Fan Club Magazine #16 Coverage
As the summer of 1980 began, the massive promotional machine for Be Forever Yamato started rolling fast and furious. The two months leading up to the August 2 premiere were the absolute best time to be a Yamato fan, since something new was either happening or being announced on a daily basis.
The official Yamato Fan Club did its part by temporarily boosting frequency of the magazine from bimonthly to monthly, which added a July issue (#17) between the usual June and August issues. Here we present the Be Forever coverage from the June issue, which was published on June 25 and was about as timely as it could get.
It began with a report on the May 26 press conference, gave everyone an inside look at the broadcast of the live Be Forever radio drama on June 7, and provided accounts of fan club meetings on June 18 and 19. There was also a partial story digest, sheet music for two of the new songs, and the usual club communications.
Of course, this was barely the beginning of Be Forever‘s “Summer of Love.” Click here to review the entire campaign.
Translation by Tim Eldred with assistance from Sword Takeda
The third report on Space Battleship Yamato Part III!
Production Announcement Press Conference
Production is finally running smoothly! The big #1 anime of summer!
In Tokyo, where the rainy season will begin soon, a production announcement press conference for Be Forever Yamato was held to sweep away the gloom by an extravagent lineup of staff members. Yamato is born from this passion!
May 26: nearly 200 journalists from magazines, newspapers, and broadcasting flocked to the press conference meeting place at Tokyo Kaikan. The topic was the new work in the Yamato series that included the two big hits, Space Battleship Yamato and Farewell to Yamato. Seeing a Yamato model and life-size standup panels of characters such as Sasha made for a perfect atmosphere.
In the meeting place center was Producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki, Toei President Shigeru Okada, Supervisor Leiji Matsumoto, Composer Hiroshi Miyagawa, Chief Director Tomoharu Katsumata, and vocalists Yoko Yamaguchi, Isao Sasaki, and Akira Fuse; a luxurious staff.
The Be Forever Yamato press conference began with a greeting from Mr. Okada, president of Toei Productions.
“Even though it was said that Yamato had ended, I wanted Mr. Nishizaki and Mr. Matsumoto to make it again by all means.”
Toei announced that the turnout for the first two movies was already six million people. “We’re aiming for ten million with the new work.”
This figure, unprecedented in the history of [Japanese] film, is evidence of how much the fans love Yamato.
“Yamato is still the thing that made me famous,” Producer Nishizaki said, “but whenever I’m making it I think, ‘this is the end for Yamato.’ However, it can be said that the feeling comes from doing good work.”
Producer Nishizaki introduced the staff at this time. It was the first-time participation of Yoko Yamaguchi and Akira Fuse that drew special attention. Be Forever Yamato is the first animation-related work for them both. Ms. Yamaguchi is writing lyrics for the theme songs along with Yu Aku.
“I will write one song with the theme that ‘love is only understood after parting.’ Mr. Nishizaki and I have known each other for a while, but we have not worked together until now. So far, the work is very enjoyable.”
According to Producer Nishizaki, the previous songs were all been written by men, and he asked Ms. Yamaguchi to write from a woman’s perspective. The singer decided upon for this song will most likely by Hiromi Iwasaki.
In addition, Akira Furse will take charge of the composition, and the music will be released this summer from King Records.
“So as not to break the overall quality of the music made by Mr. Miyagawa, I want to think of this music as ‘plus alpha.’ [extra effort].”
The luxurious lineup included those who had participated [in Yamato production] from the very beginning, so the flash of cameras filled the room. The mood of the press conference rose steadily. It came out that Mr. Matsumoto was there despite sustaining an injury the other day.
“It feels like a remarkably long time since I started on Yamato. Despite it being the ship I decided to board [editor’s note: a phrase meaning ‘a laborious undertaking’], Yamato became a very important work for me. I owe great thanks to Mr. Nishizaki in that respect.”
He seemed in good spirits.
“I worked on a lot of designs this time, but I’ve learned my lesson about doing too much, so the people of the staff are doing more suffering.”
