Modern Film, January 1978

Yoshio Shirai’s Film Challenge Course

This is the second installment in a series of articles submitted by our readers. An anime movie called Space Battleship Yamato was a big hit among young fans. What is so interesting about it? I asked this question in the November issue. If you have any opinions about it, please write them down and send them to me.

This time, I received three letters, each of which was quite interesting. I’ll present all of them here.

Thank you very much, Mr. Shirai, I have been waiting for those words! I hope they will be seen by the public through your magazine! I have been a big fan of Yamato since the TV series. That’s why I am disappointed with the movie.

The cell scratches and the digest-like structure of the story are very frustrating. I don’t mean to be rude to the staff, but did they spend two years on that movie? If the followup is like this, I hope it will be stopped immediately. I feel like people who haven’t watched the TV series are laughing at Japanese anime in some ways.

(Shinichi Takada, Niigata City, Japan)

I also saw the Space Battleship Yamato movie. The TV show made a lot of sense, so I had high expectations for the movie. However, after watching it, I found it to be uninteresting. The scenes showing the underlying romance of Yamato were not in the movie. No matter what kind of movie it is, if it is shortened too much, the content will change. Based on the this, I agree with Mr. Shirai.

(Masatomo Soma, Kuroiso City, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan)

What you’re saying is perfectly reasonable, and other fans agree with you. I’m a TV series fan myself, to tell you the truth. I don’t understand why the movie is such a big hit. So, I would like to try to answer your question by referring to my own experience.

The TV show has ended, but the movie is still showing. By going to see it, you can immerse yourself in the atmosphere again. The author’s intention that “this movie is composed around Captain Okita” must be taken into consideration.

Now, this is where things get personal. The reason I went to see it six times is because of something Leiji Matsumoto said in Daijunjo-kun…

“When a man lives in a tiny room, he feels sorrow, sadness, and poverty. It’s hell. When time goes by and you look back, there was one sanctuary that no hand could touch. A place filled with dreams, hopes, and ambitions. Where a young heart was free. On his deathbed, he longs to return to that paradise once again…”

I believe that those who can hold on to that heart are the young men who can keep that spirit alive.

(Hino City, Japan – Kata Ishikawa, Earth Defense Commander)

The last one does not have a real name on it, so normally it would not be printed. However, since the address and the name “Kata Ishikawa” are clear, I decided to make an exception.

Again, as I pointed out, it’s interesting that fans of the TV version gather at the theater and watch the movie despite generally being disappointed by it. It seems to be true that the movie version is a big hit due to the phenomenon of fans who watched Yamato on TV, alone at home in the living room, gather at movie theaters to have a “fan convention.”

The young fans are passionate about the grand romanticism of the TV version, which is connected to the characteristics of Leiji Matsumoto’s work. This is what it means. Young people are so intensely hungry for that romantic flavor that they will go to the cinema six times for it.

If someone makes a big screen theatrical movie that would satisfy their cravings in earnest, I’m sure they will come to theaters in even greater numbers than they did for Yamato. Japanese filmmakers, please do your best!

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