Yamato 2199 Episode 13 Commentary

by Luis Cotovio and Daniel George

Episode 13: The Wolf From Another Dimension

(Japanese Name: 異次元の狼 / I Jigen no ōkami)

Director: Yasuhiro Minami
Running time: 25m28s (21m00s without credits)
Opening Theme:

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

Ending Theme:

  • (Cinema/Home Video): Light of Memories by KOKIA
  • (TV): Best of My Love by Rei Yasuda

[DG]: This episode starts immediately after the end of Episode 12; the date is March 31, 2199, with 317 days left on the countdown clock. This means that the events of the previous episode took place inside a one-day window.

[LC]: This episode uses elements from three primary sources: Domel’s arrival on Balun is from Episode 15 and the captain’s operation is from Episode 17. Then the main plot thread, Frakken’s attack, comes from Yamato III‘s Episode 14. A few elements of Yamato III‘s Episode 15 were also used, such as the subspace sonar. It’s curious that during the submarine attack in Yamato III, Kodai also undergoes surgery for injuries sustained in the attack.

Planet Balun. The diamond-shaped structure fixed to one of the artificial rings encircling the planet comes to life. Energy buzzes from the massive gate, creating an opening into another dimension.

[LC]: This is the first time we see a warp gate in the series. But the first actual look we non-Japanese-theater-going fans got was in the Chapter 5 flyer that came out at the same time Chapter 4 hit the theaters. As with previous releases, the flyer features what would be the cover art for the corresponding Blu-Ray/DVD, this time featuring Domel and Eliza over a shot of a large Garmillan fleet around Balun. A gate was attached to one of the rings we’d already seen in our first look at the planet back in Episode 10.

At the time I finally got to see this episode, I was somewhat confused that the gate looked different from the one on that flyer. While the one on the flyer had a brownish-red circular structure, this one was diamond shaped and blue. What came to my mind at the time was that, between the time Nobuteru Yuuki’s art had been done and the completion of this episode, someone had decided to alter the overall look of the gates. In fact, the explanation is much simpler, though we would only learn it with the actual release of Chapter 5. We’ll go into more detail when we get there, but essentially there are actually two gates. This one connects Balun to the Great Magellanic Galaxy while the round one connects to the Milky Way Galaxy.

[DG]: That Domel arrives at Balun this soon after the events on Garmillas suggest that the Geschtam Gates allow the distance between Garmillas and Balun, halfway to the Milky Way, to be travelled in a very short time. At this stage, we have to assume little or no time transpires in realtime while covering this distance in the Geschtam laneways. We have further evidence back in Episode 10 that supports this theory, since it’s the only explanation as to how Goer’s fleet got to the dimensional rift, still inside the Milky Way Galaxy, in such a short time.

What looks like a large plume of water bursts from this event horizon revealing the majestic Domelaze III, followed by numerous smaller vessels.

[LC]: First time I saw this I couldn’t help but think “Stargate!”

The pan from the gate to Balun’s “surface” is actually huge. If you measure the size of the Domelaze in that shot and plot a straight line from one end to the next you end with a nearly 60,000m distance, putting the actual portal section of that gate at about 7,000m wide. Click here to view a collage of the full pan shot. Even at 40% of the full image size, it’s still big…

[DG]: The gate itself seems to be tens of kilometers in diameter, as the lit-up part of the small discs around the main portal look to be at least three times wide as the Domelaze III is long.

Balun is not spherical. Granted, neither is Earth, but Balun’s elongation is very noticeable while Earth still looks close enough to spherical.

What is strange is that such elongation is usually caused by the rapid spin of the planet, resulting in its mass being pushed outward by centrifugal forces. But from from what we can see in these shots, Balun’s equatorial zone is actually quite thin, almost non-existent. We can see the ring all the way through. A closer angle would explain it as the rings being visible through the thinner gaseous portion of its atmosphere, but the shots where we see this happen are quite wide, meaning there actually isn’t that much mass at the equator.

From what we learn in later episodes, Balun is a connection hub in the warp gate network and might actually be artificial in nature. We’re shown a massive construct at its core, a power plant to fuel its gate system over the huge distances that separate Balun from the two galaxies it connects. Nice way to explain the planet’s convenient placement at the halfway point between them. Another explanation is that at some point Balun was a gas giant that was re-purposed and “rebuilt” into its current form. Fact is that at this point, instead of a cohesive sphere, we have two almost completely separate masses of gas, held together by some unknown force. Balun has always been a weird world, and that hasn’t changed one bit in 2199.

[LC]: Although we were given a couple of brief peeks in Episode 10, this is the first really good look we get at the so-called “Balun Guard Force Headquarters”. The basic structure seems to be two large rock masses, each with a large hole crossed by a massive rock spire. More of those cables we saw in Episode 10 crisscross the whole thing, though we still don’t know where the ones at the top and bottom of the structure go to. The designs for the complex were made by Makoto Kobayashi. Click here to see his design drawing.

I’ve run out of synonyms to describe the enormity of everything on Balun. The main tower of the base would give even Dessler’s palace size-related issues. Although everything is very green and has a Garmillan feeling to it, the whole structure is actually alien (as in not Garmillan). The similarities might be due not to the base being Garmillan-made but the other way around; the Garmillas having patterned their tech off of structures like this. As with the gates, more info will come in further episodes.