When Mr. Matsumoto said this, a laugh came from the Chief Director, Mr. Katsumata. Surely, Yamato demands that top animation technology is brought to the screen each time. Moreover, since the design work of Leiji Matsumoto was absorbed through experience and the staff is seriously redoubling their effort, they will double the delight of the fans. In fact, animation began on March 10. Completion is scheduled for late July, requiring a period of about four and a half months.
“I assume this must certainly be tougher than before. The usual approach is that you just draw what is called for in the script. But this time it couldn’t go that way since the images and story were developed simultaneously by Mr. Nishizaki and Mr. Matsumoto.”
Mr. Katsumata previously served as the Chief Director on Farewell to Yamato. If you are a true anime fan, you must recognize his name.
Of course, even if the work becomes severe in the staff room of Toei Animation, the staff is excited to work together.
Speaking of the previous work, Composer Hiroshi Miyagawa and Vocalist Isao Sasaki were part of the staff for the first TV series. In Farewell to Yamato, Sasaki even appeared as the voice of Saito.
“This time is only suffering,” Miyagawa laughed. “The demands from Mr. Nishizaki are impossible to imagine. If it were a composition, I’d call it ‘Theme of Evil’.”
Yamato‘s music is highly praised, and more of that wonderful BGM will be heard.
“Regarding Yamato, I only wanted to sing,” Sasaki said. “Therefore, I’m very pleased to know that I can sing this time.”
Mr. Sasaki is working on the main theme song, and has sung the main Yamato theme for a long time with great enthusiasm.
Since March 10, animation for Be Forever Yamato has been moving right along. With everyone intending to do their best after putting so much passion into the previous works, surely much can be expected.
Press Sheet for the Press Conference
A press sheet was distributed to reporters during the conference. It is similar to a fan’s collector’s item.
Producer’s Message/Yoshinobu Nishizaki
Yamato launches again. Over the last two years I received many letters from people about Yamato.
When I finished making Farewell to Yamato I had used up all my energy and decided not to make Yamato again. However, when everyone told me of their love and hope that Yamato would return, I realized that, “Yamato has already left my hands. It no longer belongs to any individual, it now belongs to everyone. That is Yamato.”
As a producer, I thought about the fans’ demands and worried for a long time about whether or not I should respond to this voice. Filmmaking is continuous suffering. The suffering doubles especially for Yamato. It must surpass the previous work, or it will betray the expectation of the fans. I was very troubled.
As a result, the prospect of making a new work was good, which is why I determined to go boldly forward a third time. Now, looking forward to the third launch of Yamato brings a feeling of fullness to my heart.
In this contemporary world, I believe a passionate impression of youth is presented through Yamato, one of love and courage. It appeals to the minds of people who believe in each other.
Be Forever Yamato does not take the form of a sequel to the previous work. Yamato has been modified to power up and when the familiar faces of Kodai and Yuki, Shima, Sanada, and others appear the new drama begins.
The grand scale and romance of Space Battleship Yamato which made the present animation boom, breathtaking story developments that nobody expects, innovations such as new mecha and exceptional design work, a completely unexpected double reversal, and furthermore a first in anime history–a method called “Warp Dimension,” a large-scale device with a big surprise (by a new secret method, a phenomenon will occur before the audience’s very eyes)–and incorporating the greatest animation, it must become wildly popular once again.
As with previous works, Executive Producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki supervises the total production, Leiji Matsumoto is the supervisor of design, and both take charge of the film. The script is by the Yamato trio of Toshio Masuda, Hideaki Yamamoto, and Keisuke Fujikawa. Music is by Hiroshi Miyagawa. The Chief Director [of animation] is Tomoharu Katsumata, and the Director is Toshio Masuda. Following the first two movies, he takes charge of this new work.
Between the fans, Be Forever Yamato is already a hot topic!
With such fans, the excitement is only expected to increase until August 2. Four exchange meetings with [fan club] Chairman Yoshinobu Nishizaki took place in June and July. This is the coverage report!
The Yamato Fan Club exchange meetings were a great success from Fukuoka to Sapporo! The Fan Club headquarters is connected with Yamato fans across the country.
The BGM is heard!!
Undiscouraged by the damp air and gloomy weather of the rainy season, about 120 fans gathered at the Meitetsu Grand Hotel Nagoya. The first to arrive was “Mr. A” who rushed over after school.
