by Anton Mei Brandt and Kathy Clarkson
Episode 8: The Trap on Planet Stravaze!
As if frozen in time, Mazer’s 8th fleet is aimlessly floating about near the smouldering remains of the 11th planet’s artificial sun. “A graveyard of ships,” as ace pilot Shinohara puts it. With no signs of repairs, heat, nor radar signatures coming from the enemy soldiers, Sanada ponders if these beings are incapable of creating or repairing, only knowing how to destroy. Following a brief silence in the briefing room, Tokugawa asks an open question: What’s the plan?
[AMB]: The opening shot of this episode is very detailed, going so far as to show the dispersed clouds on the planet through which the WMG was fired (which resemble an aurora borealis). But Shinohara’s comments are even more interesting, asking what the Gatlanteans are thinking since – as Sanada says – they’re not even moving inside their ships. To build on the school-of-fish allegory from last episode, one could say they’ve been left on land to dry in the sun. We also see Yamato’s view of the fleet, stars shining through their lifeless husks.
Tokugawa’s question is a difficult one. With the sociopolitical ramifications of Yamato’s actions in mind, what should they do with the refugees? Where should they go now? How to proceed after such a momentous event is a question I’d like to ask the readers of this commentary. How would you proceed?
[KC]: Yes, let’s ask those reading along. Not me. But I will say that this time around the Gatlanteans are going to present more moral challenges than they ever did in the old days.
Not willing to potentially endanger the lives of the refugees, Sanada recommends Yamato escort them to Earth, rather than waiting for the rescue fleet to pick them up. Shima points out that a roundtrip to Earth would disrupt the schedule, which leads Keyman to make a suggestion; 1800 light years away (in Telezart’s general direction) is Stravaze, a red volcanic planet which an allied Garmillan fleet will fortuitously pass by the next day.
Since the fleet is on a simple routine trip from Garmillas to Earth, Keyman argues they could easily transport the civilians in Yamato’s stead. Akira Yamamoto seems surprised, but Sanada throws a questioning look at Klaus. Keyman continues, saying “Telezart is calling for help. Yamato should move forward.” Glancing down at the planetary data presented on the holodeck, Sanada continues to ponder in silence.
[KC]: A “routine trip” from Garmillas to Earth! Someone wipe this big, doofy grin off my face.
[AMB]: With the gift of hindsight, we both know what the purpose of said trip really is. But to play along with Sanada’s skepticism, it’s well within reason to doubt people connected to a Garmillas embassy liaison, whose agenda still remains ambiguous. It’s all very convenient. In all honesty though, I think Sanada’s more concerned with the volcanic nature of the meeting place than anything else.
[KC]: And he’s not wrong to be skeptical. I just think it’s neat that ships go back and forth between those two planets now like it’s no big deal.
[AMB]: One does wonder though – what’s the purpose of their routine trip, if it truly is one?
[KC]: Keeping Ambassador Varel and his staff fully stocked with comforts and delicacies from home? Guided tours of the wreckage of the Imperial Palace to raise money for the new government and all those ships they’re building in the Time Fault?
[AMB]: Sign me up.
Outside on Yamato’s rear deck, Saito speaks his heart to Kodai under a starlit night as they gaze across the scorched ground below. Two hundred people were saved, but ten times that number were killed, both young and old. And despite knowing this, Yamato’s Captain let the perpetrators go. Holding back his frustrations as best he can, the Cosmo Marine Captain admits to his lack of knowledge about Yamato’s promise with the Iscandarians, but still urges Kodai to remember what he just told him. (Incidentally, since neither of them are wearing spacesuits or breathing apparatus, the damage to Planet 11’s sun was apparently not catastrophic enough to thin the atmosphere. Not yet, at least.)
Keeping in mind Saito’s nature as an undisclosed walking-dead puppet of Zordar, we always have to assume the Emperor is driving his words. Therefore, it can just as easily be Zordar himself pressing Kodai for an explanation of his actions.
[AMB]: Kodai’s mercy toward the Gatlanteans is his burden forevermore. Saito’s approach here is very mature, a big contrast to his original counterpart. There’s no punching or cursing, just a good old fashioned talk. Since Kodai doesn’t reject his plea, we can assume that he intends to never forget his decision. It marks his greatest burden as Yamato’s Captain so far. If he seemed worried about his role and responsibility before now, it will be nothing compared to what lies ahead.
On another note, the solidified scorched earth of the planet looks slightly disturbing, like large guts strewn about in the wake of the Legionnaire Cannon. Fitting, since the beam they shot sliced open the planet’s proverbial stomach and left it to pour out magma. And Saito’s mention of dead elderly people? Santa’s definitely dead. The joy of Christmas couldn’t change Cosmodart’s heart.
[KC]: Poor Santa. He fared a lot better against the Martians than Gatlantis.
Near the ruins of the 11th Planet’s capital, Touko Katsuragi is out on a stroll, searching for something. She picks up a piece of cloth from the sandy ground and then overhears something. Walking across the desolate landscape is Professor Redrauz, his neck abnormally tilted, as if broken (though his magnificent mega-mullet is unruffled). After he passes through the frame of an open doorway, she straightens his neck, smiling at the surprised professor with a word of greeting. “Welcome back, Professor.”
The episode’s director makes a conscious choice here with the lighting on Redrauz’ glasses. Whenever they go opaque (fully reflective) it represents a shift in consciousness. When his eyes are revealed again, the shift has taken place. Keep that in mind as you watch the rest of the episode.
[KC]: Well, look who has a pet archaeologist Zombie to go with their Space Marine Zombie. Collect ‘em all!
[AMB]: In the wise words of Gordon Cole from Twin Peaks: The Return: “He’s dead.” We need to discuss this, especially knowing he’s a living dead body, as most would probably figure out after witnessing the unsnapping of his neck.
We last saw Redrauz in Episode 6 and Touko in Episode 7, both onboard Yamato. The professor probably went to investigate the aforementioned ruins (or U.N. HQ to gather intel on Zordar’s behalf) between the day of the last episode and the night of this one, but since Yamato’s about to depart, Touko went out to make sure he isn’t left behind; he’s a useful alibi in case someone starts asking questions about her credentials.
