From here, we will begin a discussion of the sequels as a whole, based on Yamato Part 1. Since it is rather complicated, let us first look at the rough outline and points of each sequel.
Farewell to Yamato:
nuance lost in a large-scale tragedy
The movie Farewell to Yamato was released on August 5, 1978, and grossed 4.3 billion yen at the box office. The primary achievement of this film may be the major screening of a new Yamato movie for the first time.
It is set in the year 2201 A.D., one year after Part 1. The film opens with “The universe expands into infinity,” followed by a brief look at Susumu Kodai, Yoshikazu Aihara, and the state of Earth. As the story progresses, Yuki Mori, Dr. Sado, Daisuke Shima, and other nostalgic faces gather together.
Around this time, Teresa’s message reaches Earth, warning of a space crisis. Kodai and the rest of the old Yamato crew take this message seriously. Drunk on the prosperity of the restored earth, the leaders of the Earth Defense Force do not listen. Adding insult to injury, they decide to scrap Yamato.
Susumu Kodai’s line hits fan directly in the heart: “Yamato is alive. Our mission to save Earth also lives on with Yamato.”
Ignoring the military’s warning, the crew gathers one after another on Yamato, overlapping with the fans who gathered at the movie theater to share the experience of this new Yamato film. The film’s plot seems to be a revolt by young officers, but there is a hidden metaphor in the film. In this sense, it was a festival for fans.
At two and a half hours, it was one of the longest anime films made in Japan at the time, and perhaps even in the world. It was a milestone in anime history, ushering in the era of the full-length anime film.
Furthermore, as a sci-fi (taste) anime, it had the greatest sense of scale. The Earth Defense Force fleet, starting with the flagship Andromeda, is equipped with Wave-Motion Guns (except for the destroyers). The mobile fleet of the White Comet Empire (also called Gatlantis) has aircraft carriers, submarines with stealth functions, a powered-up Dessler ship, etc. The scale of the space battles that unfolds as this mecha flies across the screen was probably the best of its time, even including the first Star Wars.
However, the detail of the human drama is undeniably inferior to that of Part 1. This is not so much a problem of the length of a movie, but the fact that the film fell into the supremacy of its theme: “Would you die for love?”
Yamato shakes off the incomprehension of others and leaves Earth alone to ask Teresa of the planet Telezart about her message’s intention. Survivor Ryu Hijikata of the Solar System Perimeter Fleet, which was destroyed by an attack along the way, is welcomed on board as captain.
On the planet Telezart, we meet Teresa, who possesses mystical powers. She says that the universe is being overrun by an evil invader, the White Comet, and Gatlantis is a man-made city hidden within it. Their next target is Earth.
On the way home, Yamato gets caught up in a revenge battle with Dessler, now a guest general of Gatlantis, and prevails over him. The mighty Gatlantis easily defeats the overconfident Earth Defense Forces. Yamato is determined to protect Earth, but is met with a tragic battle. Yuki Mori, Dr. Sado, Saburo Kato, and many other crew members die.
The film lacks nuance and fills in the blanks with tragedy. In the finale, Susumu Kodai, having run out of options, makes a suicide attack on Emperor Zordar’s huge battleship with Yuki Mori’s corpse in his arms. It is not very satisfying and leaves a bad aftertaste. However, there are many great scenes, such as the parting of Kodai and Shiro Sanada, who remains in the enemy fortress city, determined to die. There are many such scenes.
Although it is different from Part 1, which is about the struggle for survival, this collection of tragedies is also a major highlight of the series. The production by Toei Doga is marked by its high color saturation and vivid tones. This author, who loved Part 1 for its unique atmosphere and slightly duller tones, felt mild disappointment.
Yamato 2: A battle without
the exhilaration of victory
“Youth should survive,” said Leiji Matsumoto, who opposed the finale of Farewell.
The TV series Yamato 2 aired from October 14, 1978 to April 7 the following year. Yamato and Susumu Kodai survive to the end. The film is almost the same as Farewell, but it is less stifling and includes some funny scenes, making it a story that can be viewed with a relaxed mind.
Yamato is clearly treated as a warship, the flagship of the outer solar system fleet. Susumu Kodai remains the acting captain, and Yamato is commanded by him. The Wave-Motion Gun, which in Part 1 was basically never used against humans, is now used as a decisive weapon against the fleet like in Farewell.
However, situations in which wits are required to get through difficult situations are still there. For example, the recoil from firing a Wave-Motion Gun can be used to escape from a magnetic trap in a hollow planet.
As in Part 1, an enemy soldier is taken prisoner in Episode 9, and is tortured to get information about the enemy. This is a depiction that deserves to be criticized. Susumu Kodai sympathizes with the soldier who endures the torture. However, Part 1 was about his empathy as a human being, so this is a step backward.
There are other homages to Part 1. In Episode 10, Yamato enters a meteor belt and its energy is absorbed by the drifting rocks as the enemy fleet is approaching. However, when Sanada presses a switch, the energy of the ship is restored and the enemy is repulsed. After their experience with the Magellanic Stream in the previous work, he had taken precautions in advance.
“I thought maybe something like this would happen,” he reveals later. This is the original source of Sanada’s famous line, “I wondered if something like this might happen.”
Compared to the previous series, this one is a darker war story in a bad sense. The depth of the drama as a whole has diminished. A romantic episode between Daisuke Shima and Teresa is included, but it is not very complete due to many supernatural factors. One of the new elements is the detailed and time-consuming depiction of the battle between the Gatlantis and the Earth fleet.
But perhaps the most fascinating character is Dessler. He is not a lonely guest general, but the head of an allied fleet and who wins the favor of Emperor Zordar. When Dessler is temporarily imprisoned in the city empire, we are treated to the unprecedented depiction of him yelling at the guards for not changing his sheets. He is continually defeated, but in the end he manages to defeat Yamato. However, he is so moved by Susumu Kodai’s fighting spirit that he shows him mercy and lets him go.
In Yamato 2, the Earth government surrenders unconditionally after the destruction of the fleet. However, Yamato, rejecting the enslavement of the people of Earth, ignores the order and continues to fight. The result is not as bad as Farewell, but it is still a very sad story with a lot of casualties.
In the end, Susumu Kodai and Yuki Mori choose to go on a suicide mission. Teresa suddenly appears and stops them. She sacrifices herself to destroy the giant battleship.
Unlike in Farewell, Yamato‘s struggle does not lead to victory. But they never give up, and fight to the end. It doesn’t lead to exhilaration, but the aftertaste is not bad. This pattern is followed fairly consistently in the series.
One of the few new crew members is Sanada’s subordinate, Shinmai. “My name is Arakome, which is written like ‘new rice,’ but that’s not for real.” This was a unique character trademark, but regrettably, he was killed in battle near the end of the film.
The New Voyage:
Dessler becomes a protagonist
Four months after Yamato 2 finished, The New Voyage was aired as an hour and a half TV special (called a Telefeature) on July 31, 1979.
The story begins a month after the battle against Gatlantis, when the crew, healed from their wounds, boards Yamato again along with newcomers who graduated from the Space Soldier Training School. The first half of the story is devoted to the training of the new crew members, who continuously fail.
The Yamato series progresses chronologically from Yamato 2 to The New Voyage, which means the “suicide attack” in Farewell never happened. Considering the rapid release of this new film and the title The New Voyage, it seems that there was little resistance to contradicting the ending of Farewell. The title itself implies a new beginning to the series.
