Vintage Report 16: December 1978

Stop the presses moment: in the course of writing these vintage reports, new discoveries inevitably pop up that belonged in previous reports. Sometimes they warrant special attention, and this is one of those. So our report on December 1978 begins with a small step backward.

November 15: Manific #1, December issue

At this point in time, there were just two magazines in existence devoted to anime: OUT and Animage. In November 1978, a third magazine joined their ranks: Manific, from Rapport publishing. It got off to a rocky start, only available directly from the publisher rather than in bookstores. It lacked the flash of Animage and the mileage of OUT, so the editors tried to set it apart by focusing on older anime (along with some live-action titles) that wasn’t getting attention elsewhere; a respectable goal, but not conducive to high sales.

Despite this, they also knew what fans wanted to read, so the very first article in their very first issue was a 4-page “studio report” in which they visited Academy Productions in the early days of Yamato 2, at a time when the staff didn’t actually know how the series would end. Read that article here.

Manific is barely remembered today, but this is not the last you’ll hear of it in these reports. Stay tuned to see where it went next.

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled report.

As 1978 drew to a close, Yamato fever showed no signs of abating. Farewell would soon be back for revival screenings, Yamato 2 approached its halfway point on TV, and new merch continued to appear, especially on the music side. It all made December a month to remember.

December 1: Roadshow, January issue

Starting here, Roadshow stepped up its Yamato 2 coverage with a monthly double-page spread titled Yamato Newspaper. It borrowed the format of a daily tabloid to report events from the TV series, treating story highlights as news flashes. The “articles” came from the first three episodes, and brief synopses were given for episodes 7-10. Yamato Newspaper remained a monthly feature for the next five issues after this one.

Read the text here.

Elsewhere in the magazine, a reader poll for ten best movies from October placed Farewell to Yamato at number 3, followed by Saturday Night Fever and Star Wars.

December 1: Small 4th Age, January issue

Obunsha’s student digest magazine for 4th graders offered a 14-page article on favorite toys to look for in stores (including some advertising). It was just in time to mention recent releases from Nomura Toy Company…

Nomura Toys

Space Battleship Yamato is ready for action! The amazing “warp navigation” allows it to fly through space at 99% of the speed of light. It is now available as a diecast model from Nomura Toys.

The length is 30cm, and the heavy feeling is irresistible. There are many fun features: the bow missiles launch, the turrets rotate, the stabilizing wings pop out, the chimney missiles launch, and it stores three Cosmo Tiger IIs. As you stare at it, you can imagine many famous Yamato scenes floating before your eyes.

The popular robot Analyzer, is also very active in space. Sometimes it roams around, sometimes it splits into three parts and surveys. It’s great for observation. The popular Analyzer is now available as a diecast model from Nomura Toys.

Now, let’s depart for the space trip of your dreams!

Text at top right: Surrounded by unprecedented buzz / The amazing boom has arrived!

December 1: Terebi kun, January issue

Shogakukan’s magazine for TV viewers included manga for Gatchaman and Yattaman (among others) and articles on the latest anime shows. The January issue had a blurb announcing the Yamato 2 episodes for December, and came with a 9-page bound-in mini magazine.

See it here.

December 2: Bouken Oh [Adventure King], January issue

A magnificent cover painting fronted for a mini-article near the front of this issue that highlighted Yamato‘s new upgrades for the TV series. But that wasn’t all…

The inside front cover offered up the first ad, placed by Bandai to promote recent model kits. More would soon be on the way.

The “first page” promoted the 1979 Farewell to Yamato calendar (side A) and a prize giveaway for Yamato toys from Nomura (side B). Tucked in at the bottom was a calendar card for January to remind you when Yamato 2 episodes were on (Saturdays).

Leiji Matsumoto’s manga chapter for this issue ran 23 pages and featured the Earth Defense Headquarters drop undersea mines in a futile attempt to stop Yamato from launching. The chapter ended with the ship just about to break the surface of the water.

Interrupting the chapter (above right) was an ad to remind you that Nomura Toy Company also made Yamato model kits.

