The Farewell to Yamato Time Machine, 1978

It’s hard to overestimate the impact Farewell to Yamato had on Japan when it was released in August 1978, especially when one examines the ambivalence of mass media toward anime prior to that time. It was one of those cases where the audience was way ahead of the press, since they themselves became part of the story in 1977 with the explosive release of the first Space Battleship Yamato movie.

In hindsight, that moment was a wake-up call to the rest of the world: anime could no longer be dismissed as kid stuff. When Producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki announced three months after the Yamato movie’s premiere that he intended to make a sequel, it was a whole new ball game. In addition to concluding his space saga in the most spectacular way he could imagine, he also wished for it to have media coverage at every step of its creation. Today that’s how it is for every big movie, anime or otherwise. In 1978, it was entirely new.

Nishizaki himself lead the charge in February when the inaugural issue of the Yamato Fan Club Magazine made the first official announcement of what was to come. Out of that initial burst came a torrent of news coverage that went right up to the premiere and beyond, documenting every nugget of information that could be found.

Collected here is a complete chronological record of all the major coverage aimed at dedicated fans who didn’t want to miss a word, from the pre-production all the way through the premiere and into the “look-back” phase. All the key articles have been translated and most are appearing here in English for the first time. Together, they constitute nothing less than the birth of anime journalism.

February 25: Yamato fan club magazine #1

Imagine, just for a moment, what it must have been like for fans to open their mailboxes and see this waiting inside. It wasn’t a lot, just 18 pages including the covers and mostly black and white, but the weight of what it represented was monumental, especially for those who had carried the flame on their own from the beginning.

Fan Club (or “Fun Club” if you prefer) Magazine #1 made Yamato Part II its first headline story, becoming the first publication of any kind to deliver movie news directly from the home office. By the time it arrived, the script was in its third draft, design work was well underway, and storyboarding (by Yasuhiko Yoshikazu) had just begun. Found in its pages were a Part II announcement and comments, character guide, a “roots of Yamato” retrospective, a Leiji Matsumoto mini-gallery and studio visit, a “fan plaza” that opened the door to contributions, info on private clubs, and a Q&A with Yoshinobu Nishizaki.

Read some of the articles here:
Interview with Chief Director Tomoharu Katsumata
Q&A with Yoshinobu Nishizaki

March 25: Yamato fan club magazine #2

The second issue of the Fan Club magazine seemed more like a doujinshi than a newsletter. There was only a single page devoted to Part 2, probably because animation production was monopolizing the staff’s time and little attention could be spared for interviews. Thus, almost the entire issue became a compendium of designs from Series 1.

On the other hand, the designs chosen for the single page were pretty significant in hindsight. Fans got their first glimpse of the iconic Hero’s Hill monument, a rebuilt Earth city, and previously-unseen spaceship called “A new Earth Defense Force Battleship.”

The accompanying text read as follows:

Yamato Part 2 Bulletin: Original picture production progressing smoothly

Since the first brainstorming (planning meeting), we have completed the setting, script, storyboard, and layout meetings, and Yamato‘s engine has finally started moving forward into the stage of original picture production (i.e. key animation). In this issue, we present a bulletin on the setting meeting for the story.

This is an important meeting to decide on settings for story development, characters, mecha designs, weapons, and so on. Based on a vast amount of materials, staff members discuss new images of mecha and characters and come up with unusual ideas, such as a design plan for an ultra-modern city, and other matters.

Producer Nishizaki sometimes nods his head, and at other times makes suggestions and finalizes the settings. The staff’s faces are serious, since the quality of the work depends on this meeting.

April 8: Middle 2nd Age, May issue

One of the new players on the field in terms of publicity outlets was the “student digest” genre of magazines. Every kid from first grade all the way through high school had a monthly digest published just for them. In fact, they each had three rival publishers (Obunsha, Gakken, and Shogakukan) vying for their attention at every grade level. The digest shown here is titled Middle 2nd Age, for those in the second year of middle school (8th graders). It featured a big article on Sci-fi films, starting with one that was already world famous but had yet to premiere in Japan.

The article ended with a contest to win flyers and posters for SF movies, and this is where Yamato finally got the nod. But this casual mention is slightly more important than it may first appear.

On the second page, we see the full and correct title of the upcoming movie: Saraba [Farewell] Space Battleship Yamato, Soldiers of Love. Based on current research, this is apparently the first time it appeared in print. The two caveats are (A) there were many other digests that month and (B) Toei’s publicity department probably fed them all the same info. But until an earlier example emerges from the fog, this is where the flag is planted.

Before we get too much farther, it’s worth acknowledging the “other” title: Arrivederci Yamato. This was seen on many posters and products in 1978, and was the accepted international name of the film until it was officially changed to Farewell in 1988 when a dubbed version was produced. The words Saraba, Arrivederci, and Farewell are all basically synonymous, and the film is still one of a kind no matter what we choose to call it.

