by Anton Mei Brandt, Kathy Clarkson, and Daniel George
Episode 4: Departure to the unknown
After rallying the crew last episode, Sanada meets with Kodai on Yamato’s bridge to discuss something urgent. He intends to step down as Acting Captain. His reasoning is that his own analytical mind, though powerful, is rationalistic to a fault. This once cost the lives of eight crew members, a time when the swift and reckless decisiveness of Captain Okita could have prevailed had he not been in surgery. So he begs Kodai to accept the responsibility as Captain this time around, stating that he’s the only one suitable for the job of going beyond rationalism.
[AMB]: Sanada is referring to an event in Yamato 2199 Episode 13, where Okita’s illness required immediate surgery during an intense encounter with the Space Hound “Wolf Flakken.” This temporarily elevated the Executive Officer to Acting Captain, and that man was Shiro Sanada.
[KC]: Yes, the guy named “Wolf” is called The Hound and the guy named “Eric” is called The Wolf. Someone on Garmillas thinks they’re funny. I’m not saying it’s Abelt, but I do love to blame him.
[AMB]: I swear that always has (and still) confuses me! And let me just say that the long pan shot of Yamato as the opening of this episode is breathtaking! It really helps emphasize its size and mass, adding narrative weight to the daunting task of being its Captain.
[KC]: In all seriousness, technically only one thing happens in this whole episode, but there is a lot that goes on around it. That opening shot makes it clear where the focus will be.
We cut to Okita’s monument on Hero’s Hill, his cold stare observing several military helicopters making their move toward Yamato’s dockyard. With the men approaching their target, military chief Serizawa motions to Todo back at HQ that there’s a chance that Yamato’s crew might go so far as to lock themselves inside their ship in revolt. Mugshots of the mutineers and a live-feed of Yamato cover the command screens as commander Todo quietly acknowledges the reality of the situation.
[KC]: Are we going to continue debating the motivations of Serizawa? He exists to be the political & military foil. I’m pretty sure that we are all supposed to dislike him.
[AMB]: Heh. To be fair, I don’t think we’ve discussed his “motivations” so much as the rigid nature behind his actions and what they might mean for this story. And whether or not we’re supposed to dislike him doesn’t ultimately matter to me, since this show has proven time and time again that “what we’re supposed to think” isn’t necessarily always the truth. You know, since Garmillas shot first because they’re demons, Ito was completely heartless at the end of 2199 and the Zaltsians are all assholes (My attempt at sarcasm). Or take Star Wars as an example: Han was a scoundrel you never believed could become a hero and Vader was a machine-like monster with no humanity when he first appeared.
[KC]: True; in the original work, or at least the English dub of The Comet Empire series, Todo and Serizawa seemed to be more of a like mind than in this version, both representing the military/governmental authority that stands in the way of necessary action. I would argue, however, that Han Solo and Darth Vader are a bit more crucial to the telling of their story than this particular representative of Earth. A character arc for him is less necessary and more unlikely.
[AMB]: Ah yes, they sure are. But when it comes to Vader at least he’s famously known for being integral yet barely in the first film (8 minutes). Not that screen time = a more fleshed out character, but it’s worth pointing out.
In the original show, Dessler straight up executed Vice President Hyss for timidly proposing peace negotiations, then proceeded to kamikaze attack his own home using… his own home… in order to take down Yamato. Yet they still managed to redeem him in later stories. What I’m saying is that the amount of nuanced character building for both Serizawa and Todo is a complex matter which I don’t believe is coincidental, and will definitely lead to some sort of cathartic conclusion near the end of the show. Until we reach that point I’ll continue to emphasize their yin-yang nature as we progress, with hopefully as little bias as possible on my end. (Though I will keep fanboying over Fukui’s writing prowess, that’s for sure!)
[KC]: Well, you brought it up so this is as good a place as any to go on record; the original Leader Dessler was introduced as a villain and I’m pretty sure the initial intent was for him to be defeated like a villain, end of story. It was Nishizaki’s fondness for the character that kept him around and developed him in a direction that Abelt Dessler may or may not follow. Anyone who is a fan of the original is familiar with that speech His Majesty makes at the end of Series 2, and his transition from [40 Year Spoiler Alert] villain to ally has caused some fans, myself included, to maybe make some excuses and turn a blind eye toward his earlier behavior.
