Blu-Ray Review: Star Blazers 2199: Space Battleship Yamato – The Complete Series

The iconic franchise revitalised for a new generation arrives in the UK via Manga Entertainment UK; but will this battleship sink or will it rise to the occasion and deliver victory for all? That all depends on your interest in the franchise; but lets take a look what this complete series collection of Star Blazers 2199: Space Battleship Yamato has to offer.

Synopsis:

It’s been three years since the Yamato’s voyage to restore Earth, and since then, a lasting peace with the Gamilans has borne fruit. Due to Earth’s newly acquired technological might, humankind has begun a military expansion.

However, Gatlantis, a new threat lurking far beyond our star system, will once again put humanity to the test. Responding to a mysterious plea, the Yamato and its crew must undertake one more mission for the good of their species and of the universe itself.

Our View:

Star Blazers 2199: Space Battleship Yamato, known as simply Space Battleship Yamato 2199 in Japan, is a remake of the classic 1970’s anime series that was animated by GROUP TAC; but despite being thirty years apart this remake offers that nostalgic feel with its blend of classic, if not iconic, character design and modern day animation standards. Fans of the original will find a revitalised series brought into the current generation while newcomers will find an iconic tale in a fresh perspective.

Sadly despite this praise Star Blazers 2199: Space Battleship Yamato did very little in keeping me engaged with the events of the story, but then again I never did like Star Trek and this animated series feels eerily similar with its interstellar space travel and episode pacing.  The story within Star Blazers 2199: Space Battleship Yamato follows the crew of the space battleship Yamato, and not that of the Starship Enterprise, as it sees the crew travel across multiple galaxies in order to obtain a piece of technology from the Iscandan’s that will help the earthlings restore Earth back to its former beauty.

You see in this universe Earth has been decimated from the constant attack of the Gamilans, aliens from another galaxy who wish to control the entire universe through dictatorship, and the Iscandan’s, who wish to live in peace amongst the Gamilans and Earthlings, form a relationship with the Earthlings that sees them share technology.

This partnership bears fruit the Yamato plan; a plan which sees a single ship travel across the various galaxies in order to obtain a piece of special technology that will restore earth back to its normal state. Just like the Starship Enterprise the Yamato, and its plan, is not one destined for war; but is more than capable if need be; and so it often finds itself in the midst of battleing defending itself from the alien forces of the Gamilians.

This rinse and repeat story of travelling across the galaxy, defending from the Gamlians, continues throughout the entire twenty-six episode series; that is until the final few episodes which deliver a “what the…” moment through its spiritual prowess. Safe to say Star Blazers 2199: Space Battleship Yamato is not entirely what I thought it to be; but at the same time it is hard to imagine anything else.

The first episode begins with the Earth Space Force defending themselves against a Gamilan fleet and while exciting, with its Gundam-style presentation of warfare, it does very little in gaining your attention with its lack of explanation into who, or what, is going on and to what end. Those who have seen the original, or are familiar with the franchise, may understand what is going on; but for a newcomer it’s nothing short of being confusing.

The real story begins within the second episode, where it explains that the Earth Force in space was being used as a decoy so that a special part could be obtained from an Iscandan, and that his part would be used in the battleship Yamato. Additionally crew that died in the decoy mission were replaced with alternate characters, or younger siblings, in order to make the mission a success.

The starting narrative aside the journey begins; with the Yamato flying out into the vast of space with each episode covering a slightly different area. As each episode moves on we begin to learn more about the crew but, in my opinion, not in an effective way. The relationship between certain characters changes quite drastically within a short space of episodes that you may think you’ve missed something.

What I did enjoy however is the careful attention to both sides of the story being told. While the focus is most certainly on the Yamato and its crew the spotlight of the story is consistently shared with the Gamlians and their political agendas and viewpoints of the earthlings. Surprisingly I found this more entertaining than the story of Yamato’s journey through space; as it gives an insight into the dictator styled leadership within their group and the people that they are supposed to be protecting.

Naturally my experience with Star Blazers 2199: Space Battleship Yamato may be tainted by the fact that this is the only incarnation of the franchise I have seen; but while it does have positive traits – such as being a well balanced remake of the original – its story and pacing left me bored and wanting more. What that is, i’m not sure; but the series just did not fill the void of what I expected to receive which is why I suggest that Star Blazers 2199: Space Battleship Yamato is the Star Trek of anime. It covers the grounds of Star Trek, with its exploration of self-preservation, and throws a military might into the mix just for that added spice.

