by Luis Cotovio and Daniel George
Episode 20: Under a Rainbow Sun
(Japanese Name: 七色の陽のもとに / Nanairo no Uō no Moto ni)
Director: Makoto Bessho
Running time: 27m 19s (23m 38s without credits)
- (Cinema/Home Video): Uchuu Senkan Yamato by Isao Sasaki
- (TV):Fight For Liberty by Uverworld
- (Cinema/Home Video): Rest In Peace by JAM Project
- (TV): Distance by Juju
[DG]: This episode continues immediately from the previous one; events start with 245 days left on the countdown, making the date of the battle June 11, 2199.
[LC]: The episode takes place in four distinct areas. Yamato starts at the “Blue Space Region”, where it spends most of the battle. Domel and his fleet are in the “Red Space Region”, from which they stage their attacks. Balgray deploys the Debakkes and confronts the Cosmo Falcons in the “Dawn Space Region”. Yamato eventually transitions to the “Green Space Region” where the final confrontation with Domel occurs. Though a bit on the nose, those are the official names given in the production materials. Click the names for each region’s clean background production art.
Yamato sails through the blue-lit sector, above the storm clouds. Above them, a Garmillas recon plane reports its current location to the fleet.
[LC]: Though it’s nice that they gave the spy plane another go, it seems kind of pointless. Yamato was spotted by Frakken in the previous episode, and as we’ll see later he didn’t go anywhere. So using the spy plane in this scene seems a bit redundant, since they could just as easily have used the UX-01.
[DG]: Note that as the spy plane is transmitting in Garmillan, the Garmillan pronunciation of Yamato‘s name, “Ya-ma-teh,” is used here. Not the last time we’ll hear that pronunciation.
The setting is very much made to look like inclement weather on Earth, akin to a naval battle. As I suggested at the end of the previous episode, this was undoubtedly to give the impression of Operation Ten-Go, the suicide mission that resulted in Yamato‘s sinking on April 7, 1945. The most widely known survivor of that day, Mitsuru Yoshida, noted in his account of the battle, Requiem for Battleship Yamato, that the weather on the morning of the battle was “extremely adverse.”
However, another possibility comes from the serialized work of Mr Noriyuki Ota in the Asahi Shimbun, Following Space Battleship Yamato. In it, the author alludes to the Battle of the Rainbow Cluster in the original series being an analogy (from the POV of Dome’s task force) to the Battle of Midway where Japan lost four aircraft carriers. It was an interesting interpretation of events, and I recommend reading the article for more insight.
Yamato’s combat group flies in close formation to the area where the enemy planes were detected. Kobashi comments that they’re restricted to visual range like the pilots of old. He looks outside and something catches his attention.
[LC]: Here we see a clear count of the number of Falcons that were sent out: 24. It should also be noted that although Yamato’s pilots have been present in many episodes, this is only the second time they are actually deployed for combat. They’ve had a couple of close calls since Episode 5, but deployment orders were always rescinded for one reason or another. Back to you, Daniel.
[DG]: This matches the count that was referred to in the Yamato 2199 Complete Works book, and is proof positive that the ship embarked with at least 26 pilots for the Hayabusas. In the Episode 19 scene I referenced to count the number of planes in formation, I saw two pairs of thin, relatively straight-looking clouds that might have been the exhaust trails of the two lead aircraft. But it could just as easily have been explained by them not being in the shot or a production oversight resulting from the shortened production time for the last eight episodes.
Miles below them, a large group of enemy fighters appears among the clouds. Kobashi warns Kato, who has also spotted the enemy. He says they’d better go and greet their guests. He urges his men to not let the enemy kill them, but for them to kill the enemy instead. The Falcons move in to strike.
[LC]: This episode has the second longest running time in the series, only surpassed by Episode 26. Consequentially, it suffered the most cuts when edited for TV broadcast. Though some time was gained by making small trims in certain scenes, this whole scene with the Cosmo Falcons engaging Ghetto’s forces was entirely cut, so the action jumps directly from the spy plane to the following scene where the Snukas are launched from Lambea. However, the music placed here survived by being used in that launch sequence, obviously in detriment of the one used in the standard episode (which I believe fits a lot better).
Overall, the TV broadcast version seems to have stuff happen a lot faster due to all the small edits and ends up being less enjoyable to watch. The pace is just a bit too fast and disturbs the delicate balance that the full episode manages to maintain. There was a more distracting alteration that will be discussed further ahead but IMHO, it just doesn’t seem worth it to gain a net total of 53 seconds.
The Debakke squadron flies toward its target area. One of the pilots alerts them to the approaching enemy overhead. Ghetto looks up as the diving Falcons begin to unleash a hail of fire.
[LC]: Though it’s not entirely clear in these shots, Ghetto’s forces outnumber the Falcons 2 to 1, totaling 48 planes.
The compilation movie A Voyage to Remember has small improvements or modifications in a few scenes throughout its run time. But the biggest changes it included were added footage, most of it in the segment portraying this battle. The first added clip is the start of this aerial combat. Instead of just cutting to Domel’s fleet, we get to see the Falcons and Debakkes engage in battle. By the time we cut away, two Debakkes and a Falcon have already fallen (at least that we can see).
A report arrives at the Domel task Force. The trap has been sprung. Aboard Lambea, the Second Attack Force prepares for launch. In rapid succession, squadrons of DMB-87 Snukas take to the skies, gathering in a pre-selected position.
[DG]: The production team are really taking the surface battle metaphor seriously. All the ships seem to leave a wake as they cruise through space.
[LC]: Several staff interviews relay the notion that this was a rather complex idea to set up. How do you basically make a re-enactment of historic naval battles in a space setting? Not just for the homage but also as a way of avoiding the biggest elephant in the room when it comes to Yamato’s design: except for its ventral missile launchers, it has no weapons on its underside. Even if Shima spins the ship around to have the top guns facing the enemy, it’s still one hell of a blind spot. But it’s also part of the classic “Yamato flavor.”
Mechanical director Masanori Niishi summed it up best, saying “making the setting like a sea of storm clouds underneath gave both sides a reason to attack only from the sky,” hence the feel of a naval battle. In practice what they did was make the Rainbow Star Cluster an actual participant in the battle. In the original Episode 22, the cluster was little more than a colorfully-named place and something more interesting than a simple star field, though that is what was used for most of the episode. As a result, it seemed to be a relatively small region of space instead of the gigantic, light-years-across area that it is. And except for the scene where Yamato used the “dark cloud” to try and hide from Domel’s final attack, there was little to no interaction with it.
Here, it’s not only correctly depicted as the massive celestial structure that it is, it’s not just a background fixture. We are actually inside it. The cluster and the nebula that contains it are ever present – not just providing a colorful means to depict the motion of the ships and planes, but providing the means to portray a sea battle and also giving off a sense of constant danger. If you mess with it, you’ll die.
Simplifying the setting, Yamato and the other ships are navigating through relatively calmer areas of the nebula, where gas is less concentrated and currents are less present. The “sea” is symbolized by thick clouds of gas below them. The gas is concentrated enough that it borders on liquid in certain areas. That explains the wakes left by Domel’s fleet, which must be at the lowest operative “altitude” possible in that area, possibly as a way to keep their radar signatures masked. The bigger ships can navigate through the storm clouds, even if they do so with some risk, as seen by Yamato’s rocky travel through the blue sector storm. Smaller planes must stay above this level or risk being trapped – and maybe destroyed – by the thicker gas.
This way, a rationale is offered to keep the battle at or above “sea level.” Most of what I described above is a personal interpretation of what is on screen and ideas relayed in staff interviews. This is by no means an official or scientifically accurate explanation, just a way to see things in the context of that lovely “Yamato flavor.”
Domelaze III moves forward, passing Lambea just as Berger’s custom Snuka is raised to the launch catapult. Berger gives the go-ahead and launches.
[DG]: Here we get a lot of good close-ups of the DMB-87 Snuka, which is the most undisguised nod to the Junkers JU-87 Stuka divebomber you’ll ever get. The mechanical designers obviously saw no need to disguise it.
The forward two-thirds of the plane is almost identical to the infamous German divebomber, save for the obvious lack of a propeller. The inverted gull-wing, the positioning of the canopy, the rear-facing gun turret, and even the undercarriage pods are a nod to the Stuka (although obviously rearranged to facilitate tricycle landing gear as opposed to the Stuka’s tail-dragger).
The only notable differences on the forward part are the weapon hardpoints (far more than its WW2 namesake) and that the rear seat faces forward. Either the turret is automated and reacts to radar contacts, or the gun must be fired from this seat using a camera for targeting – similar to what we more recently saw with the Special Forces TIE Fighter in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The rear of the plane bears no resemblance to the Stuka, but the underside – specifically the engines and the horizontal tail – are very reminiscent of the F-4 Phantom II, which is still in Japanese Air Self-Defence Force service today (variants of which operated from US aircraft carriers from the 1960s through to the mid-1980s).
While the plane didn’t have a name in the original, it did have the exact same designation, DMB-87, that it has in 2199.
[LC]: Much like Ghetto’s Debakke in the previous episode, Berger’s Snuka also features his name stenciled next to the cockpit. Because this is a two-seater, it has both his name and his co-pilot/gunner but only their family surnames, not the first. Berger’s co-pilot/gunner is named Fickel.
Berger speeds past Domelaze and positions himself at the lead of his squadron. As soon as all planes are in position, a panel in Domelaze‘s bridge lights up and energy is transferred into the SMITE Device.
[DG]: Going by the image on the screen, there is a triangular formation of ten groups of five Snukas lining up, for a total of fifty planes.
[LC]: We see several screens with Garmillan writing (Examples on the right). Though we can easily transcribe this writing into our alphabet, this yields two different results. Either we get names or some english loan words (like Berger and Fickel above) or something that ranges from the Garmillan words we have come to know to complete gibberish.
In all honesty, these do tend to appear in screens that are visible for a very short time, so the writing is probably there just to make the screen look busy. In an example of graphics economy, two screens in a flight control booth are exactly the same except one is flipped horizontally, resulting in all the characters being mirrored.
An example of Garmillan language is the runway panel, translated as “Permission to launch,” which reads HAUDUK ZAAK DORLEIN (top right image). The mirrored panels sound more like gibberish, reading “HATP / OISA AJSHDL(…)” (bottom right image).
The large writing on the SMITE panel reads “START UP.” (Click right for a full view of these panels)
The coordinates sent by the recon plane are input and calculations are made to project the squadrons directly over Yamato. Domel pulls the remote control from his console and with a grin presses the activation button. The projectors on the Domelaze’s bridge flash intermittently, broadcasting the teleportation waves toward their target.
[LC]: The SMITE deployment goes beyond the original. Like the original, the projectors initially emit a pink-ish glow but that’s where the similarity ends. Instead of intersecting energy beams enveloping the planes, each of the projectors’ honey-comb cells emits a flash of blinding white light. The planes’ warp is an upgrade of the original but maintains the same overall feel. Their warp-out is slightly more violent, with the Snukas emerging from a flash of light before fully materializing.
One by one, the Snukas disappear from their assembly area, only to instantly reappear on their target area… directly over their quarry. Berger looks below and quickly spots their target among the gas clouds.
[DG]: In this incarnation of Yamato, they give us the tactical background for why Domel used the SMITE system. Domel is a master of close-in Blitzkrieg tactics: warp-out at very close range, surround, and completely overwhelm the enemy. This sort of tactic is exactly why Domel doesn’t have any carriers in his standard fleet – the launching and recovering of aircraft, which cannot warp under their own power and have far shorter range in space than capital ships, would just waste time.
Here, Domel’s brilliance is in sticking with what he knows. Rather than change his approach, he makes do with aircraft in the same method as the Blitzkrieg tactics that nearly destroyed Yamato back in Episode 15. This time, they’re his fleet.
On the bridge, the radar screen comes to life unexpectedly, with dozens of new contacts appearing out of nowhere. Okita is surprised.
[LC]: Okita was expecting something like this to happen, but not even he could have dreamed Domel would be able to warp planes directly to their position. Still, as we’ll see later, Okita is as quick as ever, immediately grasping what they’re dealing with.
The Snukas begin their attack, diving toward Yamato. The AA guns begin laying out defensive fire and manage to take a few of the enemy down, but it’s not enough to prevent several direct hits.
[DG]: Here the sound effects are brilliant, emulating the “siren” sound of a Stuka (Stukas actually had sirens mounted into their main undercarriage pods which cried out as they attacked), and also emulating the sound of dive-bombing planes in old war movies. Look at movies such as Tora! Tora! Tora! and Midway, and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
Yamato’s port side is hit with several bombs. Yuki and several crew members are thrown off balance and into a wall by a direct impact. Damage control teams are dispatched and Kodai orders the main guns to prepare for AA combat.
[DG]: Here’s one of those catch-22 situations. You know why they didn’t have had the Wave-Motion Shields up and running (for plot’s sake), but from a commonsense standpoint, I still wondered why they wouldn’t once the fighters had finished deploying… or at the very least raised them when the Snukas appeared. They can be raised very quickly, and would probably have absorbed some if not most of the damage caused by the dive-bombing run.
Of course, I remember discussion from Episode 5, when Sanada mentioned a 20-minute limit for the shields, and I made a point that this was most likely a theoretical maximum for the generators to run before having to shut down, presumably from overheating. So I’ve preemptively answered my own question. In short, they really have to save it for their most desperate moment.
[LC]: As commented in the previous episode, its a bit strange that during such a crucial battle, the radar station on Bridge One is being handled by a subordinate instead of Yuki. Sure, there may be several practical reasons for it, but whichever you choose they just seem somehow wrong. Yuki should be at her station. The only truly acceptable reason otherwise would need to be presented in a similar way to what will happen to Sanada or Kodai: they leave their stations to handle other matters. But Yuki is just not there right from the start. Now we see her roaming the corridors. We see her here, being thrown off her feet, and then she’s in some other corridor, as if she’s lost and wondering around.
Sure, they need her down here to move the upcoming plot forward, but they could have at least invoke some emergency situation, showing her passing the station to Miki Saijo and leaving. That would make more sense of this whole bit. At present, Yuki seems to be moved by nothing else other than plot convenience.
As the guns turn to face the onslaught, turret one takes a direct hit and is put out of action. Kodai orders the gunners to maintain a wall of fire. The guns respond to the attack, but soon secondary turret one is also hit, much to Kodai’s dismay.
[LC]: One question that has arisen is why command of the ship wasn’t transferred to the CIC during such a big battle, or at the very least why didn’t they close the armor shutters in Bridge One. Both can be explained by the fact they’re being forced to use “visual navigation” due to the cluster’s environment causing severe limitations to radar and sensor range, as well as most other systems. Because of that, most of the instruments in the enclosed CIC are currently of little use, and they need the armor shutters open to see where they’re going and what’s coming at them.
The sound of Yamamoto’s voice comes through the comms, announcing Alpha 2 is about to launch and offer air cover. The time has come to use Kato’s “ace in the hole.” Under Shinohara’s watchful eyes, Alpha 2 takes to the skies.
[LC]: Here we briefly see Shinohara in the Catapult Control booth. Nice segue from the previous episode’s moment between him and Yamamoto. Also a way to bring Shinohara to the fray, even if he can’t fly into battle with his comrades.
[DG]: When Alpha 2 launches, we see the outer ventral hardpoint carrying a triple ejector rack of three missiles, presumably the same type carried by the Hayabusa in its internal weapons bay.
The Snukas regroup for a second attack run with Berger instructing his wing man, Melhi, to take out the catapult while he goes for Yamato’s “eyes.” Though several other Snukas are taken out by AA fire, the two manage to strike their targets.
[LC]: At this point in the productions schedule, fans still had episodes of 2199 to look forward to. But behind the scenes, the production cogs had already began to turn toward what we know today as the movie Ark of the Stars. This episode, probably more than any other, planted seeds that would blossom there. Obviously, they can only be perceived now with the benefit of hindsight, but here we have the first significant seed. Though it plays out as little more than a name drop, Berger talks to another pilot in his squadron named Melhi. As we now know, Klim Melhi is one of the Garmillan characters who will be trapped with Berger in the “Yamato Hotel” during the events of Ark of the Stars. We don’t see the character, nor does he have any dialogue, but the name is immediately recognized when watching the feature film.
Though he’s not seen or heard, his handiwork is clear in this shot. Kodai’s catapult is destroyed by his bombs, which later will present a bit of a challenge. Pity for them they didn’t think of destroying the other catapult before the angel of death that is Akira was launched – something they’re about to regret and many pilots will pay for with their lives.
As they pull away from their attack dive, Berger comments that they don’t want to sink Yamato yet. Suddenly, another pilot alerts him to an approaching enemy at the rear. Berger looks back and spots Alpha 2 diving in to strike. Yamamoto says she won’t let them get away with that and proceeds to attack. On the bridge, damage reports continue to pour in while Kodai urges his men to keep firing. Okita sits silently, analyzing the situation.
Aihara sends a message to Yamato’s air wing, warning them that the ship is under a surprise attack. Kato, immersed in the dogfight with the enemy fighters, scores another hit when he receives the message. He quickly realizes these fighters are only decoys, meant to draw them away from Yamato. Rookie Kobashi asks what they’re going to do but he suddenly finds himself in a tight spot. A Debakke is hot on his tail and about to shoot him despite his evasive maneuvers.
[LC]: It must sting to know you were played by the enemy. For someone like Kato, seeing his men fall in a mission is always hard. But to realize they fell fighting decoys… I can’t even imagine what he’s thinking right now. Kudos for the animators, who did an excellent job conveying all these emotions through the character’s facial expressions.
Rookie Kobashi has been present in pilot group shots from the start, though he only got a more relevant role in the previous episode and here. But the way he is portrayed is a bit strange… how did such a fidgety rookie like Kobashi got to be a part of Yamato’s air-wing? You’d think that only seasoned pilots with actual combat experience would make the cut for such a vital mission. For a rookie pilot to make the cut, he should have at least proven himself in some way, if only for exceptional piloting skills. Yamamoto is an example of this. She’s basically a rookie, yet she shows her skill and is cool and composed from the start. Kobashi… not so much. He seems to basically be capable of sitting in a cockpit and flying the plane. First sign of trouble and he loses it. From the scenes he appears in, he’s more a liability than an asset. The only reason I can think of for having him in Yamato’s air-wing is… they were probably really short on pilots when they left Earth.
Suddenly, the enemy craft explodes, shot by Daikuhara. He tells Kobashi not to lose his cool and that he’ll shoot all the enemies down. However, his bravado is short-lived as a Debakke dives in for the kill. Several shots hit the Falcon, one piecing the cockpit and killing Daikuhara on the spot, spattering the controls with his blood.
[LC]: Daikuhara’s overconfidence in the previous episode and here was almost like a big sign saying “DEAD MAN WALKING.” He should have just painted a big red bulls-eye in his Falcon. For such a confident pilot, it’s a pity he ends up looking somewhat incompetent, being shot in such a way. And it doesn’t help with Kobashi’s already annoying portrayal that he is basically just here to get his comrades killed for helping him.
We saw this photo in Daikuhara’s dashboard in the previous episode and here it’s used to great effect. You can almost feel the projectile ripping into him, even if we don’t see it. The photo was obviously taken during Episode 7’s line-crossing ceremony, as we see Daikuhara posing with Chizuru Miyazawa in the costume she wore back then. The relationship he had with Miyazawa is never touched upon but we can assume that, for Daikuhara to put it in such a prominent place in his plane, they were at the very least good friends… or maybe even more.
As the Falcon turns into a ball of fire, Kobashi relays the unfortunate pilot’s demise to his comrades. Kato, always protective of his men, clenches his teeth and closes his eyes. There’s no time to mourn any of them now. His thoughts are with Akira, hoping that she keeps the enemy busy until they manage to return. As if answering her friend’s plea, Akira is doing just that. Before long, several Snukas fall victim to Alpha 2’s guns. One of them manages to get on her tail but Yamamoto proves her piloting skills and turns the tables, shooting it down.
[LC]: A few more excellent bits of animation as Kato reels from the loss of another comrade and makes his plea to Yamamoto. Kato has come a long way in that regard. From not wanting her anywhere near a plane to trusting her to defend Yamato until he can make it back… character development, ladies and gentlemen.
Yamamoto shows she’s more than up to the task of holding back the enemy. this scene shows some mean maneuvering skills from both Yamamoto and her Cosmo Zero.
Berger’s co-pilot watches the scene unfold, surprised that a single plane managed to fend his squadron off. Berger says their job is done and gives the order to withdraw. The remaining Snukas abandon the combat area, leaving the battered and smoking Yamato behind.
[DG]: Akira must really have torn up the remaining planes, because only ten appear to follow Berger back out of fifty. We saw several taken out by Yamato’s covering fire, but seriously – how many rounds of ammunition could the Zero hold? Given the plane’s small size (main body only 15.8 meters long), its thin profile, and the percentage of volume the engine and fuel tanks are likely to take up, I would not say a lot.
As a benchmark, the similarly-sized F-16 Fighting Falcon (~0.75m shorter) carries a grand total of 515 rounds for its 20mm M61-A1 Vulcan gatling gun. That means, realistically, somewhere in the vicinity of 500-600 rounds are likely to be carried. This leaves somewhere around 120-150 rounds per machine gun, plus maybe at best 20-30 rounds for the centerline automatic cannon. At the very most, maybe 800 rounds across the four machine guns at 200 apiece? Given the tiny size of the plane, I see that as unlikely since the machine guns/cannons are around the 20mm mark, and the plane lacks the volume to store it.
So how many Snukas did Alpha Two account for? Let’s break it down. On the wider shot from behind Yamato, we see at least eleven or twelve Snukas retreating (let’s be generous and say twelve), meaning there’s 38 left unaccounted for. We see a sole Snuka destroyed on the first dive-bombing run, and only two more on a subsequent run immediately after Alpha Two launches. That takes it down to 35, and one alongside Berger is destroyed on his bombing run at the port radar antenna, which makes 34.
It is reasonable to assume that these aren’t the only planes that fell victim to AAA, so let’s be generous and say a total of ten were destroyed by AAA all up, which leaves 28.
We see Yamamoto fire a two-second burst to destroy one retreating Snuka, and a one-second burst to shoot down a second Snuka she pulls a braking maneuver against after it gets behind her. It’s near impossible to break down the number of rounds we see, but I’m guesstimating about 20-30 in a one-second burst, which equates to a firing rate of 1200 to 1600 rounds per minute across four machine guns (or 300-400 rounds per minute per gun). Down to 26. On screen, we see she still has all six missiles under the wings, so no more kills there.
That leaves an awful lot of planes to have either been shot down off-screen by Yamamoto or retreated once their ordinance was expended. It would seem unlikely she could successfully utilize the centerline cannon with success against small maneuverable targets like the Snukas.
Obviously Berger’s gunner has seen enough of her to believe Akira did annihilate them. So maybe she shot down several more than we see on screen, maybe even a dozen. Maybe Berger’s gunner can’t reconcile the notion that they lost a lot more planes to AAA fire.
Shima comments on the enemy’s retreat as Chief Enomoto calls in from Bridge 3. He announces the converter’s been damaged and that the Wave-Motion Shields cannot be deployed. At that rate, it will also affect the ship’s inertial control. Sanada says he’ll head up the repairs.
[LC]: Here we see Miyazawa with Enomoto. I can’t help but feel sad when I see her, just doing her job, not yet knowing her friend Daikuhara has just died.
Shima wonders where the enemy planes came from. To everyone’s surprise, Okita offers an apparently unbelievable theory: they warped in. Nanbu says it would be impossible for such small fighters to warp, but Okita retorts that they can’t rely only on what they think they know, since the enemy commander is indeed excellent.
[LC]: Okita’s quick analysis of the SMITE’s capability shows us the old sea dog is more than just an amazing military tactician. His background in astrophysics must have been handy in this bit. And it shows us Okita’s ability to think outside the box.
From deep below the dimensional boundary layer, Frakken has observed the attack unfold. He congratulates Berger on his excellent work and orders the boat to surface and release their “guest.” While the UX-01 rises, the infiltration unit studies their objective aboard their boat. Before them is the image of Yurisha Iscandar, her clothes alternating between her Iscandarian garb and a Yamato crew uniform, at which time her resemblance to Yuki Mori becomes incredibly evident.
Lieutenant Belger tells his team to remember that face. Norran comments on how beautiful she is. Belger says she’s of noble birth and Raische taunts the young officer, telling him not to fall in love. Norran is visibly thrown by her remark.
[LC]: Just when we thought the whole Yuki/Yurisha story line was over, they come up with a new way to squeeze more juice out of it. Admittedly, this new plot line sends Yamato’s story into fresh ground, since it puts Yuki in an entirely new adventure never even dreamed of in the original.
[DG]: One could interpret this as a very different twist of Yuki’s kidnapping on Iscandar in the original Episode 25. It’s like they split up that woeful subplot from the penultimate episode. On one hand, Yabu becomes involved in a more meaningful mutiny with the Serizawa faction at Beemela. On the other, Yuki’s kidnapping covers a longer span of time and provides greater insight into Garmillan/Iscandarian society.
Though the whole lookalike angle has been exploited perhaps too often, at least here the confusion stems from poor intel and Mirenel’s failure to understand what she saw before she died – or Celestella’s failure to interpret the collected data. And though they keep the plot going for a few episodes, the main characters are not so gullible that they don’t quickly realize they got the wrong person. More on that as it develops.
I’d lean toward the latter, though it was not necessarily Celestella who interpreted the data (although she most likely oversaw it). Mirenel never once considered Yuki to be Yurisha in the episode. She wouldn’t have dared mess with an Iscandarian like she did Yuki – hence her shock when she did find Yurisha’s presence aboard the ship.
It could just as easily be data corruption. Mirenel’s mind was severed from her body abruptly, which could have led to the data being scrambled and the similarities in Yurisha’s and Yuki’s appearance being mistaken by Celestella (or a third party data analyst) to be interpreted as the same person.
Yamamoto flies ahead of Yamato on the lookout for further enemy attacks. Unfortunately, the UX-01’s stealthy approach goes unnoticed. It surfaces to the rear of Yamato, quickly releasing the FS Combat Boat before submerging again. The small boat quickly flies toward its objective, attaching itself to Yamato’s hull over one of the ship’s airlocks.
[LC]: This is our first good look at the FS (Fast Strike) Combat Boat, first seen briefly in Episode 18. The code name attributed by Frakken is translated as “Suckerfish” in the series subtitles, and “Remora” in A Voyage to Remember. An apt name for something that attaches to a veritable space shark like UX-01.
[DG]: In every external scene in this episode, I often had to remind myself that this is actually outer space. They’ve done such a fantastic job of making it look like nighttime on the high seas in cloudy weather, with just a hint of moonlight peering through to accentuate the clouds. The original Rainbow Cluster battle episode just pales in comparison in terms of overall quality.
The infiltration unit accesses the airlock, and after changing into facsimiles of Yamato crew uniforms, they invade the ship. Belger orders Norran to stay there and secure the airlock. Raische offers a friendly pat on the back of the nervous rookie.
[LC]: This might be a major fail in terms of security. Though we can assume the infiltration team hacked the airlock controls to gain access, truth is we’ve seen at least one instance where airlocks require no security codes to be open. Remember how Kodai and Yuki entered the ship, back in Episode 14? Even if they lack security codes to allow quick access in an emergency situation, this incursion should at least have set off an access warning. As we’ll see later, interior sensors can detect and identify a weapon from a single shot. And yet… no one detects a boat parked on the ship’s hull and an unauthorized airlock activation? No matter how focused they are on the battle, the security section should be all over this. Maybe the Izumo mutiny cost them more staff than we assumed.
Another strange detail is that they went to all the trouble of making replica uniforms but didn’t replicate any rank insígnia. Anyone with eyes on their face would immediately spot their absence, especially on a military vessel. Fortunately, they seem to only cross paths with people relevant to the plot’s advancement.
[DG]: If they’re doing this smart, they’re going in as the lowest ranking personnel. Generally speaking, the lowest ranks in the military have no insignia. The Japanese Self-Defense Forces are a rare exception to this rule, and have a rank insignia for their lowest rank. Other military forces, such as those of the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States don’t. By extension, it’s highly likely that UNCF uniforms don’t have rank insignia for their lowest-ranked personnel either. In any case, Garmillas aren’t going to have detailed information on their ranking system, and are most likely basing the insignia on those of their own ranks.
Looking at these two screencaps from Episode 7, while The Scarlet Scarf is being played aboard ship, we see on the left at least two crew members (boxed in red) who have no chevrons or bars. On the right, we see Iwata, Toyama, and their teammates without any insignia. Click on either picture for an enlargement.
I will point out, however, that the character profiles show that the character designs aren’t consistent either. Enomoto only has a bar, despite being a Chief Petty Officer, compared to Yabu, who as a standard Petty Officer has the same bar. Nanbu’s junior, Kajima, has a bar despite being a “Space Airman,” which I think is the Air Force equivalent of Private or Seaman. I always found the mixing-up of ranks from different branches of the military in the character profiles to be perplexing.
Overall, you would have to presume that the lowest rank has no insignia, and that this would make up the largest number of crew members aboard ship. That said, it’s not surprising that we’ve seen very few crew members without them, given that the story focuses on the command crew and those immediately around them.
Meanwhile, Haidern is talking to his friend Baren, who has taken over the pilot seat aboard the heavy bomber Galunt, sitting on the Darold’s flight deck. He asks him how it feels to be back inside “the old bucket.” Baren says he feels wonderful and though he may look old, he’s still as sharp as he was in his youth. The remark draws a loud laugh off the captain of the Domelaze and a smile from Domel.
[LC]: As stated in the previous episode, Berger, Ghetto and Kraitze saw their roles as carrier captains transferred to other characters, but retained their roles as attack squadron commanders. Haidern is the only one who escaped that in more than one way. He gave up his role as captain of the Darold to Doola Bareck, since he is now the captain of Domelaze III. As a consequence, he also loses his role as bomber pilot to his old friend Baren.
Unlike the original, Galunt is piloted by an extended crew, not just one man. Baren isn’t so much the pilot of Galunt but its commander and gunner, controlling the release of its ordinance. Piloting the bomber is the role of his companions.
Seconds later, Baren and his crew take off. Despite its large size, the Galunt leaves Darold’s flight deck with surprising grace, carrying its dreaded payload. Like the Snukas before it, the Galunt passes Domelaze and flies into the matter projection device’s warp area.
[LC]: I really love the way Galunt dips as it takes off. Sure, this probably wouldn’t happen in space, but let’s pretend that the gravitational distortions in the cluster are responsible. It’s one of those inaccuracies that we can easily forgive because it looks and feels right. Episode 19’s director, Nobuyushi Habara, wanted to do this with the Dabbakes in their launch sequence but was overruled by Yutaka Izubushi, who felt they should save this effect for the bigger planes. In hindsight, I think he made the right call.
Those who recall the original Episode 22 will immediately notice an interesting detail concerning the order in which the attack forces are sent to strike Yamato. In the original, the torpedo bombers were sent before the heavy bomber carrying the drill missile. Now, Galunt‘s attack takes precedent over the Doljira’s. This makes sense in the way Domel’s tactics are set, along with the new plot to retrieve Yamato’s Iscandarian passenger. Unfortunately, this change in order, allied with a suddenly sped-up production schedule, may have set up what is one of – if not THE – biggest animation error in the whole series. More on that later.
[DG]: Note that despite Haidern not piloting the Galunt this time, one of the pilots does have an eyepatch! Given these characters received only the generic designation “Old Soldier” E, F and G, I dub him “Not-Haidern”!
Unsurprisingly, while looking into the nomenclature of the Galunt‘s designation, I found little. The massive DBG-88’s designation could be a nod to the Junkers Ju 88 dive bomber, but the aircraft bear no resemblance to each other. The only thing I could find even close to the design was this fictitious concept for a Nazi experimental plane which appears to have a very similar wing profile.
It was designed by one Yanick Dusseault, a matte artist who at the time of writing is employed by Industrial Light and Magic, and was previously with Weta Digital. His website showcases his work, including the concept plane, and work he has produced for other movies, including Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull (hey, we can’t blame him for them being awful movies, he didn’t write the screenplays or direct the films, after all). It’s possible that the aircraft design was an abandoned concept for the Indiana Jones film, or the Hangar 7 short film he links off his website. In any case, I wonder if as a young man he saw a certain sci-fi anime with a plane that had similar wing shape?
Once again, Domel takes hold of the trigger and prepares to activate it. As if predicting what’s to come, Okita is commenting that he’s sure the enemy commander has more in store for them, and that they must keep an eye out for more attacks. Nanbu questions if they are to use their own eyes.
Okita responds that with the ship blinded and deafened, victory depends on their own human abilities. Kodai puts the captain’s words into practice, raising his field binoculars and perusing the space ahead of them. Okita instructs Ota and Kiryu, who took over Sanada’s console, to use the data they’ve gathered to find a nearby current of ion turbulence.
[LC]: Sanada’s replacement on Bridge One is Mikage Kiryu. She is perhaps the biggest seed sewn for Ark of the Stars in this episode. As the film’s production developed, the idea of the story being relayed through the eyes of a new character came to be. However, they didn’t want to just place a wholly new character in such a role, so the decision was made to introduce her here. Kiryu will have a few more moments after this, but nothing that gives away the importance of the role for which she was actually created.
Kodai is still searching the horizon when he spots a flash of light and Galunt emerging from it. He gives the alert and Yamamoto dives in to attack. But the heavy bomber is already moving in to strike. With great precision, Baren targets the muzzle of the Wave-Motion Gun, saying he has a present for Yamato.
He presses the firing mechanism and the massive drill missile is released, heading straight toward its target. The entire ship is rocked by the impact. Still shaken, Kodai gets up and looks at the impact area. Much to his surprise, the large projectile is just sitting there, protruding off the ship’s bow. He wonders if it’s a dud.
[LC]: Unlike the original, which seemed to be “dropped” in relatively close proximity to Yamato and just hit its mark, this version of the missile actually uses thrusters to move toward its target. Kudos to Baren for a perfect hit.
The pose Saijo strikes (in somewhat slow-motion) is reminiscent of some poses Yuki would do in similar scenes, back in the day.
The Galunt flies away with Baren reporting that he’s delivered his present. Suddenly, the plane is shaken by several direct hits delivered by Yamamoto. Yelling that she won’t let them get away, she dives in to strike, firing the Cosmo Zero’s machine guns. One of the Galunt‘s engines begins to trail smoke as Yamamoto positions herself behind it.
Several shots from the Zero’s main cannon seal the bomber’s fate. Though Baren does his best to regain control, Galunt soon disappears from sight, engulfed by the cluster’s treacherous storm clouds.
[LC]: Before Ark of the Stars, this scene made me a bit sad because I liked the crafty old man Baren. Fortunately, this wasn’t to be the last we saw of him and his crew; another seed to be grown in the future.
The depiction of Galunt‘s apparent demise does set a standard for this episode. Though it disappears among the deadly clouds, there is no explosion. It just vanishes, engulfed by the gas. As we’ll see, another ship will have a similar disappearing act, while those that are definitely destroyed all seem to go up in flames.
Having Galunt “destroyed” also saved them from coming up with an explanation for something that took place in the original and was never given an official explanation. In the original, Haidern returns with the heavy bomber to the battle-carrier and lands it on the flight deck. But when we see the battle-carrier again, flipping its runway and revealing its many guns, the heavy bomber is gone. Since it’s too big to be stowed inside the hangar, where could it be? No such concerns in this version.
This is witnessed by Yuri(sh)a from the starboard observation deck. The relative peace of the room is disturbed by Hoshina and several of Enomoto’s men, lead by Iwata. He tells his crew to take position with binoculars and keep a lookout for more enemies. Hoshina tells Yuri(sh)a that it’s dangerous for her to be there and that she should keep back. She just stands there for a moment, looking at the young officer with a smile, thankful for his concern.
[LC]: This is another sweet moment between these two. Hoshina’s concern for Yuri(sh)a goes beyond the fact that the Iscandarian’s consciousness is inhabiting his sweetheart’s body. The guy really cares about their mutual welfare.
In the main bridge, Kodai is observing the enemy missile, wondering what it might be. Kiryu relays data on the “dud” to Sanada in Bridge 3 while Nanbu requests a report from the Wave-Motion Gun’s control room. Inside the gun’s muzzle, the mining drill comes to life. Slowly at first, then gaining more speed, it begins spinning and ripping metal apart.
[LC]: In the original, the missile progressed through the obviously oversized firing gate without doing any actual damage. All we see is the missile moving along as its “drill” rotates. The apparent size of the Wave-Motion Gun’s firing gate is such that it seems capable of fitting the entire missile inside.
All this was addressed in 2199, where the focus on mechanical design and relative scale and size have been a high mark for the series. The missile is jammed into the firing gate, basically stuck there. As the drill begins to rotate, it actually rips the surrounding metal apart, like an actual drill would. The shot is still shown in an exaggerated forced-perspective, but all seems to be correctly proportionate.
Powerful thrusters fire to counter the resistance to the drill bit, keeping the projectile level and allowing it to advance into the ship. As it begins to force its way through the gun’s firing gate, a 10-minute countdown starts.
[LC]: Another great detail is this shot of the missile’s auxiliary thrusters firing to counter the resistance of the metal surrounding the drill. It just makes sense. There’s nothing holding the missile’s rear section, so as soon as the it starts to dig in, the engine’s rotation would be transferred to the part which offers less resistance. So instead of the drill ripping into Yamato, it would just be stuck there with the rear body rotating instead. By having these thrusters countering that action, the drill can do its job. It seem quite obvious, but it could have been overlooked.
The display in this timer has a rather unusual arrangement. It starts at 10 minutes, displaying 10:000:00. The first two digits are minutes, followed by a set of three digits where the first two are seconds and the third probably tenths of a second. The third set of two digits is probably hundredths of a second.
[DG]: The format appears to indicate minutes, deci-seconds, and milliseconds. Meanwhile, they have more realistic physics again, having some motive thrust to start the drill missile on its way into the ship.
Nanbu reports that the enemy device is advancing toward the gun’s chamber. Okita is surprised. In the gun’s control room, the crew registers a drop in pressure inside the chamber and an order is given to close the safety valves. As the pipes begin to give in, an order is given to evacuate. One of the officers looks up in awe as the gun’s safety locks begin to buckle from the advancing projectile.
Sanada and Enomoto observe the data in Bridge 3 as another officer announces inertial control has gone out. Enomoto comments that the projectile wasn’t a dud after all. Sanada theorizes that it must use a delayed fuse and Enomoto says it will be a problem. Sanada focuses on the tip of the missile, detecting an access hatch. He calls Okita, telling the captain he has a suggestion. Minutes later, Niimi’s cell is opened, much to her surprise.
[DG]: Nice attention to detail in this scene and the next, showing the effects of the loss of gravity due to the inertial control system.
[LC]: Very nice cross-section of the Wave-Motion Gun and missile progression. Keep this image in your mind, as it will be brought up later, when we discuss the biggest snafu of this episode.