I suspect I will have more to say about this in future commentary (does anyone honestly believe that we won’t be seeing Abelt again?), but at the end of the day, the guy was a freaking despot. Shooting Hyss was not an action befitting a “samurai,” but his noble nature came through in the end … mostly. I just don’t believe that the character of Serizawa will get enough focus for much nuance to be introduced, but it’s still early in this series. (And you are correct about Fukui’s talent!)
[AMB]: He does make quite the comeback story in the original saga, and I was definitely one of those fans holding out hope for a gallant return with his fancy cape in tow! And it’s a very fair judgement you’re making, especially when considering the already huge cast of characters this show has to juggle. Despite this, that early shot of Todo and Serizawa staring each other down as they both decide to deploy Andromeda in Episode 1 sticks with me as the beginning of something greater for both of them, even if their development may be comparatively smaller in terms of screen time.
When the helicopters arrive, Yamato is nowhere to be found. No heat signatures, no signs of departure. A panicked Serizawa realizes the surveillance cameras must have been hacked, grasping for information in desperation. Troubled, Todo shares his realization that Yamato is probably holed up in the underground city connected to the docks. But their cameras reveal nothing, causing Serizawa to grow increasingly more frustrated. In an effort to preemptively defuse any drastic measures, Todo sternly reminds him not to be too rough with the heroes who saved Earth.
[AMB]: There’s open tension and underlying mutual respect between Serizawa and Todo every time they’re on screen, yet they maintain a productive work ethic. I briefly mentioned the way these two play off each other in episodes 1 and 2, but here we see the full extent of their cooperative efforts. They’re comparable to a timid yet stern old man (Todo) and a ferocious but honor-bound dog (Serizawa). Is that an apt comparison?
[KC]: This is part of the reason why I am not 100% on board with your character growth theory. Todo is there to be the loving parent who understands and forgives. Serizawa is the parent that doesn’t get you and sends you to your room. They provide a balance that makes any development on Serizawa’s side potentially unnecessary. Or, you know, I could simply be disinterested in this particular character.
[AMB]: I wouldn’t say Serizawa’s underlying development is unnecessary per se, let me try to explain my reasoning for a bit. He’s a stern, brutish and effective man who values order over morals, an example of the most valued aspects a soldier can have. But through his characterization, he’s shown to be a more selfless man than the corrupt politicians and military assholes we usually see in media, where his own motivations are almost completely obfuscated in favor of simply showing us his actions and letting us individually judge him. Some see an annoying obstacle, I see a man of integrity doing his best to make sure Earth doesn’t come off as weak and easy to conquer.
It’s easy to say, “let Todo be in charge of everything” but then we’d lose the rational part of the “Ideals/Rationality” cog. Without Serizawa to pressure Andromeda’s deployment in Episode 1, Todo would most likely have faltered, endangering the lives of many at the hands of Gatlantis. Likewise, had Todo not been here in this episode, a shoot-to-kill order might have been successfully enacted with great loss of life and bad PR afterward. In the end, it’s interesting that you chose to compare Serizawa to “the parent who doesn’t get you” because it omits the important detail that the kid in this case doesn’t want to understand him, either. The kid wants to steal his dad’s military service car for an impromptu trip to Europe. We both know going AWOL is punishable by death, yet he held back until Yamato chose to destroy and steal military property. Isn’t that at least somewhat commendable?
[KC]: Yes, but the conceit is that we as the audience know that sometimes what is right is also against the rules. Yamato and her crew are not a child making a decision based on their immaturity, they are a shining beacon of good; the protector/savior of Earth and anyone else in space who is threatened or in danger. Serizawa is really just the embodiment of Earth’s military arrogance and structure. A challenge for Yamato to overcome as they begin their newest quest, one that is perhaps a bit more fleshed out than he was in 1978.
Our newly-appointed Captain Kodai has a moment of self-contemplation while standing inside the barrel of the Wave-Motion Gun, asking himself if he’s capable of upholding Okita’s promise to Starsha. The right thing would be to cut the WMG-circuits now, “But what if?” he asks himself. Pondering the potential loss of life and the looming death of human morals, Okita haunts Kodai yet again, yelling at the frightened boy to “Show your resolve!”
