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Space Battleship Yamato
Space Battleship Yamato goes back to one of the most creative periods in Japanese animation or anime as its known. It develops a complex plot and covers themes such as honour, sacrifice, death and loss.
The show was originally made in three TV series and four movies from 1973 through to 1983. An additional five episodes were made from 2004 – 2007. There was a 2009 animated film reboot and a live action film the following year. It was then remade as two 26-episode TV series between 2014 and 2017 with the remakes of the original movies from 2021 onwards.
In addition, there were manga adaptions of the Yamato universe published in 1974 and 2000.
Star Blazers or Space Battleship Yamato also indicates the curious relationship that Japan has with its imperial legacy.
The Yamato was named after a Japanese province that’s the current Nara prefecture. The original Yamato and its sister ship the Musashi were the heaviest battleships ever built with the largest guns.
What these Japanese battleships lacked in numbers compared to the American navy, they made up for in firepower. Unfortunately for the Imperial Japanese Navy, the very nature of warfare at sea was changing with the rise of the aircraft carrier. The Yamato was sunk in the East China Sea along with five other warships as it sought to engage and slow down the US invasion fleet attacking Okinawa. The Musashi had been sunk the previous year off the coast of the Philippines.
In the story, earth is threatened by an alien race who irradiated the earth’s surface, requiring the survivors to live underground. A spaceship is needed to get help to undo the damage. There are clear analogues of the Cold War and the atomic bomb experience of Japan in the plot line, along with the popularity of disaster movies.
In order to make the spaceship christened Argo, the ship is built around the sunken wreck of the Yamato, joining the Japanese imperial past and pacifist present together.
Satellite and open source intelligence
Satellite technology improvements allowing more sensing capability to be fitted in a much smaller package is changing what can be done and reducing costs. The analogy of mainframe to personal computer movement with a 1000 fold increase in technological change is very interesting.
YouTuber Curious Droid asked the question Why is Older NASA Launch Film Footage Still the Best? The use of engineering cinematic film created some of the most iconic footage of the space race. It turns out that its a fascinating edge case of how film handles over exposure better than digital cameras reminded me of how analogue tape handles over peak levels compared to digital recording in a similarly progressive way. It seems film mirrors the progressive distortion of analogue audio recordings.
Sengoku burai (戦国無頼) aka Sword for Hire
The 1950s saw the resurgence of a confident and creative Japanese film industry. Sword for Hire is a classic example of a chambara film. The ronin character in chambara films is a prototype for the stranger that comes into town in western films.