Yamato 2199 Episode 11 Commentary

by Luis Cotovio and Daniel George

Episode 11: A World I Once Saw

(Japanese Name: いつか見た世界 / Itsuka Mita Sekai)

Director: Kiyoshi Egami

Running time: 25m 28s (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): Light of Memories by KOKIA
  • (TV): Best of My Love by Rei Yasuda

[DG]: This episode begins with 323 days left on the clock, making it March 25, 2199. Only two days have passed since the commencement of events seen in Episode 10.

The outskirts of the Small Magellanic Cloud. A cluster of missiles heads toward a ringed gas giant, hitting their targets high above the planet. A large Garmillas fleet closes in.

A large light gray ship stands out among the fleet, the massive super-dreadnought Domelaze III. Standing in the darkened command tower is the imposing General Domel. A report of the missile strikes comes in, confirming they have created an opening in the enemy lines. Domel order his forces to strike and crush the enemy.

[DG]: Domel specifically orders the 7th Strike Group to attack. The mention of the 7th Strike Group could be a nod to the 7th Panzer Division, which Erwin Rommel commanded between February 1940 and February 1941.

[LC]: Though we know it’s him, Domel is only teased in this opening sequence where we see him lit by emergency lighting and in close-ups.

Much like they did with Yamato, the Domelaze III’s size was obtained by starting with the bridge, which we immediately recognize as an upgraded redesign of the original Domel’s “saucer ship.” From there they reached a whopping 730 meters in length, a true super-dreadnought. The body of the ship is based in several elements, but the basic shape is the command ship Domel takes to Balun in the original series. You can see it in action here.

Another big tease as this scene starts is the music, which longtime fans will immediately recognize as the revamped “Gatlantis Theme – Disco version”, originally released in Yamato: I Adore the Eternity of Love (New Disco Arrange), a disco-style cover album of tracks from Series 1 and Farewell to Yamato. This was just one sign of the awesomeness we were about to witness.

[DG]: Fans of the classic series will recognize this as the theme playing when we first see the Gatlantis/Comet Empire main fleet in Yamato 2/Comet Empire. As with most of the other music in 2199, it is a rearrangement of the original Hiroshi Miyagawa score by his son Akira.

Immediately, the Garmillas ships move in unison, a ballet of perfection raining death from above. The enemy fleet is relentlessly destroyed by the overwhelming Garmillas superiority. Soon, the advanced fleet of Gatlantis is no more.

[LC]: Yes, Gatlantis. Freakin’ Gatlantis – or the Comet Empire for those who only saw Star Blazers. 2199 continues its “world building” by introducing Yamato 2‘s villains early.

The warships of Gatlantis were hand-drawn rather than being done in CG. CG assets for them would only be made for the feature film Ark of the Stars and would suffer some design alterations in the process. These maintain the original design features almost unchanged. The only major exception is the Nazca-class space carrier, which now has the command tower on its starboard side, rather than port.

[DG]: After seeing the preview at the end of Episode 10 showing Domel’s appearance, that was the thing I most looked forward to in the next chapter. However, when the trailers and teasers started coming out for Chapter 4, the appearance of Gatlantis was all I could think about. I was immediately thinking again about how a Yamato 2201 might look – something I’d been wondering about since seeing the first 2199 trailer way back when.

Given Dessler’s expansionary policy into neighboring galaxies, it’s natural that Gatlantis would exchange fire with Garmillas during the course of things. Gatlantis are almost certainly the “Barbarians” in the Small Magellanic Cloud that Ghader Talan mentions in Episode 8 during the anniversary celebrations, so while this is the first time most of us saw them, and the first time they’ve been referred to by name, their existence was foreshadowed a few episodes ago.

Looking at the number of ships they’re dealing with (Domel’s group appears to vastly outnumber them), either this is only a small reconnaissance force, or Domel is mopping up the remainder. I lean toward it being the former, since it’s on the edge of the galaxy.

[LC]: Its nice to see that between 1974 and today, Garmillas has invested in the improvement of their helmsmen’s piloting skills. Seeing this Kripitera swerving away to avoid being hit by that flaming Kelkapia put a silly smile on my face. In the original, such an event would invariably end with both ships crashing in a huge ball of fire and annihilating all the surrounding ships.

One of the squadron leaders, Rear Brigadier Fomto Berger, arrogantly states they have destroyed 70% of the enemy fleet and the rest has turned and run. Domel immediately puts him in line by telling him not to be overconfident, and to pursue and destroy the remaining enemy forces, which Berger promptly acknowledges.

[LC]: Speaking of early intros, here’s 2199 doing what it does best, grabbing characters from farther ahead in the saga or even other chapters, and using them to build their universe.

In this case, Berger, now with the first name Fomto. In the original, Berger captained of one of the tri-deck carriers brought in to assist Domel in his plan to destroy Yamato at the Rainbow Star Cluster. He and the other three captains had little in terms of character development, given little more than cameos.

2199 has other plans for even these marginal characters. Here Berger is already a part of Domel’s battle group and will play a major role in things to come.

[DG]: Domel is based on the great German tactician, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. Aside from the obvious similarity in name (like we saw with Hyss and Goer), Domel’s character shows traits similar to those of Rommel: a military genius who espouses a code of honor and a dedication to his men. As we will see later in the series, he garners the respect of all who serve under him, as well as his foes. The one notable difference between Domel and his inspiration is that Domel is unwaveringly loyal to Dessler, while Rommel’s allegiance was to Germany rather than to Hitler.

