March 15, 1983, was the last big day for fans before Final Yamato premiered on the 19th. “Big day” in this case refers to several things happening at once, so that’s where this Time Machine visit begins.
After Series 1 and Farewell, Final Yamato was the most novelized story in the series with four separate versions from different publishers, each broken into two volumes (for a total of eight books). Three novelizations had already published their Part 1s, and the fourth was added on March 15.
This “part 1” came from Shueisha publishing’s Fanfan Library imprint for younger readers. Authored by Kiyoshi Miura, it was the most heavily-illustrated version of the bunch with 32 pages of color stills and lots of black and white art interspersed with the simplified text – animation designs, more stills, and several not-very-good drawings based on stills. The story also went farther than the first three novelizations. Whereas all the other Part 1s finished with Yamato‘s launch from Earth, this one concluded with Lugal II’s invasion force being driven out of the solar system. The last scene is of Kodai and Yuki returning together on the Cosmo Zero, at which point the insert song The Love of Two starts in the film.
The other novel to be published on March 15 also came from Shueisha, part 2 of author Ken Wakasaki’s version in the Cobalt Library imprint. This was the first of the four novelizations to finish, with the others to soon follow. The last chapter ended with the destruction of Aquarius and no epilogue. Consequently, it lacked the much-hyped love scene between Kodai and Yuki.
So, get your head around this: four days before the movie arrived in theaters, Shueisha published two novels from two different imprints (one juvenile, one adult) that told the complete story of the film with some overlap. This was in addition to all the spoileriffic magazine coverage that came out on the 10th. In this environment, a fan had to work pretty hard to resist temptation.
Kinejun Motion Picture Times #856
Kinema Junpo Co. Ltd., March 15
As recounted in the Farewell to Yamato Time Machine, Kinejun was the first mainstream magazine to publish a Yamato cover story, in August 1978. It happened again with Be Forever in August 1980. This issue upheld the tradition, though Yamato had to share space with Harmagedon and Crusher Joe.
All three movies were covered in depth, including a complete reproduction of Crusher Joe‘s script. Final Yamato was covered with black and white stills and two exceptionally interesting articles: a personality piece on Yoshinobu Nishizaki and an essay by director Tomoharu Katsumata. Written for an older readership, they both had a distinctly mature tone and revealed candid details that had not appeared in print before (or since).
Read the articles here.
Space Battleship Yamato Grand Festival
March 15, Kousei Nenkin Hall, Shinjuku, Tokyo
High-profile Yamato concerts had preceded both Farewell and Be Forever in 1978 and 1980 respectively. This tradition was upheld when the Grand Festival brought fans together with cast & staff one last time before the saga ended. The format was peppered with live music, animation clips, on-stage talk sessions, live voice acting, and songs. The event is described in detail here, but for Time Machine purposes we’ll take a look at the first report to be published.
The source was Yamato Fan Club Magazine #33, which previously appeared in the Time Machine for February 1983. The reason for this “time slip” is an odd one; the magazine had a February 25 cover date, but its content went forward to include a report on the Grand Festival. So, either calendars worked differently in 1983, or there was some fudging with the cover dates to satisfy internal record-keeping.
Regardless, click here to read the report and a handful of staff comments on the movie.
Premiere Day, March 19
To this day, history has been curiously silent on the premiere of Final Yamato. Whereas all the previous movies were news magnets on opening day, with press coverage and photo ops aplenty, very few pics have surfaced of fans lined up at a theater to see this film (all of which would appear in the following month’s anime magazines). Ditto with numbers; apart from a single minor report in Animage, all media was silent on the subject of theater attendance. Perhaps without knowing it, music producer Tomohiro Yoshida broke that silence in late 2013 when he included this nugget in the liner notes for the Yamato Sound Almanac series:
Final Yamato premiered in theaters March 19, 1983, and attracted approximately 1.6 million attendees.
And that’s about all we know. It doesn’t even state how many of those attendees saw the upgraded 70mm version in its limited release later in the year. Regardless, we still have all the artifacts. And the best one to represent this day is the program book sold in theaters.
As the first official Final Yamato publication direct from the home office, it was the most comprehensive so far, with slick color images packing its 46 pages. It contained many stills and paintings never seen before, and ads for current and upcoming products. This actually marked quite an important point in anime history, since it included the first ads anywhere for Yamato on home video.
Japan Victor promoted the three previous feature films on VHD (a format now long defunct), and elsewhere in the program book an image could be found of the first four VHS releases from Toei (below right). These were complete and uncut, but not cheap; each cost close to $100 USD at the time. Thus, they were probably more common as rentals than personal possessions. What it signified was this: as Yamato‘s theatrical life was coming to a close, its next phase was lit by the dawn of home video.
One more nice surprise was the first announcement of West Cape Corporation’s deluxe hardcover book on the film, which would arrive later in the year.
See the program book cover to cover with translated articles here.
Read all about Yamato‘s video history here.
If all of this makes you feel like absorbing the movie itself, an easy way to do it is via our scene-by-scene commentary here.
Yamato 10 Year Tribute single
March 21, Nippon Columbia CE-3058
Two days after the movie opened, the next new item on a fan’s agenda was this interesting EP single. More a long-form poem than a song, 10 Year Tribute uses three movements to look back at the first voyage and trace the axis of friendships that emerged, especially the love between Kodai and Yuki.
