by Kathy Clarkson, Anton Mei Brandt, and Daniel George
Episode 6: Desperate Struggle – the Eleventh Planet!
Floating in a cluster of asteroids is a lone shuttlecraft carrying the unconscious and bleeding Space Cavalry member Shiori Nagakura, who we last saw responding to Gatlantis’ attack on the 11th planet. Woken up by what appears to be a cutting tool, her mind flashes to a ravaged city center, strewn with human corpses. All of them failed to reach an evacuation shuttle, their bodies skewered by large protruding poles, as if crucified.
[AMB]: We’re off to a somber start. Those familiar with the original work knew the one-sided bout on the 11th planet was bound to happen soon enough, but this is brutal. The BG art for 2202 has been excellent so far, but Episode 6 ups the ante a bit wouldn’t you say? The coloring in this episode is visually gorgeous, the sunrise bleeding through every part of the planet’s rocky Mars-like texture. Breathtakingly grim.
[KC]: There is a brief mention in the original Series 2 of Gatlantis/The Comet Empire doing an incredible amount of damage to the base on the 11th planet, named Brumis in the Star Blazers dub. They never mention its name in this new series, which is odd since the reboot seems to pay a lot more attention to details. But I’ll still take this new version, with its colony of Earthlings and Garmillans living there together.
[AMB]: Maybe “11th planet” is just a placeholder name in-universe? It’s name being yet undecided. Anyhow, in episode 6 of Yamato 2 we see the destruction play itself out. Speaking of those aforementioned crucifixion poles, anyone who recognized them from a previous episode gets bonus points from me.
[KC]: I will collect those points, thank you. This is not the first time we have seen what the Needle Slaves of Gatlantis can do to a person.
A young Garmillas girl is sobbing next to the corpses. She’s confronted by the searchlight of a familiar mechanical being, towering at easily 5 times her size. Before it can fire off a barrage of its piercing weapons though, Nagakura swoops in and saves the girl after delivering some suppressive fire.
[AMB]: Compared to 5 episodes ago, it finally struck me how large and imposing these Needle Slaves are. On another note, the 2202 character guide names the little girl Irii.
[KC]: And she is adorable. But we still have the Garmillas/Garmillas/Garmillan spelling dilemma. If I recall correctly, it was romanized to Gamilas from the original series, which they then dubbed into Gamilon for Star Blazers, and now it was romanized again to Garmillas in Yamato 2199. Now it’s back to Garmillas again. I expect that I will continue to use all three depending on which series I am discussing.
Successfully evading pursuit, Nagakura checks to see if the child’s all right. It turns out that she’s been separated from her family following Gatlantis’ invasion. Nagakura comforts the lost child, promising to help search for her family if they’re not already at the shelter. They join hands for a short walk past the rubble, most signs of civilization burnt down by the invaders.
[AMB]: Based on these introductory scenes, we seem to be getting a Nagakura-centric episode, which is well-earned. Not only is she a badass space marine, she’s also capable of dealing with kids in a calm and appropriate manner. I’d like to stress that the way the camera pans around the Needle Slave in order to convey the sheer size of it works wonders, and Irii’s small steps barely being able to keep up with Nagakura is a cute animation detail, taking her stature into account.
[KC]: It’s worth noting that there were no female space marines in the original series; all of the other marines were nearly indistinguishable from Saito himself.
[AMB]: One of the pros of having Yamato’s new productions being made in the form of movies (rather than debuting on TV) is that they’re not forced to hold back on the severity of the conflicts. In this case, we see the full extent of the annihilation brought forth by Gatlantis without needing to appease broadcast standards.
[KC]: Back in the days when Yamato was shared on VHS tapes by non-Japanese fans, the general consensus was that the American dub edited out the violence and death for the kiddies. While this updated version is not as gratuitous as some anime can be, it certainly doesn’t pull any punches.
[DG]: It had to be kid-friendly back in the 70s and 80s for the distributors to sell it. There was no way in those days that TV stations could market animated shows to anyone but kids. The idea of adults being able to find real entertainment in an animated series was just something that never entered the minds of the TV executives of the day. How times have changed. Still, I’m amazed to this day that Captain Avatar was allowed to die on screen in Star Blazers. Still, Star Blazers wasn’t cut quite as badly as Battle of the Planets was – but from what I’ve seen of Gatchaman, it had more violence and death on-screen than Yamato.
At the end of the road, Irii spots a familiar toy model of Yamato, next to the buried corpse of her brother (in what MUST be a nod to the past, its third bridge is broken off). Shiori embraces the orphan in a show of empathy as the camera pans to the sunset, informing us that at least a day of defensive combat has passed.
[KC]: We saw this poor boy in an earlier episode, alive and well, decorating the tree with his little sister. He had his toy model of Yamato then, too. Just another subtle reminder that we are more alike than we are different.
[AMB]: A bittersweet moment. That embrace between her and Nagakura isn’t just a soldier comforting an orphan, she shares in her pain. Her responsibility as a soldier was to protect settlers like Irii’s brother and whether or not they’re Earthlings or Garmillans doesn’t matter. These three years have really helped smooth out the strained relationship between the former enemies. On another note, I really hope Santa made it out okay.
[KC]: Oh, those Gatlanteans better not have killed Santa!
In another part of the cityscape turned battlefield we see Needle Slaves massacring innocents by the dozens. A lone cosmo marine enters the fray with a jetpack, yelling at the civilians to head for “the bridge.” The man then brushes off three sword-wielding Gatlantean soldiers as he proceeds to nail the rampaging Needle Slave to the ground, shutting it down with a full clip from his assault rifle. He then gets a moment of relief, since all the Gatlanteans are immobilized and the civilians well on their way to rescue.
[AMB]: The heroics of the Cosmo Marines are really brought to light here. Not as a collective, but on an individual level. This guy who we don’t even know (in a moment we’ll get his name – Furuhashi) just risked his life against a relentless group of invaders and successfully helped defend most of the refugees. Hero material, wouldn’t you say?
[KC]: Yes, much like we saw in 2199, cool scenes and heroic moments are not exclusive to the main characters. As I mentioned above, the space marines used to be rather homogeneous, so it’s nice to see them being given some individuality.
[AMB]: And Gatlanteans with swords? While their technology (so far) seems advanced beyond the scope of our imagination, the weapons their soldiers carry are archaic and old-fashioned. Makes me believe their technology is most likely inherited, rather than built by them. Similar to Dagarm’s group in Ark of the Stars where they forced Garmillan “science slaves” to construct the Megaluda (and also carried swords in accordance with their traditions).
[KC]: A more … elegant weapon. From a more civilized age. Heh, heh. Swords, WWII battleships and other anachronistic items are always making their way into space opera; the aesthetics are too good to pass up.
[AMB]: Someone should keep a tally on our Star Wars references. Anyhow, we have yet to see if the Needle Slaves are commissioned in a similar manner to the Megaluda, but we’ll get a suitable answer. Patience is key with Fukui’s writing.
[KC]: Indeed; these visuals are not always explained, but this series has already put significant effort into providing logical reasons for things we simply took for granted before.
Suddenly the dead enemy soldiers rise up, ganging up on our lone hero. His bullets do nothing, as if their bodies were bullet sponges. With scorching heat emanating from their skin, their eyes grow large and strained. Furuhashi contacts Hajime Saito and tries to warn him of what’s about to happen. The reanimated corpses blow themselves up along with him, cutting off the transmission. Saito salutes the fallen soldier from afar.
[AMB]: This was not something I expected and it spooked me quite a bit the first time. There’s something eerily fascinating with a supposedly dead soldier burning up from inside as he reaches out to Furuhashi (and by extension, our own screens) in an attempt to take the marine with him to the grave. God rest his soul. And hopefully mine if the Gatlantean The Rings his way out of my screen!
[KC]: We know from the hospital scene in Episode 2 that Gatlantean soldiers are willing and able to self destruct, but this is a new aspect of their race and the fact that they can not only trigger it posthumously but also be mobile after death is terrifying.
[AMB]: This tells us a lot about the Gatlanteans. They’re fierce, unafraid to die, relentless and totally into inflicting pain on their adversaries, be they children, adults or soldiers. And now they’re capable of blowing up at will after death? The fear factor would make me want to surrender immediately. Speaking of which…
[KC]: Gatlantis is not done exploring this new zombie angle, but more on that later. On to one of their more blatant displays of villainy.
In what appears to be the 11th planet’s military HQ, base commander Ryu Hijikata attempts to surrender to the Gatlantean invaders in response to the great losses on both sides. Commander Cosmodart Nazca responds in a simple yet chilling manner. “Surrender? What does that mean?”
[AMB]: Great. Not only is Nazca relentless in his crusade, he’s completely without mercy. If the man even comprehends the meaning of such a concept, we don’t know. Glad to see Hijikata shares my opinion of the most sensible course of action; surrendering.
[KC]: We see a Garmillas version of this in their 2199 mantra; “Victory or Death!” Also, I believe Abelt Dessler himself points out that there is no word for “retreat” in their language. Not sure if the parallel is intended, but I would not put it past Fukui to have done it on purpose, as these concepts both appear in Episode 6 of their respective series. Or it could just be a coincidence. Garmillas seems to be just fine with surrender, so long as they are the ones being surrendered to.
[AMB]: Garmillas folk don’t retreat, it’s dishonorable to their culture. But the Gatlanteans… they don’t even seem to grasp the concept. It’s so alien to them, as if we’re the weird ones.
Hijikata tries to explain what “surrender” means, but Nazca cuts him off, telling him that if he wants to end the battle he has to fight and die. “That will bring true peace to this planet” he concludes. Hijikata then murmurs a single thought to himself. “They truly are demons.” The building of HQ collapses, the fate of those inside left ambiguous.
[AMB]: This is my favorite moment this episode. Out of all the pretty visuals and tragic beauty, this is what stuck with me the most. Gatlantis’ entire military philosophy is based on unapologetic destruction, with their right to rule proven through force. They do not yield. Not out of spite, but because their ways are “correct.” Concepts like surrender are made by weak individuals incapable of dying for their own cause, who therefore deserve to be slaughtered without mercy.
Nazca doesn’t even revel in the destruction of the 11th planet, it seems. To him, this is just the natural order of things. Gatlantis is a unique enemy, different at their core from both Garmillas and Earth. As the mysterious brooding theme of the white comet comes to a close, the ceiling collapses on Okita’s old friend as he curses the enemy’s inhumanity. At this point I was completely invested in Gatlantis for this show and my curiosity was overwhelming.
[KC]: I feel like this might be a good place to bring up another glaring difference between the original and current version of this tale; fans of the first Comet Empire series will recall that in the very first episode, Zordar has already picked up the intergalactic hitchhiker and failed tyrant, Leader Desslok, and enlisted his aide in conquering Earth.
Zordar’s generals aren’t happy about this, naturally, since they don’t think they need any help, especially from a washed-up dictator who still walks around talking like he’s all that. Nazca is no exception, and the old Episode 6 has him randomly insulting Desslok out loud for failing to deal with the Earthlings effectively. His sneering disdain is not far off from this Nazca’s level of arrogance, but the previous Nazca is nowhere near as intimidating as he is here.
[AMB]: Nazca’s insults in the original Series 2 do come back to bite him though! After trying to grab the glory of defeating Yamato ahead of Dessler, he ends up terrified on his ship’s bridge, radioing the former fuhrer for help, only to be denied. Keep this scene in mind as we go forward.
The battle rages on as Saito, in a makeshift shelter, scornfully accepts the challenge to “fight and die.” But he refuses to involve the civilians, preferring to let them escape with a spacecraft docked nearby. Professor Redrowz and Touko Katsuragi are shown to have both survived the onslaught, with the former motioning to the Space Cavalry commander that the shuttle just isn’t big enough for everyone (indicating Irii). Cosmo marines Kurata and Amagi briefly support Redrowz’ opinion, noting that advanced maneuvers in such a craft would be cumbersome with kids on board.
[AMB]: He may be a gruff looking giant, but he sure knows where his responsibilities lie. And the scene where Touko cradles Irii is quite wholesome. She may have seemed mysterious back in Episode 3, but here she’s just… taking care of a kid. Don’t worry, she’ll be harder to read the further we go!
[KC]: She’s just a harmless archaeological assistant, hoping to check out the Akerius ruins for purely intellectual reasons. Isn’t she?
[AMB]: Yes. And her voice doesn’t sound uncannily familiar to ANYONE else’s.
[DG]: And she’s not voiced by the same actress as one of the main characters, is she?
Saito concocts a new plan; Nagakura will leave with the shuttle, radioing for help along the way. In the meantime, her co-workers will protect what’s left of the planet’s population. Nagakura is taken aback at first, believing her task is given simply because of her womanhood. But her commander reassures his subordinate with a content smile.
“Bringing a rescue ship out of the pits of hell? Only you can do it.”
She turns and starts walking away, a labored sigh leaving her body. “You owe me one, commander.”
[AMB]: This bait and switch is really cute. For one moment you think the showrunners are just gonna be meta about Saito’s white-knight-ing and allow it to happen. But Saito happily puts into words the difficulty of the mission, assuring Nagakura that she was chosen for her merits rather than gender. And what does she see in the eyes of the rest of her comrades? No pity, only respect. The new Cosmo Marines rock, and I love them.
[KC]: Agreed; it is a great scene and it not only had us fooled; in the English dub even Nagakura herself asks point blank if Saito is only sending her because she’s a woman and he tells her it’s because she’s the best pilot they’ve got. After the ponderous macho bravado from Sergeant Knox, this is a refreshing change. Still … this show is so subtle. Maybe it is just because of the way space opera usually works, or because I myself am somewhat of a hopeless romantic, but I feel like there might be more there, with the look that Saito gives as Nagakura walks off.
[AMB]: Romantic in nature or not, it’s a clear visual indication that he’s got her back at all times.
The mountain they’re holed up in is under constant duress, missiles raining down on the shuttle hangar. Nagakura’s inside the shuttle, preparing for takeoff. Telling herself over and over that she’s not running away, she resolves her spirit and takes off. Her commander bravely defends her, fending off multiple spacecraft to ensure her safe departure. As her shuttle warps, the spot where we last saw Saito is blown to hell. Shiori wakes up right where the episode started, being picked up by Yamato. Flashback over.
[AMB]: With both Ark and 2202 in mind, this Saito really is an immense improvement. In Farewell he was mostly relegated to shorter scenes where he accompanied others and acted heroically, and in Yamato 2 he was a very frustrating (and almost meta) character who knew how ridiculous his antics were. But here? He’s got his Farewell attributes but also carries a heart of gold. He respects his subordinates regardless of gender or race, and genuinely cares about the people he’s protecting. His dynamic with Nagakura, a competent and relatable woman trying her best to meet his expectations, is charming!
[KC]: Exactly. I’m not going to harp on it, but like so much else in this series, Saito and the rest of his marines have gotten a serious upgrade.
[AMB]: Back to the original work again, an element of camaraderie within the Cosmo Marines was of course always present, allegorical to the Shinsengumi of Japan’s Edo Period. But the arc where he loses his fellow soldiers and decorates their graves with rifles and helmets as crosses? That happened on the moon in Ark. So the writers have to find something more for his character to do now, and I’m very excited to see what that may be! Aside from a budding relationship of any kind with best girl Nagakura. That is, if he survived that blast of course…
[KC]: Oh, am I not alone in reading something in that look he gave her?
[AMB]: I’m innocent of shipping these two until proven guilty. But the way he screamed Nakagura’s name as she departed? I felt it all the way inside my heart roots.
On Yamato’s bridge, the crew confirms the invaders to be Gatlanteans, sizing up their fleet. Keyman delivers some nuggets of information about the 11th planet: it was “terraformed” by Garmillas, powered by an artificial sun set up three years ago. The battle began over 40 hours ago, communications are cut off, and it houses a mixture of civilians and military personnel as we’ve seen prior to this.
[AMB]: A 40-hour long battle unfortunately spells bad odds for our guys.
[KC]: In English they say it has been 40 hours since the Gatlantis ambush; we already know the situation is dire, but I don’t think the battle itself went on for all that time.
[AMB]: Hopefully not, but I wouldn’t put it past these Gatlanteans! In the original, the 11th planet contained a recently explored ruin of a former civilization. This time around its purpose more closely resembles that of the Jupiter base in 2199, a waystation to expand the Garmillas Empire in the Milky Way. Now it’s a symbol of unity. Though we know, just like Kodai and Keyman, that this planet was only gifted (among other unknown territories) to Earth in exchange for access to the Time Fault.
[KC]: I have so many questions that are not germane to this story arc. I can only hope that the writers are seeding the plot for future series.
[AMB]: It would come as no surprise if they are, considering that’s what 2199 did with a lot of the Garmillas side of the story! But the artificial sun… Is it set up because the 11th planet is too far away from Earth’s Sun to function? Or is there something inherent to it that sustains Garmillan citizens? Similar to the intended effect of the 2199 Garmillas plants or the Jupiter base, where it was a cut out piece of their home environment?
[KC]: It is reasonable to assume that a planet this remote wouldn’t support human life. In the original it was revealed that Dessler needed Earth as a new home for his people, but according to 2199, Garmillas was out fighting Gatlantis when an Earth vessel happened along and chose hostilities over first contact. Now Dessler is gone and they are a democracy, or transitioning to one, so whether that will still be a factor remains to be seen …
After Ohta asks about the possibility of survivors, a dissatisfied grimace forms on Keyman’s face. They’re radioed by EDF HQ, where Commander Todo apologizes for his conservative estimation of the untimely Gatlantean invasion. Despite this, he wishes for Yamato to continue their trek to Telezart. (It’s rendered on screen as both “Telezart” and “Terezart” in this series, so we’re sticking to the older spelling here.) Todo argues that Yamato can’t and shouldn’t have to deal with an enemy fleet of that size on its own. The closing word comes from Serizawa, who vows to move out the military once the political side of things is settled with Garmillas.
[AMB]: In other words, since the planet housed citizens from both nations, the EDF can’t make a move without full consent from Garmillas. Oh, politics and bureaucracy, you never change. It’s a relief to see Todo warming up to this mission though, even if he approves of Yamato temporarily abandoning the 11th planet.
[KC]: Makes sense to me; not only is the planet home to both Garmillas and Earth citizens, but Garmillas could probably get ships there to rescue the survivors faster than the EDF could. I don’t think there’s any hidden agenda here or anything, and I take Serizawa at his word that they will do everything they can, even if it’s impossible for that guy not to look pissed off.
One thing that did strike me as somewhat amusing is the double turnaround here; Todo was against Yamato going to Telezart and now he’s ordering them to continue on and not get sidetracked. Meanwhile, Kodai was chomping at the bit to answer Teresa’s call and now he’s angry that he can’t go on this detour mission. Certainly not a criticism on my part; I absolutely adore this version of Kodai and I love how he just wants to get in there and save everyone, everywhere, all the time.
[AMB]: Some Garmillan officials are probably against open armed conflict with Gatlantis over this planet too, especially since it’s not their concern anymore. Ownership is with Earth, but if Earth isn’t allowed to respond thanks to Garmillas, it’s a bureaucratic stalemate. Let’s hope to God this isn’t the case. I share your view on Kodai. He’s good to a fault, and that’s what makes him so endearing.
Their new orders aren’t well-received. Ace pilots Shinohara and Kato wonder how much influence Garmillas has on Yamato’s current expedition and whether or not this helped cause the current line of events. Keyman’s ambiguous role is quietly questioned by Saburo.
[KC]: There’s that damn slur again. And Keyman overheard him say it. Yeah, I get it, Kato. Your kid is real sick because of the war with Garmillas, and now you’re pissed that Earth is all buddy-buddy with them and Yamato has one of their representatives on board, walking around like he owns the place. But from my vantage point, let me be the first to say; “F you.”
[AMB]: Casual racism after years of conflict is to be expected, but it’s still disheartening. We’ve seen parts of this “Garmillan conspiracy” littered throughout the story so far, but just like these pilots, we have no clue what Keyman or Varel’s agenda is. I’m currently in the camp of “I want to believe”(in them), but I’m not happy with the slow bureaucratic measures following this 11th planet incident.
[KC]: I don’t think anyone is happy with slow bureaucratic measures of any kind, especially if they’ve ever had to stand in line at a Registry of Motor Vehicles in the United States, heh. Seriously, though, I have complete faith in the Great Garmillas … whatever it is now. While I understand the suspicion, I believe Varel may be good at playing politics but isn’t doing what he’s doing for political reasons.
My favorite blue folks have always been portrayed as oddly superstitious considering their advanced technology and military mindset, and the Garmillas we have met in 2202 are no different. Varel did not impress on Kodai the importance of finding Teresa because they are looking to stab Earth in the back. Then again, I have the advantage of hindsight and I can’t say for sure that I wouldn’t speculate otherwise if we were writing this commentary while watching for the first time.
[AMB]: Maybe I’m just impatient because Yamato’s crew is. For all we know, the negotiations could take an hour or a week, and then the EDF and Garmillas would have to send a joint group to confront the threat. In any case, it’s clear that if anyone’s still alive down there, they’re doomed if Yamato departs. And if they don’t depart it would add a nice contrast to how Yamato had to bypass Saito’s group on the moon in 2199 to fulfill THAT mission.
[KC]: It is a powerful tool in this genre’s arsenal; the concept of sacrificing an individual or a small group of individuals to save a larger group or stop a bigger threat. Just because I’m willing to embrace my blind trust for Garmillas doesn’t mean I don’t feel the tension in these scenes. Those survivors could easily be left to die.
[AMB]: Quick thoughts about Varel before we move on; I don’t believe Kodai has a negative opinion of the man. Last time they spoke, Kodai grasped the horrors about to be unleashed on the galaxy. But Keyman… he’s so unambiguously ambiguous to our new Captain that it would be strange NOT to distrust him.
Inside Yamato’s briefing room, Shima lays out their planned route. If they warp once every 16 hours, they’ll reach the source of the mysterious signal in 29 days. (The blocks depicted along their path could either represent warps or normal travel, the dialogue does not specify.) Keyman coldly adds that the 11th planet is way off-course, which would add a substantial amount of travel time to an already urgent mission. Interrupting the Garmillan emissary, Akira argues that Yamato’s mission is to reach the source of the signal in order to save lives, finding it contradictory to abandon dying people for the sake of that end goal. Kato tries to calm her down but ultimately fails.
[AMB]: She’s still got some grade A willpower, that girl. Despite having been saved by the ambassador last episode, she doesn’t back down when she feels her integrity as a soldier and a human being is being denied. I like that.
[KC]: I feel like I keep repeating myself, but maybe it bears repeating? Anyway, I do joke a lot about how space opera often ignores the real world military ramifications that would result from some of the dramatic choices that characters make, but boy howdy does it make for good storytelling if you’re not distracted by that stuff.
I know this show is beloved by many in the military, so I’m guessing it’s not a problem for those who serve to see folks disobeying orders and shooting their mouths off. Perhaps a bit cathartic. In any event, I love that she gets up in Keyman’s face about this, even if I do think that some of his seemingly callous disregard for the possibility of survivors is feigned. Maybe even a test?
[AMB]: You have to suspend some disbelief, definitely. But in this case I think it’s meant to be an allegorical action fitting to what Yamato’s crew believes in. The cold rationality and stale rigidness of the military is not compatible with Yamato, it’s why Yamato left Earth and why Akira can partake in this briefing despite her lack of clearance. It’s why Yamato can and will attempt a rescue mission despite the clear setbacks to the mission. Akira doesn’t wait for this briefing to end unfavorably, so she attempts to force justice. And I think we’ll see a similar reaction from Kodai in response to this potential mission…
Recognizing Akira to be the one he saved, Klaus questions why she’s here despite her lack of clearance, to which she calmly asks if there’s any difference between Garmillans and Earthlings when it comes to the desire to save their own people. Klaus believes it’s been too long for there to be any survivors. Akira needs to see this with her own eyes before passing judgement, using Nagakura’s survival as a basis for her argument. Keyman argues that, rescue mission or not, it’s ultimately Captain Kodai’s decision.
[AMB]: Both parties convey good points, but they’re clearly stuck too far in their own mindsets to reach one another. Klaus has an almost defeatist attitude toward the settlers, rooted in the urgency of Yamato’s mission. Akira refuses to give up before getting a chance to try, opting for a more optimistic outlook.
[KC]: I’m going to give Keyman more credit and suggest that he looks to Kodai for a decision, knowing full well what he will choose.
[AMB]: Same here, it’s clearly a test as you said earlier. There’s also Keyman’s facial expressions in the previous scene hinting at some feeling of loss upon hearing of the low possibility of survivors, as seen by Shima. So while professing one set of beliefs, he could very well be closer to Akira at heart than we are led to believe.
[KC]: Yes, Keyman is presented in a similar way to Sanada, I think; dealing more in practical logic than emotion. But there are Garmillans on Planet 11, too, and I think we’re getting some subtle hints here that he cares about what happens to those people.
Despite Yamato’s bad odds, Kodai chooses to pursue the rescue mission. Just like at Planet Balan in the last war, they’ll employ Okita’s gutsy insertion tactics by warping as close to the planet’s surface as possible, even if it temporarily disables their Wave-Motion Engine. Sanada surmises that it will due to the gravity damage. Tokugawa weighs in with what this means in practical terms; No Wave-Motion Shield, no shock cannons and no warping capabilities for at least two hours.
[AMB]: Kodai is far easier to read emotionally than Okita ever was. In this scene it’s clear to me that he’s wondering what his former mentor would do rather than figuring out an answer for himself, an answer suited to his style of leadership. This is because he’s still new to all this and scared of finding his own path. Then again, with Yamato, sometimes you just gotta have faith. But I’m not sure if Kodai’s even too sure of his ability to pull this off as brilliantly as Okita would.
[KC]: Exactly this. Kodai has proven himself in many ways up to this point, but now it’s time for him to really step up, and those are some big shoes to fill. It will be a struggle for him throughout this series.
Keyman shows a modicum of respect for Kodai’s mettle, comparing it to Okita’s. He then asks if the risk of finding nothing but corpses upon arrival is worth it, to which Susumu responds with as much resolve as he can muster, turning his gaze toward a patched up Nagakura. “She escaped the battlefield against all odds. We can only repay that favor by believing there to still be survivors.”
Klaus seems distraught over this decision, but accepts it regardless. Yamato switches to Class-1 battle stations and prepares to warp. And with that, the rescue mission is a go!
[AMB]: Having Klaus here to bounce ideas off Kodai as a sort of devil on his shoulder is a smart move. It not only forces the new Captain to think twice about his ideas, but compells him to justify his own decisions. It’s a unique element to 2202, and an enriching dynamic between those two which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.
[KC]: Yes. It certainly fits with my theory that Keyman is there to observe if not test the character of these Earthlings that have heard Teresa’s call. As much as I still miss the original Leader Dessler chewing up the scenery, having a different blond-haired, blue-skinned counterpoint to Kodai is making for a good story!
[AMB]: Just imagine if Keyman’s spot was filled in by Talan. It would be out of place, but you’d adore it. Speaking of the surviving Talan brother, I wonder how he’s doing?
[KC]: Yeah, whatever happened to that guy? Since we did not do the commentary for 2199, I don’t know if I have mentioned how much I appreciate the mystery of my Imaginary Space Husba -uh- the original character of General Talan, going from David Niven to Stacy Keach from one series to the next, being solved by making them two completely separate General Talans. (I just dated myself with those actors, didn’t I?)
Anyway, in 2199 the nerdy one gets stuck with Abelt Von Crazypants and caught in the final battle with Yamato, much like General Talan does toward the end of Farewell to Yamato. We see him face down in the smoking wreck of the flagship, and they only need one Talan, so I’m going to presume he’s dead. As for the younger one we see back on Garmillas in the final episodes of 2199? Hopefully he’s off looking for his brother.
Following the announcement, Kodai and Klaus engage in a short discussion inside the ship’s elevator on their way from the briefing. They have different perspectives on the meaning behind Yamamoto’s impassioned speech. From Kodai’s perspective, Akira argued that if Yamato chose to not help those in need in order to “save the universe,” then Yamato’s mission would be hypocritical in nature. The Garmillan liaison, however, doesn’t share this interpretation of her words, implying that Akira’s argument was nothing but blind pride caused by Teresa’s vision.
“So whoever sees Teresa’s vision becomes deaf?” Keyman asks.
“Perhaps. Or maybe it’s just because we’re aboard Yamato,” Kodai responds with a nostalgic smile.
[AMB]: Kodai has grown a lot since 2199. Before, he was a fragmented and broken individual who passively joined the conflict, lost and alone following the death of his brother. But now he’s grown to love and understand the beauty of what Yamato stands for, what his crew is fighting for. But he’s still not entirely his own individual, living in the shadow of his former Captain. I believe it’s what ultimately made him choose to take this new journey instead of staying behind with Yuki. Self-guilt.
