OUT Magazine: Music Essay

A Serenade Dedicated to Yamato: to the Last Lovers of the Earth

By Usuke Kitazawa

1. Introduction

I’m listening to records today. There’s a Seven Star [whiskey] in my left hand and an Orange Grain on my right. I don’t usually like soda, but I’m a big fan of Orange Grain. Today I have to write about Yamato music. The deadline was two days ago. (Mr. T, the editor, has a dreadful look on his face.) I stop listening to Crazy Cats and drop the needle on Space Battleship Yamato.

2. The Mood is Spacey

The scat in the overture is wonderful. The vocalist, Ms. Kazuko Kawashima, is very active. She also sang the themes for Poem of Wind and Tree and Space Soldier Baldios. Her voice is filled with sadness, and floats through space. I am absorbed into the world of 2199, the world of Yamato. It is an excellent score, comparable to John Williams’ first sequence from Star Wars.

3. Love Theme

“Love” is a fundamental theme in the songs of Yamato, which comes and goes in various forms. Space Battleship Yamato, the main theme, shows young peoples’ potential and empowerment through the brave Yamato which travels in space. The romance of departure is presented in the ending theme, The Scarlet Scarf. In The New Voyage, we have the hope and separation of Yamato, which launches to save Mamoru and Starsha. Also, in Sasha My Love, we feel Starsha’s motherly love. These songs not only embody a “pattern of love,” but also remind us of the human blood in a drama that is otherwise fascinated by mecha and space war.

4. Acoustic Space

The success of Yamato‘s music lies in its thorough use of acoustic symphonic sounds, avoiding synthesizer and other electronic instruments. Though Yamato is set in space, the drama is about “love.” If the score relied too much on the fad of synthesizer or electronic sounds, the music would not last 10 years or 20 years. In particular, strings, brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments are divided in narrow parts and the technique projects the characters in each sequence. It accents the picture and clarifies the theme. Such a method, which started with Disney, is completed with Yamato as “music which listens with eyes.”

5. Love Through Persistence

Yamato music is unique in that it creates magnificent symphonic sound by arranging minor melodies, which Japanese favor, with tight and spacey rhythms. This expresses with sound the Japanese style of love (preferential toward tragic feelings) as the basis for the drama. It is clearly shown in the song performed by Kenji Sawada for the finale of Farewell to Yamato when comrades die one after another and Kodai uses a suicide attack to destroy the White Comet.

6. I Believe in Love

In Be Forever Yamato, I am impressed with the melody Sasha which expresses the emotion between Sasha and Kodai with guitar, piano and violin. Also, the effective use of synthesizer and scat at the beginning of the movie is a new side of Yamato. The theme of “to love, to believe” is expressed in Hiromi Isawaki’s finale song, Galaxy Legend.

7. To the Last Lovers of Earth

Yamato shows different forms of love; the love between Kodai and Yuki, the sibling love between Susumu and Mamoru, the love between Starsha and Mamoru, the strange friendship between Dessler and Kodai, the love from Starsha to Sasha–they fight and get hurt in order to protect their love. In their world, you cannot protect love without fighting. In their world, you need to create the happiness of tomorrow with your own hands.

I want to dedicate a serenade to the ending of this movie. The fight will go on and the war will be endless. But when you are pushed to the extreme and you can depend on nothing but yourself, it would be too sad a moment for a march or a ballad.

8. Ending

I should go to bed. In my dream, I am completely a crewmember of Yamato. Around me are Kodai, Yuki, Analyzer…”Whoah! I’m a soldier of love!”

I must be crazy. I open my eyes. Invariably, there’s a Seven Star in my left hand and an Orange Grain to my right. Yamato had taken me on board, but where did it go? I don’t think there will be a Mr. T in space…

FIN

Special thanks to Michiko Ito for translation assistance.

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