Many English-speaking fans who came to appreciate Space Battleship Yamato via Star Blazers probably still don’t realize what a truly monumental event Farewell to Yamato was when it hit theaters in August 1978. The Star Blazers generation viewed it as an alternate version of the Comet Empire TV series. To Japanese fans at the time, the TV series was an echo of the biggest, most powerful movie they’d ever seen.
Naturally, it was accompanied by the biggest anime merchandising campaign of the pre-Gundam era. Practically anything you needed in your daily life could be found with a Yamato label on it, not to mention things nobody actually needed but HAD TO HAVE just because it was related to that awesome movie.
The top-of-the-line merch, from a graphic design and branding standpoint, came from Office Academy. In addition to stores and theaters it was marketed directly to members of the official fan club.
These catalogs were sent out to members with issues of the bimonthly fan club magazine. Many products took the place of similar Space Battleship Yamato goods from phase 1, but the Farewell campaign was more focused and unified with consistent graphic design and new English phraseology.
See the catalog pages here.
Stationery & School Supplies
Farewell was in theaters from August through October, just in time to fuel a wave of school supplies for the fall. First up, a line of pencils with characters and ships.
This alternate style pushed the logo out to the end so it would stay visible longer.
There were plenty of erasers to choose from (blank erasers with picture sleeves, to be more accurate), and three types of pens.
You can’t just be dropping your pens, pencils and erasers all over the place, so there was a whole line of pencil cases to save you time and embarrassment. The plastic versions above and below were just one option.
Some of these metal versions carried on the emerging graphic theme of triple stripes, echoing the shoulder stripes on the uniforms.
These vinyl versions probably left fewer marks if you carried them in your pocket.
You’d also need something to write on, and what could be better than a binder and some loose leaf paper to stock it with? Nothing, that’s what!
If you ever wanted to ‘pal around’ with friends from outer space, four different Yamato “Pal Notebooks” were ready to go.
If you liked your notebooks bound at the top instead, these report pads covered that angle.
By now, we see how far that new English slogan was traveling; each of the report pads put it to work.
There were at least two styles of Yamato stationery, one with a Kodai envelope and the other with Teresa.
Then there were the shitajiki (pencil boards) to reinforce a floppy pad of paper.
They came in several styles, both cardboard (above) and plastic (below).
The plastic versions employed another new block of English text, probably written for an international sales pitch and applied to Japanese merchandising for that worldly flavor.
Another style of binder used clip harnesses on the inside rather than the standard 3-rings.
Speaking of clips, here was a set that looks like it could keep its grip on darn near anything.
There was a set of four magnets with almost identical packaging.
When you got to the end of that homework chapter, there was a Yamato bookmark ready to serve.
Next up, note pads! More than you could possibly need! There were the spiral mini-notes…
…larger format memo pads with preset fields to fill up with whatever occurred to you…
…two styles of address books were made, with accordian-fold paper between metal covers that could fit in your pocket and probably stop a bullet.
Then there was a standard pocket-size booklet for jotting down whatever hit you on the fly.
They came in Yamato, Andromeda, Kodai, and Yuki versions with customized note pages inside.
A booklet of blank paper with yet another block of English text, this time summarizing the story of the film.
And finally, three different styles of “ring note” pad, all with blank paper between Yamato covers.
A product unique to Japan to this day is the ‘clear file,’ a plastic sleeve to carry papers around. The sleeve was just transparent plastic. But if you were to slide in a pre-printed starter sheet, BANG! It’s a Yamato clear file!
This particular sheet was a 2-sided foldout to commemorate Farewell to Yamato. These days, of course, the file is no longer clear since images are printed directly on it. But the name hasn’t changed.
How about something to keep all that stuff in? Introducing the Yamato “Paper Clutch,” a sturdy cardboard envelope (in two styles) to lug your important papers back and forth to fan club meetings.
This set of six Animation Cards measured about 10″ x 7″ and was a sort of portfolio to be carried around and shared with friends.
All the images were new, only appearing again on the 1979 Big Summer Roadshow movie program book.
The ‘Memory of Yamato’ collection was a boxed set of 53 mini cards (6.5″ x 5″) with Series 1 images on one side and Farewell images on the other.
These cards were cleverly repurposed as a prop-up desk calendar with one card per week for all of 1979. This was just one of three 1979 Yamato calendars; see the other two here.
