Greetings, Manic Fans. Les here today to talk about an anime from my youth and the recent live action film version of it that I had to order away for. When I was a kid, there were 3 anime I loved:
Speed Racer(Mach Go Go)
and Star Blazers(Space Battleship Yamato)
And of the 3, Star Blazers was the one I raced home from school to watch. The creation of the late great Yoshinobu Nishizaki, Space Battleship Yamato was a grand science fiction epic that spanned several series, several films and the recent live action one I mentioned earlier(Weâ€™ll get back to that one).
Warning: Spoilers and great Yamato moments ahead…
In America, Space Battleship Yamato was voice dubbed into English and renamed Star Blazers, and the first 2 series were aired in the late 1970â€™s and re-ran in the early 1980â€™s. The first series was called
â€œThe Quest for Iscandar,â€
and the second one was
â€œThe Comet Empire.â€
A third series, called
â€œThe Bolar Wars,â€
was finished but didnâ€™t air in America.
In â€œThe Quest for Iscandar,â€ The year was 2199, and the Earth was facing extermination from a hostile alien race called Gamilas(Gamilon to Americans). Raining deadly asteroid bombs on Earth, radiation had made the surface unlivable and mankind had retreated underground to survive, but the radiation was leaking into the deeper levels. With the vastly superior Gamilas forces soundly defeating all Earth fleets, there was little hope of survival.
Then a message was sent from Stasha(Queen Starsha…yeah, Iâ€™m going to give all translations on this, deal with it LOL!) giving Earth the promise of a machine that emits cosmo DNA to clean up all the radiation and schematics to build a wave motion engine thatâ€™ll make it possible to travel 148,000 light years to Iscandar to get it and back again within 1 year(The exact amount of time Mankind could hold out before extinction).
Opposing them was the evil Dessler(Leader Desslok), supreme leader of Gamilas(Gamilon). Heâ€™s one of my all time favorite villains. Heâ€™s arrogant, condescending and his American Voice actor sounds like a cross between Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre.
Converting the old wreck of the Battleship Yamato into a Space Battleship using the schematics of Queen Stasha, the Star Force undertook the adventure of traveling to Iscandar and back in 1 year. In the American Version, the Space Battleship Yamato was re-christened as the Space Battleship Argo, but purists still know it as the Yamato.
As an Anime, this show is spectacular. Great characters, exciting story arcs and outstanding art design made for a highly watchable show, despite the limitations of a budget that didnâ€™t allow for fluid animation. However, the continuity between the series and the films is very uneven. Seriesâ€™ “Quest for Iscandar” and “The Comet Empire” and the corresponding films “Space Battleship Yamato” and “Be Forever Yamato,” are very different(In the films, half the cast of characters are killed or suicide like kamikazes, and in the series, they lived, for instance…). And then, again…in the films, the continuity wavers considerably too….Characters killed in one film are mysteriously alive in sequels…and after 5 films, Captain Okita(Captain Avatar) who died at the end of the first series(first film) is miraculously alive to lead the Star Force again(Iâ€™ve stopped worrying about it and just enjoy the stories).
In any event, I had wanted to see the live action film for years, since it didnâ€™t get an American screening, or a DVD release. I had to order away for the copy I just watched. Was it worth the wait. Yes…and No…
Space Battleship Yamato(2010)
For starters, the actors were all perfectly cast in their roles. Even the ones who were changed from men into women
Sonar Operator Aihara(Homer)
and Dr. Sado(Dr. Sane)
were men in the Anime.
Yuki Mori(Nova Forrester)
from a Nurse/Sonar Tech into an ace fighter pilot was a smart choice as it gave a better backstory and more believable love chemistry between her and Susumu Kodai(Derek Wildstar).
The Special Effects were beautifully done. The Space Battleship Yamato looked perfect
and all the aspects of her operation(engines, shock cannons, hanger deck/black tigers, warp drive and the Wave Motion Gun) were amazing to see in live action. The soundtrack was fantastic using many tracks re-recorded from those used in the anime, itself. Additional music was composed for action scenes and was fast-paced and well-matched for the sequences.
Where the film made itâ€™s mistakes IMHO was in Gamilas(Gamilon) and Dessler(Desslok). In the Anime, the dreaded Gamilas were a race of blue-skinned conquerors(with definite parallels to WWII Nazis) who were devoted to Mastermind Villain Leader Dessler. Iscandar and Gamilas were separate planets and Queen Stasha was the sole survivor of Iscandar. In this film, the Gamilas were changed into CGI aliens with extendable stabbing arms able to shoot bio engineered plasma shots sharing one consciousness(blatant copycat of Star Trekâ€™s Borg). Dessler and Stasha were aspects of the same race and Planet Iscandar wasnâ€™t even in it. The effect of these changes really took what was a diabolical enemy with personality and delicious arrogance and rendered it boring and uninteresting.
The film took the first two Anime films and combined their stories in how Gamilas threatened Earthâ€™s survival and used the ending of the Comet Empire for how they defeated them at the expense of about half the cast of characters honorably lost in battle or kamikazeâ€™d to win the fight(Recreating those deaths scenes literally shot for shot as they lost:
Chief Engineer Tokugawa(Orion)
Science Officer Sanada(Sandor)
Fighter Pilot Yamamoto(Conroy)
Fighter Pilot Furuya(Hardy)
and Acting Captain Kodai(Wildstar)
…only Yuki Mori(Nova)
isnâ€™t killed in the film..but had died in the Anime Film…only to be still alive with Kodai in the following film…just roll with it….).
I believe this is why the film didnâ€™t get an American release. Since the story is so vastly different from the seriesâ€™ that were seen in America and what might be considered a very Japanese war attitude for honorable victoryÂ by dying for your people. Itâ€™s a very dark ending. Iâ€™ll admit I was shocked by it and after several viewings Iâ€™m beginning to understand it and appreciate it. Slowly, itâ€™s becoming one of my favorite films, but I do wish theyâ€™d kept the story closer to the way the Series had been done, as that wouldâ€™ve left room for sequels. The way this film was done, thereâ€™s no possibility there(over half the cast dead and the Yamato completely destroyed…). Also, they shouldâ€™ve kept the Gamilas as they had been, but thatâ€™s just my opinion.
Anyone who watched the anime would appreciate this film, even if they didnâ€™t like it compared to their experience watching the original seriesâ€™ Did you see this film, my friends? What are your thoughts. Iâ€™d love to know what your experience was. Peace.