April 22, 2013

Starblazers 2199

Via Crunchyroll and Anime News Network comes word that XEBEC has announced that Yamato 2199 is about to be aggressively marketed internationally.

The title of the international version will be Starblazers 2199.

Oh Fabrijous DAY!

This is interesting as Star Blazers was the release name of the show in the US and Canada. Several of the name changes in the US version like renaming the ship itself ARGO were actually done by the Japanese creators. I 've gushed excessively about the old show and the remake several times before but it really is good.

Yamato 2199 has managed to remain quite faithful to the original while adding quite a few surprises for those familiar with the show. 

 The premise of the show is straightforward enough.

Earth discovers that it is not alone in the universe...8 years later the aggressive interstellar empire Earth encountered has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. The planets surface is rendered uninhabitable by a combination of constant bombardment, radiation and invasive alien plants that have absorbed most of the oceans...and still the aliens attack. At this dark hour, the earth is contacted by another alien race which offers them a device that can restore their planet. Unfortunately, it won't fit on the blockade runner and apparently can't be made from local materials, so instead the aliens sent plans for an FTL drive so the humans can come get the physical device. The humans install the FTL in the hull of a sublight starship ship they were constructing to carry a few survivors off planet. To conceal it's construction, the ship was being built within and below the hulk of the old battleship Yamato which accounts for it's appearance. Now, this jury rigged ship with an FTL drive that the crew barely understands must break through the blockade of the solar system, travel 168,000 light years to the greater Magellanic cloud...and back,...and do it in a year if they are to have any hope of saving Earth....and the aliens will fight them every step of the way.

With such a large cast and sweeping story it might seem unlikely that the show would have much character development, but the writers really have managed the ensemble well thus far.  In contrast to the single female crew member in the old show, several women have been added to or re-imagined into the old cast.  This has actually added a good deal of depth as they are, for the most part interesting and well written. Yamamoto, for instance is one of the best realized female military officers since Van Dread's Meia Gisbourne from over a decade ago. Several of the enemy characters are quite interesting as well.

  While it is not hard sci-fi by any means, the show also throws a good deal of actual science into several stories.  The exact physics of their FTL is handwaved (by the fact that the crew really doesn't understand how it works), they work in bits of recent astronomy news and make a real effort to keep their non-FTL techno-babble grounded in actual physics, biology and IT speak.

Despite it's bleak premise, '2199 thus far, has managed to be remarkably optimistic and even inspiring. It has been quite intelligent as well, much more so than most sci-fi TV. Additionally, the show has done a far above average job of conveying a sense of service professionalism and even the ethics of command and leadership.

About halfway in, Yamato 2199 has been superb, I'm crossing my fingers that they don't muck it up in the end.

Assuming they don't, I'm  genuinely looking forward to seeing what the US version is going to be like.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 06:02 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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