1/35 IJN Yamato movie model on display in Kyoto, Japan by Doug Hallet

Most ship modelers are aware by now of the large production movie “Otokotachi no Yamato” (“Men of the Yamato”) which was released to theatres in Japan in December. As the title suggests, this is the latest of 3-4 films about the sinking of the Yamato released in Japan, none of which have so far been available on DVD or tape in other countries. This latest film takes full advantage of modern digital film effects as seen in movies like Titanic and Lord of the Rings. Judging from the trailers and the “making of the movie” DVD I was able to obtain, it should be of extreme interest to modelers and fans of naval subject matter world-wide.

I recently visited Kyoto and Osaka Japan during the week of April 10th. Although I was not able to see the movie itself, among my itinerary was a trip to the Toei Eigamura movie theme park on the northwest side of Kyoto, located adjacent to the Toei TV and movie studios. Toei is best known for samurai films and Power Rangers TV shows, and most of the park is devoted to a recreation of a Tokugawa-era village, complete with inns, shops, a red light district, and numerous actors in costume roaming through the sets and posing for pictures. However, Toei is also the producer of Otokotachi, and the theme park included a good-sized room devoted exclusively to the film.

The highlight of the exhibit was a 1/35th scale model of the Yamato used for the movie in the same manner as the similarly-sized Titanic model, where digital effects, people and the ocean are superimposed on top of it afterwards. In addition to the 1/35th version, there was also a 1/24th (or so) enlargement of the bridge area. On the other side of the room were a considerable number of souvenirs, including models, posters, cell phone holders, eye glass cases, buttons, books and flags. Both outside and inside the room were mock-ups of a triple-20 mm anti-aircraft gun, which the main characters in the movie man during battle scenes. In a smaller room, a TV set showed a continuous loop of all the trailers for the film.

Although I did not have the time to study the model at leisure, I did make sure to take these pictures, which I hope will be of some interest. Please note that the lighter colors on horizontal surfaces are a result of the fairly strong room lights, rather than any dust on the model. In addition, I have adjusted the brightness to compensate for the flash on my own camera. The heavy weathering, which includes many different wet washes, highlights and air brush tones, is most impressive.

“Otokotachi no Yamato” is scheduled for release in Japan on DVD on August 4th. Most Japanese films now apparently include an English subtitle option, but please bear in mind that the Japanese DVDs use Region 2 (NTSC) and will not be compatible with many US players. I do not know if the film will get an American or Western release, although considering how well it played locally, that is perhaps more likely than not. If you are interested, the “making of the movie” DVD is available now, but does not contain English subtitles.

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Modelwarships.com -- -- 5/2/2006

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