[KC]: If I’m wrong about Keyman’s motivations, he has some damn nerve voicing that implication. The very reason Varel and he were observing Yamato’s crew is because they already demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice all to save others. They both know that Teresa doesn’t call just anyone, either. Of course, being my own devil’s advocate for a second, Varel and Keyman could well be terrified of the prospect of Zordar finding Teresa first and simply unwilling to risk any delay that could assist Gatlantis.
[AMB]: Maybe he’s a reluctant actor in Varel’s game? A man with a certain set of morals, forced to join an impossible mission with a bunch of reckless Earthlings on their way to meet the personification of ancient space magic? This is just one of many valid interpretations. My personal take is that his mean-spirited comment wasn’t malicious, but a reactionary one meant to release some of his own pent up frustrations. Whether it’s his reluctance to join the fight or his inability to show his true emotions, it’s an enigma to say the least!
The good mood is then broken by a grim proclamation from Klaus. Yamato has a weakness this time around, different from the previous journey. This leaves Yamato’s Captain speechless, making both him and the audience wonder what Keyman meant. As the Garmillan man steps out of the elevator, he provocatively states that “You should know what it is.”
[AMB]: We’ve already seen all of this, so we have the answer, but I feel as if the previous episodes have given enough hints already for us to know precisely what Keyman meant. Do you remember what your thoughts were on your first viewing, Kathy?
[KC]: I’m not 100% sure I picked up on exactly what he meant. At the time I thought he was just being arrogant, possibly making a dig at the competency of his prior government, but then you know I try to bring everything back to Dessler. Once you’ve seen all of the episodes and gone back, however, the clues jump out.
In a surprise move, Keyman joins up with the Cosmo Tigers for this mission, aiming to help mediate the risks. At first stunned, Kato orders his comrades to re-enter the call signs to keep Klaus from accidentally getting hit. Akira questions Keyman’s agenda, but he brushes her off. On Yamato’s bridge a ten-second warp countdown has begun. Nagakura ponders her intentions to save her commander, thus fulfilling their promise. And then, they warp.
[AMB]: Keyman is full of surprises! He may have been openly against the idea of Yamato involving itself with the 11th planet, but his actions here speak louder than words.
[KC]: Told you he cares.
[AMB]: Akira wanting to prevent the creation of more war orphans is obvious if we look at her past, her only family being her brother (until he passed away). Maybe Klaus shares some similar sympathetic feelings toward the people they’re about to rescue? Also, Nagakura should be in bed, but she’s stubborn enough to get herself a front row seat on the bridge for the warp sequence.
Lying on a dilapidated bridge across a chasm on the 11th planet, Space Cavalry commander Saito wakes up seemingly unscathed from his last action. Questioning his own survival, he’s interrupted by Touko Katsuragi running to him with Irii in her arms, requiring Hajime’s assistance against half a dozen Needle Slaves. They get quickly pinned down (but thankfully not in a literal sense).
[AMB]: That was a mighty long fall from where we last saw Saito. Cosmo Marine armor must be made of some top notch material. Or Flex Tape.
[KC]: It is refreshing to see a main character questioning their survival after something like that, because I am questioning it, too.
[AMB]: And that brings us to Spoiler Country! The show’s been finished for over almost a year as of this writing, and we all know the score at this point. In the same episode in which we were reintroduced to the exploding living dead Gatlanteans, we see the creation of a human one: Hajime Saito has died and risen again thanks to forces that have yet to be introduced in the story. Upon revisiting this episode, the strange feeling of “he should be dead!” was right on the money.
[KC]: Not gonna lie; at the time I dismissed his survival as a contrivance of the genre and didn’t start considering that Saito is now a Gatlantean plant until a few more clues dropped and I saw other fans discussing it online. The introduction of this angle is terrifying.
[AMB]: Good to see Irii is still in alive, though!
[KC]: Much like Baby Yoda, that little girl is too adorable to die. Oh, did you not think I wouldn’t find a way to work more Star Wars into my Yamato? They’ve gone hand in hand since I was Irii’s age.
With the Needle Slaves slowly surrounding them and growing larger in numbers, the young child asks Saito where Yamato is, yelling at him that her brother believed Yamato was capable of easily beating these guys. As if agreeing with her sentiment, he reassures her that Yamato will definitely come save them. And almost as if Yamato responds to that will, it warps in just above them! The Garmillan child beams with joy!
[AMB]: Most relatable feeling this episode goes to Irii. Yamato’s entrance was so corny, but it felt wonderful seeing the encapsulation of human will and hope breaking away the sorrow inflicted on these people. The BGM timing is on-point as well!
[KC]: I do not care one iota about how contrived that setup was. There were definitely feels.
Nazca is immediately informed of the warpout from orbit, troubled since the Gatlantean 8th Task fleet has yet to arrive with assistance. The abnormal nature of the warpout being so close to the planet also means they can’t track where exactly it occurred, causing Cosmodart to order an expanded search range in a fit of annoyance. (Incidentally, the full name “Cosmodart Nazca” comes directly from the original story; it was not expanded for 2202 as all the Garmillas names were for 2199. In Star Blazers we knew him simply as “Naska.”)
[AMB]: 8th task fleet? If they’re anywhere near the limited size of Dagarm’s expeditionary fleet from Ark they’ll be small fry. But Nazca does seem to value its assistance, so we’ll have to wait and see what they’re worth. Speaking of Nazca, he doesn’t have a chair. This may seem like a nitpick, but I actually think it’s some clever foreshadowing to their true nature as humanoids. The only one we’ve seen with a chair is Zordar, the rest are always standing.
Back on the surface, Akira jumps headfirst into the fray, blowing the Needle Slaves surrounding Saito’s little group to pieces. She confirms that there are indeed survivors. Following her are the rest of the Cosmo Tigers pursuing enemy fighters. An overjoyed Irii and a pleased Saito revel in Yamato’s timely rescue.
“It came. It really came!”
