Goods Press magazine is published by Tokuma Shoten, home of the famed Roman Albums and the leading anime specialty periodical Animage. It is a high-profile, mainstream consumer’s magazine that reports on everything from luggage to watches to personal electronics. This issue, published April 6, included a Space Battleship Yamato cover feature with a colorful retrospective and new interviews for Yamato 2199. Enjoy!
Special Feature: the truth behind the blockbuster that opened up a new era of SF Anime
Space Battleship Yamato A New Legend
The TV broadcast of Space Battleship Yamato began in October 1974 and had a significant influence on SF anime thereafter. Its unique worldview and realistic settings were a clear distinction from previous anime works, and it captured the hearts of many people. This spring, 38 years after the first broadcast, we meet the story again as it is faithfully presented in Space Battleship Yamato 2199. Before a new legend begins, we will examine the essence of the original and the reason it has continued to be loved for many years.
Yamato has returned!
Ryo Otake [P113-P117, P122-P125] Naoyuki Murata [P118-P121, P126-P127]
Shin Towano [P114-P115,P124-P125] Hiroshi Haneda (Propellor Photography) [Pl18-P121, P126-P127] Fumiharu Kanazawa [P122-P123]
Cooperation: Space Battleship Yamato 2199 Production Committee
The appeal and unprecedented realism of the settings attracted not only children, but also adults.
The chief editor of Anime magazine Animage verifies it
Space Battleship Yamato gave a shock to Japanese Anime
Above first picture: The depiction of war, the human drama, and the introduction of SF gadgets–Space Battleship Yamato made many novel attempts that other works did not. Its many achievements resounded in the Japanese Anime world thereafter. The chief editor of Anime specialty magazine Animage verifies it.
“It was the work that became an anime business pioneer from the publication of specialty magazines, soundtrack records, and the hobby domain.”
Chief editor, Animage magazine
I am the editor-in-chief of Animage, which was first published in 1978 by Tokuma Shoten. I’ve been absorbed in the subject of anime since my school days, and was shocked by the unprecedented view of the world in Yamato. These days, in order to provide the reader with the latest information about the full variety of anime, I am constantly on the move.
Animage‘s chief editor Toshiya Matsushita looks back on the world of Yamato this way: “In the limited period of one year, we fight aliens to save Earth from a crisis…although it had such a kamikaze spirit, it wasn’t like a war movie. I think junior and senior high school students in those days jumped at the beautiful and tragic impression of risking one’s life for love.”
The audience rating of the original broadcast was sluggish, but popularity spread with opportunities for reruns and cinema releases. Fanzines were developed and made by passionate fans, mainly college students, which laid the groundwork for anime speciality magazines.
“There was a separate volume called a Roman Album after the theme of Space Battleship Yamato, and it was a strong seller. Magazines with features on Yamato, Toei animation, and children’s products from Disney were popular. That was also the time when a rush of specialty magazines arose, such as The Anime (from Kindaiega Co.) and My Anime (from Akita Publishing).”
Furthermore, Yamato established a formula for the subsequent history of anime and created a new culture.
“Characters like Kodai and Yuki became like stars. These days, people playing active roles as voice actors are idolized whether they are men or women. Though actors also performed in those days, it was Yamato that established the occupation of Voice Actor. Yoko Asagami, who gave a great performance as Yuki Mori and became a very popular voice actor, was one of the pioneers.”
Additionally, soundtrack albums and related items like plastic models that promoted the characters came up one after another, and Yamato became the template for successful anime business. Needless to say, the new work Yamato 2199 is attracting a lot of expectations.
“The director of 2199, Yutaka Izubuchi, was captivated by the early Yamato, and Akira Miyagawa, the son of Hiroshi Miyagawa who built the worldview of Yamato music, is participating as the composer. Personally, I’m really looking forward to how the staff will rebuild the legend of ‘the first Yamato‘ for the anime world of Japan.”
The world’s first issue of Animage in 1978 [at left] featured urgent coverage of Farewell to Yamato on the cover. [See the interior pages here.] Thereafter, in addition to the cover, special features provided killer content that became a constant seller. In the September 1982 issue, a major special feature on Yamato‘s ten year history was organized.
5 ways SF Anime was driven by the Yamato legend
1. Innovate Settings
In order to protect the Earth, mysterious aliens are fought in space. This is natural for a space adventure action concept now, but in the 1970s “TV manga” was still at the height of its prosperity. The story setting was recognized as a realistic human drama with appeal for adults. Shots like the entire first bridge with the entire crew arranged around a radar were a first attempt for anime. This influenced other works like Mobile Suit Gundam and Macross afterward.
