Manga by Michio Murakawa
Original Written by Yoshinobu Nishizaki
Character Designs by Nobuteru Yuki
Translated by Zack Davisson
Lettering & Touchup by IHL
Star Blazers is an anime franchise that dates back decades. Through its many installments, this space epic continues to draw in fans new and old. In recent years, Star Blazers has resurged in the western anime community. After years of waiting, Funimation acquired the license to the Star Blazers 2199 anime in 2017, and earlier this year, Seven Seas Entertainment published the original Space Battleship Yamato manga. Now, Dark Horse has brought over the manga adaptation of Star Blazers 2199 in a solid 2-in-1 omnibus edition. Does this new interpretation of the series stays true to the franchise’s long-standing legacy?
As an adaptation, this first omnibus volume covers the first four episodes of the Star Blazers 2199 anime. The story centers around the conflict between Earth and an alien race known as the Gamilans. With Earth left a wasteland from the Gamilans’ series of attacks, a crew is sent into space to seek the support of the planet Iscandar, using the rebirthed battleship Yamato as their vessel. As with many space operas of this scale, Star Blazers has a massive cast of characters. Susumu Kodai is our protagonist, an officer within Earth’s naval forces. While Kodai’s character is not particularly complex, he serves as a solid audience stand-in for readers to understand how events unfold. That said, the narrative’s focus frequently shifts over to the surrounding members of the Yamato crew. The stoic Captain Okita gets a heavy amount of spotlight in this first book, showcasing both his conviction as a leader and his loyalty to his crew. Okita’s charisma is evident from the manga’s opening pages, and provides all the more reason to support him and his crew’s efforts. The manga provides a solid groundwork for the series’ events, immersing readers in the coming space epic.
With Star Blazers’ heavy focus on conflict, the ramifications of war are brought up throughout the manga. While humanity has animosity towards the Gamilans and their desolation of Earth, the series acknowledges that these hostile actions are not far from the brutality that humanity once enacted upon itself. Humanity is not seeking vengeance against the Gaminlans themselves, but is instead focused on their own self-preservation. The test of the Yamato’s wave motion gun perfectly encapsulates this idea. The gun’s powerful attack leaves no sense of victory for the Yamato crew, but rather a lingering fear of what humanity has created. Star Blazers wants readers to ponder why war continues to persist and what that means for society’s longevity.
One of the most commendable aspects about the Star Blazers 2199 manga is Murakawa’s artwork. While the anime has a distinct style, Murakawa has managed to recapture that same magic on these pages. Even more impressive is the replication of the anime’s mechanical designs. The series’ complex vessels and weapons have all been drawn in meticulous detail within the manga and the care placed into recreating them is thoroughly evident. It’s clear that Murakawa is a big of a fan of the Star Blazers and the manga is a tribute to the franchise’s history.
This release also contains its fair share of extra content as well. Included is a wide selection of spacecraft designs from the 2199 anime’s development, allowing readers to better understand how these intricate pieces were created. Additionally, the book contains afterwords from comic book artist Tim Eldrid and Murakawa himself. Edrid dives into the history of the Star Blazers from its conception until now. For those who are largely unfamiliar with the series, this is a highly informative and insightful piece that will only give you more respect for Star Blazers as whole. Meanwhile, Murakawa explains how he got into franchise, and what led to him eventually working on this manga. You can feel his enthusiasm for the series wholeheartedly, which makes it clear that this adaptation is a true labor of love. These are perfect additions to the core content of the book, making this volume all the more valuable.
Star Blazers 2199 is great read that pays homage to the franchise while also being a fantastic adaptation in its own right. Murakawa’s intricate artwork pairs perfectly to the existing story of 2199, and it will surely immerse readers within its pages. If you have never touched Star Blazers before or want a new way to experience it, the Star Blazers 2199 manga will not disappoint.