My attempt to revisit the first two seasons of Star Blazers last year began as an exercise in childhood nostalgia and ended on a far more somber note than I’d anticipated, thanks to my decision to switch over to the no-punches-pulled original Japanese episodes halfway through. It was a traumatic enough experience to cool my revived interest in the franchise, but not before I splurged on a few items of Yamato/Star Blazers merch — a detailed blind-boxed “Black Tiger” spacefighter toy, a small model of the Argo (which I passed onto Lil Bro), and an import single of the original Japanese theme song.
The record was surprisingly affordable (even with the overseas shipping). The tricky part was actually finding a copy for sale. I originally went searching for the English language version, under the assumption that one had been released. The localized series was a minor popcult phenomenon in its day, which also happened to overlap with the golden era for licensed kiddie records. A one-off theme song release didn’t seem that implausible under those circumstances.
I soon discovered that was not the case. Maybe the North American distributors (Claster Television, the folks behind Romper Room) didn’t want to shell out extra for music royalties and publishing fees or maybe they were too slow to capitalize on a passing fad or maybe the thought never occurred to them to begin with. It was a disappointing discovery, but did jibe with the fact that even the much coveted “Star Blazers” toys that made it to these shores were Yamato products imported by various independent retailers.
The Star Blazers theme did get multiple vinyl releases in Italy. They’re interesting examples of cultural transmission, but not really what I was looking for. If I can’t obtain a hastily reworked anime theme in my mother tongue, then give me the uncut source material. Unfortunately, those tend to be listed in kana on Discogs, which led to a series of YouTube searches until I found an upload which included the full official title. After that, it was just a matter of some Ctrl + C/V magic and a quick comparison between track lengths.
And, yes, it was totally worth it.
I’m not partial to religious or patriotic music, but the bold and brassy military chorale which opened and closed every episode of the series never fails to give me chills. It’s also indicative of the more problematic parts of Yamato‘s premise — a Japanese iteration of “lost cause” militarism embodied by the resurrected flagship of a defeated imperialist dictatorship. The historical subtext was lost on my younger self, who only heard the clarion call of giant spaceships blasting the bejeezus out of each other and lashings of over-the-top melodrama.
Without getting into details, these past few months have been wearying. There have been numerous times where I’ve come home at the end of the day and felt completely bled out and good for nothing. Yet all it takes is one (high volume) spin of the Space Battleship Yamato theme to blast away my emotional and physical fatigue. The recharge might not last, but sometimes a single stiff jolt can be enough to help me power on through.