2. Success at the Cinema
Anime movies at the time were seen as an extension of “TV manga.” When Space Battleship Yamato premiered at the cinema in August 1977, it was so popular that people camped out overnight to see it, and it mobilized the largest number of people in anime history, about 2.3 million. This was the trigger of the Anime Boom.
Box office proceeds of the Yamato films
Space Battleship Yamato (1977): 2.1 billion yen
Farewell to Yamato (1978): 4.3 billion yen
Be Forever Yamato (1980): 2.5 billion yen
Final Yamato (1983): 1.72 billion yen
3. Publication of Specialty Magazines
There were no anime specialty magazines at that time as a means to share information, only fanzines distributed at an individual level by ardent fans. But the magnitude of the response to the film version convinced publishers to undertake specialty magazines seriously. Farewell to Yamato was the cover feature of the first issue of Animage.
4. Construction of the Music Business
Anime songs of the 1970s were referred to as “Sonosheets,” a product with inferior sound, aimed at children. However, the soundtrack to Yamato was released after the success of the movie and reached the top of the charts. It became an established music genre. The soundtrack released by Nippon Columbia in 1977 included music and drama [story content], and sales broadened to include older age groups, ultimately recording 1st place on the Oricon chart.
5. The Concept of Plastic Model-ization
The success of the first Yamato movie breathed new life into the plamo [plastic model] market that centered on kits like the Zero fighter and the IJN Battleship Yamato. Modelers jumped at the reality of the work, which used the naming conventions of the old Japanese navy with terms like “Space Aircraft Carrier” and “Super Dreadnaught Class Space Battleship.” This established a genre called “Character Mono [item]” in the plamodel world.
The Space Battleship Yamato Mecha Collection Series was launched by Bandai in 1979 at the affordable price of 100yen each. It was an abundant lineup that recorded huge sales of approximately 8.5 million pieces in the first year.
Space Battleship Yamato – History of the Voyage of Fierce Battles
As you can probably guess, this spread covers each installment of the story with original release dates, production credits, and home video info, all the way up to Yamato Resurrection in 2009. The live-action movie is not included.
Noted staff officer and chief engineer Shiro Sanada came through the first battles!
Looking back at the origin of the “first generation Mecha Collection” of Yamato models
Offensive and defensive battles with the old enemy “Gamilas fleet”
Yamato launched into space in order to save the contaminated Earth. Here, noted scenes have been reproduced from the 230-day journey by using small-scale plamo from the Mecha Collection series that was released in the early days by Bandai. We look back at the offensive and defensive battles with the old enemy Gamilas with commentary from staff officer Shiro Sanada. [Translator’s note: Sanada’s “commentary” is next to each of the main photos, but is not translated here.]
The starting point of Space Battleship Yamato was the first TV series, broadcast in 1974. It has attracted many fans from that time to today, over 35 years later. One reason may be the story, made up of detailed settings, breathtaking battle scenes, characters and mecha that were conscious of adults.
In order to obtain the Cosmo Cleaner D that would remove the radiation from Earth in 2199 AD, Yamato launched on a 148,000 light year journey to Iscandar. The enemy Gamilas were encountered often, at Jupiter, Pluto, the Rainbow Star Cluster, etc. Although Yamato has strong soldiers and the powerful Wave-Motion Gun, it wages a desperate battle against the superior military power of Gamilas.
But you should not pay attention only to the mecha and battle scenes; the strategy and behavior of human beings is very carefully depicted and gives persuasive power to the story, bringing an unprecedented reality to animation.
Also, since Yamato was accepted as an SF work that distinguished it from children’s anime, it lead to the creation of a new genre of modeling called the “character model.” The “Mecha Collection” series which Bandai released in the late 1970s were models about 14cm long, consisting of about 20 parts. Despite being simple kits, their neat proportions allowed them to pass as display models. In developing an abundant lineup of 30 kits, they grabbed the heart of the fans.
From this starting point of Yamato, the mantle of “character model” was later inherited by Mobile Suit Gundam as “Gunpla.” [pla = plastic model] Noted scenes have been reproduced here using the Mecha Collection series. You can see the world of magnificent Yamato models that exceed all scale, yet can fit into the palm of your hand.
From the Wave-Motion Gun to the Rocket Anchor to the Launch Catapult, an able developer kept at it and succeeded.
A thorough dissection of the Ultimate “Yamato model”
Based on the latest data and the opinions of Yamato-related creators, Bandai produced a completely new mold for Space Battleship Yamato. The sophisticated body of the beautiful warship was completed to such a degree that it deserves to be called “ultimate.” Here, we approach detail reproduced by overwhelming density.
“It was in 1974 that Bandai released a model of Yamato for the first time. Around the middle of the first TV broadcast, it was a toy-like model with a built-in zenmai [windup motor].”
