Be Forever Yamato (1980)
Review by Dindrane

Written by Toshio Yoshida, Keisuke Fujikawa, and Hideaki Yamamoto, based on an original story by Yoshinobu Nishizaki and Reiji Matsumoto
Music by Hiroshi Miyagawa, Yu Aku, and Yoko Yamaguchi
Directed by Toshio Masuda


Dindrane's Anime Warnings:

Released by: Voyager Entertainment, Inc.
Region: 1
Rating: NR
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format

My Advice: Get it if you dare to call yourself otaku.

The Yamato saga is long, complex, and at times baffling, given that there were multiple series and several feature films...but the quality of the stories is rarely questioned, and in Be Forever Yamato, once again, we get to see why.

In the year 2202 AD, the Earth seems to be enjoying, at last, peace--a peace hard won by the valiant crew of the starship Yamato over the White Comet Empire. But into this seeming peace comes a blight: a mysterious, frightful object appears outside the orbit of Pluto, hurtles towards our planet, and strikes, brutally breaking the back of Earth and leaving the planet under the control of the brutal Black Star Cluster Empire (aka the Dark Empire). Kodai and the rest of the Yamato's crew gather and hope to use their ship once again to strike back against Earth's enemies. Will they succeed in defeating this powerful enemy? Or will humanity be forever subjugated?

All of the perennial favorite Yamato characters are back, and there are even some interesting new characters to meet, including Sasha, the ingenue with secrets, and Alphon, the blue-faced admirer of Yuki. The story of Sasha's rapid aging might strike some as a bit silly and overly convenient, but her character (and the other characters) are so well-done that you won't mind overmuch.

The features list, as befits an epic like the Yamato saga, is packed. To start with, we get the original theatrical trailer in Japanese. We also get the original theatrical program book, translated into English, a feature that could teach American movie production companies a thing or two about fan loyalty and publicity. Each full-color page of the book has been loaded: including the message from the producer, "classic Yamato moments," commentary, mission map, and more, and translations are available for all text.

There is also a wonderful collection of further production notes and segments called "The Making of Be Forever" under "The Yamato Story," including some intriguing deleted or never-meant-to-be scenes, information on cinemascope/cinescope, warp dimension, and so forth, as well as a very nifty few pages on things to look for in the animation style. A second featurette collection is "1980: The Summer of Yamato," which includes a highly detailed event chronology for the premiere and release of the film, a photo gallery of the premiere and individuals involved, information on the radio drama on All Night Nippon, and an illustrated text interview with publicist Masayo Tokuyama. Finally, we are also treated to art galleries devoted to Earth Defense Force models (characters and ships), color pieces, Black Star Empire models, and Yamato models.

The only weakness to this release is that it is monoaural, as it was originally, though many fans would have complained had Voyager changed anything, up to and including adding an English audio track. The Yamato saga is so beloved and venerable that hiring English voice actors would have been seen as tampering, and surely Voyager was aware of that.

Basically, if you are an anime fan (and you know you are), then you'll need to add this classic of the form to your collection. The crew and exploits of the Yamato influenced hosts of later anime titles, from Gundam to Macross and more. A watershed of animation, even if you usually don't care for retro animation styles or science fiction space operas, then you should still give Be Forever Yamato a try. The story and characterization will engross and enchant you.

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