Yamato 2199 Episode 15 Commentary

by Luis Cotovio and Daniel George

Episode 15: Point of No Return

(Japanese Name: 帰還限界点 / Kikan Genkai-ten)

Director: Masaharu Tomoda
Running time: 26m 16s (22m 30s 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): Steady as She Goes! Across the Sea of Stars by Hironobu Kageyama
  • (TV): Best of My Love by Rei Yasuda

[LC]: At 22m 30 s of running time (excepting Opening and End Credits), this episode is the longest so far. Previous episodes have clocked at about 21 minutes, with episodes 1 and 2 at 22m 24s. It will keep the lead in this particular category until episode 20 takes it.

[DG]:This episode starts on April 19, 2199, with 298 days left to complete the mission.

[LC]: That would put this episode about 12 days after Episode 14. However, I’d say these initial scenes take place at some point in-between. Doubt it would take Celestella all that time to go from Balun to Garmillas and to report to Dessler.

Celestella gives her report to Lord Dessler, concerning the events that transpired at Balun. Of particular interest is the discovery that an Iscandarian is aboard the Terron ship. Celestella says Mirenel gave her life to obtain that information.

[DG]: The Blu-Ray’s English subtitle line, “So the Iscandarians had it.” never felt right to me. After thinking about it in context of the previous episode’s events, I figured this line was most likely wrong. Sure, he could have been making some obscure reference to the wave-motion core or wave-motion technology in general, but I always thought the most likely thing that Celestella would be reporting was that there was an Iscandarian aboard Yamato.

I asked friend-of-the site Hiroshi Ban for clarification, and he confirmed for me that the line was: “I see. An Iscandarian has been aboard as I have expected.” This is in line with his theory several episodes back that Yamato was heading to Iscandar, and it hardly surprises him that an Iscandarian was sighted on board.

[LC]: In hindsight, it now strikes me as odd that Dessler would allow Domel to attack Yamato in light of this information. The manga did somewhat fix this, as we’ll explain later. But as far as the anime goes, he takes no steps to prevent the destruction of Yamato and its Iscandarian passenger until much later in the story.

[DG]: Maybe Dessler doesn’t care what becomes of Starsha’s sisters. He is well aware she herself is not aboard. To him that’s probably all that matters.

Dessler mentions that Mirenel’s demise makes Celestella the last remaining Jirellan. Celestella says that she owes her life to Dessler and reiterates her unflinching loyalty, a concept that seems to amuse him.

[LC]: I only recently watched Yutaka Izubuchi’s first work as a director, the mecha anime RahXephon. As I’ve pointed out in the previous episode’s commentary, small nods to it show up every now and then. The bird cage in this scene is reminiscent of one that is shown in Episode 10 of RahXephon. The design is not a complete match, but there are enough similarities for me to have jumped up and said “Hey! That looks like…!!!” Even the bird is blue. Click here for a comparison.

The Imperial Guard’s massive fleet, commanded by Gimleh himself, surrounds the planet Alteria. (The original on-screen caption reads “Nord Great District, Provincial Planet Alteria” though the direct pronunciation of the planet’s name is actually “Oltaria.”) On the bridge of the Killmenheim, Gimleh chastises governor Rivel Droppe for fleeing the capitol without suppressing the natives’ rebellion. Droppe tries to justify his actions and convince Gimleh to assist in the retreat of the Garmillan refugees from the colony.

[LC]: Gimleh’s Haizerad-class dreadnought is called Killmenheim and it is captained by Dora Nerge. If the name sounds familiar, that’s because it is. You may recall the Imperial Guard officer from Episode 10 was named Parn Nerge. According to official materials, both Nerges are clones, much like the majority of the Imperial Guard’s troops.

However, Gimleh has other plans. He intends to obliterate the rebellion by turning the planet to ashes, justifying that a planet that rebels against the Leader and the Empire must not be allowed to exist in Great Garmillas territory. Gimleh affirms he’ll start with the colony’s command. Droppe says his joke is in poor taste but to his horror, one of Gimleh’s guards draws his gun and shoots him without a second thought.

[LC]: The manga version takes a more bloody approach to Droppe’s execution. Instead of a sideways rear view of a chest shot, Murakawa went for the head shot. Click here to see it. Come on, you know you want to. In the manga, this attack on Alteria also takes place a bit earlier in the story, just before Domel is given the Dessler Cross in Episode 11.

As Droppe falls lifeless to the floor, Gimleh coldly responds that he doesn’t like jokes. He faces the bridge window and orders his fleet to “play a melody of annihilation!”, and the fleet orbiting the planet mobilizes.

[DG]: The original screenplay for this episode, written back in 2010, included this voice over by Yurisha Iscandar during the bombardment scene:

A fight begins with emotion. Emotion and reason. Emotions can be held in check by reason. But, is reason always correct?
Something’s right, something’s wrong…I merely observe… Which is correct…

This may have been a tribute to the narrative style of the classic Yamato saga, but evidently Masaharu Tomoda (the episode director) and/or Yutaka Izubuchi (the series director) chose the Garmillas national anthem Praise Be Our Eternal Glory to really emphasize the irresistible force that is Garmillas.

They clear a path for a large group of Interplanetary Ballistic Missiles. One of them comes down over the planet’s capitol where we see the people rallying against their Garmillas occupants.

[LC]: So, the most ludicrous weapon in the Yamato canon is back. I believe this is actually the first time we see these babies actually hit their target. I commented on the IPBM’s absurdity as a weapon back in Episode 2, so I’ll spare you a repeat of that particular rant.

The missile’s shadow looms menacingly over them. The people look in horror at the weapon of their impending doom just as it becomes a gigantic ball of fire. The city and its surroundings are turned to rubble and the people to ash. The remaining missiles follow suit, rendering the surface of Alteria into a sea of fire.

[LC]: Admittedly, the IPBM’s do work as a way to scare the crap out of people before you vaporize them. Seeing an object that size bearing down on you is probably horrifying. But as I said, you’re ash in another second, so… what’s the point?! And from what we see, for an object that size, its blast radius is incredibly small. I’m sure they could do such damage with a smaller – and less costly – weapon. Hell, we can do it here.

[LC]: Sure, you can attribute the size of the blast to artistic license, but still… As for having a large massive thing hanging over your enemies before you kill them, I’m sure the Garmillas could just as easily tow a few large asteroids to orbit and drop them on cue. Or, for that matter, some dirt-cheap planet bombs.

[DG]: Three things grab my attention: (1) The blast radius is extremely limited to about three times the diameter of the missile, and as such (2) the missiles are detonating in very close proximity to one another; finally, (3) the drive sections of all the missiles are still intact. Both of these defy the laws of physics as we know them. The only far-fetched idea I have is that the missiles somehow can create a magnetic field or some other shielding capable of containing the blast with minimal contamination outside the blast zone (which we see – the immediate areas have heat scorching but the blast clouds aren’t converging as they should). Other than that, the only thing I can think of is that these are extremely archaic missiles they were trying to get rid of. Or they’re duds with no explosive materiel.

And finally, how the hell did they get all these beasts here? We’ve already established that the Geschtam Gates are large enough for even these behemoths to pass through, but a couple of notes on that… First, evidence suggests the Gates are placed on the outer edge of planetary systems where gravitational interference is less pronounced. Second, as we’ll see in another couple of episodes, traveling through them is not like stepping through a Stargate. You don’t just enter one gate and step out at your destination. These gates give access to another dimension (there seem to be a lot of those) but require actual travel and navigation.

How did they do that with these? Some unseen tugboat? Do they actually have some autonomous control center, or can they be controlled remotely? None of these questions were ever answered, since this is the IPBM’s last appearance in 2199. Perhaps we’re better off not knowing. Oh, and look at that, I ended up ranting after all. XD

[DG]: Two words: Floating. Continent. They took a whole piece of Garmillas’ crust to Jupiter. That’s something the size of Australia. I think getting these missiles to Alteria by comparison would be a breeze, especially since we aren’t aware of there being any Geschtam gate close to our solar system.

The Polmeria-class carriers come next, using their beam weapons to level the remaining settlements scattered across the planet. The Melankas they’ve dropped come down on the refugees who fled the cities. Though these people are unarmed, fleeing civilians, they are still slaughtered en masse.

[LC]: See? Beautiful blue beams that turn cities into rubble. Efficient. Precise. A scalpel instead of a sledgehammer.

[DG]: The number of Polmeria-class assault carriers here is substantial – two rows containing 23 ships (12 on the top row, 11 on the bottom row, at the start of the shot). And that’s just this attack group.

From above, Gimleh relishes the vision below him. Alteria has become a world ablaze, all life eradicated.

[LC]: The detail of these people being strafed by bullets is more shocking than all the mass destruction we’ve just witnessed. Gimleh just earned a very special place in hell, just below that reserved for molesters and people who talk in theaters. His actions at Alteria earned him the nickname “Butcher of Alteria”, a moniker he seems to actually enjoy.

[DG]: Just in terms of standard Gamillas warships, the Imperial Guard fleet at Alteria numbers in the hundreds. Knowing Gimleh, the night side of the planet would be facing similar numbers. There could be a thousand ships or more around the planet. (Oddly, this unintentionally calls back to a rather over-written line in the corresponding episode of Star Blazers when Dash proclaims, “there are over three thousand ships!” Maybe he wasn’t exaggerating after all.)

Yamato proceeds in its journey, approaching the outer edge of our galaxy. Yuri(sh)a wanders the ship’s corridors, eventually reaching the Wave-Motion Gun’s control room, where one of the technicians is checking the anti-recoil device’s gravity anchor. She asks one of the men what that room is for. Though he finds her question odd, he answers. Yuri(sh)a seems shocked at the response.

[LC]: Are her eyes expanding?! Maybe a side effect of Iscandarian possession. Fully dilated for maximum intake.

[DG]: The Wave-Motion Gun’s crew (Tactical Division) is clearly used to her being around, presumably doing logistical support. This would support the idea that it’s not unusual for Yuria to be around this part of the ship as part of her appointed duties.

In hangar 2, Yamamoto is fiddling with a defective control. Though Shinohara advises her to leave such repairs to the technicians, she says she likes to do her own repairs. It makes her feel closer to her plane. She sees Kodai approaching and prepares to address him, but then she sees Yuki come in right after him.

[DG]: Nice to see Akira as the type of pilot who likes calibrating her ship to the condition she wants.

The detail on the Zero in the foreground is astounding. The multiple angles we see of Alpha 2, its access ladder, and its catapult gear are all in the Yamato 2199 Hyper Mechanical Detail Artworks book that came out in mid-2015.

[LC]: This marks a more pronounced change of direction in the relationship of Shinohara and Akira, at least where Shino is concerned. Though never openly romantic, Shino does seem to pay a lot more attention to Akira. At the same time, the love triangle between her, Kodai and Yuki begins to break up with the classic Yamato couple’s relationship gaining momentum, even if Kodai is still as clueless as ever. Actually, Kodai hasn’t been seen interacting with Akira since her actions in Episode 10. Whether it’s his reaction to her bad decision or just how the plot flowed is anyone’s guess.

Yuki says she wants to learn how to fly a Zero. Kodai says she won’t have a chance, prompting her to ask why. He explains that even though they’ve left the Milky Way, the enemy’s attacks seem to be increasing in frequency. With this forced level of high alert, there’s no time for joy rides. She is still determined and asks Kodai to teach her. Yamamoto finally gives in to jealousy and rushes out of the Zero’s cockpit. Poor Shinohara ends up ass-first on the hangar floor. Kodai asks if he’s OK as they watch Akira storm off. He wonders if there’s something wrong with her.

[DG]: Yuki’s motivation in continually asking Kodai to take her up in a fighter? Nothing more than she thinks she’s capable of it.

Shinohara jokingly says she has a lot going on, but that Kodai would probably be oblivious to it. In character, Kodai is indeed confused. Yuki seems to catch on to what’s going on, but the alarms go off before any explanations are given. The crew is ordered to battle stations.

[DG]: Poor Kodai. Still Captain Oblivious. Poor Yuki. The look on her face here screams, “Remind me why I like this guy…”

[LC]: This shot of Shinohara falling on his ass, as well as the bit with Akira going over the controls of her Zero, seem like a throwback to the original Episode 15. In it, we see Kodai doing some maintenance on his Zero, being thrown out of the cockpit and falling in a similar way when the Yamato is caught by the “Magellanic Stream” (“Galactic Whirlpool” in Star Blazers). Click here for a comparison.

Shinohara rushes to the Falcon hangar while Kodai and Yuki run up to the bridge. Miki Saijo passes the radar station to Yuki, who runs an analysis of the approaching enemy.

[LC]: This is our first look at the “Single-Person Lift” in action. Eagle-eyed fans may have noticed them in previous episodes – earliest I could spot was in Episode 5 – but they haven’t been seen in use yet. The one in this scene is numbered 17, with one in the production materials numbered as 24. So we can assume there are at least that many on the ship, if not more.

Kodai wonders if it’s more reconnaissance. As all systems become ready for the impending conflict… the Garmillan ships turn around and leave.

[LC]: Good to see Yuki now has a “Versatile Radar”. 😀

Sawamura is pissed with all the constant alerts that have been increasing in frequency. The constant calls to battle-readiness have left the crew on edge and with no time to rest. But Sawamura’s rant is interrupted by a large bang, that of Yamamoto kicking in the door of her locker before storming off. Kato wonders why she’s upset. Shinohara smiles and explains that she has a lot going on. Kato is just confused.

[DG]: That poor locker door. What did it do to Akira?

[LC]: Hmm… Guess Kato’s temper and hatred toward lockers has rubbed off on her. Still, she’s smart, using her boot instead of her fist to exercise her contempt. XD

The main staff has assembled in the Central Operations Room to analyze their current status. Hirata reports that repairs to the O.M.C.S. will take a while and rationing will have to be strictly implemented due to their dwindling food and water reserves, at least until a resupply is possible.

[LC]: This scene is a bit strange for two main reasons. One is the railings. They have been a part of this set from the start but have never been used, remaining retracted until this episode. So what prompted their use now? Don’t get me wrong, I actually like them and think they should have been used from the start. Having people stand on a floor screen might look good, but it’s a bit of a hazard. Not to mention the cleaning that would follow. XD My complaint is just about the sudden unexplained use. Not a big deal, since they won’t be seen again.

The second is story-related. Hirata reports that the O.M.C.S. is being repaired, but no explanation is given for what happened to it in the first place. My guess is, during her “mental invasion” of the ship, Mirenel might have taken advantage of her unwilling subjects to conduct some acts of sabotage, like she did to have Yuki put the Wave core back into place. In hindsight, could the malfunction Akira was complaining about in her Zero also be a consequence of this? Anyway, without any on-screen explanation, we’re kept guessing as to what might have happened to the O.M.C.S.

[DG]: Kaoru just lurking in the shadows is in itself foreboding. She’s just itching to bring up Beemela when she does.

Kodai notes that there are barely any systems in that area, but Niimi offers a solution. The maps sent by Iscandar indicate the Beemela star system lies just four light years away. Beemela 4 is an Earth-type planet where fresh supplies of food and water may be available. Hirata seems happy at this prospect.

[LC]: Beemela 4 is obviously the planet of the original series known as Beemera, or Beeland in Star Blazers. In that episode, dwindling food and water supplies were also the motive for a stop there.

[DG]: There is a substantial amount of legible writing on the Beemela map.

Under “Habitable Zone”:

[Circumstellar Habitable Zone]

“Dozens of planets have been confirmed in the [??] larger than the Earth possibly due to [??] more easily observed.”

[Habitable planet]

“The Kepler spacecraft has identified a further 54 candidates and current estimates indicate at least 500 million such planets in the Milky Way.”

