Bonus – Interview with Michiko Ito, Part 1

Note: The audio overlapping problem has been fixed and a new version of the episode has been uploaded. If the audio overlaps in your copy, redownload the episode.

This one’s for all the Gerald acolytes out there, as he conducts an interview with Michiko Ito, professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Kansas. Tim Eldred, whom we interviewed in Show 14, is also present. Be sure to check out www.starblazers.com for Tim’s Starblazers Rebirth and Tim’s excellent documentary Space Battleship Yamato: The Making of an Anime Legend. Listen on, would-be otaku, and discover exactly what inanimate objects YOU should be praying to in order to guarantee that you see that next episode of Gundam!

2:25 – Michiko talks about anime in Japan when she was growing up, and that it was called “terebi manga.”

3:15 – What it is that separated Space Battleship Yamato from the rest of the anime on at the time, which was largely sports anime. When Michiko talks about “the end of each episode,” she is referring to the number of days remaining until Earth is rendered uninhabitable, which added dramatic tension to the series. Michiko also talks about being fond of Starsha:

4:40 – Tsunehiro Okasako was the character designer for the original Space Battleship Yamato.

5:55 – Michiko explains that the competing program to Yamato was the Hayao Miyazaki classic Heidi of the Alps.

7:00 – Michiko and her brother call in to local radio stations to request the opening theme of Yamato, aptly named Uchuu Senkan Yamato, sung by Isao Sasaki.

8:10 – Chibi Maruko-chan is another powerhouse show in Japan. She also mentions that Yamato was able to widen the appeal of animated shows outside of the elementary school crowd; however, almost no merchandise for that audience was available.

10:50 – The Yamato radio specials, possibly the biggest promotional tease in history.

15:00 – Michiko explains how Yoshinobu “The Nish” Nishizaki wanted to portray the ideal man with his own ideals and his own goal as a major theme of Yamato.

18:35 – Michiko explain “Golden Time” to us, which is the equivalent of “Prime Time.”

19:50 – Michiko explains her disappointment with continuing the Yamato franchise with sequels such as The Comet Empire after Saraba Uchuu Senkan Yamato – Ai no Senshitachi (aka Arrivederci Yamato) ended the series.

21:15 – Ribon no Kishi (aka Princess Knight) was the creation of Osamu Tezuka.

21:45 – Tokusatsu, the all-encompassing term for special effects shows. She also mentions the classic Kamen Rider and Kikaider. Michiko also mentions the very well known Candy Candy, a show that was so popular that episodes of it were made just for Italy.

22:15 – At this point Gerald says “Kodai or Desslar.” Kodai was the Japanese name for Derek Wildstar and Desslar was the Japanese name for Desslok. The big debate between female fans of the time was “who was the more popular character?” as each had fanclubs for their voice actors.

22:50 – VOTOMS, or Armored Trooper VOTOMS, the show Tim Eldred is nearly singlehandedly responsible for bringing to the English speaking world [Daryl: Neil Nadelman will have our heads for this outrage]. She also mentions Fang of the Sun Dougram, which was a prototype of sorts for VOTOMS as it was done by the same director and had the same atmosphere.

25:25 – Mobile Suit Gundam. Like this needs an explanation.

27:50 – Blue Noah, Nishizaki’s desperate attempt to recreate Yamato which failed miserably. And then, of course, there’s Odin. Just listen to Show #12 for more information than you ever wanted to know about that one.

29:10 – Saiyuki, also known as Journey to the West. The basis for tons of anime including Dragon Ball and–of course–Gensomaden Saiyuki. You can find out more about Journey to the West here.

30:45 – Michiko brings up the importance of “romance” in Yamato, also seen as a “otoko roman” or “men’s romance.” Not to be confused with “shonen ai,” which Clarissa can tell us more about.

33:25 – Michiko is referring to the Americanized version of Uchuu Senkan Yamato known as Star Blazers, and she brings up Gojira also known as Godzilla.

34:30 – The joke that Gerald is referring to here occurred in the series where characters would appear in ships that would explode and they would instantly cut back to other characters that looked nothing like the guy in the ship that just exploded and say “just made it back in time,” to hide the fact that someone died.

