Star Blazers

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"Starblazers" redirects here. For the British comic magazine, see Starblazer.
Star Blazers
Starblazers title.jpg
Opening Title
Format Space Opera, Drama, Military Science Fiction, Action, Adventure
Starring Kenneth Meseroll
Eddie Allen
Amy Howard Wilson
Mike Czechopoulos
Jack Grimes
Chris Latta
Lydia Leeds
Corinne Orr
Gordon Ramsey
Tom Tweedy
Country of origin United States, Japan
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 77 (List of episodes)
Production company(s) Claster Television
Sunwagon Productions
Distributor Westchester Film Corporation
Claster Television
Broadcast
Original run September 17, 1979 – December 4, 1984

Star Blazers is an American animated television series adaptation of the Japanese anime series, Space Battleship Yamato I (1974), II (1978), and III (1980) (宇宙戦艦ヤマト Uchū Senkan Yamato?). Star Blazers was first broadcast in the United States in 1979. Significantly, it was the first popular English-translated anime that had an overarching plot and storyline that required the episodes to be shown in order. It dealt with somewhat more mature themes than other productions aimed at the same target audience at the time. As a result, it paved the way for future arc-based, plot-driven anime translations.[1]

Plot[edit]

Star Blazers consists of three television seasons. Each is an English-language adaption of its Japanese Space Battleship Yamato counterpart. The Japanese saga, however, entails more than just these three TV seasons, and part of this missing portion of the saga occurs between Seasons Two and Three, during the movies Yamato: The New Voyage and Be Forever Yamato.

In the first season, Earth is attacked by Gamilon, a distant planet. The radiation from Gamilon's planet bombs forces everyone on Earth underground. With no way to remove the radiation, all life on Earth will be wiped out in one year. The Earth then receives unexpected help from Queen Starsha of the planet Iscandar, who offers a device called "Cosmo DNA" which will remove the radiation. However, since Iscandar is 148,000 light years away, Starsha also sends plans for the experimental Wave Motion Engine that, when constructed, will aid whoever can travel to Iscandar. On Earth, a crew is recruited, headed by Captain Avatar, and an old sunken battleship (the Yamato) is transformed into a spaceship (the Argo), outfitted with the Wave Motion Engine, and sent to Iscandar.

The second season is set one year after the Argo returns to Earth with the Cosmo DNA and Earth's ecosystem is restored. It now faces a new, dangerous enemy, the Comet Empire, led by Prince Zordar. Unlike Gamilon, which was seeking to capture Earth to colonize it, Zordar simply wants to conquer Earth and add it to his Empire. Desslok, the Gamilon leader, also joins forces with Zordar, mainly because he wants revenge on the Argo for having destroyed Gamilon. The series revolves around the Argo, now commanded by Deputy Captain Derek Wildstar, working with the Earth Defense Force to face Zordar.

In the third season, the Argo is caught in the middle of a war between the Galmans (the re-formed Gamilon Empire) and the Bolar Federation. A stray missile fired during the war causes the sun's thermonuclear reactions to go out of control. Unless it can be stopped, the sun will destroy the Earth in one year and the entire solar system in three. Derek Wildstar, now officially in command of the Argo, is charged to help find a new home for Earth's population.

Episodes[edit]

Characters[edit]

First and second seasons[edit]

Major characters appearing in Seasons One and Two are listed below by their canonical (Westchester) names:[2]