The story starts with the Dark Nebula Empire’s plan to mine energy ore, a driving force behind its war machine, on the planets Gamilas and Iscandar. The Dessler fleet, which had come to say goodbye, is enraged by the unauthorized mining of their home planet, and attacks the fleet. However, the battle escalates and Gamilas explodes.
Iscandar, which has lost its gravitational balance, begins to drift away. Dessler informs Earth of the danger to Starsha and begs for Yamato‘s help. This is his first altruistic action, protecting her not only as a former neighbor, but also, surprisingly, as a lover.
The greatest highlight of the film is the joint battle between Yamato and the Dessler fleet to protect the planet Iscandar. However, the newly-introduced enemy, the Autoplanet Goruba, is overwhelmingly powerful. It can shrug off even the Dessler cannon (based on the same principle as a Wave-Motion Gun). Goruba’s eerie and intimidating design is also appealing.
Starsha is not willing for anyone to make sacrifices for her own sake, nor is she willing to let her planet’s ore disturb peace in the universe. She leaves Mamoru Kodai and her beloved child, Sasha, in Yamato‘s care, and blows up Goruba along with her planet. After this, Starsha appears in space even though she is supposed to be dead, and says Farewell to her beloved child. Chiyoko Shimakura’s Sasha My Love is heard, a perfect departure from SF anime.
In this film, the battle scenes are more interesting than the drama.
The New Voyage was originally conceived as a story of Susumu Kodai’s children 17 years later. However, it would not have felt right without using the original characters. Tasuke Tokugawa (son of Hikozaemon) and Chief Engineer Sho Yamazaki were new faces, but a generational change did not take place.
Leiji Matsumoto was so busy with Galaxy Express 999, which was to be released in the same year, that he could hardly touch the production. But it was well received with a viewer rating of over 30%.
Be Forever Yamato: A forced climax
in the form of a soap opera
The movie Be Forever Yamato was released on August 2, 1980. It grossed 2.5 billion yen at the box office, which was less than Farewell, but it was a success and gave an impression of strong popularity.
This film is based on a plot proposed by Leiji Matsumoto for The New Voyage, a science fiction tale in which Earth 200 years in the future battles Earth from 200 years farther in the future. The Dark Nebula Empire is a world where almost all the inhabitants’ bodies have been mechanized. This was apparently intended to be connected to the Machine Empire in Galaxy Express 999.
One of the early plots was to have the descendants of Susumu Kodai and others 17 years later, or even 30-40 years later. However, the idea was abandoned because it was not appropriate to replace the regular members of the team. From here on, Susumu Kodai would be the main character through Resurrection and the series became a chronicle of his life.
This work is set in 2202 A.D., the year after The New Voyage. Earth is suddenly occupied by the Dark Nebula Empire, which has installed a Hyperon Bomb. This weapon destroys the brain cells of certain organisms (apparently Earthlings can be finely distinguished) in a split second.
As long as this bomb exists, it is difficult to attack the enemy directly on Earth. Therefore, Yamato travels a distance of 400,000 light-years to the enemy’s home planet, where the bomb is controlled. After a fierce battle, Yamato arrives at Earth 200 years later.
Here, the initial plot was kept alive, but this is camouflage on a planetary scale. The Wave-Motion Energy that powers Yamato ignites a special reaction with their planet and armaments, causing them to explode. The creator was very confident in this idea, but it seemed childish to me.
Incidentally, the Dark Nebula soldiers are cyborgs, except for their heads. They targeted the Earth because they want healthy human bodies. Considering the level of science, it should be possible to cultivate a body and manipulate DNA. This is obviously a strange setup. Around this time, Yoshiyuki Tomino’s masterpiece Legendary Giant Ideon was being broadcast on TV. The overwhelming difference in SF sensibilities was obvious.
The highlight of Be Forever Yamato is a daytime soap opera situation, which is rare in this series. On the way to Yamato, Yuki Mori is shot by the enemy and collapses, separated from Susumu Kodai. Then Kodai is reunited with Starsha and Mamoru Kodai’s beloved child, Sasha. Since she’s an alien, she grew to adulthood in one year.
Yuki Mori is favored by Lieutenant Alphon of the enemy army, who takes care of her. She surrenders herself to him in order to find out the secret of the Hyperon Bomb, but he sees through her deception.
“I want to know the secret of the bomb, and I’m willing to go to hell for it.” This thrilling line is probably the best part of the film.
Alphon challenges Yuki Mori as an enemy. He releases her and says that if she defeats him, he will reveal the secret. The last scene is the reunion between Susumu Kodai and Yuki Mori, who are in pure love. However, there is the bad aftertaste of Sasha sacrificing herself for Yamato and Mamoru Kodai dying to protect the Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Forces.
There were also many contradictions that could have easily been eliminated. The Goruba, which previously repelled the Dessler Cannon, is destroyed by Wave-Motion Cartridge bullets, a scaled-down version of the Wave-Motion Gun with Wave Energy in its warhead, fired from the main gun.
In addition, the younger brother Shiro Kato, who looks exactly like Saburo Kato, is added to the crew. As expected, there was no way to bring Saburo Kato back to life.
Dessler and Kodai fight over peace
Yamato III is a TV series that ran from October 11, 1980 to April 4 the following year. However, it was not a TV adaptation of Be Forever Yamato, released in the same year. Chronologically, it is a sequel. In the initial plot of Farewell and Be Forever, there was a crisis caused by runaway nuclear fusion in the sun. This was finally adopted in the third TV series.
At that time, the Galaxy is in the midst of a struggle for supremacy between the Bolar Federation and the Galman/Gamilas Empire, founded by Dessler. A planet-destroying missile, a stray bullet from that battle, plunges into Earth’s sun. One year later, the sun will go supernova, causing a crisis of human extinction.
The story is described as “early 23rd century” and is not dated. Susumu Kodai is the main character, but it seems that the writers did not want to make him too old. The story of an impending crisis for Earth every year is on the verge of collapse by this time.
Many new crew members appear, such as the hot-blooded Ryusuke Domon and the noble Takeshi Ageha, the son of a wealthy man. However, the overall impression is like an athletic club, and does not have the sharpness of Part 1. It is also a bit harsh that Yasuo Nambu, the officer in charge of gunnery, is becoming more martial.
The looming solar catastrophe is subject to a factional war among scientists and dismissed as as “erroneous observation results.” Heikuro Todo, the commander-in-chief of the Defense Forces (who we’ve seen all along but is finally given a name), is concerned about the situation. He launches Yamato on his own initiative as a special task force ship to find a settlement. The destination is limited to 15,000 light-years from Earth due to the range of the emigration ships.
During the voyage, Yamato becomes involved in the war between Galman-Gamilas and Bolar. Dessler’s subordinate, Admiral Gaidel, is unaware of the past history of the two nations. As is customary for a hegemonic power, he attacks Yamato unilaterally and captures it after a hard-fought battle. (Kodai is wounded and unable to command.) Gaidel reports back to Dessler with a recommendation for a future plan of attack on Earth. When Dessler hears the name Yamato, he furiously smashes his glass on the floor.
“Why didn’t you tell me Yamato‘s name earlier, Gaidel? When did I tell you to attack Yamato? When did I tell you to capture them? I told you to stay out of the Orion arm’s most remote star systems!”
Dessler calls Yamato and frankly apologizes for his subordinate’s arbitrary decision.
“Forgive me, Kodai. I consider you and Yamato my friends on Earth.”
