Yamato music interviews, June 2021

These two interviews were published within days of each other, both featuring musical discussions with Yamato‘s resident composer, Akira Miyagawa. The topics ranged from Age of Yamato to the 2202 Symphonic Suite to the summer 2021 concerts and a glimmer of what we can look forward to in 2205.

“Looking back at the redefined story of Sanada, it becomes equal.”

In commemoration of the special compilation film Age of Yamato, Harutoshi Fukui & Akira Miyagawa interview!

Published by Akiba Souken on June 10. See the original post here

When we think of a milestone work of science fiction in the Japanese anime world, we can’t help but mention Space Battleship Yamato. It was first broadcast on TV in 1974, almost 50 years ago. After that, the movie version (1977) was also a big hit. The sequel Farewell to Yamato (1978), including its shocking ending, was a masterpiece that attracted a lot of attention.

The works that revived this historical masterpiece in the modern age are Yamato 2199 (2012-13) and Yamato 2202 (2017-18). And with the sequel Yamato 2205 on the way, momentum is still going strong. In the midst of all this, Age of Yamato, a special compilation film that reconstructs 2199 and 2202, will be released on June 11. Also, Symphonic Suite Yamato 2202 by Akira Miyagawa, who has been in charge of the music for this multi-generational series, is now on sale.

We would like to focus on the goal of these works with Writer Harutoshi Fukui and Composer Akira Miyagawa.

Interviewer: First of all, can you tell us how you two met?

Fukui: When I took on the Yamato project, what I was looking forward to more than anything was the music. However, just as we were starting on the music for 2202, my work on Gundam NT really ramped up. (laughs)

I couldn’t go to the first recording. But in the beginning, the production approach of Yamato 2199 and 2202 was the same, so I thought it would be okay to leave the music to him. So Akira and I didn’t have any meetings. When I was finally able to participate in the second recording, that was the first time I met Akira-san properly.

Miyagawa: When we were working on 2199, I had the impression that Director Yutaka Izubuchi was in charge of it all from space philosophy to everything else. I felt like if I had a problem, I could just ask him. But on 2202, the staff was less consolidated, and Mr. Fukui, the storymaker, was the one who knew what I most wanted to know.

Rather than asking what the story was like, or what positions it took, I wanted to know the essence of the story, including philosophical and religious matters. So I had a lot of questions for him. At the time of the recording, I bumped into Mr. Fukui in the elevator, and he said, “Actually, I often watch Quintet with my son.” It made me even happier. (Laughs)

[Note: Quintet is a children’s TV series hosted by Miyagawa, sort of an all-music version of Sesame Street. See a clip here.]

Fukui: At that time, he wasn’t even sure if 2202 would be a direct continuation of 2199 or not. That’s what Akira-san was concerned about, so when he asked I told him, “Yes, it’s a sequel.” The rest of the process went pretty smoothly.

Interviewer: I’d like to ask you, Mr. Fukui, what was the purpose of making Age of Yamato, which is considered a “special compilation?”

Fukui: The main reason was because I was told to make it. (Laughs) But I knew that we had to do something like this, because the Yamato series is going to continue in the future. We’re already working on 2205, and I’m hoping that people will say, “This is interesting, I should see it.” But it’s the third one, so you have to watch all 52 episodes of the anime first.

On the other hand, if you look at the content of the series itself, compared to the old Yamato, there are still many people who haven’t seen the remakes yet. To those people, I say, “If you go up these three steps, you can enter the world of the new film right away.” I wanted to provide them with a platform to go up and down.

But if I was going to make it, I also wanted to make it for younger people who didn’t experience the old Yamato in real time. For example, for the young people who say, “I don’t understand why something shaped like an ordinary ship is flying in space,” I would like to say, “Actually, there’s a lot of thought behind this.”

So, starting with the Apollo Project, I explain to them how it all began. I thought it would be good to properly depict the flow leading from that to an age when aliens attack every year.

Interviewer: So, you’re aiming for both a summary of what you’ve done so far and a way to attract new viewers in the future?

Miyagawa: Is it a socially-conscious film?