When was the professor turned? Maybe long before, while excavating Akerius ruins on some remote planet occupied by Gatlantis? In the wake of Gatlantis’ invasion of the 11th planet? Either way, it’s easy to infer that Touko (in fact a Sabera clone) used her information on the Akerius civilization as an incentive to become the professor’s trusted aid, making sure she always had someone to vouch for her. Following his demise, turning him into a living dead body makes a lot of sense.
Regarding the doorway imagery, my take is that it’s meant to symbolise Redrauz being unable to pass on through the open doorway, or to the other side if you will, because his will is no longer in his own hands.
[KC]: I went with the presumption that Touko joined up with Professor Redrauz before he himself was compromised, but it’s plausible that Redrauz has been under Gatlantean influence for far longer. And I thought that standing him in that doorway was a great artistic choice.
Back inside the bustling Yamato, Shima recounts the previous staff meeting to Kodai while various crew members from both the tech and medical department rush by. Kodai decides that he wants to see the Stravaze charts for himself before making a decision, but before he can leave he catches a surprise glimpse of the mysterious blonde medic from last episode. But Shima seems more concerned than surprised, because the medic is none other than Yuki Mori, Kodai’s ex-fiancee.
[AMB]: The fact that Shima seems in on this whole charade is a detail which brings some well-earned levity to this episode. We all know who she is, and her return mirrors that of her original counterpart, even down to the use of music in the soundtrack.
[KC]: When they choose to pay homage to the original work they do not muck about.
[AMB]: To those who grew up with Farewell in the 80’s, it’s an almost sacred work of Japanese animation. When Mr. Habara was approached to direct this series, he at first didn’t think he had what it took to do it. As one of those fledglings who experienced that groundbreaking piece of fiction in the cinema, he’s done his best to treat it with respect. Hero’s Hill, Andromeda, Yuki’s Akirantroduction, they’re all here with the hope of carrying the same emotions they did years ago for audiences both young and old.
What follows is a comedic yet tense confrontation between the two former lovers, with Dr. Sado trying his best to stymie any negative consequences of their strained reunion. “Who are you,” Kodai asks. And with honesty in her heart, Yuki steels her resolve and answers truthfully. She’s Yuki Mori of the EDF, serving as a medic. Apparently she was deliberately kept off the crew list, but Sado rejects this notion saying he simply forgot.
[AMB]: Yuki with a ponytail. I’m surprised it hasn’t got a figure yet.
[KC]: Hah! You beat to that comment. They do have a figure of her in the tiny nurse’s dress, but I’m pretty sure her hair is down so an opportunity definitely exists here!
[AMB]: Get to it Bandai! We TOTALLY need more Yuki figures. Yes, she may play it cold but part of me thinks she’s really anxious about being confronted by Kodai.
[KC]: Well, when Kodai first told her not to come she chose to interpret that as evidence that he doesn’t feel she is worthy/entitled to come, not having heard Teresa’s call. We know that isn’t really why, but I can understand her anxiety if she truly believes that she doesn’t deserve to be there.
[AMB]: That and the fact that she seems to believe Kodai has little faith in her being of help to him in this conflict.
Arguing for military discipline well outside his character, Kodai orders her to leave the ship. And with an unusual coldness, she prepares to do just that. Sado desperately tries to intervene, but his help is respectfully rejected when Yuki tells him to tend to more urgent matters. Sado leaves the two alone, whispering to Kodai that he should blame him instead of her, and that fighting is no good. A painful silence settles in the space between them as Miki Saijou’s voice echoes across the ship’s intercom, informing the crew that personnel decision deadlines regarding civilian care fast approaching.
[AMB]: This scene is just painful to watch. Yuki doesn’t want to act coldly to him and Kodai hates acting like a stuck up military type, but they don’t know how else to deal with this situation. One is responding to neglect while the other feels betrayed. Kodai has up to this point been trying to suppress the idea of a future without Yuki, and here she is unannounced.
After staring at each other for a moment, Yuki walks past the Captain unfazed. She unties her hair and starts to undress in front of her locker, making Kodai even more uncomfortable. This finally breaks his “stern commander” act and he questions her actions, to which she simply responds that she’s following orders. He asks how Yuki thinks she’s going to get home from here. “It was your order wasn’t it? I’ll spacewalk or whatever to get home.” At such a dangerous prospect, he quickly rescinds his former order, intending to give her a new one. A quizzical look settles on her face as the scene ends.
[AMB]: Oh Kodai, you still have difficulties dealing with women. Can’t even pretend to be stern. Yuki’s spacewalk talk really shows how defiant she can be.
[KC]: Snarky Yuki is the best Yuki.
[AMB]: For all my ravings about the greatness of Yamato’s music, this scene really stands out for its lack of it. Instead we hear the white noise of machines in the background as the silence grows more oppressive. Unlike in Farewell, their standoff doesn’t end in an embrace, but instead leaves us on a cliffhanger. It’s a much more nuanced and mature way of portraying a strained relationship, especially one where the partners are having difficulties understanding one another.
Dr. Sado’s urgent matter is revealed, that being his treatment of the injured Ryu Hijikata. Philosophizing to himself, the disowned Captain says that he can still feel Okita’s presence on the ship. Sado responds that he’s with them all in spirit, but despite this the younger crew members need an adult figure to guide them on this journey. Sado leaves, and Ryu tells himself he’s nothing more than a loser. A defeated man.
[KC]: Anton, you know that I am terrible about paying attention to the Earthlings or bothering to read into their nuances. Can you explain to me why Hijikata is feeling so sorry for himself? Is he taking responsibility for the EDF choosing to essentially piss all over Okita’s ideals?
[AMB]: Following the EDF’s decision to implement the WMG-fleet, Ryu was relegated to the defense of an insignificant frontier planet (the 11th) as punishment for voicing opposition, leaving Yamato and its crew alone to deal with the military’s expansionist policies. While there, he didn’t bother to climb up the ranks again, nor did he help Yamato’s crew in any way, presumably to stay as far away as possible from the dark future creeping up behind Earth’s back.
He also failed to protect the 11th planet (either militarily or diplomatically) and wound up buried under rubble. He only survived because the ship he abandoned (Yamato) saved him and now he regrets his inaction, reminded of Okita’s brilliance as both a commander and human being. If you ask me, it seems like he feels inadequate to step into Okita’s shoes as both mentor and Captain for these younglings. He sees himself as a true loser.
