Vintage Report 22: September/October 1979

As summer merged into fall, the world of Yamato was only getting bigger in the wake of The New Voyage, and Office Academy studio was only getting busier. The American premiere of Star Blazers and the Japanese premiere of Blue Noah were just part of the picture; another series based on the classic children’s novel The Blue Bird was in preproduction, and a little thing referred to as Yamato Part III took its first step forward. Here’s everything that happened in these productive months.

September 1: Roadshow, October issue

Fans who kept an eye on Shueisha’s large-format movie magazine would have been delighted to find promotion for the first New Voyage book inside; Shueisha was hard at work putting together a New Voyage special under the Roadshow imprint for publishing in October. (The ad said September 10, but the book itself says October 10, so we’ll take the book’s word for it.)

Also found in these pages was a 2-page spread looking back at The New Voyage and trumpeting its incredible reception in July. The text read as follows:

Explosive ratings for the July 31st telecast

Farewell, Starsha! Be Forever, Iscandar!

“Mamoru, I love you. I’ll be by your side forever… As long as our daughter Sasha is here, we will always be together…”

— Leaving a great impression, Starsha went somewhere in the universe. Mamoru, Dessler, and Kodai continued to gaze after her with all their senses.

The telefeature The New Voyage aired on Fuji TV on the evening of July 31 (Tuesday) from 7:30 p.m., and was welcomed by fans nationwide with a high 30.5% viewer rating. However, although the super giant mother ship Goruba was destroyed, the Dark Nebula Uralia, a formidable foe, still lurks in one corner of the universe, its evil eye glaring.

And what will be the fate of Starsha’s child, Sasha…? We await the next work for Space Battleship Yamato.

September 1: The New Voyage symphonic album

Nippon Columbia, LP: CQ-7029 | Cassette: CAK-685

For fans who lived the Yamato experience in real time, one of the greatest moments was sighting a brand new music album in record stores. On the other hand, none of them up to this point could be accurately described as a soundtrack. Maintaining the tradition of the first two symphonic albums, this one was substantially rearranged from the film score, which would go unreleased for another 16 years. It also incorporated both of the songs released as singles the day after the telefeature was broadcast.

Listen to the entire album on Youtube here

September 1: Terebi Land, October issue

Tokuma Shoten’s Terebi Land magazine had a long, colorful history with Yamato going back to the very beginning, and it still had some surprises to offer even when there wasn’t an anime project to promote. The October ’79 issue came bundled with a foldout pencil case that sported some better-than-average production quality.

Made of heavy-duty cardboard, it had metal snaps and a couple layers of internal decor. This is what you saw under the outer flap…

…and when you opened up the internal bits you had the entire first bridge waiting to hold your pencils for you.

September 1: Bouken Oh (Adventure King), October issue

Leiji Matsumoto’s Yamato manga serial had been M.I.A. for two issues in a row when it made a welcome comeback this month. In deference to that, Matsumoto opened this 17-page chapter with an apology:

“I’m sorry that I’ve been so absorbed in the 999 movie that I’ve had to take a break from this story. Due to the structure of the story, I can’t get to the end at this tempo, so I’ll restart it with a little warp.”

The “little warp” he referred to was a change in the storyline that corresponded to Yamato 2 Episode 9 in which the crew takes a Comet Empire pilot captive. We don’t see that pilot in this version; instead, the fighter is lodged in Yamato‘s hull (as established in the previous chapter), and it explodes when the crew tries to take it on board for study. The ship recovers and flies on toward Planet 11 where the Space Cavalry is under attack.

Matsumoto would skip one more issue, then create two more chapters before finally calling it quits.

Elsewhere in the issue, readers found the first promotion for Blue Noah outside the pages of the Yamato fan club magazine. It would not be the last.

September 2: Animec #7

Next on the Blue Noah bandwagon came Animec magazine with a three-page article breathlessly describing the thrills we had in store…

A major anime production is in the process of being completed, attracting the attention of SF anime fans. It is Space Carrier Blue Noah, produced by Office Academy.

The most noteworthy feature is its SF setting. The original plan has been revised many times, and details are being changed daily. Since science-fiction researcher Ryuichi Kaneko joined the staff, the mecha has undergone remarkable improvements. Shira, a small, high-speed submersible, which was docked at the front of the carrier Blue Noah in the initial configuration, is now stowed in the bottom of the ship.

