GalacticaBBS: Battlestar.... Yamato?!? Toho studios resurrects a '70s anime into a very entertaining American-style, epic space opera blockbuster! - GalacticaBBS

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Battlestar.... Yamato?!? Toho studios resurrects a '70s anime into a very entertaining American-style, epic space opera blockbuster!

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Way ahead of schedule (about a week or more early), my import (from Malaysia), region 0 dvd copy of the live-action "Space Battleship Yamato" movie (2010) finally came in. Watched it tonight, and while it's VERY derivative of current trends in US space opera chic, it's also very entertaining.

Bearing in mind that it's based on the popular '70s anime of the same name, I didn't expect too much intellectual exercise. And I was more or less right. The movie is the Japanese answer to big western space operas at their gaudiest (even though the film aims to be more like adult-level space opera... namely a certain reimagined colonial battlestar I could mention; the sets and double-layered t-shirts look like they came from the Galactica's laundry room). The movie is (more or less) the Japanese hybrid of New BSG (borrowing heavily on the BSG production design; with enemies that kind of look like ambulatory Cylon raiders) and Star Trek 2009 (borrowing lens flare and some plot elements from the latter).

The plot (in brief); Earth in the late 22nd century is suffering a humiliating defeat at the hands of a mysterious enemy called the 'Gamilas'; who've irradiated earth (it kind of has the same sickish, yellowed look of Caprica after the Cylons were done with it). A young cocky ex-pilot named Kodai (or 2009 Kirk, if you like) is harboring a grudge against a grudge against the stern, bearded captain (looks like a Japanese Marko Raimius) who let his brother commit to a suicide mission. Kodai somehow mysteriously survives an intense barrage of radiation with the aid of what appears to be a mysterious device from another world (or that's what we're led to believe). The source of the alien device is traced to a planet in the small Magellanic cloud; orbiting our own Milky Way galaxy. Humanity hopes that this planet (much like BSG's fabled earth) holds the key to mankind's survival. The last great battlestar--er, ship, "Yamato" (named after the WW2 carrier of the same name; even looks like it a bit) is sent with a gung-ho crew ready to leave the solar system (for the first time, apparently) to search for the cure for earth and final hope for humanity. Kodai, wanting to see firsthand the man who sent his brother to die, reenlists and (in cocky, young Kirk fashion) proceeds to rewrite the rule book. The captain (much like Pike) recognizes the seeds of greatness in Kodai and, with his own health failing, promotes him to 'acting captain' of the Yamato. Kodai then leads his crew on a suicide mission to the planet.
Long story short; the ending (which is truly and unnecessarily protracted by the way) is essentially the Yamato vs a giant Gamilas vessel which is a dead ringer for ST09's Romulan mining vessel Narada. Along the way Kodai also finds love with a previously resentful shipmate who, in time, falls madly in love with him.

Now, from what I've read and from watching the anime as a kid (though sadly, I fail to remember most of the anime) the plot is more or less true to the source (if somewhat condensed), but the stylings and look are much more in keeping with up-to-the-minute space opera. The influences have come full circle as one could argue the '70s anime influenced TOS BSG and (to a lesser degree) Star Trek. And now? NuBSG and ST09 have come back to exert influence over the live-action version of the anime. Happens all the time. If you seen as many movies/TV shows as I have in my 45 years? You realize it's just a never ending cycle. No biggie. Enjoy the moments. There are no new stories anymore. But that doesn't have to be a BAD thing.... :cylonnono:

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(Looks awfully familiar.... OH SHUT UP AND ENJOY IT, will you?!?)

Now, for the uninitiated this really IS a Japanese movie; both in spirit and definitely in attitude. Which means that command and duty are MUCH more respected (almost worshipped) than they'd be in a western made space epic. The attitudes towards authority are almost religious at times (the captain is heralded as an almost demi-god figure; despite the fact he spends more than half the movie on his deathbed). And once Kodai is made acting captain? He is equally worshipped (despite his relative inexperience; while a great pilot, he admits he'd never served on a ship before... again, echoing ST09's Kirk). I'm not used to that in American films. We tend to be suspicious and untrusting of authority in our post-Watergate country; even in our space epics. Japanese devotion to duty and responsibility is legendary; as opposed to the cocky 'rogue' attitude here in the US. "SBS Yamato", despite Kodai's initial arrogance, exhibits a very Japanese attitude. :bowdown:

Another way this film differs from American blockbusters (and forgive me if I ruin the film; I did warn about spoilers); the fate of the hero is not necessarily happily-ever-after. This would not fly with a western summer blockbuster; and I found it refreshing, frankly. There is a somewhat surprising amount of death and carnage for a big budget, epic crowd pleaser as well. It'd be like ST09 killing off Spock, Scotty and Uhura by the end of the third act! And "Yamato" was THE top box office draw for Japan in 2010. This was THEIR Star Trek 2009 (only bigger; adjusting for Japanese B.O. figures). Of course, I've seen many Japanese movies in my time, as I'm a huge fan of giant monster (keiju eiga) movies. I've even been to the west coast premiere of "Godzilla: Tokyo SOS" and "Final Wars" at the Egyptian theatre in Hollywood, so this sort of heroic fatalism in the stories was not new to me. What WAS new to me was seeing it in a big, epic space opera movie. That I was NOT used to. My wife tells me that's something the anime had as well (chalk up two more points for the anime...). :thumbsup:

And the biggest surprise of all? I had a hell of a good time watching this movie! :cylonclap: I'd seen the anime as a kid but sadly, I don't remember it so well so I basically approached this as a new experience free of previous expectations. And I really enjoyed it! It's splashy, it's got lens flare (gotta have the lens flare; soon to be made law in space epics, I'm sure...), it's got some riveting space battle action (with both lasers AND projectiles; the best of both ST and BSG), and some decent character development as well; each of the characters has 'their moment' (the half-crazy with bloodlust security chief, the gruff old engineer, the soft-spoken doctor and her cat, etc). And 'acting captain' Kodai basically undergoes a Kirk style odyssey from bitter, resentful kid to cocky battle jock to (ultimately) hero and responsible leader.
Not bad for a gaudy space opera with all the fixin's....

Good old fashioned heroics. LOTS of epic, ST09/BSG style space opera action, tense Cylon-style close range gun battles (reminded me of the Cylon colony raid in "Daybreak" part 3) and a tragic, heartfelt (if waaaay overlong finale). Space Battleship Yamato delivered the goods, and I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected. Find this one if you can on; I bought a copy there from Malaysia for under $15 (hopefully, Netflix might carry it someday, as they do carry a decent cache of foreign films; but for right now, they only have the anime version).

As the Cylons might say, 'all this has happened before...' but that doesn't mean it can't make for a fun popcorn night in front of the flatscreen... ;)

5 Comments On This Entry

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p0is0n0us Icon

13 January 2012 - 08:46 AM
I used to love Anime when I was younger. As I've aged I feel that a lot go OTT on swearing and gore for impact.

I've always been a fan of Asian movies because its not set in stone that the good guy is going to win and come out smelling of roses. There have been a lot of Asian remakes recently and hollywood insist of giving the happy ending, which bascially wrecks the movie.

I've have to check this movie out and let you know what I think. :)

Captain Taurus Icon

14 January 2012 - 10:39 AM
Very cool buddy! I think you nailed it with your description of Battleship Yamato. I must see this film. I like your descriptions and your spoiler warnings...everything works in this review. Cool! Thumbs up!

obsolete toaster Icon

22 January 2012 - 02:59 PM
Thanks, CT.

Or more appropriately, Arigatou gozaimasu (OT bows)

p0is0n0us Icon

24 January 2012 - 10:40 AM
I watched Space Battleship Yamato. to me it was a cross between Star Trek 09, BSG and Wing Commander.

I thought it was pretty good and the effects were solid in it. One thing that I didn't like was the Captain looked like Captain Birds Eye, kinda looked cheesey.

obsolete toaster Icon

26 January 2012 - 11:06 PM

p0is0n0us, on 24 January 2012 - 07:40 AM, said:

I watched Space Battleship Yamato. to me it was a cross between Star Trek 09, BSG and Wing Commander.

I thought it was pretty good and the effects were solid in it. One thing that I didn't like was the Captain looked like Captain Birds Eye, kinda looked cheesey.

Got to agree with you on the captain. He looked pretty cliche. I half expected him to smoke a pipe, and have anchors emblazoned on his jacket....
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