The ships head down to the Balun Defense Headquarters, suspended among the clouds. A pink glow surrounds the ships as they enter the base’s air space. One by one, the ships comprising the fleet land on the gargantuan structure’s astroport. Goer fights to stand up as the dreadnought touches down.

[LC]: The nature of this energy field is never explained, but given that they can stand outside in the base’s dock with no protective gear, in what appears to be a rather hostile environment, we can hazard a guess that it’s some sort of atmospheric containment field. A defensive shield would probably have to be turned off for the ships to go through it.

The look on the faces of Goer and those standing on the dock with him tells us how impressive the Domelaze is, even for people who are stationed at a place as peculiar and over-sized as Balun.

[DG]: I find it interesting that Goer, his driver, and his car aren’t completely blown away by the downdraft of the massive battleship. No matter how softly you bring a ship that size down, it is going to push a lot of air around.

[LC]: This is a great improvement, not to mention more mechanically sound, than the original gangway. That one would come all the way down from the upper half of the ship. Granted, the ship was smaller then. But still, this makes a whole lot more sense.

[DG]: That’s still a heck of a walk down. I wouldn’t want to be going back up that staircase.

The gangway itself was made in 3D but the rest of the ship’s hull, as well as the remaining shots of the landed behemoth, are all hand-drawn with a blurred effect added to convey distance. The ship in the image on the right is 400 meters from the gangway ladder to the tip. The hand-drawn detailing was done, as usual, by Mechanical Director Masanori Nishii.

Panels slide in the lower hull, allowing the gangway to descend. General Domel steps into his assigned command and faces his new subordinate, stating Dessler’s orders. Goer is not pleased by this turn of events, but does his best not to show it.

[LC]: Am I the only one who thinks Domel looks a bit bug-eyed in this particular shot? I open my eyes like that when I hear something particularly stupid, but in this instance it looks weird. Hmmm, maybe he met Austin Powers and is trying to use that weird eye trick to control Goer’s mind… XD

Though Goer is obviously not happy, he still got off better than in the original, where Domel’s first order of business was to tear his office decor apart. Sure, his taste in interior decoration left a great deal to be desired, but the whole scene just made Domel seem like a bit of a… (can I say ‘dick’ here?!)

[DG]: Going by the screenplay included in Yamato 2199 Complete Works, this entire opening scene at Balan wasn’t in the original script at all. This is the first of a number of significant changes that the original draft for this episode went through. It surprised me that this scene was not in the original script, since it’s a fairly iconic scene, and the first time we see Geru (Goer) in the original. I don’t know what they were thinking by leaving this scene out initially, but to me that defeats a lot of the purpose of getting Goer into the story sooner. That said, the original script for Episode 12 had scenes where Goer was informed of his replacement by Zoellick over holo-call, so maybe that set of scenes was lifted as a whole, along with some ongoing scenes between the two removed toward the end of this episode’s original draft.

This episode underwent very substantial changes from the original draft of the script, so many that it would be impractical to list them all here. The addition of this scene to the opening of the episode was probably the most noteworthy, as it represents an iconic moment from the original.

Hydern approaches and informs Domel that Frakken has called in, relaying the message “The Wolf has danced with the Sheep.” Goer is puzzled and Domel dryly explains that the hound has found its prey.

[LC]: This is the first mention made of Frakken. The UX-01 has been mentioned by a couple of names – “that specialized” ship” and such – but not its captain. As with many other characters in 2199, Frakken has been conscripted from further up the original saga’s time line, specifically Yamato III. At least the Frakken we know and love. An officer named Frakken was designed for Yamato 2, but he did not have an on-screen role.

A primordial solar system. Among the endless pieces of rock orbiting the protostar and forming planets, space distorts and four torpedoes burst into normal space. One by one, they hit several planetesimals. Debris from the last explosion rains down over a larger asteroid where, relatively sheltered in a depression, Yamato is anchored.

[LC]: This depiction of a relatively young solar system, with lots of dust and debris and planets still forming, is quite nice. If you recall from the previous episode, Shima’s chart showed there were several “protostars” along Yamato’s projected course.

Command has been moved to the CIC. Yuki reports on the impacts with Sanada theorizing the repeated torpedo strikes are a ploy to try and draw them out, as the interstellar medium present around them makes it difficult to trace Yamato. He compliments Okita’s decision.

[LC]: This is the second and last time the CIC set is used, and the first time Kodai is seen in it, having commanded the air wing during Operation M-2. The crew stays in the first bridge for the remaining battles, but at least there’s always a reason why they don’t relocate, except in one episode. We’ll analyze them case-by-case when we reach them.

Kodai wonders where the attacks are coming from since Yuki still has nothing in her radar, leading him to conclude the enemy is using stealth technology. An upset Nanbu states they’ve been in hiding for four hours and that they can’t stay hidden forever. Just then, another round of torpedoes strikes the asteroids around them. Okita isn’t listening. No one notices as he grasps his coat, recoiling in pain.

[LC]: Though already noticeable in the previous scene, the animation quality sticks out even more in this one and throughout the episode. It’s not outright bad, but there is a noticeable difference in the character design, especially the faces, which seem more angular and pointy than usual. It suggests that this episode was outsourced to another studio. Still, a lot better than the worst episode in the series. (If you need to know, it’s episode 22.)

The alien probe surfaces from the dimensional boundary layer. A long cable leads down to a relatively small craft, resembling a sort of submarine. Inside, the captain looks through a periscope-like device, trying to spot his prey – but to no avail, as his crewmen are still unable to detect Yamato.