Character Performer Position Origin
Captain Avatar Gordon Ramsey Captain of the Argo and
Star Force Commander
Earth
Derek Wildstar Kenneth Meseroll Deputy Captain, Argo Earth
Mark Venture[3] Tom Tweedy Chief Navigator, Argo Earth
Nova Amy Howard Wilson Radar Operator, Nurse, Argo Earth
Sandor (?) Head Mechanic, Argo Earth
Homer Michael Bertolini Communications Chief, Argo Earth
Eager (?) Assistant Navigator, Argo Earth
Dash Eddie Allen Artillery Unit, Argo Earth
Orion Gordon Ramsey Chief Engineer, Argo Earth
Conroy (?) Black Tiger Leader Earth
Hardy (?) Black Tiger Pilot Earth
Dr. Sane Frank Pita Doctor, Argo Earth
IQ-9 (?) Survey Robot, Argo Earth
Sgt. Knox Chris Latta Space Marine Leader, Brumas Earth
Captain Gideon (?) Captain of Andromeda Earth
Commander (?) Commander,
Earth Defense Force
Earth
Stone same as Homer General, EDF Earth
Miss Efficiency (?) Medical Robot, EDF Earth
Alex Wildstar (?) Brother of Derek Earth
Queen Starsha Lydia Leeds Ruler of Iscandar Iscandar
Astra none sister of Starsha Iscandar
Leader Desslok Eddie Allen Gamilon Leader Gamilon
General Krypt (?) Adjutant to Desslok Gamilon
General Talan (?) Adjutant to Desslok Gamilon
General Lysis (?) Commander of Balan Base Gamilon
Volgar Mike Czechopoulos Adjutant to Lysis Gamilon
Colonel Ganz (?) Commander of Pluto Base Gamilon
Major Bane (?) Adjutant to Ganz Gamilon
Prince Zordar (?) Ruler of Comet Empire Comet Empire
Princess Invidia Morgan Lofting Daughter of Zordar Comet Empire
General Dire Chris Latta Imperial Command Staff Comet Empire
General Gorse (same as Dr. Sane) Imperial Command Staff Comet Empire
General Turpis / Bleak (?) Combined Fleet Commander Comet Empire
General Torbuck (?) Antimatter Missile
Fleet Commander
Comet Empire
General Naska (?) Advance Attack Unit Commander Comet Empire
General Scorch (?) Tank Battalion Commander Comet Empire
Morta (?) Advisor to Desslok Comet Empire
Mazor (?) Bomber Pilot Comet Empire
Trelaina Lydia Leeds Sole survivor on Telezart Telezart

Third season[edit]

Major characters appearing in Season Three are as follows:[2]

Character Performer Position Origin
Derek Wildstar John Belucci Captain, Argo Earth
Mark Venture Peter Fernandez Chief Navigator, Argo Earth
Lt. Nova Corinne Orr Radar Operator, Argo Earth
Sandor René Auberjonois Head Mechanic, Argo Earth
Homer Glitchman[4] Michael Bertolini Communications Chief, Argo Earth
Eager (?) Assistant Navigator, Argo Earth
Lt. Dash (?) Artillery Unit, Argo Earth
Orion (?) New Chief Engineer, Argo Earth
Cory Conroy[5] (?) Black Tiger Leader Earth
Dr. Sane (?) Doctor, Argo Earth
IQ-9 (?) Survey Robot, Argo Earth
Jason Jetter Billy West Recruit Dish-Washer, Argo Earth
Flash Contrail (?) Recruit Pilot, Argo Earth
Commander (?) Commander,
Earth Defense Force
Earth
Leader Desslok (?) Galman Emperor Galman
Sgt. Masterson (Talan) (?) Adjutant to Desslok Galman
Admiral Keeling (?) Head of Staff Galman
Admiral Smeerdom (?) Commander of Eastern Task Force Galman
Admiral Smellen (?) Commander of Western Task Force Galman
Admiral Gustaf Jack Grimes Commander of 3rd Local Fleet Galman
General Dagon (?) Commander of Carrier Fleet Galman
Luchner von Feral (?) Subspace Submarine Pack Commander Galman
Major Cranshaw (?) Technology Major Galman
Bemlayze (?) Bolar Prime Minister Bolar Federation
Golsakof (?) Adjutant to Bemlayze Bolar Federation
Brozof (?) Governor of Planet Berth Bolar Federation
Ram (?) Captain of Legendra Bolar Federation
Queen Mariposa (?) Exiled Ruler of Guardiana Guardiana
Queen Guardiana (?) Goddess of Guardiana Guardiana

Production and release[edit]

In 1977, before the debut of the American Star Blazers series, the Japanese anime film Space Battleship Yamato (or Space Cruiser Yamato as it was known at the time) was dubbed into English and re-titled Space Cruiser. This film was sold and released in several countries, including the U.S., France, and Britain. The U.S. release was extremely limited, and eventually ended up airing on television in the Los Angeles area in 1978.

