FROM SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO TO STAR BLAZERS How the story changed, yet still remained the same!

Image result for space battleship yamato 2199
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.

Image result for space battleship yamato 2199 desslerEven 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.

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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.

2 thoughts on “FROM SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO TO STAR BLAZERS How the story changed, yet still remained the same!

  1. Sum Yung Gai says:

    Air Force vet here. True, the story is more fleshed out and a lot of the plot holes filled. There are definitely concerns about weapons of mass destruction, reflecting today’s concern about WMD’s, not to mention Japan’s history with the atomic bomb. The series is generally an improvement over the original, and I remember enjoying the original as Star Blazers, too, as a kid.

    The cast is more diverse in only one way; there are more female crew members. That’s an improvement. However, everyone is still ethnic Japanese, which would not be true in a United Nations environment (the space battleship Yamato operates under the United Nations Cosmo Navy). Also, in the intro to the second season (SBY 2202), the theme song says about saving Earth, “Someone has to do this / We are the trusted ones”. Apparently only ethnic Japanese are “trusted” to save Earth? So, there’s definitely a very strong Japanese nationalistic bent here; there should’ve been folks from other countries and continents, e. g. Africans, North and South Americans, Chinese, Koreans, Indians, Europeans, and so on. It’s as if the only survivors of Gamilas’s planet bombing are ethnic Japanese, and we know that’s not true from the first season when the other continents sent electrical power to the Yamato to start its Wave Motion Engine. I know, Japanese anime and all, but they really could’ve done better that way.

    Emperor Zwordar, or “Prince Zordar” in the old Star Blazers, has also gotten considerably more developed, as has Sabera (“Invidia”). Those of us who know what happens to Dessler (“Desslok”) at the end of Season 2 will not be totally surprised at how it’s handled in this newer SBY 2202 incarnation, though it is somewhat different.

    It remains a form of nationalistic revisionism for Japanese people, in that only Yamato (i. e. Japan) can save the world and thus show that nation’s honor restored after WWII (“Someone has to do this / We are the trusted ones”). It’s a bit more “in your face” in SBY 2202 than even SBY 2199. Maybe that’s why it’s so popular in that country.

    That said, it is a fun story, and I’m enjoying watching it, too.

    –SYG

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    • authormpiggott says:

      It has been my favorite anime since I was a boy. I think the Yamato is, without a doubt, the best spaceship ever designed. The best thing about this series was the more, in depth, story development of both characters and the different races (Gamilas and Gatlantis). I’m not Japanese but this anime holds a special place in my heart.

      Like

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