|Space Battleship Yamato (Live Action)|
Space Battleship Yamato (SPACE BATTLESHIP ヤマト Uchu Senkan Yamato) is a live action film adaptation of the original Space Battleship Yamato anime TV series from 1974. The film was released in Japan on December 1, 2010. It was released on DVD and Blu-ray in Japan on June 24, 2011.
In 2199, after five years of attacks by an alien race known as Gamilas, the Earth Defense Force launches a counter-offensive near Mars. The fleet's weapons are no match for the Gamilas, who easily decimate the fleet. During the battle, Mamoru Kodai, captain of the destroyer Yukikaze, sacrifices his life by using his damaged ship as a shield to cover Captain Jyuzo Okita's ship, allowing his escape.
On Earth, Kodai's brother Susumu is scavenging on the radiated surface when an object impacts near him, throwing off his helmet and knocking him unconscious. When he awakens, he finds an alien message capsule. He also notices that the radiation has been reduced to safe levels around him. He is rescued by Okita's returning ship and it is discovered that the capsule contains engineering schematics for a new warp drive and coordinates for the planet from which it came (Iskandar). After learning what happened at Mars, he accuses Okita of using his brother as a shield and tries to hit him, but crewmember Yuki Mori stops him.
Okita believes the hope for humanity lies within Iskandar. A request for volunteers for the mission is sent out, and Kodai - a former EDF pilot - decides to re-enlist. Their last battleship, the Yamato is enhanced with alien technology. Before the Yamato can launch the Gamilas attack with a gigantic missile. Captain Okita gives the order to fire the yet-untested Wave Motion Cannon, the ship's primary and experimental weapon, which successfully destroys the incoming missile. Kodai is reunited with his old fighter squad. Yuki (who had joined the EDF years ago due to her admiration for Kodai) is bitter towards him.
The Yamato crew performs their first warp test, and encounters more Gamilas ships. Since the Wave Motion Cannon is powered by the same reactor as the warp drive, the crew has to wait until the engine recharges to warp again. The Yamato destroys their capital ships, but the battle damages Yuki's fighter. Kodai launches to rescue her and is later sent to the brig for disobeying orders. Later, Shima (his former squad-mate) tells Yuki that Kodai left the service because he accidentally caused the death of his family and also Shima's wife during a mission.
After another warp, the Yamato crew finds a Gamilas fighter adrift and recovers it to study, but the alien pilot is alive and possesses Commando Team Leader Hajime Saitō, in order to communicate. The alien calls himself Dessler and explains that Gamilas is a race with a hive mind. Kodai stuns the possessed Saito, but the alien is destroyed.
Later, an ill Captain Okita makes Kodai acting-captain. The crew discovers that the captured Gamilas fighter contains a homing beacon. The Yamato fires its Wave Motion Cannon to destroy a Gamilas ship, but it buys time for a boobytraped Gamilas spacecraft to latch onto the ship's third bridge located on the bottom of the hull. Kodai reluctantly orders Yuki, in her fighter, to blast the third bridge support away moments before it detonates, saving the Yamato. He apologizes to Yuki for ordering her to doom their crew-mates, and the two comfort each other.
The Yamato arrives at Iskandar, but is met by a large Gamilas fleet that sends a spacecraft to disable the Wave Motion Cannon. Kodai makes the dangerous choice to randomly warp and end up at the opposite side of Iskandar but are surprised to see that it is lifeless. It is discovered that Gamilas and Iskandar are the same planet. The crew begins to think that it is a trap, but Kodai urges them to press on. He leads an attack down to the planet surface in the midst of heavy Gamilas opposition. As much of the assault force is killed, the remaining pilots stay behind to cover for Kodai, Sanada, Saito and Mori as they head off to the coordinates.
At the coordinates, an alien possesses Yuki's body and explains that Gamilas and Iskandar are two aspects of the same race. The alien explains that their planet is dying and saw Earth as the most suitable replacement by killing humanity in the process. However, Iskandar did not share this view, and has been imprisoned. Iskandar implants in Yuki the ability to clean the radiation from Earth, and as she and Kodai return to Yamato, Saito and Sanada sacrifice themselves by destroying the Gamilas power source. Afterwards, the Yamato returns to Earth and Okita dies. The crew rejoices at their return but a surviving Gamilas ship ambushes them and severely damages the Yamato. Dessler appears and says they no longer wish to invade Earth since the majority of the Gamilas were killed, but intends to destroy the planet with his vessel to avenge his race. Kodai has the surviving crew abandon ship. He then sacrifices himself by ramming the Yamato into the ship, and firing the blocked Wave Motion Cannon.
The ending shows Yuki and her son on the Earth's surface, which has been restored to its natural state.
The main cast of characters has been changed from that of the original anime TV series. Yuki has a more active fighting role, and two of the original anime main male characters – Aihara and Dr. Sado – are female in this live-action version.
