by Anton Mei Brandt and Kathy Clarkson
Episode 10: Fascination and crisis of the space fireflies
We open on two Gatlanteans engaged in sword combat, surrounded by a tortured, reddish landscape. An image of Commander Goland flashes across the screen. Combat continues and the shorter fighter seems to get the upper hand, but ultimately is bested by the other as a result of his own hesitation.
“Enough!” The lights come up to reveal Gatlantis Admiral Goland and a group of soldiers observing the fight, revealing the environment to have been a projection. The defeated fighter, addressed as Sir Nol, is congratulated on his improvement by the warrior Zabaibal, the winner of what has clearly been a sparring match between the two. Nol does not respond, looking instead to Goland, who promptly turns and leaves.
[AMB]: It seems the projection technology we saw on Stravaze isn’t new to Gatlantis. This chamber reminded me of the “relief room” used by the Cosmo Marines in Yamato 2, which had a more ridiculous flair to it. And training done through hands-on experience in Gatlantis? At this point I figured most of that stuff was done through programming. Or perhaps this is a distinguishing feature of these folks?
[KC]: Notice me, senpai! Nol seems more interested in the reaction of Goland than the compliments of his sparring partner, suggesting that there is something else going on here.
[AMB]: On another note, the voice of Zabaibal is Yara Yūsaku, the man who narrated the entirety of Legend of the Galactic Heroes. 2202’s casting choices keeps impressing my old man’s soul.
Following an establishing shot of Telezart being encumbered by rock formations in space, we see Goland on the bridge of a ship, looking out over his fleet and discussing Nol’s needs with Zabaibal. Nol will be leading his first battle soon and must be prepared. Goland confirms for Zabaibal that he will be taking Nol on a Sand Dragon hunt so as not to affect Telezart’s defenses.
A servant stands beside Zabaibal, refilling his glass as the warrior entertains the idea of Goland’s entire fleet going on the hunt, leaving Zabaibal’s own division in charge. He regards Goland’s fleet as unbeatable, and laughs at the idea of his ground forces being given anything to do with him here.
[AMB]: From the way the scene’s first shot depicts Goland’s fleet, it seems they’ve just arrived to help mount the defenses. Zabaibal, who’s in charge of the ground forces, met up with his old friend the fleet Commander. A touching moment for a race which has seemed so cold. Zabaibal even indulges in drinking what appears to be an alcoholic beverage, showing us that this man is more than a machine, he’s someone who enjoys the life given to him.
“You haven’t changed,” Goland notes as they continue to reminisce, Zabaibal revealing that the previous Goland was also known to him. Both have demonstrated this same indulgence in raising their younger clones; to care for them, and in so doing care for oneself; a trait not common or admired within Gatlantis culture. The last we hear of their conversation is the fatalistic reveal that Nol is destined to inherit the Goland name.
[AMB]: So in other words, it’s not necessarily impossible for Gatlanteans to display or feel emotion , it’s merely taboo? This has been shown, but is now confirmed. And the idea of the Goland clones as successors passing from the Nol identity to Goland is how we raise our children to reflect our own experiences, though more literal here. I’ve said it before, but these Gatlanteans are like children, desperately searching for ways to express themselves in a society where they’re not allowed, even programmed against it.
[KC]: Now that this franchise has a character raising his clone as his own son, does that quiet the handful of folks that still cry about Star Wars ripping off Space Battleship Yamato in the 1970s? (Spoiler Alert: no, it didn’t.) The reality is that these are all shared elements of Space Opera, and great ones at that. We’re less than halfway into 2202 and already introducing the dangers of feelings. Much like they did with the Garmillas in 2199, we are being shown pretty early on the commonality we share with our new enemy.
As the two continue speaking, we see that they are observed by Zordar via the servant’s senses. The conversation fades into background noise as Gairen, observing from a few steps behind Zordar in a chamber adorned with fossils of unknown origin, expresses his concern that their human-like intelligence makes feelings of familial love an inescapable design flaw. Before Gairen can imply that the two of them might share a similar flaw, Zordar tells the old man to shut up.
Changing the subject to that of harnessing Teresa’s infinite power by capturing her, Zordar states that “their wish” will be granted, and that everything up until that point is but a sideshow. “Even Space Battleship Yamato, the ship chosen by Teresa?” Gairen asks, noting how they managed to escape Zordar’s trial of love without a single loss of life; negating the lesson he tried to force upon them. Zordar dismisses this as an act of chance, but Gairen points out that “there is very little room for acts of chance where Teresa’s prayers are concerned.”
[AMB]: This scene holds so many hints of what’s to come, mostly relating to the father-son relationship Gairen wants to discuss and Yamato’s nature as “chosen by Teresa.” The keenest detectives can at this point deduce the secret bond these two share, and not to brag, but I was one of them. No point concealing the truth so here goes: Gairen is the original Zordar and “their wish” is to use Teresa’s power to fulfill the current Zordar’s goal of wiping out the concept of love itself. Why? We’ll discuss this when it becomes more relevant, but for now just keep this fact in mind as we go forward.
[KC]: I’m not sure how one can be surprised, knowing they are a race of clones and looking at the two of them standing together. Maybe that optical rig Gairen’s wearing is supposed to have the same psychological effect as Clark Kent’s glasses.
[AMB]: Worst thing is, it sort of works. Also, it seems like Zordar is using some kind of summoning circle to infiltrate the minds of others, implying that this chamber is necessary for that ability to work properly. Closing his eyes as he does it, it seems to require some concentration.
[KC]: I was also suspicious of the servant pouring drinks. The circlet they’re wearing could easily be a transmitter, but perhaps it can only broadcast to that room specifically.
[AMB]: Not a shabby guess considering Katsuragi also seems to wear a circlet of sorts at all times. Speaking of her, she seems to be the one exception to this rule, Zordar having contacted her from his throne. The answer to the convoluted nature of their telepathy will be reached in Episode 18. Hint: Gairen is nowhere to be seen during Zordar’s throne room communications.