Fukui: Very much so. It’s a fake documentary. (Laughs) It’s an NHK special made in 2205. (Laughs)

Interviewer: After finishing 2202, I’m sure you received a lot of feedback from the viewers. What kind of response did you get?

Fukui: One of my goals has been met. Since 2202, the percentage of female fans has increased quite a bit. To put it bluntly, in the case of men, their purchasing power declines rapidly after the age of 50. But with women, their power goes up. With Yamato, while we want to attract younger audiences, we also want to keep the original generation in mind. We also thought that it would be better to attract more women from here on.

But originally, Yamato had a lot of female fans. In terms of gender, it was probably about 50/50. The characters Kodai, Shima, and Dessler were very popular. I think this was the beginning of what is now called “chara moe.” [Loosely, “character fetish”] I was hoping fans of that generation would enjoy the show as if they were going to see a Takarazuka Revue. Surprisingly, there is no content for women of that generation.

A little while ago, we had a discussion about the strong purchasing power of foreigners due to the inbound market. In reality, the purchasing power of this generation of women is tremendous. So I had to make sure that I did right by them. Of course, I also had to pay attention to the spectacle element that would appeal to boys. I’m glad I succeeded in that to some extent.

Interviewer: In this “special compilation,” you share the story of Yamato‘s journey so far, as narrated by Sanada. What is the purpose of this?

Fukui: I think original Sanada is almost like a Doraemon in terms of his character. He seems able to give us anything, and he’s blue. (Laughs) However, in the original TV series, Sanada had lost his limbs in an accident in the past. I felt like his human nature was rarely mentioned, and he was not depicted as being very communicative in 2199.

He has a desire to be involved with people and the world, but he follows orders in a straightforward way. As a result, he may have caused Mamoru Kodai to die. This is his character, isn’t it? The character of Sanada in the original story is almost completely absent in my mind. I’m much more interested in the character that was created in 2199.

In that sense, for the newly-redefined Sanada, his humanity started in his childhood when he had a communicative disorder. Through the voyages of 2199 and 2202, he grew rapidly as a human being. His growth was practically shown in real time. So, when we look back, we can do it through his story.

He wasn’t very human to begin with, but his humanity was cultivated over the past two years of voyages. He reacts directly and emotionally to the things that are happening in the story. Moreover, he’s a smart person, so he has a rich vocabulary. If it was Kodai, he’d probably only say something like, “That was amazing.” (laughs). But while looking at the whole picture, Sanada talks about everything with full immersion.

Interviewer: Mr. Miyagawa, I feel that Yamato has one big consistent flow throughout the series. I think it’s the same with the music. What do you think it is?

Miyagawa: I don’t know everything about Yamato‘s music, but at the risk of sounding irresponsible, I’d say it’s “melody,” isn’t it? Every piece has a melody. This is a surprise. The bad guys come out one after the other, and each one has a specific note sequence.

There is a piece by Mussorgsky called Night on Bald Mountain in which all we hear is the main theme. The music for Junichi Yaoi’s UFO program, the White Comet theme, and the theme for Auto-Planet Goruba are all the same sequence of sounds. There are basically only 12 sounds that can be used, but a limited number of them is used to express a sense of fear.

So that’s how my father, Hiroshi Miyagawa, created the music for his old works. He responded to various orders with a single bat. But all the pieces are different. He played them all differently. He made 900 pieces, a mixture of small and large, so it’s an amazing feat. No one believed in melody more than Hiroshi Miyagawa.

Fukui: I’m not a music expert, so I can’t say much about it, but compared to Night on Bald Mountain, the melodies of White Comet and Auto-Planet Goruba aren’t just “evil,” there is a lyricism to them. In fact, the music is more profound than the enemy characters that appeared [in the original]. So, when I was working on this project, I wanted to express the depth of the enemies in a way that would suit the music.

Miyagawa: I see. That’s great, Fukui-san.

Fukui: But I think the image was amplified by the music. With Gatlantis, and the next one, Dark Nebula Empire, if you just look at the visual, it’s not so evil. But when you combine it with music, you get something that stirs up your imagination.

