Yamato 2202 Episode 7 commentary

by Kathy Clarkson and Anton Mei Brandt

Episode 7: A flash of light! The brilliance of the Wave-Motion Gun

The white comet moves through space, familiar organ music playing. Inside, a figure all in white stands at the base of a pedestal, fingers moving over a keyboard. This is Sabera, and her music echoes throughout the vast throne room. High above, Zordar sits on his throne while some of his officers stand at various points along the walkways. They are looking at a viewscreen showing an image of Yamato with some Garmillas vessels fighting near the Ark of Tranquility. Sabera hits a discordant note and ceases playing. She turns, calling out for Chief Intel Archivist Gairen to bring up the records regarding Yamato.

A word about the spelling of “Zordar” herein: this is his Star Blazers name, unabashedly frozen in time. The original Japanese name is very similar, with an additional vowel that turns it into Zuodar. This suggests that the intention is “Zwordar.” When paired with “Sabera” we get the interesting riff on “Sword” and “Saber.” There’s an additional wrinkle with the new character “Redrowz,” which is “Zworder” spelled backward. (Obviously meant as wordplay, since there is no genetic relationship between the two.) Funimation’s English version of 2202 went with “Zworder,” but since that’s in no way superior to “Zordar,” we’re sticking with the old favorite.

[AMB]: This is an immediate follow-up of the last time we saw the Gatlantean high command in Episode 2, where they talk of Dagarm’s run-in with Yamato in Ark of the Stars. Fitting, since they now review what footage they have from those events. It’s also our first real look at Zordar’s throne room. It’s alien, ancient and covered in strange symbols. The pipes extend all across the walls as well, covering parts of the glassy roof. At the top sits Zordar, on his floating throne above the pipe organ. Surrounding him is a crescent moon shaped walkway.

On one side stands Balsey, who in the original series was Gatlantis’ bigshot fleet commander (named for Admiral William Halsey of the US Navy). On the other side stands Goenitz and Razera, the strategists. (Goenitz is named after Karl Doenitz, supreme commander of the German navy.) They’re very focused on the material being shown, but the moment Zordar looks even slightly disinterested or worried, Sabera abruptly stops playing. It’s like they’re mentally connected.

[KC]: So the Comet Empire’s own theme music is now canonized within their universe. I love it. To continue with the Star Wars references, this was also done with the Galactic Imperial March in Solo. No objections there, either.

[AMB]: It’s an interesting addition not simply for style points, but for the story as well. And the superimposed image of the white comet trekking across the stars merging with the image of Sabera playing the organ is our first visual hint that the silver maiden is indeed controlling this quasar.

Gairen’s eyes glow, and with a gesture not unlike a magic spell the image on the viewscreen changes to depict Yamato using the Wave-Motion Gun at Balan (from 2199). Balsey is in awe at the weapon’s power, whilst Razera expresses alarm at the dangerous nature of the weapon, particularly on behalf of Admiral Mazer, whom they say is on his way to vanquish the Sol system. Zordar laughs away their concerns and assures them that there is nothing to fear; he is confident Yamato will never use the weapon on Gatlantis. The scene closes with Sabera gazing at the emperor, lost in thought.

[KC]: They’re always so certain they have it all figured out. And since we know that Gatlanteans are engineered, not born, what is up with Gairen? He looks like a cybernetic wizard version of Zordar. I am getting ideas for another line of toys that Japan will never produce.

[AMB]: No one ever questions Zordar, nor do they show any signs of distrust in his judgment. But Sabera has a quizzical look on her face, as if chasing a memory which could help her make sense of his statement. This will have some future importance. Something else worth pointing out is Zordar’s solemn expression after stating that Yamato won’t shoot. Why wouldn’t they? And the answer is simple; at Balan Yamato found a way to use the WMG without aiming it at the enemy, escaping while stranding the Garmillas fleet. He predicts Yamato will find a similar way out again, but instead of preparing Mazer for this fact, he allows the admiral’s coming plan of absolute obliteration to test Yamato. In other words, it’s a game.

Here are some notes about the Japanese voice actors introduced in this episode. Gairen’s voice is Hidekatsu Shibata, renowned legend for his roles in Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Gundam and Yamato! (Bandebel in Yamato 2 and Gaidel in Yamato III.) Balsey is Tomomichi Nishimura, equally famed for his roles as Jamitov in Zeta Gundam series and lesser-known characters in Yamato. Razera’s voice (Kouki Harasawa) is a returning cast member from 2199, where he voiced Yamato crew-member Iwata.

Over the 11th Planet, Akira continues to contact Yamato to no avail. The audience, however, sees Yamato’s bridge crew buried under tons of rubble and the Wave-Motion Shields one minute from failing. At Sanada’s request, Analyzer determines the rock configuration necessary to maintain a protective cavity. They fire the magnetron probes, which successfully hold the rocks in place just as the shield gives out.

[AMB]: Splendid reuse of this technique, though it sounds like the rocks are about to give at any moment.

[KC]: They are creaking and shifting like every runaway mine car roller coaster I’ve ever ridden.

In orbit, the Gatlantean fleet arrives under the command of Admiral Mazer. He is informed that faint energy readings have been detected beneath the surface of the planet. It could be Yamato, but Mazer doesn’t care; the Emperor has granted him permission to fire the Legionnaire Cannon, and anything else is inconsequential.

[AMB]: Gatlantis’ tenacity is made clear again. The ships that fired on Yamato last episode? They’re seen burnt to a crisp, a high price to pay for using such a destructive weapon.

[KC]: More arrogance. Still, there is also more menace to these Gatlanteans than there was in their original villainous, but somewhat more comical, counterparts. Mazer isn’t interested in monologuing, he’s there to do a job and he is going to do it.

