Yamato 2199 Episode 10 Commentary

by Luis Cotovio and Daniel George

Episode 10: Graveyard of the Universe

(Japanese Name: 大宇宙の墓場 / Daiuchuu no Hakaba)

Director: Toshihiro Kawamoto

Running time: 24m 42s (21m 00s without credits)
Opening Theme:

  • (Cinema/Home Video): Uchuu Senkan Yamato by Isao Sasaki
  • (TV): Uchuu Senkan Yamato by Project 2199

Ending Theme:

  • (Cinema/Home Video): Scarlet Scarf by Isao Sasaki
  • (TV): Best of My Love by Rei Yasuda

[DG]: This episode commences with 325 days left on the time counter, making the episode’s start date March 23, 2199. Two weeks have passed since the beginning of events chronicled in Episode 9, but there were no real hints as to how much time transpired in that episode.

This is the first episode where the opening credits use the “full” version of the Uchuu Senkan Yamato theme, with the opening fanfare long-time fans grew up with on Star Blazers. This is also the sole episode where we hear this original series combination of opening and closing themes, as it marks the last episode of Chapter/Volume Three, and thus the last time we hear Isao Sasaki’s performance of The Scarlet Scarf in the series.

The episode opens with a view of Planet Balun, a gaseous planet where Garmillas are shown to have a major base on a continent that appears to be floating in mid-air.

[LC]: After a few mentions on displays and dialogue, we finally get an actual view of one of the most famous planets in the Yamato saga, BALUN (previously transliterated as Balan), known not just as a the initial base of operations for General Domel but also for being the halfway point between Earth and Iscandar. The original planet was a dark, rocky place with a base in its surface and an artificial sun, presumably created and controlled by the Garmilas, orbiting it and serving as a light source for the rogue planet.

2199’s take is a bit different. At first glance it looks like a simple aesthetic upgrade from the original, but a closer look immediately shows a major difference even before subsequent shots confirm it. Balun is now a gaseous planet. Analyzing the initial frame and the subsequent production materials, we realize the planet is made up of two separate gas hemispheres swirling around a luminous core, which was initially believed to be the artificial sun, and surrounded by two relatively thin rings.

The base itself seems to be suspended in midair among Balun’s restless clouds, like the floating continent at Jupiter. A closer look reveals two things which, for now at least, will remain unexplained. First, the design of the base seems somewhat different from standard Garmillas design, leading to the belief that it is some kind of repurposed alien structure. This will play a major role and is one of the big changes of direction in 2199’s modified plot.

The second is the existence of some sort of “cable system” – for lack of a better term – coming from below the base and then from the base upwards. What are they and where do they lead to and from? For now, the mystery persists.

One thing is for sure, Balun is quite an interesting place.

We see Goer in a holo-call with his immediate superior, Herm Zoellick. Goer is alarmed that he faces dismissal from his position as Milky Way theater commander. Zoellick tells him he has brought shame upon Dessler’s plan by failing to deal with Yamato, and that since he recommended Goer for the position, Zoellick’s own standing is jeopardized. Goer assures Zoellick that he can deal with one or two Terron ships, to which Zoellick reminds him that failure is not a word in the Garmillas dictionary, cutting off further discussion by saying he awaits good news.

[LC]: Much like the planet, though we’ve seen him a few times already, Goer has been just a holographic buffoon so far. This is the first time we see the actual guy “in the flesh.” Fortunately, he continues to be the most expressive character ever.

Funny how this scene has Goer taste a bit of his own medicine. A few episodes ago it was his towering hologram who did the chastising, in that instance to Shulz. Now he’s the one in the hot seat with Zoellick towering over him. I do not envy the guy.

Goer’s aide raises an issue about a ship they lost contact with several days ago, and Goer abruptly says that only Yamato matters to them at the moment, ignoring the aide’s point that a member of the Imperial Guard is aboard the missing ship. The aide brings up a map identifying the general area Yamato could be in. Goer’s fleet is seen departing Balun.

[LC]: The camo pattern in the ships stationed at Balun pays tribute to a color concept discarded in the original series (click here to see that concept in the 1974 presentation book). It’s also the first time we see a Gaiderol-class dreadnaught besides Shultz’ Le Chevalier. In the original it was a standalone ship but now it is just one in a whole class of ships. This one, commanded by Goer, is called Goergamesh (though the name isn’t mentioned until Episode 18). The name is an obvious play on the names Goer and Gilgamesh.

[DG]: Goer is deploying the fleet from Balun while Yamato is still within the Milky Way. Given the timeframe over which this episode occurs, it foreshadows an as-yet-unseen shortcut to get quickly from Balun to the Milky Way.

On Yamato, the pilots are all assembled in the squadron recreational area, with Akira Yamamoto regarding her pendant. We see a flashback to the day her brother Akio deployed with the UNCF, where she gave it to him.

[LC]: Another character seen here for the first time “in the flesh,” even if it is a flashback, is Akira’s brother, Akio. He’s been mentioned often and seen in some photos. Pity the poor guy didn’t live long enough to make many appearances. The manga used him a bit more with Akio showing Akira a prototype Cosmo Zero and a few other scenes.

On that subject, many fans believed Akio was the actual Yamamoto, which in 2199’s continuity would have been killed off and replaced by his sister. But try as you might to avoid Yamamoto’s gender-bending, it is a fact. Though Akio was designed to incorporate some aesthetic elements of the original Yamamoto, Akira is the real deal. Just the name alone should put that to rest, but if it doesn’t, check this interview with character designer Nobuteru Yuuki.

In it, Yuuki reveals that Shinohara was supposed to be Yamamoto but ended up becoming who he is today when Yutaka Izubuchi decided to make Yamamoto a female pilot. The initial designs for Akira were based on those of another female pilot, Miharu Sasaki, that Yuuki was working on at the time for Yamato Resurrection. After several stages of refinement we ended up with two great pilots and awesome characters. And a dead brother.

