As the long, Yamato-less year of 1982 drew to a close, there was plenty of other anime to keep fans busy while the animation staff worked like demons to get Final Yamato ready for its March ’83 premiere. Six God Combination Godmars, a “super-robot” story about two brothers caught on opposite sides of an interplanetary war, was in the spotlight both on TV and on the big screen. The series was in its final month, bolstered by a compilation movie in theaters where, by no coincidence whatsoever, this free Final Yamato flyer was on hand to whet the appetite.
SF anime on TV was in a major boom with Macross, Space Adventure Cobra, and Endless Road SSX (now all entering their teens) leading the charge every week alongside continuing favorites Urusei Yatsura, Xabungle, Dougram, and a series named Dairugger XV (which would be subsumed into Voltron several years later).
Much more SF was in store for early 1983, including Urashiman, Aura Battler Dunbine, and Armored Trooper Votoms on TV, and Urusei Yatsura: Only You, Harmagedon, and Crusher Joe in the cinema. It also happened to be the 20th anniversary of anime on TV, marked by the January 1963 premiere of Mighty Atom [Astro Boy].
The monthly anime magazines were loaded with articles on all this and more, and Final Yamato was right there with them. This was the first month finished color designs could be released, which resulted in a huge art-dump that demonstrated the specific visual tone of the movie.
On the music side, fans got a chance to tease out some thematic elements when new song lyrics were published, and the ad campaign began for Nippon Columbia’s first Final Yamato Music Collection album (above left). It was also the first month advance movie tickets became available, and a special keepsake ticket with a “cel layer” was sold at theaters. They were limited to 55,000 nationwide. (The stub was torn off the right side.)
Here’s everything that got a loyal Yamato fan through the month of December…
Animedia, January issue
Gakken Marketing, December 10, 1982
Leading with a Godmars cover story, Animedia delivered extensive updates on Crusher Joe and Only You. Other highlights were a feature on different categories of anime heroines and an early look at Aura Battler Dunbine‘s character lineup.
The Final Yamato article covered two pages that discussed the color schemes and roles of mecha on both sides of the story. Read the article here.
The Anime magazine #38
Kindai Movie Co., December 10, 1982
Fairy Princess Minky Momo took the cover, but Godmars was the lead story in this issue, followed by Final Yamato, Crusher Joe, and Only You. Current and upcoming anime was profiled along with the first announcement of the Golgo 13 feature film. A round-table discussion with the movers and shakers of major anime sponsors and production companies talked about the ever-expanding medium. A young Mamoru Oshii was interviewed about his work on Urusei Yatsura and other shows.
The issue was also chock full of articles with Yamato connections. An SF short story titled Waum (which seems never to have gone beyond these pages) was illustrated by Final Yamato character designer Shinya Takahashi. Design powerhouse Studio Nue got a bound-in booklet that summarized their best-known works (skipping Yamato for some reason). Fans of Yoko Asagami (Yuki’s voice actress) and Keiko Toda (see her voice credits here) could read a travelogue of their trip to Los Angeles and New York. White Fang, a TBS anime series with character design by Yasuhiko Yoshikazu, got a hefty retrospective.
Yamato fans got a bound-in poster and a splashy 5-page article that talked in-depth about Final Yamato‘s color design. Read the article here.
My Anime, January issue
Akita Shoten, December 10, 1982
My Anime greeted the coming of 1983 with a one-size-fits-all cover montage and a bound-in booklet commemorating the 20th anniversary of TV anime. Godmars got a strong 10-page feature, and all the current and upcoming anime received heavy coverage. (One particular highlight was prog-rocker Keith Emerson’s appearance at the Harmagedon press conference, talking about his soundtrack for the film.)
A single page was devoted to a presentation pitch for a mysterious anime concept called Golgodas. It strongly resembled Fist of the North Star, which would not debut as a manga for almost another year.
The Final Yamato article ran five pages and can be seen here.
Animage magazine #55
Tokuma Shoten, December 10, 1982
Animage broke the mold this month by making Only You its cover story and putting Godmars deep inside the magazine. One nice surprise was a bound-in poster of Triton of the Sea by none other than Yutaka Izubuchi, who was involved in Final Yamato mecha design at the time.
The Godmars article was the first in a collection titled “Uplifting Drama Anime to Surpass E.T.” Crusher Joe, Final Yamato, and Golgo 13 were included in this symbolic Japanese counterattack against the global onslaught of Steven Spielberg’s diminutive alien visitor.
Covering four pages, this Final Yamato article was the most interesting one of the month, consisting of an open letter from a concerned (and very articulate) Yamato fan to the production staff, and an insightful answer from producer Eiichi Yamamoto. Read it here.
Elsewhere in December…
10th Anniversary Commemorative Edition 1983 Final Yamato Calendar
Other than the fan club magazines, this was the first Final Yamato product from West Cape Corporation. Published every year since 1978, Yamato calendars were always very generous affairs, and this one was no different. Measuring 20″ x 14.5″, it featured a single page of stickers and 12 separate paintings derived from the movie. It was sold only through the official fan club
See it from cover to cover here.
For those who couldn’t hold out any longer, December brought with it a real opportunity to dig into the Final Yamato story itself. The screenplay would be adapted into four separate novelizations (four!), each written by a different author and consisting of two volumes.
The first to appear were Volume 1 of the Cobalt Library edition (author: Ken Wakasaki, publisher: Shueisha) and Volume 1 of the Am Juju edition (author: Keigo Masaki, publisher: Tokuma Shoten/Animage paperbacks). They were published on December 15 and 31, respectively.
The Cobalt edition included a smattering color production art and generic black & white stills. It opened with a long prelude to the film set on Earth that summarized the saga so far and gave Kodai and Yuki some time together before the start of the mission. The AM Juju edition started at the same point as the movie, but spent more time on Earth after Yamato‘s return from Dengil to explore the angst of the characters. It was heavily illustrated by Yoshinori Kanada’s preproduction sketches, and more can be read about it here.
Two things these novels had in common were that Dessler figured more strongly in the story, and they both ended with Yamato‘s launch from Earth under the revived Captain Okita.
If you dug a little deeper in December, you could find one more taste of what was in store via these insider-fanzines that came straight out of Studio No. 1 – the home base of designer Yoshinori “Iko” Kanada. Published December 20 and 26 respectively, they contained design art that had not yet been seen elsewhere, and could probably be found at the Winter 1982 Comiket.
Some of it crossed over with art seen in the AM Juju novel and the Yamato fan club magazine, but most of it was new; conceptual sketches from the preproduction period with a few model sheets thrown in and some archival drawings from the earlier days. They would soon be eclipsed by official merchandising, but for fans who relished the hunt, they were definitely worth the effort.
See the internal pages here.
Next Time: Yoshinobu Nishizaki speaks again in the fan club magazine, the staff speaks in the monthlies, the publishing floodgates open, and Yamato returns to radio! Continue to January 1983 here.