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Evil men with evil schemes, They can't destroy all our dreams!
March 22, 2012 8:51 AM   Subscribe

Imagine one person in America directed Star Wars, the original Battlestar Galactica, Planet of the Apes, Alien and Blade Runner -- basically, all the big sci-fi hits except Star Trek. In Japan, that man existed, and his name was Noburo Ishiguro. He directed Super Dimension Fortress Macross (which became the first part of Robotech), Space Battleship Yamato (called Star Blazers in the U.S.), the classics Super Dimension Century Orguss and Legend of the Galactic Heroes, and more. Basically, he had his hand in almost all the major sci-fi anime of the '70s and early '80s except Gundam...

While many of his works were subjected to questionable translation practices (such as changing any mention of sake to "with water from a favourite spring on Earth" in Yamato) when they were adapted for Western audiences in the 1980s, the popularity of his works helped lay the foundation for anime fandom as we know it today.

On Wednesday, Studio Nue co-founder Haruka Takachiho reported that Noboru Ishiguro passed away at age 73.

(Via Topless Robot & Anime News Network)
posted by radwolf76 (62 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by black8 at 8:52 AM on March 22, 2012


By the time I was exposed to his work, it had been processed into something deemed acceptable to 80s television syndication executives, but it still made quite the impression on my grade school self. Losing him so soon on the heels of Mobius and McQuarrie makes my heart heavy.

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posted by radwolf76 at 8:54 AM on March 22, 2012


. with the theme song from Star Blazers playing.
posted by Aquaman at 8:54 AM on March 22, 2012


Star Blazers and its Space Marines shaped many of my childhood Lego adventures.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:54 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by Celsius1414 at 8:56 AM on March 22, 2012


Same here, KokuRyu. At age six, my sci-fi pantheon, in order of awesomeness, went:

1) Star Blazers
2) Battlestar Galactica (TV series)
3) Star Wars

I haven't rewatched Star Blazers since childhood out of fear it couldn't possibly match the epic scope of the story in my hazy memory.

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posted by gompa at 9:00 AM on March 22, 2012


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Hopefully, he's actually still alive on Iscandar
posted by weston at 9:03 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by Thorzdad at 9:03 AM on March 22, 2012


On a brighter note, the virtuoso creator of Yamato and Galaxy Express 999 etc, Leiji Matsumoto, is still alive and kicking. Nuclear power subsidies have made it possible to install bronze statues of Yamato characters and ships, and other Matsumoto creations, along the station street and main boulevard of Tsuruga, my home town in Japan.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:06 AM on March 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


the original Battlestar Galactica

Not a bragging point.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:11 AM on March 22, 2012


And thus roughly analagous to the parts of Macross in which Minmay is in frame.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:14 AM on March 22, 2012


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That he had a hand in Robotech (even obliquely) makes him part of something important to me. Even when I was a kid watching it, I thought Robotech was pretty dumb (singing and love bring down the bad guys? Really? And the giant alien guys stuff themselves into tiny pods on gigantic stilts?)...but people fucking died on that cartoon. It was the ONLY cartoon that could say that for itself in the '80s.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:17 AM on March 22, 2012


It was the ONLY cartoon that could say that for itself in the '80s.

There was that one Very Special Episode of BraveStarr where the kid OD'ed, but that was a one-off.
posted by radwolf76 at 9:22 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Damn. I am literally in the middle of writing an article about how Robotech, through a wierd combination of early cable tech and british local government policy, introduced a whole bunch of working class kids across the UK (myself included) to the concept of Anime in the 80s.

As with radwolf, this makes my heart heavy
posted by garius at 9:24 AM on March 22, 2012


The U.S. versions of Star Blazers and Robotech are on Netflix. The shows hold up pretty well, and they are so full of nostalgia it's hard for me to watch them without drifting into some sort of reverie of rainy afternoons and attempts to recreate the mecha in the form of Legos.

