by Luis Cotovio and Daniel George
Episode 14: The Whisper of the Witch
(Japanese Name: 魔女はささやく / Majo wa Sasayaku)
Director: Makoto Bessho
Running time: 25m 29s (21m 00s without credits)
- (Cinema/Home Video): Uchuu Senkan Yamato by Isao Sasaki
- (TV): Uchuu Senkan Yamato by Project 2199
- (Cinema/Home Video): Light of Memories by KOKIA
- (TV): Best of My Love by Rei Yasuda
[DG]: Going by the day count from the episode preview, this episode starts with 310 days left to complete the mission. That sets it a week after Episode 13, making it April 7, 2199.
[LC]: This episode’s overall premise is completely new, though it adapts parts of the original’s Episode 13 within Kodai’s dream sequences. Mirenel’s incursion, though only in spirit, draws from a discarded concept in the original 39 episode outline for Yamato, particularly the incursion of Gamilas female assassin, Iroze. The plot thread was discarded when the series run was trimmed down to 26 episodes, but it was still adapted in the manga by Akira Hiro and has strong similarities to Leiji Matsumoto’s spinoff story Eternal Story of Jura.
The eerie silence of Yamato’s “haunted corridor,” the large orange hatch looming overhead. Yuria Misaki stands there, motionless, looking at it as if it’s calling out to her…
[DG]: We start with an interesting camera pan, not one I recall seeing in any Yamato production before this episode, closing in on the bulge where the automatic navigation system is situated. Looking at designs in the Earth book, you can get a real feel for the layout of the ship. Just afore is the Wave-Motion Gun, from which the pathway forks back around the Automatic Navigation Room, which is semi-recessed into the ceiling.
It looks as if Misaki is returning from the Wave-Motion Gun room. Since she’s carrying a tablet, it’s safe to assume that she’s performing appointed rounds for inventory/maintenance requests, or perhaps performing an inventory audit. In any case, it gives her reasonable grounds to be around the area. This was something I missed in an earlier episode; why she would be here in the first place if not being drawn there by Yurisha. In that earlier case though, warp preparations were underway and you wouldn’t she’d be moving around the ship at that point.
A light-purple Haizerad-class dreadnought cruises toward a warp gate. On the bridge is Celestella and her young ward, Mirenel Linke. They discuss how fortunate they were that the UX-01 was deployed by Domel. Celestella says that if “the hound’s net snares its prey,” they’ll take action at the Akerius Ruins found on Balun.
[LC]: The Haizerad-class dreadnought was one of first ships displayed in early promotional materials for 2199, and the first new design. Looking like a souped-up Gaiderol-class dreadnought, it makes its first appearance here in a color variant belonging to Celestella. In production materials, the vessel is named Shangri-La, the fictional paradise city from James Hilton’s 1933 novel, Lost Horizon. (Who knows how a Garmillas ship comes to have that particular name, unless it’s a cipher for illustrative purposes only.) Curiously, it’s the only episode where the Shangri-La appears. Other Haizerad-class dreadnoughts will come into the fold in the following episodes, mainly Gimleh’s blue colored Killmenheim and the standard green one used later by Admiral Dietz.
[DG]: This Geschtam gate looks to be in deep space, since we see no objects in the area other than the gate and the ship. Not that this precludes it from being inside the Salazar system, but since most science-fiction theories about hyperspace travel (including Yamato 2199, as we will see in the next episode) imply that large-scale gravitational forces – from celestial bodies such as stars and planets – can impact warping, it would be safe to imply that the gate was constructed outside any star system. The ship would have used their internal Geschtam drives to warp from inside the Salazar system to the gate’s vicinity.
It took me a few listens to confirm the initiator of the conversation was Mirenel, not Celestella. This dialogue also represents the first mention in the 2199 universe of the Akerius civilization.
[LC]: That line made all fans stand to attention. The mention of Akerius (likely the Garmillan pronunciation of Aquarius) is not something any fan would expect this early in the saga, even with all the pre-emptiveness that permeates 2199. But it actually makes sense. Aquarius was depicted as a seeder of life (and, on occasion, death) across the galaxy, though in Final Yamato it did so only through its watery influence.
But as it’s hinted in Ark of the Stars, the Akerian race was once a major player in our galaxy. So, given the new rationale for long distance space travel presented here via the warp gates, it’s only natural that such a civilization would be behind them. Sure, the writers could have thrown some other ancient civilization into the mix, but why would they when something was already established in the original? Not only are they treating fans to glimpses of what might come, they’re making good use of pre-established mythology in a refreshing way.
Submerged in subspace, the UX-01 prepares for launch. As the countdown draws to a close and the order is given, Frakken watches through the periscope as a burst of energy breaks through to normal space.
[LC]: In the manga adaptation, this episode takes place before Episode 13, with Domel’s arrival at Balun and Frakken’s battle with Yamato occurring after these events. As such, Frakken doesn’t deploy these “devices.” When Celestella arrives at Balun, she receives a report from Goer – who is still in command of the base – that a number of devices has been deployed as per her instructions. But where here we don’t see the devices or even know what their purpose is, in the manga’s chapter 29 we see one of them and are given a brief explanation of their function.
A rather annoyed Hainy reports all devices have been deployed and wonders what they are. Frakken says he doesn’t know. Hainy complains that this is a crew of warriors, not cargo haulers, garnering some amused looks.
[LC]: Design wise, the device itself is an updated version of the relay satellite used by Domel in the original Episode 19 to allow Yamato to contact Earth and to attempt to break their morale by knowing how bad things are back home. This effect is shown to us through Aihara, who goes through a veritable psychological breakdown.
Here, several of these are deployed in key positions along Yamato’s predicted course, as a means of extending and amplifying the signal being emitted by Mirenel from the Balun ruins. The episode does allude to Yamato being “snared” in a web of sorts, but doesn’t go beyond that in its explanation.
Frakken tells Hainy not to get so upset; their next mission comes directly from Lord Dessler himself. Hainy asks if they’re abandoning pursuit of Yamato and Domel’s command. Frakken confirms it and says that the “Vixen” will deal with Yamato personally.
