Concurrent with the “Battle Plan” stage, Leiji Matsumoto took the initiative to produce one more draft of the story before scriptwriting began in earnest. The draft presented here was essentially a new synopsis meant to serve as script reference, infused with his own ideas for SF concepts, strategy, character names, and battle scenes. Essentially, it was the starting point for the hands-on directing of the film and strongly reflected Matsumoto’s personality in interesting ways.
The basic foundations of the Matsumoto plot are presented here with special emphasis on the battle between Yamato and Dessler.
The Leiji Matsumoto Plot
February 4-7, 1978
Kodai, Analyzer, and former members of the Yamato crew have been assigned to guard transport fleets between the planets, but on the way home from Pluto there is a minor collision incident. They are held responsible for this and dismissed from duty.
Sanada, now the director of EDF space development, studies a large comet that was first seen a few days earlier. He examines it intensively and determines it to be the first ever quasar (quasi-stellar object) to approach the Earth. The accident leading to Kodai’s dismissal was somehow caused by this object.
Furthermore, a message sounding suspiciously like a warning signal was apparently intercepted from distant space. Sanada and the EDF commander report this to the National Defense Council, describing it as a potential crisis approaching the earth, but the leaders decide to take no action.
Kodai, Shima, and the rest of the former Yamato crew gather to express their resentment of this shortly before the ship is to be dismantled and disposed of. At the risk of violating orders, they decide to launch again.
On the way out of the solar system, Yamato comes to the rescue of Captain Hijikata of the Eleventh Fleet, which was attacked and seriously damaged. At the instruction of EDF headquarters, Hijikata takes command of Yamato. His conduct is completely different from that of Okita and Kodai, which creates an awkward atmosphere for the crew.
Yamato engages and repels a mysterious UFO fleet in the vicinity of Pluto, rescuing the Pluto garrison base of the EDF Space Cavalry commanded by Saito, and the ship hastens on its course toward the source of the warning message from space.
Antagonism arises between Hijikata, Saito, and the rest of the crew, especially when a stowaway is discovered hiding in the ship’s warehouse: Yuki! Hijikata orders her thrown into the brig. This brings him into direct conflict with Kodai, who tries to protect her.
But internal squabbles are thrown aside with a huge enemy fleet suddenly appears and Yamato is surrounded by gunfire in a flash. Yamato mounts a desperate counterattack against this overwhelming military power. Kodai’s agility combined with Hijikata’s ingenuity and Yuki’s precision analysis allows them to quickly overcome the enemy. They then build on the momentum of this miraculous success when the Planet Telezart is identified as the source of the warning message.
Saito and the Space Cavalry troops force their way past the planetary guards of Rusaba [later named General Zabaibal] down to the ground of Telezart. There, they finally rescue Miraiza, the beautiful girl who sent the message.
She tells them the real nature of the White Comet; it is actually the aggressive Desbas Empire, which invades and destroys all worlds in its path. Now it brings imminent danger to Earth. With this knowledge, Yamato reverses course and rushes straight back toward home.
Above and below: Matsumoto’s organization charts for the enemy military.
“Barumeda” was one of many working names for the Comet Empire.
Meanwhile, Great Emperor Zordar of Imperial Planet Desbas rages over the freeing of Miraiza and the loss of the space fleet commanded by Goland. His aides once made light of the ship called Yamato, but now they realize the true gravity of the situation and assign Gamilas President Dessler to deal with this problem. Dessler had previously been found drifting in space and was rescued by Chief of Staff Officer Sabera.
Yamato and Dessler both set course for Earth. They were destined for a decisive battle, and now it begins.
[Full Text of the battle between Yamato and Dessler; image illustrations by Tim Eldred]
Desbas imperial city war room:
The Great Emperor and his aides watch Dessler’s fleet on a video panel.
“Has Dessler begun,” the Great Emperor asks.
Sabera laughs, but the laughter fades immediately. The room is filled with a mood of anxiety. None have spoken before now to the man who has been standing in the Great Emperor’s shadow.