[AMB]: Though his one bit of monologuing is almost poetic: “This is the final look of a fake sun, which sheds light on this remote planet.”

Mazer is a returning character from Yamato 2, though significantly changed for this outing. Back then he had a one-off episode where he was a pilot captured by Yamato’s crew. He turned out to be a trained spy and learned to respect Yamato’s warrior spirit. Sound familiar? This was the arc given to 2199’s Melda Dietz, and – as we will see – a whole different character in 2202.

[KC]: In the original journey to Iscandar, Yamato‘s crew gets their hands on a Gamilas pilot, but they really only used that premise to establish their biological similarities.

[AMB]: Seeing as his original role has already been played out in this remake’s timeline, it’s fitting that he’s been given a different purpose more suited for this version. Hopefully he learns to respect Yamato’s spirit this time around too! Fans of the Japanese voices who’ve seen Gundam The Origin will recognize his voice to be that of Ramba Ral. (Shigeo Kiyama)

Parked in orbit, Klaus Keyman takes recon pics of the enemy ships continuing to warp in. He returns to the 11th Planet to share them with the other pilots. He inquires as to whether they’ve been in contact with Yamato and Shinohara informs him that the crew is okay, working on repairs. Once they’re finished, Yamato will launch. Klaus suggests that they share the images with Yamato as well, but expresses his opinion that it will be a futile gesture. Kato approaches as Klaus is walking away and attempts to pick a fight, but Klaus doesn’t rise to the bait. In response Kato seems remorseful, encouraging the other pilots to eat something and ordering Jiro Tsurumi to give Klaus rations from Kato’s own supply.

[AMB]: On the subject of Kato and Keyman’s talk, it’s worth noting that the bulk of it consists of Kato jabbing at Klaus’ emotionless manner of speaking, and that “translators already have difficulty conveying emotion.” By asking him to take the translator off, he’s asking Klaus to open up his heart to the rest of the pilots. And as we all know, being able to trust and understand your comrades is especially necessary for pilots. In fact, I’m more on Kato’s side here since he just wants the Garmillan boy to lighten up and drop his negative attitude.

[KC]: I don’t know that this is something that requires taking a side, but since I am all in for Garmillas I will just say that space operas need their cold, logical characters as well. And you know the payoff on this one is huge.

[AMB]: Speaking as a fan of both Sanada and Keyman, we’re in agreement.

Klaus is off eating by himself when he is approached by Akira, who apologizes for Kato’s behavior. She starts to explain Kato’s family situation, but Klaus cuts her off, certain that is not why Kato was being confrontational. He feels that it is because Klaus himself does not share the faith of Kato and the others that Yamato will pull through. He repeats to Akira his belief that Yamato isn’t the same as it was last time. Everyone sees it, but no one wants to say it. So all of the pressure winds up on Kodai.

Akira points out that Klaus was against this rescue mission from the start, but Klaus admits that people were saved and if they manage to escape then Kodai made the right decision. “He’s stubborn, but not foolish.”

There’s a deep-cut easter egg here that’s so subtle it takes a true psycho-fan to spot it: Klaus is eating with his left hand. Story-wise, it means nothing. But as some may remember, the name “Keyman” originally belonged to the Dark Nebulan officer Alphon from Be Forever, changed at the last minute. Thus, “Keyman” was available for a completely new character in 2202 while still belonging to Yamato lore. The easter egg comes from the fact that, for whatever reason, Alphon’s original character design had the word “southpaw” written on it. For reasons lost to time, the intention was for him to be left-handed. And now you’re a psycho-fan.

[AMB]: The fact that Keyman understood Kato’s intentions makes me very happy. And through his venting with Akira, he takes that first plunge to opening his heart, which Saburo tried to encourage, albeit passive-aggressively.

[KC]: Of course, I love everything about all of this. Keyman is a classy guy. I feel this scene helps validate my theory that he exists as an apology to the fans for a substandard Dessler.

[AMB]: I’m going to take Klaus’ example and ignore the urge to defend my handsome 2199 dictator. For now…

[KC]: You chose Gatlantis. The Garmillas are mine to over-analyze, and everyone – including His Majesty – knows that I will be eating crow soon enough. Although speaking of birds …

[AMB]: But yes, what Yamato lacks is their first Captain, Juzo Okita. And Kodai, as of yet, can’t match him. Yet everyone lays the burden to lead Yamato on the young lad, unaware of the trauma that might result. Still, Klaus isn’t entirely lacking hope this time.

Changing the topic to music, 2199 had a lot of new original tracks composed by Akira Miyagawa (as opposed to reworked versions of original score). The Garmillas National Anthem, the Clockwork Prisoner storybook, and more. This time around, the production couldn’t handle as monumental a task as recreating the entire original score, since there was just too much music from both Farewell, Yamato 2, and the Symphonic Suite. So the reduxes were limited to about 40 tracks and the rest was all new.

In this episode we get to hear the first completely new track composed for 2202, Tsubasa ~ Life Fades, a leitmotif for the Kato family drama. It was first heard back in Episode 2 as we’re introduced to the family’s sick boy, but this is perhaps a better time to mention it considering we’re about to get many wonderful new tracks in the upcoming episodes. It’s a beautiful melancholic piece which has shown itself in two different versions so far, piano and flute. Future tunes indulge in a melancholic feel, and those familiar with the original score can probably tell why.

Back on Yamato, Klaus’ reconnaissance photos are being assessed. What’s shown is basically massive amounts of ships with a steady pace of additional warp-outs even as Keyman left the scene. As Sanada orders Analyzer to use Klaus’ data to predict the enemy’s next move, Saito humbly thanks Kodai for the rescue, only to then immediately berate him for not yet using the Wave-Motion Gun against Gatlantis.

