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Star Blazers
Starblazers title.jpg
Based on Space Battleship Yamato (1974–1980)
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)
Animator(s) Group TAC
Production company(s) Claster Television
Sunwagon Productions
Distributor Westchester Film Corporation
ARP Films, Inc.
Release
Original network First-run syndication
Original release September 17, 1979 (1979-09-17) – December 4, 1984 (1984-12-04)

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. It was the first popular English-translated anime that had an overarching plot and storyline that required the episodes to be viewed in order, which paved the way for future arc-based, plot-driven anime translations. It also dealt with somewhat more mature themes than other productions aimed at the same target audience at the time.

Plot

Star Blazers consists of three television seasons. Each is an English-language adaption of its Japanese counterpart Space Battleship Yamato. However, the Japanese saga entails more than just these three television seasons, and part of this missing portion of the saga occurs between Seasons Two and Three, in 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 help whoever can travel to Iscandar by letting them travel at 27,569,736,000 miles per second (about 92 times the speed of light). 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 takes place 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 and colonize Earth, Zordar simply wants to conquer and annex Earth 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 reformed 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. Now officially in command of the Argo, Derek Wildstar is charged to help find a new home for Earth's population.

Episodes

List of Star Blazers episodes

Characters

First and second seasons

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

Character Performer Position Origin
Captain Avatar Gordon Ramsey Captain of the Argo and Star Force Commander Earth
Derek Wildstar Kenneth Meseroll Deputy Captain, Argo (season 1); Acting Captain and Star Force Commander (season 2) Earth
Mark Venture Tom Tweedy Chief Navigator, Argo Earth
Nova Forrester Amy Howard Wilson Radar Operator, Nurse, Argo Earth
Sandor Unknown Science Officer, Argo Earth
Homer Michael Bertolini Communications Chief, Argo Earth
Eager Patrick W. Lohn Assistant Navigator, Argo Earth
Dash Eddie Allen Artillery Unit, Argo Earth
Orion Gordon Ramsey Chief Engineer, Argo Earth
Conroy Unknown Black Tiger Leader Earth
Hardy Unknown Black Tiger Pilot Earth
Dr. Sane Frank Pita Doctor, Argo Earth
IQ-9 Stephen James Pastor Survey Robot, Argo Earth
Sgt. Knox Chris Latta Space Marine Leader, Brumus Earth
Captain Gideon Unknown Captain of Andromeda Earth
Commander Unknown Commander, Earth Defense Force Earth
Stone Michael Bertolini General, EDF Earth
Miss Efficiency Unknown Medical Robot, EDF Earth
Alex Wildstar Unknown Brother of Derek, EDF Earth
Queen Starsha Lydia Leeds Ruler of Iscandar Iscandar
Astra No vocals Sister of Starsha Iscandar
Leader Desslok Eddie Allen Gamilon Leader Gamilon
General Krypt Unknown Adjutant to Desslok Gamilon
General Talan Unknown Adjutant to Desslok Gamilon
General Lysis Unknown Commander of Balan Base Gamilon
Volgar Mike Czechopoulos Adjutant to Lysis Gamilon
Colonel Ganz Unknown Commander of Pluto Base Gamilon
Major Bane Unknown Adjutant to Ganz Gamilon
Prince Zordar Unknown 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 Frank Pita Imperial Command Staff Comet Empire
General Turpis / Bleak Unknown Combined Fleet Commander Comet Empire
General Torbuck Unknown Antimatter Missile Fleet Commander Comet Empire
General Naska Unknown Advance Attack Unit Commander Comet Empire
General Scorch Unknown Tank Battalion Commander Comet Empire
Morta Unknown Advisor to Desslok Comet Empire
Mazor Unknown Bomber Pilot Comet Empire
Trelaina Lydia Leeds Sole survivor on Telezart Telezart

Third season

Major characters appearing in Season Three are as follows:

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

Production and release

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 retitled Space Cruiser. This film was sold and released in several countries, including the United States, Britain and France. The American 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 series from 1974 as a potential "kids' property" 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 weekday show Captain Cosmic on KTVU 2. 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 television stations. 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.