It was Teresa’s prayer that set these events in motion, Gairen observes. Yamato was chosen and answered the call to come to her aid. He mentions the pure copy aboard Yamato. While fortuitous, this was not planned, nor can he dismiss it as coincidence. “I can see the fear you hold in the back of your mind,” Gairen tells the current ruler of Gatlantis. Does Zordar fear Teresa, or something else?
[AMB]: My take on this scene? Gairen wants to entertain the idea of the two of them being like father and son, urging his “son” to take caution against the threat Yamato poses.
[KC]: I wouldn’t disagree with that assessment at all. Gatlantis is going along with Zordar’s plan, but I don’t know that any of them are anywhere near as fired up about it as he is.
[AMB]: Not sure most of them are even near being comfortable with the idea of getting fired up at all, considering their leader’s stance on showing emotions. But I think you’re right.
We jump to Yamato where Touko Katsuragi is in a medical uniform, assisting Dr. Sado as he examines Kodai. Apparently she took an accelerated medical course during the war.
After worriedly looking over his results, Dr. Sado says Kodai is fine, but Yuki isn’t so sure. Kodai is clearly impatient about being given a clean bill of health, and attempts to wave off her concern. Dr. Sado offers to prescribe vitamins, but Kodai turns him down and leaves. After a moment, a troubled Yuki follows him out. Dr. Sado lets them go with a sigh, but it’s possible he’s hiding something. Then we get a close up of Katsuragi, because she is definitely hiding something.
[KC]: I like how they set that up; Gairen suggests that Zordar might be afraid of something other than Teresa and the next thing we see is Touko Katsuragi’s face.
[AMB]: Her reflection, even, perhaps hinting at some hidden duality within. Anyhow she got a job, good for her! And that outfit looks mighty fine on her, very professional.
[KC]: Interesting, that there is a version with pants.
[AMB]: I know right? I think we first saw Yuki wearing it.
[KC]: I wouldn’t have said anything if Yuki’s version had pants.
[AMB]: That’s true.
Dr. Sado is being very sneaky here. He can clearly be seen taking notice of Kodai’s stress affecting his well-being in the examination results. But the doctor doesn’t want to worry Yuki more than necessary, so he suggests some minimalistic treatment to start with. I also wonder if Touko’s “medical license” is legitimate, or if she’s just privy to knowledge on human biology due to her background as a Gatlantean spy? In any case, that last shot of Touko tells us she’s up to no good. Whether it’s information gathering on Yamato’s Captain or her personal interest in Yuki and Kodai’s deepening love, we’ll see. Either way, it’s a safe bet that everything she sees goes right back to Zordar.
In the Map Room, a stale atmosphere is keeping everyone on their toes. Keyman quickly tires of this and, quoting the crew’s previously unbreakable spirit when leaving the military, questions the holdup. In response, Shima alerts everyone to the fact that on their current course Yamato will encounter the White Comet before reaching Telezart. This prompts images of Teresa and the White Comet to invade Kodai’s mind, signs of PTSD.
Sanada then brings up Kodai’s talk with “the man using Redrowz’s body,” asking if the White Comet appeared to be Gatlantis’ homeland. Kodai, with great difficulty, says he’s unsure, prompting Keyman to question the vague answer. But Kato responds to his objection, stating that this whole mission is based on vague information from Teresa, a one-time message with no followup. Exhaustion and strife aside, Sanada wants everyone to be clear on one point: the risk of Yamato encountering the enemy’s main force alone is too great, and if they want to turn back to Earth and regroup, this is their last chance.
[AMB]: This short meeting brings up some of the classic mystery elements of the original series, namely the White Comet’s true nature and Teresa’s message. It’s clear that the lack of validation from Teresa herself is giving rise to doubt, and seeing what this enemy is capable of… it’s starting to wear the crew down, Kodai in particular. But to potentially face the White Comet this soon? That would be a new element entirely. As would their potential retreat at this point.
[KC]: Somebody needs to give Klaus a Snickers bar. Is he grumpy that Yamato will get blown up all on their own before he can do a sabotage?
[AMB]: I think he’s more disappointed with their lack of drive and enthusiasm following last episode’s events. This is fair, but a far cry from what this crew showed him back in Episode 4. Garmillas also has a vested interest in reaching Telezart, and Yamato abandoning this mission puts his own agenda at risk. If we add his admiration of Yamato and its previous captain, this lack of spirit is a betrayal of his own faith and investment.
The very next scene, however, has Commander Todo personally informing the crew that Earth Headquarters wants them to maintain their current heading and get as much info on the comet as possible. Arriving at Telezart is still their ultimate objective. How close they get to the comet is up to their discretion.
Later, Yuki stands with Kodai in the doorway to his quarters. She is dismayed, but Kodai waves it away, confident in Yamato, and Yuki takes a second to admire his spirit.
[AMB]: If the stress wasn’t doing permanent damage on the boy earlier, it is now. Forced to soon face the eye of the beast, that last shot of Kodai before Yuki leaves him shows us a broken man trying desperately to maintain his composure. The mutiny, firing the WMG, being one second away from witnessing Earth’s annihilation by sheer force, almost having taken part in a couple suicide with hundreds of lives on his back… being captain of Yamato is tough. And he’s earned a well-deserved rest.
[KC]: It cannot be stated enough, this Kodai is infinitely more real and likeable than his predecessors.
[AMB]: I’ve seen split opinions, but I’m definitely on your side here. He’s having trouble getting through to the decision-making authorities of his world, though.
Meanwhile, Dr. Sado has gone to see Hijikata to voice his concern over Kodai’s physical and mental exhaustion, how the acting captain has been pushing himself since they received Teresa’s message; his conflict over the use of the Wave-Motion Gun; making direct contact with Gatlantis. Hijikata suggests plainly what Dr. Sado is getting at, that he is afraid Kodai will buckle under the stress. Sado admits that while Kodai puts up a strong front, he is a sensitive man. Hijikata internalizes the fact that it would be okay to act unnaturally following such a stressful event.
