The Making of Final Yamato, Part 11

Fan Club magazine #28

Going by the printed publishing dates on each issue of the original Yamato Fan Club magazine, one is lead to believe that subscribers could expect one to appear in the mailbox every 60 days like clockwork. But digging deep into their content occasionally tells a different story, since events are sometimes covered that took place after the magazine was supposedly published.

This issue is a good example; though the publishing date is given as April 25, 1982, it made specific reference to an event on June 12. That makes it a bit tricky to know exactly where all this content fits into the timeline, so let’s just assume the issue was assembled as the month of May gave way to the action-packed summer of 1982 when Yamato went on its first nationwide tour of Japan.

That tour, a series of fan club gatherings, got plenty of coverage in later issues as we will see in time. For now, another thing that made issue 28 significant was the first public appearance of authentic story information and the first staff interviews from the early days of production.

Most worthy of note, however, is the number 2203. Prior to this, every chronological reference to Final Yamato placed it in the year 2205, properly following the continuity of Yamato III. For the first time anywhere, the year for Final Yamato was stated as 2203 in this issue of the magazine…and fandom would be left to puzzle it out for all time. Did it mean Yamato III, despite all previous evidence, actually took place in less than a year? Did it mean Final Yamato was an alternate story to take the place of Yamato III? (Its premise indicated otherwise, but the numbers still didn’t add up.) The quandary was revived in 2009 when Yamato Resurrection was set in 2220, and it was stated that Final Yamato had occurred 17 years earlier.

So what was the real reason for the number change? After all these years, the only theory that continues to stand up comes from writer Hideaki Ito, who is as strong an authority as one could want: Final Yamato takes place in 2203 so the ages of the characters could be closer to the target audience. If Kodai were 18 in 2199, he would be 22 in 2203. Most Yamato fans who started watching in 1974 would now be in their late teens and early twenties, probably topping out at 22. It’s a goofy reason to drop an irreconcilable continuity bomb, but Yoshinobu Nishizaki always had a particular talent for giving fans things to talk about.

Ten years have passed since Yamato was born. Meanwhile, this story has continued to give us dreams. But what is it that Yamato truly has to say? Now, Final Yamato.

It’s about life (a battle). A person must leave the protection of their parents and confront life alone. Even for Susumu Kodai, the time comes to separate from his protective battleship. And now, Kodai begins to walk away from his connection to Yamato.

Making Plot • The Point of the Plan

The first Space Battleship Yamato TV series was broadcast in 1974, and with the enthusiastic support of the audience, three TV series, a TV special, and three movies have been produced. Since the planning started in 1973, next year 1983 will mark ten years since I began to make Yamato. Therefore, I am producing a feature film in commemoration of the 10th anniversary, the fourth movie to be released in March of next year, and I have wanted to make a concluding chapter for a long time.

As well as fulfilling my responsibility to the work as a producer, I want to answer something that has continued since Farewell to Yamato. As expected, I want to clearly learn what Yamato means to me, and what it means to you. Although many of your voices have wanted me to continue, the end of a decade brings a good opportunity to make an ending, and I’d like to give it a crowning glory for Yamato, which played an active part.

What was Space Battleship Yamato?

Yamato has consistently depicted a world of passionate human romanticism beyond the cold, inorganic scientific view of space. Earth is saved and human beings gain a future through their connection to it. To achieve this, we’ve advocated an earnest belief in humans and the future, and to put one’s all into a fight without giving up in a hopeless situation. In the fight, we’ve spoken about love, friendship, solidarity, humanism, sacrifice, and other important issues.

Since the birth of humans, we’ve taken up weapons in our hands from the time we stood up on two legs. Technology was used to develop those weapons, and there came recognition of the folly of endless massacre and destruction. We entered the 20th century, and after two world wars, the destruction of the environment, and progressive pollution of the ecosystem, a pessimistic view of the world became a major trend.

Also, in a society like Japan that saw significant economic growth, life became something to be calculated in exchange for stability, which resulted in a sense of stagnation and helplessness, which spurred the climate of pessimism. The apathy of the younger generation, along with violence and derision, are the signs.

Yamato is consistent amid such changing times, appealing to the idea that it’s always possible for one to break out of the impersonal state of the world. Humans have unique power and wisdom. However, it is not easy. One must never give up, and it is necessary to put everything into the struggle. Yamato has continued to say so. This outlook on human beings and an optimistic view of the world are the theme of Yamato.