I think these shows were the spiritual stepping point for Star Wars kids back in the early 80's. Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers were cool and all, but they lacked the true spirit of the epic space opera encapsulated by Macross and Yamato. (Macross even had singing, how's that for space opera?) The universes those cartoons created were endless. The stories had the classical bildungsroman structure built in along with archetypical characters. And they had cool-ass spaceships that sometimes transformed into two different types of robots! So, this is as good a time as any to praise the people involved to bringing these shows to the television of my youth.

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posted by jabberjaw at 9:24 AM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I need to relive my childhood and re-watch Star Blazers on Netflix. Either that or watch the VHS Yamato movies.

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posted by charred husk at 9:30 AM on March 22, 2012


Oh Jesus. Macross is responsible for my entire adult life.

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posted by pts at 9:33 AM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think these shows were the spiritual stepping point for Star Wars kids back in the early 80's. Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers were cool and all, but they lacked the true spirit of the epic space opera encapsulated by Macross and Yamato.

This. A thousand times.

Even as a 9/10 year old there was something just unbelievably different about Robotech in comparison to the other (perfectly enjoyable) cartoons we were watching at the time.

Never made the Star Wars connection before but that really does strike a chord.
posted by garius at 9:34 AM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wow. Didn't know one man did all that. That's a real loss.

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posted by Edison Carter at 9:38 AM on March 22, 2012


I saw Star Blazers first as an adult, and it was still pretty good. I mean, definitely 1970s anime directed wholly at children, but I thought it held up well.

Star Blazers and its Space Marines shaped many of my childhood Lego adventures.

In the Grim Future of Star Blazers There Is Only Poorly-Disguised Sake?
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:40 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not a real Anime fan, with a few exceptions, but Star Blazers really colored my childhood. The idea that all life on earth was going to die if they didn't finish their mission seemed unutterably dark and nightmarish to my young mind.

..which led to me finding The Twilight Zone, Lovecraft, and eventually William Burroughs.

so.... thanks?

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posted by lumpenprole at 9:43 AM on March 22, 2012


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Also, the narrator in Robotech influenced my speech like no other fictional character. The only other one who comes close is Calvin.
posted by BeeDo at 9:50 AM on March 22, 2012


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posted by wuwei at 9:51 AM on March 22, 2012


Funnily enough, I attempted to watch the recent live-action/CG version of Yamato (starring Kimura Takuya) with my 9-year-old son, and it held his attention for all of about 5 minutes. So much talking, so little doing.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:54 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


For some reason, the regular cartoon lineup during my childhood did not include Robotech, so unfortunately I was not familiar Mr. Ishiguro's work before I became more involved with the anime scene.

I met Mr. Ishiguro during my anime convention staffing years, and he was one of the more frequent guests. I know at least a few fan boys became flustered in his presence. Sometimes after Anime Expo is over for the year, my SO would accompany Mr. Ishiguro to Las Vegas (I think sans the missus). A running joke we had was that Mr. Ishiguro looked like the Japanese version of KFC's Colonel Sanders. I think he was amused when we produced some artwork for him along those lines.

One my earlier trips to Japan I was able to visit Mr. Ishiguro's Artland studio (before it burned down): Animators were quietly working at desks in their cluttered office, headphones on. I took a photo of this one fellow was taking a nap in another room. Mr. Ishiguro gave me a poster or 2, I gave him one of my crappy drawings (hee hee) and we all went out and had he treated us out to a meal somewhere.

He was a nice man, and I cried a little when I heard of his passing. He will be missed.

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posted by Seboshin at 10:05 AM on March 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


Robotech was on at 6am where I lived. For years I got up as a kit at that hour to catch it. I saw Macros, Southern Cross and Mospeada several time through. It left a deep impression on me.

One interesting point about watching in on broadcast TV, in later runs of the series some scenes were edited out. for example the scene of Roy Fokker's blood drenched cockpit was edited out.
posted by bdc34 at 10:11 AM on March 22, 2012


The idea that all life on earth was going to die if they didn't finish their mission seemed unutterably dark and nightmarish to my young mind.