[KC]: This new take on the war with Gatlantis really beats you over the head with the moral implications regarding use of force, but overall I prefer it this way.
[AMB]: He is standing inside the WMG, after all. Kodai seems very keen on not screwing up this whole operation, scared and confused. Narratively, questioning Earth’s path from inside a weapon which is capable of both salvation and destruction is very fitting. There’s also the connection this scene has with OG Yamato, Series 1.
[KC]: Yes, I was happy that they chose to be more blatant this time. In the original series, Kodai spends a lot of time worrying about whether or not he’s worthy of filling Captain Okita’s role on Yamato, but there is little to no mention of his concern that they have gone back on their promise to Starsha of Iscandar. What is the connection you are referring to?
[AMB]: In Series 1 Episode 3, Okita decides to give Kodai and Shima a tour around the massive battleship, ending up inside the barrel of the WMG. Fitting how everything comes full circle this way, despite the scene’s absence in 2199. (I don’t find the absence of this scene in 2199 detrimental, since the meaning is still conveyed through showing us the dangers of using the WMG instead.)
The decommissioned battleship Kirishima pops up on radar near Yamato’s former domed dockyard, carrying several dozen Yamato crewmembers, leaving a blindsided HQ baffled. From the shore, Daisuke Shima observes these events with conflict in his eyes, Kodai’s call to action repeating in his head. Questioning this revolt, he asks, “Is this the only option left, Kodai?”
[AMB]: Kirishima was the ship Okita commanded via the Captainship of Osamu Yamanami during 2199, then inherited by Hijikata. It was probably gifted to Yamato’s bridge crew by the esteemed man himself following his demotion. Great foresight, I must say!
[KC]: A lot of thought was put into this take on the story. Meanwhile, Shima remains unsure about mutiny. Certainly not unreasonable, but because his character took this same position in the original story it probably led to the decision in 2199 to have him so furiously embrace Earth’s military propaganda in the face of the truth behind their war with Garmillas.
[AMB]: If that’s the case, then the production staff for 2199 had some great foresight as well! I remember Shima in Yamato 2, wavering in his resolve before Okita’s statue as we hear a somber version of From Yamato with Love.
[KC]: I don’t disagree, although I would say it was more to balance out Kodai, similar to the way you described Todo and Serizawa playing off each other. Kodai is the heroic one who will run heedlessly into danger when help is needed. Shima is his kind and level-headed friend who approaches things more carefully and considers his actions.
[AMB]: This short-lived arc is admittedly more downplayed here, or rather subdued. I’d have loved to see at least one scene with him at home with his kid brother to hammer home his inner conflict, but staying focused on the military side of his troubles works, too. It leaves some potential for future stories if he makes it out of this sequel alive!
[KC]: We will talk more later about how much plot Shima gets, if any.
Arriving from both land and sea, Yamato’s crew head on down to the old subterranean city using a set of elevators. Serizawa grows increasingly riled, ordering his men to “search throughout the remains of the last great war” with burning conviction. But Todo proclaims that he will talk with the crew once they’re all on board, refusing the military hawk the right to kill. A shocked Serizawa then contemplates the order, coming him back to his senses. The ferocity gone, he still maintains that the mutineers need to be suppressed if Todo can’t stop them from leaving, and the camera pans to the orbiting defense satellites.
[AMB]: It’s a tough call for both parties here. Todo is morally in the right, cautioning the hot-head and calling for diplomacy. But Serizawa is rationally in the right, expressing the need to stop a rebellion before it influences the rest of the military. If they disobey the chain of command and leave even when granted the opportunity to stand down, then the only option left will be to forcibly stop the ship and all its crew using the defense satellites. That won’t be pretty for anyone.
[KC]: Your opinion is far more generous than mine, but I admit that I’m embracing the melodrama of space opera and indulging my knowledge that stopping the ship would be a bad thing for Earth.
[AMB]: Here, this episode begins a fun mini-game for me: Spot Tetsuya Kitano! I think he appears 3-4 times over the entire series, and he’s pretty hard to find. For those who don’t remember, he is the rookie granted the steering wheel for Yamato in New Voyage only to disappear without explanation in sequels (he had a role in the Be Forever game for Playstation 2, but that hardly counts). In the reboot series, however, he was introduced in 2199 as Kodai’s relief tactical officer. He’s only being briefly mentioned by others once or twice, and in 2202 he shows up even less. Spot Tetsuya Kitano and you win at life!
[KC]: Let’s be honest; if I wasn’t here to provide my observations and opinions on all of these episodes, I would barely be paying attention to the Earthlings that everyone knows. Although I must say that while as a child I fast forwarded through the VHS tape until I saw blue people, I am genuinely enjoying the story in its entirety this time around.
[AMB]: Even the (un)remarkable adventures of Tetsuya Kitano? I get you though, back when I was a kid I always fast-forwarded Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs to… yes, the Spaceballs scenes. Especially that end scene with the theme song, it’s really catchy!
[KC]: Aaaaaand now it’s in my head.
The entire Yamato crew band up in solidarity, a good mood permeating mankind’s former underground home. Dr. Sado has reunited with Analyzer, Engineer Yamazaki has gotten his own apprentices, and Tokugawa is once again faced with impossible time constraints. Despite inadequate preparations, the engine crew exclaims that they’re going to make Yamato launch no matter what.
[AMB]: While short, this scene really helps get my spirits up as an audience member. This ship’s crew is family in ways outsiders can’t really understand, and as fans who journeyed with this family back in 2199 it’s fun to see them back together where they fit best. We don’t get much time to reacquaint ourselves with the individual characters, but if we count the reunion back in Episode 2 and the fact that the crew themselves are also in a rush, it’s not too bad.
The main staff starts to assemble on the first bridge, worried about the ever-approaching defense satellite. With Shima’s absence, however, a not-so-confident Ota has to bear the responsibility of steering Yamato. Acting Captain Kodai enters the bridge as they are hailed by HQ. The transmission is from commander Todo and he wants to negotiate. Being the fair man Kodai is, he orders Aihara to flip on Yamato’s speakers so that everyone can hear the commander’s impartial judgement and proposition.
[KC]: Very happy about the addition of this. In the original series, there was no proposition, just the order to stand down. But I specifically like that Kodai broadcasts the message throughout the ship as any decent pirate captain would.
[AMB]: On that point we’re in unison. In the original’s defense though, I have to mention how Todo’s proposition actually comes through earlier in a very clever way. The scene Kodai shared with Todo last episode where he denies the Time Fault’s existence, as well as the scene where Yamato’s crew are informed of their relocation and agree to mutiny, were a single scene in Farewell. But in Yamato 2 the structure is very similar to 2202, with the meeting scene being in Episode 3 and the urge to surrender in Episode 4.
To elaborate, in that scene Todo informs the crew personally of their relocation orders, averting his gaze and cautioning them to follow orders and stand down. However, he does this with some aversion, refusing to respond to Kodai’s enraged reaction. After all, he also came to visit Yamato to remind himself of what the ship originally accomplished. In 2202 the meeting with Todo carries a more subtle meaning, with him showing self-doubt and shame due to the Time Fault’s inclusion in the story and his moral capitulation regarding the WMG fleet.
Both versions of the story accomplish similar things, but I believe 2202 did so more effectively. Fun fact: the Serizawa clone delivers the order to stand down in Farewell with Kodai once again flipping on Yamato’s speakers for the crew to hear. (Note: “Serizawa clone” refers to Todo’s advisor in both Farewell and Yamato 2, who didn’t get named until he became General Stone in Star Blazers.)
[KC]: This time around, the writers are a lot less willing to paint Earth as an innocent victim of repeated attacks from megalomaniacal aliens. I don’t really want to belabor the point I made earlier, but here again we see that we’re encouraged to identify with Todo, if not Kodai himself. He may support the rule of law, but in his heart he knows the right thing to do.
Asking the crew to hear him out, Todo expresses his compassion and understanding, recognizing their value and contributions to Earth’s restoration. As Iscandar once saved Earth, Yamato’s crew now wants to save the being behind the voice calling for help. He reminds them, however, that hastily jumping into conflict might endanger both Earth and the Galaxy as a whole, since Yamato is a dangerous weapon capable of causing conflict. The proposition? They are to hand over Yamato and surrender immediately, which will grant them immunity to repercussions from this incident.
