This is the remake of the first anime space opera, made back in 1974. Since I already made a review for the original version, I will only mention the differences and how they compare.
I am not against remakes if they are at least two decades apart and if they have something new to offer without taking out the magic of the original. In this case there were four decades since the first version but this anime was made at the same time the live action movie was out. Why did they make two versions so close to each other? Weird. Not that the movie was bad in any way but it sure changed a lot of elements to the point it felt like a different story altogether. This anime on the other hand kept things almost the same and only tempered with minor details and aesthetics.
- The animation is a collaboration of two studios, AIC and Xebec. They are notorious for their bad production values and below average shows, yet in this case we have a very weird exception where they did a splendid job. It looks brilliant! This was such a surprise for me.
- The direction is done by Izubuchi Yutaka, who was an assistant to dozens of famous sci-fi titles over the years, including the third season of the older Yamato. His only previous directing work as in Rahxephon, which had an amazing concept but was otherwise completely boring and badly presented. I was expecting a lousy job but again I was amazed to find it he actually did pretty well this time. I guess it was studio Bones at fault and not his talent.
The faces are not Leiji-like which will disappoint some retro fans but to be honest most new viewers would simply hate that style. Ozma for example was completely Leiji-styled and we all saw what a waste of time that was, so the more modern style was not really a problem.
Character faces aside, everything else is left the same in terms of artwork; ship, uniforms, robots all look the same. They have also been upgraded to include ten times more details instead of leaving all minor characters like blobs in the background. It also corrected the color mistakes the older version had; such as forgetting to draw the aliens with blue skin in the first episodes.
Aesthetics aside, it looks plain gorgeous in everything from environments, to explosions, to smooth animation. They made good use of what they had, with ten times more time and budget offered in each episode simply being far better than just one week and a few pennies.
The soundtrack is basically an upgrade of the original, still ballads with more flavors in musical BGM. They also added a lot of elegiac songs in the endings for flavor; which are nice to listen to as well.
It’s the age-old classic story of an alien invasion. The Earth people create a super spaceship and go to beat the aliens and find a way to rebuild their planet. As simple as it sounds, it has a lot more things to it, from taking the time to flesh out all the major characters, as well as to expand into other themes, such as patriotism, honor, and propaganda. Those themes were present in the original as well but definitely were undermined in favor of space exploration and rather dull dialogues. So although the main plot is as basic as it gets, each episode usually branches out to include various interesting side stories of human drama. Also, you now feel that there are far more planets with civilizations out there, from colonized human planets, to systems the aliens conquered. It is far more complicating and colorful than the original.
This of course can work negatively, since in the older version it was just Earth and Gamilas the only planets which could support human life. Now we are just a backwater planet, and a minor conquest instead of a vital area that will help the aliens to survive by migrating from their dying planet. In a similar way, there are many areas on the planet which don’t feel like they are under immediate threat by the aliens, as they all were in the older version. I mean there were families which were discussing the heirs of their busyness and the global bombings felt like minor set backs to them instead of horrifying mass extinction of life. So the scope of the story has spread to include far more planets, which is good, but at the same time degraded a lot the importance of the main two warring factions. The results of the war just don’t feel like they will signal the death of a whole race; the losing side can just migrate to a different planet for all we care.
But aside from this minor degrading, everything else is pure gold and no episodes were useless fillers. Basically, they took elements from later seasons and added them in the very first arc, making the whole in-between missions to feel far more important. For example, the second season of the original added internal conflicts amongst the humans and the third had a lot of themes regarding rebellion and freedom besides a struggle to survive. These elements are now present in the remake, as the Gamilians are now acting more like the Comet Empire and have rebellious factions, such as the ones Bolars faced.
For the same reason there is very little left to show in later possible season remakes. But then again everything after the original season felt like a rehash and weaker in feeling. I don’t believe they were important additions and I am not gonna jump from joy in case they make a continuation.
A thing which remained intact is how overpowered the Yamato ship is next to the rest. It seems to withstand attacks that would vaporize everything else, so this plot armor can become distracting after the tenth time it happens. If you can look past this convenience though, the overall plot is fine and the ending is satisfactory.
While everybody still has the same roles as before, they feel far more fleshed out here, with more elaborate backdrops and characterization. A major plus is how you now feel that several secondary characters are important to the plot as well, besides the main five. Especially when it comes to the female characters, you now get a handful of dynamic women in various key positions, such as pilots, announcers, and enemy representatives. The older version was also supposed to have had many women on board the ship but from a point on they removed them completely and replaced them with genderless blobs, so they will save time in drawing. The few they left were for platonic romance and deus ex machinas.
So yes; females have a much greater role in the remake but also fall victims of fan service. Well, nothing over the top but the cute way they are drawn and the camera angles focusing on their curvy bodies while wearing skin tight uniforms is clearly done for that. They are not treated like harem whores or anything but sure feels a bit much at times.
As far as remakes go, this is amongst the best I have seen in my whole life. Although it doesn’t feel as grim and serious as the older version, it does a much better job in improving visuals, story complexity, and character depth. We haven’t had a good space opera for over a decade and it easily ranks as one of the better anime that were made in recent years. It is rather saddening to see how unnoticed it is by the fandom, as everybody was deifying complete trash shows like Sword Art Online, and didn’t give a damn for a much superior show such as this. Proves once again how we are full of tasteless retards.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 9/10
General Artwork 2/2 (looks great)
Character Figures 1/2 (a bit generic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (detailed)
Animation 2/2 (overall very good)
Visual Effects 2/2 (overall very good)
SOUND SECTION: 10/10
Voice Acting 5/5 (fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 5/5 (great)
STORY SECTION: 7/10
Premise 1/2 (typical)
Pacing 2/2 (fine)
Complexity 2/2 (many good side stories)
Plausibility 1/2 (so-so)
Conclusion 1/2 (cheesy but satisfactory)
CHARACTER SECTION: 8/10
Presence 2/2 (strong for the major ones)
Personality 2/2 (rather cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (simplistic but it’s there)
Development 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
Catharsis 2/2 (simple but solid)
VALUE SECTION: 9/10
Historical Value 3/3 (all-known)
Rewatchability 2/3 (high if you like its style)
Memorability 4/4 (an unforgettable experience)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 7/10
Art 1/1 (looks splendid)
Sound 1/2 (great songs)
Story 2/3 (feels generic but plays out nicely)
Characters 3/4 (they are a bit generic but play their parts nicely)