The bright spot of the spring 2013 anime season is clearly Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199. Yup, it’s a straight-up remake of Starblazers! The major differences are that Dr. Sano/Sane (little old geezer doctor with a cat and a good supply of sake) is being replaced by a younger, prettier female version.
It’s the future. Earth has been united in peace — by a space invasion by the Gamilos (Gamilons, on the US version), led by the sinister Leader Dessler (Desslok). Earth is losing pretty much all their space colonies, the aliens’ bombs have dried up the oceans, and everyone left on Earth is living in gigantic bunker cities deep underground. But just when it seems we’re destined to become victims of this genocidal war, an envoy arrives from another alien race, bringing plans for a superweapon and a stardrive, and promising a way to re-terraform Earth. The only catch? We have to use that stardrive to run the Gamilos blockade… and where will Earth get a spaceship to use?
Anyway, the heroes are a good bunch. There’s the hotblooded fighter pilot/helmsman Susumu Kodai (or Derek Wildstar, as we knew him) who wants to avenge his dead brother and impress that smart, beautiful blonde officer, Yuki (aka Nova). There’s his wingman, Shima Daisuke, who does navigation and attempts to keep Kodai from nuking his career with the hotblooded stuff. And there’s the crusty old man captain who rarely goes anywhere besides the bridge and his cabin, seems to drink as much as Dr. Sano, and seems to have been the one who left Kodai’s brother to die.
The villains are also an interesting bunch. But Dessler (a really evil totalitarian aesthete megalomaniac, who nevertheless is bound by his strict sense of honor, his love of country, and his good taste in women) is the best. I hope they’ve kept all his bluefaced, Prussian-haircut, winebibbing, assassination-foiling, swordfighting glory.
So far all the major characters seem to have been brought intact to the remake. Also intact is the WWII sensibility of the show, which basically puts all cool things on the Earth good guys’ side. So you have a Japanese design for some things, but the space fighters copy from the Flying Tigers. (Having a bishie guy wear a bomber jacket over his Star Force uniform fits right in.)
Also, they kept the original orchestra/jazz score, modifying it only slightly to escape excessive Seventies-ness.