This departs from the structure of a theme song and brings a sense of closure to the saga, ending as it does with reference to a wedding. As an “image” song (as opposed to one included in a soundtrack), it strongly evokes the flood of emotions fans felt at the end of the saga.
Read the lyrics here.
Final Cruise event
March 29 to April 4
The “Voyage of Adventure Roman” in July 1980 easily went down in history as Yamato‘s most audacious promotional gimmick; a three-day round trip on a passenger ship with the cast and staff of Be Forever. (Read all about it here.) It was yet another first in the anime world and deservedly received enormous media attention.
The same was not true of this followup event, a series of three cruises on an even bigger ship (named the New Utopia) with just as much entertainment lined up: film screenings, autograph sessions, a karaoke contest, scavenger hunt, and more. And yet, neither a single photo nor personal account has appeared since then; only the flyer seen here (front and back).
This could simply be that it wasn’t news the second time around, and whereas all the passengers in 1980 were lottery winners, this time it was strictly pay-as-you-go. It’s possible that attendance was too low to merit attention, since not even the fan club magazine made any reference to it after it was over. But for what it’s worth, fans had five accommodation levels to choose from, and three cruises were offered: March 29 to 31, March 31 to April 2, and April 2 to 4. Hopefully the hardworking staff members who went along got to enjoy a full week at sea.
Sonorama SF novelization, part 2
March 31, Asahi Sonorama publishing
One more item managed to wedge itself into the schedule before the month ran out: the concluding volume of Asahi Sonorama’s novelization by “Yoshinobu Nishizaki.” (It was more likely handled by a ghost writer, since Mr. Nishizaki has never been touted as a novelist.)
Bracketed by 8 pages of color stills and 9 pages of black & white design art, the text opens with the attack on Uruk and goes past the Shueisha edition to include this short epilogue:
Aquarius, the planet that sowed space with life, drifted far away from Earth, never again to influence it.
The dark clouds that enwrapped the Earth were wiped away, opening up an azure sky. The quantity of water in the sea had slightly increased, and low-lying areas had been submerged, but this was insignificant on a global scale. Moreover, thanks to quick activity by police and local military, it can be said that there was little human suffering.
Waves rippled toward the beach and returned to the sea under a blue sky. Green trees fluttered in the refreshing wind, flowers bloomed, and crows sang. Despite adults being busy at work, children picked flowers and chased butterflies. The children had already forgotten the fear of human extinction. The heads of children always overflowed with happy dreams of the future.
However, it was not so with the adults. The effort to protect the peace and safety of Earth and continue developing the human race had to go on constantly. Those who nobly gave their lives for the humans of Earth couldn’t be forgotten, either. Not just the immediate family members Okita and Shima, but also the crews of the Earth fleet that was annihilated by the task force of Lugal II, the soldiers of the Pluto base and each of the other planets, and the brave men of Yamato who were lost at Pluto and the City Satellite Uruk. They would be remembered as the heroes of human salvation. In that sense, the civilians who were lost in the first evacuation convoys were the ultimate sacrifice.
On the outskirts of the capital city Megalopolis, people frequently visited the bronze statue of Okita and the gravestones of those killed in action. When Jiro Shima, the younger brother of Daisuke, came to this hill, he brought his soccer ball. Many boys who lost their brothers and fathers the same way would kick the ball around with him. They would probably become the next soldiers of Yamato. No doubt, they would stand up bravely to throw their lives away in order to protect Earth and humanity, and defend the peace of space.
Kodai and Yuki also often visited this hero’s hill. According to Okita’s wish, they were bound together and their love grew deeper. A cute little baby would soon be born.
The crew of Yamato were assigned to various places, working to rebuild the Earth Defense Forces and prepare for any threat to peace that may one day appear. When they found the time, they also went to this hill. They made fun of Kodai and Yuki when they encountered them.
“Isn’t that kid born yet?”
“Captain Okita is impatient for that child’s birth.”
But Sanada and Nanbu, knowing well the long journey of this young couple’s love, didn’t say such things. They just smiled warmly.
While loving each other, Kodai and Yuki remembered the Queen of Aquarius. They thought of the enormity of the love of this queen who sowed the seed of life in space with the prodigious waters of Aquarius. The vision of this Queen spread across all of space, not just the Earth, encompassing all the stars. And Yamato was embraced in the heart as well. At such times, the clear voice of the Queen seemed to echo in the hearts of these two.
“I am Aquarius. I am Aquarius. I gave life to people. As long as humans live, their challenges will continue. Please live strongly. Only by doing so, your life will shine brightly. And the brightness of life creates beautiful connections with others. Please do not forget it. Space is the infinite connection of life…”
The figure of the Queen quietly fades away and only the majestic figure of Yamato remains. The universe expands endlessly, and Yamato flies on majestically into its vast, vivid beauty.
Yamato would live forever in people’s memories, but they send their words of goodbye as if to make certain of their feelings again…
Next: the Time Machine visits April 1983! It was now a post-Yamato world, but plenty of people still had plenty to say about Final Yamato. The anime magazines featured their first retrospectives, Nishizaki threw in his two dollars in the Fan Club magazine, music was still flowing on record albums, the first full-fledged books appeared, and the home video revolution began sooner than anyone expected.
See it here.