I recently finished Space Battleship Yamato 2199, the outstanding remake of the original Space Battleship Yamato. It’s a series deserving of an elaborate, detailed review to explain all of the thing they did to update the series and why the work, but this isn’t that review. Maybe it’ll come in the future, but what I’d rather talk about is a small revelation I had after I finished the series: Yamato 2199 is basically what Robotech fans wish they got.
The long-standing Robotech fandom is notorious for an obsession with minutiae. Every little detail in the series is scrutinized. Things are renamed to sound more “high-tech.” Every mistake in script and animation in the source anime (Macross, Southern Cross, Mospeada) is either ignored, retconned, or mentally transformed into something which makes technical “sense.” A whole slew of supplementary material exists to explain in a satisfying way to an audience who enjoys harder science fiction some of the sillier moments that come from the original anime.
While Yamato 2199 doesn’t go quite that far, it does accomplish a lot to smooth over some of the narrative and hazy science fictional bumps which littered the original version. Case in point, the ridiculous-sounding device that the crew of the Yamato must travel to Iscandar to pick up to save the Earth, “Cosmo Cleaner-D,” is rechristened the “Cosmo Reverse System,” and is given a technical explanation as to how it’s supposed to work. Moments in the original Yamato which were more for dramatic flair than anything else keep the drama but also add sounder technical elements. Aspects of the show barely touched upon originally receive elaboration in Yamato 2199, and where the old series at times looked like it was still trying to find what it really wanted to do, the new series has the benefit of hindsight to cleanly and efficiently aim for its narrative and thematic goals.
As far as I can tell, what Robotech fans really want is just Robotech as it was back in the 1980s with minor adjustments, and this is what really makes Yamato 2199 the ideal template for Robotech fans. Yamato 2199 is about 90-95% the same as the original in tone and feel, even though it is updated for the modern era to take into account social developments in the past 40 years and the character designs are a little more modernized. It’s this formula which something like The Shadow Chronicles does not appear to achieve, though it also helps to have a substantially higher budget and cleaner animation like Yamato 2199 does, to accomplish its goals.