[AMB]: This scene is very relatable from both sides. If we think about it allegorically, the old and rationalistic generation (represented by Todo) expresses their goodwill to the younger and more idealistic generation (represented by Kodai) in the form of a proposal. It can be infuriating to hear them out, but nonetheless educational and many times true. But following their meeting last episode, we’ve established that Todo still has some morals that he’s locked away. Kodai openly shows the growth he gained from Okita mixed with the conviction and honor of a young man seeking a better world. Willing to take a risk, he separates from his elders to find his own path, disillusioned with those in charge.
Cutting off the commander’s speech, Kodai announces his captainship to a surprised Todo, who gives Yamato’s crew five minutes to rethink their course of action. Our new Captain then broadcasts to the entire ship, telling them that while the commander is in the right, the ship will depart as planned. No one is forced to stay, but as long as there’s someone in need of help in the universe, Yamato will help them. Not because of military orders or because it’s right, but because that’s the human way.
[KC]: I have definitely said it before, if not in this particular commentary, but I like this Kodai A LOT more than I like the original Kodai or … “Derek Wildstar.”
[AMB]: Unfortunately there’s been little incentive for me as a fan of the original works to watch the original Star Blazers dub, considering some story beats were censored in places I can’t forgive. (And those names are corny in a very fun way.) But back to Kodai; he’s starting to show some of the same strengths Okita had, which is great! But as we the audience knows… it’s partially a facade. He has strong moral character compared to Okita, but his convictions are more shaky.
As familial bonds among the bridge crew are renewed, we hear announcements from all team leaders that no one has chosen to leave. The sole exception is Shima, who Ota counts as not being spiritually absent. The tension is then lifted as Kodai takes the responsibility of steering Yamato, announcing their departure.
[KC]: Also a good scene for emotional impact, not that I expected anyone to take him up on the offer to disembark.
[AMB]: It’s about family, and that’s what makes it so important. Very inspirational, seeing their bonds still so tight three years after 2199. Don’t lose your hope in Shima folks!
But then the dock’s control room blows up, cutting off access to the flooding controls! Dozens of armed troops rush in, guns raised as they surround Yamato. After the ship’s hatches close up, Yamazaki radios in to say that the dock’s main system was destroyed. This means they have no access to the gates, gantry locks, or water injection system needed to depart. Luckily a sub-control room exists, the catch being that it must be accessed manually.
[AMB]: The second I heard this, I was struck by the realization that some crew members were about to either die or prematurely leave the ship in order to fix the problem. This would be fitting in a way, since this series’ cast of characters is about to expand to Legend of the Galactic Heroes levels if we go by what happens in the original.
[KC]: Oh, they took great care while 2202 was still in production to assure fans that this version would contain plenty of elements of Farewell. So much care, in fact, that I was sure folks would die in this scene.
Kodai tries to stay calm as he picks members for a special-ops team. They end up being Shou Yamazaki (senior engineer and former damage control chief), Toru Hoshina (security officer) and Mikage Kiryuu (engineering officer, former linguistics expert). His quick decisiveness hypes up Yamazaki, who runs off to fetch the other two. On the bridge, Nanbu is given orders to spook the military troops with warning shots, which he does to great success. Yamazaki’s team is then sent off by Miki Saijo (relief radar operator) and Yuria Misaki (former Yamato Radio host). Yuria wishes Hoshina good luck.
[AMB]: Some fan-favorite side characters are granted the opportunity to shine here, which I’m all for! Despite having grown quite a bit since 2199, Nanbu’s still very happy handling the guns.
Pursued by highly trained operatives, our trio is ambushed by a soldier in hiding, prompting a quick and fierce response from Yamazaki’s fist. He grabs the soldier’s gun, yells at Hoshina and Kiryu to move on without him, and proceeds to lay down covering fire. This secures safe passage to the controls. A worried Misaki overhears the gunfire and heads off to see if Hoshina is safe.
