Series 1 Discography

The central irony to the score of the first TV series is that despite being everyone’s hands-down favorite, it had the toughest time getting a commercial release. This was entirely due to the underdeveloped anime music industry of the early 1970s, which was little more than a vehicle for opening and closing title songs packaged for children. Although many a catchy tune had preceded it, it was the mighty Yamato Theme that eventually turned the tide.

The score was first recorded on September 19 and 20, 1974, in studios 302 and 303 (respectively) at Waseda Avaco Studio. This yielded 79 tracks, including four synthesizer pieces that would go unused. They initially filled four 7-inch reel tapes and were archived on three 10-inch reels.

Composer Hiroshi Miyagawa created several powerful variations of both the opening theme song and the ending, called The Scarlet Scarf. These songs were the first to be released, with a long gap of three years before fans had an opportunity to hear the score itself on albums released for the Yamato feature film in 1977.

If you were to ask any fan today which track speaks most eloquently to their soul, almost all would choose Endless Expanse of Outer Space, with the haunting vocal performance of Kazuko Kawashima. When the score had been written, sound director Atsumi Tashiro ordered up an oriental violin for the piece after hearing one on the radio, going for a very traditional sound that was deeply enshrined in Japanese music. But Miyagawa had come from the pop world, where music had typically been written to push a “scat” style vocal performance to the foreground. Tensions ran high with both men arguing passionately for their side. The conflict eventually lead them to a middle ground in which a human voice imitated a stringed instrument, and a gorgeous classic was born out of their struggle.

Such passions are extraordinary, and often produce extraordinary results. It’s entirely consistent with the spirit of Adventure Roman, with two men on a different kind of voyage altogether.

Hiroshi Miyagawa on the first series:

When talking about Yamato‘s score, rather than calling it Hiroshi Miyagawa’s music it should be referred to as Yoshinobu Nishizaki’s. He was the driving force behind Yamato and insisted that it have strong music. I was able to write it simply because I sympathized with him.

This is a serious process. Mr. Nishizaki was especially particular about the ending song, The Scarlet Scarf; the lyrics, the melody, the backing vocals, all of it. I put my heart and soul into arguments and all-night rehearsals, and Isao Sasaki’s singing voice was destroyed. If I may say so, I think the overture that fills the vastness of space with a scat vocal is my masterpiece. That one actually came to me quickly, but it’s a good melody.

At first it seemed that a synthesizer would be a distinctive sound for Yamato, but Mr. Nishizaki requested traditional instruments to better express the human heart. I thought that was an excellent idea. A synthesizer seemed to go hand in hand with science fiction, but traditional instruments would represent Earth’s human nature and become the lifeblood of the story. Synthesizer music would probably no longer speak to the heart after five or ten years.

Even though the stage for this story is outer space, it is after all a story of human beings so the music needed to be suitable. This was Mr. Nishizaki’s stubborn belief. Music is what I believe in. If not for that, the fiery birth of Yamato music might have been just a few scattered sparks.


The Opening and Ending Songs

Surprisingly enough, the opening and ending songs (hereafter referred to as OP and ED) represented all the Yamato music that could be purchased prior to the summer of 1977. This was par for the course as explained above. Singles were sold in bright, vibrant packaging meant to appeal to children since it was assumed at the time (correctly in most cases) that this was TV animation’s target audience.

It was also customary to cut two versions of every song; a single-verse monophonic version for television (“TV Size”) and a two-verse stereo version for commercial sale. Right out of the box, Yamato broke this mold by adding a third version. Click here to read about the genesis of all three and a learn much more about the commercial life of these songs.


Space Battleship Yamato & The Scarlet Scarf

b/w Drama track: SOS Earth! Yamato, revive!
Sonorama Ace Puppy Series, 10/31/1974
Asahi Sonorama, APS-5003

The very first edition was pressed on a flexible phonosheet (rebranded as a ‘Sonosheet’ by Sonorama) with the OP/ED on one side and a “drama” track on the other; a condensed retelling of episode 1 with dialogue and sound effects. It was also a great early source for pictures, since it came with a four-panel double-sided foldout. (Click here to view both sides.)