And watching the Robotech episode where the Earth is orbitally bombarded and almost everyone on the surface is wiped out, especially as a kid growing up during the cold war was extremely unsettling. Here was an animated rendering of what we basically expected the US and Russia to do to the Earth's surface with nukes at any time.
posted by barc0001 at 10:15 AM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by Lynsey at 10:16 AM on March 22, 2012


... I gave him one of my crappy drawings (hee hee) and we all went out and had he treated us out to a meal somewhere.

The only way that story could be better is if he took you out to KFC.
posted by Edison Carter at 10:30 AM on March 22, 2012


The only way that story could be better is if he took you out to KFC.

For Christmas Dinner.
posted by radwolf76 at 10:33 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyone who liked those other shows and hasn't seen Legend of the Galactic Heroes should check it out as soon as possible. Epic space opera with true to life politics and tragedy and war. The way multiple sides are presented in a way that makes them understandable and somewhat sympathetic is very similar to something like A Song of Ice and Fire.

Plus the first imovie has a massive space battle set to Bolero that will blow your mind.

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posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:43 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Star Blazers was only available for some short little window of my childhood - a strange time, and a very short run. As an adult I thought it might have been a strange dream. It was so excellent, why wasn't everyone talking about it? I had to ask on AskMe to confirm that it was real.

They know how to do explosions. US animation of that period was garbage, this was real art.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:49 AM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


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I've never been deep into his contributions to Japanese culture but I've always meant to - I'll get started.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 10:50 AM on March 22, 2012


gompa: "
I haven't rewatched Star Blazers since childhood out of fear it couldn't possibly match the epic scope of the story in my hazy memory.
"

charred husk: "I need to relive my childhood and re-watch Star Blazers on Netflix. Either that or watch the VHS Yamato movies."

I'm just about halfway through the first season or so of SB on netflix. Whatever process they used to put it into the digital was not that great but it still manages to bring back some of the magic.

HURRY STAR BLAZERS
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posted by mcrandello at 10:53 AM on March 22, 2012


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posted by lucien_reeve at 11:11 AM on March 22, 2012


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posted by whuppy at 11:24 AM on March 22, 2012


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posted by rand at 11:42 AM on March 22, 2012


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posted by PsychoKick at 11:55 AM on March 22, 2012


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Robotech was on at 6am where I lived.

Robotech was shown on Superchannel (which eventually became Eurosport) at about that early; once I'd accidently woken up that early and caught the first episode I was hooked and I got up every Saturday that early. It's what introduced me to Macross and anime in general.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:58 AM on March 22, 2012


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posted by Gelatin at 12:00 PM on March 22, 2012


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posted by Meatafoecure at 12:16 PM on March 22, 2012


He's the man who provided not one, but two major gateway drugs into anime fandom. As far as I'm concerned, that's a pretty good elegy.
posted by happyroach at 12:22 PM on March 22, 2012


I'm halfway through LOGH right now. Fantastic stuff but getting through all 110 episodes takes a while. If you're interested in watching don't bother reading up about it on the net because all the anime sites assume everyone has already watched and give all kinds of spoilers without any warning, including the Wikipedia entry.


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posted by smoothvirus at 12:34 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I write for an anime fanfic group and the number of things we've, er, homaged in our stuff that he created is probably uncountable.

I think I'm gonna watch some Star Blazers in a bit.

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posted by mephron at 12:46 PM on March 22, 2012


Oh, raise your glasses to Isiguro-san. Thank you for everything jabberjaw said: for making animated programs that showed fourth-grade me that you could make cartoons with depth and a sweeping scale. After Robotech, GI Joe and Transformers became hollow shells. No one died. There were no stakes. Roy Fokker and Ben Dixon and an entire fucking planet died, and all on syndicated television in Reagan's America.

