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Regardless of whether you're thrilled by the idea or think of it as a creative co-op. "Reimagining" and/or relaunching the cherished shows of SF programs of our youth has become standard operating procedure in Hollywood. Not unexpectedly, it's had mixed results. It's easier to count the real successes, like "Battlestar Galactica". Most of the rest are a mixed bag.

These show updates usually seem to try an hit one of two markets: either to update the show for the existing audience, or to make it more accessible for a new, younger one. Again, Galactica showed rare genius in hitting both, while JJ Abrams Trek seemed more open to sacrificing much of the existing fan base in order to make a Trek for the post-MTV generations.

Space Battleship yamato 2199 1 by lordsjaak Yamato 2199 Yamato Flight Jacket Patch by talos56 Space Battleship yamato 2199 by lordsjaak

Updating an old favorite well can be a real tightrope walk and that's why I've been blown away by the current (in-progress) Japanese update of the 70's anime, "Space Cruiser Yamato" (or "Starblazers" as many English speaking countries came to know it). The new production, "Yamato 2199" is being released in Japanese theaters in four episode chunks and they're currently about halfway through the first season.

2199 doesn't try to tell a new story, just to tell the same story a little better, with more adult and contemporary sensibility. The characters have more depth – and variety! The crew is fleshed out more as an ensemble cast, and more importantly they expand the core characters with several new, key female roles. A testament to how well this is done is that you feel like they were always there… you just somehow forgot them.

Yamato 2199 : Ready for battle by akiba165 Yamato 2199 Badge 06 by xzarno Cosmo Zero Number 02 - Render 04 by xzarno

Oh sure, the core trope of refitting the hulk of the sunken battleship Yamato into a starship that can save the planet is an idea of some silliness and mired a ideal of Japanese patriotic pride. But that theme aside, the show was always decent SF and hits that target even more effectively now. Their use of zero-g, accurate attitude jet maneuvering, an updated to all the solar system science, and functional mechanical design all make the show a pure SF geekfest.

Unfortunately I've not heard of any release dates for the official US DVDs, but a number of sites have been carrying streaming video of the episodes (that is until Bandai chases them down and spanks 'em). You can try these sites to see the episodes to date.

Animeflavor: www.animeflavor.com/node/38109
GoGoAnime: www.gogoanime.com/category/uch…

To paraphrase the old saying, sometimes doing the job right makes people you didn't think you did anything at all. Yamato 2199 is like that, but when you really compare and contrast to the original production, the update is a thing of remarkable beauty and progress. It's not only renewed my love of this old show, but given me hope that minds are still out there that know how to make good, compelling SF.  Here's another review if you need further convincing: kotaku.com/5979770/yamato-2199…

Tim Eldred has started a site which is covering news of the show as it evolves and is released. It has some great content, including some nice interviews with mecha designers. It's well worth cruising through for great news and background.

OurStarBlazers: www.ourstarblazers.com/

Now, your just desserts! Click to explore anything that snags your eyeballs:

Flying Escorter by Waffle0708 Clock Watching by AbaKon Supermarine Swift 1b by retromaniak Night Shift (Coming Home) by JacobCharlesDietz For a Few Dollars More by Felonland Clip 0044 by rOEN911 VF-24 Skimming the Horizon by Zinjo Before the days of King by luulala Repairs in the Key of 0G by Sabakakrazny 2013 02 24 02 by torvenius Baby Dragon - Tabasco by jwohland Nomad Desert Blimps III by TK769 Space Barbarians by Johnny-Radar Hello Firefly! by nanaleonti Wonder Woman by Re-EvolutionArts BILL CLINTON 3D by SharpWriter
  • Listening to: SOMA-FM
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:iconabakon:
AbaKon Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2013  Professional Writer
Insightful. Brilliant. Spot on.

Except about the new Battlestar Galactica. The original was no gem and the new one is...I don't know how...worse. IMHO, of course.
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:iconrobcaswell:
RobCaswell Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2013  Professional General Artist
That's OK about Galactica. You're allowed to be wrong once in a while ;)
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:iconabakon:
AbaKon Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2013  Professional Writer
As are you.
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:iconrobcaswell:
RobCaswell Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2013  Professional General Artist
:bow:
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:iconnamesrundry:
namesRUNdry Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the links. Very helpful.
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:iconrobcaswell:
RobCaswell Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2013  Professional General Artist
Enjoy!
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:iconkevin-mckee:
Kevin-McKee Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I remember as a kid watching "Star Blazers" on WTBS Atlanta back in the very late '70's, when cable was first making its way into our homes. Then, about five years ago, I got digital copies of all of the episodes, and was very disappointed that I just could not get into it. It just didn't age very well, IMO...
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:iconrobcaswell:
RobCaswell Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2013  Professional General Artist
Yup - and that's what the update really addresses. It "ages" the show, with animation quality, mecha design, character development, and plot expansion. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. They really went out of their way to try and put as much science and rationality behind the original show's stylistic whimsy. Just try the first episode (see links above) and you'll see right away.
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:iconmarkusglanzer:
markusglanzer Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2013  Professional General Artist
This sounds very promising. I also want to apologize for the following rant about how bad I thought the live-action movie was, but I'm waiting for an opportunity to say this since… well, more than a year. Feel free to ignore following text.



