Concept album, 3/23/2005
Columbia Music Entertainment, COCX-33144
The very last recording to emerge from Columbia’s Akasaka recording studio was intentionally chosen to be a Yamato album. Hiroshi Miyagawa’s son Akira had built a thriving musical career of his own by this time, and his association with Yamato (which went all the way back to 1980) made him the ideal choice to carry on the legacy. The liner notes, written by Producer Masashi Yagi, brought the entire story of Yamato music full circle:
THE PLAN FOR AKIRA MIYAGAWA TO PLAY THE NEW YAMATO SOUND
The music merchandising of Yamato began with a cover album. As everyone knows, the music of the first TV series won the hearts of anime fans. Columbia answered the cry for music releases with the high-quality album, Symphonic Suite Yamato. When this plan was announced, some were unhappy that Columbia had chosen not to release the actual music heard in the series. But Columbia’s decision was no mistake.
The album was actually superior to the TV soundtrack, which had been recorded monaurally. To those who have heard both on CD, the difference is clear. Symphonic Suite established the “brand” for Yamato music and set the stage for tremendous growth with new symphonic albums for each subsequent production. But the first album made the biggest impact, and is difficult to surpass. Most afficianados of Yamato music still consider Symphonic Suite the best album in the series.
Akira Miyagawa is the one who did the arrangement and piano playing on Acoustic Yamato. In late 2004, Columbia’s director of planning, Tomohiro Yoshida, approached Mr. Miyagawa about producing a new album similar to the beloved Symphonic Suite. We were already planning to re-release all of the original BGM in its original and simplest form, and were once more concerned with Yamato music.
We wanted to produce something else that would be a little different and allow the music to be recognized anew. The simpler the better. Furthermore, it would require someone who thoroughly knew the creative soul of maestro Hiroshi Miyagawa. There was no better choice than his son, Akira.
He had already proven himself on an earlier album titled Hiroshi Miyagawa’s Hit Parade, in which Yamato pieces were performed by members of the Miyagawa family. This new project would be similar in concept. We settled on a plan that would include Akira’s longtime partner, a saxophone player named Makoto Hirahara. I had previously seen them in concert, which was full of fresh, novel arrangements. A collaberation with these two would be at once simple and deep, resulting in an unprecedented Yamato album. It had a real sense of belonging.
When we conceived this concept album, Akira Miyagawa was the first to ask, “what can be done with Yamato now?” That question was answered long ago by Symphonic Suite, which was a bold experiment in exploring the many facets of Yamato. This resulted in, among other things, an orchestral samba-like arrangement of The Scarlet Scarf. When we listened to this fearless composition again, our idea for this project solidified. The acknowledged best Yamato album was the perfect catlyst for a new one.
Click here for a complete track listing.
Akira Miyagawa has an extraordinarily busy music career, picking up where his multi-faceted father left off. He has returned to Yamato repeatedly, both as an arranger and the conductor of the Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra. He is also the star of the NHK children’s series Quintet, a Sesame-Street-like program with a focus on music. Above, left to right: Prelude to Final Yamato (half of which was arranged by Akira in 1982), a Yamato suite written for brass band by Akira (Brain Music, 2003), a Quintet piano book (DoReMi publishing, 2005) and DVD (NHK, 2006). Below: CDs containing the Yamato Theme and others: Hiroshi Miyagawa/The Hit Parade (Columbia, 2002), Naniwa Orchestral Winds (Brain Music, 2006), Akira & On-Gaku-Dan/Osaka Symphonic Orchestra (King Record Co., 2006) and Big Discovery Orchestra! (Columbia, 2007).
Read an extensive interview with Akira Miyagawa here.
BGM Collection Re-releases
Columbia Music Entertainment, 5/18/2005
Ten years after their 1995 release of the entire Yamato catalog, Columbia (having gone through two name-changes in the interim) made the BGM collections available again in modified packaging. This was an interesting twist of fate, since these were the albums Columbia was most uncertain about releasing back in the production years; poetic justice for all those who wanted them in the first place.