“Because my school is near the hotel.”
“I wish,” said other voices.
Chairman Nishizaki sat in the front of the hall with the singer Mr. Isao Sasaki. The fans were already in a Yamato mood when they entered. After the first introduction, Chairman Nishizaki gave a greeting centered around Be Forever Yamato.
“If you became an animation fan, I don’t want you to take your mania only halfway. Especially now, many people like to poke into strange corners for research. For example, ‘who drew this original,’ or ‘I want a pure cel.’ If you want to study the essence of the thing, I want you to become an animation authority.”
The question and answer session with the fans began. As expected, they were only Yamato fans, but a considerable number of questions flew here and there around the meeting room. People lined up in the middle holding notes with questions written on them.
“If it’s possible to easily sum it up, please say what you want to represent in Be Forever Yamato.”
“That’s rather difficult. (Laughter) Until now, Kodai and Yuki have not acted separately. That’s the fundamental difference this time. As I said before in the fan club magazine, ‘love is believing in each other.’ In addition, ‘if you believe in another and trust in them, that is what it means to love and be loved.'”
The questioner nodded, and someone nearby said, “that’s impossible.”
Chairman Nishizaki laughed and said, “Don’t start a tempest in a teapot!”
Many more questions came up until even Chairman Nishizaki was worn out. Then theme music from Be Forever Yamato was played and he added his own commentary. He said Mr. Hiroshi Miyagawa had already done a huge service, and his new music would more than meet the expectations of fans. In particular, the theme music for “Hyperon Bomb” was very popular, incorporating a strong, moody SF image that sank in.
Isao Sasaki then gave a mini-concert, singing the Yamato main theme and the song “Pendant of Stars” from Be Forever. It seemed to be a brand new musical composition, since Mr. Sasaki held a “cheat sheet” in his hand. But that piercing voice! It will become another anime hit song. The last piece was the theme from the telefeature, The New Voyage. The Yamato Fan Club exchange meeting finished with a wave of applause. Chairman Nishizak and his staff immediately got on their feet for Osaka. Yamato fans will be waiting there tomorrow!
Chairman Nishizaki, Autograph Attack!
The next day: June 19 at the Grand Hotel in Osaka. Today’s meeting was to begin at 3pm, later than yesterday, but was further delayed to 3:30 because of so much preparation. However, about 200 fans were already waiting for two hours before the opening. Girls had come in groups, all wearing the same school uniforms.
Chairman Nishizaki and Isao Sasaki were seated at a central table with the crowd around them in a semicircle. Chairman Nishizaki gave his greeting.
“I’m happy that Japan today has become a rich material civilization. On one side, that makes me happy. But the human heart should be given priority over that. We should not be polluted by it. There should be a way of thinking beyond technology and material civilization. Those of you living through such a time, the 1980s, will eventually know what to believe and what is real. You should be flexible, not stuck on just one idea.”
The eyes of the fans were trained on Mr. Nishizaki. Many had only seen him in newspapers and magazines, and it seemed they all felt this was an important, rare opportunity. Isao Sasaki gave his greeting, too: “When summer comes, Yamato comes with it.”
Nishizaki responded quickly: “That’s how rakugo starts.” A large burst of laughter filled the hall. (Translator’s note: Rakugo is a comedic monologue delivered in front of a live audience. Nishizaki meant it was not the time for jokes.)
“In the old days of anime, it was seen as shameful for middle-school and high-school students to buy a ‘TV manga’ record. However, they are now displayed in record shops in a dignified manner. Anyone can buy one without shame. I’m very glad that TV anime songs are now seen as normal.”
Various groups and singers have now come to sing them, even if they are called anime songs. Yamato has brought together [singing stars] Kenji Sawada, Chiyoko Shimakura, Akira Fuse, and Hiromi Iwasaki.
“I think that’s a remarkably good trend. On the other hand, it is not good that so-called anime singers are being replaced and vanishing. But for myself, I can still perform and that makes me really happy.”
There was another storm of questions, the introduction of BGM, and songs by Mr. Sasaki.
“It’s all right today,” he said, since he was able to go on stage without his “cheat sheet.” However, he bungled it a little. It is still a new song.
