Animage #59, April 1983

Anime movies of the spring

Watched by two people

Scoring notes by Keigo and Motoko

Crusher Joe, Harmagedon, and Yamato were three blockbuster anime movies that clashed in the spring. The promotion was showy, but we’re concerned with the quality and content. SF writer Keigo Misaki and Ms. Motoko Arai are two people who perform encores of great scenes in each movie and score their content.

Illustrated by Akira Kagami

Before the scoring, a little introduction of these two. First, we asked Mr. Misaki, who is familiar for writing Space Battleship Yamato novels for the Animage Library, to introduce Ms. Arai.

Keigo: Motoko-chan is someone you haven’t seen before (laughs), a person who is filled with a sense of wonder. She used to say of the fusuma screens in Azuma Jo’s house in Harmagedon that “the fusuma-san are cute.” (Laughs) But we’re both steady and think seriously about life. A bonbon novelist can also write a long piece and be respected as a senior.

Motoko: When my mother looks at a photo of Mr. Misaki, she mistakes him for me. Though when he wears glasses he seems to resemble me, don’t you think? He seems to have a dark character at first glance, but he’s actually bright (of course he is). He’s a fun person who marches to his own beat.

In their scoring notes, 5 stars are the highest. Will these two give a perfect score?

Keigo Misaki profile

Born 1954 in Tokyo, 28 years old. After graduating from the law department of Kokugakuin University, he wrote SF short stories and was published. His debut work Menace Overhead was featured in the book Boogie in the Wind (Hayakawa publishing). [Translator’s note: at the time of publication, he was writing the AM Juju novelization of Final Yamato for Tokuma Shoten.]

Motoko Arai profile

Born 1960 in Tokyo, 23 years old. In her second year of high school, she received honorable mention in the First Fantastic Rookie of the Year Award. Graduate of Rikkyo University. Featured in the books Calendar Girl (Shueisha) and Labyrinth (Tokuma Shoten Publishing).

Crusher Joe

“Um, the “azmadillo” was very cute!!”

Character

Keigo: 4.5 stars
A half star because all we get are hot-blooded characters, with no cool ones. I prefer cool people. Recent heroes are pathetic…

Motoko: 5 stars
It’s a perfect score with bonus marks for the azmadillo. I like the eyes of the azmadillo, which embody indifference. The only fault in this movie…was that they killed the azmadillo!! (Laughs)

Story

Keigo: 4 stars
I deduct one star because I got the point of it halfway in. But I was into the B-grade action story, which was well done. I was a little worried about so many people dying.

Motoko: 4 stars
It was interesting, simple and bright. But the crusher’s line “we do not kill” is entirely different from what actually happens…it’s strange when I think about it. (Laughs)

Overall Impression

Keigo: 5 stars
The quick tempo was very good. It doesn’t sag anywhere, so it should catch on with young people. I wish it had more on Joe’s parent-child relationship.

Motoko: 5 stars
The whole thing was full of energy and kept on moving, so I give it five stars. Joe’s parent-child relationship was confusing, and I wonder if it should have been pursued.

Harmagedon

“The visuals were beautiful, but the movie was kind of tiring.”

Character

Keigo: 4.5 stars
Katsuhiro Otomo’s characters feel very familiar and human. They do seem a bit fishy, though. My favorite character is Vega.

Motoko: 4 stars
It was amazingly real. But it’s a bit lengthy. Tao is cute. After that, while they aren’t characters, I like the shoji doors and fusuma screens in gloomy Japanese houses. (Laughs)

Story

Keigo: 3 stars
Gives it their all ’til the psionics are all gathered together. The last part feels rushed and I didn’t understand it well. The balance of the screenplay is not very good.

Motoko: 3 stars
The psychological portrait of the characters seems to be missing. I think it’s a problem with the script. This is separate from the story, but the landscape of Kichijoji, Tokyo was good.

Overall Impression

Keigo: 3 stars
The flow is rather monotonous, so there’s no upsurge in the climax. It felt like disparate chunks of scenes that were loosely connected. The visuals were amazingly beautiful.

Motoko: 3 stars
There are many nice pictures, but not much movement. The Espers should each have a different kind of attack, but in the pictures they all look the same, sorry!!

Space Battleship Yamato The Final Chapter

“The setup of narrow escapes from crisis was good.”

Character

Keigo: 3 stars
Because I followed the series and the established characters, I can’t evaluate it very well. But though everyone seems bright at a glance, the characters are actually dark. (Laughs)

Motoko: (I pass)
The reason is, when it was revealed that Captain Okita wasn’t actually brain-dead and he revives, it lost me and I couldn’t follow it any more.

Story

Keigo: (I pass)
If there are any questions, please see the novelization (which I wrote). I intend to write it so that it resolves my questions.

Motoko: (I pass)
The reason is, I think the basic concept is unreasonable. If a planet has a mechanism to warp Aquarius, I don’t understand why they would let their planet be submerged.

Overall Impression

Keigo: 2 stars
The spaceship designs are all good and unique. I think it was the best of the three in that area. The music was slightly inconsistent. The story could be clearer.

Motoko: 2 stars
Uh, well, the horse was cute (meaning the Dengillian robot horse). But in the hand-to-hand combat on Uruk, I was surprised that the Yamato crew had hand grenades.

Proposal wanted for video soft!!

[Translator’s note: “video soft” is short for “video software,” the Japanese term for home video products such as tapes and discs.]

We’re seeking proposals for new video soft, saying “I want a video of this work.” Four excellent works will be released by Toei Entertainment Video Corporation on April 21: Space Battleship Yamato (2:15), Farewell to Yamato (2:32), Be Forever Yamato (2:25) and The New Voyage (1:35). One of each video soft will be offered as a prize.

Application rules

① Write your proposal on one sheet of 400-character manuscript paper.
② Please include your address, full name, and school year.
③ Indicate whether your video format is VHS or Beta.
④ The deadline is May 9.
⑤ [Address information] ⑥ The four people who send in the best proposals will be announced in this magazine’s July issue.


Toward a time when you can feel empathy for the characters in Crusher Joe

After their scoring notes about each work by these two, we’ll hear their impressions in a little more detail.

Animage: Crusher Joe was the one you saw first.

Keigo: I needed to go to the bathroom in the first 15 minutes (laughs), but one situation came up after another, and I thought if I rise from my seat now I’ll miss something, so I didn’t get up until the end. Anyway, it was a work of thrills and suspense to the fullest.

Motoko: Both the movement and the tempo were good. The picture was good from the immediate moment after the Crushers took off for Planet Lagol.

Keigo: Oh, in the forest. It was good when the spaceship looking for Joe and Alfin came in. I thought the level of the picture was very high.

Animage: The mecha design?

Keigo: It moved too quickly, and I didn’t understand it well. I wanted a closer look.

Motoko: Yeah, right. As for me, I wanted to see the spaceship designed by Akira Toriyama named the MAX310, but in the end I couldn’t find it. As for the disco scene, I wanted it to go a little more slowly.

Keigo: The waiter moves behind the main characters and it’s elaborate, but when you think about it, it becomes an action scene.

Motoko: I was disappointed with things like that.

Keigo: The voice actor Reiko Muto had a mature role, and Kazuko Yanaga was good in the part of Norma, wasn’t she?

Motoko: Kowalksi was just like Inspector Zenigatta from Lupin. The movement of the face and eyelashes were exactly like him. (Laughs)

Keigo: Anyway, I’m into B-grade action movies, and this action is A-grade. It’s very interesting.

Animage: How was Harmagedon as a movie?

Motoko: The complexes that the main character Jo has, like his feelings toward his sister, those kind of psychological descriptions were pretty threadbare, weren’t they? It may become a movie full of monologues if it was all put in, but the original psychological portrait is very important.


A snap after having seen all three movies.

Animage: I see.

Motoko: In the movie, Jo’s friend…I’m not sure why Eda Shiro became an enemy.

Keigo: That was strange.

Motoko: That’s well-understood in the original story, but it was dropped somehow. His sister’s existence, too. It was vital to advancing the story, so if you haven’t read the original work, I don’t thing the psychological underpinnings of the story come through very well.

Keigo: The visuals were beautiful, though.

Motoko: Yes, they were. The long house and the gloomy Japanese house was good. Like the shadows cast on the shoji screens, the reds, the phone pole transformers, and so on.

Keigo: In places like that, I felt that it was very well-based in live-action Japanese film.

Motoko: Yes, it looked like a bold image to me.

Animage: I see. And finally, you saw Yamato at the end.

Keigo: There was a lot of chatter in the first half, and the story seemed hard to understand. I thought it was over-produced.

Motoko: The composition of narrow escapes from crisis was good. But there were too many various elements like the galactic collision and the flooding by Aquarius, and it was hard to follow.

Animage: How was the scene where Kodai and Yuki were bound together?

Keigo: What was that? It was an extra scene, disconnected from the story.

Motoko: I can accept it as a bonus scene.

Keigo: Maybe it was in response to fan demands.

Motoko: Well, I didn’t get it. Anyway, aside from that, I didn’t like that they kept making Yamato after saying it was the end. I don’t think it’s good to mobilize an audience by saying “it’s the end.”

Keigo: Wow, that’s a tough message.

Motoko: Did I say too much?

Keigo: But I don’t think it’s possible for there to be another Yamato. A slightly darker feeling came out in the Yamato characters this time, and because of that I think it may be harder for a younger audience to empathize. The world has become brighter, hasn’t it? Now I feel that they can empathize most with characters like those in Crusher Joe.

As for why Crusher Joe is so highly regarded, it kept the “lying” to a minimum in the story setup. It seems that is the difference. If we were to ask for the opinion of people with a different viewpoint, their evaluation could be very different. We’d like to ask for reader feedback. Please send your letters to the “movies of the spring” clerk.

Harmagedon, Yamato, and Crusher Joe in a showdown for popularity!!
What will be the opening box office figures for this spring’s anime feature lineup?

There was a total of ten anime movies released this spring.

Premiering March 12 were Crusher Joe (Fuji), Harmagedon (Toho Towa), Doraemon, Paman, and Ninja Hattori-Kun (Toho), Bambi (Disney), and The Fox and the Hound (Toho). Toei released Manga Aesop’s Fables and Dr. Slump on the 13th, and Final Yamato (Toei) brought up the rear on March 19.

By far, the most interest was in three of those works: Harmagedon, Yamato, and Crusher Joe, so we assembled specific numbers from each of their publicity departments (see chart).

Judging by these numbers, the top fight is between Harmagedon and Yamato with Crusher Joe running behind, but…

Well, what was the pattern like on Crusher Joe‘s opening day at the Tokyu theater in Shibuya, Tokyo? Since tickets were available from 2pm the previous day, there was no line overnight, but 800 people gathered at 6am, including 300 who hadn’t bought tickets yet. The Shibuya Tokyu couldn’t accommodate them all, so another screening was added at a separate location.

At 9am on the first day, Director Yasuhiko Yoshikazu, Creator Haruka Takachiho, and voice actors Hiroshi Takemura and Run Sasaki made an appearance. It looked like Yasuhiko, who previous directed Mobile Suit Gundam III, couldn’t hide his joy about the 150% increase on the theater side.

As for Harmagedon, tickets were issued at the Toho theater in Shibuya, Tokyo from midnight before the last train. A line of 500 people formed, which grew to 1,000 before the first screening. Earnest fans seem unaffected by the prospect of standing vigil in an all-night line.

There was a stage greeting on the premiere day of Harmagedon featuring Haruki Kadokawa, Director Rin Taro, voice actor Toru Furuya, and others. They provided fan service by sharing production stories.

On March 19, there was an uproar when screenings of Final Yamato were delayed in some locations. One story from the Toei Palace theater in Marunouchi, Tokyo was that the Yamato fan club had made a volunteer list and set up a meeting time beforehand, and a line of nearly 700 people that had formed by 11pm was housed inside the theater. Including those who stayed overnight, it was said that about 900 were there for the first screening at 6:30am.

All three films showed a strong turnout in the beginning, but who will have the last laugh!?

The End

Special thanks to Neil Nadelman for translation support

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