[LC]: This line by Frakken is one hell of a hint at what will transpire in a few episodes.
[DG]: The “next mission” Frakken mentions here had me scratching my head for awhile. We won’t see it until Episode 18, but in retrospect this little quote is a very nice setup.
The Shangri-La descends on Balun, passing the space port and descending to the lower levels of the base as Domel watches from the control room.
[LC]: Although they call this site “ruins”, it seems to be an active Geschtam core. We will learn more about these in coming episodes, but they’re basically a mix of power source and control node for each gate. Unlike the others, which we see free floating in the gate’s vicinity, this one sits on top of a rock spire which floats in the middle of the Balun Headquarter’s lower “shelf”, secured by the same cables we see throughout the entire base. Click the image above right to view the production designs for the ruins.
As we learn later, the actual power source for the Balun gate system, and quite likely for the entire base, is not this structure, which makes this particular core unit unique. Because of the extra power output required for the hub and the base, Balun’s core must serve as the powerhouse with this facility acting only as a regulation valve and control system for the hub.
Celestella and Mirenel enter the ruins and reach a room filled with ancient but still-functioning equipment. Celestella’s officers man the controls as the pair sees a strange-looking chair in the center of the room.
[DG]: The two Imperial Guards escorting Mirenel and Celestella are wearing headgear that looks slightly augmented over what we normally see.
I really don’t get the point of the huge gap in the chest of Mirenel’s uniform. Utility-wise, it serves no purpose, and it really doesn’t make any sense from a fanservice perspective either. It just looks plain weird.
Kodai and Yuki are patrolling ahead of Yamato aboard a Type-100 recon plane. Yuki reports there are no signals across the dimensional boundary layer. They look at the Milky Way Galaxy behind them and the Large Magellanic Cloud ahead, thinking of the long journey they still have ahead of them.
[LC]: Sending the Type 100 to scout ahead is not a new procedure, as we’ve seen back in Episode 9. But after their encounter with Frakken, they’re taking extra steps like probing into the dimensional boundary layer.
The display shows the previously identified waveform detected when they encountered UX-01, which is a nice continuity detail. On the downside, another bit of “engrish” crept up into the graphics, having the word “range” misspelled as “ramge.”
[DG]: I really like the setting here; on one hand you see the edge of our galaxy and realize how far they’ve come. Then, as the camera pans on the Large Magellanic Cloud in the distance, you see how far they still have to go. This was a view Leiji Matsumoto described in some of his early development notes for the original series, but they didn’t get visualized until the final episode.
While the Earth design book shows that the small pods inboard of the vertical stabilizers have some sort of telescoping, trainable sensor and some slots where sonobuoys could be dispensed, we don’t actually see the Type 100 deploy these on-screen (Luis covered the manga’s usage in the previous episode). There is also a round protrusion on the underside of the plane. This is likely some sort of sensor package. Unfortunately, my Japanese is bad at the best of times, and the labels in the Earth book are handwritten, which makes many of the kanji hard to decipher. This is something I’ll hopefully get to in a later revision of the commentaries.
[LC]: This is a beautiful scene with stunning backgrounds. The problem is consistency. Having these beautiful space-scapes in one scene for dramatic effect only to have a standard background in the next, though not uncommon here or in other shows, is something that I never understood. Sure, the camera won’t always be pointing toward the Milky Way, but it should be there when it’s supposed to be.
Yuki asks Kodai to let her pilot a bit, but he refuses. She insists, since they have finished their patrol and she sees no harm in it. With a slightly condescending tone, Kodai responds they don’t have many ships like this and can’t afford to lose one, prompting Yuki to ask what he means by that.
[DG]: Going by official source materials, they have two Type-100s (one in each side hangar). We will verify this in future episodes.
[LC]: You’ll notice the image above right and a couple of others posted here show Kodai and Yuki in exactly the same position, possibly to reduce the art demands. Yet, they did a fine job of making each shot quite unique simply with the expressions, particularly in the eyes. Quite a nice job.
As their bickering continues, they’re blissfully unaware they left the comms channel open and the whole affair is being heard loud and clear on the bridge, to Nabu’s chagrin and the amusement of others. They listen as Yuki tries to use her authority as Operations Officer to order Kodai to give her the controls but he refuses, as Tactical Officer. She reminds him his authority’s been suspended as punishment for his prior actions. Kodai isn’t happy that she brought that up.
[LC]: This is the first time we see Sanada in command on the main bridge, and what we see here is his usual command station. He doesn’t take the captain’s chair. No, he stands right there, and will do so whenever Okita is down for the count and he is forced to exercise his duty as the ship’s XO. Curiously, in Ark of the Stars, Kodai does pretty much the same during his short tenure in command.
Eventually, Sanada prods Aihara to end the fun, and he warns the oblivious couple that they’ve been overheard. Kodai and Yuki’s embarrassment blows the scale.
[DG]: I loved not only the exchange here between Kodai and Yuki, but also the various exchanges of the bridge crew while listening in. Miki’s inquisitiveness, Sanada’s stoicism, Kaoru’s “it’s logical and don’t you read anything else out of it,” Nanbu’s frustration/denial, and Shima’s outright amusement show what a motley crew we have aboard. Nice to see them light-hearted, since this is just about all we’ll hear from any of them until the next episode.
While the crew exchanges grins over the silly situation, Saijo asks Sanada why he chose Yuki and Kodai for that assignment. Niimi answers for him, saying Yuki’s expertise made her ideal for the test of the prototype hyperspace sonar. As for Kodai, it was a matter of him having nothing else to do, due to his temporary suspension of authority.
[LC]: Shima and Kitano are having waaaaaaaay too much fun with this situation. XD
As Shima smiles at all this, a strange glow comes through the bridge windows, catching everyone’s attention. As Shima gets up, Saijo sees snow flakes that, to the surprise of the whole crew, start falling outside.
Aboard the Type-100, Kodai and Yuki hear Aihara asking what’s going on and who is singing… then, only silence. Kodai attempts to regain contact but he gets no response. Before he can react, Yuki bypasses the controls to her console and turns the ship around, speeding toward Yamato. The sight that welcomes them is, at best, a strange one. Yamato is tumbling in place, like a spoke on an invisible wheel.
