Vintage Report 20, May/June 1979

This stretch of time can be described as a gap, since it marked the period between the Yamato 2 finale and the broadcast premiere of The New Voyage. Such gaps are replete throughout Yamato history, but as we all know they are often rich in news, media, and merch.

The most interesting artifact from this period sort of fills all three of those categories: a company brochure for Yoshinobu Nishizaki’s Office Academy. It’s a unique time capsule of anime history, and a portrait of the company at its most ambitious phase, announcing new anime productions that would debut later in the year.

Subsequent history painted a slightly different picture, but click here to read and enjoy what can only be described as a gloriously optimistic document.

May 1: Roadshow, June issue

The sixth and final edition of Yamato Newspaper presented a heartfelt overview of the Yamato 2 finale and a partial description of the “Yamato telefeature” set to premiere on July 21. (Later to be revised to July 31).

Read the article here

May 2: Bouken Oh [Adventure King], June issue

The cover of this issue added yet another beautifully-painted and never-seen-again Yamato image to the growing pile. The back cover had another intriguing painting that represented the Redhawk Yamato model kit lineup from Aoshima. This series had nothing to do with the anime Yamato, but it was most definitely the highest-profile knockoff at the time.

Read all about Redhawk Yamato here

Leiji Matsumoto’s 20-page manga chapter (which had now outlasted both Farewell and Yamato 2) featured a close encounter with Comet Empire fighters and a request from EDF command to go and rescue Planet 11 from an enemy attack. Yamato strikes something on the way into warp, to be revealed later.

May 5: Anime Shop Yamato opens, Kyushu

A dedicated anime shop opened in the north Kyushu district of Japan, named Anime Shop Yamato (though it was actually an offshoot of the Animec chain). It specialized in Yamato goods, which could easily have filled an entire store by this time, and offered discounts to members of the official Yamato fan club. Above right is a closeup of the store’s wrapping paper, courtesy of Dave Merrill.

May 11: Middle Third Age, June issue

Obunsha’s student digest for ninth graders opened with a 5-page article titled Leiji Matsumoto Anime Compendium that showcased the many projects of the now VERY busy man himself.

The first spread covered Galaxy Express 999, Captain Harlock, and various manga works…

…while the second continued with news of the forthcoming Galaxy Express feature film and included the following entry on Yamato:

Space Battleship Yamato is just a practice piece

It seems that Leiji Matsumoto is just a little reluctant about Space Battleship Yamato, which was so popular and caused such a boom. However, this work was created through the efforts of many others besides him. In that sense, he says he is satisfied, but it is different from the anime that Leiji Matsumoto himself wants to create.

Even with the theatrical anime Farewell to Yamato, there were differences of opinion with the producer. For example, the death of Susumu Kodai at the end. Matsumoto sees him as a young man with great potential. It is unacceptable for him to die. That is why Kodai did not die in the TV anime. This was the result of input from Leiji Matsumoto.

Anyway, he says he learned a lot from Space Battleship Yamato. He is full of enthusiasm to create a new anime filled with dreams!

May 14: Star Blazers production

On the other side of the world, big things were afoot. Production of Star Blazers Series 1 (now referred to as The Quest for Iscandar) gave way to Series 2 (The Comet Empire) with the first script being finalized on this day. It was referred to as Episode 27, since there was no break between the two series.

Want to read that script and the others that followed? Click here for an amazing ride.

May 20: Yamato 2 storybook part 1

Anime Cartoon Masterpiece series #10

Shogakukan had already published storybooks for the first two movies, and now they were doing the same for Yamato 2; a tall order for 26 TV episodes. Nevertheless, they managed to pack 21 episodes into just 40 pages.

May 21: The Best One, July issue

The second issue of this bimonthly pop culture magazine from Gakken became the first to announce the title of the forthcoming telefeature: The New Voyage (though it still indicated a July 21 broadcast date).

Page 1 of the 2-page article presented a slightly longer synopsis than the one in Roadshow, this time including a description of the Goruba and the first design images of new characters and mecha. The second page gave readers a brief look back at the stories that got us this far.