Vem Haidern, captain of the Domelaze, complains about the younger officer becoming too cocky. Domel says that with this victory the enemy will lay low for a while and asks Haidern if he will miss the thrill of hunting them, which Haidern acknowledges with a loud laugh.

[DG]: Vem Haidern is also one of the four carrier captains brought back from the original series. In the original, he was the captain of the red battle carrier known in 2199 as the Gelvades-class battle-carrier, and piloted the drill missile plane. Here, he takes the role of captain of Domelaze III, filling the same role for Domel that Yamanami did aboard Kirishima.

I love how here we have Domel talking about Haidern missing the thrill of battle – implying that soldiers actually can retire in the Garmillas military! Unheard of in the original series!

A crewman informs Domel of an incoming transmission from Admiral Dietz. After an exchange of compliments, Dietz informs Domel that he’s been ordered to return to Great Garmillas, at which time he will be awarded the “Dessler Cross, Special First Class” medal. Though he is honored by the award, Domel says he cannot leave his command in such an important battle front for such a reason.

[DG]: Domel’s relationship with Admiral Dietz seems to be cordial enough that the Admiral’s informal greeting to him is more that of a friend than a CO.

Interesting that Domel is talking about being the linchpin of the Empire’s defenses rather than offenses here. It implies that Gatlantis are imposing into established Garmillas territory in the Small Magellanic Cloud rather than the other way around. It also raises the question of whether the “outskirts” label at the opening of this scene refers to the outskirts of the galaxy, the outskirts of the Garmillas Empire, or both.

[LC]: I’m going with the galactic outskirts because it’s what is most quickly inferred from those tags. If it were otherwise, I’m sure the tags would have reflected such information.

As for the Garmillas presence in the SMC, from what we learned in Episode 8, Garmillas is well-established there, so I would go with Gatlantis being the invaders and not the invaded, something made all the more evident by the dialogue used in that episode and which you alluded to earlier. Admiral Dietz said he had dispatched Domel to deal with the situation and guess what?! Here he is, taking care of it.

Dietz says he understands and that the whole thing is nothing but a political statement. But Dessler has something else in mind, so refusal is not an option. Dietz has already mobilized reinforcements to the area and Domel is to leave the rest to them. Reluctantly, Domel accepts.

Aboard Yamato, Doctor Sado concludes a battery of tests on Melda, thanking her for her cooperation. Akira observes from outside, looked on in turn by a weary Yuki. In the officer’s lounge, Sado presents his findings to Captain Okita, Kodai, Shima, Sanada and Niimi. Test results show that apart from her blue skin, the Garmillan is genetically identical to us.

[DG]: With the scan, we have a continuation of the things Melda’s original-series-counterpart went through – starting with medical examination, albeit a CT scan rather than on the operating table.

Those in attendance at this meeting I find a little odd. Or, to be more precise, I find Shima’s attendance at this meeting to be odd, in the absence of all the other section heads. Kodai is there as the chief liaison with Melda up until this point (and possibly as Tactical Division head), Sanada is there as XO and Science Division head, Sado is there to report on her DNA test results, Kaoru is there in her capacity as Intelligence Division head and as ship’s psychologist/counselor. Shima, on the other hand, has no reason to be in this meeting, unless it was intended to be a meeting of all section heads and the others were unavailable for whatever reasons.

[LC]: I think they just needed him on the loop in order to jump-start his “Shima turns to the dark side…or maybe not” arc. It can also be as simple as him being the representative of the sections that aren’t represented by Kodai and that have some stake in the information that can be obtained from Melda’s interrogation.

Niimi says they should be able to obtain more relevant information from Melda and that she can think of many ways to question her. Kodai suggests they should instead release her, but Sanada quickly reminds him that since her ship has no warp capacity and given their current location, that would be a death sentence.

[LC]: That’s something that was constantly brushed aside in the original. The pilot in Episode 13 was released with no regard to the fact that he was basically stranded in the middle of a very big nowhere. So I have to side with Sanada on this one.

[DG]: The main thing I found noteworthy in this exchange (aside from how Kodai’s idealism bordered on idiotic) was Kaoru’s attitude – advocating that she knew “many ways of getting information out of her.” Since she’s aligned with Serizawa and the Izumo Project, my thoughts are that these methods may have violated the Geneva Conventions – which, if they were actually still adhered to in this universe, would be argued that they don’t apply to Melda.

Kodai still believes that after she helped them escape they can’t just keep her locked up, even going so far as claiming she is now “one of us”, a statement met with surprise by Sanada. This dialogue is interspersed with images of Melda being lead to her cell by Ito, while Akira, Yuki and Hoshina observe.

[LC]: Yuki’s presence in this episode borders on being a stalker. Its her second scene and we just keep seeing her watching over Akira’s shoulder. And IMO it doesn’t even feel like a natural concern, despite what she says in their following scenes. She had nearly no contact – at least on camera – with Akira, so where did all the concern come from, except from the obvious need for the plot to have someone there to interact with since Kodai was busy?

I think the whole thing would have felt more natural if they had used either Kato or Shinohara. Sure, the bath scene would have been uncomfortable… XD Guess a simple change of venue could fix that. Point is, if Yuki and Akira had begun to construct some sort of relationship that was significant for the plot, sure, I could accept all this. But aside some short scenes, they didn’t really interact that much from this point forward. So yeah, Kato or Shino would have played out better.

