Ark of the Stars Commentary, Part 2

by Luis Cotovio and Daniel George

Back up to Part 1

PART TWO

 

The helm sways gently in the darkness of Yamato‘s powerless bridge. Kodai wakes up on the floor, lying next to the dimensional compass. He gets to his feet and looks around. Everyone is unconscious.

[LC]: The writing around the Dimensional Compass reads “DIMENSIONAL COMPASS – HANDLE WITH CARE”. Although we see it in earlier scenes, the graphic seems to be new for this movie. As far as I can remember, it was never seen in any of the series’ episodes. Feel free to re-watch them and prove me wrong. XD

  

As Kodai gently taps Saijo’s shoulder, he asks if everyone is alright. Just then, his eyes gaze through the bridge windows and he’s shocked by the sight beyond them. He walks closer to the windows as Shima, Sanada, and then the rest regain their senses. Yamato is no longer in space. They’re floating in a strange grey sky among endless clouds.

[LC]: Okay, I know that they’re not yet fully committed to each other and all that, but wouldn’t Kodai check on Yuki first?! She’s basically a few steps farther away than Saijo and yet… No “Boyfriend of the Year Award” for you, mister. XD

[DG]: In all fairness, that’s usually Yuki’s station. Maybe he was dazed and was checking on Yuki’s normal station thinking it was Yuki?

I have to ask… What the hell happened for everyone to fall unconscious? Did the effort of releasing the Medula from the hull cause some unforeseen subspatial turbulence that knocked the crew around to the extent of making them lose consciousness? We could say it was from flying into this “dimension,” but Yamato has previously fallen into a space rift while warping and no one went unconscious. Also, from what will be stated later in the film, this isn’t actually another dimension. Rather, it is some highly advanced cloaking device to keep the planet and its surroundings hidden from the outside.

Though it isolates those who wander into it from the outside and prevents any signals from going out, that seems to be the extent of it. If we’re honest and take the premise of the movie to its extreme, this might not even be real, but rather an elaborate illusion; a massive cloaking field generated by Akerian technology to hide the planet from prying eyes. Which presents the first point of contention I have with the whole premise of this part of the movie. But we’ll get to that when all the other points come to bear.

  

Nanbu wonders where they are and what kind of crazy space that is. Shima tell him to calm down, just as power returns and Analyzer reports the mainframe is being tampered with by an outside force. The dimensional compass comes online and the main engine fires up.

[LC]: They really need to Jirellan-proof Yamato‘s mainframe. After Mirenel took over the ship in Episode 14, you’d think Sanada would have found a way to prevent Jirellan technology from taking over the ship. Or is Sanada’s genius limited to the extent the plot requires it to be?

 

Yamato moves forward, deeper into the clouds. The helm steers the ship on its own despite Shima’s attempts to stop it. Kodai asks if there are any ships in the area. Saijo says there is nothing on her screen. Kodai asks Hayashi to determine their current position, but he reports that there are no observable stars. In reality, his screens find no astronomical objects whatsoever.

[LC]: Though it bears some resemblance to the subspatial rift they found in Episode 10, in which no stars or other discernible spatial features were observable, the two are quite different. While the first was a rare natural phenomenon that led into the usually-unreachable subspace boundary layer, this is an artificial construct that basically blocks visual observation and jams electronic sensors. But in this point of the story, as far as Yamato‘s crew is concerned, they’re in as much trouble as they were back then.

 

Sanada says that Yamato seems to have wandered into some sort of void space that is cut off from their own universe. Shima’s attempts to regain control of the ship have failed. Helm doesn’t respond and the autopilot won’t disengage.

 

Sanada tells Yamazaki to power down the engines. But in the engine room, Tokugawa is having the same problem as Shima. No system responds to him and his staff. All controls are locked. Shima wonders where they’re headed. Standing silent by his side, Kodai recalls that something similar happened during their journey to Iscandar, when a Garmillan agent launched some sort of psychic attack against Yamato and her crew.

[LC]: Good to see that characters in Yamato don’t forget past experiences. Kodai in particular should recall Mirenel’s attack vividly, since he was one of the few – two actually – to experience it while awake. All the others, even Sanada, were taken out by the initial attack.

[DG]: I doubt Kodai would forget something like that easily… and it was only a few months prior that it happened.

  

He voices his concerns to Sanada, who seems to have thought of the same thing. And if they assume that it is the same thing as before… Before Sanada completes his sentence, Nanbu cries out. He tells them to look outside. Before them is a grey planet, suspended in a pillar of light and surrounded by rings. Sanada says it seems the planet is their destination. The heading in the dimensional compass shifts and Yamato follows suit.

[LC]: Not surprising they can’t stop the ship or the engine. It took removing the engine core to stop it in the previous attack. Whatever is at play here is a lot more powerful than a single girl projecting her powers from a semi-functioning device.

Another obvious difference is that everyone is still awake. That might be my biggest issue with this movie. Why such an elaborate ruse as the one we will see? Even if Yamato wandered in here by accident, if you want to keep this place a secret, mind-trick them out and on their way. The same with anyone else who comes in here. The Jirellans seem to be capable of doing that with ease. Of course, that would result in a much shorter and less interesting movie. XD

[DG]: Shh… Quiet you! Enjoy the damn movie!

 

They fly toward the planet, passing its spectacular array of rings. They soon enter the upper atmosphere and find themselves surrounded by clouds once again. Hayashi confirms the approach to a planetary surface, 4.200 meters below them. Yuki reports the planet’s surface is composed of some sort of liquid.

[DG]: Is the ring system supposed to represent Yggdrasil, as represented in the picture on Mikage’s wall?

 

Yamato continues her descent. The secondary engines come alight as the main engine powers down, and the ship begins losing speed. Saijo reports a radar return, massive floating object ahead of them. Slowly, from within the dark clouds, a gigantic stone structure emerges.

[LC]: Of all the possible shapes this thing could have, it looks like a cross. I know that for many viewers, a cross has an obvious religious significance. But I very seriously doubt the Akerians or Jirellans are even aware of Christianity, so don’t read too much into it.

[DG]: Along with the scene you pointed out with Berger, this is almost certainly one of the two scenes Hideaki Anno consulted on. Let’s face it, this scene in particular has Evangelion written all over it. “Yamato goes to Terminal Dogma,” if you will.

 

Yamato is dwarfed by the object as it continues to slow down. Watching the controls move by themselves and powering the ship down, Sanada concludes they have reached the end of the line. Yamato makes her approach to the cross-shaped behemoth, firing its retro-jets. The floodlights are activated and shine upon the structure, revealing a surface teeming with intricate patterns. An ancient language, lost long ago.

[DG]: Are the spotlights coming on through intent of the entity controlling the ship, or is it default behaviour of the ship’s systems that they can’t control? If this was deliberate, I wonder what the goal of turning on the spotlights was. Were they showing off the Akerian markings on the side of the monolith? Was there any method as to which markings were being displayed to Yamato?

  

As the crew watches in awe the unbelievable sight before them, the starboard rocket anchor fires, attaching itself firmly to the structure. As a result, the ship swings around until she finally comes to a stop. Aside the lightning in the distance, all around them is darkness and silence.

[LC]: If the writing on the structures surface has any meaning or purpose, is firing ‘s rocket anchor into it the way to go? Also, I get that they might be capable of controlling and steering the ship to where they want it, but why go as far as actually doing this? Did the Jirellans think “Hey, would it be cool to fire this thing instead of just parking the ship?” None of the other ships we will see later has such a feature, and they were kept in place just fine. So, other than making the scene look cool, this has no purpose… aside damaging a centuries old mural.

 

Later, Sanada, Kodai and Niimi have a meeting with captain Okita. Sanada says that his consideration about them being in an enclosed void space is just a theory. By all rights, such a space should not exist. It’s impossible, and yet… they’re inside it, Okita concludes. Sanada says the floating structure is clearly artificial in origin. Adding that to the loss of control of the ship, they can assume some conscious mind brought them there. Okita seems to concur.

[LC]: Sanada’s capability to theorize about things that shouldn’t even exist never fails to impress.

 

Both Kodai and Niimi ask if they can offer an idea. They look at each other, surprised. For months, Yamato‘s hangar 4 remained dark and silent, a stark contrast to the flurry of activity of today. Stowed inside all this time was the “Ki-8 Prototype Space Boat,” AKA Stork.

[LC]: The Stork is an updated version of the craft first seen in the original series’ Episode 8, where it was used by Kodai and his team to find the Reflex Gun on Pluto. Though it never got a chance to shine during 2199‘s run, it’s great to see it updated for this movie.

[DG]: The Ki-8 Stork, while having most of the same design features as its original series predecessor, right down to the detail of its forward-hinged canopy, shows some improvements as well, most notably the ship-stowage features such as folding wings and tailfins, which they had already done with the Cosmo Zero in 2199.

The Ki-8 designation is most likely a reference to the Nakajima Ki-8, a two-seat monoplane fighter prototype Nakajima Industries tried unsuccessfully to sell to the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force.

  

Mikage Kiryu is not in her day, since she is late for the second time… and well aware of it. Niimi is quick to point that out. She’s in such a rush that she bumps into a guard-rail. In the zero-gravity environment of hangar 4, this causes her to go tumbling through the air, out of control. Sawamura, the pilot assigned for the mission, is reassuring Aihara he’ll get them down safe and sound. Kiryu’s tumbling body catches his attention and he readily helps her to a stop, telling her she should be more careful. She thanks him. It is only then they see each other’s face and the memory of their earlier encounter kicks in.

[LC]: Can’t they find other ways to make Kiryu be funny without making her look like an air-head incapable of keeping track of time? It makes it a bit hard to believe that someone this bubbly managed to memorize several alien languages in just a few weeks.

[DG]: In fairness, some very smart people have poor time management skills. High intellect and good time management aren’t perfectly correlated. Meanwhile, I think we can take Mikage’s knowledge of physics to be not that fantastic…

 

She tells him to get his hands off of her. Unfortunately for her, as she pulls her self away from him, she goes spinning out of control again. Outside, Chief Enomoto and his repair crew are busy patching up the damage sustained in the battle. Suddenly, something catches their attention. The dome in the forward section of Yamato‘s underside opens up.

[LC]: Although the boat is a welcome addition to Yamato‘s compliment of auxiliary craft, its backstory is a bit of a mess. As we know, before Earth received the offer for assistance from Iscandar and implemented the “Yamato Plan,” their intent was to implement the “Izumo Plan.” Yamato was remodeled from what was originally an escape ship that would carry the remnants of mankind out into space in search of a new home. The Stork was to be used as a planetary exploration vehicle, thanks to its versatility. After Izumo was scrapped and replaced by Yamato, the faction that wanted to implement the former infiltrated the crew, under the overall command of Security Section Chief Shinya Ito. This faction kept the hangar dome sealed and the boat inside it a secret, waiting for the right time for them to use it for its original purpose.

  

Inside, the crane supporting the Stork rotates and lowers the plane out of the hangar. Enomoto is surprised they’re sending it out, apparently recognizing the plane. The rest of his men look on as the Stork unfolds its wings and is locked in launch position. Enomoto tells them the Stork is an unlisted reserve aircraft, used as a special-purpose planetary recon boat.

All that is very nice, but much like the mutiny subplot itself, the less you think about it the better. This isn’t a secret room inside the ship with hidden weapons. It’s a big ass dome at the bottom of the ship, holding a less than discrete boat. Even if Niimi doctored the ship plans so they’d show random equipment, and Ito restricted access to it, wouldn’t someone wonder what that structure was used for? You can claim that Yurisha’s room was just as conspicuous, but it was openly stated that it housed the automatic navigation system. And those that knew what was actually kept there were the captain and the XO, who was also the guy in charge of maintaining it.

I won’t even mention the amount of times whole sections of the ship were blown up and replaced – though if we’re honest, the hangars seemed almost impervious to damage. Someone, sometime, somewhere… would’ve run into this thing before the whole Beemela 4 debacle. They obviously discovered it afterward, probably through Niimi.

All in all, this over-complicated backstory serves little purpose, other than justify why they didn’t use the boat before and provide a couple of lines of dialogue to get Sawamura in hot water. They just didn’t think of how preposterous hiding such a thing, and the whole infrastructure to launch it, actually was…

[DG]: Will it be the last time Yamato benefits from Izumo Mutiny “secrets”?

As we were shown just a couple of weeks ago (at the time of this writing), no. And for a variety of reasons, for all the awesomeness that resulted from it, the backstory ended up being as silly as this one. But we’ll get to that if and when we comment on Yamato 2202. XD

 

Iwata realizes what the Stork was meant for and Enomoto confirms it. Aboard the plane, the conversation seems to follow the same theme, with Sawamura blatantly telling Niimi that’s what she and the Izumo mutineers intended to use if they had been successful.

[LC]: The silliest bit is that all of this backstory was relayed by promotional materials like the Secret Files, but only hinted at in a couple of veiled lines of dialogue. Right here, Enomoto who seems to know a lot about the boat and its purpose. But he stops just short of saying what it was meant for.

Sawamura, however, is more than happy to lay it all out. I wonder if his call-sign is “Captain Tactless.” XD

[DG]: Yeah, tact and diplomacy are obviously not taught in pilot school. Either that, or Sawamura slept through that class.

 

This earns him an immediate reprimand from Kodai and Kiryu telling him not to be rude. Suddenly realizing his misstep, Sawamura apologizes to Niimi. But far from offended, Niimi says he was only speaking the truth.

[LC]: I do have to ask how Sawamura made the leap that allowed him to make such a statement. From the others’ reaction to what he just said, no one was talking about it. So how did he end up saying this?!

[DG]: To her credit though, Niimi acknowledges it as the truth.

In the theatrical version, there was an animation gaffe in this shot of Sawamura being reprimanded. After Kodai says his line, his mouth was left open for the remaining 8 seconds of this shot, while the others continue with their own dialogue. Fortunately, it was fixed for the Blu-Ray version, along with a general upgrade of the character animation. (click the image above left to see a comparison with the theatrical edition)

 

The Stork lands smoothly on the planet’s liquid surface and quickly submerges, heading for the depths. Its headlights scour the darkness while Kiryu reports on their current depth. Suddenly, she hears an eerie voice singing in the void. Before she realizes where it’s coming from, the alarms go off and plane shakes violently.

[DG]: If I had to pick one thing from the Yamato 2199 universe that I’d like to see be realized, it’s the Ki-8. It is a true all-terrain vehicle. Or maybe more all-environment vehicle would be more appropriate. My eight-year-old self would have marvelled at the fact it also had popup headlights like my favourite cars, the Lamborghini Countach and the Ferarri 308 GTi.

[LC]: The spectacular ability that the Stork has to adapt to all types of environment loses some of its punch when you think Yamato herself does pretty much the same. All she needs is a good set of wheels to match the Stork. XD

Again, only one in the group hears the singing. This time it’s Mikage.

  

Aboard Yamato, Ichikawa tries to regain communications with the Stork but is unable to do so. Sanada is still pondering on what might have happened when Ota reports something strange is happening to the planet’s surface. Like a shattering glass ball, cracks of light form across the entire surface, which becomes black as night. Soon, the cracks come together under the structure where Yamato is docked.

 

Under water, the Stork heads for a bright light coming from the deep. Suddenly… it breaks through the water and finds itself flying through the air. Though falling is perhaps a better term. The boat is plummeting toward an enormous forest, out of control.

[LC]: And so the mind-bending twists begin. The Stork seems to burst out of the ocean… but the ocean is the sky. So… is there a large sphere of water surrounding the entire planet, hidden within it?!

 

With the ground inching closer and closer, Sawamura struggles with the controls to try and regain control. The Stork disappears under the forest’s canopy… rising back up after a tense moment. They observe in awe the landscape beneath them. The lush forest seems to go on forever, with a large river as the only break in the immense green canvas.

 

The only unusual feature in this sea of green is a massive tree, rising high above all others, as if it wanted to touch the heavens. Aihara wonders what it is. Niimi responds that this looks like a world straight out of a myth, almost as if God was toying with them.

[LC]: The Jirellans aren’t big fans of subtlety, are they?! They just grab whatever is on your mind and roll with it, no matter how preposterous.

[DG]: I wonder if this is an intentional pun – Kaoru talking about a world straight out of myth with the tree being Yggdrasil, the tree which in Norse mythology connects the nine worlds. It grows out of Urd’s Well where the three Norns – Verdandi, Urd, and Skuld – carve the destinies of people.

The pun is that Niimi’s voice actress, Aya Hisakawa, voiced Skuld in all the anime incarnations of Ah! My Goddess. Kikuko Inoue (Starsha) voiced Belldandy (Verdandy) in all incarnations as well, bar the first 13 episodes of The Adventures of the Mini-Goddesses spinoff, due to maternity leave. I mention this only because of the coincidence that her role as Belldandy was taken over for those thirteen episodes by Akemi Okamura, who voiced Mirenel in Episode 14 of 2199.

 

Kiryu looks in silence, still unwilling to accept how strangely familiar all she sees seems to be, recalling the illustration of Yggdrasil she has in her quarters aboard Yamato.

 

Aihara’s console lights up. He tells Kodai he’s receiving a Garmillan mayday, much to his surprise. The Stork descends toward the river, landing in its calm waters and heading for shore. Analyzer surveys the surrounding environment, concluding that atmospheric composition and climate closely resembles that of a tropical rain forest on Earth. As it approaches the river bank, the Stork folds its wings and engages its all-terrain wheel assembly, allowing it to drive through the forest.

[DG]: The music playing as the Stork flies over the river comes from Farewell to Space Battleship Yamato: Soldiers of Love, specifically the scene where the Space Marines are “parachuting” down to Telezart’s surface.

 

But the forest soon becomes too much even for the multi-purpose boat, which becomes stuck at the foot of a steep rise. Kodai says they’ll continue on foot, much to Sawamura’s dismay. Aihara scans the area, pinpointing the direction to follow. Sawamura says it’s crazy to take a “Gammie” S.O.S. seriously and wonders what’s the point.

[LC]: Ah, the Stork’s weakness… slight inclines in the middle of the jungle. This thing flew through space and air, over and under water, and gets stranded after just a couple of hundred feet in dry land. Worst part is that, for all the publicity the boat got, this is basically the extent of its participation in the story. Except for a brief shot later on, this is it. A little over four minutes of screen time. If it wasn’t such an awesome little boat, I would say it was the mecha version of Hilde Shultz.

I guess helping those in need of rescue is no longer a principle tenet of being a sailor, but rather a notion taken up only by the Shima and Tracy families. XD

[DG]: Speaking of the Tracy family, the Stork is something they would find handy. It wouldn’t be out of place in a Thunderbird 2 pod. Now that I think of it, I wonder if Thunderbirds had some influence on this design all those years ago.

The obvious reason behind the Stork getting bogged is so they can ditch Analyzer for plot convenience. Since he doesn’t have his exoframe like on Beemela, he may not be able to traverse the terrain as easily and thus becomes the obvious choice to leave behind.

I guess from here the question is whether the Stork being bogged is just scripted, or whether it’s a deliberate attempt by the Jirellans to separate the rest of the party from Analyzer, who, given the ability to inspect things up close, may detect that everything is an illusion?

I can totally see Analyzer listening to them spouting stuff about Yamato and hotels, and going, “What the hell are you people talking about?!” It’s just an ancient alien structure!!!” There’s just one problem. If all this, including the forest, is an illusion, wouldn’t Analyzer already see through it? And yet, not only does he not, his instruments analyze the environment as if it is real. So we must surmise that the Jirellans’ ability to elude goes beyond peoples’ minds and can trick even an A.I as advanced as Analyzer.

 

Kodai reminds him that it was because they followed “that other S.O.S.” that they found his brother’s ship on Enceladus. The mention of Mamoru’s name distracts Niimi long enough for her to trip and nearly fall, if not for Kodai’s intervention.

[LC]: Jeez! Is there a running bet on who can make Niimi cry first?! They just keep throwing bad memories her way. XD

[DG]: Maybe Kodai either wasn’t told, or forgot, that Kaoru was his brother’s girlfriend. This is Kodai after all. Some degree of obliviousness there. That said, if that is the case, it’s a bit hypocritical to chew Sawamura out for doing the same thing.

  

He tells her to watch her step and she thanks him. Sawamura looks on, suddenly noticing Kiryu is lagging behind. He asks her what’s the hold up. She can’t help but look at the surrounding forest, once again overwhelmed with a feeling of deja vu. And finally, it clicks…

[LC]: Did Niimi just flip the bird to Kodai?! XD

 

Kiryu tells the others she’s been there before, much to their surprise. She says that she went with her mother on a field research trip to the Amazon when she was little. This place looks exactly the same as what she saw there.

[LC]: Other than this photo and dialogue line, no other details are known about Kiryu’s mother.

I do wonder why the Jirellans used stuff from Kiryu’s mind to create this illusion. Did they think it was the most exotic? Was it because she learned Jirellan and that somehow helped them understand what they were seeing in her mind?! Another mystery that won’t be solved.

  

Sawamura is less than convinced, asking if all jungles don’t look the same. Kiryu says “Of course they don’t!” Kodai’s memories of Mirenel’s attack make him more prone to believe in Kiryu.

[DG]: Kodai’s instincts have always been good, and since he already thought this was similar to the events in Episode 14, it only helps to confirm his suspicions.

 

His thoughts are interrupted by a call from Aihara. They go to him as he crouches near a ridge, overlooking the valley. He says he located what seems to be the signal’s source, but… they better take a look. Not sure what is causing his friend to be so hesitant, Kodai walks up to the ridge. He stops dead in his tracks at the sight that greets him. The same happens to the others as they join him.

 

Before them, nestled in the trees, is a large battleship. A very, very familiar battleship. Kodai says it looks just like the sunken battleship Yamato was camouflaged as. Kiryu quotes data on the WWII battleship Yamato from memory, recalling the photos and books she has in her quarters.

[DG]: Mikage shows her inner Yamato nerd, running off the stats of the ship while we get to see the photos of Yamato and of the Amazon rainforest on her bedside wall again.

It’s interesting that the Yamato before everyone is the ship as she was following her refit; the two 15cm (6″) triple turrets mounted at the ship’s beam were sacrificed to allow the AAA emplacements most Yamato fans associate with the ship. Mikage’s photographs are both from 1941, in its original configuration with the 6″ triple turrets at the beam of the ship. Maybe we’re meant to acknowledge Mikage’s expert knowledge of the original Yamato‘s history and move on.

 

Kodai says that is the Yamato. Sawamura has had too much. He asks what that is supposed to mean, and how can that ship be there. Kodai has no answers to give him.

 

Back aboard Yamato, Shima, Nanbu and Ota are looking at the planet’s data. Nanbu wonders what is going on. Sanada replies that is the sort of place where the impossible becomes reality. Ota says the structure that appeared covers the entire surface of the planet. Sanada concludes they have been physically separated from the landing party. Holding her hands together, Yuki thinks of Kodai…

[DG]: Is Yuki’s line really necessary, or is it just to justify her appearance on the movie posters when her role in the story is minor? A Yuki Mori fanboy might have thought the posters for this movie to be false advertising, given her prominence in them.

 

Kodai and his team have made it down to the deck of the battleship, and he looks in awe at the superstructure. Sawamura calls him, saying they might have found a way in. They open the hatch and enter the ship. The flashlight shows a door at the end of a corridor, lit only by an emergency light.

 

Kodai and Swamura take position on either side before opening it. They step through the door and find themselves in what appears to be a hotel lobby. Sawamura is stunned by this new, unexpected turn of events.

[LC]: Poor Sawamura will be in therapy for the rest of his life. XD

 

Kodai goes down the steps, searching for anyone that might tell them what’s going on, but there’s no one in sight. Aihara reports the S.O.S. signal has disappeared. Niimi nods and says that is the right place.

 

Kiryu looks around, again taken over by a feeling of familiarity. Sawamura is going nuts with all the weirdness and asks how all that is happening. Kiryu says she’s been to this place, too. It’s the “Yamato Hotel.” Increasingly confused and frustrated by Kiryu’s apparent coolheadedness and familiarity with the events around them, Sawamura says he doesn’t care about that.

[DG]: “Yamato Hotel” references a derogatory nickname coined for the ship. A combination of Yamato spending much of the war anchored rather than in battle, and that it had many creature comforts other ships in the Japanese fleet didn’t, led to the derogatory moniker. It reportedly had air conditioning and its crew had bunks rather than tatami mats to sleep on, which was the norm in other ships. Additionally, it also had soft-serve ice cream machines, ramune (lemonade) machines, lockers, and bathtubs.

Mikage’s mind must have taken the Yamato Hotel nickname and related it to a hotel she had visited. For the record, there was a hotel chain called Yamato Hotel, but it only existed during the 1930s and 1940s.

The “Hotel Yamato” moniker has been used in other anime as well. The 2015 series Kantai Collection (KanColle), which features Yamato as one of the “Fleet Girls,” has the character’s catch-cry as “Hoteru je nai!” (I am not a hotel), even though at the point in the anime, she is in fact running a hotel-like facility.

 

Kodai tries to open the elevator doors, but they seem to be sealed. He comments that the floor indicator goes all the way up to 11 and Niimi says the hotel doesn’t seem to go that high.

[LC]: One has to wonder if this is an homage to the 1984 rock music mockumentary comedy film “This is Spinal Tap”, directed by Rob Reiner, and where the idiom “up to eleven” was first coined. Given the elevator seems to go no higher than the fourth floor of the hotel, this is somewhat on the nose. You can see that particular clip of “This is Spinal Tap” here.

[DG]: Great minds think alike – Nigel Tufnel’s line from This is Spinal Tap entered my head the first time I saw the film as well.

 

Kiryu notices the same photos of Yamato and Yggdrasil she has in her quarters are on display in glass cases, along with a miniature model of the battleship. She’s also drawn to a painting of a woman with white hair and a black dress, which seems to be observing them like a ghost from the past.

[LC]: They were less than subtle in letting us know this particular painting means trouble. Not just because it’s creepy as hell, but also because it moves around a lot. As if it’s someone’s window into this world. It should also be noted that it’s never in the same room with a certain character…

[DG]: The glass display cases remind me of the Yamato Museum in Kure. Ship models and artifacts such as photos and documents are displayed in similar glass cases there. I imagine it’s highly likely Mikage visited the museum back before the planet bombings started.

 

Standing guard at the hotel’s door, Sawamura says the whole thing is nuts and he can’t deal with it. As if to mock him further, the door slams shut behind him. In the split second it takes him to turn around, the whole thing is gone, replaced by a wall with a huge painting hanging on it.

[DG]: And here starts the Henri Rousseau Art Exhibition. Henri Rousseau (1844-1910) was a French post-impressionist painter whose most notable works were painted in the last decade of the 19th Century and the first decade of the 20th.

Throughout the next part of the story, aside from the painting of the woman, every painting is the work of Rousseau… and given the themes of most of the paintings and the moments we see them in the story, I wonder if this entire part of the story was written around the paintings.

This first work we see is called The Dream, and was from 1910, making it one of Rousseau’s last works.

[LC]: If we take the poem Rousseau wrote to accompany the painting into consideration, its significance and use in this particular scene is even more poignant. Basically, it tells us we have just entered a dream world from which there’s no escape.

 

Kodai and Niimi are alerted by the commotion and are as confused as their young pilot. Aihara attempts to call Analyzer, but to no avail. Sawamura pounds on the painting, desperately searching for their exit, but it’s as if a door never existed.

  

Seeing the pilot’s desperation, Kodai urges him to pull it together. He looks up, noticing the blue skies above him are filling with heavy rain clouds. Aihara reports that he can’t get through to Analyzer. Just then, a loud “Ding!” echoes through the hall, making everyone swivel on their feet, Sawamura with his gun in hand.

[LC]: The weather outside changing as they become trapped is one hell of a hint of the trouble they’re in.

 

An embarrassed Kiryu apologizes. She rang the reception bell to see if anyone would come. A pissed Sawamura tells her not to do that. Suddenly, they hear the sound of a piano echoing through the hotel’s halls. They follow the sound to find its source.

[LC]: Is Kiryu actively trying to get herself shot?!

  

They soon find themselves in a balcony, overlooking a large room with a piano in one corner and a fireplace that someone has lit. Kodai looks down, spotting a Garmillan woman playing the piano while two men sit by the fireplace, all in civilian clothing. It’s Berger, Baren and Neredia.

 

Berger lights a cigarette and relaxes on the couch. As he looks up, he spots Kodai and the others, telling his companions they have company. Baren tells Melhi his hard work paid off. A young officer with blond hair looks up, but seems less than pleased. He says he was thinking they were rescued, but it’s just a bunch of Zaltzi.

[LC]: How nice of the Jirellans to provide universal translation so they can all understand each other. This is starting to look more like a way to make them make peace than kill each other. XD

The blonde guy with the phones is called Klim Melhi. Though we never actually saw him, he was referred to by name in Episode 20. He was Berger’s wing-man and part of the squadron of Snukas he led against Yamato during the battle of the Rainbow Star Cluster.

[DG]: How much of what Yamato‘s crew is seeing and hearing is coming from Mikage’s mind? I can’t imagine that Garmillans have pianos identical to Earth, or that anyone not from Earth could easily play one. The period clothing the Garmillans wear (as seen by Kodai’s team) looks to be from the era of Yamato, i.e. the 1930s and 1940s, but would Mikage (or anyone else for that matter) have had knowledge of 1930s fashion?

Kiryu seems to be a buff in Yamato history. Maybe she knows a lot more about the period than just that, including fashion.

 

As he says that, we see Kodai and his team through the Garmillans’ eyes, and they’re all wearing Zaltzi uniforms. Kodai asks if they’re the ones who sent the mayday, which Berger confirms. Neredia looks at them with a smile and a curious look.

[DG]: This raises a lot of questions, however. If the Garmillans are seeing the Yamato team in Zaltzian clothing, what are they seeing themselves in? How do the piano Neredia is playing and the sound it’s making come across to the Garmillans?

[LC]: Well, though we only get a couple of glimpses into it, it’s clear that the Garmillans are seeing something entirely different from Kodai and the others. In this scene, from the Garmillans’ perspective, they’re still wearing their uniforms and Kodai and his team are in the typical Zaltz brown uniforms. Hence why they immediately assume them to be Zaltzi soldiers. The hotel itself is also quite different, sporting the usual Garmillan decorative flair.

 

Niimi tells Kodai that she recalls Zaltz is a planetary state that was annexed by Garmillas. Kodai adds that the Garmillans seem to understand what they’re saying. Berger waves them to come down. Neredia says she had no knowledge of any Zaltzi units deployed in the area. Berger says the same.

[LC]: This is another of my points of contention with this plot. Why does Kodai and his team see the Garmillans – and eventually themselves – in Earth clothing? That part of the ruse makes even less sense than the rest, since for them it’s quite clear who they’re dealing with. And if the whole point is to turn them on each other, why make the Garmillans see Zaltzi uniforms instead of the ones from Yamato? That would start the gun fire a lot sooner! Oh, right! No story, shorter film. XD

Jeez… Berger has a really bad smoking problem. In the couple of minutes since Kodai and the others got here, this is the second cigarette(1) he lights up. (Note(1):I’ll call them that since I don’t know what the Garmillan equivalent is).

  

Again, we see Kodai and his team as they are seen by Berger and, presumably, by the remaining Garmillans. Neredia asks what unit they’re from. Kodai and the others find themselves unable to reply, since they’re obviously not Zaltzi, feeling this ruse is about is about to go bad for them. Obviously biased by prejudice against Zaltzi, Melhi pushes the subject, demanding they give them an answer. As Kodai ponders what to say, Sawamura breaks the silence, once again surprised by another strange turn of events.

[LC]: Here’s another glimpse at what I’ll refer to from now on as “Garmivision.” And although they’re aesthetically different from those on Earth, it appears Garmillans do have pianos. Or at least something that resembles one. A lot.

Even if we accept the whole clothing ruse… was it really necessary to put Neredia in such an impractical dress?! Or is this just another hint that there’s more to her than meets the eye?

  

Sawamura’s gun is gone and all Yamato crew members are suddenly wearing civilian clothing. They look at each other, confused. Obviously seeing something entirely different, Berger asks what’s the matter. Niimi says she’s not surprised by anything anymore. Berger suddenly notices Kiryu, especially how closely she resembles Melia. Kiryu says that’s her favorite outfit.

[LC]: Berger’s confusion here stems from the fact that from his perspective, nothing has changed. It’s only the Earthlings that see this change occur.

About time Berger noticed the girl that’s a dead ringer for his dead girlfriend. XD

 

After a moment of surprise Berger puts an end to the subject, saying that if they can’t reveal their unit, that’s it. Though Melhi protests, Berger says they were probably in a top-secret mission. Kodai plays along with it and says they’re not even allowed to discuss what unit they belong to. Berger recalls he once knew some Zaltzi like them and that he has no problem with “sticklers.” He stands up and introduces himself with Kodai responding in kind.

[LC]: Berger seems oddly calm for someone with his temperament. He even offers a reason for the “Zaltzi” secrecy. It’s as if all his hotheadedness was transferred to Melhi, who’s a certified asshole from the start.

That makes me wonder if those are “special” cigarettes… XD

Baren’s go-to reaction when dead people are mentioned: lowers his head and tips his hat.

 

Kodai explains that they came to offer assistance but found themselves trapped as the door vanished. Baren says the same thing happened to them and Neredia adds that they can’t leave the hotel. They’ve tried everything they could think of, but they’re still stuck there. Berger apologizes for getting them stuck in there with them. Sawamura finds it hard to believe and says there has to be a way out of that place. Melhi jokingly tells him to go and see for himself, something Sawamura intends to do.

[LC]: I’ve always wondered how Berger and the others got down here, but these few lines of dialogue are as far as they go in terms of offering an explanation. Unlike Yamato, which warped into the “void space” by accident, the implication of that last scene with Berger is that they were lured in here. Again, I have to question why a secluded race that wants to be left alone would do that.

The other question is, at what point was Neredia swapped? We can assume that once inside the void, the Garmillas fleet was brought to the planet much like Yamato. Berger must have decided to take a look and chose these people to go down with him. Was Neredia chosen and then left behind, as her double took her place aboard the shuttle? Or did her double appear at the shuttle – while the real Neredia was elsewhere – and make herself part of the team to observe them? And what did the Garmillans see instead of the Amazon forest and Yamato? So many questions, unfortunately never answered.

  

Berger looks at Kiryu, still reeling from how much she resembles Melia. Later, Neredia takes Kiryu to one of the hotel’s many rooms, the one thing they have no shortage of. Kiryu is amazed at how fancy the room is, going as far as placing a courtesy book on the table. Neredia looks at it and says that one takes her back to when she read it as a little girl.

[DG]: Two more Rousseau paintings adorn the wall on either side of the door to Mikage’s room. On the right is Boat in a Storm, and on the left is Carnival Evening.

[LC]: Though only the production staff can say for sure what each painting’s presence is meant to evoke, there are are a couple of interesting features that speak to me.

Boat in a Storm immediately evokes imagery connected to the myth of the great flood and Noah’s Ark. If that wasn’t a real painting, it could be said that it was the actual Ark. This isn’t the first hint they give us connected to that particular myth, as you might recall from part 1. Since the main focus of the movie centers around the Jirellans and Akerius technology, the connection is more than obvious.

As for Carnival Evening, there is a particular detail in the painting that might hint at the role of both “Neredia” and the “Woman in Black.” Though the main focus of the painting is the couple in the center, there is a face observing them from the house. A perfect analogy for our characters.

 

Kiryu is stunned, as the book she sees is hardly something a Garmillan would have read as a child. An Earth book, specifically The Miracle Worker – The Story of Helen Keller. Adding to the mystery, Neredia proceeds to describe the book’s story, which is far from the one that book contains. Of course she doesn’t know that the book Neredia sees is completely different, much like the entire hotel around them.

[LC]: “Garmivision” at work again. While Kiryu sees The Miracle Worker, Neredia sees a Garmillan children’s book. Production materials call it “Alsa Hynne” in Garmillan, which translates as “Lonely Witch.”

There’s not an actual book titled The Miracle Worker”, the title being associated with several works of theater and cinema, based on Helen Keller‘s autobiography, The Story of My Life. The scenes in the movie seem to focus on Helen Keller’s relationship with her teacher and lifelong companion, Anne Sullivan.

However, the cover for the book Kiryu sees is based on an actual illustration that’s been used a few times in some Japanese releases of Helen Keller’s book and related materials. You can see the cover used in the movie and the real world versions in the Yamato 2199 Bibliography.

There’s a small detail in this sequence that is a great bit of continuity, and I admit I only noticed it as I was writing this. When we see Neredia’s hand over The Miracle Worker, we see the red glove she is wearing as seen by Kiryu and the others. But when we see the same shot in “Garmivision,” the glove is dark brown, like the one on Neredia’s uniform. In all fairness, for absolute correctness, they should actually be showing someone else’s hands… but I guess it was too soon for that particular reveal. (Though if they had done that, I wonder who would have spotted it…)

 

Neredia says it tells the story of a lonely witch:

“Once upon a time, there was a large, blue land that lay far to the west. One day, a little girl arrived at the blue land. She had come to the blue land because she wanted human friends. But no one in the blue land would be her friend. She grew sad and cried out, ‘Why will no one be my friend?’”

[LC]: This sequence is a nice callback to Episode 9, as the visuals are done in the same style used in that episode while Yuria Misaki told the story The Heart of Observer #9. Even the music here is a version of that used during those scenes.

 

“The people of the blue land hated the little girl. They despise the strange power that the little girl has. She could read people’s minds. She’s what’s called a telepath. Because of that power, she can see what people are actually feeling. When she innocently tells others what she has seen, the people become overwhelmed with suspicions, begin to hate each other, and eventually, they begin to fight. The little girl, now a misanthrope, locks herself away in her home, but the people who had come to fear her power call her a witch and try to kill her.”

[LC]: I do wonder if Neredia was telling the truth when she said the book was Garmillan, or if it’s actually Jirellan. Given the way the little girl is portrayed, and the way the Garmillans view Jirellans, it just seems odd. The illustrations also show us the girl has pale skin while the people who fear and attack her have blue skin. This seems to indicate the Garmillans are the villains of the story, inflicting their hate upon the pale-skinned girl due to their fear of her telepathic powers. Would this really be a Garmillan children’s tale?!

 

“She sets out to find a faraway land in a ship that God left for her out of pity. To the land of tomorrow, which lies just beyond our sight.”

[LC]: The whole tale seems almost like a synopsis of what we will learn happened to the Jirellan survivors at the end of the movie, with the “ship that God left for her” being Shambleau itself. And the ending is pretty much what happens by the end of the movie… maybe this scene should come with a spoiler alert?! XD

Though the whole story is obviously a direct reference to the Jirellans and the way they were treated, when I first saw the movie I couldn’t help but see a more obscure reference. I recalled the story of Teresa of Telezart, from Yamato 2. Though the parallels to her story are less direct, she also isolated herself after inadvertently destroying her people. Maybe I’m reading too much into it because of the Gatlantean connection, but I feel I’m not that far off. Especially if we consider the reference to “a blue land.” Garmillas is ostensibly green. Guess what planet is deep blue in Yamato 2202! Yep… Telezart.

 

Neredia says it’s just a fairy tale. Kiryu looks at the book but all she sees is the Earth book that isn’t at all related to the story she just heard. Neredia leaves the room and closes the door. A ball bounces off the corridor wall, catching her attention while Sawamura sneaks past at the opposite end.

[LC]: Since this is a Garmillan-centric scene (sneaky Sawamura aside), it would have been a nice touch to see it rendered in “Garmivision.” XD Guess that would be a nightmare from a production standpoint.

We see a tennis ball… wonder what Berger sees…?

Whatever that darkness hides… it has a great throwing arm. XD

 

She heads for the door and finds Berger sitting on a chair. He grabs the ball and throws it into the dark closet in his room. The ball vanishes in the dark, only to jump back at him as if thrown by an invisible hand. Another of the mysterious quirks of the hotel. He smiles as he looks at the ball and Neredia asks if that’s how he blows off steam. He says pretty much yes, and comments on Kiryu’s resemblance as he throws the ball once again. Neredia doesn’t seem to understand what he’s talking about.

[LC]: We get the feeling that Berger is onto her from this point on. If he reacted to Kiryu the way he did, she should have an even stronger reaction, even if she rationalized that it was a Zaltzi and not Melia.

Truth be told that, at this point we still didn’t know she was Melia’s sister. Or rather, the movie hadn’t yet told us. But the family connection had already been spoiled in a myriad of promotional materials. For anyone who hadn’t been exposed to those, her detachment wouldn’t mean much. But it did to Berger and informed fans.

 

Berger finds it odd, but a loud noise coming from the corridor catches their attention. Kiryu also heard the noise and runs down the corridor. Around the bend, she spots a large hole in the floor. At the bottom of it, Sawamura holds onto his head, still reeling from the fall.

[LC]: Poor Sawamura can’t catch a break.

  

Back at Yamato, Sanada asks Enomoto for a progress report on the repairs. He tells Sanada they’re double-timing it and to check back with him in three hours. Sanada looks pensive with Yuki by his side. The mission clock shows little over five hours have elapsed.

  

A lot longer seems to have passed in the lush green world below them as another morning comes. Kiryu opens the drapes in her room to let the sun come in. She describes how, in the day after they became trapped, they began a strange communal life in the hotel. We see her leave the room just as Berger is coming out of his. He tries to hide his discomfort and waves at her.

[DG]: Here we see time dilation between the goings-on inside the cocoon to those back aboard Yamato.

[LC]: If we compare that to the time they seem to be down on the planet, it seems about right. But if we take it in light of of this scene, there’s definitely a time difference, since it’s already early morning. If we assume the Jirellans also copied the Earth’s daily cycle, it’s been at least 12 hours since they got to the planet, from their perspective. And that’s only if we assume a steady time stream. For all intents and purposes they can make everything feel as fast or as slow as they want.

 

Kiryu proceeds with her narration, saying they’ve discovered the hotel has four floors, though the indicator in the elevator goes up to 11. The elevator itself seems to be broken and won’t move. So far, they haven’t been able to find an exit to the roof. The walls seem to be extremely hard and any attempts to smash through have failed.

  

We see Sawamura jump through a door to the exterior, only to be thrown back in through another one next to it. He tries the one in the middle but ends up lying on the floor, pissed off and unable to break through. We see them gathered in the lounge studying a floor plan, and Kodai points to what Kiryu says is currently the only hope they’ve got. A point in the plan reads “Sawamura’s Hole.”

[LC]: Only Sawamura could pull off this Scooby-Doo-esque scene.

[DG]: Cue the music from The Great Escape.

They could have worded that particular subtitle differently… XD

 

They gather what they can find for digging tools and try to tunnel to freedom. Kiryu says they might just be deluding themselves, but for now that’s the only way for them to make any progress. We see Berger and Sawamura going at it, digging through the side of the hole, while Kodai fills buckets with dirt and passes them up to Aihara and Baren. Melhi is seen sitting on the ground, looking exhausted.

[LC]: Curious that the one guy we never see doing anything is the one that is always tired. Being the on-duty asshole must be taxing…

 

We see a time-lapse montage of everyone working and dirt building up around the hole. Kiryu says that they are strangely being supplied with water from somewhere. We see Niimi opening the tap of a large barrel and bravely tasting it, giving the okay.

[LC]: I have to ask… where do they expect their tunnel to lead? Also… Kiryu says they tried to break through the walls but couldn’t. Wonder if anyone tried to open or break a window. (Cue characters looking at me, then each other, then back at me before facepalming. XD)

That’s one gutsy move by Niimi.

This new detail puts another kink in the Jirellans’ assumed plan, which makes less sense with each new scene. They bring these people here, who they could have simply sent on their way with their powers. They trap them here but delude the Garmillans to see the Earthlings as Zaltzi, which just delays their endgame. They don’t give them food but do give them water, which is just a slower and more cruel way to kill people. The average human being can live for a few weeks without food but only a few days without water. So they’re just delaying things, not actually giving relief.

We’re supposed to empathize with the Jirellans for their plight, but all this just makes them look like crazy assholes, bent on trapping and starving people until they’re at each other’s throats. As I said, if what they wanted was to be left alone, they could just push them away instead of bringing them here. On the other hand, if what they want is to have them kill each other – God only knows why – then this ruse is simply ridiculous. Berger was willing to kill the crew of Yamato when he was brought here. Having him live for what seem like days with them, and sharing this experience, only serves to change his mind. By the time they reveal the truth, he no longer wants to kill them. So this plan is a fail in all fronts.

 

Kiryu wonders; if all this is deliberate on the part of the beings who created this world, what do they intend to do with them? Their emergency rations will run out soon. They’re okay for now, sharing them with the Garmillans, but unless something changes it won’t be long before… She stops mid sentence as we see Melhi with a crazed look in his eyes.

And then there’s the big freakin’ elephant in the middle of the hotel lobby. Let’s suppose all this plays out the way they want and Garmillans and Terrons kill each other. What then?! There’s a fleet of Garmillas ships and an Earth battleship in orbit, filled with people. Are they gonna bring them down in small groups and replay this charade?

I know the usual voices are already lighting the pitchforks and saying I’m just a hater. I am not. I love this movie, even if all this makes it seem I don’t. I’ve seen it more times than I care to count and I’ll watch it many more. I know that creating a story like this isn’t an easy thing to do and that plot holes and a certain degree of nonsense are part of game. But it’s one thing to have plot holes big enough to fly the Megaluda through them, and God knows 2199 has its share of those. But a plot that makes no sense is even worse. Especially when it’s the foundation for half the movie.

  

Sitting in her bed, Kiryu switches her recorder off, unable to verbalize what might happen when food runs out. As if to finish her thought, a voice whispers in an alien language “hunger awakens conflict.” Startled, she looks around, but there’s no one in sight.

[DG]: In this scene, the painting Boat in a Storm is visible again, in a timely fashion to indicate things are about to get rough.

 

The next morning, she’s sitting on a corridor still thinking of what happened. She feels someone coming down the hall and is more than happy that it’s something quite human. Even if it is Sawamura.

[DG]: We see more Rousseau paintings on the floor as the shot pans to Mikage. On the far right of screen is The Sleeping Gypsy (which features a lion about to pounce on an unsuspecting sleeping gypsy) and on the left is The Hungry Lion Throws Itself on the Antelope. I’m really starting to see a pattern here…

[LC]: On one side, a lion that doesn’t kill. On the other, one that does because it’s starving. Yeah, starvation and its effects on living beings being delivered in a tremendously subtle way.

Behind Mikage is another Rousseau painting, The Snake Charmer.

 

She tells him what happened, and that the language was definitely Jirellan. She says Niimi told her she was probably just imagining things, but that’s definitely what happens when people are hungry. Hearing this, Sawamura takes his share of the emergency rations out of his pocket and tell her to eat. She says she can’t, since that is his last one. But he jokingly tells her not to worry, because he is a guy, and insists she have it.

[DG]: Between Sawamura and Mikage on the staircase is The Merry Jesters, yet another Rousseau painting.

 

She thanks him and they both laugh. He then tells her that if she says she heard something, then she heard it. Kiryu is surprised, but happy he believes her. He says that maybe that whole crazy place is made up of her memories, since she knew about the jungle and the battleship, not to mention being at that very hotel before.

[LC]: Guess the weirdness he witnessed over the last six days has softened Sawamura. He was reluctant to believe anything Kiryu said, but now accepts something a bit more outlandish without hesitation.

[DG]: In making that statement, Sawamura is either remarkably insightful or a complete dumbass – in the latter case, implying Mikage is crazy?

  

So the only thing left to make sense of is the voice she heard. Brimming with confidence, Sawamura proposes that the Jirellan voice is the ghost of a woman that was murdered in that hotel. She dryly asks him if he’s an idiot. The sound of footsteps makes them look up the stairs, where they see Neredia. She says that is an amusing way of looking at the situation. She says that in the sense the Jirellans are an extinct race, maybe they are something like ghosts.

[DG]: Yep. Dumbass, but for reasons other than implying Mikage is crazy. I’m glad they didn’t have Mikage use the old Asuka phrase “Anta Baka?” here. Which I’m convinced Hideaki Anno would have used were he running things.

 

Meanwhile, Kodai and Niimi are discussing their situation. Niimi states that, for the time being, the Garmillans believe they’re Zaltzi. But if they ever learn they’re in fact members of Yamato‘s crew… Kodai says they’ll worry about that if it ever comes to that, stating his belief that it is possible to reach a mutual understanding with them, much like his brother said in his message. The mention of Mamoru strikes a chord with Niimi. Kodai says that things will turn out all right.

[DG]: On the wall across the void from Niimi and Kodai is Rousseau’s The Snake Charmer – the same painting Mikage was sitting in front of earlier.

  

Later, Kiryu is in her bed reading a passage from The Miracle Worker, describing how Helen Keller used water as an instrument to interpret the world around her. She marks in a calendar the sixth day since they entered the hotel. Suddenly, her attention is drawn by someone moaning.

[LC]: The time dilation is stepping up. Several days have passed in the hotel, but only a couple more hours outside.

 

A darkened corridor with scattered emergency lights flickering and alarms blaring: this is the scenario where a young Fomto Berger finds himself, running in search of someone. He climbs up to a damaged section of the base, where the roof has collapsed. Over the PA, a voice warns that the enemy attack has set off a chain reaction in Block 5’s energy tanks. They order the immediate evacuation of that block and prepare to seal it off.

 

Among the rubble, pinned down by a girder, Berger spots a woman. He runs to her aid but the door before him closes, blocking his path. A piece of metal prevents the door from closing completely. Through the small crack, he calls out to her: “Melia!” Beyond her, the corridor is engulfed by the blast, caused by the rupture of the energy tanks. She looks up at Berger, just for a fleeting moment, before she too is consumed by the explosion.

 

Screaming in horror, Berger is hit by the blast that forces its way through the crack, throwing him back. Shrapnel hits his helmet and a shard of glass digs deep into his left cheek.

[DG]: So we actually get to see how Berger got his Harlock-level scar.

[LC]: No details are given about what happened to this base. We hear the voice talk about enemy forces, but they’re not identified. Part of me wants it to be Gatlanteans, but that’s just wishful thinking. It would explain Berger’s exuberance in his attack, back in Episode 11.

 

Berger wakes up from the nightmare screaming Melia’s name. As he tries to catch his breath, he hears Kiryu’s voice coming from the doorway. She asks if he’s all right. He looks at her, the exact likeness of that face he saw consumed by fire, all those years ago. He asks what she wants and she tells him she heard him and got worried.

The painting in Berger’s room is called War.

 

He tells her he’s fine and there’s nothing for her to worry about. He waves her away and she wishes him good night. Berger remains seated on the couch, still reeling from the bitter memories that nightmare brought back.

 

The following morning, a frustrated Melhi says their efforts aren’t working and that they’ll never get out, no matter how much they dig. He says it’s all busywork and that if the Zaltzi want to do it, they can do it themselves. Sawamura is about to get up and give Melhi a piece of his mind when Berger says nobody is giving up. Garmillan soldiers do what needs to be done because they have faith in possibility, and they don’t give up until the bitter end.

 

Melhi responds he has nothing but respect for Berger, but he can’t stand it around those Zaltzi any longer. He salutes Berger and leaves the lounge. Berger apologizes for Melhi’s behavior, joking that he gets like that when he’s hungry. Kodai comments on Berger’s remark about not giving up until the bitter end, which Berger says was told to him by a superior officer he respected. Kodai says he thinks their own captain said something like that once.

[LC]: It’s interesting that Sawamura and Melhi are almost the same character when this whole thing starts. Sure, Sawamura is not a snob racist and Melhi doesn’t seem to be a lovable dumbass. But they’re both ace pilots, having a hard time accepting the craziness taking place around them. But as the movie progresses, they become polar opposites in the scale of desperation. While Melhi sinks deeper into despair, Sawamura comes to accept and embrace the craziness. Funny that in the end, it’s him that makes Melhi snap out of it.

  

Both smile as Kodai imitates Okita saying it, and Berger says he sounds like a scary old man. Kodai says that even so, he’s an amazing person. Berger says he would like to meet him, and Kodai returns the wish to meet that superior officer Berger mentioned. Baren lowers his head, but doesn’t say a word.

[DG]: This conversation between Kodai and Berger would have been a perfect place to flash back to that epic sequence in Episode 15 where it looked like “Scary” Okita and Domel were “looking at each other” as Yamato ran alongside Domelaze III‘s hull.

 

Berger gets up and says he’ll go find Melhi and drag him back by the scruff of his neck. At this time, the young officer is kicking up a storm – and the furniture – at the top floor of the hotel. Furious, he looks around at the dead end that is the top floor of the hotel. He stops as his stomach begins to growl. Suddenly, a voice tells him not to overexert himself.

[LC]: If the painting itself doesn’t creep you out, its ability to move around the hotel sure as hell should.

  

Startled, he looks to his right to see a new flight of stairs that wasn’t there a second ago. He sees Neredia sitting in the dark. She tells him he’s hungry and opens her eyes. They glow with a supernatural hue, a gust of wind rushes down the stairs, and Melhi disappears. The only trace of his presence is the toppled furniture. As for the new staircase, it’s nowhere to be found, back to being a solid wall. The painting of the white haired lady is the only witness to it ever existing.

[LC]: A while back, I said the painting was never in the same room as a certain character. You realized of course I meant Neredia – or whoever she is. If you’re about to point out this scene to prove me wrong, don’t. They’re not in the same room. I know… but still…

 

Berger is looking for Melhi when he runs into Kiryu. Again, all he can do is stare at her in awe for all the memories her likeness brings to him. In the lounge, Baren is shedding light on the subject as he tells Kodai, Aihara and Sawamura what happened to Berger back then. He says that long ago, Berger had a sweetheart named Melia. At that time, Berger was still a upright, respectful young man. Joking, Sawamura says he finds that hard to believe.

[DG]: Either Baren can just pick up the piano because of the environment, or he’s seeing some other kind of instrument that exists on Garmillas.

[LC]: As we saw earlier, it’s a slightly different Garmillan instrument. As for how it’s played or what it sounds like, we’ll never know. We only get to see it from the Earthlings’ perspective. So, as far as we’re concerned, it looks and sounds like a piano. For all intents and purposes, it isn’t even real. Maybe one day, Yutaka Izubuchi might make a “Garmivision Edition” of the movie… XD

 

Baren proceeds, saying that the three were always together. Berger, Melia and Neredia… her sister. But after the accident that killed Melia, Berger changed. Melia died in front of him and he couldn’t save her, and he’s been dragging that guilt with him ever since.

[LC]: Great detail on this close-up of Berger’s scar. Good to see they didn’t draw it as they usually do but gave it a bit more detail, making it look like a fresh wound with the stitches still on. Question, though… why isn’t that properly dressed?!

 

We see a flashback of Berger with Lyle Ghetto at his side, standing over Melia’s grave. Visibly angry, Neredia shouts at him. Though we can’t hear what she’s saying, it’s clear she’s mad at Berger. After she leaves, Ghetto tries to console his friend, but Berger wants to be alone. Baren says he also lost his comrades and General Domel, a man he looked up to, in battle against Yamato.

[DG]: Is it just me, or is Neredia’s outfit in the flashback channeling Maetel, albeit with the attitude of Emeraldas?

[LC]: Not unprecedented. Eliza Domel wore a similarly Maetel-esque dress. Maybe Maetel visited Garmillas long ago and her look became the standard attire in periods of mourning.

 

The mention of Yamato prompts Sawamura to look at Kodai with worry in his eyes. Baren says that the only thing that keeps Berger going is his thirst for revenge against Yamato. Kodai whispers his ship’s name as he takes all this in. Their situation is more dire than they thought.

[LC]: Knowing they’re among Garmillans was uncomfortable, even if they are now officially at peace. But learning that Berger has a personal axe to grind with them sure raises the stakes.

 

Kiryu looks at the large painting in the wall where the hotel entrance once was, as Berger walks closer to her. She asks him who is the Melia he was calling to the previous night. He tells her she’s Neredia’s little sister. Or rather, was. Berger asks her if she has any siblings. She says she doesn’t, but that there’s someone who’s like a big brother, and he has a scar just like Berger’s.

[DG]: Can we hope that scenario happens in 2202? Berger meeting Saito? Damn, I would love to see that.

[LC]: I wouldn’t rule that out. This whole movie seems like a set-up for exactly that, Berger appearing as one of the main Garmillans in 2202. If it wasn’t for Dessler’s popularity, I’d go as far as saying Berger would replace him as the primary Garmillan ally. But given how high Dessler is ranked in terms of the Yamato Saga characters, I’m positive he’ll also be back at some point.

I should also mention I’m talking about Dessler coming back in 2202, since in 2199 he’s still around. Remember that, this film takes place before Episode 25. So Yamato‘s “final” confrontation with him is yet to happen.

 

Berger touches his scar and says he’s flattered. Kiryu addresses Berger as Major, but he tells her she can call him Fomto. She asks him what sort of race were the Jirellans. Surprised by the question and with a more serious look on his face, Berger responds that they’re witches. Kiryu recalls the tale that Neredia told her.

 

Berger says they read people’s minds and are like monsters out of stories. Behind them, as if listening to their conversation, is the painting of the white-haired lady. Kiryu asks him if the Jirellans all died out. Berger says yes, but remembers there were two on Garmillas, and that they were the only survivors.

 

Kiryu finds that odd, since Neredia told them that there weren’t any Jirellans left anywhere. Berger finds that strange but says nothing about it. He concludes that, as the only survivors were two women, the race is as good as extinct. He gets up to leave and knocks over the bucket Kiryu had placed down, spilling the water inside. He apologizes, but Kiryu tells him not to worry and that she’ll clean it up. Berger goes away, leaving Kiryu alone in the hall, thinking about the Jirellans.

 

Out in deep space, Dagarm’s fleet is still trying to track down Yamato. Suddenly, he receives a message from their homeworld, from First Minister Sabera. Dagarm seems less than pleased as the hologram of a woman dressed in white forms before him. He salutes her and she asks for his report.

[DG]: Here we get at least one Gatlantean character from the original saga – but boy, has she changed. Not only is Sabera green-skinned and thus Gatlantean by race, but she’s more than Zordar’s mistress, in fact as Prime Minister she’s pretty much second only to Zordar in the Gatlantean hierarchy.

Following a conversation I had with Tim Eldred after seeing the movie with him in Tokyo in 2014, I had hoped that we’d see the scenario for Gatlantis that he suggested, given the Mongol/Chinese Empire metaphor they seemed to be filling in the movie. Chinese Emperors were seen by only a select few, and even fewer without a curtain between them obscuring their face.

I know it would never have flown, given the popularity of Zordar amongst fans, but the idea of the emperor being metaphorical with the real power being in Sabera’s hands – and giving Yamato its first female primary antagonist in the process – would have been something I could easily live with.

[LC]: Her full name is Shifal “Silver” Sabera and she’s 23 Earth-years old.

[DG]: What is interesting so far from a 2202 perspective is that all the Gatlantean characters, Sabera included, only have one name. The first name Shifal from Ark appears at this stage to have been dropped (along with any apparent age), though rather than just “Silver,” she now appears to bear the nickname “Silver Miko.”

One of the things this movie did right was to give Gatlantean technology a very different feel from that of Garmillas. Keeping with the more “savage” tone, their holograms are made to look like fire. Instead of the clean, straight lines of their Garmillan equivalents, these have a more fluid and natural feel. Quite appropriate for a race that seems bent in setting the Universe on fire.

  

He tells her they still don’t have any firm leads, but that he has found another prize, one that is sure to please His Majesty. She calls him a simpleton and that the prize His Majesty desires is the one he ordered Dagarm to claim, the “World of Tranquility.”

[LC]: It should also be noted that her design is based on the Farewell to Yamato movie version, rather than the one seen in Yamato 2. The white hair and uniform were always a stark contrast to the black hair and colored dresses she had in the series. Whether this was a hint of what version Yamato 2202 would follow was anyone’s guess. So far – spoiler alert – the series has actually been more like Yamato 2 than Farewell, although fans know very well that whatever version they follow, there’ll be plenty of hardship and death coming our way.