Following this, the Westchester Corporation identified the first Space Battleship Yamato anime TV series from 1974 as a potential "kids' property"[6] and bought the rights to the first two seasons (season three had not been made yet). Dubbing and editing were done by Griffin-Bacal Advertising and production and syndication was handled by Claster Television. The Japanese language elements such as series title and scene captions were replaced or removed. New opening credit rolls were created featuring the "Star Blazers" logo. The series premiered in the San Francisco Bay Area on September 17, 1979 as part of the Captain Cosmic show on KTVU 2.[7] Star Blazers initial broadcasts received high ratings, and subsequent rebroadcasts contributed to build anime fandom in northern California.

Being marketed to a school-age audience, this animated space opera was bowdlerized by the American editors in order to satisfy the broadcast standards and practices offices of American TV stations.[8] However, far fewer edits were made than with another 1970s anime, Battle of the Planets (an edited version of Science Ninja Team Gatchaman). Even in its edited American form Star Blazers retains practically all of its uniquely Japanese characteristics in terms of content, plot, character development, and philosophy.[9]

Principal changes in the change-over to Star Blazers included westernization of character names, reduction of personal violence, toning down of offensive language and alcohol use (references to sake were changed to "spring water," and the Doctor's perpetually drunken state was portrayed as merely good humor), removal of sexual fan service, and reduction of references to World War II, although the sunken battleship ruins were still identified as the battleship Yamato in dialogue. The most significant reference removed—and the longest single edit in the series—was a section from episode two depicting the Battleship Yamato's final battle during World War II, including imagery of the captain tied to the helm as he went down with his ship. (This section was not in the bonus content on the Voyager Entertainment Series 1, Part II English-language DVD release.)

Many fans regard Star Blazers as more "adult" than other cartoons shown in the U.S. at the time, as personal tragedy, funeral scenes for fallen comrades, and the extinction faced by humanity were left intact. The very Japanese theme of "the honorable enemy" was also a tremendously important aspect of character development; in particular, the major villain of the first series, Desslok, during the second and third seasons, as well as in the later movies.

The most significant change made by Griffin-Bacal was purely narrative: In the original series the Yamato and its crew were regarded as a single entity, the narrator each week urging "Yamato, hurry to Iscandar!" In English, the significance of the name Yamato as a word the viewers can identify with, signifying the land, people, and spirit of Japan is lost, so in Star Blazers the crew were named the Star Force and became the focus of the show. The ship is still the historical Yamato and is referred to as such in early episodes (although the ship's back story is edited out), but is renamed the Argo (after the ship Argo of Jason and the Argonauts), but the crew keep calling "it" (not her) Star Force and becomes merely the vessel in which they traveled.[8]

The first two seasons ("The Quest for Iscandar" and "The Comet Empire") were broadcast in 1979 and 1980. By the time the third season of Yamato was released, the original voice actors were unable to be reached by the American production company. The third season (released as "The Bolar Wars") played to a small test market and was not as widely seen until its release on video and DVD. It remains less popular than the first two seasons. Many of the original English voice actors have since been tracked down and interviewed for the more recent Star Blazers DVD releases.

The American dub version of Star Blazers series one and two aired in 1983 in Australia on the ABC network. The series aired Monday through Friday at 5pm.[10]

Live action adaptation[edit]

During the mid-1990s, Walt Disney Pictures optioned the rights with the intent to produce a live-action Star Blazers movie from producer Josh C. Kline. An early draft of the script by Oscar-nominated writer Tab Murphy was leaked on the Internet in the late 1990s.[11] The story was a re-telling of the Season One plot, and followed a ragtag crew of misfits (most of whom are not named after any of the original show's crew) aboard the rebuilt United States battleship Arizona on a mission to save Earth. The project was abandoned by Disney following the departure of David Vogel, Disney's President of Production. In April 2006 it was announced that Benderspink[further explanation needed] and producer Josh C. Kline had teamed up to make another attempt at creating a live action version of the story,[12][13] but as of 2012 no movie version has been released by them.

A live-action Space Battleship Yamato movie was released in Japan on December 1, 2010, produced by Toshiaki Nakazawa and Kazuya Hamana.