[AMB]: Yamazaki’s sure got some mettle! He was always built like he came from a Yakuza game, so seeing him get up close and personal is a nice treat, especially considering we don’t often get fisticuffs in Yamato. Misaki’s reckless dash to ensure Hoshina’s safety is a cute touch, showing us that their bond is as strong as ever. (Fandom would later learn through official materials that Yuria and Toru are married, but we don’t know exactly when; it may happen after this episode.)
[KC]: I am not here for Earthing-to-Earthling romance. Heh, heh.
With control now transferred to Yamato, water begins pouring in at an alarming rate, triggering the EDF squad to retreat from the lower levels. The military then confirms a launch sequence starting up and promptly issues an evacuation order. Yamazaki is still locked in a stalemate with the soldiers. As tensions rise along with the water, Yuria reaches the group.
[AMB]: A very tense scene, growing more dire by the second. Big props to the animators for their work on not only a variety of control panels and rusty hatches, but also the water effects. As it pours out the vents it’s completely hand drawn, yet the water filling the dock is rendered in CG without sticking out too much. We see later how Yamato is submerged, and from inside the ship the water is hand-drawn, yet the surface retains a crisp CG finish when viewed from above. I’m no expert, but small details like that make me happy.
A worried Miki is told by boatswain Enomoto to close the hatch and get to safety, arguing that Yamazaki’s team can still use the upper hatches. But before this can be done, a soldier rises from the water and catches them both off-guard. The bridge crew does its best to buy Yamazaki’s team some time, but suddenly they receive a fateful transmission:
“Yamazaki, Kiryu, Misaki and Hoshina will see Yamato off from here.”
Proudly proclaiming that they’ll be with the crew in spirit, the team announces their wish to act as a stepping stone in order to send Yamato on its way. Seeing as any further delay will endanger both the crew and the ship, there was no other solution. Captain Kodai responds to Yamazaki’s reassuring smile with a respectful salute. (At long last, the classic salute!!!)
[KC]: Lots of exciting action in this scene. I’m pretty sure that no one was left behind in the original version, so it remains to be seen if this is happening purely for additional flavor or if leaving someone behind will serve a future purpose.
[AMB]: Before this moment, the only ones we believe to be staying behind are Niimi, Yuki and Shima. Now four more characters have stepped off. This makes sense from a production standpoint, considering the rest need some breathing room in this densely-packed cast. I remember not being too against this, considering Hoshina, Yuria and Niimi’s focus and character arcs in 2199 served their purpose, and Yamazaki isn’t even in the original series yet.
That said, the scene initially makes you hope this choice doesn’t permanently remove these characters from the bigger picture since they provide fun and interesting dynamics. Kiryu’s exclusion is the only one I see as potentially detrimental in the long run, following the reveal in Ark of the Stars that she shares a bond with Space Cavalryman Hajime Saito (his deceased commander being her father). But don’t worry, they’ll definitely return with renewed importance. But for now their sacrifice was wholesome in every sense of the word.
As the water levels increase to the point of totally submerging Yamato, the ship is freed of its moorings. Yamazaki’s team salutes Yamato with neither tears nor anguish as she passes through the underwater gate, signaling the first true step of departure.
[AMB]: Interesting tidbit to add is that the composer chose to re-orchestrate Birth for this scene (one of the most famous pieces from Symphonic Suite Yamato), mirroring the departure scene from Farewell to Yamato. Seeing the submerged remains of Earth’s underground cities is really cool. We didn’t get to see this much of the underwater docks before 2202; the gouged-out Earth and hollow areas remind me of Garmillas.
[KC]: Well I am glad that you said it, since I am usually the one seeing references to them everywhere.
[AMB]: Is this an appropriate moment to call you green with envy?
[KC]: Ah, that’s just the lighting in here.
Reaching the end of his patience with this rebellion, Serizawa orders the orbiting satellite to prep for combat. After being urged that “There’s no other option left,” Commander Todo silently accepts this turn of events.
[AMB]: Seeing as Yamato’s crew has chosen to rebel despite being granted a full pardon, what else is there to do, really? Todo is at the end of his rope here.
[KC]: Still, the audience at home is not expected to sympathize with this difficult decision. Todo is merely the Good Cop in this Good Cop/Bad Cop situation. We all know what has to happen here.
[AMB]: Sympathize? Maybe not. But empathize? Definitely.
