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Star Blazers Space Battleship Yamato 2202 Part 1 Limited Edition Blu-ray Anime Review

9 min read
The Yamato must rise once again!

The Yamato must rise once again!

What They Say:
It’s been three years since the Yamato’s voyage to restore Earth, and since then, a lasting peace with the Gamilans has borne fruit. Due to Earth’s newly acquired technological might, humankind has begun a military expansion. However, Gatlantis, a new threat lurking far beyond our star system, will once again put humanity to the test. Responding to a mysterious plea, the Yamato and its crew must undertake one more mission for the good of their species and of the universe itself.

The Review:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo while the English language dub is done in 5.1, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The show works a good range of material here with lots of action that has both big and small pieces, some good dialogue where it’s quietly intense or just a lot of yelling and everything in between, and a lot of good ambient sounds to help build the atmosphere for some of the more tense sequences. The mix is originally designed in stereo so it works across the forward soundstage very well while the 5.1 mix expands on that, giving it a bit more volume if not clarity and throwing a few more things to the rear channels to up the situations, primarily in terms of action. Dialogue itself throughout is clean and clear with no problems to be had with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2013, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The thirteen episodes for this set are spread across two discs in a seven/six format with all of the extras on the second set. Animated by Xebec, the series has a striking look in all the right ways as it adapts the original style in a modern sense – which helps it to stand out against the sea of similarity of today’s designers. The costume design looks great with rich colors while the ships look really slick whether we get more traditional moments or the CG designs. Similar can be said of world design with disturbing ruins, cities underground, and alien worlds that all feel distinct and unique. The encoding brings it to life really well here with vibrant colors, strong darker colors, and no problems with noise or banding going on. It’s a smooth, solid, and absolutely delightful series to watch with how it’s presented here.

The packaging for this limited edition release will definitely delight a lot of fans. With a heavy chipboard box that uses a foil wrap on it, it’s bright and colorful as we get the visual of the Yamato rising from the water in the background while a couple of the characters are in the lower foreground The foil wrap presents a really neat explosive effect that lets it stand out well from multiple angles. The back of the box under the one-sheet features a larger visual of the original Yamato in space from behind with a dark but very appealing lonely journey look. Within the box we get the thicker than standard Blu-ray case that holds the discs for both formats and has a good cover with the Yamato rising from the water in a more traditional form, looking a lot more old school here, with a different character configuration. The back cover has a really nice look with the main cast of the Gatlantis side there with a lot of detail.

Also inside the box is a really slick hardcover book that features the character breakdowns for the main cast of characters with great color design to it and a look at a few of the ships toward the back. There’s also a spacer box to hold eight beautiful postcards within it that uses some of the artwork from the set and more. It can also be used to hold the second set when it comes out later in the box.

The menu design for this release keeps things simple with it being a full-screen experience that has clips playing throughout it. It’s a good mix of character pieces and some world and ship elements so that you get a good taste for the overall design of it. The logo only stays on briefly at the start while the navigation itself is kept to the lower left with a mostly see-through background of white along with the text for the selections visible, allowing you to see through to the animation nicely both as the main menu design and as the pop-up menu during playback. Selections are quick and easy to hit and setup is a breeze since it’s one or the other and no mixing of subtitles.

The extras for this release aren’t too big overall but there are some good things to be had here, primarily for dub fans. While we do get a few of the Japanese promos in the mix, the second episode gets a dub from the English cast and we also get an interview with Ken Meseroll and Christopher Wehkamp.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first series for this with 2199 was a project that I really enjoyed, far more than I expected. I have a very poor relationship with the original Yamato/Starblazers series simply because of its edited and problematic releases over the decades and simply never got into it. A streamlined and yet expanded retelling through modern animation and storytelling structure helped to smooth a lot of things out and make it completely engaging as there’s not a lot of extraneous material here overall. It also didn’t hurt that Xebec puts together a pretty strong looking release with its mechanical design animation and the whole interstellar aspect, something that we don’t get with a lot of shows today and is at the core of my enjoyment of anime.