The two are suddenly interrupted by Yuki, who seems to have overheard either some or all of their conversation. She stands silently for a moment and Hijikata tells her not to mind them; that Kodai is a fighter and will find his way. That since Yuki chose him, she probably knows this better than anyone. Yuki hangs her head and approves of this notion, then brightens up and agrees.
[AMB]: Something very clever I took note of here was the camerawork when Hijikata asks if it’s okay to act odd after Kodai’s experiences. It reflects upon his own state of mind. He too, has felt the same conflict during this journey, bemoaning himself as a failure. Sado’s words give him a newfound strength, as if his student Kodai inspired him to appreciate his own efforts up to this point.
[KC]: I also really love the animation in this last scene where you can see confidence return to Yuki’s eyes. You hold onto that, Yuki. That attitude can turn assholes into allies.
[AMB]: Stole the words right out of my mouth! After hearing Sado’s words, I think Hijikata felt more motivated himself. Finally revealing a confident smile in front of his adopted daughter, she smiles back the moment she sees it. A small but sweet moment. Yamato wouldn’t be the same without Dr. Sado as their part-time therapist.
In the ship’s hangar next to some unfamiliar mechanical exoskeletons, Saito is instructing his Marines on their role as sole security personnel. They have to make up for lack of firepower with skills alone. Suddenly, a swarm of tiny red lights drifts in through the open hangar door. They surround Yamato, captivating its crew, prompting them to collect samples.
Sanada analyzes these and learns that they are living organisms. He orders the crew to keep them contained and to treat them as potentially dangerous until they learn more.
[AMB]: Speaking of catching, did you catch him? This marks TWO appearances in 2202 of the elusive Tetsuya Kitano, caught staring at the fireflies from the observation deck!
[KC]: I did see him!
[AMB]: Other objects of interest in this scene are the mechanical suits in the hangar bay which the marines seem ready to test out since… well, the hangar doors are open and the marines are wearing space gear. These mecha designs are the subject of both great awe and scrutiny, and we’ll be seeing a lot more of them in upcoming episodes.
In the pilot’s rec area, Shinohara is admiring his container of space fireflies and wishing he could release them while Kato plays darts nearby. Two crewmen pass, their arms filled with canisters of fireflies. One claims that they’re more samples for the XO to study. The other says he heard that they were for Chief Intelligence Officer Niimi. Shinohara points out that she isn’t even aboard Yamato, and Kato questions where they even heard this information. We then cut to a shot of Yamato still floating in space, the fireflies still outside matching its speed.
[AMB]: Lifting our spirits with some recreational moments with the crew, we’re quickly reminded of those who aren’t here, like Niimi. And since this scene evokes feelings of 2199 in a very subtle way, the audio design here chooses to go without music, perhaps wanting to evoke feelings of loss. Yuria’s YRA program isn’t blessing the airways. (Can’t be 2202 without some dreary undertones.) But what this scene really wants to imply, as we’ll see later, is that these fireflies are forcefully causing confusion by evoking memories from their keepers.
[KC]: Speaking of Niimi, have we talked yet about the fact that she and Sanada are an item? As in, that ship is canon? According to her first official 2202 character description, “After the return from Iscandar, love bloomed between her and Sanada.” So much happening that they barely give us glimpses of.
[AMB]: And that is correct! I believe you brought it up back in Episode 2? With some patience we’ll hopefully see a heartfelt (but most likely platonic) reunion of the two.
[KC]: We talked about him staying behind the curtain when he visited her in the hospital, and there was some speculation about feelings, but this is basically the show confirming it through implication.
[AMB]: Something lots of viewers might not even think is a big hint to this episode’s mystery is that last shot of Yamato, showing us that the fireflies aren’t stuck to the ship, but keeping pace with it. Almost as if they’re attracted to something inside.
Production note: the storyboards for this episode include a deleted scene at this point of Sanada and Analyzer examining the fireflies in his lab. Quite abruptly, the room is filled with them. Either they’ve broken free or found their way inside. The scene plays silently until Sanada realizes something serious and says “This is…” (end of deleted scene)
An exhausted Kodai steps out of his room and is greeted by Nanbu, who happily hands him a canister of fireflies. A visibly drunk (pink-cheeked) Dr. Sado comes out of the medical bay to observe the increasingly odd behavior of the crew as they become mesmerized by the tiny floating lights. Touko watches, amused.
The fireflies seem to bring up fond memories and feelings of nostalgia, from rice cakes to family, turning the observer’s eyes red. Even Kato has succumbed at this point, solemnly staring at his photo of Makoto and Tsubasa inside his Cosmo Falcon.
Yamamoto sees her brother reflected in an observation window until Klaus steps into that very reflection, seemingly unaffected. This snaps her out of it, but her strange behavior clues Keyman that something is very wrong.
[AMB]: Memories of the past coming to haunt Kodai is the last thing he needs. And while it’s fun seeing the secondary cast getting to relax, there’s this brooding atmosphere underneath. It’s definitely helped by the very Habara-style camera direction, where it uncomfortably moves more like a handheld camera, enhancing the tension as we come unmoored. It’s been part of the directing arsenal of this show in earlier episodes, but the calm nature of this one makes the technique truly stand out.
[KC]: This is much eerier than our first introduction to the starflies, which caused similar problems for Yamato’s crew in the original series. Back then it was part of a Gamilas plot that naturally backfires and some of the artistic choices leaned more toward the comedic. Not so, here.
[AMB]: Isn’t it ironic how an episode that evokes feelings of 2199 treats nostalgia itself as a literal bug eating away at the pressing needs of Yamato’s crew? It’s almost like the director is trying to tell us something. Also, the characters currently unaffected are Klaus, Dr. Sado and Touko. Why these three? Sado’s reason will shortly be revealed, but Katsuragi and Keyman are worth speculating on.
One theory might suggest genetic incompatibility with the fireflies, but here’s a simpler one: Klaus seems like the kind of person who suppresses his feelings and memories, one who doesn’t take an interest in anything outside his mission. This would include staring at beautiful fireflies. Or perhaps he might not have any pleasant memories worth indulging in. And Touko? She’s a cautious lady who understands more about this universe than we know, so she’s keeping close to the doctor, observing others.
[KC]: I think I am jumping ahead slightly, but I want to point out that we have not seen Sanada fall under the effect, either. He may not be a cyborg in this version, but he’s still so emotionless that his romance is a side note.
[AMB]: I think you might be correct. Sure, he may have kept himself locked up in his lab and he had others bring the canisters to him, but you raise a valid point.
[KC]: Indeed; he still had the canisters. I am going with the Man of Science theory.
One more quick mention. In order to bring someone out of the fireflies’ trance, you either have to separate them, wack them or give rise to emotions surpassing their nostalgic memories, if just momentarily. There’s an interesting implication being made here with Klaus walking into Rei’s memory of her handsome pilot brother…
Dr. Sado is busying himself with studying the fireflies, growing increasingly concerned. He asks if Katsuragi is unaffected, which she is. She asks Dr. Sado if he’s been affected by the flies, to which Sado simply responds that he prefers reminiscing over a bottle of sake.
Meanwhile, Klaus finds people doped out on fireflies all over the ship, including Engineering.
[AMB]: A widespread pandemic, now there’s something we can all relate to at the moment.
[KC]: Some of the folks tripping on starflies are definitely not maintaining a six-foot distance.
[AMB]: In all seriousness, let’s nip the bud of the mystery so we can discuss the brass tacks. As we’ll soon find out, these fireflies are feeding off the Wave-Motion Engine, meaning they’re attracted to Wave-Motion Energy. In 2199, Yurisha explains to Yuki that Wave-Motion Energy is essentially the harvested memories of planets, of people, of the universe itself. It’s part of what adds to the sickness of using that energy as a weapon. This makes the fireflies carriers of an infection called memories. Since Sado is old school, he’s already thinking of good times in his drunken state.
But why do I bring this up now? Because Klaus’ actions need to be understood, since right now he isn’t yet trying to solve this crisis, he’s trying to reach the engine room to check on that Anti-Wave-Motion Lattice he planted. Since it’s made to blend in with the Wave-Motion Energy, it might get swallowed up by these pests. And if it hasn’t… it might be useful for helping these guys out.
Elsewhere on board, fireflies have been released, much to the regulation-bound Saito’s dismay. He and Nagakura are walking through a cloud of them when they spot Kodai. Shiori, in an affected state, rudely calls Kodai a walking ghost and Saito decides to confront the Acting Captain on his recent actions, his outburst fueled by the fireflies.
Nagakura tries to stop her commander but bangs into the closing doors of the elevator he just entered. The impact awakens her from the fireflies’ influence. Realizing what might happen, she runs off to find Yuki.
Kodai is lost in his own thoughts with his back to Saito, asking Captain Okita for guidance. Saito comments on how lucky Susumu must be to have pulled them through both the 11th planet and Stravaze situations without making any really tough decisions – referring to Susumu’s push for pacifistic solutions at the cost of Yamato’s safety.
Getting no response, Saito’s frustration grows as he angrily asks Kodai to return them Earth so that he can serve on a ship willing to fight for real. Disappointed in his Captain’s lack of responsibility, he throws out one last accusation of cowardice, berating Yamato as “a ship of cowards that isn’t needed.” This manages to get through to Kodai, who turns to Saito with a strong grip on his shoulder, demanding with a menacing look that he take it back. This greatly surprises the space marine.
[AMB]: This episode has lots of flat shots with long takes, focusing mostly on the character expressions. It’s nothing unusual, but the scenes where this approach shines best are the ones like Saito’s tirade against Kodai, the animation and voiceover performance really selling a man who’s been trying to hold back his repressed feelings. He’s cruel, but not unreasonable. As a military man, he’s absolutely correct. But as a man of Yamato, without knowing the former Captain, he’s acting way out of line. This finally snaps Kodai out of his own self-doubt. Like Saito, we’ve never seen the Acting Captain this offended before, and his anger is a cathartic moment for those of us in the audience who support Kodai’s thorny path.
Meanwhile, Klaus finally reaches the engine room, surveying it with a keen eye. As if suddenly realizing something, he quickly darts off somewhere.
Nagakura finds Yuki, who has fallen under the spell of the fireflies. She quickly comes to her senses, however, when Nagakura informs her that Kodai is in danger.
[AMB]: My first thought was that reality checks and sudden physical pain snap you out of the trance. But that turn Yuki does toward Nagakura puts great emphasis on how her eyes slowly faded back to normal after averting her gaze from the fireflies. This confirms that all you have to do is look away with other thoughts in your mind. For Nagakura, it was worry for her commander. For Yuki it was worry for her partner. But it will take much more to bring the two steaming beasts in the elevator back to their senses.
Before a digital image of Hero’s Hill, Saito works himself up into a rage over the loss of life that he experienced during the last war. Bringing up an old memory, he reveals to Kodai that Hijikata once saved his regiment from the claws of death, but in spite of that, many didn’t make it and the smell of their blood in the vacuum of space still haunts him. (Referring to the prelude we saw in Ark of the Stars).
He’s got survivor’s guilt and he wants Kodai to know that the living have to carry the burden of letting people die under their command. He strikes out at the image of Okita’s statue with his fist, cracking the glass beside Kodai’s head, who doesn’t react with more than an eye twitch. Saito continues, shouting that this burden can only be lifted with vengeance. But Kodai isn’t committing to anything of that sort.
[KC]: This is a great way to play on Saito being a real tool bag in the original series without making our Space Bear seem like a tool bag. Also props to the English voice actor for Saito, whose voice cracks at just the right moment when he’s talking about the people who were lost.
[AMB]: I won’t rave too much about Neu Saito, but he keeps raising the bar for emotionally resonant writing. In the callback to Ark, he’s referring to many of his men being left for dead just so that Yamato could be sent out on her maiden voyage. Ryu recovered Saito and his men, but lives were still lost. And he’s carried the burden of their death for three long years, pushing four. Having learned to accept what Yamato accomplished in the past, he’s now facing a shadow of its former self, one devoid of its brilliant Captain. This hits Susumu where it counts, and it’s astounding how well he maintains his composure in spite of the fireflies’ influence. Or perhaps it’s because he is influenced; reminded of Okita, that he’s capable of standing his ground?