April 25: Yamato Fan Club Magazine #3

We’ve just seen the title of Yamato Part 2 in a student digest magazine, but this was the first publication to make it official. There were two pages of Farewell to Yamato production news (read them here), the first color image of Andromeda (still only called “new Earth battleship”), a Q&A with Yoshinobu Nishizaki, and various other odds and ends that could be found nowhere else.

One of those was a single sheet of paper inserted between the pages, probably an indication that it was added at the last minute. The top portion read as follows:

Hello to all the fans!!

The production of Farewell to Yamato is progressing at a rapid pace, and the movie will be released on August 5. We have decided to write a new theme song (lyrics by Yu Aku, music by Hiroshi Miyagawa). What kind of singer would you like to perform it?

Below that were Yu Aku’s lyrics for From Yamato With Love and an address to which you could send suggestions. This song would take some interesting turns on its way to vinyl, as we will see.

Finally, the back cover of the magazine featured something even more intriguing, an ad for a forthcoming book set called Space Battleship Yamato Complete Records Collection. Those who filled out a postcard insert could make an advance reservation and choose to pay the exorbitant price in installments. A publication date was not given, but the headline read, “That hot emotion will be revived again,” and it was not wrong.

May 26: Animage #1

This date belongs among the most significant in anime history; with the launch of the first magazine purely about anime for anime fans, anime journalism finally came into its own.

For certain, it existed in one form or another before Animage. There was OUT magazine, after all. What made the difference was stature. Animage came from mainstream publisher Tokuma Shoten, and after a long internal debate led by editor Shigeo Ogata, it was agreed to take a gamble. It paid off handsomely with a return rate of less than 5% unsold copies.

Naturally, Farewell to Yamato was the cover story and biggest article. Text coverage was rather thin, little more than a teaser for the story and a retrospective of Part 1, but plenty of animation stills and artwork were ready to share with a starving public, and Animage #1 doled it out in generous helpings. Many images that would later become iconic got their first public exposure right here.

Click here to see Animage #1’s Yamato coverage.

Click here to see a page-by-page review on Youtube.

Read Shigeo Ogata’s personal account of the magazine’s origin and launch here.

June 1: Roadshow, July issue

The reader page for this issue bolstered Yamato with additional fan art for Captain Harlock and Message From Space. See a larger version here.

Elsewhere in the magazine’s pages could be found Roadshow‘s first writeup on Farewell, including the international title that had been chosen from the outset: Arrivederci Yamato. The editors actually knew quite a bit more about the film than they let on, since behind the scenes they were preparing to publish two dedicated books later in the year.

Big Summer Film Feature

The New Enemy is a White Comet! Yamato, do your best!

Needless to say, Farewell to Yamato is part 2 of Space Battleship Yamato, which unexpectedly hit last year. Like its predecessor, Farewell is directed by Toshio Masuda, under the supervision of Yoshinobu Nishizaki. The World War II battleship Yamato is converted into a space battleship. The main focus of the previous film was the battle against the Gamilas faction that was plotting an invasion of the earth. Part 2 begins several years after Yamato‘s return to Earth.

The space invaders are temporarily suppressed, and peace returns to Earth. One day, some years later, something seems to be happening again in the distant universe. This is caught by telepathy. Invaders are on the rise again. But the battleship Yamato is no longer available. She has been working hard since World War II, fighting the Gamilas, and is in bad shape. Even so, what kind of space battleship other than the Yamato is available at this time of emergency? It seems that Yamato is going to go out to battle again (!) after its old body is whipped into shape (?)

The enemy this time is said to be the White Comet, and the battle with Yamato will be even more powerful than the previous one. This is the story from the publicity department. As of the end of April, they were still shooting the film, so we don’t know any more details.

The previous film was also released in other countries, and “Japan’s Yamato” is quite famous. But after Star Wars, we will have to be even more creative. Let’s cheer “Yamato do your best!” and look forward to the release of the film.

June 1: Manga Shonen, July issue

Hot on the heels of Animage #1, Manga Shonen delivered a 9-page article that gave everyone another big taste of what was coming. That new Earth battleship was finally named (Andromeda), and the premise of the story was laid out with more detail than anyone had yet seen.

A reporter then took over, describing a visit to the production office in May where an interview was conducted with the animation directors and messages were communicated from both Leiji Matsumoto and Yoshinobu Nishizaki.

Read the article here.

June 15: High 1 Course magazine, July issue

The next magazine hit was in another student digest, this one aimed at 10th graders. It offered a generous 10-page article that hit the production highlights that were known so far, including new songs that would be recorded and the fact that a pipe organ was being used in the score. There was also a synopsis of the story, astonishingly detailed and loaded with spoilers. Any fan who read it on sight probably regretted it afterward.

