a.k.a. Uchuu Senkan Yamato: Fukkatsu Hen
In the year 2220, Earth is in peril! A cascade black hole is en route to swallow our galaxy and humanity must be migrated to another world in order to survive. Unfortunately, the nearest habitable planet is 27,000 light years away and is blocked off by the hostile SUS Alliance. Now, after 17 years, Susumu Kodai is called back into action to save the human race…as the captain of the legendary Space Battleship Ship Yamato.
summary by Ender
Highs: Some nostalgia value; occasional music
Lows: Bland characters; trite, boring plot; dull art and animation; the length
The original Space Battleship Yamato was my introduction into anime, and watching a new iteration of something from childhood is rather tricky. There were several moments in which I was ready to give this movie a free pass just because of some past connection. I had to fight like a furious marionette against the murderous strings of my childhood memories to review this movie as it stands…an overblown, pompous, boring affair.
Yamato: Resurrection tries to tell the rather safe story of humanity vs. unknown galactic threat. True, the original Yamato set the precedent for sci-fi warfare in anime, so it might seem a bit harsh for riding on this franchise for doing what it does best. However, there is never a moment in this movie where victory of the Yamato/Earth is ever in question; those who watched the original will never forget how every episode ended with the narrator’s plea for salvation. Most of the time (the film is two hours long) I wondered why the Yamato would keep fighting space battles when there is a whole planet that needs to be evacuated. The characters try to make the situation sound dire, but none of them are established well enough for the viewer to believe. Most of the crew are new to the franchise — rife with potential drama and character arcs — and they’re reduced to bad tropes (a pair of twins complete one another’s sentences), and explaining situations that the viewer already knows (“Our allies are under attack!” one cadet helpfully explains as a planet is bombed). During the Yamato’s sorties, the combat doctor jumped into a fighter jet to blast evil aliens. The script writers must have had differing opinions as to what being a medic in a war entails.
The animation and art try to update Yamato’s space-by-ways-of-naval warfare for the 21st century, but seeing computer-generated ships glide to-and-fro without any weight removes any sense of excitement. Ships do not “explode” rather they “break into pixels,” and the Yamato gets out of battles in pristine condition. Matsumoto Leiji’s designs — best-suited for space operas — are replaced with standard, bland character models. The various alien races look like rejected characters from an 80’s arcade game, the humans all look bored, and none of the settings (black holes, alien planets, asteroid fields, etc.) are colorful or memorable.
It is worth noting that Nishizaki Yoshinobu, the producer of the original series, directed Resurrection. He must have loved it a little too much as he seemed hesitant at compromising any schmaltz the image of the aged battleship could conjure. When the iconic Yamato theme plays for the first time, the music is rushed and the lyrics are the same as the 1974 show; lip-service at its worst. I don’t think many current anime fans know what “Iscandar” is, and will wonder why it’s heard in the lyrics but never in the story. Maybe up-and-coming animators with no nostalgic baggage wearing them down could have brought this story to new heights.
At the time I saw this film, Yoshinobu’s death had been reported (he fell from a research ship coincidentally named Yamato). He was a controversial figure who, among other things, was accused of drug charges, womanizing, and denying money owed to none other than Tezuka Osamu. Looking at this film I wonder if he got what he wanted.