Yamato Sound Almanac: The First Half

It goes without saying that Space Battleship Yamato‘s music is second only to Yamato itself in terms of popularity. It is the “unseen” character of the saga, equal in dramatic impact to any of the lead characters, if not more so.

One of the joys of collecting the music is that each successive reissue of the catalog over the decades has placed more of it into the hands of eager fans. That long process finally culminates here and now with Nippon Columbia’s Yamato Sound Almanac, a campaign to remaster and re-release everything–unpublished tracks included–from July 2012 to March 2014. The mastermind behind the project is producer Masaru Hayakawa, who previously engineered the Eternal Edition CD series for Columbia in 2000.

First, the packaging. Compared to the Eternal Editions, it’s a bit sparse. The Eternal Edition Premium box set, for example, lavishly reproduced all the original LP packaging at CD size, including the obis (promotional ribbons) and the disc labels themselves. The Sound Almanac offers a booklet with a reversible cover, but the interior is text-only. However, what it lacks in flash it certainly makes up for with substance.

Original LP liner notes are reproduced in full and augmented with new information where necessary. Then, of course, there are technical upgrades, juicy bonus tracks, entire albums being released on CD for the first time, and a special gift program for customers with a Japanese address. More on that later. To further introduce the mission of the Sound Almanac series, here are the words of the producer himself, who wrote a preface for each of the CD booklets.

Preface by Masaru Hayakawa

The music that colored Space Battleship Yamato is truly one of a kind. When the first Yamato series started in 1974, it was equipped with a special “something” that allowed the audience to hear a unique sound. In the beginning, the music of Yamato that was heard through the small speakers of a cathode-ray tube of a TV created a surge of acclaim in the Japanese music world, and it soon changed the nature of film music in Japan.

Producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki, Hiroshi Miyagawa who brought about the Yamato sound as the first composer, Yu Aku who wrote the lyrics of the theme songs, and pianist Kentaro Haneda who met the challenge of Final Yamato as a co-composer with Miyagawa; although these people have left us for distant places, the Yamato sound that was woven around them as a precious jewel continues to fascinate us.

The legend of Yamato‘s music has been with us for almost 40 years. Nippon Columbia, the source that carved out music history and first released the Yamato sound, has fully prepared and launched the long-awaited Yamato Sound Almanac series.

If we look back over the era of CD reissues, the first attempted to re-catalog Yamato albums happened in 1995 under the complete editorial supervision of Producer Nishizaki. At this point, a wide variety of Yamato record history made it to CD, including even the “Drama albums” which could not be overlooked. For the Yamato Eternal Editions in 2000, I organized a wide variety of music across many Yamato albums, with the idea of constituting the flow of the saga through the main versions of its soundtrack music.

The plan for the CD series of the 1990s was to recover an enormous number of records, and the intention of the Eternal Edition in the last year of the 20th century was to make definitive editions of the soundtracks that snuggled up even closer to the work. This time, the Yamato Sound Almanac fuses the characteristics of the previous two CD series which further the dual flows of Yamato sound and aims for a permanent record of the complete music works.

Producer Nishizaki was scrupulously involved with Yamato music production, and every piece had excellent qualities that enabled it to stand on its own. The works that brought particular attention to the compositions were albums in the “Music Collection” series. [Translators note: this refers to the symphonic albums.] On the other hand, the creation of incidental music that served the story was the first priority. Short “bridge music” was a typical example of the music that was commercialized as much as possible in the form of “BGM Collections.” [Translator’s note: this refers to the background music heard in the anime itself.]

What makes the world of Space Battleship Yamato so rich and multidimensional is the existence of both “Music” and “BGM.” The albums called “Music Collections” or “Suites” was gathered up in box form called “Eternal Edition Premium.”

This time, the dual flows of Yamato sound are contained in one series. As the title “Almanac” indicates, the series is configured along a timeline that organizes all the Yamato musical works in a systematic manner. Coveted albums that were not previously blessed with the opportunity for CD are included along with pieces that were used in the story but have not been released since they were recorded. During the mastering, careful attention was paid to quality control befitting the heritage of Yamato sound that will continue to be heard in the coming future.

The joy of Space Battleship Yamato music is newly revitalized, and I would like to share it with everyone who loves Yamato.

1974-I Space Battleship Yamato BGM Collection

COCX-37381, released July 18, 2012

Commentary by Tomohiro Yoshida, Mastering Supervisor

All the music on this disc was recorded for the BGM of the Space Battleship Yamato TV series that began broadcasting from October 6, 1974. It is the starting point of the music for the Yamato saga, and was recorded at Avaco Studio in Waseda, Tokyo just before the broadcast on September 19 and 20, 1974.

Although the series was planned for 39 episodes at the beginning, its popularity was hidden behind programs on other channels (Ape Army and Girl of the Alps Heidi) and was reduced to 26 episodes because of low viewership. No one could predict the incredible boom that would follow at a later time.

