Saturday, February 06, 2010


I could have sworn that at some point on this crazy blog, I'd told the story of how Space Battleship Yamato, in its widely syndicated American version, Star Blazers, altered my view of serial drama and, as such, ruined my life forever.

You see, unlike American TV, and certainly unlike anything else that ran on weekday afternoons, you had to keep up with "Star Blazers". The story was linear. It started one day and advanced along until... it ended!

Of course there was a new story after that, and would later be another after that, as well. But those had to be watched in order too. This wasn't like Gilligan's Island, where some mad bit of convoluted logic made so they could never, ever get off the island forever.

I can't tell you whether "Star Blazers" influenced it, or if that was a realization I made beforehand, but the fact that I knew - I'm guessing after watching one or the other of the reunion movies - that the people behind the scenes were actually determined not to let them escape permanently, took all of the fun out of that show for me. I may be the odd duck there, though.

I have fond memories of trying to get home and keep up with the events, sometimes requiring help from friends to fill in needed blanks. Sometimes we'd speculate... and oddly, as I understand, sometimes our speculations may have come closer to the truth of what ran on the original series than what actually aired over here. Perhaps the inherent maturity and provocative nature of the stories naturally led us to think in those directions.

It took years for even the best of American television to attempt that kind of storytelling, and I often wished it would in the years to come.

And it should be noted that the only thing that stands out to me now as a flaw in something like The Rockford Files, which is basically flat-out brilliant from top-to-bottom, is the way it seems almost to avoid any potential continuity.

Eventually things such as Twin Peaks and VR.5 would attempt it until there premature demises, before the success of more continuity and storytelling serial shows would have big success on smaller channels such as HBO. Perhaps I wasn't the only one who had their expectations altered.

But it should come as no surprise that news such as Space Battleship Yamato goes live action! by Todd Brown make me about as excited as I can get about a movie at this advanced age, which thankfully is still quite a lot!

Hopefully this Space Battleship Yamato will run theatrically in the U.S., or at least at Fantastic Fest, where I could most likely find a way in.

Until then, it may be time for me to go ahead and track down the original Japanese cuts of the series. I watched the first series of "Star Blazers" a few years ago and found that it didn't live as well on my TV as it did in my memory. Many of the things I found frustrating, however, were alterations made for U.S. syndication.

I'll have to give it a try. I may never love it as much as I did as a kid, but it'd be nice to be in the same neighborhood.


Wade said...

Long live Starblazers!

With the popularity of Anime and Manga among my college students, I'm surprised how few of them have ever heard of Starblazers/Yamato. My Deslock impersonation is completely wasted on them!

Tony Dayoub said...

I barely remember it from my youth. But I do recall STAR BLAZERS for actually killing off characters, a quality that raised the stakes in a way seldom seen in TV at the time.

It also preceded a show I have more distinct memories of... ROBOTECH. The Macross Saga in particular seemed to owe a big debt to YAMATO/STAR BLAZERS.

Neil Sarver said...

Wade, indeed!

I've been surprised by that myself. It seems especially odd to me because it strikes me as a lot more accessible from a western perspective. I'm sure with some elements of anime/manga fandom that's not a plus, but frankly I've met plenty of anime/manga with no interest or even comprehension of the cultural differences... not to mention, "Speed Racer" seems to have a good deal of traction there. What's the deal?

And if it did have a better following, it'd probably be easier for me to find the uncut versions on DVD!!!

Tony, I think the "Robotech" craze came at the exact wrong time age-wise for me to get into it in syndication and since I've become an adult and meant to look into it, it's seemed too big and daunting.

Roderick Heath said...

Another manga of the same era (or slightly later) that hooked me with the idea of linear, keep-up-with-it narrative was Ulysses 31. And boy did it once drive me crazy when shows never wrapped up their plot-lines (or were never allowed to wrap up their plot-lines, like the BBC's ill-fated adaptation of John Christopher's Tripod Trilogy).

Neil Sarver said...

Yeah... Sadly, I didn't spend a lot of time finding other shows of this sort for many years, and frankly I must admit I'm a little further behind than I'd like to admit.

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