The hero Susumu Kodai appears as one of the people who represents the theme of Yamato. It may be said that Yamato is a story of Kodai’s personal growth. By riding on Yamato, Kodai learned that life is a battle. However, someday Kodai must step off the powerful space battleship called Yamato and face life with the power of oneself. Just as a child grows and leaves the bosom of parents to enter school, or a student finishes their time of study to become a member of a strict society, so Kodai must leave the bosom of Yamato and Captain Okita, and go off to have an adult life with his lover, Yuki Mori.

On the basis of Yamato‘s theme that life opens up to someone who believes and fights without fail, Kodai’s growth as a full-fledged human being must detach from Yamato, and when Yamato is certain of this, it must go off like an elephant to the graveyard, ending with a magnificent scene of disappearing into space.

In order to present this message of life to all people, the final chapter of Yamato is planned.

– Producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki

Chairman Nishizaki himself talks about the origin of Space Battleship Yamato. What kind of dream was it born from, and how has it grown? After ten years, Yamato is about to take its last voyage. Let’s expect it to be filled with love and romance.

Toward the day when Space Battleship Yamato leaves on its final voyage, Chairman Nishizaki speaks from the heart to you in the fan club!!

Message from the Producer

I’ve always lived a life of dreams. It can be said that one of those dreams, Space Battleship Yamato, had the opportunity to be born into the world of stories, beginning with the scene of a ship flying in the sky. A huge seagoing ship is converted into a spaceship. Boys and girls stake their life on its voyage.

In the Age of Discovery, people once journeyed to unknown lands, and their desire for adventure expanded everyone’s happiness, but now that this is impossible on Earth, space becomes the new frontier.

My dream is that through a ship that roams freely through space, I could explore the infinite possibility of human beings. In this way, my dream grew to be expressed in the work called Space Battleship Yamato. Through Yamato, I advocated the importance of a human being believing in and fighting for the future. A pathway always opens for one who does so.

Another important aspect is to love other people. Love is an easy thing to say, but a difficult thing to perform. Also, love is not necessarily an entirely sweet thing. I could be stabbed or killed for loving someone, or I may lose money and status. Love can be a terrible thing that brings ruin and destruction. But engaging in the struggle and overcoming difficulty can lead to happiness for the first time.

Another way this can be described is as a trial. To human beings, trials are more important than anything else, and you might say that love is God’s blessing upon human beings.

As I complete the decade-long story of Space Battleship Yamato, everyone has come to know well the essence of love, and through Yamato, Susumu Kodai, Yuki Mori, and others, I want to appeal to the independent growth of a human being. All of you are Susumu Kodai and Yuki Mori, becoming independent soldiers of love. Yamato finishes its true mission by giving birth to such people.

Thank you very much for loving Yamato for such a long time, over an entire decade. After we all see this movie, let’s talk about what comes next in life and depart toward it.

Fans participate in Yamato‘s final chapter! First of all, the voyage of Yamato begins with the meeting of Chairman Nishizaki with all of you!! The latest exchange meeting information!!

The latest full information on
Yamato The Concluding Chapter

Exchange meeting with fans
and Chairman Nishizaki

An exchange meeting recently occurred in Tokyo on June 12 with the Space Battleship Yamato Tokyo district fan club. The creator of Yamato was there with about 100 people who represented fans in the Tokyo area. A passionate discussion lasted for two hours.

Producer Nishizaki talked enthusiastically about the final chapter of Yamato, to be released next spring. He talked about the story and inadvertantly (?) revealed some secrets. (We’ll feature it in great detail next issue!!)

There were also many questions from the audience, and there were points when Producer Nishizaki cringed at questions from some sharp fans.

In addition, such exchange meetings will soon be held all over the country. Along with a film concert to show past works, the events being planned are likely to make Yamato fans drool!

Explanation of the Story

The year 2203…

The water planet Aquarius, which orbits around the edge of the Milky Way Galaxy, is heading toward Earth.

According to space mythology handed down from generation to generation, it did so many eons ago. It is said that when Earth was just a relentlessly burning rock, Planet Aquarius wandered into the vicinity and huge quantities of water fell to Earth due to gravitational interference. This water became a sea, and the seeds of life in the water produced creatures that evolved from bacteria into fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and finally caused the birth of human beings.

It is said that Aquarius occasionally made other, later excursions. For example, the great flooding in the Carboniferous period of the Paleozoic era that lead to the evolution of amphibians, a large marine transgression in the Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic era became the turning point of the dinosaurs’ extinction, and the flood of Noah about 3,000 years ago.

