In our May 2012 interview with 2199 manga writer/artist Michio Murakawa, he stated that he had an open door to develop original material for his adaptation. There is no better example of Mr. Murakawa’s creative freedom – or his insight as a writer – than his version of Episode 14, The Whisper of the Witch.
It stands out from the other installments for length alone (over 120 pages), but that’s just the math. Whereas the anime episode focused almost entirely on Kodai and Yuki, it was made plain that Mirenel Links’ psychic attack affected the entire crew. That gave Murakawa a much wider playing field for his version of the story, which visits the dreams of many more characters and provides fascinating glimpses of their lives on Earth prior to the mission.
Those dream sequences are presented here, thanks to friend-of-the-website Hiroshi Ban, whose translation efforts made it possible for non-Japanese readers to share Murakawa’s thoughtful passion for these characters. (It is the policy of this website not to fully translate a manga that is still in print, so instead we bring you these descriptions.)
As we join the story, Kodai and Yuki have come back from their sortie to find that Analyzer is the only functioning crew member on Yamato. Everyone else has seemingly slipped into a coma while on duty. Thanks to ancient Akerian technology on Planet Balun, the Jirellian named Mirenel Links has cast her telepathy over the ship. Kodai and Yuki soon feel its effects as well. Kodai has a sudden mind-flash to an approaching planet bomb and we slip away to other times and places…
Yoshikazu Aihara’s dream
In an unspecified year (early to mid 2190s), Aihara watches snow fall outside his school and hears a girl’s chorus singing. He is approached by female students who are distraught to learn from him that the entrance exams for the college of music have been cancelled because of wartime circumstances. One of the students is Mirenel, tapping his dream as a participant.
Aihara’s instructor informs him that a friend in the military asked him to find a suitable candidate to become a communications specialist. Aihara is ambivalent about it.
Later, we find Aihara in that very job, facilitating international communication.
“Kenya is in chaos.”
“Rio de Janeiro is have power outages, their transmission is unstable.”
“Beijing is still down because of the riot.”
Aihara’s supervisor informs him that he’s been selected for the Izumo Project – a classified mission for the future of mankind – and will transfer out the next day. Aihara feels his luck has improved…but then he confronts the sight of his mother crying over the mortally injured body of his father.
Assuming his wife and son were starving, he attempted to get food from the black market and was caught up in a melee when police arrived to arrest everyone. “I wouldn’t have let him go,” she says, and Mirenel finishes the sentence: “if I’d known he would come back like this.”
Homer screams in despair.
Sho Yamazaki’s dream
This segment opens on the battleship Murasame, directly facing the first Garmillas vanguard to enter the solar system. Daisuke Shima’s father is in command, troubled that the alien ships have not responded to communication. Yamazaki is his chief engineer on the bridge.
A transmission comes in from Adjutant General Serizawa at Earth HQ. He orders Shima to commence attack on the alien fleet immediately. Shima asks about Admiral Okita (his commanding officer), but is told that Okita has been removed from command. Serizawa states that this new order is based on “reliable information.”
Shima protests, insisting that it is their duty to negotiate for peace, but Serizawa is firm.
“The armed forces are the gun that protects our planet and lives. If you allow them to invade without warning, how will you account for the loss of life?”
Yamazaki observes that he’s never seen this look on Captain Shima’s face before.
Shima finally relents, ordering main guns readied for firing. Yamazaki feels the shaking of the turret’s rotation, the sound of taking up arms.
Murasame fires the first shot and the Garmillas respond with multiple volleys that instantly tear into the ship. Shima orders all hands to abandon ship and for Yamazaki to supervise their escape. Mirenel takes his place to say, “I’m depending on you, Yamazaki.” The chief engineer salutes his captain for the last time.
Murasame is quickly overwhelmed. Yamazaki drifts alone in an escape pod, blind to the devastation around him.
Back on Earth, Serizawa places a gag order on Yamazaki about the incident. He demands to know the rationale behind their aggressive strategy, but Serizawa only answers that he’s being removed from active duty to take a desk job. “That is all,” Mirenel tells him.
Helpless, Yamazaki wanders away, thinking of his lost captain.
Daisuke Shima’s dream
Yamazaki’s dream flows seamlessly into that of Shima, still a boy, determined to stay strong through his father’s funeral. He wants to give his mother room to cry and to protect his brother Jiro.
“Once I saw him, we were brothers,” Shima says in his Okinawa dialect.
