Yamato 2520 - What diebuster should have been
'Uchuu Senkan Yamato' is most definetely one of my favourite anime and media franchises. From the way its early installments explore the concept of war, and what it entails, to how the later seasons would expand on it. I am therefore very confident in stating that, apart from the two recap movies (Uchuu Senkan Yamato Movie and Saraba Uchuu Senkan Yamato: Ai no Sensi-tachi), there are no bad, or even mediorcre installments in the original timeline. But as with any franchise from living legend Leiji Matsumoto, sequels are inevitable, and plentiful, Yamato being no exception in that regard. But what makes Yamato so special, in comparison to Ginga Tetsudou and Captain Harlock, is the simplicity of the timeline. If you want to get into the aformentioned series, you're going to need a viewing guide, no questions asked. With Yamato? Well, you're still going to need one, but not to the same extent. While trying to figure out how to watch Ginga Tetsudou is like navigating a maze, Yamato is easy. You watch season one, season two, two movies, season three, and then Kanketsu-hen. You can also watch Fukkatsu-hen afterwards, but Kanketsu-hen is a good enough ending on its own. But, this is not supposed to be a watch order guide, this a discussion regarding a spin off; something which doesn't require previous knowledge in order to be watched. And the spinoff in question is Yamato 2520.
Most suprising about this installment is the title itself, as it's simply called 'Yamato 2520', and drops the 'Uchuu Senkan'. The only other installment in the franchise to do this (excluding manga) is Dai-Yamato Zero-gou, which I have yet to watch myself. Clever way to differentiate direct sequels and spin-offs or overthinking? Sadly, it turns out it is the latter, as 2520 was intended as a sequel to the series, but the creator, Yoshinobu Nishizaki, didn't actually hold the rights to Yamato, and was sued, which is why only three episodes instead of the planned ten were made. So, I guess my theory was wrong after all.
Regardless of copyright law and metacontext, 2520 is really, really mediocore. If I was to compare it to anything I've seen before, I would say that Mugen no Ryvius (Infinite Ryvius) is kind of like it. They're both about children (except in the case of 2520 there's like one old guy but you get my point) on a spaceship, there's a HQ on the spaceship named the bridge, they have too worry about supplies, and most of the crew is highly in-experienced. That's about it. But to return to the more metacontextual part of it, and to the title of this post, it's a lot like DieBuster. They're both set long after the conclusion of their original, both are nowhere near as good as the original, and they feature a cast of characters that while may mirror the originals, aren't close to being as well written or iconic looking as the original designs. To put it more bluntly, they are both inferior versions of an older story.
So, what's 2520 actually about? One of the few positives of the show, the plot is kept simple, as it should. Some kids and an old man who live in what seems to be a sort of space slum stumble upon the Yamato, the legendary Earth Federation spaceship. They then attempt to rebuild it in order to escape from their current living situation, while being clueless about the consequences their actions could have for the rest of the galaxy. Which all sounds fine, except it's also kind of boring. In the original Yamato, the comic relief characters were the doctor and the robot. In this iteration, everyone is the comic relief, which leads to some pretty lame quips and an overall boring cast of characters. The visuals are a strong positive though, I really do wish we could have gotten the 2199 remakes made in this visual style instead. The OST is also very good, they really make it fit the situation and it does an especially good job of hyping up the battle scenes. I don't have any qualms about the redesigned Yamato either, it looks good and I like it. I read an interview with Syd Mead, who was the mechincal designer for the show, where he stated that redesigning the Yamato was very difficult, as he had to make it familiar to returning viewers, but also make it clear that this was a new iteration of Yamato, both in the metatextual sense and in the context of the show.
It really is sad that the series got cancelled, because what it built up to seems really good. Now obviously, it was good that it was shut down, but I really do wish the creator had just got the license. It goes for the same thing as Fukkatsu-hen; focusing on the more magical aspect of the series, which I really like. For all of 2520's faults, it most definetely did have promise. Which, is exactly how I felt about Fukkatsu-hen not getting a continuation. Like, you can't just introduce these new cool concepts, and then just... stop out of nowhere! Except, that's exactly what they did. However, the lack of a proper conclusion makes it difficult to have a positive view of the series. I want to make it clear that I do not dislike 2520, for while it may have many faults, none of them are dealbreakers. It's not like it has one or two big flaws that I can point at and say "yeah, it's bad because of this." The problem with this show is just the fact that it's underdeveloped, has boring characters, and that the year the show is set during, 2520, doesn't feel like 500 years from now, or 300 years after the original. It's a completely arbitrary year chosen for no other reason so that the main characters of the original can be dead.
So, why the DieBuster comparison? Well, they're both sci-fi, they're both sequels to an older work, and they're both set far enough into the future from their original installments that the main characters of the original installments have become a thing of legend. Also, the Yamato and the GunBuster are kind of similar, in that they're mechanical weapons piloted by humans againts overwhelming odds from an alien race. So what did 2502 do that DieBuster didn't? Well first of all, it stayed true to the series themes. While in DieBuster, the main character gets her dream fulfilled by pure chance, going against the entire point of GunBuster, nothing of the sort happens in 2502. It still stays true to the themes of war being bad, and showing why, along with introducing concepts that hadn't been explored previously in Yamato, namely the idea of feeling trapped and not being able to express yourself. 2502 also got cancelled, something I dearly wish would have happened to DieBuster as well.
In conclusion, I would not reccomend you watch 2520. If all you're in the market for is some cool spaceships, then sure, watch episode 2 and 3. If not, the only other reason to watch this is so you'l be able to say that you've watched every installment in the franchise. I still choose to score it a 5/10, for while the sudden cancellation of the series and its rather boring and slowly paced first episodes are drawbacks, I can't honestly say that I didn't enjoy watching it. It's Yamato, after all. It's just that cool.