Interviewer: While we’re on the subject of music, let me ask you something else. At about the same time as Yamato, Star Wars took the world by storm. John Williams’ music is also known to be an essential part of that film. Star Wars is said to have a strong musical aspect, and I feel that Yamato may have had that aspect as well.

Fukui: Actually, in Yamato, the music is not playing all the time. There are quite a few silent scenes. But the melody has a strong presence, and everyone remembers each scene individually. Maybe that’s how it feels. I’m sure each track of music has its own memory chapter in a fan’s head.

Miyagawa: Certainly, when I get a storyboard, I feel like the music is playing throughout, but you don’t actually use it that much. You also use silence very effectively.

Fukui: In Star Wars, the main theme music is very strong, but there’s almost no melody except for the scenes that say, “Let’s just go with music here.” It’s more like ambient sound with some kind of music flowing through it.

Interviewer: Mr. Miyagawa, I heard that when you got involved with Yamato, you looked for your father’s work and found that there weren’t many scores, so you recreated it by listening to it with your own ears. Wasn’t that difficult?

Miyagawa: There were quite a few things like that. But for me, the enjoyment was greater than the difficulty. I would listen to the music that fascinated me while analyzing it in various ways, like, “Oh, there are four trombone players instead of three.” It was a process of confirming, one by one, the 48 steps my father took when he made dozens of songs for various works with little time to spare. In the process I realized, “Oh, I was thinking of that!” and worked it in, smiling to myself.

There were also discoveries like, “This song was really lazy.” (Laughs) There’s a piece called Infinite Universe. It only took about 20 minutes to make. If you saw the score, you’d be shocked. It’s like, “Pero, Pero, Pero,” and then you just change the key. (Laughs) It’s only two sheets of paper.

Interviewer: The way of making music is also different between now and then.

Miyagawa: That may be true. Nowadays, directors don’t ask for melodies as much, I think. Maybe the movies being made now don’t need melody as much.

I’m sure there are directors who like melody, but there’s too much information coming in through the eyes. The images themselves are very clear, and even in dark scenes, you can see what is being shown. Especially with CG, we can see what we want to see. I think the melody in a film is there to switch on the viewer’s imagination.

In today’s movies, the information itself is given visually, so it’s enough for the music to just explain the situation, like environmental sounds, ominous bass sounds, or ticking rhythm. If you’re not good at it, it’s only about ten minutes and you change the chord a bit. There’s no melody in it.

In general, I think the balance between the eyes and the ears is becoming different from the old movies we used to like. But with Yamato, the balance is completely different, isn’t it?

Fukui: Anime naturally has less information than live-action. We use a primitive method of making something look like it’s moving by alternating patterns. Music is absolutely necessary. That’s why there is still a lot of melody-based music in anime. However, when it comes to Hollywood or live-action movies, as Akira says, the music is sometimes said to be overproduced.

Miyagawa: It doesn’t have to be so emotional.

Fukui: It’s okay if you don’t do that much with music.

Miyagawa: That’s right! (Laughs)

Fukui: Compared to that, anime tends to use a lot of tricks, so the music tends to be melodic, but even so, I think the way Yamato is made now is unique.

It’s the same as the way we make songs today, but the current trend in popular music is to make the level of sound constant from beginning to end, like yokan. What we think of as a “song” contains parts that are both slow and fast, but it’s not there today. I guess you could call it a “wabi-sabi” style.

So, the music of Yamato may sound a little old-fashioned when you listen to it for a moment, but it’s called Space Battleship Yamato to begin with. (Laughs) I want you to be prepared for that, because the style is unshakable. From the time of 2199, we don’t mess with that part. I think it’s thanks to the way you’ve been working on it.

Interviewer: I’d like to ask you about the newly released Symphonic Suite Yamato 2202. Please tell us about the goal of this release and any particular points.

Miyagawa: In terms of its goal, there are some goals that have accumulated over a very long time. There have always been very complex emotions, like grudges. The original Symphonic Suite Yamato was a new musical art form created by my father, Producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki, and other directors of Columbia.

