37 CommentsAnime Analysis / By Scamp /

More people should watch Yamato 2199


Space Battleship Yamato is a TV series from 1974 by Leiji Matsumoto (well, mostly by Leiji Matsumoto, although it’s complicated) about a spaceship travelling across the universe captained by a man with a very impressive beard. It’s one of the most influential anime ever made, considered the point from which anime started to turn towards more serious and complex stories. I shall now ask you to completely forget all of that because instead we’re going to talk about Yamato 2199.

Yamato 2199 had a bit of a strange airing run. Each batch of episodes were first released in theatres as single movies, starting in April 2012, and later released in batches of 4 on home video. It wasn’t until April 2013 that its air run on TV even started. We’re 22 episodes in now, with the final 4 episodes to be released in October. Barely anyone in English speaking fandom is watching it, probably due to its weird release schedule and lack of availability. Which is a shame because it’s a complete remake that requires no knowledge of the original. It’s also a shame because it’s a damn fine anime.

So Shinmaru and myself decided to write this post to try get more folks to watch it.


Shinmaru: What really gets to me most about Yamato 2199 is how important everything feels. Not important in the sense of grandness of scope (though there is plenty of that in the series), but important in the sense that everything matters, no matter how small the role a person has in the show. Everyone has a story to tell, thoughts running through their mind, and a heart beating strongly in their chest. The damn doctor barely does anything but get drunk as hell and make sure the captain doesn’t keel over before the Yamato accomplishes its mission, and he’s one of the best characters in the show. Yamato 2199 gives folks like the doc time to breathe and kick it with the captain to philosophize over a few drinks even though every episode counts down the time until the Earth is totally screwed. It’s a classy show like that, you see.

It’s always a challenge to juggle a cast like this so expertly, but Yamato 2199 makes it look easy. Everyone gets the proper time they need to make the intended impression. Every interaction has the potential to be incredibly interesting, so when a character shows up who hasn’t been around for an episode or two, it’s like seeing a good friend who swings by every so often to tell a fun story. That warmth and familiarity is what really stands out to me when I think about the Yamato 2199 cast. Amazingly, the series has established that camaraderie on both sides of the conflict — battles are more agonizing than ever now, because I don’t want to see anyone die. They’re all so wonderful! Except for that fuckhat security officer, that is.


Scamp: The appeal is very similar to that of Star Trek or Mass Effect in the way the character interactions play out. During the down moments you get to learn more about the characters as they sit around and chat. The discussion can be everything from big philosophical discussions about where they are going and racism against aliens to little things like relationships and the weather. These play into the usual climactic battle scene in each episode and arc, so you actually care about what’s going on both on a personal character level and broader plot-level. It’s really well paced, hitting your with the big dramatic moments at exactly the right moments so you understand just what it means to everyone involved when it happens.

As Shinmaru said, they even manage to do this with the aliens. They’re a racist, fascist militaristic regime, but they somehow still feel human…err, I mean Garmillian. They have dreams and beliefs and friends and fears. Even the big boss, who originally appeared comically evil, has wormed his way into my heart through his loyalty and trust in certain commanders. You can start to see why these people admire and look up to him so much. There’s a touch of the Reinhard from Galactic Heroes about him, and that’s not just because of the blonde hair and fabulous cape. But seriously, fuck that security chief.


Shinmaru: That Mass Effect comparison definitely works, particularly if you’re talking the first game, which feels a bit more old-school science-fiction than the other two in the series to me. It hearkens back to when science-fiction was often about pure exploration — worlds, people, concepts. It’s a journey to find and pick at the hard truths of the world. The Yamato has no choice, but to barrel toward its goal, but along the way, the crew cannot help but think about that journey. Are they doing the right thing? Are they doing this for the right reasons? The answers to those questions and others — if, indeed, answers even exist — are rarely easy or pleasant.

You’ve probably gathered by now that this is not an entirely black-and-white affair. There are of course good and bad people on both sides of the battle, and good and bad deeds alike have been wrought by the Garmillians and humans. The hands of neither side are truly clean, but there is great dignity to the way people examine themselves and their beliefs. In the vastness of the universe, there is no absolute right or wrong; the Yamato crew comes to discover this time and again, and yet they press forward, unremittingly, if only because they must.


Scamp: The giant pitched space battles can look a little odd. I attribute this to the CG animated ships looking eerily similar to the ships in Futurama, so at the start I couldn’t take any of the battles seriously. Thankfully as the story progressed, I grew to care about the characters and by extension the battles. Now they could make the battles just be cardboard cutouts of identical ships going pew pew pew with no attention paid to who hits whom with their laser beams (otherwise known as the Legend of the Galactic Heroes approach to space battles) and it would still be riveting viewing.

