Vintage Report 12: August 1978

This was the month when all the suspense finally broke. Farewell to Yamato destroyed all previous box office records for anime films (including that of Yamato itself) with a fresh, uncompromised, top-notch production. It was a moment no one could have foreseen four years earlier. Yamato rose to culture-bearing status, recognized even by those who didn’t watch it with their own eyes.

Here’s everything that accompanied the fateful launch.

August 1: Roadshow, September issue

In the last issue before the film’s premiere, Roadshow gave Farewell plenty of attention, including an image boost on the fan page (upper right). See it larger here.

This prominent 2-page spread appeared just a few pages in with the following text:

This is the sequel to the hit Space Battleship Yamato, which depicted love and romance in the vastness of space. In the previous film, Yamato played an active role in saving the Earth, and this time it sets out on a difficult battle to save the entire universe.

After receiving a message from Teresa, a beautiful girl from the planet Telezart, Kodai, Sanada, Shima, and other former Yamato warriors learn of danger in the universe. The new enemy is the White Comet Empire led by Emperor Zordar.

Along with Yamato, battle scenes dynamically develop between the new battleship Andromeda and its powerful enemies. The theme of fighting for “love” is powerfully and romantically expressed in this film. In 1978, the year of the science fiction boom, this is the most promising work of space animation.

(Source: Office Academy / Distributor: Toei)

The spread included promotion (at far left) for the first of Roadshow‘s two books dedicated to the film. The ad says it was published on July 28, but the date on the book itself stubbornly reads “September 5,” so we’ll stick with that.

The main feature was a 4-page interview, in which film journalist Kazuko Komori caught Executive Producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki at the very end of production. He spoke about the evolution of Yamato up to this point, his own early career, and his ambitions for the near future, which bore almost no resemblance to what would actually happen.

Read the interview here.

August 1: Terebiland, September issue

Terebiland‘s role in Yamato promotion was greatly reduced since the days when it trumpeted the first TV series and featured its own manga adaptation, but it was still in there swinging with this 2-page primer for the upcoming film.

August 1: ASCII, issue #14

Yamato‘s second consecutive appearance in this magazine for home computer hobbyists was accompanied by another game that reproduced a scene from the movie for Japan’s first home computer system. This was the TK-80 BS (Basic Station) by NEC, similar to the Commodore 64 in America.

A 4-page article included coding for the game in text form, which would have to be laboriously keyed in to reproduce the game on your own TK-80. Read the article here.

August 1: Kinejun #740

The last magazine to squeeze out a Farewell cover story prior to the August 5 premiere was this one. Fittingly, it was the first time an anime film became its cover story, and though the coverage inside wasn’t nearly as flashy as Animage, its editorial standard was far more sophisticated and penetrating.

Yoshinobu Nishizaki and Leiji Matsumoto were interviewed at length, both discussing aspects of the Yamato success story that hadn’t been reported before. Farewell to Yamato got a glowing early endorsement, and the screenplay was included for fans to read line-by-line…at least up to the scene in which Yamato took its first shot at the Comet Empire. They would have to visit their local theater to find out what happened next. (Or buy Kinejun #743 for the conclusion.)

Read the articles here:
Nishizaki interview
Matsumoto interview
Movie overview

August 1: From Yamato With Love single

After plenty of hype, fans finally got to hear the end title song, written by Yu Aku and sung by Kenji “Julie” Sawada, four days before the premiere. Ten days after this release, it was prominently featured on Sawada’s next album, titled And Now the Glorious Banquet (Polydor MR3130). Collectors, take note: the album version has a slightly different mix than the single version. The B-side of this single was an original Sawada tune that had nothing to do with Yamato, either thematically or stylistically.

Read more about the single (and find lyrics) here.

Listen to the single version here.

Listen to the entire album here.

The song would be later covered by Isao Sasaki in order to provide Nippon Columbia with clear copyright to release it themselves. In the meantime, a spoken-word version by Yoshinobu Nishizaki himself would be recorded for the Farewell drama LP.

August 1: Farewell to Yamato symphonic album

The single was just one thing that made this a truly momentous day for Yamato music collectors. The other was the arrival of this exquisite album of symphonic music. Until now, its content had only been heard by those lucky enough to attend the Symphonic Concert series in July. Now, everyone could hear a worthy successor to the famed Symphonic Suite.

