Uchuu Senkan Yamato Franchise Guide and Introduction
What is “Uchuu Senkan Yamato?”
Uchuu Senkan Yamato, also known as Space Battleship Yamato, Star Blazers and Cosmoship Yamato is a science fiction franchise originally created by Leiji Matsumoto, who directed the TV series and wrote the concurrently running manga adaptation, and Yoshinobu Nishizaki, who wrote and produced the series. Since the original TV series aired in 1974, the franchise has spawned many installments, including extensive amounts of sequels and remakes, both in anime and manga form. While a science fiction franchise from the 70s might seem intimidating to get into, you’ll be surprised to learn that the series is surprisingly straightforward in its continuity. In this thread, I’ll be explaining how you can get a better understanding of the series, and possibly begin watching it yourself. This will mainly focus on the anime, I’ll only dedicate a small bit to the manga.
Why you should care, and its place in the history of anime and manga
As is suggested by the release date of the first installment, the franchise has had a great impact upon the landscape of anime and manga as we know it. It was the first space opera anime, and even predates the first Star Wars film by three years. In an interview from 1991, Hideaki Anno claimed it to be his favourite anime., and it’s influence is seen in many of his works, most strongly in Nadia. (https://web.archive.org/web/20050407200800/http://home.comcast.net/~hasshin/shimamoto.html)
The series was reedited into Star Blazers and aired on TV in the United States in 1979. It was also the first TV anime to get a U.S release in which there was an actual overarching plot. In this way, it strongly differed from the previous anime series to get english language releases, such as Astro Boy, Tetsujin-28, Gatchaman and Speed Racer. Yamato also helped establish early anime fandom in the United States. Most of the people who showed interest in anime were already fans of science fiction. Uchuu Senkan Yamato: Kanketsu-hen is also the longest animated film ever made, period-and it’s from 1983. And yes, that means it’s even longer than The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya.
Why do I, personally, love Yamato?
Yamato is awesome. It's awesome because it's a huge ship in space, and because of the themes of each series. While the formula of the show never really changes-something is threatening Earth, and the Yamato needs to travel a long distance in order to save it-there's lots of other things that do. New themes and concepts are introduced with each installment, and the remake is like a huge overhaul of the entire series. Yamato is awsome because it's about war, and how it affects us. How it effects the soldiers themselves, and society around us. It's about how compassion gets lost because we get obsessed with other things, such as winning. We forget to communicate because we become lost in hatred. It's about how even those who you think are stupid, who you think are idiots, can actually end up becoming great people, great people who you care about. And of course, because the huge cannon and battles in space are awesome.
The Two Timelines
Disregarding spin offs, which we’ll be coming back to later, Uchuu Senkan Yamato can be neatly divided into two timelines, those being the Original Continuity and the remakes.
Watch order for Timeline 1
Uchuu Senkan Yamato (1974), 26 episodes
Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2 (1978), 26 episodes
Uchuu Senkan Yamato: Aratanaru Tabidachi (1979), Movie, runtime of 1 hour and 35 min.
Yamato yo Towa ni/Yamato yo Eien ni (1980), Movie, runtime of 2 hours and 30 minutes
Uchuu Senkan Yamato 3 (1980), 25 episodes
Uchuu Senkan Yamato: Kanketsu-hen (1983), Movie, runtime of 2 hours and 43 minutes
Uchuu Senkan Yamato: Fukkatsu-hen (2009), Movie, 2 hours and 15 minutes
Watch order for Timeline 2
Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199 (2012), 26 episodes
Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199: Hoshimeguru Hakobune (2014), movie 1 hour and 51 min
Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2202: Ai no Senshi-tachi (2017), 26 episodes
Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2205: Aratanaru Tabidachi, not yet released, more information to be announced
Recap movies and their corresponding entry
Uchuu Senkan Yamato (1974), recap movie is Uchuu Senkan Yamato (1977)
Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2 (1978), recap movie is Saraba Uchuu Senkan Yamato: Ai no Senshi-tachi (1978)
Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199 (2012), recap movie is Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199: Tsuioku no Koukai (2014)
Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2202: Ai no Senshi-tachi, recap movie is Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2202: Ai no Senshi-tachi Movie which is not yet released
Spin offs and live action film
There are two spin offs in the franchise, meaning entries which aren’t directly related to any others. Both are five episode original video animations, and the titles are:
There’s an interesting backstory here. In short, Nishizaki made an OVA series which served as a sequel to the original continuity, however it was set long, long into the future. However, due to copyright disputes between Nishizaki and Matsumto, the series was cancelled, and only five episodes were made, leaving the story incomplete. As Matsumoto was not involved in the creative process behind the series, Syd Mead, of Blade Runner, Tron, Aliens and Turn A Gundam fame, was hired to do mechanical design. If the story of how 2520 came to be interests you, I highly recommend reading this article, it is a very intriguing and fun read.
Dai Yamato Zero-gou
Not subtitled at all, I had to look up episodes on Vimeo, while thankfully the titles had a number in them, which I presumed indicated that they are to be watched in that order, some episodes were edited into multiple parts, and the visuals look extremely ugly. Combine that with the fact that I understand basically nothing of what is happening plot wise as I do not know japanese, and well can’t say I recommend the experience to others, unless they too, happen to be a completionist.
Live action movie
It's a pretty alright movie on its own, it's based on the first season and as far live action movies go, I suppose it's alright. But just as with the actula recap movies themselves, there's not much of a reason to watch them. It exists, and it's not terrible, but the world could have done without it.
The original Yamato manga from 1974 was drawn and written by Leiji Matsumto, and there’s even a manga adaptation of 2199.
Where to watch or read?
Both the manga adaptations have english language releases, the original manga is also hardcover. Only the 2199 series is on any streaming series, with Funimation owning the rights, however there are home video releases. All of the movies have home video releases, however none of the TV series from the original continuity seem to have official english language releases.
Uchuu Senkan Yamato is a franchise which is an absolute must to get into if you’re an anime fan. It helped establish anime and manga fandom, both in the United States and in Japan, and it’s still getting sequels to this day. The easily understandable chronology of the series makes it easy to get into, and each installment innovates in its own way, adding, and removing different aspects. So regardless of where you decide to start, I hope you check some of it out, and just maybe you’ll end up enjoying it.