The meeting ended well and all that remained was for Mr. Nishizaki to hold a press conference, but all at once the fans surged toward him. Everyone asked him to sign memorabilia and take photos with their group. Someone even asked for a signature on a T-shirt he was wearing. Chairman Nishizaki agreed to do this with a smile, too.
It was another relaxed, enjoyable meeting with great expectations for the new work.
All Night Nippon Special Program
Four-Hour Radio Drama Broadcast, as Usual!
Live Drama on All Night Nippon with an All-Star Cast!
The 4-hour live radio drama for fans has become a specialty of Nippon Broadcasting. Be Forever Yamato was its seventh such program, broadcast on June 7. It included well-known performers Kei Tomiyama (Kodai), Yoko Asagami (Yuki), Taichiro Hirokawa (Mamoru Kodai), Nachi Nozawa (Kiman), Ichiro Nagai (Dr. Sado), Goro Naya (Okita), Akira Kamiya (Kato), Yutaka Mizukaru (host), Keiko Han (Sasha), Toru Furuya (Tokugawa), Kiyoshi Kobayashi, Producer Nishizaki, Leiji Matsumoto, Composer Hiroshi Miyagawa, and more.
The previous dramas based on Space Battleship Yamato and Farewell to Yamato both gained a great reputation and were very popular. This version of Be Forever Yamato also became a unique presentation for the fans, broadcast ahead of the movie.
Nippon Broadcasting, Hibiya, Tokyo, June 6, 10pm
The voice actors had already gathered in the third floor lobby, ready for a rehearsal that was to follow one from the previous day. The first to arrive was Masayuki Ibu, not to perform the role of Dessler, but instead the EDF Commander. Others followed, including Kei Tomiyama (Kodai).
“This time, Yuki and Kodai are separated. It is an interesting story with a lot of suspense.”
Also there was Akira Kimaya, whose character Kato died in Farewell to Yamato.
“My new role? It’s also Kato. But it’s not a ghost, it’s his younger brother Shiro! He’s just as handsome as his big brother. Please give him your support!”
Our editorial department was overwhelmed with fan letters demanding, “bring Kato back to life!” That hope was fulfilled to some extent by the appearance of his brother.
June 6, 11pm
The second rehearsal has ended. The actors start checking the third part of the script. Producer Nishizaki is in the mixing room with his copy of the script, giving various instructions.
“You should do this line with a little more elegance. Please be careful with the timing of the music, Kodai.”
Shinjuku Alta Building, June 7, before 1am
Finally, the real thing: Hiroshi Miyagawa and Isao Sasaki enter the studio. Leiji Matsumoto also enters and it is “Standby OK.”
After the show opening, [entertainment personality] Issei Ran conducted interviews in front of the Alta building in Shinjuku. Yeah, we made it! Two members from our Fan Club headquarters! Did you hear the emotional interview with our editorial staff?
Then the drama began with a scene of Kodai approaching Mars in a patrol boat. The air traffic controller on Mars was a bit part played by Nippon Broadcasting DJ Yutaka Mizukaru. Did you know whose voice that was?
June 7, 2:30am
Mr. Miyagawa finishes his music and heads home. It is said that more work is waiting for him early in the morning. Twenty minutes later, Ichiro Nagai (Dr. Sado) leaves for home.
“The image of the next Yamato is huge. So far we only know what we did on radio, and we’re looking forward to the movie.”
We finally enter the studio. Naturally, Yamato is in Studio 1, which is the largest. Standees of Kodai and others are lined up, and we learn that the studio lighting changes in accordance with the progress of the story. The impassioned performances of the voice actors causes them to work up a sweat.
Yoko Asagami comes out during a brief break, wearing all black.
“It’s always a pleasure when Mr. Matsumoto is involved. It seems to be getting really interesting. But there’s a lot of pressure from Kiman (voiced by Nachi Nozawa). What are we going to do?” (Laughter)
June 7, 5:00am
It’s over! The 4-hour drama ended well! The cast and staff gathers in the lobby and drinks a toast! The program director’s job has also ended, and he looks relieved. This performance overflowed with passion that will last all the way through the voice recording for Be Forever Yamato.
“You worked very hard. Thank you!”