The last two pages gave readers an illustrated look at the animation production process with Yamato as its subject.

See all the pages here.

June 15: SF Anime Fantasy mook

Published by Shinshokan, this special issue of Paper Moon Magazine was a grab-bag of coverage for all sorts of fantasy-based titles from around the world with a healthy focus on Japanese anime and cinema. Star Wars was just about to be released in Japan, which explains the choice of cover art, but a 4-page article on Farewell was hot on its heels. It consisted of the exact same synopsis that appeared that same day in High 1 Course magazine, which almost certainly means it was written by Toei’s publicity department.

See the pages here.

June 25: Yamato Fan Club Magazine #4

At last, there it was. This was very likely the first place anyone saw the famous poster for Farewell to Yamato, painted by Yasuhiko Yoshikazu. This was going to be the last club magazine before the premiere, so it was packed with news about the May press conference, production tidbits, highlights from the first fan club meeting, a message from Nishizaki that included the words “why a third movie won’t be made,” and the first official announcement for Yamato 2, to premiere on TV October 7.

See the translated articles here.

See the entire magazine here.

June 26: Weekly Heibon Punch #717

As an observer of pop culture, this men’s magazine (published by Heibon Shuppan) turned its gaze upon Yamato more than once in the 1970s. This issue offered a glowing 4-page preview of Farewell to Yamato over a month before the movie arrived in theaters.

Read it here

June 29: Playcomic, July 13 issue

At the tail end of June, Playcomic got back into the Yamato game for the first time in nearly a year. Leiji Matsumoto had been a mainstay in this biweekly manga magazine since the start of 1975, and it became the launching pad for both Eternal Story of Jura (Aug 1976) and Space Pirate Captain Harlock (Jan 1977). The 5-page Yamato article in this issue was one of the first to feature the new material released by Toei.

See the article here.

Also included was a bonus poster giving us a good look at Matsumoto’s version of the famous Kodai/Yuki image.

July 1: Roadshow magazine, August issue

This issue contained Roadshow‘s first article on the film, a pre-release commentary by well-known film observer Kazukuni Kawahara.

Read it here.

There were other items of interest to be found in its pages as well, such as this sticker sheet bound into the first page…

…and a pair of ads to grab your attention. At left is a full-page promo for the first of two Roadshow books devoted to the movie. It indicates a publication date of July 28, but the book would be delayed to September 5. At right is a back cover ad for the film itself (placed by Toei) with the first appearance of what would become another enduring image.

July 1: Manga Shonen, August issue

A five-page article was built around the announcement of the Yamato Symphonic Concert series, which would soon give fans their first opportunity to hear a full-fledged live orchestral performance.

Read the article here.

July 1: Kinejun No. 738

If you could manage to pry your eyes off the cover of this issue of the biweekly Kinema Junpo magazine, you could find an account of the Farewell to Yamato press conference that took place on May 24.

Read it here.

July 1: ASCII magazine #13, July issue

The headline of this article read: The love and excitement of Yamato that microcomputer fans all over Japan have been waiting for!! Now, it comes back to life on a CRT screen!!

This unusual entry in the 1978 chronicles is one of the earliest crossovers between Yamato and home computing. We saw a previous encounter in January, but this one went a step farther, providing readers with coding to reproduce their own playable game derived from the battle with Goland, which had not yet been seen on a movie screen.

How did the ship fare against an 8-bit enemy? Read the article here.

July 3: Bouken Oh [Adventure King], August issue

As the home of Leiji Matsumoto’s serialized Farewell manga, you’d expect Bouken Oh to do something special, and they did. As soon as you opened the cover of this issue, you were greeted with a 2-sided foldout promoting the film.

Side A introduced Teresa, the crew, and the mecha of the EDF fleet

Side B did the same for the Comet Empire

July 8: Middle 1st Age, August issue

The student digest magazines were all over Yamato in July. This one (for 7th graders) carried a 7-page article with the story synopsis that had previously appeared in June publications and threw in some stills that hadn’t been seen yet. They also hit the main publicity points and listed the concert schedule for July.

See the article here.

July 10: Animage #2

With the movie premiere now less than a month away, Animage placed an easy bet by making Farewell to Yamato the cover story of their second issue, which appeared just over six weeks after their first (it would go monthly from here). The 16-page article was practically an art gallery with huge color stills, a brief report on the May press conference, and plenty of juicy story info.

Click here to see Animage #2’s complete coverage.

Meanwhile, back on the production side, voice recording for the movie ended just one day before this magazine was published and final editing sessions commenced the day after.

July 11: Middle 3rd Age, August issue

Another student digest (this one for 9th graders) picked up the extended story synopsis and combined it with production notes, some of which hadn’t been seen elsewhere yet.