[KC]: That is unfortunate.
Kodai splashes his face with water in a nearby restroom, staring himself down in the mirror. He’s exhausted, stressed out and all on his own. But Shima turns up to assist his best friend, putting things plain and simple. Kodai’s a wreck, and he won’t make it if he bottles everything up. Ignoring Kodai’s directive to mind his own business, Shima reminds Kodai of the vision from Telezart received by every crew member. Kodai remembers Okita’s order to “show his resolve,” and his stress amps up. Shima then asks if he believes everyone would have joined this voyage without seeing a vision of their own.
[KC]: I feel that a lot of the camaraderie between the bridge crew in the original work is just presumed, so it is nice to see these two just being friends.
[AMB]: Their friendship is as strong as ever, and Shima has no qualms with confronting his bestie when he’s about to fall apart. But he’s just trying to remind Kodai about the fact that a certain someone still joined up despite NOT receiving the vision from Telezart. So before Kodai makes a decision about Yuki, he should keep this in mind.
Back in her yellow uniform, Yuki is seen standing outside on the ship’s hull. Her meditation is disrupted by Akira Yamamoto, jokingly recognizing that Yuki has blown her cover. It is then revealed that the entire crew was in on the deception to smuggle her on board. Yuki apologizes to Akira since their efforts were wasted, but her friend says it’s okay, adding that there’s a special and strong bond between the female crew of Yamato.
[AMB]: There sure is! Even between aliens. Which reminds me about Melda and Yurisha’s antics with Akira in 2199 and how much levity they brought to the journey. This journey is different, as the show likes to remind us, but this scene still stands out as a nice heart-to-heart between good friends, reminding us of better times as the “energetic youth” theme from 2199 plays in the background. This is the first and only time we’ll hear it in 2202, in fact.
[KC]: I’m probably jumping too far ahead of myself with this, but I’m still hoping for more ice cream socials in 2205.
[AMB]: Radio Yamato, as well. Yuria’s upbeat mood is sorely missed.
Akira asks why Yuki allowed herself to be found out, and she says she just needed some fresh air, adding that “not all things last.” Akira asks if she’s talking about Kodai, but Yuki concludes that she’s just talking about herself. She understands that revealing herself might have reduced her odds of staying on board to help, but she didn’t want to keep being a burden on the crew. And until Kodai tells her to leave the ship, she’ll do her best to prove her worth in his eyes. With a light blush and a sad smile, she adds that she just wants Kodai to understand that she’s here for him. The response catches Akira off-guard, causing both of them to laugh away the nervous atmosphere. Akira finishes their conversation by adding how much she envies the two of them.
[AMB]: Bless Yuki and that smile of hers at the end. Instead of accepting her position and completely submitting to Kodai’s will, she does what a partner is supposed to do in a difficult relationship. She tries to show him that she cares. Not only about him, but about his duties. What she wants most is to be relied upon, not discarded. Even if Kodai’s take on the matter is different, seeing her presence on this dangerous voyage as a danger to their future. I’ve mentioned it before, but seeing your girlfriend kidnapped and then murdered probably makes you a bit paranoid about losing her.
[KC]: I’m still not sure if their awkwardness in this scene is a result of Akira having (having had?) feelings for Kodai herself or a general weirdness about discussing romantic/personal troubles on the deck of a space battleship, so I will stick to analyzing the behavior of those blue folks.
[AMB]: There’s a certain sadness in Akira’s voice as she tells Yuki she envies them. Having someone to love who clearly loves them back is an alien concept to her (future pun intended), and while her feelings for Kodai have been resolved, their status as a loving pair is still very much sought after. She wants to love and be loved like Yuki.
[KC]: Patience, young pilot. Have patience. I assure you it will be rewarded.
[AMB]: Temporarily. (Sorry, had to be done.)
[KC]: There can be only one. 😉
Back in Yamato’s restroom, the two best buds are still butting heads as Shima confronts Kodai with the fact that Yuki joined this journey without even being called by Telezart, asking him why he thinks she did. Dumbstruck, Kodai is surprised that Shima knows this. But before Kodai can derail this conversation, Shima wedges his fist under his best friend’s jaw and gives it to him straight yet again. “Stay true to yourself and don’t feel any shame in depending on someone else. You can bring up military discipline all you want, but this is Yamato.” Kodai pouts as Shima winks at him, saying he’ll look the other way, come what may.
[KC]: I want to take a moment to ask where this Shima came from and what he did with his uptight doppelganger. I have a friend who may or may not read this commentary and her feelings and frustrations about Daisuke Shima are similar to mine regarding Talan. But while both characters will have their only significant plots edited out of this version of the story [SPOILER ALERT: I’m pissed off about it], Shima at least seems to be getting more character development than he ever did before.
[AMB]: I wouldn’t say Talan’s plot is cut out as much as it’s cut short, but I get your frustration. As for Shima, I’m still a bit disappointed that his connection with his kid brother isn’t played with as much in this version, something I really enjoyed in Yamato 2.
[KC]: That is exactly my issue; originally, Talan was always a step behind Dessler, whether we’re talking about Velte or Ghader. But he also got a nice spotlight when he helped Leader Dessler of Gamilas escape from Gatlantis. He even got to talk some shit about Sabera and be maudlin about his imprisoned boss. Now he’s back to just … being there, in the background.
[AMB]: Your head is filled with blue people. I mean, he hasn’t even appeared yet… anyhow, this Shima rocks! In a way I think he’s also repaying Kodai for making sure he didn’t miss this voyage. Yuki clearly deserves the same respect, so stop sulking Kodai and tell your girl that you care. That you respect her will to join despite not being called. He wants Kodai to call for Yuki, in place of Teresa. The directing here is quite solid, I must say, especially in the body language between the best friends.
Yamato departs from the 11th Planet, passing by the floating debris previously known as the distinguished 8th Task Force. Admiral Mazer stretches out his hand toward the ship in frustration at Yamato’s incomprehensible actions, muttering the fiendish ship’s name over and over as it prepares to warp away. His rage builds up and he asks himself what this burning sensation is. What is the irrational emotion overtaking him? Yamato vanishes into warp, he swears at the object of his newfound hatred.
