It’s the Action in the Live Action Adaptation of Space Battleship Yamato That’s Worth Singing About

Space Battelship Yamato Live Action Movie -  Central Anime [B07892A8].mkv_snapshot_00.26.31_[2011.08.06_13.06.56]

I only very vaguely remember watching Star Blazers as a very young boy, so even when I watched Uchuu Senkan Yamato last year I did so with very little nostalgia. I did enjoy it, particularly as the genesis of so many things the shows I’ve come to love remember love for. I’ve had little experience with anime/manga to live action adaptations so I really didn’t know what to expect from this production. I liked the Detroit Metal City film, adored the Nodame Cantabile films, I liked the Great Teacher Onizuka film, hated the Honey and Clover film, appreciated the Solanin film, and I did like the 20th Century Boys trilogy of films.

Let me tell you though, this film did quite a few things right, and I think that these things count. This is a pretty badass action film, and in surprising ways (which I won’t spoil). In this post I’ll comments on a few elements, but ultimately, I recommend that you watch this (unless you dislike action, space opera, and/or Japan).

Space Battelship Yamato Live Action Movie -  Central Anime [B07892A8].mkv_snapshot_00.22.34_[2011.08.06_12.46.41]

If you liked the planet-hopping adventures of the anime, with its encounters with different alien races and cultures, you won’t find those elements here. You won’t even find much of a culture among the Gamilons/Gamilas and Iscandar. The movie streamlined them to fit a feature length format which meant they’re more like Star Trek-like singular alien consciousness representing entire populations. I found it funny how the film had to shoehorn Desler as a name, wherein he as an individual meant nothing really.

If you’re concerned that the film lacks extensive characterization, then you’re right. The characters are not very fleshed out, and the acting is only a few steps above Tokusatsu TV productions. Okita doesn’t get to act badass enough, though Kodai does well to carry the whole film (capably played by Kimura Takuya).

Another element which I found interesting is the faux-feminist friendly cast. Yuki wasn’t the token girl anymore, she was the ace pilot of the Black Tiger squadron. Also, you’ll find a whole bunch of females serving as Macross style bridge bunnies (and at least 2 other Black Tiger pilots)… even the alcoholic Dr. Sado is now female. But no, this film won’t pass the Bechdel Test at all.

Also, Kuroki Meisa is an attractive woman and all, but she most of all suffers from the comparison with Matsumoto Leiji’s illustration of well, the Matsumoto Leiji female character design.

mori yuki kuroki meisa starsha iscandar

But what are the things that this movie supposed to do well?

Space Battelship Yamato Live Action Movie -  Central Anime [B07892A8].mkv_snapshot_00.21.41_[2011.08.06_12.45.32]

Yamato’s emergence from the Earth must be suitably grand. It was.

Space Battelship Yamato Live Action Movie -  Central Anime [B07892A8].mkv_snapshot_00.24.23_[2011.08.06_12.48.38]

The firing of the Wave Motion Gun must be appropriately iconic. It is.

The fate of the human race must be portrayed as so desperate that the Yamato must represent this shot in the dark kind of hope and yet so much of everything rests on it. Okita selling the story of the radiation cleaner in Iscandar, and even clearer with the whole sequence after the first firing of the Wave Motion Gun …we feel that the Yamato is everything. This perhaps is the most important success of the film.

But, I recommend it on the strength of the action sequences. The space battles themselves aren’t anything spectacular. It wasn’t until the final assault on Gamilas that this film really grabbed hold of me. The atmospheric entry battle was incredible. It was daring, audacious and totally worth not spoiling you.

Space Battelship Yamato Live Action Movie -  Central Anime [B07892A8].mkv_snapshot_01.33.07_[2011.08.06_12.07.58]

I can tell you about the grand dogfight in a cavern. This is badass.

Space Battelship Yamato Live Action Movie -  Central Anime [B07892A8].mkv_snapshot_01.34.53_[2011.08.06_12.10.03]

I can also tell you about a desperate run by the space commandos. This must be seen to be believed.

I think I like Uchuu Senkan Yamato live action at least as much as I enjoyed the 20th Century Boys trilogy. I found the final scene ridiculously long and drawn-out, robbing it of much of its dramatic power, but otherwise it was a great experience that I wholeheartedly recommend. In this post I’ll tell you why you should watch this film, regardless whether you’re a fan of the anime or not.

The moment I finished watching the film, I could not help but sing along to this over and over:

That is one SMOOTH manly motherfucker.

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
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18 Responses to It’s the Action in the Live Action Adaptation of Space Battleship Yamato That’s Worth Singing About

  1. animekritik says:

    It definitely looks worth watching!! I will as soon as I can.

    • There are a few moments here when it’s quite successful in ‘rousing the spirit.’ I wonder how much of this feeds/taps into the nationalism of the viewers. Maybe you can tell me after you’ve seen it.

      • animekritik says:

        Just finished it.
        This was awesome!! I was so impressed!! Darn. And I do agree with all your comments. I’ll write a post on the nationalism and other things, but above all things, we must clap our hands for Kimura. He really worked his butt off here and carried the film.

        • I look forward to your post. I’m glad you liked it. I must say I’ve become quite a fan of Kimura. I’ve watched his first two dramas (Long Vacation was good, I find), and recently Mr. Brain and interestingly enough, as JP in the Redline film.

          • animekritik says:

            OMG I didn’t know he was in this.
            Kimura is one of the superstars that proves that you can have it all and still be a nice person and not go insane or anything. Come to think of it, it must be hard to be this famous for this long and not go crazy, so one must applaud him for that too.

          • He plays the lead (JP… what a name!)

            I remember also appreciating his work in 2046, the Won Kar-Wai film (sequel to In the Mood for Love). I love those films, and his role was pretty cool too, playing opposite Faye Wong.

  2. WhatSht says:

    Watched it last month, I agree that the dogfight in the cavern is badass, they had to avoid attacks and the walls at the same time, while flying at high speed.
    Have a habit of spoiling things when I talk about such stuff, so ain’t gonna talk about the movie.

    • They had to fight, avoid walls on their sides, pillars everywhere, and the low cavern ceiling. It was pretty intense close quarters action.

      There was this other scene in space wherein a swarm of hostiles went on a suicidal trajectory towards the Yamato, who evades by executing a barrel roll… this shit floats my boat mang.

  3. megaroad1 says:

    Looks interesting. Gonna check it out now that it’s been recommended by Ghost


    The Yamato series holds up remarkably well in terms of sheer enjoyment, but I’ll have to finish it before I can watch this movie.

  5. yuki says:

    Was I watching the same movie? Awful acting, especially from Yuki’s actress who was trying so desperately to channel Starbuck from BSG. And they totally glossed over how exactly they Iscandarians/Gamilans/whatever would “save” Earth? It looked like a magical cop out, again made worse by Yuki’s hamming it up. And the love story was pointlessly shallow. I wanted to punch this film. I’ll stop here.

    • The majority of Japanese movies I watch have terrible acting. This does not get in the way of what I watch them for. If you go over the post I wrote, I listed down what this film needed to get right.

      I listed neither of your complaints as prime directives. Thus it’s perfectly logical for us to have seen the same film and leave with different results.

    • animekritik says:

      Yuki acted about average for Japan, and that’s pretty bad, yes.
      The magical cop-out is in the original too, so what can you do?

  6. Xard says:

    I really need to get around seeing this

    not before Redline


  7. Pingback: Elements of the Live-Action Yamato « Kritik der Animationskraft

  8. Pingback: Blazers Space | Monster Models

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