December 2: Yamato 2 Episode 8

Space storm! Escape is impossible!

Yamato accidentally warps into the deadly jaws of a space cyclone – and even if they can escape the deadly time trap at its core, the Comet Empire waits to attack the second they break free!

Read our commentary for this episode here.

December 3: Farewell to Yamato Animation Cell Collection

60 pages, Shonen Pictorial Co.

This book was the first of its kind, an innovative collection of pseudo-animation cels with an image printed onto an acetate overlay against a thick cardboard background image. A dozen of these were created for the book, accompanied by a guide to the story. Also included was a foldout calendar for the first half of 1979.

December 9: Yamato 2 Episode 9

Charge! Sink Yamato!

The crew captures an enemy pilot, the first Comet Empire soldier ever seen by Earthlings. At last, they have a chance to find out who is moving against the Earth. But nothing is ever so simple in the vastness of deep space.

Read our commentary for this episode here.

December 9: Middle 2nd Age, January issue

Obunsha’s student digest magazine for 8th graders announced the return of Farewell to Yamato to theaters for the first revival screenings since it closed in October. They celebrated the occasion with a 6-page article titled You too can learn from Susumu Kodai’s way of life!

It was a well-crafted overview of Kodai’s emotional journey through both Part 1 and Part 2, punctuated by comments from well-known singers and actors. It was followed by a 2-page Yamato quiz made up of 26 questions. According to the magazine, if you couldn’t answer 20 or more, you weren’t a true fan.

Ready to put that to the test? Read the article here.

December 10: Animage #7, January issue

It was very easy for fans to transplant the characters of Kodai and Yuki onto their voice actors, so any interview featuring the two of them together was undoubtedly examined at the molecular level for insight into their relationship. Animage ran just such an interview in which they talked about their characters at length.

Read it here.

December 11: Middle 3rd Age, January issue

Obunsha’s student digest magazine for 9th graders devoted one page to Yamato 2 in this issue, which curiously contained a description for Episode 11, almost two full weeks before it would air. The text reads as follows:

Space Battleship Yamato is back on TV!

Let’s have a mini-mini guide to the contents of Yamato 2 following the unprecedented popularity of the movie. A giant white comet is heading toward Earth to dominate the entire universe. What about Yamato?

Yamato approaches Planet Telezart following a message from Queen Teresa. Yamato fought back against Goland’s fleet in the meteor belt. The Wave-Motion Gun destroyed all the enemy ships. Then a message arrived from Dessler. It rang in the ears of the Yamato veterans.

“Dessler is alive?”

“That’s impossible! He must be dead!

On the bridge, Kodai, Shima, Tokugawa, and Sanada begin to discuss the situation.

Meanwhile, the other crew members are busy repairing Yamato, which was damaged in the battle with the Goland fleet. Then a few fireflies appear. The crew has been away from Earth for a long time, and their feelings for home are at their highest.

“Fireflies, fireflies…!” Everyone is in a frenzy as memories of Earth flash through their minds. They can see themselves as boys chasing fireflies in a park. Enthralled, they catch the fireflies and bring them aboard. Kodai has an ominous feeling when he sees them and orders the fireflies taken off the ship, but the crew does not listen to him. Suddenly, everyone begins to float up into the air.

“What’s going on?”

The ship is in a zero-gravity state. Amid the clamor, the face of Dessler appears on the screen.

“It’s been a long time, Yamato. I have sent you a heartfelt gift to comfort you on your long journey.”

It is iron-eating bacteria disguised as a fireflies sent by Dessler. Yamato flails, out of control. Then fighters from Dessler’s fleet attack. Yamato is in danger.

Episode 11
Leader Desslok, the Vengeful Demon (Part 1)

From the NTV series scheduled to air on 12/23

Highlights mini guide

[Fearful invasion of the White Comet Empire]

The giant White Comet, Gatlantis, has conquered every planet in the universe and has set its next target as the Earth. The artificial empire is usually hidden in a fireball of fast neutron storms and high-pressure gas belts. It shines like a city at night, and is also a grand strategic location with state-of-the-art equipment.

