Yamato Origins, Part 7
Story Notes by Leiji Matsumoto

The exact date of Leiji Matsumoto’s first day as a Space Battleship Yamato staff member is not entirely clear, but it is agreed that May 1974 was the month when everything came together after over a year of planning. Negotiations began for a network commitment with Yomiuri Television and Matsumoto got to work on a substantial rewrite of the plotline, which he would finish on May 21st. (Back up to Part 6 of this series to read it in full.)

Many, many details had to be worked out during the runup to this date, which addressed gaps in the Eiichi Yamamoto draft and turned some old ideas in new directions. Character names were changed and then changed again. Planets, strategies, subplots, goals; all of it was back on the table now that Matsumoto was in the driver’s seat. His condition for inheriting Eiichi Yamamoto’s job title was the freedom to re-engineer whatever he wanted, and that’s exactly what he did.

Collected here is a mish-mash of story notes written during this fertile period, and others that were written later, reflecting additional development that went on over the summer. Taken as a whole, Matsumoto’s rush of creativity demonstrates how truly inspired he was in this pivotal phase.

Part 1: Character Lists


Captain: Mamoru Kodai
Soldier Leader: Hajime Oyama or Noboru Oyama or Jirou Oyama
Navigation Leader: Takashi Shimai or Takashi Shiki
Beautiful Woman Pilot: Yuki Asano
Doctor: Sakezo Sado

Enemy Planet: Zesuras [Rajendora] > Zendora > Zesu Desu
President: Dessler/Hedora/Hydra

Destination Planet: Iscandar > Seras
Sera is the last survivor. Her sister Sara dies on Mars.

Pirate: Phantom F. Harlock, elder brother of Hajime Oyama


Mamoru Kodai:
The ship’s captain; a hero of the space navy with a long military record, a famous physicist.

Susumu Banno:
Combat leader, 18 years old. Wants to become a space soldier to avenge the death of his elder brother.

Jirou Shima:
Navigation leader, 18 years old.

Phantom F. Harlock:
Pirate captain, real name Daisuke Banno, 26 years old. A rogue operative whose is slowly dying from radiation poisoning.
Hates the enemy aliens intensely, swears revenge on them and vows to make the Earth healthy again.

Yuki Moriki:
Female scientist/explorer, 18 years old.

Sakezo Sado:
Doctor, 54 years old. His main vocation is veterinarian. A heavy drinker, great man, brave father.

Tamotsu Kurai:
Chief navigator, 40 years old. A self-styled genius who indulges his abilities. Thinks that he holds the fate of Yamato in his hands. A veteran of space navigation.

Ryuichi Yamita:
Soldier, 28 years old. A rabble-rouser, senior soldier who loves to make trouble. Dissatisfied with Banno and Shima being prime officers since they are ten years younger than him.

A single robot formed by two separate robots, Migi and Hidari. They are outstanding when combined, but argue incessantly when separated. They compete to drink alcohol and chase skirts.

Space Battleship Yamato:
Converted model of the old Japanese Battleship Yamato. The largest, strongest spaceship of Earth.

Pirate Ship Deathmask/Shadow:
An Earth-type ship. The strongest space battleship, but its performance does not match Yamato‘s because its engine was made on Earth.

Invading Planet Gamilas/Vanparella:
The first planet (of a double-planet) in the Sanzar solar system, in the Large Magellanic Cloud. The same size as Earth.

Emperor Vanparella/Vanpara:
A dictator with an iron will and ultimate power.

Subordinates and Inhabitants:
Aliens that look like Earthlings and share a distant ancestor. Taller than humans, muscles developed in a different environment. All men are oval-faced like Charlton Heston, Sean Connery, Clint Eastwood. All the women are beautiful witches (there is no ugliness). They consider even the most beautiful and handsome Earthlings to be from an inferior race.

Angelic Planet Enzera:
Planet Vanparella is in its last stage of life. When it dies, both of the twin planets will spin out of orbit with each other and fall into the sun. Enzera has a radioactivity-removal device called the Cosmo Cleaner D that can save Earth. It must be obtained before the planet self-destructs. Enzera provides Yamato with a fourth-dimensional engine to travel 148,000 light years.

Fourth-Dimensional Engine/Wave Engine:
Earthlings build it from a blueprint and install it in Yamato (mixed with its old engine). Earthlings do not understand exactly how it works, and the engine room is tightly sealed. Anyway, it is a great machine.

The woman who calls Yamato. Her younger sister is Sasha.

Bad Planets: Gomon, Daimonas, Insector
Good Planets: Mariana, Mazara

Cosmo Cleaner D:
Radiation removal device, Cosmo Cleaner Destora.


