Friday, September 26, 2014

Farewell Yamato, vol. 1 review

While I think it's a common belief that Space Battleship Yamato is Leiji Matsumoto's manga, the truth is that he only worked on the first series, and produced art for the original TV anime. The wiki entry talks primarily about the TV anime and movie sequels, ignoring the manga entirely. But, there have been several collections released, including Media Factory's recent "Library" series. Saraba Uchu Senkan Yamato: Ai no Senshitach" (Farewell Galaxy Battleship Yamato: Warriors of Love) is identified as MF's "Uchu Senkan Yamato Library 3".

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.

Farewell Yamato, vol. 1 Akira Hio (1978, reprinted by Media Factory in 2005), Grade: C
Very little is written on Akira in English, although he has a fairly extensive entry in the Japanese wiki, with multiple credits on Yamato sequels. He trained under Shoutaro Ishinomori, which is very evident in his character designs. Apparently, the idea was that this manga would coincide with the release of the movie of the same name, but was delayed because Hio had trouble getting the battleship designs done on time.

The story is very straightforward. The young plot, Kodai, brings the Yamato back to Earth, where he meets Yuki and they make their wedding plans. Captain Akita has been buried, and the rest of his crew is trying to decide what to do next. One member, Sanada, reports that he's detected an SOS message coming from a distant white comet. The group brings their findings to the Earth's military council, where the blowhard politicians and paper military leaders simply argue the issue to death. Kodai yells at them to make a decision, which results in his being evicted from the proceedings, and the Yamato's crew being grounded.

(Yuki starts replanning Kodai's apartments.)

In an act of defiance, Kodai reassembles his crew, recruits many new members, and steals the Yamato to return to space, as well as rescuing his former teacher, Hijikata, from the wreckage of a recent space battle. Hijikata formally takes Akita's place as ship's captain. Kodai is not happy to discover that Yuki has boarded the ship as a nurse and they have a falling out that is quickly glossed over; she returns to her position on the bridge as a telemetry officer without an explanation as to why she's not working in the medical bay.

'The crew make their plans to return to space in Akita's honor.)

The SOS message is from a distant location outside the galaxy, and is coming from a spot close to the White Comet. The comet, in fact, is the home of Earth's newest enemy, the White Comet Empire, from Andromeda (the guys that killed everyone under Hijikata's previous command). There are a few battles against the Empirians that tests the crew's faith in Hijikata's leadership skills, but the enemy's squadrons eventually get whittled away.

(Rescuing Hijikata.)

About halfway through the book, the Yamato's next boss enemy steps up - Dessler. The former Gamiras leader survived after all, and is currently working for the Empire. He takes his fleet out and uses a series of "short warps" to pound the Yamato into submission. Just before the final blow can be delivered, though, Kodai figures out Dessler's trick and uses it against him. Dessler and Kodai meet face to face in the same cabin on Dessler's ship where Yuki is treating a wounded soldier.

(Hijikata faces off against the Empirians in a classic space battle.)

(The Empirian Emperor, Dessler, and his consort. The consort is the one that issues all the real orders, and she doesn't trust Dessler.)

Dessler sees Yuki and prepares to surrender. However, a spy that the Emperor attached to Dessler tries to get his revenge against the former Gamirasian, and shoots Yuki by mistake. The volume ends with Dessler killing the spy before opening an airlock to commit suicide. Kodai gets Yuki back to the Yamato for medical treatment, but she's apparently in a bad way and she and Kodai spend their time holding each other and crying.

(The spy shoots Yuki, Dessler shoots the spy (again).)

Comments: If you liked Matsumoto's treatment of Yamato, Hio's version is going to be pretty disappointing. The artwork is completely different, and there's more soap opera scenes between Kodai, Yuki and Hijikata. Dessler's behavior at the end is completely irrational, and there's no guarantee that he's going to remain dead this time, either. The artwork on the Yamato itself is good, though, so that's a plus if you like manga mecha. But, overall, this isn't my kind of story. I can only recommend this book if you liked the second movie.

(Saraba Dessler.)

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