[LC]: Dimensional Submarine UX-01 is a special combat vessel that can navigate not only in normal space, but into different dimensions as well. It is positioned as a special forces vessel under Emperor Dessler’s direct control. It has a length of 144 meters and is armed with eight Subspace Torpedo Launchers (x 6 bow, × 2 stern), a 99mm single barrel positron beam turret, a 33mm twin laser cannon, eight missile launch tubes and five space mine laying devices.

Usually, it uses the same Wave-Motion propulsion as other Garmillas warships in normal space (a Geschtam engine), but when diving into a subspace dimension it switches over to a Gesh Vual engine. In order to reduce its propulsion waste in that dimension, it uses a “multidimensional phase ballast tank to suppress exhaust, and the ship can resurface by diverting it to control buoyancy.” Now that’s a nice bit of techno-babble. As mr. Nishii himself said, “This could probably only be done a work called Space Battleship Yamato.”

To view normal space, a dimensional periscope is provided on the bridge, or a search for the enemy is carried out across the dimensional boundary layer using a wired probe.

The first mate, Hainy, is upset that they haven’t taken the bait and come out of hiding, since they’re otherwise unable to trace them in the middle of such a dense field of stellar medium.

[LC]: In the June 2013 issue of Dengeki Hobby, some interesting information is given about Frakken’s crew and their ship. For example, although never mentioned onscreen, the UX-01’s crew is known collectively as the “Warmongers.” Here we get to see them for the first time. Click here for a group shot.

Gol Hainy is the UX-01’s first mate, with the rank of Captain. He’s 31 years old (ERT/Earth relative time) and a warmonger by nature. In the past, he caused trouble for senior officers at the front lines and was to be court-martialed, but was saved by Frakken. Despite being a bit of a hothead, he is unswervingly loyal.

Above left we have Yolto Mezze (Petty Officer, 1st Class – Comms/Sonar) and Louth Kiel (Petty Officer, 2nd Class – Comms/Sonar). Above right we have Bolt Gran (Chief Navigator), Hainy, and Vance Bohen (Weapons Systems Officer). Not seen in this episode is the boat’s chief engineer, Jarun Bern.

Frakken praises the intelligence of the “little rats,” saying that the smarter the prey, the better the hunt, and that they will enjoy themselves.

[DG]: Here we are introduced to Wolf Frakken, the character known as the “Galman Wolf” in Yamato III. Unlike the original saga’s Frakken, who hunted with a pack of submarines (reflecting the tactics of Karl Donitz’s Wolfpack in the North Sea and North Atlantic in World War II) this Frakken’s command consists of this solitary dimensional submarine, the UX-01. The U in the designation is most definitely a nod to German U-Boats, but while the X could mean “Experimental” like it does in the US military designation system, it doesn’t keep in line with either the aircraft designation system, nor the naval designation (e.g. EX-178). However, the idea of it being an experimental prototype, or a solitary production example, would sit well with how valuable it is; its deployment requires the explicit approval of Dessler himself.

Frakken is voiced by veteran voice actor Jouji Nakata, probably best-known to western anime fans as Alucard in both anime adaptations of the Hellsing manga. His trademark baritone voice is as instantly recognizable as the more flamboyant Hellsing Ultimate co-star Norio Wakamoto. It’s a shame that he and Wakamoto wouldn’t get to lock horns in Yamato 2199; their characters share only one scene, and Frakken’s short appearance is as a background character. Perhaps we’ll get to see it in a future production.

Sanada manages to detect small dimensional quakes caused by the enemy ship’s dimensional engines. He theorizes that they are capable of “diving” into the dimensional boundary layer, thus remaining hidden from detection. As he looks at the captain, he notices Okita is in agony, slumping over his chair and eventually falling to the floor – to everyone’s horror, particularly Kodai.

[LC]: Whoops! Engrish moment here. The tag on Sanada’s screen is misspelled as “Exteracted Waveform” instead of “Extracted.” Also, it never ceases to amaze me how quickly Sanada comes up with his theories, especially considering they only came across the mentioned subspatial dimension and its boundary layer once, in Episode 10. Still, for a man who spent most of his life studying books on the subject, it’s probably not as big a stretch as I think.

In the medical section, Doctor Sado and Nurse Makoto Harada examine the captain. The MRI reveals damage in his right bronchus that requires surgery to repair. Sado orders Makoto to set up the OR. Outside, Ito looks on with a devious grin on his face.

[LC]: Although sparse in any kind of written detail, the scan image seems to show something has happened to Okita’s right bronchus, either tissue degeneration or a tumor, obviously caused by his “Planet Bomb Radiation Syndrome.”

They’re really driving in the idea that Ito is up to no good, aren’t they?! Fortunately, all this will start paying off soon enough.

The manga played this out differently, with Sado discovering the problem beforehand and telling the captain he needs an operation. Okita initially objects, but eventually accepts Sado’s advice. Ito actually heads to the captain’s cabin to have a talk with him, although that talk is not shown.

Back at the CIC, Sanada exercises his role as XO and takes command until the captain is fit for duty. He says they’ll assume the enemy ship is capable of dimensional flight and orders Niimi and Yuki to initiate a trace. Kodai ponders on the enemy’s capability…

At Balun, Goer is amazed that Dessler’s office allowed Domel to make use of the UX-01. Amazement turns to disbelief when Domel says they didn’t. Berger says the UX-01 was dispatched by admiral Dietz directly.

