2023 Part 2: The 4k revival

August 25: First announcement

Starting on this day, you could buy a movie ticket to see Space Battleship Yamato (1977) and Farewell to Yamato (1978) in theaters. In this century. In 4K.

Before now, only Farewell had received a 4K upgrade, and it was only shown once in a very limited screening in 2019. But with Yamato‘s golden anniversary on the way, the first film was given the same treatment and now both were heading into theaters on December 8 and January 5 respectively. Here’s the official word about the production:

The 4K remastering of the film has brought the passion that resides deep within the material to a much clearer level. It is as if a cry of the soul is coming to the forefront. We hope you will experience the “excitement of the origin” in theaters with a power that is on a different level from that of today’s digital animation!

Remastering Concept
Return everything to its original form. No unnecessary processing. We will simply polish the images and sounds that were created at the time. This is the ground rule of the 4K remastering process that brings the original Space Battleship Yamato back to life in the modern age.

Monaural audio was used for the first release. Newly-discovered “master magnetic recording material” was used to further improve the dynamic range and sound quality.

The original negatives, which had been cut up and scattered throughout history, were unearthed and restored, and recorded in 4K size. Any damage or minor defects in the negatives was thoroughly removed. The fresh colors of the “original version” of Yamato shot on 35mm film are once again brought into relief. The remastering work was done by the elite staff of IMAGIC Entertainment Media Service, which boasts the best technology in Japan.

Whether you know the story of the original Yamato or not, we hope you will enjoy this historical masterpiece reborn in its original form on the big screen in theaters.

Photo posted on Twitter by minegi4k

This news was accompanied by a new flyer in movie theaters with both poster images on the outside and information in a foldout on the inside. The fan who posted this photo said, “This is a reality in 2023! A classic, not a remake. The efforts of all the staff and cast, my friends regardless of age, and above all everyone involved in realizing this 4K project, which must have been difficult, is enough to hit my whole body. I want to give thanks.”

Photo posted on Twitter by AnalyzerAU09

That led to eyebrow-raising sights like this one, the original flyer image from 1977 parked alongside the latest film announcements.

Photo posted on Twitter by kurousu_ymt

Those who bought advance tickets online received vintage-style posters for each film. The fan who posted this photo said, “I can’t believe the day will come when I can see these two works on a big screen. I want to tell myself as a kid, when I was watching Farewell on TV alone, that you can see it on the screen when you grow up. Also, there are many wonderful encounters waiting for you thanks to Yamato.”

Right now you might be thinking, “Well, that’s fine for people living in Japan, but what are the rest of us poor slobs supposed to do about it?” And here’s the answer…

Buy ’em on Blu-ray! The first goes on sale February 28 and the second on March 27. Preorder them at these links:

It wouldn’t be Japan if there wasn’t also a more expensive limited edition with amazing bonus items, and they are available at the Yamato Crew website. But as we know, Yamato Crew doesn’t ship overseas, so you’ll need a friend in Japan to handle this for you.

The Yamato movie comes with a voice recording script, and Farewell comes with the complete storyboard in a 500-page book. This is the real gem, since until now, it was only available as a digital version on the previous Farewell Blu-ray.

Yamato LE at Yamato Crew (releases December 15)

Farewell LE at Yamato Crew (releases January 12)

If you’re wondering if this is really all worth it, click here to see the promo video for both films (narrated by Dessler’s original voice actor, Masato Ibu). You have to see the remastering with your own eyes to believe it.

Photos posted on Twitter by the Yamato Production Committee and Tospophoto

November 12: Yamato X Sumo

Another first was accomplished today when Space Battleship Yamato crossed over into the world of Sumo wrestling. In order to spread the word about the 4k remasters, Tohokushinsha Film Corp. and Bandai Namco sponsored twin banners for display at the Kyushu Sumo Tournament.

This wasn’t just passive advertising, either. It’s customary for these banners to be marched around the wrestling ring itself in the moments between bouts and get a mention by the announcer, which means an entire segment of the Japanese population learned all at once (in person and on live TV) that Yamato is on its way back to theaters.

See a video clip here

November 17: More 4k news

In case you were unaware, you can click here to visit the official website for the remastered films. It opens with the following headline at the top:

Everything is so nostalgic…

After half a century, the last hope of mankind Yamato raises anchor!

Both films would play for three weeks each in 36 theaters. Space Battleship Yamato opened December 8 and Farewell to Yamato followed on January 5.

Anime researcher and original Yamato superfan Ryusuke Hikawa contributed the following message:

The great origin of the anime boom returns to theaters with clear 4K remastered images and crisp sound!

In August 1977, when the Space Battleship Yamato movie was released, the media widely reported the “arrival of the anime boom” as young people lined up around movie theaters. The enthusiasm generated by the film greatly broadened the fan base, and even prompted the publication of a magazine specializing in anime. The sequel, Farewell to Space Battleship Yamato, released in August 1978, became the first animated film to attract an audience of 4 million and the second largest Japanese film of the same year, raising the social recognition of animation.

This boom spawned many young people who became creators. Japanese animation has broken away from its focus on children’s animation, and a wide variety of works is now being produced. This is truly a historic accomplishment.

How did this unprecedented and explosive movement come about? The reason is that the passionate human dramas, in which people persist in their convictions and take action for the sake of others even in desperate situations, struck a chord with teenagers. Another major factor was the unprecedented and groundbreaking animated visuals, including intricate mechanical design, deep colors, and special effects such as beams, explosions, and warp, that could be seen on the big screen.