[AMB]: Saito you beautiful space bear, I feel you. Akira’s discovery of survivors must have felt great, her goodwill paying off. All we’re missing now is an acknowledgement from Keyman and some fun action. Direction-wise it’s a fitting choice to show this from the perspective of the survivors. We are with them.
[KC]: I don’t really have anything to add here, except that from now on I am probably going to be referring to Saito as Space Bear.
[AMB]: After episodes of internal pains and sorrow across the board, this one act of feels like the start of great things for Yamato’s crew. They have to wear their ideals on their sleeve if they’re to truly save the universe this time around.
Yamato proceeds to hover over the bridge in the narrow chasm. The air current is too strong to land without support, so Shima launches the rocket anchors to keep the ship steady. Kodai orders Nanbu to help the stranded marine with rescuing survivors. Everything works out perfectly until Miki notices the enemy fleet approaching. Kato is sent to intercept their carriers, telling his subordinates to “ignore the horseshoe crabs.”
[KC]: I don’t know how the hell I missed them referring to those ships as horseshoe crabs. It’s hilarious because it’s true.
[AMB]: In the official sub they’re referred to by Kato as “small crabs,” but the translation “horseshoe crab” is much better as it alludes to what they were conceptually designed to look like. But yes, it’s hilarious.
All survivors seen earlier are taken aboard, including professor Redrowz, Touko Katsuragi, and Irii, with Nagakura out in the field aiding the rescue effort. Meanwhile, the Cosmo Tigers have taken out the small fry and are now keeping the capital ships at bay. For the first time, we get a good look at the unique capabilities of Yamamoto’s Cosmo Tiger 1. Background materials explain that the craft was judged too complex to be adopted as the standard Cosmo Navy fighter, and now we see what that means; it is basically a conglomeration of weapons mounts wrapped around a thrusting body that rotates around a steady cockpit section. In other words, the only “unmoving” portion of the fuselage is the mostly-glass (?) encasement for the pilot. Yamamoto can therefore keep a steady lock on a target and rotate whatever weapon she likes into a firing position she likes. We must assume that Yamato‘s armory has plenty of spares in stock, because she isn’t stingy about using them up – including entire missile magazines that get ejected after they empty out. (And which look like they’d produce a serious amount of drag in atmospheric flight.)
[DG]: The Cosmo Tiger I of this incarnation of Yamato became necessary when the Cosmo Tiger I of the original saga was replaced by the Hayabusa/Cosmo Falcon. In order for the Cosmo Tiger II we all know and love to remain the Cosmo Tiger II, there had to be a Cosmo Tiger I. Makoto Kobayashi, kitbasher extraordinaire and series assistant director assembled the first rendition of the Cosmo Tiger I out of what I recall to have been the engine blocks of the 1/72 Cosmo Zero model kit (apologies if that’s not the case, but it’s been a long time since I saw that model, and it struck me as noticeable at the time).
The backstory that the Cosmo Tiger I became too expensive an option for mass production makes a lot of sense. At 26.3 meters long, it absolutely dwarfs the Cosmo Zero and the Cosmo Tiger II, and would only have been able to operate from the Andromeda carrier variants from the top of the upper flight deck, being way too big for any of its quick-launch bays. The technologies used on the fighter would have been hugely expensive to produce in comparison to smaller, more conventional fighters.
While I’m no fan of forward-swept wings, I am a great fan of the Cosmo Tiger I. With the huge number of weapon hardpoints, a rotating cockpit that was almost certainly inspired by the B-Wing heavy starfighter in the Star Wars universe, and those two huge beam cannons, it may be an expensive plane, but you certainly get bang for buck. The weapons layout, between the two heavy beam cannons and the large number of hardpoints for mounting weapons like the missile pods we see make it the Yamato equivalent of an A-10 Warthog on steroids. I’m still disappointed that there has been no 1/72 kit release of this nor of the Cosmo Tiger II. I’m not saying I don’t understand why there isn’t, but it’s a damn shame regardless.
Keyman manages to impress Kato by taking down one of the three incoming Gatlantean carrier ships all on his own. Kato moves to take down the second carrier, but Akira jumps the gun and tries blowing it up from underneath, as if attempting to one-up Keyman. The upper part of the Gatlantean ship dislodges from the destroyed bottom half, now on a collision course with Yamato.
[AMB]: Before writing this commentary I didn’t care much for the battle taking place here, but now I see it as a fun skirmish. The pilots all partake in defending Yamato, but Akira’s frustrations with Keyman drives her to make an error, and Keyman can be quite reckless in actual battle.
[KC]: In the original series the fight was over pretty quickly. This is a great cinematic dogfight, improved by a second viewing.
Nanbu confirms the safety of all refugees. Yamato takes off and narrowly avoids complete destruction at the hands of the tenacious Gatlantean battleship as it crashes into the old bridge. Only one enemy destroyer remains, and it’s tailing Yamato from above, raining hellfire with its rotating guns. The Cosmo Tigers are hopeless to stop it as turbulence throws the refugees around inside the ship. Thankfully Saito and Nagakura are there to cushion young Irii from damage. What is taking damage however is Yamato itself and Hajime questions why they’re running away from the enemy.
[AMB]: Just like the super battleship in Episode 1, even the destroyer commanders seem desperate to follow their orders. Fight and die, was it? And the facelessness of the Gatlantean soldiers onboard really helps to dehumanize them, a topic we’ll get into when it becomes more relevant. I’ve always loved the practical design of those round Gatlantean turrets. There’s never a time when you can’t fire them off!
[KC]: We already know that Gatlanteans are made, not born. It is reinforced again here and will become increasingly relevant. This is actually what I thought Keyman was referring to earlier, when he tells Kodai that this mission is not like their last one. Garmillas had been their enemy, but the races wound up realizing that they were more alike than different. Not so with Gatlantis.
