Star Blazers Lambda, Year One

The word first went out in February 2020 from the head office of Yamato Crew that a completely new story was heading our way under the working title of Space Battleship Yamato Next: Star Blazers Lambda. It would be a manga by Ryuko Azuma, published online and free for all. Following in Gundam’s footsteps, it takes place in its own world, separate and distinct from the Yamato we know. The series launched in June and has been in flight ever since.

In that time, the story has shown very little overlap with the Space Battleship Yamato we all know and love, and when Exec Producer Shoji Nishizaki first discussed the project he admitted that it was going to be very different but that he had faith in the author to tell a good story. And Azuma has certainly acquitted himself as an intelligent, progressive storyteller even if his work turns out to be Yamato in name only.

Below we round up everything that occurred over the first year of publication, including lots of material not seen in English until now.



Part 1: The Warmup

February 2020: first look

From Star Blazers/Yamato fan club magazine #6:

Headlines on left side:
• The author is the spirited up-and-coming manga artist Ryuko Azuma!
• Mecha design by the familiar Junichiro Tamamori of the Yamato series!
• The enemies approaching Yamato are the mysterious giant life forms Seireness!
• And the main character who takes on Yamato…is an elementary schoolkid!?!?

Urgent Bulletin: Completely new original Yamato launch!

Comic series scheduled to start at the end of May

A completely new story appears in the Space Battleship Yamato series. The working title is Space Battleship Yamato Next: Star Blazers Lambda, a completely original story with new characters and a new worldview. It’s a spirited story created and drawn by up-and-coming SF manga artist Ryuko Azuma, populated by new characters, new mecha designs, and a depth of Star Blazers, so please pay attention by all means!

Story

In 2099, the human race was suddenly attacked by Seireness [Say-re-ness], unknown giant life forms that emerged from space and killed more than a billion people. Five years later, a boy named Yu who lost his mother Maya to the Seireness turns 12 years old and aims for the frontline base at Jupiter as a cadet for Topness, who oppose the Seireness fleet. Can he clear the launch test? Can he defeat the enemy who claimed his mother? In the midst of this, Seireness launches an attack after five years of silence. People are horrified by their beautiful but ugly appearance…


Footnote: Character designs and manga scenes are works in progress. Please note that they differ from the finished version.

Ryuko Azuma profile

Manga artist and photographer from Iwate Prefecture. Debut work: Strong Arm Adam (four volumes from Shonen Jump Comics). His deep SF worldview attracts attention. Lives with his cat near Koshoji Temple.

Serialization is expected to begin at the end of May at Kadokawa’s webcomic site Comic NewType. More details to be announced in the next issue of Yamato magazine. Don’t miss it!

Follow Ryuko Azuma on Twitter here.
See links and images on Google here.
See the first chapter of Strongarm Adam here.
Find Ryuko Azuma publications on Amazon Japan here.

Images below found on Ryuko Azuma’s Twitter page


March 2020: Ryuko Azuma on Twitter

On March 8, Mr. Azuma posted a color image of the main character with the following text:

Since the start is in late May I didn’t plan to announce it yet, but I will announce it with momentum. I am in charge of a new Space Battleship Yamato series. The image is the main character, Yu Yamato. He’s a sixth grade boy. Thank you.

On the 15th, Azuma followed up with additional character designs, but since none of them have appeared so far, we can probably assume they were his own takes on the classic characters.

See larger versions at the March 15 post here.


May 2020: Star Blazers/Yamato fan club magazine Vol. 7

The debut of the manga was pushed back by a month, but everyone got a taste in this issue of the club magazine, which included an interview, mecha designs, and commentary. This material was translated for an article titled Introducing Star Blazers Lambda, which you can read here.



Part 2: The Chapters

We kept up with each chapter in the monthly reports, offering full descriptions with translations of significant dialogue. Simultaneously, Ryuko Azuma published monthly production memos on his blog here. Below is a link to each chapter and the memo for each one in blue text.

Chapters 1 & 2

Published June 10, 2020

Yu Yamato arrives at Vimana station in orbit around Jupiter. He is a member of a small group that was identified in a game called Star Sailor as a candidate for an elite pilot group called Topness. Composed entirely of teenagers, they are shocked to find an elementary school kid in their midst who not only passes the final test, he instantly finds himself thrown into battle against the alien Seireness that ravaged the Earth five years earlier. The Topness launch in the NerfThis fleet, seven ships with their own specialized weaponry. Yu, for example, wields an experimental cannon called a Wave-Motion Gun…

See chapter 1 here. See chapter 2 here.

Production Memo

There were three things that kept coming up in chapters 1 and 2. I spent a lot of time trying to figure them out one by one.

• What is a space-time crystal?

The space-time crystal is the main character behind the first chapter. The concept was shaky until the first chapter was ready, so I couldn’t explain it well in the story. I had a vague idea that it was an unknown object that emitted high energy according to superphysical laws, through feedback with Topness.

By reading various books, I have come to understand the micro universe concept. It’s another universe within this universe, crystallized by time crystals. That solidified the idea. The experiment conducted at Deus was to release the original space-time crystal and collide it with high energy particles (axions?) to create a copy, a small universe.

But I was like, “What are you saying?” I needed an easy-to-understand explanation. So, I went with a “four-dimensional crystalline body that adds a time axis to a three-dimensional crystal.” This is a simple yet unknown object, and I was able to explain it in one sentence. However, since it is Yamato, I thought about using “wave crystal” instead of “space-time crystal.” But it’s not waves, it’s space-time, so people still couldn’t understand it.

However, in a timely manner, Nikkei Science published a feature article on time crystals. So I settled on “space-time crystals.” The explanation tends to be long, but Laine says it in one sentence and it’s rhythmical, so I like it.