Left: in-store promotional standee. Right: cassette version.

After the misleading advertising of the first Yamato LP, which was called a soundtrack when it was in fact a story album, this one was only named after the film. Of its twelve tracks, only two were heard in the film itself (White Comet and Gatlantis). The others were orchestral rearrangements of the main themes, created for an independent listening experience. It would take another 22 years for the actual soundtrack to be released in the Eternal Edition series.

Promotional postcard from Nippon Columbia

Read more about the album here.

August 1: Voice Voice Voice Festival

This unusual event was the first of its kind, a live variety show featuring an army of 56 anime voice actors celebrating the 10th anniversary of their mutual talent agency, Aoni Production.

The lineup included three Yamato actors: Kei Tomiyama (Kodai), Akira Kamiya (Kato), and Kenichi Ogata (Analyzer). The young audience was overjoyed to see and hear their favorite actors performing songs and skits, and dramatic scenes from series such as Candy Candy, Danguard Ace, and Captain Harlock.

One particular highlight was a live rendition of The Scarlet Scarf. It didn’t measure up to Isao Sasaki’s version, but that didn’t matter; from the first note to the last, the crowd screamed continuously as if they were in a Beatles concert. This and many other segments would be released on LP in October.

August 2: Small 4th Age magazine, September issue

Obunsha’s student digest for 4th graders had something special inside: a 3-page article on the animation production process for Farewell to Yamato and a bonus DIY booklet to cut out and fold into a 16-page story synopsis.

See the pages from the article here.

August 3: Bouken Oh [Adventure King], September issue

The September issue of Bouken Oh put Yamato firmly on the cover and offered a pull-out card on the first page.

The other side of that card featured stills and the lyrics to From Yamato With Love, in case you wanted to follow along or sing them yourself.

An ad for a forthcoming book from Movie Terebi Magazine (and some other merch) was bound into Leiji Matsumoto’s third chapter of Farewell to Yamato manga. This 23-page installment continued the glacial pace of the story, only covering the revelation of Teresa’s message to Earth.

We can’t blame Matsumoto for not wanting to give away too much of the movie in advance, but all the pages published so far only covered the first 17 minutes of screen time. For his first Yamato manga, the same number of chapters covered half the story.

Finally, as if all that weren’t enough, the magazine came with this bonus “Anime Encyclopedia” poster. One side offered a brief overview of characters and mecha along with sheet music for the previously-unseen four-verse version of the Yamato theme (see it in full here). The other side artfully combined the two theatrical posters into a single vertical image.

August 4: The World of Animation exhibition

At some point earlier in the year, some very smart people decided early August would be a good time to install a live anime-themed exhibition at the Keisei department store in Ueno, Tokyo. It stayed up through August 9 and was subtitled From Mighty Atom to Captain Harlock, 15 Years of TV Anime. If it was like similar events of the late 70s, it was a place for fans to view art exhibits, see films, buy merch, and generally bask in the glow of not being outcasts any more.

August 4: the night before the premiere

August 4 was like Christmas Eve for Yamato fans with two very special gifts. Both have faded with time, but are still fondly remembered.

Gift #1: Yamato movie on TV

In what can only be called a masterstroke, the first Yamato movie made its television debut the night before the second movie made its theatrical premiere; a phenomenon that would later be named “synergy.” The unprecedented bid by Fuji TV was the most ever paid for an animated film and the ratings paid off handsomely, topping 35% at peak viewing. But for fans, there was another highlight: a restored ending.

As recounted here, the 1977 theatrical cut contained a revised ending, animated after the TV series wrapped production. Its purpose was to shorten the story by presenting Starsha as a holographic ghost, then it skipped right to the homecoming. For this broadcast, “ghost Starsha” was replaced by TV footage from Episode 25. This cut of the film then became the standard version for home video for decades to come, with the “ghost Starsha” footage presented as a bonus feature.

The “hidden story” behind the TV broadcast is still one worth telling, because it represents both Yoshinobu Nishizaki at the peak of his power and Yamato at the peak of its popularity. Read that story here.

As we know now, the generation of fans that would grow up to create the Yamato remakes was paying close attention to all of this. Here’s what one of them, Writer Harutoshi Fukui had to say:

“At that time I was in elementary school, 3rd or 4th grade. The first Yamato movie was broadcast on TV at the time Farewell came out, and that was my first Yamato experience. It was amazing. I was shocked to see what could be done with anime.