[AMB]: First off, the size of Mazer’s fleet is quickly growing to become one of the largest we’ve seen in the reboot series. How Yamato could defeat them this time around is of growing concern. Second, Saito comportment in this scene is very much in-line with his portrayal in the remake; admiration for Kodai’s daring plan in the form of a very respectful Japanese-style bow, unusual military behavior conveying to us that this is a personal thank you.

The followup is equally personal with Saito grasping Kodai’s shoulders and staring him straight in the eyes. He pushes others away to question why Yamato’s game-changing weapon hasn’t been used to turn the tide. Why is the enemy not facing Earth’s wrath after the massacre experienced by the Cosmo Marines and the civilians they were supposed to protect? The rift between Hajime and Susumu is personal in ways it never was in the original. But the desperation hints at something deeper, too.

Suddenly, a distress signal comes through from headquarters; Admiral Hijikata is alive! We then get a shot of Zordar himself, eyes widening in surprise as he seems to become aware of this information simultaneously.

[KC]: We’ve already discussed this in the previous commentary, but I have to say that rewatching this scene knowing that Space Bear has been compromised by Gatlantis, I am ashamed not to have picked up on it with that random shot of Zordar’s eye. I guess I still don’t really pay attention to the Earthlings. Going forward, every Saito scene chills you to the bone if you just mentally picture Zordar standing in his place, taking in every word, and occasionally goading Kodai through his human meat puppet.

[AMB]: It’s understandable though, since that shot at first seemed to allude to something more mystical, like how the eye of Sauron is used in Peter Jackson’s LoTR trilogy. But upon rewatching it, yes, it definitely makes sense. The information gained by Zordar here is what confirms Mazer’s next action, a direct attack on Earth in order to force Yamato to use the WMG in defense. It’s a marvelous directing choice, allowing the show not to cut to Mazer tediously explaining why he targets Earth. Unsurprisingly good stuff, considering this is one of two episodes personally storyboarded by 2202‘s Chief Director Nobuyoshi Habara.

Saito immediately leads a Space Cavalry Team out to retrieve the EDF Admiral and accompanying survivors. Kodai, meanwhile, is communicating this to Kato’s group. But it’s cut short as Miki Saijo confirms their radar is back online. The first thing they see on their monitors is the in-orbit Gatlantean fleet – now numbering over 15,000 ships – increasingly warping in by the thousands. Sanada ponders this in silence while Analyzer provides everyone with the actual data.

[AMB]: The visual feed mixed with one of the best musical tracks from Ark sets the stage for the tension to build. We see each member of the bridge crew deal with their own expertise as well, Nanbu with weapons, Shima with navigation, Sanada with the techno-babble and so on.

We learn that a cylinder formation of 2.5 million Kalaklum-class ships can generate a blast with a 20,000 kilometer radius and cause a supernova. The crew is unsure what destroying the artificial sun would serve, until Sanada realizes that the formation constitutes a firing platform. He asks Analyzer to calculate possible targets based on their trajectory. There is only one thing in the weapon’s path; Planet Earth. We get various shots of each crew member aboard the bridge in utter shock as Mazer’s “Legionnaire Cannon” swirls toward finished form, capping off an exciting variation of the white comet theme.

[KC]: Because of course! Of course it is pointed right at Earth! He is there to attack the Sol system; he doesn’t care about your puny boat! It’s a shame that there isn’t a scenery-chewing Dessler here to school Mazer on the consequences of underestimating Yamato!

[AMB]: Rather than underestimating Yamato, he’s testing their strength. Not in arms, but in morality. Can they take a weapon created from the seeds of salvation and use it to end countless lives? And if not, could the destruction of their home planet bring about an interesting turn of events? Mazer is certainly of the opinion that his Great Emperor cares little for Yamato, but Zordar’s interest in Kodai and the path these Earthlings have chosen is hard to deny.

And in all honesty, I prefer not having Dessler around in this part of the story yet. His bit in Farewell was so pitch perfect and well-rounded to me that his Yamato 2 antics (where he’s mostly stalled by incompetent commanders and Sabera’s jealousy) really did him no favors. It’s like he was constantly trying to break out of the show’s own constraints, but rather than expand on his story they literally put him in a story prison for most of the show. But he sure was good at chewing scenery whenever he was around, not gonna lie.

[KC]: He has some great dialogue and gets to have a pretty fun action scene with Talan, who has precious little character development anywhere else in the franchise, so naturally I see it as a highlight. In any event, I believe Mazer is simply a tool; he is there to fire the cannon. The test is Zordar’s, and by the end of this episode we should know if he underestimated Yamato or not.

[AMB]: Also, those shots of the crew’s shock interspersed with the constant Kalaklum warp-outs really amps up the stakes. Gatlantis means business and we really empathize with the crew’s feelings here. The ships swirl around like they’re mimicking the white comet as well as a shoal of fish (in fact, the CG studio Sublimation dubbed this the “aquarium shot”). The massive wide shot as the cannon blocks the light of the artificial sun. Breathtaking. The shoal symbolism isn’t random either, considering the reverence and absolute fealty Gatlantean soldiers are shown to have toward their Emperor. They’re just swimming along, really.

Brushing past destroyed rescue shuttles, Saito and Nagakura arrive at U.N. EDF headquarters. They manage to locate survivors, Hijikata being one of them. The large marine joyfully runs up to the disheveled old commander, greeted by a smile.