[LC]: Funny that despite Kodai’s reluctance to pass the stick to Yuki, here we see she’s actually a pretty good pilot.
[DG]: The first time I saw this episode, I wondered what the purpose would be of putting Yamato into a slow somersaulting spin. Is it to create some sort of disorientation among the crew and/or the ship’s computer systems, to somehow enhance the effect of the “snow”? I would have thought that if Mirenel’s taking over of the ship simply meant shutting down all systems but life support, it would simply be drifting. Is it perhaps a side-effect of some sort of electromagnetic field generated by the Jirellian “snow”?
[LC]: This particular scene of Yamato tumbling in space seems to be an homage to the movie 2010: The Year We Make Contact, directed by Peter Hyams, where the abandoned starship Discovery is found by the crew of the Leonov in a similar state, stuck in a LaGrange point between Jupiter and Io, tumbling end over end. But we see no such gravitational influences here. Click here for a side by side comparison of those shots.
Yuki attempts to access the hangar remotely but she’s locked out. Kodai retakes the controls and moves in closer, matching the Type-100’s motion to the ship’s tumble with SID’s assistance.
[DG]: Meanwhile, I really like the level of detail they went into with the technical accuracy of the Type 100’s engine cutting out, followed by its fine maneuvering to bring it parallel with Yamato’s attitude and then to keep it synchronized with her roll rate. In the original series this would have been done without any noticeable explanation.
[LC]: These seem to be some sort of magnetic attachment devices. The Type 100 sure is one versatile little plane.
They fly the Type-100 close to the main bridge and attach it to one of the superstructure’s wings. Kodai says they’ll use the emergency airlock to access the ship. With the help of a mooring cable they walk across the vane. Once under the bridge, Kodai activates the airlock and goes in.
[LC]: The loud sound of Kodai and Yuki breathing in their helmets as they proceed along the wing has been compared to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, using a similar sound as the movie’s EVA scenes.
This scene, after Kodai enters the airlock, made me believe that a) there was an animation/editing error or someone lost their bearings, or b) Yamato’s safety features are seriously lacking. Let’s follow the scene to explain what I mean.
The Type 100 was attached upside down on the superstructure’s wing. Kodai and Yuki walk along the wing’s lower face and access a hatch on the lower side of the bridge. Kodai comes in through the airlock’s floor, even though the camera angle makes it seem like he’s dropping down from the ceiling. You will notice that the space suit stowed on the right side of the frame (below left) is upside-down.
[LC]: The error occurs when they have Kodai head for the door while he’s on the ceiling, and then being upright as he enters the bridge. Also, the way the scene is cut, it seems as if Kodai opens the inner door while Yuki is still coming in through the outer hatch. This would have exposed the bridge to hard vacuum. Given the safety mechanisms of airlocks, this would be impossible.
The way the scene is cut makes it look like Kodai transitioned from ceiling to floor while killing everyone on the bridge. Fortunately, it was empty. The real sequence of events should be as follows: he comes in, straightens himself up while Yuki comes in, they lock the outer hatch, balance the airlock and open the inner door. If you look at it, the whole sequence is probably meant to start scrambling your brains, with the loud breathing, the camera switching up from down, all to prime you for the acid trip that follows. (Or they just left some scenes out for brevity.)
The bridge is deserted and all systems seem to be down. Even Analyzer, still docked to his station, is unresponsive. Kodai states that only the inertial control seems to be functioning. Suddenly the consoles light up and the attitude thrusters are fired, stopping the ship’s tumbling motion before the main engine thrusts the ship forward – toward an unknown destination.
[LC]: In the manga, Analyzer is operational, which makes sense. Being a machine, I doubt Mirenel would be capable of exerting her influence over him/it. For the sake of convenience, let’s just say that some crew member under her influence pulled his plug. In the manga, while Kodai and Yuki proceed to the automatic navigation room, Analyzer goes to the main lab and attempts to interface with the garmilloid stored there (which has not yet been named Alter in the manga) to try and break the firewall locking them out of the system.
Main computer confirms the course correction and though Kodai tries to access it, he is unable to. He wonders where they might be going while Yuki notes that if the ship is moving, the navigational systems have to be working. Kodai says the only places where they can access it are the main computer room and… they both glance at the ship’s glowing astrocompass and in unison say: “the automatic navigation room.”
[LC]: There are several unusual shots in this scene. They place the camera extremely close to the control consoles, making their switches and dials seem disproportionately big, while Kodai and Yuki are kept in the background, like tiny beings among giants. Maybe a subliminal way of showing us the enormous task they have before them – or that they are diminished by the ship’s foreboding presence.
Yuria Misaki stands in the center of the auto-nav room, staring at a capsule stored there. We hear Kodai’s voice wondering what is going on as Misaki removes her hair clips and drops them to the floor.
[DG]: Back when I first saw this episode, I was wondering if maybe Yuria’s hair clips, which have an unusual pattern on them, were some kind of mind-blocking device, given that we knew already from the character profiles that she had some ability to speak to ghosts and the like, and maybe they prevented her body from being possessed. In the end it’s really Yurisha’s preference, and a visual reference for viewers to differentiate between when it’s Misaki and when it’s Yurisha in control of her. As this will continue for several episodes, I will be referring to Yurisha in Misaki’s body from now on as Yuri(sh)a for brevity.
[LC]: I wonder whether Yuria was ever taken by Mirenel’s spell and that allowed Yurisha to finally take over, or if this happened even without Mirenel’s handiwork. Also, that’s one weird place to start your shot, right between the poor girl’s legs (I will disregard the obvious anatomical exaggeration). Really, Chapter 4 was the worst in terms of fan service. Fortunately, it settled down for the remainder of the series.
Yuki tries to open the elevator doors but nothing works. Even the emergency stairs are somehow locked. Kodai gets his gun ready and holsters it. As he moves to join Yuki, a shadows runs quickly behind him. Sensing it, Kodai turns his gaze toward the bridge windows.
[LC]: For obvious reasons, the episode focuses on Kodai and Yuki figuring out what happened and fighting Mirenel’s influence to save the ship. But free from the restrictions of time imposed by the anime format, mangaka Michio Murakawa was given free reign to explore other characters’ backgrounds through this dream world. For an in-depth analysis of this episode’s manga adaptation, click here.
Beyond them, in the blackness of space something seems to sparkle into view. Soon, it turns into the eerie glow of an approaching planet bomb. Kodai stares in disbelief as the bomb is about to crash into them.
[LC]: This particular episode seems to have drawn heavy inspiration from Neon Genesis Evangelion. From these fisheye-lens close-ups to the trippy tone of the story, many scenes just ooze with that Eva feel. As previously discussed in these commentaries, 2199 has a well-known connection to Eva‘s creator, director and Yamato uber fan, Hideaki Anno.
Kodai closes his eyes, bracing for the inevitable. Nothing happens, aside from Yuki asking him what’s wrong. Kodai stares at the door in front of him and turns around, facing the empty bridge. Though shaken, he apologizes and tells Yuki everything’s all right.
He forces the elevator door open and they descend through the service ladder on the elevator shaft’s wall, reaching the top of the elevator car. Kodai stops, but in her rush Yuki steps onto his head, apologizing for her clumsy move. Kodai smiles and tell her not to worry about it.
[LC]: This bit of fan service was censored for the TV broadcast. The scene remained, but some of the more anatomically overcorrect lines were deleted. See a side by side comparison by clicking the image above right.
They reach the main elevator hall at level 0. Yuki wonders if they should split up, so that each can go for one of the two access points. Kodai thinks it’s too risky, given the situation. Yuki agrees and they proceed across the hall. But then, the shadow runs across the corridor behind her.
Kodai moves along the wall as Yuki turns around, sensing movement from behind. We see a red glow bathe her as the wall behind her turns into a movie screen with an old style movie countdown, spoken aloud and in Garmillan by Mirenel. As the count reaches Zero… Kodai turns around and Yuki is gone.
[LC]: This pinkish/red glow is a visual cue for when Mirenel works her charm, either in this eerie hall lighting or in the eyes of her avatars. If you see red, run.
As he turns around to face the now-empty corridor, the shadow is seen standing behind him, bathed in the red glow. Suddenly a phone rings. Right there, in the middle of the corridor, is an old payphone. Curious, he approaches the phone. The screen reads: “The remembrance phoneline is now ready.” He answers.
[LC]: The phone itself was designed by Makoto Kobayashi. You will notice the Garmillas symbol over the display. The fact that Kodai doesn’t notice is a nice way to show how strong Mirenel’s influence is.
This scene seems to draw inspiration from a number of other works, the oldest being in Ultra Seven‘s Episode 43, Nightmare on Planet 4 (第四惑星の悪夢 / Daiyon Wakusei no Akumu), re-titled Tyranny By Design in TNT’s dubbed version which can be seen here. While going around the titular planet trying to figure out where they are, a very similar red colored phone appears before the main characters.
On the other end, the voice of a woman addresses Kodai by his first name, asking where he is and telling him to come back home, since everyone’s worried about him. Kodai is stunned. The voice belongs to his mother. On the wall, the static-riddled image of Mirenel smiles as her spell takes hold of the young officer. Cut to black.
[LC]: The many versions of the the afore-mentioned Evangelion also feature a similar phone scene, right at the start. It’s usually the scene where we first meet Shinji Hikari, having just arrived at Tokyo III.
Finally, probably the most similar phone scene in recent times comes from a work by 2199’s general director, Yutaka Izubuchi himself, in his directorial debut on RahXephon. In Episode 3 (City of Two / Welcome to Our Town), the protagonist Hayato Kamina is wandering through an abandoned city when he comes across a similar payphone which starts ringing. When he answers, he hears his mother on the other side.
For some comparisons with all these scenes, click here.
Yuki stands in what appears to be a movie theater corridor, surrounded by movie posters. One of them features Yamato in its camouflage, as it was during construction. As Yuki looks at it, confused, a phone rings. The scene transitions to a dazed Kodai, sitting at a table with four other people, discussing if it might be Mamoru who’s calling. He comes to realize those people are family.
[LC]: Can this scene be considered self-advertising?.
Here we meet Kodai’s parents, Takeshi and Noriko, Aunt Maki and Uncle Yoshio. The parents appeared in the original Episode 13, but the rest are brand new. It’s not clear if the aunt and uncle are a couple or brother and sister to Takeshi. Click here for a group image of the Kodai family.
Kodai wonders how this can be, since they all died when a planet bomb fell in his home town. A shadow by the window calls to him. The woman says it’s been a long time since they last met and asks if he will answer the phone. When he does so, he’s greeted by Mamoru’s voice on the other end, telling him he’ll be home in about 20 minutes, and apologizing for being late.
[LC]: Given that Mirenel seems to be tapping into their memories and distorting them to her benefit, I have to wonder if this “gothic girl with the umbrella” might have actually been someone in Susumu’s life. It’s doubtful she was a girlfriend, given how inept our young friend has proven to be with women. But the question is valid.
A plane flies over an industrial complex and as it flies away we see Susumu is now standing on a pier next to a phone booth, snow falling over him. A doll sits atop the booth with a red glow in her eyes.
[LC]: This shot of the plane flying overhead (as well as the plane’s silhouette itself) is similar to a shot of the “dream sequence” at the halfway point of Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell movie. Also, in certain shots, the eerie red eyed doll looks uncannily like the juvenile body major Kusanagi is forced to use in that movie’s final scenes. Click the images above for shot comparisons.
After a moment of pause, Kodai asks Mamoru why did he die. Mamoru in turn asks if Susumu is still alive and what he’s been doing. When he responds that he’s on Yamato, Mamoru tells him he doesn’t belong there and that someone like him shouldn’t be fighting. Kodai puts the receiver down.
The woman he saw by the window tells him that Mamoru’s right, and beckons him to return home with her. Susumu refuses and tells her he has to go back. Now standing on the pier behind him, she asks “To where?” Susumu responds, “Yamato.” Questioned why, Susumu simply answers “to fight.”