Then I heard, ‘This movie that seems to be opening is a sequel,’ and I wanted to see it by all means, but I couldn’t go to a theater alone at that age. I begged my parents, ‘Can we please go see it together?’ but I was told, ‘At your age, Kita Fox Story (a nature dramatization) is for you.’

No matter what, Kita Fox Story couldn’t bury my desire to see Farewell to Yamato by even 1mm. (Laughs) So whenever I hear the title Farewell to Yamato now, the first thing I imagine is the picture of the Kita fox on an ice floe. (Laughs)

Maybe if I’d watched the TV broadcast with my parents, I think we would have gone together.”

(From Great Mechanics G magazine, December 2016. Read the full interview here.)

Gift #2: All Night Nippon special

Yamato‘s relationship to the All Night Nippon radio show went back to the famous 4-hour drama broadcast in December 1977. Now it was back for a double-header. Starting at midnight, the 1977 drama was rerun, and then at the impossible hour of 2AM, the Farewell to Yamato drama began.

It was a live program that lasted two hours featuring the original voice actors reprising their roles, with genuine Yamato music and sound effects filling in the rest. Whereas the previous drama added the framing device of Kodai writing in his journal, this time it was Yuki’s turn. The listeners were treated to her inner monologue as she described various dangers and silently cheered for Kodai to overcome them. A narrator stepped in to describe action scenes when she wasn’t there to witness them.

If you were one of those superfans who stayed up all night in a movie line, this was just what you needed to keep you awake until it finished at 4AM. It’s easy to imagine kids huddled around a portable radio sharing in every revelation. Then, just a few hours later, they experienced it again on a big screen.

August 5: Farewell to Yamato premiere

Anyone who didn’t hear about Farewell to Yamato on this day must have slept right through it. And anyone who had dismissed the clamor of the first movie as a mere fluke became a wrong-headed wrongmeister on the bullet train to wrongville.

Theater owners had been paying attention to the pre-publicity and knew they would be in for an assault, but even the advance sales of over half a million tickets did nothing to stem the tide. Hundreds of kids all over the country began to line up the day before, and their numbers swelled overnight into the thousands. The film opened at 133 theaters, many of which suddenly had to figure out how to accommodate overwhelming crowds.

Police and security guards were called into action at more than one venue, but by all accounts the hardest thing they had to deal with was the sweltering August heat. This all-night vigil was a product of pure passion that harbored no disruptive intent whatsoever. If there was any conflict, it existed only in the minds of fans who chose to spend the night outside and miss the TV broadcast of the first movie.

Newspapers gleefully reported all of this the next day. Read a handful of articles here.

Yoshinobu Nishizaki hobnobbing with fans at Tokyo theaters

August 11 newspaper ad showing opening day crowds

Nobuyoshi Habara (Director, Yamato Resurrection and Yamato 2202): For the first time in my life, I cried in a movie theater when I saw Farewell to Yamato. Whether or not they admit it, everyone cried.

Hidetaka Tenjin (Artist, Yamato Fact File and numerous Macross works): My first memory of Yamato was being forced to stand in line for hours to see Farewell to Yamato in a movie theater in 1978. I couldn’t sit down. Moreover, when I finally got inside I couldn’t get a seat. I had to sit on a step in the aisle. It was painful. Every theater was like that.

(From a Cosmo DNA interview, January 2012. Read it here.)

Masahiko Okura (Artist & animator, Final Yamato and Yamato Resurrection): This is a dumb story, but I didn’t cry and it had nothing to do with the movie. I stood in line all night to see it on opening day. In the morning I got an animation cel, went into the theater, and fell asleep as soon as I sat down. (Laughs) When I woke up and opened my eyes, I saw Teresa up on the screen. The story had already gotten up to Teresa on Telezart and I didn’t understand it at all. (Laughs) When I came to my senses, there was a naked woman on the screen. “Oh no, I passed out!” But the story was fascinating, and I was really impressed.

(From Ship’s Log magazine Vol. 6, February 2014. Read the entire interview here.)