The 4K remastering of the film has brought the passion that resides deep within the material to a much clearer level. It is as if the cry of the soul is coming to the forefront. We hope you will experience the “excitement of the origin” in theaters with a power that is on a different level from that of today’s digital animation!

Advance tickets and bonus posters

November 17: 4k Blu-ray news

Shortly after the movies arrive in theaters, they will be sold on Blu-ray as well. Today the jacket and outer sleeve art for these releases was revealed. Space Battleship Yamato will be released on February 28 and Farewell on March 27.

Bonus features on the first film: trailers, alternate footage from original 1977 release, 16-page booklet. Order it from Amazon.co.jp here or CD Japan here. A limited edition (only sold online to Japanese customers) includes a complete recording script (260 pages).

Bonus features on the second film: trailers from 1978 and 1979, 16-page booklet. Order it from Amazon.co.jp here or CD Japan here. A limited edition (again, only sold online to Japanese customers) includes a complete storyboard book (500 pages).

Photo posted on Twitter by forest_fu

December 8: Space Battleship Yamato 4k premiere

Your theater is now open. Please enter and take your seats.

After its premiere in August 1977, the first Yamato film returned to theaters many times over subsequent years. But never before has it been seen like this. Digital engineers pored over the negative frame by frame, removing flaws and enhancing colors to get it as pristine as modern technology could make it. And fans rewarded them handsomely for their efforts, filling seats in 36 theaters for three weeks.

Photo posted on Twitter by Hiro

As usual, the Shinjuku Piccadilly (in Tokyo) put on a commemorative display in its lobby, and everyone captured it with their cameras for global appreciation. See a photo gallery here.

Since this was essentially a gift to the fans, let’s see what they had to say. Here’s a selection of reactions posted on Twitter…

Photo posted on Twitter by getachan1

The origin of how I discovered anime! Everything is so nostalgic. – syun syunsuke@86

There is no dust on the picture, and the audio is very clear. The Blu-rays that were available until now have become a thing of the past. – Yoshinori Nozawa

The heavy monaural sound that resonates deep in your eardrums and the best music that scratches your nerves! And the sound of glass breaking! That’s it! That’s Yamato sound! – Hiro

46 years ago in the summer, I went to see it in Ikebukuro with my older sister and younger sister. At that time, there were probably lines in front of major theaters when you’d exit. Captain Okita’s final scene moved me to tears in a different way now that I’m older. – zen_eno

This is my first time seeing it. The origin of the Yamato universe that continues today. This is groundbreaking for an anime that was created over 40 years ago. It’s a compilation of 26 TV episodes and it’s packed with excitement, but toward the end I was overwhelmed with emotion. – Tora3_Skywalker

When I was in my first year of junior high, the drama version was played every day on the school PA during lunch break, and my brain absorbed it like a sponge. Wave engine, warp, Wave-Motion Gun, tachyon particles…everything is so nostalgic. – deepspacediverz

It had the grandeur of a space opera with an arranged accompaniment to the famous song. Although there is no direct connection to this work, I can’t help but think that Gundam came after this. – Toras

It’s a feast for the eyes, but at the same time has a strong Showa feel. For me this is the third time-slip movie into the Showa era following Godzilla Minus One and Gegege Mystery of the Birth of Kitaro. Showa is hot right now! – getachan1

Photo posted on Twitter by poyo_bamboo

I don’t like the editing of the movie version, so I almost never watch it. It’s been about 30 years. To be honest, it’s “average.” However, if you read the remastering interviews in the pamphlet, you will understand that this is actually amazing. – merumeru1701

It was my first time seeing the Showa era Yamato in a movie theater. Although the original footage was from a TV anime, I once again thought there was a lot of effort put into the drawings. I was surprised that the sound source became a clear monaural source. I was very happy to see that the customers were young people and families with children. – okki_anime_suki

The 4k remastered version of Yamato made me cry. Looking back, I think that both Godzilla and Yamato translated the trauma of the Japanese people into entertainment, and sent a message to “don’t forget nuclear war” in the medium of movies and anime. I’ll also be watching Farewell to Yamato next month! – appleraich

I went home after watching it for the second time today. The Shinjuku Piccadilly was almost full. Ikebukuro during the day was also full, and people had to line up to leave. After all, it’s a movie from 50 years ago, right? I don’t know about anyone else, but I think this one was a great success. – AnalyzerAU09

While many new movies are being screened, it feels great to have the entire [Shinjuku Piccadilly] lobby space used for Yamato. In addition to Yamato fans, there were also young people who stopped by to see it, and they spoke in a way that suggested they knew it was Yamato. Even beyond the age group, Japanese people still refer to it. – ratax100

The 4k remaster of the Yamato movie has been released. When it came out in 1977, I think the biggest hit factor was the surprise of people saying, “I can’t believe they drew this much!” In fact, [Animation Director] Noboru Ishiguro was praised highly by his peers for the “detail of the first bridge,” and I think its impact is suitable for 4k conversion. Also, it feels like the photographic material I’ve personally touched is right in front of my eyes. It was my fervent wish that I could somehow see the beautiful materials in motion, with all the details drawn on them. I am overwhelmed with emotion. – Ryusuke Hikawa

Of course, the premiere of the film was accompanied by a Blu-ray, program book, theater merchandise, a celebrity talk show, and more. Read about all of it in Yamato 2205 Report 30 here.

Continue to next page: Media coverage & online activity

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