In order to create a good work, Blue Noah is being improved whenever there is even a slight inconvenience! The configuration presented here is a final draft, but it may be slightly different when it appears on the screen.

Last year, Mr. Kaneko wrote the “SF Weapons Manual” in the SF Weapons Catalog published by World Photo Press. If there are any discrepancies in the mecha, he will reform it without compromise.

It will premiere as a telefeature

The first episode of Blue Noah will be aired as a special program on Saturday, October 13, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. nationwide on the Yomiuri TV network. This is due to producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki’s consideration that two hours are necessary for viewers to understand the magnificent setting of Blue Noah. It has been decided that the series will be aired from October 20.

Story

The year is 2052. Godom, a large extrasolar planet with advanced science and technology, is approaching our solar system. It is an artificial planet 3,000 kilometers in diameter and twice the mass of the moon, carrying aliens who lost their home planet. While traveling among the stars in search of a new home, they discovered Earth, the third planet of the solar system. Godom launched an invasion, and within a short time had most of the planet under its control. If nothing is done, Earth’s human race will perish.

Then the Space Carrier Blue Noah, Earth’s last secret weapon, appears. The main character is Shin Kusaka, a student of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, under the supervision of Dr. Kenjiro Kusaka of the Military Engineering Research Center, He joins the Blue Noah and fights against Godom as a member of the Combat Team.

In this marine adventure SF anime, the Space Carrier Blue Noah, pride of the Godom resistance organization Marus, takes an active part in the battle for mankind, which is in danger of extinction due to Godom’s invasion.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the planet…

September 3: Star Blazers premiere

The exact premiere date is slightly muddled; Wikipedia claims it was the 17th, while highly dedicated fans remember it as the 3rd, Labor Day 1979. What is beyond dispute, however, is the seismic impact it had on everyone who saw it for the first time.

It gave cartoon watchers something only their parents had experienced: appointment television in the form of a daily drama with tight continuity from one episode to the next. If you missed one, you missed a lot. This accounts for the widely-shared memories of rushing home after school if it happened to be on in the afternoon.

For some viewers, it ignited a compulsion to document the series in any way possible, since (at the time) there was no guarantee you’d get to see it again. It’s worth pointing out that Japanese fans experienced exactly the same thing, which led to the proliferation of doujinshis and fan clubs that ultimately built a world in which Yamato could revive.

Daily syndication in all the major TV markets meant the entire package (Series 1 and Series 2 combined into 52 episodes) would recycle in just over ten weeks. In markets where it remained on the air for a year, you’d get five chances to see it in full, far more than Japanese fans got. On the other hand, very few people outside Japan knew there was already more to see beyond the 52 episodes, which meant we all had a great surprise waiting for us in the future.

Perhaps the boldest statement of all could be seen in the end credits. In a time when anti-Japanese sentiment was growing, it was probably a lifesaving move to change the name Yamato to Argo, but Star Blazers did nothing to hide its nation of origin. It was proclaimed right there on the screen in a way that might have even reminded some lucky viewers that they’d seen Yamato on their TVs two years earlier, when the Space Cruiser dub made the rounds in limited markets.

Either way, the arrival of Star Blazers changed lives and forged destinies. Speaking in first person as the writer of these words, I (Tim Eldred) was shaped by this series just as strongly as the other big “Star” franchise that started in the 70s. Watching it made me want to make cartoons when I grew up. Which I did. Because of Star Blazers. This website is my way of repaying that mighty gift.

The Star Blazers section of Cosmo DNA has loads of articles covering as much history as could be mined, but here are some specific articles that expand on this moment in time:

Westchester Films, where it all started | Interview with the original superfans | The music of Star Blazers

September 10: The World of Isao Sasaki

By way of illustrating just how much ground American viewers had to make up, the singer of the Yamato theme song got his own book on this day. It was a colorful career retrospective published by Seishinsha, 72 pages with photos, interviews, a filmography, TV appearance history, and a complete discography up to the time of publishing. There was no specific Yamato content, but its presence was undeniable.

September 10: Animage Vol. 16, October issue

The return of Future Boy Conan as a compilation movie was the cover story this month, but there was some Yamato content inside as well. Several pages were devoted to the study of villains in anime with analysis on their evolution and rising popularity. This included an interview with three voice actors, one of whom played a certain blue space dictator. What happened when he sat down in a room with the voice of Char Aznable? Read the result here.