[LC]: Though we saw the Balun HQ’s main control room back in Episode 10, here we get to see it not just in greater detail, but also from the outside. We first saw this structure when the cover for the Chapter 4 Movie Program was revealed. Although it looks imposing, this is not the tower we saw earlier. That is much larger. This is actually on the underside of the topmost rock plate of the base. It can only be seen briefly in another episode. You can see the precise location in the Kobayashi design drawing.

Gettoh, another of Domel’s commanders, tells Goer to relax since they have Dietz’s consent.

[DG]: The animation quality in this scene is incredibly poor. Berger’s character design especially looks way off from the rest of the series, and all the other characters look sloppier than usual.

[LC]: Here we meet the remaining members of the “Domel Task Force” from the original’s battle of the Rainbow Star Cluster, Major Lyle Gettoh and Major Charis Kraitz.

Gettoh is 30 years old (ERT) and was the 4th aerial warfare captain of the Great Garmillas Empire 6th Space Armored Division. He never loses his cool and his foremost skill is as a fighter pilot. He is a top ace marksman.

Kraitz is 41 years old (ERT) and was the 3rd aerial squadron chief in the Great Garmillas Empire 6th Space Armored Division. A quiet giant, even taller than Domel, who specializes in space blitzkrieg.

Kroitz points out that the real wild card in the whole affair is Frakken, the UX-01’s captain, a difficult officer to deal with. But Domel is confident on the “Hound’s” capabilities, telling Goer to keep his motto in mind: “adaptability above all else.” Goer grudgingly agrees.

[DG]: “Adaptability above all else.” Another very Rommel-like trait. A far cry from the Domel in the original, whose first order of business was to trash his predecessor’s tacky office decor.

In the medical section, Doctor Sado and his staff finish preparations for the surgery, with Sado vowing to save the captain. Okita lies submerged in fluid and surrounded by small medical robots controlled by Sado. The operation begins.

[LC]: No specifications are given about the nature of this fluid or how Okita is breathing without a mask. But ever since Evangelion presented us with the improbable and increasingly gross LCL, anime fans stopped wondering about these things. It is possible this fluid flooded Okita’s lungs and is capable of oxygenating his blood directly, much like LCL. This might help keep the pressure stable as Sado works on Okita’s lungs. Other benefits and more information about “Liquid Breathing” can be found here. Still, as crystal clear as the fluid looks now, after those robots open the patient’s chest cavity, it’ll become pretty funky. Would you want your patient floating in that?! Sure, they show us just a tiny amount of blood in this scene, but let’s get real…

[LC]: Besides Evangelion, even Hollywood blockbusters like The Abyss and, more recently, Pacific Rim, use these wonder fluids for several purposes. At least Okita is unconscious and avoids the biggest mistake some of these movies and shows make, having their characters talk. With their respiratory systems flooded. Yep. They did that. In Anno’s defense (and I can’t believe I just said that), although never explained onscreen, LCL allows this because “once the cockpit is flooded, the LCL is ionized, bringing its density, opacity, and viscosity close to that of air.” It may be gibberish, but at least it’s something.

[LC]: Mr. Niishi commented on the scene (above right) saying: “Since we’re “underwater” so to speak, you have the boat’s hull moving over the camera, which is tilted up. One of the two absolutely necessary shots you do whenever a submarine is involved.” And damn it, he’s right. I can’t recall any film or series featuring a submarine without some iteration of this shot. From The Hunt for Red October to the most recent episode (at the time I write this) of The Last Ship, they sure love this shot. 😀

Submerged in the dimensional fault, the UX-01 continues the search for its prey, but to no avail. Hainy grows increasingly frustrated, but Frakken is unfazed. He concludes that their prey is smart and frightened, and will wait for them to make the first move.

[DG]: Interesting that Hainy addresses Frakken as “Captain” in English, rather than the Japanese “Kancho” here.

In the pilots’ rec room, Kato is becoming restless, vocalizing his impatience while Yamamoto sits across from him in silence. In the engine room, everybody’s favorite ray of sunshine (Yabu) wonders if the captain will die. Yamazaki tries to shut him up, having seen Tokugawa entering the room, but it’s too late. Tokugawa is firm in his belief and assures Yabu the captain will make it through.

[DG]: This scene with the pilots was not in the original script, but looks to have been added in place of cuts to both the Falcon hangar (with Kato) and the Cosmo Zero hangar (with Akira).

[LC]: Another difference in the manga version is that Kato remains remarkably calm, using some sort of meditation technique, even though Shinohara insists on teasing him about it. As for Akira, she eventually gets up and leaves. Enomoto runs into her and recruits her for an assignment. More on that in a bit.

Sado is focused on his task, repairing the damage to the captain’s lungs. He asks Makoto to wipe the sweat off his brow.

[LC]: This shot must be a view of what Sado is looking at through his scope. What is happening is not clear. Either some sort of laser scalpel burning damaged tissue or tumors, or even laser cauterization of ulcers… whatever is going on, Okita is really messed up.

In the CIC, Niimi theorizes that even though the enemy can submerge dimensionally, there must be a limit to how long they can remain in that state and they’ll have to show themselves eventually. Shima concludes that they’ll just have to keep waiting. Tokugawa arrives and, seeing Kodai’s concern, tries to reassure him. Kodai looks inquisitively toward Sanada, who remains eerily calm.