Kato appears from around the corner, telling Saito to stand down and obey their Acting Captain. But Kodai insists that they leave rank out of it. Nagakura and Yuki arrive with various other staff and Marines, most of whom are still under the influence of the fireflies.
Kodai tells Saito that he’s free to speak out against him as long as he leaves Yamato out of it, because it’s Okita’s ship. Roaring at him as Susumu Kodai rather than the leader of Yamato, he demands an apology on behalf of his former mentor, which impresses Saito. Nanbu seems to enjoy the kerfuffle, vocally playing around with the idea of letting them duke it out. But the marines aren’t so sure; they’re worried Susumu might get seriously hurt due to the skill gap. Just as things are about to get ugly, Yuki calls for them to stop – and an alarm goes off.
[AMB]: Instead of Dr. Sado breaking up a long and tedious fight between dozens of soldiers like in Yamato 2, we get this one personal confrontation between two characters who’ve had plenty of buildup. There are elements from the original, like Kato showing up to back his Captain, and unfiltered words thrown back and forth between two men with very different views. I’m also impressed by the reverence these cosmo marines seem to hold for the sanctity of human life over their commander’s pride, pushing for safety despite being influenced by emotionally-manipulative space bugs.
[KC]: Just smarter all around. Missing someone, but smarter.
Tokugawa announces that the fireflies have infested the Wave-Motion Engine. The core is unstable and energy is flowing back into the conductor pipe. At the same time, Sanada and Keyman have found a frequency that will neutralize the firefly hypnosis and they broadcast it throughout Yamato. As the fireflies start turning blue, Kodai and Saito return to themselves and their sense of responsibility. With a smile, Saito accepts the Acting Captain’s order to take charge in this area. They both give each other the Yamato salute and rush off to their individual tasks.
[AMB]: And not a single punch was thrown (at a living person)! Seeing their mutual respect as uninfluenced by the hypnosis – and in spite of their differences – is a real treat.
[KC]: Yamato’s all grown up. I’m so proud! A single shoulder-grab and a single wall-punch speak much louder here than all the brawling we saw in Yamato 2.
[AMB]: Now, how did Keyman figure this one out? It’s simple, really. His Anti-Wave Motion Lattice probably works on the same frequency he presented to Sanada, and considering these flies cause the hypnosis by spreading the Wave-Motion Energy they’ve absorbed, it’s a brilliant non-lethal solution. This revelation might invoke future scrutiny of his knowledge, but the info is worth sharing to save the engine.
[KC]: I’m sure if they did press Keyman on how he knew which frequency to use, he would just wave their questions away with that white-gloved hand of his and make some pithy observation about how advanced the Garmillas are.
Back in the engine room, the fireflies are about to start snacking on the power systems. Kodai arrives with haste, Sanada saying that he was worried for his safety. He then quickly asks Tokugawa to bypass the energy coil and feed energy directly into the engine, burning the fireflies. It’s a risky move, but one that has to be made since further erosion of the conductor pipe will make the engine lose pressure. But feeding energy directly into the engine could result in an explosion big enough to blow them all to kingdom come. With this in mind, Kodai grits his teeth and tells them to just do it. It’s a risk, but one they’ll have to take before it’s too late and they’re stranded in space.
[KC]: I chose not to include it all in the synopsis, but the technobabble in this scene is pretty amazing.
[AMB]: But it somehow seems to add up with actual physics. In short, the energized fireflies and constantly flowing energy are eroding the conductor pipe that keeps the energy sealed inside the engine. Feeding energy to the engine through its energy coil is safer and less taxing on the engine, but that unfiltered spike of energy could fry the fireflies in one fell swoop.
This is an awful allegory, but think of it as pouring tea leaves directly into the teapot instead of using the filter to moderate taste. I’m no physicist, but hopefully this makes sense. (And yes, I get that comparing stronger tea with an unstable amount of energy is nonsensical, so I’m putting a pin in this topic before I make myself into more of a fool.)
[KC]: That’s what space opera techno babble does, usually. Sort of makes sense. I have a few friends with physics degrees. You’re free to run this entire scenario by them.
[AMB]: Who needs a physics degree! If you’ve got any physics related questions, Better Call Mei!
Analyzer makes a brash entrance, wearing some strange mechanical attachment and telling everyone to hold their breath. Several jets of mist shoot out of the apparatus on Analyzer’s back and the fireflies dim, falling to the ground like soot.
An annoyed Klaus coldly asks if they’re dead, brushing ashes off his shoulder. At Kodai’s request for a situation report, Tokugawa assures him that the engines are stabilizing. Then a gas mask-wearing Dr. Sado arrives to explain that the fireflies were acting more like a virus, so he doused the engine room with a sort of bug spray. Sanada sullenly acknowledges that he failed to notice this easy fix, but Sado comforts the scientist, crediting Sanada’s own idea about breaking the hypnotic hold the fireflies had on all of them. Sanada points out that it was not actually his idea, but Keyman’s.
[AMB]: Well that’s a big relief. No dangerous “we might all die” solution today, yay for anti-virus research! Better hire Dr. Sado to deal with covid-19. (And there I successfully dated another episode commentary.)
[KC]: Well, there was the whole possibility of their plan not working and Yamato exploding before Analyzer showed up with Cosmo Raid.
[AMB]: I tried and failed to refer to that. I’m now a defeated man. But it’s a treat seeing the crew working together outside the bridge, especially with role-reversals like Sanada’s failure under pressure to remember his biology classes. Thanks to the earlier storyboard scene being deleted, this becomes Analyzer’s first spoken appearance since Episode 7, and his first appearance alongside Sado since… Episode 4? I miss seeing them just spending time together, but I get why they aren’t. Also, Klaus’ mannerisms are starting to remind me of a certain other blue man. Ring any bells Kathy?
[KC]: The arrogant blonde? It’s right on the tip of my tongue. Deserter? Enh, something like that.
