by Dana Georgi
In anime and science fiction, there have been many different types and designs of spaceships. From the ships seen in Flash Gordon to those used in Independence Day. The U.S.S. Enterprise, the battlestar Galactica or the Millenium Falcon, all of these spaceships are as varied in design and function as the characters and crews that pilot them. We have seen just about every size and shape of spaceship ever imagined. They have been from the very plain and basic, think early black and white space films, to the extremely complex and bizarre, the mother ship in Close Encounters of the First Kind. The ships that we generally remember most are those with a distinct design and crew. Of course the storyline and animation or special effects are also very big factors as well. Lets have a look at some classic anime spaceships and their story.
Space Battleship Yamato
Space Battleship Yamato (Starblazers in the U.S.) was created by Leiji Matsumoto and Yoshinobu Nishizaki in the mid nineteen-seventies. Yamato is the story of the desperate struggle of the Yamato's crew to find a planet called Iscandar which has the cure to deadly radiation that has bombarded the earth. In the late twenty-first century the earth is attacked and all but destroyed by an alien race known as the Gamilons. The remaining human population is forced to move underground for protection, however, the radiation that was left behind by the Gamilon's weapons is penetrating into the earth's surface each day moving closer to the subterranean human settlements. The humans have exactly one year left before everyone will die. During these perilous times, the Earth receives a message from Queen Starsha of the planet Iscandar. The message lets the human survivors know that Iscandar has a cure for the Gamilon radiation and all the humans have to do is retrieve it. 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 uses an interesting ship design for transporting its crew. Rather than designing a new ship, the humans take alien technology and combine it with a World War II relic to create an out of the ordinary interplanetary starship, the space battleship Yamato. The Yamato incorporates an alien engine design called a Wave Motion engine which allows the ship to sail along the "waves of space" in order to travel to their destination. Seeing that the Yamato is an old style naval battleship, when it was reconstructed, a new and impressive arsenal of weapons was added. Besides the many laser turrets that bristle the forward and aft decks replacing the old cannons, the Yamato also has a main particle beam cannon that is a deadly addition to her already formidable weaponry list. Thus with this new type of battleship the captain and crew are ready to make the voyage to save humanity.
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 anniversary 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 also created by Yoshinobu Nishizaki, the original creator of Space Battleship Yamato. 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 finds a strange alien craft that reacts to their presence and instantaneously transports the ship from their original position in the asteroid belt, just past Mars' orbit, all the way out to Uranus. They find evidence of a distant planet called Odin which has references in old Norwegian folklore as a paradisaical land. The young crew wants to find Odin, however the senior officers are bound by orders to immediately return to earth. In order for the crew to get there, they must mutiny and take the ship from the captain and his officers. The story follows the young crew as they make their way to the planet Odin.
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 is a twenty-first century version of the three masted outriggers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The Starlight uses a new and unique drive system that allows the ship to travel without the use of a laser beam. The new system is called the Gravity Control system. The engine generates a localized gravity center. The subsequent gravity waves are caught by the sails of the Starlight and propels the ship forward. With the help of this new drive system, the crew of the Starlight are 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.
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.