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.
Amy Howard Wilson
|Country of origin||United States
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||77 (list of episodes)|
|Production company(s)||Claster Television
|Distributor||Westchester Film Corporation
ARP Films, Inc.
|Original release||September 17, 1979 – December 4, 1984|
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 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 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. Derek Wildstar, now officially in command of the Argo, is charged to help find a new home for Earth's population.
First and second seasonsEdit
Major characters appearing in Seasons One and Two are listed below by their canonical (Westchester) names:
|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||Amy Howard Wilson||Radar Operator, Nurse, Argo||Earth|
|Sandor||(?)||Science Officer, 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, Brumus||Earth|
|Captain Gideon||Chris Latta||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||Frank Pita||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|
Major characters appearing in Season Three are as follows:
|Derek Wildstar||John Belucci||Captain, Argo||Earth|
|Mark Venture||Peter Fernandez||Chief Navigator, Argo||Earth|
|Lt. Nova||Corinne Orr||Radar Operator, Argo||Earth|
|Sandor||(?)||Science Officer, Argo||Earth|
|Homer Glitchman[Note 1]||(?)||Communications Chief, Argo||Earth|
|Eager||(?)||Assistant Navigator, Argo||Earth|
|Lt. Dash||(?)||Artillery Unit, Argo||Earth|
|Orion||(?)||New Chief Engineer, Argo||Earth|
|Cory Conroy[Note 2]||(?)||Black Tiger Leader||Earth|
|Dr. Sane||(?)||Doctor, Argo||Earth|
|IQ-9||(?)||Survey Robot, Argo||Earth|
|Jason Jetter||(?)||Recruit Dish-Washer, Argo||Earth|
|Flash Contrail||(?)||Recruit Pilot, Argo||Earth|
Earth Defense Force
|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||Corinne Orr||Exiled Ruler of Guardiana||Guardiana|
|Queen Guardiana||(?)||Goddess of Guardiana||Guardiana|
Production and releaseEdit
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.
Principal changes in the transformation 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 (though 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 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 show. 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.
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. There is a full series remake of the Comet Empire story arc.
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.
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.
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 script with McQuarrie still attached as director, aiming to have it done by the time McQuarrie finishes directing Mission: Impossible 6.
American comic adaptationsEdit
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 ComicsEdit
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.
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 PrintEdit
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 webcomicEdit
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.
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 releasesEdit
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.
- Homer's last name, Glitchman, was added by Westchester for the third season. No last name was used in previous seasons.
- 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.
- "Star Blazers Chronicles: Westchester Films". StarBlazers.com. Archived from the original on 12 October 2012.
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- "Cosmic Blazers". Sunday Datebook, San Francisco Chronicle & Examiner. 16 September 1979.
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- Schmitz, Greg Dean (25 February 2011). "Weekly Ketchup: A Live Action Version of Star Blazers?". Retrieved 15 March 2011.
- Fleming, Mike (21 February 2011). "'True Grit' Co-Financier Skydance Targets 'Star Blazers' For Christopher McQuarrie". Retrieved 15 March 2011.
- "Christopher McQuarrie to Pen Star Blazers Adaptation". Retrieved 15 March 2011.
- Goldberg, Matt. "Christopher McQuarrie to Write STAR BLAZERS Adaptation for Skydance Productions". Collider. Retrieved 15 March 2011.
- Fleming Jr., Mike (30 October 2013). "Chris McQuarrie To Direct 'Star Blazers' From '70s Sci-Fi Anime Series For Skydance". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media, LLC. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
- Douglas, Edward (18 March 2017). "Exclusive: Star Blazers Movie Is A Go With New Screenwriter On Board!". LRM. LatinoReview LLC. Archived from the original on 8 May 2017. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
- Fleming Jr., Mike (20 March 2017). "Skydance Sets Zach Dean To Ready 'Star Blazers' For Christopher McQuarrie". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media, LLC. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
- "The Star Blazers you did not see". desslok.com. Retrieved 2 September 2008.
- "Comico Comic Book Series". StarBlazers.com. Archived from the original on 14 March 2012.
- "Comico Comic Book Series 2". StarBlazers.com. Archived from the original on 14 March 2012.
- "Argo Press Comic Book Series". StarBlazers.com. 25 March 2009. Archived from the original on 21 March 2012.
- Seitz, Matt Zoller Seitz (10 November 2013). "Eight Great TV Series (or Mini-Series) You Probably Haven't Seen". Vulture. New York Media LLC. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
- Sepinwall, Alan; Seitz, Matt Zoller (6 September 2016). TV (The Book): Two Experts Pick the Greatest American Shows of All Time. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 978-1455588190.
Fawlty Towers, Prime Suspect, Space Battleship Yamato (Star Blazers), Les Revenants (The Returned), both Kingdom miniseries, and other beloved imports would rank highly if we opened this book to international series.
- "Star Blazers—Star Blazers Collection: Series I". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Archived from the original on 2 October 2008. Retrieved 2 September 2008.
- "Star Blazers—Star Blazers Collection: Season II". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Archived from the original on 1 October 2008. Retrieved 2 September 2008.
- Starblazers Official website
- Star Blazers Rebirth web comic
- Starblazers (anime) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia
- Starblazers on IMDb
- Starblazers at TV.com
- Star Blazers: The Quest for Iscandar (anime) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia
- Star Blazers: The Bolar Wars (anime) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia