October 1974. A 26-episode anime series entitled Space Battleship Yamato, aired on Yomiuri TV without much fanfare. It told the story of humanity's last-ditch effort to avoid extinction via the irradiation of the planet Earth by a hostile alien race. Its one hope lay in the eponymous battleship Yamato — rebuilt into a warp-capable ship — whose crew would then use it to journey to the far-off planet where salvation was supposed to lay.
The show would eventually become a seminal success, becoming the first anime to win the Seiun Award (the Japanese equivalent to the Hugo award), a feat that was not to be repeated until 1985, with Miyazaki's Valley of the Wind. For many it marked a paradigm shift in storytelling, and influenced generations of viewers, some of whom (like Hideaki Annonote Who drew the storyboards for 2199's Opening Titles) would eventually work in the industry in turn.
For American and some Western viewers viewers, Yamato (via its edited version Starblazers) would be their Gateway Series into anime.
Fast forward to April 2012. After years of legal dispute between the series' co-creators Nishizaki and Matsumoto, the series is given a new breath of life with a remake, the eponymous Space Battleship Yamato 2199. Featuring modern production standards and a vastly-enhanced budget, the new series seeks to retell the classic story for a brand new generation, at the same time giving even long-time fans and veterans of the franchise something to look forward to, as it's not quite the same story they grew up with.
Initially premiered as a theatrical release (with every three or four episodes edited together to make up a movie), then as a direct-to-order Blu-Ray/DVD "OVA", the series will finally air on TV for the Spring 2013 anime season.
A new, original story, movie for 2014 has also been teased.
Voyager Entertainment (the licensors for the Star Blazers adaptation of the original series) have announced plans to release the series as Star Blazers 2199 in English, and screened a pilot dub of the first episode (produced by Bang Zoom! Entertainment) at the July 2013 Anime Expo and Comic-Con San Diego. (Voyager's preview trailers indicate they will still rename the Yamato the Argo; buyer beware.)
Basically an Anime/Space Opera nerd's wet, wet dream.
Now has a Character Page for the characters unique to the remake. Still very much a work in progress however.
The show provides examples of:
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Adaptation Distillation: Some plot points are modified to address Fridge Logic issues in the original version. For instance, Iscandar made contact with Earth a year before the series began, and the Yamato was built based on their offer. Sasha was sent with a key piece of Imported Alien Phlebotinum needed for the Wave Motion Engine - and the Battle of Pluto at the beginning was deliberately staged as a diversion to cover her arrival.
Alien Invasion: Not implicitly. While in the original the Gamilas were intent on turning Earth into their new homeworld, this time around it seems that Earth is being subjected to constant harrassment due to the fact that it resisted assimilation into the Gamilas empire. Some characters on the Gamilas side, like Schultz, comment on this, and say that Earth wouldn't be suffering as much had it just surrendered.
Applied Phlebotinum: The aforementioned Wave Motion technology that the Yamato's warp drive, Wave Motion gun and shields are based on.
Apocalypse How: It seems that the standard procedure of the GamilonImperialGuard for a planetary rebellion is to visit at least a Planetary Class 2 on the offenders, via orbital bombardment, planet bombs, and old-fashioned strafing runs. The result is very much reminiscent of Exterminatus.
Babies Ever After:While Harada prepares for her marriage to Kato on the finale, she pats her belly and says something about their child.
Implied with Starsha, who holds her belly while saying goodbye to Mamoru.
Back from the Dead: Yuki, thanks to Mamoru deciding to start the Cosmo Reverser early just to revive her, after seeing his younger brother Susumu's anguish.
The Battlestar: Although the Yamato itself is more of a battleship that brought its (limited) fighter screen with it, only deploying its complement when Gamilas fighters are in evidence.
Battle Thralls: The "Second-Class Gamilans" are the inhabitants of other worlds conquered by the Gamilas empire, many of whom serve in their military. They're closest to the Slave Mook subtrope, but some can earn privileges by great acts of service. The reason Earth is being bombed into oblivion in 2199, instead of being conquered like so many other worlds, is as vengeance for a sneak attack made against the Gamilas ships making first contact.
Beach Episode: While the Yamato is on dock in Iscandar in episode 24, Harada suggests the crew go for a swim in Iscandar's ocean. Fanservice ensues.