Originally, there were no classical pieces called “symphonic suites.” There are “symphonies,” “symphonic poems,” “orchestral suites,” and so on. I wanted to remind the listener, fan, and many others of how the invention of Space Battleship Yamato has stolen our hearts. It was too easy to simply use the term “symphonic suite.” I want to leave something worthy behind as a musical work. I want people to learn various things from it. That’s my biggest “goal.”

With the Corona pandemic, I had a lot of time on my hands, so I spent almost 100 days on the project, and had a very productive time while making it. It’s a strange thing to say, but it was because of this time of Corona that I was able to create this work. If I hadn’t, it might have turned out differently. I’ve always been a person who doesn’t let things just happen to me. I think I was able to concentrate and create something good during this time.

Fukui: But the first Symphonic Suite sold quite well, didn’t it?

Miyagawa: It sold about 200,000 copies.

Fukui: Oh, I see. But after that, a lot of “symphonic suites” for anime came out. I thought they were just collections of background music.

Miyagawa: You thought so, didn’t you? It’s really true. Symphonies are supposed to be moving. It’s carefully woven, and it’s made to move you. It’s not about whether you like it or not. It’s all one piece. That’s what I want to say the most. (Laughs)

Interviewer: Thank you very much!

Akira Miyagawa Special Interview

Joint “SBY Festival” concerts in Osaka and Tokyo!

The “new” appeal of Yamato sound born from the wind orchestra arrangement

Published in Star Blazers/Yamato Fan Club Magazine Vol. 11, May 2021

When we talk about the appeal of the remake series, including the hotly-anticipated 2205, it is Akira Miyagawa’s arrangement work that brilliantly regenerates the “soul” of the original.

This summer, joint concerts will be held by famous wind orchestras from East and West. We asked Mr. Miyagawa, who is in charge of arranging and conducting, about what to listen for in this unique arrangement of Yamato sound, which is different from theatrical accompaniment and symphonic music.

(Photos by Shinya Ohira)

A miraculous collaboration between two major wind orchestras born from the Corona pandemic

Interviewer: Osaka Shion and Siena Winds are the two leading wind orchestras in the East and West. It’s quite unusual to hold the “Yamato Festival” with them both at the same time. How did you come up with this idea?

Miyagawa: Actually, coincidentally, I received offers from two different orchestras to hold a concert with Yamato as the theme. The first one was Shion, for which I am the music director. Shortly after that, I received an almost identical offer from Siena. I jokingly replied, “Well, if it’s the same program, we can do it…”

That was interesting! I was strangely excited and said, “We can compare East and West!” (Laughs) As you know, the Corona pandemic is making it difficult to attract audiences with only half of the seats available, so both orchestras may have wanted to choose a theme that would be particularly popular this time.

Interviewer: Conversely, it can be said that the collaboration was possible because of the Corona pandemic. As far as the program is concerned, it seems to be different from Symphonic Suite Yamato 2202, which was released in January.

Miyagawa: As I said before, this project was born from the orchestra’s side. It’s not impossible to arrange the Symphonic Suite for a wind orchestra, but I would like to perform that concert with string instruments. Of course, there will be selections from Symphonic Suite in this concert, so I hope you will enjoy the unique arrangement of the wind orchestra.

Not just a “translation,” but an arrangement unique to wind orchestra music

Interviewer: As you mentioned, the big difference between symphonic (orchestral) music and wind orchestra music is the presence of strings. Since the time of the original score by Hiroshi Miyagawa, strings have been used very effectively in the music of Yamato. How difficult would it be to arrange for a wind orchestra?

Miyagawa: When it comes to arranging symphonic music for wind orchestra, it’s often just a matter of “translating” the string parts to clarinet or other wind instruments. When I started arranging wind orchestra music I didn’t know anything about wind orchestras, so I was reluctant to do simple translation work.

I didn’t want to just replace the original, I wanted to give it a new birth, to make it sound original. I didn’t want people to feel it was inadequate without the strings. I wanted to make sure that the arrangement is fresh and surprising. At first listen, it may sound like it’s just a substitution, but in fact, I’ve gone through a lot of trouble to arrange it.

