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Recently, the Anime.SE Basement Anime club has finished watching Space Battleship Yamato 2199. After watching this, I've picked up on the term Space Opera. What elements of a show classify it as a Space Opera?

Would a more action-dense show like a Gundam series, also be considered a Space Opera?

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    The notion of a "space opera" is fairly old and has very little to do specifically with anime. – senshin Feb 6 '16 at 5:28
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Space opera isn't an anime specific term, it's an entire sub-genre of science fiction. The easiest way to describe it is in two words: Star Wars. It's the archetypal example of modern space opera.

To be more specific, Wikipedia provides a good description of the genre that lists the key elements:

Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction set mainly or entirely in outer space, that emphasizes space warfare and melodramatic adventure, and often risk-taking as well as chivalric romance; usually involving conflict between opponents possessing advanced abilities, futuristic weapons and other sophisticated technology.

I'd also add another key element of space opera, an epic scope. They have interstellar scale, taking place on multiple planets, the battles are large and the characters are playing for high stakes.

I've only watched a few episodes of Gundam here and there, and its many series vary a fair bit, but in general I wouldn't call it a good example of space opera. It has many of the elements of space opera, but scope is fairly limited. I don't think any of incarnations of Gundam take place outside of the solar system, and many of them seem to be focused mostly on Earth. I'd say it over all Gundam is better placed in the military sub-genre of science fiction, given the military roles of its main characters, the relatively realistic depictions of warfare and focus on military technology, the titular Gundams.

  • Dune is another Western example of space opera. Among anime, the works of Leiji Matsumoto, e.g. Galaxy Express 999, are pretty much all space opera. Matsumoto also had a hand in the original 1970s version of Space Battleship Yamato. I would also call the Xenosaga games--and hence their anime adaptation--space opera. – Torisuda Feb 7 '16 at 1:45

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