40:25 – Japan’s Article 9

44:55 – Revenge of Mouflon

48:10 – Animentari Ketsudan and Zero-sen Hayato are some of the anime that depict war.

49:50 – Kamui Gaiden better known as The Legend of Kamui, by the legendary Sanpei Shirato. This is not related to the theatrical film Kamui no Ken (aka The Dagger of Kamui) that Daryl will be reviewing very soon.

54:35 – The Spiriting Away of Sen and Chihiro aka. Spirited Away.

55:40 – We haven’t been able to find this image that Tim says appeared on the cover of The New Yorker magazine. If anyone has it, email it to us so we can add it to the show notes.

58:45 – Chinmoku no Kantai aka. Silent Service by Kaiji Kawaguchi. Gerald mistakenly said “Kenji Kawaguchi.”

1:00:25 – Fax from Sarajevo

Next week, we have an actual show! Gerald does his review of the Kazuo Koike “jigoku manga” Lady Snowblood, Clarissa reviews Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, and Daryl takes a look at the theatrical film Hokuto no Ken: Raoh Gaiden Junai-hen because he’s not done watching Twelve Kingdoms yet.

16 thoughts on “Bonus – Interview with Michiko Ito, Part 1

  1. Hm, I have to ask, was Michiko Ito the lady whom was sitting with Tim Eldrid at his booth? If so, I mistaked her to be his wife…haha.

    I regret not buying a copy of Greasemonkey now, as I have trouble finding it anywhere.

  2. Noticed there’s an odd overlapping that occurs 15 minutes into the mp3, but it only last a minute, but I just wanted to make a mention about that. Still, it was a good interview, and the “light music” in the background actually added to the enjoyment!

    Great job on this interview Gerald!

    Giving what Ito has talked about her childhood, I can imagine how much that must’ve felt for her to have seen Yamato for the first time and found it that impressive and engaging, despite having to live in a family that had only one TV set, and the dad having first choice and all that. Such childhood recollections might’ve also existed in the US at a time when most had only one TV in the house as well (Howard Stern once brought that up in his Private Parts book).

    I however never had to go through that personally, having lived in a house with multiple TVs in nearly ever room, and cable TV instead of an antenna (got a chuckle hearing Michiko bring up how her brother praised the antenna for giving him Gundam). I wouldn’t know how it might’ve felt like to have grown up in another household where you didn’t have cable, and your dad or older sibling had control of the single TV in the living room during those precious years. If only I had grown up in Cleveland or another larger city, I could’ve saw Star Blazers had could share in my experiences of what that show was like watching when I was 5/6 years old.

    Neat you remember “Revenge of Mouflon” Gerald. I loved reading that myself. Raijin Comics was probably the single reason for me having to move my ass out of the house for once every week to get the next issue. When it went to a monthly, that ruined my internal clock, and I was never the same since.

    Noticed the Gutsoon webpage still exist after so long, perhaps I should write a letter to whomever’s address is in the “Contact” page and give them a piece of my mind for what they did to me! I only wish they bother just releaseing GN’s of City Hunter, Fist of Blue Sky and such instead of deciding to leave the industry for good via the “hiatus” cloak. Wonder how hard could it be to try re-licensing all those classics? I’d might as well start up my own biz if that’s what it takes to bring ’em back.

    Having to hear about 9/11 in there, yeah, it seemed like at the time they were being too moot about it, I however acknowledge that somewhat in my sketchbook a year later, too bad I can’t seen to get that pic anymore on my DeviantArt page, but I guess that wasn’t that big a deal in the end, but it was interesting to listen to this part of the interview, and think about those differences in Japanese and American cultures when it comes to things like Romance, War, Death and such. I think American really needs to mature as to keep up with what the Japanese already know personally.

    Hope to hear part two someday in the future!

  3. Great interview Gerald. It was very interesting to hear about Ito’s childhood and her view on things. And it was nice to hear Tim Eldred again, you guys should definetely have him on the show again along with Macias. Well , cant wait for the next show. Ill be counting down the hours till then.

