Space Battleship Yamato
Office Academy, the publishing & licensing division of Producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki’s Academy Studio, was first established in the early days of the first Yamato TV series, and was quickly revived from dormancy in the wake of the Space Battleship Yamato movie in 1977. (In fact, its name didn’t appear on anything until late in the year when the licensing boom really took off. Prior to that, only the name “Academy” was given as the copyright owner.)
Regardless, both “Academy” and “Office Academy” became a genuine stamp of approval, particularly in the realm of publishing. There were plenty of other publishing companies involved with Yamato, and though they consistently hit high standards, the home office was always the leader of the pack.
This is naturally what would be expected, since all the resources and quality control Office Academy could want were at arm’s reach. But even with this factored in, the excellence of their publishing efforts was second to none. Here is a rundown of their work for the first Yamato story.
Movie Program Book
Academy Co. Ltd.
24 pages, A4 size, August 1977
Timed to match the release of the feature film, this was the first official publication from the inner sanctum, and it instantly became the record-holder for the greatest number of animation stills. It was also the first Yamato publication to contain substantial English text, probably so that it could serve double-duty as a program book for the International version, Space Cruiser Yamato, though it contained no international credits. On the other hand, there are some interesting examples of English translation here. Dessler is ranked as a ‘Generalissimo,’ for one (adding a little Spanish flair to the Germanic undertones of Gamilas). Analyzer (IQ-9) is described as an ‘omnipotence robot,’ and the ship is said to have a squadron of ‘space bombers,’ which were apparently kept well-hidden.
The English text from this program book can be found on the Voyager DVD for Space Battleship Yamato. To examine this book from cover to cover, click here.
1978 Yamato Calendar
Academy Co. Ltd.
30 pages, 13″ x 10″, September 1977
Fans could put this calendar to immediate use, since it actually began with October 1977 as its first month. Each month is peppered with stills from events that ostensibly happen on specific days, though the ‘timeline’ this represents varies pretty substantially from the official dates for the TV series itself. (For one thing, the calendar has Yamato returning to Earth about three weeks early.) But this takes nothing away from what must have been a fan’s dream in terms of big, colorful iconic images from the animation.
Model sheet book
22 pages (one-sided), 10″ x 15″, 1978
This comparatively low-tech production was literally a collection of model sheets from the animation reproduced in large format, probably actual size. Details about its release are sketchy, but it seems to have been developed as a premium for concerts, meetings, and film screenings since it contained information about how to join the newly-minted official fan club. It is also notable for containing 6 pages of art by Leiji Matsumoto and Studio Nue from the upcoming Farewell to Yamato movie, certainly the first time anyone would have seen this art in this form.
‘Hot Blood’ Novelization
270 pages, A5 size, November 1978
Yoshinobu Nishizaki personally invited Hitomi Takagaki, one of Japan’s most acclaimed authors of juvenile fiction, to pen this lyrical and adventurous novelization. As one who lived through the Pacific War years and was a great admirer of the original battleship, Takagaki brought a lot of personal nostalgia to the task. Out of the enormous number of Yamato novelizations, this is the true standout for its fine packaging and production values. Read about it in detail here.
Complete Collection of Records
Office Academy, Hardcover trilogy box set
1094 pages, B5 size, June 1978
Words fail when trying to sum up this release. ‘Monumental’ is a good start, but hardly begins to cover it. This is not only the single greatest Yamato publication of all time, it may rank as the single most comprehensive tome dedicated to any animated work in history. Known to English-speaking fans as the ‘Silver Set,’ it leaves absolutely nothing out in its goal to document the making of the first TV series from start to finish.
The sheer mass of this set is the first thing that impresses, weighing in at close to 10 pounds. It is packaged in a double layer of protective slip cases and is divided into three silver-toned volumes with a parchment dust jacket on each. (Collector’s note: the parchment was prone to sunburn, so anyone who didn’t use the slipcase saw considerable weathering over time.)
The first surprise came at the head of volume 1, which was personally autographed in what must have been a marathon session by Yoshinobu Nishizaki and Leiji Matsumoto. Some copies (presumably rarer ones) were also signed by head writer Keisuke Fujikawa.
As indicated in the photos above and left, another of the initial surprises was a special bonus item, an original strip of 35mm film from the Yamato movie prepared for use as a bookmark. Evidence is hard to come by now, but there may have been three of these in each set (one per volume.) This was truly a non-essential, since each book already had two built-in bookmark threads, so it stands as another example of generous production values. The blue envelope contained the film strips and a mini-flyer to explain exactly where they had come from. (Both sides of the flyer shown below.)
Each volume had its own foldout poster. The first (which faced the autograph page) was a profile of Yamato. The second and third are shown below.
With such a massive undertaking as this book must have been (especially since it was produced during the thick of production on Farewell to Yamato) it’s amazing that Nishizaki and Matsumoto had any time to provide autographs, but they also wrote a separate introduction that was included as a 2-sided mini-foldout card. (Both sides shown below.) This included a one-of-a-kind caricature of both men, shown at right.
But of course, all this was just the trimmings. The real meat was in the books themselves, each of which was divided into four subsections: photo-story, scripts, model sheets, and special material.
Model sheet pages
Volume 1 special material: series development part 1
Volume 2 special material: series development part 2
Volume 3 special material: the Yamato phenomenon (fan clubs, products, etc.). This also included foldout ship schematics and coverage of Space Cruiser Yamato, the international version of the movie.
Of course, this hefty tome came with a hefty price tag: 30,000 yen or about $300 US. It’s hard to imagine any fan having that sort of disposable income, so an innovative plan was devised to help them out: installment payments. Fans who couldn’t spring for the full amount could opt for a 10-payment plan that added $30 to the price, or a 20-payment plan that would add $60. Office Academy signed with a broker named Nippon General Credit to handle the payment structure. It was probably the first time many young fans were confronted with the world of banking and credit.
Above left and center: 2-sided flyer published by Academy. Above right: a 1979 magazine ad from Nippon General Credit which included two more big-ticket items, the Yamato poster clocks. At left: an ad from the Yamato fan club magazine pointing out the film clip bookmark. Click on each image to view an enlargement.
Complete Collection of Records/Reprint Volumes
Office Academy, April 1979
Fans who didn’t have pockets deep enough for the hardcover trilogy could breathe a sigh of relief when most of the material was republished in less expensive softcover versions the following year. It was a simple solution to divide up the photo-story, model sheets, and script pages into independent volumes, drop the extra pages and high-end trimmings, and make them available to the saner masses. They retailed for about $45, $20, and $13 respectively.
Below: foldout flyer from Office Academy that included a blurb for the ‘Hot Blood’ novelization. Far below: Promotional postcard