When I was a kid I would occasionally come across the odd anime cartoon, I always found them fascinating, there was the Americanization of Gatchaman that I adored until I discovered how much cooler the original was. And every now and then I would stumble across Star Blazers which took what looked like a naval warship, strapped on some small wings and a rocket engine and she travelled through space on some quest that I never saw enough of the series to figure out.
The show was the North American edited and adapted version of the iconic anime series Space Battleship Yamato. There have been a couple of incarnations of the series that have been made, but in 2010, fans were delivered an epic live-action version.
While paying some service to the original series, as much of it as I can remember, it also tells a bold and powerful story of hope and sacrifice.
An alien species that we’ve christened the Gamilas have been launching attacks on Earth, completely irradiating the surface of the planet, and driving humanity under the surface to survive any way we can.
They plan to move in and take over, and our current space fleet of battleships seems unable to stop them.
When Kodai (Takuya Kimura) a former naval officer and pilot recovers a strange capsule that contains specs for an engine and weapon system and coordinates hundreds of thousands of light years away, for a planet they call Iskander, Captain Okita (Tsutomu Yamazaki) comes up with a plan.
Convincing his superiors to recommission the Yamato, one of the last space battleships, he takes into account that Kodai was healed, inexplicably, of a lethal dose of radiation by the capsule, and suggests the seed of hope; whoever sent the capsule has a way to stop the radiation, and perhaps we can once again have a green Earth and vanquish the Gamilas with the new weapons we’ve been provided with.
A journey filled with excitement, solid visual effects and some predictable melodrama, especially with Kodai and the lovely, hotshot pilot, Mori (Meisa Kuroki) leads to a final confrontation with the true nature of the Gamilas and themselves.
It’s a rollicking adventure that was solidly entertaining even for those who never saw the series. It’s a fun space chase, and while it lacks some of the exploration and discovery that I feel was part of the original series, you can only do so much in a movie that is just over two hours long.
I enjoyed it, I love the jackets that serve as the departmental designation. I wish the fighters looked a little different, but the space combat is a lot of fun, though I don’t understand why Kodai’s fighter does the things it does.