The New Voyage Commentary, Part 1

Analysis by Arthur Painter with additional notes by Tim Eldred

Watch this movie with subtitles here.

The New Voyage was originally released as a TV movie, broadcast in Japan July 1979, where it served a triple purpose. First, it was an epilogue to the original series, showing the fate of Starsha, Gamilas, and Iscandar. Second, it was also an epilogue to the then-recent second TV series, following Dessler after his life-changing decision to stop his vendetta against the crew of Yamato. Lastly, it was a prequel to the full-length theatrical movie Be Forever Yamato, which was released the following year. It’s an oddball in terms of length. Most Yamato movies clock in well over two hours, but The New Voyage is about 90 minutes–the runt of the five “classic” Yamato movies.

The narrator specifically states it is the year 2201. Information gleaned from Yamato 2, using writers’ notes and educated guesses, places the Comet Empire’s defeat in late February of 2202, which conflicts with the year given in this movie.

Story note: Of course, this is far from the only time official dates run counter to observation. To this day, there is no clear consensus on which year Series 3 takes place.

The story opens with Dessler [Desslok] and his ragtag fleet in deep space. The Gamilas [Gamilon] leader is commanding from his red battle carrier. Dessler had an epiphany during his last confrontation with the Yamato crew. He realized their struggles were very similar to his, and that continuing to fight would lead to their mutual destruction. Now he can refocus on the reason he attacked Earth in the first place: finding a new home for his people.

Production note: Dessler’s red battle carrier was seen once before, in General Domel’s fleet for the battle at the Rainbow Star Cluster in Series 1. Originally designed by Studio Nue, it was newly-fleshed out by veteran mecha designer Mitsuki Nakamura. During this upgrade, it was armed with a prime weapon called the Dessler Gun that resembles his original blue flagship.

Dessler rallies his men with a speech and promises they will not be homeless forever. While he may have ended his war with Earth, this does not mean he’s turned his back on war. The tone of his speech, with references to creating a new empire and “subordinating the surrounding galaxies,” implies the use of force. Before going off to conquer other worlds, the fleet will return to their former home planet for one last goodbye. Dessler’s countrymen respond with an enthusiastic “sieg heil” salute.

Trivia note: There is an obvious historical connection between the Gamilas salute and the Nazi salute, but many may be unaware that the gesture was actually devised in the good ol’ US of A back in 1892 by Francis Bellamy. Named the “Bellamy salute,” it was used for decades until it was adopted by Italy and Germany and therefore fell out of favor in America. Congress officially replaced it with the hand-over-heart in 1942. If not for that, it’s anybody’s guess whether or not it would have made it into Yamato.

Meanwhile, the battered space battleship Yamato returns to port, having barely survived its battle with the Comet Empire. Jump to one month later; the ship has been repaired and is ready for launching. So, too, is its crew.

Susumu Kodai [Wildstar] and Yuki Mori [Nova] greet the rest of the Yamato bridge crew as they’re released from the hospital. They all seem to be in good spirits. Aihara [Homer] is revealed to be a big flirt who hits on all the young nurses, a side of him we haven’t seen before. (One of the detriments of having only one woman in the main cast.) Sanada [Sandor], an engineer to his core, has been revitalized from the rebuilding he witnessed outside of his hospital window. And this brings us to the first of many deleted scenes.

Production note: The deleted scenes from The New Voyage were the stuff of legend among Yamato fandom for many years. For reasons still not fully explained to this day, they made it all the way to key animation before being cut from the film. The only clue we have to go on came from an interview with Noboru Ishiguro, that the animation ran so close to the deadline that the finished reels for the latter half of the movie were being delivered to the Fuji TV network while the first half was on the air. So it stands to reason that a few cuts had to be made at some point to keep the thing under control.

Stills from these scenes first appeared in Office Academy’s “Deluxe Mook” hardcover on The New Voyage (1980) then in the Space Battleship Yamato Perfect Manual 2 Roman Album (1983). It took another ten years, but they finally appeared as bonus content on home video releases in 1993. This made it possible for Voyager Entertainment’s New Voyage DVD to include them as branching scenes that can be viewed in “restored” form (though they are still only key animation with no sound).

In the first deleted scene, Shima [Venture] is greeted by his little brother Jiro [Jordy], who welcomes him back to the outside world. For some reason, Sanada is wearing the same fleet operations overcoat as Kodai and Shima. The last time we saw him on Earth (in Series 2) he wore the olive drab uniform of the science division. Maybe he got a transfer?

Dr. Sado [Dr. Sane], with Mi-kun [Mimi] and Analyzer [IQ-9] in tow, hurries everyone into a car. With a smile on his face and a bottle of sake in his hands, he says that they have to go pay their respects. He seems very cheerful, considering they are going to mourn their comrades.

Deleted scene: Shima says goodbye to his nurses.

Production note: The draft of the script used for voice recording had an extra bit here just before the scene ended. Before going to Hero’s Hill, Analyzer pulls up the skirts of some of the nurses at the EDF hospital. One nurse says, “he did it again!”

