Sunday, September 26, 2010

Space Battleship Yamato

Oh, hell yes.

Just found out about this: a live action film based on the anime Space Battleship Yamato. It was one of the first anime series to receive widespread television broadcast in the US and was a staple of my childhood that I knew by its English title, Star Blazers. It was sanitized a bit for American kids, but was still obviously more mature than pretty much anything for kids on television at the time, which is why it, and later the similarly themed Robotech, became two of my favorite shows. And those two shows, probably more than anything else prior to the 1990s, are responsible for sparking interest in anime in the US. So now you know who to blame for Pokemon.

The gist of it is that Earth is doomed due to radioactivity caused by attacks from the villainous Gamilons. A message from the planet Iscandar tells us of a cosmic MacGuffin that will cleanse the radiation before mankind is doomed in a year. Instead of including plans for said McGuffin, the message included plans to build a spaceship to go get the McGuffin. So the crew of the Yamato (Argo in the English version) has to battle its way through hordes of Gamilons to get that device, and they are able to do so because the entire ship is basically one giant motherfucking space gun and the inevitable firing of that Wave Motion Gun (and recycling of the relevant animation) was the climax of most (every?) episodes.

The more historically minded of you may have noticed that the Yamato shares its name with the famed Japanese battleship Yamato, the pride of the Japanese navy that was sunk off Okinawa in World War II. In fact, the space battleship literally is the original Yamato, as it was constructed in the ruins of that vessel to hide it from the Gamilons. Many years later, I learned from the work of Frederick Schodt, American author of many books about manga, that a popular manga trope is rewriting or revenging World War II. In the case of Yamato, it was merely symbolic, but some manga like Nihonjin no Wakusei feature Japan winning the war, nuking us, and beheading Douglas MacArthur (who was in charge of the occupation of Japan following the war) with his famed aviator sunglasses still on his head as it flies from his body.

Of course, I was ignorant of all of this watching afterschool cartoons as a kid. Please ignore the awful song by Stephen Tyler, who has unfortunately gifted this film with his first solo work, and enjoy the badassery of a giant fucking space gun. Now I just need to find a Japanese movie theater somewhere in Florida.