Recent years have seen the development and production of several Hollywood remakes of Japanese cultural commodities, among which are some based on sf Japanese animations. Some of these remakes have provoked criticism from fan communities for their ‘whitewashing’ of casts, settings and storylines. Given the hegemonic position that Hollywood occupies within the world-media system, these criticisms are undoubtedly warranted. Yet insofar as they operate on the basis of a politics of representation, they at once run the risk of fetishising a notion of Japanese authenticity that re-inscribes mutually reinforcing techno-orientalist and cultural nationalist undercurrents in the discourse surrounding Japanese animation. My essay argues that rather than an approach that privileges notions of originality and authenticity, the transnational cultural politics of remakes and reboots can be more effectively apprehended when the intertextuality built into the very structural logic of the sf genre is properly recognised. Taking up the recent live-action remake of Space Battleship Yamato (2010) as an illustrative example, I suggest that the nostalgic desire and staging of retroactive continuities that drive both its story and its critical reception call attention to its repetitions of tropes from not only the preceding titles from within the Yamato franchise, but also a longer legacy of nautical adventure stories from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Informed by this textual genealogy, I highlight the text’s engagement with the linkages between the history of imperialism and the formation of sf as a genre in Japan and beyond.