BGM Collection 1/Space Battleship Yamato: COCX-33200
BGM Collection 2/Yamato 2: COCX-33201
BGM Collection 3/The New Voyage: COCX-33202
BGM Collection 4/Be Forever: COCX-33203
BGM Collection 5/Yamato III: COCX-33204
BGM Collection 6/Final Yamato: COCX-33205
Despite the closing of the Columbia studio, Yamato soldiers on…
Space Battleship Yamato/Reminiscence of Iscandar
Playstation 2 Soundtrack CD, 10/6/2004
Yamato games for Playstation were released from 1999 to 2005. A PS2 game based on The New Voyage was among them, supervised by Leiji Matsumoto for Bandai and released on the 30th anniversary of the original TV series. A deluxe box-set version of the game included a mini-artbook and this soundtrack CD, half of which consists of midi-style synthesizer versions of original BGM. The other half is all-new music written for the game, which sounds utterly unlike a Miyagawa score. It is also one of the few CD sources for the “TV size” version of the Yamato theme as originally heard in the broadcast of series 1.
Space Battleship Yamato Original Soundtrack
Fuji CR Pachinko music, November 2007
A state of the art Yamato-themed pachinko video game swept Japan in early 2008, accompanied by a product line of its own that included this limited-edition EP with three newly-recorded tracks: the Yamato Theme, The Scarlet Scarf, and Endless Expanse of Outer Space. Isao Sasaki was re-engaged to cover his two most famous songs once again, and this disc was one of many premium items given away at Fuji’s 2007 launch party. Read all about the game here.
Black Jack & Space Battleship Yamato
Live concert recording, 3/25/09
King Records, KICC 728
Akira Miyagawa added another entry to the world of Yamato music with this CD of live performances. He conducted the Osaka Symphony Orchestra through a suite of Yamato themes (a symphonic re-arrangement of the suite on Hiroshi Miyagawa’s 2002 Hit Parade album) and combined them with other works derived from anime and other TV programs.
Yamato music was heard live again in a special concert held May, 2009 at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space. Conductor Naoto Otomo was a key member of the music staff during the production years, leading Symphony Orchestra Yamato through all the sessions for Final Yamato and the 1984 Grand Symphony. 25 years later, he lead the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra through a new performance of that same concert. His next project would be to conduct the score of Yamato Resurrection.
Symphonic Yamato 2009
Symphonic album, 12/9/09
The first of five new Resurrection CDs was a fresh new recording of the famed 1984 Yamato Grand Symphony by composer Kentaro Haneda. Producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki had long wanted to honor his work by using some of it in a film soundtrack, and Yamato Resurrection finally gave him the chance. The first pressing of the CD came with three mini-postcards (shown above right)
Read all about the genesis of the Grand Symphony here.
Yamato Resurrection Original Soundtrack
EMI Music, 12/16/09, TOCT-26918
This collection follows the narrative order of the film, split between rearrangements of Hiroshi Miyagawa scores in the first half and new recordings of classical scores in the second half. It also includes shortened versions of the Yamato theme and the end title song Dedicate My Love. Newly-composed material by Kosuke Yamashita settles nicely into the overall style.
A second disc of “unreleased tracks” (above right) was included in the Yamato Resurrection “Complete Box” released in late 2010. It contains 19 tracks, again a mixture of anime BGM and classical music. Together, these two discs present the entire score of Resurrection.
Dedicate My Love by The Alfee
CD Singles released 12/16/09
EMI Music TOCT-40281, TOCT-40282, TOCT-40283
One disc just wasn’t enough to hold this much energy! All three contain two versions of the end title song, one with vocals and one without. Each also has its own bonus track. 40281 includes Space Battleship Yamato 2009 with Symphonic Orchestra, 40282 includes Space Battleship Yamato 2009 Rock Version, and 40283 includes Shining Run, a theme written for the 2009 Osaka International Female Marathon.