Keyman himself has already slipped out of the engine room and is confronted in the hallway by Katsuragi. She asks him if his trick (called a “device” in the subtitles) is still intact, claiming she expected she might meet him here as she takes his hand and comments on its warmth. Klaus asks her what she’s doing, but she only promises to keep quiet for him.
[KC]: This scene still legitimately confuses me, knowing who they both are. Is there a story here? Is she just taunting him and being sultry as a callback to the original Sabera? Do she and Klaus have some legit history? Don’t ask me because I still don’t know. But I do think it’s quite interesting, since we already brought up the point that Yamato’s crew don’t wear gloves, but Klaus does. White gloves. White gloves, blue skin, blonde hair, annoyed with everything … we’re ticking a lot of boxes here, is what I’m saying.
[AMB]: This scene probably confuses Keyman himself, and no wonder! We’re probably meant to think just what Keyman seems to think, that she wants to pull a favor in the near future. The context behind what this scene actually means, however, will be dealt with quite early into the next episode. Hint-hint, awakening maternal instincts, nudge-nudge. Also, gloves? Doesn’t Yamato’s bridge staff wear brown gloves?
[KC]: A lot less on the new show than they did in the old one. But certain other people wear them so often it’s almost a trademark.
We return to Goland’s fleet near Telezart as he (according to a subordinate) sees firsthand what a Cosmo Wave transmission looks like “again.” Suddenly Yamato experiences spatial distortion with energy emissions increasing. Sanada suggests this to be a dimensional projection. Kodai resists Shima’s suggestion to take evasive maneuvers, suspecting that this is Teresa again.
[AMB]: Now this is clever filmmaking. If the Cosmo Wave didn’t seem magical enough already, the transition from Goland’s fleet at Telezart to Yamato shows us two things: one, Teresa’s Cosmo Wave travels really fast. Two, Yamato might be nearing Telezart, adding to excitement for the next chapter (next four episodes).
[KC]: And we are still only scratching the surface of how delightfully metaphysical this show is going to get.
[AMB]: “Delightfully” to me, yes. And to those who have developed a distaste for Yamato‘s metaphysics, we’ll both question and answer Teresa’s nature in the near future, and that’s a promise!
“Time and space are not obstacles for communicating but some things you cannot be shown until you come closer. You’ve risked much and ventured far based on faith alone and as thanks it is time that you are offered proof.”
Sanada gets this message from Mamoru Kodai as Susumu sees his old mentor Okita paying him a visit.
[AMB]: Space opera wisdom like this is sorely missed in mainstream SF. It rides a perfect balance between informative and mysterious. It’s good to see Mamoru again too, with Sanada doing his best to not sidetrack his old friend with questions.
[AMB]: This is a small thing, but I’d like to comment on the opening dutch angles for the vision scenes. Their purpose in film is usually to cause discomfort or to clue the viewer in on something being wrong. While I usually dislike dutch angles, they’re a perfect fit for literal distortions of space and time as depicted here.
Kodai confesses to Captain Okita’s ghost that he’s no good, lacking management skills as a leader, unable to uphold the promise to Starsha. He begs Okita for guidance on what to do now and how to lead Yamato. But Okita proudly responds, “Kodai, you’re doing well. Don’t you think you’ve done well so far?” With tears streaming down Kodai’s face, the Captain continues. “Your heart knows which direction to go. Follow your heart.”
[AMB]: This should tug at anyone’s heartstrings, especially those of us with prior investment in the franchise. Aside from Okita’s return in Final Yamato, Kodai only ever gets validation from Okita in Farewell with some very dark but still in-character connotations. Here it’s just straight up relief, freeing Kodai from his guilt at least a wee bit. It’s a moment not many of us get here in real life, a world where we’ve all lost loved ones we want to talk to just one more time.
[KC]: It is also well-timed, as Kodai is reaching the end of his rope.
[AMB]: On another note, this scene immediately made me think of Episode 6 of Gundam Unicorn, based on the novels by 2202’s writer Harutoshi Fukui. In it, there’s a scene with a sub-character named Zinnerman who bursts into tears after admitting that he should move on from old grudges and accept his adoptive daughter – not as a replacement for the biological daughter he’s lost, but as her own person. So he gives her his final order, which is to “follow your heart.” That phrase as well as “even so” are the sources of many inspirational scenes written by this man, and now they’ve seeped into 2202.
[KC]: I am not familiar with Gundam Unicorn, but I am all in favor of more heartstring-tugging in 2202.
Susumu mournfully reaches out for Okita as he fades away, the stark and beautiful image of Teresa presenting itself to Yamato from a dimensional opening, the freed image of her planet serving as a backdrop. Everyone in the crew sees her, with exception of Keyman and Katsuragi. This is the proof she spoke of, and it leaves Yamato’s acting captain stunned as he speaks her name. Yamamoto comments on Teresa’s beauty with a sparkle in her eyes, and Kato reacts to this blessed vision by closing his eyes and speaking a Buddhist prayer.
[AMB]: Levity. Relief. Hope for tomorrow. An image of Teresa free and glowing with life. The crew earned this, the audience earned this, we all earned this. Bask in its glow, because the road ahead is paved with both love and tragedy. I have questions though; it must have been a conscious decision to leave Touko and Klaus out from the vision, right? Since their hearts haven’t truly meshed with Yamato yet, perhaps they haven’t earned it. And Telezart freed… is that a projection of how it looked in the past, or the destined future? We’ll discuss this more when Telezart’s true nature is revealed, but it’s still worth noting.
[KC]: Back on the moon, Varel talked about having collected information about Teresa’s visions that spanned millennia, but he never specifically said anything about any Garmillans getting one. Not sure if it’s intentional, but at least one thing Klaus and Touko have in common is that neither are here because they were called. Granted, Yuki wasn’t either, but she’s there because she is already part of Yamato. The other two, as you say, are not.
Kodai and Yuki visit with Hijikata and ask him to officially join the crew, but he reiterates his earlier mantra that he’s a failure, which is upsetting for Yuki to hear. He ends up accepting the offer, pledging that he has to pull his weight after having now seen Teresa. Much to their delight.
