Farewell to Space Battleship Yamato: In the Name of Love (1978)

aka Saraba uchu senkan Yamato: Ai no senshitachi
Article 4659 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-19-2014
Directed by Toshio Masuda and Leiji Matsumoto
Featuring the voices of Kei Tomiyama, Yoko Asagami, Goro Naya
Country: Japan
What it is: Space opera

When the members of the Space Battleship Yamato discover that the ship is going to be retired from action and the crew split up, they defy orders and return to the ship and take off. They intend to do battle with an evil empire hidden within a white comet.

This is my first encounter with the Space Battleship Yamato, and it appears I’ve definitely come in at the wrong end. It began life in 1974 as a Japanese TV series (known as STAR BLAZERS in the United States) and then became a feature film. This was the follow-up to that film, and it was meant to mark the end of the story of Yamato, though the movie itself would spawn a second TV series on Yamato that would retell the movie with several changes. At any rate, the movie appears to be intended as an emotional end to the series for longtime followers, and to be perfectly honest, there’s no way for a first-time delver into the series to fully appreciate the intended impact.

It’s basically a two and a half hour anime space opera, and you’ll need to be used to the limited animation techniques of the form to appreciate it. Though it was intended as a feature film, I do feel it could have been easily broken up into five thirty-minute TV segments in which each section tells a discrete section of the story arc. Though I do get slightly annoyed with the climax-upon-climax-upon-climax approach to the storytelling, it does become apparent at about the two hour mark that this movie is not joking in its intent to be an end to the series. I found it a little hard to sit through the whole thing at one sitting; the animation style works better in smaller increments, and most of the movie consists of action scenes that get a bit tiresome. I do find myself really fascinated about some of the decisions that were made near the end of the movie; in particular, I admire the decision the movie makes in its approach to the ultimate climax of the film, which I didn’t expect. I doubt that the movie draws me into a desire to experience the whole series, but I suspect that this does a good job of bringing things to a close.

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