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Space Battleship Yamato (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 11, 2014 by  



yamato

“Space Battleship Yamato” is a film that I have watched repeatedly. Being a fan of the original animated series, Takashi Yamazaki’s film makes the storyline accessible for anyone who have never watched the anime series or watched the manga and enjoy it for its character, storyline and visual effects. The film has many twist and turns and an ending that I never saw coming, but I was entertained and captivated by this sci-fi action film from beginning to end. I may be biased towards “Space Battleship Yamato” but this film was a lot of fun and I definitely recommend it!

Images courtesy of © 2014 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Space Battleship Yamato

FILM RELEASE: 2010

DURATION: 138 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese and English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Giant Ape Media/FUNimation

RATED: Not Rated

Release Date: April 29, 2014

Based on the manga by Leiji Matsumoto

Directed by Takashi Yamazaki

Screenplay by Shimako Sato

Story by Yoshinobu Nishizaki

Produced by Nobuhiro Azuma

Executive Producer: Kazuya Hamana, Toshiaki Nakazawa

Music by Naoki Sato

Cinematography by Kozo Shibasaki

Edited by Ryuji Miyajima

Production design by Anri Johjo

Starring:

Takuya Kimura as Susumu Kodai

Meisa Kuroki as Yuki Mori

Toshiro Yanagiba as Shiro Sanda

Naoto Ogata as Daisuke Shima

Hiroyuki Ikeuchi as Hajime Saito

Shin’ichi Tsutsumi as Mamoru Kodai

Maiko as Aihara

Reiko Takashima as Doctor Sado

Toshiyuki Nishida as Hikozaemon Tokugawa

Toshihiro Yashiba as Yasuo Nanbu

Kazuki Namioka as Saburo Kato

Takumi Saito as Akira Yamamoto

Takahiro Miura as Furuya

Kensuke Owada as Kenjiro Ota

The year is 2199. Mankind teeters on the brink of extinction as the Gamilas, a heinous race of alien invaders, wage an endless war for the right to inhabit the Earth. The last hope for humanity lies on the distant planet of Iskander, and the only battleship capable of attempting the journey is the legendary Yamato. Armed with the devastatingly-powerful Wave Motion Cannon, grizzled Captain Okita and the Yamato’s crew venture boldly into the darkest depths of space.

The Gamilas attack at every turn, but fallen hero Susumu Kodai and ace pilot Yuki Mori fight side by side for the future of their world. Together, these young lovers unlock the secrets of Iskander – only to face a harrowing voyage home that will change their world forever!

Back in 1974-1975, Leiji Matsumoto’s anime and manga sci-fi series “Space Battleship Yamato” was a major hit in Japan.

The first anime series to win a Seiun Award, the film was dubbed in English in several countries, while in the U.S., the series was heavily edited and was known as “Star Blazers”.

So, influential, “Space Battleship Yamato” would influence Hideaki Anno, creator of “Mobile Suit Gundam” that several television sequels and films were released in Japan with a remake of the original series released in April 2012 titled “Space Battleship Yamato”.

But the excitement in Japan was the theatrical live-action release of “Space Battleship Yamato” and its all-star cast which included SMAP vocalist/actor Takuya Kimura (“Long Vacation”, “Love Generation”, “Hero”, “Priceless”, “Ando Lloyd”), actress/singer Meisa Kuroki (“Crows Zero”, “Tada, Kim wo Aishiteru”), Toshiro Yanagi (“Odoru Daisoussasen” series, “Negotiator”), Reiko Takashima (“”Azumi 2: Deah or Love”, “Railways”, “Oh! Oku”), Toshiyuki Nishida (“Tsuribaka Nisshi” films) and Hiroyuki Ikeuchi (“Space Travelers”, “Ip Man”).

The film was a box office success in Japan and as fans have long-awaited the North American distribution of the film, “Space Battleship Yamato” wil be released on Blu-ray+DVD combo courtesy of FUNimation.

“Space Battleship Yamato” takes place in 2199 and begins with Capt. Juzo Okita (portrayed by Tsutomu Yamazaki) piloting a ship in a war against the Gamilas near  Mars.  With the Gamilas too powerful, in order to save many of the crew members in Capt. Okita’s ship, EDF captain Mamoru Kodai (portrayed by Shinichi Tsutsumi) uses his damaged ship, the Yukikaze as a shield and the crew sacrifice their lives.

On Earth, Mamoru’s brother Susumu (portrayed by Takuya Kimura) is a scavenger who tries to find valuable metals outdoors in the radiation heavy atmosphere of Earth in order to trade the metals for supplies.  While looking for metals outside, a ship crashes on land and Susumu is knocked unconscious.  When he awakens, he finds an alien message capsule that has lowered the radiation but Susumu is unconscious yet again.

As the Earth Defense Force analyzes the alien message capsule, Susumu who is feared to be dying of radiation exposure, awakens and confronts Capt. Juzo Okita of sacrificing him out in space.  As he tries to punch the Capt., he is knocked out by Black Tiger Squadron ace pilot Yuki Mori (portrayed by Meisa Kuroki).

As Earth is suffering from radiation problems, Capt. Okita believes the hope for humanity lies in Iskandar and how the alien message capsule contained engineering schematics for a new warp drive and coordinates to the planet.  But they must use Earth’s final defense, the Space Battleship Yamato (an enhanced battleship with alien technology) and also recruit any civilians who have a military and science background.

