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March 4, 2013
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Regardless of whether you're thrilled by the idea or think of it as a creative co-op. "Reimagining" and/or relaunching the cherished shows of SF programs of our youth has become standard operating procedure in Hollywood. Not unexpectedly, it's had mixed results. It's easier to count the real successes, like "Battlestar Galactica". Most of the rest are a mixed bag.

These show updates usually seem to try an hit one of two markets: either to update the show for the existing audience, or to make it more accessible for a new, younger one. Again, Galactica showed rare genius in hitting both, while JJ Abrams Trek seemed more open to sacrificing much of the existing fan base in order to make a Trek for the post-MTV generations.

Space Battleship yamato 2199 1 by lordsjaak Yamato 2199 Yamato Flight Jacket Patch by talos56 Space Battleship yamato 2199 by lordsjaak

Updating an old favorite well can be a real tightrope walk and that's why I've been blown away by the current (in-progress) Japanese update of the 70's anime, "Space Cruiser Yamato" (or "Starblazers" as many English speaking countries came to know it). The new production, "Yamato 2199" is being released in Japanese theaters in four episode chunks and they're currently about halfway through the first season.

2199 doesn't try to tell a new story, just to tell the same story a little better, with more adult and contemporary sensibility. The characters have more depth – and variety! The crew is fleshed out more as an ensemble cast, and more importantly they expand the core characters with several new, key female roles. A testament to how well this is done is that you feel like they were always there… you just somehow forgot them.

Yamato 2199 : Ready for battle by akiba165 Yamato 2199 Badge 06 by xzarno Cosmo Zero Number 02 - Render 04 by xzarno

Oh sure, the core trope of refitting the hulk of the sunken battleship Yamato into a starship that can save the planet is an idea of some silliness and mired a ideal of Japanese patriotic pride. But that theme aside, the show was always decent SF and hits that target even more effectively now. Their use of zero-g, accurate attitude jet maneuvering, an updated to all the solar system science, and functional mechanical design all make the show a pure SF geekfest.

Unfortunately I've not heard of any release dates for the official US DVDs, but a number of sites have been carrying streaming video of the episodes (that is until Bandai chases them down and spanks 'em). You can try these sites to see the episodes to date.

Animeflavor: www.animeflavor.com/node/38109
GoGoAnime: www.gogoanime.com/category/uch…

To paraphrase the old saying, sometimes doing the job right makes people you didn't think you did anything at all. Yamato 2199 is like that, but when you really compare and contrast to the original production, the update is a thing of remarkable beauty and progress. It's not only renewed my love of this old show, but given me hope that minds are still out there that know how to make good, compelling SF.  Here's another review if you need further convincing: kotaku.com/5979770/yamato-2199…

Tim Eldred has started a site which is covering news of the show as it evolves and is released. It has some great content, including some nice interviews with mecha designers. It's well worth cruising through for great news and background.

OurStarBlazers: www.ourstarblazers.com/

Now, your just desserts! Click to explore anything that snags your eyeballs:

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:iconabakon:
AbaKon Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2013  Professional Writer
Insightful. Brilliant. Spot on.

Except about the new Battlestar Galactica. The original was no gem and the new one is...I don't know how...worse. IMHO, of course.
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:iconrob-caswell:
Rob-Caswell Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2013  Professional General Artist
That's OK about Galactica. You're allowed to be wrong once in a while ;)
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:iconabakon:
AbaKon Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2013  Professional Writer
As are you.
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:iconrob-caswell:
Rob-Caswell Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2013  Professional General Artist
:bow:
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:iconnamesrundry:
namesRUNdry Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the links. Very helpful.
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:iconrob-caswell:
Rob-Caswell Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2013  Professional General Artist
Enjoy!
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:iconkevin-mckee:
Kevin-McKee Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I remember as a kid watching "Star Blazers" on WTBS Atlanta back in the very late '70's, when cable was first making its way into our homes. Then, about five years ago, I got digital copies of all of the episodes, and was very disappointed that I just could not get into it. It just didn't age very well, IMO...
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:iconrob-caswell:
Rob-Caswell Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2013  Professional General Artist
Yup - and that's what the update really addresses. It "ages" the show, with animation quality, mecha design, character development, and plot expansion. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. They really went out of their way to try and put as much science and rationality behind the original show's stylistic whimsy. Just try the first episode (see links above) and you'll see right away.
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:iconmarkusglanzer:
markusglanzer Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2013  Professional General Artist
This sounds very promising. I also want to apologize for the following rant about how bad I thought the live-action movie was, but I'm waiting for an opportunity to say this since… well, more than a year. Feel free to ignore following text.



I really found that 'Spacebattleship Yamato' Movie the single most silly thing I have ever seen to that point - maybe even worse than "The Ice Pirates" from 1984 (if you don't know this particular trash-gem - go, watch it).
Ok 'Sucker Punch' was worse, but let's focus on space opera.

My reactions ran from 'oh… it really is a boat' over 'look, they are fighting the Protoss to appeal to starcraft fans' to 'starship kamikaze? are you serious?'. Combined with an Abrams-Trek like storyline (the newbie becomes captain, mainly because - well, maybe the captain just drank too much and/or suffered from old-age-dementia).
Worse, I felt like watching a 'best space battles' mashup video on youtube. (most scenes are plain stolen from other franchises - heck, they are even used the same camera angles), I mean would it have hurt, to implement at least some common sense, a little bit of original thought and maybe - just maybe a little less cliché?
It could have been a truly awesome movie, really. But from some point on, one of the people in charge just caught a really bad trip. I hope he recovered.
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:iconrob-caswell:
Rob-Caswell Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2013  Professional General Artist
I liked the film "just because", but it's no masterpiece and the faceless enemy rather stunk. But Sucker Punch - now THERE'S a major stink bomb! :D

Fortunately the new anime has very little in common with the live action film, beyond name. Watch the first episode and you'll see.
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