The Making of Final Yamato, Part 2

In between the brainstorming sessions held in 1981, it was the job of SF writer Aritsune Toyota to organize and streamline the raw ideas into text which could be re-examined and built upon in the next meeting. It’s difficult to settle on a single term for this material. The original text vacillates between “draft” and “synopsis,” but the content never quite settles into either, since concepts are invented and discarded frequently.

But whatever you choose to call them, it’s fascinating to track which ideas planted the seeds for the final product and which were blown away on the wind. Some would have lead to a variant of the film while others would have created different stories altogether.

Note: the illustrations are included for decorative purposes only. They did not exist at this stage of preproduction.

Set 1: May 28, 1981

[translator’s note: this material was written after the first brainstorming session and presented for discussion at the second.]

Yamato patrols at the edge of the solar system and observes that a fixed star has completely disappeared. This has also already been observed on Earth; a dark nebula is approaching from outside the galaxy, blocking out all the constellations in that direction.

Rather than Yamato, the battleship Tirpitz was in close range. It went to investigate at once, but has not reported in. Yamato hastens to it immediately, but is attacked by something like a stingray (a space ship made of living organisms which, when struck, proliferate and return to the central figure, like rays), but this is to be investigated later.

Yamato encounters Tirpitz on its way back home, but it is a horrific figure. The hull is cracked all over, and looks like it could crumble at any moment. In a dangerous operation, Yamato manages to recover one survivor who mysteriously says, “you cannot use any Wave-Motion Energy,” and then dies.

As they leave Tirpitz behind, it shatters like glass. Yamato leaves for home, but meets the living spaceship on the way, which has grown into a stingray shape of considerable size and goes on a rampage. It is finally destroyed with dissolving liquid.

Yamato returns home. A report: a fragment of the stingray ship was collected and proves to be an artificial organism built from DNA. The dark nebula will arrive at Earth in 200 days.

With no time to rest, Yamato launches on a sortie.

It is attacked by another living spaceship like the stingray, but a fleet is spotted behind it. A call comes in from this enemy: “We came in quest of Yamato. We shall be the strongest fleet in the history of the galaxy.”

A strong battleship attacks. Yamato overpowers and demolishes it, but a stunningly beautiful woman named Ariosha is rescued from inside.

Building up excess energy, they rush into the dark nebula and Sanada orders an emergency stop of the engine. The body of the ship shakes slightly. The nebula is full of strange, high-energy ions. This is what the warning from Tirpitz was about. If a shock cannon or the Wave-Motion Gun are used, a ship will break apart.

Yamato uses a blast of compressed air to escape the nebula, and returns home to Earth.

Measures: it’s a big problem that Wave-Motion Energy cannot be used. The dark nebula is getting closer and closer. Ariosha is a clue, but she stays silent and does not speak.

Commander Borg contacts them from the enemy side. They are not interested in a conquest of Earth, their only aim is Yamato. In other words, they want to fight Yamato.

The battleground is appointed at Water Planet Agua, 2,000 light years from Earth. As soon as they arrive and land at Aqua, it will be covered by the approaching dark nebula and Wave-Motion Energy will not be useable.

While sailing on the sea, fighter planes can be used. (The Cosmo Zero has a nuclear power core?) The enemy fleet consists of various ships from battleships to carriers. They fire armor-piercing rounds and Yamato fights back with shaped-charge explosive cartridges. It becomes an anachronistic battle at sea.

Yamato manages to escape the sea by collection hydrogen ions and launching into space. They are driven out of the nebula by fighter planes. After a desperate struggle with the large fleet that pursues them, they destroy it with the Wave-Motion Gun.

The dark nebula approaches Agua’s solar system. They try to defend against it, but gradually realize that in a skirmish, they can’t use Wave-Motion Energy on the enemy if it escapes into the nebula. Finally, the entire system is swallowed.

They return to the water. Yamato can’t float on the surface, but attacks the enemy from below. Although the planet has been swallowed by the nebula, the battle area is bright. Yamato overpowers the enemy in an escalating gun battle. Although the bridge of the flagship is destroyed, it does not stop.

Both sides take damage all over from the fight. Ariosha reveals a weak point in Borjigin, the enemy flagship. She is an android built by Borjigin. They are the ships.

Long ago, the people of space who conquered this ocean planet knew it was not useful and left it, leaving their fleet under computer control. The abandoned warships proliferated themselves and set out into space seeking a strong ship.