This was said by Mr. Hirofumi Kishiyama of Bandai, who has long worked on the planning and development of Yamato models and is the company’s person most familiar with the work. He was the central figure for the 1/350 scale model that attracts today’s fans as “the ultimate Yamato model.”
Bandai had been around for almost 40 years, so it seemed that there would be few difficulties at the time of development, but that was a big mistake. It is common for most Character Models to be developed around the release of a new film, but the 1/350 Yamato had to be made without such support. It was the first completely new model in ten years for the company. Development took up a period of two years. Furthermore, it is said that there were many problems from the prototype model to the final stage.
“I gathered many Yamato lovers and asked for their opinion, those involved with the production and also admitted Yamato enthusiasts such as Yutaka Izubuchi and Hideaki Anno. They pointed out problems on the spot, both large and small. For example, they disapproved even of the subtle curves on the side of the hull. Of course, each participant had their own idealized image of Yamato, and they are people who enthusiastically study how ‘this seems to be the reason it was done for that scene’ and such. Because I felt that I wanted to make the ultimate Yamato, in the expression of its proportions and all its parts and accessories, it was corrected as much as possible.”
In this way, the completed Yamato materializes a form that prides itself on unprecedented reality. The benefit of the experience cultivated by this model will appear in future releases, and breathe life into all models.
A Talk with General Director Yutaka Izubuchi
What passion has been put into the new work 2199?
The real intention of launching Space Battleship Yamato again
The starting point for the first Space Battleship Yamato remake in 38 years is the desire to rebuild the “first Yamato” with the full use of modern anime production technology. Izubuchi has continued to watch this work since his younger days, and is involved in the latest production as the general director. He speaks of its highlights and the passion he puts into his work.
“I pictured in my mind all 26 episodes of the original, but it’s impossible to satisfy all the fans of Yamato.”
The audience rating was low for the “first Yamato,” and as a result the original story of 39 episodes was forcibly reduced to 26. Therefore, there are inconsistencies all over the work.
“Even though I’ve watched Yamato since my youth, I felt a remake would be difficult. But if scenes were modified and new expressions revived shallow scenes, I thought for a long time that the muscle and heart of the story would carry it.”
As the general director of Space Battleship Yamato 2199, to be released in theaters April 7, Izubuchi changed his position from looking back to being responsible for the production. He is one of those who was attracted to Yamato and belonged to a fan club in his school days.
At the beginning stage, did he consider all the “labor pains” that would be required?
“It was about four years ago that I started on the production. But there was no thought about making a new thing. Because there was a great foundation, there were few worries about the conceptual stage. Because it would be a remake, there was no thought of tampering with it at all. If I knew at the beginning how different Yamato 2199 would become, I’d be angry at myself. (Laughs)”
On the occasion of the new production, Izubuchi augments it with things that could not be presented in the “first Yamato” by pursuing more reality in the details. Coverage of the Marine Self-Defense Force is one of them.
“When I went to watch a naval review, I noticed some unusual words being exchanged among members of the SDF. There were specialized terms and accents. For example, when referring to the right and left sides of the hull, it is common to call them Ugen [starboard] and Sagen [port]. But they pronounced them as Mikigen and Hidarigen. I also worried about the image of saying Hasha [fire] for the Wave-Motion gun instead of Ute! [strike]”
The revival of Yamato is a series of 26 episode divided into seven chapters and shown nationwide in ten theaters. As of this writing, the production has nearly reached a turning point, but it is said that the director put more than a few new ideas into 2199.
“First, I made up a national anthem of Gamilas. There is a lot of music to symbolize Yamato, but there isn’t much music that represents the psychological image of Gamilas in battle. In fact, although I had a personal draft of it before the offer actually came in, I rewrote the words on the spot when I heard the melody. Toward the end, it got into slapstick. For now, it’s a secret that will come out in the flow of the story.”
The circumstances surrounding the broadcast of the “first Yamato” are quite different from current anime. Therefore, there is some anxiety about the reaction of the generation that doesn’t know Yamato.
“The original work was born 38 years ago in a form that depicted a straightforward attitude to work hard without losing hope. I wonder whether or not that would be accepted in Japan today. I received the baton from “first Yamato,” and I’ll be glad if the universal message can be felt.”
A talk with Composer Akira Miyagawa
A tradition of dramatic music handed down through the baton of his father
The soul of the sound put into 2199
The “first Yamato” had a major impact not only on the world of anime, but also music. Many musical pieces created by the late Hiroshi Miyagawa are so highly rated that they became engraved in the history of Japanese music. Mr. Akira Miyagawa is in charge of making the dramatic music for the latest work, Yamato 2199. How is the difficulty of inheriting such a great achievement felt?
“My eyes have been enriched by taking over the music my father painstakingly built up over and over.”
