Star Blazers (and the nature of nostalgia)

Nostalgia is a funny thing. I’m convinced that everyone goes through a moment in their life when they are stricken by the ‘nostalgia bug,’ developing into a kind of fever that results in some dubious purchases. For some, it may even involve a desire to connect to a time that they had never even experienced to begin with (I went through this with Silver Age comics from the 1960’s).

For myself, I have noticed a kind of pattern which I will map out below.

1. I am in a kind of adult bliss, free from connections to anything that is not current or in vogue with the general population.

2. Due to some random encounter, I uncover a hint of something absurd from my past, be it a cartoon, toy or comic and I am intrigued. ‘How humorous this item is,’ I think ‘how ironic and harmless it would be to purchase it.’

3. Mad with desire, I hunt down anything and everything connected to the absurd oddity that is now the most important thing ever.

There are two conflicting thoughts on human development that I feel are related to nostalgia. One thought is that we are born perfect and each moment of our life we are unlearning that which made us what we were. The other thought is that each experience builds on the one before as we continue to develop into a whole person.

Therefore my current infatuation with classic 1970’s cartoons is either an attempt to re-connect to a more perfect time in my life or my developed wisdom is allowing me to appreciate a simpler time in my life. In any case, I have an almost uncanny ability to justify any purchase, including a complete set of Star Blazers episodes (yes, including the films).

Yamato

A series made famous in the U.S. thanks to the English-dubbed version of the Space Battleship Yamato cartoon that ran in Japan from 1974. Played on American channels during 1979 (the height of all things sci-fi and the beginning of the anime craze that continues to stretch outward to today, I feel that for my generation this fascination began with Star Blazers.

As an American suburban youth, I completely missed the connection to WWII served through the refit of the Yamato as a space cruiser. When asked why he chose the famous battleship as the basis for the Star Blazers cartoon, series producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki stated that ‘Yamato was a tragic figure for those of us who experienced World War II. In fact, I once went to the China Sea to find the spot where it sank.’

Set in the far future, the human race has been attacked by the Gamalon Empire, who have been assaulting the Earth with radioactive asteroids. The only hope lay at the other end of the galaxy on the planet Iscandar. The narrative opening of each episode reminded me each morning that the planet Earth’s days were numbered as the adventurers struggled to make it home in under a year, lending a level of drama and anxiety to the program.

Since the purchased episodes of the series have yet to arrive, all of my memories of the program remain intact and ‘golden,’ unsullied by revisiting the cartoon with a more adult set of criteria. In an attempt to do this the right way, I decided to purchase the original Japanese version of the series (since it is rumored to a must see piece of anime) rather than the translated English version that I am familiar with.

In the past 15 years or so, there has been a resurgence in nostalgia, bolstered by feature films based on 1980’s cartoon properties and the like, leading many to wonder if Star Blazers would also return.

In 2008, a  Star Blazers revival was officially announced:

starblazersfamilyStudio Open general superintendent, Masuda Toshio gave toast to the revival project now that the copyright litigation is over, which was originally announced in July 2004. According to Mr. Nishizaki “This time it’s a fresh start, all is clear.”

In 1999, Mr. Nishizaki was arrested for violating sword and gun laws, who served time and was released December 19th 2007. Meanwhile, reconciliation between Leiji Matsumoto concerning each others work has gave way to allowing each to pursue their own works.

The movie IS currently titled “Fukkatu-hen” which Nishizaki has been planning since the mid 1990s.

Toshio Masuda (81) superintendent of Studio Open, is Chief Director of the Rival Movie. Toshio Masuda (81) has been directing films and TV since 1958, including “Life at the Showa Era” (1968), “Tora! Tora! Tora!” (1970), “Space Battleship Yamato” (1977) and “Arrivederci Yamato” (1978).

Tomonori Kogawa (58) will be Chief animator for the Revival movie. Tomonori Kogawa has animated such works as; “Space Runaway Ideon” (1980), “Aura Battler Dunbine” (1983), “Super Dimensional Cavalry Southern Cross” (1984) and “Heavy Metal L-Gaim” (1984).

Announced for 2009 release.

Additional details on Star Blazers: Rebirth can be found here… and it is very exciting stuff!

So apparently I’m not the only one with the ‘nostalgia bug.’ Perhaps we are living in a kind of oroborus age of retro-active entertainment, forever chasing its own tail in hopes to recapture a simpler time or get in touch with something more perfect.