See larger versions of these pages here

May 27: OUT, July issue

A week after The Best One appeared, Minori Shobo’s OUT magazine stepped up the game with additional design art and brief descriptions of four new characters. Here’s what they had to say about the story:

Space Battleship Yamato, The New Voyage LATEST

The story begins with the end of TV’s Yamato 2. In the year 2201, the White Comet was destroyed after a fierce battle, and Dessler felt a strange friendship with his rival Kodai. He sets out on another great voyage, gambling on the restoration of Gamilas.

But when Dessler goes to his home planet to say a final goodbye, what does he see? A swarm of large, unidentified vessels. Dessler defeats them, but for some reason the planet Gamilas explodes and disappears into cosmic dust. Its twin planet Iscandar is therefore thrown out of its orbit. Dessler, who once had feelings for Starsha, follows to try and help her.

The mysterious army had attacked Gamilas in search of a source of energy to carry out interplanetary war. And for the same purpose, it follows Iscandar with Dessler at its heels. Dessler asks Earth for assistance against the emergence of this powerful enemy. The Earth Defense Force relays the news to Yamato, which is in the midst of a training cruise with new crew members. Yamato makes repeated warps toward the source of the communication.

Around that time, Dessler catches up with Starsha, who insists on remaining on Iscandar with Mamoru Kodai. The enemy approaches…

That’s the first half, and we don’t know what will happen in the second half, but please look forward to it.

May 29: Space Battleship Yamato Choral Suite recording begins

Dedicated anime fans will surely recognize the name of Composer Joe Hisaishi for his many magnificent collaborations with Hayao Miyazaki. Before those collaborations began, however, he took Yamato for a spin. On this day, he began recording a concept album that would be released by Columbia later in the year. Here’s what he had to say about it:

When I was asked to arrange a choral version of Yamato, I was lost in thought for a moment. To what extent was it possible to express this music in a purely choral form? It was written for a dramatic story rather than song poetry, which is quite different. I thought about this while I undertook the project.

The major difference between an orchestra and a chorus is that the former is expressed externally, as a function of the instruments, whereas a human voice comes from an internal place and is a direct result of a psychological function. Mr. Miyagawa’s melodies drift between darkness and romance. Could a chorus capture this? I also thought a lot about how to express the grand scale of infinite space.

I was concerned about all of this, and the technical ability of the Doshisha Student Chorus to reproduce it was amazing to me. Recording it at the Osaka Public Welfare Hall was very impressive. The single-minded enthusiasm of Conductor Hiroshi Kumagai and his conscientious staff stayed with me all the way home on the bullet train and I drank to them in congratulations. I hope you will enjoy this suite as much as they did.

Read more about the album here

Also spotted in May

Mecha Collection model kit 11: EDF Frigate

Bandai’s mini-kit lineup was still growing with two new releases that filled out the ranks of the 2201 EDF fleet (gone, but not forgotten).

Since the frigate was a smaller vessel, Bandai generously provided two pressings in a single box.

Mecha Collection model kit 12: EDF Destroyer

They did the same with the Destroyer, which was about the same size as the frigate. They used the same stand, so builders could mix and match them to their little heart’s content.

One sweet ride

The June issue of Shogakukan’s Kindergarten magazine answered a question with this tasty 2-page ad for the Yamato bicycle made by Bridgestone: who was it made for? Eyewitness sightings confirm that it stood only tall enough for a 5-year old to comfortably control. But it remains a giant in spirit.

The actual street date for the bicycle is unknown, which makes this as good a point as any to plug it into the timeline. The scenes above, starring the three luckiest boys in the world, appeared in a TV ad broadcast during Yamato 2, and we’ve seen plenty of promotion in contemporary publications (in addition to Kindergarten).

Click here to see the magnificent bicycle itself, certainly one of the most unique Yamato products ever made.

Bubblegum with action plates, Glico

The Glico candy company was an ongoing licensor of Yamato products, and they still had experiments on their agenda. These “action plates” came with the third wave of bubblegum, circa May 1979. They featured a still image on one side, and a 2-step lenticular version on the other.

