Original Story and Design by Leiji Matsumoto
Directed by Tomoharu Katsumada
Screenplay by Eichi Yamamoto
Mecha Design by Yutaka Izubuchi and Katsumi Itabashi
- Making-of featurette
- Tribute festival featurette
- Program booklet visual facsimile
- Bonus footage
- Theatrical trailer
- Art galleries
Dindrane’s Anime Warnings:
- Noble Sacrifice (sniff)
- Space opera angst
- More Noble Sacrifices
Released by: Voyager Entertainment
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: Save your pennies and get it you’re a fan; at least rent it if you’re not.
[ad#longpost]The Yamato franchise has been one of the most venerable and beloved anime series of all time. It has spawned numerous TV series, OAVs, and films, as well as innumerable copycat shows and influence felt in many series to this day. Now, with Final Yamato, the final saga has been released on DVD, and Yamato fans will never be the same.
In the year 2203, the planet known as Aquarius that once gave water to Earth and allowed life to bloom has been diverted from its natural course around the galaxy by the evil Dinguil Empire, whose own planet has been flooded by Aquarius. They hope to drive Aquarius towards Earth again, re-flooding it, and thereby destroy all human life and leaving the planet free for re-colonization by the escaped Dinguilis. Meanwhile, Kodai has surrendered his command of the Yamato due to confidence issues and a sort of nervous breakdown.
Be aware that this show is the continuation of a hugely popular and long-running series, as well as the fourth OAV. There is little in the way of character development, as the producers and directors likely felt that their audience was not new to the show. If you are new to it, you might want to watch the previous movies first, or you could be disappointed and confused.
The only quibble with the sound is that its not in stereo. This is a real shame in many of the battle sequences that could truly immerse viewers in the action. However, the art, plot, and voice acting are so good that you may not notice. The visuals have been brightened a great deal, and quite possibly look better than they did originally. The art is standard for the show; if you like the 1980s stylized look, then you’ll be pleased; Aquarius itself is, while physically improbable, quite beautiful, so let it go. If you don’t like the traditional art style, however, then you’ll be horrified. Ditto the 80s pop soundtrack. In addition, if you generally prefer dubs because you believe they provide a more immersive experience, be forewarned that there is no dub to this featureâ€”only subtitles.
Features on this release are quite extensive, if not grand enough to befit the ending of a legend. We get two bonus pieces of animation: the “first version” is a kind of music video tribute the crew and includes snippets from the marriage and wedding night of Kodai and Yuuki. The second bit of animation is nearly identical, except that bits of sensuality from the wedding night montage have been traded for a view of the Yamato sailing into the galaxy, post the Aquarius farewell. The animation on the newer version is also considerably brighter and nicer. There’s also a short note from the producers about the two “endings” and how they came about. We also get the original theatrical trailer and scans of the original program book, page by page, complete with translations of the copious Japanese text. Would that American movies still created such cool program books, as they did in the days of Gone with the Wind. The book provides all sorts of information along with the nice images, and is a must-see for all Yamato fans. The art galleries are nice, but fairly straightforward.
Finally, we get a duet of featurettes, a making-of and a bit about the premiere party night. The former is divided into several parts, including looks at fan response, the design board period, and other looks at the creation process. It is very interesting, if all too brief, for fans to really get to know the creators and how things are done. The other featurette, “The Final Event: the Grand Festival” is a set of text pages decorated with images and discusses what it was like to gather in praise of this show when it was all over. Both featurettes are worth watching for fans, but non-fans will probably not understand what all the emotion is about.
The end to the longest anime series in history is a must-have for all anime fans. Even if you don’t usually like great action, fine characterization and plotting, interesting and effective art, and solid voice acting (and if you don’t, what’s wrong with you?) you still must see Final Yamato. Even if you’re new to the genres of anime and space opera, you won’t be sorry to have witnessed the end of one of the greatest science fiction franchises of all time, but you will be sorry that it’s over. Just be sure to have a large box of hankies at the ready; you’ll need ’em. Fans of the series will be glad to see that the ending is totally appropriate: heroic, sad, and the very definition of “grand.”