[AMB]: Speaking of solid direction, that sweeping shot of Yamato passing by Mazer’s arm gets me every time, as does the reflection of Yamato’s warp superimposed on Mazer’s head to show his rage. So that’s how it feels to be a sub-antagonist in a Yamato show, huh?
[KC]: Yeah, that boat tends to drive villains straight to Batshit Country. Pity this Mazer didn’t have a Dessler to warn him in advance how infuriating these barbarians can be. But his lesson will come soon enough. [INSERT MANIACAL LAUGHTER HERE]
[AMB]: A harsh lesson. But just like with Nazca and Mazer last episode, this one starts peeling off the layers of emotion lurking within the Gatlanteans. Mazer is clearly having an identity crisis over the fact that he’s experiencing something as simple to us as anger. The Gatlantean intrigue deepens.
Yamato arrives 200,000 km away from Planet Stravaze as Yuki Mori steps onto the bridge dressed all in white (a classic costume we haven’t seen since Be Forever). The crew watches in obvious discomfort as Kodai stiffly recites her new orders, to help escort the civilians to Earth aboard the inbound Garmillan vessels along with the Cosmo Marines. Their manner of speech is loveless and devoid of feeling. Confused by the tense atmosphere, Klaus looks around to assess the strange situation. Yamato approaches Stravaze.
[AMB]: Stravaze is a dark purple planet with red abrasions. It has its own purple ring and the core of the planet has been pierced by an Akerian rock formation similar to the cross-shaped object from Ark of the Stars and Episode 1. The chart data for Stravaze mentions Akerian ruins being present, and as we’ll soon find out it’s definitely advantageous for someone who’s been dying for an expedition.
[KC]: Aliens, am I right, Klaus? I get that there needs to be relationship strife for reasons, but I’m with Shima; this is getting old, fast.
[AMB]: It’s a priceless reaction though, really encapsulating how it feels like to be around a struggling couple. Especially one where you know they both really do love one another. Add in some alien confusion and Keyman’s lack of knowledge about the couple’s history and you’ve got comedy gold. On another note, it’s nice to see Yuki’s uniform from Be Forever again. It really suits her.
[KC]: Have no fear; there is a figure for that!
[AMB]: Go figure!
Honoring her duties, Yuki’s already preparing the civilians for their departure. Concerned with the origin of their Garmillas escorts, the Earthling refugees voice their worry to Yuki and Hirata, who try their best to calm the situation. Yuki’s coming with them, but that’s not much of a reassurance.
[KC]: Hey, if you Earthlings don’t feel comfortable traveling back to safety with those blue folks you’ve been living among, I would be happy to leave you here. Perhaps you can find some way to harness enough of the power of your own bigotry to make the return trip yourselves.
[AMB]: I’m not so sure they have a problem traveling with the other Garmillan refugees as much as they’re worried about the ones escorting them to Earth. Garmillas is still in a transition period from dictatorship to democracy after all. Whereas the Garmillans revere Yamato for saving them in 2199, the Earthlings have been given no reason to trust an envoy sent from Garmillas itself. Especially after a decade of war. In real world terms, it would be like asking a group of Jews to be escorted home by the German military, three years after World War II.
[KC]: Enh, I know my bias is strong, but the point of the show is to demonstrate how these people are like us, not to vilify them. Call it semantics, but while they may have chosen to give these former Space Fascists a German look and feel, going to war with an entire planet doesn’t pack the same punch as singling out and demonizing a specific group of people, especially knowing the motivation behind it. And just because it makes sense that Earthlings would still fear and mistrust the Garmillas, that doesn’t mean I can’t be angry and sad about it.
[AMB]: I don’t condone it either. They shouldn’t voice their concerns in front of a young Garmillan girl who they’ve lived alongside on the 11th planet, fanning the flames of fear. Their suspicion doesn’t seem based in political unrest, but rather over the race of their escorts. And the scene’s direction shows us that they’re in the wrong here. Though with the gift of hindsight, knowing the escort vessels’ true allegiances… their doubt isn’t unfounded.
[KC]: It’s true those guys are there to do something shady, but they aren’t looking to harm any of these people specifically.
[AMB]: Most definitely not. We’ll see more of how they miscalculated a certain something in the next episode.
In come the Cosmo Marines. Saito is in a better mood than ever, excited about finally returning to Earth! He promises the worrywarts safe passage and arrival with their aid. Relieved, the old Earthlings and Yuki thank Saito’s group for their company. With a worried expression, Nagakura mentions to Yuki that Saito now lives only for revenge against the Gatlanteans. Yuki seems to ponder that for a bit, but then gathers the courage to ask Saito a secret question.
[AMB]: There’s something beautiful about seeing Saito standing up for the Garmillan escorts, especially considering he lost a great many friends in the war against Garmillas. That man and his Cosmo Marines protected the 11th planet with their lives, for Garmillans and Earthlings alike. It’s disheartening at this point to hear that the Commander has decided to live for revenge until this is over, and Nagakura seems to agree with me on that.
Now that we know Saito’s a living dead body however, what kind of information do we think Yuki let slip when asking Saito her secret question? It undoubtedly contained information which Zordar will use against Kodai next episode, but since it’s never revealed we can only speculate.
Kodai trudges through the halls with low spirits. He enters the observation deck without notice, then sees Saito patting Yuki’s shoulder. This leaves him dazed, until the Cosmo Marine Captain passes him by, nudging his shoulder and telling him he’s found himself a responsible and attractive woman. The two former lovers are so close, yet so far apart, neither saying a word in the now empty hall.
[KC]: Oh, put her in peril, already. I’m bored with all this moping around.
[AMB]: This is good drama, though! This section is probably harder to appreciate on repeat viewings, but the setup is worth what’s to come next episode.
Can we also take the time to appreciate the fact that Saito doesn’t make moves on Yuki in this version, instead commending her partner for picking a responsible woman? A fleeting moment, but one that shows Saito can see Kodai as both a Captain and a person separately. Also, the shot of Kodai and Yuki separated by a gap in the observation deck really helps emphasize the distance between them. This episode in particular has some really creative visual direction, mostly dealing with camera placement.