Most of us saw this coming from afar, but it’s a very nice setup for Niimi’s redemption. And I’m quite happy they gave her a second chance. Though she played the role of manipulative recruitment officer for the Izumo Plan, she was also portrayed as a devoted officer who took those steps because she believed the propaganda she was fed. Unlike Ito, who got progressively darker with each new step, Niimi ultimately shunned violence and refused to spill blood for a cause she still believed in. So a second chance is more than deserved. Also, it’s a nice way to replace Sanada, who is otherwise occupied.
Meanwhile, Hoshina is escorting Yuri(sh)a to a safer location. As they float along the corridor, they cross paths with the Zaltzi infiltration team. Always with an eye for detail, Hoshina realizes there’s something wrong. He calls them, remarking that he doesn’t remember seeing them before, and demands to know where they’re stationed. Keeping his cool, captain Belger slowly reaches for his sidearm.
[DG]: Hoshina doesn’t appear to be stopping them on account of their missing chevrons here, it’s more implied that it’s based on their being unfamiliar faces. However, just how many of the faces of the 999-strong crew could he possibly remember?
Personally, I would have thought the most suspicious thing is that three members of the Navigation section are in this part of the ship, a place they’re unlikely to be at the best of times, let alone during battle.
[LC]: Hoshina shows us he’s not just some kid with a security uniform. A security officer would probably not know more than 900 people by heart but he would at least have a passing knowledge of most. Calling out a group of totally unknown faces would be the right thing to do. Of course, he should probably have taken steps to cover his ass if they were indeed hostile. In that regard, he does lose some points.
Another detail that must be pointed out is that the infiltration team, much like Yuki, just seems to be roaming the corridors. What was their plan? Stroll around the ship until they happened upon their target? Not only is that a lousy plan, since they run the risk of being spotted, but they’re also on the clock. The drill missile’s clock, that is. With a massive bomb ticking away in the ship’s bow, they should really hustle. The whole thing doesn’t make much sense, but that’s what plot convenience is for. And speaking of which…
Yuki is in a corridor nearby when the sound of a gunshot catches her attention. An alarm sounds on the main bridge, alerting to shots fired on deck 6. Analysis of the sound gives a 94% match to a Garmillas gun. Okita orders security dispatched to the area and for Kodai to take command.
[LC]: Look who just happens to be close by, to hear the shot and run to the scene – the woman who just happens to have spent most of the series being mistaken as their target. XD
This scene takes us back to what I spoke of earlier. They can’t detect a boat attached to the ship’s hull or an outer hatch opening, but they can detect a weapon’s discharge and identify it with 94% accuracy as Garmillan. Oh, sorry, my bad. It’s actually “Gamirasian” written in that panel… Oh, boy.
Drops of blood float weightless on deck 6. Yuri(sh)a looks horrified at Hoshina’s motionless body. She grabs her head, recoiling at the sight of her bleeding friend. The sudden rush of adrenaline causes a reaction in the possessed Yuria. A scream echoes throughout the ship.
[LC]: I commented before on how Hoshina was considered as one of the “most likely to die” among the new characters when the series started. Forum users thought he just looked like too much of a nice guy to survive. Well, he survived this long, but it looked as if fans got their wish. Fortunately, Hoshina is tougher than he looks.
Several floors above, instruments inside the Automatic Navigation Room come to life, registering abnormal readings inside Yurisha’s stasis capsule. Yuria collapses, slowly falling next to Hoshina. Yurisha’s medical monitors continue to register unusual activity.
[DG]: The question here is, does Yurisha leave Yuria to handle the event before her, or does Yuria forcibly evict Yurisha’s mind? I’m leaning more toward the latter.
[LC]: I just think the shock of seeing her sweetheart bleeding caused Yuria to surface and shove Yurisha’s consciousness out. Apparently, Yuria is quite strong for her size. She shoved Yurisha so hard the Iscandarian princess was thrown back into her body with enough force to bring her out of a several-months-long coma.
Drawing his gun, Mek asks captain Belger what they’ll do to the two interlopers. Before they can take any action, Yuki arrives, demanding to know what they’re doing. She stops, confronted by Mek’s gun pointed at her and the vision of her two fallen friends.
Belger believes her to be the Iscandarian they’ve been looking for. Before Yuki can react, Raische has circled around her and knocks her out with a sleeping agent. Confident that they’ve accomplished their objective, they prepare to leave.
[LC]: So, by a show of hands, who saw this coming a mile away? XD
Chloroform (or some similar compound)?! Really?! No stun gun or some other more evolved kidnapping tool?! Well, I guess the key to a good kidnapping is to keep it simple and rely on tried and true methods. XD
In the Automatic Navigation Room, the monitors complete an extensive list of checks. The system unlocks the sealed capsule and its dormant occupant comes out of her long sleep.
[LC]: A relevant piece of writing on the monitor is translated in the subtitles as “Anabiosis performed successfully.” In biology, anabiosis is defined as a state of suspended animation performed by certain organisms, or the act of recovering from this state. The term also applies more broadly to suspended animation. In A Voyage to Remember, further subtitles read “Navigation processing halted / Resuscitation successful.”
I’m glad Yurisha is awake and all that, but would she be able to just get up and leave that capsule? I don’t know anything about Iscandarian physiology, but they seem to be pretty much like us and the Garmillas. Coma patients who spend such long periods of time in stasis suffer severe physical trauma. Biggest of all is probably muscle atrophy, due to not being used for such a long time. Recovered long-term coma patient have to undergo extensive physical therapy to regain muscle mass and the ability to move and walk.
We can assume that the capsule’s technology manages to circumvent these side-effects in some way. This is 2199; medical technology is obviously more advanced than ours. So I’ll just attribute this one to over-technology.
END OF ACT ONE ~ TO BE CONTINUED