The water planet Aquarius is now coming once again.

Aquarius is a planet larger than Earth, a sphere made entirely of water. Abundant heavy water in its central core makes energy though nuclear fusion. Therefore, a bright white light at its center is seen through the layers of blue water, giving it the appearance of a lamp floating in space. There are floating continents high over the ocean surface, and though people seemingly once lived there, they left only traces of a culture that became extinct. It is said that there is only one person left in the water, the beautiful Queen of Aquarius.

This migration of Aquarius was caused by the sudden shock of a galactic collision. At the time, another galaxy slipped through a dimensional fault, crossed through the Milky Way Galaxy at tremendous speed, and faded away into the mouth of another dimensional fault. The crossover happened far from Earth, and because it passed through the dense star systems in the galactic center, collisions completely destroyed the Bolar Federation and the Galman-Gamilas Empire of Dessler.

The Earth Defense Forces learned of the accident and dispatched Space Battleship Yamato to investigate at the galactic center, and events begin from here.

Yamato meets with disaster in space while making preparations to return across 3,000 light years to Earth, when Aquarius is seen pouring a huge quantity of water onto the planet Dengil, which is flooded. Planet Dengil is a world approximately the size of Earth. Other than the color of their skin, the people there have biology identical to Earthlings, and through fearsome science they have developed a powerful mechanized army said to be the strongest in space. They are lead by the imperial priest Lugal, who stands more than two meters tall.

Those whose mother planet was flooded must seek other planets for emigration. On Earth, a crisis breaks out over complete intercontinental flooding by the water of Aquarius. Attempting to return to Earth, Yamato is ambushed by a mysterious space fleet. All its crew members are defeated, and no word gets out.

Is the real enemy of Earth Aquarius, or Dengil?

The mystery of the unexpected origin of aliens from Dengil. A reunion with a certain person that surprises even Kodai. Can Yamato rise again and bring a future to the human race?

Final Yamato Staff Interviews

The general director in charge of the staff for Yamato The Concluding Chapter is a Yamato veteran!

Since the announcement of The Concluding Chapter, fans’ expectations for the movie release continue to rise. Therefore, this special staff interview was carried out in the midst of business. They spoke with passion!

“I want Yamato‘s conclusion
to be the crowning glory”

Takeshi Shirato, Chief Director

Interviewer: Soon after the script for The Concluding Chapter comes the storyboard and it enters into the drawing phase, which you are in charge of as the chief director. It is thought that storyboards play an especially important role in providing that connection, but I’d like to hear what you have to say about that portion. I’d also like to hear about what motivated you to enter this world.

Shirato: My motivation to enter this world was watching TV anime for about 13 years. Since the characters looked so distinctive, I investigated who did it, and my motive was my interest in learning all about anime. I was still a young college student at that time.

Interviewer: What was your specialty in your college student days?

Shirato: It was industrial chemistry. A field completely unrelated to anime.

Interviewer: It’s interesting to hear a connection between anime and industrial chemistry. What was your first work in the animation world?

Shirato: The first work I drew animation for was Star of the Giants.

Interviewer: Who’s your favorite character? Other than in Yamato, of course.

Shirato: I would have to say Tiger Mask. In Yamato it would be Shima Daisuke. I also like Saburo Kato, who died.

There is a big theme in Yamato, and in every scene the situation and movement of the characters flow with unified action.

Interviewer: At present you are taking an active role as a director. Was there a work you particularly enjoyed directing?

Shirato: Well…Young Ieyasu Tokugawa was interesting to direct.

Interviewer: Was it slapstick?

Shirato: No no, it was serious.

Interviewer: Are you good with a more serious one?

Shirato: I can go either way. However, if you’re interested in something with more slapstick from that time, I think Dotakon would be in that category.

Interviewer: Earlier you said you like Shima Daisuke among the characters in Yamato. As a chief director does your favorite character influence you when drawing scenes for a storyboard?

Shirato: No, in the case of Yamato there is a big theme; there is a situation for every scene that includes the movement of a person because the script calls for a flow of unified action that is expressed in the form of a storyboard. Our role on the staff is to express the script with storyboards, and the chief director brings it accurately to the screen. This time, it is the first 70mm film in the history of anime, and we’re conscious of using the power of the entire screen to its maximum. Naturally, both battle scenes and smaller hand-to-hand combat are more powerful. As we’d hoped they’d be.

Interviewer: Space Battleship Yamato also comes to an end this time. What did Yamato mean to you?