See the 6-page article here.

July 13: Playcomic, July 27 issue

If you’d somehow missed the extended story synopsis that had appeared in multiple publications by this time, Playcomic gave you another opportunity. It was woven into a 5-page article that came with a bonus poster displaying Yasuhiko Yoshikazu’s painted Yamato from the main movie poster.

See the article here.

July 15: Rendezvous Comic #3

Since the editors of OUT were fans who turned pro practically overnight, it’s easy to imagine them as kids suddenly put in charge of a candy factory. This is as good an explanation as any for the rapid debut of their second and third publications, Rendezvous and Rendezvous Comic, a bi-monthly manga anthology that launched in the spring of ’78. Naturally, it carried a few Yamato articles as well. The third issue was released just before the OUT magazine shown above and contained a new interview with Yoshinobu Nishizaki.

Read it here.

July 15: Movie Information magazine

This tabloid-format magazine from Kokusaijohosha specialized in big photos on big pages, but only a single page was devoted to Farewell, probably on the assumption that they didn’t have a large anime readership. The text was split into a brief story synopsis and this commentary:

This is a sequel to last year’s big hit, Space Battleship Yamato. In Part 2, the entire universe faces an unprecedented crisis due to the appearance of a giant white comet. The story is about a group of young space soldiers, including Susumu Kodai, who fight a courageous battle on board Yamato in defiance of the Earth Federation.

The producers were determined to make a film that would be as good as Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The film takes on new challenges, including the use of a pipe organ for the villain’s theme. It features the work of popular lyricist Yu Aku and fashion designer Yukiko Hanai.

Yoshinobu Nishizaki is in charge of planning, original draft, screenplay, and general production. Leiji Matsumoto is the general director of designs. The film is directed Toshio Masuda with music by Hiroshi Miyagawa. The voice cast includes Kei Tomiyama as Kodai, Yoko Asagami, Hideo Nakamura, Goro Naya, and others from the previous film. The cast is expected to be joined by a big star in the role of a new character this time.

July 28: OUT magazine, September issue

Animage had the flashiest coverage, but all the hardcore otaku knew OUT was where they would find the articles they really wanted, written by fans for fans. After the Space Battleship Yamato issues put the magazine on the map in 1977, the inmates took over the asylum and pursued their hobby for all it was worth.

Their continuing love of all things Yamato was on full display here in more than 30 pages of articles containing mecha design art, product reviews, character guides, and interviews with the cast and crew.

Click here to see OUT‘s complete coverage.

Click below to read individual articles:
Fashion Designer Yukiko Hanai
Voice actor interviews
Producer’s message

July 31: Pretty Pretty magazine, July issue

As suggested by the title, this one was a standout from the crowd, a girls’ manga anthology with articles on popular anime productions. Farewell to Yamato got a whopping 20 pages of coverage in this issue, which included an account of the May press conference/fan club meeting, a revealing outline of the movie’s plot, and interesting production notes.

The truly distinguishing factor of this magazine’s coverage was its editorial style, which was aimed directly at girls and thus looked at the movie from a slightly different angle. “Even if you don’t like mecha” read the telling headline of one article, which examined the story from a feminine perspective.

Click here to see Pretty Pretty‘s complete coverage.

Click below to read individual articles:
Press conference report
Fan club meeting report
Story notes for Girls
Production notes

Trivia note: the publisher of Pretty Pretty was a company called Major Enterprise. This same company handled the publicity campaign for the 1977 Yamato movie.

August 1: Roadshow, September issue

In the last issue before the film’s premiere, Roadshow gave Farewell plenty of attention, including an image boost on the fan page (upper right). See it larger here.

This prominent 2-page spread appeared just a few pages in with the following text:

This is the sequel to the hit Space Battleship Yamato, which depicted love and romance in the vastness of space. In the previous film, Yamato played an active role in saving the Earth, and this time it sets out on a difficult battle to save the entire universe.

After receiving a message from Teresa, a beautiful girl from the planet Telezart, Kodai, Sanada, Shima, and other former Yamato warriors learn of danger in the universe. The new enemy is the White Comet Empire led by Emperor Zordar.

Along with Yamato, battle scenes dynamically develop between the new battleship Andromeda and its powerful enemies. The theme of fighting for “love” is powerfully and romantically expressed in this film. In 1978, the year of the science fiction boom, this is the most promising work of space animation.

(Source: Office Academy / Distributor: Toei)

The spread included promotion (at far left) for the first of Roadshow‘s two books dedicated to the film. The ad says it was published on July 28, but the date on the book itself stubbornly reads “September 5,” so we’ll stick with that.

The main feature was a 4-page interview, in which film journalist Kazuko Komori caught Executive Producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki at the very end of production. He spoke about the evolution of Yamato up to this point, his own early career, and his ambitions for the near future, which bore almost no resemblance to what would actually happen.