This series takes place three years after the events of 2199 and it’s a fascinating change. Earth and Gamilas have entered into an alliance and there’s a lot of co-mingling going on across Earth where the revival is fully underway. There’s an immense amount of rebuilding going on considering the time that has passed so far but the sense of potential because of the hard-won peace is strong. The Cosmo Reverse System has fulfilled its promise in this regard and seeing how there are so many people of both sides living and working together really is a strong start to everything. Everyone has found their place and while the Yamato is being refitted and upgraded there’s also the knowledge that the former crew has spread out a fair bit already and once the refitting is done it’ll be the end of it as so many other new ships are coming online, such as the more advanced Andromeda.

Within all of this piece is an unnerving element, however, especially to Kodai and others from the old Yamato crew. The Cosmo Reverse System is also being used to create an array of new weapons and warships, which goes against why it was given to humanity. This is actually quite creative, however, as they’ve created a kind of time/space bubble that’s hidden away where decades worth of work can be done with little time passing outside. This is partially why the world is recovering faster in a construction sense and is used as a kind of cover for the military buildup that’s going on there. When Kodai learns of this it sets him completely off as the shared encounter that the crew had previously when in deep space about the System means they’re not living up to their promise. I really do like that they’re pretty much all on the same page about this because of how critical that encounter was to defining who they are as adults.

All of this serves as an impetus for Kodai and the rest to draw together to get into space combined with learning the story about Teressa, a world where the beings there had evolved over time into pure energy that formed into a humanoid woman that’s wanting to spread peace through the galaxy. Considering events on Iscandar this does track pretty well and it adds something a bit more metaphysical to deal with once again but based on an evolutionary track. It fits in with what the group wants to do in redirecting the military expansion occurring on Earth and just how tenuous it makes the relationship with Gamilas, even though they’re involved in it as well. The whole escape from Earth sequence is pretty good and seeing Kodai shift into an Acting Captain mode as nobody can replace the Captain feels like an interesting way to handle that situation.

The downside is that the relationship with Mori feels like it’s defined by its time more than anything else and one that needed some better updating. Part of it is likely adhering to aspects of the original (which I have not seen) but Koda is overly protective of her in a way that really is controlling. There are some legitimate paths he could use to get her to stay in terms of an argument but he just does it all wrong from start to finish. Which is very frustrating both because we see them being really good together based on what we see early on and second because the series works with a number of great female characters which makes Mori feel like she’s being treated separately from the rest. I really like Mori and I like her and Kodai together but there’s these ‘70s storytelling elements that should have been jettisoned or refined better.

Naturally, the show can’t just be about what’s going on with Earth and that Cosmo Reverse System. The real threat is another race out there called Gatlantis that has been dealing with its own thing and is now turning its eye toward Earth. They still can’t believe that Gamilas entered into an alliance with them and that has them ready to wipe everyone out. That sets into motion an extended campaign at the edge of the solar system with Planet 11, the world where the Gamilas artificial sun created a really strong place to build the bonds for this alliance. It’s not much to look at but the people that come together here work it well, seeing kids from both races being saved by everyone and working as a contrast to when both sides wanted to kill each other completely. This draws out most of the back half of this set and we get a decent introduction to those within it, including the curiously cloned Silver Princess and some subplots from that. But it is mostly focused on action as the various sides meet in space and Kodai has to figure out the best path forward with Teressa as the ultimate goal in order to try and find peace.

In Summary:
The opening half of this season is a pretty great one as it covers a lot of interesting changes in the years that have passed. I like that the main crew feels a bit older, has added some new Gamilians to its ranks, and really feels the bond they have because of their journey to Iscandar in a way that other crews never will. They have a mission that goes beyond what the military or government makes of it and there’s something unique in that. It’s not a slow build but it’s working a few different storylines with incoming invaders, an ancient world, and all the events involved in the alliance that is changing how Earth is. It’s a great looking show with a lot of engaging battles and some beautiful design work. It left me wanting more right away and I can’t wait to see it. Funimation did a great job with 2199 and that’s essentially replicated here in 2202 when it comes to packaging, dub, and how everything is put together. Fans are very well treated here.

Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Episode 2 Commentary, Interview with Ken Meseroll & Christopher Wehkamp, Special Theatrical Trailer, Textless Opening & Closing Songs

Content Grade: A
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B

Released By: Funimation
Release Date: March 26th, 2019
MSRP: $84.98
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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