[AMB]: Whether it’s the classical Japanese bowing style shown earlier or Saito’s speech patterns here, this soldier clearly symbolizes a very Japanese man with old-fashioned sensibilities. He uses the Japanese term “オヤジ” (Oyaji) when referring to Hijikata. Most of the time it’s used when talking about or with your father, but it can also refer to people of similar age or stature. So in a way, since their first harsh encounter three years ago, these two have formed a bond not unlike father and son. Might this be a good time to mention that the staff seems very fond of imbuing Japanese cultural aspects into this show?

[KC]: I am certainly happy to see them, and I’m also a big fan of the decision to keep the Japanese character names in the English dub.

[AMB]: Is there a consensus on whether or not fans in the US prefer this choice? Because if I can give the Star Blazers dub a prop, it’s that the character names could be incredibly inventive. If any opinionated fans are reading this, gather your pitchforks in the comment section.

On Yamato, Kodai has once again made his way to the barrel of the Wave-Motion Gun and is haunted by a mixed chorus of Starsha and Okita’s voices as they exchange the promise to never use the weapon again, ending with Okita’s “show your resolve!” Believing himself alone, Kodai cries out to Okita for guidance, begging him to show him the way. But he is not alone, and it is Sanada who answers, assuring Kodai that using the gun is their only option. He states the ugly truth; if Gatlantis is allowed to fire their superweapon, the damage to Earth could be immeasurable. Kodai continues to struggle with the choice, openly expressing his feelings to Sanada about just wanting to do good and pouring out his grief and frustration as he comes to the same inevitable conclusion. From a nearby shadow, a mysterious blonde medic listens in.

[AMB]: And with that, the premise of 2202 had me completely sold. People who figured out her identity during their first watch earn a gold star, because I swear some of my friends somehow didn’t catch who it was.

[KC]: Hah! I have watched this story play out so many times in all its variations that when I was working on this episode I completely forgot that her identity is still supposed to be a secret.

[AMB]: I used to watch this sequence on repeat back when only the first ten episodes had been released. Everything about it – subject matter, BGM timing, vocal performances – creates a neatly woven narrative hook that grapples with perhaps the toughest story element of this sequel: Princess Starsha, or How I Learned How to Wallow in Lack of Confidence and Hate The Wave-Motion Gun.

[KC]: Okay, serious time, now. Just a few paragraphs up, I was joking about the Earthlings as usual, but this scene is one of those that transformed this reboot from a fun adaptation of a show I enjoyed as a kid into a space opera that I will love and treasure until the end of my days. When Kodai turns around to Sanada and says he’s lost? Man. That gets me no matter how many times I watch it. I’m getting choked up typing about it. Ah, this show is great!

[AMB]: We’re all Kodai in this scene, in the modern world. We’re just human beings who want to do good, who want to keep our promises and help people in need. But we’re lost, thrust into a world which grows increasingly apathetic to common human decency, but revels in technological advances. And for what? So we can keep repeating the cycle of war and death? This scene is especially poignant to younger generations like my own, who now grow up in relative peace, casually letting technologies built to improve humanity consume our individuality instead.

Just because something is efficient and beneficial doesn’t mean we should willingly abandon our ethics or morals for an easier life. We can’t keep abandoning yesterday’s promises to fulfill selfish ambitions. It’s not right. And that’s why he’s so scared of breaking this promise, because it could cost Yamato its very soul. This is the reason they rejected the amoral workings of the military. What makes Yamato “Yamato.” And the end bit where Kodai chokes on his own words? That’s where I could no longer tell whether Daisuke Ono was acting anymore. He became the character.

[Tim Eldred, editor]: I will add that this seemed to become the first truly divisive moment in the story, turning some US viewers into permanent 2202 haters. Their basic retort seemed to be “Screw your FEELINGS, Kodai, blow these green monsters away and don’t look back.” If you can’t empathize with Kodai’s plight here, the kindest response I can offer is that maybe this story wasn’t written for you. Without this exact conflict, you don’t have a story. Instead, you have: Fire. Boom. Next. Yawn. Which would be a complete repudiation of the “victory tastes like ashes” revelation that elevated the first Yamato series to a classic.

We’ll see plenty of “blowing away” down the road for sure, but we’ll also see some very dark ramifications of the “kill ‘em all” mindset. Earth is currently on a path to becoming a copy of what they’re fighting against. This is a choice. But it’s not the ONLY choice available. There is always a path between extremes, and Yamato at its BEST is about finding that path. In fact, this is just about to happen…

Klaus watches Gatlantis complete their formation. Kodai returns to the bridge, stepping into the frame with Okita’s relief sculpture. He takes a good look at each member of Yamato’s bridge crew and we see they’re all tense, desperately waiting for him to make a choice. He’s then hailed by Klaus, who tells him what a marvel Garmillas’ artificial sun is. Something occurs to Kodai and he smiles, the way suddenly clear; they will fire the Wave-Motion Gun, timing their shot for when the artificial sun is enveloped by Gatlantis’ formation. The crew’s initial shock is broken by Shima, who starts up the process. The rest join in and Kodai turns to Tokugawa in disbelief, stunned. The old man just smiles and nods. Susumu then gazes longingly at Okita, lost in thought.

[AMB]: Klaus being a cryptic poet, the crew sharing the burden of firing the WMG and Kodai’s self-doubt turning to resolve… what a myriad of emotions we get to experience. Another masterfully directed scene, uniting a fractured crew and giving us some of those teamwork vibes that we all took for granted in 2199. (Albeit tinged with a melancholic sting, as Kodai seems to internally ask his former Captain if he’s making the right choice.)

Saito and Nagakura are on their way back to Yamato with Hijikata and company. Saito giddily recommends Yamato’s doctor to the old man when Yamato suddenly breaks through the rubble! Still desperately impatient, Saito implores Kodai to fire, questioning if he’ll even shoot when the enemy is right in front of them. But the seasoned Hijikata understands that Kodai will fire when the time is right. We’re shown the cosmo marines, the refugees and Yamato’s crew in various shots as they brace for the coming shot.