Kodai readily accepts Dessler’s sincere apology, calling it water under the bridge. Yamato heads for the home planet of Gaidel and Gamilas and, with their help, engages in an exploration for a second Earth. However, Dessler’s hegemony and Kodai’s belief in peace and justice are a cause of conflict.
Then the planet Shalbart, the great empire that once ruled the galaxy, is introduced, and the two are pitted against each other over these unresisting, absolute pacifists. This is perhaps the best part of the story.
One of the best parts of Yamato is the theme music of the enemy. It clearly shows that the model of the Bolar Federation is the Soviet Union. The planet they rule is a frozen penal colony, and there is also an episode in which Yamato helps an exiled prisoner.
It can be said that the worldview of this work is very superficial. Incidentally, it was cancelled after six months. In the original one-year plan, President Gorman of the United States of Zeni was scheduled to appear. This naming was embarassing.
In the end, no suitable planet is found for emigration, but Princess Ruda of Shalbart provides Yamato with a Hydro Cosmogen cannon to control the sun’s fusion. In the final episode, Ryusuke Domon is killed by a sniper shot from a Bolar Federation ship while fixing a malfunction of the Hydro Cosmogen cannon. Takeshi Ageha also dies in a suicide attack against the enemy to escape from this tight situation. This is an easy composition that frequently appears in the series, and it evokes no emotion at all.
The intention of the Bolar Federation is to attack Yamato and draw out its arch rival Dessler. Prime Minister Bemlayze is defeated in the decisive battle.
In this story, Susumu Kodai is the captain of the ship. However, the role of a manager setting an example for his subordinates does not suit him. This is one of the reasons the story seems to lack color. When Domon and Ageha are killed and Kodai places his hand on the trigger of the Hydro Cosmogen, he shudders at the weight of the responsibility he has taken upon himself.
“Yuki, come here and give me a hand. And pray that this blow will save the Earth.”
The hesitation he shows here is the most typical scene of him in this series.
Final Yamato: A youth musical to close the curtain on a Taiga Drama
The film Final Yamato was released on March 19, 1983, six months later than originally scheduled. The series was discontinued at this point. This film was even more opportunistic.
The story occurs in the year 2203 A.D., but since Yamato III took place over the course of a year, the chronological order does not make sense (unless it happens a month after the last episode).
A red galaxy appears from another dimension next to our galaxy and collides with it. The Galman/Gamilas empire and the Bolar Federation are destroyed in an instant. Yamato goes to investigate the anomaly, confirming the collapse of Dessler’s city. Susumu Kodai presents a white rose in condolence.
The galactic anomaly has changed the orbit of the giant water planet Aquarius. A huge amount of water from it submerges the planet Dengil. Yamato sees this and goes to the rescue, saving a young boy, but at the cost of many crew members. After this, Dengil is lost.
The soldiers who escaped from Dengil decide to forcibly settle on Earth. They send Aquarius into a series of warps in a plan to flood the Earth and eradicate its inhabitants. (For some reason, only in this film, the Earthlings do not evacuate to the underground city!)
Yamato is hit by their surprise attack and returns home, wounded but with automatic maneuvering. Kodai takes responsibility and resigns. The new captain of Yamato is Juzo Okita, who is supposed to be dead. According to Dr. Sado, the reason was that “I had misdiagnosed him, and he was not yet brain-dead.” And he survived a special medical procedure that followed.
The audience in my theater laughed out loud at this. This is still the biggest example of bad anime ever known.
The story was full of flaws, but if you look at it as a collection of famous scenes, there is much to see in this work.
Uneasy about a new weapon developed by Shiro Sanada, Susumu Kodai asks him, “What about a test?” Sanada brushes him off, saying, “We don’t have time for that.”
Captain Okita responds to an enemy attack using an asteroid as a shield. “Smash the whole planet,” he says, firing the Wave-Motion Gun to disable the enemy’s barrier. This is a questionable action for Captain Okita, who had advocated the cautious use of Wave-Motion Gun in Part 1.
After disabling the enemy’s barriers, Yamato makes a forced landing on the enemy’s city satellite. This is interesting but a bit violent.
In the end, Yamato is unable to stop Aquarius’ warp. However, Captain Okita attempts to prevent the water column from reaching Earth by staying behind on Yamato and causing it to self-destruct. The drama of the crew discovering the truth and Kodai’s persuasion of the crowd is a highlight of the film.
The last survivor of Dengil attacks just before Yamato‘s self-destruction, but is intercepted by Dessler, who appears like the cavalry, preventing the attack.
Like Captain Okita, who came back to life and died again, I was also disappointed by the sob story of Daisuke Shima, who is mortally wounded in battle.
Susumu Kodai is demoted back to head of the combat group. He is not as poised as Captain Okita, who is portrayed as calm and collected. However, he is more vivid in this film.
After Yamato explodes and sinks, the film ends with a youth musical. We hear Transom and Tomoko Kuwae’s Rainbow to Tomorrow in the background as the crew runs along the beach. Junko Yagami’s Love Supreme is heard for Susumu Kodai and Yuki Mori’s wedding and love scene, and Isao Sasaki’s Yamato ’83 accompanies a playback of famous scenes from the past.
Incidentally, the film grossed 172 million yen at the box office, less than that of Be Forever Yamato.
Purifying the contradictions of battle
That was a long introduction to this chapter.
How did the sequels after Farewell take what was presented in Part 1 and make it into a story? Let’s analyze this.
In Part 1, Susumu Kodai said, “What we had to do was not to fight,” which may have been a forbidden line in an entertainment film. From that point on, we cannot affirm fighting, and cannot pursue the catharsis of action. In the summer of 1977, when planning a sequel to the Yamato movie, this became a bottleneck.
In the September issue of OUT that year, Yoshinobu Nishizaki described his plan for a continuation. The interview must have taken place early in August. At this stage, there were three ideas. The first was the story after Yamato‘s return to Earth. The second was to revisit the journey back from Iscandar, which had been cut short in the previous work. The third was Dessler’s revenge battle. [Read the OUT interview here.]
Nishizaki’s plan came into focus at the end of November. Here, the idea of nonviolence in Part 1 was the starting point:
(1) Kodai, who is moving toward the practice of nonviolence, makes many mistakes because of the difficulty of its implementation.
(2) As one of the attempts, he tries to live in love.
(3) Express specific love between a man and a woman.
(4) Using this as a springboard, they move toward a greater love of humanity (i.e., a love that is non-selective).
(5) Let us give ourselves to that love.
(From the Farewell to Yamato Deluxe Edition book, Office Academy 1979)
In other words, defeating the opponent in battle for any reason and surviving is egoism. Therefore, Susumu Kodai’s self-sacrifice emerged as a solution to this problem. However, as we saw in the previous chapter, the intention of creating a topic through tragedy must have been at work in this case. There were several drafts of how to depict this self-sacrifice.
In the Keisuke Fujikawa proposal, He was to be martyred in a battle against a powerful evil empire with Dessler as the vanguard, but a suicide attack was not envisioned. If Kodai’s death was merely the result of a battle, then the meaning of self-sacrifice would be weak.
Aritsune Toyota’s proposal was quite different. In the final episode of Part 1, Dessler’s ship self-destructed. A nuclear device it was carrying fell into the sun and caused a runaway increase in the sun’s fusion rate. There is no way to stop it. Yamato conducts a search for a new planet. It turns out that the fourth planet Odin, in the Ragnarok star system of the M67 cluster in the constellation Cancer, 2700 light years away from Earth, is a suitable settlement. In other words, this was the original proposal for Yamato III.
