Anime Review: Space Battleship Yamato 2199 (aka Star Blazers 2199)

Note:  Hi.  I am trying something new to increase my number of posts and get more practice writing.  With a lot of streaming services out there offering anime, I have been watching quite a bit of it.  I seen shows that I haven’t seen in years, ones that I’ve heard of but never got around to watch and some that are new to me.  So, I will feature some of the ones I have watched and do a review going over the art style, storyline, dub (if it is dubbed) and overall feel.  I will also look at what I call the WTF factor; aspect of the anime that may raise and eyebrow or cause you to ask “WTF did I just watch?”  Our first subject is a remake of an anime that I have known about for years.

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Space Battleship Yamato 2199 (or Star Blazers: Space Battleship Yamato 2199) is an 2012 Sci-Fi anime series by AIC and Xebec studios.  It is based on the original 1974 T.V. anime series Space Battleship Yamato, which was dubbed and edited for the West and renamed Star Blazers.  The series is 26 episodes long.  The series is dubbed by Funimation and is currently being serialized on their streaming service, Funimation Now, which new episodes being released on Thursday.  It is also on Crunchyroll with in Japanese with English Subtitles, with the series being released at the same rate as Funimation.

The series takes place in the year 2199.  The Earth is at war with a and advanced militaristic race called the Gamilons.  They had destroyed all of Earth defences and, using radioactive planet bombs, destroyed the surface of the earth, driving the survivors underground.  But not all is lost.  A message from the distant planet Iscandar offers help to restore the planet to life.  Included in the message was the plans for a ship that can traverse the great distance between the planets and fight off the Gamilons.  But the UN could only build one ship in time and, for reasons, build it to resemble and ancient Japanese battleship from World War 2, the Yamato.

With the ship build, its crew set out on the perilous journey through intergalactic space.  The crew includes Captain Okita, a man who puts his mission first before his own health; Tactical Officer Susumu Kodai,  a brash young pilot whose brother served under Okita and in whose memory he joins the mission; and  radio and sensor operator Yuki Mori, a woman missing her past.  Together with te rest of the crew they set out on the perilous journey to Iscandar.  Time is not on their side as they have to travel 168, 000 light years to Iscandar and back in only one year, or else the Earth will die.

Star Blazers (as the English dubbed is called, like with the original series) is a space opera, science fiction anime, similar to series like Robotech and the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise.  The series has a serious tone, with the threat of war and it’s consequences being a central theme.  The ship gets damaged, machine fail, space fighters run out of ammo and not everyone makes it back alive (though mostly faceless extras.)  The Yamato does have its all-powerful McGuffin plot device, the wave motion engine, which powers the ship and gives her the ability to fend of waves on Gamilon ships and make the long journey through space.

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Lt Kaoru Niimi is one of the female crew members added to the series.

The art style is excellent.  It looks modern, but is still harken back to the original anime’s designs.  The original series was directed by manga artist Leiji Matsumoto, famous for the Space Pirate Captain Harlock series, so you can see how the ship design for the Yamato (a WW2 battleship) influenced the ship design in Harlock (17th century pirate ship…in space!)  The remake keeps that design, updating so that the ship is larger and only made to look like the Yamato as camouflaged for before it was launched.  The crew of the Yamato is more varied than the original, with a third of the crew being female (Yuki was the only female crew member in the original) with most with speaking roles being all new characters, with only the character of Akira Yamamoto  being gender-bent into a woman in this version.  The Gamilons, the Nazi-esque enemies in the series also were updated, with only those with blue skin being the “pure , true Gamilons, with the others of different skin tones and features, bring races subservient to the Gamilons but still as loyal.

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Pure Gamilons are blue-skinned.

The writing also gives us a better look at the Gamilons.  There are more scenes showing their leader Dessler, interacting with his subordinates.  While most of them are arrogant and looking to please Lord Dessler to advance their own careers, we see some of them in a more sympathetic light.  Some are fathers and husbands, some make the hard choice between duty and family.  Some even express their understanding on why the Earth and Gamilons are at war, causing some of the Yamato crew to realize Earth is not without blood on their hands.  But over all, the Gamilons are still a conquering race, driven by their own self-importance to consider the cost of their actions.

Still there are a lot of similarities’ with the original series.  In fact, there are episodes that are pretty much retellings of ones from the original series.  The fourth episode, “Grave Marker on an Icefield” follows a similar plot to the original series’ “Space Destroyer Yukikaze Sleeps in the Ice Field” or ‘Paladin Rest in a vast icefield” in the Starblazers version.  The major differences are the inclusion of the female medic, Makoto Harada on the mission (the original only had Kodai, Mori and the robot Analyzer) and the introduction of the robot Gamilon troops (one of which plays a big part in a later, orignal episode.  Truthfully, it has been over 35 years since I’ve seen an episode of the original Starblazers, so this is all new to me again, but is seems there is a good balance between honouring the original and telling a new story.