  4. Wonderful interview Gerald. I’m looking forward to the second half.

    Regarding Star Blazers: When I first watched it in 1978 (I was 8 at the time) it aired only on Saturday mornings, so like Michiko, I had to wait the entire week to find out what happened next.

    Keep up the great show!

  5. I think that the content of the interview is really good (i was kind of ??? when the overlapping happened but it was not such a big deal, i just pay really good attention to the words an the put the in a manner that make sense and it worked beautifully).
    This episode made me remember my old White Toshiba TV from the 80’s. It only had 13 channels, and it need it and antenna to work.
    I was not allowed to watch Tv during weekdays untill I was on sixth grade so much of my cartoon knowledge came from saturday morning cartoons. During the week it was my mom the one that had the power and there fore my little sister had the rights to the TV (the shame) If there was a soccer game then my father. I was not able to persuade my sister to watch the things I wanted to watch ( so she did got into Candy Candy and other shoujo, we got Candy Candy in Peru very late, but not as late as here in the USA).
    Fortunatelly when I got into 7th grade I was “mature enough” to restrict myself from watching to much Tv. So I was able to get Saint Seiya, DBZ and the rest of the good stuff (granted that i already had some anime knowledge from my early saturday morning anime : P ). So then my dad in one of his trips saw Saint Seiya (the episode when the black Dragon sacrifices himself to cure Shiriu because he finally discoverd the true nature of friendship) and he got into it (because even though it was bloody as hell it give good messages and values : P ), and also Captain Tsubasa so that was pretty cool, and later on my mom watched some re-runs of Heidi.
    I am kind of gland that my family do not look Anime as kid’s stuff anymore.
    However, I am not show them Evangleion anytime soon. But they did like Grave of the Fireflies

  6. Brian said…
    Regarding Star Blazers: When I first watched it in 1978 (I was 8 at the time) it aired only on Saturday mornings, so like Michiko, I had to wait the entire week to find out what happened next.

    Heh, that’s about as similar to the way a friend of mine up in Canada had watched Star Blazers, as a CBS affiliate in Duluth, MN used to air it in the same timeslot that occupied “Fat Albert” on the network, so people in the Duluth area got treated to something else than the regular Filmation crap. I really envy him for having seen this show at the right time.

    Erwin Rosales said…
    I think that the content of the interview is really good (i was kind of ??? when the overlapping happened but it was not such a big deal, i just pay really good attention to the words an the put the in a manner that make sense and it worked beautifully).

    I was terribly interested in what Ito said during that point in time. This overlap lasted about a minute anyway, but I don’t want to complain further about it.

    This episode made me remember my old White Toshiba TV from the 80’s. It only had 13 channels, and it need it and antenna to work.

    Those TV’s suck! Just like those radios that had the “TV Sound” option in them, since Toledo only had two VHF channels on the dial, so that didn’t help me any (you’d rather live in any of the top 20 markets in the country to get at least 3-4 stations on those things)! Those sets weren’t very cable-ready once that showed up.

    I was not allowed to watch Tv during weekdays untill I was on sixth grade so much of my cartoon knowledge came from saturday morning cartoons. During the week it was my mom the one that had the power and there fore my little sister had the rights to the TV (the shame) If there was a soccer game then my father.

    Heh, too bad I saw less of this in my youth given the easier excess I had to the boob toob. If I had been born perhaps a decade or two earlier, it would’ve been a lot different I bet (in those single TV days when there would be that one set in the living room, a black & white Motorola no less).

    I was not able to persuade my sister to watch the things I wanted to watch ( so she did got into Candy Candy and other shoujo, we got Candy Candy in Peru very late, but not as late as here in the USA).

    Never saw Candy Candy either (best we had where the ZIV dubs of a few episodes on tape, which the guys have discussed earlier the horrors of the ZIV dubs, you only wish there had been a better company that could’ve found a place on the dial to air those Toei gems).

