Magazine ad for various Nippon Columbia releases circa 1980.
Pictured next to the entry for the Yamato III single
are superstar vocalists Mitsuko Horie and Isao Sasaki.
The initial plan for Yamato‘s third TV series was the most ambitious yet; a luxurious 52-episode mission across the entire galaxy in four major story arcs with many new characters to enliven the experience. Naturally, a lot of music would have to be written to emphasize the newness and its sheer volume meant the composing needed to start even before Hiroshi Miyagawa could catch his breath after the fast-paced summer of Be Forever.
The existing library of re-usable music was considerable, but jazzing it up with new tracks was a matter of professional pride for all involved. Fortunately, unlike a feature film, these pieces could be composed with free imagination rather than the timing of specific scenes. The result was a rich, diverse collection that allowed the individual members of Symphony Orchestra Yamato to really shine with their various solos.
The high point of this score is its diversity. There are many styles to suit different tastes, from the Eastern-bloc-folk-rhythm of the Bolar Empire theme to the magnificent harps in Symphony of the Sun. Different moods and tones arise from the liberal use of guitar, piano, violin, vibraphone, and Latin-style percussion. Scat vocals made many appearances and created beautiful melodies. Of special note was the participation of Hiroshi Miyagawa’s son Akira on a track titled The 18th Armored Division. It would certainly not be his last visit with Yamato.
Of these sessions, Miyagawa commented thus:
It is very difficult to come up with new motifs since I have created so much music for Yamato. I always try to musically express the image held by Mr. Nishizaki, so this limits what I can create as a composer. There were many times when I created a piece that I liked, but Mr. Nishizaki asked me to revise it for the sake of the overall series.
But from the standpoint of the fans, the real highlight was a once-in-a-lifetime chance for them to participate in the making of Yamato music. True to form, the indispensable opening theme from the first series was employed once again, slightly remixed but with the “going to Iscandar” lyrics still in place. The end theme, on the other hand, could be entirely new. As the swan song of Be Forever, Galaxy Legend was a natural choice, but there was still one more dividend of the 1980 summer blitz that would increase the options.
In one of his many radio appearances on All Night Nippon, Yoshinobu Nishizaki announced a poetry contest sponsored by a music magazine. All entries would be judged for their suitability as song lyrics that might just end up being paired with Yamato III. Over 8,000 entries were received, out of which two were personally chosen by Nishizaki to enter the hallowed halls of Yamato music.
Yamato Be Forever b/w Parting
45rpm single, 12/10/1980
Nippon Columbia, CK-571
As a fan, having your song chosen to represent Yamato for all time was honor enough, but the additional participation of top-shelf vocalists like Isao Sasaki and Mitsuko Horie would have been life-changing. Yamato Be Forever was an entirely new composition, but for Parting Miyagawa decided to re-use the love theme from The New Voyage that was a particular favorite of Nishizaki’s.
These new songs made their on-air debut with episode 3 of the TV series (replacing Galaxy Legend as the end title) and alternated through the rest of the series.
They were released twice as singles by Nippon Columbia, first in the edition shown at right and again in October 1981 on an EP called Terebi Manga Best Collection Series #21 (coupled with two songs from Lupin III).
Song 1: Yamato Be Forever
Contest Winner Arisa Ando:
I was very surprised when the telephone rang. Honestly, I couldn’t believe it. But I was very glad. I’ve written some poems before, but only for the first series and Farewell to Yamato since I am a fan of them. Although Producer Nishizaki said on the radio to write about Yamato in general, I kept Farewell in mind. I came up with four entries and sent them in. When I first heard the song even in an early form, I liked it a lot. I just thought about Yamato and that enabled me to write it. I don’t think I could have done this for another story.
Singer Isao Sasaki:
It’s not often that a new kind of emotion arises when we think of Yamato. Mr. Yu Aku has a magnificent command of language and is very good at communicating grandeur to the young. But this song had a lighter feeling to it. It doesn’t have the seriousness of conventional Japanese songs. The melody is more youthful.
Yamato Be Forever
Lyrics: Arisa Ando
Music: Hiroshi Miyagawa
Vocal: Isao Sasaki
One teardrop shed by one
When the tear flows down peoples’ cheeks
A drop will moisten even the end of the space
If there is the strength to survive today
If there is the courage to face tomorrow
There is nothing to fear
Carrying the eternal dream
As long as there is love, you will run forever
As long as one lives, you will run
There is one voice that sings
Brushing the mouths of other people
The words of just that one
Will be heard to the end of space
If just one heart survives today
If there is the strength to face tomorrow
There is belief in good
Carrying great love
As long as there is a song, you will run forever
As long as there is prayer, you will run
Click here for an alternate translation
Song 2: Parting
Contest Winner Junko Wada:
I wrote my poem about the first series, since it’s my favorite, and I was honestly surprised when I heard it was chosen. Honestly, I’d forgotten that I entered it at all. I’m a big fan of the character Sanada [Sandor] and this poem was dedicated to him.
I was deeply moved and impressed when I heard the song. It no longer seemed like the poetry I wrote. I want to thank my teacher, Ms. Yoko Yamaguchi, who assisted me.