Composer, stage musician
Born 1961 in Tokyo. The son of Hiroshi Miyagawa, who composed for the original work. After graduating from the Tokyo University of the Arts, he participated in the Four Seasons theatrical company and produced show music for Tokyo Disneyland. His large number of representative works include Maken Samba II and The Hit Parade.
“Although it was indirect, there was a request for music production on the recent work, Yamato Resurrection. ‘There is no other musician elsewhere who knows Yamato, you are the only one.'”
Mr. Akira Miyagawa, whose father Hiroshi Miyagawa composed the dramatic music of Yamato, was an ardent fan of the original 26 episodes. Although he received frequent offers of work after his father died, he often declined.
“I think my father was chosen as the man to make the hits of Yamato. He faced the piano every day and was devoted to making music in an unearthly atmosphere. I saw how difficult it was for him to give birth to that music. Therefore, I thought ‘this job is impossible,’ and I think somewhere in my heart I was avoiding it.”
Although many sequels were produced due to Yamato‘s popularity, Akira says that he felt its early spirit was diluted each time. That’s another reason he declined many requests.
“In my heart I felt, ‘If there is someone who wants to badly enough, someday they must make it.’ But when I consider my father and Director Nishizaki and the staff who poured their soul into Yamato, if no original [person] is in charge, it would be seen as a step down. Even if I accepted the challenge, accompanied by the whole spirit of the creator, I couldn’t give birth to good music.”
Even when there were repeated requests, Akira Miyagawa had strong resistance to redoing and rearranging the music of Yamato. Fortunately, he decided to participate Yamato 2199 because of a passionate request from Director Izubuchi.
“The director told me in a conversation that he wanted to rebuild the 26 episodes of the old Yamato. Although there were many questions when we got together in our first meeting, I felt the aura of love for Yamato among all the staff members. Then I thought, ‘I won’t be troubled if these people take charge.’ And a feeling of ‘this is my duty’ began to arise. And after the production was decided, I thought, ‘this will be great!’ (Laughs)”
Although it is a remake, since the original was completed to a high degree, its view of the world cannot be broken. However, there’s no purpose in a remake if it remains unchanged. Meanwhile, there was a new discovery as the work progressed.
“The director asked me to ‘please salvage about 70 pieces of music,’ which I did over a period of two months. I made 30 new tracks, but when I listened again to the original I clearly understood what my father was thinking and wrestling with in those days. From the titles, I imagined which parts he poured power into. Through this work, I feel like I got a deep lesson in composing from my father.”
Photo captions, left to right:
Akira Miyagawa co-starred in a concert with his father at the Symphony Hall of Osaka. This is a precious scene, since there are few photographs. Such pictures are very nostalgic for fans. (Photo provided by the Symphony Hall.)
From the Yamato III soundtrack, “The 18th Armored Division” is the first Yamato sound Akira Miyagawa dealt with. He worked with his father as a composer during his school days.
In addition to masterpieces such as The Scarlet Scarf, Akira Miyagawa augments the original score with about 30 new pieces. His attention to sound flows from the story.
“The lesson continues after death.” Rearranging 70 tracks of original score felt like being instructed by his father. Each sheet of score is carefully finished in freehand.
Direct Hit at the Developer!
The long-awaited new work nears release!?
A newly-born Yamato model awaits launch along with 2199
In addition to the powerful battle scenes, fans often cite the theme song and sound effects as the appeal of Yamato. The “Soul of Chogokin” Yamato introduced here is a masterpiece that condensed these into a display model. The person in charge who poured his soul into it talks about his passion and the latest news of Yamato.
Bandai Collectors Division, Second team planning and development
In charge of plan development in the collectors division, which deals with “maniac” subjects. Recently managed the Chogokin “Shinkansen O System” in the adult division. Currently working toward ultimate model production for fans both old and new.
“I intended to reproduce the special world of Yamato with the “Soul of Chogokin” model with the production of sound and lights as seen in the story,” says Mr. Tsuchida of Bandai’s collector’s division. “Of course, no corners were cut in the proportion or the action. Since it is a finished product from the moment a user opens the box and picks it up, I was thorough and particular about the shape of each part.”
Although the “Soul of Chogokin” Yamato is initially based on the TV version, it reflects historical research into recent data, such as the movie Yamato Resurrection. Such a product was able to materialize because of the judgment of maniacs filled with love for Yamato.
“Plans are also progressing in relation to the new work, Yamato 2199, but we haven’t yet decided in what form to commercialize it. Since CG is used for the image, it is likely that we will be able to reproduce a perfect form. Personally speaking, I want to develop a high-end model that can stick out its chest.”
In accordance with the theatrical premiere, the projects for Yamato 2199 are currently in a launch posture.