I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Hiroshi Miyagawa -- Desslar's Theme & The Comet Empire's Theme

Yep, one of my geek articles this time. When it comes to one of my old favourite animes of all time, "Uchuu Senkan Yamato"(宇宙戦艦ヤマト...Space Cruiser Yamato), there have been a lot of songs that were created for the franchise, especially with the maestro of anison himself, Isao Sasaki(ささきいさお). Of course, there is the theme song which can still put a charge through me like a good cappuccino. However, I also have to say that some of the instrumental tracks were really outstanding to me.

Case in point: the theme song for Desslar(デスラー), the mighty leader of the Gamilas Empire and the arch villain (later to become sage ally) in the early parts of the franchise. When I first saw (the very un-blue) Desslar lounging around in his huge bathtub, there was merely a creepy twang of what sounded like an electric guitar to introduce him. The twang did aurally describe the man as somewhat of a debauched figure full of himself who first considered the Yamato as another pathetic attempt at resistance.

But then when the 2nd season with the Comet Empire was televised in 1978 (a few years later in Toronto), composer Hiroshi Miyagawa(宮川泰)must have decided that the Man In Blue needed something epic, so he whipped up this new theme for Desslar which begins with this thumping relentless bass before the brass just comes crashing in like a musical blitzkrieg.

Then there was one episode in the Comet Empire saga which had Desslar turning on his erstwhile benefactors and fleeing from the empire in a good old-fashioned jailbreak with the help of his loyal adjutant, Talan, while a disco-fied version of Desslar's theme ran as quickly as the fugitive Gamilans. At the time, I just went "HOLY FREAKIN' MOO COW!" (or something equivalent) and thought that this was one of the coolest sequences I've seen in the show.

And it looks like I found a recording of "Disco Desslar" right here.

Of course, the more overarching villain theme song was that for the Comet Empire, an organ piece which sounded like a mix between something for a church of evil and an intro to a house of horrors (the only thing missing was Vincent Price's cackling). It's been branded into my soon as I hear it, I know what it is and where it comes from. I actually heard it being used in a variety show one night with the target of the borrowed theme being a particularly aggressive amoeba...really.

I gather with all of the disco versions of theme songs released at the time such as "Star Wars", "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "Desslar's Theme", the Comet Empire had to go the way of the mirror ball as well. I'm not sure which episode but an excerpt of it was used in one of the later episodes of the Comet Empire saga.

But I have to say that the most epic version of the Comet Empire's theme was at the very end of the 2nd-last episode when it seemed as if the comet was finally destroyed...only for a Super Star Destroyer to emerge from the ashes and make the Yamato look like a flea. The show once again managed to freak me out. Good days, they were.


  1. The opening theme to this show used to give me so many feels... I was just a little kid, but I always thought, "These guys are never gonna make it home... they're all gonna die..." I used to watch "Star Blazers" as it was called in the US, before going to school and would march off to the school bus suffused with stoic resignation...

    1. For me, it was racing home from junior high in the afternoon to catch the latest episode. "Star Blazers" was also here up in Canada for several years and the original series and the Comet Empire saga would be shown in rotation, until some years later, we finally got the Bolar Wars season.

      The one very affecting thing about the show was that it actually featured people dying in a cartoon...something that I had never seen before. There were more grisly deaths in the original form of "Uchuu Senkan Yamato" that wouldn't have made it past the censors in North America. Still, seeing Nova seemingly die in the final episode and then Captain Avatar pass away from the radiation was pretty tough.

      By the way, where in the States do you hail from?

  2. considering the growing popularity of anime in the United States, it's a real shame that the Yamato franchise has never gotten the respect it deserves. While a hit in Japan, hardly anyone in the west is familiar with it, especially younger fans. I think the remake was incredible and deserves a broadcast or at least some kind of bluray release, but at the moment it seems like it won't happen. It's a real shame because it's a masterpiece.

    1. Hi, Ryan.

      Hopefully, the younger folk will at least cotton onto the reboot with the even larger cast of characters. I was a bit surprised to hear that this new show hasn't gotten its due Stateside. Anime fans are not into space epics anymore?

    2. I think they would be if they ever got proper release or broadcast. But, for whatever reason, the mecha/sci-fi/space opera anime are largely ignored by the more popular dubbing companies, and thus never get proper advertisement or tv broadcast.

      They are making a small resurgence on legal streaming sites, but licensing issues still plague this area. For example, Yamato is licensed by Voyager Entertainment in the west, and they have failed to provide it to any company for dubbing, have failed to release a bluray or DVD set, and won't even license it to sites like Crunchyroll for streaming. So, the show has come and gone, and the only way for Americans to get a legal copy is to have it imported from Japan, which is expensive enough if you live there - add the shipping costs and it's simply out of reach for even some of the most hardcore fans.


Feel free to provide any comments (pro or con). Just be civil about it.