Shirato: Hmm, I can’t say this categorically, but since I was involved in Yamato from Part 1, if I had to put into my own words what Yamato meant to me, at the beginning it was something like trying to break a bucking bronco, especially with respect to the amazing mecha. Through each production I’ve been associated with, I suppose I myself have grown. I think I’ve become better able to manage it since the first time out. It was like how Kodai and Shima tussled during the voyage and came to understand each other as they advanced toward their goal. If I compared myself to Shima, then Producer Nishizaki would be Kodai.

Interviewer: That’s a cool analogy to describe the two of you! (Laughs)

Shirato: Analogies aside, the present state of mind among the staff, which has worked hard for a long time, is to make the conclusion Yamato‘s crowning glory. It is a feeling I agree with.

Interviewer: Thank you very much for your time on this busy day.

The art staff burns to make Yamato The Concluding Chapter appropriate for the last round of the series.

“Big screen 70mm. I’m also looking forward to it”

Kazuhiko Udagawa, animation director

Interviewer: First I’d like to ask about your motive for entering the world of anime.

Udagawa: Well, I think people have various motives for entering into this world. In my case, it was simply on a whim, with nothing else aside from that.

Interviewer: What did you do before then?

Udagawa: I was a supervisor at a construction site.

Interviewer: With a fabulous physique, I’d expect. You must have made a frightening director. (Laughs) And now you’ve moved on to be an animation director.

Udagawa: If it can be called a motive, I could say I joined Mushi Pro as an opportunity to step into this world. I’ve liked drawing pictures since I was small.

Interviewer: What was your first work as an animation director? What have you done other than Yamato?

Udagawa: My first work was Star of the Giants. Then I worked on all of Yatterman for Tatsunoko. Also, the others that came to mind were Hazedon, Wansa-kun, Aim for the Ace, Karate Baka Ichidai, and Japan Manga Compendium. One that I did more recently was Jarinko Chie, which left an impression on me. That was a fun job.

Interviewer: Of all the works you’ve been involved with, is there a character you especially liked ?

Udagawa: It’s hard to answer that question, since I loved each one in its own way. It’s abstract to say this, but in a work where you sympathize with the main character, your fondness for them becomes stronger. In Yamato, I like Dessler’s charm the most.

Interviewer: This time you are the chief animation director, which also puts you in charge of character design. What is your ambition for The Concluding Chapter?

Udagawa: My responsibility is to supervise the art from each animator based on the storyboards, and my role is to check and unify the images. I’ve been involved in Yamato since after Farewell, and since the series concludes with this work, I’d like to make this an appropriate “Concluding Chapter.” Because it’s being planned for 70mm this time, I think it’s important for it to live up to the big screen. This is a first for me, so I’m looking forward to it. The first draft has already been done for the character design. Regarding the images that Nishizaki-san has [in mind], I need the character designer to help me expand on them and put meat on their bones.

Interviewer: Thank you very much for your time today.

The stage on which Kodai and Yamato play their roles is created by the power of the art staff!!

“If everyone puts all their energy into each part, the result will be a high-quality work. I want this to be a definitive Concluding Chapter.”

“I’m making every possible effort to leave nothing out”

Tsuji Tadano, Art Director

Interviewer: You’ve taken charge of the “art” and “design” this time, and I’d like to ask what steps you’ve taken to reach The Concluding Chapter. First, what opportunity got you into the world of animation?

Tadanao: There was no special cause, but I liked to watch Disney movies from the old days, when my job was to wash movie film. That’s what influenced me.

Interviewer: What do you mean when you say “wash film?”

Tadanao: Young people today won’t know what that means. Plastic ran short in those days, so substances such as film were washed to transparency and reused. I lived in Katsushika as a child, and there were a lot of toy factories in the neighborhood. It could be used in a toy clock, for example, or the name label on a school bag. Film was kept in a trade warehouse, along with stacks of animation cels, and I thought it was odd to see so many sheets with the same pictures. That’s when I understand that they were drawn one by one for animation. I liked to draw pictures at the time. That’s how I got interested in animation, and noticed that this world was a real place.

Interviewer: You’ve been involved in many works since you started this one, but what was your first? Also, what was your first work as an art director?

Tadanao: When I entered this world, I started out as a paint washer, and the first work where I became an animator was The Little Prince and the Eight-Headed Dragon (Toei, 1963). The art director then was the great Reiji Koyama, and I learned a lot from him. My first work as an art director was Hellhound Liner (Toei, 1972).

Interviewer: What were the most impressive works you’ve done before now?

