Vintage Report 14: October 1978

Newspaper clippings for the approaching Yamato 2 premiere

To understand how significant this month was, here’s a metaphor. Imagine that it’s July 1977, two months after Star Wars exploded into the world. Now, without buying a movie ticket, you’ll get to watch an expanded version play out over 26 episodes on TV. That mind-blowing scenario was pretty much what fans were getting when Yamato 2 took to the airwaves. And you bet it sparked a lot of activity…

October 1: Asahi Shimbun article

The first media blip of the month was a memorable one. The style section of the Asahi Shimbun newspaper did fans the favor of publishing Fashion Designer Yukiko Hanai’s pattern for Yuki Mori’s beloved daywear. It was a full-legged version that could presumably be cut down to skirt length. This may be the first instance of officially authorized cosplay by a production studio.

October 1: Manga Shonen, November issue

The last of Manga Shonen‘s 1978 Yamato coverage was tucked into another state-of-anime article that gave fans the spotlight. It was titled “Reader’s Choice Best Animation” and reported on a popularity poll taken from over 6,000 entries. How did Yamato fare? Find out here.

October 1: Roadshow, November issue

Fans were treated to a four-page pictorial from Farewell to Yamato that included news of Yamato 2, to debut in two weeks.

See the article here.

Owing to publishing lag time, this was the first issue to include popularity poll results from the month of August. In the top ten movie list, Star Wars and Saturday Night Fever took the top two slots, followed by Farewell to Yamato in third place. Over in the poll for favorite TV shows, a rerun of Yamato Series 1 scored amazingly high at number 4.

October 3: Bouken Oh [Adventure King], November issue

A flurry of Yamato coverage awaited right up front, the main part of which was a foldout showing characters and mecha from Yamato 2. The biggest surprise could be found on the inside front cover, which carried an ad for Bandai model kits. This may have been the first place anyone saw a photo of the revolutionary 1/700 Yamato cutaway model, which would be out before the month was over.

See the full article here.

Meanwhile, Leiji Matsumoto’s 5th manga chapter took another micro-step forward, using 20 pages to get Kodai onto Yamato‘s bridge for the first time.

October 7: Weekly TV Programs, Vol. 5 #42

Another magazine to slide all up into Yamato 2‘s DMs before the big day was this one. It may have been the only publication in history to put Yamato on the same cover as My Fair Lady.

October 8: newspaper article

The specific newspaper that published this article is unknown, but since it promotes Yamato 2 and a “Sunday Editorial Department” is credited for the diagram, we can place it on the Sunday before the TV premiere. It’s an interesting piece, observing the Yamato phenom from a parent’s point of view.

Read the article here.

October 9, 1978: Middle 1st Age, November issue

Obunsha’s student digest magazine for 7th graders delivered a strong 7-page feature just before the debut of Yamato 2 on TV with the eye-popping headline Susumu Kodai is not dead!? It provided readers with an overview of the story and characters, including the first reveal of Shima’s romance with Teresa, and devoted two pages to speculation about how the series might end differently from Farewell.

Read the article here.

October 9: Middle 2nd Age, November issue

Obunsha’s student digest magazine for 8th graders delivered some splashy Yamato 2 coverage with three color pages and another four in black & white that gave summaries of the first three episodes.

See the article here.

October 9: Autumn Animation New Program Preview

Fans living in Hokkaido had the chance to see the first episode of Yamato 2 five days in advance. It was shown at a special screening event held by Sapporo TV along with the first episode of New Aim for the Ace, a remake of the mega-popular and groundbreaking 1973 series about girls’ tennis. Both of these shows would debut back to back on October 14. An unused invitation to the event is shown here.

October 9: Broadcasting magazine, Vol. 95 #15

You weren’t expecting THAT, were you? This ad appeared in Broadcasting magazine, a trade journal for broadcasters and syndicators. This was probably the first-ever promotion for the series that would come to be known as Star Blazers. At this stage, the entire first series was in the hands of Claster Television and presumably the localization had begun. Series 2 was already part of the deal even though it had yet to make its Japanese debut.

See more of this early history here.

October 10: Animage #5, November issue

With just four days until the premiere, Animage published its second article on Yamato 2, a 5-pager that briefly interviewed Leiji Matsumoto, presented new Earth-side mecha, and provided previously-unpublished flow charts for both the EDF and Comet Empire.

Read the article here.

October 10: Farewell to Yamato, Soldiers of Love drama album

Nippon Columbia, LP: CS-7077~8 Cassette: CHY-501~2

Though it was the first double-length Yamato release, the Farewell drama album was still only about half as long as the movie. This probably didn’t discourage many fans, though, especially considering it was the first opportunity anyone would have to hear the story in stereo. The next opportunity was five years away, when Victor released the movie on VHD with an upgraded stereo soundtrack in 1983. An unexpected bonus at the end of this album was a spoken-word rendition of From Yamato With Love by none other than Yoshinobu Nishizaki.