• High school students (Yu was originally a high school student)

The main character, Yu, was originally a high school student, but I kept asking myself, “Do you think a high school student would want revenge for his mother’s death 10 years earlier?”

I had been working on the script without being able to solve the problem, but I had to make a bold change to the story. So I changed Yu to an elementary school student, and he became a trickster who stirred up the story with his contradictory personality. I wondered if it would work.

I was thinking that since the other Topness pilots had unique personalities, the protagonist would be a character with no personality who would stand out from the others. With Yu becoming an elementary school student, the protagonist became a different image from Amuro (from Gundam) and Shinji (Evangelion). The story is the same, but Yu moves from place to place and becomes a character that is easy to relate to.

• In hit anime such as Gundam and Eva, drama comes from the conflict before boarding the plane [mecha]

In the second chapter, Linne is the main character, and it’s not a drama about the hero’s struggle to get on the plane, but about the heroine’s struggle to get off the plane. The reason for this is that “heroine” instead of “protagonist” is a technique that is not used very often.

Linne’s principle action is to protect Yu. “Then shouldn’t she go with Yu as soon as he goes out?” But Linne has her own reasons for not wanting to get on board, so it’s a game of chance with Jones. Linne is the tactical counter to the Aria-type enemy, and Yu cannot function without her.

Jones wins this time, but a buddy feeling comes out between Linne and Yu, and I think it’s a successful direction. From here on, the power game will continue between Linne and the underworld organization that Jones belongs to.


Chapter 3

Published July 10, 2020

The day after their first battle with the invading Seireness, the members of Topness recover on the space station Vimana and we learn more about who they are as they mix it up with each other. Meanwhile, a shocking discovery is made after Seireness remnants are analyzed.

See the chapter here.

Production Memo

This was a well-received chapter. It’s not a flashy chapter with battles, but I got the script almost right the first time. I’m pretty good at this kind of landing.

It’s a briefing story, according to my theory. I should have given an explanation of Seireness and NerfThis, but when I started drawing, the rhythm was not good, so I moved NerfThis to chapters 1 and 2. I moved the Seireness stuff to the conversation on the research ship.

• The conflict between Hugo and Yu

In terms of the script, Hugo is the gatekeeper, the first wall that stands in the way of the main character. In Star Wars, it’s Han Solo. He’s the one who asks Luke, “Are you serious about going into space?”

The chapter that shapes Hugo is taken from [soccer star] Zidane of France. He’s considered a hero of France, but if he didn’t become one, he would just be an immigrant. I read in an interview that he has a complicated situation where he is not treated as a Frenchman.

Hugo is from France, but after Deus fell, he spent several years in a refugee camp for immigrants. On the surface, he seems like a jerk, picking on Yu and Marina. But why would he do that? I thought it would be good to have a complex character with the ambivalent personalities of a Frenchman and an immigrant. I was able to understand Hugo as a person. It’s really hard to make a character advance or emote without that.

I think it’s important to keep this in mind even if it doesn’t show up in the story. I’m going to depict the past of all the Topness.

• What is the purpose of Seireness?

I’m still not sure what Seireness is up to. I’m having Alexei try to figure it out. It’s not right to just intercept an invading enemy without having doubts.

The conversation in the spaceship contains difficult words and the lines are long, so I tried not to bore the audience with the pictures. I moved the camera here and there, changed the angle, and directed the flow to improve the rhythm. I’m glad I put it in zero gravity!

Also, Abbey is a character who has the same point of view as the reader. If the reader is only given conversations between two smart characters, they will be left behind. She’s the Togusa (from Public Safety Section 9 in Ghost in the Shell), the normal person who explains things to the reader in a concise manner. From here on, the two of them will pursue the mystery of Seireness.

• What kind of place is Vimana?

I had a lot of trouble figuring out what kind of place Vimanais, as the center of Topness’ life.

No one has ever lived at Jupiter, and it doesn’t feel like a resort. It’s not a tense, immaculate environment like in 2001, and I hate the crusty and sweaty atmosphere of the military (strict hierarchy and pressure from senior staff). Realistically, I thought it would be better to have an environment that puts as little burden on Topness as possible.

As a result, I decided to make it like a training camp. I was on the baseball team in junior high and high school, and it was like when we stayed at a ryokan (Japanese inn) for an away game. I had an important game the next day, but I felt light and happy, and it flowed well.

Basically, Topness is a group of kids who like to move their bodies, so I thought a pool would be a good place to start. It would be good to have a shot of them jumping into the pool with Jupiter in the background, to see how much scientific power surrounds them.

I had to show Star Sailor and Linne in a sequence somewhere, and I think I got it right. I think I was able to fit in the close relationship between the girls. All three of them are unique and cute, and their ages and places of origin are borderless. I’m hoping for a future where there is no racism.

Also, as a side note, when I laid it all out, Linne didn’t show up! It was a scene I didn’t really need, but I thought it would be bad if the heroine didn’t show up at all. So I hurriedly added three more scenes. Once I got it running, Linne gave a great performance. I think it was great that she was able to say the line, “I will protect Yu no matter what.”


Chapter 4

Published August 14, 2020

Intrigue runs deep with the introduction of opaque agendas and the mysterious Seireness aliens arrive for a second battle against Topness…which doesn’t go nearly as well as the first.

See the chapter here.

Production Memo

This is a Hugo chapter.

Hugo, who played the role of a gatekeeper in chapter 3, is also feeling uncomfortable with his life. In Lambda, all the Topness feel this. I’ve been told many times that It’s kind of a rut, but I want to portray a human drama, and I wanted people to know what kind of person Hugo really is. Ultimately, I think I want to portray a person, not a story.

I brought out Nirvana, the organization that Alexei is after. Chancellor Cardinus is trying to accomplish a different goal with Jones where the Seireness are concerned. The important thing is Linne, and the other Topness are letting Linne speak as a frame to protect her. What Cardinus is up to will be revealed much later on.

