Space Battleship Yamato originally aired in Japan on October 6, 1974 and finished airing on March 30, 1975. It would be brought to the United States as Star Blazers by Westchester Corporation. Interestingly, it received minimal localization from the Westchester; the changes were mostly to the names.
Whether you have seen the original Japanese version with Kodai (as I have) or the Americanized version with Derek Wildstar (as other people I know have), the 2012 remake, Yamato 2199, will feel very, very similar. It is mostly the same series, but there are many subtle changes present and some pretty obvious.
Personally, I think all of the plot-related changes are positive. The script and story are basically a second draft, which has refinements. Certain areas are expanded upon, such as the Gamilas, while some of the more goofier episodes are handled much better. However, if I had one grip with this remake, it would be that there is more sex appeal. It is not necessarily overdone, but I feel that it is not needed.
Of course, all of these changes do introduce new plot holes and whatnot. One episode in particular I felt was handled very sloppily.
As the remake comes to a close, I thought I would go over the changes that the producers did to the story, up to episode 22 (I have not seen episodes 23-26 as of this writing). They expanded on certain characters, added a few more characters, and made the animation much better. I felt that the original focuses too much on Kodai and the Captain, so it is nice to give the supporting characters more screentime. I also like the new characters (it helps that they are cute girls, but the new male characters are alright too).
Original: the crew of the Yukikaze did not sing before their demise.
2199: As the Yukikaze is destroyed, the crew sang.
Original: The Yamato is fitted and fights off a Gamilus carrier.
2199: The Yamato is fitted, launched, and fights off a Gamilus carrier and the interplanetary missile launched from Pluto.
Original: The Yamato is launched and destroys the interplanetary missile launched from Pluto.
2199: The Yamato tests its warp engine, but crashes on a floating continent on Jupiter because the engine malfunctions.
Original: The warp drive is tested and the crew head to Mars. They also join with the Cosmo Tigers.
2199: The crew land on Enceladus so they can repair the Wave Motion Engine. Kodai finds the Yukikaze and the crew is attacked by autonomous soldiers.
Original: The Star Force is trapped by Jupiter’s gravity and they land on an artificial continent.
2199: The Yamato launches an attack on the Pluto base before leaving the Solar System, however, they are trapped by the Gamilus’s satellite-based weapon.
Original: The Star Force searches a moon of Saturn for mineral so they can repair the Wave Motion Engine.
2199: The Yamato finishes the assault on the Pluto Base.
Original: Part 1 of the attack on the Pluto base.
2199: The crew of the Yamato give their last good byes to their loved ones before leaving the Solar System.
Original: Part 2 of the attack on the Pluto Base.
2199: the leader of the Gamilons, Lord Desslock (or Dessler), leads an operation in which the Yamato will either be destroyed by a star or eaten by a gaseous monster (think of the C’tan from Warhammer 40,000).
Original: The Star Force must make it past the Asteroid Belt. A mechanism is displayed that does not appear in 2199: the Asteroid Shield. Basically, by launching magnets into rocks, asteroids, and debris, the Yamato can use those objects as shielding against weapons and other space debris. This is replaced by an actual shield in 2199 called the Wave Motion Shield, which works similarly to the kind in Star Trek.
2199: The crew captured an autonomous soldier that appeared in episode 4, however, this robot escapes. The “goddess” is revealed, although the “goddess” is never explained or shown until later.
Original: The Star Force give their good byes to their loved ones.
2199: The Yamato is trapped in a dimensional rift and they must work with another trapped Gamilus ship to escape. The Gamilon pilot Melda Ditz is introduced, who replaces a captured male pilot in the original series episode 13.
Original: Lord Desslock tries to destroy the Yamato with space mines.
Yamato 2199: Gatlantis is introduced. This is a big, big deal, because Gatlantis (also known as the Comet Empire) does not make an appearance until the film Farewell to Space Battleship Yamato, which would become season 2. Also, Melda Ditz is left on the ship.
Original: Lord Desslock tries to destroy the Yamato similarly to how it was planned in 2199 episode 8.
2199: this episode develops General Domel’s character a lot more than the original did.
Original: this was about the Gamilus pilot that they capture; the pilot leaves in the same episode, while Melda Ditz stays aboard for two episodes.
2199: Yamato is fighting a space ship that can travel dimensions (basically, it’s a space submarine, which the original did have except they couldn’t travel dimensions); they are trapped in an asteroid field.
Original: the Star Force is trapped in a space storm and must escape.
2199: The Yamato is under attack by a Chaos worshiping space witch under the service of Tzeentch (nah, she’s just a space witch; she and her sister are part of a new species introduced in 2199).
Original: General Domel tries to destroy the Yamato.
2199: General Domel tricks the Yamato into warping straight into the middle of his fleet.
Original: the Star Force stops at Beeland, basically a planet inhabited by walking bees. They make honey for Gamilus.
2199: the Bee people are extinct and the only thing that remains are their old civilization, the wildlife, and whatever Gamilus and Iscandar left behind.
Original: Domel replaces the Commander of Balan and tries to destroy the Star Force with creatures that can morph into other things. The captain has to undergo surgery in order to extend his lifespan.
2199: The Yamato crew explores a gateway (this gateway is similar to a webway).
Original: The Star Force destroys a Gamilon fortress that emits magnetron waves; these waves rips apart metals.
2199: originally, Balun was orbited by an artificial star; instead, that star is placed in the middle of Balun and it powers the gateway and the military defenses there. The Yamato destroys Balun and the gateway.
Original: The conditions on Earth are explored.
2199: Domel is released from prison and prepares for a battle to the death with the Yamato.
Original: The Star Force reaches Balun; Domel tries to use an artificial star to destroy the Star Force.
2199: Domel and the Yamato fight until one is defeated; Yuki is captured by the Gamilons.
Original: Domel prepares for the last battle with the Yamato.
2199: Yuki is taken to a prison planet and the Yamato crew are taken prisoner on that same prison planet.
Original: Domel and the Yamato have their battle to the death.
2199: The crew learn that Iscandar and Gamilus are twin planets. The captain’s health deteriorates.