[A powerful mecha group]

Earth Defense Forces side

(1) Yamato
(2) Newly built space battleship, Andromeda
(3) Fighter: Cosmo Tiger
(4) Destroyer
(5) Patrol ship

White Comet Army side

(1) White Comet, Gatlantis
(2) Super Carrier Naska
(3) Deathvertator
(4) Ship-borne aircraft: Eater II
(5) Ships and aircraft such as land-based interceptors

December 16: Yamato 2 Episode 10

Crisis relief! The roar of the Wave-Motion Gun!

As Yamato presses onward toward Planet Telezart, word of a new threat begins to spread on Earth and the EDC responds by beginning to build up its forces. When Yamato clashes with the fleet of General Goland, it comes down to the Wave-Motion Gun versus the Comet Empire’s deadly antimatter missiles. Who will win? And then, who will offer unexpected congratulations?

Read our commentary for this episode here.

December 20: Farewell to Yamato Paper Model set

This was another first from Shogakukan, a set of build-it-yourself models printed on cardstock that offered replicas of Yamato, Analyzer, a Cosmo Gun, Dessler’s Battleship, a Comet Empire Missile Ship, and Zordar’s Giant Battleship. See the instruction book here.

December 20: Space Battleship Yamato & Farewell to Yamato Wonder Cards

These were card sets that looked like books, bound on one edge and contained in their own slipcase. They featured characters and mecha in color stills on one side and descriptive text on the back. Both sets consisted of 64 cards measuring about 4″ x 6″ and were released simultaneously by Asahi Sonorama

December 20: Space Battleship Yamato story book Vol. 1

Shogakukan’s Anime Cartoon Masterpiece series, Vol. 5

This all-color, 40-page retelling of the TV series (first half) was formatted with minimal text and lots of color stills. Many episodes were not covered, but there was still material that was cut from the feature film. The publisher utilized this format for many other children’s books based on movies and TV shows, both anime and live-action. A followup volume would appear in January.

December 23: Yamato 2 Episode 11

Leader Dessler, the vengeful demon!

At long last, Dessler of Gamilas has revealed himself as a player in the new game of galactic conquest. But this time his only ambition is to destroy Yamato. And with the aid of seemingly innocent star flies, he might just do it!

Read our commentary for this episode here.

December 23: Farewell to Yamato re-release

In the first of what would be a long history of theatrical revivals, Farewell returned to theaters for an engagement that would last just over three weeks. As a testament to its incredible popularity, it was booked into MORE theaters than for its August premiere.

The same flyers were used to promote it on the ground, since the bottom section on the text side was left open for new theater information.

December 25: Fan Club Magazine #7

“Fan Club Plaza” was the name given to the letters column in the bimonthly magazine, and for the year-end issue of 1978, it was expanded to nearly fill the issue with reactions and well-wishes. Also included were a page on the Cosmo Tiger II, Yamato 2 episode coverage, product info, a list of theaters showing Farewell again, and more.

See it all here.

December 25: Space Battleship Yamato Best 4

Three simultaneous releases made Christmas 1978 a great day to be a Yamato music collector. It was also a great day to be Isao Sasaki, since he was the star of all of them.

“Best 4” was a maxi-single that collected all four of Sasaki’s Yamato songs onto one disc: The Yamato theme, Teresa Forever, The Rival, and The Scarlet Scarf.

In those days, you could measure the prestige of a 45rpm single by the insert that accompanied it. When the insert reached full-color, 2-fold, “landscape” format, you knew you were doing well.

December 25: Space Cruiser Yamato single

This one remains something of a curio, with no ready explanation for what motivated it. The Yamato theme and The Scarlet Scarf are sung phonetically in English by Sasaki, maintaining the spirit of the original while rushing admirably through some obviously unfamiliar syllables.

“Space Cruiser” was the international title given to the first Yamato movie, but there was no obvious connection between that film and these songs, since they were produced long after its release.