After the initial broadcast, reruns caught on like wildfire, and the 26 TV episodes were re-edited with new footage for the Space Battleship Yamato feature film, which was released on August 6, 1977. Although the plan at the beginning was to open it in only four theaters, it spread across the entire country as its popularity expanded, and as a result it became a major hit that mobilized 2.3 million spectators.

The BGM used in the 26-episode TV series and the monaural version of the movie are basically composed in the order of story development. Furthermore, there are many short pieces called the Ending Chord Bridge, two unused tracks, and a 2-chorus edit of the theme at the end called the “original Yamato theme.” It was customary at the time to record BGM for animation in monaural, and everything on this disc is also monaural. However, the first three feature films (Space Battleship Yamato, Farewell to Yamato, and Be Forever Yamato) were released in April 1983 on VHD video disc, for which the sound was re-dubbed in stereo. At that time, simulated stereo processing was performed on the music of Part 1. Because it was false processing, the music collected on this disc is monaural out of respect for the original.

Also, some of the music the film was replaced with tracks recorded in stereo later. This consisted of BGM that was reconstructed for Symphonic Suite Yamato, which was recorded in stereo and first released on LP December 25, 1977. This album was made in response to the success of the feature film with superb musicians such as Shigeru Toyama on violin and Yoshio Kimura on guitar. Immediately before the launch of the LP, some of this music was used for the BGM of Nippon Broadcasting’s 4-hour radio drama for Part 1, broadcast December 1 on All Night Nippon.

Most of the BGM for the first Yamato TV series was first released on LP as Space Battleship Yamato Original BGM Collection Part 1 on January 25, 1981. The entire library was released on CD in 2000 as Eternal Edition File No. 1: Space Battleship Yamato in 2000. Except for the omission of vocal music, this disc is approximately the same as that album. Regarding the sound source this time, it was recaptured digitally from analog masters. Because there are merits to both the degradation over time of analog tape and the evolution over time of digital processing technology, it cannot simply be said which is better, but I would like the people with both to compare them by all means.

Finally, beyond the BGM presented on this CD, four pieces were diverted from outside sources: the battleship march (Episode 2 & feature film), the hula dance (Episode 3), the aboriginal music of Beemera (Episode 16), and the Japanese folk song Northern Nocturne (Episode 19). Regrettably, records of these tracks no longer exist, and since their sources are unknown they were not included. If the original recordings emerge and there are no rights issues, we hope to remaster them in the future.

See the track listing here.

1977-I Symphonic Suite Yamato

COCX-37382, released July 18, 2012

This album has been released on CD several times before now, but it’s still a must-have. Even today in Japan, it is widely considered to be the top anime-related music album of all time. Thus, since there’s no need to mess with perfection, the Sound Almanac edition does not differ from previous releases.

See the track listing here.

1977-II Space Cruiser Yamato

COCX-37383, released July 18, 2012 (First time on CD)

This was quite a surprise for the first round, and also a first for CD: the hour-long story album for the English-language dub of the first Yamato movie. It predates Star Blazers by a good two years and is definitely an acquired taste for completists only. The original LP came with a English/Japanese script for language learning, which is reproduced in full in the CD booklet.

See the track listing here.

1978-I The World of Hiroshi Miyagawa

COCX-37384, released July 18, 2012 (First time on CD)

This was another album never previously available (in full) on CD; a concert highlighting the works of Hiroshi Miyagawa with the first-ever live performance of pieces from Symphonic Suite Yamato (along with several other contemporary pieces such as the Rocky theme and Jesus Christ Superstar). It was this concert and this album that set Yamato music on its own path to success in live venues. Prior to this CD, only the Yamato pieces appeared as bonus tracks in the Eternal Edition set.

See the track listing here.

1978-II Farewell to Yamato Music Collection

COCX-37385, released September 19, 2012

From the preface by Masaru Hayakawa:

This was the first album related to the much-anticipated feature film Farewell to Yamato, which was made in response to the explosive Yamato boom. This Music Collection album was originally released with exquisite timing, just four days before the movie opened.

Although it consists of takes that are essentially different from what was heard in the film itself, in a sense it became the first Space Battleship Yamato soundtrack album. When the music for the film was recorded later, it was deemed necessary to divide the sessions in the manner of song selections for a TV series, and the style of composing shorter music pieces to fit the screen was adopted.

Though this method is expensive and time-consuming, when viewed in total it followed the style of earlier filmmaking with music that fulfilled 100% of its role in the story. As a result, an abundant library was produced that included complete, self-contained musical pieces. In those days, that library would enrich the journey of Yamato as long as it continued.

At the time of its release, this album played the role of a preview for the music of Farewell. It was a completely new Yamato that also forewarned of what form the journey would take in its last moments. Fans’ tear ducts were already filling up as they listened to the record.

Because the album begins with an “overture,” it serves as the second symphonic suite following Symphonic Suite Yamato. Bearing that in mind, I want you to experience the excitement of 1978.

See the track listing here.