[DG]: There’s a big problem with this approach, and that is that neither Kato nor Shinohara are in any position to see how close Akira is getting to this. They’re not there to observe Akira’s brooding around Melda. Also, the writers may have seen it necessary to tee something off in the Yuki-Kodai-Akira love triangle. The later scene in the bath serves as a point to create some initial animosity toward Yuki on Akira’s part.

Niimi reminds Kodai that many on board have lost loved ones to the Garmillas and their feeling must also be considered. Kodai responds that he too lost his family and that he hates them as much as anyone. Sanada says that keeping her in the brig is also a way to keep her safe from any feelings that might get out of hand. Kodai refuses to believe anyone on board would be capable of something like that.

[LC]: The manga went that way by having Kato talking at length with Kodai about Akira’s loss, out of concern for how Melda’s presence could affect her. It also had a much more fluid presentation of the whole thing. Yuki is there during the examination and Akira arrives later in order to escort Melda to the brig. So both are playing a role instead of having both just there with Yuki staring at Akira.

Other additions are a scene with Ito and Hirata in what seems to be the O.M.C.S. recycling facility and one where, before going to the gym and having a talk with Akira, Yuki has a rather embarrassing scene with the air-corps and a small talk with Kato, presumably where she get her info on Akira’s past. Even if you don’t consider the manga as full canon, there is a lot going on there that was swept aside in the show, presumably for lack of time. But we really would gain a lot from having the manga translated.

Sanada says Kodai’s words lack logic with Kodai retorting that it’s better than lacking humanity. Okita announces he has made his decision and that Kodai will be the one leading the interrogation, much to the surprise of the young officer.

[DG]: Did Okita factor Niimi’s interest in extracting information into his decision to leave Melda’s interrogation to Kodai? Maybe, but the more straightforward reason is that Kodai has already established a non-hostile rapport with Melda and has had the most interaction with her. That alone would be sufficient reason to keep him in the role. Does Okita know what’s going on amongst some parts of his crew at this point in time? Possibly, he’s a smart man, so I wouldn’t put it past him.

One other noteworthy item in this scene was Kodai’s burst of suppressed anger – perhaps this is here in place of his original counterpart’s attempt to flat-out murder the pilot? Not that it’s directed at Melda, far from it, but still. It’s nice to see that the passion of the original Kodai pops its head up from time to time, even though for the most part Akira inherits this role in 2199.

In the engine room, “Sunshine” Yabu is commenting on the lies the “Garmillan woman” told, about Earth firing the first shot of the war. He recalls Chief Yamazaki was there on the day of first contact and seeks confirmation of the Garmillan deceit. With a blank expression, Yamazaki confirms and says it’s all “a stupid lie.”

[DG]: The Poker Face is strong with Yamazaki…

[LC]:…And the doom and gloom attitude is powerful with Yabu. XD

[DG]: Interesting choice of words though: the phrase “it’s a stupid lie” can be interpreted in more than one way – it could be in direct response to Yabu’s ridicule as Yabu would have interpreted it. But Yamazaki could equally mean that it’s a stupid lie to perpetuate.

Tokugawa arrives and comments on how everyone is talking about that same subject, before reminding Yabu of his counseling appointment with Ms. Niimi. As Yabu leaves, Tokugawa looks at Yamazaki, sensing he is troubled, and asks him if he is uncertain. Yamazaki remains silent…

[DG]: Here we see the continuation of interaction between Kaoru and Yabu, which started with nervous/drunken glances from the latter at the crossing-the-line ceremony in Episode 7, and is leading into the future storyline. Nice to see this being set up gradually.

Tokugawa’s question here is interesting. Given the long-term friendship that he and Okita have, it’s a safe bet to make that Tokugawa was already Chief Engineer aboard Kirishima back during the first contact incident, and thus was subject to the same gag order that Yamazaki and all the other survivors of that incident were given.

Shima sits alone in Yamato‘s small theater, watching a propaganda film from the early days of the war. The movie recalls April 1st, 2191, when an observation station on Uranus sighted a group of spaceships from an alien civilization entering our solar system.

[DG]: This scene has so much to discuss. First of all, we get our second explicit date in the series: that the first sighting of Garmillas ships entering the solar system occurred on April 1, 2191.

[LC]: I always wonder if the choice of date – April 1st, also know as “April Fools’ Day” or “Day of Lies” (personal translation of what it’s called in my country) – is a more than obvious stab at the lie that began that day… seriously doubt it’s coincidental.

The UNCF launched the Inner Planets Fleet in order to commence “the first defensive actions (…) against an enemy from outside our solar system”. We witness the launch of the Japanese fleet with Okita serving as Fleet Commander aboard Kirishima. In this moment, Okita enters the theater.

[DG]: The lunar fleet on camera is entirely comprised of Murasame-class cruisers, while in the Japanese fleet we see Kirishima forming up with some Murasame-class cruisers and Isokaze-class destroyers. At this point in time, it appears that there are still borders between countries. Navies aren’t under a single UN flag, but are volunteered from member nations, hence the reference to the Japanese Fleet. Looks like that pesky Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution was rescinded at some point, or it was deemed not to apply outside of Earth’s atmosphere, as Japan is fully militarized for this operation.

[LC]: What I think is more telling in this scene is that the UNCF’s command start using the term “enemy” even before first contact. Though, as we discussed in Episode 10, their presence in our solar system could be seen as suspicious. Until they did or said something to make us think of them as hostile, there was no reason for this term to be thrown around. This didn’t bode well for things to come.

