Before I there was Star Wars, there was Space Battleship Yamato. You may know it better as Star Blazers if you hail from the US. I am stretching the eighties tag a bit, the series came on the air in 1979 when I was an impressionable six year old, but originally broadcast in Japan in 1974.
Regardless of decade Star Blazers started my fascination with Japanese animation that ended up dominating my television habits all throughout the eighties. If you grew up during that time the theme song should bring warm nostalgia, a stirring song of human pride and optimism over evil and crisis, in this case the crisis being the extinction of all life on earth within a year if the crew of the Yamato (Argo in the US) does not succeed.
I was instantly hooked. I had never seen any sort of programming aside from movies that carried a continuous, threaded story. Trouble did not resolve by the end of the episode, people died and war had consequences. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I was able to process the WWII imagery properly but as a child I knew there was gravity and importance beyond the surface. The striking character designs by Leiji Matsumoto also fascinated me in as I had never seen humans drawn in this way. There are several sequels and spin offs, but most did not make their way to an English translation in the days before the web took hold as a way to share media.
Over the next couple of weeks you will probably see a lot of these cartoon/anime posts. I’ve been thinking a lot about how values are formed in geeks and going to my own past to look at my influences. Star Blazers was a big part of that and if you were a fan chances are that it was for you as well.
In case you were not already aware, Japan recently finished their airing of a Star Blazers remake ‘Yamato 2199’. While the art style is a lot more modern there is a lot to like for fans of the original. Check out the trailer below, I’m positive you will find enough familiarity to pique your interest.