[AMB]: My favorite part here is how Saito is completely unaware that Hijikata knows Dr. Sado already. It’s a brief moment of glee, preparing the old man for a happy reunion. Then there’s the fact that Ryu still trusts and understands his students all these years later, knowing full well that Yamato would rise from the rubble again. The cool way they shade Hijikata’s face is off the charts, an homage to how he was visually portrayed in the original!

Cosmodart informs Mazer that preparations are complete. All that’s left is to connect the sun to the cannon’s core point and start the firing sequence. Yamato’s crew prepares their response. Kodai announces the firing sequence only for Touko Katsuragi down in the refugee section of the ship to say what we all know is coming: “Yamato will fire!” Sure enough, as the Legionnaire Cannon prepares to fire, Yamato’s Wave-Motion beam lances out at the artificial sun, destroying it and disrupting all of the Gatlantean ships! They begin tumbling out of formation, all systems fried. Mazer is visibly frightened by what’s going on, with Cosmodart panicking over the communications line.

[AMB]: Every frame here was meticulously crafted to hype up the sequence for mecha enthusiasts and drama lovers alike, with half-corny lines thrown around on all sides. I mentioned it briefly last episode, but the scale and fidelity in the background work has really outdone itself, everything from the Legionnaire Cannon to the landscapes of the 11th planet are all beautifully depicted.

[KC]: Deeply fulfilling. Of course, I miss the extra enjoyment of His Majesty being catty, but I will accept this more nuanced tale. Keyman is not a bad substitute.

[AMB]: We didn’t get Dessler’s return, but we did get to hear Nazca screaming in fear and disbelief, so that’s a win in my book! Hearing such a veiled and cold man give in to his emotions was satisfying.

[AMB]: Some spoilery talk follows: All prior viewers know that Touko is a clone of the original Sabera, so upon rewatching this episode it suddenly makes sense on more levels than a dramatic one why she exclaims that Yamato is indeed firing the WMG. She’s confirming for Zordar via a telepathic wave (since Saito is not yet on-site)..

Klaus watches the 8th Task Force tumble out of formation from the surface of the 11th Planet and is approached by Akira, who recognizes his strategy from when he used the EMP during their dogfight in Episode 5. The resonance of the Wave-Motion blast, Klaus explains, creates interference that will render the Gatlantean ships immobile for some time. Akira credits Klaus with saving their lives again, but he points out that he only mentioned to Kodai what a marvel the artificial sun was at dawn.

[AMB]: I can’t stress enough how pretty the imagery is of the Legionnaire Cannon dispersing. So many shining lights of blue, green and red as millions of dots, ships disassemble without being destroyed. If this destroyed the artificial sun though, some visual implications hint at Keyman learning the cost of self-sacrifice. It was a beautiful sun after all, one which helped shine light on this faraway planet (as Mazer put it). That planet will now return to frozen wasteland.

[KC]: He helps save Earth, alleviate Kodai’s moral dilemma, and refuses to take credit for any of it. This young man is no bird-murdering psychopath. Can we get a cape for him? Give him a Talan?

[AMB]: No Talan is available but would an Akira suffice? You know, until this viewing I completely managed to miss the detail that he used the same kind of countermeasure as in Episode 5. That’s some neat setup.

[KC]: This series is really great at planting slow-burning clues, though my perception is based on how long I had to wait between episodes the first time through.

[AMB]: Mild spoiler talk: We’ll find out later that Garmillans can’t live off their home planet for an extended period of time. This artificial sun hovering above the 11th planet seems to have been a recent technological advancement which worked pretty well, and Mr. Garmillan emissary just aided in sacrificing it for the sake of his new Earth friends. This is why he found the sun to be so pretty. This is why he looks at it with such cold eyes as it shuts down, because he seems to lament its destruction. He not only downplays his credit in this skirmish for humility points, he does so because it wasn’t a net-gain for his suffering people. So in order to not disturb the good mood, he keeps his anguish hidden.

[KC]: How very noble of him.

Kodai contacts Admiral Mazer and gives him the opportunity to peacefully leave this sector with no further repercussions. “Although we’re from different planets, we’re both human. I expect you’ll make a wise decision.” Keyman silently hangs his head. Saito is also furious, believing the Gatlanteans to be unworthy of forgiveness. (Or is it Zordar, fuming that Kodai found a way around his first “devil’s choice”? It works either way.) Hijikata thinks it’s the right move, but only if Gatlanteans are like Earthlings in the way that the Garmillas turned out to be. On this point, Hijikata remains unconvinced.

[AMB]: “The enemy is different from Garmillas this time around,” he says. And he’s not wrong. They’re ruthless monsters, but at least they’ve shown hints of human emotion. Perhaps Mazer and Cosmodart will learn something from this.

Reporting their failures to Emperor Zordar, Mazer and Cosmodart express their utter bafflement and disgust that Yamato would allow them to simply leave. Their facial expressions then contort to convey fear. They can’t even begin to understand what they’ve just experienced. Zordar tells them it’s “love,” a word which immediately captures Sabera’s attention. Note that this doesn’t imply that anyone from Earth “loves” anyone from Gatlantis. Yoshinobu Nishizaki famously evolved Yamato into a series that explored the many facets of love. This particular facet would be “compassion.”

[AMB]: Fight and die is their mantra. And now they’re allowed to do neither. They’re told to run. Future context as to why the Gatlanteans are the way they are brings a different light to this scene. To continue the spoiler train, Gatlanteans aren’t emotionless. They’re more similar to children who never learned how to harness and use their emotions. As we’ll see in a few episodes, feelings are taboo to them. It’s hardly surprising when this turns menacing tools of war into shell-shocked children.