However, it is inhabited by a human race with a civilization comparable to that of Earth in the 20th century. The Earth government demands that Yamato use force to kill or subjugate all of the indigenous people. The crew suffers as they are put in the position of the former Dessler.
At the same time, Odin becomes the target of the Yupangi, a hegemonic nation of the Topak system in the same star cluster. Yamato fights a desperate battle against the mighty Yupangi invasion force in order to win acceptance of the people of Earth.
“Yamato is crushed. The Earthlings, who are welcomed on the planet Odin, never say a word about Yamato.”
The Toyota proposal was rejected. Perhaps they thought it more appropriate as entertainment for Yamato to be martyred for a “noble cause” rather than sacrificed for the sake of compromise. The Toyota proposal depicts the contradictions of the battle as human deeds, and leaves the solution to the viewer. It can be said that this only emphasizes the position of Yamato, wavering between Gamilas and Iscandar from Part 1.
On the other hand, the final form is not the survival of a specific human race, but rather the awakening of Susumu Kodai to a higher ideal, becoming a martyr to a cause.
In Farewell, Yamato responds to Teresa’s call and acts in an embittered manner toward the Earth Defense Forces from the beginning, unconcerned with the egoism of the Earth Federation government’s cause. The attack on Earth by Gatlantis is their reward for indulging in short-term prosperity.
Since Yamato originally stood up against a crisis of the entire universe, simply fighting to save Earth would weaken the initial meaning. This is a battle of process, not a contradiction. However, in the end it affirms the battle from another perspective, that of love for all things in space.
Furthermore, since Yamato is the resurrected Battleship Yamato, it is necessary to make a clear distinction between self-sacrifice and reckless acts, such as the former suicide attacks at sea, in order to avoid misunderstanding. However, when looking at the last part of the film, it seems that the filmmakers were somewhat pulled in by the image of the former Battleship Yamato. This is why the film has been criticized as militaristic.
Self-sacrifice invites religious ecstasy
Yamato‘s self-sacrifice can be better explained in terms of religiosity. It is what Takaaki Yoshimoto called “cosmo-religion.” The core of this religion is Teresa, who has the mystical power to send out messages about crisis in the universe.
She tells Yamato, “I will continue to pray for you. But it is not only for Yamato or the Earth. The universe is vast, but it is one. I continue to pray for your courage to fight for all the people of the universe.”
In Part 1, Starsha played the role of a transcendent like Avalokitesvara in Journey to the West. Teresa plays this role in Farewell while Starsha is relativized as a flesh-and-blood human being through her love for Mamoru Kodai. Teresa is antimatter, almost a deity. Kodai and the others seem to be in a state of ecstasy at the prospect of communicating with a goddess beyond human understanding.
Gatlantis, on the other hand, is inevitably pitted against them as pure evil. Unlike Dessler and the emigration of his people, they have no reason to fight. They simply enjoy killing and destruction. As Zordar puts it, “There is only one absolute master of the universe, and I am he. Everything that lives belongs to me, down to the last drop of its blood. Everything in the universe exists at my will. I am the law of the universe. I am the order of the universe. Therefore, of course, the Earth belongs to me.”
Susumu Kodai responds to this in an assertive tone.
“No! Absolutely not! The universe is the mother. All life created in the universe must be equal. That is the truth and the love of the universe!”
Here, Yamato‘s purpose in fighting and Teresa’s cause are in perfect alignment. Susumu Kodai’s tension is unusually high throughout the story. But it seems that this work was made for his self-absorbed heroism. Deprived of all means of attack against his enemy, he decides to attack with Yamato and martyr himself for the love of the universe.
His expression is somewhat cheerful at that moment. Teresa calls out to him, “Thank you, Kodai-san. You have shown me courage and love. Thanks to you, people will awaken and work for a more beautiful planet and universe. I have been waiting for this day. My antimatter body will help you. Come, let’s go.”
Teresa accompanies Yamato to the super battleship of Emperor Zordar. The 12.2-kilometer-long battleship, with its powerful armament, is destroyed. It is hard to believe that it wouldn’t survive being hit by the 265.8 meter-long Yamato, which was navigating at low speed with its engine power reduced. In the end, Earth was saved by the enormous energy of the antimatter that made up Teresa’s body. The meaning of this famous last scene is that the powerless Yamato and Susumu Kodai achieved religious immersion into the mysterious Teresa.
Yamato derives drama from losing
In Yamato 2, the TV version of Farewell, the self-sacrifice disappears. The answer to the contradiction of fighting is shown in the form of Susumu Kodai, a helpless being who is constantly troubled, lost, and in search of an answer. He does not seem to have a sense of exuberance in the face of a great cause.
“Sanada, after a battle, I always wonder if this is the right thing to do,” he says.
“You suffer, Kodai. Why do we fight? As long as we feel the pain of this, we are growing as human beings.” (Episode 7)
Although the drama is more about fighting than its predecessor, here Kodai’s worries seem more like excuses after the battle. However, in this work, his worries are made more convincing by the fact that he never wins at the critical moment.
In Farewell the showdown with Dessler ends when Dessler runs out of strength and collapses during hand-to-hand combat. Dessler feels a strange sympathy for his former nemesis, and after telling him how to attack his enemy, he throws himself into space to his death.
The main plot is the same in Yamato 2, right down to the challenge of hand-to-hand combat. But whereas Farewell exploits the weakness of the robot soldiers, in Yamato 2 they could not gain the upper hand against the flesh-and-blood Gamilas soldiers. Since all of Yamato‘s armaments had been nullified, the result is that they are just slightly outmatched.
Susumu Kodai managed to stand in front of Dessler, but he is wounded and falls unconscious before he can raise his gun. Yuki Mori defends him desperately, but there is no way she can fight Dessler.
Susumu Kodai repeats “Earth…” in a whisper. Dessler is impressed by the two of them.
“Kodai, you have done so much for Earth. A year ago, I too fought against Earth for the rise and fall of Gamilas. And now I see you risking your lives for Earth. And what is it that you have shown me now?”
“For the sake of Gamilas, I have lived only for destruction and violence. But I have lived my life in search of beauty. I could not see my beloved. Surely I defeated Yamato. But now, I am ashamed that I have given myself to the Comet Empire. Compared to their invasion and plunder, my heart is far closer to the people of Earth. I no longer hold a grudge against Yamato.”
He then gives Yuki Mori a hint on how to conquer Gatlantis and leaves with the confidence of a victor.
Following Dessler’s advice, Yamato conquers Gatlantis and destroys the city empire, but then the super battleship appears. In an overwhelming assault, Yamato loses all its combat power. Kodai decides to make a suicide attack, but is held back by Teresa, who suddenly appears.
Daisuke Shima was wounded in the battle with Dessler and drifted through space. Teresa, who loves him, saved him from death by sharing her life force with him. But it also costs her her life. Realizing that death is near, Teresa talks about rushing the enemy in Yamato‘s place.
“It takes more courage to go home defeated than to go home victorious.”
Teresa then sacrifices herself to destroy the super battleship. Susumu Kodai is moved to tears by her act.
“Thank you, Teresa. Miracles only happen once. We know that living leads to the future, and there is no future for those who abandon living. We will never make the same mistake again. We will continue to love people and create a beautiful planet.”
