Thursday, April 24, 2014

Yamato 2520: An Unfinished Tale

Here is the incomplete OVA Yamato 2520. Dating from 1994, Yamato 2520 was Yoshinobu Nishizaki's attempt to create a new sequel to Space Battleship Yamato, but he fell out with Yamato's creator, the legendary Leiji Matsumoto, and the show was abandoned after three episodes. It was never released on DVD and never fully translated into English.

Yamato 2520 has been on my orphans list for years, ever since NT-Anime subbed episode 1 and abandoned the show, and DOMO subbed episodes 1 and 2 and abandoned the show. Erik Jiken, a LaserDISC collector, had all the Yamato 2520 LDs and was willing to make new, pristine rips. I edited the existing NT-Anime/DOMO subs of episodes 1 and 2, and laalg supplied an original translation for episode 3. convexity translation checked all the episodes, archdeco retimed them to the new raws, and CP and Saji checked the results. As an added bonus, Tofusensei of Live-Evil found an English-language document describing what the missing episodes might have been like (not all script decisions had been made at the time).

Yamato 2520 was certainly ambitious. It featured mechanical designs by the famous futurist Syd Mead and a musical score by David Matthews (the jazz musician, not the pop star). Despite all the famous names, the show turns out to be a typical representative of 90s OVA animation: cheesy plot, cheesy animation, cheesy music, and a battleship-sized cargo of cliches. (As one reviewer said, "In the 1980s, Yoshinobu Nishizaki wanted to sequelize Space Battleship Yamato in the worst way. In 1994, that’s just what he did.") At times I felt I was watching a Stars Wars ripoff, with the evil Emperor Brone substituting for the evil Emperor Palpatine; a Dallos ripoff, with the Gorda ruins on planet Rococo substituting for the Dallos ruins on the Moon; and a Judy Garland-Mickey Rooney 1930s movie ripoff, with all the young kids rallying to say, "Let's get together and put on a battleship!" instead of a musical.

The translation posed a number of issues, primarily with transliteration of names. We've mostly followed the transliteration from the English-language treatment, although it's inconsistent in places. So planets Rinbus and Rococo rather than Rinbos and Rokoko; Salene Federation rather than Seiren; Brone rather than Blone; and so on. On the other hand, the heroine is Marcie, not Mercie; the "a" sound is fairly distinct in the sountrack. And the ancient civilization at the heart of the plot is Gorda, rather than Gouda as in the treatment. There's enough cheese already without confusing an ancient alien civilization with a Dutch food product. Between episodes 2 and 3, the unit of measurement switched from grues, whatever those were, to space kilos, whatever those are. Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, after all.

The raws are very good, as you'd expect of a direct LaserDisc rip. Episode 2 includes a curiosity at the end: an AMV of the "Theme of Amesis," sung by Caroline Reinhart. (She was also the inspiration for Amesis' character design; see the article "The Rise and Fall of Yamato 2520.") The song is in English, so no translation is necessary. The music is by David Matthews, the lyrics by Mattie Matthews.

This is my first exposure to the Yamato franchise. As an historian by training, I find the Japanese worship of battleship Yamato to be fascinating, mysterious, and a bit repellant. Yamato was indeed the largest battleship in the world during World War II, but neither she nor her sister ship Musashi made any useful contribution to the Japanese war effort. After seeing little or no combat, Yamato eventually perished in a futile, one-way suicide mission against the American forces invading Okinawa. I would recommend Russell Spurr's "A Glorious Way to Die: The Kamikaze Mission of the Battleship Yamato, April, 1945," as a useful supplement for putting the Yamato anime franchise in perspective.

Enough seriousness. Bring on the 2-D explosions and the 2-D characters. Enjoy Yamato 2520!


  1. I have to agree, I was reminded of Dallos a bit as well. But this also seems to have been quite an inspiration for the creators of Gundam SEED, so many moments felt familiar while doing the QC.

  2. Thanks for the encode/edit on this classic!

  3. Where exactly might I download all of your hard work? Thank you!

  4. Where exactly might I download all of your hard work? Thank you!

  5. Thank you, I got a lot of entertainment out of this one. It's too bad it didn't make it. I didn't mind that the style was different from original Yamato...