In addition to the “Ace Puppy” series, Sonosheets were also sold as bonus items in children’s books from Sonorama (above left), which helped immensely to get the songs into wider circulation. Another publisher, Epoch, included a nearly-identical product called a “Sheet Record” in a very early Yamato picture card set (above right). See both of these publications from cover to cover here.


This song can be found on the following albums:
(see other discographies for data)

Series 1 Complete Collection Drama box set
Karaoke EP with tracks from The New Voyage
Space Battleship Yamato Drama album
Space Battleship Yamato BGM Collection
Theme Song and BGM Collection
’80 Yamato Festival in Budokan Live
Yamato III Drama album
Eternal Edition File No. 1 (TV size)
Eternal Edition File No. 4 (Yamato 2 version)
Eternal Edition File No. 7 (Yamato III version)
Eternal Edition File No. 10 The Best
Eternal Edition The Best II (standard and Karaoke)
Main Title Hit Theme Collection
Song Collection album
Yamato Best 4 EP (1978)
Anime Karaoke Series EP b/w Yamato!! The New Voyage (1979)
4-song EP with Be Forever songs (1980)
The World of Leiji Matsumoto
Leiji Matsumoto World of SF Roman
The Music Encyclopedia of Leiji Matsumoto 1999
Rail of Fantasy Concerts 1998 & 1999 (live)
Isao Sasaki: The Scarlet Scarf/World of Anime Romance
Isao Sasaki Best 24
Isao Sasaki: Of the Man
Isao Sasaki Singles Collection
Isao Sasaki 40th Anniversary Greatest Best
Isao Sasaki 40th Anniversary Trial Best
Isao Sasaki 45th Anniversary Best

Click here for more

Space Battleship Yamato single b/w The Scarlet Scarf

45rpm single, 11/10/1974
Nippon Columbia, SCS-241

Within two weeks, the songs were released again from the master label for Yamato music, Nippon Columbia. The dual licensing was made possible by the different formats. Whereas Sonorama had the rights for phonosheets, Nippon Columbia had the lock on vinyl. This was somewhat risky since it was meant for older collectors, and Yamato‘s appeal to an older audience was an unknown factor. Fortunately for all involved, the bet paid off handsomely in the long run.

The Columbia single wasn’t quite as deluxe a package as the Sonorama version, but it did include another color foldout, which can be seen here.

Space Battleship Yamato

Lyrics: Yu Aku
Music: Hiroshi Miyagawa
Vocals: Isao Sasaki
Chorus: Royal Knights

Farewell, Earth
The ship we’re traveling in is
Space Battleship Yamato

Through space and toward far-off Iscandar
Fate on our shoulders, we begin the journey
Surely we will return

We cheerfully answer the people waving their hands
Far from our galaxy, going to Iscandar
We go to a great distance
Space Battleship Yamato

Farewell to Earth and the people we love
Space Battleship Yamato

Carrying out our mission to rescue Earth
Fighting men, burning romance
If we don’t do it, someone must

We’re the ones expected to do it
Far from our galaxy, going to Iscandar
Space Battleship Yamato

Hear it now on YouTube


Space Battleship Yamato
& The Scarlet Scarf

b/w Drama track:
Break through the Gamilas’ Absolute Defense Line!
33-1/3 rpm single, 7/1/1977
Nippon Columbia, CH-53

By the time the Yamato feature film was announced for August 1977, the OP/ED songs had become genuine hits, reprinted over and over on various anime song LPs from Columbia. They were confident enough to release the single again in a slightly altered format that included a new drama track based on TV episode 11. This was followed a few days later by a full-length drama LP that gave everyone their first taste of the overnight success story that was to come. (See the Yamato movie discography for more about that.)