Structural Reasons Why Yamato Cannot Beat Its Enemies
In The New Voyage Yamato is unable to defeat the Dark Nebula Empire’s Autoplanet Goruba, even in a united front with Dessler’s fleet. They are saved by Starsha’s self-sacrifice. She destroys Iscandar, taking Goruba with her.
Be Forever Yamato was turned on its head by the self-sacrifice of Sasha, Starsha’s beloved child. Susumu Kodai fires the Wave-Motion Gun with fury. This is the only work that ends with Yamato directly destroying the enemy.
Susumu Kodai later reminisces, as if to excuse himself: “I wonder when people will be happy without shedding blood. I couldn’t even save Sasha. All that’s left are my bloodied hands.”
This is after the enemy has been defeated, and repeated regrets are not very convincing. The Yamato series has the premise of “the contradictions of fighting,” but action/entertainment demands fighting. The story must clear this twisted structure. Farewell attempts to do this by presenting a cause that transcends humanity, but ends up destroying the protagonist. It also affirms the fight by bringing up transcendent values, which is not preferable.
Thus, a structure was created in which Yamato could not win against its enemies. Because if you can’t win, you can’t fulfill your egoism. However, simply not being able to win is tantamount to repeating a joke. Therefore, the series does not present a cause to fight for, but an ideal that cannot be attained by humans.
Part 1 was the story of a journey in search of an ideal world, but in the sequel, the story is subtly transformed into a struggle for an ideal world. However, when human beings embody transcendental causes, they oppress others and create discrepancies. Therefore, the embodiment of the ideal takes the form of a goddess.
Mystical beings like Starsha, Teresa, and others appear in a more radical form as religious icons. The Shalbart cult of Yamato III is represented by Mother Shalbart.
The idea of absolute peace invited by the goddess
In ancient times, the planet Shalbart ruled the galaxy with a powerful military force. But it realized the pointlessness of warfare, and abandoned not only weapons, but also the science that drove them. Now they have returned to a primitive agricultural life. Their civilization is reminiscent of ancient Greece and the legendary Atlantis. The planet has beautiful seas and temples, and its people wear ancient Greek-style clothing.
The planet is hidden in an inter-dimensional space, almost in seclusion. Their philosophy has spread throughout the galaxy and has attracted followers as a non-confrontational fundamentalism. Those devoted to them are called Shalbartists, and they sometimes sabotage military installations. They are considered dangerous by both the Bolar Federation and the Galman/Gamilas Empire.
Yamato stops at the main Galman/Gamilas planet in the search for a second Earth. Susumu Kodai, however, is concerned by Dessler’s seeming quest for cosmic hegemony.
In Episode 17, a planet-destroying missile flies toward Galman/Gamilas through a heavily guarded network. Their defense system cannot intercept it. Yamato takes off and gets into position to intercept it, then shoots it down with its Wave-Motion Gun. Kodai is thanked by Dessler, but he coldly dismisses this, saying that he was only protecting the Yamato‘s support ship, which has Shiro Sanada aboard.
“Dessler,” he says, “don’t get me wrong. Your defense network was never perfect. I think you now understand a little better how dangerous it is to put too much faith in force alone. Think about it, Dessler.”
Yamato is unable to find a second Earth. On the way, they accidentally rescue Princess Ruda of Shalbart and deliver her to their home planet. The dreamlike scene that unfolds there makes them realize that this could be a second Earth. Domon suggests to Kodai that they could take it over.
“I’m ashamed to admit it, but that’s what I was thinking, too. But that would make us no better than the Bolar Federation or Galman/Gamilas.”
While endorsing Shalbart’s ideals, Kodai cannot accept them unconditionally in view of the impending destruction of the Earth. He is in doubt. At this time, the Bolar Federation invades the planet Shalbart, slaughtering the inhabitants one after another. But the inhabitants never resist.
In the end, the Bolar are repulsed by Yamato and Dessler’s fleet, and the escape. After a brief respite, the elders invite Kodai and his men to a place called the Valley of the Kings. There, they find a super-weapon that was sealed away long ago. They explain their past, in which they have abandoned war forever.
“Even if we perish, our ideals will remain, passed on among the peoples of the galaxy. And one day there will be a second or third Shalbart. Only then will there be peace in the universe.”
“I understand,” he answers, “it’s difficult for us now.”
“No one thinks it can be done right away. You just have to work to make it happen someday.”
“But Earth and the human race don’t have long to live,” Susumu Kodai says honestly.
The Elder tells him that he will provide the Hydro Cosmogen Cannon that will save Earth. The fact that Kodai did not bring this up as soon as Yamato arrived on Shalbart is a testament to the fact that the Elder did not want to be the one to provide it. Perhaps he was testing the Yamato crew to see if they were worth saving.
Incidentally, Dessler “would never attack anyone unarmed.” In his pride, he does not invade the planet Shalbart.
In the final episode, when Earth is saved at the sacrifice of Domon and Ageha, a vision of Princess Ruda, who has assumed the name of Mother Shalbart, appears.
“Captain Kodai, war leaves nothing but sorrow. Do you understand that?”
“Peace comes only from a determination not to fight, and to keep that determination, even if it cannot protect you. It is a battle against ourselves, more difficult than fighting an enemy.”
“I understand. We don’t know how far we can go yet, but we will try our best.”
“Good. That’s why I gave Earth a future.”
It seems that Princess Ruda, like Starsha in Part 1, has also put Earth to the test. Yamato‘s pacifism seems rather to come from the fact that its name is a symbol of Japan with its Peace Constitution.
Why did Dessler change?
In Final Yamato, the Queen of Aquarius inhabits the water planet Aquarius. The story tells us that the flood damage this planet brings to others it approaches is a test of the spiritual evolution of life forms.
This goddess is not perfectly human, but seems to be a spiritual body, a figure akin to one promoted by ecological feminism. This may be a result of Leiji Matsumoto’s style. In his works, the goddess of good (Maetel, Queen Millennia) and the goddess of evil (Prometheum, Lafresia) appear. The two sides of the coin are worship and fear of women, as in the case of Queen Millennia, who later becomes Prometheum.
Later on in the Yamato series, the story becomes more godlike and suffocating. In contrast to the goddess, Dessler takes on the humanistic aspect of good and evil that serves as a respite.
In Part 1, Starsha takes the role of human goodness and Dessler the role of human evil. Transformation has occurred here. With this change in allocation, Dessler is transformed from an unapproachable nobleman (eccentric) to a flawed but lovable warrior.
In the climax of Final Yamato, Dessler appears to save Yamato with a white rose that Kodai left for him. His warm and friendly attitude toward Kodai makes him a different person from the Dessler of the past.
In Yamato III, however, when it is revealed that his subordinate general is a Shalbartist, he says, “Galman doesn’t need two gods.” Gladly, the madness required to carry out immediate execution is still there.
Struggling with the contradictions of battle, Yamato is unable to win the war. Dessler becomes a necessary evil in such a situation. There is also the feeling that the story is gradually becoming more religious. Susumu Kodai emphasizes the human side of things along with Dessler.
Susumu Kodai’s battle against doubt
The development of a consumer society has led to alienation of the individual. By sensitively reflecting this in the protagonists of anime, it was possible to create an edgy expression in the Japanese cultural scene. Susumu Kodai was a pioneer in this field. In the sequels, too, Susumu Kodai is a projection of an individual’s mental landscape that was becoming obstructed.
Farewell and Yamato 2, which have different endings, are two sides of the same coin. The former is a virtual world that projects the psychology of Susumu Kodai, and the latter is a real world in which he actually lives.
