‘Star Blazers 2199 Omnibus Volume 1:’ Advance Trade Paperback Review

This is an excellent trade paperback that does justice to the task of capturing the charm, the drama, the storytelling, and the technically brilliant artwork and design that one associates with the Star Blazers legend.  

This collected omnibus introduces us to the Star Blazers cast and crew and documents their now-famous journey to Iskandar and beyond.  If you are fan of comics, you may know the entire story and cast of characters from the 1970s anime show.  For a lot of folks in their forties and fifties, it was probably the first time they had seen Japanese Anime on American Television, and it was a tremendous jolt to the systems of young science fiction enthusiasts across the country.  It went on to spawn eight feature films and four more TV series.  The ability of this saga to capture our attention over the duration of forty years speaks to how great the series and story are.  I would be hard pressed to think of anything I am watching or reading now that I will likely enjoy as much in forty years.

For those who may be unfamiliar with the series, here is the jist of the story: In 2199, Earth is attached by the evil Gamelons who relentlessly bomb the planet from the outer edges of space with catastrophic nuclear planet bombs.  Earth is completely defenseless against the bombardment, and the planet is ravaged; however, rising up from the planet’s scorched surface is the mighty Battle Ship Yamato, equipped with weapons and technology gifted to them by the benevolent princess of Iskandar.  The ship and her crew must travel the vast stretches of space to retrieve a technology that will save the Earth, all the while with the Gamelons hot on their tails.

For a moment, put this into the context of Japanese World War II history, and you can see how this series resonated so strongly.  In the final days of World War II, the United States (the enemy from afar) relentlessly bombed Japan’s mega city, and the Japanese were essentially defenseless against these attacks.  The fire bombing of Tokyo on March 9th and 10th is considered by many historians to be one of the most destructive bombing raids in human history, killing an estimated 100,000 civilians.  The attacks on Japan culminated with the only use of atomic weapons in history at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  The parallels are fairly obvious.  In addition, the Yamato was, in fact, a real battleship and also the largest one ever built.  She was the pride and flag ship of the Japanese Navy during World War II and the last operational battleship towards the end of the war.   She was sent on a wildly dangerous suicide mission to defeat the US invasion of Okinawa (Operation Ten Go).  It was in this battle that she was ultimately destroyed by US forces, losing 3,055 of her 3,332-person crew.

In 2199, the Yamato rises from the ashes to avenge Earth and, I think to many, to avenge Japan.

The writing in this book is ideal for the storyline, and the artwork is spectacular.  It is difficult to create the anxious, tense moments of an epic space battle, but Star Blazers captures this better than any other series.  The artwork is nothing short of breathtaking.  The details added to every vehicle and set piece are phenomenal.  It does not seem possible that this book was drawn by human hands, but it was.  As a tremendous bonus, the book features substantial sketch work and a catalog of vehicles and space ships.

I highly recommend this collected edition to fans of the series, as well as folks who have yet to be thrilled by this franchise.

Overview: 5 out of 5 stars

Creative Team: Michio Murakawa (artist), Yoshinobu Nishizaki (writer), Nobuteru Yuki (character designer)
Publisher: Dark Horse
Click here to purchase.

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