1978-III Farewell to Yamato BGM Collection

COCX-37386, released September 19, 2012

From the preface by Masaru Hayakawa:

Space Battleship Yamato, which created a boom by TV reruns and word-of-mouth communication of fans, made its triumphant return as a feature film on August 6, 1977, setting records with 2.3 million attendees and box office revenues of 2.1 billion yen. [About $800,000 in 1977, or $3.1 million in adjusted dollars today.] In response, a completely new feature film was made as the finale to the story, Farewell to Yamato which was released August 5, 1978.

The finished soundtrack for Farewell was initially advanced in stereo, but various circumstances resulted in it being modified to monaural sound. However, all the music for this work was recorded in stereo. The Music Collection album released by Nippon Columbia just before the premiere consisted of alternate takes that were not intended for use in the film, but would comprise a second Space Battleship Yamato symphonic suite.

Some of the tracks actually heard in the film were first released on Tokuma Shoten’s Yamato Theme Song and BGM Collection (FL1001, February 1979), and the first complete soundtrack arranged in chronological order was part of Nippon Columbia’s Eternal Edition CD Series (COCX-31154~5, November 2000).

From the powerful enemy White Comet, Earth’s majestic flagship Andromeda, the brave figure of Yamato whose crew falls one by one, the appearance of the super Dreadnought that had been kept secret from the public, to Kodai’s last-ditch decision to attack with Yamato, I’d like you to relive the story of Farewell with music.

See the track listing and liner notes here.

1978-IV Space Battleship Yamato New Disco Arrange

COCX-37387, released September 19, 2012
(First time on CD)

From the preface by Masaru Hayakawa:

This album, nicknamed “Disco Yamato,” is a great centerpiece. The creation of this work is detailed in the liner notes by producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki and composer Hiroshi Miyagawa. At the time, disco arrangements based on SF movie soundtracks became popular, spearheaded by Meco Monardo’s disco albums for Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Additionally, the music of Star Wars was further enlivened by frequent arrangements for jazz, electronic, and symphonic albums. The Yamato sound adopted this movement and greatly influenced the Japanese soundtrack culture in turn.

During his lifetime, Miyagawa continuously hoped for a CD release of this album, and added it to his performance repertoire in later years. As he mentioned in his liner notes, he felt this music could be enjoyed as a pops album beyond the typical limitations of the word “disco.”

While producer Nishizaki intended for the soundtrack of Yamato to move toward orchestral music, the first track selected for the initial pilot film (a jazz/rock version of Also Sprach Zarathustra by Eumir Deodato) set the tone for the crossover sound style of the first TV series. This was further realized when three pieces from the “disco” album were used in Yamato 2. (The Yamato theme, White Comet Empire, and Attack Theme.)

See the track listing here.

1978-V Space Battleship Yamato 2 BGM Collection Part 1

COCX-37388, released March 20, 2013

Since the BGM for Yamato 2 had previously been confined only to one album, the arrival of this disc and its companion volume was a true milestone for the Sound Almanac series; a generous and immensely satisfying collection heavily augmented with never-before-published music from Series 2. If you’ve been reluctant to invest in any other Sound Almanac discs that repeat titles you already known, take the plunge with these. They are the first to offer substantially new material.

From the preface by Masaru Hayakawa

In the wake of Farewell to Yamato, which was initially intended as the conclusion of the Space Battleship Yamato saga, a turning point came to television. This disc and its companion volume delivers the music of the animated TV series Space Battleship Yamato 2.

When the mighty military of the White Comet Empire reaches the solar system, Earth is once again on the verge of annihilation. On an Earth that enjoys peace and prosperity, the true soldiers who can fight against the threat is the former crew of Yamato. Yamato launches again on a new mission to save the Earth. What awaits them in their journey?

As a Yamato fan, you know that the music for the story of this series was adapted from Farewell to Yamato, and since song selection was basically recorded for the film, new recordings were not done for TV. Enough music already existed for the soundtrack of a 2-arc TV series in the library that had been made for the theater version. If you refer to the recording data cited in Tomohiro Yoshida’s commentary, you’ll see that the music recorded for Farewell was recorded over eight sessions, not including the songs.

Producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki, who understood the importance of music in animation, did not wait around for eventualities. The recording of background music began with every necessary motif to suit the scenes, and the menu was increased with derivative takes composed for an “appreciation” music album along the lines of Symphonic Suite Yamato. As a result, a total of over 200 pieces was produced.

Some of this material was released in the analog age on the Space Battleship Yamato BGM Collection Part 2 album, and although more of it appeared on the Yamato 2 Eternal Edition CD in 2000, many unpublished tracks were left behind. This time, it is presented on two CDs with the intention of collecting every piece of music used in Yamato 2 and its compilation version in one sweep.

It has been 35 years since the impression of Farewell to Yamato shook the souls of the realtime fans. Occasions such as the launch of the TV series and the albums mentioned above touch upon that again, and there are probably many fans who are aware of the enormous mountain of music that was built for Farewell. Now that the seal has been broken, I would like you to fully taste that music here.

