It’s worth noting here that many of the changes are quite subtle: visual enhancements to existing scenes, minor inserts, tighter editing, or adjustments in scene order. Those changes are too subtle to cover here, so we’ll focus only on the most significant.
The first takes place in the opening montage, in which the Cascade Black Hole is compared to a lion on the African Savannah whose focus shifts when it notices prey. The analogy was a bit of a stretch, so this scene was deleted.
In the opening battle, the first emigration fleet from Earth to Amare is ambushed by SUS ships and a slaughter begins 17,000 light years out in space. One of the Earth ships is a Super Andromeda-class battleship commanded by everyone’s favorite space heroine, Yuki Mori. Her ship is quickly overwhelmed, and she gives the command to warp. As the transition begins, the bridge takes heavy fire and she is caught in the blast.
At upper left we see the original version of this scene. At upper right is the same scene in the Director’s Cut (referred to as DC from here on).
The scene shifts to a reverse angle. In the original, we see her uniform being torn off her body. In the DC, it stays on.
The original then cuts closer to see that she’s been entirely stripped. The DC cuts closer still, allowing her to remain clothed and giving us a better look as her hat drifts away. As before, this is all we see of her for the entire movie. But now, wherever she has gone, she arrived with a little more dignity.
A consistent change we see throughout the movie is the return of the classic screen caption. These were a staple of previous works, so it’s nice to have them back. The original scene is at the left, and the DC version is at the right. The caption literally translates to “Aquarius Water Mass Group.”
The use of captions also helps the story along on occasion. For example, when the Earth’s second emigration fleet was attacked in the original (at left) the audience didn’t know who they were until it was revealed in subsequent dialogue. In the DC (at right) there was no question.
Jumping forward to Yamato‘s powerful launch from Aquarius, the sequence was slightly different visually; a few shots were re-ordered and there were a couple of new inserts to move the process along. The biggest change is one that can’t be shown here; the Space Battleship Yamato theme performed by rock group The Alfee was replaced by an instrumental version. The explanation for this (as learned in our interview with Makoto Kobayashi) was that Yoshinobu Nishizaki hadn’t decided before his death which way to go with it. Since it was up for questioning at all, Kobayashi decided on the instrumental just to create some difference. The end title song by The Alfee is still intact.
As Yamato guides the third emigration fleet toward the slingshot rendezvous point, we get our first wholly new sequence. It begins with Kamijo in Dr. Sasaki’s office being treated for wounds he sustained at the beginning of the film. Kobayashi barges in and we are given an example of their contrasting personalities. Kamijo is full of intense determination to avenge those who lost their lives whereas Kobayashi (who hasn’t actually seen combat yet) is brash and cavalier about facing the enemy.
From there we jump to the captain’s dome with a gorgeous exterior shot between scenes.
This is Kobayashi’s next stop; Kodai offers him a classic Black Tiger uniform to replace his current one, since he will spend most of his time as a fighter pilot. Kodai invokes Kato’s name as Yamato‘s former ace pilot, and hopes Kobayashi will live up to his standard.
The next big action sequence follows, ending with a truce between Yamato and General Gorui. Agreeing to go their separate ways, the two ships move forward for a flyby. In the original, we cut from the shot above left to a reverse angle after the ships have passed. In the DC, there’s a new insert that shows Gorui’s crew rendering a salute as Yamato passes just outside their bridge. It’s a brief but effective addition that gives us a nice sense a scale.
Setting down on Planet Amare, Yamato gets a hull inspection from the engineering crew. These shots are new to the Director’s Cut.
All hell breaks loose when the SUS attacks. The ground battle is unchanged, but we get two new shots afterward that smooth out scene transitions. One is the launch of Pascal’s fleet (above left) and the other is a transitional exterior of the SUS fortress.
The ground battle boils up into an epic space battle, which peaks with Omura’s brave sacrifice. Not much needed changing in that sequence, but there’s a new bit in the followup fight between Yamato and the SUS Dreadnought.
The first time the Dreadnought rises from the subspace dimension, it takes some shots and then sinks back down. The effect is exactly like a massive submarine plunging into the ocean, and the force is so great it swamps Yamato with a dimensional wave.
The ship’s power systems react to the tidal forces, then the battle continues.
After the Dreadnought has been dealt with and Metsler is revealed as a creature of another dimension, Yamato flies past Planet Amare in triumph. This leads us into another new sequence where we cut into the bridge and see Kodai look off to the side.
We cut to Omura’s now-empty post, upon which a futuristic bouquet of flowers marks his loss in the previous battle. A call comes in from Earth; it’s Sanada, congratulating the crew on their victory.
As he speaks, we’re treated to some new shots of Earth, which is experiencing global storms. It’s as if the planet itself is convulsing before death.
After Sanada signs off, we jump to the captain’s dome where Kodai compliments his crew for working so well together in their first mission. Then talk turns to the rest of their voyage, which will place them back at Earth to watch the moment of its demise.
The crew discusses this disquieting fact as they ride the elevator back down to their posts.
Click here to continue – to where things get really different!