November 10, 2009


You can’t keep a good battleship down. As our partners at Omelete are reporting, 26 years after Final Yamato was released, a new chapter is finally being written in one of the most popular space operas ever to come out of Japan. On December 12, Space Battleship Yamato: Rebirth will premiere in Japan. Released in America as Star Blazers, the Space Battleship Yamato saga began in 1974 out of a collaboration between Yoshinobu Nishizaki and Leiji Matsumoto. The film has been in pre-production as far back as 1992 but was cast into development hell following a lengthy copyright lawsuit between Matsumoto (he of Galaxy Express and Daft Punk fame) and Nishizaki.  Nishizaki’s arrest and incarceration on drug and weapons charges did not help matters either.  And you thought Gene Roddenberry had street cred. In any event, the copyright lawsuit was eventually settled in Nishizaki’s favor in 2004, he was released from prison in 2007 and now audiences can finally find out what happened to our heroes (and heroines) following the defeat of the Deingili and the subsequent detonation of the Yamato in the last movie. Hit the jump for more details as well as the Japanese trailers.

battle_ship_yamato_star_blazers_image_01.jpgSet 17 years after the events of Final Yamato, the Earth is once again imperiled. A roving black hole is moving through the galaxy, leaving a swathe of destruction in its wake and it is on a collision course with Earth. A planet-wide refugee operation is undertaken with the goal of getting everyone to the planet Amahr, a quick 27,000 light years away. Unfortunately, the villainous SUS Empire is standing in the way. After the first transports are attacked, Susumu Kodai a.k.a. Derek Wildstar, takes command of the newly recommissioned Yamato and sets out to, well, save humanity.

Fans of the original series may note that some of the art designs for the characters and the ship have changed. That is because the result of the copyright lawsuit stipulates that, while Nishizaki owns the name Yamato as well as the plot and characters of the original series, Matsumoto owns the conceptual art, character and ship designs from the original series. In other words, there is a good reason why the Yamato’s famed cannons can now fire multiple times instead of just once. Incidentally, Matsumoto, who many fans see as the real force behind the success of the original series, is working on his own Yamato project. No details yet, but I have a feeling it is going to be set far in the future so as to avoid another lawsuit.

Space Battleship Yamato: Rebirth might be unlikely for an American theatrical release but keep your eyes open for the DVD, probably by Spring 2010.  You can check out the trailers below and you can watch Leiji Matsumoto’s video for Daft Punk’s “One More Time” here.

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