In Farewell, Kodai is unable to accept the reality in front of him. In the midst of his peaceful daily life, his heart remains on Yamato. At the beginning he seems to have lost his zest for life. He gradually becomes more tense as he learns of the impending crisis in the universe. He passionately expresses his discomfort with the post-reconstruction Earth, and raises his cause.
He throws himself into the battle, guided by the goddess. He finds himself in a tight spot in the final stage, but he is not overwhelmed by the tyrannical proclamations of Zordar. He points his finger and speaks out loudly for his cause.
When he makes his final suicide attack with Yuki Mori’s corpse in his arms, he shows his gentlest expression of the film. Unable to live in reality, he can only escape into sweet and dangerous dreams. This may be the very image of an otaku who can only find fulfillment in the virtual reality of anime. Or perhaps it is reminiscent of the works of Kenji Miyazawa, who depicted self-sacrifice in the midst of sweet illusions.
Susumu Kodai in Yamato 2 is less dashing than this. It is a tale of miserable defeat and facing the harshness of reality. Although Teresa conveys her message to Yamato, she is initially hesitant to cooperate with them because she is frightened of wielding her powerful psychic abilities. She is a lost human being.
In the final battle against Dessler, Susumu Kodai is wounded before he can reach his enemy. Yuki Mori saves him from collapsing right in front of Dessler.
Yamato itself is injured by the super gravity of the White Comet that suddenly appears, and Susumu Kodai is accidentally seriously injured during repair work in the engine room. Yamato is unable to participate in the all-important decisive battle.
Yamato defies the order of the Earth government to surrender, but is unable to fight a full-scale war, and the ship is disabled. Emperor Zordar arrogantly taunts them.
“Hahaha! How do you feel now, Yamato? But the attack will continue. Now you know. I am the absolute master of the universe. Every star in the universe, every living thing, down to the last drop of its blood, belongs to me. It lives by my will. Watch carefully, Yamato. See how the Earth is reduced to dust by my judgment.”
Kodai cannot even retort. He can only grind his teeth at his own helplessness. He dismisses the crew and begins to sob in front of Okita’s image.
“Okita-san, I, I don’t know what to do. I have put the people of the Earth in such a miserable situation just because I underestimated the enemy. It’s all on me, the responsibility is mine, it’s mine.”
There was already no way left for Earth but to surrender, only to be destroyed. He decides to go on a suicide mission, but is held back by Teresa, who suddenly appears. In the end, he is saved.
In Farewell, Kodai is intoxicated by a sweet illusion. In Yamato 2, Kodai struggles with the harshness of reality, and is overcome by the misery of it. His appearance overlaps with us, who are nothing but powerless beings in reality. That is why he is a voice for us.
We hate war, but in the real world we are still caught up in it. Here, the contradictions of war are shown in the form of Yamato‘s almost complete lack of victory over the enemy. This contradiction illustrates Susumu Kodai’s inability to grow not only as a soldier, but also in many other aspects of his personality. He is lost, unable to accept not only war but also all the contradictions in the world.
In Part 1, he realizes the folly of “being taught to fight and win from a young age.” His appearance in the sequel is an extension of this.
In Final Yamato, he takes responsibility for his failure and resigns as captain. But he cannot “graduate” from Yamato. When he returns to the first bridge, he sobs to himself.
“I may not have been the right man for captain, but I want to start over with you again, Yamato. I just want to be a crew member. Let me fight with you one more time for the sake of the Earth.”
He then returns to the ship as combat group leader, but his expression is somewhat brighter. Immediately after leaving the port, he calls the crew to attention, and then suddenly realizes, “Oh, no, I’m getting into the habit of being a captain.”
Kodai is not one to take offense at being demoted. In this film, he goes on a reconnaissance mission while wounded, and while reporting on the enemy situation, he blacks out due to extreme pain. Yuki Mori, who accompanies him, takes over his report and completes it. If he had gone out to scout alone, he would have been lost instead of reporting.
In Final Yamato, after Yamato 2, Susumu Kodai shows weakness and softness. Despite being a soldier, he cannot be ruthless. To stop the warp of Aquarius, he plunges into Uruk, the city satellite of the Dengil Empire. But when he sees a young boy shot dead in front of him by his own father, High Priest General Lugal, he exclaims, “You call yourself a humn?” At this moment, the mission has vanished from his mind.
In Be Forever, he sobs over Sasha’s plea to sacrifice herself to defeat the enemy and is unable to make a decision.
Unraveling Susumu Kodai’s confusion through public philosophy
In his lectures and books, Michael Sandel, a thinker of public philosophy, has asked if it is right to sacrifice a few lives if it means many more are spared. The idea of sacrificing the few for the many, he says, is connected to the “maximization of pleasure and minimization of pain” in Bentham’s utilitarianism.
He says, “I came up with the concept of utility in order to rigorously measure the many and varied things we hold dear on a single scale.”
(Michael Sandel, Justice, What’s the Right Thing to Do?, Hayakawa Shobo, 2010).
Sandel rejects Bentham’s idea, citing John Stuart Mill: “It is the ultimate purpose of life…to fully and freely develop one’s abilities as a human being…unhindered from achievement.”
As one can see from his lectures, Sandel is all about lively debate. It is not so much about conclusions as the revitalization of society through the discussion of certain propositions. He continues to think about morality and seems to find meaning in sharing certain values.
Susumu Kodai “denies growth” and continually ponders and wonders about moral right and wrong. This image of his, paradoxically, does not stop judging. He shows that human beings should always be asking themselves questions. In the midst of the battle, he continues to question human dignity.
As pointed out in Chapter 6, Kodai’s leadership takes the form of speaking as equals and forming consensus among all. This was carried through to the sequels. The contradiction of fighting is always questioned, discussed, and shared with others. This is the hidden theme of Yamato.
Criticism of Yamato is full of mistakes
~ Kenji Sato & Hiroyuki Chida
Yamato has a glorious history of being a pioneer. On the other hand, there have been countless criticisms. Here, I would like to discuss the criticisms not in terms of expression or production, but in terms of ideological analysis.
This book has analyzed the Yamato series from the viewpoint that there is a disconnect between Part 1 and the sequels, but many of the criticisms of Yamato lack this. It is the same as, for example, not discussing Mobile Suit Gundam and Zeta Gundam together. What is interesting is that there are criticisms of Yamato from both the left and the right.
The most famous criticism in terms of nationalism is from Godzilla, Yamato, and Our Democracy by Kenji Sato (Bungeishunju, 1992). This now-classic book is full of factual errors. Sato claims that Yamato was trying to purify the contradiction between fighting and absolute pacifism, and he points out that there is a lot of moral fraud and deception. An example of this is Captain Okita’s statement in the second episode:
“If there is going to be a fight, think of it as courageous persuasion to those who disturb the peace.”
However, this is a quote from the script and is not in the episode.
He also notes that Yamato emphasizes “self-sacrifice for the good of the whole” and tries to prove that the final episode of Part 1 shows that a “love of humanity” is superior to “love between men and women” by having Yuki die. However, as will be analyzed in detail in the next chapter, when Yuki Mori dies, Susumu Kodai is so stunned that he is unable to carry out his duties as acting captain and doesn’t issue any orders even in the midst of a crisis. This should be considered a fabrication.
As for Susumu Kodai’s words, “We should not have fought,” Sato concludes, “This hypocritical line is not convincing in the slightest.”
