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November 30, 2011

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George Lucas will be touching this? We're doomed.

I also have fond memories of watching the show religiously as a kid, but I've glanced at an episode or two on youtube recently and it was really a "boy was I stupid as a kid" moment. I don't think they could have failed to make it less disappointing than rewatching the original ends up being for me.

I bought the region 2 DVD last month* (or was it already in September?)
I liked it but it is of course typically Japanese and does not hide its slightly trashy** anime/manga origin. Do not ask for logic, at least not, if you can swallow the idea that a sunken WW2 battleship can be fitted with a new engine and launched into space in the first place ;-). To say some more specific things would of course be spoilering. On the topic of SciFi there is so much cross-pollination between Japan and the US that by now it is impossible to say who nicked ideas from whom in the first place. The only sure thing is that Lucas took ideas from Kurosawa and transferred them from medieval Japan to space (bickering peasants turned into robots).

*OK, we are not in Novermber anymore.
**for a full dose please consume Wakusei daisensô aka Great War of the Planets (or variations thereof).

I have called rep and Senators but will call agai.

I;ve been glimpsing references toa bill hthat has passed or is abouut to pass the Senate that would allow our military to arrest and detain people indefinately--surely not?

Is this a paranoid exaggeration?

Military making people disappear + destruction of the social networks used for grassroots activism = Iran. Or somewhere like that. Not here.

Hmm, Hartmut, not sure if I agree or disagree with you, but could you spell out your notion of 'trashy' a bit more?

I'm not denying that there is quite a bit of cross pollination, but Wakusei daisenso came out (right?) after Star Wars, so it was certainly interested in coming in on the coattails, but Space Battleship Yamato came out 3 years before Star Wars, so it has a better claim to precedence (not forgetting your note that the Kurosawa film Hidden Fortress was an inspiration to Lucas as well). It also has a rather deep seam of 'Japanese-ness' running thru it. The idea for the spaceship, if I remember correctly, is not to make the Yamato into a spaceship, but to use the wreckage of the Yamato to shield the creation of the spaceship from the eyes of the Gamilas. I've only seen it in Japanese and I read the manga adaptations first, and have only seen small bits of the anime, but checking the wikipedia (we didn't have Starblazers on our UHF channel back in the day, it was Ultraman and Speed Racer (Maho Go-go) it notes that the English version concentrates on characters while the Japanese version concentrates on the ship. One could view this as sort of neo-nationalism raising its ugly head, but there seems to be an underlying notion there that the mess and ill feelings created by Japan during the 2nd world war might somehow be reversed if the symbol of Japanese national pride were somehow reclaimed for all humanity.

For those of you who don't know, Yamato is the ancient name of Japan, so both the battleship and the spaceship give rise to a metonymy between the people, country and culture and it is used in the phrase Yamato-damashii, or 'the spirit of Japan'. The wikipedia entry lays out Michael Carr's arguments about the semantics of the phrase, and says this

Michael Carr argues that Yamato-damashii (1994:280-1) "significantly differs from everyday racist slurs because it is not an overt insult, it is the opposite: an ethnic adulation. It belongs to a special category of benedictions such as Manifest Destiny or Chosen People that imply national, racial, or ethnic self-conceit."

However, like most things Japanese, it started off in a very different place then that and I think that the attempt to both clean up and reclaim that notion is rather interesting. On one level, I suppose it is 'trashy' to try and revive a term like that (Carr suggests it has a similar meaning to herrenvolk, but that seems to overstate it a bit), but on the other hand, countries, like people, have to move on, and this seems to be a way to do so.

This is not to say that reviving notions of noble sacrifice in the context of Japan is never a red flag to lots of people. But if we are just looking at this as an anthropologist and avoiding judgements, what I think you see is an attempt to try and develop a notion of Japanese-ness that is in accordance with modern norms (too bad one needs aliens strewing radioactive meteorites all over the surface of the planet to do this). The invocation of the battleship Yamato is a lot better here than in Silent Service, where a jointly developed super submarine is taken over by its Japanese captain, who renames it the Yamato and declares it to be an independent state.

At any rate, I'd be interested in what you mean by trashy here.

From what I read Wakusei daisenso was based on older material that is also rumored to have been used by Lucas. So, yes, Star Wars came first and W.d. came on the coattails but it might not totally fair to see it as a simple rip-off. As for trashy, I do not mean cheap or incompetent*. I think the appeal is deliberate. It's the spirit. I am not very well informed about the anime/manga the new life-action movie is abed on, although I had a basic idea about it. At least in the (German) subtitles to the new one, the Space Battleship Yamato IS the actual WW2 Yamato repaired and newly outfitted with the hyperdrive and the wave motion gun. But the other spaceships are also clearly inspired by old-time warships, so it is not singular.
Unlike in some other movies I do not see Japanese hypernationalism in this one. What I see is some overdone sentimentalism but one can find the same in Chinese and esp. Korean movies.
There are two classic 'Ouch' moments I remember.
1.The way the gun is disabled shortly before the end.
2. The catastrophe is just seconds away and the actors talk about ten minutes about personal things ('talk is a free action' as the technical term has it).


*referring to Sp.BS.Y not W.d.

Thanks Hartmut, that makes more sense. You are right about overdone sentimentalism, and I've got several theories about it, but I won't subject you to them. I'll just point you to the notion of fan service as a inkling why I never feel like I'm in Kansas...

The longer trailer is pure geek-boner Viagra.

It's look owes a certain debt to the BATTLESTAR GALACTICA remake.

I remember reading YEARS ago one of dismay's stuios was supposed to produce a Star blazers movie....oh thank goodness it never happened.

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