In February 2011, it was announced that an English-language live action version is again in the works. David Ellison's Skydance Productions is currently in negotiations to acquire the rights.[14][15] Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects, Valkyrie, X-Men) has been tapped to write the screenplay,[16][17] but so far, no dates have been announced. According to Deadline, McQuarrie is now also attached as Director and will be a Producer on the film alongside Josh C. Kline, David Ellison and Dana Goldberg, with Shouji Nizhizaki and Paul Schwake as Executive Producers for Skydance.[18]

American comic adaptations[edit]

To date, four American comic adaptations have been published: a five-volume series retelling the original story, two comic book series, and, most recently, a web comic.[9]

West Cape Co. Animation Comics[edit]

The first adaptation was a set of books presenting the original first season in five volumes using the original cel animation.[19] It was published in 1983 by West Cape Co., Ltd. under their imprint, W.C.C. Animation Comics. The books use digest footage that was already laid out and published for the Japanese market as "film comics". The translations relied heavily on the English dialog of Star Blazers, with minor modifications. The English language editions were printed in Japan and distributed by Books Nippan of Los Angeles, the American branch of Nippon Shuppan Hanbai. The title of each book includes "Original Title: Space Cruiser Yamato" as a sub-title.[9]

Comico[edit]

The second adaptation (actually two miniseries) was published by Comico Comics in the late 1980s and served as a postscript to the second season. The plot leveraged the fact that the Season Three script had misidentified the enemy in the New Voyage flashbacks as a remnant of the Comet Empire. In this series, it was discovered that the White Comet Empire's rear fleet (comprising fully half of the empire's entire fleet) still existed and—with Earth's entire fleet (other than the Argo) having been wiped out—only the Argo stood between this massive enemy fleet and Earth. In this story, the Comet Empire took over the Yamato and used it against Earth. The second Comico miniseries dealt with the Star Force's battle against a renegade Earth General and his alien allies. Due to its weak artwork and story, this second miniseries was less well received than the first.[20] [21]

Voyager Entertainment Print[edit]

In the mid-90s, Voyager Entertainment published 12 issues of a Star Blazers comic book before publication was halted due to poor sales.[22]

Voyager Entertainment webcomic[edit]

Star Blazers Rebirth is a webcomic formerly featured on the official Star Blazers site. Although similar in storyline, it is not to be confused with the newest Yamato film, Yamato: Rebirth. The art and story is by Tim Eldred, who was also responsible for the Voyager Entertainment series. The Earth is once again threatened by a menace from space headed for the Earth 25 years after the first series; this time in the shape of what appears to be a moving black hole. At first, Earth's government does not believe the information, on the basis that black holes aren't supposed to be able to move. However, they eventually agree to send Earth's newest and most powerful ship, Andromeda II, to investigate. Upon reaching its destination, Andromeda II is quickly destroyed with all hands on board, though not before transmitting data to Earth. Shocked by the disaster and the lack of response from Earth's government, Wildstar remains out of service. He is now in his 40s, with gray hair and a beard grown in deliberate homage to the late Captain Avatar. He is haunted by nightmares both of his past and alternate pasts- the nightmares come but different people die, or familiar faces have new names. Finally Wildstar and Sandor devote their wealth and energies to rebuilding the nearly shattered Argo. The ship had been encased in ice and left floating in Earth orbit at the end of Final Yamato. Since most of the old surviving bridge crew of Argo are now captains in command of their own ships, many of the new crew members are the children or grandchildren of the original Argo crew. Earth's evacuation to numerous colonies has left Earth's forces stretched far too thinly, with several colonies beginning to break away from Earth's control under command of Captain Nenezich. Short on supplies, Argo heads toward the center of the galaxy in an attempt to learn more about the mysterious black hole and a rash of attacks on Earth's colonies.

Themes / Lyrics[edit]

The release of the American series also required an adaptation of the original Japanese lyrics to English. The English lyrics were written by American commercial jingle writer Ginny Redington. The opening sequence, entirely different from the Japanese version, consists of clips from the series, presumably because no text-free version of the original Japanese opening was available.