Like the Yamato Theme, The Scarlet Scarf was written far above the level of children’s music and could actually be better appreciated by adult listeners who understood much more about the melancholy subject of separation and loss. It was part of Hiroshi Miyagawa’s genius that his songs would only get better with age. Older music fans may also have been attracted to it for its melodic similarity to Una Sera de Tokyo, Miyagawa’s first major hit song from 1964.

THE SCARLET SCARF

Lyrics: Yu Aku
Music: Hiroshi Miyagawa
Vocals: Isao Sasaki and the Royal Knights

That girl was waving a red scarf
Who do you think it was for?
Whoever it was, it doesn’t matter
Let each think it was for him
The hearts of men beginning a journey
Want a piece of romance
La La La La La La
La La La La La La
La La La scarlet scarf

I’m surely coming back, so scarlet scarf
Please welcome me on that day
Now far away in a corner of space
I dream among the stars
The eyes of men who travel
Want reflections of romance
La La La La La La
La La La La La La
La La La scarlet scarf

This song can be found on the following albums:
(see other discographies for data)

Series 1 Complete Collection Drama box set
Space Battleship Yamato Drama album
Space Battleship Yamato BGM Collection
Theme Song and BGM Collection
’80 Yamato Festival in Budokan Live
Eternal Edition File No. 1 (TV size)
Eternal Edition File No. 10 The Best
Eternal Edition The Best II (standard and Karaoke)
Main Title Hit Theme Collection
Song Collection album
Yamato Best 4 EP (1978)
The World of Leiji Matsumoto
Leiji Matsumoto World of SF Roman
The Music Encyclopedia of Leiji Matsumoto 1999
Rail of Fantasy Concerts 1998 & 1999 (live)
Isao Sasaki Terebi Main Title Theme Song Action
Isao Sasaki/The Scarlet Scarf: World of Anime Romance
Isao Sasaki Best 24
Isao Sasaki: Of the Man
Isao Sasaki Singles Collection
Isao Sasaki 40th Anniversary Greatest Best
Isao Sasaki 40th Anniversary Trial Best
Isao Sasaki 45th Anniversary Best

Click here for more


Space Battleship Yamato Complete Collection

TV Series Drama box set, 12/1/1979
Nippon Columbia
LP: CB-7068~80 Cassette: CBY-501~507

Two years of continuous record-breaking sales sparked by the incredible success of the first two movies convinced Columbia to experiment with their first big-ticket box set. Priced at a whopping 18,000 yen (about $180 today) it presented the entire TV series in purely audio form.

Both the 13-record set (above) and the 8-cassette version (below) came in the same size box along with a deluxe 90-page full color hardcover storybook to follow the action. In the days before home video, this was the only way to relive the series from end to end and, more importantly, to hear all of its music again. Though this collection was never reissued on CD, Columbia duplicated the box style for its 2004 Eternal Edition Premium set.

Click here for a complete track listing.


Space Battleship Yamato single b/w The Scarlet Scarf

45rpm “Colorport” single, 7/1/1980
Nippon Columbia, CH-201

The run-up to Be Forever Yamato in the summer of 1980 brought with it the biggest wave of music yet, which included this unique picture disc that combined the OP/ED songs with artwork from 1978’s Farewell to Yamato. Substantially thicker than vinyl, it was released in more limited quantities and became cherished by collectors.


Space Battleship Yamato
BGM Collection Part 1

Soundtrack album, 1/25/1981
Nippon Columbia, LP: CX-7008 Cassette: CAY-513

Strange as it sounds, it was the recorded quality of the original BGM (Back Ground Music) that had kept it from being released until over six years after the TV series debuted. Back in 1974, recording sessions were not budgeted for stereo since no Japanese TV set could hear it that way. To Miyagawa’s credit, he skillfully worked around this to write simple melodies that could break through such technical limitations. In short, he made sure that his tunes would still sound good on a miniature TV speaker.