See the track listing and liner notes here.

1978-VI Space Battleship Yamato 2 BGM Collection Part 2

COCX-37389, released March 20, 2013

Commentary Tomohiro Yoshida, Mastering Supervisor

These discs collect the BGM that was used in the TV series Yamato 2 (26 episodes) that began broadcasting on October 14, 1978. It was a work from the heyday of the Yamato boom. The average viewer rating of this TV series was 22.9%, and the highest rating was recorded for the final episode, a remarkable 27.9%. Although the story was reconstructed from the feature film Farewell to Yamato, it made the most of TV characteristics and dug deeper into the portraiture of each character. This was especially true of Teresa, whose mystical presence in the movie became more human through her love story with Shima Daisuke.

Furthermore, the end of the story was substantially different from the movie. Main characters who had died, such as Susumu Kodai, Yuki Mori, Shiro Sanada, Dr. Sado, Analyzer, and others such as Mi-kun, Emperor Dessler, and General Talan survived, and the tale continued into the summer of 1979 with The New Voyage TV special. Although pros and cons naturally arose between fans, because the saga continued after The New Voyage into Be Forever, Yamato III, and Final Yamato, it is undeniable that many excellent pieces of music were produced, and the saga is a great achievement for that reason alone.

The main part of this BGM was recorded for Farewell, and basically no additional recording was done for Yamato 2. In December 1978, while it was being broadcast, the LP Space Battleship Yamato New Disco Arrange was released from Polydor, which rearranged Yamato BGM in a disco style, and three pieces from this LP were also used in the TV series. After more than 30 years, that album was released on CD for the first time in September 2012, and now almost all of the long-awaited BGM for Yamato 2 has finally reached CD.

Since the BGM Collections appeared in 1995 and the Eternal Edition series arrived in 2000, the conversion of Yamato music to CD has been a battle of an enormous tape search. As the footprint of Yamato spread out from the OVA release of Yamato 2520, many albums came to CD and new works also appeared, such as BGM Collections and the Sound Fantasia.

For people who became new Yamato fans with the game release in 1999, the 10-disc Eternal Edition series easily became the best overview of the entire saga, and although it began with the concept of reviving unreleased music, every work from Yamato 2 to Final Yamato was still left with unearthed tracks. It was only possible to create complete collections for two titles: the first TV series and Farewell to Yamato, so the addition of unreleased music would have to follow at a later date.

When Yamato Resurrection began production in 2008, I conducted large scale tape research to determine variations in mixes, tape copy generations, and even differences in mono/stereo, and I was able to unearth nearly all the sound sources used in the saga. The opportunity was taken to reorganize everything into a 24 bit, 96KHz digital archive. The main concept of the Sound Almanac series, purchased together with the song CDs Yamato the Best I & II, is to provide an opportunity for people who have become new fans with Yamato 2199 to experience the music of Mr. Hiroshi Miyagawa along with the history of Yamato.

Observing three different stances, the 1995 BGM Collections were organized by music, the Eternal Editions were organized by production, and the Sound Almanac is organized by year.

I’ve strayed from the topic, but Parts 1 and 2 of the Yamato 2 BGM Collection, along with five other Sound Almanac CDs, cover most of the BGM used in the 26-episode TV series: the Series 1 BGM Collection, Symphonic Suite Yamato, the Farewell to Yamato Music Collection and BGM Collection, and the Space Battleship Yamato New Disco Arrange.

Part 1 is organized to cover the first half (Episodes 1-14) and Part 2 covers the second half (15-26). Beyond the BGM on this CD, three tracks were diverted from other, non-Yamato sources: a hula dance (Episode 8), a wedding march (Episode 10) and the Comet Empire party music (Episode 15). Although the wedding march was pre-existing material that was prepared as a sound effect, no record exists for the sources of the other two cues. Since they are unknown, they could not be included. If they are clarified in the future and there are no problems with rights issues, I hope they can be released by all means.

Additionally, at the end of each disc are recordings from Farewell to Yamato that were not used in either the movie or in Yamato 2, instead appearing as BGM in works made after 1978. On Part 1, there is music that was first used on the Farewell to Yamato Drama Volume LP, and in the Yamato II Compilation Volume TV special in 1979. Part 2 includes tracks from The New Voyage (1979), Yamato III (1980), and the Farewell to Yamato MV [Music Video] that was released in 1984.

Producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki put a great deal of importance upon music, which lead to the recording of a large volume of BGM. Because he adopted the basic method of selecting music from among this library, tracks that went unused for their original purpose could be effectively used in later works, so listening to these CDs together with the preceding Farewell BGM Collection provides a glimpse into the production process. In conjunction with the Farewell Music Collection, I’d like you to listen to Mr. Miyagawa’s achievement of over 140 tracks in this portion of the Almanac.