[DG]: Keep in mind this is a propaganda film, made sometime after the actual event, so by the time it’s made, they are officially the enemy. Also, irrespective of the timeframe, the purpose of the film is to ingrain it into the viewers’ minds that Garmillas are the enemy and that the Earth is completely faultless.

The movie proceeds, telling us the first ship to encounter the aliens near Pluto was the space cruiser Murasame, commanded by captain Daigo Shima, Daisuke’s father. This prompts Shima to recall something his father told him before the mission, that he wasn’t going to fight the aliens, as he expected we could be friends with them. Though Daisuke shows some doubt, his dad tells him to hold on to hope. Shima senses Okita as the captain sits in the chair behind him.

[LC]: Oh, the irony… that such an idealistic man ends up playing the worst possible part in this whole affair.

The report proceeds to tell us that the alien ships opened fire without any warning, destroying Murasame. The entire crew perished with the exception of a single crew member. As the photo of his dad fills the screen, Shima opens his heart, saying the Garmillas fired first, in a sneaky and cowardly way and without any hesitation at the thought of destroying mankind.

[DG]: The first casualty of war is the truth. The truth is then spun and repackaged to suit the powers that be, to further their ends. That is certainly the case here. The look on Okita’s face says it all. He refuses to look at the screen.

He says the Garmillas are demons with human faces, whom neither he nor Kodai can ever forgive. After a brief silence, Okita simply says captain Daigo was a great man and that he will always swear to that fact. Shima thanks him, leaving Okita alone with a worried look in his eyes.

[DG]: Okita’s turmoil is clearly evident. It’s not the gag order that’s keeping him from saying more, it’s the focus of his Helmsman and Chief Navigator, and ultimately the morale of the crew as a whole. I’m sure there’s nothing he’d like more than to tell Shima the truth, but doing so would potentially jeopardize the mission. The animosity toward Garmillas and the perceived righteousness of their mission is keeping the crew focused, and a revelation like this could easily destabilize crew morale, putting the already-teetering human race a few millimeters further over the edge of extinction.

Another interesting point in this scene is Shima’s words, that he and Kodai cannot forgive the Garmillas for their transgressions. While Kodai’s words regarding Garmillas’ culpability for his brother’s death were his feelings, he is clearly able to separate the policy of the nation of Garmillas as opposed to the one member of the nation they’ve encountered, and is quite possibly not as unforgiving as he has verbally claimed. Shima on the other hand, can’t or doesn’t want to recognize that there’s a difference between the two. It’s more like he doesn’t want to equate the Garmillas with being people.

[LC]: I agree with your point about Kodai separating things. Whenever I see this type of situation, I keep going back to an episode of season 1 of Stargate SG-1 titled Cor-Ai. In it, while visiting a village on the “planet of the week”, the character Teal’c, who had served under the main baddie at the time, Goa’uld system lord Apophis, is put on trial for killing a village elder in a past incursion. Though the whole thing turned out to be a matter of him choosing a lesser evil, the point of a single soldier’s guilt for the action he committed as part of an army always stuck with me. O’Neall sums up his point of view thusly:

“(…)the whole concept of chain of command undermines the idea of free will. So as soldiers, we have to do some pretty awful stuff. But we’re following orders like we were trained to. It doesn’t make it easier. It certainly doesn’t make it right. But it does put some of the responsibility on the guy giving those orders.”

Sure, things are not always that black and white, but it is a point that has to be brought up. Kodai’s position is all the more correct given that, even if she is a Garmillas, Melda did not (at least as far as we know) participate in any campaigns on the Terron front. So all she’s guilty of is of being a pilot/soldier for the enemy. Had it been Shulz or one of his men sitting in her place, that would change matters, though we would have to go back to the point of how guilty can a soldier be, even one in Shulz’s position, for following the orders he is given?

[DG]: The behavior of Shima and the others is only human nature and indicative of the postwar animosity by many people in allied nations toward the Germans and Japanese, especially by the soldiers and families of soldiers who fought the Japanese during the war. As an example of a real-life contrast to this attitude, and a person who behaved more like Kodai, my maternal grandfather never held a grudge against the Japanese, despite spending three and a half years in a Japanese P.O.W. camp in Indonesia as a member of the Australian Infantry Force.

At the security office, Ito and Hoshina listen in through the cell camera as Kodai tells Melda he’s been asked to interrogate her. Ito makes a malicious remark about Kodai’s capabilities, but is interrupted by the door opening. Akira comes in and Hoshina says her shift doesn’t start for another three hours. She just stares at the couple on the view screen.

[LC]: I wonder why Akira would be doing security work? Is it because she’s involved in Melda’s presence on board and, since she got involved in her security/guard detail in the previous episode, she’s just following it through? Or do members of Yamato’s air corps – not just Akira – perform security duties? On one hand, it sounds like a good way to keep them busy when not in battle. On the other, if they’re needed as a pilot while they’re on some security detail, the time it takes to transfer and properly replace them – then get them into a cockpit – seems impractical.

[DG]: I don’t think Akira’s there in any official security role. I reckon for the most part her presence in the meeting between Kodai and Melda was of her own recognizance rather than any formal order or request from her C.O. and wingman, Kodai. Irrespective of how developed her feelings toward Kodai are by now, Akira is determined to have his back in this meeting. If it appears to everyone else that she’s backing her wingman, so be it.

