Space Battleship Yamato (宇宙戦艦ヤマト Uchū Senkan Yamato?) is a Japanese science fiction anime series featuring an eponymous space craft. It is also known to English-speaking audiences as Space Cruiser Yamato; an English-dubbed and partly edited version of the series was broadcast on North American and Australian television as Star Blazers. An Italian-language version was also broadcast under the name Star Blazers in Italy, and a Portuguese-language version was successfully shown in Brazil under the title Patrulha Estelar ("Star Patrol").
Conceived in 1973 by producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki, the project underwent heavy revisions. Originally intended to be an outer-space variation on Lord of the Flies, the project at first was titled "Asteroid Ship Icarus" and had a multinational teenage crew journeying through space in a hollowed-out asteroid in search of the planet Iscandar. There was to be much discord among the crew; many of them acting purely out of self-interest and for personal gain. The enemy aliens were originally called Rajendora.
When Leiji Matsumoto was brought onto the project, many of these concepts were discarded. It is his art direction, ship designs and unique style that accredit him in fans' eyes as the true creator of Space Battleship Yamato, even though Nishizaki retains legal rights to the work.
Space Battleship Yamato
The first season began airing in Japan on October 6, 1974. Set in the year 2199, an alien race known as the "Gamilas" ("Gamilons" in the English Star Blazers dub) unleash radioactive meteorite bombs on Earth, rendering the planet's surface uninhabitable. Humanity has retreated into deep underground cities, but the radioactivity is slowly affecting them as well, with mankind's extinction estimated in one year. Earth's space fleet is hopelessly outclassed by the Gamilas and all seems lost until a message capsule from a mysterious crashed spaceship is retrieved on Mars. The capsule yields blueprints for a faster-than-light engine and an offering of help from Queen Starsha of the planet Iscandar in the Large Magellanic Cloud. She says that her planet has a device, the Cosmo-Cleaner D (Cosmo DNA), which can cleanse Earth of its radiation damage.
The inhabitants of Earth secretly build a massive spaceship inside the ruins of the Japanese battleship Yamato, the Space Battleship Yamato for which the story is titled. Using Starsha's blueprints, they equip the new ship with a space warp drive, called the "wave motion engine", and a new, incredibly powerful weapon at the bow called the "wave motion gun".
In the English Star Blazers dub, the ship is noted as being the historical Yamato, but is then renamed the Argo (after the ship of Jason and the Argonauts). A crew of 114 departs for Iscandar in the Yamato to retrieve the radiation-removing device and return to Earth within the one-year deadline. Along the way, they discover the motives of their blue-skinned adversaries: the planet Gamilas, sister planet to Iscandar, is dying; and its leader, Lord Desslar ("Desslok" in the Star Blazers dub), is trying to irradiate Earth enough for his people to move there, at the expense of the "barbarians" he considers humanity to be.
The first season contained 26 episodes, following the Yamato's voyage out of the Milky Way Galaxy and back again. A continuing story, it features the declining health of Yamato's Captain Okita (Avatar in the Star Blazers dub), and the transformation of the brash young orphan Susumu Kodai (Derek Wildstar) into a mature officer, as well as his budding romance with female crewmember Yuki Mori (Nova). The foreign edits tend to play up the individual characters, while the Japanese original is often more focused on the ship itself. In a speech at the 1995 Anime Expo, series episode director Noboru Ishiguro said low ratings and high production expenses forced producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki to trim down the episode count from the original 39 episodes to only 26. The 13 episodes would have introduced Captain Harlock as a new series character.
The series was condensed into a 130-minute-long movie by combining elements from a few key episodes. Additional animation was created for the movie (such as the scenes on Iscandar) or recycled from the series' test footage (such as the opening sequence). The movie, which was released in Japan on August 6, 1977, was edited down further and dubbed into English in 1978; entitled Space Cruiser Yamato or simply Space Cruiser, it was only given a limited theatrical release in Europe & Latin America, where it was called Patrulha Estelar (Star Patrol) or Astronave Intrepido (Starship Intrepid), though it was later released on video in most countries.
Farewell to Space Battleship Yamato
Script error The success of the Yamato movie in Japan eclipsed that of the local release of Star Wars, leading to the production of a second movie that would end the story. Also going by the name Arrivederci Yamato, Farewell to Space Battleship Yamato shows the Yamato crew going up against the Comet Empire from the Andromeda Galaxy. A titanic space battle results in the crew going out on a suicide mission to save humanity. The film has been considered as non-canonical.
Space Battleship Yamato II
Script error The negative feedback from Farewell to Space Battleship Yamato prompted the production of a second Yamato series, which retconned the movie and presenting a different plot against Zohdah (Prince Zordar in the Star Blazers dub) and his Comet Empire without killing off the Yamato or its primary characters. Expanding the story to 26 episodes, the second season featured additional plots such as a love story between Teresa (Trelaina) and Yamato crew member Daisuke Shima (Mark Venture), and an onboard antagonism between Kodai and Saito (Knox), leader of a group of space marines.
Footage from Farewell to Space Battleship Yamato was reused in the second season, particularly in the opening titles. The sequence of the Yamato launching from water was also reused in two of the subsequent movies.
Yamato: The New Voyage (1979)
Script error The television movie, Yamato: The New Voyage (a.k.a. Yamato: The New Journey), came next, featuring a new enemy, the Black Nebula Empire. In the film, later modified into a theatrical movie, Desslar sees his homeworld, Gamilas, destroyed by the grey-skinned aliens, and its twin planet Iscandar next in line for invasion. He finds an eventual ally in the Yamato, then on a training mission under deputy captain Kodai.
