Monday, July 28, 2014         


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'Battleship Yamato' producer Nishizaki dies

By Jason Yadao


During one of my recent chats with tag-team partner in fandom Wilma Jandoc, I half-jokingly lamented that "Cel Shaded" had become a weekly look at the world of anime and manga publisher cutbacks, obituaries and the occasional local convention announcement.

I'm sorry to report the trend will continue for at least another week. In a year when we've already lost several people in the industry, another notable figure has died: Yoshinobu Nishizaki, producer of "Uchuu Senkan Yamato" ("Space Battleship Yamato"), the anime series repurposed in the United States as the "Star Blazers" cartoon. Anime News Network reported that Nishizaki, dressed in a wetsuit to go swimming, fell from a 485-ton research vessel -- coincidentally named Yamato -- after suffering a heart attack. He was 75.

Nishizaki's tenure as co-caretaker of the "Yamato" franchise with director Leiji Matsumoto was admittedly not entirely a harmonious one. When Matsumoto got the project in the 1970s, he changed the art design more to his style, tossing out many of Nishizaki's original ideas in the process. Legal battles over ownership of the copyright ensued for several decades, and it wasn't until 2003 that the two men reached a settlement, with Matsumoto getting the conceptual art, character and ship designs, and Nishizaki getting rights to the "Space Battleship Yamato" name and plot. His final contributions to the franchise were two movies: the animated "Uchuu Senkan Yamato Fukkatsu-hen" ("Space Battleship Yamato Resurrection"), which bowed in Japan last year, and the live-action "Yamato" film debuting in Japan next month, for which he's credited as a creator.



Another anime industry luminary who died earlier this year was Satoshi Kon, director of films including "Millennium Actress" and "Paprika."

Kon was a frequent guest at Otakon, one of the East Coast's biggest anime conventions, held annually in Baltimore. And for almost a month now, convention officials have provided a venue for U.S. fans to offer their condolences.

"Otakon will provide a temporary address in the U.S. to receive physical mail and will forward anything we receive there to (anime studio) Madhouse and Kon's family," a message on the Otakon website reads. "Also, Madhouse has set up a special e-mail account to receive any such farewell messages. ... The plan is to present these messages to the family; it may bring some comfort to know how much Satoshi Kon was appreciated and respected, and how he touched so many lives."

Fair enough. Sympathy cards and notes can be mailed to Satoshi Kon Project, Otakorp Inc., 402 King Farm Blvd., No. 125-113, Rockville, MD 20850. E-mails may be sent to studio.kon.satoshi@gmail.com. And to learn more ways you can pay tribute to Kon, visit www.otakon.com/satoshikonfarewell.asp.



Audra Furuichi and Scott Yoshinaga, co-creators of the online comic "nemu*nemu," will be at St. Andrew's Priory on Saturday for the school's annual Holiday Fair from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Expect a full selection of merchandise, including books, T-shirts, metal charms and their new Gelaskin iPod Touch/iPhone covers. Visit www.nemu-nemu.com.



» Aiea Library Anime Club: 3 p.m. Saturday at the library, 99-143 Moanalua Road. This month, librarian Diane Masaki will be screening the first volume of "Full Metal Panic." E-mail Masaki at diane.masaki@librarieshawaii.org.

Cel Shaded, a weekly look at the world of Japanese anime and manga, appears every Thursday. Follow Jason S. Yadao on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsyadao or e-mail him at jyadao@staradvertiser.com.

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