In other words, the ship itself is a form of life. Stingray-like fighters, Ariosha, and Commander Borg are living robots made by the flagship Borjigin.

Yamato defeats Borjigin and sinks into the ocean off the Kyushu headland in 2306.

[Translator’s note: “Borjigin” is named for the Mongolian imperial clan of Genghis Khan.]

Set 2: June 1, 1981

[translator’s note: these notes were written between the 2nd and 3rd brainstorming sessions.]

• Something with a huge mass is approaching. Its true nature is not understood.

• The battleships Tirpitz and Scharnhorst go to investigate it.

• They are attacked by something resembling giant stingrays. Although the main guns can punch a hole, it restores itself. After fighting and hardships, Yamato overpowers it. A piece of the organism is recovered and studied to understand its true character.

• The last words of the crew are, “You must not use Wave-Motion Energy on the water mass of Aquarius.”

• Aquarius appears. The object is a huge mass of water, 100 times larger than the sun.

Yamato is covered in an atmosphere of vapor. Engine stop. The risk is that the use of Wave-Motion Energy could cause a resonance phenomenon, and the vapor atmosphere will explode.

• The battleships Borjigin and Ongirad appear in the water mass of Aquarius. Yamato communicates with them. Battle begins. The enemy fires armor-piercing shells and shaped-charge explosive cartridges. Yamato evades them without fighting. Yamato escapes by retrofire of liquid nitrogen. The beautiful woman Ariosha does not yet appear.

• The enemy has Wave-Motion Energy. There is a running battle in space. It is learned that the enemy will make Earth into a water planet in 200 days.

• Wreckage of stingray-shaped space vessels multiplies, threatening the space center. They are destroyed with flame.

• A scanning device detects amino acids in the artificial organisms, such as thymine. Their composition is close to that of fish.

• A large mass of water approaches and floods the Planet Baldana. It becomes a water planet.

• Arioshia appears: Yamato rescues Queen Ariosha of Baldana.

• A looming crisis on Earth. Aquarius gives notice that a decisive battle with Yamato must be fought on Planet Caliente as the condition to save Earth from extinction. Caliente is a planet of intense heat.

Yamato gets further information about the Aquarius water mass from Dessler, the emperor of Galman. Earth absorbed a large volume of water from Aquarius 4 billion years ago. Aquarius is the source of life on Earth. It orbits the outer edge of the Milky Way galaxy over a period of 4 billion years.

• Dessler and Yamato go to Planet Caliente. The surface of the planet has already been turned into an ocean.

• Both ships participate in the decisive battle of Aquarius. Dessler’s battleship loses.

• Earth is in danger of being submerged. Some planets of the solar system are submerged, including the moons Io and Ganymede. Mars becomes an ocean.

• The Aquarius fleet operates the large mass of water. They confront Yamato on the surface of Mars.

• A detachment force begins to move. The asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter has been immersed in a large body of water which is dispersed by the Wave-Motion Gun. This is because charged ion particles in the water mass react with the asteroids.

Yamato is locked in mortal combat with the warships Borjigin and Ongirado. They break into Earth’s atmosphere.

• A call comes in from the enemy. They were created by a super-life form on an oceanographic investigation 4 billion years ago. The purpose was to turn barren planets into oceans so life would arise. A great civilization was born on Earth, and Yamato is told to inherit that life born from the sea. With that, Borjigin sinks.

Yamato is hit by a large explosion. The survivors abandon ship and bid farewell to the great battleship. It is the year 2203.

Set 3: June 9, 1981

[Translator’s note: these notes were written between the 3rd and 4th brainstorming sessions.]

• A major event happens in front of Yamato, which is damaged and must carry out a recovery. The solar systems at the core of the Milky Way galaxy are destroyed in an antimatter (antiproton) storm, and there is a state of total devastation. The Galman-Gamilas Empire collapses in the face of the antimatter storm.

• As Yamato returns to Earth, Dessler contacts them and reports terrible news. A large mass of water one light-year in diameter will graze the solar system on the side facing the center of the galaxy, but will not hit Earth directly. If the water mass hits the antimatter storm, both will be extinguished. Therefore, orbital calculations are carried out on the water mass.

• A large amount of water pours from the flood mass onto Earth at the point of closest approach. Yamato and Dessler’s ship both set sail.

