by Dana Georgi
In anime and science fiction, there have been many different types and designs of spaceships. From the ships used in Flash Gordon to those used in Independence Day, of television and movies, and from Space Battleship Yamato to Tenchi Muyo, those used in anime and manga. We have seen just about every size and shape of spaceship ever imagined. They have been from the very plain and basic to the extremely complex and bizarre, but the ships that we remember most are usually the ones with distinct design and crew. Of course the storyline and animation or special effects are also very big factors as well.
Space Battleship Yamato
Space Battleship Yamato (known as Star Blazers in the U.S.) uses a very interesting ship design for transporting its crew. The Yamato's design incorporated an alien engine design called a Wave Motion engine which allowed the Yamato to sail along the "waves of space," so to speak, in order to travel to their destination. Seeing that the Yamato is an old style naval battleship, when it was reconstructed, a new and incredible arsenal of weapons was added. Besides the many laser turrets that bristle the forward and aft decks, the Yamato also has a main particle beam cannon. Thus with this new type of battleship the captain and crew are ready to make the voyage to save the human race.
Yamato is the story of the desperate struggle of the crew of the Yamato to find a planet called Iscandar which has the cure to deadly radiation that the earth has been subject to by a race of beings known as the Gamilons. In the late twenty-first century the earth is attacked and all but destroyed by the Gamilons. The remaining human population is then forced to move underground. But the radiation that was left behind by the Gamilon's weapons is moving more and more each day into the earth's surface and closer to where the humans have moved for protection. As it stands, the humans have exactly one year left before everyone will die.
Then a message from Queen Starsha of the planet Iscandar is received. The humans find out that the people of Iscandar have a cure for the Gamilon radiation and the humans are welcome to retrieve the cure. With the help of Queen Starsha, the Battleship Yamato is reconstructed and sent to find Iscandar. Along the way, the crew of the Yamato faces many dangers both outside and within their ship.
Space Battleship Yamato is a classic anime title that helped move Japanese animation into the future as well as bring this popular form of entertainment to the American market. Space Battleship Yamato is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year. For those of you who are Yamato/Star Blazers fans or if you have never seen Yamato, let's watch our favorite episodes, watch the movies, and wish Yamato a happy anniversary. Happy twenty-fifth year Yamato! See you when you hit thirty.
Odin: Photon Space Sailer Starlight
A few years later, another anime production called Odin was created and released. Odin was created by Yoshinobu Nishizaki, the original creator of Space Battleship Yamato. Odin follows in Yamato's footsteps in style and design. Once again Nishizaki uses the concept of the ocean of space and the design of his ships in Odin are according. The year is 2099 and the human race has developed ships that use lasers to propel their ships through space. The general concept is, that the sails of the individual ship catches the excited particles in the beam which then fills the sail and allows the ship to move. The cohesive light of the laser beams acts like the wind on the ocean. The Starlight spaceship of Odin is a twenty-first version of the three masted outriggers of seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The Starlight has a new and unique drive system that allows the ship to travel without the use of a laser beam. The Gravity Control system, which is the name of the new engine, allows the Starlight to generate a localized gravity center. The subsequent gravity waves created by the GCS are caught by the sails of the Starlight which propels the ship forward. With the help of this new drive system, the crew of the Starlight were able to travel farther and faster than any other ship created to that point. At the beginning of Odin, the Starlight has minimal defensive or offensive equipment. Over time and through necessity the crew develops several defensive capabilities using existing equipment onboard the Starlight. For example, the Electromagnetic Scraper which, through some minor adjustment, is used to provided a quick burst of high powered energy that can destroy asteroids or even attacking ships. Other such adjustments are made to create lasers cannons that are frequently used for defense. The Starlight also carries a limited number of fighter craft which are also used for defense purposes.
Odin is the story of a young crew and experienced officers who take out the Starlight on its maiden voyage. Shortly after take off, the Starlight receives a distress signal from an earth vessel that was under attack by an unknown source. The Starlight arrives on the scene with the help of their Gravity Control engine to find the attacked ship destroyed and only a single female survivor known as Sara Jan Baker. The Starlight also discovers a strange alien craft that reacts to their presence and transports the Starlight from their position in the asteroid belt just past Mars all the way out to Uranus, in just a moments time. From this point on the journey for the young crew begins. They find evidence of a distant planet called Odin and in order for the crew to get there they must mutiny and take over the ship from its captain and the senior officers. The Starlight also discovers that the planet Odin was destroyed by a supernova. Its remaining inhabitants have spread throughout the universe to colonize many other planets, including Earth.
As the young crew makes its voyage to Odin, they run into one group of survivors from the planet of Odin. This group of survivors has turned themselves into androids controlled by a large sentient computer that is obsessed with destroying all living creatures. By destroying the computer, the Starlight not only saves the lives of themselves and the earth but also the now android survivors of the once beautiful planet of Odin. The Starlight then resumes its course for Odin.
If you are a fan of Space Battleship Yamato or Star Blazers as it is called in America you will certainly enjoy Odin. Odin combines a Yamato-like story with incredibly good animation to bring an anime that is entertaining and fun to watch. Odin is available from U.S. Manga Corps.