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Warren (Chicago, IL)

Susumu Kodai from Space Battleship Yamato
Cosplayer: @the.yamato.boy
Photo : @m_padron15

Funny enough at anime cons, not a lot of people recognize it as the Space Battleship Yamato, they usually just get hyped over seeing a massive ship at a con or war buffs notice the resemblance. Only a couple of people have recognized it. The ones that do though go nuts. The fanbase is fiercely loyal and even at Katsucon, the official Hotel Liason let me store the Yamato in his executive suite! Alas sadly barely anyone in my age group knows what Space Battleship Yamato is.

C2E2 was the first time I ever brought Yamato to a regular comic convention. The amount of people that recognized it there was actually comical. The cherry on top was that most people recognized it as the Argo or Intrepido.

What I’m most appreciative is that it’s a way to bond the current generation of anime fans with the old and offers an opportunity to explore anime history.

Yamato started out as a binding point with my dad and I. He’s always been there for me but was a mystery at the same time. When I was like 2-3~ish my family still had an old Quasar TV with a built in VHS tape player. This was the kind of TV where you could feel your eyeballs melting out from the TV static. Anyway we had a singular VHS tape of Star Blazers- specifically the episodes where Argo uses the asteroid ring and then says goodbye to your families. As a certified Scooby-Doo fan, seeing #1 a cartoon with actual camera angles and cinema techniques was mind blowing to me and really stuck out, #2 there was a journey. The episodic countdown made me so mad because I knew I was only watching a piece of something bigger. My dad realized this and for my 5th birthday he bought me a full DVD set of all the episodes from Season 1. Afterward I drew little Yamato’s everywhere.

Eventually the spark that was Star Blazers would erupt into a burning flame that has become my love for Yamato. A couple of years ago my Grandpa was fighting with terminal lung cancer. We lived in America and he lived in South Korea so commute was tough and I didn’t get to see him all the time. During this time I was also getting bullied a lot and my mom thought it’d be good if I finished my elementary school years in Korea with my cousins so we moved there for a bit. I was a total fish out of water but a lot of my friends built Gunpla. I had no idea what a gundam was so I decided to research and went to Gundam Base Side 3 which is in Downtown Daegu. Remember the remake just came out at this time so there was a huge display dedicated to Yamato 2199. I really wanted a Yamato and had a meltdown in the store, like a full tantrum. I remember coming back to my apartment with my mom and just thinking non stop about it. The week following, my grandpa took me instead and I’m guessing my mom told me how badly I wanted it because he got me not only a 1/1000 Yamato 2199 kit, but also the Garmilus 3 ship model pack. I was absolutely overjoyed and would not stop playing with that. The kit was later destroyed after a smaller big shelf collapse. He also died about a year afterward. It serves as a core memory and a reminder of him.

As I shifted more into model building I dived more into gunpla until I was about 15. Highschool sucked. A lot. The transition into being a freshman took a lot on my mental health. I got assaulted and the stress of everything caved in and I tried to take my own life. It’s a lot to Unpack and I’m not super comfortable talking about it, but it’s nessacary because of what happened. Basically I got sent to outpatient which is like full time therapy sessions but school length. As cliche as it sounds, I brought a small Yamato with me. In order for it to fit comfortably in my pocket I froze super glue all over the fins and sharp bits so I would stab myself in the thigh on accident, iykyk.

One of the things they told us in outpatient as a coping mechanism was that if we ever felt as bad as we did previously, think about the small things, and try on focus things that we would want to stay for. Well oh boy let me tell you, Yamato 2202 was coming out at this time and because of the format they were doing the movie part releases so 4 episodes every 4 months I think and I kept convincing myself that if I was gone, I would not see the end.

The ending of 2202 not only brought around the end of that purpose but also wholly changed my outlook on my life. “The planets only stay in their places, only we have the power to give them beauty.” – Teresa of Telezart

To say the ship had an impact on my life is an understatement. It was a reason to live at one point. On March 2nd/3rd when the announcement of Matsumoto’s passing came out I was absolutely devasted. I didn’t eat or sleep the following couple of days.

not a lot of people still know Yamato so in order to make conversation with other anime fans I picked up other shows but Yamato largely was my heart and soul. Matsumoto’s passing was what urged me to finally start. I wanted to build something that would not only bring me closer to Matsumoto but would hopefully give Yamato what it had given me- another life- sort of- maybe a little too dramatic, interpret that as you do idk.

I want more people to watch Yamato and understand its message. We live in a day and age of constant bickering and isolation. We are all cogs in an economic machine. While we get blinded by work and debate, Yamato exists to teach people that it’s important to have dreams, to chase love and that maybe we can break out of our predicament – To truly know that you’re not alone is the meaning of Love, and that we must meet the challenge and the impossible will become possible – And finally, there is no one right-way to live – are all things that Yamato teaches.

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