Many fans regard Star Blazers as more "adult" than other cartoons shown in the United States 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 would 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 series. The ship is still the historical Yamato and is referred to as such in early episodes (although the ship's backstory is edited out), but is renamed the Argo (after the ship Argo of Jason and the Argonauts); the crew keep calling "it" (not "her") Star Force and the ship becomes merely the vessel in which they travel.

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 National Television network. The series aired Monday through Friday at 5pm.

Remake

After four years of planning, a 26-episode animated remake of the 1974 story arc, Star Blazers: Space Battleship Yamato 2199 (Uchū Senkan Yamato 2199), debuted in Japan on April 7, 2012. The series began release in North America on limited-edition DVDs and Blu-rays via Voyager Entertainment USA and Bandai Visual on February 27, 2014, under the title Star Blazers 2199 in Japanese language with English Subtitles (created by Bang Zoom! Entertainment). The strong Japanese popularity of this remake, directed by Yutaka Izubuchi, has led to the production of an all-new animated feature film (set within the year 2199, during the return voyage to Earth), wherein our heroes encounter an advance fleet of the Comet Empire. Space Battleship Yamato 2199: Ark of the Stars (Uchū Senkan Yamato 2199: Hoshi-Meguru Hakobune) opened nationwide in Japan on December 6, 2014. A full series remake of the Comet Empire story arc started on February 25, 2017 as a sequel to the previous 26-episode remake under the title of Star Blazers: Space Battleship Yamato 2202 (Uchū Senkan Yamato 2202: Ai no Senshi-tachi) with the subtitle Warriors of Love. Funimation bought the rights to both remakes to create an English voiced dub.

Additionally, a feature film condensation of the 26-episode remake, Space Battleship Yamato 2199: Voyage of Remembrance (Uchū Senkan Yamato 2199: Tsuioku no Kokai), will screen nationwide in Japan on October 11, 2014 and make its U.S. premiere at The Downtown Independent in Los Angeles on October 24, 2014 (under the title Star Blazers 2199: A Voyage to Remember), as was officially announced during Voyager Entertainment's presentations in July 2014 at Anime Expo in Los Angeles and Comic-Con International in San Diego.

Live-action adaptations

During the mid-1990s, Walt Disney Pictures optioned the rights with the intent to produce a Star Blazers live-action 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. The story was a retelling of the Season One plot, and followed a ragtag crew of misfits (most of whom are not named after any of the original series' 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 another attempt at creating a live-action version of the story would be made, but no movie ever came out of it.

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

In February 2011, it was announced that an English-language live-action version was in the works. David Ellison's Skydance Productions was in negotiations to acquire the rights. Christopher McQuarrie had been tapped to write the screenplay, but no dates have been announced. By October 2013, Deadline reported that McQuarrie was also attached as director of the film and as co-producer as well alongside Josh C. Kline, David Ellison and Dana Goldberg, with Shouji Nizhizaki and Paul Schwake as executive producers for Skydance. By March 2017, Ellison stated in an interview with LRM (Latino Review Media) at South by Southwest that Skydance has hired Zach Dean to write the screenplay with McQuarrie still attached as director, aiming to have it done by the time McQuarrie finishes directing Mission: Impossible – Fallout.

American comic adaptations

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 webcomic.

West Cape Company Animation Comics

The first adaptation was a set of books presenting the original first season in five volumes using the original cel animation. 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 subtitle.

Comico

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.

Voyager Entertainment Print

In the mid-1990s, Voyager Entertainment published 12 issues of a Star Blazers comic book before publication was halted due to poor sales.

Voyager Entertainment webcomic

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.

Legacy

Television critic Matt Zoller Seitz of Vulture recommended the series in 2013 as one of eight great television series or mini-series people most likely have not seen before, stating that "this epic series about a refurbished battleship setting sail across the galaxy to save an apocalypse-ravaged Earth remains the reigning masterpiece of [the 1970s era of dubbed Japanese cartoons]—and its serialized storytelling was ahead of its time." In Seitz's 2016 book co-written with Alan Sepinwall titled TV (The Book), they wrote that this series or its original Japanese counterpart would have made their list of the top 100 greatest shows of all time had they not excluded foreign television from the list, citing their lack of sufficient knowledge for television outside the United States.

Home video releases

DVDs of the three television seasons were released in 2002 by Voyager Entertainment, entitled The Quest for Iscandar, The Comet Empire and The Bolar Wars. 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.

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