You Only Live Twice

From Academic Kids

Missing image
2003 Penguin Books paperback edition

You Only Live Twice is the twelfth novel by Ian Fleming featuring James Bond, secret agent 007; it was published in 1964, around the time Fleming died. It was adapted by screenplay writer Roald Dahl as the fifth entry in the James Bond movie series, which was released in 1967, starring Sean Connery as James Bond. The film was produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman and was made by EON Productions. This film is the first Bond movie to deviate from the source material. Other than the Japanese setting, and several characters, the two stories are very different.


The novel

Missing image
1965 paperback edition by Pan Books.

You Only Live Twice is the concluding chapter in what is known as the 'Blofeld Trilogy'. The trilogy began with Thunderball and after the interlude novel The Spy Who Loved Me, resumed with On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

It has been suggested that Fleming had chosen to retire the Bond series with this novel, but later changed his mind and wrote The Man with the Golden Gun.

You Only Live Twice also marks the final appearance of Ernst Stavro Blofeld and references to his criminal organization, S.P.E.C.T.R.E. in Fleming's novels. A later novel, For Special Services, by John Gardner, features a rebirth of S.P.E.C.T.R.E. as well as Role of Honour and Nobody Lives Forever.

In the 1990s, Raymond Benson wrote a short story sequel to You Only Live Twice, titled "Blast from the Past", although the story falls into neither Gardner's or Benson's Bond continuum.

The title of the novel is often mistaken as being the work of a Japanese poet named Matsuo Basho, however, the unique title comes from a haiku that James Bond wrote for his friend Tiger Tanaka. It is also mentioned in the novel that it isn't a haiku at all, that in actuality it is a failed attempt by Bond after being taught the basics for creating a haiku.

In the epigraph (and explained in the novel), the haiku is listed as being "after Basho", meaning written in the poet's style.

"You only live twice:
Once when you're born,
And once when you look death in the face."

Plot summary

James Bond, his career fading after the wedding-day murder of his wife, Tracy, is promoted by M to a special branch of MI6. M, was actually going to offer him dismissal from the secret service, but later changed his mind as a "last chance" opportunity for Bond to shape up. Bond is subsequently re-numbered as 7777 ("four sevens"), and assigned an impossible mission: Convincing the head of Japan's secret intelligence service, Tiger Tanaka, to provide information about an informant within the Soviet Union, information referred to as magic 44. In exchange, Tanaka asks Bond to kill Dr. Guntram Shatterhand, who operates a politically embarrassing "Garden of Death" where people go to commit suicide, whether they want to or not. Bond accidentally discovers that Shatterhand is his nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld, and gladly takes the mission, keeping his knowledge of Blofeld a secret so that he can exact his revenge. Aided by former Japanese movie star Kissy Suzuki, and, with make up and training, James Bond learns to live and think as a Japanese in order to penetrate Shatterhand's castle. Bond is renamed by Tiger while on this mission as Taro Todoroki.

Bond ultimately exacts revenge on Blofeld in a sword fighting duel, but, on escaping, suffers a head injury leaving him an amnesiac living as a Japanese fisherman with Kissy, while the rest of the world believes him dead. While Bond's health improves Kissy conceals his true identity so as to keep him forever to herself. At novel's end, however, Bond finds a paper slip with the name Vladivostok written on it, making him wonder if the far-off Russian city is the key to his missing memory. Unbeknownst to Bond, Kissy reveals, in thought, that she is pregnant.

At book's end, is an obituary written by M for Commander James Bond, C.M.G., R.N.V.R., featuring the majority of his biography, per Fleming. It includes his parents' names, their fate, and Bond's Royal Navy service. Most notably, the obituary refers to a series of sensational novels about his exploits a clearly post-modern reference to Fleming's work, and the source of rumours that James Bond was based upon a real man. The book, James Bond: The Authorized Biography of 007 is based upon that premise. Additionally, the same chapter includes an epitaph by Mary Goodnight (M.G.).


Comic strip adaptation

Ian Fleming's novel was adapted as a daily comic strip published in the British Daily Express newspaper, and syndicated worldwide. The adaptation ran from May 18, 1965 to January 8, 1966, was written by Henry Gammidge and illustrated by John McLusky. It was the final James Bond strip for Gammidge, while McClusky returned to illustrating the strip in the 1980s; the strip was reprinted by Titan Books in 2004.

In the segment featuring Bond's obituary there is a reference to "sensationalistic novels" written about Bond's adventures (as in the novel's plot summary, above), wherein artist McLusky uses actual covers of Fleming's books.


  • This is the only Fleming novel in which Bond is given a designation other than 007. He was never again referred to as 7777, and by the next novel had returned to double-oh status.
  • David Niven is specifically mentioned by Kissy Suzuki as the only respectable man in Hollywood. Niven later played "Sir James Bond" in the 1967 spoof, Casino Royale.

The film


Plot summary

In outer space, a mysterious spacecraft captures and steals manned space capsules, of both the United States and the Soviet Union, in mid-orbit. Thinking that the other goverment is the cause of their loss, the Cold War world is thrown to the brink of another world war. The United Kingdom's government, however, believes the mystery spacecraft landed in the Sea of Japan indicating, instead, that a Japanese element may be involved.

James Bond, after participating in a charade faking his murder in Hong Kong (to give himself "more elbow room" as M puts it). He is then sent to Japan, to investigate the British suspicion, in conjunction with the Japanese secret intelligence service leader "Tiger" Tanaka, to stave off a possible nuclear war. Together, they learn that the true villain behind all this is Ernst Stavro Blofeld and his organization S.P.E.C.T.R.E., with Red China financing him in their effort to have the super powers destroy each other so they may rule supreme over what survives.