Contained inside the gatefold sleeve was a 12-page color storybook, the second largest collection of images that a fan could buy after the Roadshow special magazine published by Shueisha about a month earlier. But more would soon be on the way. Many more. In fact, Farewell would go on to become the subject of more publishing than any other film or series from the production years.

The album was also released on cassette, and the first CD from Nippon Columbia arrived in 1995.

Promotional flyer and postcard for the drama album

October 12: TV Guide, October 20 issue

The last magazine coverage before the premiere could be found in this issue of TV Guide, covering programs from October 14-20. They published a 3-page article introducing the overall concept and a mecha lineup for Yamato 2.

Read the article here.

October 14: Yamato 2 Episode 1

2201: Yamato returns!

After a year of patrol duty, Yamato sets course for home just as an enemy intruder appears and a blast of energy rips across the solar system. Meanwhile, the Comet Empire makes its plans to conquer Earth. The days of peace are numbered…

At last, fans could see a new Yamato story on TV for the first time since April 1975. And what a premiere! Far from a retread of Farewell, it corresponded to only about the first 11 minutes of the film while reusing almost none of its footage (other than the opening montage). With all new music and different starting points for the plot, it was obvious to everyone that Yamato 2 would be a much deeper look into this new world.

Side note: since the voice actors gathered every week on Saturdays at 6pm to record an episode, they had the rare opportunity to watch episodes on TV together at 7pm. On October 14 they gathered to record Episode 5 and had a premiere party to watch Episode 1.

Read our commentary for this episode here.

October 15: High 2nd Course, November issue

Gakken’s student digest magazine for 11th graders offered a farewell to Farewell to Yamato, which would close its first theatrical run on October 27. In other words, fans had a window of almost two weeks to watch Farewell in theaters and then run right home to catch Yamato 2 on TV. This sort of thing wouldn’t happen again until the remake era, when for a limited time one could see a chapter of Yamato 2199 in theaters and an episode on TV that same day.

October 19: TV Guide, October 27 issue

As a clear sign of growing prestige, Yamato had the cover of this issue all to itself. It fronted for a full-color 9-page article that gave summaries for episodes 10-12, a message from Producer Osamu Hiroka, a mecha review, and major story points.

See the article here.

October 21: Yamato 2 Episode 2

The comet appears; remodeling Yamato!

Reunited with the rest of the crew, Susumu Kodai talks about his suspicion of approaching danger, and another attack from space proves him right. But who, or what, now threatens the Earth?

Only 5 and a half minutes of this episode consisted of reused footage from Farewell. The rest was all new, featuring an introduction of Andromeda‘s mechanized features and the Comet Empire’s first incursion into Earth’s airspace.

Read our commentary for this episode here.

October 25: Fan Club Magazine #6

The cover feature for this 16-page issue was something no one else could offer, an insider’s look at the production studio accompanied by staff comments and the obligatory Nishizaki interview. Read it here.

Also to be found in its pages was a synopsis of episodes 1-3, a roundup of Farewell newspaper coverage, Yamato 2 characters and mecha, fan mail, and even a profile of the fan club office complete with a map showing how to find it in person. (It was a gentler time.) The back cover offered lyrics for Yamato 2‘s end theme, Teresa Forever.

October 28: Yamato 2 Episode 3

Earth’s crisis awakens Yamato!

The appearance of the White Comet and a scrambled message for help is enough to convince Kodai that Yamato must respond, with or without the permission of Earth’s government!

This episode went a little heavier with reuse footage, about 8 minutes from the film. The rest was new, particularly the muster of Dessler’s fugitive fleet and some screen time for the Comet Empire. By an interesting coincidence, it ended about in sync with Leiji Matsumoto’s manga in this month’s issue of Bouken Oh.

Read our commentary for this episode here.

October 30: Space Battleship Yamato novels from Shueisha

You may have thought four novelizations of the first Yamato story were enough, but Shueisha Publishing disagreed. These two were released on the same day. At left was a hardcover for young readers, written by Michiru Maki (96 pages). At right was a softcover from the “Monkey Library” imprint, written by Kiyoshi Miura (176 pages). Both were illustrated throughout with stills, but the softcover also included animator’s drawings.

Promotional items from Shueisha: (left) sticker set, (right) store banner promoting Yamato‘s return to television.

October 30: Broadcasting magazine Vol. 95, #18

Bet you weren’t prepared to have your mind blown TWICE in this report. Claster Television took out another ad in Broadcasting just three weeks after the first. This included stills, two of them taken from the Farewell movie poster, and indicated an episode run of 52 shows (Series 1 and Series 2 combined).

Star Force was offered for the 1979-80 TV season, but it was still too soon for any broadcasters to have signed up for it. That would happen a few months down the road; click here if the suspense is too much for you.

Also spotted in October

1/700 Yamato Mechanic Model

At last, Bandai showed what they could do when they put their full innovative might behind a Yamato model kit. The exact day of release is unknown, but October was definitely the month, tied into the premiere of Yamato 2.

