Stunning 9-Minute Preview for Episode 3!

AHOY, MAJOR SPOILER WARNING: If you don't like Spoilers, then this link is definitely not for you — here are the first 9 minutes of Episode 3 of SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO: 2199, "Escape From Jupiter", featuring the Yamato's first Warp test from Mars to Jupiter, as streamed on the Bandai Channel (Japan only), starting on June 20th. This episode is one of four (Episodes 3-6) which form the second theatrical release under the title SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO: 2199 CHAPTER 2: DESPERATE STRUGGLE IN THE HELIOSPHERE, opening in ten select theaters in Japan on June 30th.

Episode 3 synopsis: 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!

The awesome first-half of Episode 3 of YAMATO: 2199, a beautifully executed remake of the groundbreaking 1974 series, is — and I hate to over use this hyperbole — mind-blowing. The almost unanimous acclaim for the first two episodes is sent even higher by this clip, and has this author jonesing like an junkie before payday. Supervising Director Yutaka Izubuchi takes the extremely familiar material, has has not only given it the technical execution it deserves, but also makes it completely new for life-long fans, such as I.

And, as I said in an earlier entry, without exaggeration, this is the best possible remake I could have ever hoped for. For those lucky enough to see the film during it's two-week run in ten select theaters in Japan, early-bird moviegoers will have a chance to purchase a limited-edition, theater-exclusive Blu-ray of Vol. 2 containing the episode versions that comprise this film (and boasts English Subtitles and a complete storyboard booklet for Episode 3). The previous version, Vol. 1 (containing Episodes 1 & 2) sold out in record numbers, and I'm sure that lightning is going to strike twice.

For those of us not able to go to one of the ten Japanese theaters, the mass-market Blu-ray and DVD (the later of the twow does not contain English Subtitles), will go on sale July 27th.

Until then, watch this preview clip until your eyes bleed (or Bandai takes it down)!

STOP THE PRESSES! ADDED BONUS! Here's the full version of the new ending song for Episodes 3-6, "For Those Who Know the Beautiful Earth" by Aki Misato, which was previewed in a recent webcast of RunLANRadio, run by Lantis (a subsidiary of Namco Bandai, and the official label of YAMATO: 2199), which you can download, here.

Special thanks to Luis Cotovio!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

"Clash of the Kaiju!" Run Amok in FM #262

新発売!『フェイマス・モンスターズ』No. 262の怪獣映画大全!

Another stunning kaiju cover by the redoubtable Bob Eggleton!

As the old saying goes, you can't keep a good kaiju down! So, in the monstrous footsteps of the Sold Out success of "Famous Monsters of Filmland" #259 (including a coveted Rondo Award for my interview with Haruo "Mr. Godzilla" Nakajima), the Kaiju Krew is back again for another "All Japanese Monsters" issue, in the tradition of the legendary FM #114!

This time around, we've got more variety and close-up looks at films and television shows that aren't covered elsewhere. For starters, we have my feature on the new SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO: 2199 (and reviews of the recent live action version from 2010 and the animated feature film from 2009 by Tim Eldred) as well as solid features on THE SPACE GIANTS (by Roy Ware), SPECTREMAN (by Edward Holland), VARAN THE UNBELIEVABLE (by Bob Eggleton), INAZUMAN (by David E. Chapple), MATANGO (by Jason Varney), an overview of contemporary monster makers Tomo'o Haraguchi and Fuyuki Shinada (by Jim Cironella), and an in-depth comparison of the 1990s Godzilla and Gamera films (by Matt Frank).

Plus, there are pieces on THE WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS (by Richard J. Schellbach), IDW's Godzilla comic (by Holly Interlandi), Kaiju Eiga on Super 8mm (by David McRobie), an In Memoriam listing of Japanese filmmakers and creators who've left us over the last year (by John Paul Cassidy), and a look at some upcoming Japanese toys being released in the US (not to mention an interview with Rick Baker on his retro-aliens for MIB 3).

There is also a special "Monster World" logo cover available as well (see below)! Even before this hits the stands, I've been told by the Grue Crew at FM that this issue is selling out — FAST — so don't miss out and order directly from the Captain Company, TODAY! But, don't despair... There will be another "All Japanese Monsters Issue" coming next year... Same Gyaos Time, Same Gyaos Channel!

Collector's variant "Monster World" cover available online!