Interviewer: In a way, it’s similar to the relationship between an original and a remake in anime works. Even if it’s a familiar song, it becomes very interesting when you think, “How will it change when it is played by a wind orchestra?” For example, the White Comet theme.

Miyagawa: Yes, that’s true. I wonder what’s going to happen to me. (Laughs) We’re just about to start the arrangement. I’m going to play two versions of White Comet. One of them will be based on the Keith Emerson style arrangement that I took on in Symphonic Suite. I’m wondering how this can be turned into a wind performance. It may end up being a great failure. I’d like you to look forward to it with that sense of anticipation. (Laughs)

Yamato records owned by Akira, which were introduced on a TV
special. If you look closely, you can see the word “beautiful”
written near Yuki Mori.

Watch out for Auto-Planet Goruba coming back with a new arrangement!

Interviewer: The program features three parts titled “Yamato & Villains” that catch my attention.

Miyagawa: As you can see from the program, part 1 is Gamilas, part 2 is Gatlantis, and so on, looking back at the history of the series through music. By the way, the keyword “Villains” was given to me by Mr. Terunari Yoshie of Lantis (music producer of the remake series).

Interviewer: If you think of it as a “look back” at the remake series, which you did the music for, then part 3 is….

Miyagawa: It’s hard to say for sure. (Laughs) At least Goruba and Farewell (My Beloved) are pieces from The New Voyage. Since I’m working on them, they’ll have a new arrangement. You can think of it as a kind of “trailer.”

Interviewer: Even if it’s a new arrangement, it’s been further arranged for wind orchestra.

Miyagawa: Exactly. In the case of Farewell, how do you modify an original composition with lots of strings? And for Auto-Planet Goruba, how do we express the piano concerto-like part with a wind orchestra? I’m sure that will be a big part of this presentation.

Enjoy the “evil melody” created by my father, Hiroshi Miyagawa

Interviewer: Personally, I’d like to hear for myself how Auto-Planet Goruba is arranged.

Miyagawa: When we started planning this concert, I was studying my father’s works again in order to create the music for 2205. I was overwhelmed by his passion for music. What’s great about my father is his melodies. I think I’m one of the writers of today who is very particular about melody, but the writers of that time, especially Hiroshi Miyagawa, were much more obsessed with it. His obsession with melody was incomparably strong.

Interviewer: It’s not just the music of Yamato, but all of his melodies are unforgettable once you hear them.

Miyagawa: It’s not just the melody, it’s also all the scenes, like the enemy attacking, or the farewell of my life. Of course, the construction of the sound (chords, tones, and other components besides melody) is also wonderful, but in the case of Hiroshi Miyagawa, he composed with both melody and sound. The music of Yamato reflects Yoshinobu Nishizaki’s strong taste in music. It certainly demonstrates the true strength of my father.

Interviewer: I think so.

Miyagawa: Actually, the reason why we featured “Villains” in this concert was because of this rediscovery. Especially when I was confronted with Goruba after Dessler’s theme and White Comet. While he wrote melodies that left such a strong impression, I was really surprised that he created a melody that was even more evil than those. That’s like hitting a home run with the bases loaded three times in a row, isn’t it? The coach asked him to hit a home run, and he said he would.

Interviewer: That’s how great the evil melodies are, including Goruba.

Miyagawa: So I thought it would be quite an interesting program to put the three evil melodies together. Gamilas, Gatlantis, and the Dark Nebula Empire. And their relationship with Yamato, which is confronting them, through music. I thought it would be a very interesting program.

What is the unexpected connection between Orchestra and Yamato?

Interviewer: I think one of the appeals of Yamato is that it can be enjoyed in various ways, such as theatrical, symphonic, and wind orchestra. Is there any particular way to enjoy it that is unique to a wind orchestra?

Miyagawa: The relationship between them is like rock, paper, scissors. There’s no hierarchy of what’s the best. As for me, I always want to break down the barriers between genres. Whether it’s a wind orchestra or a symphony, I want people to enjoy it without any preconceived notions. In the history of anime, as symbolized by Hiroshi Miyagawa’s Symphonic Suite Yamato (1977), Yamato really lifted the culture of soundtrack music, didn’t it? It was also supported by fans.