Kodai tells Melda he feels bad about the events that got her in her current situation. Melda responds by giving him her name, rank and serial number. Kodai says she has the same mentality as us, recalling there were always scenes like that in old war movies. He then doubles back, wondering if she even knows what a movie is…

[DG]: Name, rank, and serial number. Like Kodai says, it does seem like an old war movie scenario.

He asks her if they have any treaties in POW treatment. She responds that those who surrender are treated fairly, but those who refuse are wiped out. This outburst leads Kodai to ask if that’s why they tried to destroy Earth, because it’s their way? Kodai calms down and recalls that they were able to work together. Melda tells him the Garmillans don’t break their promises. Kodai says neither do Earthlings, and that he feels the two of them can trust each other, commenting on how Sanada would probably say he’s not being logical.

[DG]: Kodai realizes he’s not cut out to be a strong-arm interrogator, and his attempt to raise his voice clearly falls flat here.

Melda’s response to Kodai’s statement about Terrons not breaking promises either is subtle, but significant.

Akira continues to stare at the screen, listening to the conversation. Ito continues with his poisonous discourse, questioning Kodai’s interrogation style. Hoshina tries to justify it as a way to gain the prisoner’s trust. Ito says he hopes Kodai doesn’t get too close, as he is a man and sharing some time with an alien can be quite a fantasy. Akira remains silent…but visibly pissed off.

[DG]: Ito, with this bait directed at Akira, clearly shows he’s not just some security grunt. He clearly has some knowledge in psychology.

In the navigation section, Shima and his staff are plotting their course toward Balun, which floats in deep space about halfway between Earth and Iscandar. Hayashi likens it to a lighthouse in space while Obama is curious as to who gave the planet its name.

[DG]: Balun’s marker on the map states 25,769.13 parsecs, being the midway point between the two galaxies. 25,769.13 parsecs converts to 84,047.66 light-years (1 parsec being ~3.262 light-years). This is one of those times where the data on a display is actually accurate (each leg of the trip being 168,000 light-years).

Shima says he was told the name was already on the maps given to them by Yurisha, a year ago (a sensible explanation that was lacking in the original 1974 series). Chief Yamazaki comes in and asks Shima if he can have a word with him. Though surprised, Shima says he can.

In the ship’s gym, Yuki watches as Akira sprints like mad in the treadmill. Though she says she likes to exercise hard, Yuki comments that trying too hard isn’t good for her. Akira catches the double entendre and asks her what she means by it. Yuki says she’s been taking things too personally, before asking Akira if she wants to cheer up.

[DG]: Gratuitous fan service scene? Maybe to some (IMO very small) extent, but the dialog established between Yuki and Akira here is meaningful. It also stands to reason that, aside from them both observing Melda, there would be few opportunities for these two to encounter each other.

In the starboard observation dome, Shima asks Yamazaki what he wanted to talk about. Shima is caught by surprise when Yamazaki reveals he was aboard the Murasame the day she sunk. The chief intends to disregard a gag order issued by Central Command at the time in order to reveal the truth to Shima.

In the theater, Okita continues to watch the propaganda movie. Serizawa is on the screen, claiming Earth attempted peaceful contact but the enemy attacked just the same, leading the UN Space Defense Committee to regard it as an act of aggression and issue an emergency order. Okita closes his eyes as we flash back to April 1st, 2191.

[DG]: Why’s Okita putting himself through watching Serizawa spin BS? Masochism is not really necessary here, Captain…

Aboard Kirishima, Okita is given the order to open fire by Serizawa himself. Okita considers the order to be too hasty, since this is the first time they are making contact with another civilization. But Serizawa repeats the order, preferring to act preemptively rather than being caught off guard. Okita refuses. Word comes through from the vanguard ship Murasame, reporting they have encountered the aliens and request orders.

[DG]: His arguing with Serizawa over the course of action with the first contact is hardly surprising, and yet another example of the philosophical differences between the two men – and representing the animosity between the Japanese Army and Navy in World War II.

[LC]: This scene throws me off more than any of the less well-animated instances we’ve had so far in 2199. Fortunately there won’t be that many examples of reused footage in the series and they always alter some aspects of those scenes, be it the background or some other detail.

Here, they reuse scenes from Operation M, seen in Episode 1. Besides the desaturated look of the scene, they also changed the ships in the background and added Serizawa on the overhead screens (click here for a side by side comparison, and click on the images to enlarge).

As a time and budget saver, reusing footage every now and then isn’t something I usually gripe about. What throws me off in this particular instance is the shot they used for Okita’s outburst (above left). In episode 1 he shouts “FIRE!” and Okita’s animation was given an energy and expression that doesn’t really fit with this new line. No matter how many times I see this episode, that shot just seems off.

Given Okita’s refusal to obey his orders, Serizawa uses his authority as Military Director and removes the admiral from command. He contacts Murasame and issues the same order to captain Daigo Shima. Though he is hesitant at first, Serizawa tells him Okita has been removed from command and that he must carry out the order. Daigo and Yamazaki look to the screen in silence.

Chief Yamazaki looks Shima in the eyes as he reveals the truth… they opened fire. Shima is stunned. We go back to Murasame as the ship takes enemy fire. Damage piles up until captain Daigo orders his crew to abandon ship. Yamazaki is caught by surprise but Daigo says the ship is finished. He tells the chief to head below and manage the evacuation. He recalls what he told his son, believing friendship with the aliens was possible, but instead…

[DG]: The tying together of Okita’s memories of the events with those of Yamazaki is nicely done.