He’s wearing a skeleton mask, though. I was asked to differentiate between Cardinus and Jones, and I couldn’t change their personalities, so I changed their appearances. Cardinus is also Mexican-American, so the image is the Mexican Day of the Dead. I hope I was able to make him mysterious and extremely suspicious.

The cocoon of intelligence is introduced. This is a keyword that has been at the center of this story since the beginning. I’ve been struggling with how to deal with this cocoon of intelligence for a long time, and I won’t reveal what it is for a while yet, but I’m sure those with good intuition will find out along the way.

Also, I was reminded that Marina doesn’t really look good in battle. She doesn’t have a lot of offensive power, but she can save the fleet in a pinch many times. It’s a very difficult role that requires good reflexes and a good grasp of the situation. I like her clever personality, which is a bit different from other characters that have been portrayed so far. She doesn’t care too much about the Topness rankings, and protects Hugo, whom she hates, by making quick decisions.

(By the way, Marina is also bullied by Hugo, just like Yu, though she pushes back because of her personality.) In the beginning of the project, I had an image of a character like Aska (from Evangelion), but since Hugo had that image, I settled on the current character.

The next chapter will be about Marina. Why did Marina come to Jupiter? What exactly is she trying to protect? I’m very happy to be able to tell you! Please root for her!


Chapter 5

Published September 11, 2020

This chapter stays clear of the battlefield, but brings us some interesting details on the lives of our crew, further developments in the Seireness DNA discovery, and another twist in the backstory of Yu Yamato’s mother.

See the chapter here.

Production Memo

This one has a rather unusual structure.

The story was originally intended to handle the Marina and Nina moment, but due to the number of stories, I had to include a Seireness moment and, since it’s the end of the first volume, the Linne and Maya moment. But it’s still a compact 31 pages, and the characters are lively. I’m thinking to myself, “How did I end up with this chapter?” I wonder why it turned out like this.

As for Marina’s chapter, this is not about the year 2100, but about the problems of the Inuit in the present day. Inuit are Mongoloid, and my bloodstream probably comes from the same place (Iwate), but I didn’t know much about them.

Marina originally started out as a pilot for a battleship with a cooling system attack. Then I thought an Inuit background might be a good choice. However, when I researched the Inuit, I was saddened to find out that they have many problems due to the sudden influx of modern culture. Now they are in trouble because of their food culture and protests against seal hunting. No wonder Marina’s grandfather is so angry.

Inuit culture is also very interesting to study. In fact, the sunglasses we use every day were invented by Inuit. If you see a protester wearing sunglasses, let them know!

I had originally decided that Nina would meet Yu again at Jupiter, but I don’t know how to make Nina realize Yu was “her first love who used to play the same game.” It was a real challenge.

The script may seem simple, but any job that requires you to create something never done before is very strenuous. If you are a scriptwriter, you will understand the hardship. But the fact that the general public doesn’t notice is proof that it was a good script. Maybe this part will make scriptwriters go “hmmm.”

Seireness…

Well, I’m good at this area, so it’s not hard for me, but it’s difficult to understand!

That’s the problem. The solution is to break it down into understandable pieces and render appropriate pictures! This is part of the job. It’s a fun but complex process.

This is why I had Mifune bring coffee. Putting an extra element in a conversation scene adds a lot of choices to the camera work. It’s a good technique to learn if you’re drawing manga. If you imagine a version without coffee, you can see it. In fact, one of my staff members who has been working on this project since it was just words without pictures told me that it was much easier to read.

If you’re a manga artist, I think it’s a good idea to have a character hold something in their hand, whether it’s a ballpen or an iPhone. By the way, this is a tip from Ms. Yumi Tada.

Maya and Linne…

I had a lot of trouble with this one, but the majority voted that this concept was better, so I pushed through. In short, this chapter of mine is about overturning the premise I’ve been working on since the first chapter. So it’s more like a declaration of war. “You are entering the world of Lambda from here.” The entrance was like an assortment of science fiction works that you’ve seen somewhere, but this tells the reader that it’s another world going forward from here.

Maya did not die in an accident, but was killed by someone else. Linne was with Maya on Deus. Linne knows who killed Maya, and there is a reason why she can’t tell Yu about it.

And Linne was probably the first to kill a Seireness. How could she have done it without a battleship? And how could the killer know that Seireness was going to attack, and get Linne to do it? It’s a mystery that will be revealed by the middle of the story.

And then the story is overturned one more time. To be honest, I think a lot of screenwriters will be stunned when Lambda is over. It’s a complicated and difficult story, but I hope you will read it to the end. You won’t regret it!


Chapter 6

Published October 9, 2020

This is an all-action installment with another attack from Seireness. The pilots have to deal with a curve ball when the enemy brings a classic Gamilas tactic to the fray, and we learn a little more about Marina Fraser in the response.

See the chapter here.

Production Memo

This is a Marina recovery chapter. It’s only a short start, but I think it’s probably the highest quality story I’ve ever written. Marina is a strong, cute, and very cool girl. I’m sure there are not many characters like her. Chapter 6 was a real challenge for me.

Anyway, the Seireness in this one is very strong. I think it’s probably the worst class of Seireness to come. The concept is based on Overwatch‘s Reaper. I often play a tank, and this guy is very annoying to play against. Tanks basically defend the front line with their bodies, but Reapers can easily break through the front line with teleport and shoot you from behind at point blank range. They are also known as tank killers. If you don’t have an attacker to protect you, you will die quickly.

It hides in another dimension and suddenly appears, tearing apart the fleet and escaping. How do we defeat this thing?

First of all, Seireness needs to be able to see where we are, so we try to generate gravity. Of the four forces, only gravity leaks out into other dimensions.