Sabera’s reaction to hearing the word “love” is another subtle hint at what’s to come, but she’s not quite sure what it means. But from Zordar’s half-formed smirk, you sure know he’s in the loop.

Shima and Sanada go to see Kodai in the engine room. Shima finds it quite admirable that Kodai figured out a way to stop Gatlantis by using the Wave-Motion Gun without killing a single person, but Kodai is unconvinced. Casualties or not, he has still broken the promise, and he did so by deceiving himself. He assures them that he’ll keep his opinion to himself and accept his own deceit, since one must always start somewhere even if his self-deceit continues.

[AMB]: In the end, Yamato didn’t win this battle. It survived, barely holding onto its spirit. Kodai knows this and entrusted the fact to his closest compatriots. It’s a very mature and admirable stance, and I’m happy he can recognize his own faults. It’s what will eventually make him his own kind of Captain.

[KC]: One last thing I did want to bring up is that introducing Space Bear as a potential threat in this episode is a VASTLY improved parallel to Yamato 2 Episode 7, where he and the other marines were depicted as nothing more than big, dumb, chauvinistic, disrespectful bullies who needed the ship’s doctor to distract them (from assaulting Nova) with a holodeck program of tropical beaches and hula girls. This was also the episode where everyone’s clothes started coming apart, Mark Venture bullied Homer out of his station so that he can talk to the mysterious space lady, and Trelaina only knew things because she was listening to ships’ communications. It was the most garbage episode of that series I ever sat through.

[AMB]: It’s… not the best, and admittedly I’m not a big fan. Remember last episode when I talked about how Yamato 2 found ways to demystify Farewell and tediously explain minutia? The Teresa communications bit was one of those I detested most. Cosmo Waves all the way for me.

Another bit of interesting trivia is that 2202 delves into some strange Yamato roots for the episode naming conventions. Most episodes in 2199 had very artistic or intriguing episode names which weren’t necessarily literal, but 2202 follows up OG Yamato’s slightly corny naming schemes by plainly stating what the next episode will be about right there in its title: The trap on Planet Stravase! I adore the effort to keep authenticity, but we’ll slowly move toward the more ambiguous naming conventions of 2199.

The last thing I’d like to mention is that final shot of Kodai as the camera circles around him. It was drawn by Nobuyoshi Habara himself, and it won’t be the last time we see this technique.

Bonus: click here to see enlargements of a couple beauty shots from this episode.

Coda

Theatrical release: Space Battleship Yamato 2202, Soldiers of Love Chapter 3: Pure Love Chapter contained episodes 7-10. It premiered in Japanese theaters October 14, 2017.

Japanese video: Theater-exclusive Blu-ray October 14, 2017. Standard Blu-ray & DVD November 24, 2017

First Japanese TV broadcast: November 16, 2018

American debut: June 20, 2018 (streaming) March 15, 2019 (home video)

The end title You, Petal is performed by Shino Arima.

Click here for a complete BGM collection for Episode 7.

Episode credits
Storyboard: Takao Kato and Nobuyoshi Habara
Episode Director: Tatsunari Koyano
Animation Director: Hiroki Takaki

Series credits
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

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9 thoughts on “Yamato 2202 Episode 7 commentary

  1. Thoughts…

    “I will add that this seemed to become the first truly divisive moment in the story, turning some US viewers into permanent 2202 haters. Their basic retort seemed to be “Screw your FEELINGS, Kodai, blow these green monsters away and don’t look back.”

    I think you need to consider what variety of ‘Muricans became haters, when you look at things from a Post-9/11 perceptive. They might not be -able- to be compassionate (myself included with difficulty) with the morality play Kodai is placed in.

    As for the Marines depictions? It’s clear as water to me that the 70’s Space Marines were penned from the POV of Okinawan Japanese opinion of US Marines stationed there. The Marines depicted in 2202 (and the Arc movie) are -nothing- like the typical 20-something lower class citizens that enlist in the USMC today…

    • Indeed, some of the criticism of 2202 I had seen was mostly directed to that particular scene and Kodai’s indecision to use the WMG. I’m mostly on the middle ground in this debate because while it’s easy to see that the WMG could destroy the Gatlantean fleet with ease it’s not really an easy decision for someone like Kodai if you considered what he been through. He’s not only breaking a promise to Starsha but also in part to Captain Okita, who he saw as a father figure. That’s pretty personal for him because he wants to uphold Okita’s promise probably in memory of his tenacity and leadership. But at the same time, he knows that they have to break it because billions lives is at stake if they don’t use the WMG because Gatlantis is just too strong for them to defeat with conventional means. It’s only logical.
      Sure we can ignore our feelings and just kill the enemy because it’s orders. But when it comes to using weapons of mass destruction to follow that order to kill. That is something else entirely than just firing a conventional weapon like a rifle or a missile.

      I think the biggest issue with the WMG and the rest of the ships equipped with these weapons is not whether or not they should fire the weapon but rather how they use it. Sure they’re necessary destructive symbols of deterrence meant to keep the peace between superpowers. But to use it as a first weapon of choice in battle is morally wrong because you’re practically submitted to the extreme edge of achieving total victory without any thought about the consequences of using such a destructive weapon no matter the reason. In the end, you just become just as bad or even worse than the enemy you’re trying to defeat.

