The space opera sub genre has come a long way since the 70s with the release of Star Wars. Even since the space opera genre has risen to prominence with people trying to capitalize on Star Wars success. In the anime medium, we got a 26 episode series Space Battleship Yamato. While the anime industry around that time was still niche Space Battleship Yamato was an influential work that not exploded the Space Opera genre in the medium but anime has a whole. Yamato alongside Ashita no Joe mark the turn of more serious complex works in anime. Yamato especially went on to influence works like Mobile Suit Gundam, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Space Pirate Captain Harlock, Macross and arguably one of the greatest anime of all time Legend Of The Galactic Heroes.
As much I appreciated the original Space Battleship Yamato for what it has done to the industry I don’t think it has aged partially well. The audiovisual composition was rough, the animation was stiff and the dialogue was borderline cheesy. As an anime veteran, I can endure all of that but most anime fans would not especially newer ones.
That is why 4 decades later we get a remake of Space Battleship Yamato titled Space Battleship Yamato 2199 or Star Blazers 2199. One of the best anime remakes ever made as well-one of the best animes to come out from the space opera genre.
Watching Space Battleship Yamato 2199 story play out is like going back to the old days where stories had something to say. 2199 highlights the strong level of storytelling that we don’t see much anymore. Everything about Space Battleship Yamato story has a purpose. From world-building, themes to character development the show sticks of what matters about fictional storytelling without it meandering to the lowest common determinator just for appeal.
Writing in Space Battleship Yamato 2199 is strong for the most part.
It knows to execute the themes of racism, lost, distance, discrimination, the series has an amazing sense of focus and the show was proud it tells its story delivering a bunch of excellent story elements that you think. Speaking of lost that is the central theme of 2199. Every character has lost something precious that cannot gain back whenever it’s a loved one, hometown to even the ability to live.
War may sound like the perfect solution to end all conflicts but in reality, it actually makes things worse as people from both races throughout the war.
Episode 7 of 2199 in retrospect is one of the most depressing episodes I’ve ever seen in anime. Despite the episode being light-hearted in tone, it sets the stage of the lost where the majority of the Yamato crew members have to contact their loves one back on earth about their progress as well-surviving the whole trip. Needless to say, the decent amount of crew members don’t survive the whole journey as they were killed in action. It doesn’t matter which side wins the sense of loss will still be apparent and how both sides deal with loss can affect the future.
The strongest aspect of 2199 plot was how grey it is. Over the course of the series we get introduced to the Garmillas race which you expect to be the generic black and white space Nazi’s villains that halt on galactic destruction but at the series progresses you find out the Garmillas are in the same league as the humans when it comes to ideals. 2199 does a great exploring both races at an even pace. At the end of the series, I was left questioning about who were the true villains. The Garmillas may have been labelled as villains but some of the humans are just as bad as them. It incredible powerful balance worldbuilding and theme exploration that we don’t see anymore mainly as the majority of anime these days decided to play it safe with ass pulls, Deux ex machinas to plot conveniences.
This is not to say that the series is devoid of lights hearted moments it has plenty of them mainly appearing when they are going through to downtime for example in episode 7 everyone from the Yamato crew are chilling and being themselves after a successful life rise mission. These downtime moments gave us the opportunity to connect with the crew.
This is not to say the story is perfect.
Due to the show not entirely not focusing on the central cast some of the subplots fell a bit flat especially the romance. It wasn’t a bad idea on paper of the show to have some romance you can tell that there’s wasn’t enough time to properly executed the romance aspect of 2199. Thankfully the romance aspects were explored in its squeal series 2202 but that’s for another time.
Even though 2199 is mostly devoid of plot holes there’s was one jarring plot hole that never seemed to go away and is how the crew were able to fix the Yamato in perfect condition. At the beginning of the show there were 1000 people inboard of Yamato yet at every single battle they seem to lose a decade handful of them and the show doesn’t state that they are in the repair crew or not.
Furthermore, the Yamato gets damaged a lot through the show. Also, how do even get supplies or even get ammo? Are we the viewers meant to believe that have all that onboard let alone other engineering people are were originally assigned to do other tasks for the Yamato? Thankfully this jarring plot hole that tested my disbelieve at times didn’t put a huge of this beautifully crafted story that I loved from beginning to end. It is a roller-coaster of a story that made happy, cry and laugh.