- Takuya Kimura as Susumu Kodai, Mamoru's younger brother, and combat team leader
- Meisa Kuroki as Yuki Mori, Black Tiger Squadron ace pilot
- Toshirō Yanagiba as Shirō Sanada, chief science/technology Officer
- Naoto Ogata as Daisuke Shima, chief navigator
- Reiko Takashima as Dr. Sado, ship doctor
- Toshiyuki Nishida as Hikozaemon Tokugawa, chief engineer
- Hiroyuki Ikeuchi as Hajime Saitō, Space Commandos commanding officer
- Maiko Skorick (マイコ) as Aihara, communications officer
- Toshihiro Yashiba as Yasuo Nanbu, tactical unit
- Kazuki Namioka as Saburō Katō, Black Tiger Squadron commander
- Takumi Saito as Akira Yamamoto, Black Tiger Squadron member
- Takahiro Miura as Furuya, Black Tiger Squadron member
- Tsutomu Yamazaki as Jūzō Okita, captain of Yamato
- Kensuke Ōwada as Kenjirō Ōta, navigator
- Shinichi Tsutsumi as Mamoru Kodai, Susumu's older brother, and captain of the space destroyer Yukikaze
- Isao Hashizume as Heikurō Tōdō, Earth Defense Force commander-in-chief
- Kenichi Ogata as Analyzer, robot assistant of Kodai Susumu.
- Masatō Ibu as Lord Dessler, leader of the Gamilas.
- Miyuki Ueda as Iskandar, originally named Starsha.
- Narration by Isao Sasaki
LogoTBS Films, the film production arm of the Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) television network has been planning the live action film since 2005. Noboru Ishiguro, director and staff member of the original Space Battleship Yamato television series, confirmed at his Otakon panel on July 17, 2009 that a live action version of Space Battleship Yamato was in development.
Director Takashi Yamazaki helmed the project for a planned December 2010 release with a budget of 2.2 billion yen (US$22 million). The film features extensive VFX produced by Yamazaki's visual effects house Shirogumi, amounting to 65 minutes of the film's running time in over 500 shots. The Daily Sports newspaper reported that 80% of the scenes incorporate the latest CGI technology to recreate the space battles from the TV series.
Takuya Kimura stars as the main hero Susumu Kodai. Erika Sawajiri was originally scheduled to also star in the film as the female lead character Yuki Mori, but was replaced by Meisa Kuroki.
Principal photography began on October 12, 2009 and was completed by year's end. Computer graphics, editing, and other elements of post-production took over nine months before Toho opened the film on December 1, 2010 on 440 screens in Japan.
Promotion and distributionEdit
A short teaser trailer for the film was first shown during late 2009 at the live concert "Johnny's Countdown" in Japan, serving as sponsor of the event. This concert is a yearly event that is held on New Year's Eve and that gathers all the artists from the Johnny & Associates talent agency (of which SMAP/Takuya Kimura is a member) in a single show. The trailer revealed several elements from the original Space Battleship Yamato TV series (broadcast in 1974) such as re-designed uniforms and the new Space Battleship Yamato's interior, both inspired by the series 70s look.
The first official trailer for the live action film has been shown in Japanese TV since June 2010. The new trailer is longer and reveals several more features from the first series (1974) such as the re-designed EDF uniforms, and new EDF and Gamilas space battleships and starfighters. Also of note is the addition of elements from the second season of the TV series (which was originally broadcast in 1978). These include Commander Hajime Saitō and his "Space Commandos" (Kuukan kiheitai).
On September 16, Tokyograph, a website that translates Japanese articles about entertainment, reported that Aerosmith's Steven Tyler wrote a song, titled "Love Lives", for the film based on an English translated script and several clips of the film. The song is also performed by Tyler and was released on November 24, 2010 a week before the film is released. A preview of the song is heard in the official trailer. It will be Steven Tyler's first solo project.
The film has been licensed for international distribution by several companies: Wild Side Films (France), Splendid Film (Germany), Golden Harvest (China, Hong Kong and Macau), Catchplay (Taiwan), Encore Films (Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia) and Sahamongkol Film International Co. Ltd. (Thailand). Mediatres Studio made a deal with TBS Company for home distribution of the film in Spain. The film will be released on DVD in that country under the "Winds of Asia" quality seal and will be sold through Warner Home Video of Spain.
According to the film's official website, different DVD and Blu-ray editions are due to be released in Japan on June 24, 2011.
Box office and receptionEdit
Space Battleship Yamato debuted at number 1 on the Japanese box-office, ousting Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1).
Zac Bertschy of the Anime News Network rated the film a B, calling it "a thoroughly modernized adaptation, one that hits the gas pedal right out of the gate and doesn't stop for a moment, unashamed to just try and entertain the hell out of you."
The Japan Times gave the film a positive review. According to its article the pressure of releasing a film with much corporate backing and expectations by die-hard fans put much stress on the production team, but they were able to have sufficient entertaining fare for kids and make serious drama work.
Christoph Mark of The Daily Yomiuri said the film "lacked gravity" and criticized the production design as too reminiscent of the Battlestar Galactica remake.