Meanwhile on Yamato we see Miki and the boatswain on their way to the bridge, evidently in the custody of our mystery soldier. Said bridge is in high spirits with the WMG engine almost prepped to go. But the Captain is troubled, Shima’s absence weighing on his mind. The soldier then makes his appearance, revealing himself to be… Shima Daisuke.
[KC]: Hooray! While their reasons for not getting in on the action were vastly different, we are treated to a moment much like when we see another fantastic pilot, Han Solo, return with the Millennium Falcon during Luke’s Death Star run in the nick of time. A must for any Space Opera.
[AMB]: Apt comparison, I must say, especially considering the original Farewell story borrowed elements (mostly visual) from A New Hope during the making of the movie! Also, when do we get to see Shima becoming a space scoundrel who’s completely lost his faith (and marbles) in the military?! Shima and Berger’s excellent adventure anyone?
[KC]: While they are both exceptional pilots, for me that is where the similarities between Shima and Solo begin and end. But I will take a Berger spinoff!
Nanbu is surprised, Ota is relieved, and Tokugawa seems to have known all along that the boy would pop up eventually. Shima promises Kodai they’ll talk later as the Captain happily transfers control of the ship to his best friend. With that, Chief engineer Tokugawa announces the Wave-Motion Engine reaching that nostalgic 120% as the ship proceeds to launch!
And with that the ship departs, passing over the deceased Captain Okita’s memorial.
[AMB]: We’re once again treated to a loving recreation of an iconic scene, Farewell’s departure sequence (with some Final Yamato flavoring as a bonus). The way the water pours off Yamato as it elegantly reflects the sunlight is a sight of pure hope! Going from the earlier dark coldness, now we see a valiant shift to bright light penetrating the submerged relic of 2199 as it faces off into the sun. It is no longer buried and forgotten. Where we formerly saw the darkened gaze of Okita’s statue watching the military’s intervention, his face is now clear as if he’s watching over the crew.
[KC]: I’m not sure what your experience is on the internet, but usually when I come across someone using the term “fanservice,” they are doing so in a negative way. Really, the practice can be both positive and negative. I think this rendering of Yamato is a prime example of fanservice at its best.
[AMB]: It does appear to be a touchy subject, but I’m not one to shy away from controversial opinions. My view on “fanservice” is that when it’s either additive or nuanced in some way (James Marshall performing the cheesy, self-aware song Just You in Twin Peaks: The Return), done in good taste rather than simply ripping off previous material (Starkiller Base in Force Awakens is a bad example), or doesn’t intend to outdo it (the changed ending of Steven King’s The Mist in Frank Darabont’s movie adaptation as a good example), it’s good in my book.
It’s easy to copy-paste the twin suns moment for Luke in Last Jedi, but it’s much harder to capture the raw and intense emotion behind the original scene in A New Hope. Or how about we take an example from the 2199 reboot? Hirata contently serving a cup of tea with a side of lemon to Celestella and Yuki in Episode 25 is an obscure callback to his defining character moment in Yamato III, where he tells Domon that (and I’m paraphrasing here) “I’m no leader like him (Kodai). Or a fighter. But what I can do is serve him a good cup of tea. We all have things that only we can do.” It’s earned fanservice, heartwarming in the same way that cup of tea probably was. This scene? A win in my book.
[KC]: We are in store for a great many obscure callbacks as we get deeper into 2202, but you’ll likely be the one pointing out the Earth-centric ones.
The combat satellite is now aimed and ready, but Yamato tears it apart with its main guns as it leaves Earth’s atmosphere. A wavering Commander Todo watches this scene play out at HQ, thinking to himself, “Okita’s children are leaving.”
[AMB]: Todo’s line is taken straight from the original takes of this story, its emotional impact drastically increased by the father/son aspect of Okita and Kodai from Final Yamato being carried over to Yamato 2199’s narrative, its explicit mention in Ark of the Stars sticking out the most. The line also shows us Todo’s spiritual support of Yamato’s crew, if that wasn’t already made obvious.
[KC]: He’s probably also thinking; “Great. Now I have to deal with this blowhard.”
[AMB]: I wouldn’t put it past him, honestly. Or wait, are you referencing Serizawa or Kodai here?
