English Today magazine, September 1977

English on Screen:
Space Battleship Yamato

Commentary and translation by Terutoyo Taneda


This month’s article is an international version of a Japanese animated feature film, a science fiction film titled Space Cruiser Yamato (Space Battleship Yamato).

The producers of the film stated the following in their original concept: “…human civilization has been through many crises. Each time, man has escaped and we are here today. The important thing is that we must not allow ourselves to be defined as objects in the face of dehumanizing industrial organizations. We are ‘human beings’ in a different dimension from objects.”

“We human beings must recognize our right to dream. I want to speak not only to adults, but especially to boys and girls. This is why I made Space Battleship Yamato.”

“This film is set in the year 2199, when all of humanity on Earth is about to be destroyed. It is a science-fiction adventure action drama that tells the story of a group of young space warriors determined to save Earth from extinction. The film depicts the way of life of men who, in order to achieve their goal of saving Earth, consider all possibilities and do not give up hope until the end. Through their purpose and their actions, the film shows us that ‘Humanity is love’.”

The scenes in this film are unprecedented as they unfold one after another. The film allows us to spend a cool moment in a setting that is unique to science-fiction. However, what bothered me a little after watching the film was that the heroes who save Earth are Japanese (though they appear with English nicknames), but the bad guys are all foreigners. I hope this will not be a problem when the film is released in foreign countries.


The Earth has lost its green and its biological systems are dying. On top of that, Dessler, an alien version of Hitler (?) is plotting an invasion. “Planet Bombs” rain down on Earth day after day.

One day, a message of good news comes from Iscandar, a planet far away in space. They offer to provide a radiation-removal device and ask us to come and pick it up. The battleship Yamato, lying at the bottom of the sea off the coast of Kagoshima, is converted into a spaceship and reborn as Space Battleship Yamato.

The ship, with Captain Okita and 113 crew members aboard, sets off for Iscandar, 148,000 light years away, using a special navigation system that will allow the ship to return within a year. Along the way, the ship encounters various obstacles, but eventually reaches its destination. Iscandar, however, is revealed to be a double planet with the Dessler-controlled Gamilas (Planet Gorgon in the international version). One cannot get to Iscandar without passing Gamilas.

However, if we do not return to Earth within the next six months, it will be destroyed by radioactive contamination….

The Japanese version of Space Battleship Yamato was released in theaters on August 6. The international version introduced here will be released in America, Britain, France, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands.

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