His logic is similar to the argument made by conservatives that the Russo-Japanese War and the Fifteen Years’ War were unavoidable choices under international circumstances, and that it is wrong to pursue the ethical issues involved. But even if we put aside the point that Japan once had a choice, it is not right to bring real-life political sensibilities into the ethical issues portrayed in the story. Sato seems to be conflating the story with reality. The meaning of Yamato, as we have seen, lies in taking on the contradictions of reality.
To summarize Sato’s argument, Yamato, which is composed entirely of Japanese, is a closed community where Japanese = Earthlings, and where there is no outside viewpoint. Such a structure leads people to advocate absolute and unrealistic pacifism without reality, which in turn paves the way for radical nationalism and fascism.
His analysis of the subculture is a side dish, so to speak, and his main line of argument is a critique of the revolutionary left-wing ideology called postwar democracy.
It is interesting that Yamato is brought up at the beginning of the book as a representative example of postwar democracy. Postwar democracy is a strange term indeed. Until a certain point in time, it was under attack from both the left and the right. To the left, it was a lifestyle-based conservatism, and to the right, it became individualism without nationalism.
This merely paraphrases the reality of Japan. In other words, Sato is simply frustrated by that reality. However, the fact that he entrusted this to the subject of “subculture” was new at the time. This is his subculture of thought, a mere consumption that projects his own desires.
Next, I would like to examine Hiroyuki Chida’s Did Juzo Okita Read ‘The Last Days of the Battleship Yamato’? (Gakugei Kokugo Kokubungaku, March 2007 issue).
Baked into the exciting title of this article is (probably) a critique from the left wing. This is not a detailed analysis of the story of Yamato either. Conclusions are drawn from superficial analysis.
Chida concludes that Yamato is based on quotations from Mitsuru Yoshida’s The Last Days of the Battleship Yamato and inherits its ideology. However, since that book contains testimony from the people involved, it is difficult to draw a clear line between this and historical fact.
Yamato‘s main gun is the same size as the 46cm cannon. This is an homage to the Battleship Yamato, but it is not directly related to Yoshida’s book. Furthermore, Yamato‘s trip to Iscandar itself is reminiscent of the battleship’s final voyage to Okinawa. This is obviously a contrivance. All battleship operations are voyages.
To summarize Chida’s argument, the “apocalypticism” of Yamato is “rooted in the sense of stagnation that resulted from the pursuit of economic growth in order to escape the complexities of defeat.” From there, Yamato becomes “the most sublime thing” that combines the essence of both science and technology. He points out that Yamato is a symbol of the post-high-growth era, and is dangerous in that it lacks a view “outside” the community of “Japan.”
I will conclude this by drawing on Chida’s discussion. In the first place, does Chida, who is probably a revolutionary leftist, think that postwar democracy is fascism?
In this article, there are multiple points of view that the enemy Gamilas also had a cause, but no attention is given to the basic facts of Yamato, such as Susumu Kodai’s denial of war. The fact that the crew is Japanese, rather than a formal multinational one, is to gain understanding of the justice of others by emphasizing the external perspective of Japan.
This point of mine is also a criticism of Sato, who argues that the very appearance of the black iron warship itself is “the best of science and technology” for modern society. It is self-evident that the warship itself cannot serve as such a representation. This point will be discussed in detail in the next chapter.
Chida’s argument probably started with a conclusion and worked backward from there. The analysis of subcultures is popular among students of cultural studies at universities, and this may have been his response to the demand for such analysis. For scholars of the otaku generation, the study of anime, whether negative or positive, must be an enjoyable task. Chida’s analysis of representations, which lacks a detailed examination of the works, is a different subculture of thought from that of Sato.
In this way, Yamato seems like a mirror. Each of them projects what they wish and criticizes it. Such criticism itself points to their limitations and contradictions.
The Long, Long Road to Yamato‘s Revival
Immediately after the release of Final Yamato, Yoshinobu Nishizaki wrote, “Although I am not making a second part of Yamato, I think of this final film as the ‘conclusion of the first part’ so to speak.”
(Roman Album Extra 56, Final Yamato).
At this time, he also expressed his ambitions for a story with Dessler as the main character. It seems that such a film was considered in various ways.
Not long after Final Yamato, the plan included a revival of Yamato. It seemed that there was a trilogy of projects: a film set in the period before the Yamato series titled Odin, Photon Sailor Starlight (released in 1985), Dessler’s War/Spaceship Starsha, and The Birth of Space Battleship Yamato. However, this plan was abandoned.
Next, the video series Yamato 2520 was released in 1995. As can be seen from the chronology, this was 300 years after the time of Yamato, but there was no relationship between the two as a story.
The previous year, a video titled Yamato the Immortal Ship of Our Hearts ~ The Quickening was released. It was an introduction to Yamato 2520 and a new Yamato that would be produced in the future. This new Yamato would tell the story of Earth being in danger of being swallowed by a Cascade Black Hole. Susumu Kodai would be the captain and Miyuki, the daughter of Kodai and Yuki, would appear.
The outline of the story is the same as that of Yamato Resurrection, released in 2009. The basic concept seems to have been completed at this stage. The planned 7-volume release of Yamato 2520 did not attract much attention, and its release stopped at Vol. 3. Yamato Resurrection was also suspended due to the bankruptcy of Nishizaki’s West Cape Corporation.
However, Yamato did not fade away.
In 1999, the Playstation game Space Battleship Yamato, The Distant Planet Iscandar was released under the supervision of Leiji Matsumoto. In this sequel, depending on the choices made, characters such as Mamoru Kodai, Starsha, and Saburo Kato could continue in the story without dying. This feature was well-received by those who were critical of the easy deaths of characters. Even today, there are still many fans who accept this game as authentic history.
This success seemed to become a tailwind for Yamato. The serialization of New Space Battleship Yamato [A.K.A. Great Yamato] by Leiji Matsumoto began in the April 2000 issue of Monthly Comic GOTTA (Shogakukan). It is set in the year 3199 A.D., a thousand years after the Yamato series.
It is not clear if this is a story that follows the conclusion of Final Yamato or not. It is highly possible that the story did not follow the sequels after Part 1 (I can understand Matsumoto’s desire to do so). Descendants of the former crew members appear in the story, and the main character is Susumu Kodai the 32nd. These descendants carry the names of their honored ancestors from generation to generation. Yuki Mori the 32nd also appears. The first Susumu Kodai and Yuki Mori were not related. For fans, this was too much.
In the story, beings from another dimension called the Darqueen come to suck out all life in the universe. The story shares some similarities with Resurrection and suggests that Matsumoto was involved in the planning of the film. The Darqueen also appear in the relaunched Galaxy Express 999 and The Ring of the Nibelung, A.K.A. Harlock Saga. Matsumoto’s vision was for these stories to converge and unite in a grand, happy ending. New Space Battleship Yamato was to be made into an anime, but it was cancelled. The manga was discontinued after two volumes. The reason for this setback was the well-known copyright issue surrounding Yamato.
This has been settled, and the outcome is as follows: the author’s moral rights (rights of representation) are attributed to Yoshinobu Nishizaki. However, Leiji Matsumoto holds the copyright to the visual portion of the work (general setting, design, and art). However, the copyright itself was transferred from Yoshinobu Nishizaki to Tohokushinsha before this, and the company’s rights remain unchanged.