Interviewer: It was the spark that lit the soundtrack boom. I think there are a lot of people who fell in love with Yamato through the music.

Miyagawa: On the other hand, as a musician, I think it would be good if more people got interested in music through anime. I would be very happy if this Yamato Festival could be an opportunity for them to become interested in wind orchestras and visit other concerts.

Interviewer: Yamato fans are very inquisitive and curious. I think many of them are interested in the world of wind orchestra and symphonic music because of your concerts.

Miyagawa: If you’re familiar with the music of Yamato in particular, you’ve already acquired the skills to enjoy wind orchestra and symphonic music. I would like you to be interested in the structure of music as well.

Interviewer: I think the reason you were able to recreate your father’s original musical accompaniment was because you analyzed the structure of the music seriously.

Miyagawa: I’m the type of person who’s interested in structure to begin with. For example, when I conduct an orchestra, I’m always aware of the structure of the orchestra, and I’m always trying to figure out how to make it work well. In that sense, the relationship between the orchestra and the performers may be similar to the relationship between Yamato and its crew. No matter how good the ship is, if the morale of the crew is not high, the ship will not be able to perform well.

Interviewer: In the sense of uniting the crew and aiming for the destination, I think it’s a very important role. Then you’re like the captain of the orchestra, aren’t you?

Miyagawa: Normally that might be true, but I’m more like an engineer, like Sanada. (Laughs)

Interviewer: I see! I feel convinced. I’m looking forward to the concert more and more!

The twin concerts that were performed under the title Yamato & Villains took place just one week apart; June 27 in Osaka and July 4 in Tokyo. Read more about them in the respective 2202 Reports here and here.

Bonus: Band Journal magazine reviews

The September 2021 issue of this magazine, which has covered symphonic music for an astonishing 80 years, devoted a couple pages to the twin concerts. Both of their glowing reviews are presented here.

Depicting the one and only Yamato passed down from the past to the present

Osaka Shion Wind Orchestra
137th Regular Concert

Sunday June 27, Osaka Symphony Hall
Text by Hikoyuki Komibuchi (Music Critic)

This year’s concert from the Osaka Shion Wind Orchestra, called the Space Battleship Yamato Festival, was the 137th regular performance. Music director Akira Miyagawa appeared on stage for the first time in about two years, since the 126th regular concert. Due to the spread of the Corona virus, the number of seats was restricted by 50% from the beginning of subscription sales. The tickets were sold out immediately on the day of public sale. The usual enthusiasm of Shion’s regular concerts was maintained. Yamato fans with passionate feelings gathered there.

Space Battleship Yamato started with the TV anime broadcast from 1974 to 1975, and the movie version released in theaters in 1977. Sequels have been produced steadily since then. The music was composed by Hiroshi Miyagawa, Akira’s father. After Hiroshi’s death, there were two sequels, Yamato 2199 and Yamato 2202, both with music written by Akira.

This “Yamato all over again” concert started with White Comet played on pipe organ (by Hitoko Harada). The bass notes on the pedal board took us to another dimension. Naomi Tabata played alto saxophone at the beginning of the prelude to the Yamato Suite. I was drawn into the world of Yamato as if it were swirling around me without saying a word. The theme song, a heroic march that follows this introduction, is packed with all the elements of Yamato‘s music: courage, power to inspire, endless love, and longing. It overflowed from there.

Hiroshi Miyagawa, who continued to write music derived from the above, passed the baton to his son Akira, who continues his work. Yamato‘s world continues to be explored. While Akira devoted himself to conducting on this day, another performance that was integrated into the music was by his daughter Tomoko, who played piano and keyboard. It was more than just “inheritance of DNA,” it was a strong sense of musical inheritance between three generations.

Yuki from Dynamite Shakariki circus, who has previously performed with Akira Miyagawa, participated in the scat vocals. Five male singers appeared on stage. Unfortunately, it was difficult to hear from the second floor seats due to the limitations of the PA system, but Garmillas National Anthem and Cosmo Tiger were best performed with voices.