It should be noted that after the M number, each track is marked with the numbers 1-8 in brackets. This indicates which recording session it came from. There are many tracks with the same M number, so this was added to provide a distinction. For reference, here are the recording dates for the full body of Farewell to Yamato BGM:

Session 1: May 29, 1978, Media Studio
Session 2: May 31, 1978, Media Studio
Session 3: June 5, 1978, Musashino Academy of Music, Beethoven Hall
Session 4: June 13, 1978, Avaco Studio, Waseda
Session 5: June 14, 1978, Avaco Studio, Waseda
Session 6: June 22,1978, Musashino Academy of Music, Beethoven Hall
Session 7: July 17, 1978, Avaco Studio, Waseda
Session 8: July 19, 1978, Media Studio

After 35 years, I’d like you to enjoy the BGM of Yamato 2 that finally shows the whole picture.

See the track listing and liner notes here.

1979-I The New Voyage Music Collection

COCX-37390, released November 21, 2012

The bonus tracks for this one are grouped under the name “Yamato Karaoke Collection 1.” Other “Karaoke Collection” tracks appeared on subsequent discs with the apparent goal of getting a non-vocal version of every Yamato song into circulation. The starter set on this disc consists of 7 tracks never heard before in this form.

From the preface by Masaru Hayakawa:

This volume of the Almanac launches the second period of Space Battleship Yamato with a new chapter consisting of The New Voyage and Be Forever Yamato. At the time, they were accompanied by the release of three Music Collection albums.

The story that ended in Farewell to Yamato diverged in parallel with the TV series Yamato 2 and literally sailed into The New Voyage. It was produced for TV as a telefeature, and its role was as a prelude for the Be Forever feature film. The Music Collection was a luxurious album of newly-recorded pieces.

The culture of Japanese animation developed a history of cross-media performance strategies such as publishing, recording, broadcasting, and box office. The template for the prosperity of the late 1970s was set by Yamato and a series of feature films from Kadokawa. What they both had in common was a producer of strong vision and personality.

The strategy of Yoshinobu Nishizaki in particular became the face of Yamato and played a dynamic role in many fields, rich in ideas that remain thought-provoking even to the present eye. At its core, Yamato played an ever-expanding game of catch between TV and the cinema that boosted its popularity with simultaneous music recording and publishing.

Although the base of this strategy was the broadcast of the first two TV series on the Yomiuri network and radio dramas on Nippon broadcasting, The New Voyage was carried by the Fuji TV system, which was the first to air the feature films.

The story begins with fresh crew members joining Yamato and lifting off on a new adventure. This scene flows with the now-familiar song Yamato!! The New Voyage. I’d like to draw your attention to the double exclamation marks in that title. They were first used on the score sheets for the theme song of Series 1. “It’s good music even if I say so myself,” Hiroshi Miyagawa said later, and restored the marks for Yamato‘s revival. The composer and the staff appeared to be starting on a new journey themselves. Much later, the melody of this music flowed in Yamato Resurrection and must have made a deep impression on longtime fans.

As a writer forever shackled as a Yamato fan, I feel that Farewell and Yamato 2 were like a rite of passage equivalent to death and rebirth. The music of Yamato!! The New Voyage is full of openness that shakes off all limitations. In this Music Collection, the New Cosmo Tiger theme still makes a fan’s heart burn, and classics were born such as Dark Nebula Empire – Autoplanet Goruba, in which Kentaro Haneda’s piano performance set the tone for an enemy that surpasses the Comet Empire.

The New Voyage climaxes with the fall of the double planets Gamilas and Iscandar and also depicts the friendship of soldiers Kodai and Dessler. Yamato interwove ideas that were too luxurious for the introduction of a movie, and built them into the magnificent atmosphere of this new telefeature.

See the track listing here.

1979-II The New Voyage BGM Collection

COCX-37391, released March 20, 2013

Like the Yamato 2 BGM discs, this one comes with a generous selection of bonus tracks from other productions, including the Yamato II compilation film. There are also a few variants in main portion, so even if you already have a New Voyage BGM disc, you don’t have everything.

From the preface by Masaru Hayakawa

This disc contains BGM that was composed for the telefeature The New Voyage. It follows after the New Voyage Music Collection, which was created for pure appreciation of the music.

Unlike the ending of Farewell, The New Voyage continued the journey and served as a prelude to the next movie, Be Forever Yamato. It also occupies an important position in Yamato history from the perspective of broadcasting on key stations in Japan. It departed from the Yomiuri network after the first and second TV series, and moved to the Fuji TV system, whose airing of the first Yamato movie a year earlier had become a hot topic.

New faces join the crew of Yamato to face off against the vanguard of the Dark Nebula Empire, which is shrouded in mystery. Their arrogant act places the double-planet system Gamilas and Iscandar on the verge of crisis. In order to stop them, Yamato turns its bow toward Iscandar, which was its first destination as a space battleship!