Get a much bigger look at the Glico product line here

May context

Anime magazines published in May: Animage Vol. 12 (Tokuma Shoten), OUT July issue (Minori Shobo)

June 1: Roadshow, July issue

June bloomed with Roadshow‘s last word on Yamato 2, a big 8-page “Encore” article that reviewed the highlights of the series.

See the article here

June 2: Bouken Oh [Adventure King], July issue

Bouken Oh helped spread the word on The New Voyage with a foldout page spotlighting the return of both Dessler and Mamoru Kodai

Leiji Matsumoto’s manga chapter for this issue ran 16 pages; Yamato warps out to find Planet 11 under siege and the defense bases dropping like flies. The object they ran into at the end of the previous chapter is revealed to be a Comet Empire fighter that is now lodged in the hull.

June 9: Middle 2nd Year Course, July issue

Gakken’s student digest for eighth graders published a 2-pager on what would be the big event of the summer: the return of the first two Yamato movies in a double feature to begin on July 14. It also mentioned (but did not name) the upcoming telefeature, describing it as “the key to ‘Part 3,’ which will be released in theaters next summer.”

Also found in its pages was a 2-page interview with Kodai’s voice actor Kei Tomiyama.

Read both articles here

June 10: Leiji Matsumoto exhibit opens

Leiji Matsumoto had achieved superstar status by this time and earned his own special event titled Launch! Space Battleship. (Brochure shown here.) It was a summer attraction at Osaka’s Misaki Park, a combination theme park and zoo. It included several art-based attractions and a film program that commemorated Yamato, Galaxy Express 999, Starzinger, Danguard Ace, and Captain Harlock.

If that wasn’t enough for you, there was also a “dolphin jump show” to fill out the day.

June 10: Animage #13, July issue

The summer anime movies were the cover story here, with the biggest nod going to Yoshinobu Nishizaki’s Triton of the Sea. It would be a compilation film for the first half of the 1972 TV series, and the third feature in the Yamato “Big Summer Roadshow.” Read all about Triton here.

The other big story was The New Voyage. Animage became the first magazine to bring everyone the actual broadcast date (July 31) and interviews with staff members in a full color 4-page article.

Read it here

June 13: Animec #6

The 6th issue of the bimonthly Animec was the next to announce the “Yamato Festival” to come in July with a description of the event and summaries of all three films to be shown:

This year, the two major works that caused an explosive anime boom during summer vacation, Space Battleship Yamato in 1977 and Farewell to Yamato in 1978, can be seen all at once. The fantasy anime Triton of the Sea will also be screened at the same time.

The biggest event of the summer will probably be the Yamato Festival. This is a unique chance to see the first and second parts of Space Battleship Yamato, which sent the whole of Japan into a whirlpool of passionate excitement, all at once.

In addition, The New Voyage, which can be called the intro to the third part, will be aired on Fuji TV July 31 (Tuesday). The passionate cheers of Yamato fans will cover all of Japan again this summer.

As an added bonus, the Yamato Festival also has something else in store. A compilation of Triton of the Sea, which still has many fans, will be screened at the same time. Stay tuned!

June 14: High 1st Course, July issue

Gakken’s student digest for tenth graders devoted four pages to The New Voyage, with the longest and most spoileriffic synopsis to date, appending it with new character descriptions. This inadvertently revealed the fact that not all the names were finalized yet; Admiral Deda was called “Garubas,” and Meldarz was “Gabochin.” With these naming conventions, it’s easier to see where “Goruba” came from.

Text on first page:

On July 31, the heroic figure of Yamato comes back to life on TV!

Starting at 7:30pm on July 31 for two hours, the special program Space Battleship Yamato, The New Voyage will be aired on Fuji TV network. Moreover, this story is an important key to “Yamato Part 3,” which will be released in theaters next summer. Here we introduce the story and new characters before the broadcast!

June 16: Yamato exhibit opens (Safari Land)

June also saw a revival of the traveling Yamato exhibit from 1978 when it reappeared in full at Izu Safari Park, filling the Great Globe Gallery from June 16 through November 30. It was then mothballed for a few months before coming back to the public eye in the summer of 1980.