I really found that 'Spacebattleship Yamato' Movie the single most silly thing I have ever seen to that point - maybe even worse than "The Ice Pirates" from 1984 (if you don't know this particular trash-gem - go, watch it).
Ok 'Sucker Punch' was worse, but let's focus on space opera.

My reactions ran from 'oh… it really is a boat' over 'look, they are fighting the Protoss to appeal to starcraft fans' to 'starship kamikaze? are you serious?'. Combined with an Abrams-Trek like storyline (the newbie becomes captain, mainly because - well, maybe the captain just drank too much and/or suffered from old-age-dementia).
Worse, I felt like watching a 'best space battles' mashup video on youtube. (most scenes are plain stolen from other franchises - heck, they are even used the same camera angles), I mean would it have hurt, to implement at least some common sense, a little bit of original thought and maybe - just maybe a little less cliché?
It could have been a truly awesome movie, really. But from some point on, one of the people in charge just caught a really bad trip. I hope he recovered.
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:iconrobcaswell:
RobCaswell Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2013  Professional General Artist
I liked the film "just because", but it's no masterpiece and the faceless enemy rather stunk. But Sucker Punch - now THERE'S a major stink bomb! :D

Fortunately the new anime has very little in common with the live action film, beyond name. Watch the first episode and you'll see.
Reply
:iconienkoron:
Ienkoron Featured By Owner Mar 5, 2013
I do so hope Madman here releases the new Yamato (I was rather blown away with the Live action movie :D)
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:iconrobcaswell:
RobCaswell Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2013  Professional General Artist
The live action movie was good for what it was, and clearly had some Galactica influence, but this update is a whole different animal. Not so much a "reimagining" as a super respectful and nuanced update. And the mechanical design is dynamite.
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:iconienkoron:
Ienkoron Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2013
I will definitely get a hold of it when I can then :D
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:iconvideorangercommander:
VideoRangerCommander Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Neat! I was going to suggest Tim's webpage, but I didn't have to. :)
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:iconbrentogara:
BrentOGara Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Fascinating, I knew they were making this, but I had no idea it was actually good! Thanks for the review/update :D
Reply
:iconrobcaswell:
RobCaswell Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013  Professional General Artist
It's well worthy of my rant - trust me ;)
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:iconbrentogara:
BrentOGara Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm a chargin' my checkin' it out! :D
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:iconmylochka:
mylochka Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013
What a coincidence... Just last night, my brother and I were watching some old Doctor Who episodes with Patrick Troughton as the Doctor. We had just this sort of conversation -- talking about the right way to bring back an old favorite. A very tricky balance.... We decided that (as a big vote of confidence in their approach) we'd both love to see the new Who team try to recreate some of the "lost" Troughton episodes. It was exciting (rather than nauseating) to think of what they could do with new tech and a new perspective on this old material...
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:iconrobcaswell:
RobCaswell Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013  Professional General Artist
Certainly, with the right hand (fueled by skill, enthusiasm, and a delicate touch) an update can do wonders! While it's not QUITE the same, TOS remastered seemed to usually exercise those principles. But if the makers don't respect the original to begin with, I think an update project is doomed. I keep going back to a JJ Abrams statement in an interview, "I showed the finished script to my wife and she LOVED it. And she hates the original Star Trek!"
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:iconmylochka:
mylochka Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013
facepalm
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:iconvektorix:
Vektorix Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013  Professional Interface Designer
What's ironic is that evidently the fan base was VERY disappointed with the two studios who were selected to do 2199, evidently due to poor projects in the past. No one seems to have expected this level of quality, and from the reviews I have read it seems the general consensus is that they knocked it out of the park.
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:icontaka67:
Taka67 Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013
Did you see the live action 'Space Battleship Yamato' from 2010? [link]
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:iconrobcaswell:
RobCaswell Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013  Professional General Artist
I did. I enjoyed it... but in many ways it was more of a Hollywood style reimagining where they take gross liberties with the base ideas. It was neat and I liked it at the time, but this is far and away better to see.... at least for my tastes.
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:iconleakygraphics:
LeAKyGrAPHics Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Like to see them do this with captain harlock.
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:iconrobcaswell:
RobCaswell Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013  Professional General Artist
I was never much of a Harlock fan... but maybe I'd feel different if they did such a quality job as this!? :)
Reply
:iconleakygraphics:
LeAKyGrAPHics Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
It`s the first anime I got into, and I use to watch with my son.
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:iconvektorix:
Vektorix Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013  Professional Interface Designer
As a huge Star Blazers fan when I was a teenager (oh so long ago) and someone who counts Yamato and Nausicaa as the two anime that cemented my love of the genre, I was intrigued, but a bit apprehensive by 2199. I was "meh" about Yamato: Resurrection and downright disappointed by the live-action movie, so wasn't expecting to be impressed.

