I typically don’t do well with anime space operas. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve always found it difficult to empathize with characters growing up in a near-future setting or maybe it’s that I’m still traumatized by that tool Setsuna turning an enemy base into a giant space flower, but it usually takes something of enormous pedigree such as Cowboy Bebop to really get me going. But after twenty-six episodes of Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199, I’m almost at a loss for words. It’s hard to believe that such a gem of series has been around for nearly a year and half and that I’m only finishing in near Christmas time.
The reason I tried to stay away from naming the best moments of the year are typically because of shows like this, where each moment is as memorable as the last. It’s horribly cliché, but there are simply too many great scenes to count and if I were to count out twelve for every anime I’ve seen this year, I’d presume that multiple or even most would be dedicated Yamato 2199. There are few things more awe-inspiring than Mamoru Kodai’s crew flying the Yukikaze to their own deaths, and that’s just in the first ten minutes.
If one wanted to describe the battles in this series, a good word to start with would be ‘epic’. Amazing protagonists are pitted against equally amazing antagonists in the vacuum of space to create some of the most jaw-dropping, tense battles I’ve ever witnessed. Naval battles in space is a fascinating idea made better by the implementation of equally creative spacecrafts, which range from submarines to aircraft carriers, and boast top-notch animation and CGI. The series is written so that it makes it impossible to blindly hate any one side at any time. Yamato 2199 is the kind of series where you’ll cry for just as many villains as you do for heroes. You can feel the force and charisma behind every captain, whether it be Okita or Dessler, so much that you can easily see why their soldiers choose to follow them.
Despite the tense battles clips and gorgeous animation, the defining characteristic of the series is by far its endless scope. Not once does the Yamato ever quit exploring, whether it be in the depths of space or the feelings of hope and anxiety within the cast members. This is a series which absolutely refuses to be small in any way, all without compromising screen time or confusing convolution for complexity. Whether they be a mindless robot from another ship or the lowest level member of security, they all have their own unique traits and their own stories to tell. The series never fails to weave these stories, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, into the grander scheme.
If I had to single out a favorite part of the Yamato 2199, it would probably be episode 14 for taking a shit on every horror series in anime that I’ve seen so far. Seriously, take that, Another, episode 14 was fucking amazing. But singling out episodes or scenes for a series as good as this doesn’t feel quite fair, especially when there’s not a single bad one among the set. What all this amounts to is a series which is quite easily among the best of the year. There’s no reason not to watch this.