But his certainties dissipate with her final question, asking who he’s going to fight against. Alone on the snowy pier, Susumu tries to remember… but he can’t. The doll stares as more planes fly over him. Susumu falls to his knees.
[LC]: Mirenel’s mojo is strong indeed. In a short period of time she’s made Kodai doubt where he is and who he’s fighting. He struggles to hold onto his memories, but it seems futile. The staging and Ono’s brilliant acting really make us feel his struggle.
The roar of applause echoes, the whole scene playing as a movie in the theater Yuki has gone into. It’s empty except for Yuki and another person sitting behind her. A recognizable voice says, “This is the Earth,” making her look back to see Admiral Hijikata.
[LC]: These scenes in the empty theater with people clapping when there’s obviously no one there, while a main character watches the events on the screen, is an homage to a scene in another Mamoru Oshii film, The Red Spectacles.
The movie’s narrator speaks of how families used to gather like that, referencing the images of Kodai and his family. The scene shifts to Hijikata telling someone to teach about Earth and how to live like an Earthling. Next, he introduces the person to her “partner.” Fixated on the movie in front of her, Yuki doesn’t see the woman standing silently nearby, another guise of Mirenel.
[LC]: This event (or the event this illusion is based on) seems to have taken place, as we’ll learn soon, shortly before Yuki’s memory loss. It seems that Mirenel might be capable of accessing stuff even Yuki can’t remember, or it’s just a case of this being close enough to her memory loss to still be accessible. Anyway, this is what we learn: “someone” (Yurisha) was presented to Yuki, who was charged with being her guide/liaison.
Yuki sees herself on the screen, telling the viewer she’s pleased to meet him, in a strange distorted voice. We see the reflection of the movie in the eye of a confused Yuki, as the sound of a car crash echoes through the scene.
[LC]: The reflection of “screen Yuki” in Yuki’s eye is another play on her and Yurisha being mirror images of each other, as far as looks go.
The screeching of wheels hints at the nature of the accident that involved Yuki and Yurisha. Here we see basically the same setting as in Misaki’s dream in Episode 11.
The beeping of a medical monitor fills the room as Yuki opens her eyes. Mirenel, now in the guise of a nurse, tells her she’s in the central hospital. Yuki sits up and Mirenel says she shouldn’t be moving yet. Yuki asks what happened to her, seemingly unable to remember anything. The nurse says she hit her head hard and might be suffering from amnesia. The newscaster on TV says Yuki’s name, catching her attention. The report says Yuki was caught in an explosion and taken to the hospital, where she remains in a coma. Police are investigating the possibility that it was an act of terrorism.
[LC]: Another subtle hint that this dream is controlled by Garmillas is the TV station’s logo. GHK is a play on the name and acronym of the Japanese national public broadcasting company, NHK or Nippon Housou Kyoukai, which roughly translates to “Japanese Broadcasting Corporation.” As we can see, the station’s name is spelled out below the logo and reads “Garmillas Housou Kyoukai.” Much like the Garmillas insignia on Kodai’s phone, it’s another sign that goes unnoticed by Mirenel’s victim.
The sound of wind chimes makes Yuki look to her left where someone else lies behind a curtain. She removes the catheters from her arm and goes there. In awe, Yuki finds herself looking… at herself… but not quite. The woman’s resemblance is quite striking, like a mirror image.
[LC]: As I’ve commented in previous episodes, the main way to differentiate Yuki and Yurisha is the side that their hair splits, making them look like reflections of each other. So you know who this second patient is.
The woman seems to be in a coma, still unconscious and with an oxygen mask. Behind Yuki, the nurse observes with a grin in her face. Suddenly, the smile fades. The woman is now looking at her, eyes wide open. A shiver runs through Mirenel’s body.
It’s her turn to have a vision. A woman in a dress runs through some ruins. The smile on Mirenel’s face has turned into shock. The woman stops and turns. For a moment she looks like Yuria, but Mirenel can see beyond appearances. Before her stands Yurisha, the princess of Iscandar.
[DG]: Yurisha actually interfering with Mirenel’s dream possession of Yuki clearly sends Mirenel into a tailspin. She’s certainly not expecting the presence of Yurisha Iscandar, who she would recognize in an instant.
[LC]: Yurisha opening her eyes and looking straight at Mirenel’s avatar is a sign of what’s coming, as is having Misaki in one shot, replaced by Yurisha in the next. For those keeping track, this is our first view of Yurisha in her true form. I always feel a certain satisfaction in seeing Mirenel get floored by this unexpected interloper.
A gust of wind and she’s back in the hospital room, confused. Suddenly, air raid horns sound and the TV newscaster announces an incoming attack. Static fills the screen to be replaced by… Kodai standing motionless by the phone, on the pier, pelted by snow. The sound of a harmonica breaks the silence. Kodai turns to see where the music comes from, finding himself in a sunset-lit field, looking at man playing.
He climbs the hill toward the man. Sensing Susumu’s approach, the man faces him with a smile. It’s Mamoru. He tells Susumu that he is a man and to stop crying. We see Kodai as a young boy, weeping. Mamoru, now in civilian clothes, takes the harmonica out of his pocket and reveals it was a gift from their dad, a long time ago. He tells Susumu he wants him to have it. The scene shifts to an immense blue sky and the two brothers, now adults and back in uniform. Susumu nods and accepts his brother’s gift.
[LC]: This might go unnoticed until you really think about it, but this Mamoru is not a product of Mirenel’s spell, like the one that spoke to Susumu on the phone. This is a real memory of Mamoru coming to the surface. That’s why, instead of trying to make Susumu give up, this Mamoru urges him to go on and remember what he’s fighting for. Mirenel’s shock at seeing Yurisha must have thrown her off her game and forced her to regroup. Kodai’s love for his big brother did the rest and began breaking the illusion from within. Another nice visual cue is that Susumu transitions from dark, snowy scenery into a sunny, bright setting.
