Manga by Akira Hio

The New Voyage Manga

February 1979 was a significant month for manga artist Akira Hio for two reasons. First because it saw the publication of his third and final volume of Farewell to Yamato, and second because the Yamato writing staff was hard at work on the screenplay that would become his next assignment: The New Voyage.

Though Leiji Matsumoto was still involved with Yamato‘s anime production, his growing workload of other projects precluded him from drawing any new Yamato manga, thus clearing the way for Hio to inherit the throne. Moreover, Hio’s New Voyage drawing schedule would be quite forgiving, requiring almost 200 fewer pages than previous adaptations and making its publishing debut in late September, two months after the movie’s premiere on Japanese TV. The concluding volume would follow in November.

From left: Sun Comics Edition, Asahi Sonorama. Volume 1: 9/29/79 Volume 2: 11/25/79
Sun Wide Edition, Asahi Sonorama 9/30/93
Yamato Library Edition, Media Factory, April 2005

Even moreso than Farewell to Yamato, Hio’s adaptation of The New Voyage benefited from complete and timely access to the work of the animators, up to and including the film itself, which allowed him to match scenes and pacing virtually shot for shot. The work would not follow quite the same reprint pattern as the first two adaptations, however, seeing only two single-volume reissues in 1993 and 2005.

As with Farewell, Hio’s New Voyage maintains heavy allegiance with the screenplay, but because his work began before the final cut of the film was made, he was able to include sequences that were deleted prior to broadcast. These deleted scenes became sort of a holy grail to diehard Yamato fans, first seen only in print form and then eventually coming to light only as incomplete “keyframe” animation in home video releases. (They can be seen on Voyager Entertainment’s New Voyage DVD and in the English-language comic book adaptation from Argo Press.)

Argo Press adaptation, 1995/96

Below are some of the more noteworthy pages from Hio’s New Voyage. Clicking on the thumbnail will open a larger image of the page being described. (Remember that manga pages are read from right to left.) All artwork is © Akira Hio.

  In these two pages from the Hero’s Hill ceremony, Hio does an excellent job depicting a mood of quiet meditation. These pages also display another confident step forward in his depiction of the characters.

Yamato‘s launch scene is once again drawn as a double-page spread, and Hio uses precisely the same angle as in the Farewell to Yamato launch (but with less textural detail). Since in this manga he is still heavily reliant on photocopies of pre-existing model sheets, it is difficult to determine whether this page is a cheat or an homage…

Sakamoto, the new Cosmo Tiger pilot, buzzes Yamato‘s bridge tower prior to landing. In a brilliant storytelling move, Hio directs the reader’s eye from Kodai’s closeup at the bottom of the first page over to the bottom of the second page, where the Cosmo Tiger pulls you straight up to the next panel. This is an example of an artist in full command of his craft.

On his way back to Planet Gamilas, Dessler takes time to recall the fateful battle against Yamato in the first TV series. Interestingly, the flashback scene bears no resemblance to what Hio actually drew in his Space Battleship Yamato manga five years earlier.

  Hio’s knack for large-scale scenery shines in these six pages depicting the destruction of Gamilas and the breakaway of Iscandar, one-upping even the animation department. (But to be fair, they had far more individual pictures to draw.)

In the first of the deleted scenes, an EDF officer (known as “General Stone” in Star Blazers) brings a disturbing report to the EDF Commander: they have received a distress call meant for the Yamato crew…sent by Emperor Dessler.

Yamato‘s crew has received word that Iscandar is in trouble. In the movie, Kodai reacts instantly. But in this deleted scene, he has taken time out to consider the effect of a reunion with his brother Mamoru. Would an unplanned flight to Iscandar mean using Yamato for his own personal gain? He tries to keep these feelings buried, but Yuki is quick to straighten him out.

In another scene cut from the movie, Mamoru takes action during the Dark Nebula’s standoff with Dessler and Yamato by flying a plane over a volcanic rift and setting it off with explosives. Sanada realizes what he is attempting to do…

…Then flies to his old friend’s aid when he attracts unwelcome attention from the enemy. The bridge crew is impressed by Sanada’s deft handling of a Cosmo Tiger, commenting that his skills may be going to waste as “just a science officer.”

   In the largest and most extensive of the deleted sequences, the runaway Iscandar approaches a red giant star, which threatens to scorch it out of existence. As Yamato‘s crew watches in amazement, other burned-out planetoids (prior victims of the star) begin moving of their own accord, creating gravity waves that push Iscandar out of harm’s way. Who, they wonder, has the power to move planets around in such a way?

Their question is answered just a few pages later, when the gigantic Autoplanet Goruba looms over Yamato, another impressive example of Hio’s use of mass and scale. After The New Voyage, of course, big things were in store for the next Yamato adventure. This too would be presented in manga form, and Akira Hio was ready for action.

Continue to Be Forever Yamato

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