As 1978 approached its midpoint, Yamato fever was heating up. The publicity campaign was just starting to ramp up, but production was running at full speed as the premiere date loomed ever closer. Here’s everything that brought us to the end of June, a period that included major announcements and the birth of anime journalism.
April movie production
Animation continued at Toei studio as scenes evolved from Yasuhiko Yoshikazu’s storyboard through layout, full animation, and camera work. Internal meetings shifted into the realm of post-production, covering music and sound design. Attention was also focused on the massive promotional campaign with both Pepsi and Glico signing major licensing deals.
April 1: Roadshow, May issue
More Yamato fan art turned up on the Reader Page of the May issue (see it here), and the results of a “lookback poll” placed Space Battleship Yamato on a “best ten movie list” for 1977. It landed in the #4 slot behind Rocky, The Spy Who Loved Me, and A Bridge Too Far.
April 1: Iscandar doujinshi Vol. 7
The seventh issue of this ‘zine from Cosmo Battleship Yamato Connection ran 42 pages, opening with something kind of astounding. The editorial began with the English phrase “From Yamato With Love.” To understand what’s astounding about that, realize that it had not yet been announced as the title of the end theme for the upcoming movie. Make of this what you will.
The rest of the issue featured production art, story analysis, character guide, fanfic, a script excerpt, parody manga, and more. See it from cover to cover here.
April 1: Neo Negal doujinshi #5
Yamato Fan Club II continued digging into the TV series with this 24-page ‘zine, presenting obscure character layouts and a very rare character design for Iroze, a Gamilas spy who was cut from the show. There was also a brief look at the new Space Pirate Captain Harlock series (just 3 episodes had broadcast by this date) and an eclectic foreign series called Star Trec.
See it from cover to cover here.
April 8: Middle 2nd Age, May issue
One of the new players on the field in terms of publicity outlets was the “student digest” genre of magazines. Every kid from first grade all the way through high school had a monthly digest published just for them. In fact, they each had three rival publishers (Obunsha, Gakken, and Shogakukan) vying for their attention at every grade level. The digest shown here is titled Middle 2nd Age, for those in the second year of middle school (8th graders). It featured a big article on Sci-fi films, starting with one that was already world famous but had yet to premiere in Japan.
The article ended with a contest to win flyers and posters for SF movies, and this is where Yamato finally got the nod. But this casual mention is slightly more important than it may first appear.
On the second page, we see the full and correct title of the upcoming movie: Saraba [Farewell] Space Battleship Yamato, Soldiers of Love. Based on current research, this is apparently the first time it appeared in print. The two caveats are (A) there were many other digests that month and (B) Toei’s publicity department probably fed them all the same info. But until an earlier example emerges from the fog, this is where the flag is planted.
Before we get too much farther, it’s worth acknowledging the “other” title: Arrivederci Yamato. This was seen on many posters and products in 1978, and was the accepted international name of the film until it was officially changed to Farewell in 1988 when a dubbed version was produced. The words Saraba, Arrivederci, and Farewell are all basically synonymous, and the film is still one of a kind no matter what we choose to call it.
April 10: Cosmonaut doujinshi #1
Throughout 1975, the busiest fan club was Cosmo Battleship Yamato Laboratory, and their most active ‘zine was titled Astronaut with six issues published from May through December. When they dissolved and reformed as Yamato Association, this was the replacement. The first issue was loaded with content, 64 pages containing a magazine bibliography (which contributed mightily to these vintage reports over 40 years later), short essays, parody manga, and a profile of the 1976 anime series Combattler V.
See it from cover to cover here.
April 15: Wave-Motion doujinshi Vol. 4
A new arrival to these reports: published by Yamato Fan Club Wave-Motion, this ‘zine took a lighter approach to its subject. This 20-page issue featured lively fan art, essays and parody manga, some of which began to incorporate Captain Harlock.
See it from cover to cover here.