Opening Theme: First Season

We're off to outer space / We're leaving Mother Earth / To save the human race / Our Star Blazers
Searching for a distant star / Heading off to Iscandar / Leaving all we love behind / Who knows what dangers we'll find?
We must be strong and brave / Our home we've got to save / If we don't in just one year / Mother Earth will disappear
Fighting with the Gamilons / We won't stop until we've won / Then we'll return and when we arrive / The Earth will survive
With our Star Blazers

Opening Song for the Second and Third Seasons

We're off to outer space / We're leaving mother Earth / To save the human race / Our Star Blazers
A cry for help, a desperate plight / Makes our Star Force reunite / As we rush to meet our fate / The Comet Empire awaits
We must be strong and brave / To stop its evil ways / If Zordar's plot should work / He'll destroy the universe
We'll fight the Comet Empire / Battle through the raging fire / Filled with the hope that Earth will survive / We'll keep peace alive with
Our Star Blazers

Closing Theme

We're off in outer space / Protecting Mother Earth / To save the human race / Our Star Blazers
Danger lurking everywhere / But we know we've got to dare / Evil men with evil schemes / They can't destroy all our dreams
We must be strong and brave / Our home we've got to save / We must make the fighting cease / So Mother Earth will be at peace
Through all the fire and the smoke / We will never give up hope / If we can win the Earth will survive / We'll keep peace alive
With our Star Blazers

As the series were exported to other countries, local adaptations were likewise made (although the Italian version had a totally different theme song, as was usually the case with Italian adaptations of anime[citation needed]). The melody of the original Japanese closing theme to Yamato Series One, Makka na Scarf (The Scarlet Scarf), can be heard briefly in Star Blazers Episode Ten, in which the melody is hummed by an all-male chorus and the lyrics "We will return" are sung to the last few bars of the tune.

DVDs[edit]

DVDs of the three TV seasons were released in 2002 by Voyager Entertainment, entitled The Quest for Iscandar, The Comet Empire, and The Bolar Wars.[23] Each season is contained on six discs, and each disc included bonus footage or material. The discs are available individually or as collections, in three separate boxed sets of six discs each.[24]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Star Blazers Chronicles: Westchester Films". StarBlazers.com. Retrieved 2009-09-01. 
  2. ^ a b ""Star Blazers" (1979)-Full cast and crew". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  3. ^ "Star Blazers Voice Actor Reunion". StarBlazers.com. Retrieved 2010-06-03. 
  4. ^ Homer's last name, Glitchman, was added by Westchester for the third season. No last name was used in previous seasons.
  5. ^ Cory is actually the younger brother of the Conroy from Seasons 1 and 2. That Conroy was never given a first name and was killed during the battle with the Comet Empire near Earth. Since this was not revealed in Star Blazers, the audience is allowed to assume that the two brothers are one and the same.
  6. ^ "A Cult Phenomenon". Starlog. Star Blazers 35 (June): 52–53. June 1980. Retrieved 19 March 2012. 
  7. ^ "Cosmic Blazers". Sunday Datebook, San Francisco Chronicle & Examiner, September 16, 1979. 
  8. ^ a b "Make way for StarBlazers". StarBlazers.com. Retrieved 2009-09-11. 
  9. ^ a b c "WCC Animation Comics". StarBlazers.com. Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  10. ^ "Geek Out Central," Dean Mayes. Retrieved 03 February 2014.
  11. ^ "Sci fi Scripts". Sci fi Scripts. Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  12. ^ "TV.com:Star Blazers movie will save Earth". TV.com. 2006-06-24. Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  13. ^ "The Stax Report: Script Review of Star Blazers". IGN. Retrieved 2009-07-10. 
  14. ^ Schmitz, Greg Dean (February 25, 2011). "Weekly Ketchup: A Live Action Version of Star Blazers?". Retrieved March 15, 2011. 
  15. ^ Fleming, Mike (February 21, 2011). "'True Grit' Co-Financier Skydance Targets 'Star Blazers' For Christopher McQuarrie". Retrieved March 15, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Christopher McQuarrie to Pen Star Blazers Adaptation". Retrieved March 15, 2011. 
  17. ^ Goldberg, Matt. "Christopher McQuarrie to Write STAR BLAZERS Adaptation for Skydance Productions". Retrieved March 15, 2011. 
  18. ^ Chris McQuarrie To Direct ‘Star Blazers’ From ’70s Sci-Fi Anime Series For Skydance
  19. ^ "The Star Blazers you did not see". desslok.com. Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  20. ^ "Comico Comic Book Series". StarBlazers.com. Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  21. ^ "Comico Comic Book Series 2". StarBlazers.com. Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  22. ^ "Argo Press Comic Book Series". StarBlazes.com. 2009-03-25. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  23. ^ "Star Blazers—Star Blazers Collection: Series I". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  24. ^ "Star Blazers—Star Blazers Collection: Season II". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved 2008-09-02. 

External links[edit]