[KC]: Saito has been improved by leaps and bounds in this version. Pity the poor bastard has been compromised. On the subject of Kodai and Yuki, you’re right; romantic angst is my most favorite kind of angst, but I have already watched this episode too many times, heh.
As Yamato descends to land on Stravaze, it passes by some old Akerian ruins, much to Professor Redrauz’ pleasure. Apparently he gained the info on these ruins from the Garmillans. Revealing to us his desire to unearth the mysteries behind the long lost civilization of Akerius, he wants nothing more than to study these structures. And behind him, his assistant Touko boldly urges him to create an opportunity to do so himself. Her wicked smile is met with an expression of cold conviction.
[KC]: She is the one with power here. She is the one who says stay or go. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
[AMB]: I can’t argue. Curse you Star Blazers Sabera! This part of her character where she swindles others into doing her bidding with her snake’s tongue is a neat element carried over from her Yamato 2 counterpart.
[KC]: I hated her to pieces as Invidia, but she certainly left an impression and I have a hard time not hearing Touko’s lines being delivered in a Slavic accent.
[AMB]: If Sabera is Invidia in Star Blazers does that mean Zordar is AMD?
[KC]: It’s funny because in canon Gatlanteans are useless drones who need to steal their tech from others.
Yamato lands on a giant stone bridge, meeting up with their punctual Garmillan allies, their group dispersed among two Destria ships and one Kelkapia. The civilians exit the hangar bay to wait for further instructions. (Fortunately, there seems to be ample breathable air on this overtly volcanic planet). In the meantime, Sanada and Keyman greet the Garmillan commander Kazette in his cruiser, surrounded by several Garmillan officers to finalize the refugee transfer.
[AMB]: The two groups landing is framed like a western standoff at first, but with ships. The director even makes sure to sweep the camera from one side of the bridge to the other to put everything into perspective. And hey, a new Garmillan character! Happy now, Kathy?
[KC]: Kazette has a pretty cool look, but I already had a whole series of Garmillas world-building and character introductions. I would trade all of these extra guys for some indication of what General Talan is up to at the moment.
[AMB]: Probably fishing for his dead brother. Or his dead leader. Or his dead presence. I’m fine with waiting.
Expressing Yamato’s gratitude, Sanada apologizes on behalf of his crew for not escorting the civilians themselves. But Kazette says he doesn’t mind this burden, revealing that he’s anticipating the results of their expedition, since Telezart is one of the great mysteries. Sanada starts to leave, but Klaus is asked to stay for further discussion. Sanada leaves the Garmillans to their own devices – and then they all bow down to Keyman.
[AMB]: Many jaws dropped at this moment. Including mine.
[KC]: My, my. This IS an interesting development. Now why would they be treating this Lieutenant, with his blonde hair and cool demeanor, as if he’s royalty? Who could Klaus POSSIBLY be related to? Of course we already know, but I’m still gonna make you wait for me to talk about it.
Extending his deep condolences over leaving Klaus to “bear such a burden as this,” our calm and collected emissary brushes his concerns aside, asking Kazette for the “thing” he wanted. There is gloom in the young man’s eyes as he asks this. Kazette answers, stating that he didn’t believe Klaus could plan for such an inconspicuous way for them to meet up, crediting the young man’s blessed lineage.
“Irrelevant” says Keyman while averting his gaze, citing mere happenstance for this situation. A Garmillan officer walks up to him with a black box; inside are two devices imbued with the ability to control or even destroy Yamato’s engine if need be. Keyman stares at the devices in wonder, uttering the name of this technology. “Anti-wave motion photon/lattice.”
[AMB]: Now this raises the stakes quite a bit. Keyman, whose allegiance is currently unknown to the audience, potentially has the ability to shut down Yamato’s engine at will from this point onward. Why would he do so? Who is he? Why are these men bowing to him? We’ll find out in due time. Something worth noting about the direction and art design here is that the Garmillan vessel has holographic displays of both the Garmillan flag and Earth’s flag, showing some real effort toward peace, if only formal. And the moment Sanada steps out, Keyman is placed between the two flags, showing how his allegiance is very much stuck between these two nations. The fact that the scene is accompanied by one of the softer renditions of the Garmillas national anthem from Ark of the Stars is just icing on the cake.
[KC]: “BLESSED LINEAGE?” BWA HA HA HA HA HA! Come on, now. It’s no secret that if that family is anything, it’s straight up cursed.
[AMB]: I was deep inside the speculation swamp during the time when answers weren’t available. Was Keyman actually Dessler using that skin-changing technology and a voice changer? Was he a secret son? A nephew? Or just a puppet? Or was he somehow just… a guy, acting as if he’s from a certain noble house? They were all perfectly valid to me, and this mystery box of a scene does its best to not reveal anything else.
[KC]: My memory is fuzzy, but I’m pretty sure I also speculated on Keyman being Abelt in disguise or Abelt’s son. I don’t think I ever considered that he might be Abelt’s nephew because I never expected them to give Abelt a family. The boss never got one. Now I’m sad for him.
[AMB]: Well, it’s not a spoiler any more; he’s Ranhalt Dessler, Abelt’s nephew. In a few episodes, this man’s motivations will get tricky to trace and hard to explain, so let’s begin with some basics. At this point in the story, he’s been sent by Varel (who serves the democratic faction on Garmillas under Hyss) as part of their own CIA. Klaus has orders to guide Yamato toward Telezart – and to find/expose the Dessler faction’s secret mastermind, who has plagued Garmillas since the end of the last war.
Kazette’s group is from the Dessler faction, and they’re being tricked into thinking Ranhalt wants to be their figurehead. What we can discuss, though, is if we believe Ranhalt was a believer in any of these factions at this point. What do you think Kathy? At any rate, another Dessler has been granted a dangerous weapon.
[KC]: At this point in the story, his uncle is still a huge d-bag, so anyone else is an improvement. Actually, before the show played out, I was going with the theory that the character of Klaus/Ranhalt was there to flat out replace Abelt and undergo the transition from villain to ally in Dessler’s place. At this stage of 2202, Abelt hadn’t shown up yet and I stopped expecting him to. Turns out I was wrong. And right.
[AMB]: All these insults hurled at my beautiful Abelt. But I shall refrain from rashness and bide my time…
[KC]: When we finally get there, if I recall correctly, he’s going to agree with me.
