Star Blazers (Space Battleship Yamato) Vol. 1 – Anime DVD Review

Star Blazers.jpg

Star Blazers is a totally retro anime that was known in Japan as “Space Battleship Yamato.” It’s considered a classic anime and therefore, a must watch! But does the “classic” label mean it’s too old to be compared to current anime?

I recently had a chance to check out the Star Blazers Series 1 DVD Collection. Here’s my review of Disc 1 (Episodes 1-5).

Star Blazers.jpg

Star Blazers is a totally retro anime that was known in Japan as “Space Battleship Yamato.” It’s considered a classic anime and therefore, a must watch! But does the “classic” label mean it’s too old to be compared to current anime?

I recently had a chance to check out the Star Blazers Series 1 DVD Collection. Here’s my review of Disc 1 (Episodes 1-5).

Story:
The Earth is under attack by aliens! Specifically, evil blue aliens called Gamilons. They’re bombing the Earth with radioactivity! As a result, humanity has to live underground. The radioactivity is seeping though, and Earth only has one year before all of humanity is killed off!

Luckily for the humans, help comes from another alien race. Iscandar sends a message with plans for a “Wave Motion Engine” that can send a ship to their planet. The plan is that the Earthlings go to Iscandar, find some kind of cure for the radiation and bring it back before Earth dies.

The humans use an old crusy battleship called Yamato and retrofit it into a space battleship! Meanwhile, the Gamilons are being jerks and trying to stop the Earthlings. At the end of each episode, there’s a Mahoromatic-esque message telling us how long Earth has before all life ceases to exist!

Analysis:
The dilemma for me is to figure out how to review this anime. Should I compare it to the other anime I’m currently watching or treat it as a classic? I guess I’ll take the middle road.

While the story isn’t the most original today, it was back in 1974 when the anime came out. While watching, I thought to myself, “hey, this is kinda like Star Wars!” Star Wars wasn’t released until 1977…

As far as the character designs go, they work fairly well. The robot and the crazy scientist are really annoying, but I think they’re supposed to be. There’s also Nova, who looks exactly like the girl from Queen Millennia and Galaxy Railways and a ton of other retro anime. Can anyone explain to me why this character design pops up so frequently?

The story was actually pretty interesting once I got into it. I should probably just go ahead and marathon the whole series. One thing I noticed is that the science in this anime is kind of bad. Like they talked about doing a space warp, got to Mars, and then someone said that they went 1000 lightyears. Um, yeah, I’m pretty sure Mars is not 1000 lightyears away… Also, I find it hard to take the Gamilons serious with their crazy accents, Nazi gear, and blue faces. They just seem so sterotypically evil…

The DVD:
One of the weak points of this anime is the presentation on DVD. The transfer is really bad. It looks worse than VHS. Of course, this is an old series, so I don’t expect it to be in HD. I’ll give the producers the benefit of a doubt and assume these were the best transfers available.

Another annoying thing about the DVD is that there’s no Japanese language track. On most DVDs this comes standard, but I guess the target audience for this DVD is people who saw the series on TV as a kid in English. The English voices aren’t terrible, but they take some getting used to.

The first DVD has a few extras including a tour of the Yamato. They’re a nice touch, though they don’t make up for the rest of the DVD’s lack of features.

Conclusion:
Before watching the anime, I read a little bit about it. The stuff I read was very positive and might have blown up my expectations to higher than possible levels. After watching the first disc, I’m not convinced this anime is a classic. It’s definitely enjoyable, but there are things that could have been done better (the video quality + audio tracks).

The story is interesting enough though, and the characters are beginning to endear themselves to me. It’s probably not fair to rate an anime based on the first five episodes anyway (though I do rate a lot of anime based on one episode…). I’ll definitely do another writeup once I finish the next disc (or marathon the series).

Many thanks to Voyager Entertainment who provided me with the review copy of Star Blazers.