Yuki also receives a gift, from Yurisha, who hands her the mysterious golden capsule we first saw in Episode 2. She then looks at the nurse, who steps back in disbelief, asking what she’s doing there. Yurisha looks up and tells Yuki everything will be OK.
[DG]: The capsule would only be mysterious to Mirenel at best. Viewers should remember seeing it before, although we haven’t in a long time. Yuki was holding the device on the bridge the morning of Yamato‘s launch, chanting to herself, “I will make it home,” just before Kodai entered.
Yurisha handing Yuki the device caught my attention here. I always thought it was of Iscandarian origin, but is this act symbolic of actual events, Yurisha trying to break Yuki out of her stupor, or something else entirely, such as giving Yuki a hint of where to find answers about her identity? I personally saw it as Yurisha’s attempt to rouse Yuki out of Mirenel’s control.
[LC]: If we take this vision at face value, it seems Yuki came into possession of that golden device because Yurisha offered it to her. I tend to think so, since it would serve Mirenel no purpose to make Yuki believe this. Not to mention she’s scared out of her mind right now, and probably not in a playing mood.
I like the visual cue for Yuki’s transition from the dream state to reality: switching the katakana reading “Yuki” to the proper kanji of her name, as if signaling that she’s returned to her own self. There will be a similar visual cue later, but in reverse. We’ll get to it then.
Yuki wakes up on the floor next to the automatic navigation room, awoken by Misaki. She’s surprised to see her there, as much as Misaki seems to be by her own name, asking who Misaki is. Close by, Mirenel’s shadowy figure fades away.
[LC]: So here we have Yuri(sh)a making her first de facto appearance. Wonder if her proximity was what steered Yuki away from Mirenel’s script. Another curious thing is how far Yuki came, from the elevator lobby to the automatic navigation booth. One of the things left unexplained in this episode is how and why each crew member went where they went. In Yuki’s case, it might have been her connection to Yurisha drawing her in.
[DG]: Mirenel’s shadow beats a hasty retreat. Obviously, Yurisha Iscandar being aboard in one form or another is unexpected, and apparently she’s someone Mirenel cannot hope to control. Or, at the very least, knows fully well she cannot harm in any way.
[LC]: Yuki actually wakes up from her forced slumber while Kodai, even though fighting the spell, remains in la-la-land. Could this be because Yuki is actually in the presence of Yuri(sh)a and Mirenel has to release her completely? Her scurrying shadow seems to indicate this.
Misaki says the ship is moving and that it has a Wave-Motion Engine. Yuki doesn’t understand what she’s talking about and asks her where the rest of the crew went. She replies that she woke up and found herself here. She senses something else…
[DG]: Yuri(sh)a seems able to sense the presence of the engine by instinct, as well as something else. The follow-up scene suggests she’s gaining understanding of what Mirenel is up to, but I can’t really confirm that.
Susumu and Mamoru look up at a starry sky, crossed by the trails of Planet Bombs. Mamoru tells his brother never to forget that sight. Susumu nods in agreement.
[DG]: Not sure that there’s more here than a reminder that Kodai is still under Mirenel’s spell. Maybe the longer the dream sequence has gone on, the more he’s regained control of his own memories, since the last two have had no Mirenel in them at all. I’m guessing that the shock of discovering Yurisha and the threat she poses might be affecting Mirenel’s ability to multitask – leaving Kodai to regain some control over his own mind.
Yuki tries to access the navigation systems, but she’s locked out. She wonders where Yamato might be warping. Misaki enters the booth and tells her “they” are waiting for them at the destination. She then suggests that, since the ship has a Wave-Motion Engine, they remove the Wave-Motion Core and cause the engine to shut down. Realizing that’s their only chance, Yuki tells Misaki to stay put and runs off to the engine room. Alone in the booth, Misaki looks at the display and joyfully says her sister is there.
[DG]: The deadpan look of Yuri(sh)a through the glass reminds me of Ruri from Martian Successor Nadesico, which, coincidentally, was the anime in which Yuki’s (and Yurisha’s) voice actress, Houko Kuwashima, had her debut lead role.
With Yurisha’s line here (“They’re waiting for you there. They’re waiting for this ship”), I think she has figured out the plan: for Mirenel to take control of Yamato and fly it to Balun. The third Secret File from Ark of the Stars confirms this was Dessler’s purpose in sending Mirenel and Celestella to Balun.
[DG]: Yurisha’s last line in this scene, “my sister is here,” had me thinking about a far-out theory that, since we’re talking about a race whose consciousness can inhabit other people’s bodies, may not be so far-fetched. The Occam’s Razor approach is that she simply thinks that, with the Wave-Motion Engine working, Sasha must have joined Yamato on her journey. But what’s to say she’s not sensing her presence in another way?
I mean, if Yurisha can inhabit another person’s mind like that, maybe Sasha, knowing her ship was doomed, dumped her mind into a computer for safekeeping. Perhaps the Wave-Motion Core? Not saying this is the case, but given other factors in this universe, it’s not beyond possibility.
Backups of minds are hardly a new thing : in Neon Genesis Evangelion, the Dummy Plugs sometimes used in the various Evas (most notably Unit-01 [Rei] and the Eva Series in End of Evangelion [Kaworu]) are based on the minds and thought patterns of pilots.
[LC]: I think that line by Yuri(sh)a is just a simple matter of having been isolated for a while. Yurisha is obviously unaware that Sasha died. She does know Sasha was meant to follow her with the Wave-Motion Core, so she simply assumes that since has an operational Wave-Motion Engine, her sister must be on board.
Yuki runs down the corridor while a 120-second countdown to warp is announced. As she opens the engine room door, she’s startled by the sight before her: Sanada, Aihara, Kato, Nanbu, Shima… many of the crew are standing there, bathed in light, as if dreaming.
[LC]: I have to admit, every time I see this shot I remember the anime Ulysses 31. The cursed crew of the starship Odysseus was kept in a visually similar way, doomed to remain lifeless until Ulysses broke their curse by traveling to the Kingdom of Hades.
A funny detail is that while everyone is basically standing up with their arms straight, Sanada is stoically crossing his arms. Even unconscious, the man keeps his cool.
Shima dreams of his mother and brother while Niimi remembers someone from her past. With the countdown nearing its end, Yuki snaps out of her shock and runs to the control console. She manages to access the system and disengage the core room’s safety features, effectively stopping the warp.
[LC]: We will soon learn who this person “who doesn’t hold back” is, whom Niimi is dreaming of.
[DG]: It’s interesting that Yuki is able to gain access to this terminal and no other. Could it possibly be Sasha’s presence in the Wave-Motion Core blocking Mirenel’s takeover? (Though you’d think Mirenel would sense her – unless Sasha was good at shielding) Or is it that Mirenel, either through sloppiness or loss of concentration, lost control of this terminal? Is this computer independent of the rest of the ship? Again, Occam’s Razor would say that the computer is simply independent and by extension Mirenel can’t control it. But there’s no hard evidence one way or the other.
[LC]: Could it be that a control terminal linked to Iscandarian tech is somehow immune to Mirenel? Long shot, I know, but hey… after all the crazy stuff in this episode, I’m ready for anything. XD
This containment field is something new. Either for lack of time in previous episodes or plot convenience in this one, this is its the first and only appearance.
Yuki rushes to the hatch leading to the core chamber and removes the Wave-Motion Core from the engine assembly. As she carries the core out of the chamber, she hears Hijikata’s voice from behind her.
[DG]: It’s taken the shutdown of the engine for Mirenel to realize something’s gone wrong, and she abruptly overtakes Yuki’s mind again.
Startled, Yuki turns as Hijikata asks what’s she doing. She is now back in the dream world. Before her are Hijikata and Mirenel, the admiral demanding that she put the core back. Mirenel’s voice tells her to obey, or Earth will be destroyed. Back in her UNCF uniform, Yuki questions Mirenel’s assertions, but the witch’s shadow relentlessly assures her it will happen.
The utter destruction of the home she loves so much. Yuki stands over an image of the blue Earth, turning into the now familiar red. Yuki freezes, whispering only “my home.” Mirenel reaches out, demanding the core. Powerless, Yuki falls deeper into Mirenel’s control.
[LC]: This is the visual transition I spoke of earlier. Here, a sign goes from “Emergency Exit” to “Occupied,” telling us Yuki has fallen back under Mirenel’s influence. Also, is anyone else reminded of the old Yamato crew uniform when looking at those arrows?
Kodai is back home in his pilot uniform, his family commenting on Mamoru being late. Kodai remembers he wasn’t home that day, the day the bomb fell. He had gone to the space port to meet Mamoru, but while on his way he witnessed the bomb’s approach.
[LC]: Though Mirenel seems to have regrouped, Yuki’s actions have made her a preferential target. Kodai continues on his path to remembrance almost unhindered. A very evident hint is that, although he’s back at his parents’ home and they keep trying to dissuade him, he is still wearing his uniform – unlike in the earlier scenario.
The images of his parents tell him not to be stupid. Earth is at peace, there is no war. The eerie doll’s gaze is fixated on him. Kodai initially repeats their words, but the memory of what happened is too strong. He remembers the enemy is Garmillas, and that the bomb fell… there. He sees the bomb hit and recalls…everyone in his family died.
[DG]: Mirenel’s decided to resume playing more directly with Kodai’s mind, but he’s had enough time to come to his senses, and realizes there is indeed a war. There is an enemy – Garmillas – which killed his family with a planet bomb.
Applause surrounds him as his family, now images on the theater screen, stare back at him with a mushroom cloud in the background. As the applause fades, he stands alone in the empty theater. He sees Yuki and Mirenel, both in UNCF uniforms, Mirenel coaxing Yuki to put the engine core back.
[LC]: The painful realization of his family’s tragic fate seems to break Kodai free. But instead of just waking up, it’s strange that he ends up within Yuki’s dream world. Is this an Inception-like scenario in which Mirenel’s main focus on Yuki makes her dream the gateway to the real world?
Yuki’s eyes fill the screen, begging for help; a sentiment amplified when the sentence “save me” appears on the screen. Kodai screams her name as he rushes to her aid. Yuki inserts the core plug into its socket and prepares to reactivate the engine. Kodai jumps onto the theater stage and into the screen, gun in hand.
[DG]: Now that Kodai finds himself in the theater, what’s interesting is that Yuki appears able to project her mind onto the screen, along with the message for Kodai to save her. This suggests to me that her heritage may not be as cut-and-dried as we think.
[LC]: I have a more direct and somewhat romantic view of why she does that. As he struggled against Mirenel’s influence, his love for his big brother helped his memories surface and break her hold. Maybe Yuki’s growing feelings for Kodai have the same effect, even if she doesn’t know it yet. Sensing his presence in her dream, she reaches out. The fact that she’s basically a blank slate doesn’t leave many people for her to call. Hijikata is probably the closest person to her, but since he (or his image) is currently part of the attack, Kodai should be next in line. Call me a romantic.
As the engine systems reactivate, Kodai phases into the core chamber, startling Mirenel, whose image he shoots twice. Mirenel morphs through the many dream-forms she has taken as she smiles and regroups. Kodai watches in disbelief as Mirenel says that the shots hurt.
[DG]: Translation problem here: Mirenel clearly says, “itai je nai” (“that didn’t hurt”), but the subtitles say the opposite.
[LC]: I always get a weird feeling with this sequence. It’s almost as if Kodai runs toward the movie screen, within the dream, and somehow phases through the engine block, into the real world.
My personal explanation for this, which is backed up in some way by the manga adaptation, is that Kodai, much like the rest of the bridge officers, was drawn to the engine room while in his dream state. In the manga we see him wake up as he lunges toward the screen and into a corridor (presumably near the engine room, judging from how fast he gets there). But again, due to editing, we don’t see this awakening and he just transitions from one “dream room” to another. As weird as the end result might be, in this crazy episode it sorta fits.
Realizing Mirenel is no ordinary opponent, Kodai grabs Yuki by the hand and pulls her out of the chamber. The hatch door closes behind them, and Mirenel’s avatar tries to follow. The chamber’s Wave-Motion containment field activates, effectively locking her in. A voice warns of the impending engine activation and requests immediate evacuation of all personnel.