The first piece of the second part was a brass version of White Comet arranged by Akira Miyagawa. It is easy to say that the music became more lively with added colors. Even when you listen to Great Emperor Zordar, a melody full of love even though it represents an enemy, Akira Miyagawa draws out the unique strength of Yamato‘s charm. I would like to express my sincere respect for the fact that it has not become a legacy of the past, but has been handed down to the present.

Even if you count the Yamato Suite as one piece, the program consisted of 17 pieces in all. Shion’s powerful and sympathetic performance made this concert possible. There were brilliant solo performances by the members, including Yuko Shinho on trumpet, Kayoko Deguchi on flute, and Sachiko Takahashi on oboe. During the Encore, Scarlet Scarf and a second performance Space Battleship Yamato, I really enjoyed the essence of Yamato‘s music.

The magnificent world of Yamato with fascinating, skillful expression

Siena Wind Orchestra 51st Regular Concert

Sunday July 4, Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall
Text by Koichi Imaizumi (music writer)

The Siena Wind Orchestra welcomed Akira Miyagawa as the conductor and made the regular concert all about Space Battleship Yamato. The program book with Yamato‘s illustration was full of mood. Yamato has been on air since 1974. Hiroshi Miyagawa was in charge of most of the music, including the theatrical version, and it was highly acclaimed. In the remakes Yamato 2199 (2012) and Yamato 2202 (2017), his son Akira took full charge of the composition and arrangement, making use of his father’s original music. This was a musical collaboration between two generations.

The title of the concert included the word Villains. As Miyagawa said to the audience, Yamato is characterized by the presence of melodies in each of the enemy forces and rival characters within them. This is what the concert focused on. In addition, various emotional expressions and characteristic scenes in the story also have melodies that serve as themes. Of course, these melodies were also featured. As they are used across each work, they are like the leitmotifs of Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung. (A theme is attached to a specific person, item, emotion, or concept, and is played when it appears in the story, or even when it does not, in order to indicate its presence.)

Just by listening to the melody, a number of scenes come to mind. This gives the music a strong power. The moment the pipe organ played the White Comet theme at the beginning of this concert, I lost all awareness that it was a regular Siena concert (sorry). I was simply immersed in the music. By responding to the composer/arranger’s own conducting, Siena did a wonderful job of fully expressing Yamato‘s world with no sense of discomfort. If I were to write something like a concert report, I would say the enemy themes conveyed a heavy and intimidating feeling. The company performed with great emotion in the pieces that conveyed sadness and tenderness. In the battle scenes, they played with a sharpness that expressed a sense of urgency, and it was a brilliant performance.

All the pieces were arranged by Akira Miyagawa from orchestra to brass, but they included impressive female vocals and a male chorus, and I felt a charm that transcended the differences in organization. In “Dedicated to Keith Emerson,” which was arranged by adding progressive rock elements to White Comet, keyboards were featured and electric guitars were also active. It was a fresh collaboration with brass and pipe organ, and I was able to enjoy the strangeness of the arrangement.

Siena’s performance started with the Yamato Suite composed by Hiroshi Miyagawa and continued with music from the two remakes by Akira Miyagawa. However, the Goruba theme from The New Voyage (and Be Forever Yamato), which has not been remade yet, left a strong impression on me. Taking the form of a piano concerto, the theme has overwhelming power and the fierceness of battle, and the sadness of trying to stop it even at the cost of one’s own life. I was struck with a strong sense of emotion.


The Long Overture
White Comet (pipe organ solo)
Space Battleship Yamato Suite

Yamato & Villains part 1
Yamato takes off from Earth
Garmillas National Anthem (Praise be to my light forever)
Dessler’s Bolero
Gathering the Fleet
Cosmo Tiger (Wan-Dah-Bah)

Yamato & Villains part 2
White Comet (Dedicated to Keith Emerson)
Great Emperor Zordar
Tsubasa ~ Fading life
Endless Battle
Yamato Into the Vortex

Yamato & Villains part 3
Autoplanet Goruba

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