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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Brief Thoughts on Space Battleship Yamato

The live-action adaptation of Space Battleship Yamato hit theaters in Japan on Dec. 1st, and if the video below is any indication, the film is all kinds of awesome.  Hopefully U.S. theaters will be smart and bring this one to us before the end of January, but I highly doubt that will happen.

Before I talk about my more sophisticated thoughts about SBY, I think you all should watch the trailer and the brief clip from the film:

First:  Apparently the budget for this film was roughly $20 million.  How they managed to produce such a visually impressive film for that amount is beyond me.  Even films in the U.S. with awful CG often cost more than SBY.  Maybe IMDB has it wrong.

Second:  Based on the two clips above, the one thing that I am most impressed about SBY is how much effort has gone into maintaining the feel of the anime it's based on.  The battle scenes are all high-octane action, with an extraordinary amount of detail; they actually seem to overload the senses, which real war has a tendency to do, and films often downplay.  Likewise, the bridge scenes follow a very traditional anime structure--a kind of very personable back-and-forth style that highlights both the emotional hypersensitivity and the hyper-authoritarianism found in anime representations of the Japanese military.  They remind me of scenes from Crest of the Stars and Banner of the Stars, though these connected series came some thirty years later than the original SBY and likely took a few pages from the 1970s classic.

The creators of the adaptation of SBY seem to be going about this rather intelligently.  They've acknowledge the source material, updated it, and amplified the emotional output from the characters.  SBY simply looks beautiful and anime-lover-friendly.  It's the kind of film that tries to reach a wider audience while always remembering where it came from.  Granted, in Japan, live-action anime adaptations really don't have to appeal to a non-anime audience.  Japanese anime is, well, huge in Japan, which is in contrast to America, where animated programs are largely the domain of children.  Exceptions exist, but they are dwarfed by the number of programs designed for younger generations.

Third:  Am I the only one looking forward to this film?  I know it's in Japanese and dubbing it will be awful, thus forcing most of us to watch the film with subtitles, but it just looks so tasty.  Do you agree?  I want to know what you think about SBY, so let me know in the comments!

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