Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Back in 1979, when I was in my Freshman year of High School, I would impatiently ride the bus home every weekday (that I didn't have detention), and rush to my bedroom, where I'd turn on a little portable television with a seven or eight-inch black & white screen, and fiddle with the antenna hoping to somehow snag the elusive broadcast signal from Bangor's WVII: Channel 7, so I could watch the latest episode of the seminal anime series, Star Blazers. Our rooftop aerial could never receive the signal, but sometimes, when atmospheric conditions were just right, that little portable could... although never very well.

The Americanized version of the Japanese serial Space Cruiser Yamato, was my first exposure to anime, and I was completely engrossed in its characters and epic storylines - whether it was the Star Force's quest for far Iskandar and the Cosmo DNA or the battle against the Comet Empire. I was well and truly hooked, and on the days when I couldn't get it to come in, I was despondent.

Later, when I was at art school in the early 80s, I was exposed to stuff like Voltron and Battle of the Planets, and while I kinda dug the big robot guy, neither appealed to me like Star Blazers.

Anyway, I just rented the first volume of the first season Star Blazers DVDs from Netflix, and watched the first five episodes straight through. The animation's not quite as good as I remembered, and the dialogue is far more goofy than I recalled, but... I think I'm hooked again. It doesn't hurt finally being able to see them on a properly-sized TV screen, and in color, to boot...!


  1. Have you seen this yet? A Christmas present for Japan...

  2. I was wondering when you'd get around to SB :) I used to run home from school every day so I wouldn't miss this - literally run home, a cop "pulled me over" once because he thought my running was suspicious!

  3. I loved this show as a kid. Only saw part of the Iskandar story arc, but I loved it. In my top 20 of happiest days is the day I found the first box set with the Iskandar story arc on DVD. One of the saddest days, was when I sat down and watched it. My awesome memories were a bit tarnished by the animation not being what my memory said it should be and the goofiness of the dialog.

    All that aside, when my 4 year old is a bit older, we'll be watching and making new memories. It's too good, really, to let just gather dust. And, hopefully, the magic will return.

  4. Starblazers was broadcast early in the morning while I was going to High School and college. I collected the art manuals from the different movies/tv shows for Space Cruiser Yamato/Starblazers. Same with the little models. I just fell in Love wih the Andromeda class battleship. Nothing more clasic than that "Double Barrel" shotgun coming right at you!

    Here are links to posts that I made on my own blog relating to the Live action Space Cruiser Yamato movie.

    1 Jan 18, 2010. Space Cruiser YAMATO is now a Live-Action Movie!(
    2. Jan 18, 2010. Space Cruiser Yamato is now a Live Action Movie (post #2).(
    3. April 27, 2010. More Space Cruiser Yamato CGI Video Clips.(
    4. July 2, 2010. Direct feed off of YouTube, hence the Japance title with, in English "SPACE BATTLESHIP"(

  5. I've got the first episode on VHS, and your review makes me want to watch it.

  6. As a boy, I have first experienced BATTLE OF THE PLANETS in 1978-79, which is being made into a (Japanese original animated series name)new GATCHAMAN movie. I agree with you this paled in conparison to the epic STAR BLAZERS animated series that I also fist experienced in 1979. George Lucas said he saw, in the early '70s, the original SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO animated series and films when writing the original STAR WARS movie. Star Blazers IQ-9 became R2D2. The live action SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO movie is due out in December.

  7. It is still the most impressive weapon in science-fiction, you can't beat a spaceship armed with a Wave-Motion Gun and a Wave-Motion Engine to fold-space. I know that the double-barrel Andromeda twin Wave-Motion Guns could take on any starship or Deathstar in sci-fi.

  8. I rediscovered Starblazers myself earlier this year. After a few views of the Americanized Starblazers, I dipped my foot into the Space Battleship Yamato pool, and youtube was happy to oblige.

    I watched the first two seasons of the subtitled and incredibly dramatic Space Battleship Yamato, eventually singing along with the opening theme, notwithstanding my ignorance of the Japanese language.

    While there are the usual weaknesses of a serial children's show - ship damage is miraculously repaired by the next episode, for example - and the animation was underwhelming at times, I was absolutely astounded at how good the writing was, at the level of violence, and also at the tremendous drama the stories involved. It was very believable.

    The climactic battle scenes during both seasons were fantastic and moving, in particular in Yamato II, where I will admit I misted up a bit after it was over. You felt for the characters, who were not very well drawn cartoons, like they were real people.

    Also, after Star Trek, Space Battleship Yamato appears to have been very influential. Off the top of my head the show had scene in it where there is an attempt my the Gamilus to board the Yamato, using gas and breathing masks that would be repeated in the opening scene of Star Wars, and at another time there was a duel between a heavily damaged Yamato and an enemy ship which took place in a nearby nebula to give the Yamato cover, just like in Wrath of Khan. Not to mention the fleet action scenes, with various types of fighter and bomber smallcraft moving and attacking as if they were in the battle of Midway.

    I continued watching the later Yamato stuff, but have been too busy to finish it up. Presently I am in the middle of the Bolar Wars, but haven't gotten back to it in months. I have to say, though, that this has become one of my favorite science fiction storylines.

  9. It aired in the late 70's on a New Orleans station on weekday mornings, so I would watch it every single day it came on before elementary school. It was part of my daily school preperation routine. Around the same time I was watching Speed Racer as well, but the continuity aspect of Star Blazers was facinating to me at the time because no other cartoon I had seen was based on one big story arc. Later some stations started airing The Space Giants and I quickly became hooked on that live action show. It was a glorious time!!!

  10. The completely uncut and fan-subbed versions of the original series are available at for very inexpensive prices, though I think they're as cheap as they currently are for fall clearance, so act fast! I'm currently up to episode seven of the first series and it's great to see this stuff as intended, without the idiotic Americanized names for the characters. And I guess I came in fairly late when these first aired in the States — I was in 9th grade when they hit in '79 — because I didn't see the first ten episodes, where the Gamilons ("Gamilas" in the Japanese version) had Caucasian pigment rather than blue. Apparently some error on the part of the cel-painters. Were they seen as such in the American version or were they color-corrected?

  11. Oh, and those subbed editions can be looked up on the site's alphabetical list under "Space Battleship Yamato."

  12. Greatest. Show. Ever!

  13. I had already been a fan of 'Battle of the Planets' when the local station first broadcast an ad for a new animated series called 'Starblazers,' coming soon! I thought (and said to my friends and parents) that the "art looked kind of like Battle of the Planets, but I don't know if the story will be as good."

    Wow, was I ever proven wrong/blown away from the very first episode! Lifelong fan from that first viewing, all those years ago...

    I still have a soft spot for BotP, by the way, since at that time it was the only Japanese animation on tv in my area, and was--in spite of its Americanization--one of the most 'grown up' cartoons I'd seen. (Until Starblazers, of course.)


  14. Star Blazers - Quest for Iscandar started it all! Anime, Star Wars, so influential! However, Comet Empire (season II) felt rushed. I watched it recently and felt it was incredibly slow-paced and uninspired without much of a payoff. The romantic interlude between Venture and Trilena is agonizingly slow and pretty much all of the dialogue is a real drag. Nevertheless, Star Blazers will always be #1 in my book of Space 1970 favorites!