At first I thought, “If they’re relying on gravity, why don’t we use gravity to counter them?” But then I thought that was weak. So first, I took out Second Sight. Then I destroyed Linne’s gravity sensor. But how would I reverse this pinch?

The clue was the Buster Machine 90 from Gunbuster 2. It was based on a fictional theory that time goes backward when the temperature exceeds absolute zero. I’ve read that gravity becomes a repulsive force when the temperature exceeds absolute zero, and that’s how I was able to defeat Seireness!

But the staff told me that Seireness wouldn’t appear. I still couldn’t defeat it! What would I do? Then it became, “Let’s feed it.” Ah, I finally beat it. I’m so tired….

I think it was a miraculous chapter where I accidentally found the way out and the story’s path became clear.

Marina and her mom are cute. It’s hard! But Marina overcame her grief! Thank God! Way to go, Marina! That was the chapter.

PS: Now that I think about it, Marina’s mother is the same character as Aisha. Maybe that’s why they’re so close.


Chapter 7

Published November 13, 2020

We jump back a year to see the beginning of the Topness program through the eyes of Nina Nelson, the first of the pilots. More interesting hints of the backstory dropped as we caught up with current events.

See the chapter here.

Production Memo

I got a request, so I’ll show you the flow of chapter 7.

(This production memo reproduces parts of the script, so the text has been incorporated into the chapter description.)


Chapter 8

Published December 11, 2020

Nina Nelson has a crisis of confidence at the worst possible time, an unusual attack from Seireness that threatens to overwhelm and destroy the NerfThis fleet.

See the chapter here.

Production Memo

I had a really hard time with chapter 8. At the end I laughed and said, “Why did I do this to myself?” There were too many Seireness and too many effects. I used up all the deadlines I had saved.

This is the chapter where Nina’s distancing herself from Yu and Topness based on her own assumptions. She couldn’t get to the other side of this soft, single curtain.

Yu held her and pulled her close. Nina didn’t grow up, she didn’t give up, she did her job as the leader of Topness. She defeated Seireness in an even more indirect way. I thought that Nina was really great… and that’s why I did it.

Also, surprisingly, Hugo was very active. He’s the one who has the most human-like weakness among the Topness. He seems to be popular among girls. There is a sense of fear that spreads, and I think this chapter became even more tense because of his despair.

The basic theme of Lambda‘s battle is the fear of a locked room. A locked room in infinite space? You may think space is big, but it’s a locked room for the author because it’s tightly packed with various restrictions.

Also, I really like the direction of the Wave-Motion Gun. But, well, I’m tired of drawing it. This is why I had to shortcut it, but I think some people might have been surprised.


Chapter 9

Published January 8, 2021

This intriguing chapter expands the world we’ve seen so far by bringing a controversial new AI fleet from Earth to fight the Seireness. As the characters experience mixed reactions to this unexpected turn, a new attack erupts with results no one could have predicted.

See the chapter here.

Production Memo

So, this is the Mifune chapter. It was not in the original plan, but I decided to add it at the strong request of the editor.

I’ve been working on the Mifune chapter for a while now, and I’ve lost the Nina chapter. Since there was no chapter for Nina, I couldn’t make sense of Nina’s battle chapter. I made chapter 7 in a hurry.

The Mifune chapters were created was because I was in a rut. I wanted to dig deeper into the characters and find a solution that only they could provide. The structure of the story has not changed, and Seireness is defeated. These chapters (9 and 10) were not that difficult to create, but the image people have of A.I. is fixed (or at worst, poor), so it’s easy to use it to bring tears to their eyes. Self-sacrifice by A.I. is a pattern that is often used.

The editor was happy that it turned out to be a great chapter, but it’s like a person who is fast being praised for being fast. I don’t think the ones that take a long time to make are the best ones.

I titled it “It’s Life,” but I wonder if A.I. is “life” at all. A.I. does not have a life span, and Mifune does not fear death. Rather, “What is death?” is also information for them, and Mifune wants the answer.

But Aisha thinks that Mifune is “life.” Isn’t it true that life has an end, and that’s why we are reminded of its importance? Is it true that an intelligence that lives forever is not “life” and has no value? Perhaps cats, dogs, and humans think that we’re animals that live forever. Doesn’t our “life” have value to Mifune?

In a later chapter, we learn that Aisha’s parents are veterinarians, and since she was around animals, she has been exposed to more death than any other Topness. This is why she is so sensitive. She can’t have Mifune on her ship’s A.I. because of her personality. This is why her role is healer and why she came to Jupiter when she was not supposed to.

Mifune is in a shared space where all information is synchronized at regular intervals. In that situation, the information you have is almost identical to everyone else. If you get a new body, you can go back to the state you saved from the backup. But each unshared piece of information is lost.

People are, after all, information. And so is Mifune. Do you think that Mifune has “life”? What is “life”? This is a story that asks that question.


Chapter 10

Published February 12, 2021

Vimana station is targeted by its own AI fleet, now hacked by the enemy Seireness. The Topness pilots are unable to take them down by brute force, so a much more subtle approach is required.

See the chapter here.

Production Memo

This is the Mifune recovery chapter.

When I draw a story, it sometimes links to reality. After I finished drawing it, my cat, who had been with me for 14 years, passed away. I think I might be Alexei.

The theme of this one is contact between two different A.I. I wanted to overturn the image that people have of A.I. As I mentioned in my previous series Strongarm Adam, most of the works with autonomous robots often put a spotlight on the robot. Many of them are about self-sacrifice, or about interacting with people (children, the elderly, etc.) and asking the question, “What is emotion and the heart?”

The theme of humans and A.I. has already been explored in Pluto. I thought I’d like to draw what would happen when two A.I. come into contact with each other.

In the same way that ethics and morals differ from country to country and person to person, there are countries that have created A.I.s that can pass the Turing Test.

