Before Yamato came along animations were usually based on successful Mangas. Space Battleship Yamato was the first animation that was done with nothing to back up the possibility it might be successful. It was simultaneously released as an animation and Manga. Since 1974 it has amassed 85 episodes, 3 Manga Volumes, 7 films and 1 live action movie.
Japan seems to have a great way of overcoming past difficulties, socially and historically. They turn the once negative thing into something more symbolic, powerful, positive and push forward through hardships. Take Godzilla, an allegory of the disastrous effects of Atomic weapons of which Japan is the only victim of. Space Battleship Yamato takes the past destruction of it’s most powerful warship in WWII the Battleship Yamato and uses it as a symbol to fight for the entire Earth. Building a space ship out of a battleship they head off into space to find a radiation purifier to save the earth which has only 1 year till extinction due to the meteor attacks by an unknown Alien enemy Gamilus.
I first saw Yamato on Video under the name Starblazers. I really enjoyed and liked the more mature tone of the animation but I never watched the entire series. It wasn’t until more recent years did I see the series under it’s original title and story. It’s somewhat campy by today’s standards with very 70s style music and stock footage often being reused, the story drags in some parts, but in the later half of the first series it becomes far more serious as their deadline looms and they head into unforeseen danger. Episode 22 is where Yamoto grows out of it’s training pants and when it becomes an adult themed war epic in a spectacular battle against Domel and his fleet, the battle is like a battle on the pacific ocean between fighter planes battleships and aircraft carriers in space. The producers of the show watched the Battle of Britain and other war movies as a reference to visualizing the final combat scenes. Amazing stuff, 3 years before George Lucas’s star Wars did something similar with the run on the Death Star. The black nebula came 10 years before the action scenes of Star Trek II’s mutara nebula battle.There has to be some inspiration from Yamato on these two movies and in turn there must be an inspiration from those franchises onto Yamato in the long run also.
For more science fiction inspired by “Space Battleship Yamato” check out JMS’s Babylon 5 spin off “Crusade”, after Earth is attacked and a plague is released on the planet the experimental Ship Excalibur is sent out into space to find a cure to the plague with only 5 years before all life on Earth is dead. The hero ship in this series the Excalibur also features a massive beam canon gun on it that drains the ships power every time it’s used.
Star Trek Enterprise Season 3: Earth is attacked by unknown aliens called the Xindi who are testing out a new weapon that will ultimately destroy the Earth in 1 year. The Starfleet Ship Enterprise NX-01 is sent out on a mission to find and stop the Xindi and their weapon before it’s too late. There is an episode near the end of the season called “Azati Prime” which shows the Enterprise getting the snot get kicked out of her much in the same way Yamato was on it’s full on encounter with Gamilus and it’s commander Domel.