[LC]: Niimi is correct. The UX-01’s operating time in subspace is limited, but the actual value is a top military secret.

After such a long wait, Hainy tells the captain that maybe the enemy is already dead. Frakken is also tired of waiting and decides to try something else, much to Hainy’s delight.

Sado concludes the surgery with a sigh of relief. On the CIC, Kodai confronts Sanada over the captain’s condition, urging him to come clean about what he knows. Sanada is saved by the bell, or rather the radar ping. A ship has been detected, displaying the wavelength specific to Garmillan ships. Yuki announces that the ship is leaving the system, leading Shima and Nanbu to assume they gave up and left.

[LC]: The look Kodai gave Sanada earlier seemed to imply some level of perplexity at how extremely calm the XO looked. But here we understand that Kodai was actually beyond that and realizing something else entirely.

Either Sanada is so cold-blooded he borders on being a robot (which even Kodai has already realized he isn’t) or his degree of calm signifies something else. It is this realization that Kodai now voices – that Sanada’s extreme calm stems from the fact he was already anticipating having to step into Okita’s role. In other words, the XO knows more about the captain’s condition than he lets on.

Kodai is not convinced and says it’s too soon to assume the enemy has gone. When Niimi asks him to back his claim he says it’s just a gut feeling. With a smile, Niimi says that runs in the family, much to Kodai’s confusion. Still, Niimi seems to agree and proposes modifying the warp engine’s subsystems into a hyperspace transducer. Using the data collected in the subspace fault to set its parameters, they should be able to fire a sonar ping across the boundary layer.

[LC]: This is just the first of several lines where Niimi compares or comments on Kodai relative to someone else. His name is never spoken in the episode, but that person is Mamoru. There have been a couple of instances in early episodes that hinted at some deeper relation between Sanada and Mamoru, which we know of from the original, having been friends since their academy years. Now Niimi is also thrown into the mix, and these lines are just glimpses at what’s to come. Of course, Kodai is oblivious to this backstory and doesn’t fully understand what she’s talking about.

Aihara seems to concur that this “dimensional active sonar” should be able to show if the enemy is still hiding or not. But Kodai points out a flaw; if the enemy is still around, using it will reveal their position. Niimi scolds Kodai that he shouldn’t let fear paralyze him. Kodai suggests an alternative, using the Seagull to patrol for hostiles with the new hyperspace sonar buoys which function on the same principle – and should allow them to find any hidden enemies.

[LC]: More amazing than Sanada’s skills is the capacity of Yamato’s crew to develop groundbreaking technology merely a couple of weeks after finding the very phenomenon that inspired said technology.

Niimi dismisses the plan, since sending the Seagull out into all that space dust would be suicide. Kodai defends his plan, stating that it would allow them to find the enemy without revealing Yamato’s position. When Niimi asks who he would order to undertake such a dangerous mission, Kodai says he’ll do it himself.

Sanada will not allow it. He believes Niimi’s plan is more realistic for obtaining a mere confirmation. Kodai attempts to defend his plan but Sanada orders Niimi to set up the pinger. Kodai remains silent. Doctor Sado calls the CIC and to everyone’s relief he announces the operation is over – and was a success.

[DG]: We know that Sanada is doing it so as not to risk Kodai’s life unnecessarily, but it amazes me that as the XO he risks exposing the entire crew, the entire ship, the entire mission, and by extension the future of humanity on one life. That said, Sanada’s point is taken to an extent; with the Seagull, it could be like looking for a needle in a haystack. I wouldn’t consider it an acceptable risk. Realistically, losing Kodai might be a hit to morale, but wouldn’t be the end of the mission. Nanbu could easily take over the role. Of course, we have to defer to plot dramatics here.

[LC]: In this scene, Sanada’s concern is not really that clear. I think it’s obvious to us now because we’ve seen the episode, and the final scene brings his true feeling to light.

Sensing Kodai’s tension, Tokugawa suggests Sanada should send someone to check on the captain. Sanada picks up on Tokugawa’s thought and looks at Kodai, smiling. Shima urges his friend to go and leave the bridge to them, giving him a thumbs up.

[LC]: Reversing his usual stone face, Sanada looks visibly relieved at the good news, and much more in tune with Kodai’s concern for the captain than most. Sometimes a single look speaks volumes. And it’s nice to see that everyone on the CIC immediately concurs that Kodai is the right choice to check on the captain.

Kodai enters the now-empty medical section. He sees the captain in the tank, still unconscious. He recalls what Okita told him about having the courage to disobey an order he believes is wrong, and remaining true to himself. Kodai takes a long look at the captain. Sado comes in and is happy that Kodai came to see Okita. Kodai asks him to take good care of Okita and leaves with an air of determination. Sado hopes he won’t do anything stupid.

[LC]: Come on, Doc. You know he will… XD

Kitano arrives at the CIC to take over Nanbu’s console, since he has taken Kodai’s place. Nanbu chastises him for being late. Meanwhile, Niimi, Aihara and Analyzer complete the pinger’s programming and charge it up. Sanada orders them to activate the system. A section of Yamato’s bow slides open with the sonar paddles extending out.

[LC]: After his first appearance in Episode 7, we get not only to see Kitano again but finally confirm that it’s actually him.

