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Space Battleship Yamato
Album Cover Art
Composed and Orchestrated by:
Naoki Sato

Conducted by:
Hideo Hirata

Original Themes Composed by:
Hiroshi Miyagawa

Solo Vocals by:

Produced by:
Kozo Araki
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Crown Tokuma Music
(December 1st, 2010)
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Commercial Japanese release only, though reportedly of a limited pressing. Initially only available elsewhere in the world for $30 to $40 as an export from Asian media distributors. Limited supplies were later offered by American soundtrack specialty outlets.
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   Availability | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you're not familiar with the legacy of the music for this concept or if you desire an intelligent adaptation of its themes into a monumental revision that resembles the style of Western fantasy blockbusters more than ever before.

Avoid it... if you are a purist who staunchly defends the pop and vocal elements in Hiroshi Miyagawa's legendary music of the past and reject any melodramatic Westernization of that sound despite faithful thematic usage and an incredible recording mix.
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WRITTEN 1/29/11
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Space Battleship Yamato: (Naoki Sato/Hiroshi Miyagawa) The legacy of the Japanese anime concept "Space Battleship Yamato" is one of such immense history that summarizing it here would require thousands words for only the back story leading up to the 2010 live action film on which this review solely focuses. The original series spawned an incredibly faithful following in Japan at its 1974 inception, eventually yielding several adaptations, sequels, and movies concentrated mostly in the subsequent ten years. Outside of Japan, the series was most commonly known as "Star Blazers," dubbed into English in the aftermath of the space opera popularity of cinema in the late 1970's. Not only was the concept one of the first major introductions to Japanese anime for Americans (despite being watered down from its source to meet more conservative broadcasting standards), but it has always been remembered as one of the few animated children's programs to successfully deal with frightening and serious adult subjects. A few centuries into the future, an alien race of technologically superior beings decides to irradiate the surface of the Earth as part of its plan to migrate to it out of necessity. Humanity proves no match for the invaders from Gamilas until a capsule from its supposedly sympathetic sister planet, Iscandar, contains the blueprints with which humans can build a ship to fight back. The wreckage of the Japanese World War II super battleship Yamato is transformed into this vessel, allowing a ragtag crew to embark on a journey to Iscandar to retrieve the secret to restoring Earth all the while fighting off the Gamilas forces. The concept is one of immense national pride for the Japanese, and although the names and deeper meanings of "Space Battleship Yamato" were stripped of their significance upon their translation to "Star Blazers," the combination of space opera grandeur and one of the greatest vessels of maritime history proved to be a romantic fantasy too alluring to resist. Despite all the offshoots inspired by the original series, the prospect of a live-action version of "Space Battleship Yamato" had always remained elusive. Walt Disney purchased the "Star Blazer" rights in the mid-1990's but never managed to put a production together.

The Tokyo Broadcasting System finally pushed forward with the endeavor in the late 2000's, and in 2010, Space Battleship Yamato debuted in Japan as the most expensive film (with a budget of $22 million) ever to be made there. While there had been an animated film version of the concept just a year prior, the live-action movie caused "Space Battleship Yamato" to be propelled back into the mainstream of Japanese culture, yielding a marketing blitz that included pictures of the famed battleship-turned-spaceship on packages of everything from curry to potato chips. It only took a few weeks in December for the studio to recoup its investment, but despite significant proclaimed interest from distributors, there has been fruitless discussion about bringing the production to America for a wider release. Understandably, the positive aspects of the film are highlighted by the nine months of CGI work put into it, using the phenomenal and, more importantly, loyal design aspects of the ship itself (including the very phallic movements of its primary weapon) to mask the rather wooden acting performances by its ensemble of Japanese actors (thankfully, the Scottish look of the original anime's characters, long something of a curiosity for many, was done away with). Another immensely popular aspect of the concept has always been its music, and the adaptation of that material for Space Battleship Yamato is perhaps the most impressive aspect of the production. While most television shows of the era that traveled overseas for dubbing typically lost their original scores, the themes of "Space Battleship Yamato" were so popular that they made the transition intact. In Japan, specifically, however, the music of Hiroshi Miyagawa for the concept has always been a national favorite, a source of patriotic spirit for fireworks shows and concert band performances. His themes are so revered that they became the basis for all of the music in the franchise thereafter, regardless of the composer's level of involvement with it. His understudy, classical pianist Kentaro Haneda, an accomplished anime composer himself, helped developed his music's symphonic evolution in the 1980's, and 40-year-old Naoki Sato, television/anime veteran of the 2000's, has ensured continuity for the 2010 film (as both Miyagawa and Haneda passed away just a few years prior)