Big Creepy-Crawlies: Beemla is home to these, much to the away team's horror (and Yuisha'sapparent glee). Apparently they were once domesticated, but went feral when their keepers, the bee people, died off hundreds of years before.
Bridge Bunnies: More than the original, and what's more, other female crew filling in for Yuki whenever she's off-duty or otherwise occupied.
Broken Pedestal: In episode 23, Dessler shows his true colors by abandoning the Gamilas capital when Yamato attacks and proceeds to perform a Colony Drop on his own capital, not caring about the people he had left behind. The Gamilans still on the ground are understandably not very happy about this after the Yamato saves them.
The Yamato's ability to fire both lasers and regular explosive shells from its cannons plays a critical role in the final episode.
In episode 25, a brief scene shows a Cosmo Zero's weapons stripped for repair. Later in the same episode one of the cannons makes another appearance...used as an improvised infantry weapon to repel boarders.
The Chessmaster: Dessler is even more so in this incarnation. Just to strengthen the impression, he's usually shown playing a Gamilas variation on the game (against an unseen opponent, implied to be Starsha).
Colony Drop: In an effort to destroy the Yamato, Dessler drops a city sized section of his massive space station on his own capital city.
Canon Immigrant: A lot of elements in 2199 are cut materials from the original Yamato series, but there are actually references for Star Blazers:
In the Star Blazers dub, some perfectly humanoid alien opponents are called "robots" to minimize the heroes' body-count, In 2199 we have the Gamiloids who are human sized Mecha-Mooks.
Star Blazers even has one bizarre Woolseyism in which a funeral for dead crew-members is translated into a funeral for dead enemies, to show the respect that both sides have even as they try to slaughter one another. It would have worked if you wouldn't have been able to see the obviously human bodies inside the caskets. 2199 has three human-looking Zaltsians die on the Yamato, with memorable Villainous Valor.
Conspicuous CG: Averted for the most part as the CG is saved mostly for the space battle and most scenes with alot of people in it are wonderfully hand drawn.
The chase scene in episode 16 has a rather jarring example. Yuria, who is being carried by Analyzer in a CG rendered power suit, is quite obviously also rendered in CG compared to the other crew members (running on foot) who are animated traditionally.
Dangerously Genre Savvy: Gamilas general Erk Domel is one of the most competent military commanders in anime history. When he's inflicting a Curb-Stomp Battle on the Comet Empire, he still warns his subordinates to never underestimate the enemy, just in case(anyone who saw the second season of the original series knows he's right). When he's sent to deal with the Yamato, he considers the job just a brief distraction before he can return to the Lesser Magellanic Cloud and the Yamato nothing special, but just in case he uses one of the most devastating one-ship tactics of the franchise that do not involve a Wave Motion Gun, and when the Yamato (barely) survives he decides to go all out. Keeping a few ships in reserve, just in case they broke through his initial ambush (they did).
Deflector Shields: The Wave Motion Shield makes an early appearance, drastically increasing the Yamato's defense for a limited time. In return though, the ship is unable to use the Wave Motion Gun while the shield is up.
The interaction between the two is notable, because Zoellik makes Goer look reasonable: after he seizes control of the fleets and the Yamato shows up out of nowhere, Zoellik orders his ships into dangerous collision courses to destroy it. Goer (who had earlier shot a friendly ship himself) is appalled by this. Later, after Dessler reveals himself to be alive, Goer even shoots Zoellik mid-rant, visibly disgusted at his treason.
Serizawa, commander of the UN military. By his orders, Earth attacked the Gamilans without provocation at first contact, and his underlings on the Yamato try a mutiny because he doesn't believe in their possible success.
Dressing as the Enemy: A variant: the Yamato uses a Tsuvalke found in the abandoned Beemla Gate control facility to scout what's waiting for them at the gate terminus. They even go so far as dressing Shinohara, its pilot, with as close as an approximate to a Gamilas flight suit as they could manage, to further the illusion.
Later, Gamilas commandos from the planet Salz (those who look just like Earthlings) Board Yamato with Yamato space suits.
Several other Earth captains from the Yamato successive seasons and movies make early appearences; for instance, captain Yamanami from Be Forever Yamato commands the Kirishima under Okita (and keeps command after the Yamato leaves), and captain Hijikata from season 2 has an important role in Yuki's backstory.
Episode 11 shows a battle between the Gamilons and the Comet Empire.
One of the Gamilas named officers is Fraken, a Galmann general from season 3 of the original series.
Earn Your Happy Ending: After almost a year in space, and making numerous sacrifices, the Yamato finally returns to Earth with the Cosmo Reverser to save the dying Earth.
Enemy Civil War: And a conveniently-timed one too. While discontent was apparently simmering throughout the empire for a while, it only exploded into outright violence when an attempt on Dessler's life apparently succeeds. This prompts an immediate recall of Domel's forces, just as it was about to finish off a damaged Yamato.
The Gamilas National Army will be fighting the Royal Guard in Chapter 6.
Ensign Newbie: Kodai and Shima's high positions in the Yamato's chain of command are justified in this version because the Gamilas attack in the second episode destroyed the bunker where most of the previous officer candidates were. (Kodai's brother Mamoru was the first choice as Tactical section leader.) There's some tension because of this.
Fantastic Racism: Zoellik: "Like I said, no one with a skin color other than blue can be trusted!"
Faster-Than-Light Travel: Warp Navigation is facilitated for the Yamato via the Wave Motion engine , and standard for the average Gamilas fleet ship via the equivalent "Gestcham Jump". The Gamilas also have access to an ancient Jirel galaxy-spanning Portal Network that makes warp travel much quicker and much more precise.
Four-Star Badass: Domel. His job before being sent to deal with the Yamato was to inflict Curb Stomp Battles on the Comet Empire, and was rather good at it. With the Yamato... Well, our heroes survived episode 15 only because an Enemy Civil War got him recalled when he was literally at one barrage to victory.
Okita too (his rank technically being admiral), to the point that Domel proclaimed him a Worthy Opponent in episode 15. Then Okita decided the best way to break through Domel's fleet was to ram Domel's flagship...
Furo Scene: Episode 11 shows Yuki and Akira in the Yamato's bathing facility.
Gender Flip: Formerly male Akira Yamamoto is now a woman.
Grand Theft Me: Yurisha, who is currently in a coma, "borrows" the use of Misaki Yuria's body, due to the latter's sensitivity to spirits.
Heroic Sacrifice: Mamoru Kodai and his ship stayed behind to ensure that Okita escaped safely. Also, the whole Operation M is a giant sacrifice to retrieve the Iskandarian message pod.
Subverted by Sanada, who risks being bombarded with lethal neutrons in order to activate a space gate. Fortunately, he figures out a way to survive at the last second.
Gremto Goer is a wholly reprehensible idiot but you have to respect his unflinching loyalty to Dessler.
Sanada was Mamoru Kodai's best friend, and despite his calm, collected facade he's actually torn apart by guilt over not letting him know he was a Sacrificial Lion in a suicidal diversionary attack on Pluto, in which he Mamoru ultimately died.
Niimi was in love with Mamoru Kodai.
Dessler is waging his wars of conquest to "bring peace to the Universe" in a misguided attempt to win Queen Starsha's affections.
The Gamilon Prime Minister, Redof Hyss, who before episode 23 seemed like nothing but a spineless, neurotic yes-man, despite being arguably the second most powerful man on Gamilas, actually ends up saving Hilde Shulz during the evacuation of the Imperial Palace, and speaks in favor of the Yamato to Queen Starsha.
Hopeless War: Before the Yamato was launched, Earth was fighting one.
Hope Spot: Yuki wakes up from her coma. Just in time for the happy ending, right? Wrong. She dies soon after miraculously regaining consciousness for a few minutes and doesn't even get her final wish of seeing Kodai for one last time. Ultimately, of course, The happy ending still happens thanks to Mamoru Kodai.
Hostile Terraforming: 2199 puts more focus on this aspect of the Gamilas attacks on earth, describing the effects as "pollution" instead of explicit radiation like the original series and live-action movie. The Planet Bombs also seeded poisonous Alien Kudzu that's shown penetrating the underground cities, which is discovered as identical to the plant life on the Floating Continent.
Human Aliens: The Gamilons look like humans with blue skin. "Second-Class" Gamilions of planet Salz do look like humans, just like the people of Iscandar. Later it's specified Gamilians are just humans with different skin tones, genetically. Lampshaded when the crew of the Yamato are shocked that the Gamilans look so similar to them.
Played with later on, when Yuki is paraded by Dessler during Dommel's memorial service. It says a lot when Starsha herself gets confused on why her sister is even on Gamilas.
Continued even further when the Yamato delegation finally meets Starsha in person, and she mistakes Yuki again, except this time for her other sister Sasha.
Killed Off for Real: Individual characters aside, don't expect to see the bee people from Beemla this time around, as this apparently happened to them offscreen a few hundred years prior to the Yamato's voyage, due to an unspecified cataclysm.
Kinetic Weapons Have Their Place: The Yamato's Type-3 ordnance are heavy battleship artillery shells. They're not as powerful as Shock Cannons and are thus used rarely, but every time to devastating effect: first to destroy attacking ships on the Jovian Floating Continent (while the Wave Motion Engine was shut down for repairs), then to bomb Shultz's Pluto base to ashes from half a dwarf planet away, and finally to blast Dessler's giant ship to little pieces in a subspace corridor where normal beam weapons didn't work. While Dessler was warming up his BFG, the Yamato opened up with the Type-3's and tore his ship to shreds. Needless to say the guy was outraged at such "barbaric" weapons.
Lotus-Eater Machine: The Gamilans attempt to neutralize the crew of the Yamato this way in episode 14. It ends with a background applause.
Love Triangle: One between Kodai, Yuki, and Akira, or at least it's what everyone else in the crew assumes is going on. The pilot corps is particularly aware of Akira's simmering frustration to Kodai's seeming obliviousness.
The Mutiny: Happens to the Yamato, as the proponents of the Izumo Plan take advantage of the perceived weakness of the ship's leadership (they timed it to coincide with Captain Okita's collapse) to take over.
Mythology Gag: All over the place for old fans to spot. Expect the list here to grow as the series reaches its climax.
My Country, Right or Wrong: Many of the more honorable Gamilans like Domel and Frakken don't quite agree with how Dessler is running things, but serve under him anyways because that is their duty.
Never Found the Body: Dessler dies three times over the course of the show. The first time it turns out to be a Body Double. The second time the ship he's on successfully jumps before the facility around it explodes. Even the third death, involving being onboard a spaceship as it tears itself apart with uncontrolled Wave Motion Gun energies while inside jump space, would have to somehow be undone if they wanted to adapt the second season of the original show...
For the heroes we have Mamoru Kodai who bravely sacrifices himself early on yet somehow keeps popping up in the story long after his "death".
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The Gamilas fleet initially arrives in peace. However, the UN, fearing that it might be an invasion force, orders their fleet to open fire first. The Gamilas retaliate by dropping planet buster bombs on Earth.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: The attempt on Dessler's life forces Gamilas to recall all of its military forces, including Domel's fleet, which is just about to destroy the Yamato.
Old School Dog Fight: A fair bit of this between Earth and Gamilas fighters. For the most part, the Earth fighters tend to rely on this to conserve their guided munitions.
Oh Crap: The reaction of the Science crew when the Cosmo Reverser system starts up early, with the Yamato nowhere near Earth yet.
Our Ghosts Are Different: Since the first days of the voyage, rumors circulated on the Yamato that a ghostly presence is aboard, usually centered around the Automated Navigation System responsible for guiding the ship to Iscandar. Most of the crew dismiss this as superstitious nonsense. In truth, the Automated Navigation chamber contained a cryo-pod with the comatose Yurisha, Queen Starsha's sister, whose mind provided the Yamato's long-range guidance. The ghost was likely a projection of her consciousness through Psychic Powers, and it was even able to seize control of Yuria Misaki several times.
Later on, after picking up the Cosmo Reverser on Iscandar, a new ghostly presence took the place of the now-revived Yurisha: Mamoru Kodai. Having been captured after his seeming death the prisoner transport he was on crashed on Iscandar, where he met Queen Starsha. He died before the Yamato's arrival, and Starsha saved his consciousness in order to help power the Cosmo Reverser for the restoration of Earth.
Planet With A Dark Secret: If you thought Gamilias was a home to such a Proud Warrior Race as seen in the franchise, Starsha revealed in episode 24 that the Iscandarians were once such warriors in the past. They invented the Wave Motion Gun for the purpose of conquest and establishing their own Empire, and ended up going too far (a flashback scene showed several Wave Motion Gun beams shattering a planet, all fired by Iscandarian forces), hence the near extinction of their people. Starsha feared that the Earthlings were going down the same path when the crew of the Yamato made use of the weapon on their way to Iscandar, hence her initial reluctance to give them the Cosmo Reverser.
Portal Network: And one that predates the Gamilon empire at that. The empire of course had co-opted its use, and the crew of the Yamato take over and make use of an abandoned node in episodes 17-18.
Powered By The Memories Of A Dead Man: The Cosmo Reverse System that the Yamato is after can use the power of the Wave Motion Engine to alter things back to a previous state; the intention is to use it to reverse the damage done to the Earth. The information of said previous state needs to come from something native to the planet however. Queen Starsha provided Mamoru Kodai's storedconsciousness for the job, but Mamoru set off the device prematurely to revive Yuki Mori after she was killed in action. Admiral Okita dies shortly afterwards however, and it's implied that he took Mamoru's place at the heart of the device, powering the restoration of Earth.
Punch Clock Villain: Many of the Gamilas characters are portrayed as perfectly reasonable and sympathetic characters, who only try to hunt down the Yamato because it's their job to. You'll even feel bad when some of them inevitably get killed off.
Psychic Powers: The Gamilas use Mirenel Linke's abilities to put the Yamato crew in a trance and sabotage the ship from within. These powers end up getting Celestella killed, as she releases a sympathetic wave the moment she sees Dessler (who she thought dead), which startles him, and he shoots her.
Yurisha also has some of these, at the very least she can project herself outside her comatose body, take control of more "sensitive" individuals, and sense people's presences at a distance.
Recoil Boost: How the Yamato escapes the enemy fleet at Balun in episode 18, using the Wave Motion Gun's recoil to boost through the gate to the Large Magellenic Cloud.
Red Herring: Throughout the series, there are a number of subtle hints that Yuki might be Yurisha. However, it is later revealed that her resemblance to Yurisha is merely a coincidence, and the real Yurisha is currently sealed in the Yamato's auto-navigation system.
It is deliberately employed by General Ryu Hijikata to confuse the Gamilians and Serizawa.
Revenge Before Reason: While Akira has legitimate beef with the Gamilas, her desperate need to get revenge for her brother's death leads her to instigate a dogfight with Melda Ditz, despite the fact that the Yamato was about to release their guest. Although Akira gets off with a few days in the brig, her little duel cost the Yamato one of its fighter craft.
Rock Beats Laser: In the final battle, which takes place in hyperspace, both the Yamato and Dessler's flagship have trouble harming each other because lasers are ineffective in hyperspace. However, regular cannon shells work just fine...
Rubber-Forehead Aliens: Every alien race in the series has a body similar to humans, but a different skin color.
The extinct Beemelians seem to be an exception, however, as they were probably Bee People.
During the first battle in the first episode, Admiral Okita responds to the Gamilans demand for surrender by saying "NUTS!" In much the same way Brigadier General Anthony Mc Auliffe replied to the German's demand for the U.S. 101st Airborne Division to surrender at the Battle Of Bastogne, later immortalized in Band of Brothers.
Space Elves: Aesthetically, the Jirel species are these. They're the builders of the Warp Gate network that Gamilas uses to quickly traverse their holdings. They're also mostly extinct; Celestella and Linke are the last ones left. Mirenel dies in Episode 14
Space Fighter: Both sides have these. For the Yamato, it has a pair of Type-52 Cosmo Zeroes and a squadron of Type-99 Cosmo Falcons; for the Gamilas fleet, it's the DDG110 Zedora-II and the DWG262 Tsvuelke.
Crazily enough, the Gamilon space fighters include torpedo bombers and even a somewhat recognizable dive bomber, appropriately called the dmb87 as a Shout-Out to the infamous Junkers Ju-87 Stuka.
Space Is an Ocean / Space Sailing: Refurbished wet navy ships, complete with anchors and anti-fouling paint below the "waterline". Though it's a bit jarring to see a ship in the first episodenote Kodai Mamoru's vessel, which was NOT a refitted wet-navy ship "sinking" into the distance well before the obligatory explosion.