[AMB]: Certainly regarding his final actions, but his reasons and motives were always obscure and hidden in nuance. When that’s laid bare more openly, we’ll have a field day discussing it.
Outside Yamato’s hangar the civilian transfer is proceeding accordingly, everyone forming groups. Irii jumps out of her caretaker’s arms to greet Touko, who’s staring out across the volcanic plains. The girl’s friendliness and insistence on calling Katsuragi the English equivalent of “nice lady” surprises her, then Irii asks if she’ll join them on the transfer ships. She says she will, and this prompts the excited Garmillan girl to ask if they’ll be able to meet again on Earth. A promise is exchanged as the girl extends her arms, inviting a goodbye hug. At first Touko seems to be at a loss, but then accepts the girl’s embrace. A familiar feeling strikes her along with a dim, blurry memory. Touko is stunned in Irii’s embrace.
[KC]: Congratulations, Katsuragi. You have just contracted the virus known as Human Emotion.
[AMB]: Or reawakened it. But if we’re being honest, whose humanity wouldn’t be reawakened if hugged by this precious Garmillan girl? I’ve seen fan art of her spending time with Tsubasa and Makoto, something I completely endorse. More wholesome family moments in the future, please.
[KC]: Well, Irii is adorable and this Touko isn’t half the bitch that her predecessor was.
[AMB]: As those who’ve seen the rest of the show already know, the image that flashes in Touko’s mind is of the original Sabera carrying a baby. A green baby, just like the hue fogging up her memory. So what happens here is her maternal instincts kicking in, despite measures taken to suppress it.
Yuki is finishing up her preparations with Nagakura. She’s been granted some short-distance communication gear, that allows for the crew to maintain communications between the escort ships. Yuki questions why she should get such amazing equipment, but Shiori sighs and says her commander insisted on it, winking at Yuki.
[KC]: Is Saito’s plan to use jealousy to get Kodai to stop being a dink? Am I reading too much into this or not enough?
[AMB]: This is probably one of those moments where Saito’s kind heart perfectly aligns with Zordar’s grim motives. This way, Yuki and Kodai can contact one another at a certain moment next episode, pleasing Zordar. And from Saito’s point of view, he’s doing this to make sure the two lovers can properly say their goodbyes. Awfully poetic, I know. Whether Zordar planned for this or not, it works both in his favor and against it. But more on that next episode.
[KC]: Oh, Space Bear …
Saito bids farewell to the defeated Hijikata in the hospital ward, pouring a cup of sake for each of them. It’s a solemn affair. Saito questions Hijikata’s decision to stay onboard a dispirited coward’s ship and asks why he won’t join him on another Earth ship capable of fighting their sworn enemy. The gruff old Captain responds in a simple manner, telling Saito that he wishes to stay with the ship that his best friend, Okita, put his life on the line for. He’ll stay here until his final moment. Saito is silently impressed.
[AMB]: At this point I believe Saito is really starting to warm up to Yamato and its unique quirks. He doesn’t yet understand why, but he no longer feels as reluctant to stay on the ship as he did before. For this is not a ship of cowards, it’s filled to the brim with souls unafraid to pursue their own ideals, regardless of doctrine. Fun fact, on the sake bottle one can read that the rice wine shares the name of Sado himself. This is because Sado, in turn, was named after an island in the Sea of Japan that is famous for its rice wine breweries.
While waiting with the civilians, Yuki longs for a certain someone to make their appearance before the transfer begins, gazing longingly at the hangar bay. That someone is on the bridge, staring at the engagement ring Yuki returned to him. Tokugawa, Sanada and Shima do their best to not so subtly push him in the right direction. “Perhaps a certain Acting Captain should say something to Yamato’s representative,” they suggest. Kodai springs to action immediately, dashing toward the hangar bay.
[KC]: Wow, Kodai. It took three guys, huh? You better get back on that horse quickly because things are about to go bonkers.
[AMB]: As you noted earlier, the camaraderie is really strong in this episode, giving us some levity before the tragedies about to unfold. If Kodai can’t say all that he’s got locked up in his chest before Yuki leaves, the regret will make everything harder.
Just when Yuki thinks Kodai won’t show, she feels a strange sensation as if pulled by someone’s presence. Kodai skids to the top of the ramp, gasping for breath. He makes his way down, uttering her name to himself, but Yuki looks both relieved and distraught. But before Kodai can reach her, someone hijacks a Type 100 recon plane! Touko, who’s close by, reveals that it’s none other than Professor Redrauz.
[AMB]: Just as things progress toward their natural conclusion, the nutty Professor finds that opportunity Touko hinted at earlier. The angst is killing me, please just let the couple hug each other. This is a good opportunity to mention the theme of Chapter 3 (eps 7-10). Its theatrical title Pure Love Chapter is self-explanatory, but what pure love truly entails is just around the corner.
Sanada radios Kodai, who’s now on board a Space Boat (The Ki-8 “Stork” from Ark of the Stars) with Katsuragi to pursue Redrauz. He’s heading toward the ruins, so Kodai departs to stop him, leaving the ship in Sanada’s care. Yuki laments not being able to say goodbye. On the bridge, Sanada is left puzzled by these strange ongoings as Keyman checks his clock and prepares to leave the bridge.
[KC]: Dear me, look at the time. Me and my blessed lineage have a date with sabotage. Toodles!
[AMB]: Sanada’s suspicion at the beginning of the episode is really starting to seem more credible.
The Stork reaches its goal, finding the Professor’s plane near an entrance into the ruins. The place is a jumble of rectangular shapes bearing intricate inscriptions. The pair walk past obsidian obelisks toward a bright light at the end of a bridge with flashlight in hand. Kodai openly asks what this place is supposed to be, wondering about the Professor’s intentions.
[AMB]: Creepy place, creepy vibes. A distinct architectural style is quite noticeable though, so much so that we wouldn’t even have needed to hear that these were Akerian ruins. The dark expression on Touko’s face as she trails behind Kodai helps add to the uneasiness.
The troubles don’t end there, for an entire fleet is detected by Miki Saijo on Yamato’s bridge, their signals emerging from Stravaze’s dense clouds. Garmillan ships, led by a Zoellegut-class battleship. Shima turns to Keyman in astonishment, but he’s gone. This new fleet fires a volley of missiles toward the bridge where Keyman’s allies await the refugees, but Yamato intercepts them in the nick of time. Crew and civilians out on the bridge are shocked.