Read the interview here.

August 1: Terebiland, September issue

Terebiland‘s role in Yamato promotion was greatly reduced since the days when it trumpeted the first TV series and featured its own manga adaptation, but it was still in there swinging with this 2-page primer for the upcoming film.

August 1: ASCII, issue #14

Yamato‘s second consecutive appearance in this magazine for home computer hobbyists was accompanied by another game that reproduced a scene from the movie for Japan’s first home computer system. This was the TK-80 BS (Basic Station) by NEC, similar to the Commodore 64 in America.

A 4-page article included coding for the game in text form, which would have to be laboriously keyed in to reproduce the game on your own TK-80. Read the article here.

August 1: Kinejun #740

The last magazine to squeeze out a Farewell cover story prior to the August 5 premiere was this one. Fittingly, it was the first time an anime film became its cover story, and though the coverage inside wasn’t nearly as flashy as Animage, its editorial standard was far more sophisticated and penetrating.

Yoshinobu Nishizaki and Leiji Matsumoto were interviewed at length, both discussing aspects of the Yamato success story that hadn’t been reported before. Farewell to Yamato got a glowing early endorsement, and the screenplay was included for fans to read line-by-line…at least up to the scene in which Yamato took its first shot at the Comet Empire. They would have to visit their local theater to find out what happened next. (Or buy Kinejun #743 for the conclusion.)

Read the articles here:
Nishizaki interview
Matsumoto interview
Movie overview

August 2: Small 4th Age magazine, September issue

Obunsha’s student digest for 4th graders had something special inside: a 3-page article on the animation production process for Farewell to Yamato and a bonus DIY booklet to cut out and fold into a 16-page story synopsis.

See the pages from the article here.

August 3: Bouken Oh [Adventure King], September issue

The September issue of Bouken Oh put Yamato firmly on the cover and offered a pull-out card on the first page.

The other side of that card featured stills and the lyrics to From Yamato With Love, in case you wanted to follow along or sing them yourself.

An ad for a forthcoming book from Movie Terebi Magazine (and some other merch) was bound into Leiji Matsumoto’s third chapter of Farewell to Yamato manga. This 23-page installment continued the glacial pace of the story, only covering the revelation of Teresa’s message to Earth.

We can’t blame Matsumoto for not wanting to give away too much of the movie in advance, but all the pages published so far only covered the first 17 minutes of screen time. For his first Yamato manga, the same number of chapters covered half the story.

Finally, as if all that weren’t enough, the magazine came with this bonus “Anime Encyclopedia” poster. One side offered a brief overview of characters and mecha along with sheet music for the previously-unseen four-verse version of the Yamato theme (see it in full here). The other side artfully combined the two theatrical posters into a single vertical image.

August 5: Farewell to Yamato premiere

Anyone who didn’t hear about Farewell to Yamato on this day must have slept right through it. And anyone who had dismissed the clamor of the first movie as a mere fluke became a wrong-headed wrongmeister on the bullet train to wrongville.

Theater owners had been paying attention to the pre-publicity and knew they would be in for an assault, but even the advance sales of over half a million tickets did nothing to stem the tide. Hundreds of kids all over the country began to line up the day before, and their numbers swelled overnight into the thousands. The film opened at 133 theaters, many of which suddenly had to figure out how to accommodate overwhelming crowds.

Police and security guards were called into action at more than one venue, but by all accounts the hardest thing they had to deal with was the sweltering August heat. This all-night vigil was a product of pure passion that harbored no disruptive intent whatsoever. If there was any conflict, it existed only in the minds of fans who chose to spend the night outside and miss the TV broadcast of the first movie.

Newspapers gleefully reported all of this the next day. Read a handful of articles here.

August 5: Farewell to Yamato program book

The first publication fully dedicated to the film had such a massive print run that copies can still be easily found today in collector’s shops all over Japan. This 28-page full color magazine was loaded with artwork and stills (more in one place than had yet been seen) and text features that added more data to the growing library.

See the book from cover to cover here

Read the text features:
Introduction and Producer’s Message
Staff biographies
Production notes

August 10: Women Themselves magazine

The greatest triumph of the 1977 Yamato movie was deep penetration into Japanese media, as evidenced by coverage in the dozens of magazines that had never before given any attention to anime (see them here). The trend most definitely continued in 1978 in such unlikely periodicals as this one, a weekly women’s magazine published by Kobunsha.

It featured a well-rounded 8-page piece that introduced the film, examined the animation production process, and interviewed Nishizaki himself.

Read the article here.

August 10: Animage magazine #3

The third issue of Animage didn’t hit the newsstands until 5 days after the movie premiere, but it included an article written literally one day before. On August 4, an Animage reporter sat down with three enthusiastic fans to get their final thoughts before the big day. A discussion about their hopes and expectations for the film was interspersed with comments from the voice actors about the growth of their characters.