The Alfee is a very high-profile rock group in Japan, a trio consisting of Masaru Sakurai (bass guitar/vocals), Kohnosuke Sakazaki (acoustic guitar/vocals/percussion) and Toshihiko Takamizawa (electric guitar/lead vocals). Like Yamato, they celebrated their 35th anniversary in 2009; they formed the same year series 1 made its TV debut. Since then they’ve contributed theme songs to anime productions many times, including Lensman (1984) and Galaxy Express Eternal Fantasy (1998).
The Second Story, Kazuko Kawashima
Mr. Sirius, 3/29/10, KAZZ-001
Kazuko Kawashima’s voice is intimately known to Yamato fans all over the world; she performed the vocal for the Infinity of Space theme that has haunted us all since we first heard it. This was one of six favorite tunes that she reprised for this new CD, released by independent music label Mr. Sirius.
Iskandall & Bolar MP3 singles, WCDA
According to the website Hear Japan, WCDA is a DJ/remix/vocal/design unit who create House Music, Electronica, and Progressive House. The name is an abbreviation for “Will Cinderella Dance Again?” The group have in recent years played a large part in pushing Dance/Techno-influenced J-Pop styles closer to an authentic club sound. They often do remixes for popular anime titles. In June 2009, they covered the Iscandar theme as a 2-track maxi single and followed up in October 2010 with the Bolar theme from Series 3.
Happily for American fans, these unique releases can be found on iTunes. (Recommended!) A new title, Desler Attack, was added in January 2016.
Space Fantasy + Space Fantasy Live
For Life Records, FLCF-5027
This blast from the past was the first “concept album” featuring Yamato tracks, an all-synthesizer collection. Five of the ten tracks on Space Fantasy were Yamato covers, and the opening track on Space Fantasy Live followed suit. Originally released all the way back in April, 1978, this was the first time For Life Music released either album on CD.
Read a description of the original album here.
Live-Action Movie CDs
Love Lives single by Steven Tyler, Sony Music Japan International Inc., SICP 2923
Original Soundtrack by Naoki Sato, Nichion, NQKS-2001
On November 24, just one week before the premiere of the 2010 live-action Yamato movie, Steven Tyler’s CD single for the end title track, Love Lives, was released by Sony Music Japan. It contains four different versions of the song: Single mix, Acoustic Version, Piano Version, and Instrumental. It marks Mr. Tyler’s first solo release and also the first contribution to a Yamato film by an internationally-recognized music star.
Listen to it on YouTube here.
The premiere was accompanied by a number of product releases including the magnificent soundtrack album by Naoki Sato. The music samples heavily from Hiroshi Miyagawa’s original score, and can be heard track by track on YouTube here.
Best Selection! Cinema Soundtracks: Space Battleship Yamato~Hawaii
Audio City, 1/21/11, MP3
This two-track album was released exclusively as an MP3 and is available for download from iTunes. It delivers a Yamato theme arranged for ukelele, one track with Japanese lyrics and one instrumental. It may seem silly on the surface, but it is remarkably well-produced and further proves the versatility of Hiroshi Miyagawa’s composition.
Zoku Animentine by “Clementine”
Sony Music Japan International Inc., 3/9/11, SICP 3027
This CD features 13 tracks, all anime themes rendered in an easy-listening style with French lyrics. The album leads with Yamato and includes themes from Evangelion, Dr. Slump, Galaxy Express, City Hunter, and more. They would not be at all out of place in the background of a French cafe.
Queen of the Night by Yucca
Edoya Corporation, 7/20/11, EDCE-1010
Yucca is the vocalist who performed the signature “Infinity of Space” theme for the live-action movie soundtrack. Queen of the Night contains 11 tracks that combine her wide-ranging operatic voice with progressive rock beats. Her rendering of the theme from Yamato is a new one produced specifically for this release and fits beautifully into a lineup that includes Ave Maria and other internationally-recognized tunes. Visit Yucca’s official website here. Her discography page provides access to a sample of each track on Queen of the Night.
