Space Battleship Yamato - チョー
In the 70s, apart from Star Wars and Star Trek, one of the biggest phenomenons to across the seas from the US, was the anime series Space Battleship Yamato, which was a successful hit based on the revival of the WWII battleship as a spaceship. I was one of the many kids who grew up watching the series, and even took part in drawing competitions based on this. So will a 2011 show draw the same success?
Firstly, all fans of this series will enjoy the show, even if the show was an abject failure. The mere sight of the hull of the battleship, the firing of the wave gun and the familiar soundtrack are sufficient for most fans to flock to the cinemas. Then most Japs need a show like this right now, with the central themes of sacrifice, heroism, and bravado, and a mission to save millions and doing so despite the odds. The timing of this show will be a poignant accidental reference to the brave men still fighting the fires, earthquakes, and the nuclear problems in Japan. Then the main star Takuya Kimura is the third reason both men and women will throng the cinemas.
For a USD 24 million budget, you get pretty decent CGI, and the details on the Yamato are impressive and the fight scenes won't disappoint, but those aiming for all all out actioner will be a tad disappointed, as there are moments focused on the crew which actually make the movie more balanced.
Throw in elements borrowed from Star Trek, Battlestar Galatica, and a brace of other shows, and you have a plot, where a war-torn and near extinct Earth has to travel to Planet Iskandar to find a cure for the radiation introduced by alien enemies. In between add the chick factor in the form of Yuki Mori, played by an absolutely saccharin sweet Meisa Kuroki that will surely increase your blood sugar levels ten fold and a whole host of pretty boys and girls, and you have fair reason to indulge in 131 minutes of your time.
The plot is a little uneven, with moments of tense action, but with too many black holes of melodrama that make you wish you had a fast forward button (see the last chapter of the movie...) and you also have a few "huh?" moments which detract from the positivity of the opening act (which is a little borrowed from the latest Star Trek movie). Nevertheless there is more than enough for fans of the series, and even for the curious ones who have no inkling of the old series, it remains watchable and a good enough diversion for the time spent.
Takuya has been a superstar in Japan and many parts of Asia, and he plays the maverick role here to perfection, using the attitude he had in many shows such as "Hero" to good use and he adds charisma and the star quality to the show, and the addition of the many eye candy, including Meisa Kuroki just make the show hot enough. You can indeed hear the signs from the girls in the audience and the men won't be too unhappy at the choice of the female lead, who makes the yellow jacket and leather pants of Team Kodai look hotter than a volcano. Takuya has better chemistry with my fav female lead - Takako Matsu who really bonds with him, but the eye candy the younger girl offers compensates.
There are moments of over-acting, but its very Japanese to go "emo" and you need to accept this style.
As for the sound, well it isn't as good as I expect, with the action scenes enjoying good surround but a surprising lack of deep bass. I will struggle hard to justify this as a demo worthy Blu Ray disc purchase.
A decent effort, and worth a watch, all 148 000 light years worth...
Yamato was also a symbol of heroism and of their desire to regain a sense of masculinity after their country's defeat in the war.
Musashi for a part II?