There’s been a lull in this blog recently, I’ve had a few draft posts queued up but haven’t quite gotten around to finishing them. So, I thought I’d post a quick capsule review of the new (ish) Space Battleship Yamato : Resurrection movie. This is mostly nicked from a post I made to the “What are you watching…?” thread over on the Eirtakon forum.
Apparently, this is the first Yamato movie in about 26 years and one of the last things made by the series’ co-creator Yoshinobu Nishizaki before he was killed in a boating accident a few weeks ago. Ironically, after falling overboard from a ship called “Yamato”.
For those who may not know, Nishizaki and Leiji Matsumoto created Space Battleship Yamato in the mid 70s. To say it was a hit would be a huge understatement. The show went on to spawn 2 sequels, 5 (?) feature-length films, a ton of merchandise and a huge cult following outside Japan in the form of Star Blazers, as it was called for the english-dubbed version. Crucially, it inspired a new generation of anime fans who went on to become creators themselves. For a better insight into the whole phenomenon, Corn Pone Flicks have recently produced a fantastic documentary.
But, back to the film at hand. After Yamato/Star Blazers’ phenomenal success throughout the 70s and into the 80s, at some point Nishizaki and Matsumoto had a falling out, the rights to the show became disputed and several court battles ensued. However, Nishizaki seemed to remain obsessed with the idea of re-making Yamato, for monetary or artistic reasons…or both, sometimes with horrifying results. Things finally came to fruition late last year.
The plot would be familiar to anyone who’s seen either the series or the films – a space-born menace threatens to destroy earth, in this case an oddly purposeful black hole. In the face of the approaching black hole that threatens to gobble up the entire solar system, the citizens of Earth are slowly being evacuated to a friendly planet in gigantic fleets of “emigration ships” that can carry 100s of millions of people. Unfortunately, an alliance of aliens (who look pretty much like humans) aren’t too happy with the prospect of new neighbours and have been ambushing the colony fleets. Which means that the World War II battleship Yamato needs to be pulled out of retirement to guard the emigration ships on their long journey, in order to save mankind. Honestly, you’d think the old crew would throw their hands in the air at this point – it’s about the fifth time this has happened.
Despite the oft-recycled plot, I was very impressed. It’s been in the works, in one form or another, since about 1994. The legal battles may have delayed its completion. But as is sometimes the case with troubled productions, a superior product has been delivered.
We’ve got gigantic fleets of emigration ships performing slingshot maneuvers around the edge of a black hole, battles with trans-dimensional beings, noble enemies, even nobler deaths and of course the Yamato back on the big screen – one of the most iconic symbols in anime. All this is done in CG that can be a little jarring at times, but certainly not as intrusive as it could have been.
It just goes to show you can’t keep a good series down, even if it takes 26 years.