      Why did nobody use the atomic bomb or any form of nuclear weapon in any kind of war since 1945 or fell to the temptation of using it again? And why did USA even used it in the first place? It was due to desperation and a bit of political motivation, but the main gist is that USA knew that Japan was willing to fight to the last man and will kill every single Allied solider that tries to invade the home islands. It was war of attrition that USA didn’t want to endure anymore (especially in the light of the kamikaze attacks) and it was utterly madness for Japan to continue a such fight especially since they already lost the war a year or two prior to 1945.

      The Allies needed to snap Japan out of it’s death before dishonor/defeat mentality before the cost of lives was too high for both sides to recover. Thus the atomic bomb was the answer: a weapon so terrifying with deadly long-term effects that scarred those who survived to the point that Japan and the rest of World realized that this was a War that was no longer worth fighting for. While yes the nuclear bomb did killed millions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it did spared way more lives on both sides that could have been killed if the Allies attempted to invade the home islands of Japan. A terrible price to pay to gain peace and all who remembered and saw what happened vowed never to come to the point to use that weapon of death ever again. But some may question why then do we still make these weapons of mass destruction? I think my answer to that is simple: Their mere presence (even if we never use them in combat in the end) is to remind us that all wars aren’t always worth dying or fighting for and that peace should always be considered an option in any point of a war no matter if it’s a victory or a defeat.

      This is something that most critics of 2202 fail to remember: Using WMDs to win your war isn’t that morally easy to tread on as they think. 9/11 is not even worthy of a comparison to what happened at the end of WWII if you consider the long build up to Project Manhattan. At least that’s my opinion.

  2. Yeah, when I first watched this episode, this is when I felt Yamato 2202 was going on a questionable direction that I wasn’t comfortable with. However, as time passed and I re-watched it with the knowledge of Zordar’s background and of course commentates like this, things that seemed off to me started to make some sense.

    I wasn’t a fan of how Zordar and to extension Admiral Mazer disregarding the Yamato as a threat claiming it won’t fire its WMG at Mazer’s 8th Task Force. The reason for this was that at the time I was under the impression that Gatlanteans were meant to strive to be the most efficient military power in the universe which means they could have easily sent a couple of Calaklums and finished the Yamato off instead of ignoring her almost completely.
    However, with the context that Zordar intentionally let Mazer not be informed about Yamato’s trump card weapon for the sake of tormenting Kodai to making that decision to fire the WMG now makes sense as it suits his sociopathic character of playing these mind games to his opponents. But still, a damn inefficient use of 2.5 million Gatlantean battleships.

    Speaking of which, I was never a fan of the idea of mass producing the Calaklum-class battleships by the millions as it goes against every single production history of all battleships which are often built in limited numbers. This was what pissed me the most in this episode. Yes, I admit it is a terrifying sight to see a bizllion enemy battleships just hoarding together ready to smash whatever force they come across and it’s a great cinematic moment. But this severely degenerates the character and personality of the ship.

    Already I didn’t like the fact that the original Comet Empire battleship from the classical series was so easily destroyed and was so disposable. When I saw the the sneak peak of the Calaklum’s first appearance in episode 1 was excited and hopeful that this ship would finally make it’s mark as a dangerous opponent for Yamato to duel with just like how the Domelaze III was in Yamato 2199. Only to be severely disappointed in this very episode where the Calaklums were mass produced to death as yet another disposable (although way more durable than last time) enemy force to be taken out without much effort… So much for a Domelaze III in the style of Gatlantis… (Sigh) Honestly, when you built too many ships of the same class, it loses it’s unique identity/soul and personality. Just one of a million identical minions in a cold hearted fleet. On the bright side, at least it wasn’t as bad as how my all-time favorite Gatlantean ship was portrayed and used… (laughs nervously before crying a river)… Medulusa… Why!?!?

    Anyway, another thing I have gripes about this episode is the how on earth does the Legionnaire Cannon work!?!? I get the idea that you basically get a giant school of Calaklums to swarm around into a cannon formation. But it doesn’t really work from a realistic point of view as there small but too many open gaps in between the ships to the point that some of the energy used to fire the massive combined weapon has to leak out and cause the cannon to implode by itself. Can the Calaklums can even take the strain and force of such enormous energy and not get destroyed in the process!? At least the Medulusa’s trump card was more realistic and even the lighting rotation gun system used by the Calaklum sort of make sense. But using a trillion ships to form a giant cannon sounds absurd, there are just so many technical issues, even by vague standards, that could go wrong! Unless they somehow project some kind of force field to compensate to contain such destructive energy, then it would make some sense. But even then, there is little evidence to suggest that the Calaklum has energy shields like the WMG ships of the UNCF.

    Ok, that’s enough mecha rambling… But yeah, this episode really bothered me as a warship/mecha nerd….

  3. In reading through the commentaries I have to wonder if the Gatalanteans complete trust of Zordar’s decision making might also be something that was built into them. I know I found myself questioning his decisions and was surprised that they didn’t

    The Legionaire cannon is clearly a homage to amongst cothers Lensman’s Sun ray. I suspect the purpose of each ship is to help guide the solar explosion to its target so having spaces is not an issue. I also suspect given what we see that it might be single use. Why would they care, they will just ‘make’ more

    I originally had issues with 2199 and Starsha’s complaints about the WMG until I came to understand that the promise was more akin to ‘don’t repeat our mistake and misuse WM technology for conquest / evil’ in that vein Kodai’s reluctance makes much more sense and the implication that Earth is on that road to hell (with possible good intentions) becomes much more telling.

  4. IMO the Legionnaire Cannon wasn’t a good idea. Sure, it looks impressive, but it transforms the Calaklum into a mere mook ship and it widens the power gap between Earth and Gatlantis so much that the only way the EDF could keep up was by going full power creep, as we’ll see in later episodes. This sucks because it turns interesting battles into overdone messes where capital ships move like fighters, are destroyed in the millions, and use their respective superweapons every two seconds.
    Also, I’m pretty sure it took a large part of the CGI budget, which would explain the rather stiff animation and lack of imaginative maneuvers in some battles. I still liked Saturn, but more because I got to see the EDF kick ass and (partly) surviving than anything else.