When they arrive at Hero’s Hill, they find someone is there already. A pudgy young man is kneeling before Chief Engineer Tokugawa’s [Orion’s] memorial marker. It’s Tokugawa’s son Tasuke, a recent graduate of the military academy who has been assigned to Yamato. He vows to honor his father’s memory and become a great engine room worker. His promise to persevere in his duties indicates he’s been something of a failure so far. When the current Yamato crew approaches him, his reaction is just short of buffoonery. He stammers out an introduction and proceeds to stiffly march away like he needs his joints oiled.

The young Tokugawa’s hair has a medium brown/reddish hue. This inadvertently fits in well with the way his father was portrayed in Star Blazers, where the elder “Orion” had a distinct Irish accent.

Story note: Tasuke is one of two Tokugawa offspring. The other was seen in Series 1, during the “farewell to Earth” episode, when Tokugawa speaks to a young couple [named Hikoshichi and Kikuko Tokugawa] with a daughter–his granddaughter Aiko [Kathleen in Star Blazers]. Their precise relationships are a bit vague, but in Star Blazers the woman refers to Orion as “Dad,” which could make her Tasuke’s sister. Either way, it’s immaterial since the rest of the Tokugawa family never reappears.

In the memorial service, the surviving crewmembers of Yamato pay tribute to their 96 fallen comrades. Tokugawa, Kato [Conroy], Yamamoto [Hardy], and Saito [Knox] get their own grave markers in front of Captain Okita’s [Avatar’s] statue. Kodai says a few words before a salute and moment of silence. There’s a brief montage of the four above-named crew members. Teresa [Trelaina] is also shown. Shima seems close to tears, thinking of the woman who sacrificed herself to bring him back to life and save the Earth. She means so much to him that she will never, ever be mentioned again.

Production note: a draft of the script by Hideaki Yamamoto gave Teresa a line for her brief appearance: “Goodbye, everyone of Yamato. I continue to live forever in the blood of Shima.”

As per the first memorial service in Yamato 2, this wake takes place at sundown and turns into an informal party as nighttime approaches. Kodai and Yuki are asked about their upcoming marriage. They are strangely coy, both insisting that they don’t feel the need to marry because they are always together anyway.

Production note: the Hideaki Yamamoto script draft has an extra line from Shima here: “Because both Kodai and Yuki have come through life and death many times, they are no ordinary couple.”

Aihara seems particularly anxious for the two to marry, to get Yuki “off the market.” This leads Analyzer into his skirt-flipping routine. Memorial service or not, robot harassment is always good for a chuckle from the Yamato crew.

Story note: Star Blazers fans didn’t have a chance to keep a score card, but this was the fourth time Yamato fans got to see a skirt lift. There were two incidents in Series 1 and one in Series 2, all cut for the English version.

Aihara’s comment can be perceived as a tentative romantic overture towards Yuki, who is ostensibly his boss. I have to wonder what the line of command really is in the Life Services/Environmental Group. Aihara is never seen as a subordinate of Yuki’s despite wearing the same colors. Even in Aihara’s first spoken line in the series, he says he’s under Shima’s command, not Yuki’s. A similar thing happened during Yamato 2‘s prisoner interrogation sequence. Although the interrogator wore the Life Services uniform, Yuki was present more as a witness than as a section chief. The 2010 live action movie did away with the Life Services division completely, recast Yuki as a Cosmo Tiger pilot, and placed Aihara’s communications department under the Navigation umbrella.

Deleted scene: a long pan of Yamato, bow to stern, sitting in the water.

The next day, the four main officers, Kodai, Shima, Sanada, and Yuki, take a tour through Yamato‘s rebuilt engine room and greet the new Engine Room Chief, Sho Yamazaki. While he’s a new character to the audience, he’s revealed to be a veteran of previous missions, just one we never saw before. I like to imagine him as the off-screen chief, the guy who took care of things whenever Tokugawa wasn’t around, and was always just out of frame in every engine room shot we ever saw. Since 99% of the Engine Room scenes show the port side, maybe he was stationed over on the starboard side?

Cut to the EDF Space Soldier Training School: newly-graduated cadets march to a speed boat that will take them to Yamato. They get a big send off with a horn section playing a punchy version of the Yamato theme, firecrackers, and a salute from fellow military personnel. The young Tokugawa gets to pilot one of the boats, but he becomes so overwhelmed at the sight of the great ship he forgets to turn. Just moments away from crashing into the hull, he suddenly swerves, capsizing the boat and sending everyone into the water.

Tokugawa reports to the bridge, soaking wet and sneezing, and reports 30 new engine room staff on board. Another cadet, Tetsu Kitano, arrives to announce 29 additional crew members: a mix of commandos, navigators, and gunners. (This puts the crew up to 78. There were 19 survivors of the Comet Empire, plus these 59 new crew members.) Tokugawa seems to have a disheartened look on his face when Kitano is speaking, perhaps because Kitano makes him look worse by comparison. This is supported by their followup orders: Kitano is assigned to the 1st bridge, while Tokugawa is ordered to change out of his wet clothes before he gets sick. After he leaves, Aihara comments “He’s not like his dad.” Nanbu [Dash] replies, “You were just the same.”