Elsewhere in the issue could be found a 3-page spotlight on Yamato 2 mecha designer Katsumi itabashi, whose work would next be seen in Be Forever. Read that interview here.

September 10: Middle 2nd Year Course, October issue

Gakken’s student digest for 8th graders gave readers another “here’s where we are in Yamato world” article with a look back at The New Voyage and some speculation on where we might go next.

September 14: The New Voyage novelizations

As we’ve seen already, it was entirely common for multiple novelizations of the same Yamato story to appear from different publishers. It should therefore be no surprise that not only did two different publishers cover The New Voyage, they also released two different versions on the same day.

The 2-volume hardcover set shown above came from Asahi Sonorama with Yoshinobu Nishizaki credited as the author. Each ran 184 pages with color stills interspersed with text.

The “Cobalt Series” paperback came from Shueisha and was written by Ken Wakasaki. It ran 204 pages with black & white stills.

And this wasn’t even all the novels you could buy in September. Keep reading for more.

September 15: Record Monthly Vol. 247, October issue

The symphonic album for The New Voyage received the distinction of appearing on the cover of this month’s Record Monthly, the bible of music stores in Japan.

Oddly, there was no content on the inside related to the symphonic album, but there was an ad for the next LP to come: a New Voyage drama album that retold the story of the film in audio form.

September 15: Triton of the Sea Roman Album

The Yamato Festival opened in mid-July and continued through the rest of the summer, concluding in September. Yoshinobu Nishizaki used the occasion to dust off his last pre-Yamato TV series to the delight of fans who grew up on it in 1972. It turned out to be another of those early anime programs that appealed to a fringe viewership. Now that they were in the mainstream, they were very happy to have it back.

The Triton film that accompanied the Yamato Festival was only a compilation of the first half of the series, but this was more than enough momentum to spark its own Roman Album from Tokuma Shoten.

Read more about Triton here

September 21: The Best One, November issue

The fourth issue of Gakken’s entertainment magazine delivered quite an exclusive. As seen on the page at far right, a Yamato 2 compilation movie (formally titled the Complete Edition) had been assembled and would be broadcast in just over two weeks.

Right next to that was a 3-page Blue Noah article in full color, and just a few pages away could be found a mini-interview with Yuki’s voice actress, Yoko Asagami.

See all this content here

September 27: OUT magazine, November issue

At this time it was no secret that Yamato‘s 5th anniversary was quickly approaching, especially to the editors of OUT magazine, who became part of the story with the historic Yamato issue in April 1977. (See Vintage Report 4 in case you’ve forgotten about this major inflection point.)

“Seeking Dreams and Roman…” was the slogan on the cover of OUT‘s thirtieth issue, fronting for a huge 60-page feature celebrating Yamato, Triton of the Sea, and Blue Noah. It included two articles and a Dessler poster, which cemented it as the “Yamato issue” of 1979.

See all of the pages here and read the articles here

September 29: The New Voyage manga Vol. 1

Though Leiji Matsumoto was still involved with Yamato‘s anime production, his growing workload of other projects precluded him from drawing any new Yamato manga, thus clearing the way for Akira Hio to inherit the throne. As the only one to have completed adaptations of both Series 1 and Farewell, he was best suited to continue.

His New Voyage drawing schedule would be quite forgiving, requiring almost 200 fewer pages than previous adaptations and making its publishing debut two months after the TV premiere. The concluding volume would follow in November.

Read more about it and see several pages here

September 30: The New Voyage novelization, version 3

Shueisha struck again at the end of the month with the third version of The New Voyage, this time written by Kiyoshi Miura. In a move clearly designed to confuse everyone, it was simultaneously published under two different Shueisha imprints: the “Monkey Library” (above left) and the “Fanfan Library” (above right). This meant that if you did your duty as a fan, you would finish out the month with five New Voyage novels written by three different authors.

The Monkey and Fanfan editions were both issued in softcover and ran 176 pages with 32 pages of color stills, several black & white stills, and production designs.


Also spotted in September

Iscandar Vol. 9 doujinshi

This was now officially the longest-running Yamato doujinshi, having started back in January 1977. The latest edition, published by Cosmo Battleship Yamato Connection, ran 46 pages and can be seen here.

Wave-Motion Vol. 8 doujinshi

Hot on the heels of Iscandar was this issue of Wave-Motion, from Yamato Fan Club Wave-Motion. It ran 32 pages and can be seen here.