April 25: Yamato Fan Club Magazine #3
We’ve just seen the title of Yamato Part 2 in a student digest magazine, but this was the first publication to make it official. There were two pages of Farewell to Yamato production news (read them here), the first color image of Andromeda (still only called “new Earth battleship”), a Q&A with Yoshinobu Nishizaki, and various other odds and ends that could be found nowhere else.
One of those was a single sheet of paper inserted between the pages, probably an indication that it was added at the last minute. The top portion read as follows:
Hello to all the fans!!
The production of Farewell to Yamato is progressing at a rapid pace, and the movie will be released on August 5. We have decided to write a new theme song (lyrics by Yu Aku, music by Hiroshi Miyagawa). What kind of singer would you like to perform it?
Below that were Yu Aku’s lyrics for From Yamato With Love and an address to which you could send suggestions. This song would take some interesting turns on its way to vinyl, as we will see.
Finally, the back cover of the magazine featured something even more intriguing, an ad for a forthcoming book set called Space Battleship Yamato Complete Records Collection. Those who filled out a postcard insert could make an advance reservation and choose to pay the exorbitant price in installments. A publication date was not given, but the headline read, “That hot emotion will be revived again,” and it was not wrong.
April 29: Space Battleship Yamato Golden Week screening
Space Cruiser Yamato was alive on well on the other side of the world, making its way through various movie theaters before it was relegated to off-peak television and then retired forever. Shown above are extremely rare movie ads featuring uniquely non-Japanese artwork. The theaters were based in Wisconsin.
Meanwhile, the “real” Yamato movie was enjoying a comeback at various Japanese theaters that would last throughout the summer as a warmup for the sequel. Golden Week is an annual nationwide event in Japan that stretches between closely-packed holidays in late April and early May. The Omon movie theatre in Nagoya hosted a multi-day anime festival during this week that started with Yamato and continued with such fare as Lupin III and Star of the Giants. An ad for this is shown at right.
April music releases
With Yamato‘s popularity boosting everything else around it, the theme song continued to appear on multi-track collections like these…
TV Anime Original Soundtrack Definitive
A mishmash of music and drama tracks from Yamato, Cyborg 009, and Gatchaman. Find data here.
Family Best TV Manga Action Deluxe, Space Battleship Yamato/New Star of the Giants
A collection of opening and closing songs from six different anime series. Find data here.
Family Pack, Golden Terebi Manga All Star Big Hit
A 2-LP set with songs from 24 different series. Find data here.
This was the only April release that wasn’t a reprint of earlier material. Instead, it was a true pioneer in the rapidly-expanding world of electronic music. It featured trailblazing synth musicians Hideki Matsutake, Hiroki Inui, and Rei Sekimori, performing selections from Yamato, Close Encounters, and other sources. A live version would be released later in the year.
Both the studio and live albums can be purchased on CD here. (CosmoDNA approved!)
From a wider historical standpoint, this is the first known album of purely-synth anime music. It broke ground on a trend that Nippon Columbia would soon exploit with the “Digital Trip Synthesizer Fantasy” series.
May movie production
As animation progressed, planning meetings began in earnest for summer promotional events, the biggest of which would be the first-ever series of live Yamato concerts. Later in the month, a whole new project was added to the growing slate: a TV series that would expand Farewell to Yamato into 26 episodes.
May 1: Roadshow, June issue
You had to look closely for Yamato fan art on this issue’s readers page, but it was there. Click here to play your own version of Where’s Waldo.
The thing that made this issue historic, however, was to be found on the back cover. There, Toei Productions promoted four upcoming releases with the headline: 1978 Spring > Autumn, “Love, Future, Roman” Best 4!
One of the four was Farewell to Yamato, which made this the first public reveal of the title and the first ad in mainstream media. The promo text reads: Production is going well! Yamato, the unprecedented topic, surfaces again! Dream of space adventure!
Close inspection reveals that the image of Yamato in this ad was derived from 1977 key art, but – for whatever reason – it was an entirely new rendering, never seen before or since.
