Yamato, the ancient namesake of Japan. It seems as if great renewal is the primary theme throughout the world at this particular time. Not only has Japan’s political power just recently shifted in a most dramatic fashion, but the public’s love of all things Uchu Senkan Yamato is quickly reaching phoenix levels in no small manner. All across the nets have been blurbs and shouts involving the long-awaited live action opus, starring none other than SMAP’s Takuya Kimura in the role of Susumu Kodai, as well as a bold looking new animated feature (Fukkatsu-hen), set for release this December.
The significance? When the series was brought stateside via Westchester Films in the late 70s under the name, Star Blazers, the show was one incredible gateway drug, turning this quiet kid into a ticking timebomb of addiction. The thought of going a week until the next Saturday morning fix was frightening, to downright depressing for a first-grader. Imagine my reaction to the show’s storyline, and the shock I felt when (gasp!) characters died! Characters dying in a cartoon? ARE YOU KIDDING? Needless to say, this was akin to a great awakening. Shows like this weren’t screwing around. And the rest, is..well you know.
Now that a long standing legal battle over creative rights is over, it seems that a long delayed Yamato renaissance is finally coming to pass, with an entirely new generation who may have at least been children at the time of the original 1974-75 series’ run at the helm. Thankfully, this happens while several of the original key staff are still with us. Things being how they are today, the pervading feeling seems to be one of longing. Longing for a time where men were men, collective faith was paramount, and sacrifice was potentially necessary to defend honor. It is the quintessential Space Opera, merging science fiction, westerns, mysteries, WWII naval epics, and hearty drama, establishing a wholly new kind of anime saga. It’s probably safe to say that next to the massive contributions that Osamu Tezuka & Go Nagai gave to the worlds of anime/manga, there were fewer creations as influential as Uchu Senkan Yamato.