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The uniforms for the female crew members tend to flatter their form. Apparently, in the Medical wing, pants are optional.

WTF Factor: Low.  Now, with cartoons imported from Japan, there will be some cultural differences.  Different aspect of their culture, like holidays and beliefs will pop up and that is to be expected.  Space battleship Yamato 2199 doesn’t really have this issue (at least not with what I’ve seen so far as of episode 14).  Despite the addition of more females to the cast there has not been much of a romantic sub, those both Yamamoto and Mori showing interest in Kodai.  And there hasn’t been much in the way of fan service in this version (the original had a plot of Analyzer being in love with Yuki Mor, flipping her skirt and even confessing his love (this was cut from the Star Blazers version).  While there is a scene with Yamamoto and Yuki Mori in the communal bath (again, a common thing in Japanese culture), any nudity is avoided and the most salacious thing we get is a bit of lower side boob from Yuki.  If anything can be called fan service, it is that all the female characters wear body suits.  While the male uniforms have tunics and pants, the women are all in tight, form-fitting body suits with the only exceptions being Makoto’s nurse uniform with a skirt (or is it a long tunic?) and stockings and Yamamoto’s bomber jacket and flight suit.  Still this is not played up for fan service, with the only exception I can think of is a shot of Yuki descending a ladder behind Kodai in episode 14 (and I think she was flirting with him.)

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Ass shot!

Space Battleship Yamato 2199 is a great science fiction anime that hold up well for a Western audience.  Older folks like me who watch the series will get a kic out of this new version.  For those new to the series, I think you will find it an intriguing anime with a memorable storyline.  The series is done in Japan, but there is already a sequel retelling the second season of the original being streamed in Japan.  Here is hoping we see that sometime in the near future.

Star Blazers: Space Battleship Yamato 2199 is currently on the Funimation and Crunchyroll streaming services with 14 episodes released and new ones released every Thursday.

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Yet the front side being open is okay?
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Unboxing- Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star Noble Phantasm Edition

The physical copy of Fate/EXTELLA comes in a special edition called the Noble Phantasm Edition.  Lets take a look at what you get in this set.

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The special edition comes in a sturdy box.  The North American version from XSEED Games doesn’t have a fancy box like the European  version (called  the Moon Crux edition) but the content is the same.

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Inside we get this cloth poster featuring Tamamo (left) fighting Nero (right).  The art looks nice and it is very colourful.

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You also get 16 art cards featuring the characters in the game.  The cards are of a sturdy plastic.

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Finally you get an art book/source book for Fate/EXTELLA.  Featuring character designs, concept art and a glossary of terms, this will help you learn more about the Fate/EXTELLA universe.  It is a pretty good read. and is in English.

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Of course you get the game, reviewed in my last post.  The PS Vita and the PS4 version of the Noble Phantasm edition are the same beside the version of the game you get.  Costing $79.99 for the PS Vita or $89.99 for PS4 (all prices Canadian), it is not that much more than just the game.  I think the book makes this set worth it.  The game is available physically without the set as well.

Rock Band Bandmates

During the hype and build-up towards the release of Rock Band 2, it was revealed that, through the revised Rockband.com web site, you would be able to create actual merchandise of your band.  That meant T-shirts, bumper stickers, mouse pads and figures.  Yes, figures, though they are more like statues, but of your created characters in your Rock Band band.  This seems like a great marketing tie-in;  those who want to show off their love for all things Rock Band can do so in style.

But, like all good things, there is a bit of a snag if you don’t live in the good old U.S. of A.  You cannot order most item in the Make a Merch section if you don’t live in the States.  So as a Canadian, I’m SOL if I wanted a "the Meeloo Experience" T-shirt, key chain or bumper sticker (the Meeloo Experience is the name of my band in the game.)  What I could get, though, was the Bandmates statue (if you are outside USA or Canada, you can’t get even this!)  So, with this in mind and totally ignoring the fact that I need to put less on my credit card, I ponied up the USD69.99 for a figure of my guitarist character, Helen.  That was on the 22nd of November.

Today, 3 Dec 08, I got my figure!  Not even 2 weeks and I got my custom made figure delivered to my door (with a $20.79 border fee attached).  The detail is incredible, right down to the Bad Religion symbol on her guitar and the "Meeloo X" symbol on her cami.  The texture is a bit rough, but considering that it was created from a 3D printer, this is just a observation, not a complaint.  The only real complaint I have is that the guitar symbol base that the figure is attached to is in turn attached to a large while plastic base, which is part of the display packaging.  As room on my shelves is minimum, it leave me not choice but to clear room for it.

Still, is a nice piece of video game related merchandise and a figure that is truly your own to design, through your in game Rock Band 2 characters.

 

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The packaging

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The figure of Helen

 

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Close-up.  Need a better camera

 

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Detail- Guitar w/ BR symbol and Meeloo X symbol on her shirt

 

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Back

 

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Right Side

 

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Left Side

Catch Up part deux

Continuing my list of recent game I bought.