One of the most important aspects of Miyagawa's music for "Space Battleship Yamato" to remember is its versatility. The title theme has been translated into a tune performed in nearly every conceivable genre of music over the past thirty years, including a painful period of enthusiastic disco treatment. While symphonic performances of the theme give it the march-like qualities that rouse the aforementioned patriotic feelings, it was also originally provided lyrics and performed with the suave, night-club tones of singer Isao Sasaki, whose career shot through the roof following his initial recordings of this theme. Decades later, Sasaki still performed the theme with marginal orchestral accompaniment to the screams of adoring fans, and his narration graces 2010's Space Battleship Yamato. Even from its inception, the tone of Miyagawa's music for the concept always maintained one foot in the door of the pop genre, rock percussion and electric guitar inserting a coolness factor into the symphonic performances that certainly made the music catchy. Even the style of the orchestral performances, led by flute and string lines, had the mannerisms of elevator music. Unfortunately, this everlasting association with mainstream 1970's style has also caused the music to sound perpetually dated. The idea of using a synthetic soundtrack was originally proposed by franchise father Yoshinobu Nishizaki, but he eventually agreed with Miyagawa that an orchestral approach would be necessary to reflect the depth of humanity's struggles. It's unfortunate (to only some listeners, of course) that Miyagawa's music has always tapped its way through countless lighter shades of pop style regardless of how ambitiously singular parts of it attempt to emulate everything from high opera to 20th Century classicism. Add to the equation two resulting historical factors, the countless songs and the cover versions of them and the score, and you have a truly muddied picture. Each incarnation of the concept seems to have enjoyed another mainstream song, another magnet pulling the scores away from strictly symphonic force. The live-action production of Space Battleship Yamato is no different, Steven Tyler lending his distinctive voice to the quite decent ballad "Love Lives" for the film's trailer and end credits sequence, released with much anticipation as a single in Japan at the time of the film's debut.

As for Naoki Sato's score for 2010's Space Battleship Yamato, it was clearly modeled as both an adaptation and a modernization of Miyagawa's work. It faithfully references the most famous themes by Miyagawa and does so with extreme zeal and careful attention to orchestration and the application of secondary ideas. At the same time, it completely drops the pop sensibilities and filters the themes through the same lens that shapes contemporary Hollywood blockbuster scores. Some listeners may casually disregard Sato's interpretation as being the continued influence of Hans Zimmer on the music of cinema, especially with the incorporation of the current fad of string ostinatos in the mix. That unfortunately oversimplifies Sato's work, however, and doesn't do justice to the intelligence with which he has written this adaptation. Those who have always appreciated the music's role in the concept but never cared to listened to it apart from the show directly because of its dated, pop-inspired tone will hear Miyagawa's music as finally reaching the monumental potential it always had but never realized. As such, some will consider Space Battleship Yamato an incredible and overdue revelation either despite or because of its "modernization" to meet the standard of orchestral majesty established in the 2000's by Howard Shore's The Lord of the Rings. Additionally, the bulk of the most famous recordings for the concept came before the luxuries of digital recording and processing, so many of the albums of Miyagawa's music (and there were many, especially in concert form) suffer from somewhat archival ambience. The 2010 recording not only modernizes the composition, but also does so in an absolutely stunning recording. The mix of Sato's adaptation is so well balanced, with fantastic reverb levels balanced by great emphasis on each performing section or soloist, you can't help but be absorbed by how resounding this music now sounds. The ensemble's assembly doesn't consist of any truly unique instruments, but each traditional sound is utilized in such richly textured ways that flashy overlays (outside of the vocals) weren't necessary. The percussion section is extremely well utilized, the drums and struck metallic objects employed masterfully as dynamic rhythmic contributors in several cues. An adult vocal ensemble is also heard in numerous cues of tragic majesty, usually representing destruction and sacrifice in the story. And, of course, operatic solo female vocals are always on order for this concept.

Ratings Icon
Average: 3.93 Stars
***** 249 5 Stars
**** 130 4 Stars
*** 60 3 Stars
** 47 2 Stars
* 43 1 Stars
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Others to check out from Naoki Sato
Alex Lee - September 5, 2011, at 11:48 a.m.
1 comment  (1259 views)
Pretty damn sweet.
Richard Kleiner - March 13, 2011, at 9:17 p.m.
1 comment  (1428 views)
Excellent Review
Mike - March 5, 2011, at 7:58 a.m.
1 comment  (1406 views)
Excellent engineering
John - February 21, 2011, at 6:35 p.m.
1 comment  (1684 views)

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
Total Time: 65:28
• 1. Space Battleship Yamato Opening Title (3:35)
• 2. Grungy Men (Raggedy Men) (1:14)
• 3. Ship of Hope (4:16)
• 4. Wave-Motion Gun Firing (Fire Wave Motion Gun) (4:38)
• 5. Gamilas Fleet (Gamirus Fleet) (3:25)
• 6. The Return (2:44)
• 7. Gamilasroid (Gamirusroid) (0:47)
• 8. Orders (1:39)
• 9. Annihilation of the Enemy Fleet (Enemy Fleet Destroyed) (3:21)
• 10. A Moment of Silence (4:23)
• 11. Comfort (1:40)
• 12. Beautiful Blue Planet (0:47)
• 13. Crisis (2:13)
• 14. Conviction (Faith) (2:10)
• 15. A New History (2:27)
• 16. Cosmo Zero Launch (4:37)
• 17. The Truth of the Radiation Remover (The Truth About the Radioactivity Removal Device) (5:51)
• 18. Entrusted With the Future (2:06)
• 19. Earth (2:34)
• 20. Dessler's Retaliation (Desslar's Revenge) (3:21)
• 21. The One I Want to Protect (To Protect/Mamoru's Hope) (4:41)
• 22. The Final Salute (3:07)
(alternate translations in parentheses)

Notes Icon
The insert includes note about both Sato and Miyagawa, as well as a list of performers. Almost all of it is in Japanese.
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or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Space Battleship Yamato are Copyright © 2010, Crown Tokuma Music and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 1/29/11 (and not updated significantly since).
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