Part 2: The Voyage

Whereas everything shown above predated the May 21st story outline, the following material came afterward, following successful negotiations with the Yomiuri TV Network for a 39-episode broadcast commitment.

Matsumoto took the lead in mapping out individual TV episodes with this 13-point document. His goals were to (1) to lay down physical reference points for Yamato‘s voyage and (2) establish a hierarchy of Gamilas characters, none of which had been developed until now, and (3) physically map out the voyage.

Incidentally, the name ‘Gamilas’ was finalized during this process. It was a variant on the female vampire name ‘Carmilla’. The name ‘Rajendora’ would not be heard again until it was given to a Bolar spaceship in Series 3. Incidentally, the name ‘Dessler’ came about as a combination of ‘Death’ and the Egyptian god ‘Ra.’ (The Japanese pronunciation being ‘Desura’)

1: The Vast Galaxy

The galaxy that contains our solar system is a vast rotating disc 100,000 light years in diameter. Our solar system is approximately 30,000 light years from the center.

2: The Large and Small Megallanic Clouds

Yamato is bound for these nebulae. When seen with the naked eye from Earth’s southern hemisphere, they can be found below the Milky Way’s Galactic Equator; diagonally under the Southern Cross and to the left of Orion. They are the closest nebulae to our galaxy

3: The Distance from Earth’s Solar System

Looking up at the Milky Way Galaxy from underneath, they lie between 148,000 and 200,000 light years away. Because the principle of measurement is updated year by year, different documents indicate different distances. Along the route to get there, the distance to the Orion Nebula is 980 light years.

The Large Magellanic Cloud contains 10 billion stars and is 25,000 light years in length. It includes many bright and variable stars, among others. The Small Magellanic Cloud contains 1.6 billion stars and is 8,500 light years in diameter. A method to measure the distances of these nebulae was discovered by the study of certain variable stars.

4: Seeing the Magellanic Clouds from Earth

The Milky Way got its name from the huge galactic arm that spreads across our sky. When our viewpoint allows us to see it horizontally (when we are positioned edge-on with the Milky Way) there is a large object and a small one below the galactic arm, within the Constellation of Orion. These are the Magellanic Clouds, 148,000 to 200,000 light years away.

5: Seen from Above the Galaxy

There is no up or down in space, but this is where the Magellanic Clouds are positioned relative to the Milky Way if seen from the “top.”

6: Where Yamato Leaves the Galaxy

Yamato leaves the galaxy through the “underside” near Orion. Or this is what we assume! The neighborhood of Orion, 980 light years away, is where Yamato parts ways with the vast Milky Way!


7: …Yamato will continue its voyage toward the Magellanic Clouds while seeing the vast Milky Way Galaxy overhead! Yamato departs the galaxy through the underside!

8: We should assume the first line of defense from Gamilas is positioned in the area of Orion. This is an unpleasant fact!

9: The View from the Megallanic Clouds

The view toward the Milky Way looks like this. Yamato, Gamilas, and the lawless pirate Harlock experience romance, bloodshed, and a desperate struggle in this vast open ocean of space!

10: We’re in a hurry, but do not be impatient!

Before crossing the border into Gamilas territory, we should become acquainted with their command network and their way of life. Leader Dessler’s nation can be better understood as a great pyramid.

11: Character Lineup of the Gamilas Military

Vice-President Hisu:
Worries about details, trivia, and the control of information. Loyal to Dessler, but Domel of the Balan base is his comrade-in-arms.

Propoganda Minister Shalabaster:
A strong, beautiful woman and a PR genius. Continuously promotes the greatness of Dessler and the invincible Gamilas Army to other planets. Never speaks of defeat. Convinces everyone to believe in Dessler. Secretly envies and curses Starsha.

Domestic Affairs Officer Sameru:
A tyrannical politician. Direct conductor of the policies that keep other planets in check. Keeps 100 mistresses and constantly lines his pockets.

Matsumoto’s rough design for Geru

Chief of Secret Police Gorola:
Maintains a reign of terror. A man who ruthlessly kills his own countrymen and even his brothers. Even Hisu shrinks at his glare.

Chief Bodyguard Kesu:
The most elite officer in the Gamilas corps. Dedicated his heart and soul to Dessler, and is willing to die for him. Doubts the weak nature of Hisu. Responsible for defense of the government and the capital city.

SS Forward Army Corps Leader Natar:
A robotic man with no emotions. Formerly a peasant who became a murder machine without a second thought.

Strategy and Spy War Director Minuku:
A genius at cryptography and covert operations. Well-versed in the psychology of Earthlings. Older brother of Darkunas.

