Thanks to certain global issues clogging up the release schedule it’s barely been a month since I reviewed Manga’s release of Star Blazers: Space Battleship Yamato 2199, and yet here we are with the first half of the sequel series – Star Blazers: Space Battleship Yamato 2202, containing the first 13 episodes. Therefore it probably goes without saying, but this review will contain spoilers for the original series, so if you haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, you’ve been warned!
As mentioned last time, this is a large budget reimagining of Leiji Matsumoto’s original epic Space Battleship Yamato (known as Star Blazers in the West), though in 2202’s case its adapting the sequel series Space Battleship Yamato II and the film Arrivederci Yamato, though the film part will be the latter half of this season, obviously. Taking place three years after the end of the war with Gamillas and the restoration of Earth via the “Cosmo Reverse System”, 2202 starts with a brand new battlefield, as a joint Earth and Gamillan fleet is taking on a large force of Gatlantian ships, wasting no time setting up the new status quo. Soon we see Susumu Kodai, now a captain of his own vessel during this battle, and a bunch of other former Yamato crew get caught in a strange golden beam that freezes them in place and gives them all hallucinations of “ghosts” of people who were close to them before death telling them to “board the Yamato”.
After the battle we are treated to a shot of Earth’s new armada, all of which are equipped with Wave Motion Guns, the technology that the late Captain of the Yamato, Okita, had promised the Iscandaran Queen at the end of the last series to not use as an offensive weapon again. Speaking of Okita, the ex-crew of the Yamato gather at his grave on the anniversary of his passing and all discuss the visions they had, with the exception of amnesiac Yuki Mori, now Kodai’s fiancée. Eventually Kodai has a secret meeting with Gamillan ambassadors who tell him that the message they received was from a Goddess named Teressa who is sealed on a planet called Telezart, and that the planet is under attack from Gatlantis. Kodai is informed that should Gatlantis and their leader Emperor Zwordar get to the planet they’d have Godly powers… man, some of these names are proper 70s cheese, I love it. Kodai then gets his mind blown with Earth’s dirty little secret of a “Time Vault” that was created as an aftereffect of the Cosmo Reverse System where 10 days pass inside it for every one day in “real space”. This explains how Earth got such a large and powerful armada together in only three years: it actually took thirty. Kodai is now very down on Earth, and has his eyes on helping the Goddess who called out to him.
That’s a lot of exposition for the first three episodes, but as you’d imagine, this all leads to the crew of the Yamato reassembling on the ship and taking it off into the stars for another long and arduous journey to a faraway planet. This time though, they have to deal with Gatlantis, some Gamillan rebels (led by former lead villain Dessler) and even the Earth’s new Capital ship the Andromeda. It’s safe to say that while members of Gamillan were made out to be more human, Gatlantis is very much more of a straight-forward “evil alien race”, though Emperor Zwordar does have a strange obsession with the idea of love that seems to result in an awful lot of death…
The animation is once again top-class, although I will say some scenes of the CG fighters flying in front of traditionally 2D backgrounds stood out a bit more than they did in the original. Both Japanese and English voice casts are good too, and the soundtrack is exciting, mixing slower remixes of the Yamato theme with more exciting music for the space battles.
The opening theme is simply titled “Space Battleship Yamato 2202” and is a lyric-less orchestral remix of the original theme recorded by the Osaka Shion Wind Orchestra. Much like 2199, this series was first released in cinemas for a brief time in chunks of episodes, and once again that means we get a lot of different endings for such a short series. The ending for Episodes 1 and 2 is “Yamato yori Ai o Komete” (“Thank You Yamato”) by Kenji Sawada, Episodes 3 – 6 is “Tsuki no Kagami” (“Moon Mirror”) by Sayaka Kanda, 7 – 10 on the other hand is “Kimi, Hitohira” (“You, Hitohira”) by Shino Arima, and finally the last three episodes on this set has “Crimson Red” by Yuya Hoshino. Unlike 2199, the endings all feature unique animation, as opposed to the previous series which used footage from the episodes squished in a box. The extras are commentary by dubbed voice actors for Episode 2, an interview with dub actors Ken Meseroll and Christopher Wehkamp, trailers, and textless opening and endings.
Space Battleship Yamato 2202 is a good follow-up to the stunning 2199, though it’s safe to say that the animation isn’t quite up to the high standards set by its predecessor, and the “it’s all sort of happening again, though Earth isn’t in as much immediate danger this time” plot isn’t quite as gripping. Still, it’s well worth a watch so far, and I’m looking forward to the conclusion.