“Gatlantis! It is your nature to be silent,” Sabera says unpleasantly, “but what would you say you are doing to support the Great Emperor?”
Gatlantis merely bows and leaves the room.
The Great Emperor stops Sabera with a hand on her shoulder (or waist).
“A man may serve me in silence.”
Genitz gives a dirty look.
The Carrier-based fighter group of Dessler attacks Yamato from the cover of a meteor stream
Shima has his hands full steering the ship to avoid the meteors, let alone the fighters.
The fighters swerve expertly with the meteors and their shots hit Yamato.
Yamato fights back, launching the Cosmo Tigers to look for Dessler’s carrier.
Shima notices something.
“Kodai, Sanada, is there a shape to this attack? I feel like there is a pattern.”
Sanada suddenly slaps his knee.
“I was a fool not to realize it! Their attacks repeat at exact intervals, like the predictable performance of an android!”
There are no life signs from the Gamilas units.
“They’re all androids,” Yuki cries from her station.
At that moment, Kato of Cosmo Tigers reports in:
“We’ve located the Gamilas carrier! It’s five space kilometers to Yamato‘s starboard side!”
Still surrounded by the meteor swarm, Yamato approaches the Gamilas fleet at high speed. Yamato fires missiles to blow off the meteor stream which blocks the forward view.
The rocket anchor fires directly into the command deck of the closest ship. Both Yamato and the ship are swung around by the tremendous centrifugal force and stop dead in space, bound together.
The Android soldiers are unable to react to the situation and self-destruct.
On Dessler’s command bridge:
Miru, the supervising officer assigned to watch Dessler, jumps into an escape boat. Dessler shoots him.
“A revolt…” Miru groans.
Dessler speaks slowly to Miru:
“I follow no one else in space. I am Leader Dessler of the Great Gamilas Empire!”
Saying this, he shoots Miru directly in the forehead.
The battle in space:
The Space Cavalry troops rush out of Yamato with tremendous momentum. Because Dessler’s troops are all androids, they are unprepared for a hand-to-hand battle. They drop like flies.
Dessler’s command bridge:
“You have struggled for a long time, Geru,” Desslok tells his aide while handing him a pistol.
“You’re free to go and do as you like.” [Translator’s note; the name Geru appears in Matsumoto’s original text, but was corrected to Talan in the screenplay.]
Geru chokes back bitter tears,
“We are the only people of Gamilas left. There is nowhere for me to go but by your side.”
A sparking, malfunctioning android soldier suddenly appears and moves to tackle Dessler from behind.
Geru grapples with the android to protect Dessler and it explodes in his arms.
Dessler mutters while he wraps the Gamilas flag around the dead body of Geru.
“Am I now the last of the great Gamilas race…?”
Dessler slowly crosses the flight deck.
There, Kodai stands waiting for him.
On the vast flight deck, a confrontation of Dessler and Kodai:
Dessler speaks in a low, deep voice.
“Hehehe. The boy of Yamato. How nostalgiac.”
Kodai greets this confrontation with indignance.
Dessler relaxes his guard for a moment. Outside in space, one of his men (merely an android) explodes and leaves a fiery trail…
Dessler sees the horrible state of his supporting fleet.
The two men raise their right arms, as if in a classic duel. (This could be shown as if they are about to draw swords, or as if they are in a Western movie, but the mood will be a little different.)
A flash of light surges from two hands. There is the sharp blast of a Cosmogun.
Shreds of Kodai’s uniform fly off his chest. Within his airtight suit, there is shock on his face.
Dessler is expressionless.
Kodai slowly drops to one knee, enduring his shock.
On the space uniform of Dessler, a tear begins to spread. His faceplate cracks.
Dessler drops to the deck like a massive tree that has been felled.
“Kodai, you seem to have learned many things from Okita,” Dessler mutters.
Kodai approaches and kneels before him.
“Dessler! Why? Why did you deliberately miss me?”
“No, Kodai. I hold back in a fight against no man. You defeated me. Is that not good?”
Dessler stares into Kodai’s eyes and speaks slowly.
“Kodai, whether you know it or not, Earth and Gamilas share a distant ancestor. We are blood brothers.”