Warp preparations are announced over the PA, where Sawamura and Shinohara discuss how they’ve become accustomed to warping now, a far cry from the first warp where space sickness struck many of the crew. Misaki is walking in the vicinity of the automatic navigation room, which she regards for a moment.

[LC]: Guess that Yurisha really managed to touch Misaki, as I jokingly mentioned in Episode 9, and has enough of a hold on her to keep making her walk down this junction where she has little or no reason to go to.

[DG]: While it may not be out of the ordinary for Misaki to walk around the ship for exercise, it’s highly odd for her to be doing so when the ship is about to warp. Her mannerism when she sees the automatic navigation room suggests that she had no idea where she was and was somewhat surprised to see it, which supports the hypothesis that Yurisha had some influence on her up to that point.

Meanwhile, Shima runs through the checklists for the warp, reading through current position and planned distance to be covered. Ohta confirms his readings. Meanwhile Tokugawa confirms all is well from the engine room.

[LC]: As we commented back in Episode 8, the plot in 2199 has begun to stray from a straightforward adaptation of the original episodes. This episode and the ones following are fine examples of how they took elements from the original and rearrange them into a new narrative.

The core of this episode comes from the original Episode 15, where Yamato wanders into a “Galactic Whirlpool” and a graveyard of lost, wrecked spaceships, apparently trapped in another dimension. It featured perhaps the biggest Deus Ex Machina situation in the series as Starsha intervenes and manipulates the dimensional compass to show them the way out. They escape the attacking fleet, led by Domel. The Playstation game adaptation of the Iscandar saga had already altered the plot to something closer to what we see here, but there the Garmillas ship was already a derelict and the player needed to search it for the data necessary to find the way out.

In 2199 there is an Iscandarian tampering with the compass, but they must find their own way out. Also, at this point Domel has yet to take command (or to appear) so Goer is still in charge of the Balun base. Those elements will be featured in coming episodes.

The other original episode woven into this one is Episode 13, which featured the captured Garmillan pilot and the revelation (to Yamato’s crew) of what the enemy really looked like. That episode is famous for having Kodai trying to stab the enemy pilot to avenge his family, and for the flashback showing us his family’s death. Here, most of the original Kodai’s angst is transferred to Akira.

[DG]: That’s a big call. It’s hard to surpass the Deflection Shield in Episode 26 for the biggest Deus Ex Machina of the original series.

[LC]: I put that one aside because it had a Sanada explanation, as in “I studied the reflection satellite tech and thought of this.” Sure, the way he conveniently revealed it sounded like he pulled that out of his… hat, but still it was a better explanation than “god/goddess did it.” 😀

[DG: The magnitude of the consequences suggests otherwise. Starsha just meddled with the navigation systems. Somehow, Sanada could somehow deflect a Wave-Motion Gun beam with a shield that he “just finished” without even announcing that he was working on it? Sanada’s is the bigger deus ex machina by a teraparsec.

[LC]: I don’t like you anymore. 😛

Yamato warps. This time however, everyone is still conscious and knows something’s wrong. Okita orders a situation report, to which Ohta confirms they are in warp. Sanada surmises that they are inhabiting the one nanosecond of the ship’s warp. The astro compass is spinning around without any reason.

[LC]: This is what an Iscandarian mind on crack must look like… a holographic battleship spinning wildly inside a glass sphere. Don’t do drugs, kids.

Okita thinks it might be the automatic navigation room and Sanada, appearing to read Okita’s mind, instructs Yuki to investigate it. Sanada announces over the PA that they are still currently in warp but they are investigating anomalies. In the Pilots’ recreation room Kato tells the others that it’s their own uncertainty causing the blurry vision.

Meanwhile, Misaki is looking at her hands, asking what’s happened to her. Suddenly, a bright light comes out of the apparently now-open door to the automatic navigation room, and we see the image of a naked blond woman, who is only shown from the nose to the shoulders. She says something unheard to Misaki before cupping her face with her hands. Misaki promptly faints.

[LC]: Those paying attention will immediately realize this shot of the automatic navigation room’s open hatch is a hallucination, taking place inside Misaki’s mind. The main giveaway is that the warp haze is gone during the whole scene, returning in the next shot as we see Misaki fall to the ground. Nice detail.

[DG]: I disagree. The haze is still clearly visible when the hatch is open, and visible all around her as she looks at her hands. It’s still visible when we cross to the three-quarter view but it’s being overawed by the bright light coming from the auto navigation room. The corridor is dark like much of the rest of the ship because it’s in Warp Mode, but if Yurisha has woken up the brightness could simply be a light inside the navigation room that’s brighter than the corridor.

Also, we get another first “in the flesh” (pun intended) shot of a character, even if it is in a vision and only in a limited capacity. But this is basically where the whole “Yuki is Yurisha” plot truly begins to unravel, as more and more of the mysterious Iscandarian and her possible fate begin to be revealed. But don’t fret, they don’t give everything away just yet.

[DG]: Is the opening of the door and the emergence of Yurisha an illusion seen only by Misaki, or is it what actually happened? When Yurisha is expelled by Misaki in Episode 20, she manages to come out of the coma and emerge from the hibernation chamber unassisted, so what’s not to say she could here too? To me it’s inconclusive one way or the other whether Yurisha was physically there or not.

[LC]: So… she woke up, molested Misaki and then curled back in her capsule and lapsed back into a coma (I won’t mention the fact she took her clothes off for this scene to put them back on again before falling back to sleep). Not sold on it. Though I grant the disappearing haze was indeed a fail on my part. Upon closer observation, it is the glare from the hatch that seems to dissipate it.

Suddenly, Yamato shakes violently as it is pulled out of warp. Kodai, who has been knocked out by the abrupt stop, looks outside to find Yamato surrounded by a green, watery haze.

[LC]: I just love these shots in the dimensional fault. The effect of being underwater really fits with Yamato and she just looks gorgeous floating there. But this look does raise the question… there seems to be a “surface” to this ocean, so… what would happen if Yamato tried to break it? Perhaps it’s a bit like the tale of Tantalus and the surface is forever unattainable. Unless you have a dimensional submarine… but let’s leave that for another day. :D.

[DG]: What is the source of the light from the “surface”? I know it’s supposed to give the impression that Yamato is underwater, but there doesn’t seem to be any explanation for it.

[LC]: The only “explanation” was given in an interview by Izubuchi. I quote:

“Speaking of the sea, there’s one trapped in a different dimension. Because it has the image of a Sargasso Sea called “the graveyard of ships,” I wanted it to look like it was underwater. Some might ask “why is there incidental light from above in a different dimension,” but that’s Yamato. Because I had decided that the dimensional submarine would appear, I wanted to properly show the different dimension of space first. (…) It was intended to “unify the undersea image.” Another “if it’s Yamato…” so to speak was the idea.”

Meanwhile, Yuki has found the unconscious Misaki and is attempting to rouse her. When she awakens, Misaki is taken aback by Yuki’s sudden presence and yelps as she scurries backwards. As the lights come back on, both regard the closed automatic navigation room.

Meanwhile, Yamato floats in the green haze. Shima asks where they are and Okita orders a damage check. Ohta and Aihara report systems normal. Sanada reports that it appears they’ve fallen into a dimensional rift. Okita notes that this is a place where dimensions intersect, a dimensional fault.

[LC]: Technobabble ensues. Still, Sanada and Okita make it sound not silly.

Tokugawa reports that the Wave-Motion engine is leaking energy but he doesn’t know where. Okita orders the engine be shut down, noting that the rift reverses the properties of space as they know it; instead of the engine generating infinite energy from the vacuum, here the reverse happens, and it leaks energy.

[LC]: O…K… I’ll retract that last statement. This is totally silly.

Analyzer warns that there are multiple unidentified objects ahead. Looking forward, the crew sees ships, and debris from ships, scattered throughout the green “water.” Shima notes that it’s like a “ship graveyard,” to which Sanada replies that these ships were unable to escape. Kodai calls it a “Sargasso Sea of Space.”

[LC]: The name Sargasso Sea has become associated, more by fault of its fictional depictions than by real life, with a dangerous place where ships are lost and become derelicts. The original series also made a reference to this. The closest adaptation of this “Sargasso Sea of Space,” right down to the space whirlpool (a black hole in the show – yes, I know how ridiculous that is), was in another japanese series, Go Nagai’s 1981 puppet show X-Bomber. In its seventh episode, the titular ship becomes stranded in a place very similar to this one.

[DG]: Scenes like the debris field in this riftspace are usually good opportunities to leave “Easter Eggs,” so given Yutaka Izubuchi’s involvement in Yamato III, I was looking to see if there were Bolar Federation or Galman-style ships in this galactic quagmire. Alas, there’s nothing that doesn’t appear in official sources.

Yuki returns to the bridge, informing Sanada there was nothing unusual with the automatic navigation room. Analyzer reports detecting a Garmillas L-class cruiser at eleven o’clock. The Meltoria-class cruiser’s hydrogen scoops go into battle mode, and its turrets train forward on Yamato.

[LC]: The Meltoria-class battleship is the first truly new Garmillas ship design to appear on the show. It is supposedly meant to be an upgrade on the Destoria-class, probably even meant to replace them. Though this is the first new design to appear on the actual series, the first one to be revealed was the Hyzerad-class dreadnaught, which is an upgrade of the Gaiderol-class, but that won’t actually appear for a couple of episodes.

Okita responds to questions of attacking the cruiser by saying both ships would fall if they fought, and he is sure the enemy recognizes that as well. Aihara reports that the enemy ship is hailing them, and Okita says to open a channel.

Akira’s Zero is raised onto the launch catapult. Kodai notes that an enemy plane has launched, and we see through his binoculars that a plane has launched from the rear of the cruiser. On Okita’s order, Alpha Two launches. The bridge crew meanwhile debates the sincerity of the offer made by the Garmillans.

The scene through Kodai’s binoculars suggests that the emissary’s plane has launched from the rear of the Garmillan ship. Going by both the trajectory and the design artwork of the Meltoria class from various sources, the trapezoidal structure on which the dorsal stern beam turret sits is almost certainly a hangar deck. Design drawings suggest some kind of sectional door covers the rear of this structure, rather than it being plate armor like the rest of the hull. Given the ship’s 283-meter length, the hangar could accommodate one or two fighters or aerospacecraft of a similar size.

[LC]: Seven designs for alien ships were done by Tomoyuki Hirao and placed among the debris field. They are refered to in reference materials as “ships of unknown affiliation.”

[DG]: Here we see for the first time the DWG-262 Czvarke. The aircraft is clearly named for the Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe (swallow), the world’s first operational jet fighter which was the terror of German skies late in World War II. The plane’s design clearly pays tribute to the 262, with the high tail and the mid-wing sponsons which carry guns and missiles on the Czvarke and also appear to have some sort of auxiliary engine, a tribute to the Schwalbe’s engines.

While many texts refer to the Me 262 being called the Sturmvogel, this specifically refers to a fighter-bomber variant of the plane. Schwalbe was the name given the original, air-superiority/interceptor version. The Czvarke‘s arsenal looks intended for fighter combat rather than any intended heavy attack role.

The Romanized spelling of the name is not seen until Episode 18, and when I first saw it, I thought it an unusual choice, the Cz seeming more Eastern European than Germanic. The katakana spelling is ツヴァルケ (Tsubaruke), the use of the katakana, with the dakuten diacritic on the standard “u” katakana an uncommonly used method of identifying that the syllable is supposed to be pronounced with the “v” instead of the usual Japanese practice of defaulting “v” to “b.”

It’s interesting that had they used the more conventional practice of substituting “ba” for “va,” the spelling would have turned out to be Tsubaruke, which is awfully close to Tsubame, the Japanese word for swallow. It’s possible that was the intent as well – the name similarity would fit in with its operational role of aerospace superiority and interception akin to that of the Schwalbe it is paying tribute to.

[LC]: The frame above left got the fans in a uproar. Though its barely seen as it zips past the cockpit, that is a Devastator-class Heavy Fighter, which we all know as the main fighter type used by Gatlantis in Yamato 2.

[DG]: So, Gatlantis technically makes its first appearance earlier than most would think. I have to admit, I completely missed that. Nice catch.

Akira pulls alongside the red fighter and we see a flashback to Kato returning the ruby pendant to Akira following Akio’s death.

[LC]: In the manga, the flashback is actually Kato telling Kodai about Akira’s past and the death of Akio, with a much deeper look at those events, including Kato and Akira at the morgue. I really hope we get a translated edition of the manga some day.

The red fighter is brought aboard the Seagull hangar with armed security team members surrounding the cockpit, and Okita, Kodai, and Analyzer looking on from the control room. Meanwhile the crew remaining on the bridge watches the footage from Sanada’s console, showing multiple angles of the still-helmeted Garmillas pilot, discussing what they look like.

Everyone then sees the pilot remove the breathing mask and helmet. Many are shocked when a blue-skinned, red-haired human woman is revealed.

[DG]: Noticeably, neither Yuki nor Sanada are surprised, although Yuki does pass a comment about Melda’s skin color. The lack of surprise shown by the two is explainable: Sanada was the one in charge of keeping Yurisha alive and oversaw her cryo-chamber’s loading aboard Yamato. Yuki has up to this point been at least aware of Yurisha’s presence on Earth (remember her conversation with Kodai at the start of Episode 5) and that human or humanoid life-forms exist somewhere other than Earth. The other crew members saw the image of Starsha when the message was played back in Episode 2, so they should at least not be all that surprised.

Another possibility, which is open to personal opinion, is that they may very well know at the top level that their enemy is humanoid; the events of the Second Battle of Mars could have resulted in seeing Garmillan corpses flying through wreckage, in which case anyone who survived that battle and saw this would have been committed to silence on the matter. While this is unlikely, it’s not completely impossible for it to have happened, despite Hijikata’s quote in Episode 1 suggesting the contrary.

The pilot is escorted to the control room where Analyzer greets the pilot. The pilot replies that his Garmillan is hard to understand and, upon touching a device on her neck, begins to speak in Japanese that she can translate their language. She then asks for confirmation that she is aboard a Terron ship, specifically Yamato. Kodai, having been surprised at the term “Terron” earlier, turns to a stoic-looking Okita upon hearing that the pilot knows the ship’s name.

[DG]: The translation device is something we have to put down to story, as it doesn’t really make sense that Melda speaks Garmillan through her vocal cords and Japanese is coming out. The question is, how can something like this actually work without a comprehensive understanding of Japanese to begin with?

[LC]: Perhaps an infusion of Babelfish blood…?!

On the bridge of the cruiser, it’s announced that Lower Storm Leader Dietz has docked with Yamato. Captain Vars Lang and Parn Nerge, a member of the Imperial Guard, stand at the front of the bridge. Nerge says to the captain that if it is Yamato before them, it’s a lucky break for a second-class Garmillan ship like his, to which the captain does not respond.

Seated in the Captain’s conference room, the pilot introduces herself as Melda Dietz of the 707th Galactic Theater Air Corps, rank Lower Storm Leader. While Akira stands at attention, Kodai introduces himself as the ship’s Tactical Officer. Melda notes that there are many light-skinned, inferior races from colonized or conquered planets within Garmillas territory – second-class Garmillans.

[DG]: Here we are formally introduced to Melda Dietz, possibly the most radically altered character from the original series, not only in gender but also in purpose and significance. In Episode 13 of the original series, Yamato has its first face-to-face contact with the enemy when Kodai and the Black Tigers capture a Gamilas plane (we have to forget about the troops on Titan and Pluto, since the writers evidently did as well). The pilot is never named, since he’s never seen again after he leaves the ship. In contrast, Melda Dietz has a far more significant role to play in the story. Over the course of this episode and the next she also fills the role of her original series counterpart.

Melda’s arrival marks the start of where 2199’s story starts to come into its own rather than a retelling of the original series.

Kodai takes offense at the second-class label, asking Melda if she is really here to negotiate. Melda responds by asking whether she should trust someone who brought a gun to a negotiation, glancing at his brother’s sidearm holstered on his belt. She then quips that Terrons enjoy war so much they attacked the Garmillans without a formal declaration.

[DG]: Well, as we will see in the next episode, I don’t think they were coming into the solar system with a fleet of warships to borrow a cup of sugar or to play poker…

[LC]: Still, having Earth fire the first shot in the war is not just a major deviation of the original but also brings up the question of what would have transpired if that attack hadn’t happened. For all we know, the ships sighted entering the solar system could be just a scouting party and Garmillas might not even show any interest in a backwater planet like ours, at least not in the short term. The closest similar situation I can recall is in Babylon 5, where a first contact misunderstanding lead to the Earth ship firing on a Minbari cruiser, putting into motion a war of revenge that nearly led to the extinction of the human race.

This naturally prompts a hostile counter-claim from Akira that Garmillas shot first. Melda claims on the honor of her family’s military history that she is not lying. Meanwhile, as the bridge crew watches, Shima angrily claims the same as Akira. Yuki is surprised when Kodai unholsters his gun and places it on the table, Kodai states that he’ll hear her proposal.

[LC]: Given what he did in the original, I’m sure many longtime fans – as well as Yuki, apparently – probably thought he would do something else with his gun. But as I’ve said before, this is a new Kodai. And this is one hell of a gesture. If Melda doesn’t trust him after this…

In the situation room, the use of the Wave-Motion Gun to break a hole in the dimensional rift is discussed; Sanada and Niimi confirm it’s possible. Nanbu questions how the Garmillas know of the Wave-Motion Gun’s existence, to which Sanada responds that they must have seen it being used at Gliese 581. Niimi notes that using the Wave-Motion Gun would use most of their remaining energy, rendering them unable to leave the rift.

[LC]: I’m always surprised at how quickly Sanada – and now Niimi, too – come up with such “conceptual diagrams” right after being put in a totally new situation like this space rift.

We flash back to earlier events in the conference room as Kodai jumps up angrily, saying Melda’s plan would knock Yamato offline. Melda calmly promises that her ship will tow Yamato out of the rift. She states that neither side can escape without the other’s cooperation.

[LC]: Kodai just blurting out that Yamato will be powerless once it fires the Wave-Motion Gun… really, Kodai?! It’s one thing for them to know Yamato has such a weapon, but it’s another thing entirely for them to learn its Achilles’ heel. Bad tactical officer!!! Court-martial him!!!

Wait, let’s calm down. Let me act as Kodai’s defense attorney here. Since we didn’t see any of their conversation before this point, context is a bit lost. And most times, context is king. If they didn’t know about Yamato’s vulnerability beforehand, what were they bringing to the table in exchange for their cooperation?! Intelligent as she clearly is, I doubt Melda would just come up with the towing plan after Kodai’s slip-up.

We can assume they made an educated guess that, given the energy leeching properties of this dimensional rift and the power requirements of such a powerful weapon, Yamato would need such assistance. In that context, Kodai wouldn’t be giving much away. Or they already had knowledge of such a limitation since Garmillas is working on their own version of the weapon, as revealed by Velte Talan in Episode 8. But since that must still be a top-secret project, it’s doubtful knowledge of it would have reached the front lines. So I’d go with the first one.

Ok, Kodai, I think I got you out but mind that mouth of yours next time… 😀

In the situation room, several of the section heads voice their distrust of the enemy to hold up their end of the bargain, especially coming from someone claiming they started the war. Okita remains silent, something Kodai notices.

[LC]: Okita’s silence at the remarks about Melda’s supposed lie are quite telling, as we will see in the following episodes. The fact that Kodai notices is also a nice touch, and this bit of editing is very well done.

Tokugawa states that with every passing second they’re leaking energy and soon even firing the Wave-Motion Gun might not be possible. Sanada agrees there’s no time to hesitate and Okita tells his senior officers that their best option is to believe the Garmillas offer is sincere.

[LC]: Pragmatic as always, Okita realizes he has no good option other than to trust the Garmillas proposal. The only other option is to dismiss it and attempt to find a way out on their own, which seems unlikely since time is of the essence. Between the possibility of betrayal or the certainty of destruction, there’s really no other call he could make.

Back in the conference room, Akira is guarding Melda, the two exchanging silent glances. Kodai returns, stating that they agree to the Garmillan plan. Melda, visibly relieved, expresses gratitude.

[DG]: Melda’s gracious acceptance is pretty much the first sign of sincerity we’ve seen from a pure-blood Garmillan soldier in this series.

Lang exchanges salutations with Okita, who thanks him for his ship’s proposal. Lang returns the gratitude, acknowledging they are in the same boat as Yamato. He states that Melda will remain aboard Yamato as a point of contact, that they’re free to see it as an act of goodwill, prompting a wicked grin from Nerge.

[LC]: Nerge’s reaction to Lang’s mention of a “gesture of goodwill” shows us Yamato is lucky that he’s not the one in charge. If his surreptitious looks and affiliation to Gimleh’s forces didn’t make you distrust him, this most certainly would. And we just know he’ll throw a wrench in the gears, eventually.

Nanbu comments on how Melda seems to be a convenient hostage. Lang proceeds by telling Okita that upon returning to normal space they will be enemies again, which Okita acknowledges. Lang says he looks forward to exchanging fire with them. The comms line is closed and Kodai mentions that after they fire the Wave-Motion Gun, they won’t have energy for the main cannons. Okita says he knows that but this is a promise made between men.

[LC]: The exchange between Lang and Okita is a nice bit of dialogue, with Lang being straightforward about his intentions once they’re out of this situation. And even though the whole thing, especially Okita’s last remark – which borders on being naive – lays it a bit thick on the honorable enemy trope, it’s still quite nice.

The manga version of Vars Lang features a nasty burn scar in the left side of his face with his left ear nearly destroyed. Wonder where he could have gotten that. His anime version is pristine.

Back aboard EX-178, Nerge notes that with Admiral Dietz’s daughter staying with them, Yamato must trust them now, grinning opportunistically.

[LC]: It’s quite clear that even though she is the daughter of the “supreme admiral of the astro-fleets,” that relation gives Melda little to no assurance that she might get out of this, at least as far as the Security Forces are concerned. Surely Gimleh would find a way of blaming her death on the Terrons.

In the conference room, Akira is once again the sole person watching over their guest. Melda notes the red color of her pendant’s jewel is a lovely color, albeit not so much as blue. Akira responds that red is her color, and that of her home. Melda notes that it appears important to her; Akira responds that both it and Kodai’s gun are mementos that their loved ones left behind, before Garmillas killed them.

[LC]: This comment by Melda always sound a bit off to me for two reasons. The first is she sounds like she’s glorifying the purity of her race, the “noble blue-skinned Garmillans.” Images of Hitler Youth ensue in my mind, and sure, we just met Melda and for all we know she might be a freakin’ space nazi. But the sense we get from the start with this character is one of a noble and honored soldier/pilot. Never at any point does Melda come across as a bigot, so the line doesn’t really connect with a character that seems as far-removed from a racist as a vegan from bacon.

Then there’s also the matter that, after we get to know the character, she just loves red. Her hair is red and her fighter is custom painted red. So I don’t think that, except to elicit a response or keep some semblance of a “poker face” would she say such a thing.

There’s the possibility it’s the way she’s been raised. As the daughter of a Fleet Admiral, it’s more akin to the “ojou-sama” (rich girl) trope commonly seen in high school anime, but in this case it’s racial rather than class gap. As such, although it is not necessarily her intent to be so, her words are considered by her audience to be offensive/condescending. Gul Dietz appears to be a reasonable person, so perhaps she’s merely stating governmental view rather than her own?

Yamato‘s auxiliary engines fire up, giving her a small amount of forward momentum. EX-178 turns around, forms up forward of Yamato and attaches towing beams to her hull.

[LC]: Given how much naval stuff they use in Yamato, having actual towing cables – even if they’re “energy cables” instead of some unseen tractor beam is a nice touch.

Okita orders to switch to emergency power and for the Wave-Motion Gun firing preparations to commence. As the lights go out, Melda says the operation has begun. As the Wave-Motion Gun charges, EX-178 ducks out of the line of fire.

Kodai fires the gun on Okita’s order, successfully creating the exit. Ohta confirms the hole has been created, and Shima laments that now Yamato has been rendered helpless.

[LC]: Though this is all technobabbly, pseudo-scientific nonsense at its core, we can ask ourselves a few questions within the confines of the established rules of this sci-fi universe. For example, what is the Wave-Motion Gun fired at? What are they targeting? From Sanada’s diagram the beam is meant to hit a “dimensional boundary layer.” Memorize that expression, it’ll come up a lot.

In the diagram they show it as some sort of wall encapsulating the space they’re currently in. But the wall isn’t really there. Supposedly, if they started flying in any direction they wouldn’t hit anything. The only analogue I can think of is the visual of Yamato’s warp, where it seems to break through some sort of intangible dimensional “wall.” Crossing it leads the ship into another dimension, emerging from it at their destination almost instantaneously. This time, the wormhole was intersected by this rift and the ship was trapped in here.

But since a warp got them here, couldn’t a warp get them out? Probably a bad idea. The energy required might be the same as the Wave-Motion Gun – in the original, both were often quoted as requiring a 120% energy charge – though I’m guessing the energy requirements might vary depending on factors like the distance they need to jump. But what makes it a bad idea is the fact that, even if they could do it, they’d be warping blind. They have absolutely no reference point and the risk would probably make this a last gamble, if they had no other options left.

So back to the Wave-Motion Gun. The way I explain this to myself is that solid matter will fly on and on in here without finding any feature like that wall. But energy beams might eventually phase through if they have enough power. Thus the Wave-Motion Gun’s beam is eventually capable of creating a phase shift, much like the warp system. But while the warp “drills” through the wall, the Wave-Motion Gun is more like a sledgehammer.

I know, I’m a deranged nerd who just thinks way too much about these things… XD

Aboard EX-178, Captain Lang announces that they will now commence towing Yamato from the area. Back aboard Yamato, Ohta confirms the towing has recommenced.

Nerge questions Captain Lang’s actions, to which Lang succinctly replies that Nerge is an outsider. Visibly irritated, Nerge gives a quick “Hail, Desler!” and leaves the bridge, only to make his way down to the towing beam control room. The tow beams suddenly disconnect from Yamato.

[LC]: See?! Wrench! Gears! Kaput!

Seriously, now. This scene is one of the very few where we see more of the inside of a Garmillas ship than just the command bridge. We got to see Shultz’s quarters back in Episode 8 and here a few more shots of assorted rooms. They were never visited in the original series, and even in 2199 these are still in short supply.

Yuki announces the beam cut, and Aihara notes that an encrypted hyperspace transmission has been sent to the opening by the Garmillas ship. Nanbu and Shima both express disgruntlement at the result. Okita remains silent. Melda cannot believe what’s just happened, but Akira draws her gun against Melda, saying she knew that this was their plan all along.

Lang enters the beam control room, asking Nerge what he’s doing. He rhetorically asks if Nerge is the one who alerted Goer that they found Yamato, and that he’ll report that treason upon their return. Nerge responds that the only treason is being committed by Lang because they’re helping the enemy escape the rift.

Simultaneously, Akira calls Melda their enemy, shaking somewhat as she thumbs the safety on her gun. Melda tells her that if she thinks that way, to shoot her and don’t hesitate. Akira shakes from rage and/or indecision.

The camera shifts to show the shimmering “surface” of the rift as the sound of a shot echoes through the scene. Blood pools beneath the fallen body of Parn Nerge, shot by one of the bridge officers who had followed the captain. Lang reassures his officer, who is visibly distraught.

[LC]: Nerge is bit more fortunate in the manga version, where he is only shot in the arm and taken into custody. Though given the events at the end of the episode, his luck will soon run out. Also, it’s Lang himself that shoots him.

To the surprise of many aboard Yamato, the towing beams reconnect and the EX-178 begins towing the battleship toward the dimensional tear. Okita tells them to stay on alert and focus on getting out.

The sudden jolt gives Melda a chance to disarm Akira and wrestle her to the floor, the gun flying across the room. The two women struggle to reach the gun while EX-178 continues to tow Yamato through the hole in the rift wall.