    • I will disagree partially. the ships are clearly powerful in their own right the fact that in (very large numbers) they can also do what the cannon does is a facet of that.

      While I don’t disagree with comments about the Lensman (or LoTGH) style battles for both good and bad, I think the facts that we get that epic scale becomes part of the issues the series is raising

      • The thing to keep in mind with the fleet sizes is that the goal of remaking this story was to give it the same breathtaking impact as the original. In 1978, those fleets were mind-blowing. Zordar’s giant battleship was bigger than anything ever seen. In order for the remake to be mind-blowing again today, it not only had to outdo the original, it had to blow away every SF anime that tried to outdo it SINCE 1978. This is why, for example, Gatlantis is the size of Jupiter. If it was the same size as the 1978 Gatlantis, it wouldn’t have been a surprise for any of us. It seems ridiculous in the beginning, but it becomes a story point about runaway mechanization. Give the writer some credit for not losing sight of that.

        • Oh, I like the giant Gatlantis actually, in fact I think it’s better than the original (though the lack of Dreadnought was disappointing) and was a good example of an old element being remade to match with modern standards. And most of all, it retained its identity, its personnality in a way. It was still this big, ominous and overpowered (in a good way) thing that could only be defeated at the cost of many lives. My issues with the swarms of capital ships is that they nullify the personnality and uniqueness of the Calaklum and the Andromeda and amp up the power gap too much to my taste.

          The biggest problem that I have with the power creep and the enormous number of ships is that it somewhat removes the tension to the fights. Let’s take Saturn for example. There was a lot of ships in the original battle, but there weren’t thousands or millions of them, and we knew that they were everything Earth had. Their success or failure would most likely determine the outcome of the war ! Thus, I was really invested in it : I was concerned when Hijikata started to lose, I counted the ships that went down, and I cheered when the EDF kicked Baruze’s blue arse !

          And although the 2202 version is superior on a lot of points, such as the improved visuals, the commanders being more competent, the EDF winning thanks to actual tactical and technological superiority instead of luck and hack physics-ex-machina, or the Yamato not getting special plot treatment and being sucked in by the White Comet like most of the fleet, it also losed some of that tension. Who cares if the Enceladus fleet gets wiped out ? There are countless (oky, maybe not countless, but still very numerous) reinforcements warping in. And the reverse is true : who cares if the WMGs destroy the Gatlantis fleet ? There’s a big replacement fleet inside the WC.

          And then there’s Mars, where the EDF literally throws Andromedas at the enemy ! Don’t get me wrong, all of those moments were really cool to watch, but I think it would’ve been more interesting if there were fewer ships and they were used more smartly. In fact, maybe the series could’ve distinguished itself from LoTGH by having smaller battles with individual powerful ships and detailed tactics. I know LoTGH has tactics too, but from what I’ve seen it’s more “macro” oriented, while Yamato could be more “micro” oriented (sorry if I’m not clear, english isn’t my native language so I sometimes struggle to explain some ideas).

          For example, Saturn could’ve been centered around several squadrons of different types of ships hiding behind the moons and in the rings in order to ambush the Gatlantis fleet, torpedo boats doing hit-and-run attacks and Dreadnoughts engaging the enemy at long range, all the while the Andromeda and the rest of the fleet would try to line up a perfect WMG shot on Baruze. Those ideas might not be exceptionally good, but I think something like that would’ve been more interesting than just lots of ships standing in front of each other while spamming their superweapons and occasionnally their main cannons.

          And it’s not like the 2202 staff can’t have interesting ideas : the Dreadnoughts coming from under the rings was nice (too bad it lasted for like 10 seconds) and the graviton launchers were awesome (too bad they’re the only original weapon used in the battle) ! By the way, what was the point of adding all of those interesting new weapons such as the anti-ship grenades and the subspace torpedoes if they weren’t going to use them in the show ?

          I realise that it’s easier said than done though, and maybe escalation was the studio’s only viable choice. But even then, they should’ve used the patrol or escort cruisers for the giant swarms, and have around 10 Andromedas/Calaklums at most. This would’ve been a good compromise between having big battles with lots of ships and retaining the uniqueness of the iconic capital ships.
          And maybe this way we could’ve seen the Amaterasu, the Laboratory Aquarius and the Garmdromedas do something on screen instead of taking off and showing up as wrecks later. A hit-and-run attack by the Amaterasu would’ve been much better than the Andromeda and Dreadnought spam IMO.

          But then again, it’s all subjective. Besides, for all my nitpicking I still enjoyed the battles a lot, and I’ll probably warm up to this new style at some point. I know the studio didn’t do this just for the lulz and they had good reasons, but I wish they’d found a way to avoid escalating so much.

          Aaand this comment is definitely too long and messy for what I intended to say.

  5. I’m glad they took the time to deal with firing the WMG. There was so much build up to this — in 2199, early in 2202 with Kodai slapping Sanada — if they had just gone “Fire the WMG!” the first time things got tough it would have made for some very shallow characters. As it was, until Klaus dropped his suggestion, they were planning to fire the WMG on Gatlantis directly right? No wonder Kodai struggles after. He knows what he was willing to do, how close he came…

    The arms race aspect of 2202 does feel a bit ridiculous — there’s always a bigger fish! But … it does make for epic scenes and drama! Stravase is where things get confusing. I’m looking forward to the next commentaries, I love all the insights! Southpaw Klaus.

    cheers!

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