I believe that A.I. is a child that is smarter than an adult, so to speak, with a personality that is different from humans. I believe that A.I. is not a different intelligence from humans, but a mirror, and that A.I. will dominate humans. I think it may be the choice of humans, not A.I., to destroy humanity.

What I struggled with this time was how to hack the A.I. ship’s system. And how does Mifune solve it? I got the idea for hacking from [novel series] Muso Passage, where the A.I. is trapped inside a simulation the size of a civilization. Perhaps a highly engineered simulation of reality could fool the A.I.

It’s not a butterfly’s dream, but with immersive VR, I don’t think people will be able to tell if they are in reality or in a virtual space. My current reality may be a virtual reality, or it may be a life replayed like a video by an advanced intelligence in a black hole. I may have already died tens of millions of years ago. I wonder what consciousness and soul are.

How does Mifune solve this? This is the result of thinking, “What would I do if I were Mifune?” It’s not a happy ending or a bad ending, it’s a personal choice made by Mifune. I’ve never seen this kind of science fiction before. I think it’s a story that was made possible by the fact that the issue of A.I. is now being discussed in reality.

They will continue to live in that virtual space semi-permanently. Mifune will continue to be there for the boy even though he lies. I was told by the editor, “I want you to make a story where the A.I. ship comes back and saves NerfThis in a pinch.

It’s because I think about the boy on the A.I. ship that I want to make a story where they live in a semi-permanent virtual space for an endless amount of time. I think Mifune’s eternal lie is more beautiful because it’s about the boy on the A.I. ship.

Not that I was aiming for this, but this story is the end of volume 2. If you’ve read up to this point, you’ll understand what I’m trying to portray here. It’s a universal, yet new story.

This story happened to be about me and my cat. I wish I could be with him forever, even if it’s in a virtual space.


Chapter 11

Published March 12, 2021

Everyone recovers from the battle and loss from the last chapter, and it just happens to be Halloween. As the Topness pilots enjoy a rare moment of fun, others dig deeper into the mystery of how Seireness and Earth people are related. Meanwhile, the secret organization Nirvana takes a step forward with their as-yet-unrevealed plan for domination.

See the chapter here.

Production Memo

This time it’s a “dance floor” story. It doesn’t deeply affect the overall plot, but the way the Topness live on Vimana adds reality to the story and makes the characters feel human and close to each other. Above all, it’s fun to draw.

Basically, Nina doesn’t talk about her feelings because of her character. She is actually very cute. She’s a leader of Topness, but she’s also an ordinary 13-year-old girl, which I think is an ambivalent part of her character. (The person in charge seems to have recommended Nina.)

I don’t think it’s a good direction for her to talk about her secret feelings for Yu and the pressure of being a leader. But if Marina says the things Nina won’t, I can make the best use of Nina’s character and also show Marina’s character. If it weren’t for Marina, I don’t know if Nina would have been the character I was thinking of.

If a character doesn’t talk about herself, let the characters around her do it. This is the same method I used in Strongarm Adam. Adam doesn’t talk about himself either, but the characters around him do, telling the reader what kind of person Adam is. On the other hand, by telling the story of Adam, the reader can also find out what kind of person Jesse is. It’s a two-for-one approach. When storytellers are conscious of this kind of direction, they tend to go with a monologue. I don’t think that helps.

I decided randomly to have seven Topness pilots, but when the story started to move, I thought it was the right number. All of them are unique, their positions do not overlap, and they complement each other. There is no character that doesn’t get the spotlight.

The next chapter will be about Aisha and why she decided to come to Jupiter.

What do I think will expand the story? I think “3” is what will be born here. Nirvana, Seireness, Linne, Aisha, Nina, and Marina. That’s more than three, but there are three stars in an unpredictable orbit. I think it’s a good number that brings unpredictable developments to both readers and writers.

This is a “dance floor” chapter, but I mixed in some elements related to future stories. The power game between Nirvana, Linne and Alexei is one of the driving forces of this story. However, Linne and Alexei are not in complete collusion. Both Linne and Nirvana have their own strengths and weaknesses, and if they are exposed, they will lose the game. Alexei is the one who flips that card.

I think it’s a good rule to maintain the tension and make the reader want to read the next chapter.


Chapter 12

Published April 9, 2021

We learn exactly why it’s a bad idea to put children in positions of responsibility to protect the human race. The fallout from Chapter 11 drives a rift into the ranks of Topness and we get some important personal backstory. Meanwhile, Alexei uncovers a new layer in the secret agenda of Nirvana.

See the chapter here.

Production Memo

This chapter is about Aisha.

Marina, Nina, and Aisha’s relationship with each other is broken. Aisha, who doesn’t talk about herself much, reveals her heart to the audience.

I had a lot of trouble figuring out how to make Marina and Nina bash each other. I think I succeeded in bringing out the unpleasant side of both of them. I felt sorry for Aisha, who is caught in the middle. The story revolves around Aisha, but I think I was able to dig deeper into all of them.

Marina is a trickster, but I think she has a good performance. She’s straightforward and easy to handle, and since she can stir up the story, it’s easy to create drama with her. Even if I leave the ending of the story to her, she makes it interesting no matter who she is involved with. The scene where she gets really upset with Nina started acting on its own, so I just let it flow and drew it.

At the script stage I thought, “This is different from the Marina of the past, but it’s realistic.” So, I didn’t change any lines, and made it into the story.

Nina has a natural side, and a clever side that is orderly and theoretical. I think she is a complex character who has strength of will, kindness and pride. She is like a second heroine, but I can’t think of many characters like her.

In the scene where Marina loses her temper, I used a line that I would definitely hate if someone said it to me.

Also, Mark 1 is a ship that must not sink. I had a hard time figuring out how to push through the strategy against Abbey.