[KC]: Oh, Serizawa, definitely. This Kodai is still a bit of a rebel but a vast improvement over his predecessor.
In response to this event, a flustered and nerve-wracked Serizawa turns his gaze to Todo, asserting the fact that Yamato’s crew has crossed the line and that he’ll stop them for the honor of Earth’s Defense Force. Following this grave promise, we cut to to Earth’s defense fleet in space as the camera slowly pans over five Andromeda-class battleships and dozens of Dreadnoughts, all standing in Yamato’s way. The daunting task of getting past this blockade will be our heroes’ biggest challenge yet.
[AMB]: Fun fact: this exact line ends Episode 4 in both Yamato 2 and 2202!
[KC]: “The honor of Earth’s Defense Force.” Ugh, this guy is garbage.
[AMB]: If a flying weapon of mass destruction left Earth against orders in front of both Earth’s leaders and also former conquering alien nations… it does send a bad message doesn’t it? “We can’t even control one ship, and there’s no military discipline. We’re easy pickings in their eyes!” That’s what I’d be thinking as a council member. And if this open act of rebellion influences others, the military has failed as an organization, no longer capable of guaranteeing their citizens’ safety. I’m not saying one has to agree with Serizawa and the military here, but he has shown a lot of restraint as a representative of the EDF, and for that I give him credit.
Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. You rebel, you get punished. Readers familiar with the self-righteous behavior of certain Gundam pilots and the mistakes they commit on behalf of the military should know what I’m talking about.
Yamato lifts off from a very specific location in Japan, the city of Kure and Hiroshima Bay. Kure is indicated by the red arrow.
Here is the same region as seen on Google Earth. The significance of this is that the original IJN Battleship Yamato was built in Kure on a site now occupied by the Yamato Museum. For all we know, Yamato’s underwater dock was in this exact spot.
[KC]: Well, not to fall too far down a hole of comparing space opera to real life, but the simple truth is that I am not a big fan of the posturing of military organizations in my own country or others. So when it comes to fiction specifically geared toward challenging the concept of “Might makes right,” I have no interest in stepping into the shoes of – or entertaining any level of support for – the guy who is more outraged about this act of defiance than betraying the trust of that nice, alien lady who is really the only reason anyone on this dirtball is still alive.
[AMB]: Rationalism versus idealism, clashing even in this commentary… Poetic!
And with that, what did you think of the episode, Kathy? I know you’re itching to see more of our blue alien friends in a more extended capacity, but did the episode manage to intrigue you despite their absence?
[KC]: I am still liking the new story better overall and enjoying the added layers of complexity. This episode had some great emotional impact and I am not sorry that much of my commentary involves being judgey about Serizawa. Hee, hee!
Theatrical release: Space Battleship Yamato 2202, Soldiers of Love Chapter 2: Launch Chapter contained episodes 3-6. It premiered in Japanese theaters June 24, 2017.
Japanese video: Theater-exclusive Blu-ray June 24, 2017. Standard Blu-ray & DVD July 28, 2017
First Japanese TV broadcast: October 26, 2018
American debut: May 30, 2018 (streaming) March 15, 2019 (home video)
The opening title consists of a newly-recorded version of the Yamato theme featuring the second verse of the song. The handful of new scenes from the previous OP has now been bolstered by an exquisite vignettes of Yamato being refitted in drydock. All of these shots were designed by Director Nobuyoshi Habara and Illustrator Kia Asamiya.
The end title Mirror of the Moon contains entirely new animation and is used through Episode 6. The song is performed by Teresa’s voice actor Sayaka Kanda.
Click here for a complete BGM collection for Episode 4
Storyboard/Episode Director: Takao Kato
Animation Directors: Meiju Maeda, Hiroki Kashiwagi, Mitsuru Ishihara
Writer: Harutoshi Fukui
Scriptwriter: Hideki Oka
Director: Nobuyoshi Habara, Xebec Studio
Assistant Director: Makoto Kobayashi
Art Director: Yoshio Tanioka
CG Animation Director: Yuuto Uwabo, Sublimation Studio
Music: Akira Miyagawa, Hiroshi Miyagawa
Executive Producer: Shoji Nishizaki