The spacecraft mentioned is the Kepler space telescope which has to date been responsible for identifying over one thousand exoplanets in over 440 star systems.

The small print under “Atmosphere” reads:

“The Earth’s hydrosphere. Water covers 71% of the Earth’s surface and accounts for 97.3% of water distribution on Earth much of it in the global ocean.”

This particular phrase looks like it’s been more or less copied straight out of Wikipedia…

Niimi points out the effects of being locked inside a confined space like Yamato, with many of the crew already suffering from heavy stress. Landing on such a planet might be beneficial.

[LC]: Niimi’s point about stress related to long term confinement is valid and has been the subject of much study under the broader field of environmental psychology. Specifically named “Confined Environment Psychology”, one of the most well known experiments was that of Biosphere 2. Presently, our society runs these experiments continuously in brainless “reality shows” like Big Brother.

Still, though I’m not a psychologist, I think that most of the effects Niimi fears would result from smaller groups in a much more confined area. Yamato, confined as it is, is rather large and has a crew of 999 people (at the start of the journey). And it sports multiple facilities which seem to exist expressly to appease these effects.

Shima is asked if the detour to Beemela will have any effect on their tight schedule, and says it’ll be all right. Ito smiles at this remark. With no other choice, they head to Beemela 4. Niimi is happy.

[LC]: I can’t help but ask why Shima keeps saying all is well with the schedule? He obviously knows it isn’t, and that he apparently has no hope of making up for lost time. So, why the lie? Eventually he’ll have to bring that to the table. The longer he waits, the worse it’ll be.

Ito and Niimi are enjoying all this a bit too much.

In the mess hall, things are bleak. Looking at their trays, containing nothing more than a pastry and a water bottle, some of the crew talk about the rationing and how little rest they’ve been getting due to the constant state of alert the Garmillas have forced them into. Some even question if Iscandar actually exists. Yabu listens to all this with his usual cheerful expression. Sitting with Kato, Makoto tells him about the pretty ghost girl crew members keep seeing.

[LC]: Funny that, even though we can no longer think of these two apart, this is actually the first scene they’ve had together since way back in Episode 7.

Kato finds it hard to believe, even after she says Hayashi saw it and that people say the ghost might be an alien. His lack of enthusiasm prompts Makoto to put her hand in his forehead. He asks what she’s doing and she responds that she was checking for a fever due to his tired looks.

Suddenly, their attention is drawn by a commotion. Saotome, one of Tokugawa’s men, protests about the food rationing but Hirata says there’s nothing he can do until the O.M.C.S. is repaired. Kato comments on the scene and how tired and on-edge everyone is. Saotome storms off, leaving a visibly troubled Hirata behind. The other crew members comment on how food affects morale, until Yabu contributes with his usual, cheerful disposition, wondering if they’re really gonna be okay. The others just look at him in silence.

[LC]: Really, if you were to put Yabu in the same room with the happiest dog on Earth, he would damage the poor animal even more than Chandler Bing did. XD

On the other end of the mess hall, Aihara nearly chokes on his pastry. As he takes a gulp of water and pulls himself together, he spots the approaching Yuri(sh)a. He tries to strike up a conversation, mentioning that she hasn’t been making her radio show lately. Much to his heartbreak, she completely ignores him, addressing Sanada.

[DG]: Sanada is still eating the same meager meal that he was back in Episode 4. As such, he’s completely unaffected by the food shortage.

She asks him about the principles on which the Wave-Motion Gun is based, prompting a back and forth that no one except the two of them probably understands, as seen by the faces of those around them. Sanada is impressed at how knowledgeable Yuria has become, especially when she surmises that the principles upon which the gun is based could cause the collapse of the universe itself.

[LC]: I have no PhD in Physics and as I watched this I thought most of what they’re saying was BS. But aside from coming up empty on any relevant hits for the name Buchinsky, most of the elements in the dialogue are real-world terms. Weather these concepts actually relate to each other in the context of this exchange, or the writers just threw them in a blender with some verbs, nouns and adjectives and distilled the finest technobabble ever created for an anime, is something I’ll leave to the experts.

The conversation is cut short by Hoshina, who takes Yuria away. While Ota is busy taking Misaki’s photo and Aihara wails over his lost opportunity, Sanada contemplates the physics described to him by Yuri(sh)a. His train of thought is broken by Ota, who mentions how much he loves Yuria’s new hair style, which Sanada didn’t even notice.

[DG]: Wait, does Hoshina realize something here? It’s almost as if he knows exactly who is asking Sanada these questions. Given what we find out later about Hoshina, it’s likely this is the case. He’s certainly not particularly surprised by Yuri(sh)a’s words.

Ota, Ota, Ota. He’s almost a cross between Touji Suzuhara and Kensuke Aida from Evangelion in this scene. It’s not the first time we’ve seen him behaving like this either…

[LC]: What I find most strange is that no one notices how weird and out-of-character she’s acting! No one? Even a genius like Sanada prefers to think she somehow crammed an encyclopedia’s worth of knowledge into her brain instead of pressing the panic button? ESPECIALLY if we consider they’ve just recently been attacked using some sort of Jedi mind trick?? Come on, people!!!

[DG]: It’s Sanada. If it doesn’t involve science, he’s oblivious to it. He’s probably shell-shocked that someone other than Kaoru is actually talking SCIENCE with him!

Sure, Sanada is oblivious to such details, but Ota and Aihara are right there. They look surprised but don’t find her to be acting out of character? And why did Hoshina come in and drag her away like this? Despite your remark, he shows no sign of being suspicious of her behavior so…what? He saw her talking to the XO and thought that would be a good time to drag her off for no reason at all??

[DG]: They might know something about Yurisha’s ability to possess other people’s bodies, to the point where Hoshina did know it was possible, knowing what we know now about Hoshina.

Again, we’re back in realm of assumptions. Too many for a single episode…

Hoshina walks Yuri(sh)a to the elevator while she mumbles about her talk and how she is now sure that Sanada is the one who created that terrible weapon of mass destruction, the Wave-Motion Gun. Hoshina looks at her with a mix of worry and surprise.

[LC]: So, they don’t take the time to tell us what screwed up the O.M.C.S. but they spend it on Yuri(sh)a having a eureka moment, discovering what everyone on board and all of us know. That Sanada created the big bad gun…!!!

[DG]: They’re slowly building up how great a crime Iscandarians see the use of wave energy as a weapon is. No matter how hypocritical it might turn out to be of them…

At the Balun base, Goer is besides himself with excitement over the news Domel just gave him. Leader Dessler will be coming to Balun to conduct an inspection. Admiral Dietz told Domel that Dessler is keeping the visit a secret. Goer is eager to prepare a proper reception, but Haydern tells him the best way to demonstrate their loyalty is to defeat the Yamato. Getto comments on how exhausted the ship’s crew must be, due to their recon forces.

[LC]: Am I the only one who has a problem with this? Hear me out…

For starters, why would Dessler tell people he’s going to surprise-inspect them? There’s a reason it’s called that. SURPRISE! Even if we don’t take that part literally, would such renowned and respected officers like Dietz and Domel, the only two who the Leader entrusted with that knowledge, go spreading it around? That would make them unworthy of trust, which we know they are not. So, having Domel breach that trust is at the very least off-character.

And as we’ll see in a couple of scenes, it seems the “only two people who know about it” aren’t the only two people who know about it. In fact, Goer was probably the last person to learn about it, because he’s an idiot that nobody talks to.

Berger says this is the best time to strike and Kraytze reports the recon battalion says Yamato has set course to the Beemela system. Domel points out the neutron star Carell 163 lies in their path and its gravity well will interfere with any warp attempts, causing the ship to warp out at one of five points. Domel will distribute his fleet to each of those points.

When Yamato surfaces at one of them, the fleets will converge there and destroy it, once and for all. All commanders, Goer excepted, are impressed by the plan and salute Domel. The general smiles in anticipation.

[DG]: Gravity wells affecting hyperspace/warp travels are not a new thing in science-fiction.

[LC]: The way they so precisely predict the warp-out points, perhaps some sort of Lagrange point-like thing is going on? Also, if you watch the display carefully, you’ll notice there are 16 relevant points on the diagram. The bigger one is Carell 163 itself, at the center of a red circle, presumably the range of its gravitational influence. 5 others are located in the red circle, at equal distances. Connecting them, you form a pentagon. At the halfway point of each side is a warp-out point. The final five points form another pentagon closer to Carell 163, formed by tracing a pentagram from the boundary points. Wonder if there’s some significance in this imagery… As for the writing on the screen, as far as I could tell, it’s gibberish. The label closest to Carell 163 reads “EGNKRS”… Yep.

A rainy night on the outskirts of Baleras (capitol city of Garmillas). A man runs through the narrow streets, pursued by guards supported by a SDG61-L. The ship’s PA system blares out propaganda: rebels are nothing more than fleas and shouldn’t be regarded as people.

[LC]: I believe this is the first time we see these underground sections of Baleras. Don’t recall any such thing being portrayed in the original. With such a bustling city above, are these underground chambers inhabited or just used for services like sewers, energy distribution and such other things?

The man manages to evade his pursuers and jump the wall surrounding a large house. But soon his pursuers hone in on the property and surround it. Inside, Elisa Domel watches from her window as group of officers gathers at the gate.

[LC]: The writing of this episode is so uneven that it reaches the two extremes of what makes up most of 2199. There are some nice moments that move both characters and plot forward. And there are others where they seem to have pulled ideas out of a hat and just went with them. This episode has a lot more of those than usual.

I think the main problem is that they had to cram in too much for the upcoming battle between Domel and Yamato. Had it been spread across two episodes, I think it would have benefited everyone. The amount of assumptions you have to make based on what little is shown gives you the impression that you missed an episode somewhere. Fortunately, the misgivings are mostly in the first act, and they mostly make up for them in the second.

Also of note… What is Elisa wearing?! Ugh! XD

They’ve received information that the evading rebel was spotted going over the wall, and prepare their teams to go inside for a capture. One of the officers calls the others as he notices the name carved on a plaque by the gate. It reads “DOMEL”.

[LC]: You may have noticed I said “mostly” and here’s why: we see a supposed rebel go inside the walls of a house that turns out to belong to the Domels. We see Elisa and we’re meant to assume she’s aiding the rebels, though we’ve only seen her once before and have no reason to believe she’s in league with them, with no other exposition or explanation than having a rebel jump the wall of her house. This ends up becoming an important plot point further on. But the basis we’re presented with here is so flimsy and so dependent on the assumptions of the viewer, it almost undermines the whole thing.

[DG]: We are never shown any bona fide proof that Elisa is involved with any rebellion, and that’s the point of the whole plot. It’s another Nazi Germany parallel. The Nazis spent a lot of the war rounding up people on suspicion of treasonous activities, if they didn’t simply execute them. Seeing a suspected traitor running into your yard was enough for the SS to treat you as being implicit in whatever activities they suspected. We’ll see these sorts of activities throughout the rest of this story arc.

In the end, the only things we have evidence for are (1) Some guy being pursued by the Garmillas Secret Police fled into the Domels’ yard and (2) The commotion caused Elisa to stop her Richard Simmons workout.

Even if there is no evidence, her later behavior seems to confirm she is indeed in league with the rebels or, at the very least, supportive of their cause. Were she a loyal servant of the regime, I don’t think she would have sided with Dietz. Though I guess the treatment provided by Gimleh may have made her swing to the other side. But whatever happened, we’re back on the same point. It’s all assumption with no exposition.

At Balun, the general receives a report that the fleet is ready for deployment. He gives the order for departure. Domelaze III leaves the base followed by a massive fleet.

[LC]: Here we get an idea of how large Domel’s fleet is. If you go to the trouble of counting the tiny dots in the image, there are well over 100 of them.

You may have noticed this in earlier scenes, but someone decided the characters should strike some energetic – verging on flamboyant – poses throughout. And Domel gets the best ones. Also, look at Goer’s face. He really loves his current position. XD

[LC]: Some of the posing can be attributed to the joint participation of Nobuteru Yuuki as this episode’s Chief of Character Animation and Keisuke Masunaga as one of the animation directors. Masunaga is one of – if not THE – foremost adapter of Leiji Matsumoto’s characters to modern animated form, from Queen Emeraldas to Galaxy Railways. He was responsible for the character designs and animation for the Yamato Playstation games and is another lifelong fan. Click here for an interview with this amazing artist.

Aboard Yamato, Niimi is reading Yuki Mori’s personnel file to Ito and Hoshina. Ito is interested in the fact Yuki joined the section in charge of the Yamato Plan just a few months prior, and that Admiral Hijikata has been her guardian since her parents died, a year ago.

[LC]: Great continuity shot showing Yamato moving away from the Milky Way. If only they were consistent in the way they use these backgrounds. This exact shot was first conceived by Leiji Matsumoto in his development notes for the original series.

[DG]: If Yuki’s birthday is December 24, 2180, then she is actually 18 for the entire duration of the trip to Iscandar and back, not 19 as character profiles say.

[LC]: Well, look at the positive. At least she was of legal age throughout the journey. No moral line crossed. XD

Funny that Christmas Eve keeps coming up as a key date. If you calculated it, and we did, Operation M was deployed on that same date. So Yuki was turning 18 the day the Earth fleet left for its three-week journey toward Pluto.

Yuki’s father is identified in her records as Naoyuki Mori, Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs. If you were going to falsify someone’s records, you might choose a name that isn’t almost a carbon copy of your subject’s name. The name of her mother is not listed, though according to Niimi, both parents died about a year prior. (It’s also possible that he was named for 2199’s resident illustrator Naoyuki Katoh.)

That they died at about the same time Yuki lost her memory and the whole Yurisha affair took place is obviously a way to make us (and Ito) believe Yuki is the Iscandarian princess, to keep that plot thread going just a bit longer. But even discarding the possibility that Yuki is an alien, the data actually makes sense.

As we’ve seen, Yuki was posted as a companion to Yurisha. We know the two suffered injuries in some sort of accident or terrorist attack, resulting in Yuki’s amnesia and Yurisha ending up inside the capsule on the Auto Navigation Room. Now, being the Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs, is it possible Naoyuki Mori was also assigned to Yurisha? Is it possible both he and his wife were in that car in the night it all went down? The time of both the accident/attack and their deaths seem to line up.

Ito believes Hijikata may have altered Yuki’s records. Niimi thinks he’s kidding, but he is adamant. Niimi jokes about his sudden interest being due to a crush, but Ito tells her she doesn’t need to know why he’s interested.

[LC]: No matter how much of a snake Ito is, it’s easy to understand why he jumped to the conclusion Yuki and Yurisha are the same person. We’ve been learning the details of their involvement since Episode 1, and most started out thinking the exact same thing, back when we had the same information he has now.

Niimi is not convinced, but drops the matter. She moves the subject to their current destination, Beemela 4. She believes the planet might be suitable for their plans. Ito grins and says they’ll be busy, cautioning Niimi to stay away from Sanada.

[DG]: Not sure why they consider Beemela promising. Certainly not as a viable alternative home, given that it’s on the very edge of the galaxy. More likely it’s a good staging point for whatever action they plan on taking.

This isn’t the first time Kaoru has tried to change the mission. However, what makes her think Beemela is going to be realistic since they haven’t reached it more than two months into the mission? How is relocating going to even be possible?

[LC]: Perhaps the data Yurisha brought to Earth is enough to make these assessments. We’ve seen evidence that the charts provided by Iscandar are quite comprehensive. They may also contain information about relevant planets. As we’ll see, Beemela was visited by Iscandarians, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility. Sure, they left some key information out, but we’ll get to that when the time comes.

That veiled threat to Sanada shows us this guy isn’t playing around. And Niimi’s expression confirms this, since she probably knows all too well what he’s capable of.

She visibly dislikes his tone. Ito says that he would like to have some insurance and Niimi promptly tell him she knows where to get it. Hoshina just watches the two in silence.

[LC]: In hindsight, Hoshina’s silence says more than a thousand words.

Shima is in the Navigation Room looking over some star charts. He hears the door open and, believing that it’s Hayashi coming in, begins to talk about the data until he notices it’s actually Niimi, who gives him a mug with coffee. He thanks her. Niimi asks how the schedule’s looking.

Shima takes a gulp from the mug and gathers his thoughts, after which he smiles and says everything is fine and they’re making good progress. Niimi remains silent and just looks at him. She smiles and moves closer, telling him he’s a terrible liar.

[LC]: This scene stands out for the way it was animated. They went full throttle in terms of character motion. In a scene where body language says as much, if not more, than the dialogue, it pays dividends. According to Yutaka Izubuchi, the number of character layouts in this scene was way above average, in order to animate this “exaggerated” range of motion. Although he doesn’t identify the person in charge of this scene, he does say it “was done by a veteran animator who has worked on Yamato, and he was pretty worried about how to handle it, and what the audience would think of Niimi’s character.” You can read about this and more in Yamato 2199 Report 19.

She reaches out and rests her hand on his shoulder. With a quasi-seductive tone, she says the success of their voyage depends on him and that he’s the most important person on board.

[DG]: Sorry Kaoru, you’re not Shima’s type. You’re not blonde enough, and you aren’t a softly-spoken sentient weapon of mass destruction.

[LC]: Shima’s poker face is indeed terrible.

We cut to the elevator lobby as Shima heads for the bridge. He stands there with a pensive look until his thoughts are interrupted by a voice that calls out to him. It’s Hoshina, who asks if he may have a moment. Shima looks surprised.

[DG]: This looks remarkably like the same elevator that Hoshina saw Yuri(sh)a off to the last time we saw him. Is it safe to say the navigation room is fairly close to the mess hall?

[LC]: That’s because this is the same set. This lobby is at “Level 0” and gives access to the main elevator shafts, going all the way up to Bridge 1 and all the way down to Bridge 3. The Mess Hall is indeed in close proximity. As for the Navigation Room, I haven’t been able to pinpoint its exact location in the available production materials. But it can be assumed it’s fairly close. Even if it wasn’t, Shima would still have to use it to go up to the bridge.

The massive Deusuler I moves across space with its escort, approaching the Geschtam Gate to travel to Balun. Dessler sits calmly, goblet in hand, as the captain reports on their progress.

[LC]: I only recently realized why both Deusuler I and Zoellegut II always seemed a bit off to me. Not because they’re just repaints of the Domelaze, since there’s a lot of that in the show. But where the Domelaze has a two-tone color scheme, the others are a single solid color. Amazing how something that is staring you right in the face can go unnoticed for so long. XD

[DG]: With Domelaze, they needed a design that would allow the iconic “saucer” that now serves as its command bridge to retain its white color. They then found other parts of the ship to carry that color so the saucer wouldn’t look disconnected. With Deusuler and Zoellegut, there’s no real need for this.

Suddenly, alarms blare and a crewman reports a problem in the main engine. The rising pressure will cause it to over-boost. The captain orders the crew to stabilize it, but it’s already too late. Dessler stands up and drops his goblet, looking in horror as the entire ship is blown apart.

[LC]: You may have noticed I didn’t identify the captain of the Deusuler I by name. That’s because he might be the first character I came across who has no data released in ANY of the published production materials. Sure, he’s only alive on-screen for about 10 seconds. But considering those books have everything in them including the kitchen sink, this guy is a bit of an oddity.

It’s a nice detail that Dessler doesn’t utter a single word. It might have given away a pesky fact (Hint: the guy’s not really Dessler.) It’s also fun to note that the subplot that just started here is rooted in Akira Hio’s manga version of the original Series 1. The methods are different, but there was definitely a patsy.

Back in Baleras, Zoellick is furious that Dessler went missing without telling anyone but Admiral Dietz. Velte Talan tries to calm things down, saying the Leader’s whims are nothing new. Gimleh says Zoellick seems dissatisfied for being kept in the dark. Zoellick dislikes Gimleh’s smug remarks, saying he’s pleased for putting down the rebellion on Alteria. Gimleh corrects Zoellick, saying he didn’t put it down but rather annihilated the planet.

[LC]: Here’s evidence that the scenes at the start of the episode take place a few days before the rest. It would have taken Gimleh a few days, at least, to mop up at Alteria and return home with his fleet.

Back to the point I made earlier about Dessler’s “surprise inspection”…if that was indeed Dessler’s objective, I doubt he would let Zoellick in on it. Not because he might think Zoellick would take advantage of the situation but because of his connection to Goer. And don’t tell me Dessler doesn’t know about it. Dessler knows everything. Gimleh might be a bastard, but he is good at his job.

The obvious purpose of Zoellick’s surge of self-righteousness is to put the spotlight on Dietz and Domel, making sure to point out they knew of the Leader’s impromptu trip while he was kept in the dark. That way, when the chips fall, he’s in the clear while his most hated opponents find themselves in the cross-hairs. Well played, Sideburns… Well played. He could have kept the ham at a manageable level, though.

This is met with disdain from both Dietz and Ghader Talan, who says the Imperial Guard went too far. Celestella disagrees, saying peace in the Empire cannot be maintained without fear, prompting a grin from Gimleh.

[LC]: Here we see a very clear divide in terms of ideology inside the Leader’s council. On the radical wing, Gimleh is the on-duty bastard, with Zoellick a very close second. The only reason he’s even criticizing the genocide of Alteria is because it was Gimleh’s work and not his. We’ve seen before and even here that Zoellick has nothing but contempt for any other races besides Garmillas, even those who have become part of the empire, like the Zaltzians. But seeing Gimleh win homicidal points instead of him is not to his liking.

On the other hand, the contempt for Gimleh’s actions shown by Admiral Dietz and the younger Talan is genuine. Being from the more moderate wing, they see his actions as brutal and unnecessary. Although not a radical like Gimleh and Zoellick, Velte analyzes the situation with the coolest head, even if he sees Gimleh’s actions for the atrocity that they are and as possibly backfiring. As for Celestella, she’ll just go along anything Dessler says, so she supports Gimleh’s actions. If he had painted Alteria in shades of pink, she would still support it, as long as it was the Leader’s wish.

Velte confirms that rebellions have cropped up everywhere since appearance, but he believes that such stern measures will only make matters worse. Zoellick says pure-blood Garmillans are the only ones who matter, and barbarians without blue skin cannot be trusted.

[DG]: Despite Velte Talan’s statement here, it’s probably coincidental that rebellions are spreading at the same time Yamato appears. How likely is it that word of one ship from another galaxy would spread, especially if communications between worlds is limited and almost certainly censored?

Aside from that, we have already seen – and will see in coming episodes – that the Garmillas military is pretty stretched because of its expansionary policy. Zaltzians (and presumably other subjugated peoples) are drafted into the Navy, the Imperial Guard uses clones (though I tend to believe this is so Gimleh can exercise more control over his crew), and Garmilloids are in use as foot soldiers. These rebellions are most likely symptomatic of this shortfall in military capacity.

Meanwhile, more ham from voice actor Norio Wakamoto. Zoellick doesn’t even try to be subtle with his racist sleight.

Celestella glares at Zoellick over his remark but before she can retort, Vice-President Hyss barges in, visibly distraught. He tells them the Deusuler has exploded. Leader Dessler has been assassinated. All present look at him in disbelief.

[DG]: Celestella seems to be taking the news of Dessler’s assassination awfully well…

[LC]: Agreed. If Celestella really though Dessler was dead, she would have thrown a fit of epic proportions. Her composure at Hyss’ announcement should have been a major red flag. Maybe these guys aren’t as aware of her infatuation for the Leader as we are.

Meanwhile, Domel’s fleet has arrived at its destination. Domel is informed the scout ships have sighted Yamato. He orders them to provoke Yamato and force it into warp.

Shima and Ota are making preparations for the warp to Beemela 4. Ota reports the neutron star will affect their course. As Sanada orders the crew to prepare for warp, Yuki picks up two enemy ships on radar.

[LC]: It’s curious that the warp trajectory display shows no sign of any obstacles. You’d think that an object like Carell 163, which can exert such influence in a warp, would be shown as a big red dot with the tag “Do Not Approach” in huge capital letters.

Some more posing, now from Shima.

Nanbu dismisses them as just more recon, but this time the enemy takes the offensive and opens fire. Nanbu wants to return fire but Sanada orders the warp to proceed, saying it would be folly to engage the enemy without sufficient supplies.

[LC]: What does the dwindling supply situation have to do with it? They have two minor ships, which Yamato could dispatch in a heartbeat. Supplies would only be an issue if they expected a prolonged confrontation.

An amusing bit is that Nanbu doesn’t seem to get a break. In the previous alert, he was committed and ready to fire, hand on the trigger and all. Now, he’s all “Nah, screw it! It’s just recon!” and he gets punched in the face. XD

[DG]: You’d think it fairly low-risk for Yamato to take on these two ships (one Meltoria and one Kelkapia). Instead…

Shima warns that the neutron star will affect their warp. Sanada tells him to try and compensate accordingly. With the enemy hot on their tail, Yamato warps.

[DG]: … they make a hurried warp in spite of the risk of warping on a path that will take them inside Carell 163’s gravity well. If it were twenty ships, ten ships, heck even five ships pursuing them, I’d have agreed with Sanada. Two ships wouldn’t take long for Yamato to finish off. Then they could have taken the time to plot a proper course around the neutron star’s gravitic influence.

Of course, this raises the question of how much planning this warp initially took, because you would think it would have come up during the calculations. Also, how exactly is Shima supposed to compensate at this juncture? Is it even possible? Unlikely at such short notice; trajectory and destination coordinates would need to be recalculated.

[LC]: Yeah, unless they were unaware of Carell 163’s existence, the course deviation necessary to avoid its gravity well would have been calculated from the start. Shima, Ota and Sanada join the list of characters that act off-character in this episode.

Unfortunately, Carell 163’s gravity pull causes them to warp out too soon. As they look at the star in the main video panel, Yuki’s radar screens come alive with dozens of signals. They’re surrounded.

[LC]: The previews at the end of each episode give a small glimpse at what is coming next. And none were more tantalizing than those in the final episode of each theatrical chapter. The preview of Episode 15 provides a great look into the constant evolution these episodes went through. Many scenes in it were taken from this battle sequence, and you can see changes in each of the 14 shots used to make the 30 second preview. Click here for a side-by-side comparison.

Domelaze III goes into battle mode. Goer is beside himself that Yamato emerged at their location. Domel sets the trap and orders the remaining groups to rendezvous.

[LC]: Goer is unusually happy. Usually he seem to root for Domel’s failure, but here he seems genuinely happy.

Sanada orders the Falcons to be launched but his order is immediately countered by Okita, who descends from his cabin. He says the Hayabusas would be shot down. Kodai is overjoyed to see the captain.

[DG]: One bad decision after another. First, the decision to warp in haste rather than take down the two pursuit ships, and second, planning to launch the fighters when they would be sitting ducks. Add to this the decision Sanada made which exposed the ship back when they were being stalked by Frakken. Sanada is a scientific genius, but his abilities as a ship’s captain and a tactician leave a lot to be desired. In the end, Kato is prevented from having to write any condolence letters this day.

[LC]: This was probably Okita’s longest absence in Yamato history (in terms of the Iscandar arc. I’m not counting his long hiatus until Final Yamato). Last time we saw him was at the end of Episode 13.

Okita orders the Wave-Motion Barrier to be deployed at maximum and for the ship to charge the enemy at combat speed 2. He intends to break through their blockade. Kodai cautions that they have a Super-Dreadnought class ship in their path. Okita says they’ll never make it through without taking risks.

The main engine comes to life and Yamato speeds toward the enemy. The Garmillas ships swirl around the Earth ship. As the Wave-Motion Barrier comes online, the enemy fleet readies their weapons for the battle.

[LC]: The Garmillas formation is interesting. The groups ahead of the ship remain lined and stationary, while the ones at the rear keep flying around the ship and moving forward, pushing Yamato into their dragnet. This leaves them no other option but to move forward.

The Wave-Motion Barrier is also portrayed in a very different way from what was previously seen. It reminded me of the barrier used in Final Yamato, caused by a leak of energy from the muzzle of the Wave-Motion Gun. Maybe this is the first time they’ve activated it at full power.

As Yamato moves closer to the main fleet, the order is given and a massive barrage of fire is unleashed. In a perfectly coordinated dance of destruction, the Garmillas send wave after wave of fire at their enemy. Be it energy weapons or missiles, they relentlessly hit their target.

Kodai prepares all guns to return fire as Ota reports that the barrier’s strength is rapidly decreasing. Okita orders all fire concentrated to their front, in order to clear a path. He gives the order to fire and Yamato finally unleashes its fearsome power.

[LC]: The difference in the barrier’s look might be explained by Ota’s display. At the upper left corner, the display reads: “WAVE BARRIER. Omni Directional Mode.”

The ships ahead of Yamato are dispatched by its shock cannons and torpedoes. Domel quickly moves ships into support positions to take their place, maintaining his grip on the enemy.

[LC]: Domel plays a brilliant game of chess. The way he moves his ships and organizes his attack is superb. So many ships firing in such tight quarters could spell disaster in lesser hands (as we’ll see in a few episodes). Sheer numbers may give you power, but how well you use that power is what decides the victor.

On the other hand, Okita goes back to basics and charges head on, an oddity coming from such a masterful strategist. But in these circumstances, he really has no cards left to play except to try and run the gauntlet and strike at the heart of the enemy.

[DG]: Domel’s methodology also allows him to not unnecessarily sacrifice any of his ships or his men. Those ships that Yamato doesn’t outright destroy, he orders back. Given what we’ve seen of Domel so far, as well as what we see of him later, this is as much about minimizing casualties as it is about pressing tactical advantage. Meanwhile, am I the only one who thinks that Okita is more aggressive than Kodai in this incarnation?

Yamato continues its advance, laying waste to multiple enemy ships while attempting to evade as much of their fire as possible.

[DG]: I really like the “first-person” effect from the bridge. I believe it’s the first time we actually see guns firing from the bridge and hitting a target. Also, the barrel-roll tactic isn’t new; it was previously attempted in Be Forever and again in Episode 6 of Yamato III.

But eventually, the impact of a Kelkapia against the Wave-Motion Barrier causes it to finally collapse. As Ota reports this, Okita lowers his head, as if anticipating what now appears to be the inevitable outcome.

Still, the ship moves forward, breaking through the Garmillas lines and bearing down on the Domelaze. Domel smiles, recognizing his enemy as a fierce opponent. He orders all gun ports to open fire.

The Domelaze’s main guns unleash a massive salvo. Shima averts the first two shots but the third one scores a direct hit, causing great damage.

[DG]: We see that Domelaze III’s main guns have a similar capability to Yamato’s shock cannons, in that multiple beams can converge into one.

Suddenly, the main engine shuts down. Nanbu reports that gun battery 1 is off-line and Yuki says radar is gone. Okita orders the ship to proceed on “inertial navigation” and continue on course at full available speed.

[LC]: The Domelaze’s cannons seem to be more powerful, made up of four beams instead of three. Fact is, a single hit laid waste to most of the minor structures on Yamato’s starboard side, from the radar and superstructure wings to the pulse laser banks.

Presumably, “Inertial Navigation” would entail navigating with whatever speed the ship has, provided by the inertial momentum of the ship at the time the engines cut off.