Anime magazines published in September:
Animage Vol. 16 (Tokuma Shoten), OUT Nov issue (Minori Shobo), Animec No. 7 (Rapport)


October 1: Terebi Kun, November issue

Blue Noah promotion was front and center in this issue of Shogakukan’s Terebi Kun magazine, but that’s not all; this issue also kicked off a serialized film comic version of The New Voyage that retold the whole story in 2-3 page segments. It was the only time the film received this treatment, and it was never reprinted.

The serialization lasted through the July 1980 issue, which was well-timed for the runup to Be Forever. These issues of Terebi Kun are extremely rare (which makes them both hard to find and VERY expensive), but we’ll see a couple of them before it’s over.

October 6: 5th anniversary

One pilot film, two series, two record-setting feature films, hundreds of fan clubs, over a thousand products, a TV movie, an international audience, and a complete renovation of the entertainment landscape in Japan. Not bad for just five years.

October 6: Yamato 2 Complete Edition premiere

The Complete Edition compilation movie was supervised by writer Eiichi Yamamato and clocked in at 96 minutes. Though the story was unchanged, the music was reorganized to incorporate BGM tracks that had been written for Yamato 2 and The New Voyage but not yet used. This remained the only source for them until they were finally released decades later in the Sound Almanac CD series.

The movie itself was marketed in the form of a drama album in 1981 and eventually made it to home video in 1985. Read more about it here.

Read about the making of the Complete Edition here

October 10: The New Voyage Special Edition

Following the format of the previous Roadshow specials for Farewell to Yamato, Shueisha turned in another winner with this one, the first of five books devoted to The New Voyage. Its 112 pages contained a photostory, the complete script, model sheets, character studies, and the first complete episode guide for Yamato 2. The back cover (above right) promoted the symphonic album released in September.

There was also an exclusive interview with the primary voice actors, speaking for the first time in print about The New Voyage. Read that discussion here.

October 10: TV Anime Compendium Part 2, Latest TV Anime Hero Encyclopedia

Seven months after publishing the first volume, Akita Shoten continued documenting the ever-growing history of anime. Whereas the previous volume was organized by genre, this one highlighted hero characters in favorite programs.

The programs that were chosen ranged across several genres and included both Yamato 2 and The New Voyage. Yamato 2 also got a nice 6-page color section at the front of the book.

The format was a thick, digest-sized paperback with 310 pages. The second half was devoted to voice actors with headshots and profiles. Naturally, Yamato voice actors were peppered throughout.

This was not the end of TV Anime Compendium by a long shot; three more volumes would roll out from 1982 to 1986. After that, bigger publications took up the effort. See several of them here.

October 13: Space Carrier Blue Noah premiere

Yamato 2 had occupied the coveted time slot of Saturday evening on the Yomiuri Network, so Blue Noah was the natural inheritor. One can only imagine the effort it took for Yoshinobu Nishizaki to produce yet another intricate SF adventure series on top of everything else he had going on, but this description from the 1979 Office Academy brochure does a good job of summing up his passion for it…

Japan is surrounded by the sea on all sides, and has had a strong connection with the sea since ancient times. Thus, SF action dramas that seek the “sea” as a source of inspiration are a “place” to express the roman of the new age, instead of the space dramas that are now falling into a rut. Based on the experience of planning and producing Space Battleship Yamato eight years ago, we confidently recommend this work as a more dreamy and enjoyable hero-roman for the next generation.

The azure blue sea. Our Space Carrier Blue Noah runs across a vast stage set up with a mixture of truth and falsehood. Ahead of it stands a huge enemy that threatens the survival of the human race. We believe that the heroic figure of Blue Noah, crushing these enemies one by one and paving the way to a new world for mankind, will generate passionate sympathy and excitement throughout the country. Our staff is running at full speed.

As expected, Blue Noah was accompanied by its own merchandising mini-boom; see a product gallery here

Read more about the series here and here

See the opening title here and see a live performance here

October 15: 1980 Yamato calendar

A yearly tradition of large-format Yamato calendars began with the 1978 edition (published in 1977), and it would go on through 1983. This one was published in the same format as the Farewell to Yamato ‘Style A’ calendar of the previous year, but set a new precedent with large-scale original art in addition to animation stills. The bulk of its pages were devoted to the first two movies with the final page commemorating The New Voyage.