• The large mass of water passes on its way toward the galactic center and Earth is saved.

Set 4: July 31, 1981

[Translator’s note: these notes were written after the 6th brainstorming session and coincide with the date of Eiichi Yamamoto’s first story draft, which is presented in the next part of this series.]

• Another galaxy suddenly appears on the far side of the Milky Way and collides and explodes in different places. Then, the other galaxy suddenly disappears. There is severe trubulence to the Earth and the solar system. The other galaxy emerged from a different dimension. It is learned that the Galman Empire was completely destroyed. Several hundred solar systems were destroyed by the other galaxy, and space-time is distorted in many places.

• While underway, Yamato encounters an old fleet of Dessler and the White Comet’s giant battleship. [from Yamato 2]

• The huge distortion caused by the galactic collision causes the past and present to intermingle.

• There is a battle with General Domel’s fleet and a critical escape. Another Yamato suddenly appears. Yamato vs. Yamato. Captain Okita emerges from the past and transfers to the present-day Yamato.

• The beautiful water-planet Aquarius appears. The Water Queen Eurydice reveals the truth. Two planets have appeared from the extra-dimensional galaxy. Unless they are eliminated, the time distortion will worsen. Aquarius is one. The other is the fire-planet Vulcan, home of a warlike race. Queen Eurydice asks for help. Yamato travels to the Vulcan side of the dimensional slip.

• The planet Vulcan is very aggressive. Their uniforms and space battleships are reminiscent of medieval knights’ armor. If it cannot be overpowered and forced to return to its point of origin within one month, the Milky Way will go to pieces and never reform.

• Aquarius follows in pursuit of Planet Vulcan.

Set 5: August 6, 1981

[Translator’s note: these notes were written as a followup to Eiichi Yamamoto’s July 31 story draft.]

• The small Aquarius galaxy (about 1/20 the size of ours) breaks into the Milky Way.

• These two galaxies collided 4 billion years earlier, and the smaller one contained a lot of water. Many planets received large volumes of water at that time, which lead to the birth of biological life. Aquarius absorbed carbon and metal in exchange.

Yamato receives an SOS from Battleship Scharnhorst. A survivor of Scharnhorst warns of a water attack and then dies.

• Two planets are discovered inside the huge water mass: a red one called Abernath and a blue one called Aigina. Yamato is attacked by spaceships shaped like sharks and stingrays, and is damaged by two large battleships.

• Earth is in chaos. There is a great disturbance in the center of the Milky Way galaxy. A star is swallowed by a black hole, which then turns into a supernova. The Galman Empire is destroyed. Dessler and a few others escape to Earth.

Yamato is damaged and can’t move without extensive repairs. Kodai is contacted telepathically by the Water Queen Eurydice of Aquarius, which struck the galaxy 4 billion years ago and is approaching again.

• Kodai, Sanada, and Dessler leave to investigate the words of Eurydice.

• The true character of the enemy on Planet Abernath is a fanatical priesthood that worships the great mass of water, lead by High Priest Gomeini

• A battle breaks out against two fleets of Abernath at a planet that has been submerged.

• The course of Aquarius is guided by High Priest Gomeini. What is the energy that can move a galaxy of water? There is a skirmish between Yamato and Abernath.

• The battleships of Abernath that struck a certain planet began to mine something there. They extracted metal.

• The enemy doesn’t have the metal. 4 billion years ago, it bequeathed water to our galaxy and gave birth to life, but at that time, the water galaxy took in a large quantity of the metal, giving birth to its own life.


Special thanks to Neil Nadelman for translation support.

For reasons not clearly explained (though hopefully to be discovered as this coverage continues) development of Final Yamato was suspended after August 1981. The most likely explanation is that the story simply wasn’t coming together fast enough. The movie had been initially promised for summer 1982, which meant that a script had to be in place by a specific date in 1981. As with the previous Yamato movies, Toei pictures was set to distribute the film, and decisions about their 1982 release schedule had a deadline. With that deadline would have come a direct question: “is it ready or not?” Looking back, we know what that answer must have been.

Toei did release a big SF anime movie in the summer of 1982, Leiji Matsumoto’s My Youth in Arcadia. We can speculate that Final Yamato‘s development went on the back-burner once this decision was made, since it did not resume until January 1982.

Continue to Part 3: Eiichi Yamamoto’s first story draft

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