Whether it is a movie or TV episode, the consistency of its music is a pleasure that deepens over time with every listening. This is particularly true of Yamato since the style was to continue using song selections from the abundant music library of earlier productions. The motif becomes more comfortable to the ear because the character of earlier stories enriches the progress of the saga.

With The New Voyage, composer Hiroshi Miyagawa left behind a work that can justly be called a full effort. What makes Yamato music special to modern sensibilities is how substantial and exceptional it was for both cinema and TV. From the main theme Yamato!! The New Voyage that honors the new launch, to the heroic battle theme New Cosmo Tiger, to the brilliant piano solo for the mysterious Dark Nebula Empire’s Autoplanet Goruba, to the emotional music for Dessler, Starsha, and the others, I hope your ears enjoy it very much.

Commentary by Tomohiro Yoshida, Mastering Supervisor

This disc centers around BGM from The New Voyage, which was broadcast as a TV special July 31, 1979. The stage for this story, which picks up from Yamato 2, is Planet Iscandar of the first work. Yamato and Dessler cooperate against a mutual enemy, and the film generated new appeal while reaffirming the original starting point. Moreover, it became a prelude for Be Forever Yamato, which was released in theaters the following year, on August 2 1980. It recorded high ratings over 30% in its first broadcast and proved that the Yamato boom was alive and well. Furthermore, it accompanied Be Forever as a double-feature from March 14 to April 3 in Japanese theaters.

One musical feature that The New Voyage added to the previous symphonic sound was the use of a synthesizer for the Dark Nebula Empire, which also provided sound effects for the Autoplanet Goruba. The performance was by Hideki Matsutake, Japan’s leading synthesizer player, who participated in albums for YMO [Yellow Magic Orchestra]. Music that expressed the emotions of Dessler and Starsha was mainly performed on guitar by Yoshio Kimura, and the participation of Enka [folk] ballad singer Chiyoko Shimakura for the song Sasha My Love was a big topic. Additionally, the indispensable theme song Yamato!! The New Voyage by Isao Sasaki was also used.

As an aside, there are two kinds of sound for The New Voyage. The first is the normal broadcast version, which later went to home video. The other is the New Voyage Drama album, which was released on LP October 25, 1979. The tracks on that album were different takes of tracks heard on the music albums and in the TV broadcast.

This CD contains 19 BGM tracks recorded for the film that were not heard on the Music Collection CD, which was recorded exclusively for LP at the preference of Yoshinobu Nishizaki for pure enjoyment of the music, separate from the BGM. Additionally, pieces from previous works were also used in the film, which can be heard on other CDs in this series. Furthermore, there are ten tracks at the end of this disc which were recorded for The New Voyage, but used elsewhere. Listening to this disc together with the Music Collection as a single body of work can provide a glimpse into the production process.

See the track listing and liner notes here.

1980-I Be Forever Yamato Music Collection Part 1

COCX-37392, released November 21, 2012

This time, the bonus tracks comprise an entire album: the Yamato Choral and Piano Suite, arranged by Jo Hisaishi (composer of the Studio Ghibli films) and originally released in 1979. It had been issued on CD once before, but quickly went out of print and became a collector’s item. Side A is presented on Be Forever Part 1 and Side B is on Be Forever Part 2.

From the preface by Masaru Hayakawa:

After Symphonic Suite Yamato adapted the music of the first series to great acclaim, Nippon Columbia released several Yamato Music Collections, each of which has its own character in the manner of the Symphonic Suite.

The pieces grouped therein gave priority to mainstream musicality, and rather than a recording meant to relive a movie, it is not an exaggeration to describe them as an operatic retelling purely with music. Multiple Music Collections were constructed for Be Forever and Final Yamato, so the opportunities increased for their use as actual film score [BGM], but even then the priority behind the song selections, editing, and compositions was given to the music itself as an object for appreciation.

In the days before the advent of home video that enabled instant replay, the purity of Yamato‘s background music was further enhanced by “Drama Albums” that mixed music, dialogue and sound effects, and existed as a separate way to relive the work.

This disc is the first Music Collection for the 1980 feature film Be Forever Yamato. The Dark Nebula Empire invades the solar system and captures the capital city of Earth, striking with a hyperon bomb as a control device planted in the ground. This important music colors the first half of the movie in which Yamato faces this enemy empire. Among others, it contains theme music for Sasha, who has grown into the beautiful 17-year old daughter of Starsha and Mamoru, and also the gallant Captain Alphon of the Dark Nebula Empire.

The album was originally released about a month before the movie, which made it a preview that spelled out the ideas in the film purely through music. It gave fans the chance to ponder the next voyage of Yamato at home for a full month before the premiere, which positioned it as an “overture.” This lead to the concept of the Prelude to Final Yamato album, which was released an entire year before the premiere of that film.

In the movie that followed this album, Yuki Mori stayed behind on Earth without being able to board Yamato. The story progresses from Kodai and Yuki’s separation, which Hiroshi Miyagawa expresses through several themes that vividly describe their feelings of love.

