The Final Yamato Time Machine, Summer 1983

To casual viewers, the Space Battleship Yamato saga was over. Final Yamato closed in theaters at the end of April, and other than the expected arrival of the movies on home video, things were pretty much said and done. To the fans, however, there was still one more round: the limited-edition re-release of the upgraded Final Yamato in 70mm later in the year. That turned their summer into a waiting game. Fortunately, there were plenty of things to make the wait easier.

Takarazuka Family Land exhibit

The Yamato production years were peppered with many different kinds of events from concerts to film screenings. 1983 was the first year Yamato became the subject of larger consideration with an exhibition at Family Land, a theme park in Takarazuka (near Osaka). It was converted into Takarazuka Garden Fields in 2003, but twenty years earlier it featured the “Big Space Project,” an examination of science fact and fiction.

It opened the same day as Final Yamato (March 19) and would close on June 5. Very little documentation survives (and no photos whatsoever), but based on contemporary descriptions it was similar to the various department store exhibitions with models, artwork, and other artifacts. Attendees could probably buy all sorts of Yamato loot at the park, but those specific to Family Land were a calendar card, a plastic badge, and a Kodai mask. The memories, on the other hand, were priceless.

See a vintage TV commercial for the event on Youtube here.

Final Yamato Digital Trip Synthesizer Fantasy

Nippon Columbia, June 21

This was the most unusual of Final Yamato‘s many albums, an all-synthesizer concept recording by artist Jun Fukamachi. It was actually his second effort, his first being the Space Battleship Yamato Digital Trip from a year earlier. He had also performed on synthesizer with the Symphony Orchestra Yamato on the Prelude to Final album.

This album went out of print after its first LP release, and a reissue would not appear until early 2014 as part of the Yamato Sound Almanac series. Read all about it here

Yamato Fan Club Magazine #35

Westcape Corporation, June 25

This was the first issue of the magazine to be written and edited in the wake of the movie. It featured two followup articles: a producer’s message from Yoshinobu Nishizaki about what everyone could expect from the 70mm edition, and the transcript of a round-table discussion between Nishizaki and several fans to share opinions on what they had seen. A similar pre-release discussion was published in an earlier issue, and this one was just as frank and candid. The fans were neither shy nor stingy with their thoughts, and Nishizaki did not seem entirely prepared for what they had to say…which kept it 100% real.

Read the producer’s message here.

Read the round table discussion here.

Final Yamato Manga volume 2

Asahi Sonorama Sun Comics, June 30

Akira Hio’s second volume followed his first by four months and had the movie itself to draw from as opposed to a screenplay and production art. The end result is that all the “extra” scenes are crowded into volume 1. We can only wonder what a Final Yamato manga based on an earlier script would have contained. Since the first draft is said to have been nearly four hours long (the screen-time equivalent of 10 TV episodes) the differences would have been substantial.

Read more about the Final Yamato manga here

My Anime, September issue

Akita Shoten, August 10

With SF anime exploding on TV and Final Yamato now four months in the past, all the other anime magazines had their hands full – but My Anime dipped into the well one more time to bring word of the 70mm edition. It wasn’t much – three pages of stills and a short essay by Nishizaki – but it was a nice reminder of what was to come. And it even offered an explanation (sort of) for why the movie wasn’t initially released in 70mm as planned.

Read the article here

Space Battleship Yamato Papercraft

Keibunsha, August 10

Kodansha produced a number of papercraft books like this one for various different anime programs, but the fad was short-lived. On the other hand, it was an inexpensive alternative to plastic models and offered five construction projects in a single book: Yamato, Dessler’s battleship, a Black Tiger, a Cosmo Tiger, and Analyzer (IQ-9). The concept was revived in 2001 with the publication of Yamato Real Papercraft from Wani Magazine Co.

Final Yamato Music Collection Volume 3

Nippon Columbia, August 21

The third and last symphonic album from Columbia brought the grand total to five, counting the two releases from Tokuma/Animage. Fans would have to wait for another thirty years for every last scrap to come out of the vault, but there was plenty to chew on in the meantime. Volume 3 was organized more loosely than the others, providing a sort of ‘easy listening’ collection of varying styles. All three of the Columbia albums were released a number of times, including in cassette form (shown at right) and multiple times on CD.

Sheet Music Collections

Tokyo Ongaku Shoin [Music Academy] was a prodigious publisher of anime sheet music with one offering after another in the early 80s. Yamato was the leader in the anime category with several comprehensive collections in both hardcover and softcover that are highly prized by collectors today.

The book at left, titled Space Battleship Yamato Complete Music Works, is a saga-spanning collection of themes up to and including the last film, published August 20, 1983. The book at right is a piano collection focusing only on Final Yamato (publishing date unknown).

See a larger gallery of sheet music books here (bottom of the page).

Fans who ordered Space Battleship Yamato Complete Music Works from the official fan club could pay a little more and get a limited-edition 90-minute cassette tape titled Complete Music Works Model Performance. 29 tracks were carefully selected from the score and performed on piano by Hiroshi Miyagawa and Kentaro Haneda. (It also came with a set of cassette labels as shown above left.) Only 2,000 tapes were made, so they disappeared quickly to become true collector’s items. Fortunately for all of us, the recordings were revived as a series of bonus tracks in the Yamato Sound Almanac CD series in 2013. (Read about it here.)

American activity

By the summer of 1983, enough time had passed for anime fandom in America to get up on its own two feet and start making waves of its own. The founding of the Star Blazers fan club on the upper east coast and the Earth Defense Command in the hotbed of Texas were just two of the ignition points. Star Blazers viewers had begun to catch the first trickle of Space Battleship Yamato thanks to private tape-trading with Japanese friends and the movies’ arrival on home video in Japan in late April.

A 35mm print of Farewell to Yamato (still known as Arrivederci Yamato in those days) made two surprise appearances in America, first at Creation Convention New York (August 28/29) and then at Constellation (the 41st World SF Con) in Baltimore (September 1-5)

The first anime con worthy of the name was none other than Yamato Con 1, which took place in Dallas on August 13. Read all about it in a detailed report by guest writer Dave Merrill here.

Flyers and promo

Postcard issued by the official fan club. Text reads:

Summer Greeting Card, ’83 midsummer
Returning to theaters this fall with 70mm stereo sound: The Final Chapter

2-sided flyer issued by the official fan club: Space Battleship Yamato Complete Music Works with cassette (above left) and an offer for original hand-painted cels (above right).

At right and below: flyers for the Final Yamato Super Deluxe hardcover book from West Cape Corporation, to be published December 1983.

Next time machine…

We finally reach the epic ending of the production years when the 70mm edition of Final Yamato arrives for a limited theatrical run. Accompanying it is Yoshinobu Nishizaki’s closing message on the film in the fan club magazine, a slightly-revised movie program book, and West Cape’s Super Deluxe book, which is truly the last word.

Click here for the final stop of the Final Yamato Time Machine.

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