Bond infiltrates S.P.E.C.T.R.E.'s secret rocket base, hidden in a hollow volcano, while his female partner, Kissy, returns to alert Tanaka. Bond, however, is caught before stopping the final phase of the plan, and is taken before Blofeld. Meanwhile, Tanaka and his lite ninja force attempt to enter the volcano's crater hatch. Unfortunately, they are spotted, and Blofeld shoots at them with the crater's sentry guns. All is hopeless until Bond manages to open the crater hatch, allowing Tanaka's troops' entry in force to the rocket base. In the ensuing battle, Bond enters the rocket launch control room and destroys the S.P.E.C.T.R.E. spacecraft before it could capture a second U.S. space capsule and spark a war with the U.S.S.R.

Although this film is not the series' first wholly original James Bond film adventure (Bond's infiltration of the Japanese fishing village, and the characters of Blofeld, Tanaka, and Kissy are from the novel), the screenplay by Roald Dahl is the first James Bond screen story to substantially diverge from the original novel's story and plot, due, in part, to having been produced before On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

Cast & characters

The cast included Charles Gray, as Dikko Henderson, MI6 liaison with Japanese SIS; Gray later portrayed Ernst Stavro Blofeld in Diamonds Are Forever.



Missing image
Original You Only Live Twice soundtrack cover

The soundtrack was composed by Bond veteran, John Barry. At the time, this was his fourth credited Bond film. The theme song, You Only Live Twice, was sung by Nancy Sinatra. In 1998, Robbie Williams sampled the title song "You Only Live Twice" for his #1 song "Millennium" Williams has often been mentioned by some fans as a possible Bond in future movies. A rock version of You Only Live Twice was covered by Coldplay when they toured in 2001.

Track listing

  1. You Only Live Twice (Title Song) — Nancy Sinatra
  2. Capsule In Space
  3. Fight At Kobe Dock-Helga
  4. Tanaka's World
  5. A Drop In The Ocean
  6. The Death Of Aki
  7. Mountains And Sunsets
  8. The Wedding
  9. James Bond - Astronaut?
  10. Countdown For Blofeld
  11. Bond Averts World War Three
  12. You Only Live Twice (End Title) — Nancy Sinatra

These seven tracks were later added, as a bonus, to the complete version of the original soundtrack.

  1. James Bond In Japan
  2. Aki, Tiger And Osato
  3. Little Nellie
  4. Soviet Capsule
  5. Spectre And Village
  6. James Bond - Ninja
  7. Twice is the Only Way to Live

Vehicles and gadgets

Main articles: List of James Bond vehicles, List of James Bond gadgets
  • Toyota 2000GT convertible - Owned by Aki. Two prototypes were built especially for the film; no others were made.
  • Little Nellie - A heavily armed gyrocopter that could be transported in several suitcases for quick field assembly.
  • Shooting Cigarette - Tiger gives Bond a rocket-shooting cigarette with an accurate range of 30 yards; he uses it against a guard in Blofeld's volcano to reach the control to open the crater hatch, allowing Tanaka's forces to storm the base.
  • Safecracker - A small, pocket-sized device that attaches to a safe lock the secret agent wants opened. When properly positioned, the user needs only to turn the combination lock's dial, and the device lights as each correct combination digit is found until the safe is opened. However, Bond learns the hard way that the gadget does not defeat a safe's other security measures, such as alarms.


Film locations

Shooting locations


  • This is considered to be one of the most cultured Bond films to date. Unlike most Bond epics featuring England, Russia, or America as prime locations, almost the entire film is set in Japan, and several minutes are devoted towards an elaborate Japanese wedding in the middle of the movie. This is in keeping with Fleming's original novel, which also focused a number of pages (more than the usual for a Bond book) to the discussion of Japanese culture.
  • The film is unusual in the degree that it illustrates a comraderie between James Bond and Tanaka, a.k.a. Tiger. The two are seen cavorting about in several scenes during the movie, and seem to form a genuine friendship, and not simply a business association through the course of the movie. This is also in keeping with Fleming's novel. Tiger even seems to have come up with a nickname for Bond in this film, at one point calling him "Zero Zero".
  • James Bond is married in this film, although controversy exists over whether it is a legitimate marriage because he chose a fake name to go undercover when the marriage occurred. Since his wife, Kissy, survives it leaves open the question as to whether he was still married under Japanese law when he wed Tracy in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
  • Dr. Evil (from Austin Powers), a spoof of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, was inspired by, more than any other actor, Donald Pleasence's portrayal in You Only Live Twice. Both share the same grey suit, bald head, pet kitty, facial scar, and bulging eyes.
  • Jan Werich was originally cast to play Blofeld. But he fell ill just before filming began and was replaced by Pleasence.
  • The death of Helga occurs when Blofeld presses the footpedal and lets her fall into a piranha-infested tank. This death resembles the death of the archvillain's secretary in The Spy Who Loved Me who fell down a trap elevator into a shark tank. Both films were directed by the same man.
  • Kissy Suzuki's last name is never mentioned on screen, and is known only from the closing credits where the character is identified fully (and, of course, from reading Fleming's novel). The only other Bond girl likewise unidentified is Octopussy, whose real name is never revealed (although in the movie, Octopussy gives her father's last name as Smyth).
  • It has been reported that Blofeld's cat was so surprised by the loud noises in the finale that it was only found several days later cowering in the rafters of the volcano set.

External links


de:Man lebt nur zweimal

nl:You Only Live Twice ja:007は二度死ぬ sv:Man lever bara tv gnger (bok)


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools