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'Space Battleship Yamato' blasts off

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One of the most eagerly anticipated Japanese films this year is "Space Battleship Yamato," a live-action adaptation of the popular 1974 anime of the same name. Directed by Takashi Yamazaki, "Space Battleship Yamato" has an impressive cast, featuring SMAP’s Takuya Kimura, Meisa Kuroki, Toshiyuki Nishida, Toshiro Yanagiba, Naoto Ogata, Reiko Takashima and many more, but the project has been anything but smooth.

During much of production, the film was referred to archaically as the “Dream Project,” and quickly became the talk of the Japanese film world because of its rumored 1 billion yen production cost. It was also supposed to be the comeback film for Erika Sawajiri, who was initially chosen as the leading lady but lost out to Kuroki late last year after her former agency, Stardust Promotion, informed production management that they were terminating her contract.

The film has been kept under wraps for most of the year and posters have only just begun showing up in movie theater lobbies recently. The cast and crew attended a special talk-show event and screening at Tokyo International Forum recently. More than 100,000 fans applied for tickets to the event. Kimura appeared especially excited about the film’s completion. “Finally, we are able to present this to an audience,” he said. “I’m hoping everyone will be moved by Yamato’s journey.”

The film, like the anime original, is a space opera set in 2199 about the adventures of the space battleship Yamato and its crew who set out on a journey to the planet Iscandar to acquire a device that can help rebuild the Earth which has been devastated after five years of fighting between the forces of Earth and the Gamilon invaders. Kuroki, who admitted she hasn’t seen the completed film yet, said: “I hope the fans enjoy it. I appear more boyish than the original.”

“We had a lot of problems along the way. It was a difficult journey, but Yamato was able to finally touch down safely,” said director Yamazaki, who won acclaim for "Always Sunset on Third Street." “It’s risky to release a sci-fi film in Japan, but I thought it was a story worth telling.”

One surprising departure from the source material in this adaption was the decision to have Reiko Takashima portray a re-envisioned Dr Sawatari. On top of being a male, the original character is a womanizing drunkard. “In the anime, Dr Sawatari was a comic relief character in a relatively serious story. It was a lot of pressure for me, as a woman, to play that kind of role,” said Takashima.

Adding an international touch to the film is the theme song, "Love Lives," by Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler.

"Space Battleship Yamato" opens nationwide on Dec 1.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


53 Comments
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The Anime was a classic. Let's see how this turns out.

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i am really excited about this, should be a great film

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I believe Meisa Kuroki will fill in nicely for Erika Sawajiri.

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I was hooked as a kid watching the cartoon. I might endure the "acting" of Kim Taku to see this version (or not).

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So basically a Japanese-version of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica. Yes, I know that Yamato is an old show, but it seems like the production of this movie took a lot of cues from Battlestar, down to gender-swapping a character.

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Sooo exciting. I can't wait to see this. And yay KimuTaku!

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Looks like cheap special effects in this one. And bloody kimu taku should have gotten a haircut first.

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When I was younger, my old brother loved this show and he always sang the opening theme. It drove me nuts... But I do hope that this movie is a success.

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So let me get this straight, a W.W.II battleship that represented the interests of one of the most brutal military regimes in history and that was thankfully sent to the bottom of the Pacific by the US Navy in 1945 is, in the year 2199, flying in space??

Lame ...

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OK so I'm a killjoy but Just the name gives it away 'yamato' and all that romantic-blood-lunatic nationalistic pride it conjures up. It was a clunker, a real lame duck that couldn't turn, maneuver well and was slow. A real sitting duck for ariel attack which was its fate.

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Looking forward to it. I hope they keep the original theme music as well. The Aerosmith tune seems out of place here. I mean, this ain't "Armaggedon".

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@nutsagain:

Spot on there. The Japanese took such pride in W.W.II in this obsolete behemoth that you can't help but think there is some stubborn nationalistic pride in "resurrecting" it in this postwar manga. The fact that it was sent to the bottom by 40 US Navy planes and was USELESS in W.W.II seems to be something they are in denial about.