June 20: Yamato 2 storybook part 2

Anime Cartoon Masterpiece series #12

Since the first volume from Shogakukan worked so hard to cover the first 21 episodes, this one made more of a meal out of the remainder, reviewing the last five episodes (the true heart of the story) at a more leisurely pace over 40 pages.

June 21: Space Battleship Yamato “Hot Blood” novelization

You know you’ve got a tiger by the tail when five different novelizations aren’t enough. This sixth version was a surprise to everyone but Yoshinobu Nishizaki, who had specifically commissioned juvenile adventure novelist Hitomi Takagaki to rewrite Yamato as if it were a “hot-blooded” boy’s adventure from the pre-WWII era.

To further emphasize this choice, the illustrations by Yutaka Ono evoked the same style while still being true to the anime. This included the outer slipcase and a “space map” by artist Mitsuru Akiyama that looked like it came straight from the 18th century.

Read much more about the book here

See the illustrations here

June 25: Fan Club Magazine #10

As expected, the official fan club magazine was the best source for preview material on The New Voyage. Half of the 24-page issue was filled with a complete story synopsis, short script and storyboard excerpts, and plenty of design art (both b&w and color). The rest of the issue was mainly devoted to the “Fan Club Plaza” section with art and commentary on the Yamato 2 finale.

The back cover presented the first look at poster art for the upcoming “Big Summer Roadshow” featuring both movies.

June 25: Yamato 2 Part 2, Terebi Kun special

Three months after the first volume, Shogakukan published this followup. In 68 pages, it covered episodes 13-26 and appended them with a section of battle maps and character profiles. The back cover reminded everyone about the coolest bicycle on planet Earth.

June 27: OUT, August issue

The month of June ended with the latest issue of OUT, which devoted three pages to The New Voyage. The single page shown at right appeared toward the end, with some more production designs and text that continued the story synopsis from the July issue. It closes with Starsha holding a “diamond case” described as a “capsule.” Wonder what’s inside…

This 2-page color splash appeared earlier in the issue. The text in the red bars reads as follows:

In this upcoming Yamato story, Starsha and Mamoru will make their first appearance in a while. And Dessler burns with fire for a new purpose!!

Also spotted in June

Record collection

Yamato content turned up on at least three different music releases in June. The first was Nippon Columbia’s 2-LP recording of the Voice Voice Voice variety show performed back in April. (See details in Vintage Report 19 here.)

The second was a cassette from Nippon Columbia titled Anime Best Hit 20. The Yamato theme, The Scarlet Scarf, and Teresa Forever shared space with such worthy company as Galaxy Express 999, Cyborg 009, Voltes V, Raideen, Gatchaman, Captain Harlock, Triton, and Mazinger Z.

Then there was this oddball from Canyon Records (C20R0010C if you’re a collector), an all-disco album that covered the Yamato theme along with YMCA, Space Invaders, Superman, Lupin III, Popeye, and more.

By any other name

Up to this point in the historical record, Star Force has been the working title of the American version of Space Battleship Yamato. By June 1979, we know that production had moved into its second half in preparation for a TV premiere in just three more months. Thanks to dates on the various script drafts (seen here) we know that this “working title” was discarded in late June.

We can only speculate on why the change was made (especially with only three months left to promote the show), but the smart money is on the aural similarity to Star Wars and “The Force.” The last thing an untested program needs is a whiff of infringement, so Star Blazers was set in stone for all time.

One more thing we know is that the new name was retroactively written into the series in the second Comet Empire episode. This is the original line from a script draft dated May 22. The line we heard in the show itself changed “wild, adventurous star fighters” into “funny, adventurous Star Blazers.” From this single nugget we can work out that the recording of the Comet Empire series began after June.

June context

Anime magazines published in June: Animage Vol. 13 (Tokuma Shoten), OUT august issue (Minori Shobo), Animec #6 (Rapport).

What’s next

For the third summer in a row, Yamato dominates! The first two movies reappear in the “Big Summer Roadshow,” The New Voyage takes off on TV, another anime magazine joins the party (sort of), and much more. See it all unfold in Vintage Report 21, covering the dynamic months of July and August 1979!

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