See a live performance of the theme by Yucca on YouTube here.
Sony Music Japan, 10/12/11, SICP 3268
Animetal has been a Japanese heavy-metal institution for years, famous for their ear-splitting mega-marathons of anime themes. They’ve covered Yamato and many others in their time. This album stands apart because of its band members, all of whom are American metal-vets: “Metal Rider” is singer Mike Vescera (formerly of Loudness), “Speed King” is lead guitarist Chris Impellitteri (named by Guitar World magazine as one of the fastest guitarists of all time), “Storm Bringer” is bass guitarist Rudy Sarzo (played with Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake and more), and “Tank” is drummer Scott Travis (of Judas Priest and Racer X).
The disc consists of 11 tracks that start with Yamato and include Gatchaman, Mazinger Z, Fist of the North Star, Saint Seiya, and more. Whereas many anime themes have predominantly Japanese lyrics with a few words in English, these go the other way. For example, here are the Yamato lyrics as re-written by Mike Vescera, which are actually a pretty faithful translation of the original:
Goodbye all, from all aboard
Uchu Senkan Yamato
To a faraway star, Isucandaru-e
It’s departing on our way, on our way with destiny
We will certainly come back, we said with a smile
To those who are waving, and those we’ve left waiting
Leaving the galaxy, Isucandaru-e
A long voyage to the stars
Uchu Senkan Yamato
See a live performance of the theme by Animetal USA here
Goodbye all, we shall return
Uchu Senkan Yamato
On a mission to save Earth, on a mission for you all
Fighting men, standing tall with burning romance
Someone has to do this now, oh it is our destiny
If it is us that everyone, expects us to have the mission won
Leaving the galaxy, Isucandaru-e
A long voyage to the stars
Uchu Senkan Yamato
Yamato Resurrection Fever Special Soundtrack
EMI, November 2011, PCDZ-2224
It has become common practice to release limited-edition CDs with the rollout of high-profile pachinko games based on popular anime titles, and this one came out just ahead of the Yamato Resurrection Fever game in late 2011.
The disc contained the two songs recorded for the film by rock group The Alfee; the main theme and the closing song, Dedicate My Love. Shown above is the insert art for the CD.
Yamato Resurrection Director’s Cut soundtrack
Re-arranged Soundtrack Album
Nippon Columbia COCX-37547-8
Released August 29, 2012
The most significant change in the Director’s Cut was the music, and that alone was reason enough to add another jewel to the crown. This 2-disc set covers the entire film in narrative order with most of the re-engineered music in the second half. Only two of the classical tracks heard in the 2009 score are still present; all others have been re-arranged and newly recorded from original Miyagawa film and TV scores. Even if you haven’t seen the Director’s Cut, the album still serves as a fitting love letter to Yamato music. The end theme by The Alfee is still in the film, but an orchestral version subs for it on this release.
Yamato 2199 Soundtracks
Since music has always been as important to Yamato as the ship or any of the characters, it was vital for the score of 2199 to measure up to the original in every way. Hiroshi Miyagawa’s son Akira was the first and only candidate for this, and he performed his task with gusto, recreating every track from scratch and composing a substantial number of new ones.
The entire body of music for 2199 is big enough to require a discography of its own, which can be found here.
Yamato Sound Almanac Series
The Sound Almanac series was an ambitious 2-year project (2012-2014) to reissue the entire Yamato catalog on 30 discs, all remastered to “Blu-spec CD” quality and brimming with bonus tracks. Extensive new liner notes introduced classic Yamato music to new fans brought in by Yamato 2199 and also contained plenty of previously-unknown trivia for the veterans.
Read all about the series and find liner notes here.