Saints Row 2 (Xbox 360)- Like GTA IV, but without all the pretentiousness.  SR2 follows up the events of the first game with your character waking up 5 years later.  The Saints are gone, new gangs have moved in and a corporation now owns the Row.  You begin your rise back up the underworld, taking on various jobs and missions.  The missions are fun and the side missions (called diversions) are inventive (like FUZZ in which you impersonate a cop for a Reality TV show) without being too heavy like GTAIV.  And no cousins calling every 15 minutes.

Little Big Planet(PS3)-  While it looks cute (and it is), LBP is a challenging game.  You go through different levels, unlocking new costumes, items and settings which you can use in your own created levels.  This is where this game shines.  The level creator is only limited by your imagination, patience and what you’ve have unlocked.  You can create rockets, car and creatures.  Then you can post it online and others can play it.

Gears of War 2 (Xbox 360)-  Gears 2 promises more action, shooting and using Chainsaw Bayonets ( guess the Geneva Convention does not apply).  Plays great, and your AI teammates can heal you.  To tell you the truth, though, I like played it for like two days then went back to Saint’s Row 2 and LBP.  Then I got this game

Fallout 3(PS3)  A post-apocalyptic RPG from the creators of Oblivion, your character was raised in Vault 101, a community in a nuclear fallout shelter.  Your dad has left the Vault and you have to do the same.  You traverse the nuclear ravaged Washington D.C. helping or hurts as you see fit and looking for you Dad.  The problem I have with the PS3 version is when the system tells you when someone logs in and out, the game freezes for a few seconds.  Annoying as hell.  And Bethesda has screwed over PS3 owners as there will be no DLC for this version.

 

Anyway, not much else has happened.  Took Chantale to a Function at my old Reserve unit.  We had a good time.  Bought tickets to the Canucks/Senators game in Vancouver in December.  Can’t wait for that.

 

Here as some Rock Band 2 pictures of my band, the Meeloo Experience.

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Playing Catch up

Wow, July 21st?  That’s the last time I posted?  Well, I can’t say anything important happened since them, although I am pleased to say I will be in Victoria until at least 2010!  I hope I can get a tasking on the Mainland for the 2010 games.  That would be sweet.

So, what else can I talk about?  Oh, games!  Here is a quick rundown of the games I bought in the last 5 or so months and my thoughts on them.  I’ll indicate which system I got it for.

Soulcalibur 4 (PS3)  Definitely my favourite fighting game on the PS3.  As with every new game, the action gets faster, the challenge greater, and Ivy’s costume gets more flimsy (I mean seriously, why IS she going around dressed like that?  It’s not like she doesn’t take care of herself.  Obviously she shaves, especially since she doesn’t wear much.  Are her breast getting so big that her outfit can hardly contain them?  Her 2P costume looks rather modest compared to it.)  The Create-a-Soul returns from SC3 and while there are a lot of parts there are no extra weapon disciplines like in SC3.  But the created characters look great as does the rest of the game.  Destructible armour and Finishers are new to the series and add a extra bit to the game.  The special guest of Darth Vader, Yoda (via DLC) and the Secret Apprentice are interesting choices, but no worse than, say Spawn or Link

Mercenaries 2: World in Flames (PS3):  The game Hugo Chavez wanted stopped (much like Korea with the first one), it takes place in Venezuela.  You, as one of three Mercs (Matthias, Chris or Jen), take a job from a businessman named  Solano to rescue his general friend. Afterwards, instead of paying you, Solano tries to kill you and shoots you in the ass.  He then takes over Venezuela, staring a civil war.  You must find Solano, working for various factions to get information and supplies to hunt down Solano and make him pay.  Because everybody pays.  A fun game, but it has a few bugs such as touchy aiming and animation problems that crop up once and a while.

Rock Band 2(Xbox 360)- Second verse, same as the first.  I like the new songs and the fact that you can create a band even in 1 player mode (you can assign you own character to play in your band instead of a random group like in the first one.)  DLC also tends to rule the day but they can be used for either game.  The best part is the linking of the game to Rockband.com, Where you can create pics of you in-game band and create a statue of you character for $70US.  You can also make T-Shirts, buttons and bumper stickers but they only ship to the States for that.  Bummer.  I did order a statue so I’ll let you know how that turns out.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed(PS3)-  It’s Star Wars.  It’s Jedi.  It can be frustrating at times, but once you are done, it will seem like it ended too soon.  But it DOES end.  A must for Star Wars fans.

Fable 2(Xbox 360)-  Basically a hack and slash with a morality engine in which you actions affect the way you look and the world around you.  Forget all that you read about it;  like Fable 1, it doesn’t live up to its own hype.  On it’s own merits, it is a great and there are some rather interesting moral choices to make.  Just be careful if your character has more the one spouse.  It can catch up with you.

More later as this has gotten large.