[LC]: The manga plays this out a bit differently, too. Instead of an all-out brawl, the two women simply take turns slapping each other until Melda says they should resolve their quarrel as pilots. Personally, in this instance I prefer the anime version of the events. Not just because the slap-fest in the manga comes across as cliched and silly, but because this way it pays another tribute to the original, where Kodai ended up wrestling the Garmillan pilot.

Sanada notes the hole is destabilizing, and Shima announces that there is now one minute until they’re clear, EX-178 having accelerated after noticing the hole destabilizing themselves.

Back in the conference room, Melda holds the gun aloft, aiming at Akira. She then turns the gun around and returns it to Akira, saying that pilots need not have this between them. Now in normal space again, EX-178 releases the towing beams as the hole in the rift all but closes. Yamato‘s bridge crew expresses relief upon confirmation that they have returned to normal space.

Aboard EX-178, Lang orders the ship to battle stations and instructs that Melda is to return to the ship. He then notes to himself that Yamato is a splendid enemy. His train of thought is interrupted by the announcement that there are friendly craft exiting warp space. As the ships of Goer’s fleet return to normal space, Yuki detects them as well.

Goer orders EX-178 out of their line of fire. One of the crew notes that Admiral Dietz’s daughter is aboard Yamato. Goer, after initially responding with alarm, orders his ships to open fire regardless. Vars Lang stands silent on the bridge, accepting his fate. EX-178 is hit by beams from Goer’s fleet and destroyed. Yamato’s bridge crew are shocked that Garmillas would fire on their own ship.

[LC]: Goer’s actions are not at all surprising. Much like his benefactor, Zoellick, he must also bear some prejudice toward second-class Garmillans. The fact that a pure-blood Garmillan of high stature might be killed would probably give him pause in any other situation, but her being the daughter of his benefactor’s adversary must put him somewhat at ease. And he has Yamato to blame for her demise.

His aide, Hyder Monk, seems a bit less willing to take such actions. But alas, he serves a devious coward with powerful backing, so there’s not much he can do without putting his own head on the block.

Goer states to his aide that Yamato sank the missing ship they were searching for and orders the fleet to open fire. Yamato continues into the oncoming fire, suffering minor damage to both sides of the ship. While Kodai says they should counterattack, Okita says to turn the ship around. When Nanbu asks if they’re running, Okita confirms that they are.

[DG]: Here is where Okita’s background in astrophysics comes into play again. He knows they have to get away before the dimensional rift destabilizes.

Yamato tacks hard-a-starboard, the beams now flying into the remains of the hole in the dimensional rift. Goer orders his ships to pursue and destroy. But as they do, the dimensional rift’s hole suddenly opens up again, the gravitational force of the rip grabbing hold of them. Goer’s ship jumps just before the remainder of his fleet is sucked into the void.

[LC]: Keep this scene of cowardly Goer running for his life and abandoning his fleet fresh in your minds. In a few episodes he will find himself in a close enough situation, and there we will see the effect 2199 has on its characters’ development.

Aboard Yamato, Yuki confirms the enemy fleet has been eradicated. Sanada notes the exit from the rift tried to collapse into its original position, the reaction temporarily opening the rift and sucking the fleet into it. As they pass the remains of EX-178, the bridge crew salutes.

[DG]: Shima is the only bridge crew member in shot that doesn’t salute. One could easily put it down to his being at the helm, but considering they’re in level flight, I have a hard time believing that. He and Nanbu were the most vocally against trusting the Garmillans. Nanbu isn’t even visible in that scene, but would he also decline to salute?

[LC]: It seems all Zaltzi that appear on this series are destined to die.

Akira takes a call from the bridge, and informs Melda that her planned destination no longer exists. Melda is visibly distraught, and falls back against nearby cabinet amidst the damage from her fight with Akira.

[DG]: I considered this sequence of events to be one of the most critical in Yamato‘s journey. What would have happened if Melda received the order to return to EX-178 earlier, and perished along with the ship? As we note her continued involvement in the story throughout the series, it will be interesting to start discussing the impact her absence might have had on the outcome of Yamato‘s mission.

And thus concludes Chapter Three. Melda Dietz’s arrival in the story made the two-month wait between chapter releases slightly more agonizing. I wanted to see exactly where they were planning to take this character, and the whole retelling of the classic Yamato story along with her.

PREVIEW:

Everyone lives with secret feelings. It takes courage to reflect on a horrible past and one’s own mistakes. But look toward to the future. Now is the time to go forward. Yamato advances on an unimaginably long journey.

Next time: A World I Once Saw.

There are 323 days left before humanity becomes extinct.

RELATED LINKS:

Official website of Yamato 2199
Yamato Crew website
Chapter 3 Trailer

Episode 10 credits

Screenplay: Hiroshi Onoki
Storyboard: Koichi Chiaki
Director: Shuichi Kaneko
Animation Director: Toshihiro Kawamoto
Mecha Chief Animation Director: Masanori Nishii

Series credits

Original Story: Yoshinobu Nishizaki
Planning: Shoji Nishizaki, Mitsuhisa Ishikawa, Satoshi Kono
Original Character Design: Nobuteru Yuuki
Guest Character/Prop Design: Shinichi Yamaoka
Mecha Design: Junichiro Tamamori, Yasushi Ishizu, Kiminori Yamane, Yutaka Izubuchi
Set Design: Takeshi Takakura, Makoto Kobayashi, Takashi Watanabe
Concept Design Support: Kazutaka Miyatake
Chief Director: Akihiro Enomoto
Director of Photography: Takashi Aoki
Art Director: Minoru Maeda
Video Editing: Emi Onodera
Color Correction: Rumiko Suzushiro
Music: Akira Miyagawa, Hiroshi Miyagawa
Sound Director: Tomohiro Yoshida
Sound Effects: Mitsuru Kashiwabara
Chief Mecha Animation Director: Masanori Nishii
CG Director: Takashi Imanishi
General Director: Yutaka Izubuchi

Production: Space Battleship Yamato Production Committee
Production IG, Bandai Visual, Xebec, Bandai, Bandai Namco Games, Voyager Entertainment,
Tohoku Shinsha Film Corporation, Shochiku Co. Ltd., OLM, Lantis Co. Ltd.