Reluctant, Yamazaki abandons the bridge to start the evacuation. Just as they’re about to begin, the bridge takes a direct hit. Yamazaki cries out to the captain before an emergency bulkhead cuts him off. As he clings to a railing, Daigo’s final tearful thoughts go out to Daisuke, wishing for him to hold on to hope. Seconds later, the bridge breaks apart and the captain is sucked out into space, just before Murasame spins out of control and explodes.

[DG]: The trajectory of Murasame drifting off before her explosion reflects the impact of the beams and the effect from the depressurization of the hull quite well.

An undetermined amount of time later, a single escape capsule floats among the debris, opening up to reveal Yamazaki. He tells Shima he can’t recall what happened or how he got into the capsule. All he knew was that the battle was over and there was no sign of any of his comrades. Furious, Shima calls him a liar.

In the movie theater the film ends and the lights turn on. Okita sits there for a moment until he’s brought back to reality by Kodai, who had been looking for the captain. He reports Melda is a person who upholds honor and that he doubts they’ll be able to get anything else out of her. Okita responds, “those who close their eyes to the past become blind to the future”, though he can’t recall who he’s quoting.

[DG]: Okita’s quote here was one of my candidates for this episode’s banners; it’s a very poignant quote that is probably better interpreted in the west as “those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.”

[LC]: There is a very close sentence spoken by German President Richard von Weizsaecker, who served as head of state from 1984 to 1994. The defining moment in his ten-year presidency happened in Bonn, in May 8th 1985 at the ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of the Third Reich’s surrender. In his speech he said the Nazi defeat provided “the seed of the hope for a better future. [The Holocaust was] a crime without historical parallel” and that Germans must never “close their eyes to the past, because this would make them blind to the present.”

Back in the observation dome, a Stressed Shima asks Yamazaki if he enjoys insulting his father’s honor. The chief says Daigo was a great man and that’s why he wanted to tell Daisuke the truth. But Shima will have none of it, refusing to accept what he told him and storming out.

Below, Yuki and Akira are in the ship’s baths. Akira says she’s surprised since she expected Yuki to be more guarded, given her reputation. Yuki says that’s a problem she’ll have to work on. Akira asks her what she meant before, about taking things too personally.

[DG]: I suppose this could be interpreted as another quasi-fan service scene; it could just as easily have taken place in the mess hall, though it’s less likely there since Akira would have been hanging out with the pilots, and it’s a logical progression following the gymnasium scene. As mentioned earlier, this scene gives the opportunity for Akira to develop some animosity toward her rival for Kodai’s affections. It also provides an opportunity for a small amount of fan service, which like it or not, is part and parcel of selling a modern anime series.

[LC]: I do have to question the practicality of having something like this aboard a space battleship flying off into deep space with limited resources and on a time sensitive mission to save mankind. A gym? Sure. A theater? Meh… OK. A hot bath? This size? OK, now you’re stretching it. It’s one thing to provide recreation facilities for off-duty personnel when you have 999 people locked inside a ship for a year. But this borders on luxury, one I doubt would be either practical or even moral, given the deprivation those back home are going through. According to design materials, there’s also a sauna and massage chairs, not to mention a duplicate on the other side of the ship, one for men and one for women (they’re not pervs!). Oh, the budget…!

[DG]: Crew morale and relaxation is even more important on a mission where the future of humanity is at stake. Factor in the role of the bath in Japanese culture, and it’s not that surprising to have them aboard a Japanese ship.

Yuki knows Akira lost her brother in the war, but it isn’t fair to direct her anger toward Melda. Akira smiles, but says she’ll only understand when she loses someone in the war. Yuki says that might be difficult, revealing that she can’t remember anything besides the last year. She assumes all her family is dead, but she can’t even remember what they were like. Though startled, Akira responds that she can’t understand and leaves the pool.

[DG]: Yuki, like Kodai, can tell the difference between Melda and her nation’s actions. Meanwhile, another line to question Yuki’s origins is thrown in for good measure.

Sanada is in the navigation room, reporting on the existence of an enemy outpost in the star system they’ll be passing. Shima says they’ve already plotted a route to avoid it, but Okita has other plans and orders them to maintain course. He intends to release Melda there.

[DG]: It’s interesting that Sanada’s map includes a course that illustrates Yamato using the system’s gravity well to slingshot past it. Looking at the map of the system itself, you would hope that the planet that has the abnormal orbit is also off the ecliptic, otherwise some planetary collisions would be possible for all but the two outermost worlds.

Akira arrives at the security office, taking over for Hoshina. Moments later, she opens Melda’s cell door. The two pilots look into each other’s eyes.

[LC]: So… you can just take over the security office and go off to do whatever you want. Like take a high-value prisoner, steal a couple of ships and go for a friendly dogfight. Gotta say, security is pretty lax aboard Yamato. Not to mention Akira is a repeat offender, having already stolen a Cosmo Zero back in Episode 4. You would have expected security measures to have been tightened after that.

Shima is vocal in his opposition to Melda’s release, raising the possibility that she’s a spy, but Okita says his decision stands. Shima reminds the captain she lied about Earth’s actions. Kodai tries to calm his friend down, saying that’s not like him. Shima reminds him of those he lost and says he can’t really trust Melda, but goes quiet when he sees the look of doubt in Kodai’s face. He can’t believe it.