Thank you for making these stories come alive, Isiguro-san. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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posted by RakDaddy at 1:05 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


...Ishiguro-san, that is.

<Robotech goofy music cue out/>
posted by RakDaddy at 1:05 PM on March 22, 2012


I'm not much of an anime fan, but I think Legend of the Galactic Heroes is one of the greatest space operas ever. It's a terrific series, and it's a shame it's never seen an official release here in the states. I highly recommend it, especially for people who aren't fans of the other works directed by Noboru Ishiguro.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 1:36 PM on March 22, 2012


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posted by Aznable at 1:44 PM on March 22, 2012


first moebius and now this

i think i may have offended someone
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 2:41 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by SPrintF at 4:36 PM on March 22, 2012


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posted by Nyrath at 4:53 PM on March 22, 2012


T_T
posted by Shit Parade at 6:12 PM on March 22, 2012


I can remember rushing home from school, 7 years old, to catch each episode.

It was unlike anything else on television I had seen other than late night Doctor Who.

In school I'd find myself doodling the Argo or the Black Tiger Squadron. The serial story line kept me coming back to see what would happen next. And elemental to it was Wildstar's story line.

I wasn't an orphan, and I had my little brother, but our home life was not... normal by any stretch.

Episode 10 I especially related to deeply. Watching in now makes me tear up.

Part 1: http://youtu.be/0cRb1nZcJVU

Part 2: http://youtu.be/f6z9Yfth3dg

Commentary: http://www.starblazers.com/html.php?page_id=416

Wildstar was a character I could relate to. An animated character in a sci-fi, foreign, cartoon - that seemed to feel just like I did.

I could go on about how thrilling the show was too - the space battle at Saturn during the Comet Empire series - wow! But this is probably enough to say thanks in my own way to the director. I'll have to write about this more thoroughly someday.
posted by kmartino at 7:35 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sad news, indeed. I think I was the only kid I knew who was watching Star Blazers and Robotech when they were on when I was young, but they left a lasting impression on me. To this day, one of the things I ask people that I'm starting to be friends with but don't know very well yet is have they heard of Robotech or Star Blazers. If they have and better still, if they liked them, it's a good indicator all around.

Ishiguro, you left an indelible mark on the world, and will be missed.

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(Also, when is an english dub of the totally awesome-looking Japanese live-action Yamamoto movie going to be released? I'd buy that tomorrow!)
posted by hippybear at 7:44 PM on March 22, 2012


(grrr. Yamato)
posted by hippybear at 7:44 PM on March 22, 2012


This man's work still captures my imagination 25+ years later. Star Blazers was some sriously compelling kids television for late 70's America, so much so that my whole family (including Mom & Dad!) would all be in front of the TV at 7 AM on weekday mornings when I was a kid to watch Star Blazers. Everything just stopped for that show-- no getting ready for work or school for any of us. Hell, on Christmas one year the first thing I did in the morning was go and watch Star Blazers (completely oblivious to giant train layout "Santa" had left for me in the TV room/den that was too big too fit under the tree in the living room), THEN I went and looked under the tree before waking everyone else up.

Robotech came along when I was in High School, and drew me back into anime. I remember seeing it for the first time and thinking "Oh, this is what Transformers would be like it was real." I'm going to go and watch some old Macross episodes now.

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posted by KingEdRa at 9:12 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by rahnefan at 11:39 PM on March 22, 2012


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posted by mek at 2:20 AM on March 23, 2012


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posted by SageLeVoid at 4:20 AM on March 23, 2012


hippybear: dont hold your breath for that one... (it ain't worth holding.)
posted by gen at 10:53 AM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by gen at 10:55 AM on March 23, 2012


My father was a classmate of Ishiguro-san's in university and stayed in touch with him over the decades. I know my father had some stories about traveling with Ishiguro-san when he first visited the US for an anime festival. I'll try and get some stories from my father and will share them on my blog in the future.
posted by gen at 1:52 AM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


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