Read the article here.

A foldout poster (above right) was also included.

August 20: Rendezvous magazine #6

Rendezvous was OUT‘s companion magazine, an ambitious bi-monthly that debuted in December 1977 in the midst of the post-Yamato anime boom. It was larger and more colorful than OUT, dedicated to anime and SF/fantasy films with an emphasis on tokusatsu (live-action special effects).

This issue offered a two-part article in the form of a discussion that (A) provided the first critical comparison with Star Wars, and (B) reviewed the climax of the Symphonic Concert tour in Tokyo on July 29.

Read the article here.

August 25: Yamato Fan Club Magazine #5

A roundup of the whole summer media storm could be found in the pages of Fan Club Magazine #5. The amazing story of premiere day was told, which included some exclusive photos and personal testimonials from those who were there.

Readers were also treated to song lyrics, a story synopsis, photos from the symphonic concerts, and a sampling of Q&A sessions with Yoshinobu Nishizaki at various fan club meetings.

Click here to read the articles.

August 28: OUT magazine, October issue

The last word on premiere month came from the magazine by fans for fans, which included a 2-page article discussing the Symphonic Concert and the night of August 4. Here’s what they had to say…

Yamato was the strongest again this summer

As we informed you in our August issue, Nagoya City Hall was the starting point for the All Night Nippon Special Tour: Symphonic Concert Space Battleship Yamato on July 5. It moved on to Hiroshima on July 7, Sapporo on the 14th, Fukuoka on the 17th, Osaka on the 18th, and Shinjuku on the 29th and 30th. As a member of the press corps for OUT magazine, I attended the final performance at 1:00 pm.

I arrived at 11:30, and there was already a long line snaking around the theatre. The doors would open one hour before showtime. At 12:20 the doors were still closed, but Yoshinobu Nishizaki emerged at a special meeting place to sign autographs. The doors finally opened at 12:45 and the curtain went up on time at 1:00.

The first part was devoted to Yamato part 1. A scene digest was projected behind the orchestra, which was conducted by Hiroshi Miyagawa. This and a terrific performance by Nobuo Hara Sharps & Flats reproduced the world of Space Battleship Yamato beautifully. The program followed the order of the Symphonic Suite Yamato LP. The projected picture sometimes overwhelmed the song and dance activity on stage, but the overall impression was tremendous. It was quite worth seeing. The musicians were interesting, particularly Hiroshi Miyagawa and his random, funny shouts.

During a 15-minute intermission, the lobby was crowded and frenetic, filled with enthusiastic fans wearing Kodai t-shirts. LPs and other Yamato items were for sale.

The second half was devoted to Farewell to Yamato, featuring a movie trailer, music pieces entitled Andromeda and White Comet, and an appearance by Mr. Nishizaki. Movie production had just been completed on the 29th, and the music scoring was being worked out scene by scene. Nishizaki gave an explanation of what would happen in ‘Yamato Part 2′ and introduced another new piece called Hero’s Hill.

Teresa Forever was performed by Isao Sasaki, and we were treated to a 3-way conversation with the singer, Nishizaki and Miyagawa (peppered with comedy and abuse) about how it was recorded. After the orchestra played the ‘Dessler Trilogy,’ Directors Toshio Masuda and Leiji Matsumoto were introduced to a standing ovation. After the last number (Great Love), the officials were presented with bouquets and the Yamato theme was played as an encore.

I began to worry that there wasn’t enough time left to ready the film for its premiere on August 5th, but indeed the lines were already meandering around Shinjuku’s Toei Palace theater at 11pm the night before. A policeman came over and insisted that people under 18 were not allowed to line up that late. He was about to send them home, but three of the theater managers talked him out of it. With such things going on, they decided to open the doors the next morning at 5:30am.

Farewell to Yamato easily surpassed Star Wars this summer, and everyone who was there at sunrise on opening day received free animation cels.

August 30: Seventeen magazine No. 38

Almost four weeks after the Farewell to Yamato premiere, this weekly magazine from Shueisha published an unusual four-page article titled Requiem for Farewell to Yamato which was exactly that; the sort of hearfelt sermon you would expect to hear at a funeral, thanking the ship and crew for their sacrifice.

Read it here.

September 1: Roadshow, October issue

Behind what has to be the most adorable Carrie Fisher cover ever published, you could find a generous 13-page article on all the biggest SF films from 2001 to Farewell, and more fan art on the reader’s page.

See it all here.

September 3: Bouken Oh [Adventure King], October issue

Yamato had a commanding presence on the cover, fronting for a five-page article that can be seen here.