Be Forever Yamato (1980)
Script error The theatrical movie Be Forever Yamato sees the Black Nebula launch a powerful weapon at Earth, a hyperon bomb which will annihilate humanity if they resist a full-scale invasion. The Yamato, under new captain, Yamanami, travels to the aliens' home galaxy only to discover what appears to be a future Earth—defeated and ruled by the enemy. Appearing in this film is Sasha, the daughter of Queen Starsha of Iscandar and Mamoru Kodai (Susumu's older brother).
Space Battleship Yamato III
Script error Following these movies, a third season of the TV series was produced, broadcast on Japanese television in 1980. In this, the Sun is hit by a stray proton missile from a nearby battle between forces of the Galman Empire and Bolar Federation. This missile greatly accelerates nuclear fusion in the Sun, and humanity must either evacuate to a new home or find a means of preventing a supernova. During the course of the story, it is learned that the people of the Galman Empire are actually the forebears of Desslar and the Gamilas race. Desslok and the remnants of his space fleet have liberated Galman from the Bolar Federation. Originally conceived as a 52-episode story, funding cuts meant the season had to be reduced to 25 episodes, with a corresponding loss of overall story development. This third season was adapted into English several years after the original Star Blazers run and, to the dissatisfaction of fans, used different voice actors than did the earlier seasons.
Script error Premiering in Japanese theaters on March 19, 1983, Final Yamato reunites the crew one more time to combat the threat of the Denguili, a militaristic alien civilization that intends to use the water planet Aquarius to flood Earth and resettle there (having lost their home planet to a galactic collision). Captain Okita, who was found to be in cryogenic sleep since the first season, returns to command the Yamato and sacrifices himself to stop the Denguili's plan. Susumu and Yuki also get married.
Having a running time of 163 minutes, Final Yamato retains the record of being the longest animated film ever made.
Script error In March 2002, a Tokyo court ruled that Yoshinobu Nishizaki legally owned the Yamato copyrights. Nishizaki and Matsumoto eventually settled, and Nishizaki began work on a new movie titled Yamato: Rebirth (宇宙戦艦ヤマト 復活篇 Uchū Senkan Yamato: Fukkatsu hen) (set after the original series), while Matsumoto planned a new Yamato series. However, additional legal conflicts stalled both projects until August, 2008, when Nishizaki announced plans for the release of his film on December 12, 2009.
Set 17 years after the events of Final Yamato, Rebirth brings together some members of the Yamato crew, who lead Earth's inhabitants to resettle in a far-flung star system after a black hole is discovered, which will destroy the solar system in three months.
Space Battleship Yamato (live action film)
Script error Scheduled to be released on December 1, 2010, Space Battleship Yamato is a live-action film. To be directed by Takashi Yamazaki, the movie will star Takuya Kimura as Susumu Kodai and Meisa Kuroki as Yuki. It was revealed originally that the plot would be based on that of the 1974 series. However, an official trailer released during June 2010 on Japanese TV has also shown elements from the series' second season (1978).
With the retelling of Arrivederci Yamato as the open-ended Yamato II television series, Arrivederci Yamato was redesignated as an alternate timeline. The film Final Yamato is set in the year 2203, ignoring the commonly held belief that the preceding Yamato III season was set in 2205. It is not known for certain if this was due to the lackluster response to Yamato III, the production staff's widespread dissatisfaction with the truncated series (additionally, Nishizaki and Matsumoto had limited involvement with it), or a mere oversight. However, the opening narration for Final Yamato makes mention of the Bolar and Galman conflict, indicating an additional timeline in which the Yamato III storyline simply took place earlier rather than eliminating it.
Space Yamato arcade game
Script error The Space Battleship Yamato series generally involves themes of brave sacrifice, noble enemies, and respect for heroes lost in the line of duty. This can be seen as early as the second episode of the first season, which recounts the defeat of the original battleship Yamato while sailors and pilots from both sides salute her as she sinks (this scene was cut from the English dub, but later included on the Star Blazers DVD release). The movies spend much time showing the crew visiting monuments to previous missions and recalling the bravery of their fallen comrades. Desslar, the enemy defeated in the first season and left without a home or a people, recognizes that his foes are fighting for the same things he fought for and, eventually, becomes Earth's most important ally. In this — the Japanese concept of "the honorable enemy" — and many other respects, Star Blazers is almost certainly the most "Japanese" anime to survive the editing process and be widely syndicated in the United States.
Script error In the mid 1990s, Nishizaki attempted to create a sequel to Yamato, set hundreds of years after the original. Yamato 2520 was to chronicle the adventures of the eighteenth starship to bear the name, and its battle against the Seiren Federation. Much of the continuity established in the original series (including the destruction of Earth's moon) is ignored in this sequel.
Due to the bankruptcy of Nishizaki's company Office Academy, and legal disputes with Matsumoto over the ownership of the Yamato copyrights, the series was never finished and only four episodes were produced.
Space Battleship Great Yamato
Script error A manga created by Leiji Matsumoto.
Dai Yamato Zero-go
Script error A low-budget OVA series.
For many years, English-language releases of the anime bore the title Space Cruiser Yamato. This romanization has appeared in Japanese publications because Nishizaki, a sailing enthusiast who owned a cruiser yacht, ordered that this translation be used out of love for his boat. However, in reference to naval nomenclature, it is technically inaccurate, as 戦艦 senkan means "battleship" and not "cruiser" (which in Japanese would be 巡洋艦 junyōkan). Leiji Matsumoto's manga adaptation was titled Cosmoship Yamato. Today, Yamato releases, including the Voyager Entertainment DVD, are marketed either as Star Blazers or Space Battleship Yamato.
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