[AMB]: The SFX work on the new Garmillan fleet passing through the clouds is exceptionally well-crafted, immersive and beautiful to behold. Of course the environment mimics the state of panic, a storm brewing in the clouds. Red filigree covers the Zoellegut and the varied perspective shots of the missiles being fired really shows how large and dangerous they are in comparison to the puny people on the bridge.
[KC]: Meanwhile, folks following along at home are confused. How many factions of Garmillas are there, exactly? Somebody really needs to unite all these disparate groups. Preferably somebody with an overabundance of charisma and an exceptional cape.
[AMB]: We could play into the confusion for increased effect, but instead I just want to remind people that Yamato is currently protecting remnants of the Dessler regime. Just keep this in mind and the confusion will abate. And can someone please give Sanada something heavy to drink? His eyes are about to pop out of his skull, he needs to calm his nerves. Wait, if he’s nervous enough to show it outright, this is a pretty bad situation isn’t it?
Back in the ruins, our two-man team reaches a dead end near some crystalline obelisks, mounting up toward what appears to be a cave painting of Teresa surrounded by odd symbols. Before Kodai can distinguish any more detail however, he is knocked out from behind. Aihara tries hailing him on his communication gear, but no one responds.
[AMB]: This cave painting will come into better view later. For now, I’d like to discuss the fact that the symbols etched into the ground bear striking similarities to those covering the Zoellegut up above. Was this done to show a connection? Am I seeing connections where there aren’t any? Or was it just Assistant Director Makoto Kobayashi doing his Kobayashi thing in two places? The sound design inside the cave is very unsettling, reminding me of Akira Yamaoka’s haunting work for the Silent Hill game franchise. It uses the echoing effect of the cave and merges it with dark brooding sounds.
[KC]: I do like the look and feel of these ruins a lot, and those symbols are very familiar, but I don’t know that we ever get a direct answer in this series. Based on Ark and my extensive knowledge of the Stargate franchise I’m just presuming that the humanoid races use that design because they all originated from this same ancient civilization; something I hope future series delve into a bit more.
The hostile Garmillan fleet relentlessly continues its assault, one stray missile slipping past Yamato’s defenses. Saito runs out yelling danger, seemingly trying to stop more civilians from crossing the bridge in any direction. But he’s too late – a large gap is blown out of the bridge by the missile. Unable to keep his promise to join them on their voyage to Earth, he shouts at them to run for the allied Garmillan ships. He then orders everyone left on their side of the bridge (which no longer includes Yuki, alas) back onto Yamato.
[AMB]: This is a very tense situation, since Yamato can’t directly shoot the enemy in fear of debris dropping on the refugees. And Saito is an action hero I’ll root for any day. Aside from wanting to save people though, do you think he ran toward the escort ships to leave Yamato for good, even at the cost of abandoning his Cosmo Marine unit? I’m entertaining the thought as we speak, but I don’t think that’s the case.
“Destructive Liberation Army” is the name of the hostile fleet according to Kazette, who is now speaking to Sanada on the bridge’s viewscreen. He states that they’re political criminals rebelling against Garmillas and that this is a chance encounter. Prior to this, his unit has only fought them in places beyond this travel route. The Liberation Army’s priest then speaks aboard his Zoellegut, proclaiming that Dessler’s influence still clings to every planet in the Garmillas empire, haunting them to this day. Their aim is to liberate all planets still under Dessler’s shadow, a judgement delivered posthumously upon “the rotten dictator.”
[AMB]: Despite knowing who Kazette really serves, I don’t doubt his words at all. The peril facing them is most definitely a violent rebel group, but one with some truth to speak. It’s funny to me that one of our first indications of the current situation on Garmillas is delivered by an anti-Dessler cult pointing fingers at what we should believe to just be a regular Garmillan fleet. With the context of our prior scene with Kazette in mind, however, it’s easy to put the puzzle pieces together. In short, the political state of Garmillas seems pretty shaky.
[KC]: So for those keeping score, there is the known Garmillas government (now a democracy), a secret (pro-Dessler) faction within that government that wants to be a military regime again, and this separate group of rebels that doesn’t trust any of them.
[AMB]: The democratic faction is still a military regime though. What the Dessler remnants want will be revealed in due time. The priest’s scarf has a modified version of the Garmillas flag, clearly showing us that he’s not only a rebel, but a secessionist.
[KC]: First time I saw this guy was without his dialogue translated. With no context, I figured he was a callback to General Gaidel from the original third series, although Gaidel himself, in contrast, was a big, big fan of His Majesty. I always thought that symbol that looks like a backward four with spikes coming out of it was the Dessler family crest or something, so it makes sense that we see a different symbol on the scarf.
Kazette continues his conversation with Sanada, informing him that his ships can’t move until the civilian transfer is complete. Therefore they can only put their trust in Yamato. Sanada realizes they’re more or less an impromptu, Captain-less shield, having to fight the bulk of the fires from the sky.
[AMB]: Having spent quite a bit of time with the refugees, I’m worried for their sake.
[KC]: Having spent quite a bit of time with this show, I’m with you on that.
[AMB]: Sanada’s tense mood is a direct narrative follow-up to the words he exchanged with Kodai in Episode 4, where he mentioned how he feels inadequate as a Captain due to his overtly logical nature, which cost many lives in 2199 during their bout with the dimensional submarine. The fear of being responsible for more deaths is shaking him to his core here.
Kazette’s subordinate confirms Yamato’s prep for liftoff, and the Garmillan Captain is satisfied. The Liberation Army was actually lured here by Keyman’s friends with the express purpose of giving Klaus an opportunity to do something under cover of this confusion. Specifically, Klaus plants a part of the Wave-Motion photon/lattice inside the Wave-Motion Engine. It can only be done during the precise moment when the engine starts up, and he nails it. Tokugawa notices an anomaly on his monitor, but doesn’t pursue it.
[AMB]: These sly foxes finally show their true colors. A very elaborate setup, possibly explaining how the Liberation Army got here, by Kazette leading them to Stravaze all the way from Garmillas. Gotta say, his beard is pretty cool.
