Yamato 2199 Concludes…

2199-1Excuse me while I break pattern for a second. This post will be at best only tangentially about an FMP project, but since it’s about a reboot of the show that inspired our own Sea of Stars, I hope you’ll forgive me.
Today in Japan, and across shortly thereafter across the Internet, the TV series Space Battleship Yamato 2199 came to a close. It finished with 26 episodes, the same as the original series upon which it is based, but despite being a drastic re-imagining (you all know my loathing of that term) of a nearly forty-year-old show, 2199 stands as one of the best anime to air in recent memory.
OK, that’s just my opinion but let me back it up. I’ll even try to avoid major spoilers too, since defending 2199’s awesomeness isn’t hard enough.
First, 2199 did not take a wholly original story and slap a coat of Yamato paint over it. That’s what the Galactica re-do did, and it’s why I hate that series so much. After about episode three, the Syfy version had as much to with the original as it did with bagging groceries. 2199 stayed faithful to original without being a note-for-note clone.
What’s more, the tweaks contributed greatly to the story. We got much more details on both the enemy civilization, and the people who comprised it. 2199’s “Alberto” Dessler is a much more nuanced and complicated person than his original incarnation. Further, the idea that Gamilas Empire is not comprised of a single world’s population neatly side-steps the oddest question of the original anime. In the original show, about episode 7 or so, the Gamilon’s skin color changed from pinkish-tan to blue for no apparent reason (actually, it had to do with marketing and negative reactions but that’s another post). In 2199, the almost Caucasian looking enemy troops are merely from a conquered world, now swerving the Empire to improve their lots in life. It’s the same idea we used in Sea of Stars, incidentally *mental back pat*.
2199-2On a side note… They did pull a Starbuck and gender-swap a fighter pilot. However, I put it to the Internet that Akira “Rei” Yamamoto is a far more interesting person than the ultimately anticlimactic Cara “Starbuck” Thrace… and that’s WITH the usually soft-paced and subtle Japanese style of characterization. It was really great to see a female Cosmo Tiger who MADE SENSE as a fighter pilot.
Speaking of genders, that’s something that 2199 did AMAZINGLY good at. The original show suffered from the token-female trope in the worst way possible. Aside from a few crowd shots in a single episode, there was only ONE woman on the entire ship. That’s an HR disaster looking for a place to happen…and it did, several times as I recall (who programmed that damn robot anyway? He was second-biggest perv in anime). 2199 introduces a whole horde of new female crew members. Even if it does still suffer from the sexy-bodysuit-as-uniform problem, they aren’t there to be fan service and nothing else. Also, they deserve a high-five for something else as well… there were several characters, men and women (even if only in crowd shots for the ladies), who were definitely not the narrow-waist big-bossom/ bulging muscles types who dominate anime. I thank the character designers for realizing not everyone is Ken or Barbie.
Also, unlike Syfy-Galactica’s tribal drumbeat-based soundtrack, 2199 KEPT and only slightly updated the music from the original. If you heard Sea of Stars, you heard a lot of the music from the original Yamato series, and you know why I’m so grateful for it.
Of course, to be fair, 2199 isn’t perfect. There are characters who are utterly useless, and a couple episodes that are more-or-less placeholders in the overall scheme of the show, but these don’t really detract. Not even ditching the iconic classic opening music for a song by Uverworld at episode 16 was really all that bad. The song doesn’t fit in the least, it’s sort of like the music for the next Star Wars being done by Metallica, but it’s not a deal breaker.
In fact the only real bummer is, it’s gonna cost the average person hundreds of American dollars to see the show on blu-ray (English subtitles ARE included). There IS however, hope on the horizon. See, the folks who made the show, have held onto the rights and…
logoThey even have at least one episode that’s been DUBBED into English. Oh yeah baby, here we go. *crosses fingers and prays*