The box alone conveyed the wonder of what was to be found inside; not only was it a picture-perfect match to the now-famous profile image that had been in circulation for years, it came with the irresistible feature of a cutaway interior.

Something else that’s easy to miss was the first indication of a scale. We take it for granted today, but in 1978 a “scale model” was something based on a measurable, real-world object like an actual battleship. Yamato‘s in-story dimensions were well known, so it was not a big leap to establish a 1/700 scale reference point. This made for a generously-sized model, about 15″ long.

Among other things, it meant that if you’d built a real-world battleship at 1/700 scale, you could now put the fictional Space Battleship next to it for comparison. This invoked a degree of authenticity that simply didn’t exist before. In other words, this simple inclusion of mathematics moved anime closer to reality.

Cosmo Tiger II model

Bandai had more to offer in October. Right alongside the 1/700 Yamato was a nicely-sized Cosmo Tiger that was a near-perfect realization of the anime design. It was later estimated at around 1/70 scale. Like real-world aircraft kits, it came with the option of a display stand or landing gear.

Dessler’s Battleship model

As if to make up for past mistakes, Bandai turned October into a triple threat with the simultaneous release of Dessler’s Battleship from Farewell. This was not only the first enemy kit in the Yamato lineup, it was one of the earliest of any series, since most model manufacturers focused only on the hero mecha. It was later estimated at around 1/900 scale.

Nomura products launch

While Bandai was making its long-overdue breakthrough on the modeling side, the venerable Nomura Toy Company did the same in the world of playthings. Prior to this, only two Yamato toys were released by Popy in 1974/75. When Nomura stepped up as a major licensor for Yamato 2, they immediately blew past this meager competition with no less than 16 new products in their opening salvo, and more on the way.

See the entire Nomura lineup here.

See a collection of vintage Nomura toy commercials on Youtube here.

October music releases

There was no shortage of sources for Yamato songs as 1978 proceeded. In fact, their numbers grew far beyond what’s shown here, but since exact release dates aren’t always available we’ll save them up for later.

At left is a single from ELEC Records’ “Terebi Manga Series” containing covers of From Yamato With Love and The Rival. At right is another 2-LP omnibus from Nippon Columbia called Anime Request Best 28. The Yamato theme and The Scarlet Scarf were joined by songs from its most popular contemporaries including Captain Harlock, Triton of the Sea, Cyborg 009, Devilman, Lupin III, and more.

Nippon Columbia also released the biggest Isao Sasaki collection yet, a 2-LP set called Isao Sasaki Best 24. This one had all five of his Yamato songs and others from his best-known super robot anime, including Grendaizer and Dangard Ace. Of course, all these songs have been released on CD many times over since then.

The most interesting Nippon Columbia album released in October was this one, a recording of the live Voice Voice Voice Festival held on August 1. As described in Vintage Report 12, an army of 56 voice actors participated in a live variety show. Three Yamato actors were among them. It included a very well-received cover of The Scarlet Scarf during which girls in the audience never stopped screaming.

Fantastic Films magazine, October 1978 issue

The last item in this report is one of personal significance, so this is where the guy writing these words (Tim Eldred) steps out from behind the “reporter” personna to describe it.

I was 13 years old in the fall of ’78, and started picking up sci-fi magazines wherever I could find them to keep up with news of Star Wars and other things I liked. Fantastic Films was one of the lesser-known artifacts of that era, a bi-monthly mag from Chicago-based Blake Publishing Corp. I might have forgotten all about it if not for this particular issue.

It included a 4-page article titled Future Animation that talked about new developments in the cartoon world from a Filmation Flash Gordon TV special to Ralph Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings to something called Space Cruiser Yamamoto (the 1976 movie dub). This magazine, therefore, was the first place I ever encountered our beloved space opera. The article didn’t describe it at all, just giving us two grainy stills with meager captions. But they still made an impression on me. When I saw the same images in Star Blazers about a year later, I recognized them instantly. And life would never be the same afterward.

Read the article here.

What’s Next

Yoshinobu Nishizaki takes his post-Farewell victory lap, publishing and merchandising continues to ramp up, and Yamato 2 takes the saga to new heights. See all that and more when we relive the month of November 1978 here!

Bonus: Manga Shonen SF & Fantasy Manga Collection

Always go out on a laugh. This special issue of Manga Shonen (published in October) ended with a set of parody movie posters, which included this one for Farewell. The central pun is based on the fact that Toyama Prefecture is the hub of Japan’s pharmaceutical industry.

By a scheme of Dessler, a virus of space leprosy was scattered over the Earth
To cure this, we have no choice but to rely on Toyama’s medicine!

Carrying the hope of all mankind
A space battleship
Not flying off into space, but going to Toyama!

Across the galaxy and beyond, Kitskandar! (literal meaning: “go and hold it”)

Arama (“oh, no”)

Space Epilepsy TOYAMA

Soldiers of the Attack

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