I began watching anime as a little kid in the 1960s. We’re talking Speed Racer, Marine Boy, Gigantor, and Astro Boy. The original anime, as it were. In the 1970s and 1980s, I graduated to Captain Harlock, Star Blazers, and Robotech. Today, its Sword Art Online, Fairy Tail, and A Certain Magical Index. I just wanted to lay all that out to demonstrate that I am a lifelong “Otaku” from New Jersey.
That being said, I have been obsessed with Space Battleship Yamato. As a veteran U.S. Navy Sailor, I love the “old school” aesthetic of the space battleship. It is a spaceship I would put up against the Enterprise, Millenium Falcon, Serenity, and any other sci-fi spaceship in the history of movies and television. Beyond that, it’s the characters that make the story.
After the original Star Blazers went off the air, I discovered Space Battleship Yamato and its infinite movies and companion shows. It made it even better. Although the live action movie didn’t live up to my expectations, the rebooted series has.
In the new Space Battleship Yamato 2199 and 2202, we got an in depth storyline, new characters, a more diverse crew and aliens, as well as backstories for Gamilas, Gatlantis, and other characters. As a fan, it’s been overwhelming and exhilarating. Captain Okita is a leader to look up to, Kodai and Yuki a romance to envy, and I wish I had Dr. Sado’s tolerance to alcohol.
First, the crew of the Yamato is finally more than a ship full of men, one woman and one robot. The crew is now a mixture of men and women, each with their own stories. They added some great new characters, from the Mars-born pilot Akira Yamamoto to the Gamilas Lower Storm Leader Melda Dietz. At the same time, there’s even more romance, intrigue, excitement and adventure, just like the original but better.
There is a lot of undertones about the dangers of mass warfare, using power to gain peace, something more prevalent than in the original. In the original, I thought it was more about saving the planet, a stern environmental statement about our future. But now, the series has taken a more serious approach to modern warfare and its consequences.
Even the villains are more complex. The Gamilas Leader Dessler is still a megalomaniac, but he cares little about Gamilas and more about consolidating his own power base with Iscandar. And yet, some of the Gamilas officers are more honorably, trustworthy and don’t follow Desslar like dogs on a leash. At the same time, Emperor Zwordar and the rest of the Gatlantians of the Comet Empire (sorry, I can’t call it anything else) are a clone race bent on the destruction of humanity. They can even self-destruct upon command from the Emperor.
Watching Space Battleship Yamato is like watching a soap opera, but with inter-galactic battles and aliens mixed in. Besides that, it has heart that you find in many anime, but in this one, it never changed. Just listening to the opening theme song makes you stand at attention, or the dark organ from the depths of the Comet Empire quiver in fear.
To be honest, I won’t call it anything but the Yamato anymore. I grew up with it being called the Argo, but all that’s changed. I respect and honor this show by staying true. It’s the Yamato, always has been and always will be.
Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.