I was always impressed with the Space Battleship Yamato franchise that was released in the United States as Starblazers. I expect it to be like many of the older anime that I had seen but Yamato took a very serious approach to the subject matter and had an involved storyline. It was definitely a series that was ahead of its time. Over this past year I showed all of the animated Yamato series to my wife and once we finished I wanted to watch the live action movie that I knew had come out a few years ago, so we sat down and watched it.
I have to say that it may have been all the hype that I'd heard or maybe it just was a bit to far from that original but I had a hard time with a lot of the story. It is incredibly difficult to condense a season of 26 episodes even into a 2 and a half hour movie, so I understand how difficult it must have been. Yet there were certain decisions like making Kodai into some random punk rather than a young cadet that just really rubbed me the wrong way. I also didn't like changing Yuki to a fighter pilot and giving her this whole weird problem with Kodai because he'd quit the force. The Gamilas are now just weird crystal things, so we don't even get the awesomeness that is Dessler, which really ought to be the only purpose of any Yamato series or movie - showing the awesomeness that is Dessler. I was also annoyed that they expect us to believe that Okita could cause the government to forget about the whole relocation project to go to Iscandar with nothing other than blind hope that they'd be able to find some way of fixing things there. Why would anyone go for that?
The movie is mostly adapted from the first season of the TV series but they've also put in some elements from the second movie. Saito and his space marines are there and the "everybody dies" ending is right out of that second movie. Frankly, I'm not a fan of the second movie either and it's why they ended up retconing it out of existence with the second season of the anime. I'd rather if they had gone that route to just do the Comet Empire as the villains rather than messing with the Gamilas to such a large degree.
In the end I'm just not a fan of the punk actually turns out to be super awesome and gets the girl (while warping no less, causing my wife to coin the term "warp sex") and then sacrifices himself but lives in because she's pregnant trope. These elements are incredibly cliched and the TV series didn't feel the need to fall into such a rut. I'm partway through reviewing the Yamato reboot series, Yamato 2199 and I can already say that that is a much better reboot. It's still different from the original but the changes all make sense and fix problems with the original series rather than changing things just for the sake of change and making them less tasteful.
There were some great things here. I loved the fact that they used the same voice for Analyzer from the anime. I was afraid that he'd only be a voice on that computer but we actually got a full on robotic version of Analyzer towards the end of the movie and it made me giddy. I was also happy that the original theme music was there in a full orchestral version. I also thought that the special effects were amazingly good until the end of the movie when they arrive at Iscandar. Suddenly, it seems like they lost their effects budget and everything got super cheesy.
Also, I'm going to be a little nitpicky but when Starsha communicates with Yuki why does her uniform have to get blown off? It makes no sense other than for a brief moment of almost titilation. I realize that we got a brief "Yuki is naked" moment in the original series when warping's psychedelic effects caused her clothes to be translucent for a half second but it's hardly a Yamato standard or trope and its not really something that needed to be duplicated. Even then it just blows off her uniform and she's wearing a tank top underneath so the whole thing seems weird and pointless.
So yeah, it was a fine little nostalgia trip but fell far short of the mark that was the original anime. Instead of making things make more sense, they make even less and a lot of things were changed for no reason. Missing the awesomeness that is Dessler was just the final nail in the coffin. Anyone whose seen the original series should enjoy this on some level but I don't think that it's all that good of a movie.