Extras:

With Space Battleship Yamato being over three decades old, and this remake of the iconic tale being a few years old, I did expect some variety in its supplementary content and that expectation has been met with some variety.

Throughout the four Blu-Ray Discs viewers will find a selection of English Cast Commentary on selective episodes, Video Interviews with team members at FUNimation, Japanese Promotional Videos and the inclusion of textless opening and closing songs. In addition to these ‘standard’ bonus features we also have a sped-up real time illustration of the Space Battleship Yamato. It’s an odd inclusion; but it is cool thing to see.

As per the norm your experience with these bonus features will vary depending on 1) your enjoyment of the series and 2) the English voice over cast, as majority of the supplementary content is related strictly to the English version of the anime. Fortunately the English done is exceptionally good with voice actors taking charge of their respective roles. The “Video Interview” elements show both Cast and Production teams illustrate why they are fans of the series while the English Cast Commentary provides a ‘small’ insight into the world of dubbing an anime series such as Space Battleship Yamato.

As far as supplementary features on a home video releases goes then it may not be as expansive as some; but it is a nice rounded selection of content that will cater towards all fans. It’s also worth noting that Manga Entertainment UK are using discs original mastered by FUNimation so the menus themselves appear as Part 1 Disc 1, Part 2 Disc 1, as opposed to simply Part 1. This is due to the series being released as two separate parts in North America rather than as a complete series – which is how the series is being released in the UK.

Specs:

Media:  BD 50 x4
Region: B
Running Time: 2:52:44 (Disc 1), 2:30:34 (Disc 2), 2:58:10 (Disc 3), 2:38:39 (Disc 4)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: DolbyTrue HD 5.1 (English) & DolbyTrue HD  2.0 (Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

Star Blazers 2199: Space Battleship Yamato attempts to rekindle the nostalgia of the original Space Battleship Yamato by bringing the iconic story to modern day animation standards; with XEBEC mostly handling the animation. The character designs, sound effects, atmosphere and pacing of the story ‘screams’ 1970’s era of anime while the animation standards make it on par with that of Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin. For me it’s a mixture of good and bad, with the animation style and vocal talent creating a visually spectacular experience; yet the pacing and presentation of the story leaves much to be desired.

This story sees the crew of the Space Battleship Yamato travel across galaxies in order to retrieve a special item from the Iscandan’s which will restore Earth to its natural state. The reason for this is due to an over-going-war with the Gamilans, an alien race who wish to lead all civilisation with an iron grip.

As a result of this mission the Yamato encounters various fleets of the Gamalian army and defend themselves through the use of their battleship; and as such each episode becomes a ‘rinse and repeat’ pattern of avoiding the enemy or escaping in some manner. For me the story became stale relatively fast with the only highlights being characters that explore their personalities; but even this happens in an unnaturally fast manner that relationships blossom before you’ve even realised it.

Fortunately the series does offer some variety by focusing on the world the Gamilans and their own internal politics; and I found this more interesting than Yamato’s journey through space. Elements of the story aside praise has to be given to both English and Japanese voice cast of the series, as they really bring the series to life. Firstly two different languages (if not three) are featured within the series and both English and Japanese audio tracks replicate this experience.

In this case it is Japanese (or English) and Gamilan language and depending on the language being spoken the subtitles will be presented in a different colour. Not much anime series give this much attention to detail; so its nice to see relevant cast give this type of presentation. The variety of audio features is also a welcome addition and (once again) adds some nice variety to offer a well-rounded product for fans of the series.

From my perspective Star Blazers 2199: Space Battleship Yamato is clearly intended for those that like the original or its source material, i.e. the Battleship Yamato, and in turn who enjoy Star Trek. Those looking for a progressive conclusive story will (sort of) find one here; but it is a long stale journey.

The positives however are the visually impressive animation presentation, especially for a TV series, and its stellar cast of vocal talent in both English and Japanese audio tracks. Space battleships are ensured; but it’s nothing like modern day Gundam. It’s one lone ship on a longer journey through the galaxy attempting the impossible; and just like space it can get quite lonely and dull very quickly.

Score: review-stars-3

Star Blazers 2199: Space Battleship Yamato – The Complete Series will be available on Blu-Ray from the 23rd March 2020.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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