On the other hand, Matsumoto responded to this situation with the video series Dai Yamato Zero Go in 2004, which had no continuity or succession with the Yamato series. The ship was designed to look like a Yamato with wings. It is not very sophisticated. It is set in space year 3199 (!), and though the story lacks interest, the characters are more distinctive than those in Resurrection, which is a testament to the work of Leiji Matsumoto.
The environment for resuming the production of Resurrection was now ready.
Yamato Resurrection: Fan psychology shaken by the “shock”
The movie Yamato Resurrection was finally released on December 12, 2009.
I mentioned earlier that Farewell was an event for fans. I think this movie has similar characteristics. It was the first new film in 26 years to be shown on the big screen. It opened with the narration, “The universe expands into infinity” along with Kazuko Kawashima’s vocal. For the fans of the past, the value of the film may come down to this.
What about objective evaluation of the film?
Leiji Matsumoto’s design taste was removed to a large extent, and the character design was by Tomonori Kogawa, who participated in Part 1 and Farewell. Many people have criticized his character design, saying that it has an “American comic book” style. It is true that the film gives a solid impression, but the vitality of the initial design proposal seems to have been altered in the process of reaching its final form.
The story takes place in the year 2220 AD. The Cascade Black Hole is approaching Earth, and its destruction is only three months away. Earth’s government decides to emigrate to a satellite of the planet Amal in the Sairam star system, 27,000 light years away. However, the first and second emigration fleets are destroyed by the Interstellar Federation of Greater Urup, led by the SUS, which seeks galactic supremacy.
In this emergency situation, Susumu Kodai, who had retired from the military due to psychological trauma from his time on board Yamato, is asked to return. He is to board the new Space Battleship Yamato.
There were many criticisms that the story was opportunistic. However, since Final Yamato was also a rather broken story, this is probably because the times changed and criticism became harsher. Rather, I felt the problem was in the story structure, which did not allow for many showpieces.
Amal, which is attacked by the SUS, is Middle Eastern in style. Many criticized this scheme for being political, since it reminded them of the U.S. deployment to the Middle East. SUS is supposed to stand for “Super United Stars,” but it was also rumored to be an abbreviation of “Super USA.”
The involvement of Shintaro Ishihara in the drafting of this project was mentioned, but the degree of his involvement is assumed to be low, so it is more a matter of Yoshinobu Nishizaki’s choices. If the leader of SUS was a symbol of arrogant evil who enjoys killing without question, like Zordar in Farewell, and if Yamato were to defeat him, the film would be ideologically anti-American. But what about the reality?
After Yamato defeats the SUS super fortress, Metsler, the enemy commander, sheds his human mask and reveals his true nature as an interdimensional being. He reveals that his actions were intended to preserve the world to which he belongs. He seems to be overwhelmed by Yamato‘s resistance.
“This world is yours. You should rule it.”
Kodai calmly replies, “We don’t rule. We live together. That is this world.”
“Hehehe. I don’t understand humans.”
With these words, Metsler disappears. He reappears later to admit that the invasion was their cause.
“Our world has few star systems and planets to provide resources. We have no choice but to look to the outer dimensions for sustenance. Therefore, we sought your world in order to live.”
Here, the composition of Gamilas is repeated, in which the enemy also had a cause. In the end, Metsler gives up his act of aggression and departs. In other words, although Nishizaki’s anti-American ideology is reflected in a simplistic way, it is not established as a story point. This is because the structure of Yamato as first defined in Part 1 does not allow it.
The biggest problem is the lack of emotional expression of the characters. As usual, major characters die, but Susumu Kodai does not seem to be grieving, suffering, or as lost as he used to be. If this had been the case, there would have been a lot less criticism.
However, there are some highlights. The climax of the film is not about defeating the enemy, but converges on saving the Earth. In the final scene, it is revealed that the Cascade Black Hole is a dimensional transfer device created by inter-dimensional beings.
“It is not Yamato that must survive. It is the Earth.”
Yamato plunges into the black hole to destroy it. The ship fires six Transition Wave-Motion Guns at once, the centerpiece of this work, which places tremendous stress on the hull. The Yamato series is united in these efforts to protect something, and sometimes it takes physical force to meet a difficult situation. I believe that this basic stance of the Yamato series was firmly inherited.
For the background music, Kentaro Haneda (deceased) arranged the fourth movement of his Yamato Grand Symphony based on Great Love. It is a great showpiece of the film.
The caption “End of Part 1” appears at the end of the film. Originally, Earth was to disappear in the first part. In the second part, Yamato goes to another dimension to search for Earth and Yuki Mori, who disappeared at the beginning of this film. In the third part, Yuki returns. However, it would not be appropriate for the Yamato series or for an “entertainment” series to end with the disappearance of Earth. At this point, the basic concept of the trilogy was lost.
The audience for this film was splendidly made up of older viewers and was largely ignored by younger viewers. The “moe anime” generation was at the height of its popularity, and “Yamato” was clearly a foreign culture to them. Although it did not do well at the box office, DVD sales were said to be strong.
But DVD sales aside, the 40-plus age group that experienced Yamato in real time is reluctant to go to movie theaters to watch anime. In other words, they may have made a mistake in their sales strategy. The negative campaign by older fans online may have had a big impact. The quality of the film is a separate issue.
The relationship between occult thought/ascension and Resurrection?
In Resurrection, inter-dimensional people appear. This is reminiscent of a spirit entity from another dimension that is said to have sent a message in recent years that the Earth will be destroyed in 2012. The trigger for this phenomenon is the “ascension” of the chosen people to Nibiru, an unknown planet orbiting the sun in an elliptical orbit.
This theory was adapted and developed by the cosmic archaeologist Zecharia Sitchin. He believes that prehistoric Earthlings came into contact with the inhabitants of Nibiru’s ancient civilization (particularly the Sumerians). He called the mysterious beings Dengil (also known as the Anunnaki).
Final Yamato, in which the Dengil aliens appear, was probably based on this. The migratory planet Aquarius is thought to be an image of Nibiru. (In addition, Minoru Takahashi’s Burning Ice Planet [Hara Shobo, 1975], which attributed Noah’s Flood to an undiscovered ice planet with a long elliptical orbit, could also be source material.)
Aquarius is a spiritual planet that facilitates the evolution of intelligent life in the universe. This is also reminiscent of the worldview of ascension. Thinking about it in this way, inter-dimensional people may be a reflection of the times.
With the sudden passing of Yoshinobu Nishizaki, projects such as a sequel and a remake have undergone major changes. Here, let us speculate on the continuation of the Yamato series as an extension of the original line.
The Yamato series has always included religious elements, but in the next work, the stage is moved to a different dimension, and the spirituality of the work is further enhanced. Perhaps a goddess from a higher dimension will appear, suggesting a solution to the fundamental problems of Metsler’s world, and Yamato will struggle to solve them.
This author’s guess is that Metsler, moved by the goddess’ love, is grateful that a way of coexistence has been opened up for them and says, “Let’s live in unity. Thank you, Kodai.”
However, what comes next is not anime. A live action Space Battleship Yamato, starring Takuya Kimura, will be recognized by the younger generation and may become a new standard. Since the old Yamato‘s supporters are already far removed from the younger mainstream audience, it is highly conceivable that Yamato will use CG as its new platform, rather than anime.[Translator’s note: in case it isn’t obvious, this book was published before plans were announced for Yamato 2199. In fact, it’s rather amazing that the death of Yoshinobu Nishizaki was mentioned, since the book’s publishing date was only 13 days later; November 20, 2010.]