Okita states they’re only after one ship. The number 2 turret rotates forward and targets the Domelaze. Okita orders Shima to keep going and ram the enemy, if necessary.

Yamato opens fire, but even at such close range the blast bounces harmlessly off the Domelaze‘s forward armor. With the two ships about to collide, Shima swerves to starboard, narrowly avoiding a new barrage from the Domelaze.

[DG]: Either this forward hull plating is so ridiculously dense that it deflects the positronic beam, or it is treated with a much stronger version of the standard beam-coating on Garmillan hulls. (Which caused Kirishima’s beams to bounce harmlessly off in Episode 1.) But as we’re about to see, this is the only part of the ship that has it. The rest of the hull doesn’t offer the same resistance. Maybe they’re field-testing it, or else it’s too expensive to cover the entire ship. If so, it wouldn’t be the last time we see Domel testing experimental technology.

[LC]: This particular shot might be a callback to another scene in the aforementioned Episode 6 of Yamato III, where after that barrel-roll-nose-dive maneuver, Yamato comes to a head-on collision with Dagon’s command ship.

Goer orders evasive maneuvers but his order is countermanded by Domel, who states “the Domelaze does not retreat!” Yamato moves closer and the two ships collide.

[LC]: I love how the opposing natures of Goer and Domel are played here. Goer is all squirmy at the sight of the approaching Yamato and the imminent collision, while Domel stands firm and proud, unflinching, unwavering.

The bow of the Domelaze scrapes along Yamato’s port side until Shima corrects and the two are side by side. Taking advantage of their position, Kodai fires at point blank range, laying waste to the Domelaze’s main guns.

[DG]: Tactically, it would have made more sense to blast the bridge tower. Domel, Goer, and Haidern all eliminated in one fell swoop. Would have been a greater tactical advantage than firing on turrets that weren’t going to be able to hit them in a few seconds. Also, why not take out the stern turrets (which could still hit them) on the way through? While we know the answer to the former (i.e. the series would lose an iconic battle), the latter could still have been done with no impact to the plot overall.

[LC]: Basically, the same reason no one shoots Yamato’s main bridge, or the bridge of any ship in any anime or sci-fi show. If the target was the hero ship, the battle or the series would be over. That’s why we only see bridges being hit when it suits the plot. Most recent example was in Ark of the Stars, when Yamato gives the coup-de-gras to the Megaluda. In this case, I guess it would serve no purpose.

But if you require a more “real world” explanation, most ships can still bite you in the ass, even if you destroy the command bridge and manage to actually kill the command staff. They might not be as effective, but they can still soldier on. There might also be some code of conduct, sort of like “no hitting below the belt” but with space ships. XD

Yamato’s superstructure narrowly misses the Domelaze‘s, with the two commanders looking on. Domel is pleased.

[LC]: I never really liked how slightly deformed both Okita and Domel look in this scene, though it seemed to be in keeping with how slightly off the character design looks in this episode. Alas, the layouts for both were actually done by Mr. Yuuki himself so… I don’t know what happened. Even compared to his layouts, the two are a bit off. That seems to be a recurring theme in this episode, production wise.

As they clear the Domelaze, Shima fires the ship’s thrusters and takes evasive action. Okita orders the engines to full power, but as Yamato begins to speed away from the battle area, several ships warp in front of them, cutting off their escape.

[LC]: And now this. When did it become OK to have a malfunctioning engine come back online, on cue, and with absolutely no explanation?! A single line by Tokugawa stating repairs were done or something would make all the difference.

Or better yet, have the engine turned off in the prior scene, not by a malfunction, but by Okita’s orders. Make the enemy think we’re disabled and then…boom, get the engine in gear and blast away to safety. But no. The engine breaks down after the Domelaze hits them and then comes back when needed. Nothing kills a good story like this kind of plot hole.

It’s Gheto and Berger’s squadrons, with Haydern having to calm down Berger’s usual exuberance. As the burning Domelaze comes about, Domel receives a report that his ships are in position. He announces a checkmate as he gestures his ships to strike.

[LC]: Let’s just admit it. This is the point in which, in “real life”, Yamato would end. This is it. As Domel says, it’s checkmate. They’ve taken a beating and this is where they’re sunk. Fortunately, this is not real life and there’s still another 11 episodes to go, so we know they’ll survive. But let’s just accept that this, right here… is the moment our brave battleship and its crew would be defeated.

As I’ve commented before, there has been some great posing in this episode. But this one, right here… Domel takes the gold.

The skies light up with the massive barrage of fire that targets Yamato, even bigger than the ones before. Without the benefit of the Wave-Motion Barrier, the lonely battleship tries to resist, firing at the opponent.

Domel moves his forces to the final kill when Goer interrupts him. He announces there’s a call for Domel from the home planet. Domel initially dismisses it but Goer tells him it’s a class-one priority message, coming from the Leader’s Office. Though surprised, Domel decides to take it.

Meanwhile, Yamato continues to be pummeled by enemy fire. With more of its guns taken out and energy levels dropping, their situation seems desperate. Okita remains silent, contemplating the inevitable outcome of the battle…

[LC]: Here, we’re back to the original’s basics. Even without the benefit of a protective shield, our beloved space battleship can still take a pounding. But it hurts a lot more to watch it happen now, somehow.

You may fully disagree with my previous statement about this being Yamato’s de facto defeat. But Okita’s silence and body language tell us, plain as day, that he believes it too. It’s actually quite sad to see the old mariner facing defeat…

Domel is baffled. He’s been ordered by Hyss to cease the attack and return to the home world. He tries to get some justification from the Vice-President, saying he’s almost beaten Yamato, but Hyss will have none of it. He reiterates his orders and disconnects the call. Domel is livid while Goer looks on with a victorious grin.

[LC]: Ah, the old conveniently-timed phone call. The original made use of this particular plot device to get Yamato out of a bind at least twice that I can recall. When Domel was about to destroy it at Balun, using the artificial sun. And then, in Yamato 2, when Dessler was about to destroy them at the tunnel satellite.

The manga plays this a bit differently and, IMHO, better. By making the “Dessler assassination” take place after this battle, it allowed Murakawa to “fix” the issue I addressed at the top of this commentary. Instead of Hyss commanding Domel to return to Garmillas without any formal explanation, we see Dessler ordering Domel to cease the attack and the impending destruction of Yamato. Why? To prevent Domel from killing Yurisha. This makes sense, given Dessler now knows she’s on board, fixing that bit of inconsistency. At least as far as the manga is concerned.

Goer is having a good day. This scene perfectly mirrors what happened in Episode 20 of the original.

Aboard Yamato, desperation begins to take over. Nanbu wonders if they’ll die in this place, with Kodai telling him not to be stupid and to not give up. But Okita’s lowered head is a clear sign that he knows the bitter end is coming. Which makes what happens next all the more surprising. The shaking and noise of constant impacts subsides and there’s a moment of dead silence before Okita looks up.

[LC]: Good to see that, despite no longer being the hot head he was in the original, and being completely clueless with regards to social interactions, Kodai’s fighting spirit continues to prevail. He might know, deep down inside, they’re beat. But he won’t go down without a fight.

The beat when the shooting stops before Okita actually reacts is just perfect. You can see he’s truly surprised. Though the glint they put in his eyes when he raises his head may have been a bit old school. XD

Kodai jumps up, looking out the bridge windows, as Analyzer reports the enemy ships are warping out. Everyone watches in disbelief as the entire fleet leaves the area.

[LC]: Jeez, even Kodai strikes a pose in this episode…

Yuki wonders what may have happened, with Kodai asking himself why the enemy would retreat when they were so close to victory.

[LC]: These lines show us the crew knew fully well how screwed they were. And Kodai’s question is pertinent since they have no idea what went down back at Garmillas.

Okita remains silent but wonders the same. He knows something serious must have happened. But what? Whatever it was, it allowed the battered Yamato to live another day. Barely.

[LC]: Yamato may have survived this battle, but the scars it leaves will take a long time to heal. The consequences of these events will take us straight through the rest of Chapter 5 and its effects will ripple through the rest of the series.