What is known, however, is that this wasn’t a standalone release; it was part of a larger project that formed the third release for this day.

Read more about the single and find lyrics here.

December 25: Isao Sasaki Singing His Beloved Animation Hits

the “larger project” was an entire LP of Sasaki singing anime songs in English; a total of 13 tracks from Yamato, Danguard Ace, Galaxy Express 999, Captain Harlock, and others. The lyrics are credited to music teacher/arranger Donald P. Berger, who took on the heroic task of rendering concise English phrases to fit the original Japanese melodies.

The album’s insert contained sheet music and lyrics to all 13 songs. It was released only once on CD in 1999, a 5-disc box set from Columbia titled Isao Sasaki Deluxe Collection (COCX-30275 > 279).

There was yet another music release for this month, one that would justly go down in Yamato history. Keep reading…

December 29: Bouken Oh [Adventure King], February issue

Akita Shoten’s editorial crew typically launched their February issues a few days earlier than usual to take the New Year’s holiday week off, so that’s how this one landed at the end of December. It contained the usual advertising, bonus features, mini-article, and Leiji Matsumoto manga.

See it all here.

December 30: Yamato 2 Episode 12

Will Yamato perish in the hollow planetoid?

Yamato breaks free of Dessler’s initial assault to take refuge in a huge tunnel satellite, but they are unaware that they have fallen into their arch enemy’s deathtrap…and he is closing in for the kill!

Read our commentary for this episode here.

December 30: Space Battleship Yamato SF novels, softcover edition

Asahi Sonorama was one of three publishers to release novelizations of the first Yamato story, and they handled three different versions from 1974 to 1980. Their second version was a trilogy of hardcovers that arrived with the movie in 1977, and this was the softcover edition of that version. All three volumes were released on the same day. Each one started with 32 pages of color stills.

Also spotted in December

New Disco Arrange album

The exact day of release is frustratingly unrecorded, but everything else about this album is the stuff of legend. I Adore the Eternity of Love was the next step in Yamato‘s musical evolution after Symphonic Suite Yamato, released one year earlier. Hiroshi Miyagawa took 12 of his compositions from Part 1 and Part 2 and created whole new arrangements with a disco beat.

It was the first and only Yamato album released on the Polydor label (rather than Nippon Columbia), which is most likely what prevented it from reaching CD until 2012 as part of the Sound Almanac series. Anyone who didn’t know about the album would get to hear samples from it when three tracks were integrated into the latter half of Yamato 2.

Read more about the album (including translated liner notes) here. and here.

1/850 Diecast Yamato (Nomuro Toy Co.)

Stretching almost a foot long and weighing more than any photo could convey, this became Nomura’s most popular diecast toy ever (though to be accurate, it had some plastic parts too).

The proportions were virtually the same as their 1/1300 version, but the fightercraft were more accurate and missiles could be fired from the forward launch tubes.

8mm film reels (Toei)

The first on-demand version of Farewell to Yamato was released just over a year after a previous set for Space Battleship Yamato. Toei contracted the same manufacturer, Herald Enterprise, to create this 2-volume set.

Each reel was 20 minutes long with sound, containing highlights from the film. Volume 1 was titled Hope for Tomorrow and Volume 2 was From Yamato With Love.

Terebiland, January issue

The last Terebiland for 1978 gave readers two gifts: a splashy Yamato cover story with a foldout and overview of the ship…

…and a special “Secret File” bundled with the magazine as a bonus item. What was secret about it?

That was up to you to decide, since you could put anything you wanted into its two plastic sleeves.

Post office ads

Public recognition through record box office success is one thing. But we all REALLY know that the true mark of approval comes from cooperative advertising with your national post office. Japan Post did exactly that, using Yamato to motivate customers to get their New Year’s holiday postcards into the mail.

The first one gave a deadline of December 20 to “launch” your cards in time to be received January 1st. The second made it clearer with the message, “You can’t send New Year’s cards through warp (instantaneous mass transfer device).”

This tie-in was initiated by the Kanto postal network, and these posters were displayed in regional post offices in Kanto, which includes Tokyo.

