Over the past few months, I’ve been looking at the entries in the Yamato franchise. When we last left our heroes they had to team up with former enemy Desslar and his empire to save Iscandar.
While the planet was still destroyed the coalition still defeated the attacking Nebula Empire. Hovever this isn’t the last we see of them.
So let’s just right in, with Be Forever Yamato.
Be Forever Yamato is an anime film directed by Leiji Matsumoto and Toshio Masuda and written by Yoshinodu Nishizaki.
The story picks up a year after the events of New Voyage. The Yamato crew has once again gone on with their lives and have taken a number of different positions in the Earth’s Defence Force.
Susumu Kodai has taken command of a supply ship that’s makes regular drops to several planet colonies, including Mars.
Before the ship can make contact a beam of light hits several of the planets including Mars. The light kills all of the crews and continues to move towards earth.
Susumu contacts EDF base, run by his wife Yuki, his brother Mamoru and the general Heikuro Todo but before they can do anything the light lands on earth.
Soon after several ships and troopers invade earth destroying the EDF fleet and land forces.
Susumu lands returns to earth on an escape pod and starts to reunite the Yamato crew to fight the aliens.
As the remaining crew head off for the hidden Yamato, the invaders are revealed to be the Black Nebula Empire, the enemy that nearly destroyed earth and the Yamato during the last film, this time bringing a whole fleet instead of one large ship.
As earth is forced to surrender itself the crew, minus the captured Yuki, rediscover the Yamato, which was rebuilt and upgraded by Shiro Sanada. The upgraded ship has a batch of new recruits including Sasha, the daughter of Starsha and Mamour.
Due to her alien side she’s aged a lot in the year, as she looks to be in her late teens. During this time she was raised by Sanada and trained to operate the ships new radar system.
The crew start to plan their attack on the Nebula fleet however, their new Captain Yamanami tells the crew of the Nebula’s ace in the whole.
The light that landed on earth was no ship, instead the giant object is a bomb that can destroy all living life on earth with just one command.
So the crew change their plans and turn their focus onto the Nebula homeworld where the bombs trigger device is located.
Back on earth General Todo is saved from execution as Mamour Kodai kills himself in an explosion letting the General escape and start a resistance force.
On the other side of town Yuki has been rescued by one of the Nebula’s high-ranking officers Arufon. He tries to convince her to love him in exchange for information of the alien bomb.
While the revolution battles the Nebula on earth, the Yamato moves closer to their homeworld destroying supply ships along the way.
Soon the crew find themselves at the entrance of the Black Nebula itself. While trying to pass through their attacked and forced to use their newest weapon the Wave Motion Capsule, missiles that have the destructive power of the Wave Motion gun.
Once through the Nebula, they enter the Double Galaxy and their faced with a new obstacle, a planet that looks a great deal like earth.
Once they land on the Earth-like planet the leader explains that by passing through the Nebula the crew have moved 200 hundred years into the future.
In this timeline the Yamato was destroyed and the Nebula Empire took over the Galaxy. The crew are invited to stay on Earth and live out the rest of their lives, however, they realize that something isn’t right.
The crew elects to go back to their time and fight the Neblua Emipre themselves. Despite this Sasha stays behind, saying that it’s easier for her to live in this time period.
While trying to leave they’re attack by the aliens and after further examination they discover that the planet is fake version of Earth.
On the real Earth, Yuki has escaped Arufon and joins the resistance, who attack the alien bomb.
During the battle Yuki and Arufon confront each other and the alien is shot. It’s revealed that the Nebulans are cyborgs.
During his final moments alive he tells Yuki that destroying the homeworld is only part of it, as the trigger inside the bomb must be destroyed as well.
With the Nebula’s army fighting back Yuki and the forces destroy the bombs trigger and wait for the Yamato to finish it off on their end.
After their discovery, Yamato is seemingly powerless to destroy the planet, but Sasha ends up opening up the planets weakness for a final attack. However, in the attack she would be destroyed.
Faced with this fact Susumu is unable to fire the WM gun. During her final plea to her uncle Sasha is killed protected the ship. An enraged Kodai fires and destroys the planet.
With another battle behind them, the Yamato crew returns back home, hopping that their lives can return to normal.
But their peace will soon be short lived.
On the technical side, has a lot going for it.
The film features strong animation and some interesting direction with the large-scale battles.
In the beginning the Yamato is hidden in an asteroid, when the ship powers up it erupts from the rocks. The shows off the productions improved animation quite well.
Several of the effects are redone for the new film including the warp scenes. While before the warps featured a kind of shifting animation effect on the characters, this time the effect looks more like something from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Additionally, the film ended up using its budget in a different way, to change it’s aspect ratio.
The first half of the film is looks normal and used the Paramount Pictures produced VistaVision. However, when the crew enters the Double Galaxy the film shifts to CinemaScope a larger film format.
To put it into context that would be like the first half being shown in a normal film and the second changing into an IMAX format.
While the effect was used to impress the film audience, on the home release it’s less impressive.
The film goes from full screen 4:3 to a sudo widescreen. This is due to the fact that all VHS tapes (which is the only way these films were released) are meant to be 4:3. During the second half the animation fills around a third of the screen.
So the second half looks much like the cutscenes from the Far Cry 3 DLC Blood Dragon.
That being said, once the change happens the animation looks different.
The light effects, to even the way the characters are animated are different, and look better.
It’s hard to explain but it feels like the production team ended up making more with the CinemaScope format and the second half looks great.
However, the film stays in this format for the final hour, including the scenes not in the Double Galaxy. While it would difficult if not impossible to switch back and forth for these scenes, it’s a bit jarring.
That being said the gimmick is interesting to say the least.
Audio wise the film features a solid soundtrack.
The score, which was done by Hiroshi Miyagawa, features a number of new versions of the Yamato theme that are used during the films battle scenes.
The new themes are welcomed due to their use of faster tempos and different instruments, most notably the use of synthesizers.
If the film has one flaw it’s the plot or rather its break neck pace.
While there was a TV film used to set-up the main enemy for this film, Be Forever Yamato still features a huge plot during it’s 2 and a half hour running time.
This film was originally planned as the third series of the franchise but was changed into a film, that being said little or no plot shedding was done to make the story fit.
What we get is heavy and features a great deal of space combat, that could have been easily edited into a miniseries of some kind or expanded into two different films.
That being said, Be Forever Yamato is still a good film. The plot might be big but it’s strong and feature good reasons for the crew to reunite and join the ship.
Fans of the franchise will like this one.
Be Forever Yamato was distributed by Toei Animation and is licensed by Manga Entertainments.