In 1979, a very small company called Westchester got the North American rights to a five year-old Japanese cartoon series called Space Battleship Yamato, and rushed to get in on the science fiction boom where every TV station in America wanted something with laser guns on the air, fast. Pinching pennies, they cast non-union voiceover talent, and students who hoped to one day become voiceover talent, in New York and paid them fast without oncscreen credits. When the hyperviolent, planet-destroying Star Blazers premiered on UHF stations that September, it blew the minds of American kids who had never seen anything remotely like it.
Amy Howard, who was the voice of “Nova,” as the American script renamed her, remembered the job and, about sixteen years later, reached out to say hello to somebody with a Yamato web page. Now that the crowd who thrilled to Star Blazers – and Speed Racer and Battle of the Planets and Astro Boy and Gigantor – were old enough to run their own cons, she quickly found herself invited to do the rounds of anime conventions, often in the company of other veteran voice actors, like the late Peter Fernandez, shown above with Amy in 2008.
And it was at one of those cons that she struck up a conversation with my very old pal David Wilson. Three years later, they married and moved to her home in northern Virginia. Amy did another voice acting job for a Japanese property (The Irresponsible Captain Tylor in 1997), and she identified several other Blazers actors from the 1979 sessions so they could start making the rounds and meeting their fans. Amy and David were guests at seven or eight cons a year. She picked up year-old conversations from the sentence they left off, she kept crowds rivetted to funny industry stories, I don’t believe I ever once saw her without a smile on her face, and she kept my goofy old pal happy and out of too much trouble for twenty-five years. Goodbye, Amy, we’ll miss you a lot.