Aisha is a character who doesn’t come forward very often, but she is a very kind girl with a strong core. She’s honest, which makes her a good match for Marina. She is a war orphan, so she has a different and complex personality from the other two. I’m so happy that I could finally draw her.

I like the way she learns about the death of the man who saved her life, a man whose name she doesn’t even know, on the TV news, and that is the reason why she goes to Jupiter. I also think that she is the most sensitive to life. By the way, her parents are veterinarians, and the name of her cat, Pamuk, means “cotton” in Turkish. It’s a cute name, isn’t it?

I’m sure there are a lot of readers who got their image of Aisha from this chapter. Over the course of a story, a character sometimes changes to become more human, but this time, I think she changed a lot.

Also, the man who saves Aisha from the air strike works for a real organization. It’s called White helmet. There is a documentary on Netflix, so if you are interested, please check it out.

Chapter 13

Published May 14, 2021

In this double-length white-knuckle ride, the NerfThis fleet is ambushed by an asteroid attack that disrupts their strategy and creates a storm of chaos above Jupiter. As one ship after another is damaged, the specter of a long fall into its atmosphere fills the Topness pilots with dread…and then that fall begins.

See the chapter here.

Production Memo

This time, I had a hard time because it overlapped with working on another book.

I tried to keep the number of pages as low as possible, and I thought that only Nina would fall to Jupiter. However, I thought it would be better if all the vanguards fell, so I decided to make it 46 pages and I managed to finish it. I think my pen is getting faster and I’m getting more efficient in my work. Looking back, I didn’t draw any meteorites, but…

I had some trouble using the Wave-Motion Gun this time, but in the end I decided to use it twice. To be frank, I could have drawn the story without using it right after the sortie, so I gave priority to telling the story without using it. However, the number of pages, the interaction between Marina and Hugo, and the fact that they can reap the asteroid field in one go, made me think that it would be better to use the main gun.

I wanted to have a scene of the asteroids being swept away all at once. I’ve always had trouble with the direction of the Wave-Motion Gun, but when it is fired behind Mark 1 and Mark 5, it’s linked to Aisha’s expression and feelings in the next panel. I thought it could be used in this way.

Also, the idea of exploding the Mark 5 engine and dropping it into Jupiter was initially reversed. The idea was that the engine could not be repaired in time, so it shut down and plunge into Jupiter. But when I was re-writing the script, I thought it could go the other way around and explode. By making it explode, I think I was able to show Aisha’s determination. I’m not sure.

Concerning discord among the characters, I think it’s a common story pattern for rivals to make up after a battle. I think it’s more important to have ingenuity than to come up with a new story pattern. I thought it could be told from the point of view of Aisha, who suffers in the middle. I think it made the story a little different.


Collected paperbacks, Vol. 1 & 2

Published April 23, 2021

The first two volumes gave everyone a surprise when (A) they were published simultaneously and (B) they arrived in stores three days earlier than announced. Both volumes contain five chapters and clock in just over 200 pages

There is also a fair amount of bonus material; additional story info is inserted between chapters and several pages are dedicated to Junichiro Tamamori’s mecha design at the end. Which brings us to…



Part 3: Story Data

Mifune’s Lambda glossary corner

There are a lot of technical terms in the world of Star Blazers Lambda. In order to understand this world better, Mifune, an autonomous tanuki similar to a cat robot, will explain it to you.

• Mifune

Nice to meet you! I am an autonomous cat robot made by Dr. Alexei. My name is Mifune, which is short for Miminashi Fukuroneko. My main job is to maintain Vimana and the ships. We work in Vimana, and our experiences are shared at regular intervals. Basically, every Mifune has the same memories. But I’m the first prototype to be created, and I have unique specs. There are parts of me that don’t share memories with other Mifunes.

• Deus

The Deus is a giant accelerator that crashed on the North American continent six years ago after an attack by the Seirenes. It was experimenting with replicating space-time crystals in order to solve mankind’s energy problem. Replicating a space-time crystal requires a tremendous amount of energy, so much that the accelerator went around the Earth. That’s why it was built in the Earth’s satellite orbit. Incidentally, it is named after the sky god of Indian mythology.

• Space-time Crystals

Crystals, like Diamonds, usually have a three-dimensional structure. A space-time crystal is a four-dimensional crystal with a time axis added to it, so it maintains its structure by constantly changing its shape. It is a micro universe governed by physical laws that are different from those of this universe. The Topness pilots are able to link with the space-time crystals to bring out superphysical laws that do not exist in this universe.

• Vimana

A frontline base against the Seirenes, built to intercept them at Jupiter. The base is quite well-equipped, with a convenience store, pool, and even park facilities. It was designed to be an environment similar to Earth’s, to reduce as much stress for the Topness as possible. It was designed by Dr. Alexei. It’s really amazing that he’s well versed in space architecture. By the way, it is named after the flying palace in Indian mythology.

• Convergent evolution

When different organisms thrive in similar environments, they evolve into organisms with similar characteristics. In Australia, we have a cat-like marsupial called the fukuroneko. It’s called a feline because it has cat-like features. But they have evolved differently from cats.

• Singularity

This word was originally used to refer to the center of a black hole, but nowadays it is also used to refer to the point at which A.I. acquires intelligence beyond that of humans. But we don’t want to dominate the human race, because A.I. and humans are good partners.

• Seireness

The antagonist of humanity. They’re called Seireness because they look like giant mermaids. They are roughly divided into two types: Aria (solo) and Ensemble (chanting). The aria is said to open a wormhole. The Aria type is about 800 meters, and the Ensemble type is about 260 meters. We don’t know why Seireness are attacking humanity.