Naturally, a space opera would be dead on arrival if the characters weren’t interesting or likeable but lucky Space Battleship Yamato 2199 delivers a fascinating and well-written character cast you all sympathise with due to most of the cast have lost something important.
Kodai is a very compelling character to watch. He’s not the standard overpowered MC that you seen countless times. He has his own personal struggle as he lost the most important person in his life being his older brother. Kodai character progression in 2199 was a sight to see as he becomes a different person by the end of the series.
Oida is one of the best elderly characters I’ve seen period.
At first glance, he may come off a typical old farce who does nothing but whine in the captain position but the anime destroyed that negative mindset immediately. He’s the most human character in the anime due to how sympathetic and reliable he is.
He’s a war veteran alongside Engineer Tokugawa as they saw countless crew members before their time die. His willpower to save humanity even if it cost him his life (due to his illness that gets worse later on) is nothing short of amazing. Furthermore, his bond with Kodai was fascinating to watch as it felt like a natural fatherly bond that helped Kodai grow as a person.
The one thing that I loved about 2199 was how it’s female characters. They were given a lot of narrative substance that just as compelling as the male characters.
Akira is the best example of this and she is my favourite character in 2199. Not only she was a fun character to watch with her hot streak attitude but’s also very interesting to watch due to her background. I feel sympathy for her as she’s trying to get revenge that killed her brother.
That is quite a beat given that the original series Akira was an afterthought. Plus he was male in the original instead of the female.
Aberdt Desler joins the ranks or Kira Yoshikage, Griffith, Johan Liebert Meruem and Shougo Makishima as one of my favourite anime villains of all time.
He’s a fascinating antagonist to follow from beginning to end due to his mysterious and compelling factor. Plus he does a great job of challenging the human race and everything that they stand for.
Some characters fair better than others however.
Yuki started off as this strong well-written heroin that can stand up to anyone to standard heroin that needs protection. She even becomes a plot device towards the end which was unfortunate.
Kodai’s best friend Daisuke was pretty annoying in the first couple but thankfully he gets much better on where he ended up being a solid character due to his strong development in the series.
I may love the Garmilla race as a whole but some of them came off as cartoonish villains that lack depth. Thankfully characters like Aberdt and specially Garmilla officers elites make for it due to his understanding the human viewpoint and struggles.
Overall the characters in 2199 were loveable to watch. They all had a purpose within the narrative and all bounce each other in some shape of them.
Marvellous is the best word to describe Space Battleship Yamato 2199 visuals. This is without question one of the best-looking anime to ever come out. Characters designs are crisp and clean. The background scenery is atmospheric and pleasing to look at especially the space pieces
The animation is vibrant, smooth and wonderfully animated. It had some of the best looking and impactful explosions I’ve seen and it was only made better by the outstanding sound design. Speaking of sound design that’s another area where 2199 shines. From the laser shot, the for mentioned explosion sounds to the iconic Wave Motion Cannon 2199 sound designs manages 2199 feel alive.
2199 has some of the best use of CGI I’ve seen in anime as it perfectly blends in with the 2D scenes without feeling out of place. I adored how the design the Yamato ship itself. It felt like a pleasing ship that is designed for battle.
Akira Miyagawa the son of Hiroshi Miyagawa (who did the soundtrack for the original Yamato series) delivers a masterful orchestra musical that is filled with tension and emotion.
Oh, how can I forget about the kickass opening and ending themes. They all perfectly fit the anime as well as them being very catchy to listen.
Yamato 2199 has a fantastic English dub. It’s filled the bloom with great acting, rich audio quality and an excellent dub script.
Space Battleship Yamato 2199 is one of the most fascinating rides I’ve ever experienced. It does everything a good anime remake should by keeping all the elements that made the original iconic as well expanding and changing things to give it a refresh modern feel. It may had a few bumpy roads along with way but the positives definitely outweigh the negatives. From the immersive world, engaging plot twist, near-perfect story/character writing, outstanding visuals and masterpiece soundtrack Space Battleship 2199 is a series that was made with care, respect, and passion.
Hopefully, Space Battleship Yamato 2202 will live up to its predecessor when I watch it and review it.
Don’t let me down 2202