While The New Voyage was never dubbed, it was integrated into the Star Blazers universe through the Argo Press comic book adaption. I like some of the little touches made to the dialogue that make it less stiff than the subtitle script. The comic version of Dash’s line to Homer is “No, he’s more like you.”

Kodai’s voice pipes through the ship, letting the new crew know they are taking the ship up for a trial run and some battle simulations.

Production note: in the script draft by Hideaki Yamamoto, Tokugawa is in a ready room reassuring the other cadets: “We should get a week of easy lectures.” Kodai’s sudden launch announcement breaks in to surprise everyone.

Kitano, now in a green Nav uniform, is going to take the helm for launch. He pilots from Kodai’s chair, which is equipped with its own pop-out helm controls, usually only used for aiming the Wave-Motion Gun. Kodai sits in Analyzer’s seldom used spot to the left. Kitano is visibly nervous, but Shima gives him some advice to put him at ease.

While Kitano comes off as competent, it’s a different story with the Engine Room rookies. When ordered by Chief Yamazaki to go to 3rd battle speed and open the valve to the Wave-Motion engine, Tokugawa and another tech argue about whether he said 3rd or 4th battle speed. Their cluelessness is superseded by another tech asking, “Where’s the valve?” Tokugawa quickly consults a manual, grabs a nearby lever, says a hopeful “switch on!” and stalls the engine.

Yamazaki yells over the intercom, his rage directed at Tokugawa. He even throws in a personal remark: “Your father would cry!” Tokugawa can’t help responding under his breath “I wish they’d shut up about dad…” which doesn’t go unheard by the Chief.

Deleted scene: the ship moves haphazardly through the water.

Tokugawa may be relieved that he isn’t the only one who screws up. After the ship is brought back up to speed and the order to launch is given, Kitano (frozen with fear) proceeds to aim the ship directly toward shore. While others gasp in horror, Shima calmly walks over and “helps” Kitano pull back the yoke. The ship rises from the water, clearing the trees near the shore by meters. All things considered, Kitano didn’t do that bad a job when compared to some of the mistakes Shima made during his first launch.

To accompany their new voyage, they are serenaded by Isao Sasaki singing Yamato! The New Voyage, which stands out in the saga’s discography for its English chorus: “Remember Yamato.” (Translated lyrics to the song can be found here.)

Production note: A few of the liftoff scenes were lifted from Farewell to Yamato. They were shot on different film stock and have a slight yellowish cast. But they still get the job done.

At the edge of Earth’s atmosphere, Yamato is hailed by a fighter squadron. It’s the new Cosmo Tiger squadron, lead by hotshot cadet Shigeru Sakamoto. The crew is now augmented by 54 more soldiers, bringing the total up to 132.

Deleted scene: a brief clip of the Cosmo Tigers landing in the hangar bay. One of the fighters is shown landing on a circular platform, which spins the craft around 180 degrees and raises it up to a storage shelf.

Kodai is glad to have Sakamoto–even calling him “the new Kato”–for all of 10 seconds. Then, Sakamoto zooms past the bridge and improvs some aerial acrobatics. Kodai berates him for showing off, then orders him to land. When he does, Kodai is there in person to chew him out for treating his fighter like a toy.

“Oh, you didn’t like my show?” is the pilot’s flippant response, which earns him a powerful backhand.

I remember being initially misled by Sakamoto. By the time I saw this film, I knew Kato had been killed at the end of Yamato 2. I had also seen a few episodes of Series 3 and knew the Kato character was back. When I first saw Sakamoto, I mistook him for “the new Kato,” the character in The Bolar Wars. I was wrong, but it’s kind of strange they’d replace Kato with a lookalike, only for the him to be replaced by a more accurate lookalike later.

Yamato leaves the atmosphere and the cruising wings are retracted. (Never mind that they were retracted before the fighters arrived…)

Production note: Time out for some voice actor recognition. The characters may have been newbies, but the actors were most certainly not.

Tetsu Kitano, voiced by Makio Inoue. Previously known as Master Mitsuru Hanagata (Star of the Giants), Ishikawa Goemon (Lupin III), and the one & only Captain Harlock.

Shigeru Sakamoto, voiced by Toshio Furukawa. Also the voice of Kai Shiden (Mobile Suit Gundam) and Ataru Morohoshi (Urusei Yatsura), both teenage boys with attitude. He would return to play Takeshi Ageha in Yamato III.

Tasuke Tokugawa, voiced by Toru Furuya. The superstar voice actor best known at the time for Hoshi Hyuuma (Star of the Giants) and Amuro Rei (Mobile Suit Gundam). It was uncommon for him to take a comedic role, but he stayed with the character all the way through Yamato Resurrection in 2009.

Sho Yamazaki, voiced by Mikio Terashima. A veteran voice actor famous for his dubbing work on foreign films. In anime, he was best known as the male half of Berg Katze (the hermaphroditic arch enemy of Gatchaman).

Continue to Part 2

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