May 1: The World of Hiroshi Miyagawa LP
This album fired the opening shot on what would become a very productive year for Yamato music. It featured live performances from the Dynamic Happy Concert held on February 16 including a Souza march, a Mozart piano sonata, and pop tunes such as Jesus Christ Superstar and the Rocky Theme.
Four Yamato tracks were included, all derived from the Symphonic Suite album released a little over four months earlier. It’s entirely possible that the bulk of this concert’s audience hadn’t even heard them yet, since Miyagawa’s earlier work was a bigger draw. It was only later that Nippon Columbia (in a shrewd marketing move) made Yamato the selling point on the album cover.
Read more, including liner notes, here.
May 1: World of SF TV/Comic/Anime/Movie
As a followup to their World of TV Anime special (Dec 1977, Asahi Sonorama), the editors of Manga Shonen released this 200-page catchall volume of seemingly whatever they had on hand to gain some more traction on the rising tide of interest in science-fiction.
From book/comic/magazine/album covers to a historical timeline of titles from all over the world, it was delightfully random. Within a few pages, you could go to speculative technical drawings of Star Wars mecha to early Crusher Joe art to a Leiji Matsumoto manga with “SF” itself as the only connective tissue.
Yamato content was minor, but interesting. In an illustrated segment on SF robots, there was a very precise rendition of Analyzer that hasn’t been seen since, accompanied by an apocryphal text description…
Analyzer, which was the mastermind behind the hit animation Space Battleship Yamato in the good 70’s, is an educational machine that won the gold medal in the robot category of the Solar System Children’s Ministry year’s best education award. Of course, it also has an analytical function, making it a great model for children’s science education.
Total height 130cm. Neo glass fiber finish. Earth price $4,500,000. Price on other planets 4,500 Geld.
May 24: Farewell to Yamato press conference
The most significant Yamato event of May was a press conference at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. In the lineup were (from left) singer Isao Sasaki, composer Hiroshi Miyagawa, director Toshio Masuda, Exec Producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki, Toei President Shigeru Okada, Leiji Matsumoto, costume designer Yukiko Hanai, and Art Director Tomonori Katsumata. It was the first such event for an anime feature film. Among other things, it was announced that the new film would open in 133 theaters nationwide and bring the Yamato story to a conclusion.
One by one, each participant spoke passionately about their work and heightened the anticipation in the press room. Some of the key quotes were as follows:
Okada: The previous film set a record by making more than 900 million yen [$9 million], so I’d like to raise the curtain on this one at 6AM [on the premiere day] to make even more. (Laughter) Our target for this one is 15 billion yen.
Masuda: The first movie progressed from a TV series. I’m very enthusiastic about this one since it was conceived as a feature film from the beginning. This adds to the anticipation.
Miyagawa: In the previous work, the music was a perfect match with Mr. Nishizaki’s image. Although our conversations went smoothly this time, every tune was declared “not good enough.” (Laughter) Currently it’s a process of trial and error. I’m always worried about Mr. Nishizaki’s counterattack.
Showpieces revealed at the press conference: 2-meter long “Precision Cut Model” and 1/1 scale Analyzer.
Both would be used in upcoming promotions. Read more about the model here.
Matsumoto (Responding to a reporter’s question about SF mania, and whether Yamato‘s warp technology might be out of date): It’s the same whether it comes from the perspective of SF mania or not; it’s a very difficult point that we’re stuck with in storytelling. I always try to aim for the factor that is most comprehensible and the common denominator for average SF fans. It has to be explainable even if it becomes tiresome. (Laughter) That’s how it’s done.
Nishizaki: I wanted to make “the final Yamato story.” That was my purpose in creating Farewell to Yamato. Yamato has been done in every genre; TV, film, radio, record, and print. However, since it has not yet been done as a musical, I wondered if it could be placed in the Takarazuka Opera.
Click here for a photo gallery of the press conference.