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Aerosmith is still around. High school memories, I'm getting old....

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Before being the name of the battleship in the war, Yamato was the name of an ancient province, and then became the way to refer to Japanese people and even Japan (大和). Surely there might be some war connotations, but I don't think its fair to say that it is 'lame' and that people are in denial. That being said, I have not read the manga and it sounds like any other sci-fi flick set in outer space a la star trek etc. Might check it out depending on the reviews but I won't be lining up at the theatre...

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So basically a Japanese-version of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica. Yes, I know that Yamato is an old show, but it seems like the production of this movie took a lot of cues from Battlestar, down to gender-swapping a character.

I so hope you are wrong. Turning Starbuck into an emo, confused, crying female ruined it. I hope they don't make Kimura into a emo, confused, crying female as well. :p

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The original Yamato was a magnificent vessel, but too late.

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The original cartoon was where I learned to be an actor. It came on Sunday mornings and I had to fake being sick to get out of Sunday School to watch it.

Good times trying to fake a heart attack at age 8 to watch Space Battleship Yamato.

Taka

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The main problem with the WWII Yamato was that Japan was low on fuel for its navy in the second half of the war, so the bigger ships sat in port a lot. The last voyage of the Yamato (to defend Okinawa) had always intended to be a one-way trip as there was not enough fuel for the Yamato to return to her homeport. The crews' task was to fight for Okinawa until the ship was sunk under them - a variation on the kamikaze pilots. The task force never made it to Okinawa because they were spotted off of Kyuushuu by Allied submarines and their position/course was relayed to carrier groups in the area.

I guess that concept of giving your "all" in the face of almost certain failure is what keeps "Yamato" in the minds of the Japanese people over half a century later.

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Naming this spacecraft "Yamato" is no different from naming a certain starship "Enterprise".

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good lord people stop bringing up the war on this article it is a movie based on an old really popular anime.

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@UsagitoSaru, And the concept of the anime was that the WWII vessel was raised and converted into a spaceship. So now we have a movie about an anime about a converted WWII battleship. Wishing there wasn't a WWII connection doesn't make the wish a reality.

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I was not into the cartoon, I can not vision a sitting through a full length movie

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Fadamor; Wrong ... The 'main problem' with the Yamato was it was an overweight behemoth and couldn't turn properly. Worse, the armaments were so heavy and unwieldily as to be almost useless as anything other than a stationary firing platform from a distance. The failure was the design. Jane's Naval History the reliable source.

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I should have added that the Yamato looked fabulous on the drawing board, still does, but in reality was just a hopeless failure. God only knows how much fuel it must have needed to get to Okinawa.

Moderator: All readers back on topic please. The subject is the film. Posts that do not focus on that will be removed.

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These SMAP people just won`t go away. Just more evidence that it really takes no talent to be on TV or in a movie here.

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I remember during the original Yamato (well, Star Blazers), our TV broke in the middle of the Iscandar Saga. I was heartbroken, and went to the shopping mall every day to watch the show on the TVs there. I remember drawing my own "animation" on every memo pad in the house. Good times, good times.

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As rizaric mentioned, Yamato is another name for Japan. Thus, Japanese women are sometimes called "Yamato nadeshiko." As for the film, I heard the special effects are quite good. Might check it out. Is it another 3D flick?

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Shows such as “Lost” all are pushing the definition of “true reality”, or “true history”. These shows “question the traditional way of perception” and offer/suggest an “alternative” view/perception by introducing often an improbable, and or an uncomfortable explanation, not to deny any established facts, but only to offer that maybe we should be ready to re-think, or look through a fresh angle. And, after all, that’s ENTERTAINMENT!