Meanwhile, in hangar 3, Toyama and Iwata are instructed by Kodai to load the sonar buoy launch pod to the Seagull. He wants to leave as soon as it’s loaded. Much to his surprise, the baffled deckhands tell him that the pod was already loaded. Chief Enomoto’s booming voice tells him he likes to be one step ahead, something he taught Kodai in the academy.

[LC]: The manga version of this episode diverts greatly from this point. As I mentioned earlier, instead of Toyama and Iwata, Enomoto ran into Akira and recruited her. He then finds Kodai coming out of the medical section and takes him down to the hangar. So, without the benefit of dialogue translation, it looks like the Chief is the actual instigator of Kodai’s actions.

Also, instead of using the Cosmo Seagull, Kodai and Akira fly off in the Type-100. This bit actually makes some sense. Considering the already-mentioned danger of flying through this debris cloud, the Type-100 is smaller than the Seagull, making it a more sensible choice.

He orders Iwata and Toyama to prep for launch, but they say the authorization hasn’t been issued yet. While Kodai is thinking about how to bypass that particular problem, the chief – in an obvious lie – tells his men that he’s already taken care of it. Exchanging a complicit grin with Kodai, he order the two to accompany him in the Seagull and provide assistance.

It’s a nice touch that Chief Enomoto not only predicts Kodai’s move but sets everything in place to back him up, regardless of personal safety or possible disciplinary actions.

In the CIC preparations are completed and the sonar is fired. The wave travels across space and hyperspace, hitting the UX-01’s hull with an unmistakable ping. Hainy is beside himself that the enemy fell for their decoy and believed them gone.

Frakken confirms that Kiel managed to trace the ping and Hainy becomes giddy with anticipation. Finally, Frakken gives the order to rise to dimensional periscope depth and his XO is quick to dispatch commands to the rest of the crew. The UX-01 rises to the boundary layer… the hunt has begun.

[DG]: “Let the hunt begin” is a very simple line, but voice actor Jouji Nakata just effortlessly oozes presence and really adds feeling to lines like this one.

Yuki receives the echo of the sonar ping, confirming their worst fears. They’ve been tricked, and now the enemy knows their position. Sanada orders the main engine to start for immediate launch. Niimi is stunned. The rocket anchor is retracted and Yamato blasts away from its refuge.

[LC]: It’s hard for me not to feel sorry for Niimi in this scene. She may be a brilliant scientist, but her lack of tactical sense is what did her in. Maybe next time she’ll take Kodai’s gut feeling more seriously.

UX-01’s probe resurfaces and Frakken spots Yamato, ordering the torpedoes to be loaded.

[LC]: The launch tube opening to fire torpedoes is all hand-drawn. A nice bit of detailing, aside from the intricate detail, is the paint scraping on the launch tube covers. Even in a brand new ship, a certain degree of scraping would occur in that area, something Mr. Ishizu made a point of having. It’s detail like this that makes the series such a mecha-fest.

As Yamato moves on, the gates of hangar 3 open wide. Yuki is alerted to this and warns Sanada. As the Seagull is lowered to launch position, Aihara calls in, warns the occupants they’re weren’t authorized to launch, and asks who’s aboard. Toyama and Iwata can’t believe their ears, but it’s already too late as Kodai releases the craft and blasts off. Iwata asks if they’re really disobeying orders, but Enomoto tells him to stop whining and do his job.

[DG]: Interesting that the Seagull’s main engines don’t emit any noticeable exhaust, unlike the verniers.

[LC]: This is the third time someone takes a support craft out without authorization. Sure, this time the guy that basically runs the hangars has a hand in it. But still, it’s a terrible track record, especially considering that in 2199, Yamato has a de facto security section. If Ito didn’t spend so much time sneaking around…

The torpedoes are loaded and programmed, and Frakken orders them to be fired. As the Gesch Vual engines shut down, the torpedoes emerge into normal space relatively close to Yamato. Yuki spots them approaching rapidly, much to Niimi’s dismay. Sanada orders Shima to take evasive action.

[LC]: The UX-01’s main armaments are its subspace torpedoes. Because they must cross the dimensional boundary layer after launch, they use a miniaturized Gesch Vual engine as a propulsion turbine. Once they reach the designated coordinates, the Gesch Vual engine shuts down and a standard propulsion unit is ignited. It’s only at this point, when it’s already bearing down on its target, that the torpedo becomes detectable by conventional means. Most times, all the targeted vessel can do is hold on and wait for the hit. The appearance (and ignition) of the subspace torpedo in normal space was the idea of Mr.Shinji Higuchi, who drew the storyboard for Episode 13.

Shima manages to steer clear of the first one, which impacts a small asteroid. But though he manages to barely dodge the second, a nasty surprise awaits. A proximity fuse detonates the torpedo, showering Yamato’s hull with shrapnel. The ensuing explosion takes out several crew members.

[DG]: Originally, I was completely unsure as to how shrapnel from the second torpedo could have penetrated the hull. It’s possible that it’s a proximity warhead that explodes before impact (many torpedoes and missiles are), but nothing in the scene seemed to add up. The torpedo detonates well past the stern of the ship, yet debris only strikes an area above the port ventral fin and just forward and above it. There’s no sign of any damage further astern, which, combined with the fact that the ship is still traveling in the opposite direction (it was strafing rather than yawing), doesn’t make sense.

