Among the creators who have essentially defined the course of Japanese comics and animation through the entire second half of the 20th century, and now, for two decades into the 21st, Leiji Matsumoto ranks at the very top – second only to Osamu Tezuka. But, for many reasons, audiences outside of Japan are still largely unfamiliar with much of Matsumoto’s work, have only a vague awareness of it – or are not even aware that Matsumoto was the director in the first place. And this is despite the place that Space Battleshi Yamato holds in the history of anime – and its adaptation as Star Blazers does in the history of Japanese animation in the U.S.
The same goes for scholars – while there has been some recent writing on the Yamato TV series and movies, such as When pacifist Japan fights: Historicizing desires in anime (Mechademia, 2007), Contesting traumatic war narratives: Space Battleship Yamato and Mobile Suit Gundam (in Imag(in)ing the War in Japan: Representing and responding to trauma in postwar literature and film), “Archetypal images in Japanese anime: Space Battleship Yamato (Star Blazers)” (in Jungian perspectives on rebirth and renewal: Phoenix rising), and in particular, Remaking Yamato, remaking Japan: Space Battleship Yamato and SF anime, in a special Science Fiction Anime issue of the journal Science Fiction Film and Television, there is very little else out there on Matsumoto’s other extensive (and uniquely interconnected) body of work, in particular, the Captain Harlock and Galaxy Express 999 projects, or, for that matter, his involvement in the unique international Interstella 5555 project. One exception here is Eldad Nakar’s work on Matsumoto’s “war stories” manga – in Memories of pilots and planes: World War II in Japanese manga, 1957-1967, and “Framing manga: On narratives of the Second World War in Japanese manga, 1957-1977” (in Japanese Visual Culture: Explorations in the World of Manga and Anime).
Now, this may be changing. Next year, McFarland, a leading independent publisher of academic books, with a long-standing interest in books on popular culture topics, including anime/manga, will be releasing the first-ever collection of scholarly English-language essays on Leiji Matsumoto and his work. The collection will be co-edited by Helen McCarthy, author of The Anime Encyclopedia (with Jonathan Clements), 500 Essential Anime Movies, and Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation, and Prof. Darren Ashmore (Yamanashi Gakuin University). Eisner Award-winning translator Zack Davisson, who is currently working on the English translations of Matsumoto’s Queen Emeraldas and Captain Harlock manga will contribute one of the chapters. As soon as I have details available about the book’s full contents, and especially the actual publication date, I will be happy to share that!
Congratulations to everyone who has worked on this project! Thank you! I am looking forward to reading this book, and I’m sure I am by far not the only one!