When I was four or five years old the reason I came
home from school was because my mother drove me but the reason that I
looked forward to it were for three shows. All anime; (although that
word was unknown to me at the time) Astroboy, G-force or Battle for the
Planets and Star Blazers.
Star Blazers was a cultural phenomenon in Japan
almost as popular with the Japanese as it was in my house. Of course I
got the Americanized version that dispensed with the sex, sado-machacism,
extreme violence and some of the strangeness of the Japanese version
were it was called Space Battleship Yamato and was a post war
catharsis for the Japanese spirit.
In the version I saw the ship was called ďThe ArgoĒ
and it tied itís themes to the Greek myth Jason and the Argonauts in
their attempt to get the Golden Fleece. The lead was even called Jason.
In Japan the ship was the Yamato which was a WWII
destroyer and the pride of the fleet as the heaviest and most powerfully
armed Battleships ever constructed. Sunk by American forces April 7th
1945, her loss was keenly felt; coming as it did close to the end of the
war. Her cultural significance to the Japanese was akin to the way the
Americans feel about the Statue of Liberty.
In October 1974, Leiji Matsumoto created a new
television series, Space Battleship Yamato, about rebuilding the
battleship as a starship and its interstellar quest to save Earth. The
series was a huge success, spawning five feature films and two more TV
series. It has been said that the series helped Japan find its purpose
after the war a purpose that perhaps robots and tentacle sex couldnít
supply. It certainly re-cast the Japanese from villains to heroes on an
epic quest to save humanity that only they and their flagship could
So itís unsurprising that we now have a new film
version; one of the most expensive Japanese films ever produced. It
sticks closely to the plot of the series, apart from a few small strange
diversions that serve little purpose. The uniforms are from the series,
the music is from the series (although sadly sans lyrics) the ship is
identical to the series. The space battles are straight from the recent
BSG remake but all the better for it, the CG is amazing. The only
problem here is that they have tried to cram too much into one film, the
whole story from outset to going to Iscandar to getting back to earth is
here (and because itís Japanese, people you like have to die to prove a
point). So it feels rushed and once we are on Iscandar it reminded me
heavily of the Final Fantasy Film of a few years ago. Still thereís a
tingle and thrill whenever the Wave Motion Gun is fired and anyone who
remembers the series will find much to love here.
Special Features: Thereís a visual effects before and
after featurette which shows you just how much of the film is CG
(everything except the cat). Impressive.
A featurette on Pre-vis (storyboarding) which take us
through Ten key scenes as storyboards as compared to their final
versions. Interesting but not essential.
The Scale gallery has the Yamato flying next to
things so you get an idea of how bit it is, fun but why?
The 360 gallery has different ships flying around in
360. Only good if you want to build scale models of them, which of
course some of us will.
A theatrical trailer and thatís about it. Shame.
Video: The Blu-Ray quality is great, the only quibble
is the look of the Galamans which is a little too CG.
Audio: 7.1 soundtrack in DTS HD sounds
pretty good. Of course itís subtitles if you want to understand what
they are saying.