Eternal Story of Jura: the “Secret” Episode

There are several examples of Space Battleship Yamato‘s “secret” lore, the kind that goes beyond common knowledge, that have trickled out over the years and become transmuted into conversational currency between fans. The fact that Captain Harlock almost appeared in the anime, or that the Be Forever publicity campaign included a sea cruise, or that the third TV series was supposed to be twice as long; they all add up to an enjoyable “background noise” of banter that keeps the topic interesting. (Which of course is the whole purpose of this website.)

There are also the rumors that continually float around in defiance of all logic, like the idea that George Lucas copied Yamato in Star Wars, or that Captain Harlock actually was in the anime, or that Yamato 2 was entirely conceived after Farewell became a blockbuster in theatres. They don’t stand up to scrutiny, but they also contribute to an ongoing conversation.

Then there are the bits that got practically no play whatsoever outside Japan, the ones that make mouths hang open and instantly deepen everyone’s understanding of the Yamato phenomenon. Eternal Story of Jura fits into that category.

Akita Shoten, publishers of Adventure King magazine and Leiji Matsumoto’s Yamato manga, had another periodical fancifully named Playcomic, which angled for an adult readership. Out of the blue, just about a year after most people thought they’d seen the last of Yamato, Matsumoto wrote and drew a completely new Gaiden (side-story) that fit somewhere into the first series.

What makes this all the more remarkable is that almost nothing else was happening with Yamato during that year. Yoshinobu Nishizaki had successfully engineered a 90-minute compilation movie retitled Space Cruiser Yamato, but it was marketed only to English-speaking audiences. Without any home video release to speak of, it had no chance of sparking new interest in Japan and the fan-based groundswell for a domestic version was still several months in the future.

So for all intents and purposes, this single manga was THE event for Yamato fans in 1976. The story was reprinted in Akita Shoten’s “Big Manga Book” in June 1977 (just ahead of the Yamato movie’s thunderous premiere) and popped up again in volume 3 of Matsumoto’s Cosmoship Yamato manga in 1980. Often appearing in subsequent reprints, the story achieved a sort of low-level fame in later years among Japanese fans who gave an occasional nod to the story in their doujinshi (fanzines), and finally zoomed back into prominence as, of all things, a video game

Around the time of Yamato‘s 25th anniversary in 1998, Leiji Matsumoto returned to the series after a hiatus of about 15 years to participate in a renaissance of new products. Chief among these was a line of games for the Sony Playstation, starting with one based on the first TV series. The followup to this was called Space Battleship Yamato: Tracks of Heroes, a “fan disc” filled with goodies centered around an entirely new game based on Eternal Story of Jura.

So what actually IS the Eternal Story of Jura? We’re about to answer that question decisively. For the first time, the complete manga is presented here as an English-language “scanlation.” These pages are exactly as they appeared for the first time in Japan, straight out of the rough pink pages of the 1976 Playcomic. The only thing missing is the feel of sandpaper on your fingers.

For the benefit of new readers, character names have been changed to their Star Blazers equivalents. Click here to enjoy this eclectic Yamato story. (Read from right to left.)

Story and art © Leiji Matsumoto, 1976
Originally published by Akita Shoten
Translation by Earnest Migaki, assembled by Tim Eldred

Bonus

Another source for a reprint of the Jura manga is a little-known hardcover book published in 1982 by Asahi Sonorama. Shown above is the dustjacket for Leiji Matsumoto’s Special Collection, a treasury of manga representing his personal favorites, one chapter from each of his best-known titles. The Jura manga represents Yamato, and is printed in pristine quality.

The newest place to find Jura is a softcover titled The Universe of Leiji Matsumoto, another best-of manga compendium totaling over 300 pages, published by Shogakukan in August 2013 as a tie-in to the CG Captain Harlock movie.

As stated above, little else happened with Yamato in 1976, but events were already in motion for an explosive comeback, and another Matsumoto manga would be among the shrapnel.

Continue to Cosmoship Yamato

The End

3 thoughts on “Eternal Story of Jura: the “Secret” Episode

  1. If I recall correctly, wasn’t Mamoru Kodai originally supposed to become Harlock in the original draft of Space Battleship Yamato?

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