[AMB]: When this episode screened in Japan, a barrage of Saito/Nagakura/Irii fan art appeared on Twitter. Speaking of Saito, his attitude toward Yamato’s escape isn’t that surprising. Why would such a legendary ship choose to flee?
Without any Wave-Motion capabilities, Kodai opts to deliver a heavy payload with Yamato’s SAM (Surface-to-Air-Missile) launcher, followed by some Round-3 shells straight into the Gatlantean destroyer’s belly. This knocks out the enemy’s firing capabilities and engines, and it starts descending toward a fleeing Yamato. Once again, they narrowly escape the clutches of death as explosive fire from the crashing enemy ship fills the canyon.
[AMB]: Commander Todo was right, these guys might be too much for Yamato to handle on their own. The ship BARELY managed to escape death twice here, and they’ve only encountered a small interception force! This is a far cry from the one-sided bout in Yamato 2, where the ship easily pummeled Nazca’s fleet to submission. Viewers must have been surprised to see Yamato’s difficulty here. You saw Star Blazers first, didn’t you? Do you remember your reaction?
[KC]: Well, keep in mind that I was a smartass kid who rooted for the bad guys, but honestly not much has changed. I always kind of rolled my eyes a bit at the concept that of course the battleship would be awesome in a show that was about the battleship. These days I am at least wise enough to appreciate that is part of the tapestry of a space opera, but here in 2202 it is nice to feel a little genuine concern for Yamato’s plight.
The Gatlantean 8th Task Force fleet arrives in orbit above the planet, confirmed by Gatlantean Admiral Goenitz right from Zordar’s throne room. Yamato’s crew detect this anomaly in space, unsure of how to respond. Six ships of the Kalaklum class begin charging up their red rings of destruction, interspersed with dread-inducing low-angle shots of Emperor Zordar on his throne, the White Comet pipe organ theme booming in the background. (It’s worth pointing out here that animator Tomonori Kogawa, who directed animation in Farewell to Yamato, was called back into service specifically for the Zordar scenes in these early episodes. He always loved upshots, and you can’t get more upshotty this this!)
[AMB]: Now this is an original element. The Kalaklums were always meant to be used more actively in the original Series 2, so to older fans this is a welcome treat. I’ve only seen the Japanese dub of Episode 6 so I can’t speak for the English dub, but Goenitz’ voice in 2202 is very intimidating. He seems to be Zordar’s spokesperson this time around, conveying his orders with all the fearsome flowery rhetoric afforded to his role. Hearing Goenitz calmly delivering orders of mass destruction in an ASMR tone of voice is both comforting and frightening.
The six ships unite into a single arrow of doom as their power combines to create an absurdly huge beam, the red rings of light growing larger and larger. They aim for the planet and fire as Zordar’s eyes flash open. The leading edge of the beam resembles the White Comet itself, spiraling toward its target: Yamato. A tremor of shock is felt by both Akira and Keyman, with him recognizing this destructive weapon.
[AMB]: What this tells us is that Zordar can set a planet ablaze with the blink of an eye. Whether or not this is literally what it means doesn’t matter, as we feel his power and authority piercing us with an intense green light of doom. He doesn’t need to speak, he doesn’t need to move a muscle, he only needs to open his eyes and voila! This is the face of Yamato’s current enemy, a mysterious and merciless ruler.
[KC]: Have I said this Zordar is scary? The other Zordar is like an arrogant grandpa. This Zordar is scary.
As the powerful beam spreads its destruction across the planet’s surface, Yamato is caught right in it. Cosmo Tiger leader Saburo Kato is stunned as he witnesses a red cross of lava forming in the wake of the Gatlantean superweapon. Yamato is buried underneath, its fate unknown as the pipe organ theme plays out its final notes.
[AMB]: That giant beam literally blew past our expectations of a standard remake by nailing Yamato to the floor of the 11th planet. My initial reaction was dread creeping up my back, telling me that my beloved cast of characters isn’t safe at all. And the way the beam formed a cross of lava definitely leaves a lasting impression.
[KC]: Things look genuinely dire.
[AMB]: Capping off Chapter 2: Departure with Yamato’s departure being forcibly denied wasn’t what I expected at all, and it leaves us with a lot of anticipation for the next episode! Loss, trauma, the cosmo marines fighting a losing war and the true face of our new enemy… followed up by an exciting rescue mission, allusions to Okita’s tactics and a riveting cliffhanger… elements of Yamato resonate through all viewers young and old!
[KC]: Now that we’re wrapping up, I’ll return to a reference that I made earlier. In the original version of this story, after Nazca talks trash about Desslok’s apparent inability to handle the Earthlings, Yamato appears with the Cosmo Tigers and they make short work of him and his fleet. This prompts Nazca to call for help from none other than Leader Desslok. He admits that he never should have doubted the deposed ruler and begs his forgiveness, imploring Desslok to put in a good word with his buddy Zordar. Desslok tells Nazca that he’s sure he did his best, but of course he says it in a way that makes it clear that he knows “Nazca’s best” isn’t great – and Nazca should know that just as well. Before His Majesty is even finished throwing shade, he cuts off communication. I really, really, really miss that Dessler.
[AMB]: A similar moment isn’t too far off, as you already know.
[KC]: I am gonna save my fangirling for when it actually happens.
[AMB]: A final note about the end title sequence for Episodes 3-6; it features the voice of Teresa singing about the connections people share, the way she sees the world and us, the people inside it. Like the “Mirror of the Moon,” we reflect our feelings whether we want to or not. And she sees through all of our hidden feelings. This was the first song arranged and composed for 2202 by S.E.N.S. Project. Their musical cohesion is definitely be a strong point going forward.
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: November 9, 2018
American debut: June 13, 2018 (streaming) March 15, 2019 (home video)
The end title Mirror of the Moon is performed by Teresa’s voice actor Sayaka Kanda.
Click here for a complete BGM collection for Episode 6.
Storyboard: Akihiro Enomoto
Episode Director: Makoto Hoshino
Animation Director: Chizuru Kobayashi
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