With the movie trailer now playing in theaters, this was the last full month everyone got to enjoy the anticipation of what they would see in Final Yamato – despite Yoshinobu Nishizaki’s best attempts to spoil it for them. Shortly after the previous round of magazines was published on January 10, the lid came off in a major way.
First, the entire story was revealed on January 15 in what would be the last Yamato radio special on All Night Nippon. This four-hour show featured Q&A with Nishizaki built around a radio drama featuring the entire voice cast. It was the fourth program of its kind since December 1977, and served double duty as a rehearsal for the actual voice recording in late February.
Second, Nishizaki conducted a press conference on January 18 in which he gave away the end of the story: Shima would die, Yamato would blow up, Captain Okita would go down with the ship, and Kodai & Yuki would get a “happy ending” to their long courtship. These days, the open reveal of such spoilers – by the creator of the film, no less – would be unthinkable. But Yoshinobu Nishizaki always enjoyed setting traditions more than following them.
To this day, his motivations are still unclear. The radio drama was a big event unto itself, but it was only the second to be heard before its movie premiere; Be Forever was the first, and it stopped short of the ending to preserve the suspense. One can only imagine what it was like for fans to tune in and hear more than they might have wanted.
Another factor could have been the imminent approach of what looked to be the two biggest competitors for SF anime box office dollars. Both Harmagedon and Crusher Joe would premiere March 12, leading Final Yamato by a week. (Toei was also preparing a 5-film anime festival for March 13 which included Dr. Slump and Doraemon, but these were mainly for the younger set.) The pedigree of these two features landed them squarely in the Yamato wheelhouse, so keeping the buzz for his film at top volume might have inspired Nishizaki to go full disclosure.
Meanwhile, SF anime on TV was continuously gaining momentum. Baxinger, Macross, Space Cobra, Urusei Yatsura, and Endless Road SSX were still in progress, Urashiman and Srungle were picking up steam, and Gundam creator Yoshiyuki Tomino laid down the next stepping stone toward “real robot anime” when his new series Aura Battler Dunbine (above left) debuted on February 5, replacing his previous title Battle Mecha Xabungle. What’s more, Ryusuke Takahashi’s long-running Fang of the Sun Dougram was entering its last phase, to give way in April to his groundbreaking Armored Trooper Votoms (above right).
Both Tomino and Takahashi produced their respective shows for Nippon Sunrise, a studio that once freelanced an episode of the first Yamato series (in 1975) and was now poised to dominate anime’s next evolutionary step.
That made it a heady time indeed to publish a monthly magazine on the subject.
Animedia, March issue
Gakken Marketing, February 10, 1983
The Urusei Yatsura movie Only You premiered February 11, taking both the cover and lead article of this issue. Harmagedon also got a big article, Dunbine got a design booklet, and readers got their first peek at Armored Trooper Votoms.
Final Yamato got a 7-page story that covered revelations from the January press conference and speculated on how they all fit together.
Read the article here.
The Anime magazine #40
Kindai Movie Co., February 10, 1983
Final Yamato took the cover with a new painting by character designer Shinya Takahashi. This issue was a real grab bag; Crusher Joe got a hefty 9-page article, and the a piece on Harmagedon showcased Keith Emerson’s work on the soundtrack. Dunbine and Votoms got the spotlight in the TV anime section, which included a bound-in Minky Momo booklet. American movie coverage touched upon Star Trek 2 and The Dark Crystal, and the classic first Lupin III TV series got a 16-page “Animemorial,”
There were two Yamato articles this time, an 8-pager on Final Yamato that put all the known story details together with Nishizaki’s press conference announcements, and a 5-pager in which Nishizaki himself was interviewed by All Night Nippon radio producer Don Ueno.
Read the articles here.
My Anime, March issue
Akita Shoten, February 10, 1983
Despite the Only You cover, Harmagedon lead the issue with a 23-page bound-in booklet and Crusher Joe followed up with an 8-page character guide. Urashiman, Macross, Dunbine, and Srungle dominated the TV section, along with a Votoms preview. Also on hand was a two-page piece on Mad Machine, a “supercar” anime that was never broadcast despite the substantial design work showcased here. Incidentally, this issue completed My Anime‘s second year of publishing, which began in March 1981 and included the serialized Yamato III anime comics.
The 5-page Final Yamato article touched on the press conference, published a lot of new stills and paintings, and interviewed veteran staff member Kazunori Tanahashi.
Read the article here.
Animage magazine #57
Tokuma Shoten, February 10, 1983
Sporting the month’s only Crusher Joe cover, this issue opened with yet another booklet on Famous Detective Holmes, which was broadcasting in Europe but was still almost two years away from Japanese TV. Only You headed a piece on female anime characters. A triple-feature titled ’83 Spring Cinema Big Battle rounded up Crusher Joe, Yamato, and Harmagedon. The TV section hit all the same titles as the other magazines, and Hayao Miyazaki’s legendary Nausicaa manga began its second year of serialization. The movie would begin preproduction in May and premiere exactly a year after Harmagedon and Crusher Joe.
Final Yamato got four pages, which included the press conference revelations, music news, and more.
Read the article here.
Final Yamato Encyclopedia, Part 1
Kodansha, February 15, 1983
This was the first of a two-volume set (part 2 followed in May) in Kodansha’s “Keibunsha” series of small-format paperbacks for young readers. Each previous Yamato movie got its own volume, but this was the first to get two. It was likely a part of the pre-release strategy to get as many books out as possible. Final Yamato material (first-half synopsis and designs) made up only about a quarter of its 260 pages with a saga retrospective filling the rest.
Final Yamato novelization, Part 1
Asahi Sonorama, February 15, 1983
For those keeping score, this was the third (of four) different novelizations for the movie. Tokuma Shoten and Shueisha had both published their Part 1’s in December with followups still to come. This one credited Yoshinobu Nishizaki as the author, but it was probably ghost-written. It went past the first two in content, ending with Yamato repelling the Dengil fleet from the solar system.
Read more about the various Final Yamato novelizations here.
OUT magazine, March issue
Minori Shobo, February 18, 1983
OUT played a pivotal role in Yamato‘s early success (as recounted here), but hadn’t given the saga any new coverage since the September 1980 issue. The magazine had broadened its coverage considerably in the meantime, but Final Yamato still got four pages of attention in this issue. See them here.
Final Yamato manga, Volume 1
Asahi Sonorama, February 28, 1983
Akira Hio stepped up to the plate once again to become the only manga artist on Earth to adapt five Yamato movies. Volume 1 covered the same territory as the first novelizations, ending with the launch from Earth.
Read more about the manga and see pages here.
Final Yamato strategy game
Bandai, February, 1983
After its Yamato model kits put it on the world map of toy companies, Bandai developed many innovative anime-based products, which included a series of strategy games to compete with those made by rival company Takara. Full of colorful maps and markers, they filled a niche that would later be taken over by video games. This set gave fans a chance to play out Final Yamato scenarios before seeing them on the big screen.
Read more about the game here.
Yamato Fan Club magazine #33
Westcape Corporation, March 1983
The official publishing date on this issue was February 25, but it wasn’t the first time that the content contradicted that claim. To be precise, it contained coverage of the Yamato Grand Festival, which didn’t happen until March 15. However, there was also a pair of articles that covered the radio drama (January 15) and voice-recording for the film (February 22-24), so they properly belong in this month’s Time Machine.
One more thing that came up this month was the announcement of the Final Cruise, which was mentioned in each of the magazine articles. Similar to 1980’s Voyage of Adventure Roman, in which fans could win tickets to a Yamato sea cruise, this one would go out for three tours on a ship named New Utopia in late March and early April with staff and cast on board. Other than this flyer, almost no documentation exists from what must have been a very memorable trip.
Though this was the last month of buildup before the premiere, it was still not the last month for pre-release coverage. The next issues of each magazine would hit the stands over a week before the movie came out, giving all of them one more chance to build anticipation for The Final Chapter. Other publications also jumped on the bandwagon, and we open them all in the next Time Machine.