Be Forever Yamato Music Collection Part 1 describes various forms of love interspersed with intense battle music. It is the fourth symphonic suite of the Yamato saga.

See the track listing here.

1980-II Be Forever Yamato Music Collection Part 2

COCX-37393, released November 21, 2012

From the preface by Masaru Hayakawa:

This disc is the second Music Collection for the 1980 feature film Be Forever Yamato. It colors the battle of Yamato against the Dark Nebula Empire that took control of Earth in an instant.

As mentioned above, a Yamato Music Collection album is woven around a film score and recorded prior to the BGM music as an image to determine the basic direction of the work. When a collection of additional music like this becomes available, it increases the opportunity to adopt the material as BGM for the actual film score.

When a piece gives high priority to appreciation of its musicality, a dance composition can also be adopted. The making of this music is a prime example, since it includes a fine underscore medley that rearranges music from Part 1 as a key point.

Be Forever was the third Yamato feature film and the second completely new movie. It paid off the ideas presented in The New Voyage as a prologue which enabled the shocking impact of Earth’s subjugation at the beginning. Yamato engages this crisis by taking its third high-spirited journey.

Scenes of Yamato‘s launch are always accompanied by a huge buildup, this time after a complete overhaul inside the asteroid Icarus beyond the orbit of Mars. Decorated with white rings around the main gun barrels and anchor marks on the bow and sides, a reborn Yamato blasts out of the rocky asteroid as if shattering the image of a battleship-shaped rock that had been proposed during the early planning of the first series, and giving the impression of flying off to infinite possibilities.

In the Space Battleship Yamato saga, the story structure combines both micro and macro viewpoints; the pivotal love of the characters and spectacular SF concepts as the backbone. This story offers a wide variety from the SF gadget of the hyperon bomb, the double galaxy, an enemy planet disguised as Earth, to the crystal city at the end. The theme of the story is the specific form of love described as a belief in each other.

Music is inseparably linked to those elements. In his mission to bring a consistent tone to the story of Yamato, Hiroshi Miyagawa mobilized all his musical ideas to support this magnificent feature film, and Music Collection Part 2 is a jewel performed by the same orchestra that played the movie score.

Just as the sound of the magnificent pipe organ represented the Comet Empire in the second film, the synthesizer was consciously adopted in this one for tracks such as Collapse of the Mother Planet [Dezarium]. The synthesizer is also impressive on the delicate side of Yamato music with the rhythm pattern in Mio’s March.

At the same time, the personal feelings expressed in Two Who Believe In Each Other is represented by Kentaro Haneda on piano and Tsugio Tokunaga on violin, both eminent scholars in the “Yamato Group” who deepened the power of the music even more.

Be Forever Yamato Music Collection Part 2 is the fifth symphonic suite of the Yamato saga, a penetrating investigation of the rivalry between a raw acoustic orchestra and an electronic instrument, and also a major concerto of intensely optimistic love.

See the track listing here.

1980-III ’80 Yamato Festival in Budokan

COCX-37395~6, released January 23, 2013

From the preface by Masaru Hayakawa:

Prior to the release of Be Forever Yamato in movie theates, a Space Battleship Yamato concert called the ’80 Festival in Budokan was held at the Nippon Budokan on July 24, 1980. This album is a live recording of that event.

In Yamato, it wasn’t just the theme songs, but also the background music that was of primary importance to fans, and this event with music at its core was held at a time when it was a cornerstone of the saga.

In terms of live music performed previously, this Sound Almanac series includes the World of Hiroshi Miyagawa album, which was recorded at the Hiroshi Miyagawa vs. Katsuhisa Hattori Dynamic Happy Concert on February 16, 1978. A portion of Symphonic Suite Yamato was served up as the basis of a concert in which Miyagawa and Hattori, both master chefs of music, showed off their arrangement prowess.

After this there was the Yamato Symphonic Concert, held at the former Shinjuku Koma Theater on July 29 and 30, 1978, a virtuoso performance that entwined music from the forthcoming Farewell to Yamato with Symphonic Suite Yamato. It became the first dedicated Yamato music event.

The Yamato Festival in Budokan was a continuation and power-up of the Symphonic Concert. The New Voyage and Be Forever chapters were added to the content mentioned above, and it played a role as an overture for Be Forever, which was still a week away from release.

The highlight of this was the involvement of lead voice actors along with singers, musicians, and members of the production staff who appeared on stage, watched by over 16,000 Yamato fans who won tickets in a lottery for either the morning or the afternoon performance. It should be noted that the performances of songs for Be Forever by both Akira Fuse and Hiromi Iwasaki were omitted due to licensing concerns. Additionally, a digest version of the event was broadcast later on Tokyo 12 Channel (now called TV Tokyo).

This work can be enjoyed as a snapshot of Yamato history when you hear the dialogue of the famous voice actors and narrator Michio Hazama. Isao Sasaki’s rendition of The Scarlet Scarf interwoven with Hiroshi Miyagawa’s arrangement from Symphonic Suite Yamato is another gem, along with treasured conversations between Producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki, lyricist Yu Aku, and others.