The “other” Yamato

December 1978 saw the release of a Yamato model kit that must have caused quite a stir upon first sight. Since 1976, model company Aoshima had been rolling out spaceships and vehicles in their Redhawk series. By no coincidence whatsoever, they decided to name one of them Redhawk Yamato in the exact same year that Space Battleship Yamato was at its most popular.

But even in a world quickly filling up with Yamato knockoffs, this was not one to be lightly dismissed. Find out why here.

December context

December 16: Lupin III movie

Lupin III and Space Battleship Yamato have little in common on the surface, but they had very similar trajectories in the anime world. The first Lupin TV series arrived in 1971, aiming for viewers in a higher age bracket, and lost the ratings battle (just like Yamato). It got a boost from reruns and returned for a second round in 1977, where it did much better and stuck around for the long haul (just like Yamato).

It was released with the simple title Lupin III, later renamed Lupin vs The Clones, The Secret of Mamo and The Mystery of Mamo. It was the franchise’s first leap to the big screen, taken while the second TV series was still running. From that day to this one, hardly a year has passed without more Lupin in it. And that’s a good thing.

Read more about the film here.

Anime magazines published in December

OUT (February ’79 issue), Animage Vol. 7 (Jan ’79 issue), and Manific #2 (Jan ’79 issue)

Also spotted in 1978 (exact dates unknown)

Knockoff products

Where there is a great success story, imitators usually spring up looking for a free ride like Star Flies on a Space Battleship. (Clever turn there, eh?) Amid the flood of Yamato merchandising there could be found a predictable number of knockoff products, tailor-made to fool the eye of the uninformed (or indiscriminant) consumer. On the upside, it does take a creative (if misguided) mind and a sort of endearing chutzpah to push these things out into broad daylight, and it can be great fun to examine them with a trained eye.

See a rogue’s gallery of Yamato knockoffs here.

Music mayhem

If you’ve been scanning the last few reports for more info about “secondary” music releases (as opposed to official ones), first of all – thank you for your obsessive devotion. Secondly, though there are a LOT of them, their exact release dates are often hard to pin down. So here’s a roundup of everything that was probably released in the wake of Farewell to Yamato. They all contain covers of Yamato songs, and some are more legit than others.

Above, L to R:

Live Space Fantasy, For Life records
Live version of an anime synthesizer album released in April 1978 (released on CD in 2010: FLCF-5027)

Space Roman, Victor
“Starship Synthesizer Orchestra” covers themes from Star Wars, 2001, Yamato, etc.

Yamato/Cyborg 009/Gatchaman TV Anime Original Soundtrack Definitive, Columbia
Selections from all three series

Kazuo Funaki Friend Concert I
Oricon Playback ’78 Disco All-Stars
Bourbon (single)
From Yamato With Love Karaoke
Teichiku Orchestra (single)

NHK Symphony Orchestra
Golden Pops Concert

New Screen Themes Best Album
V.A., Seven Seas
Screen Theme Double Deluxe

Great Movies of Japan
Screenland Orchestra, CBS/Sony
The March in SF World
Overseas Records
Star Wars/Yamato Marches
Double Power Plus Orchestra, Seven Seas (single)

Space Hero on Parade!
Asahi Sonorama
Hero from Space!
Toshiba Records
Terebi Manga de Genki Yoku!
Micro Records

Songs for Marching: Yamato/UFO
Toshiba Records (single)
Ultra Grand March
Jack Records
SF Manga Definitive Edition
Space Records

Terebi Manga Complete Collection
(SF Anime volume)

Jack Records
Terebi Manga Grand March
Jack Records
Terebi Manga Great Space War
Seven Two

What’s Next

1979 dawns with no slowdown whatsoever; Farewell to Yamato continues to dominate the discourse, Yamato 2 shifts into its second half, and merch just keeps coming with no end in sight. Behind the scenes, the next adventure is already in the planning stages in what will become the most productive year ever for Office Academy. See it all in Vintage Report 17!

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