The music made such a powerful impression on viewers that the memory of it could get them through the eternal 7-day gap between episodes. Naturally, they wanted to hear it in pure form and didn’t mind saying so to those at Columbia who would listen. In the wake of Be Forever‘s tremendous success, Columbia finally relented. BGM Collection Part 1 clearly said “MONO” on its cover, but this deterred no one. In no time at all, the floodgates had been opened on another form of music merchandising, and BGM albums rolled out from practically every series, new and old.

Miyagawa’s liner notes from BGM Part 1:

Even though the Yamato story is set in outer space, it’s basically a human drama. When making space music one usually uses a synthesizer, but for this anime we used a live orchestra to bring out the full aspect of Earth’s humanity. For later works, we consistently stayed with the grandeur of the orchestral sound. We added a certain uniqueness to differentiate each new production, like a pipe organ, or a different style melody for a particular alien race. But for me, the first Yamato will always be the foundation on which we built the rest of the series, and I will always hold the fondest memories for it.

This album was reissued three times on CD. At right, the “Original BGM Collection” released as a bonus disc with the JAVN VHS box set for series 1 in 1989. Below left: the 1995 edition (Nippon Columbia, COCC-12869). Below right: the 2005 edition (Columbia Music Entertainment, COCX-33200). This body of music was also included as bonus tracks on Emotion’s 1990 LD box set for the first TV series.

Click here for a complete track listing.


The Music Encyclopedia of Leiji Matsumoto 1999

10-CD box set, 3/2000
Bandai Visual & Columbia Family Group, GES-31170~79

This deluxe collection was one of Leiji Matsumoto’s contributions to the late-90s revival of the saga. Two of the ten discs in the set were devoted to Yamato. The first contained BGM from Series 1, which included many previously-unreleased tracks that would reappear six months later in the Eternal Edition series. What continues to makes this disc unique today is a complete set of every version of the Yamato Theme and The Scarlet Scarf created in 1974. (Read about the variations here.) The second disc spanned the rest of the saga with a grab-bag of songs and rarities favored by Matsumoto. It concluded with a previously-unreleased track called Theme of Yamato ’83, which is arguably the best instrumental version ever recorded outside of the first Symphonic Suite album.

The set was limited to 1999 copies and marketed by Bandai Visual exclusively through their LaLaBit online store.


Space Battleship Yamato Eternal Edition File No. 1

CD, 9/30/2000
Columbia Records, COCX-31082~3

26 years after the Series 1 score first appeared, it finally reached completion with Columbia’s Eternal Edition CD series. The first two discs were released together in a cardboard slipcase. File No. 0 was a brand new symphonic album, and File No. 1 contained all of BGM Part 1 augmented with almost 30 minutes of additional tracks, which had previously been available only in the limited-edition Music Encyclopedia set. One can only hope that all the fans who had dreamed of such a disc were still around to enjoy it by this time.

Click here for a complete track listing.

Click here to read about the Eternal Edition series.


Yamato Sound Almanac Series, 1974-I Space Battleship Yamato BGM Collection

CD, 7/18/12
Nippon Columbia, COCX-37381

The Sound Almanac series was an ambitious 2-year project (2012-2014) to reissue the entire Yamato catalog on 30 discs, all remastered to “Blu-spec CD” quality and brimming with bonus tracks. Extensive new liner notes introduced classic Yamato music to new fans brought in by Yamato 2199 and also contained plenty of previously-unknown trivia for the veterans.

Learn more about the series and read the liner notes here.


Continue to Space Battleship Yamato the movie Discography

Below: a two-sided poster that was included with the LP version of BGM Part 1. Nippon Columbia was quite generous with such items in their heyday, a factor woefully absent in the age of CDs and digital downloading.

Special thanks to superfan Steve Harrison for research assistance.

The End

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