[DG]: The cracks are showing in Kodai and Shima’s friendship again, setting the scene for the next episode where it comes to bursting point. Kaoru notices this tension between the two of them, but seems to focus on Shima rather than Kodai, due to his more aggressive point of view.

The discussion is cut short by Aihara, reporting the Garmillas fighter has just been launched with Melda aboard. Shima immediately assumes she’s escaped. Aihara says a Falcon that was in maintenance has launched, asking if anyone issued a pursuit order. Kodai is pissed.

[DG]: The announcement of Melda’s fighter launching is interesting. Exactly what sort of breakdown in security and so forth allowed this to happen? Did Akira knock our favorite support guys out, or was it during a minimum security shift?

Also, I see neither a need for the plane to be under maintenance, nor why it would be the plane ready to launch. Logic would dictate that if a plane was under maintenance, it would have been rotated away from launch position. It makes no sense whatsoever for the first plane launched in a scramble situation to be unfit for combat operations.

[LC]: As I said… pretty lax.

The two ships fly off. We see Akira aboard the Falcon, ignoring communication attempts made by Aihara. Kodai orders the Falcon to turn back, but Akira simply turns the radio off.

[DG]: Another nod to vintage navy elements: Kodai using a phone-style radio handset much like a carrier’s Commander Air Group would do.

They enter an asteroid field orbiting a small planetoid, beginning a game of cat and mouse. Akira says it’s just the two of them out there. Akira is the first to get the upper hand, locking onto the Czvarke. She opens fire, but Melda’s piloting skills get her out of harm’s way.

[DG]: Melda’s skill is clearly superior here, and her Czvarke seems to be more capable of high AoA maneuvers than the Hayabusa. Or at the very least, Melda is more capable of pulling that sort of performance out of her machine than Akira can out of a Hayabusa. After all, she’s more used to a Zero, and the two planes have completely different flight characteristics.

Eventually, Melda gets behind Akira and locks onto her. SID alerts a startled Akira to the fact, and she attempts to evade. But though Melda doesn’t open fire, she’s in trouble. One of Falcon’s engines catches fire and SID states the ship cannot maintain itself under those conditions.

[LC]: It’s interesting and important to note one thing in this scene. Akira didn’t hesitate to open fire on Melda. She wants her dead. Melda, on the other hand, locks on and lets that speak for itself. The good heroic earthling shoots without remorse while the evil “demon with a human face” is satisfied with just showing her superior skill. The line between good and evil, who’s right and who’s wrong, are really blurred after this.

Melda gives chase as the Falcon spins out of control. SID announces engine pressure will go critical in ten seconds. Melda urges Akira to hurry and eject. She reluctantly pulls the ejection handle, just in time to escape as the Falcon explodes.

[LC]: Deja vu?! Akira should have learned with Kodai and Shima that you shouldn’t launch in ships that are undergoing maintenance. The guys learned that the hard way in Episode 1.

[DG]: Couldn’t it have been enough that the engine failed because Akira took it beyond its performance limitations? The English subtitles at no time mention anything about the plane being under maintenance (and until Luis mentioned it, I never even noticed the mention of maintenance in the dialogue). Whether deliberate (which I doubt) or not, the English subtitle track on the Blu-Ray implies there’s nothing wrong with the plane and that either the engine failure was random or was caused by Akira going outside the plane’s envelope. The whole maintenance thing really doesn’t need to be there, and I think it detracts from the scene.

The countdown clock to impact on the SID console keeps real time. While the subtitles say it’s until the engine goes critical, that doesn’t really make sense. One of the engines is already kaput. The countdown clock coincides with the time of impact on the large asteroid, so I’m going to assume the high likelihood of a translation error.

Dazed, Akira floats aimlessly through space. Melda jumps out of her ship and reaches out for her. In her quasi-unconscious state, Akira sees not Melda but her brother, Akio. She eventually blacks out as Melda grabs her hand.

[DG]: There’s a lot I like about this scene. It’s a fast dogfight scene, with some good (albeit straightforward) flying sequences, and some beautiful background scenery with the asteroid field. However, it’s all the little bits that add up: Melda’s shouting out to Akira to eject, and her leaving her ship to retrieve Akira, shows she’s not the monster many people assume her to be. That’s what really gives this scene its true substance. In a way, it’s another nod to the confrontation between Kodai and the Garmillan pilot in Episode 13 of the original series.

When Akira comes to, she’s on a stretcher in Yamato’s infirmary with Yuki standing next to her. She tells Akira that Melda brought her back, much to Akira’s surprise. She says Melda will be leaving soon, to which Akira responds by touching her pendant with a smile in her face. She’s about to apologize when Yuki cuts her off, announcing she’ll be getting six days’ detention on the brig. Akira accepts her punishment and says she feels better.

[LC]: At least in the brig she’ll get rid of stalker Yuki… XD

In hangar 3, Kodai is saying goodbye to Melda and giving her a bag with enough food for four days. As she accepts, she asks Kodai if he didn’t think she would abandon Akira and escape. He reiterates his previous assertion, that he thinks they can trust each other.

[DG]: The final nod to the original series’ Episode 13: Kodai giving the pilot a duffel bag of food.

I especially like that the last stanza of Yamato Launches From the Earth is playing from this scene onward through the end of the episode. I’ve previously said that it feels like a good milestone; achieving face-to-face contact with a Garmillan that not only didn’t end in bloodshed, but also sowed the seeds of hope for the future, marks a pretty significant milestone in a war that has raged almost a decade.