Tadanao: I’ve been involved with many. Other than previous works, the most impressive is Yamato, which I’m dong now for the third time. As for the early works of Toei Animation, there was Wan Wan Chuushingura (1963), Wolf Boy Ken (1963-65) and Kikansha Yaemon (1974). Then there was a while when I worked on robot series such as Mazinger Z (1972-74) and Getta Robo (1975-76). Recently, there was Future War 198X, which took a year and two months.

Interviewer: What are your ambitions for The Concluding Chapter, which ends the Yamato series?

Tadanao: Well, the staff structure becomes larger on a big work like Yamato. Each person is in charge of one part in it, and I work hard to put my best effort into my part. I think doing so will result in a high-quality work. I’m making every possible effort to put all my energy into this Yamato so nothing will be left out.

Interviewer: The time of image-production for The Concluding Chapter is coming up soon, and I think you’ll become much busier from here on. Please take care of yourself while doing your best to meet the fans’ expectations. Thank you very much for your time today.

“With various feelings, we’ve walked together with Yamato. As we now approach Final, I want to look back at Yamato once more and send it to the many fans.”

Long-awaited news • Space Battleship Yamato Nationwide Film Concert

Space Battleship Yamato will reach its finale next March. At Yamato fan club headquarters, we are planning fan-exchange meetings in about 100 places across the country to commemorate The Concluding Chapter. We will choose films from the past series for fans who joined midway to fully review and understand Yamato. At the same time, we will also share information about The Concluding Chapter. Also, we are preparing Yamato fancy product presents in gratitude for fans who have loved Yamato for years. [Translator’s note: “fancy products” or “fancy goods” was the Japanese term for collectible merchandise in the 70s and early 80s. “Present” is still the term used for a free gift.] Admission is free, whether or not you are a fan club member. To hold screenings that can satisfy all the fans, we welcome your suggestions for locations. Thank you for your cooperation. If it is possible for a group of 20 or more to attend the location, please send your application to Yamato fan club headquarters.

To encounter scenes and characters again, the concerts begin.

The End

Special thanks to Neil Nadelman for translation support.


It’s worth noting that while all the above information was being gathered for Fan Club Magazine #28, fans got their first experience of Final Yamato that went beyond the printed page, in the form of a concept album titled Prelude to Final Yamato. This ‘overture’ album featured a mix of music and spoken-word narration. The voice of Michio Hazama and new compositions by Hiroshi Miyagawa. The four tracks on side A were arranged by Miyagawa’s son Akira and open with a traditional Yayoi-period flute performance (an instrument dating back over 2,000 years). Several themes for Final Yamato were already written by this time, and three of the tracks on this album were further developed into BGM for the film. The synthesizer player in Symphonic Orchestra Yamato was Jun Fukamachi, who also created two Yamato ‘Digital Trip’ albums. (Below left: Kentaro Haneda at the piano.)

This album was probably the most unusual of the Yamato symphonic LPs: a soundtrack “image album” that preceded its film by a year. To loyal fans, it was the next best thing to a movie, and was explained by Yoshinobu Nishizaki this way in his liner notes:

Is it a first in Japan for an ‘overture’ record to come out a year before the movie? Of course, the details of the film cannot be explained here, but there is a general understanding of the world where Final Yamato comes from. When I work on Yamato, I cannot produce it by thinking of the picture and the music as separate, independent things. Yamato is not simply a picture, a story, and some BGM. All three of these are unified in my mind as the total presentation even as we begin to write a script.

In all film work, especially in animation, the positioning of music as a part of the drama was established by Disney, and it grew considerably as he sent his many masterpieces out into the world. The importance of music is to provide a level of reality. It gives presence and atmosphere to a flat picture, and expresses the thoughts of the characters. Unless the picture and the story are combined with music, they do not form a three-dimensional work. (This is not completely understood, and there have been many cases where a very talented composer produces music that outshines the other two elements.)

This time, we spent about a year on the production of the story and developed this ‘prelude’ album in parallel. This record precedes the movie, which will bring ten years of Yamato to a conclusion. In this way, when someone asks what is the nature of this story, the music will already be there to convey it.

The big premise of Final Yamato is to go back to the beginning of history and trace the origin of life. It is the objective of this album, too. With this record’s magnificent stellar scale as a backdrop, everyone can dream of how Kodai, Yuki, and Yamato will act together, and it can help you to expand your imagination. The movie you see in a theatre next year will live up to it. As a producer, I am convinced of this.

Continue to The Making of Final Yamato Part 12: The Final Act

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