Singer Mitsuko Horie:
I had a hard time with this song because it wasn’t like others I’ve done. Fans know me for doing very high-spirited tunes, but this was a more intimate love song concealing a lot of hardship. I don’t think people who listen to our songs understand these pros and cons. Usually it’s a good starting point to think of a woman who is very open and giving. Or a heroine like Yuki or Starsha. There aren’t enough women like that. I’m sort of a tomboy, myself. But I think all women have something in common, so I go looking for that when I sing. Voice actors on their own stage look for ways to challenge themselves.
Everyone has an anime theme song from their childhood that they can remember in their dreams, and I think it’s the same for children today. Because of that, I sing with care in case this song becomes someone’s cherished memory.
Lyrics: Junko Wada and Yoko Yamaguchi
Music: Hiroshi Miyagawa
Vocal: Mitsuko Horie
Your beloved face remains in my heart
Your gentle smile, shining tears
You have gone on a journey into distant space
I cannot forget your love and courage
Like a white petal in the wind
I have faith in eternal love
I extend my hand
Into the dark and lonely sky
I will never forget you, or the blue Earth
I keep eternal love in my heart
I will continue to live
And surely return to you
As long as there is love
These songs can be found on the following albums (see other discographies for data):
Above: Yamato III Drama, Eternal Edition File No. 7 & No. 10, World of Leiji Matsumoto (two editions).
Below: Mitsuko Horie Anime Best Hit, Walking Songs, and Mitsuko Horie Best & Best; SF & Space Animation Vol. 2, Music Encyclopedia of Leiji Matsumoto 1999.
Symphonic Suite Space Battleship Yamato III
Symphonic album, 2/25/1981
Nippon Columbia, LP: CX-7015 Cassette: CAY-524
This album went on sale about a month before the TV series ended. Despite the Symphonic suite title, it is practically a soundtrack album which edited together much of the music that was used as BGM. It was released twice on CD, first as part of the 1995 rollout of the entire Yamato catalog (below left/Nippon Columbia, COCC-12232) and again as part of the Eternal Edition Premium set in 2004 (below right/Columbia Music Entertainment, COCX-33021).
Click here for a complete track listing.
Space Battleship Yamato III Drama Collection
Drama album, 6/11/1981
Nippon Columbia, LP: CZ-7111~2 Cassette: CPY-888~9
As with the Yamato 2 Drama album, this one was made feasible by the assembly of a compilation movie that had trimmed 25 episodes down to 93 minutes. The album actually predated the movie itself by two and a half years. It was first broadcast as a TV special in late 1983, and later released to home video. The LP set was released as a double album with a 10-page color storybook.
The album was released on CD along with all of its counterparts when the entire Yamato music catalog was reissued in 1995 (Nippon Columbia, COCC-12485~86)
Space Battleship Yamato III BGM Collection
CD, Nippon Columbia
COCC-12873 (1995 edition/above left), COCX-33204 (2005 edition/above right)
This was one of the new releases that accompanied the rollout of Columbia’s complete Yamato catalog in 1995, and contained a large number of unique tracks that had not been rearranged for the Symphonic Suite. When the TV series was cut from the planned 52 episodes down to 25, one of the results was that individual BGM tracks were not repeated as heavily as they might otherwise have been. This meant that each episode ended up with unique music all its own. This also meant a single disc could not contain the entire BGM. Fortunately, that was soon to be rectified.
Click here for a complete track list.
Yamato III Eternal Edition File No. 7
CD set, 3/1/2001
Columbia Records, COCX-31157~8
More Yamato III music continued to pop up even 20 years after the series went off the air. This disc continued what the BGM Collection began by bringing more of the unreleased tracks into the light – but the ultimate release was still to come.
Read the liner notes from this CD here
Read all about the Eternal Edition series here.
Yamato Sound Almanac Series, 1981-I Symphonic Suite Yamato III
Nippon Columbia, COCX-37397
This is the latest reissue of the symphonic album, which includes karaoke versions of a few Yamato songs.
The Sound Almanac series was an ambitious 2-year project (2012-2014) to reissue the entire Yamato catalog on 30 discs, all remastered to “Blu-spec CD” quality and brimming with bonus tracks. Extensive new liner notes introduced classic Yamato music to new fans brought in by Yamato 2199 and also contained plenty of previously-unknown trivia for the veterans.
Read all about the series and find liner notes here.
Yamato Sound Almanac Series, 1981-II Yamato III BGM Collection Part 1
Nippon Columbia, COCX-37398
Yamato Sound Almanac Series, 1981-II Yamato III BGM Collection Part 2
Nippon Columbia, COCX-37399
These Sound Almanac albums do for Series 3 what the Yamato 2 albums did for Series 2, bringing a significant number of tracks out of the vault for the first time and almost filling out the Yamato III catalog. Seven tracks are still missing for some unexplained reason, but they can be found on earlier albums. For the sake of completists, these missing tracks are as follows:
Yamato III BGM album: tracks 9, 19 and 21. Yamato III Eternal Edition CD: tracks 3, 5, 9, 20, and 30.
Those tracks, plus various pieces that were recorded earlier and ended up in Yamato III (found on other Sound Almanac discs) add up to about 40 minutes. That’s on top of the two hours of BGM found on these discs, an enormous library that was worth the 34-year wait.
Read more about these discs here.
Below: Advertising from Nippon Columbia
Special thanks to superfan Steve Harrison for research assistance.