    Fortunatelly when I got into 7th grade I was “mature enough” to restrict myself from watching to much Tv. So I was able to get Saint Seiya, DBZ and the rest of the good stuff (granted that i already had some anime knowledge from my early saturday morning anime : P ). So then my dad in one of his trips saw Saint Seiya (the episode when the black Dragon sacrifices himself to cure Shiriu because he finally discoverd the true nature of friendship) and he got into it (because even though it was bloody as hell it give good messages and values : P ), and also Captain Tsubasa so that was pretty cool, and later on my mom watched some re-runs of Heidi.

    I wish my parents were that open-minded! They had to grow up with the usual mindset of “kartoons R 4 Kidz” and all that. I felt my dad would be really into “Dirty Pair” if he got to see it just once! 🙂

    I am kind of gland that my family do not look Anime as kid’s stuff anymore.
    However, I am not show them Evangleion anytime soon. But they did like Grave of the Fireflies

    Good for you! (sorry if I sounded cynical earlier, but I had a lousy day as usual)

  7. Brian said


    Regarding Star Blazers: When I first watched it in 1978 (I was 8 at the time) it aired only on Saturday mornings, so like Michiko, I had to wait the entire week to find out what happened next. “

    I hate to be the pendatic guy, but I think you’ve got a little time compression or something, no disrespect..

    Star Blazers entered syndication in Sept. 1979, as part of a package of ‘strip’ syndication programming fronted by Claster Television.

    It was specifically sold (actually, bartered) to run in a M-F slot, because that’s what the advertisers who paid to be part of the syndication paid for. It was the agreement the station signed when they got the show.

    *When* it aired was up to the station. Most used it in the afternoon kidvid time slot (2-4 PM, M-F), some like WGN in Chicago put it on in the AM kidvid timeslot (6-8 AM). There may have been a repeat on the weekends, but it was run M-F across the US during the first syndication run (1979-1981)

    Now, once Claster cut its ties with Westchester Film, anything could happen, as Westchester was forced to sell the show, not being able to work any new barter deals for advertising. This was the main reason the third series was delayed from it’s original 1981 solicitation until 1985, and the tiny handful of stations that picked it up.

    I DO know that when the third series aired, a couple of the stations did it as a weekend program, so maybe that’s what you’re remembering.

    But it’s all good, because Star Blazers is good.

    yes I know what I’m talking about 🙂

  8. This guy outta know!

    steve harrison said…
    I hate to be the pendatic guy, but I think you’ve got a little time compression or something, no disrespect..

    Star Blazers entered syndication in Sept. 1979, as part of a package of ‘strip’ syndication programming fronted by Claster Television.

    More on Claster TV can be found here for reference!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claster_Television

    It was specifically sold (actually, bartered) to run in a M-F slot, because that’s what the advertisers who paid to be part of the syndication paid for. It was the agreement the station signed when they got the show.

    It should also be of note, when the show was first sold in syndication, most stations still used 16mm telecine chain projectors to run films made for television, as well as movies, cartoons, etc. This meant that 52 episodes of the initial Star Blazers program had to be sent to each station as 16mm reels to be shown via a telecine projector such as this..
    http://cbsretirees.com/images/pho198.jpg

    Most early recordings of Star Blazers that were made by fans had been through TV broadcasts done in this fashion. The film format though proved to be more challenge for a station to deal with as it was proned to normal wear or tear, which could often lead to difficulties that could come up during a broadcast. Later in the 80’s, the use of pre-recording programs on tape put the 16mm format into retirement as it became easier for stations to obtain the programs, usually via tape or satellite feeds.

    *When* it aired was up to the station. Most used it in the afternoon kidvid time slot (2-4 PM, M-F), some like WGN in Chicago put it on in the AM kidvid timeslot (6-8 AM). There may have been a repeat on the weekends, but it was run M-F across the US during the first syndication run (1979-1981)

    Many early anime classics often suffered the fate of being put into the 6-8AM block many times.

    I DO know that when the third series aired, a couple of the stations did it as a weekend program, so maybe that’s what you’re remembering.

    But it’s all good, because Star Blazers is good.

    And nothing like “Battle of the Planets”, which made me laugh finding out a ABC affiliate in town only aired it for half-a-season, replacing it with “Tom & Jerry” in ’79. They could’ve picked up Star Blazers afterwards, but Toledo was such a small TV market at the time and often you had to tune into stations out of Detroit or Cleveland for programs that couldn’t get picked up at all here (cable TV being the other option for some of it’s early goodies).

    yes I know what I’m talking about 🙂

    We know you do! I only wish some station in my town bothered to pick up the show in the 80’s if it was that affordable to get, but Toledo sucked for not having an indie station until ’85, and by then, they would’ve rather gone with the latest toyetic property that would rake in the dough than to take chances with a show of limited appeal.

  9. odd note about the tv/radio thing. i believe what she’s describing is similiar in the US, that if you have a local station on channel 6, you can tune in to 87.7FM and hear the audio.

  10. Erin from the Ninja Consultants also schooled me on this. I’ve seen this before during hurricanes when they broadcast the television news on radio stations, I’d just never seen it happen any other time. But I guess it’s very common, for some reason I thought that maybe there was some strange Japanese radio program where they just played the audio from some shows.

  11. First up, what’s with this ‘Space Battlecruiser’ nonsense? What is this, the distant past where people made up names?

    Nishizaki used the name ‘Space Cruiser’ both because the Enterprise from Star Trek was listed as a Cruiser, and because for overseas sales ‘Cruiser’ was less evil or bad sounding than ‘Battleship’.

    Battlecruiser is a distinctive class of fighting ship all by itself, and is in NO WAY what ‘senkan’ translate as. The only thing I can think of is some odd attempt to meld the old school ‘cruiser’ with the now-acceptable ‘battleship’ and…FAIL!

    Sorry, Gerald, I had to do it.

    More later as I listen. I think there’s some stuff in the show notes I have to take people to school over too…

  12. Quasi related: can someone please explain to me why Japan still thinks the actual Yamato battleship was so awesome? Didn’t it, like, bankrupt the Japanese military, see next to no actual combat action, then get sunk by a bunch of little American airplanes? That’s a dubious figurehead upon which to hang one’s national pride.

  13. Well, as we all learned from reading Phoenix, Yamato was the name of the province where the rockin’ cool Japanese empire was initially established, so naming your ship Yamato conveys the idea that WHOA DUDE it’s the physical embodiment of the nation. The OLD SCHOOL nation, representing the ideals of the nation that everyone holds dear. You know, like if we called a battleship the Dale Earnhardt. Or the Paris Hilton.

    Though if you ask me, it REALLY boils down to penis envy. The Chinpokomon episode of South Park in conjunction with the JAV industry has taught us that the Japanese have teeny wee wees and resent the rest of the world for being bigger than they are. So like, when the Yamato–which by its name is supposed to be equivalent to GLORIOUS NIPPON–is the biggest freaking boat in the world with the biggest, blac…er, BADDEST guns of all, why that must mean that the Japanese people by extension also have big guns. And if they’ve got the biggest guns, the white women will be sure to gravitate towards them and not just Ken Norton.

    So it’s a mass delusion, as it were. You might say that’s the nature of jingoism, but in this case, anyone who’d point out that D.O.G.O.B.G.Y.N.’s deliveries were still the same as always or that Mede was still the one getting to beat up Gary Coleman undoubtedly got a ticket booked on the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Rape Zeppelin. Which is unfortunate because they can’t even see that the people telling them these things would have to have a time machine–possibly in the form of a Rufus-operated phone booth–to be able to bring up such topics.

    It all reminds me of a segment in No Cure For Cancer (at the risk of being branded a heretic, I always preferred Leary to Hicks) about how we love big stuff just because:

    “Look at that car. Biggest car you’ll ever see!”
    “Yeah. But it’s ugly.”
    “So what? Look at the size of the thing! Look at the size of my penis. Goes all the way down to my ankle.”
    “Yeah, but you come after five seconds.”
    “So what? Look how big it is! Look at that building. A hundred and seventy-five stories straight up into the sky!”
    “Yeah, but if there was ever an accident –“
    “It’d be a huge tragedy — bodies all over the place!”

    In short, more people need to read Phoenix.

  14. Thanks for the insight Daryl. Often the little things in life seem to be more important to me than to top something else.

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