Posted by psgels on 2 August 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews

Coincidence can be a very strange thing… I started watching Space Battleship Yamato, and only five episodes later, this piece of news pops up. I mean, what are the odds of that happening? It doesn’t look like a remake, but more of a new movie, but still, based on the first television series of a franchise that spread three series and countless movies, it’s got its work cut out for it.

Space Battleship Yamato is the classic among classics, and Matsumoto Leiji’s debut into animation. Aired in 1974, after Lupin Sansei and Alps no Shoujo Heidi it was the very first television anime to get any significant popularity and it single-handedly defined the space opera genre for anime for many decades to come. Heck, even Mobile Suit Gundam has borrowed a lot of inspiration from the simple storyline of Space Battleship Yamato (executed much better and more interesting, of course).

After watching this series, I can see why it caught on so much. The story is simple but effective, and the crew of the Yamato is adequately developed in order to prevent the series to get dull after its halfway-point. Topics such as honour, love and manliness often pass the screen when pepole aren’t fighting, and the manliness seems enforced by the downright epic soundtrack. It’s of the kind that keeps sticking to your head like glue, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up being the best soundtrack of the seventies and early eighties.

But of course, this series was developed when anime was in such a young stage, and still needed to mature a lot. For starters, the storyline is incredibly simple: Earth is in danger and Yamato sets out to save it. It’s well told (and the main characters actually don’t get involved with the storyline by accident, and are instead trained officers), but I can’t help but think that it could have used something to spice everything up more. It’s like eating a salad without any dressing whatsoever. Sure, the lettuce is nice and all, but does taste rather plain. The ending does try to spice things up at least a bit with a number of plot-twists, but the problem is that this actually works against them and creates a Disney Ending (seriously, haven’t these people ever heard of checking a person’s heart pulse?!).

Then there’s the ton of technical errors that can be spotted in this series. The director and animators weren’t the most careful, and it’s clear that the production of Yamato was hurried a lot. Sometimes, there are odd leaps in logic (for example, one frame the Yamato is heavily damaged, full of holes, the next it’s magically fixed), the animation can be inconsistent (the bad guys suddenly go Vegeta and change skin-colour in the middle of the series), the animators have clearly trouble to synchronize the characters’ mouths to the voices properly, but the most grating is the huge amount of scientific inaccuracies that would make Gurren Lagann jealous.

Overall, Space Battleship Yamato is an average anime: it doesn’t stand up against most of the better series that we have today, but it’s certainly not bad. The art style has matured in quite an interesting way and you can see the typical manliness of the action scenes from the early days of anime, and today’s anime would definitely be something different if it wasn’t for this series.

Storytelling: 6/10
Characters: 8/10
Production-Values: 6/10
Setting: 8/10

5 Responses

  1. Avatar Lika says:

    I think one of the problems with classics is that to fully enjoy them, we shouldn’t compare them too much with what we have now. Like in art class once when we watched the old version of King Kong and we were giggling rather hard over the cheesy and over the top special affects and the bad acting, or that time where a gaming magazine actually rated and reviewed games such as the original Pac Man, which were obviously a classic game, but hard to review as the graphics were a given to be horrid, and the game play simple. (mind you, I read Yamato ages ago in Chinese, so I have very little memory of it aside from the fact that it takes place in space and there’s a thin girl who wears a poofy hat xD)

    Also, I was wonering for the Production-Values mark, do you mark the anime based on the standards set now, or how they were during the time of the anime? For instance, Cardcaptor Sakura had amazingly high production values for its time, but were we to watch it now, it would definitely show its age.

  2. psgels psgels says:

    The strange thing here is that Mobile Suit Gundam aired only five years later than Yamato, and still it was a very capable anime.

    For production-values, I indeed take the age a bit into account, but ultimately it comes down to the question: “does it look/sound well?”. The grade of six may have been a bit too low, but the animation was obviously rushed, the laser sound effects were more annoying than effective and overall, the art looked rather sloppy at times.

  3. Avatar Lika says:

    Ah, I wasn’t complaining about the rating or the review for Yamato, I was just commenting/asking about classic anime and the rating in general, but thanks for clearing that up for me.

  4. Avatar lilluther says:

    I think overall this series is good for it’s time but plot wise it’s lacking something when you compare it to Harlock and even lupin it’s just too simple it needed something else to mix it up a bit it’s still worth a watch though

  5. Avatar lazykid says:

    You must watch the remake version (2199). It was so beautiful it left me in tears :’)

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