But boy was I wrong.

2199 is everything you said and more - very much the sort of Galactica-style reboot that brings the franchise back to life and updated for a 21st century audience. Almost everything that one could ask for from a re-imagining of the series is there: familiar but more "realistic" characters, a more mature (and pretty accurate scientifically) story, more female characters that aren't just window-dressing, and an interesting look inside the politics of the Gamilas Empire that reveals them as more than - um - cartoon-villains. I do miss some of the Leiji Yamamoto-look to the characters (Daisuke Shima in particular looks ridiculously unidentifiable in 2199) but all in all, I have few complaints.

I've watched the first 10 episodes so far and all have been outstanding. I really hope the second season (Comet Empire) gets made, since I think that would lend itself so amazingly well to the strengths of the reboot - fleet battles, less linear storyline, subplot with the surviving Gamilas...

And Arcas - gotta give you props for the SOMA-FM callout. What station?
Reply
:iconrobcaswell:
RobCaswell Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013  Professional General Artist
Heh - on SOMA I jump around a lot depending on mood and time of year. Lately I've been spending lots of time with Digitalis.

While the broad story of 2199 seems the same, there's definitely some interesting character based story arcs going through it. And I loved the episode with Analyzer and the Gamilas robot - neat new angles on the mythos. I'd love to see them do season 2 as well, but even if we just get this season, I'll die a happier man ;)
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:iconvektorix:
Vektorix Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013  Professional Interface Designer
One thing that gives me a lot of hope that Season Two is at least planned is that two characters from that series have already been introduced in 2199: Captain Hijikata (Gideon in Star Blazers) and Minister Talan (Desslar's second in command from S2 on). Hijikata especially is meaningful, since he plays a very significant role during the war with the Comet Empire (and one can only think Andromeda will look astounding redone!)
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:iconrobcaswell:
RobCaswell Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2013  Professional General Artist
WOO-HOO! Episodes 11-14 went up this weekend!!!!!

[link]
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:iconrobcaswell:
RobCaswell Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013  Professional General Artist
Pics. Check it out: [link]
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:iconrobcaswell:
RobCaswell Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013  Professional General Artist
Did you see that at least one Comet Empire ship makes an appearance in the next four episodes?! I'm not sure of the context, but it's there....
Reply
:iconvektorix:
Vektorix Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013  Professional Interface Designer
Had not seen that....verrrrry interesting. Have been wondering if they will change the Comet Empire backstory to be a former conquered race of the Gamilas who are aiming to take over after the blue-skins are out of the way. Would make a LOT of sense...
Reply
:iconvektorix:
Vektorix Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013  Professional Interface Designer
The only episode I thought was sub-par so far was the one with the energy eating cloud/solar prominence. Was a weaker way for Schultz/Bane to go out than the original, and just seemed ill-thought out. But overall, awesome. Also have really loved the glimpses of human space exploration PRIOR to the arrival of the Gamilas - the Martians with their red eyes, ruins on Mars, etc...

Digitalis is a good station - it's on my usual rotation, along with Space Station SOMA, Drone Zone, Poptron and Underground 80s. Mission Control would be better if it wasn't the same Apollo 15 tapes all the time in the background...
Reply
:iconrobcaswell:
RobCaswell Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013  Professional General Artist
Yep - I've got the same SOMA feeds marked in my usual rotation. And yeah - I wish Mission Control were better. I can usually only take for 15 mins at a stretch. I often routinely switch to Drone Zone if I'm up after midnight.

And I'm with ya on rating that episode the weakest, so far. Hopefully they don't swing and miss as bad in the future.
Reply
:iconterranabassador:
TerranAbassador Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013  Student Digital Artist
I tried watching the original, and I loved that they at least remembered that space is actually 3D, but it was too silly, probably because of the horrible job that had been done in the dubbing (my god the dubbing; I have never heard anything so dry, stilted, and downright awful as the English dub for Space Battleship Yamato (I refuse to call it Star Blazers)).

Maybe I'll catch this remake when it gets translated though.
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:iconrobcaswell:
RobCaswell Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013  Professional General Artist
You should - it's really fine SF!
Reply
:iconmecha-zone:
Mecha-Zone Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013  Professional General Artist
the new anime is SUPERB
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:iconrobcaswell:
RobCaswell Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013  Professional General Artist
Aye - I've become a total addict!
Reply
:iconmecha-zone:
Mecha-Zone Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013  Professional General Artist
I've only had time to watch the first 3 episodes, but I have the next 7 and I have some more free time coming up...
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