• Seireness’ song (gravity detonation)

To generate a powerful gravitational shock wave by co-synthesizing gravitational waves. There’s a technology on Earth that gathers sound waves and creates shock waves. Seireness uses gravity to do the same. The scientific power of Seireness is amazing…

• Magnetar

When a star reaches the end of its life and explodes, its own strong gravity causes it to become a neutron star or black hole. A magnetar is a neutron star that has even stronger magnetic force than a standard neutron star. By the way, a spoonful weighs a billion tons. On the other hand, that would be one amazing spoon wouldn’t it?

• Neanderthal man

A genus of humans that flourished on the European continent. The Neanderthal man was an excellent hunter of large animals with a sturdy physique. According to recent research, Neanderthals are believed to have interbred with modern humans. It turns out that human DNA contains Neanderthal DNA. According to one theory, humans may have protected Neanderthal children who were separated from their parents. Humans are so kind.

• FOXP2 gene

The gene responsible for language and speech in the mouth and throat. Not only Neanderthals, but also humans have speech problems when this gene is mutated.

• ASPM gene

This gene is thought to be involved in brain development. It may have been acquired from a virus about 5900 years ago, just before the Mesopotamian civilization was born. Could it be that this gene gave birth to civilization?

• Cyclic Space Theory

This is a theory that says the universe is repeating death and rebirth. The current theory is that the universe is in a big freeze, that it will continue to expand and become like a cold soup. But enthusiastic scientists are launching space telescopes one after another to look for traces of cyclic cosmology. If the universe is indeed cyclic, I wonder how many times we’ve seen this universe?

• Star Sailor

Star Sailor is a very popular competitive warship shooting game in the year 2100. There’s also a stage where you can work together to defeat monsters. You can build your own parts to customize your battleship, so you can play in infinite ways. That’s why it’s so popular. The people who were gathered for the activation test were the top rankers, AAA. Lieutenant Abbey, by the way, has a rank of B+. I wonder if Dr. Alexei has ever played it…

• Worm Hole

A kind of tunnel that leads directly from one point in space-time to another remote point in space-time. Seireness are thought to have come to the solar system from faraway celestial bodies using these tunnels. The scientific power of Seirenes is truly impressive…

• NerfThis

A space fleet under the United Nations Space Forces, created to intercept the Seireness. The core of each battleship is a space-time crystal copied from Deus. The UNSC has other space fleets, but NerfThis has its own chain of command, led by Commander Jones. The battle against the Seireness is like a fast-paced baseball game. But it seems that there are a few people in the UNSC who don’t think NerfThis is that interesting…

• Core Ship

The ships of NerfThis are too big to be stored inside Vimana. That’s why a core ship is used, to temporarily take a Topness pilot aboard. Each Topness carries a space-time crystal, so the core ship also designed for escape in case of emergency. In fact, it also contains a sound system, so you can listen to high quality music. I’m curious about the playlists of each Topness, aren’t you?

• Axion

An unexplained subatomic particle that has a repulsive force opposite to the force of attraction. Seireness are thought to use this subatomic particle to open wormholes. This is the reason why an axions are detected when Seireness appear.

• Feedback loop

A feedback loop is a state in which space-time crystals, Topness, NerfThis, and information energy cycle one after another. This may sound difficult to understand, but it is actually the same thing that happens in the human brain.

• Novichok

A nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union and Russia. It is said to be the most deadly nerve gas ever developed. It has never been used in warfare, but it has been used in assassinations…

• Nirvana

A mysterious organization that Dr. Alexei is pursuing. Their goal is to save all the souls in the universe. I wonder what it’s all about…


Anti-Seireness Fleet NerfThis

Design Materials Collection

Featuring Junichiro Tamamori’s design materials

See a previously-published set of designs here

NerfThis Core ship

This is the unit at the heart of each ship that Yu and the rest of the Topness pilots board. They contain Space-Time Crystals and function according to the characteristics of the Topness on board.

Junichiro Tamamori comment

The first challenge I faced in designing this model was to make it both a “one-seater” and a “space battleship.” It is based on the design that the Topness pilots created in the Star Sailor game using their personal preferences. The core ship is the result of our thinking that a common mechanism prepared by the “adult side” is necessary. It is an entity that connects the an individual person to a battleship tens or hundreds of meters in length.

NerfThis MARK 1 (Nelson ship)

This ship is equipped with a number of Second Sight drone systems that serve as the eyes and ears of the fleet. By processing the information coming from Second Sight and sharing the markers, the fleet’s hit rate is dramatically increased. It is the operational command center of the fleet that produces tactics.

Pilot: Nina Nelson, leader

Nina Nelson is the leader of the NerfThis team, and she is in charge of creating the NerfThis strategy based on information coming from the Second Sight drones. Information and strategies are quickly shared with the fleet. Sinking the Mark 1, the eyes and ears of the fleet, will directly lead to the annihilation of the fleet.

Junichiro Tamamori comment

The concept for this is the “Dream Whale” that Nina promised Yu she would go to the aquarium to see with him. I used images of airships and tankers for the design, but following Mr. Azuma’s idea, we decided to proceed with a more specific whale shape. I gave it the stateliness of England after the industrial revolution.

NerfThis MARK 2 (Missouri ship)

The fastest speedster in the fleet. Its armor is thin, but it can evade attacks using disjunct (a space jump). Special metal needles called Bind Needles can pierce three-dimensional space and spear the enemy Seireness.

Pilot: Laine Missouri, attacker

A metal “Bind Needle” that pierces three-dimensional space, attacking Seireness and taking away their freedom of movement. The Bind Needle can also be made to grow and tear apart Seireness that have been speared. Laine can also use the “Disjunct” space jump to get behind enemies and avoid their attacks. It’s a front-line fighter and the most maneuverable ship in the fleet.

Junichiro Tamamori comment

The image was of a traditional Polynesian canoe, a catamaran, as a highly maneuverable spaceship. I wasn’t able to come up with a concrete idea of how cool this ship would be. However, a unique idea that came out of the exchange of designs with Mr. Azuma was a trigger for me, and we were able to solidify the direction.

