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Leiji Matsumoto Works on Anime of Hayabusa Space Probe

posted on 2011-03-29 12:43 EDT
Yamato/Harlock/Galaxy Express 999 creator supervises piece for TV special with SMAP

Manga/anime creator Leiji Matsumoto (Space Battleship Yamato, Space Pirate Captain Harlock, Galaxy Express 999) supervised what Fuji TV describes as the "first animated adaptation" of the Japanese space probe Hayabusa for an April 3 television special. Fuji TV Yume Special: Tamori x SMAP Bokura wa Mirai o Shinjiyō! ~Uchū e no Chōsen to Kiseki no Monogatari~ will also feature the comedian Tamori, the music group SMAP, and other cast members to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first human spaceflight. SMAP member Tsuyoshi Kusanagi will narrate Matsumoto's animated segment.

Last year, Hayabusa became the first spacecraft to bring material from an asteroid to Earth. Public interest in the mission surged throughout Japan; according to BIGLOBE, Hayabusa was the #5 most Tweeted word in Japan from March 30 to October 2 of last year — between #4's K-ON! and #6's iPad.

Besides the animated Hayabusa segment, Fuji TV plans a live studio appearance by the second person to walk on the moon, Buzz Aldrin. Japanese astronaut Sōichi Noguchi will relate his stories of friendship with William McCool, a crew member on the ill-fated final voyage of the Space Shuttle Columbia.

Matsumoto has been a major proponent of space exploration in general and Japan's JAXA space agency in particular. Matsumoto chairs the Young Astronauts Club (YAC) of Japan, and he gave Naoko Yamazaki — YAC vice-chairperson, astronaut, and Rocket Girls guest actress — a wristwatch he designed himself to commemorate her astronaut candidacy. The Yamato anime inspired both Yamazaki and Noguchi to join the space program.

Three 3D Galaxy Express 999 anime film shorts debuted on IMAX screens in 2007 to educate viewers about space and other scientific topics. Another Galaxy Express 999 short debuted in 2009 to promote tourism in Kagoshima Prefecture, the home of Japan's main space launch facility. The Japanese studio Toei Animation revealed last March that it was planning a computer-animated version of Space Pirate Captain Harlock, and it showed a pilot video during Tokyo International Anime Fair later that month. A live-action film remake of Yamato opened last December, and Matsumoto is planning his new Zero Desigze anime for release this year.

[Via Temple Knights]


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