I had considered it being a multi-warhead weapon, but the ballistics still don’t make sense.

Consulting Volume 2 of Yamato 2199 Complete Works, I found an image on the bottom of page 326 showing a port-side view of Yamato with the damage from both this torpedo and the one that hits at the end of Episode 12. Three lines of text read:

次元魚雷 の 近接 爆発によるダメージ

The first line reads, “Damage due to the proximity of the detonation of the dimensional torpedo.” The second reads something along the lines of “they manage to dodge it, but get caught in the explosive blast.” The last line reads, “the damage caused by rock.”

After translating the text, I got to thinking about it potentially striking a small asteroid, or even just blasting and heating small rocks in the area with the explosion sending them toward the ship. This episode has already been noted for its poor animation quality elsewhere, and that could explain missing something, like an asteroid it was supposed to hit. Not that this would ever happen…

Upon closer inspection through screen shots, we see pieces of metallic shrapnel penetrate the hull at least seven times, maybe more off-screen. These aren’t intentionally-fired mini-warheads or fragmentation warheads, since the torpedo explodes well past the ship’s stern, and any warheads would be dispersed forward, or 90 degrees at worst. The pieces hitting are of different sizes and shapes as well, which supports it being debris from the torpedo.

This raises the question of how the shrapnel penetrated the armor. Either the armor was previously compromised, or the shrapnel was hot enough and/or dense enough to penetrate it.

[LC]: In this particular scene, the manga shows Nanbu react to the hit and mention a “Proximity Fuse.” Though it narrowly missed the target, the torpedo passed close enough for that to be triggered.

The Seagull flies through the debris field, avoiding damage. Enomoto is impressed with Kodai’s improvement, to which Kodai replies he had a good teacher. As he thanks his former pupil for the compliment, Enomoto spots the smoke plume coming out of Yamato.

[LC]: For all the drama in the earlier scene, where Niimi mentioned the dangers of flying a Seagull through such a dense debris field (going as far as calling it suicidal) Kodai doesn’t seem to have much of a problem flying. Sure, he swerves a few times to circle around some rocks, but unless he’s a super-ace gifted with New-Type powers, this looks like something any pilot on Yamato could handle.

The ship has suffered serious damage. Sanada orders deck 10 to be sealed and damage control teams to deploy. Nanbu comments on how the sonar ping came back to bite them, making Niimi feel even worse. Kodai calls in, announcing that he’ll begin releasing the sonar buoys and relaying their data back to the ship. This causes Niimi to snap out of her self loathing and angrily ask what he thinks he’s doing. Enomoto jokingly says she’s scary.

[DG]:Another example of substandard animation. Neither Kodai nor Enomoto’s rendering looks particularly crisp here. Enomoto looks like he has a massive overbite all of a sudden.

The Seagull begins seeding the sonar buoys in the debris field. Once deployed, they start pinging the area.

[LC]: Back when Yamato 2199 began teasing fans and the first designs started popping up on the web, the Type-100’s design drafts showed some features that never appeared on the series. One of them was the pods located over the engine intakes, which could rise and rotate in any direction, allowing the training of any specialized equipment fitted into them, from sensors to weaponry.

Michio Murakawa made use of this feature as the sonar buoy launcher. Much like the Seagull had a special buoy deployment pod attached to it, the Type-100 had launch units fitted to its pods. These are much more compact that the ones on the Seagull, but function on the same principle. A nice way to use something that was there from the start.

In the UX-01, Frakken examines the relatively small damage his torpedoes caused, realizing his prey is tougher than he thought. He orders two more torpedoes to fire.

Kodai informs the CIC he’ll send the torpedoes’ estimated appearance points to them as soon as they are pinged. Niimi tries to have words with Kodai but Sanada cuts her off, ordering Nanbu to prepare to intercept the torpedoes. While Niimi lowers her head in defeat, Sanada smiles in admiration of Kodai’s daring.

[DG]: Kaoru at this point really should be accepting her mistake, shutting up, and leaving Kodai to at least try his plan out. She’s really not in a position to argue any more. That said, could she be saying it more out of concern for Mamoru’s brother as well?

Yamato’s weapons are readied for the next volley. Soon, one of the buoys gets a signal and Toyama relays the information. Two torpedoes are about to surface and Kodai relays the data to Yamato.

With ample warning, Nanbu fires torpedoes to intercept the enemy’s just as they surface from the boundary layer. One is destroyed but the other continues its advance. The pulse lasers open fire and hit it, making it swerve violently and miss the ship before it explodes from the damage.

[DG]: The damaged torpedo explodes closer to Yamato than the one that rendered damage, but it looks in this case like the warhead remained inert – evidence that the other torpedo’s warhead was triggered despite not hitting its target.

[LC]: According to Yutaka Izubuchi, this is the first time the camera is placed behind the pulse lasers. It does indeed look quite spectacularly unique.

Frakken witnesses all this through the periscope. He wonders how they managed to anticipate their firing angle. Just then, Hainy hears the all-too-familiar pinging sound. While Hainy admires the enemy’s tenacity, Frakken reassures the crew that even if the enemy can see them, they can’t touch the UX-01 from the other side of the dimensional boundary.

Frakken tries to find the source of the ping and eventually spots one of the buoys, realizing the enemy’s ploy. Meanwhile, Iwata has picked up a new signal, something emerging from the boundary layer. He gives Kodai its heading and the Seagull rushes in to investigate.