Melda smiles and asks him to tell Akira “you have talent”, and she extends her hand in friendship. Kodai says they really have the same mentality, as he shakes her hand.

[DG]: The exchange between Kodai and Melda before her departure is well done. It emphasizes Kodai’s continued belief that he can trust Melda, and that trust is clearly reciprocated. Kodai’s efforts with negotiating with and later vouching for Melda establishes a bond of trust between them that will serve them well in the months ahead.

The Czvarke launches, wing-wagging a goodbye gesture, which prompts a smile from Kodai. Eventually the ship flies away as Okita orders a visibly unhappy Shima to change course and leave the system. Melda and Yamato part ways. But for how long? A question that lingers as the space battleship flies off into the distance.

[DG]: At least in this universe they’re leaving Melda within reach of a planetary system. In the original they just dump the pilot out in the middle of space and viewers are left to assume he makes it back to his ship or a base somewhere safely (as per the narration).

While Kodai and Yuki are happy to see the matter of Melda resolved peacefully, Shima still clearly has issues with it. These issues will arise again soon.

Overall, I’d estimate that this episode’s events covers one or two days at most. When we pick up the next episode, five days have passed since the start of this episode and Akira is still in the brig.

PREVIEW:

Those who come from beyond the horizon. Two worlds. Truth and fact. Two truths each create their own sense of “right.” Is there any hope to be found beyond them? Yamato presses forward across the galactic seas.

Next time: What Lies Beyond.

There are 318 days left before humanity becomes extinct.

RELATED LINKS:

Official website of Yamato 2199
Yamato Crew website
Chapter 4 Trailer

Episode 11 credits

Screenplay: Yutaka Izubuchi
Storyboard: Kazuo Takigawa
Director: Kiyoshi Egami
Chara Animation Director: Toshimitsu Kobayashi
Chara Chief Animation Director: Akihisa Maeda, Shinichi Yamaoka
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.

6 thoughts on “Yamato 2199 Episode 11 Commentary

  1. This is strange.. in the subtitles i saw there is no mention either to the Falcon being in maintenance..

    one wonders how things we miss or missunderstod due to subs… and this are the very oficial subs not fansubs

    • I didn’t actually notice it until Luis pointed it out in his commentary, so I went back and rewatched the scene again. The word “maintenance” (メンテナンス, mentenansu) is the first word in Aihara’s sentence about the Falcon launching, yet it gets completely overlooked in the translation. Like I said in my comments, I would like to think this is a deliberate move by the translators, but I doubt that they’d have thought so deeply into it.

  2. No offense meant, but your comment on Melda’s fighter being better at high AOA maneuvers in space is a non-sequitur. As there’s no atmosphere in space, it’s impossible to tell which craft is better at high AOA maneuvering. The maneuver that Melda uses to move from a defensive position (in front of Melda’s fighter) to an offensive position could best be described as a variant of a maneuver called a “cobra maneuver” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgHoBDW56CI This maneuver requires atmosphere to use apropriately since it uses the suddent rapid change in AOA to use the underside of the aircraft as a “brake” to rapidly slow the defensive (in front) fighter, to force the offensive fighter (In this case, Akira’s) to overshoot and become defensive. Such a maneuver wouldn’t work in space as there is no atmosphere to act as a “brake” to slow a fighter that presents it’s underside to the “relative wind.”

    In space, this could simply be performed by using the forward firing thrusters to rapidly slow the fighter without changing attitude and giving away the fact that it’s slowing down. Of course, we can assume the thrusters on dorsal aspect of the fighter are stronger and could be used more efficaciously (despite the fact that we can’t see them fire in the episode).

    As a technique to force an overshoot, however, this maneuver has very little “real world” utility as any modern and well-trained aerospace fighter pilot would tell you. The maneuver, after it’s accomplishment, at least in the air would leave the pilot with very little energy to maneuver further and leave them in a state where they’d be “peeled like a grape” by an adversaries wingman. This is something that all iterations get wrong is that everyone flies like “Maverick” in “Top Gun,” like a lone-wolf acting autonomously without having a dedicated wingman to watch your “6.” Oh they show mutual support, but it usually seems, by watching the battle, as serendipity rather than real mutual support.

    Finally, why do I comment on this? Well, I was a kid that grew up on watching “Star Blazers” as a kid and it was one of the many things that influenced me to join the USAF and become a fighter pilot myself. So this new iteration is a way to revisit my childhood.

    Secondly, Akira uses the same maneuver that Melda used so successfully against her, in episode 20, “Under a Rainbow Sun,” when a Gamillas “Stuka” gets on Akira’s tail.

    • Rhen, no offense taken. AoA wasn’t exactly what I meant, but words failed me at the time of writing. I’m familiar with the Cobra maneuver, and that it’s a spectacular sight at airshows but holds little combat value for the reasons you point out. I should have kept it to “Melda outpiloted Akira”.

      It’s nice to see our favourite childhood series inspired you to become a fighter pilot yourself. Personally, I’m envious. Still hoping to get my civil helicopter licence one of these days, but that’s as close as I’ll come to flying a fighter plane.

      Thanks for the insight, and I hope you continue to enjoy both the show (with more coming soon, hopefully) and the commentary.

  3. I didn’t get the sense that animosity between Akira and Yuki started in this episode — rather the exact opposite, that this was where Akira’s attitude towards her started to soften. Yuki is just so relentlessly *nice* that, even though Akira’s jealous of her relationship with Kodai, it’s impossible to stay mad at her.

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