“I dreamed of rebuilding the great Gamilas. It would be my revenge against Yamato. However, I saw that it was empty and in vain. Other than Geru and myself, there were only android workers. My child and all those who lived in the Gamilas colony have fallen. How can Gamilas be rebuilt without our women?”
Kodai slowly shakes his head.
“Even if Gamilas perishes,” Dessler says, “our blood will live on in you. No matter what I thought before, my reason to fight you has already disappeared…”
The gun held tightly in Dessler’s hand until that moment drops to the deck.
“Kodai, according to the teaching of the brave Captain Okita, Yamato must fight the Desbas Comet.”
Kodai looks up and is startled to see the giant comet in the distance.
“The mechanized city empire Desbas of the Great Emperor Zordar…”
Dessler’s breathing is shaky.
“There are ways to fight them. Yamato once defeated me with its magnetic space coating.”
“The thick atmosphere of Desbas leaves a turbulent trail of high pressure gas and explosive nuclear energy. This atmosphere becomes the energy of the comet itself.”
“The atmosphere can be brought to critical mass by an injection of outside energy.”
With that, Dessler passes out.
Kodai shouts, “Dr. Sado!”
In Yamato‘s medical room:
Dessler is on the operating table of Yamato‘s medical officer. He slowly opens his eyes and looks into Sado’s face in dark despair.
“Thank you, good doctor.”
“I am Sado”
“Did Okita also die here?”
He looks up at the ceiling, toward the main bridge.
“It is good.”
Sado leaves the operating room and winks at Kodai and Shima.
“It is a place I cannot trespass,” Hijikata says, “but Okita would not be angry even though he is a formidable enemy.”
Kodai, Shima, Yuki and Analyzer nod.
The room in question is the captain’s quarters.
Dessler sits in the same place where Okita died.
Sado, Kodai, Shima, Hijikata, and Yuki are gathered at his side.
“Sitting here, I feel I understand the heart of Okita…my fellow man…we made such desperate efforts to fight each other…there are no regrets…Okita seems to be saying that as well.”
Dessler looks up at Sado.
“If a man dies when he should, do you think he is happy to die? I should have died in the last battle with Yamato.”
From the past, there is a vision of the reflected energy of Dessler’s cannon radiating back at him. Dessler and Geru desperately escape in a small capsule, which carries them away like two ghosts.
“Do not die, Kodai…”
Dessler looks from Kodai to Yuki.
“You on Earth have an infinite future. You can give birth to new life!”
Dessler grits his teeth and cries out at the top of his voice: “Farewell, great Gamilas…!”
Visions appear of Starsha and the glory days of Gamilas. All eventually disappear.
Sado steps out of the room and stops outside the door.
“Once again, a great man has died…”
Hands are placed on chests and a nine-gun funeral salute is sounded for Dessler.
“Farewell, great hero of Gamilas.”
A brief spark for Dessler disappears into distant space.
In the eyes of Kodai, Shima, and Sado, tears glisten brilliantly…
March, 1978: Into Production
In March, the story outline for Farewell to Yamato was officially approved and scriptwriting commenced. The Yamato production staff room at Toei Animation Studio in Nerima, Tokyo, was a beehive of activity.
Design work had begun earlier (in mid-February) and rough designs were being produced around the clock. After seeing what was happening in American cinema, everyone agreed that the stakes had been raised, and this now had to be a first-class SF action movie.
The process was lead by Leiji Matsumoto, Tsuji Tadanao, and Tomonori Kogawa along with the external cooperation of Studio Nue. Matsumoto and Tadanao worked together on the background designs for Earth, the White Comet, and Planet Telezart. Kogawa took the lead on character design while Studio Nue (primarily Kazutaka Miyatake) worked on mechanical design for the EDF fleet. Matsumoto also took charge of certain designs himself, such as Zordar’s Super Dreadnought.
There were now approximately four months before the release. This was a late start for a film meant to premiere in August, but the staff was not visibly worried.
“We’re making Yamato,” they said enthusiastically. Anxiety was not an option.