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The Star Trek comparison is spot on. I think the sister ship of the Enterprise-D is actually the Yamato or the Musashi. Either way, you people getting your feathers ruffled are acting ridiculous and probably know nothing about the movie's story. Moreover, shipbuilding technology stands independent from the morality of the war and goes back to the Washington Naval Treaty, and the general war theory of the late 19th century. You can appreciate the largest battleship ever made without being a hypernationalistic war crimes apologist.

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I think the sister ship of the Enterprise-D is actually the Yamato

That's right. Damn Gene Roddenberry and his rampant glorification of japan's wartime past.

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Star Blazers rocked. I remember coming home from half-day kindergarten and watching it. I balled the day they took it off the air. Then I started watching Battle Of The Planets. Hope this comes out with some subtitles.

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Great! They should also make a live-action version of "Zipang"...

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The sister ship of the USS Enterprise-D is the USS Yamato (oh, the irony). Yep, my Otaku nature has raised it's head.

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Hurrrrr..this movie may have references that crudely challenge my learnings that all Japanese military elements during WWII were evil. I am not going to watch it durrrr...

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Hurrrrr..this movie may have references that crudely challenge my learnings that all Japanese military elements during WWII were evil. I am not going to watch it durrrr...

derp I concur without taking any interest in watching/reading the original media that the movie is based.

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Look at it this way, a ship of Imperial Japan is now on a mission to save all of human kind.

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For all those complaining about the name being that of the WW2 battle ship and including @YuriOtani silly comment please learn a little bit of history Yamato is traditional/Historically if not a bit of legend also to have been the founders of what is Japan more or less as we know it.

There have been many other things and ships named Yamato including castles and past imperial ships over the past 1,800 years or so, so one lighten up, two learn some history.

I loved the animation series (though I was more a Captain Harlock fan) I wish this would have been a more international collaboration with more "real" actors and possibly better FX in order to give the world more access and appreciation for it, a doubt I will see it in the theater but once out on DVD I will see it comfortably at home in 5.1 surround sound in my own living room with my children.

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Look at it this way, a ship of Imperial Japan is now on a mission to save all of human kind.

OMG, why didn't I think the same way about Star Trek and the Enterprise?? A ship named after a series of aircraft carriers that served American interests is now out to save humanity..oh wait, now I feel I've been duped by both Roddenberry and Matsumoto.

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The Yamato in the movie is the WWII battleship. Yes it is silly but sentimental. Its last mission was to save Okinawa from the Americans. The task force was named Heaven Force One, it was a suicide mission. In the movie the ship is on a impossible mission to save the world. Do you see how things are similar?

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I loved the animation series (though I was more a Captain Harlock fan) I wish this would have been a more international collaboration with more "real" actors

Meisa Kuroki is technically white. But the production could've used Djimon Honsou or some K1 klown as the token Black guy.

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limboinjapan, gets really tired of comments from people like you. Dude the Yamato in the movie is the WWII battleship. Yes it is silly but sentimental. Its last mission was to save Okinawa from the Americans. The task force was named Heaven Force One, it was a suicide mission. In the movie the ship is on a impossible mission to save the world. Do you see how things are similar?

I don't know how this classic by Leiji Matsumoto has any relevance to the current generation of Heisei decay

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@NeoJamal:

Not sure what you were trying to do but you or did you the mods cut something from Yuri's post but it sure make it look like you are quoting me, and I didn't write any of that!

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Some of these posts are hilarious! The talk of WWII made me laugh. I was a kid when I wathced this. I had no idea if it did, or didn't have any rlevence to the war...I din't care. It was just an exciting cartoon to watch. Maybe some of you are looking to deep?

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NationalistRE:"Meisa Kuroki is technically white. But the production could've used Djimon Honsou or some K1 klown as the token Black guy."

Not sure what you are going on about I never said foreign actors maybe I wasn't clear what I mean by "international collaboration" was that if they had worked with some of the better CG studios and possibly joint producers and distributors and got some real actors (and Japan has some very good real actors) and not a bunch of "talento" that couldn't act their way out of a paper bag (think of some of the great Kurosawa movies and how crappy they would have been no matter how great a director he was if he had had to use the likes of SMAP members!).