Also in the realm of cards there were the postal kind, a set of 30 (sold in packs of 5) to brighten up any mailbox, if a fan could actually bring him or herself to sacrifice one. Now THAT would be a test of friendship.
Farewell greeting cards didn’t have quite as much variety as their 1977 predecessors, but since they were all still available anyway, the new cards simply made it possible to wish someone a Yamato birthday.
With Yamato instant rettering, it was now possible to make your cards and retters look professionally rettered. After choosing the right retters (in either English or Japanese) you would burnish them in place and choose a picture image for the finishing touch.
Here we have a set of “idol cards,” a laminated image of someone or something you idolize so much that you have to carry it around in your wallet. Most Yamato fans were probably too young to have pictures of their children, so a Yamato character could fill that role nicely.
There were also traditional “lobby cards,” which fell to the wayside not long after. It’s not clear that these were sold to fans. They may have only been offered to media sources for news articles and such.
Farewell to Yamato brought us five different jumbo posters, tall enough to fill a door or wide enough to fill a wall.
One of the more unusual tchochkes were these “Mascotte Dolls,” ready-made to dangle in a window or wherever else they were needed.
Unfortunately, they were not articulated to sway or bobble. That would have probably been TOO much fun.
You might have heard about Space Cruiser Otamay, a little-known anime SF series from the 1970s and 80s.
You could get iron-on images from this series, but if you accidentally applied them backward they would spell out Yamato.
Here we have two sets of Yamato seals…
…and four sets of Yamato stickers.
What’s the difference between stickers and seals? Outside the animal kingdom, that is?
Nothing, really. It was just another way of giving fans as many options as possible. The stickers were substantially larger, if that helps.
With all the Farewell to Yamato merchandise there was to buy, a customized bag would be just the thing to carry around. They could be found in fabric…
…or in paper…
…or in vinyl…
…or in more durable material if you happened to be headed for the gym.
It goes without saying that the ending to Farewell was a real tearjerker, requiring more Yamato handkerchiefs (which were a popular item a year earlier). What made this style unique was its use of English character names around the entire border. It included romanizations seen nowhere else, such as ‘Zuohdar’ and ‘Analayzer.’ You remember them, don’t you?
Every fan should have their own fan, don’t you agree?
The artwork seen on these echoed other images, but was never used again afterward. Which is kind of a shame.
What could make a present cooler than Yamato gift wrap? The answer is none. None more cool.
These curious items were vinyl book covers in three different styles to wrap around whatever you were currently reading. The ribbons served as built-in bookmarks.
Pass cases were a popular carry-around item for students, and there were multiple styles to choose from.
“Card wallet” was another term for these, but who knows if anyone ever flashed one in school.
Everyone’s got at least one key, right? It stands to reason then that everyone would want at least one Yamato key ring for it. But one would never be enough.
The versions shown above had a single frame of film contained in a plastic holder, while the larger style shown below was more like a credit card.
Either way, you’d always have the perfect key to unlock the chain on your Yamato bicycle.
Of course, you couldn’t buy any of this stuff if you didn’t save your yen, and Yamato even had a solution for that with the two coin banks shown above. Once filled up, you’d pop it like a soda can, transfer your wealth to one of the Yamato coin wallets shown below, and head off to the Yamato store for some well-earned gratification. Then repeat.
If that wasn’t your style, these small vinyl pouches were another alternative.
No merchandising campaign would be complete without some apparel, and these pseudo-crew t-shirts came with a special pedigree. The scribbling across the wrapper above left isn’t a mistake, it’s the signature of Yukiko Hanai, one of Japan’s top fashion designers in the 70s. She was commissioned to create costumes for Farewell, and designed Yuki’s pink jumpsuit seen in the early part of the movie (and TV Series).
Hanai also devised the crew shirt seen far right. It wasn’t used in the film, but became the basis for these real-life versions in both Kodai and Shima colors.
We end our product review with the sole big-ticket item, a poster-sized “panel clock” that took the place of an earlier one designed for the 1977 Yamato movie. It retailed for a hefty $135 and could be purchased in installment payments from Nippon General Credit (click here to see an enlargement of their ad), which also handled the high-priced Yamato hardcover books in the same fashion.
Wherever there were fans ready to buy, Office Academy found a way to let them do it!