Justified by the fact the ships are expected to land in and operate on water as well as space, and the fact that the titular ship is a wet-navy ship in the first place.
Cosmo Force personnel use naval terminology constantly — orbitals are the "shores" of a planet, further out are the "seas" around it, and so forth.
Spell My Name with an S: A common problem with the names of the Gamilas segment of the cast. Not helped by the official romanizations used, many of which read nothing like how the names are supposed to sound, which is to say vaguely Germanic.
UN Is A Superpower: 2199 makes conspicuous use of the United Nations' emblem as a military banner, both on bases and in the Yamato itself.
There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Done accidentally when they test fire the Wave Motion Gun on a Gamilon base situated on the floating continent base in Jupiter. However, instead of destroying the base, the beam just straight up destroys the entire continent. Oh, and did we mention that the continent was roughly the size of Australia?
Trap Door: In a hilarious holdover from the original, apparently Dessler's command throne still retains the function to open one up, as one unlucky Gamilon general, Dotem Gelhen, soon found out.
Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Yuki can barely remember anything past a year ago. This was because she was injured in the same terror attack that put Yurisha in a coma.
Vichy Earth: Zalts is basically one, and Shultz asks himself why Earth can't became one.
Villainous Valor / Worthy Opponent: This trope is central to the whole series, along with the notion that peace is ultimately attainable even if total war seems like the only option. A lot of them on the aliens' side, and many acknowledge the Yamato as a Worthy Opponent themselves:
The Zaltsian crew and captain of Gamilon starship EX-178, which cooperated with the Yamato to escape another dimension, even though they had the opportunity to escape and leave the humans to die. They even go so far as to execute a Gamilon intelligence officer on board for trying to subvert this temporary alliance. They get blown out of the sky by Goer for their trouble.
General Domel is the Gamilas Erwin Rommel, a brilliant tactician who has a winning strategy every time. Zoellik frames him for Dessler's assassination.
Colonel Vuelke Schultz, the commander of the Pluto base, and his underlings Gelf Gantz and Vuol Jaretora: second-class Gamilas citizens from the planet Zalts just trying to prove their loyalty and follow orders, hoping their families will become first-class citizens. They're visibly outclassed and outgunned by the Yamato yet still come up with solid, adaptable strategies (having learned from Domel himself). Schultz even has an adorable daughter back on Gamilon, and is trying to secure a safe future for her as a first-class citizen. Jaretora performs a Heroic Sacrifice to allow him to escape Pluto. In the end, their valor prompts Dessler to make their families honorary citizens.
The Yamato is proclaimed this by the Gamilas on multiple occasions. First by Shultz during the battle of Pluto, right before launching the attack that should have annihilated the Yamato (and would have annihilated them had they not figured out what he was doing at the last moment). Second it's by Deslar himself, who, after witnessing the Yamato surviving a trap he had prepared himself, notes down the name of the ship and decides to sick Domel on them. Then we have the commander of a ship in an Enemy Mine situation that, before attempting to engage the Yamato in a duel, tells the crew it would be an honour to fight them. Most recently, Domel admitted their valor when he witnessed the Yamato trying to escape his ambush by breaking through the center of his fleet, and his admiration only increased when they nearly succeeded by ramming his own flagship and scraping the hull, forcing him away from their route.
The Zaltian commandos.
Wolf Frakken seems to openly enjoy battling the Yamato because it proves a worthy challenge to him. He's also not a big fan Dessler's policies but is loyal anyways. He remains loyal to the Gamilan government after Dessler's disgrace and removal from office and hunts down officers who refuse to recognize the new government. He even assists the Yamato at one point by killing Goer, who was pursuing them.
Gamilas too is working on the very same weapon. In the meantime, many Gamilas ships have weapons that follow the same general idea (big gun with ludicrous firepower that does an helluva damage), but it's less powerful, and before the Yamato Earth ships are implied having used a predecessor of the shock cannon (the turreted weapons of the Yamato) in a similar way.
You Do NOT Want To Know: One senior officer's response to a crewman asking how the OMCS (food synthesizer) works. This knowledge may explain why the officer eats very little. Or it might be simply because the said officer is Sanada.
Zeerust: Earth Fighters seen, such as the Cosmo Falcon, have a mix of high tech displays inside a Cold War fighter cockpit.