Good solid actors and a good international CG and distribution and with the following the Animation has overseas this could have been even bigger than you could possibly imagine, the problem often with Japan is that it never seems to take the foreign market seriously and I don't even think most of the studio executive and producers even know that this and other Japanese animations have as large a following as they do outside Japan.

Captain Harlock was massively popular where I'm from and in large parts of Europe as were Manjinga-Z, Galaxy 999 and Space battleship Yamato and millions of kids were raised watching these shows everyday after school (in my house they were almost a religious thing and you could barely show your face at school the next day if you missed the previous night's episode because that was all anyone would be talking about) so to just ignore that potential audience and more importantly revenue seems quite silly to me.

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Well the family and I are going to watch it opening day. I really want to see them fire the big gun!

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Not sure what you are going on about I never said foreign actors maybe I wasn't clear what I mean by "international collaboration" was that if they had worked with some of the better CG studios and possibly joint producers and distributors and got some real actors (and Japan has some very good real actors) and not a bunch of "talento" that couldn't act their way out of a paper bag (think of some of the great Kurosawa movies and how crappy they would have been no matter how great a director he was if he had had to use the likes of SMAP members!).

Yeah, they could've contacted New Zeland's Weta studios and hired local actors, and all dialogue in English!

Officer 1: Ciptin, the Yuh-muh-too has clured orbit

Captain: Arr hando, prepeah for fasutah-zan-raito jumpu!

Black crewman: Y'all in for one wild ride dawwg.

[spectacular special effects]

Adult Audience: What the Heck did I just see?

Children audience: ooooh flashing lights daddy!

Captain: Prep

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Edward James Olmos could'ved played the Mexican Desslar

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Am tired of all the Japan bashing. I am proud of my country and get told I am wrong. Well my ancestors did some bad things but I am innocent. Now people are getting bent out of shape about a movie just because it has the Yamato in it.

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To YuriOtani,

They don't know now that the US will need Japan's logistical support in the Indian Ocean next year. I'm sure they will be more supportive of your opinions on Space Battleship Yamato when they find out.

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Am tired of all the Japan bashing. I am proud of my country and get told I am wrong. Well my ancestors did some bad things but I am innocent. Now people are getting bent out of shape about a movie just because it has the Yamato in it.

It's tough being citizens of an awesome country.

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Steve Tyler... I hope that's not indicative of the rest of the film's direction. Aside from that, I am hoping for the best as someone old enough to remember the original on TV.

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@YuriOtani

Am tired of all the Japan bashing.

Me too.

I am proud of my country and get told I am wrong.

It is good that you are proud of Japan. It's a wonderful country.

Well my ancestors did some bad things but I am innocent.

My ancestors also did bad things and I am innocent too.

Now people are getting bent out of shape about a movie just because it has the Yamato in it.

Just ignore them. And enjoy the movie. I might get my Japanese in-laws to get a CD when it comes out. My family loves Japanese anime (I prefer Chambara though :-) )

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YuriOtani why is it every time someone has a different opinion you automatically think they are Japan bashing? You are really a very interesting person but I have a hard time reading you at times. There is a thing called debate which I understand is not to common in Japan, am I right? While I don't claim I know everything about Japan. You shouldn't claim you know everything about us either. Japan has portrayed the west false realities about American people as well. No thanks to Hollywood, The Media, Corporate, Government etc.

This doesn't represent what I would consider real Americans. Of coarse there are some people like that and some tourists you get in Japan are not very good ambassadors. Although they are hardly representative. It all just gets lost in translation. My ancestors did bad things as well as did most of mankind in some form or another. Although part of understanding people is understanding ourselves first. Space Battleship Yamato I am very excited to see regardless of what it may portray. Many Animes have similar context but I don't blame the Japanese people for that. It's just what fate and destiny has brought us. I think this you would agree. ^_^

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