In themes seen in many anime, an alien race, the Gamilon, is raining down radioactive bombs on Earth, rendering the Earth's surface uninhabitable due to the fallout and threatening to kill humanity, now living in refuges built deep underground. When all seems lost, a mysterious message is received by Earth's military forces, revealing plans for a faster-than-light engine and that a race located in the Large Magellanic Cloud has a device which can repair the radiation damage. Secretly, the ruin of the Japanese battleship Yamato (though referred to as the Argo in the English dub) is converted into a massive spaceship, complete with a new, incredibly powerful weapon called the "wave motion gun". An intrepid crew leaves in the Yamato to go to the Magellenic Cloud and retrieve the mysterious device, if it exists. Along the way, the crew are involved in many adventures.
Like much anime of its time, the World War Two themes and explicit violence was regarded as too explicit for Western children, and so the English dub was toned down in these respects. Nevertheless, the epic story (with echoes of many of the themes of both Star Wars and Star Trek) and high quality of the voice dub (though as the dubbing was done by non-union actors, their identities were obscured for years later) earned it many fans who remember it fondly to this day. It is a particular touchstone amongst twenty-something IT professionals.