September 5: Mainichi Shimbun article

On this day, the Mainichi Shimbun [newspaper] published a dense and well-informed full-page editorial on the Farewell to Yamato phenomenon with anecdotes and analysis of what made the movie such a strong emotional experience, and how it connects to the original battleship.

Read the article here.

September 9: Middle 1st Age magazine, October issue

Obunsha’s student digest for 7th graders deserves special recognition for a 5-page article that marks an important point in Yamato history. It started with a synopsis of Farewell‘s climax (which had been held back as a spoiler until now), then presented a short message from Yoshinobu Nishizaki in which he stated for the record that there would NEVER, EVER be a Yamato Part 3.

Then the magazine added an unexpected followup: ideas from fans for Yamato Part 3. What did they think could be done next? Find out here.

September 15: Farewell to Yamato Roman Album

After the debut of their first Roman Album a year earlier, Tokuma Shoten published roughly one volume a month with trendsetting coverage of anime classics like Cyborg 009, Mighty Atom, and Mazinger Z. Volume 11 (which ran 112 pages) marked their first return to a franchise and also demonstrated how far they had evolved in a year.

Gone was any hint of children’s publishing. Dustjackets were now the norm, along with bound-in collector cards and pinups. The photostory had replaced gallery-style illustrations, and significant space was given over to staff comments and making-of coverage. New material was also being generated to enhance the value of the book, like character flow charts and a poster (above right). In other words, it was even stronger evidence that the wall between the creators and the audience was breaking down.

On the other hand, if you’re wondering why it had such a lackluster cover, there was a reason.

As seen in the photos above, the initial concept was to diecut a window out of the dustjacket to reveal an image underneath. There were slightly different styles between the first two press runs, but the feature was eliminated after that. This was probably due to cost and complexity, but it was just as well since (as you can see in these sample photos) the window turned out to be a damage magnet. It’s also interesting to note that the Animage tie-in logo was dropped from later editions.

Read articles from the Roman Album here.

September 15: Kinejun No. 743

Among the many firsts that cemented Space Battleship Yamato into anime history was the participation of a highly-respected live-action filmmaker. And it wasn’t just any filmmaker, it was Director Toshio Masuda, who could be described as Japan’s Martin Scorsese. Masuda was Yoshinobu Nishizaki’s first choice to direct Series 1, but he was too busy with his latest gritty crime drama, so he took a consultant role instead.

He came back to edit the series down into what became the 1977 Yamato movie, then stayed on to help develop and write Farewell. That made him an ideal subject to interview in this issue of the long-lived movie magazine Kinejun, which also included the rest of the screenplay that began in issue 741.

As a director, Masuda had some very direct things to say from his own perspective. Read the interview here.

October 1: Asahi Shimbun article

The first media blip of the month was a memorable one. The style section of the Asahi Shimbun newspaper did fans the favor of publishing Fashion Designer Yukiko Hanai’s pattern for Yuki Mori’s beloved daywear. It was a full-legged version that could presumably be cut down to skirt length. This may be the first instance of officially authorized cosplay by a production studio.

October 1: Manga Shonen, November issue

The last of Manga Shonen‘s 1978 Yamato coverage was tucked into another state-of-anime article that gave fans the spotlight. It was titled “Reader’s Choice Best Animation” and reported on a popularity poll taken from over 6,000 entries. How did Yamato fare? Find out here.

October 1: Roadshow, November issue

Fans were treated to a four-page pictorial from Farewell to Yamato that included news of Yamato 2, to debut in two weeks.

See the article here.

Owing to publishing lag time, this was the first issue to include popularity poll results from the month of August. In the top ten movie list, Star Wars and Saturday Night Fever took the top two slots, followed by Farewell to Yamato in third place. Over in the poll for favorite TV shows, a rerun of Yamato Series 1 scored amazingly high at number 4.

October 25: Fan Club Magazine #6

The cover feature for this 16-page issue was something no one else could offer, an insider’s look at the production studio accompanied by staff comments and the obligatory Nishizaki interview. Read it here.

Also to be found in its pages was a synopsis of episodes 1-3, a roundup of Farewell newspaper coverage, Yamato 2 characters and mecha, fan mail, and even a profile of the fan club office complete with a map showing how to find it in person. (It was a gentler time.) The back cover offered lyrics for Yamato 2‘s end theme, Teresa Forever.

November 1: Roadshow, December issue

It would still be another month before Roadshow magazine started to cover Yamato 2, but they had a little bit to offer in this issue. Most noticeable was a full-page ad (above right) for their second Farewell mook, due out later in the month.

There was also a short interview with Kodai’s voice actor Kei Tomiyama (read it here) and the results of a reader poll that put Farewell in the number 1 spot for top ten movies, leading both Saturday Night Fever and Star Wars for the first time.

