Roadshow magazine, October 1977

What does it have in common with Star Wars? Dreams and roman SF anime

The secret of the hit Space Battleship Yamato

Let’s take a look at the most talked-about movies of this summer. The first two are Hakkoudasan and Suspiria, and the big winner is Space Battleship Yamato. This is a sci-fi anime that was shot in 35mm, broadcast on TV, and re-edited for theatrical release. The western-style films, promoted with glitz and glamor, did not grow as much as expected, but this dark horse quickly rose to the top as a major contender.

To begin with, there were 26 episodes of Yamato, broadcast on Japanese TV from October 1974. Although the ratings were low at the time, the popularity of the series exploded with reruns, creating an enthusiastic fan base. The novels and manga have continued to sell well and fan clubs have penetrated far and wide, numbering 30,000 members in 200 groups nationwide. It is surprising that 70% of this fan base is made up of high-teen women. The average comment from the fans has been, “I like the overall theme of the film, which depicts the love of humanity in the face of death.”

The vice president of a fan club said, “The unfinished nature of Yamato is appealing. Yamato is not yet complete. It’s fun for fans to get together and imagine this and that.”

The combined voice of these fans suggests that the self-sacrificing theme of saving Earth from destruction and an epic SF roman have both aroused admiration.

The film is edited from 26 episodes into 2 hours and 8 minutes, highlighting the great battle between Yamato and the Gamilas aliens. In order to save Earth from the danger of extinction, Yamato launches for the far side of the universe and we see the adventures and romance of the crew.

The film is constructed by Toshio Masuda of Tora Tora Tora and Human Revolution, with music by Hiroshi Miyagawa and art and design by Leiji Matsumoto of Otoko Oidon [manga] fame. The film adaptation was planned by freelance producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki.

At first, he approached movie studios with his project, but they did not take it seriously. However, he was convinced that a film based on the theme of “love,” which is common to all mankind, would not fail to be a hit on the screen. He produced the film on his own and completed it over a period of two years. His enthusiasm may have also moved the hearts of young fans.

Yamato‘s popularity on TV has also spread to publishing and records. Publications (novels, new books, manga, etc.) have sold more than 1.2 million copies, and the single has exceeded 400,000 copies. In addition, reservations for the original soundtrack of the movie have been flooding in, and many stores have run out of stock.

Yamato used to be only for a few fans, but the movie has now made new fans, and a huge boom has been created. Star Wars, which is a big hit in America, is also SF entertainment based on adventure and romance. Like Yamato, the story is simple and direct, easy for anyone to understand.

In both America and Japan, people are fed up with downbeat horror and it seems the time has come to seek rich dreams and romance.

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