The year is 2199. The once blue and green planet Earth has been reduced to a radioactive desert wasteland by constant attacks by the hostile aliens from the planet Gamilus which force the remaining population underground. However, a friendly alien race from the planet Iscandar contacts the humans and gives them the blueprints to build a powerful space battleship capable of retrieving a device to clean the planet before humanity disappears. The United Nations Cosmo Navy – whose space fleets have been decimated by Gamilan forces – resurrects the long-sunken battleship Yamato and applies the alien technology to its interior, transforming it into the vessel for which the series is named: Space Battleship Yamato (Synopsis from Wikipedia)
Join me down the break to read why you should be watching a truly fantastic show in its own class putting to shame much of the swath the anime industry releases every season
Preface – I have not seen the original series but plan to in the future
Before last month when I finally got around to watching this, Yamato 2199 had always been under my radar. My friends had recommended me it numerous times over Twitter and such but my response was always “I’ll get to it eventually”. Well last month, during the lull before the Spring season started, I finally had the chance to get to it. Boy do I feel stupid for putting it off as long as I did.
This show has a unique release schedule akin to Gundam Unicorn but much faster. It releases in movie theaters in batches of 4 30 min episodes at a time then are put onto Blu-Ray/DVD a month later.
- Breathtaking Visuals
I cannot stress enough how beautiful of a show Yamato 2199 is. One reason for this is due to the way the show is produced. A TV anime usually has a set budget and time the studio has to adhere because of time slot restrictions. Yamato however has the luxury of being given an abnormally high amount of money, time, and polish thus resulting episodes with a movie quality-like atmosphere. Normally this would be a huge risk for a studio and sponsors but Yamato has a reputation behind the name. It wouldn’t be wrong to say this is the “Star Wars” of Japan.
CG and anime rarely mix well but in Yamato’s case it works, and exquisitely at that, because of the show’s setting in space. Xebec wisely uses it mostly for dogfights involving the Yamato and its starfighters when they engage the Gamilans. They are magnificently choreographed with the Battle for Pluto and the Dimension Stealth Bomber being particularly awesome.
- Engaging Characterization
What I really enjoy about the characters in this show is how they are developed subtly but steadily every episode. A lot of series in the anime climate today have a hard time finding that right balance or just blatantly ignore it. The thing that makes this feat even more notable is Yamato has an uncommonly large ensemble cast. That’s no easy feat let me tell you. If you want to watch a show with characters that are honest and relatable, this is your cup of tea.
Yamato’s antagonists, The Gamilan Empire, are pretty complex and not your typical race of evil aliens. The main race are very prideful and whom you’d consider the villains of the show but the Empire itself has a caste system composed of the other races it has assimilated. Loyalty within the Empire is explored on all levels, highest to lowest, leading to some “explosive” resolutions (Metaphorically and Literally).
- Themes, Themes, Themes
The diversity of topics Yamato analyzes is truly something to appreciate and not take for granted. From Humanity and Patriotism to Family, it explores them in a profound manner. When Yamato delves into said themes, it never forces an opinion down the audience’s throat. The anime leaves its viewers to realize their own thoughts and ideas about the themes of their own accord. Too many shows these days have a statement to make so this is refreshing to say the least.
If you couldn’t tell already, I love this show to no end. What excites me is how we’re only at its halfway mark with 2199 poised to finish its episode count by Fall! Yamato contains a wide variety of genres ranging from drama, action, and even romance(if just a little). Viewers hesitant of sci-fi shouldn’t hesitate to give this series a try also, due to the show’s character driven nature.
Final thing I have to sneak in is that Yamato has some of the most impactful episode endings I’ve seen in anime. The last scene of the episode plays out with the title of the episode appearing somewhere on the screen then fading out into credits. My god it’s amazing in execution….