Regardless of whether you're thrilled by the idea or think of it as a creative co-op. "Reimagining" and/or relaunching the cherished shows of SF programs of our youth has become standard operating procedure in Hollywood. Not unexpectedly, it's had mixed results. It's easier to count the real successes, like "Battlestar Galactica". Most of the rest are a mixed bag.
These show updates usually seem to try an hit one of two markets: either to update the show for the existing audience, or to make it more accessible for a new, younger one. Again, Galactica showed rare genius in hitting both, while JJ Abrams Trek seemed more open to sacrificing much of the existing fan base in order to make a Trek for the post-MTV generations.
Updating an old favorite well can be a real tightrope walk and that's why I've been blown away by the current (in-progress) Japanese update of the 70's anime, "Space Cruiser Yamato" (or "Starblazers" as many English speaking countries came to know it). The new production, "Yamato 2199" is being released in Japanese theaters in four episode chunks and they're currently about halfway through the first season.
2199 doesn't try to tell a new story, just to tell the same story a little better, with more adult and contemporary sensibility. The characters have more depth – and variety! The crew is fleshed out more as an ensemble cast, and more importantly they expand the core characters with several new, key female roles. A testament to how well this is done is that you feel like they were always there… you just somehow forgot them.
Oh sure, the core trope of refitting the hulk of the sunken battleship Yamato into a starship that can save the planet is an idea of some silliness and mired a ideal of Japanese patriotic pride. But that theme aside, the show was always decent SF and hits that target even more effectively now. Their use of zero-g, accurate attitude jet maneuvering, an updated to all the solar system science, and functional mechanical design all make the show a pure SF geekfest.
Unfortunately I've not heard of any release dates for the official US DVDs, but a number of sites have been carrying streaming video of the episodes (that is until Bandai chases them down and spanks 'em). You can try these sites to see the episodes to date.
To paraphrase the old saying, sometimes doing the job right makes people you didn't think you did anything at all. Yamato 2199 is like that, but when you really compare and contrast to the original production, the update is a thing of remarkable beauty and progress. It's not only renewed my love of this old show, but given me hope that minds are still out there that know how to make good, compelling SF. Here's another review if you need further convincing: [link]
Tim Eldred has started a site which is covering news of the show as it evolves and is released. It has some great content, including some nice interviews with mecha designers. It's well worth cruising through for great news and background.
Now, your just desserts! Click to explore anything that snags your eyeballs: