Anime Film Review: Be Forever Yamato

Be Forever Yamato is the third Space Battleship Yamato theatrical film. It was directed by Leiji Matsumoto and Toshio Masuda, and was released to Japanese theaters on August 2, 1980. When the film was released in theaters, the gimmick of “Warp Dimension” was being played up; basically, about halfway through the film, the movie changes its aspect ratio, and the images look brighter after the aspect ratio change.

Be Forever Yamato
Directed by: Toshio Masuda
Written by: Hideaki Yamamoto
Starring: Kei Tomiyama, Yoko Asagami, and Shusei Nakamura
Run Time: 145 minutes

The nemesis in Be Forever Yamato is the Black Nebula Empire, who were first introduced in Space Battleship Yamato: The New Voyage. The Black Nebula Empire launches a powerful weapon at Earth, which will annihilate humanity if they resist a full-scale invasion; the Black Nebula Empire also wants to know where the Yamato is.

Kodai, along with the crew of the Yamato that are on Earth, learn that the Yamato is at Space Station Icarus, and they commandeer the ship of a high-ranking official to attempt to reach the station. However, the Black Nebula Empire catches on to them and attacks the group as they attempt to flee. During the attempt, Yuki is shot, and Kodai loses his grip on her. Kodai and the others are forced to leave Yuki behind.

Yuki ends up being tended to by Alphon, an interrogator for the Black Nebula Empire. He tells her that when their forces caught up to the Yamato crew, there were no life signs on the ship; however, the crew really made it to Space Station Icarus, and is reunited with the Yamato and her crew stationed at Icarus.

Sanada introduces his niece, Mio, who has been trained to be part of the crew. It later comes out that Mio isn’t actually Sanada’s niece; she’s actually someone else we were introduced to earlier in the Space Battleship Yamato franchise. I have to say that I have a hard time believing what her true identity is; to me, the explanation that’s provided sounds more like something that was thrown out there in order to make this work, rather than actually being well thought out.

The Yamato ends up discovering a double galaxy, which is the aliens’ home galaxy, and the crew appears to have discovered a future Earth in which the Black Nebula Empire had detonated its weapon. It’s at this point that the “Warp Dimension” gimmick is thrown in. I can understand wanting to make the double galaxy looking different, so the “Warp Dimension” gimmick works in that regard. However, once the Yamato returns to our galaxy, the aspect ratio doesn’t return to what it had been; to me, this weakens the entire “Warp Dimension” gimmick.

At the end of the film, there is a special “musical postlude”; however, I didn’t like the way it was done. After the credits finish rolling, a song plays for roughly three minutes over a black screen. After the song finishes, it starts up again, but this time, there is a montage of shots featuring Kodai and Yuki, with a couple of shots of Kodai and Sasha mixed in. This was a little frustrating, but I don’t know if it was done this way intentionally, or if a mistake happened when mastering the DVD. If it had been up to me, I would have gone straight from the ending credits, into a short section with a black screen, then have started up the montage with the music.

Be Forever Yamato is an interesting film, and doesn’t seem to come out of nowhere after Space Battleship Yamato: The New Voyage. However, my biggest gripe with the film would probably be the fact that there were times in the film that I had a hard time using my “willing suspension of disbelief,” so this kind of dampened some of my enjoyment of this film.

The DVD release contains several special features. The first feature is the original theatrical trailer for Be Forever Yamato, which you can either watch with or without subtitles.

Next is the “Original Art Galleries,” which is split into four options. First are the “Earth Models,” which is 19 screens of line art of the Earth Defense Force characters, ships, and weaponry. “Color Pieces” includes movie posters, soundtrack album scans, advertisements, and promotional artwork. The “Black Star Empire Models” consists of 29 screens of line art of the Black Star Empire characters, uniforms, weaponry, mecha, and locations. The “Yamato Models” includes 16 screens of line art of the Yamato crew, mecha, Space Station Icarus, unused Yamato emblems, and unused Cosmo Tiger emblems.

The “Theatrical Program Book” includes scans of the pages of the booklet that was handed out at theaters showing Be Forever Yamato. You can see detailed close-ups of the pages, but only some of the text has been translated into English. There are also the text-only features “The Yamato Story: The Making of Be Forever” and “1980: The Summer of Yamato.”

“The Yamato Story” includes write-ups about Cinema Scope, 4-Channel Stereo, Scanimation, Warp Dimension, Animation Style, The Secret Scenes (which includes storyboards for a scene that was never actually animated, as well as a shot that someone had animated as a joke that had made it through quite a bit of the production phase before being discovered), and Voice Recording. “1980: The Summer of Yamato” includes Event Chronology, The Radio Drama, Photo Gallery, and Publicist Interview.

Even though I didn’t enjoy this film quite as much as I had the previous Space Battleship Yamato films, I was impressed with the amount of bonus features included on this DVD release. And while I may not necessarily love this film, I’m still glad I have it in my home video collection. In my opinion, anyone who considers themselves a fan of Space Battleship Yamato really should have this DVD in their collection.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Be Forever Yamato that my husband and I purchased.

Additional posts about Space Battleship Yamato/Star Blazers:

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