12 thoughts on “Star Blazers (Space Battleship Yamato) Vol. 1 – Anime DVD Review”

  1. I only watched the subbed version of this, and by scientist, I take it that you mean the sake-drinking doctor?

    There is a reason why the Gamilons attacked Earth, and while it is not enough to make you forgive them by the end of the series, you can sympathise a little with their plight.

    Also, I think there has been a translation error? Coz I don’t recall them saying anything about Mars being a thousand light-years away.

    That said, there are many bloopers in the series, most of which are subtle. The most common one being their helmets left open in hostile environments. Some are pretty glaring, such as the animators drawing the wrong planes.

    Still, even though it has been over 3 decades, SB-Yamato is still very much enjoyable, and it is more than able to capture your attention in the later parts.

    Oh, and is the OP in the DVD the original OP? I LOVE the OP for Yamato. It is a very manly song.

    I do not mind the robot. It is still early in the series, and you will feel for the fella in the later half of the series. The doctor is also more serious than he appears to be.

    The person I do mind? Kodai. Good grief, the very definition of idiot; and by idiot, I mean a selfish bastard.

    My favourite character? Sanada. This. Guy. Is. AWESOME! He is your hardcore, hardass, don’t mess with me, manly man.

    Shima was my favourite at first, but Sanada overshadowed him in the later parts.

    Cheers.

  2. Hung, you beat me to Yamato!! I was planning on posting my first impressions on this anime too. =p But then this anime is low on my priority list though.

    But I’ve only seen the first few scenes–I really laughed when the captain told the radio operator to tell the enemy they were idiots.

  3. Oh, so you’ve taken the pain to get a copy of SBY. I envy you.

    Now you’ve mentioned the good parts and the bad parts of the series, is it worth watching, considering, as a finicky person ala Monk, I am averse to out-of-this-world and erronous animation? At one time, I heard that this series’ universe spawned off Galaxy Railways, Galaxy Express 999 and/or the Harlock Saga/Space Pirate Captain Herlock. (Am I correct on this?) That was one of the reasons I want to watch SBY: what was it that created shows of the same universe?

  4. Skane: One of the annoying things about the English dub is that they change all of the names in the anime. Also, I have a feeling the OP is the original with English lyrics. Because it’s pretty manly.

    TO: I’m not sure if those anime you list are spinoffs in the same universe. I’d have to do some research on it.

  5. Here is the translation of beginning original Japanese OP into English.

    Farewell earth, the ship that will embark on the voyage in Space Battleship Yamato.

    If it is manly, it might be correct, as I conside this OP to show the best use of Male Chorus in Anime song. All singers except one, a female who only sings ‘ahhh’ in the discant line, are male and likely to be from a TV station owned male choir in Japan.

    Captain Harok, Galaxy Express 999, and others are all based on manga of same person, thus the similarity in character design. Their world is not related, thus having totally different history: There is no ‘Wave Cannon’ in Harlock’s world, and its presence would have drastically altered the story line there.

  6. My older sibs were all very much into Star Blazers when I was a kid. My older brother went so far as to obtain a book on the anime— which as this was the 1980s, a time when the English-speaking anime community was small, was in Japanese and introduced me to the “right-to-left” reading format.

    I had trouble flipping through the book then. Now I find I can read translated anime in that format with little difficulty.

  7. I´ve seen the dubbed version and a very good fansub version and it surely is like a different series at all. Try watching the fansub along the dubbed version, to see the changes.

    The whole animes everybody mentioned whith similar girl design were done by Leiji Matsumoto, as far as writing and directing most of the shows, besides character designs. So the girls actually are pretty similar.

    The only thing I have to say about Yamato (besides I consider it an Anime Masterpiece of all times) is that the series actually begins at episode 11. I surely didn´t find that pretty motivating. And Yamato ends in episode 26, the two other sagas which compose Starblazers (Yamato 2 and yamato 3), while faithfull to the first, are not truly part of the greatness of Space Battleship Yamato, IMHO

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