He finally gives in to his sadness, not noticing that his mother transforms into Mirenel as she hugs him.
Captain Okita’s dream
Following another losing battle against the Garmillas fleet, Okita laments that he survived again after fighting against “those we decided were our enemy” and ushering his troops to their death.
We flash back to the pivotal moment; Serizawa orders Okita to attack without provocation, and when he questions the order he is relieved of command. “The side that opens fire first will lose,” he thinks to himself.
“From now on, command of the fleet will come from HQ,” Mirenel concludes. “Inform the forward group.”
Word comes in that Murasame is under fire and asking for reinforcements, but it’s already too late. “Who is the enemy,” Okita wonders. “The man makes a pretense of our side. What is he thinking? This war will be relentless.”
A brief montage makes it all too clear that the Earth fleet is hopelessly outmatched. “The aim of Garmillas was not to win a conflict, but to wipe out our total war power.”
Next we see Okita with his son and his young wife, using a rare opportunity to get a photo together (yes, THAT photo). We learn that his son has been assigned to a destroyer.
Commanding EDF battleship Kirishima, Okita counsels Mamoru Kodai to wait until the enemy is in range before giving the order to fire their bow cannon. They shoot, striking a Garmillas ship.
Earth. Another time. Okita’s daughter-in-law is distraught at the loss of her husband. “Every time I come back,” he thinks, “the curse gets heavier. It robs me of irreplaceable things.” Mirenel appears in place of the crying young woman.
Next, Okita stands with Hijikata before EDF commander Todo. He’s just been assigned to the Yamato project.
“Why have we altered and absorbed the Izumo Project?”
“First,” Todo explains, “I have to tell you about the visitor. It took a long time even for me to believe this. And the words.” [From Iscandar]
A chilling image of Okita’s daughter-in-law, bleeding out in a bathtub.
“I’m helpless. I thought that if she simply hated me, it would be her salvation. I could have accepted that and walked away. But another life was robbed again.”
A flash to Mamoru Kodai’s final salute and the moment Susumu Kodai learns of his death (from Episode 1).
“But it’s not time yet,” Okita concludes. “I cannot die now.”
We break from the dreams for a bit. Celestella watches over her sister Mirenel, her consciousness locked within the Akerian technology on Balun.
On board Yamato, Yuki moves through the ship and discovers that the auto-pilot is counting down to a warp in 25 minutes. What’s more, Yuria Misaki is still awake. In this continuity, she has already had her encounter with the spirit of Yurisha Iscandar, which would account for her “immunity” to telepathy.
Shinya Ito’s dream
As a young boy, Ito is on a scenic hike with his father, who comments on the length of his ring fingers.
“Your face looks like that woman who left us, but your hands are like mine. This world is quiet and beautiful, but human hearts are cold. Shinya, don’t trust other people easily.”
An older Ito stands over his father’s dead, damaged body.
“My bright and tender father. But he trusted in others and was killed. People only think of themselves in wartime.”
A planet bomb scorches the sky high overhead, bringing to Ito’s mind the Alfred Lord Tennyson poem Claribel.
“Enemy fire reveals the grotesque faces of the humans on Earth.”
We find Ito on the bridge of a Murasame-class destroyer, shouting at his petrified captain to get them out of the battle that has erupted around them. His captain has no idea what to do, asking only for orders from above.
His indecision exposes them to direct fire. The ship drifts away, trailing smoke. The bridge is a shambles. Ito’s captain lies dead, and in a horrific moment of realization, his own hands have been mutilated.
After this, a nurse with Mirenel’s face greets him upon awakening in an Earth hospital.
“Sorry, but wartime limitations meant we couldn’t clone new hands to graft on, but those cyborg hands look and feel just like the real thing, don’t you think?”
Ito mourns the loss of his ring fingers, then simply laughs at the irony.
“Depending upon ‘trust’ and dispensing with both thought and responsibility…the enemy and the incompetent trash of Earth are equally guilty.”
Nurse Mirenel tells Ito that someone from the information bureau had come by to see him.
Saburo Kato’s dream
Kato, in his flight jacket, confronts his father – a stern priest in a Buddhist temple. Stone faced, he insists that his son take up the mantle of their faith.
“Someone who must respect human life could breaks the admonitions and kill in the military?”
“I’ve never been a priest,” Kato retorts.
“It is the right time. Buddha nature is needed among the people who depend on it.”
“Temples can’t stop the increase in people being killed. Comfort never leads to salvation under these circumstances. So I’m going to fly.”
“Don’t come back here,” his father concludes.
Flight is beautiful, Kato thinks to himself. But my sky is akin to death.
A pilot is lost when his Falcon explodes. Mirenel appears in a crew uniform, asking for Mr. Sugiyama to come into the comm room (it’s the “goodbye to Earth” story from Episode 7).
“He died,” Kato answers. “I’m here on his behalf.” (To speak to the dead pilot’s family.)
Akira Yamamoto’s dream
This sequence begins in the midst of Yamamoto’s competition flight with Melda Dietz. Her Falcon sputters and smokes, with engine pressure approaching critical in 20 seconds.
The engine will explode and I’ll die, she thinks as she remembers her brother from the days of their childhood. A young Akira huddles in one corner of a playground, watching other girls. Her brother Akio arrives and tries to shake her out of it.
“My hair is a weird color, and my eyes are red. They say that to tease me. I didn’t do anything bad.”
Akio morphs briefly into Mirenel, who – for the first time – shows empathy for one of her victims. (As one of the last Jirellians, this would absolutely strike a chord for her.)
Akio reappears and counsels her to ignore those who make fun of her.
“Similarities are nice, but differences are joyful. That’s friendship. You have to go an extra step to find a friend like that.”
He runs off to play with his own friends and she smiles at his words.
Flash forward to a moment of profound tragedy. Akio lies still in a morgue and Akira does the last thing she can for him, wiping dirt off his face. Noticing how cold he’s become, she tries to warm him up…and holds him tight as she screams with despair.
Melda’s voice snaps Akira back to her cockpit as the seconds count down.
“I lost. I didn’t want to lose.”
Kodai’s face appears as she grips the eject handle and bursts free of the doomed fighter.
Lastly, we see her huddled in the brig, the same as when she was little.
“This is the same isolation cell Melda was in. How ironic is that? I’m still alive. What do I want to do? What kind of person will I be? I’m not satisfied with my life.”
The dream ends, but we see Mirenel lying in the Akerian telepathy device. She sheds a tear for Akira. Celestella watches, concerned.
Kaoru Niimi’s dream
The college years. Kaoru delivers reference books to Sanada’s office.
“May I categorize them?”
“No,” he answers, “I like them in random order. Sometimes the stream called efficiency interrupts a thought.”
They speak of current events. The Garmillas fleet has begun to approach Mars orbit, and rumors are that the underground shelters from the days of the inner planet wars are being rebuilt for evacuation.
“We have to do something before that happens,” says someone else – it’s the young Mamoru Kodai, carrying a soccer ball.
“I heard our counterattack will soon begin with Mars as the absolute defense line.”
She asks him where he heard that and gets teased with a one-word answer: “Classified.”
Miffed, Niimi demands to know what he came for, and he says it’s for the same reason as her, to deliver something to Sanada. In this case, the book of Chuya Nakahara’s collected poems, which Sanada wanted to read. This surprises Kaoru.
“Did you think he was only interested in math formulas,” Mamoru asks.
She tries to recover, but is interrupted when Sanada spots Susumu Kodai on the outside camera. Mamoru leaves, having promised Susumu a game of soccer.
“He has no shame,” Kaoru observes.
“He’s honest about himself,” Sanada answers. “There’s the brash and open-minded Kodai, and me, the cautious one. Don’t you think it’s marvelous that we are good friends? You could be more honest with yourself, too.”
She only blushes.
“The war casts its shadow over our daily lives, beyond our control,” she narrates. “But we’re still able to count our blessings. What can we do to protect them?”
The scene changes to Mamoru playing soccer with Kodai watching. The two take a break with mom’s delicious sushi, and they have a talk that harkens all the way back to the original Yamato series. Mamoru asks Susumu to consider enrolling in the defense academy after high school, and following him into the military, but the younger Kodai deflects.
“Well, you prefer flowers and plants,” Mamoru relents. “You’re the last man who would fight in a war. Trust me with the Earth, then. You look after mom and dad.”
The scene changes again. Mirenel appears as a newscaster, reporting that a planet bomb struck Japan’s Miura Peninsula. Mamoru watches fearfully – that’s his home. What of his parents?
“What about Susumu?”
A chilling image of young Susumu, staring past city wreckage at a rising mushroom cloud.
Later: Mamoru is older, wearing a cadet’s jacket. He speaks with Sanada about the worsening situation, with planet bombs falling on cities and volcanic zones – obviously intentional targets.
Sanada believes nuclear winter will come, and perhaps worse. Earth was victorious in the second battle of Mars, but only barely.
“I didn’t think I was suitable for the forces,” Sanada says, “but we have to do whatever we can now.”
Mamoru asks if this means Sanada has decided, and Sanada nods in response.
“You can achieve what I couldn’t, even though I tried my hardest,” Mamoru says.
The two men speak of themselves.
“We’re a poem and a formula,” Mamoru says. “They’re both ways to describe the world, but by different routes.”
“To me,” Sanada replies, “Numerical formulas are a beautiful picture. It has a poetic sentiment, an originality, a spirit of adventure.”
“The guys who can’t deal with that read poetry,” Mamoru says.
“Then what kind of person are you?”
“I must be music.”
Snow begins to fall, and they both quote Chuya Nakahara.
“Today again a little snow falls.”
“On sorrow already spoiled.”
Niimi is revealed, hiding nearby, having heard it all.
“I can’t go to them,” she thinks. “I’m not honest with myself.”
We jump forward. Sanada now wears a military uniform.
“The first fleet will be used in a feint operation? Do you intend to submit this plan to the plenary session?”
He is speaking with Commander Todo. Yuki Mori is also there.
“Surely,” another officer states, “the most important part of the Yamato Project is to welcome The Messenger.”
“It is a rational plan,” Sanada admits, “but it deceives the soldiers who have fought hard for Earth, and sends them into the jaws of death. Have we become so senseless and powerless as to make such a plan?”
Yukikaze waits in drydock for its final launch. Mamoru greets Sanada there, thanking him for the brand new prototype torpedoes. He’s proud to be launching the next day, determined to wipe out that Pluto base. Sanada holds his tongue on that topic, merely asking if he’s seen Niimi.
Mamoru says that they’ve parted (i.e. broken up), then turns down the Nakahara book when Sanada tries to hand it back to him.
“I’ve read it over and over again,” Sanada laments, “but I can’t seem to understand the artistry of the poem.”
“That’s why you have to keep it. Not to understand it, just to feel the words. They’ll definitely give you a flash of inspiration.”
Sanada salutes as Yukikaze joins the first fleet in their fateful launch.
“Forgive me, Kodai…”
We see Kaoru in the crowd, then witness her last moments with Mamoru from an earlier time.
“That’s enough, Kaoru,” he says, “that’s enough. You need to live more honestly with yourself.”
As she watches the ships lift away, tears flow and she closes the dream with “He’s gone. He’s gone. I’m sorry, Kodai-kun…”
Mirenel, wearing a fleet uniform, turns and stares at her coolly.
Outside the dreamscape, Analyzer, Kodai, Yuki, and Yuria work on the engine to stop the ship from its upcoming auto-warp. Analyzer has extracted data from the recovered Garmilloid that will override the interference. (The Alter episode has not yet appeared in this continuity, but Alter’s body is on the ship.) Yuki succeeds in removing the Wave-Motion Core, then drops to her knees. Mirenel appears, intent on seducing her from within.
We slip back into the dreams. Now we are left with only Kodai and Yuki. We saw their dreams in the TV episode, but they were unlike those that are about to weave together.
Kodai and Yuki’s dreams
Wearing his Yamato crew uniform, Kodai looks out the window of his home’s living room, then turns to see his mother.
She welcomes her husband back home, who tells her that it’s getting harder to find food with the war on, and prices are going up. He smiles casually, but says that price control and rationing are no joke.
Young Susumu is due back on the afternoon bus, so they both leave to meet him. On the way, they cross the same bridge where they agreed to marry. They were waiting for a bus then, too. Kodai’s mother wishes this beautiful scenery would last forever.
A bus arrives, but young Kodai doesn’t get off. The older Kodai stands behind his parents, remembering this day. The day it happened. A shriek fills the air, and his parents hold each other as a planet bomb hammers through the air directly toward them.
A chilling image of young Susumu, staring past city wreckage at a rising mushroom cloud.
Interestingly, this is the first dream not to include an appearance by Mirenel.
We drift through the quiet moment with Yamamoto and Yuki in the ladies’ bath. There is a hole in Yuki’s heart, Akira says.
A younger Kodai huddles in anxiety while Mamoru plays a harmonica nearby.