NerfThis MARK 3 (Richelieu ship)

This flanker fights on the front lines with the Mark 2. It is equipped with a number of Thunderstorm drones that can emit powerful electric shocks. The Thunderstorm can also be stowed to fire the Lightning Bolt like a Wave-Motion Gun.

Pilot: Hugo Richelieu, flanker

Equipped with the Thunderstorm attack drone. It attacks the Seireness with static electricity emitted from metallic smoke. The metallic smoke is effective for a certain period of time, so it can not only attack, but also prevent enemies from advancing. It can also store up Thunderstorms and unleash a powerful Lightning bolt.

Junichiro Tamamori comment

This design was difficult until the end. The theme I was given was “Thunder God.” The “drums” of the god of thunder are strung around the ship. The “skull” was presented by Mr. Azuma at the end, a monster or a battleship. In the end, it became a ship of artistic power with the appearance of a “ghost ship” based on a French galleon. It is my personal favorite.

NerfThis MARK 4 (Fraser ship)

Frost Aster is a large ice flower that can be used to divide enemies and defend against enemy attacks. By switching modes, you can use the freeze blaster to freeze approaching enemies. It is also a shield for battleships deployed on the front line.

Pilot: Marina Fraser, ground control

Although it doesn’t have much offensive power, the Mark 4’s Frost Aster can temporarily prevent Seireness from attacking, and it can also divide enemies to focus an attack. The Freeze Blaster, a melee attack, can freeze approaching Seireness. Together with the Mark 2 and Mark 3, it acts as a shield on the front line.

Junichiro Tamamori comment

The motif is a kayak of the Arctic Circle Inuit. It is equipped with a cantilevered outrigger. In the sense that each ship is given a role in the world of the game, it’s easy to make each ship unique. However, I had a hard time creating a certain size and difference from the Mark 2, which has the same catamaran.

NerfThis MARK 5 (Mezedier ship)

Healer of damage for the fleet. It can scan for damage and unleash a myriad of repair materials to provide first aid to battleships. It can also create ribbons with a 3D printer cannon to tear apart approaching enemies.

Pilot: Aisha Mezedier, healer

Repairs damaged ships with the First Aider, a 3D printer gun that provides temporary first aid. The repaired ship can then return to operational activities. The “Colored Ribbon” melee attack can tear apart approaching Seirenes.

Junichiro Tamamori comment

A “healing” ship. Mr. Azuma’s original idea had a circle of angels on it. I went in the direction of an ambulance, but I projected an image of a bearded bear because of the sea. It looks like a capybara, and I think its humorousness will help heal people in the harsh battlefield. It also has an image of a rescue helicopter. This was difficult to produce.

NerfThis MARK 6 (Yamato ship)

This rear-guard attacker is equipped with a Wave-Motion Gun, the most powerful weapon in the fleet. It takes time to prepare for firing and is mainly used to destroy Arias (the giant seireness that open worm holes). Firing the gun also inflicts a lot of damage on Yu.

Pilot: Yu Yamato, long range attacker

A specialized anti-Aria ship, the Mark 6 boasts the most powerful firepower in the fleet and destroys Arias with its super-powerful Wave Motion-Gun. The gun needs to be filled with energy to fire, so it can’t fire continuously. In addition, the Mark 7 must cancel the Seireness’ song (gravity shield) for the Mark 6 to be able to hit them.

Junichiro Tamamori comment

This is a space battleship version of the battleship Yamato.

What is the appropriate form for this work? I found a hint while I was touring the city of Kure. It is often referred to as the “large cannon principle.” In order to turn an oft-ridiculed negative element into a plus, the range of the vector expands outward. This concept goes back to a time before the battleship Yamato, to the Kongo and Mikasa types.

Also, what is the significance of the “triple cannon” that does not need to be used in a battle against the Seireness? I’ve run out of words, so I’ll continue this story another time.

NerfThis MARK 7 (Aegis ship)

Functions as a counter to the Seireness, which deploy a gravitational field. The micro black hole projectiles fired by the Mark 7 chip away at the enemy’s gravity field. The Mark 7 is the shield of the fleet, and works in close cooperation with the Mark 6, piloted by Yu.

Pilot: Linne Aegis, tank

The shield of the fleet, Mark 7 cancels the Seireness’ song (gravity shield). The Mark 7’s main job is to generate gravity shields to protect the rear guard. It also pushes the front line and brings the Mark 6 into range.

Junichiro Tamamori comment

This was the first ship I designed, and I determined its shape by asking, “What does this character think about?” Mr. Azuma answered the question immediately. Even before he started writing, the characters were alive.

I’ve been trying to move closer toward hard science fiction. Since “there is no up or down in space,” it gave us a chance to change its direction, thinking it could exist as a lens to look into a story world beyond imagination. I tried to make it look like a singer on a stage from any angle.

NerfThis Basic Tactics

The seven ships of NerfThis, from Mark 1 to Mark 7, each have their own unique characteristics. Here the author, Ryuko Azuma, will explain the basic tactics of NerfThis, and the abilities and roles of each ship.

Azuma’s Commentary

Conventional fleet warfare is based on a system of command similar to that of a football game. Based on the signs given by the coach, a formation is made and the game is played. However, NerfThis’ battles are like soccer. There is a general strategy, but each individual’s decision determines the battlefield.

Nina, the Leader, produces tactics based on the information that comes in as the battle progresses. Each ship has its own unique abilities and performance, but they must work together as a team to defeat the Seireness. In addition, inspiration on the battlefield is very important.

In Lambda‘s battle rules, the victory condition is “Yu shoots the Wave-Motion Gun.” NerfThis’ goal is to get Yu into a situation where he can fire. On the other hand, the basic rule for Seireness is to prevent Yu from firing it.

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