May 24: Yamato 2 preproduction begins
The flyer shown above wasn’t circulated until the fall, and serious work wouldn’t commence until September 1, but this was the official start date for the Space Battleship Yamato 2 TV Series. According to a 2009 interview with Yoshinobu Nishizaki, the push came from Tatsuro Ishida, then the president of Nippon Broadcasting, who personally asked Nishizaki to remake Farewell to Yamato for television. Historically speaking, this would seem to be the type of request one does not turn down.
Read more about the beginnings of production here
May 25: Yamato fan club meetings begin
The day after the press conference, Nishizaki took the show on the road for the first series of Yamato Fan Club meetings that began in Kanto and visited ten cities over two months, coinciding with the hugely popular Symphonic Concert Tour.
Much more information was revealed about the press conference and this fan club meeting in the next issue of the Fan Club Magazine; keep reading to find it.
May 25: Mitsuko Horie, World of Anime Roman LP
In 1978, the accomplished anime theme singer Mitsuko Horie was still two years away from recording a Yamato song (for Be Forever) but she managed an amazing tie-in that may have been unintentional. The album shown here was released three full months before Farewell premiered in theaters. Only one day before this album was released, Yukiko Hanai’s design for Yuki’s pink daywear was revealed for the first time at the press conference. And yet, Ms. Horie somehow found a perfect replica for her album cover.
It may have been a simple coincidence, but she was well-connected to the anime industry, which just might have given her the means to pull this off. For all we know, Yukiko Hanai herself made it for her. Either way, it would have been quite a coup to have this album in stores when the movie premiered in August. Special thanks to Solachan1104 for posting this on Twitter.
Find out more about this album here.
Listen to it on Youtube: A side | B side
Read an interview in which Mitsuko Horie shares her Yamato memories here.
See a Mitsuko Horie discography here.
May 26: Animage #1
This date belongs among the most significant in anime history; with the launch of the first magazine purely about anime for anime fans, anime journalism finally came into its own.
For certain, it existed in one form or another before Animage. There was OUT magazine, after all. What made the difference was stature. Animage came from mainstream publisher Tokuma Shoten, and after a long internal debate led by editor Shigeo Ogata, it was agreed to take a gamble. It paid off handsomely with a return rate of less than 5% unsold copies.
Naturally, Farewell to Yamato was the cover story and biggest article. Text coverage was rather thin, little more than a teaser for the story and a retrospective of Part 1, but plenty of animation stills and artwork were ready to share with a starving public, and Animage #1 doled it out in generous helpings. Many images that would later become iconic got their first public exposure right here.
Click here to see Animage #1’s complete coverage.
Read Shigeo Ogata’s personal account of the magazine’s origin and launch here.
May 29: Music recording begins
This was the first day of what would become the most productive period in Yamato music history. Hiroshi Miyagawa came into it with a massive trove of over 200 compositions that would cover not only Farewell to Yamato, but the entirety of Yamato 2, an incredible body of work that is just as fresh and immersive today as when it was created.
Eight sessions at three different locations would be required to record it, held throughout the summer and concluding on July 19. 35 years would pass before all that music made it into the hands of passionate collectors.
Also spotted in May
Shortly before Animage #1 hit the stands, the first articles written about Farewell to Yamato were fired directly at the film’s core audience via the student digest magazines mentioned earlier. These two examples were at the leading edge of the campaign: the June issues of Elementary 4th Year Student (4th grade)…
…and High 2nd Course (11th grade), both published in May. (Always a month ahead of the number on the cover.) That, in fact, appears to make 4th Year Student the very first place you could see the iconic Kodai and Yuki painting by Yasuhiko Yoshikazu. Before long, it would be seen everywhere.
Terebi Anime Dynamic March LP & single
Nippon Columbia released both of these simultaneously, a 13-track LP and 2-track single featuring anime themes you could march to. These were all-new arrangements performed by the Columbia Brass Orchestra, which qualifies this as an early anime theme “cover album.” Yamato and Triton of the Sea were the top picks for both discs.
Find more information here.