We see someone typing into the engine room’s control console, running the engine restart sequence. Trapped, Mirenel realizes her impending doom. The energy conduits come alive and her avatar is hit with their full power.
[DG]: I’m not sure about the animation when the engine restarts – Mirenel’s animation looks like old-style Warner Brothers with a character like Wile E. Coyote getting electrocuted. Just a tad too comical.
[LC]: Since she’s a spirit and not actually a flesh-and-blood body, I’ll let the cartoonish distortion fly. Also, her vaporization scene reminds me of all those featuring the poor bastards who found themselves on the business end of the Wave-Motion Gun throughout the Yamato saga.
Across the ship, Mirenel’s manifestations gasp in horror while, back at Balun, her real body recoils in pain. The energy that floods the core chamber eventually disintegrates her spirit. Kodai stares at the closed chamber door, surrounded by the sound of bodies hitting the floor.
The lights come back on as he cradles the still-unconscious Yuki in his arms. He realizes the ordeal is over. Yuria silently watches the couple, standing beside the engine control console.
[LC]: Someone really has it in for Yabu. Everybody else just falls to the floor while our favorite ray of sunshine goes ass-up. I admit, I laugh out loud every time I see him like that.
At the Balun ruins, one of Celestella’s operatives confirms the “Ghost Link” has been severed and that Mirenel’s consciousness has not returned to her body. The second states that all transferred data has been saved. Celestella reaches out to Mirenel’s inert body and closes her eyes. Shedding a tear, Celestella says that now she is truly alone, standing motionless over her protegé’s body.
[DG]: They mention that the data Mirenel obtained was transferred. This includes the presence of Yurisha Iscandar aboard Yamato, something to keep in mind as we move forward in the story.
[LC]: Once again, 2199 manages to make you feel pity for an “evil” character by giving them a truly human moment. I can’t help but feel sorry for Celestella, even with the benefit of hindsight and knowing the truth about her people.
Domel watches as the Shangri-La leaves, stating that the ruins below were left by the same race that built the warp gates. There are rumors that Celestella is one of their direct descendants. Goer wonders what the purpose of her visit was. Domel poetically responds, “I doubt any normal man could understand a witch’s motives.”
[DG]: Now we have dialogue confirmation that the gates are a product of the Akerian race. This information will no doubt play a bigger role over time should the saga continue. I foresee Akerius playing a much bigger role in this continuity than Aquarius did in the original.
Later, Goer is seen reporting the events back to Zoellik, who is ecstatic that both “the wolf” (Domel) and “the vixen” (Celestella) are now fixated on Yamato. As one of his servant girls lights his cigar, Zoellik says the time has come. Goer inquires what he means by that, but his patron says he doesn’t need to know.
[DG]: More foreshadowing, this time by Zoellik. Even in such a small scene, “The Norio” once again hams it up.
[LC]: Other than the people of Zaltz, we haven’t seen many of the others conquered by Garmillas. The girl we see lighting Zoellik’s cigar is from planet Alteria 4 (which will appear soon). The other one has been suggested as Gatlantean, but she seem more yellow than green. She might even be Zaltzi with the hue on her skin altered by lighting. From the way Zoellik handles them, they seem to be slaves more than servants. But maybe it’s just Zoellik being his usual, obnoxious self.
Also, they seem to have transferred the original Goer’s tacky taste in interior decor to Zoellik.
Yamato sails along, the crew slowly recovering from their ordeal. They line up outside Doctor Sado’s office as Yuki says (in voice-over) the doctor’s theory is that everyone saw whatever memories they most cherished. Sado gives a relieved Ota a clean bill of health.
[DG]: I’m not entirely sure what Sado is attempting to accomplish by placing a stethoscope on Ota’s forehead. Placebo checkup maybe? Or, just as likely, he’s drunk while examining them…
Kodai and Yuki are looking out the CIC deck windows. Kodai tells her he saw his family and asks what she saw, but quickly remembers her memory problems and apologizes. Yuki just smiles and says she also saw someone she cared about, confusing Kodai.
[LC]: This is our first look at the observation deck of bridge number 2, just forward of the CIC room. Don’t tell anyone, but I think Captain Harlock might want his steering wheel back… XD
Yuki says that in the end he came to her rescue, embarrassing Kodai as she runs off laughing. Kodai runs after her, asking what she meant by that. She says it’s a secret.
[DG]: I absolutely loved that the scene left out of Episode 8’s conclusion was restored here, where the connection between Kodai and Yuki has grown stronger. One thing remains the same in the scene, though: Kodai is as clueless as he was in the original.
[LC]: Jeez, Kodai! Get a freakin’ clue! XD.
In the automatic navigation room corridor, Yuria stands below the orange hatch. Looking at her hands, she utters the sentence “Farewell, me. Hello, you. You are Misaki. Yuria Misaki.” She looks up at the hatch as the lights go out.
[DG]: I’m assuming that before Yurisha lets go, she allows Misaki to pick up her hairbands so she’ll find herself in the same spot she last remembers.
[LC]: We see similar shots as in the start of the episode; showing Yamato, panning to the navigation dome, then switching to Yuri(sh)a under the orange hatch. But where the previous sequence had stark lighting, is now bathed in the Milky Way’s light, and softer lighting fills the corridor. Quite a nice way to bookend the episode.
[LC]: To this day, I still single out a piece of 2199 merchandising as the most pointless: a postcard with Episode 14’s title screen. As you can see above, it’s just… well, the title over black. And yes, people bought it.
In the vast space between galaxies, a trap is laid by a patient enemy. Yamato is surrounded. With hell ahead of them and hell behind, there’s no turning back. Yamato, escape this deadly trap!
Next time: Point of No Return..
There are 298 days left before humanity becomes extinct.
Episode 14 credits
Screenplay: Sadayuki Murai
Storyboard: Yutaka Izubuchi
Director: Makoto Bessho
Chara Animation Director: Akihisa Maeda
Mecha Chief Animation Director: Masanori Nishii
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.