The release of Space Battleship Yamato is often cited as the beginning of the Golden Age of Anime

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Space Battleship Yamato (宇宙戦艦ヤマト Uchū Senkan Yamato) is a Japanese science fiction anime series created by Leiji Matsumoto. more...

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It is also known to English-speaking audiences as Space Cruiser Yamato and Star Blazers; an English-dubbed and partly edited version of the series was broadcast on American television under the latter title.


Conceived in 1973 by producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki, the project underwent heavy revisions. Originally intended to be an outer-space variation on Lord of the Flies, the project at first was titled "Asteroid Ship" and had a multinational teenage crew journeying through space in a hollowed-out asteroid in search of the planet Iscandar. There was to be much discord among the crew; many of them acting purely out of self-interest and for personal gain. The enemy aliens were originally called Rajendora.

When Leiji Matsumoto was brought onto the project, many of these concepts were discarded. It is his art direction, ship designs and unique style that accredit him in fans' eyes as the true creator of Space Battleship Yamato, even though Nishizaki retains legal rights to the work.

First season

The first season, titled "Quest for Iscandar," began airing in Japan in 1974. Set the year 2199, an alien race known as the "Gamilus" ("Gamilons" in the English dub) are raining radioactive bombs on Earth, rendering the planet's surface dead and uninhabitable. Humanity lives in refuges built deep underground. When all seems lost, a mysterious message is received by Earth's military forces, revealing plans for a faster-than-light engine and containing a message that Queen Stasha ("Starsha" in the English dub) of the planet Iscandar in the Large Magellanic Cloud has a device which can repair Earth's radiation damage.

The inhabitants of Earth secretly convert the ruin of the Japanese battleship Yamato into a massive spaceship, complete with a new, incredibly powerful weapon called the "wave motion gun". In the English dub, the ship is still the historical Yamato and referred to as such, but is renamed "Argo" once rebuilt. An intrepid crew leaves in the Yamato to go to the Magellanic Cloud and retrieve the mysterious device, if it exists. Along the way they discover the plans of their blue-skinned adversaries: the planet Gamilon, sister planet to Iscandar, is dying; and its leader Lord Dessler ("Deslok" in the English dub) is trying to irradiate Earth enough for his people to move there.

Like much anime of its time, the World War II themes and explicit violence were regarded as too explicit for Western children, and so the English dub in 1977 was toned down in these respects. Nevertheless, the epic story and high quality of the voice dub (though as the dubbing was done by non-union actors, their identities were obscured for years afterwards) earned it many fans who remember it fondly to this day.


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