Continuing the Yamato retrospective, this time is the first sequel/original finale, Farewell to Space Battleship Yamato.
Note: Spoilers Ahead, but the film was released 36 year ago, so yeah…
Farewell to Space Battleship Yamato is an anime film directed by series co-creator Leiji Matsumoto and Toshio Masuda.
The film takes place three years after the events of the first season.
Earth has recovered due to the use of the device from Iscandar. However, the battle and its toll on humanity has already been forgotten.
The Yamato has seemingly been replaced when the Earth Defence Force’s new flag ship; the Andromeda (no Gene Roddenberry included) is launched.
The crew of the Yamato are all scattered, working different jobs. Former Yamato tactical officer Susumu Kodai (or Derek Wildstar depending on which version) is a captain on a cargo ship.
Over the three years he’s lived with Yuki Mori, the ships former radar specialist and the two plan on getting married.
While on a routine supply run, Kodai’s ship intercepts part of a signal from deep in space.
Once back on land, Kodai and Yuki join the surviving Yamato crew at the memorial for there passed captain, Juzo Okita.
Soon after Kodai, Sanada and Shima try to decode the message. What little of the message they can get sounds like a distress call from another far away planet.
Additionally, Sanada has been tracking a moving comet that’s traveling through deep space, destroying anything in it’s path. Thinking that the two instances could be related they take it to the EDF council.
Despite their records and the information the three are ignored and are soon ordered to go on different missions splitting up the crew once again.
The group believing that this is a real threat steal the Yamato to investigate. The group get’s some new additions as both a platoon of space marines and fighter pilots soon join their ranks.
Their fears are realized when the crew come across one of earth’s fleets destroyed. The fleet’s only survivor, Commander Hijikata, soon takes over as commander of the Yamato as they continue to track the distress call.
The crew warp closer to the planet of origin and find the planet is being protected by a fleet of alien ships.
After a large scale battle in both space and on the planet, they find the source of the distress call.
The signal was sent by Teresa of Telezart. She thanks the crew for saving her and warns them that another threat has come forward.
The comet that the crew was tracking was more than just a moving star; it’s the evil Comet Empire.
The Comet Empire, lead by Emperor Zwordar the Great, use their advanced technology to travel through space and enslave everyone that they come into contact with. She warns them that if they don’t stop him he’ll destroy earth.
With this information the crew try to make their way back to earth to help fight the Comet, however an old enemy from the past tries to stop them.
The still very much alive Lord Deslar, joins forces with the Empire in order to get revenge on the Yamato.
Deslar is given a fleet and uses his warp beam to drop fighters in front of the Yamato much like in the past series.
In order to destroy the ship, the Yamato ends up warping next to the ship and boarding her.
Kodai and Yuki make into the ships core due to the distraction of the space marines and destroy it.
Before they can leave, Kodai and Deslar have a face-to-face. Deslar wants Kodai to shoot him but before he does Deslar collapse due to his injuries.
Both Yuki and Kodai try to help their injured foe, but their attempts are stopped when an Comet soldier shoots Yuki.
Trying to atone for his sins, Deslar shots the soldier and tells Kodai of the Comet’s weakness, before jettisoning himself into space, seemingly dying once more.
The Yamato soon makes repairs and continues back to earth.
However, they’re too late as the Comet Empire has already arrived.
The EDF end up destroying much of the Empire’s fleet with the use of their own Wave Motion Guns, however their no match for the Comet itself as it ends up destroying the fleet.
When the Yamato arrives they’re once again earth’s only hope. The crew uses the weakness to stop the Empire’s giant ship, but it’s far from destroyed.
The battle continues and the Yamato takes a great deal of damage. In the battle much of the crew is lost including the ships doctor Sado, the new captain and the recovered Yuki.
Yamato’s remaining crew tries to destroy the ship from the inside but the ship (much like a Dragon Ball villain) has final form.
With little energy and weapons, Kodai realizes that the only weapon he has left is the ship itself. So after ordering the remaining crew off the ship and rams the Yamato into the remains of the Comet Empire killing them both.
The film ends with a special message for the fans of the Yamato franchise thanking them for their loyalty.
After reading that long plot summary it’s clear that Farewell is a much larger film than the recap movie before it.
The plot is vast and features a great deal of death and scarifies from the characters. The film was meant to be a large-scale science fiction adventure that would act as a send off to the popular title.
While anime was still a major entertainment source in Japan it was only certain titles that really made an impact. This film, which was released in theaters in Japan, proves just how important Yamato was to the people of Japan.
Another tell tale sign was the both office. It might be hard to believe but this film was so popular that it even out sold the original Star Wars film that came out in the same year in Japan.
Despite the love for the film, a lot of the fans were angry about it’s ending.
Series creators Matsumoto clearly wanted finality with characters being killed and the final images of the film being used in order to honour the characters who died protecting earth, however the fans wanted more.
The demand was heard and the film was retold/reworked into another series called Space Battleship Yamato II or Star Blazers: The Comet Empire.
The series went for 26 episodes and followed much of the same plot, even going as far as using some of the film’s animation. While there were a number of changes to the plot the biggest was the ending.
The basic set-up is the same; The Yamato is low on power and Kodai plans on flying the ship into the remaining Comet ship, however at the last minute Teresa, the alien from before reveals that Yuki isn’t dead and that their sacrifice isn’t needed. Teresa herself, ends up destroying the ship.
While several of the characters were still killed, several like Yuki and the ships doctor made it out alive.
The series is then left open to more films and another TV series.
On the technical side, Farewell is a much stronger package due to the fact it’s an original project.
Unlike the past film, the story and animation was done just for this film.
While the animation isn’t all that different from the original series, there are a number switches such as some design improvements made to the Yamato itself.
However, the best part of the film is its story.
As you’d of guessed from my run down of the plot, most of the film is filled with action.
The compilation film seemingly just wanted to fit in all of the action with little bridging the story from clip to clip. This time the film’s action is better plotted and feels more fluid.
Despite this, the film is long, with a two and a half hour running time. While the action is exciting the overall story is a bit convoluted and the addition of Delsar seems kind of out of place.
While the idea was for the character to redeem himself for the end of the series, he could of easily played a larger role in some other story instead of the 20 plus minutes he’s featured here (he would play a much larger part in the retelling).
Continuing with the topic of villains, the Comet Empire also seems thin for a feature film.
While Empire had a more advanced army and ended up being a powerful enemy for the crew, we don’t know a lot about the race other than their evil.
Deslar’s motivations were clear, his planet was dying and he wanted earth to save his race. But Zwodar doesn’t get a lot of screen time to explain his motivations.
Despite this, this is a strong outing for the Yamato franchise. While it was suppose to be the ending of the franchise, it’s clear that the show still had a lot to give.
The character’s are still interesting and even the image of Kodai holding onto a dying Yuki is a emotional sight for some otaku.
It’s definitely one of the stronger works in the franchise.
Farewell to Space Battleship Yamato was produced by Toei Aniamtion. The film is currently licensed by Manga Entertainment and is available through YouTube.