 

She orders him to press on with the capture of “the secret Akerian techniques” that are hidden there, especially their cloaking technology. Behind him, Mace smiles as he watches his despised commander’s humiliation. As she looks at the control console for the “Firestorm Direct Strike Gun,” Sabera says the empire desires technologies to uphold their national policy and establish hegemony.

[LC]: From Mace’s reaction, it’s clear who’s been relaying information to Sabera. Unfortunately for him, Dagarm is very much aware of his backstabbing ways. That’s why he gets punched in the face every now and then. Nice detail that they gave him a black eye from his previous encounter with Dagarm’s fist, seen at the end of part 1. Good continuity is always appreciated.

  

If he fails to locate the “World of Tranquility,” Dagarm is to make amends with his death. He bows to her and accepts her command. As the holograms flames out of existence, she says she’ll await the good news. Just as Dagarm vents, calling her a stupid little girl, a soldier beckons him.

[DG]: Sabera is a total badass in this incarnation. Also gives a “Victory or Death” ultimatum.

[LC]: Wonder who came up with it first…?! Did Gatlantis get it from Dessler or the other way around?! XD

 

The soldier reports that they have located traces of a spatial jump. Pleased, Dagarm says they can finally pursue the Terron ship. Mace tries to dissuade him, reminding him of the First Minister’s orders. Dagarm dismisses it and says he doesn’t care about her orders, ordering the fleet to take up positions for a spatial jump.

[LC]: Dagarm is playing a dangerous game here. Though he got lucky and ended up finding what Sabera ordered him to find, exactly because he disobeyed her and followed Yamato, this was a big gamble on his part. If Yamato was all he found, even if he managed to capture it, would that be enough to satisfy His Majesty and make him disregard the fact that he disobeyed his Prime Minister’s orders? From what we know of Sabera, she wouldn’t let it go until Dagarm paid for his treachery.

 

Back at the hotel, Kiryu recalls a passage from The Miracle Worker. As she recites the passage “Helen Keller was blind and deaf. All she had was the sense of touch,” she touches the pool of water spilled by Berger. Closing her eyes, she senses something beneath the surface. As if seeing with her mind, alien markings peer through the water. She recognizes them as Jirellan.

[LC]: I’m always astonished by how quickly Kiryu learned Jirellan, at least on a level that allows her to translate all these symbols so perfectly. And here I am, after years of effort, still trying to understand even a simple Japanese sentence. XD.

[DG]: She’s probably not had much else to do the past month since leaving Iscandar except learning languages. She’s a language specialist after all.

  

She translates the writing, which reads:

“Eyes reflect darkness and ears hear silence. Those who take the darkness to be reality, and are swallowed up by the silence, will destroy themselves through their mutual distrust. Those who attain the 11th level will see the world for what it truly is.”

She opens her eyes, thinking of what she just read. Suddenly, she realizes the 11th level must be reached through the broken elevator.

[LC]: So… all that was needed for the elevator to work was to see through the hologram around them and translate a message?! Why, then, did “Neredia” take Melhi up to the 11th floor when all he did was stamp around like a whiney idiot?!

 

The previously-unmovable doors open for her. Kiryu enters the elevator as Niimi steps into the hall, just in time to witness the elevator going up with her protege inside.

[LC]: Lucky thing the gods of plot convenience provided Niimi with an impeccable sense of timing. XD If she hadn’t walked into the lobby at this exact moment, what would have happened? Would they think Kiryu had vanished into thin air?!

  

She calls the others and they rush to her side. The elevator has disappeared from sight, going farther up than seems possible. Kodai looks at the indicator as it continues to rise. Eventually, the elevator reaches the 11th floor.

  

The doors open. Though all she can see is pitch black darkness, Kiryu steps out. As soon as she does, the doors close and the elevator goes back down. Kiryu looks at the only discernible feature in the dark; another door through which she can see a set of metal steps going upward.

[LC]: Looks like Kiryu has attended the “Oh! Look! It’s a pitch black space! I’ll step right into it! What could possibly go wrong?!” School of “How to Get Killed in Every Movie Ever”! Sorry, got a bit carried away with the name there. But you get what I mean.

 

She climbs the steps and finds herself on the battleship Yamato‘s bridge. She’s startled by a sound coming from above – the sound of someone’s laughter. Kiryu opens the side door, finding the steps that lead up to the radar array, the wind almost blowing her off her feet.

[LC]: Because when you hear someone laughing like a crazy person, the first thing you do is go looking for them by yourself. There’s a long list of dead characters in horror movies that will testify to that. Or they would, if they weren’t dead because they went looking for the crazy person making all the noise…

[DG]: Here we see just how small the bridge of the original 263-meter-long Yamato was, and by extension, you get an idea of how impossibly spacious the space battleship Yamato‘s bridge would be at this length, thus justifying the reversion to the originally-intended length of 333 meters.

 

Melhi holds a paper bag filled with fresh produce, happy to assuage his hunger. Just as he’s about to take his first bite, he hears footsteps. He looks over to find a shocked Kiryu. With a maniacal grin in his face, he says she came here to steal his food, and points a gun at her.

[LC]: Melhi might think that now, but in a little while he’ll be thanking her for preventing him from having that first bite.

I would ask where he got the gun from, but at this point I stopped trying to make sense of the Jirellans’ reasons for doing anything anymore.

 

The relative peace of the grey void surrounding the planet is disturbed by the violent arrival of Dagarm’s fleet. Looking at their surroundings, Dagarm sees the resemblance it bears to the ancient “World of Tranquility.” He realizes this is the very planet his fleet was looking for in the first place, claiming the hand of Heaven must be at work.

[LC]: As I said before, this guy got lucky, like winning-the-lottery-two-weeks-in-a-row level of luck.

For what is supposed to be a secret, secluded planet, Shambleau is turning out to be pretty well-known. And from Dagarm’s statement, this isn’t even a recent thing. It also implies that at some point, long ago, someone found the planet and escaped to let everyone know what it looked like. They just apparently forgot to add directions to their description.

 

By pursuing the Terron ship, Dagarm found the treasured world His Majesty wants to claim. He says the glory is his and he won’t surrender it to that little girl, an obvious remark about Sabera. Mace listens to this and promptly sneaks away.

[LC]: Hmmm, I wonder where Mace is going?! It can’t possibly be to let Sabera know of what just happened! Since supposedly it’s impossible to communicate with the outside…

END OF PART TWO

[LC]: In our next Star Blazers adventure… sorry, Ark of the Stars commentary:
* What will become of Kodai and his team, trapped in an alien holodeck with a group of Garmillans?
* Will they unveil the mysteries of the “World of Tranquility”?
* Can they face the terrible might of Dagarm’s fleet?
* And will any of the Jirellan-related nonsense actually make sense in the end?! Spoiler alert – Hell, no!!!
But who cares? We’ll have a badass battle that actually makes all this worth it.

All this and more in the third and final part of our commentary. Stick around.

RELATED LINKS:

Official website of Yamato 2199
Yamato Crew website
Ark of the Stars Teaser 1
Ark of the Stars Teaser 2
Ark of the Stars Trailer 1
Ark of the Stars Trailer 2
Ark of the Stars 9 Minute Preview

4 thoughts on “Ark of the Stars Commentary, Part 2

  1. I wasn’t a fan of the Jirellans whether their logic made sense or not. Still I really like the relationship dynamic between Kodai and Berger. They are kind of like the apprentice of two great leaders aka Okita and Domel respectfully, and they have similar backgrounds and personality having lost their close loved ones and eventually their mentors. Of course, the reboot/2199 version of Kodai is less cocky and aggressive as the original version but the similarities are there.
    After seeing the film, I wonder whether Berger would take over the original Desselar’s role of being the main Gamilias protagonist of the series. While I know Dessler is the more popular character, considering the amount of insanity his character was portrayed that defies logic in 2199 as you mentioned in previous commentaries, I highly doubt they would bring him back in 2202 as I don’t really see a possible redemption arc for him. After all, he tried to blow up his own capital city for crying out loud!
    It’s kind of shame that his character was given enough justice from the original considering he used to be a great villain. But if Berger is going to replace him in the 2199/2202 reboot timeline, I can live with that!

  2. Perhaps the reason Mace is able to send transmissions is because Larelai was actively jamming the communications of Neredia’s battlegroup and the Yamato. Since Jirellians are capable of taking over a ship’s controls, locking down communications isn’t too far out there. When Dagram arrived, her attention was already preoccupied by the Gamilons and humans, so she couldn’t do anything about the surprise Gatlanteans who also had greater numbers.

    Also Jordan, given the synopsis for chapter 3, the big blue man is definitely going to be making an appearance. How they’ll handle his character development remains to be seen.

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