“Don’t cry any more, Susumu. Look up. Don’t forget this sight. There will be broken hearts and lives and crying even before that light comes down.”
Two planet bombs streak through the atmosphere high overhead. Mamoru continues.
“Crying for yourself only helps your own soul. In this time when everyone feels sad and suffers, we need someone to wipe their eyes and stand up for the people. Be strong, Susumu. Be a man who can preserve and embrace someone.”
Now they are both older, as seen in the anime. Both wear their UNCF uniforms.
“I will never cry,” Susumu vows. Mamoru hands him the harmonica.
The next image is the wreckage of Yukikaze on Enceladus, then Kodai alone, holding the harmonica. Mamoru has gone.
Sanada: “I’m sorry to say that Yukikaze…”
Now wearing his Enceladus spacesuit, Kodai sees his brother again, then realizes he’s injured on the cheek.
We see Yuki on the ruined deck of Yukikaze.
“I’m so sorry…what I did was…”
She remembers the words of Sanada at the strategy meeting on Earth, and feels sorrow at the role she played.
“The first fleet will be used in a feint operation? Do you intend to submit this plan to the plenary session?”
After that meeting, Yuki is in a locker room with another woman: Mirenel.
“You’re so pretty, Mori-san. Is it hard for you to turn down so many men?”
“Nanbu hasn’t learned a lesson from his failure yet,” says a side note.
“The men at headquarters haven’t been able to earn your favor,” Mirenel says, “so they’re calling you ‘Snow White’ or something like that. Did you know about it? Nasty, huh?”
I can’t understand the meaning in their eyes or their behavior very well, Yuki ponders. Mirenel leaves her alone.
“I don’t even remember my first love.”
A memory flash: looking up at Hijikata and Sanada.
“I hear she’s coming out of the coma,” Hijikata says.
“Yes. I think she’ll fully recover,” Sanada answers.
“I see,” Mirenel interjects. “You lost your memory.”
Yuki awakes from her coma some time during the year before the Yamato mission. Nurse Mirenel is the first to appear.
“You’re awake? You can’t move very easily yet.”
“Is this a dream,” Yuki asks. This stops Mirenel in her tracks. “What?”
“…or is it your trick?” This comes from Yuki and Yuria in parallel.
“No, this shouldn’t happen! Why are you right here?”
The eyes of Yuria stare widely back at Mirenel, someone else behind them.
Outside the dream, Mirenel whispers in Yuki’s ear to put the Wave-Motion Core back in, to stop Earth from dying.
“Please, Snow White.”
Yuki remembers that she was doing something important…
The dream returns to Kodai with his injured cheek. He remembers taking a punch from Saburo Kato, who now stands over him.
“I know it’s unreasonable, but I can’t stop myself from hitting you.”
Kodai listens attentively as Kato opens up.
“I don’t want to worry about dead men. I’ll never allow those close to me to die. I hoped what you did wouldn’t turn out to be wrong, but Yamamoto did a stupid thing.”
He’s talking about Kodai promoting her to full pilot, putting her life at risk. Kato speaks of her rogue flight at Enceladus.
“I’m ashamed that you and I are helpless. What should we do? I don’t have any idea. And that frustrates me.”
Echoing him, Kodai asks himself the same thing. What should we do? I wanted to run…I thought about it. And what have I seen around me?
Okita. Akira. Melda. Mamoru.
Yuki. Moments with Yuki.
Every time I see you, you’re cheerful. But what are you really like? You don’t have any memories from more than one year ago. Even though I lost my family, I still have my memories. But she doesn’t. Her loneliness is harder than mine. You’re struggling to gather the fragments of your lost memory and put them back together, aren’t you?
Kodai watches, frozen, as Mirenel coaxes Yuki to put the Wave-Motion Core back into its socket.
“No,” she mutters. “No good. Stop me. Help me, Kodai-kun.”
Kodai has a jolt. YUKI!
He wakes – for real this time – and leaps to his feet. Rushing to the engine room, he fires his pistol at the ghost of Mirenel, then grabs the delirious Yuki and pulls her out. Mirenel is left behind as the hatch slams shut and the core reactivates. She is only there in spirit, but it is her entire essence. And as the engine crackles to life, that essence is torn apart with as much finality as flesh and blood.
Outside, Kodai cradles Yuki as she stirs. The auto-warp has been successfully stopped. The dreamers have awakened.