Jul 6 2010 1:06pm

Matsumoto Is Back—Oh Yes

The anime of Leiji Matsumoto inspired and awed a particular generation of fans. It’s difficult to lay your hands on, but totally worthwhile if you can—though obviously, the fandom is not dead. I say this because of two current projects in action in Japan that make me frankly want to shriek like a little girl with joy. In fact, I think my active emotion for these Matsumoto-related remakes cannot be encompassed in words.

The first is a live action Space Battleship Yamato, which actually appears to have better special effects and less “um, what?” than I’m used to from Japanese cinema. The second, the one I’m biting my fingernails over in sheer agony and ecstasy, is a CG Space Pirate Captain Harlock film by Toei Animation, the studio who brought us the original Matsumoto series.

First, the live action Space Battleship Yamato.

This film doesn’t actually look like people in cosplay mouthing their lines. That makes me excited, very excited. Live action adaptations of anime tend to be, uh, a little baffling and weird for non-fans, and sometimes for fans, too. This looks like it will be pretty awesome. I could be wrong, but honestly, any chance for more Matsumoto is good for me.

The trailer for the Space Pirate Captain Harlock film was up for long enough for me to watch it—and as soon as I went to download it, YouTube reloaded and told me that Toei had removed the clip. So, for the moment, I cannot show it to you and I deeply regret that. But oh, oh, oh. I promise you it was gorgeous. I’m not the hugest fan of CG films because they usually make me feel like I’m watching an eternal cutscene in a video game and it’s often shakier/less real than hand-drawn animation. I won’t deny that I wasn’t wholly sold on some of the battle scenes, as they did seem a little game-y, but when you see Harlock sitting in his chair or helming his skull-faced ship, with that scar, and that frown, and that eyepatch—I had a shiver. It’s been a long time since his first appearance in the Matsumoto cannon. I honestly never thought I’d see something new, but here this is.

I've included some stills in this post, originally yanked from Topless Robot when the movie was first announced a few months ago.

But trust me when I say you want to keep refreshing YouTube until the trailer comes back, because you know it will. This is the internet.

Oh, man, more Matsumoto. Squeals and dancing, I tell you, squeals and dancing. There's nothing quite like beautiful, strange, brooding space opera.

Brit Mandelo is a multi-fandom geek with a special love for comics and queer literature. She can be found on Twitter and Livejournal.

Heather Massey
1. sfrgalaxy
Thanks for your article. I am shrieking right along with you! I've been a fan of Matsumoto's work since I was twelve. That was long before VCRs, and when Star Blazers went off the air in my area, I thought I'd never see it again. I'm ecstatic about Yamato's comeback.
2. Radstronomical
Man, Harlock is the man. I wish I had any confidence that the movie would be good at all. The trailer looked pretty boring to me and I agree with what you said about CG.
Stephen H. Segal
3. earthling
Star Blazers, along with Doctor Who, was probably the most influential SF television of my childhood. I am over-the-moon excited that the two Yamato trailers we've seen so far (the teaser and this one) look utterly perfect.

(About halfway through season one of Battlestar Galactica, I remember suddenly thinking, "Holy cow, this is the closest there will ever be to a realistic live-action rendition of Star Blazers." Thrilled to have been wrong!)
4. onceinawhile
"It’s been a long time since his first appearance in the Matsumoto CANNON."

Oh. I. see. what. you. did. there.
5. onceinawhile
New Harlock movie - Danzig will have something new to add to his shopping list when the DVD comes out - right after the "THREE liter bottluvvah Mountain DEWUH!"


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