11 thoughts on “Yamato 2199 Episode 10 Commentary

  1. Just dropping by to comment that I really appreciate your “Commentary” series. All that background info, analysis really adds a nice bit of understanding and helps to flesh out more characters and events.

    You have my thanks.

  2. While I loved this episode (well, all of SBY:2199 🙂 I have to say this episode gave me a lot of deja vu. Why? Because…

    …the 1973 Star Trek: The Animated Series episode “The Time Trap” had the Enterprise and a Klingon ship fall through a dimensional fault into a pocket universe full of wrecked, derelict, and ancient ships described by Kirk as akin to “the Sargasso Sea”. And to escape, the Enterprise and the Klingon ship have to work together (with time running out, as the environment of the pocket universe is slowly ruining the power systems of both ships) — with the Enterprise narrowly escaping a Klingon sabotage attempt as the ships broke free back into normal space.

    • Rich, I can’t help but wonder if the writers had seen that episode… I wonder if Star Trek: TAS made it to Japan one way or another. If not, that’s one heck of a coincidence.

      • STAR TREK: THE ANIMATED SERIES was broadcast in Japan on the Tokyo 12 Channel network from April 10, 1977 through September 13, 1977. Interestingly, Isao Sasaki provided the voice of Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock by Osamu Saka (Goer in YAMATO), Dr. McCoy by Ichiro Murakoshi (Genitz in YAMATO 2), Mr. Scott by Hiroya Ishimaru (Naska in YAMATO 2), Uhura by Gara Takashima (Androcoinder from YAMATO 2), and Mr. Sulu (Mr. Kato) by Akira Murayama (Haruo Nishina in YAMATO III).

  3. I recently discovered this website after watching the entire Yamato 2199 series. Thanks very much for all of the interesting facts about each episode and the overall Yamato universe (other anime series, movies, etc.). There’s definitely a lot of information to go through. Great website BTW

  4. I confess that when i saw the “earth fired first” thing i automatically tought about Babylon 5…

    Still i have to say.. that even if the Gamillas probably didnt come to make friends.. Earth fired first.. that was the fact.. from Earth side they didnt knew the Gamillas intentions.. could be warfare-loving dicators or could be peace-loving explorers… but we fired first..

    And that provided quite a big excuse for Gamillas to go all-out against earth.. mostly because context.. Gamillas at this point was trying to impose peace (yes.. peace by Desler’s hammer i know) and at that point they had “pacified” some races (2 at least, probably some more) and they were at war against “barbarians” (Gatlantis, wich if they are anything like their original series counterparts really earn their barbarian designation even by Gamillas standards) .. so they send this small fleet scouting a system.. there an unknown races appears .and when they meet.. the unknown race fires first without warning.. with a big war against the gatlantis i can see Desler deciding he didnt needed to negotiate with this new “barbarians” and sent a force to subjugate them

    Also acording to Shultz earth at some point was given the choice to surrender and refused.. i tend to believe that .. because A- Shultz fleet actually gave the 1st fleet the chance to surrender in Pluto.. and B- Its obvious there were quite a lot of asses in earth goberment or at least in earth millitary command at that point.. they ordered firing first without warning or provocation even removing Okita from command when he refused and ordered him quite specifically to remain silent about this in the aftermatch. If earth population would find out that this big war was caused by their goberment beligerancy towards an unprovoquing (at that point) alien race im sure there would be a huge revolt against them.. so their only chance to get out of that fairly was to keep fighting and hope they could win the war and blame all on the aliens (the news reels Shima and Okita watch give heavily the impression of biased wartime news reels that try hard to make the enemy look evil).. but they were wrong in the end..

    I find paralelism with Babylon 5 too in that in B5 the arrogance in earth goberment that ended in the first contact incident was fueled by earth just having won the Dilgart war .. so they were overconfident that they could handle any alien race.. in 2199 earth had just won the interplanetary wars (against Mars?) so maybe they too were cooky and wary against any potential new treaths..

    Also the point of “we are so wrong that we keep the lie to the bitter end” was seen in the history of HALO (yes, the videogames from XBox) where the alien leaders declared war against humanity by mistake ..but when they found out their huge mistake and realiced that if known their own subjugates would turn against them they chosed to just go all the way to the end and exterminate humans.

    Still one wonders why Okita kept the secret that long.. until this point he semed like the regular Okita who hated “the devil demons” Gamillas.. but all along in all this battles he must realiced he was fighting an enemy who was actually fired upon first..

    A bit of streetch but its fun to expeculate with fictional political facts 😀

    • Thumbs up on the B5 connection! Unlike the overly aggressive captain who started the war with the Minbari, though, the officer responsible for ordering the first shot against the Garmillas (to be shown in the next episode) didn’t take personal responsibility for dooming the entire human race.

  5. When we were watching this episode together, I immediately pointed out the Gatlantis ship to my daughter! 😉

    The Sargasso Sea in Space was actually a nonsense idea introduced by Charles Roy Fort in his satiric “Book of the Damned”. It made its first SF occurrence in Edmond Hamilton’s aptly titled short-story “The Sargasso of Space” from 1931 (you may read it on Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/28832/28832-h/28832-h.htm ) that would in 1939 reoccur in his novel “Calling Captain Future” from 1939, complete with Black Hole and sinister aliens in one of the derelict ships, and it has had many others since.

  6. A trivia question: Is this the first time in any Yamato TV series or movie that we see a Gamilas/Garmillas bleed? The purple blood was a nice alien touch.

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