June movie production
Animation was now nearing completion with finished footage being viewed and corrected where necessary. When Yasuhiko Yoshikazu completed his storyboard, he jumped into the fray to produce key animation for the finale. Equally important work was happening on the sound side where Miyagawa’s score and three new songs were recorded. Three official fan club meetings occurred later in the month as everyone counted down to the premiere.
June 1: Roadshow, July issue
The reader page for this issue bolstered Yamato with additional fan art for Captain Harlock and Message From Space. See a larger version here.
Elsewhere in the magazine’s pages could be found Roadshow‘s first writeup on Farewell, including the international title that had been chosen from the outset: Arrivederci Yamato. The editors actually knew quite a bit more about the film than they let on, since behind the scenes they were preparing to publish two dedicated books later in the year.
Big Summer Film Feature
The New Enemy is a White Comet! Yamato, do your best!
Needless to say, Farewell to Yamato is part 2 of Space Battleship Yamato, which unexpectedly hit last year. Like its predecessor, Farewell is directed by Toshio Masuda, under the supervision of Yoshinobu Nishizaki. The World War II battleship Yamato is converted into a space battleship. The main focus of the previous film was the battle against the Gamilas faction that was plotting an invasion of the earth. Part 2 begins several years after Yamato‘s return to Earth.
The space invaders are temporarily suppressed, and peace returns to Earth. One day, some years later, something seems to be happening again in the distant universe. This is caught by telepathy. Invaders are on the rise again. But the battleship Yamato is no longer available. She has been working hard since World War II, fighting the Gamilas, and is in bad shape. Even so, what kind of space battleship other than the Yamato is available at this time of emergency? It seems that Yamato is going to go out to battle again (!) after its old body is whipped into shape (?)
The enemy this time is said to be the White Comet, and the battle with Yamato will be even more powerful than the previous one. This is the story from the publicity department. As of the end of April, they were still shooting the film, so we don’t know any more details.
The previous film was also released in other countries, and “Japan’s Yamato” is quite famous. But after Star Wars, we will have to be even more creative. Let’s cheer “Yamato do your best!” and look forward to the release of the film.
June 1: Manga Shonen, July issue
Hot on the heels of Animage #1, Manga Shonen delivered a 9-page article that gave everyone another big taste of what was coming. That new Earth battleship was finally named (Andromeda), and the premise of the story was laid out with more detail than anyone had yet seen.
A reporter then took over, describing a visit to the production office in May where an interview was conducted with the animation directors and messages were communicated from both Leiji Matsumoto and Yoshinobu Nishizaki.
Read the article here.
June 3: Bouken Oh [Adventure King], July issue
Yamato had been absent from the pages of Bouken Oh since Leiji Matsumoto’s original manga concluded in the April 1975 issue. Just over two years later, that’s exactly what brought it back; the opening chapter of Yamato Part 2. The first sight that greeted readers upon opening the magazine was Matsumoto’s early image of Teresa with the headline Space Battleship Yamato, New Serialized Space Roman. A page turn brought this two-page spread into view:
This was essentially Leiji Matsumoto’s version of Yoshikazu Yasuhiko’s forthcoming movie poster art, a piece of which had popped up in Elementary 4th Year Student (as shown earlier). Yasuhiko’s image of Kodai and Yuki would be used to promote the film, and Matsumoto’s version promoted the manga.
That said, it’s entirely possible that Matsumoto rendered it first, and Yas’ art was based on his. The historical record doesn’t quite go deep enough to settle that mystery. Regardless, unless you were hyper-vigilant in your search for Yamato news back then, you most likely saw Matsumoto’s version in print first.
Then there’s another interesting wrinkle; the text-free version of Matsumoto’s opening spread for Bouken Oh included a different version of Yamato on it. The magazine displayed the anime version, another iconic image that would soon be seen everywhere. All subsequent reprints of the manga reverted to the illustration shown above.
