Monthly Dollar magazine, October 1977

Space Battleship Yamato is a big hit

~ The soundtrack sold 300,000 copies and movie theaters were packed to capacity ~

Producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki’s wonderful “anticipatory spirit” and “passion”

Yamato launch!

When speaking of this summer’s hot topics, we can’t help but mention the Space Battleship Yamato boom. The soundtrack LP from Nippon Columbia sold over 300,000 copies in the blink of an eye, and the number of theaters showing the film increased significantly in September. These two factors combined means record sales are likely to continue to grow.

The most notable feature of this hit film/record is the idea and execution ability of the producer, Yoshinobu Nishizaki. The project was also made possible by the deep-rooted fan base for Yamato, an anime that was originally aired on Japanese TV but was discontinued after two arcs [26 episodes] due to low viewer ratings. Fans longed for TV reruns and a soundtrack LP for three years. This was the main reason why the maker decided to take action. But there was also Yoshinobu Nishizaki’s passion for anime and his tireless efforts to make it happen.

He cried over the slump in the TV anime market, but he did not give in to it, deciding, “Let’s make a feature-length anime film that can be sold overseas.” To raise funds, he sold the publishing rights and TV rerun rights to raise 20 million yen. He then poured another 30 million yen into the production of the film.

It was assembled by former Nikkatsu Studio director Toshio Masuda, with music by Hiroshi Miyagawa. Nishizaki chose a top-notch man in his 40s (Nishizaki is also 42 years old), a man in the prime of his career. His passion was persuasive.

The soundtrack singer is Isao Sasaki, who made a name for himself as the “Japanese Elvis,” and is now known as a “singer for children’s records” along with Masato Shimon. He has been training hard.

The work, which Mr. Nishizaki put all his energy into, was completed in August of last year, and was sent to Hollywood to make an English version. On April 20 of this year, it was entered in the Cannes Film Festival. Buyers from five countries, including the U.S. and Germany, were in negotiations with him, and he received a guarantee of $500,000. However, he was determined to have the film screened in Japan as well.

As soon as he returned to Japan, he approached a major movie company, but all the replies started with, “Anime isn’t really…” Even the media was indifferent to his impassioned speech at a first press conference on June 23.

Yamato has a man’s romance…

Two months later, the media that had been so indifferent was fighting for interviews with him, truly an ironic phenomenon.

In any case, the great public’s need is what drove the maker (though that need may have been less at the beginning), and it can be said that Nippon Columbia is at the top. Akihiko Nagami, manager of the curatorial sales section of the company’s record business division, recalls:

“The first pressing of The History of TV Manga Theme Songs (4 LP set shown at right, 5000 yen) was released on October 1, 1976 and sold 30,000 sets, more than expected. We think it was a milestone or a foreshadowing of this big hit.”

It is true that when something becomes hit, even if it is thought to be accidental, you can find the foundation and the foreshadowing if you look carefully. However, it takes a certain amount of determination to sell a large number of products targeted at a certain segment of the population.

When they released the Space Battleship Yamato album (CS-7033, 1800 yen) on July 25, they did not anticipate the big hit they would get this time, but must have felt that it might exceed the 30,000 units of the previous album. It just so happened that the TV program was aired in Sapporo for the first time, and record stores in Sapporo, Gyokkodo, and other cities received up to 1,000 preorders. Columbia was surprised when the popularity of this album surpassed the 700 preorders for The Bay City Rollers in a single week’s time.

The number of TV reruns expanded to Nagoya, Miyazaki, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, and so on. Finally, the movie was screened from August 6 (distributed by Toei, roadshow at Toei and Tokyu theaters). The popularity of the film has grown to such an extent that 150,000 copies were sold on the day of its release, a truly astonishing pace.

150,000 copies…

In this day and age, for example, even a top star’s album is considered a “hit” when it crosses the 10,000-copy line. You can understand the significance and value of this number. Between the TV broadcasts and the release of the movie, this figure of 150,000 copies has doubled to more than 300,000 copies as of September 10.

For anime fans and Yamato fans, a sequel [to this album] is already in the works. A Yamato Symphonic Suite, which is a symphonic arrangement of Yamato‘s BGM, is being planned as an orchestral performance disc.

Mr. Nishizaki’s romance and adventurous spirit knows no bounds. He concludes with the following words about the future: “I want to make good things. That’s all I want to do. I want to be the best producer and live in Hollywood. That’s my dream.”

Meanwhile, Nippon Columbia will take advantage of the anime boom by releasing the English version of Yamato on November 25. In addition, Triton of the Sea, Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, and Mazinger Z, which have received many requests from users, will be released by the end of the year. In addition, Terebi Animation Memorable Scenes (4-disc set shown at left, 5,000 yen) will be released on October 1.

The lesson of this anime boom, not only for the record and movie industries, is to accurately grasp the user’s orientation (there must be a foundation for something like that) and analyze if there is a possibility of a hit, even if it is only a small number. With proper timing for commercialization, the possibility of success will be great.

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