On the observation deck, the crew is sharing stories about the visions they had, like Tsurumi seeing his late sister. Shinohara officially welcomes the Cosmo Marines to the crew, stating that they’re no longer just guests. But when Kato asks Saito who he saw, Saito frowns, recalling a vision of a shadowy figure that the audience may recognize as Zordar. “I don’t really know,” Saito replies. “But I guess I’ve been called, too.” Despite their previous scuffle, they fist-bump to celebrate their future endeavors.
[KC]: Okay, I felt that deep in my gut.
[AMB]: The Saito scene, right? Knowing what’s to come, it’s a real gut punch. I’m also quite happy with the pilots officially extending a hand of friendship with the Cosmo Marines, recognizing them as true members of Yamato. But man, does that scene make me miss the days of speculating on this show. People online dissected that black contour in Saito’s vision relentlessly. Good times.
[KC]: It was so much fun when we could postulate wild theories. Some of them actually panned out.
[AMB]: That Hijikata scene is a nice followup to his earlier misgivings with himself, his daughter now being present to hear it. But instead of wallowing in failure, he accepts the past and moves on. You admit when you’ve lost, but you shouldn’t let it wear you down. Yamato has reinvigorated his spirit, and seeing Yuki’s unusually puffy face light up with joy is one of those father-daughter moments I’ve waited for.
[KC]: This is what Yamato‘s crew does. They build each other up, give each other strength in a way that villains rarely understand, which is usually their downfall.
[AMB]: Indeed, but that’s precisely what makes their latest adversary so unique! For he is one of the first Yamato antagonists to have openly stated that he does in fact understand, moreso than our crew. And that’s a neat hook!
Sanada points out amid this newfound vigor that they still have the option to turn back, but Kodai says no with a glint of renewed hope in his eyes. They are going to help Teresa because she’s alone and she needs help and that’s what Yamato does. As Kodai finishes his speech, we see images of those who share lingering mysteries and deeply woven fates. Saito with a smile, Touko staring fixedly at her hand, Kato in his cockpit admiring his family photo, and Kodai vowing to do what humans should. The words resonate deeply with Hijikata, who states that he expects no less from Okita’s children.
[AMB]: Okita’s children indeed Hijikata, glad you could join the “old men making a parental connection to Okita and his crew” group, everyone’s welcome! And for those who’ve seen the series to its end, the speech now carries an entirely different meaning. Because Kodai is absolutely correct, and some of the characters are destined for very specific things. He will do “what humans should” by the end of this thing.
[KC]: Ugh, this show is so freaking good.
Yamato departs in 2 hours, next destination; Telezart!
[AMB]: Wow! What was originally the most underwhelming episode of 2202’s run in my eyes kept growing on me with each consecutive viewing. For many it seems to be a pace breaker, but in a story dealing with such heavy subject matter, and tragedy looming in every corner, a break from the toil and grit is well-needed not only for us, but for the characters as well. A great chance for introspection.
[KC]: Watching it on its own to put this together was kind of meh, but we have some great character moments and we set the stage for some major elements.
[AMB]: I won’t deny that this one was the most grating episode to get through writing-wise, possibly because I know what’s coming up and I know all this buildup inside out.
The screen goes black and we overhear two people talking.
“What? We’re giving that man a fleet?”
“Yes, sir. By order of His Imperial Majesty.”
“Why? That loser was practically a corpse when we found him drifting through space.”
[AMB]: Voice actor enthusiasts like myself can identify the two voices: Admirals Goenitz and Razera. Goenitz instigates the conversation and Razera relays Zordar’s orders. A very effective twist that immediately piques the interest.
[KC]: As I recall, Sabera’s lapdo- uh, Goenitz wasn’t a fan of this guy the first time around, either.
[AMB]: In Farewell he had the role of a quiet but high-ranking subordinate, whereas in Yamato 2 he seemed invested in Sabera’s promises of power-sharing if he helped impede Dessler’s personal vendetta against Yamato. As with many original elements in 2202, the new Goenitz is a bit of both. We’ll see him more later on, taking on the role audiences who saw Farewell might have imagined from his few appearances.
There is the familiar twang of an instrument and the ripple of a billowing cape as a figure comes into view. We only see him from behind, but the red collar and blonde hair are a dead giveaway. He proceeds past countless Gatlantean soldiers to stand before Zordar and his advisers. He is addressed by Sabera.
[AMB]: Now this scene, this is how it felt for original fans who saw Farewell in theaters when the Supreme Leader returned. His entrance is directed and timed with reverence for that scene, from the composition to the contrast between Zordar on his throne and Dessler kneeling. This time the throne is situated much higher, with Sabera being even more contentious in tone and manner. Kathy, I figured you would pick up on this already, but are you going to question where Talan is? Originally he took this walk with Dessler.
[KC]: I don’t know that there is a moment that goes by on this show when I am NOT questioning where Talan is and what he’s doing. But in this instance I don’t have to, because I already have the answer. The Talan who was with Abelt Dessler is dead, since we last saw him face down on a smoking bridge in 2199. His younger brother is presumably on his way, because this version of the story has already decided that his abrupt change in character design will make sense, even if they are not particularly interested in giving him a plot.
[AMB]: Point taken! His Farewell counterpart is dead, so he shouldn’t be in the scene.
“You should know,” Sabera begins, “that in Gatlantis there is no place for defeated generals and there are no second chances. It is an exception that one such as you is being entrusted with a fleet. Be grateful to His Majesty.”
[KC]: She never likes him, but is she going to toss him in a cell this time?
[AMB]: You wish. But in all seriousness, this scene already accomplishes a lot of things. For BGM connoisseurs, we get Akira Miyagawa’s version of the track Enter Dessler, this time sounding much more like its original counterpart than it did in 2199. We also get some lore on Gatlantean culture, that bit about “defeated generals” being very important, relating to both the deceased Dagarm from Ark and potentially the 8th Fleet Task Force’s Admiral Mazer.
“Sabera,” Zordar chides her sharply. “Show more respect to the former ruler of a nation.”
A white-gloved fist tightens.
