An excellent reboot of the original Yamato series…
It’s the year 2199. Orbital kinetic strikes with radioactive meteors have rendered the surface of Earth uninhabitable; humanity has retreated underground, but they only have one year left to live. With help from the distant planet of Iscandar, a faster-than-light starship is built, using the WWII battleship Yamato as the basis. The ship and its crew depart for Iscandar, where they’ve been promised a device to remove the radioactivity and allow people to walk again on the surface. During the long voyage, they are forced to battle against the Gamilas Empire and its ruler, Desler.
I’ve already talked about the historical importance of the 1974 series Space Battleship Yamato when I reviewed the live-action movie based on it. I concluded that review encouraging people to go watch the old anime series, but I realise that the writing and animation of 46 years ago may not have quite the same effect today as they did when they first aired.
This reboot, first aired in 2012, solves that. It follows the original series pretty closely, and where it doesn’t, it’s often an improvement. The timeline of the Gamilas incursion into the Solar System, and subsequent war, is more precise and makes more sense. There are maybe a dozen women aboard the Yamato, not just Mori Yuki, although, given how large the ship’s complement appears to be, they’re still a very small minority.
The Iscandarians are more involved in the story, and I can’t be more specific here without spoiling a few surprises. We see much more of the Gamilas empire: how it’s governed, the internal weaknesses of its government and military, the oppression of most of its population.
Desler gets some actual motivation beyond the simple “evil dictator”; don’t get me wrong: he’s still a dictator, and definitely evil, but we can see why he does what he does, and how he can think of himself as the hero in his own story. Also, props to the writer for pulling off the “trapdoor opens under the feet of the minion” scene without making it ridiculous!
If you like space opera, military SF, or old anime classics, you will love this series.
Space Battleship Yamato 2199 will be released on 11 May 2020 on DVD and Blu-ray by Manga UK.
Home media details
Distributor: Manga UK (UK)
Edition: Blu-ray and DVD (2020)
Space Battleship Yamato 2199 will be released on 11 May 2020 by Manga UK, on 4 DVD or 2 Blu Ray. Bonus materials: interviews with the American voice actors, American commentaries for episode 9 and 16, 90 seconds time-lapse of a digital painting of the Yamato, Japanese promo videos, text-less opening songs.
The Blu Ray discs I received for this review came from a 2-part release: the menus identify them as “part 1 disc 1”, “part 1 disc 2”, “part 2 disc 1” and “part 2 disc 2”; also, the menus bear the title “Star Blazers 2199”.