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Space Battleship Yamato (aka Uchuu Senkan Yamato aka Star Blazers)

Robert Monroe

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Time for a topic of interests. Namely, one of my biggest interests, and one of my favorite anime franchises: Space Battleship Yamato. What is SBY, you may ask? Well, sit down, for Uncle Rob shall tell all.

Space Battleship Yamato is a 1974 anime originally thought of by Yoshinobu Nishizaki, and made into reality by Leiji Matsumoto of the Space Pirate Captain Harlock fame. Originally it was intended to basically be "Lord of the Flies in space", with a plot focusing on discord among crew members aboard an asteroid ship, but these ideas never really saw fruition. When Matsumoto was brought on board, he essentially redesigned and remade Yamato as what it is today.

But what IS SBY, you ask again? Why, it is one of the oldest of old school anime, as well as a space opera. Set in the year 2199, an alien race called the Gamilas (Gamilons in the US dub) begin bombarding the planet Earth with radioactive meteor bombs. Earth is devastated, and the people move underground to survive, trying their best to battle the alien threat with the combined space navies of the entire world. Earth literally dies on the surface, as the oceans are vaporized and the ground becomes like Mars. Things look grim for humanity, as their technology is much weaker than the Gamilas, and they continue to lose battle after battle. But, one fateful day a spaceship crashes on Mars, and a human outpost manned by Kodai Susumu (Derek Wildstar in the US dub) finds in the wreckage a dead girl, a message, and alien technology. It is brought back to Earth, where the technology is revealed to be the plans for a Wave Motion Engine, which allows Faster-than-Light travel, and the message is from the dead girl's sister, Starsha, who resides on the planet Iscandar. She tells in her message that if Earth can come to Iscandar, she will provide them with the Cosmic Purifier, which can eliminate the radiation on Earth and regenerate the surface. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, mankind sets out for this adventure. They convert the ruined WWII battleship Yamato into the most advanced spacecraft every built (don't ask why), and a crew of 114 volunteers is put together to set out to save the Earth.

Along the way, the crew of the Yamato (renamed the Argo in the US dub after it is rebuilt) battle with the Gamilas time and time again, and eventually come to know the motives of them. Desslar (Desslock in the US dub), leader of the Gamilas, is trying to make Earth habitable for his people, as his homeworld is dying. He considers the humans of Earth barbarians, and has no problem with destroying them for the sake of his people. Eventually, though, Yamato overcomes Desslar's plans and retrieves the Cosmic Purifier, bringing it back to Earth and saving humanity.

But the story does not end there! After the success of the original series, Yamato first got a film version of its original series, made from edited TV show footage, and then a sequel film called "Farewell Yamato" was made. Farewell Yamato ended with the destruction of the Yamato and the death of almost the entire crew while battling the superpowerful Comet Empire, but it was not the end of the series. Yamato's popularity was so great, that Farewell was rewritten into a second TV series, aptly know as "Space Battleship Yamato 2: The Comet Empire". While many things stayed the same or at least similar, much of it was totally redone and several plotpoints were expanded on, and it has a much happier ending.

Following Comet Empire, there were two Japanese-exclusive films that created the next story arc: The Dark Nebulans. The first of these was called Yamato: The New Journey, where the Yamato's casualties are replaced (alot of characters died even in the syndicated TV show run of the Comet Empire arc), and allies with their former enemy, Desslar, after his homeworld is destroyed. The second film, Be Forever Yamato, takes it a step further, as it is revealed the Dark Nebulans who destroyed the planet Gamilas were but a smaller part of a much larger force, who invade Earth out of revenge. Yamato, however, was stationed at the Asteroid Belt at the time, and manages to set out to defeat the Dark Nebulans at their home world and save the Earth.

Then, in 1980, we got Space Battleship Yamato 3: The Bolar Wars. This was intended to be Matsumoto's biggest work, an epic spanning over 50 episodes. However, writing complications reduced it to a mere 25, sad to say. In this arc, the sun is hit with a powerful missle that is causing it to chain react and begin to go supernova, and at the same time Earth is threatened by the growing force of the Bolar Federation, a militant collection of various planets and peoples. Yamato must set out to not only find a way to stop the sun from destroying life on Earth, but also stop the Bolars. A curious not about this season was it was dubbed much later than the first two TV seasons, and as a result almost none of the old actors return and it is generally considred the weakest dub.

Then, the last official Yamato story for over 25 years would come in the form of 1983's film "Final Yamato". A race of aliens called the Dengulli attempt to collide the planet Aquarius with the Earth to make a new planet suitible for them to settle after the destruction of their old world. Yamato sets off on its final mission to save the Earth, ultimately sacrificing itself in the process.

OR DOES IT? After over 25 years of legal complications between Matsumoto and Nishizaki, we finally got Space Battleship Yamato: Rebirth, which hit Japanese cinemas December 2009. Set 17 years after Final Yamato, a mysterious black hole is found to be moving through space (don't ask how) and will destroy the entire Solar System. Yamato is freed from the frozen remains of the planet Aquarius and rebuilt bigger and badder than ever before, and the old crew is reunited to find a new home for human civilization, only to be attacked by the SUS Empire who controls the region of space that they must cross.


No, the story doesn't end here! Well, the MAIN one does, but Matsumoto was never a stickler for continuity. There are several smaller Yamato stories that either 1: never got off the ground, 2: ended too soon, or 3: are obscure as hell. Just to list a few...

The Story of Jura. This Japan-only comic was focused around Desslar's daughter and tells the story of what happened before the first Yamato season.

Yamato 2520. This was created as an attempt to celebrate Yamato's 20th birthday, but never really took off. It was set 300 years after Final Yamato, and mankind has spread across the entire Milky Way galaxy. The show boasted a sleek, stylish art style, and high production values, but ultimately was canceled due to how unfamiliar it was to the source material.

Yamato Rebirth, 1994. The original idea for Yamato Rebirth was made around 1994, and featured a bearded Kodai Susumu and Cold War themes. Sadly, it never took off.

Great Yamato. Created in 2001, this was basically a pure "Matsumto" styled sequel of Space Battleship Yamato, in two parts: a 2 book manga and a original symphonic suite (crazy I know). It was set in the year 3199, it features characters who look just like their ancestors (a common Matsumoto trope) who are drawn to the ruins of the old Yamato. They encounter the ghost of Starsha, who then helps them in a war against Darqueen, a Matsumoto villain from Space Pirate Captain Harlock.

Dai Yamato Zero Go. This is the blackest sheep of the Yamato franchise, due to the copyright complications that plagued Yamato for so long a time. Set in the year 3199, like Great Yamato, this is about all it has in common with the mythos as a whole. Yamato looks totally different, and there is alot of garring early 2000s CGI. It never took off, but had alot of merchandising for some odd reason.

Cosmowarrior Zero. A Japan-only Playstation game released in 1999, is basically an old school FPS that takes you through just about every Matsumoto verse made, from Galaxy Express 999 and Captain Harlock, to of course, Space Battleship Yamato.

Space Battleship Yamato 2010. The latest in the series, this is a live action retelling of the original Space Battleship Yamato story of 1974. It's not yet in cinemas, but here's hoping its good!

Star Blazers. The English dub, in other words! Why is it here? Well, because while SB was for the most part a faithful translation of the original stories, there are enough differences that it basically warrants as an "alternate timeline" story. Certain characters live, others die, and some arcs are a different, as well as no Japanese-only stories (Dark Nebulans, Final Yamato). Perhaps the biggest thing about Star Blazers, is the high quality fancomic made in its honor, Star Blazers Rebirth, which took the dropped concepts of the scrapped 1994 Yamato Rebirth, and created it into its own story. I highly recommend reading it!

So, you read all my text, and now you want more, right?! I'd hope so, anyway. Well, if you actually wanna WATCH Yamato, you can find the first season and the second season entirely on Youtube. You can also find the movies too. Sadly, there is yet to be a Yamato 3 upload, but you can always enjoy the Star Blazers dub.

As for articles and good websites to learn the mythos better, here's my recommendations:

The Wave Motion Webpage. One of the oldest of the fansites, it is a good source for noobies to get familiar with the franchise, the characters, the stories, and such. Sadly, it does not seem to have updated since 2001.

Space Cruiser Yamato. The host site of The Story of Jura, it updates, but very sloooooooowly.

The Star Blazers Webpage. Easily the best Yamato site to date. Loads of information and details on all the storylines, the obscure stuff, interviews, and is the host of the Star Blazers Rebirth webcomic. You can also find information on the new live action film.

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You REALLY like the series,

did not you? :lol:

Oh, and at least now I know

why it is called 'Space Battleship Yamato'.

I did call it one of my favorite anime.

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Sounds C00L.

Were I not over-tasked as I am,

I would give it a try. Maybe someday...

Well, here. Enjoy the kick-ass opening theme song in the meantime :D

This is the "dramatic" opening, used for the more tense episodes.


And this is the standard opening which was commonly used.


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With a purpose!

Did you know that Starfox makes references to Yamato as well as Matsumoto in general? The smaller warships in Area 6 of Starfox 64 were called "Harlock Cruisers", and one episode of Yamato involves a "Sargasso space zone", although this could be coincidence as there is a real life Sargasso sea. The planet Gamilas is also physically similar to Venom, being devoid of vegetation, rocky, poisonous (for humans anyway, for Gamilas natives its perfectly fine), and covered in volcanoes and lava beds. Another episode of season 1 had the Yamato fly over the surface of a star ala Solar.

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dang sounds alot liek Robotech and Outlaw star wish I had seen this.

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dang sounds alot liek Robotech and Outlaw star wish I had seen this.

Robotech/Macross was heavily inspired by older space opera and giant robot anime. In fact, the original conception of it was a parody of these shows, but it became its own bonefied space drama instead.

Heck, Macross' own Captain Gloval was modeled after Captain Okita from Yamato:


Gloval on the left, Okita on the right.

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