See it from cover to cover here

October 15: 1980 Family Seal Calendar

Yoshinobu Nishizaki became so well known for Yamato that his other business ventures went almost unnoticed. For example, Office Academy had a continuous side hustle going on with merchandising for other properties. Novelty calendars were their specialty, and this one is a prime example of crossover.

Along with a pair of unique Yamato images, it contained custom artwork for Galaxy Express 999, Triton of the Sea, The Blue Bird (which hadn’t aired yet), Moomin, Rocky Chuck, and Yamato‘s former arch rival in the ratings war, Heidi Girl of the Alps. Enough time had gone by to leave that rivalry in the past, leading to a heartwarming teamup akin to Kodai and Dessler.

In case you’re wondering, it was called a “Family Seal” calendar because it was meant for the whole family to enjoy, and the entire front cover was full of stickers (which were called “seals” in Japan).

See it from cover to cover here

October 23: Yamato Part III, first story meeting

Yamato Part III″ had previously been used as the working title of The New Voyage, and now it referred to a whole new project. In a few more months, it would be changed to Be Forever Yamato and go on to be inherited by the next TV series.

The major difference between Be Forever and previous works was its plot development phase. Prior stories had been conceived by a writing staff that coalesced around Executive Producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki and Creative Director Leiji Matsumoto. Thus, rough outlines and design concepts were essentially created by committee. But this time, Nishizaki and Matsumoto began the process as a duo, which was reflected by a joint authorship credit on the finished film. Their work began in a meeting on this day.

Read the notes from that meeting here

October 25: The New Voyage Drama album

Nippon Columbia, LP: CS-7144~5 | Cassette: CBY-508

Accompanied by a 13-page storybook, this double album captured the entire movie in audio form. At the time, it was the only source for the pure BGM tracks. It was a real find for music completists since a few alternate takes were used in this version, and some tracks were replaced entirely.

The album was later released only once as a double-CD set along with its counterparts in 1995 (Nippon Columbia, COCC-12871)

October 25: Fan Club Magazine #12

The month of October closed out with a bundle of news and features in the latest fan club magazine. It opened with Yoshinobu Nishizaki’s first word about Part III: “The New Voyage was not merely an “extra chapter” made to meet the expectation of the fans. Therefore, I will make a new 2-hour Yamato telefeature. Though there is no story yet to be announced, it will be as great as anime for the movie theater.”

Of course, history would record a different story. Read Nishizaki’s entire announcement here.

Also in this issue were the first announcement of The Blue Bird (to air in early 1980), an interview with the staff that assembled the Yamato 2 Complete Edition (linked higher up the page), fan letters and drawings, New Voyage production art, and four pages on Blue Noah.

The back cover (above right) promoted the new 1980 calendar.


Also spotted in October

Bandai added three more models to the Mecha Collection line, all of which were derived from The New Voyage

Mecha Collection 16: Dessler’s Battle Carrier

Based on the design from Series 1, modified to include the Dessler Cannon on the forward gun deck.

Mecha Collection 17: Dark Nebula Battleship Pleiades

The one and only Dark Nebula vessel to be released as a standard model kit. Those that followed were only made in garage kit form. (See them all here.)

Mecha Collection 18: Gamilas Three-Deck Carrier

Also a lift from Series 1, finally given its due thanks to significant participation in The New Voyage. It was only released in green at the outset; this oversight would be corrected in 2012 when blue and lavender versions were bundled with Yamato 2199 models.

Anime magazines published in October:
Animage November issue (Tokuma Shoten), OUT December issue (Minori Shobo), Quarterly Fantoche Vol. 3

September/October context

A 2-hour Future Boy Conan compilation movie opened in theaters September 15, probably accompanied a trailer for Hayao Miyazaki’s forthcoming masterpiece Cagliostro Castle.

Gatchaman F [for Fighter] debuted on October 7, the third and final TV series in this legendary program known elsewhere as Battle of the Planets. Find all 48 episodes on Youtube here.

What’s next

1979 wraps up with a flourish of all three things that make a fan’s life worth living: music, media and merch! Yamato Part III continues to evolve, and the decision is made to return the saga to television. Witness the next steps toward the future in Vintage Report 23!


One thought on “Vintage Report 22: September/October 1979

  1. Well shoot, I wrote a really good comment for this and stupidly posted it on the calendar page instead of here! What an idiot I am .

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