If there was one criticism I could level at the show, it’s that it’s a little strong on the male gaze. The original Yamato had only one female on the entire ship while Yamato 2199 has several, so congratulations for progressing beyond the standards set in the early 1970’s I guess. The women do all have the exact same body type, packed into a skintight catsuit while the men all wear more sensible uniform. The camera really does like to focus on their shapely backsides. I don’t mind this as much as I’m letting on. It is a really great arse. I just wish the arses varied from girl to girl.


Shinmaru: Yeah, I didn’t think the battles looked amazing at first, either, though they definitely looked a cut above most everything else that employs CG. But I’ve grown fond of the battles, even when they’ve done ridiculous stuff like have a ship that acts like a submarine in space through means I won’t mention here. Or maybe that’s why I enjoy the battles so much. But, yes, the battles grow in intensity and spectacle throughout the series, and once Yamato 2199 puts the screws into folks on both sides, then they’re that much more harrowing.

I’m incredibly excited to see where the series wraps up with four episodes to go. There have been some great reveals regarding the nature of the Garmilas culture and how that relates to their intentions in the war that leaves me with little idea how everything will turn out in the face of the Yamato’s mission. There are so many possibilities; the only thing I am sure of is that the ending will be quite bittersweet, and it’s a feeling that Yamato 2199 has long since earned. The depth of character, story and craft give it a punch that is rare in many mediums, much less anime. I’m clamoring to see the conclusion, but I know I’ll be sad for many reasons when it’s finished.

This entry was posted in Anime Analysis and tagged , , , . Anime: . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.


  1. Posted August 22, 2013 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    Yes. Yes you are.

  2. Posted August 22, 2013 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    So it’s pretty much like all of Matsumoto’s other stuff. Between seeing the original Yamato, Galaxy Express 999, and Harlock stuff, I kinda feel like I’ve seen enough if his stuff for one lifetime. It tends to be pretty damn dreary, even by my standards.

    Pretty cool that this thing’s introducing newer fans to his stuff, though.

    • Posted August 23, 2013 at 12:00 am | Permalink

      So Leiji Matsumoto is a more cool, but still really repetitive Yoshiyuki Tomino?

    • Ithekro
      Posted August 23, 2013 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

      I woud point out that Leiji Matsumoto is not involved with Yamato 2199. At all. There was a rift some time ago and the lines were made. Matsumoto is no longer involved with Yamato.

      However the people making this show were fans of the original and have the feel of it down.

      This show is considered by some to be better than the original. And if nothing else, the best remake of any series ever made.

    • Raymondjram
      Posted August 25, 2013 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

      You missed “Ozuma” a short (five episode) but beautiful anime that Leiji Matsumoto also created. Search for it and watch it. It will remind you of both Captain Harlock and Galaxy Express 999, but the end is the best I have ever seen in any anime! It did remind me of “Titan:AE”.

    • Scamp
      Posted August 25, 2013 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

      I did see Ozuma but I didn’t think it was very good. Actually I knew quite a few people who watched Ozuma but you are the first person I’ve heard of saying anything positive about it

  3. sqa
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 12:32 am | Permalink

    I’m waiting for it to finish, then I’m watching it. Almost there!

    • Nagisa33
      Posted August 23, 2013 at 1:25 am | Permalink

      So I can watch the asses…. I mean episodes in a normal episodic format rather than movie format? Just like normal?

      Same here for my brother and I. It’s funny, just today we were just talking about FMA and we wish more series had a competent and interesting characters who all play a part, be it big or small. This show looks like a winner.

      We were excited for this new Yamato since we heard about it. I was searching old series that kicked ass, mainly in the Lejiverse, and I stumbled across this modern reimagining of a classic. I say stumbled bc this thing isn’t given much publicity. Anyhow, this looks great! Maybe we’ll start it sooner!

  4. gw_kimmy
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 4:40 am | Permalink

    space opera that’s character driven? im in.

    although im a bit ;/ about all the girls running around in skintight suits all the time. i mean, if they’re gonna do that, at least have all the males run around in the same suits. equality, damnit.

    • hint
      Posted August 23, 2013 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      I am new to space opera. Aren’t all of them character driver?

      • gw_kimmy
        Posted August 23, 2013 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

        i guess im new as well? most gundam series i would consider space operas and not all of those are character driven.

        guess its time to consult tvtropes

    • Scamp
      Posted August 25, 2013 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

      Space Opera is generally more of a political focus thing. Not sure what Yamato counts as. Space-faring?