Susume decides to re-enlist and to Dr. Sado, she is shocked that Susumu is still alive despite being outdoors without a mask with the problems of radiation poisoning, but he is perfectly fine.  She also finds out that Susumu was once an EDF pilot and led the Black Tiger Squadron.  Because of his past military status, Susumu is a higher rank and begins to work in the main bridge with Capt. Juzo Okita, his old friend Shiro Sanada (portrayed by Toshiro Yanagiba), chief science/technology officer; Daisuke Shima (portrayed by Naoto Ogata), chief navigator and Hikozaemon Tokugawa (portrayed by Toshiyuki Nishida), chief engineer.

And as the “Space Battleship Yamato” makes their long journey to Iskandar, they must prepare for attacks by Gamilla and Susumu must try to get along with the Black Tiger Squadron ace pilot, Yuki Mori.  A person who holds a grudge towards Susumu for leaving them and quitting the EDF.

 

VIDEO:

“Space Battleship Yamato” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:39:1).  For a film that was created with a tight budget (much smaller than most sci-fi films), I was impressed with the overall CG effects by Shirogumi.  The vehicles are highly detailed, the special effects on the pilots were well done.  The planets look fantastic and for the most part, the colors, detail and overall contrast were among the positive factors of this Blu-ray release.  I didn’t notice any banding or artifacts during my viewing of the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Space Battleship Yamato” is presented in Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD and the action was quite immersive, utilizing the surround channels for the heavy hitting action scenes to using the effects of the surround channels.  The film also features solid LFE with explosions and if anything, I was quite pleased with the immersive state of this lossless soundtrack.  Great use of panning effects and overall dynamic range!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Space Battleship Yamato” comes with the following special features:

  • Space Battleship Yamato Pre-Visualization – (25:21) Showing the before CG scenes during per-visualization the the final cut.
  • VFX “Making Of” – (12:17) Featuring the application of special effects and visual effects to a scene with the actors.
  • Local Yamato – (1:22) a few scenes with modern Japan with the Space Battleship Yamato flying above.
  • News Flashes – (1:10) Japanese news flash promoting the film.
  • Premiere Announcements – (:49) Japanese trailers promoting the premiere of the film.
  • Original Trailers – Featuring two theatrical trailers for “Space Battleship Yamato”.

As a longtime fan of “Space Battleship Yamato” and the work of Leiji Matsumoto, the original announcement for a live-action sci-fi film made me excited.

The idea of a live action sci-fi film from Japan and to see the characters especially the Space Battleship Yamato in CG glory, I couldn’t wait until the film was released in Japan.

Not only were we getting a major series receiving a live film adaptation but the stars featured in the film was a major plus.  Actor and singer, Takuya Kimura, has proven himself for the last 20-years that nearly every film or drama that he stars in, the ratings go up and he’s a bankable star.  It also helps that he has always had the long hair, so stepping into the role of Susumu was a positive.  But also for the fact that as an actor, wanting this film to succeed, he was willing to forfeit some of his pay in order to make the visual effects much better.

The film would also bring in actress/singer Meisa Kuroki, who was quite popular at that time and the film would feature an all-star cast with Toshiro Yanagiba, Naoto Ogata, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Shin’ichi Tsutsumi, Reiko Takashma and Tsutomu Yamazaki, to help attract the younger and older generation, especially for those who grew up watching the various anime series or films shown in Japan.

When I first watched the film, I did notice similarities to the newer “Battleship Galactica” series as the goal of the the EDF was to find the planet Iskandar in order to save humanity from the Gamilas.  Fortunately, unlike the ending of “Battlestar Galactica”, “Space Battleship Yamato” featured a surprise ending that I did not expect.

Considering the animated film “Final Yamato” from 1983 easily having a satisfying ending, “Space Battleship Yamato” doesn’t follow the path of the animated series or films in how the ending would play out and what you get is an ending that is awesome, but also can be compared to the Michael Bay film, “Armageddon”.  And I will leave it at that.

But with a budget of $23.9 million, I was amazed of how much detail and visual effects were incorporated to this film.

And I was entertained by the film and how Takashi Yamazaki and Shimako Sato were able to conceive a storyline that would appease fans but also creating something different than what was featured on television and manga.  So, the twist and turns and overall surprises was a major plus for me.

As for the Blu-ray release, the picture quality was amazing.  The clarity, detail and colors of this film were wonderful and just to see these vehicles come to life on the big screen was a plus, but to see the detail on Blu-ray, I was pretty impressed.  As for the lossless soundtrack, from crystal clear dialogue and music, you also get an immersive soundtrack thanks to the many action scenes featured in the film.

You also get a few special features which are more visual effects-driven but sadly no audio commentary or interviews with the cast.

Overall, “Space Battleship Yamato” is a film that I have watched repeatedly.  Being a fan of the original animated series, Takashi Yamazaki’s film makes the storyline accessible for anyone who have never watched the anime series or watched the manga and enjoy it for its character, storyline and visual effects.  The film has many twist and turns and an ending that I never saw coming, but I was entertained and captivated by this sci-fi action film from beginning to end.

I may be biased towards “Space Battleship Yamato” but this film was a lot of fun and I definitely recommend it!

 

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