The first chapter of the manga ran 34 pages, opening with a soliloquy from Dr. Sado at the feet of Captain Okita’s monument, then jumping out into space to find Kodai and his crew on patrol. A strange signal is sent to Earth just as the patrol ship that relayed it is wiped out by a mysterious enemy. Strange things are afoot in the year 2201…
The pipe organ at Musashino Academy of Music, Beethoven Hall
June 5: Akira Miyagawa vs. The Comet Empire
On the day of the third recording session for the Farewell score, an unusual step was taken that the world never knew about until 35 years later when Akira Miyagawa (Hiroshi’s son) related it in an interview. It was on this day that the White Comet theme was recorded on a massive pipe organ, a sound so deep and menacing that it remains unforgettable.
In the program book for Yamato 2199 Chapter 4, Akira related the following tale…
As soon as he’d finished that music, my father was in high spirits and boasted to me, “I’ve really made something incredible,” and it did seem to be something that was near and dear to his heart. He definitely takes the sort of music you hear all the time in SF space films and polishes it up in a way that makes it unique.
The Miyagawa family in 1981
Besides, it’s catchy and memorable, with a powerful sense of dread on just the right scale. He wrote that wonderful music for a pipe organ, even though he had never played one. I wonder if he thought, “I must be a genius!” (Laughs) As for my playing this product of my father’s self-confidence, it began with him asking, “Have you ever played an organ?”
I was in the second year of high school at the time. It was recorded at a place called the Musashino Academy of Music, and it seemed that an instructor there declined to perform it. I think it was probably because he didn’t have the confidence to play music by a professional pops composer like my father, so my turn had come. However, I had only played a rock organ, which was not at all like playing a pipe organ, so there was a lot of pressure and I flubbed it dozens of times. I was miserable and my tears flowed non-stop. If I do say so myself, the rice bowl I ate for dinner was awfully salty. (Laughs)
Still, I worked hard on it even thought I was discouraged, and the instructor who’d turned it down praised me for being “a wonderful son.” As for me, I thought, “only because you wouldn’t do it…!” (Laughs)
Read the full interview here.
The postscript to this story is that the recording engineer ran out of tape before Akira could get through all of the White Comet compositions, so a return engagement with another organist was booked for June 22. Akira would participate again two years later, writing compositions for Yamato III, and of course he would inherit the mantle of his father much later for the remakes.
June 10: Space Battleship Yamato Complete Records Collection
Words fail when trying to sum up this release. “Monumental” hardly begins to cover it. This is not only the single greatest Yamato publication of all time, it leaves absolutely nothing out in its goal to document the making of the first TV series from start to finish.
This trilogy of hardcovers, released all at once in a heavy slipcase, did for anime publishing what the Symphonic Suite album did for anime music; elevated it to a production standard normally reserved for revered classics. All at once, it gave loyal fans everything they’d wanted from the start and told the rest of the world that anime was worthy of their attention.
The publisher was Yoshinobu Nishizaki’s own Office Academy, and a similar “deluxe book” would accompany every Yamato film to come. It wasn’t long before rival animation studios picked up the baton and followed suit. On the other hand, now that practically every piece of TV series production art was in print from an official source, it began to take some wind out of the sails for doujinshi publishers. Future reports will show this evolution.
Read much more about the book set here.
June 10: Starsha, Thoughts Among the Stars single
If the book set didn’t say it loudly enough, here was more proof that the first Yamato series still had new things to offer. The “image song” on this 45rpm single had first been heard in the December 1977 radio drama. It opens with an instrumental ballad that evokes a sad, lovely woman before Isao Sasaki’s vocals take over. The B-side featured Starsha, the closing track from Symphonic Suite.
Read more about it and find translated lyrics here.
Listen to it on Youtube here.
June 14: Isao Sasaki song recordings
The opening and closing themes of the original Yamato series had proven to be the highest-profile components for repeat sales, but until the Starsha song was released, there were only two of them. So it was a natural step to create three new songs as accompaniment for Farewell. However, two would be categorized as “image songs,” not heard in the film itself: The Rival and Teresa Forever, both recorded on this day by Isao Sasaki. They would be released on a single in July.