      I wish more anime were equal opportunity fanservice. More Geass and EVOL style fanservice plz

      • Pusswookie
        Posted August 26, 2013 at 2:03 am | Permalink

        Definitely more EVOL style fanservice, w/ all manner of hair and eye color combinations. The colors were fanservice in and of itself.

  5. Erif
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    You should have put this under a “colloquialism” heading. Good post though.

  6. hint
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    The captain screaming loud “HUTEEEEE” while exchanging critical blows and those big explosions, make this more intense to watch.
    The only thing bothers me are Garmilion´s space ships because every time i see them they look more like grasshoppers unable move like they should, while Yamato is the most awesome space penetrating d*ck.

  7. Rait
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Been watching it for a while already. At first I didn’t like it at all, because as Scamp mentioned, the bad guys were just….bad. Fortunately it changed and I grew to love the series. It started giving me this Mass Effect (ass effect in Yamato’s case?) like feel and I’m a big fan on ME.

    What catches me the most though is the opening theme, which I sometimes listen over and over.
    Dayum, even after reading this post I have to go and listen to it.

    • Nagisa33
      Posted August 23, 2013 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

      Mass Effect always makes me happy.

    • Scamp
      Posted August 25, 2013 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

      I approve of posting mass effect stuff here

  8. DarkEnergy
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    LoGH and arses. Good enough for me. I’ll watch it sometime.

  9. Pusswookie
    Posted August 24, 2013 at 2:48 am | Permalink

    So I’d really like to watch this but I literally just…don’t know how. I can’t find it to download and it’s not on Crunchyroll, where are you watching it at?

    • Nagisa33
      Posted August 24, 2013 at 3:43 am | Permalink

      I’d like to know where you are watching it as well.

      • Shinmaru
        Posted August 24, 2013 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

        Nubles has been my subber of choice.

      • Nagisa33
        Posted August 24, 2013 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

        Thanks a bunch! Never heard of these guys but I’ll give em a try.

  10. Fumoffu!!
    Posted August 24, 2013 at 3:09 am | Permalink

    Okay fine, I’ll watch it. I’ll wait until the last episodes are out.

    I did intend to watch it, but because of the weird schedule I just gave up on it. Thanks for prompting me to watch it I guess.

  11. Anonymous
    Posted August 24, 2013 at 4:01 am | Permalink

    >lack of availability.

    What are you talking about? The BDs have all been ripped and subbed.

    • Pusswookie
      Posted August 24, 2013 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      Neat, point me in their direction.

    Posted August 24, 2013 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    I was watching this show about 4 months ago and I put it on hold because I didn’t know when the next set of episodes would be put out. Though from what I remember I was instantly hooked and marathoned the show to like episode 14.

    • Scamp
      Posted August 25, 2013 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

      Last episodes air in October, so catching up now is a good idea.

  13. ANON
    Posted August 24, 2013 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    oh scamp, all you had to do to make me watch this was post something like “go watch this anime” and I would’ve instantly followed.

    • Scamp
      Posted August 25, 2013 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

      Watch Watamote
      Play Mass Effect
      Go to Saltybet
      Post pics of yourself naked on the internet

      • Pusswookie
        Posted August 26, 2013 at 2:06 am | Permalink

        with links or…?

    • ANON
      Posted August 28, 2013 at 8:36 am | Permalink

      this saltybet thing is confusing.

  14. joinedforFal
    Posted August 24, 2013 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    had this show not been Dq’ed from the recent Spring Anime league, it would definitely have been a pick on my team back then, actually, i’m pretty sure it showing up on charts for spring season is what prompted me to get off my lazy arse and marathon what was available at the time (1-12 iirc).

    good thing it was Dq’ed for me, the MAL stats for this show make me cringe.

    naval references were especially appreciated by me. navy buff that i am.

  15. Baphomet
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    No mention of the excellent 14th episode? No mention of space nazis? No screenshots of Melda or Niimi? I’m disappoint. I thought you wanted to advertise.;)

    • Shinmaru
      Posted August 26, 2013 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      Haha, well, we have to give people things to discover! But, yes, the 14th episode is one of my favorites of the year — maybe my absolute favorite, all things considered. I’ve always been partial to the total mindfuck episodes of anime.

      No screenshots of Akira, either! It’s like Scamp went out of his way to avoid showing all the best ladies.

  16. halfadeckshort
    Posted September 8, 2013 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    No mention of catfights in this review. Docked 10 points.

One Trackback

  • Categories

  • Anime