After this, the Space Battleship Yamato Grand Festival was held at the Shinjuku Kosei Nenkin Hall on March 15, 1983, at the time of Final Yamato‘s release. Since there were no commercial recordings released for that event, the Festival in Budokan is the one and only. I would like you to enjoy it as a time capsule that will vividly convey the white-hot passion that was in the air at the time of the Yamato boom.

See the track listing here.

1981-I Symphonic Suite Yamato III

COCX-37397, released January 23, 2013

From the preface by Masaru Hayakawa:

The album we bring you this time is Symphonic Suite Yamato III, woven out of music that was written for the third TV series, Yamato III. The first Space Battleship Yamato was the start of the saga, the second series Yamato 2 was a reconstruction of Farewell to Yamato‘s attempt to end the story, and the staff tackled Yamato III after the two long-form works The New Voyage and Be Forever Yamato.

Eiichi Yamamoto, who had participated in development since the launch of the first series, stepped up to the plate as the series director. In the story, Earth faces the threat of destruction in one year when the sun will turn into a supernova, and Yamato departs on a great voyage to find a second Earth for emigration.

In this work, Susumu Kodai is finally appointed as the ship’s captain. In the new crew, Ryusuke Domon is involuntarily assigned to the life group despite his hope of joining the Cosmo Tiger corps. Fighter pilot Takeshi Ageha, gunner Namio Sakimaki, and other new members are added and a new journey of Yamato begins.

Dessler’s dignity as a soldier is enhanced after The New Voyage, since becoming the leader of the Galman-Gamilas Empire which integrates the Gamilas race. As a metaphor for the world conflicts of that time, the Galman-Gamilas Empire engages in a cold-war style rivalry against the militaristic Bolar Federation.

Since Yamato III was first conceived as a 52-episode TV series with 4 arcs, an abundant music library was created with the assumption that various scenes would be made for the series. Variations of expression for battles and suspense and the indispensable bridge chord tunes provided for an ample music selection system, a lineup of tracks following characteristics that were shaped over time for previous Yamato BGM recordings.

Against this backdrop, Akira Miyagawa, the son of composer Hiroshi Miyagawa, became involved in music production, and produced excellent pieces such as The 18th Armored Division, a dynamic composition that harkened back to the first series.

Along with the music that was created for effect, more autonomous pieces with high musicality were crafted for this album, which was formally named a Symphonic Suite. It could be said that the highlight, Symphony of the Sun, is placed at the forefront. The dying sun, the symbol of Yamato III itself, was impressively painted behind Yamato on the key visual of the album jacket. In order to signify the mighty bringer of life as a solemn figure approaching death, Hiroshi Miyagawa produced a modest yet remarkable suite for strings.

Since an orchestral scale was sought for the Yamato sound, Miyagawa added a new element to every product and gave Yamato music an evolution. The first Symphonic Suite and Farewell had a modern romantic sound, and after the dual introductions of piano and electronic music in The New Voyage and Be Forever, it could be said that he stepped forward to adopt a folk music scale into progressive contemporary music for this work.

It is not an exaggeration to call Symphony of the Sun the subtitle of Yamato III. With it, Yamato obtained a stage of perfection, and I’d like you to thoroughly enjoy the passion of Hiroshi Miyagawa as it flares as hot and bright as the sun.

See the track listing here.

Bonus Packaging

In order to entice longtime Yamato music collectors to take the plunge again, Nippon Columbia announced early on that some bonus items would be available to those who bought each Sound Almanac title and collected the proof-of-purchase tabs tucked inside. To this end, the series was divided into 4 stages and the insert card explained the plan in full.

Stage 1 encompassed 7 discs. If you cut out the proofs for all seven and sent them in to Columbia by the end of November 2012, your diligence would be rewarded with a custom display box for the entire first half of the series (15 discs). The box was shipped out in January, and it was obvious at first glance how Columbia would follow up later.

Stage 2 encompassed 8 discs, taking us to the halfway point as covered in this article. Stage 3 covered the next 7 discs, and stage 4 covered the last 8. Collecting and submitting the proofs from stage 3 would score you the display box for the second half. At the very end, submitting the remaining proofs for all 30 discs would get you a “mystery” gift announced at a later date.

Click here for the complete track listings of all 15 discs described in this article, plus liner notes about bonus tracks.

Click here to visit Nippon Columbia’s home page.

Continue to Sound Almanac series, second half

The End

2 thoughts on “Yamato Sound Almanac: The First Half

  1. Some CD releases are now showing “out of stock”, even on Nippon Columbia’s page/shop, and therefore commanding exorbitant (rip off) prices with third-party sellers.

    Is there, has there been, any word on getting the OOP titles re-pressed and therefore bringing prices back down to earth for the fans looking to complete their collections or wanting to buy select titles and not have to sail the high seas ?

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