June 15: High 1 Course magazine, July issue
The next magazine hit was in another student digest, this one aimed at 10th graders. It offered a generous 10-page article that hit the production highlights that were known so far, including new songs that would be recorded and the fact that a pipe organ was being used in the score. There was also a synopsis of the story, astonishingly detailed and loaded with spoilers. Any fan who read it on sight probably regretted it afterward.
The last two pages gave readers an illustrated look at the animation production process with Yamato as its subject.
See all the pages here.
June 15: SF Anime Fantasy mook
Published by Shinshokan, this special issue of Paper Moon Magazine was a grab-bag of coverage for all sorts of fantasy-based titles from around the world with a healthy focus on Japanese anime and cinema. Star Wars was just about to be released in Japan, which explains the choice of cover art, but a 4-page article on Farewell was hot on its heels. It consisted of the exact same synopsis that appeared that same day in High 1 Course magazine, which almost certainly means it was written by Toei’s publicity department.
See the pages here.
June 23: Kenji Sawada song recording
In another experiment to enrich the ‘Yamato Sound,’ Yoshinobu Nishizaki hired Kenji Sawada, one of Japan’s hottest pop singers at the time, to perform the end theme for Farewell. This was the song titled From Yamato With Love, the lyrics of which had previously been seen in the Fan Club Magazine. Along with his star power, Sawada (who went by the stage-name “Julie”) brought his own record label and his own composer into the mix, which created some tension in the ranks.
Hiroshi Miyagawa submitted four compositions to Nishizaki for the song, but in the end he went with one written by Sawada’s personal composer, Katsuo Ono (far right). It was the one and only time a Miyagawa piece had been rejected in favor of another’s. Nevertheless, Miyagawa still took charge of the arrangement to maintain cohesiveness.
Interestingly, Katsuo Ono would release his demo for the song 25 years later on a CD titled Phantom Melody Vol. 1 (UK Doughnuts Labe, UDOK-1). Read more about it here.
June 24: Star Wars released in Japan
Looking back from a Star Wars-saturated future, it’s hard to imagine that some countries didn’t get their first viewing until over a year after its May 1977 debut. Japan was one of them. Despite nonstop media buzz and months of pre-release magazine coverage, it wasn’t screened in a single Japanese cinema until this day, and even then it was a limited release with full distribution starting July 1.
The Yamato production team had seen it about six months earlier when they took the trip to Hawaii in January, and walked out feeling uneasy about having to compete with it. This was just one of the ways Star Wars helped boost Yamato; it inspired them to push their creativity to higher levels, and it created an appetite for SF that the first Yamato movie was only too happy to feed. Fortunately, Farewell‘s August release date didn’t put it in direct competition, or history may have gone differently.
June 25: Yamato Fan Club Magazine #4
At last, there it was. This was very likely the first place anyone saw the famous poster for Farewell to Yamato, painted by Yasuhiko Yoshikazu. This was going to be the last club magazine before the premiere, so it was packed with news about the May press conference, production tidbits, highlights from the first fan club meeting, a message from Nishizaki that included the words “why a third movie won’t be made,” and the first official announcement for Yamato 2, to premiere on TV October 7.
See the translated articles here.
See the entire magazine here.
We tackle the monster month of July when the movie went into postproduction and the promotional campaign went into overdrive with significant media attention and the first ever live Yamato concerts. See it all in Vintage Report 11!
Addendum: 1978 context
Anime on TV was continuously gaining traction with ever more sophisticated fare and plenty of shows to lure the Yamato audience. The most prominent in the SF/fantasy genre were as follows…
Final series in a trilogy, preceded by Combattler V and Voltes V.
Created by Leiji Matsumoto, based on Journey to the West. Later released internationally as Spaceketeers.
Fantasy adventure, directed and entirely storyboarded by Hayao Miyazaki.
Yoshiyuki Tomino’s last series before commencing on Mobile Suit Gundam.