Spacefleet Commander Geru (formerly Goering):
Commander of space navy for the Small Magellanic Cloud. A brave man with a long military record of strategy in space battles. An accomplished expert in blitzkrieg-style aggression. Fond of a flashy campaign, which puts him at odds with Carrier Fleet Commander Domel. Supports the covert ops fleet of Darkunas.


Commander Domel (formerly Rommel):
One of two spacefleet task force commanders based on Planet Balan. A genius of Carrier operations in space. A believer in the dignified frontal attack. A superb officer who respects the abilities of Earthmen, recognizes the value of blood and tears.

Captain of the First Mobile Unit under Domel, functions as his vanguard. A specialist in guerilla warfare.

Captain of the Second Mobile Unit under Domel, commander of a large-scale spacecraft carrier fleet. Obsessed with fighting Yamato to the point where he sometimes defies Domel’s orders. Loses confidence when Yamato defeats his fleet.

Captain of the Third Mobile Unit under Domel (Marine Corps and landing forces). Enjoys the challenge of land battles fought with tanks and small arms. Sends subordinates to their deaths without hesitation, arms them with swords and bayonets.

Captain of the Fourth Mobile Unit under Domel, the only all-female combat unit. A parachute force used in suicide attacks. The cruelest commander in Domel’s Army Corps.

Captain of the Fifth Mobile Unit under Domel, commander of battleship force. An advocate for the elimination of carriers and carrier-based craft.

Captain of the Sixth Mobile Unit under Domel, the Space Torpedo Corps. Commander of the destroyer fleet. Knows no retreat under Domel’s orders. Bravest of all the officers in Domel’s Army Corps.


The other spacefleet task force commander based on Planet Balan. Leads a covert operations fleet, a submarine corps that specializes in anti-radar strategy. Younger brother of Minuku, comrade of Geru. Believes in humiliating Earthlings and does not use frontal attacks. Prefers secretive strategies and surprise attacks, diametrically opposed to Domel

Captain of the First Covert Fleet under Darkunas, expert in biological warfare. Uses creatures and inhabitants of alien planets against Yamato. Intends to capture and vivisect an Earthling.

Captain of the Second Covert Fleet under Darkunas, sets up various traps such as space mines in asteroids. Scatters decoys, etc. using ninja tactics. An unpleasant man with a foul odor.

Captain of the Third Covert Fleet under Darkunas, specialist in bombs, missiles, and the use of space debris. A calm scientist.


A subordinate of Shalabastar, under her direct command. A female soldier who specializes in psychological operations. Uses supernatural phenomenae to send a ghost into Yamato and destroy it from within. Defeated in battle by Yuki Mori.

Commander of Defensive Forces, protects the absolute defense zone within the Large Magellanic Cloud. A man of great self-confidence who dares 100 ships to attack, including Yamato. Watched closely by his wife, he is attracted to women’s bottoms.

Commander of perimeter defenses around the Large Magellanic Cloud.

Commander of defenses in the Sanzar Solar System. Believes no enemy can penetrate that far. Lives a leisurely life with his family.

Gamilas Homeland Defense Commander. Because there is already an elite bodyguard unit protecting the government and capital city, he is lax in his duties. He is the weak link that allows Yamato and Harlock to attack, depriving the bodyguards of support.

This is a dreadful lineup of characters to write about!

12: This is the makeup of the Gamilas forces, who are fully prepared.

Can Yamato be expected to defeat all of them? As shown on the Battlefield Map of the voyage, this a dreadful thing to face.

13: The Map

As the writing team gathered to take Matsumoto’s story notes to the next phase, this map and the details behind it would guide the process from here on…but there were many changes still to come.

Continue to Yamato Origins Part 8: The 39-Episode Outline

Bonus: Design Origins

Above are the first two Matsumoto roughs for Yamato, which demonstrate (among other things) the inception of the Wave-Motion Gun. This was a big step forward from the art-deco look of the ship as it appeared in the 1973 plan book, but Nishizaki wanted to take it a step farther.

He was influenced by a 1961 adventure story from Hi no Maru magazine titled Shin [New] Battleship Yamato by Ikki Kajiwara (who would go on to write incredibly popular sports manga such as Tomorrow’s Joe and Star of the Giants). This manga version of Kajiwara’s story appeared in Shonen Gaho magazine in 1963, drawn by Tetsuya Dan. (Read all about it here.)

With this as a reference, the last link in the chain was forged between earlier concepts and the final, enduring design. Space Battleship Yamato emerged, wings and all. (And, just for the record, Matsumoto never liked those wings.)

Over 20 years later, Matsumoto finally revived his rough design for a cameo appearance in a Galaxy Express 999 manga. Because in some cases there’s no such thing as “final.”

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