Using the field binoculars, Enomoto finally spots the UX-01’s periscope, just as Frakken also spots the Seagull. Again, coordinates are sent to Yamato. Kodai informs them of the nature of this new target – once hit, the enemy will be blind. Niimi lets a smile escape as she comments on Kodai’s recklessness.

[DG]: Good old-fashioned anti-submarine warfare in space. Somewhat reminiscent of the S-3 Viking and numerous naval helicopter types. Meanwhile, Frakken vents his frustration at the small craft, being unable to do anything to deter it.

[LC]: Niimi makes her second comment about Mamoru here, this time mentioning how Kodai is as reckless as his older brother; more evidence that she knew him quite well.

Turret number 3 locks onto the target coordinates and Nanbu opens fire. Frakken sees the energy stream approach, and then… static. The probe is destroyed. Frakken is not pleased.

[LC]: When I saw this shot of the shock cannon hitting an asteroid, I couldn’t help but hope they would somehow use the asteroid ring defense. But alas, it was not to be. Also, the camera angle on the probe about to be hit provides a unique look at the twisting shock cannon beams. I hope I’m not alone in this, but I can’t help thinking, “Hey, Frakken just spotted the Comet Empire!” XD

The Seagull returns to Yamato and Sanada orders the ship to leave the area at top speed. Once they clear the debris field, they’ll warp to lose the enemy.

As Yamato moves out of the system, the UX-01 finally surfaces amidst an eerie red glow. Mezze reports zero contacts on radar. Hainy realizes the enemy has jumped, and asks Frakken what they’ll do. Frakken says they’ll let them go for now. Hainy is unsure, but the captain reassures says a good hound never chase his prey too far. He smiles in anticipation.

Aboard Yamato, Okita regains consciousness. Tokugawa and Kodai are by his side. He asks if Yamato is all right and Tokugawa says that they somehow made it through thanks to “the young ones,” especially Kodai.

Sado points out that the young officer went a bit too far, but Sanada arranged it so that he won’t be disciplined, explaining that although he might look serious and somewhat cold, the XO is not a such a bad guy. Kodai and Tokugawa exchange a look of agreement. Okita seems to understand what happened and looks at the visibly happy Kodai.

[LC]: The lax disciplinary action notwithstanding, is this really fair? Yamamoto took a plane and got 6 days in the brig. Kodai takes a plane and gets a temporary flight status suspension. Not fair. What?! It was her second strike and she lost the plane? Oh, OK then. Carry on…

In the captain’s lounge, Niimi confronts Sanada. She realized that the only reason he went ahead with her plan was so that Kodai wouldn’t risk his life. But in the end, Kodai did what he thought was right and ended up saving them. Sanada asks Niimi what she believe “he” would’ve done. Amused, Niimi says probably the exact same thing. Sanada agrees and the two share a moment of silence.

[DG]: Kaoru’s words here, that Kodai believed what he was doing was right and acted on that, link back to Okita’s words about doing the right thing when the circumstances demand it. Kaoru seems to see more and more of Mamoru in his little brother as time passes.

[LC]: When I first saw this episode, I thought Sanada’s line “What do you think HE would have done?” was about Okita, though I did think that Sanada using “him” in reference to the captain seemed a bit out of character. Then, with repeated viewings, it dawned on me that it was actually about Mamoru.

Niimi’s previously-hinted familiarity with Susumu’s (presumably) deceased older brother is thus clearly shown. As always, 2199 plays a long game and starts planting seeds for future plot development. As always, it does so beautifully. Long time fans will almost immediately pick up on what’s going on, but not fully due to the new elements (in this case, Niimi). New viewers will thus be lead the long way round to the thread’s end.

All this backstage development aside, the biggest payoff here is what Daniel mentioned back in the CIC scene; Niimi’s realization that Sanada chose her plan not because he believed it to be the best course of action, but because he wasn’t willing to risk his best friend’s brother’s life. And Sanada’s smile, when he realizes Susumu is truly cut from the same cloth as Mamoru, is just heartwarming.


A siren’s song lures ships to their doom. Snow falls in the emptiness of the void, where a shadow of evil prowls. Yamato is shipwrecked. And inside, no one is to be found. What will Kodai and the others see there?

Next time: The Whisper of the Witch.

There are 310 days left before humanity becomes extinct.


Official website of Yamato 2199
Yamato Crew website
Chapter 4 Trailer

Episode 13 credits

Screenplay: Shigeru Morita
Storyboard: Shinji Higuchi, Yutaka Izubuchi, Kazuyoshi Katayama
Director: Yasuhiro Minami
Chara Animation Director: Eiji Hirayama, Hiroki Takagi, Nobuteru Yuuki
Mecha Chief Animation Director: Masanori Nishii

Series credits

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

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

6 thoughts on “Yamato 2199 Episode 13 Commentary

  1. I like it how politely you transcribed the name of Frakken’s officer, “Hainy”. Actually, it sounds to my German ears like he was called “Heini”, of quite the same pronunciation. In this spelling, however, his name is derived from the once widespread German first name (and surname), Heinrich. In contemporary German it means “jerk”.

  2. Possible explanation of the torpedo fragments damage to “Yamato”: the torpedo might actually use “smart” warhead, which not just produce a cloud of fragments, but threw most of them in narrow cone toward the enemy. Such solutions are at least considered for several types of fragmentation weaponry now.

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