Yamato Sound Arrange Project CD series
Off to the side is a special series of discs that has been flying under the radar for a while, but finally emerged in 2015. Y.S.A.P. is the brainchild a fan circle called Brightness. They combine their musical talents to create rich, inventive cover versions of Yamato music from across the entire saga and 2199.
As of this writing, Brightness has released five full-length albums of Yamato music. They typically premiered at the Winter Comiket, culminating with Volume 5 in December 2014. At present, you can only get their works by asking a Japanese friend to order them online. Short of that, you can click on the following links to hear samples from each album:
40th Anniversary Best Track Image Album
HATS Unlimited, HUCD-10172. Released December 3, 2014
Expectations were high when this new CD was announced, and it easily surpassed all of them when it was finally heard. Its 13 tracks reach back across the entire history of Yamato music, sampling liberally from the vintage catalog and rearranging the scores for new interpretations by some of Japan’s top artists. The most prominent among these is violinist Taro Hakase, whose rendition of the main theme provides the opening title for Ark of the Stars.
Stylistically, this collection is very reminiscent of the 1982 “Rhapsody” albums, which took the same approach for violin, guitar, and piano. In this case, however, each track showcases different instruments. Other than the new version of the opening theme, the real standout is a rendition of the White Comet theme with what sounds like a cathedral choir in full voice. Read much more about the project in Yamato 2199 Report 38 here.
01. Space Battleship Yamato 2199 (Taro Hakase, Akira Miyagawa, Takefumi Haketa)
02. Overture (Takefumi Haketa)
03. Birth (Yuji Toriyama, Takefumi Hakata)
04. Scarlet Scarf (Nori Suzuki, Hirko Kashiwagi, Takefumi Haketa)
05. Iscandar (Hiroki Kashiwagi)
06. Hope to Tomorrow (Chisako Takashima)
07. Sasha (Yuji Toriyama)
08. White Comet (Takefumi Haketa)
09. Hero’s Hill (Weiwei Wu, Hiroki Kashiwagi)
10. Thoughtful people (Memories) (Iwao Furusawa)
11. Dessler the Rival (Takefumi Haketa)
12. Great Love (Yukie Nishimura, Weiwei Wu, Hiroki Kashiwagi)
13. From Yamato with Love (Yukie Nishimura, Yuji Toriyama)
One more bonus for listeners was a special tie-in episode of the streaming internet program YRA Radio Yamato that could be downloaded to mobile devices with a Japanese OS.
Sheet music books containing Yamato compositions, published by various companies from 1978 onward.
Left to Right: Parade Band Song Book 2 (unknown publisher/1978), Symphonic Suite Space Battleship Yamato (Music Eight), Anime Song Omnibus (Join Music/1983), Anime BGM Collection (Tokyo Music Study/1983).
Left to right: Animation Hit Song (Tokuma Shoten/1981), Space Battleship Yamato (Tokyo Music Study), Final Yamato Original Theme & BGM score (1983) and a Yamato score for Jazz Band (unknown publisher).
Left to Right: Symphonic Suite Yamato piano compositions (Tokyo Music Study/1982), Anime Song Memory (Tokyo Music Study), Space Battleship Yamato Music Collection (Tokyo Music Study/1983), ’83 Sound Anime Collection (Tokyo Music Study),
Left to Right: Space Battleship Yamato piano songbook (Join Music/1983), Anime Song Chorus book (unknown publisher/2002), Brain Concert Repertoire collection 1: Space Battleship Yamato arrangement for brass band by Akira Miyagawa (Brain Music/2003), Band Score Animation Song Super Collection (KMP/2006).
Left to right: a Farewell to Yamato score from the Yamato Music Society, a book for piano (unknown publisher), a 1979 TV Manga Encyclopedia containing scores from several productions, and a 1981 Choral Suite collection (Tokyo Music Study).
Special thanks to superfan Steve Harrison for research assistance.