That’s quite an achievement for an episode that is, writing-wise, uneven. If I’m fully honest, I didn’t really notice how uneven it was until I delved deeper to write this commentary. That’s due to the fact that, as I stated prior, it’s incredibly crammed. As a viewer, you’re too busy being hit with everything it throws at you. The pace is such that you can barely catch your breath, let alone peer through the cracks.

The final 8-minute action piece is 2199 at its best and it’s what really sticks in your memory. Even after writing this and fully aware of all its shortcomings, I’m still quite entertained by it. And in the end, I think that’s the best compliment I can give it.

PREVIEW:

Yamato weighs anchor and rests its wounded body upon an Earth-like planet. This is a place longed-for by those who will soon be extinct. A conspiracy raises its head, and we are asked what path we should take.

Next time: Alternative Futures..

There are 287 days left before humanity becomes extinct.

RELATED LINKS:

Official website of Yamato 2199
Yamato Crew website
Chapter 5 Trailer Short Version
Chapter 5 Trailer Long Version

Episode 15 credits

Screenplay: Hiroshi Onoki
Storyboard: Hidetoshi Yoshida, Shinji Higuchi, Yutaka Izubuchi, Shin Matsuo
Director: Masaharu Tomoda
Chara Animation Director: Dai Fujikawa, Keisuke Masunaga
Chara Chief Animation Director: Nobuteru Yuuki
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.

10 thoughts on “Yamato 2199 Episode 15 Commentary

  1. I agree that this episode was indeed crammed with too much details for one episode, but the first battle between Yamato and Domel’s fleet was spectacular! Especially when the two flagships traded blows and paint! However I am still confused and flabbergasted about how Domelaze III’s armour is arranged considering it succeeded in bouncing off Yamato’s shots from the bow but fails to do so along the sides of the hull. If the side armor had been strong as the front, the Domelaze would be a even match for Yamato without the support of it’s escorts….. Sigh…..

    • I had a rather lengthy comment on the Domelaze and how useless it really is but for now, and due to how much was already in here, i decided to leave it for a later episode. I do love the ship, design wise and by the fact the 1/1000 model is one hell of a shelf filler. But for such a large vessel it lacks utility.

      Aside having 7 of those quad guns (of which only the 3 forward turrets are used), 4 smaller caliber cannons at the rear and a total of 19 torpedo tubes, it’s still too little. A ship this size should carry at least a proper air-wing. She had the potential to be the Yamato universe’s equivalent of a Battlestar. But even the guns it has are barely used.

      As for the armor, not much to go on except a line by Vandevel, in the movie Ark of the Stars, where in the eminence of being destroyed by the Megaluda’s Firestorm cannon, he says “The Zoellegut’s front armor can withstand anything!”. This seems to confirm the forward section of the Zoellegut-class super-dreadnought’s is indeed stronger. In what way is something we can only guess. Daniel did go into it in the commentary and it’s as good a guess as we can make with the data we have.

      Although it is a fitting ship for such a uber-character like Domel, they could have made it either a bit smaller or given it more fire power (and actually use it). As it stands, the Zoellegut-class is a bit like the IPBM’s, good for shock and awe but little else.

      • Yeah, it a shame that the Zoellegut class dreadnoughts lack the versatility that Yamato has. The trio are most likely have automated systems which are easily destroyed like Andromeda’s which is why they get defeated so spectacularly. I also hated the fact that Zoellegut II and Desular I were primarily used as political capital ships thus they never get a chance to fire their guns in anger at Yamato and do what they are designed to do. Unlike her political sisters, I love that Domelaze III was used as a proper dreadnought in the front lines and goes head to head with the enemy and let fly her massive guns. Now that’s how a dreadnought should be used!

        Sadly despite how awesome Domelaze looks and her commander is a brilliant tactician, she still loses to Yamato in almost very favorable conditions in the Battle of the Rainbow Cluster. It’s a real shame because these battleships could have been Yamato’s equal but that was not the case. Still, the Zoellegut class super dreadnoughts are my second favorite Gamillas ships in the series and hopefully we get to see them back in action with more of their weapons emplacements fired in anger and not just the front turrets….

      • You are right.. but that can go to most enemy ships..

        they all seem to sport a big number of turrets and specially a large number of torpedo tubes ..

        for example the Gaiderol battleships.. yet they are never seen to make any good use of them in combat .. only in the Domel battles and a bit in Ark of Stars we actually see the Kripiteras making good use of their VLS and forward launch tubes..
        And in the final showdown between the Domelaze and Yamato .. the former only fires her main upper guns at Yamato.. while Yamato basically launches everything back including missiles.. with the Domelaze not launching a single missile or using any of the other main or smaller batteries.. one wonders how a Gaiderol, Meltoria, Haizerad or even a Zelgut would be using their full asset list…

        The Battlestar line made me realize oddly there is actually no carriers in Domel’s fleet that we can see.. neither fighter craft used .. not until he is “only” given 4 carriers later on we see him using them..

        • Fighter craft and carriers don’t fit in with what we’ve seen with Domel’s tactics up to this point. Like his German inspiration, Domel uses Blitz tactics – hit hard, fast, and with overwhelming numbers, giving the enemy little response time. Against Yamato, he warps his ships in so close that the enemy has no chance of escaping, and hits them hard. Fighters take time to deploy and are way too likely to be hit by friendly fire in Domel’s situation. Until later where he has the capability to use them the same way he uses his warships in this episode’s battle with Yamato, they just don’t have a place in his order of battle.

  2. Great commentary as usual!

    I kinda weirded out how none of Domel’s ships managed to score a hit when Wave Motions shields go down and how they still kept shooting when Yamato was on point blank range with Domelaze 🙂 Always felt that scene would off better if Domelaze was the one that penetrated shields. Agree on engine part.

  3. Great commentary, guys!

    With regard to front armor on the Zoellegut-class dreadnaughts, the thing I conclude is that perhaps they’re using tank engineering to justify this. The forward armor on a tank is usually the strongest since it shows its forward aspect to the enemy more often.

    Inertial navigation is a method of navigation that uses “internal” or fully self-contained methods to navigate a ship, aircraft, or spacecraft. This method doesn’t rely on any external sources, such as a GPS or GLONASS signal, or for celestial navigation, the position of stars, or other celestial bodies. Inertial navigation requires a known starting position (the last known “good position” before primary navigation failed, in this case) and relies on gyroscopes (modern ring laser gyros instead of a spinning mass used in the old days) and accelerometers. The information from these systems is fed to a navigation computer which then display the position, attitude, and velocity of the vehicle. These values are then used to calculate position based on the starting point. Without update from an outside source, inertial navigation will eventually induce errors in position the harder the maneuvering and the longer it’s used without updates.

  4. I suppose a justification for the IPBMs may be that they are a weapon of propaganda as much as they are of mass destruction. True, the image of such a thing looming may not be of much significance to the Alterians any longer – but consider the impression it must leave with other rebels across Garmillas space when it is broadcast on the state’s own media networks!

  5. Wonderful commentary as always!

    With regards to the Carell 163 diagram Domel displays to his command staff, though, not all the lettering is gibberish. The large print next to each of the five warp-out points spells out “YAMATO”. However, of greater import is the short phrase written in small print directly above the right upper arm of the pentagram (the one pointing towards the large print on the far right of the diagram which spells “TYUIAS”). This short phrase spells “TAKASHI AOKI”, almost certainly a reference to Yamato 2199’s Director of Photography.

  6. //Presumably, “Inertial Navigation” would entail navigating with whatever speed the ship has, provided by the inertial momentum of the ship at the time the engines cut off.//

    Er, inertial navigation just means that ship would try to calculate it’s current position only based on speed & direction of her movement. That’s how cruise missiles fly; until the GPS became common, they usually just “fly 40 minutes in the direction N on the speed 800, then change course 30 degrees to the left, proceed 20 more minutes, dive.”

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