In the year 2199, the Gamilon race declares war on humans, intent on taking Earth for themselves. The fighters on Earth do everything in their might to keep the planet stable, but alien technology proves to be far too advanced, and the resulting destruction renders the surface of planet Earth completely uninhabitable. The underground shelters are also becoming weak, and if nothing changes, humans will become extinct in less than a year.
But just when all seems lost, Queen Starsha from the planet Iscandar offers a helping hand. The key to victory lies in the Cosmo-Cleaner D, which can eliminate the radiation that Earth is suffering from. However, the only way to get a hold of this life-saving device is if someone from Earth goes to Iscandar―148,000 light years away―to retrieve it. The problem is, they have less than a year before time runs out.
The fate of the entire human race lies in the hands of the crew of a salvaged WWII craft, the Space Battleship Yamato.
Uchuu Senkan Yamato is one of the best sci-fi anime ever made, the major stepping stone for Leiji Matsumoto's career, and as such offers an embryonic view of the sprawling Leijiverse that was to fully bloom in the turn of that decade, so these later creations will inevitably influence this review. Regardless of any future, Uchuu Senkan Yamato is in and of itself an amazing endeavour that offers a grandiose vision and executes it artfully, capturing the spirit of its era and presenting the viewer with a profound experience, as art is supposed to , with no gimmicks or subterfuge. If space armadas and dialogue lines straight out of 19th century romantic drama are your thing, this is where it all started.
Story(10/10): In the year 2199, mankind seems to have reached the end of its short,painful history, as resource scarcity , combined with an unrelenting, brutal assault by an enemy civilization , has left the earth a mere fossil, with all the seas drained and all life sucked out of its crumpled rocky deserts, with humanity holed in deep in vast underground cities, essentially a giant Fuhrerbunker , and awaiting the inevitable end, as the Gamilon uses asteroid bombing(!) to snuff out the last remaining resistance. In the surface of Mars ,young pilot trainee Kodai Susumu discovers a crashed spacecraft and a beautiful alien messenger bears a promise of hope for humankind , and thus a collossal journey of hope against hope begins. Given the blueprints for a wave degeneracy engine (like the one used in Gunbuster, at the birth of another era), humanity outfits one of the most vainly bloodied and rusty symbol of its history, the IJN Yamato , with the new tech and sails to the distant planet Iscandar ( another throwback to one of the greatest conquerors of history, Alexander the Great) .The story seems fairly generic up to now, but is given a real punch by both the simply vast scope of the journey , the florid narration and dialogue which may strike some viewers as bombastic , but is presented in such a way as to really flesh out the world, even in the severely time-strained format of a 2-hour movie.
Art (10/10) : Here, Leiji Matsumoto shows his full prowess , resulting in a simply mind-blowing presentation.From the very first frame of the movie, we are treated to a very lyrical , meticulous exposition that accentuates the main points of the work very well. There is a liberal use of darker colours to implement the analogy of interstellar space as a vast, stormy sea , the parched, red desert of Earth is made magnificient by a subdued combination of red, orange and earth colors. The design is also given emphasis, with utilitarian, simple and elegant suits, cityscapes and machines , as compared to more outspoken , later representatives like Macross or Gunbuster. There are no mechas , androids are slender, sexy Barbarellas , and the biggest battles are done by huge battleships with (18 inch?) laser cannons, coastal artillery , with the occasional plasma emission and armor-drilling missile thrown in. Everything is done with a meticulous attention to detail , the battle scenes are animated without a glitch, the character design is more down to earth than later Leijiverse works, and the namesake of the story is a simply beautiful ship to behold, one of the greatest machines to grace science fiction.
Sound(9/10) : The sound is in full concert with the rest of the work, the opening and ending songs capturing the feeling of the movie and being nice tunes on their own, and the symphonic part giving a fitting background to the story , and helping the audience participate in the dramaturgy , but without providing a masterpiece . Overall, a great score that fits the film like a glove.
Character(8/10): This is perhaps the weakest part , which is to be expected given the cramped format noted above . Most of the characters , at least in the movie version , fail to be roundly developed, and never seem to deviate from the somewhat tight archetypes of the mangy space dog, the plucky young fledgling, his alluring, otherworldly , and inevitably older love interest , and the Prussian gentleman officer of the imposing Empire. Still , they are so well executed in their own way and given some of the purplest prose in anime history, thus elevating even the most lowly mechanic to Byronic wannabe . It stills fall short from the grandiose, operatic style of later Leiji works though.
Enjoyment (10/10) : I wasn't positively surprised because I already have an adoring obsession of all things Leiji, but I can guarantee that it will be time well earned , and one of the best movies you'll ever watch .
Overall(10/10): If you like big, immediate storytelling unencumbered by self-reflectivity , referential irony and other untalented hack-fodder, watch Uchuu Senkan Yamato , and try to immerse yourself in the dreamworld of the past future.The characters are maybe the weakest part of the movie, and the setting may seem routine to modern viewers, but considering the spirit of the era, which was dominated by the oil shock of '73 that brutalized the Japanese economy , and the general malaise that settled in the West at the same time , a humanity squarely beat, depending beggarly on a deus ex machina for its salvation , and using the symbols of its past with a somewhat vainglorious attempt at closure and glory, the story is very well put. It combines an awe-inspiring artistic conception with a totality of vision that helped the medium towards reaching a peak in the tropes and themes allowed in an anime, leading towards the domination of lengthy, storyline-heavy , luxuriantly idealistic or bloodily cynical, Nibelungen-tainted epics of the '80s (Gundam , LOGH ) and the inevitable antithesis later on. This is the birth of animation science fiction , one frame at the time, for more than two hours straight. Yamato brings anime to the Aristotlean standard. read more