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