[AMB]: Is this where I get to rave on the staff rearranging famous lines from Farewell in relation to Dessler and Zordar? This gets my nerd heart pumping.
[KC]: A white gloved fist. Wink-wink.
[AMB]: Nudge-nudge. When will he challenge Mickey Mouse in glove fashion?
[KC]: If Disney wants to add this amazing space opera to the one they purchased a few years ago, I would happily give them even more money for the Garmillas merchandise that would finally flood the market.
[AMB]: Until the market’s oversaturated with Yabu toys and their stocks take a hit.
Zordar continues, addressing the man before him.
“You’re here because I believe there’s something you can show us. Something we have no word for in our language. Vindictiveness. To that end, I’ve prepared the ideal prey for you.” He presents an image of Yamato. “What do you say, Supreme Leader Dessler?”
Now the camera shifts and we see that it is indeed Abelt Dessler. While his face betrays nothing, he sounds very cordial when he responds, “I am most grateful.”
[AMB]: Another clever use of the cinematography here. The image Zordar has Gairen project of Yamato is aligned perfectly to be in-between Dessler and Zordar, already hinting to the audience that Dessler’s goals might lie beyond that ship. But it still leaves us all in doubt.
[KC]: Well it’s about damn time. I am a fan who does not forget that you ended 2199 on a shit note, Abelt. You are not the charming, scene chewing totalitarian of my youth, and you have a long road ahead. But I’m not gonna lie. It’s good to see you. Don’t screw this up.
[AMB]: I wouldn’t call the sociopath of the first Yamato “charming” considering he shot his vice president in the back for suggesting a peace treaty and then destroys his own homeworld after an insane laughing attack (contrary to Abelt). He was essentially whitewashed of his worst sociopathic tendencies in the Star Blazers dub, but this doesn’t change what the original Dessler was. 2199 tried to emulating this while showing that he cared for second-class citizens, valued his friendship with Domel, and saved the only two witches known to still live from a life of slavery and persecution. Then he hired the first one when she grew up, not as a paranormal enforcement unit but as a propaganda minister due to her skills as a writer.
[KC]: Oh, so the guy who originally sent Okita congratulations and established the iconic nature of the character shouldn’t get a single complimentary adjective thrown his way, but your first example of his reboot’s redeemable qualities are his care for second-class citizens? I presume you mean his willingness to support Velte Talan’s idea that conquered populations pledging loyalty to the Great Garmillas Empire would be conditionally-accepted members of society, or his decision to grant civilian status to the families of military personnel that die. I wonder where allowing his dog Gimleh off the leash to commit genocide on some of those second-class citizens falls.
As for his friendship with Domel being valued, any value that Abelt got was for Abelt. Hiring Celestella for her writing skills is pure conjecture. He comments to her in 2199 that her speech was good, which tells me that he can’t be bothered to do it himself. While Abelt Dessler may have shown the tiniest glimpse of decency in rescuing those Jirellian sisters, you would have a hard time convincing me that it wasn’t for their abilities. Abelt Dessler may not have destroyed his homeworld, but he sure tried. Actively, intentionally tried. You don’t want to make excuses for his predecessor, that’s fine. But let’s not pretend that he’s anything but worse in the retelling.
[AMB]: I do admit, he made some very dark decisions at the end which he can never undo. But the Celestella thing is no conjecture. 2199 makes it perfectly clear that the one time the Jirellan sisters head out to consciously use their abilities, they do so without consulting Abelt by paying Frakken for discreet transport, for Abelt’s sake alone. And the one time Celestella accidentally uses her ability? It causes an instinctive reaction from the already emotionally-fragile and distraught Abelt to eliminate the voice entering his brain. Celestella tells Yuki herself that her leader didn’t rescue her for her abilities, and the story both shows and tells us this.
In the end, Abelt was at least trying to build a new home, where his predecessor merely destroyed it to fulfill his own ego – something he admits to as much in both Farewell and Yamato 2, where he states that he “lived for nothing but the beauty of destruction”.
[KC]: You say the “one time” she uses her ability, but you really mean the one time we see her use it in 2199. In my opinion, taking Celestella’s word for why she was rescued, when she was clearly wrong about a great many things in the end, is a misinterpretation. I would also love to hear more about how the original Dessler was not trying to build a new home for his people, but I think we’ve spent enough time arguing over him when he has yet to technically even return to the show.
[AMB]: Granted, he does try to find and build a new home for Garmillas in first Yamato, just much later after he’s come to terms with his former self. On the subject of Gimleh and Alteria’s annihilation, that’s a subject more fitting for a future episode. As is your claim about Welte Talan being the one to push the honorary citizens motion to action, which I have yet to find any evidence for. In any case, as we go forward hopefully we’ll see Abelt gain the same introspection as his original counterpart. Any closing thoughts on this episode?
[KC]: I think continuing this particular line of discussion is better suited to a commentary on 2199, but I agree that we’ll have plenty of time here to scrutinize our Leader of preference, and boy I can hardly wait for that. As for last thoughts, this was another example of a sophisticated take on an episode that previously was a little bit goofy. Part of the charm, yes, but I am still digging this new, smarter Yamato a lot.
[AMB]: And with that I’d just like to take the opportunity to add some comments about the ending song of Chapter 3, You, Petal by Shino Arima and S.E.N.S. Project. This is quite a laid-back song, and the lyrics are hard to grasp if you’re not a Japanese speaker, so it did not end up becoming a fan favorite. But it is still valued for its tender lyrics, its intricate connection to the chapter, and its theme (Pure Love) as well as creating a thematic bridge to the “tunnel of love” in Episode 9. When I asked my friends in Japan where this ending song ranked on their 2202 lists, it didn’t end up in the lower half because it was bad, it did so because all the other songs were really damn good. This includes another song by Shino Arima, Yoranka [Lullaby] from Chapter 5.
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: December 7, 2018
American debut: July 11, 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 10.
Episode Director: Yutaka Kawasaki
Storyboard: Amino Tetsuro
Art Director: Akihisa Maeda
Animation Director: Akio Takami
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