Star Blazers aka Space Battleship Yamato.
When I was far younger than I am now, I used to watch Saturday Morning Cartoons. I’d wake up as early as I could and sneak into the living room, turn on the TV, and watch anything that was on. Usually, very early in the morning, Looney Tunes would be on. There were times when I figured I’d seen them all and would flip the channels before anyone else would get up.
Now, I’d seen Star Trek on our color television. I was sucked into anything scifi and set in space. So, while flipping between the three channels we had, remember I grew up in the sticks, I remember that PBS was also available as an occasional 4th channel to watch, though it didn’t always come in. Sometimes we’d have to go outside and turn the antenna to get some channels clearer.
Oh, you kids have it so easy these days.
If memory serves, Star Blazers was on PBS very early in the morning. Before Sesame Street and the Electric Company would come on. This would be my first exposure to a new art style I didn’t recognize and was taken in instantly. The music wasn’t like anything I’d ever heard on a cartoon before. They talked about things I didn’t fully understand. Going back and watching it now, it’s all nonsense, for the most part, but as a kid, I was amazed by the new words and terms.
Until this point in my cartoon viewing, I’d only been exposed to standard cartoon. Where a plotline was summed up with a joke in 10 or 15 minutes. Star Blazers was a 30 minute cartoon and that wasn’t it. It kept going. There was more story! I had to see more. How could they show only one small part.
Now, at this time I’d been exposed to Jason of Star Command. I knew that sometimes a story would carry over. That some threads carried from show to show. That much I understood. But Jason was a live action show. Not a cartoon. It was also quite limited in what it could show on screen. Even Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica had limitations of camera angles and explosions. Limits to exposing you to the size and scope of the world. Again, those were all live action.
Star Blazers, for me, didn’t seem constrained by those limits. Sure, I’d read comic books. Lots of them. This wasn’t anything like that either. It was an entirely different experience. That’s the best way I can describe when I first started watching Star Blazers. I didn’t watch it. I experienced it.
Oddly, I don’t recall any other kids in school watching or enjoying the show back when I first started watching it. Most likely because it was difficult to get the channel to come in. I missed episodes by oversleeping as well. I knew there was a bigger story and watched when I could, but I had holes in the story I could never fill in. This may be why I stopped watching the show. I got frustrated not knowing what happened from one episode to the next. Sure, there were snippets to get you caught up, but that was the same as watching the entire episode.
Several years ago, I had gotten a copy of Star Blazers. I’d intended to watch the entire thing, start to finish. It’s not overly long. Why wouldn’t I? I never watched it. I let it sit, unwatched, for years.
Well, I’m watching a lot of shows I missed. I figured, why am I not watching Star Blazers. Is it because I don’t want to ruin the memory of it? Did I want to wait until I’d all but forgotten about the show? I have no idea.
So I recently watched a few episodes. I feel like a kid again.
Sure, I get a lot more nuance. The show isn’t grainy and I’m not straining to hear the dialogue because the channel won’t come in properly. But I remember that kid that would sit in the living room, alone or with the dogs, and watch my show. My cartoon. Something no one else I knew was watching.
As an adult, I’m seeing a few things Star Trek: The Next Generation, grabbed from this show. Like the Holo Deck, called the Holography Room in Star Blazers. Full 3D printing of anything they need. Even their chief engineer, Chief O’Ryan. I laughed when they introduced him. I’m sure there are many more similarities, but I’m just getting started on the re-watch. There are so many more events to come.
It’s interesting to go back and see this with an adult’s perspective. To see the political issues around a WWII battleship being sent into space. It’s also interesting seeing the little snippets of the show I do remember. The character names. The ship names. All those little things that might have been lost to time, but are somehow stuck in my mind. I’m going to watch another episode, then I need to get to writing.
Until Next Time!