Farewell to Yamato program book

The first publication fully dedicated to the film had such a massive print run that copies can still be easily found today in collector’s shops all over Japan. This 28-page full color magazine was loaded with artwork and stills (more in one place than had yet been seen) and text features that added more data to the growing library.

See the book from cover to cover here

Click below to read the text features:

Introduction and Producer’s Message
Staff biographies
Production notes

Movie merchandise

It goes without saying that the arrival of a new film was the ignition point for a whole new wave of merchandising, and this one had been in the planning stages from the moment Farewell was greenlit. The merch for the first movie set many precedents for what came after in terms of product selection and style, and this time that selection expanded exponentially.

The two major providers in 1977 had been Tokyu Recreation and Nishizaki’s Office Academy. Now, for whatever reason, Tokyu was out of the picture. But many other companies rushed in to the fill the void, including two very big names: Glico and Pepsi. Between them, Academy, and several other new players, a bonanza unfolded over several months.

See it all in these photo galleries:

Academy products | Glico products | Other products

August 10: Women Themselves magazine

The greatest triumph of the 1977 Yamato movie was deep penetration into Japanese media, as evidenced by coverage in the dozens of magazines that had never before given any attention to anime (see them here). The trend most definitely continued in 1978 in such unlikely periodicals as this one, a weekly women’s magazine published by Kobunsha.

It featured a well-rounded 8-page piece that introduced the film, examined the animation production process, and interviewed Nishizaki himself.

Read the article here.

August 10: Animage magazine #3

The third issue of Animage didn’t hit the newsstands until 5 days after the movie premiere, but it included an article written literally one day before. On August 4, an Animage reporter sat down with three enthusiastic fans to get their final thoughts before the big day. A discussion about their hopes and expectations for the film was interspersed with comments from the voice actors about the growth of their characters.

Read the article here.

A foldout poster (above right) was also included.

August 11: Middle Third Age magazine, September issue

Obunsha’s student digest for 9th graders missed out on the chance to present a new Yamato article, but they did run an ad for the symphonic LP released at the start of the month. 9th graders would certainly have been in the crosshairs for it.

August 15-25: Novelizations

Multiple novelizations for the film were released from Shueisha (which also published Roadshow magazine) over a ten-day period. Taken chronologically, they were as follows…

August 15: 2-volume edition from the Fanfan Library series
August 19: Single volume from the Cobalt Library series
August 25: 2-volume edition from the Monkey Library series

It sounds like three different editions, but it was actually only two since the Fanfan Library and the Monkey Library had exactly the same content. On the other hand, they were written for two different readerships. The Fanfan and Monkey Libraries were for younger readers while the Cobalt Library was for teens and adults. And there were still more to come. Another publisher, Asahi Sonorama, also had novelization rights and would debut theirs in September.

Find more info here.

Promotional stickers from Shueisha

Ad for the Monkey Library edition in Shonen Sunday magazine.

August 20: Rendezvous magazine #6

Rendezvous was OUT‘s companion magazine, an ambitious bi-monthly that debuted in December 1977 in the midst of the post-Yamato anime boom. It was larger and more colorful than OUT, dedicated to anime and SF/fantasy films with an emphasis on tokusatsu (live-action special effects).

This issue offered a two-part article in the form of a discussion that (A) provided the first critical comparison with Star Wars, and (B) reviewed the climax of the Symphonic Concert tour in Tokyo on July 29.

Read the article here.

August 20, 1978: Cosmo Ship Yamato No. 4 plus 1 doujinshi

Published by a group called YAFC (Yamato [something starting with A] Fan Club), this 50-pager came out shortly after Farewell to Yamato and presented a hodgepodge of content including a movie review, fan art and fanfic, scrapbook clippings, story data, and more.

See it from cover to cover here

August 25: Yamato Fan Club Magazine #5

A roundup of the whole summer media storm could be found in the pages of Fan Club Magazine #5. The amazing story of premiere day was told, which included some exclusive photos and personal testimonials from those who were there.

Readers were also treated to song lyrics, a story synopsis, photos from the symphonic concerts, and a sampling of Q&A sessions with Yoshinobu Nishizaki at various fan club meetings.

Click here to read the articles.

August 28: OUT magazine, October issue

The last word on premiere month came from the magazine by fans for fans, which included a 2-page article discussing the Symphonic Concert and the night of August 4. Here’s what they had to say…

Yamato was the strongest again this summer

As we informed you in our August issue, Nagoya City Hall was the starting point for the All Night Nippon Special Tour: Symphonic Concert Space Battleship Yamato on July 5. It moved on to Hiroshima on July 7, Sapporo on the 14th, Fukuoka on the 17th, Osaka on the 18th, and Shinjuku on the 29th and 30th. As a member of the press corps for OUT magazine, I attended the final performance at 1:00 pm.

I arrived at 11:30, and there was already a long line snaking around the theatre. The doors would open one hour before showtime. At 12:20 the doors were still closed, but Yoshinobu Nishizaki emerged at a special meeting place to sign autographs. The doors finally opened at 12:45 and the curtain went up on time at 1:00.

The first part was devoted to Yamato part 1. A scene digest was projected behind the orchestra, which was conducted by Hiroshi Miyagawa. This and a terrific performance by Nobuo Hara Sharps & Flats reproduced the world of Space Battleship Yamato beautifully. The program followed the order of the Symphonic Suite Yamato LP. The projected picture sometimes overwhelmed the song and dance activity on stage, but the overall impression was tremendous. It was quite worth seeing. The musicians were interesting, particularly Hiroshi Miyagawa and his random, funny shouts.

During a 15-minute intermission, the lobby was crowded and frenetic, filled with enthusiastic fans wearing Kodai t-shirts. LPs and other Yamato items were for sale.

The second half was devoted to Farewell to Yamato, featuring a movie trailer, music pieces entitled Andromeda and White Comet, and an appearance by Mr. Nishizaki. Movie production had just been completed on the 29th, and the music scoring was being worked out scene by scene. Nishizaki gave an explanation of what would happen in ‘Yamato Part 2′ and introduced another new piece called Hero’s Hill.

Teresa Forever was performed by Isao Sasaki, and we were treated to a 3-way conversation with the singer, Nishizaki and Miyagawa (peppered with comedy and abuse) about how it was recorded. After the orchestra played the ‘Dessler Trilogy,’ Directors Toshio Masuda and Leiji Matsumoto were introduced to a standing ovation. After the last number (Great Love), the officials were presented with bouquets and the Yamato theme was played as an encore.

I began to worry that there wasn’t enough time left to ready the film for its premiere on August 5th, but indeed the lines were already meandering around Shinjuku’s Toei Palace theater at 11pm the night before. A policeman came over and insisted that people under 18 were not allowed to line up that late. He was about to send them home, but three of the theater managers talked him out of it. With such things going on, they decided to open the doors the next morning at 5:30am.

Farewell to Yamato easily surpassed Star Wars this summer, and everyone who was there at sunrise on opening day received free animation cels.

August 30: Seventeen magazine No. 38

Almost four weeks after the Farewell to Yamato premiere, this weekly magazine from Shueisha published an unusual four-page article titled Requiem for Farewell to Yamato which was exactly that; the sort of hearfelt sermon you would expect to hear at a funeral, thanking the ship and crew for their sacrifice.

Read it here.

Also spotted in August

Analyzer model reissued

Bandai’s model kit releases up to this point were still behind the curve in terms of what fans wanted, but the outcry had been heard and a revolution was soon to strike. Meanwhile, the best they could do in August 1978 was reissue the windup Analyzer kit (originally released in December ’74) with new box art.

Very Best Movie Music Series single 71

Based on the number alone, King Records must have been publishing this series for a while. It was the first time their path crossed with Yamato by combining the theme song with that of Osamu Tezuka’s Phoenix, which had been made as a live-action film. Both songs were by the Massimo Leone Orchestra, which seemed to specialize in cover tunes.

Listen to this version of the theme here (starts at 19:50).

Doujinshis published in August

At least four fan-made doujinshis arrived in the same month as Farewell to Yamato. They could only offer material that had been created for the original series, but there was still a LOT of it to go around.

Lana 001, published by Group Lana (60 pages)
See it here
Neo Negal 6, published by Yamato Fan Club II (32 pages)
See it here

Hero No. 1, published by Yuuto Onomura (36 pages)
See it here
Hero special: Main Regular Character Collection (72 pages)
See it here

What’s Next

As the waves of Farewell‘s success continue crashing into the world, Academy Studio powers up the engines for the next voyage…to your TV screen! Click here to read Report 13, covering the busy month of September 1978.

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