November 14: High 1st Course, December issue

With 1978 edging toward its finish line, Gakken’s student digest magazines for 10th graders ran an article titled Once More Fever ’78 to provide a lookback at all the major events. This included a 2-page examination of favorite anime with Farewell to Yamato at the top of the list.

Read the article here.

December 9: Middle 2nd Age, January issue

Obunsha’s student digest magazine for 8th graders announced the return of Farewell to Yamato to theaters for the first revival screenings since it closed in October. They celebrated the occasion with a 6-page article titled You too can learn from Susumu Kodai’s way of life!

It was a well-crafted overview of Kodai’s emotional journey through both Part 1 and Part 2, punctuated by comments from well-known singers and actors. It was followed by a 2-page Yamato quiz made up of 26 questions. According to the magazine, if you couldn’t answer 20 or more, you weren’t a true fan.

Ready to put that to the test? Read the article here.

Postscript: March 1980

Space Battleship Yamato 2 Roman Album

Tokuma Shoten, March 1980

Nearly a year after the conclusion of Yamato 2, Tokuma Shoten gave it the Roman Album treatment in volume 31 of their acclaimed series. Since it sprang from the same well as Farewell to Yamato, there was plenty of crossover coverage to be found. For example, a 16-page article titled “Document ’74-’80” presented a nice roundup of Yamato‘s history up to that point, which started with the development of Series 1 and went all the way through The New Voyage. Be Forever Yamato, referred to at the time as “Part III,” was in production at the time this book appeared.

Read the Farewell to Yamato segments of this article here.

Also to be found was a collection of staff essays that included all sorts of tidbits and personal observations about the entire phenomenon. Those that pertain to Yamato 2 can be read here.

The rarest of these essays was written by Director Toshio Masuda, who therefore gets the final word in the Farewell to Yamato Time Machine:

Yamato and I

Toshio Masuda (Director)

My career in animation started when I first made use of it in the film Ningen Kakumei II (Human Revolution II). I tried to visualize the origin of life at the end of the film and considered animation as the best means for that purpose. To learn about animation, I watched Walt Disney’s Fantasia and it stunned me. I was deeply impressed that such fantastic images could be achieved merely with moving cartoons.

Then Mr. Nishizaki offered to let me direct the Space Battleship Yamato TV series, but I was shooting another film at that time, so I could not seize the opportunity. I only helped establish the framework of the story. I was fascinated by the idea of a huge battleship traveling in space and also by the grand theme of the salvation of mankind. So I really missed the opportunity.

When the first series of Yamato was over, another offer came from Mr. Nishizaki to direct a theatrical version by re-editing the episodes of the TV series. Fortunately I was free this time, so I grabbed the chance.

However, to make a 2-hour movie out of 26 episodes (which ran for 13 hours) turned out to be a tough job. To simply abbreviate the original does not make a drama at all. You almost need to prepare an entirely new script. Moreover, my version made Mr. Nishizaki almost cry. While previewing it, he was continuously berating me for cutting this part or that part. I realized that for him cutting the original was like cutting himself.

In tears, he begged me not to cut certain scenes, and all I could do was tell him that a movie version could not be made otherwise. To persuade him was no easy task, for I was greatly moved by his passion. He said he was willing to take any loss of profit in distribution and promotion by making the movie longer. He even said he would be satisfied with a version that could be only be distributed as a late night program. The only thing on his mind, it seems, was to not let down the fans.

It is my personal belief that a film is born with its own fate. In the case of Yamato, we can say that the first series had a very difficult delivery. But each character was born with a strong personality. For example, Okita is a veteran samurai. Kodai and Shima are young samurai. Yuki is a Yamato nadesh’ko (a Japanese woman with traditional virtues). These characters made for a strong drama. I was convinced that it would eventually be a huge success and it only needed time to ripen. This is what I call the fate of Yamato. Mr. Nishizaki’s patience and uncompromising stand eventually led Yamato to full bloom.

Then, we moved on to its sequel, Farewell to Yamato. We made a big deal about what should be its main theme. I insisted we make it something like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and its message of “We are not alone.” Somewhere in the universe, there must be other beings, and we can work with them to make this world more peaceful and enjoyable. Finally, we decided “love that infuses the universe” would be the main theme for the next Yamato movie.

In live-action, actors act and a director directs them. This means that the world of cinema is governed by the principles of realism. On the other hand, the world of animation is founded totally on fantasy. Nothing is impossible, and we can expand our fancies as much as we want. We have unlimited freedom. It was a totally amazing experience to participate in this kind of filmmaking.

To direct Yamato was a continuous challenge to my imagination. I learned how to develop a core idea. It also led me to the profound recognition that I wanted to be a filmmaker not only in the field of cinema but also in animation, where one is required to expand their imagination.

One last word to the young people who watch Yamato: I would like you to be like Kodai and Yuki, both of whom love and fight with equal sincerity.

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