[KC]: See? It might be annoying how much I bring up Talan, but that’s because he’s not a two-faced jerk like so many of these guys. I may prefer to focus on Garmillas in general, but at the end of the day there are really only six Garmillas folks that I genuinely like and one of them is dead now.
[AMB]: He’s been dead for years. Anyhow, good job Keyman! Looking forward to seeing how that tool of his will be put to use for the rest of the series, and trust me it will. Also, it’s a small detail but I appreciate the fact that Tokugawa noticed something happening to his engine.
While Yuki’s doing her best to calm the civilians, Yamato starts to rise. She holds Irii tight as it leaves, muttering the ship’s name to herself. Sanada asks Aihara for an update on Kodai’s status, but he still won’t respond. At that moment however, Touko returns with the Stork. Alone. Sanada looks like he’s about to crumble under all this pressure, asking himself with a grave tone of voice where Kodai went.
[AMB]: Garmillan conspiracies among remnants and rebels, Keyman’s ambiguous nature, refugees running for their lives and Kodai knocked out somewhere, separated from Yuki… what a wild wild day! But the stakes are set, the intrigue has deepened, and we’re at the perfect point for a cliffhanger! Wait—
Kodai wakes up on the cold floor of the ruins, hearing Redrauz’s voice giving a passionate speech about Akerius, “the origin of all humanity.” He questions their actions, spreading the seeds of humanity to all corners of the galaxy, asking the stone wall image of Teresa if it was done in order to nurture their successors, since Akerius had reached the end of its own civilization. But what bothers him most is that the Akerians chose the inheritors of their ancient legacy, to be shaped in humanoid forms. The very form of life which brought on the Akerians’ death.
[AMB]: Ever since the hints in 2199 and our deep dive into Akerian lore in Ark I’ve been dying to know more about this long-gone race. What he’s referencing here is what was told by the Jirellan Lerelai in Ark, about the spreading of humanity across the stars. But he raises a great question; why were we shaped in this limited human form, capable of dying?
[KC]: Is that a rhetorical question? Because I feel like I know the answer, but it is kind of a smartass answer.
[AMB]: Rhetorical. The cave painting of Teresa is a very interesting piece of art, so let’s dissect it. It seems to depict Teresa sitting in-between two tall obelisks, perhaps the same kind of crystals used by Gatlantis at various points in 2202 to project images and thoughts, which we’ll soon see an example of.
She’s kneeling on top of two Arks, which resemble eyes. One could be the Ark of Tranquility, currently in use by the Jirellan vagabonds. Below them is a large spiraling shape, evidently the white comet. Her hair spreads out across the painting like the branches of a tree, forming small round shapes growing into larger round shapes, maybe symbolizing stars and planets. Large pillars of rock are also depicted, bearing similar texture to the cross structures we’ve seen. The most ambiguous part of the painting are the two large glowing orbs shown on either side of her. I believe these two are supposed to be the Ark of Creation and the Ark of Destruction, elements which will come into play much much later.
The complete hieroglyph is much wider than what is seen on screen
For fans and dissenters of Makoto Kobayashi alike, we can also see 2202’s well-known filigree pattern on some of the pillars, suggesting it may be an inherited design from Akerius.
[KC]: Yes, I maybe got ahead of myself when I referenced this design choice earlier, which is all over the Garmillas ships and the former Imperial Palace.
[AMB]: Still, good catch!
Redrauz starts walking toward Kodai, explaining with disgust that human beings are irrational life forms, incapable of reproducing without the process of breeding between male and female. Stealing. Hating. Killing. Humans are the source of the chaos which disrupts the harmony of the cosmos. “I’ve been waiting for you,” the Professor says. Kodai responds by asking who he’s talking to. The makeshift auditorium morphs, shifting from the ruins of Stravaze to Zordar’s throne room. His response is slow and filled with malicious intent.
“My name is Zordar… the man who knows all about love… more so than anyone else in the universe.”
[AMB]: Enter Zordar! The man who understands love. Already an iconic entrance, this scene amps up the mysticism and existentialist terror of 2202 to the max! Everything from the uncomfortable atmosphere, to Takaya Hashi’s (Redrauz) voice transitioning into Hideaki Tezuka’s (Zordar) and the brooding BGM track Ark of Destruction caps this moment splendidly.
This Zordar really indulges in his theatrics and boy oh boy is this tingling my Lovecraft nerve. The way they visualize Zordar probing into Kodai’s mind is terrifying, the splendor and might of Gatlantis confronting Yamato’s captain alone. Most shows would use the tension of battling the antagonist to stoke the fires of excitement, but this show has an antagonist who wants to talk with our hero. And this is just Episode 8 – not even at the mid point of the show – timed perfectly with Yamato being at a disadvantage. Kodai has been wracked by inner turmoil only for the leader of the enemy to stare him down inside the ruins of an ancient civilization. I would not want to be Kodai right now.
[KC]: In 2199, despite the design differences that I also complain about, Abelt Dessler was essentially just a more fleshed out, less campy version of the original character. Here, now, we get the first inkling that Original Zordar and New Zordar are similar in appearance only.
[AMB]: And even then they fixed the pockets of bald space underneath his eyebrows this time around!
Kodai is paralyzed, his eyes widen in terror upon seeing the smiling face of Gatlantis’ emperor right in front of him as the music softly plays out its final notes with Stravaze as its backdrop.
[AMB]: The best way to describe this episode is that it deepens the intrigue and mystery, slows down the pace to allow for some personal interactions, and ends in terror. Garmillans, Gatlanteans, Yamato’s crew and Akerius alike get their fair share of the spotlight, half-answering questions only to create more questions. It’s quite a ride!
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 23, 2018
American debut: June 27, 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 8.
Storyboard/Episode Director: Takao Kato
Animation Directors: Hiroki Takaki, Akahisa Maeda, Mitsuru Ishihara
Writer: Harutoshi Fukui
Scriptwriter: Hideki Oka
Director: Nobuyoshi Habara, Xebec Studio
Assistant Director: Makoto Kobayashi
Art Director: Yoshio Tanioka
CG Animation Director: Yuuto Uwabo, Sublimation Studio
Music: Akira Miyagawa, Hiroshi Miyagawa
Executive Producer: Shoji Nishizaki