by Kathy Clarkson and Anton Mei Brandt
Episode 11: Dessler’s Challenge!
A light, like a beacon, and message from space; the transmission filled with static. “This is Susumu Kodai, Acting Captain of the Space Battleship Yamato. We don’t want to keep fighting. We want you to peacefully withdraw from this system.”
The camera pulls back light years away from the 11th planet’s sun and we hear someone cursing Yamato. It is Admiral Mazer. The ships in his fleet are failing and erupting in a situation where they cannot expect reinforcements or repair. Cosmodart questions advancing further when Mazer cuts him off via the ship’s holographic display. They WILL chase down Yamato! After Yamato defeated this fleet but left them alive, the warriors will continue to exist in a state of limbo, unable to live or die, unless they sink the ship that bested them. Even if it means disobeying the Emperor’s orders and burning in the fires of hell for it, they have no choice.
[AMB]: Compared to last episode’s opening shots, these are more visually stimulating, meant to create intrigue. We haven’t seen these characters for two episodes and somehow they keep persisting in spite of their state.
[KC]: Schrödinger’s clones. I am very interested in what Gatlantean hell entails.
[AMB]: In Mazer’s estimation, it is seemingly worse than any punishment Zordar could give, so pretty rough.
“All we can do is fight!” Cosmodart agrees, and the fleet continues on.
[AMB]: Through Nazca’s response, we witness a core problem with humanoid warriors from Zordar’s perspective: Cosmodart’s reluctance to turn against the Gatlantean taboo of showing emotion. He gradually warms up to Mazer’s mad rage, finishing the Admiral’s declaration of vengeance with gusto.
“You are here to show us vindictiveness,” speaks another voice. We see a single, purple eye, belonging to one Abelt Dessler, glance to his right where a young Gatlantean is speaking.
[KC]: Also the twang. Of course they make the twang noise. I have always enjoyed the cool 70s space sound that heralds his arrival.
[AMB]: Like last episode, it’s Miyagawa’s 2202 orchestration, geared to sound like its original counterpart. We also see 2202’s introduction of the often-forgotten character Miru, reintroduced in his role as Dessler’s watchdog. One note however about his opening line: the official translation is “vindictiveness,” but I much prefer “tenacity.”
“Do not think Emperor Zordar meant he wants that trait for our kind,” Miru says. “Such emotions of that humanoid species are corrupting to us and work like a powerful drug. In fact, we are seeing its effects on a Gatlantean mind now. Driven by hatred for Yamato, they are chasing her against orders. And thus, they’re a contaminated unit, befouling his majesty’s perfect army. They are waste, which must be purged.”
[AMB]: This poor boy had quite the fate in Farewell, but in Yamato 2 he just vanishes from the story. Voiced by Kouki Uchiyama (Another Gundam UC alumni, voice of protagonist Banagher Links), he’s got a fittingly cold yet sassy voice to fit the character. I dare say he’s one of the voice actors who plays best off Koichi Yamadera’s Dessler, evolving from a cold performance to one quite stimulated by the events of this episode.
During this exchange we get some glimpses of the bridge. It is mostly gold with large view screens, consoles and patterning on the walls reminiscent of the intricate detailing found on Garmillas vessels and previously within the palace itself. That same filigree detailing is also seen adorning a large mural behind Dessler with the symbol of his Empire in the center.
[AMB]: A fitting bridge for such a proud fellow. Ever heard the expression “all roads lead to Rome”? The way the filigree spreads from the Garmillas symbol must be meant to symbolize how his nation previously stretched out across the galaxy, with him center stage.
“Miru,” Dessler addresses his watchdog. “Just to be clear. I came all this way because I was told I could battle Yamato.”
[KC]: I love how casually obnoxious he is. He is as bored with Gatlantis as he was with Earth in the beginning.
[AMB]: I wouldn’t call him bored based on that grin, maybe dispassionate. Knowing what’s to come, he’s just trying to sell a performance to Miru, and by extension, Zordar.
“Yes, of course. How you treat the source of the contamination is your choice. I accompany you merely to report what I see to the Emperor.”
Dessler smiles and lets out a small chuckle. There is an announcement on the bridge. Ten seconds to warp out.
“Prepare to fire … The Dessler Cannon.”
[AMB]: And that chuckle right there, eyes concealed from us, is where Dessler first takes an interest in this boy. Just like him, Miru is dispassionately bearing witness to something inevitable, a trifling task. Like taking out the trash, there’s no emotional connection here. So, he decides to educate the lad in the art of feels.
[KC]: Different head, slightly different uniform and as much of a Drama Queen as he ever was.
A warp gate opens and Dessler’s new flagship emerges. Built around the remains of his old flagship, it is tremendously large, covered in scrollwork and overwhelmingly packed with missiles. As it emerges fully into real space, four more gates open in flanking positions and a squadron of Gatlantean Lasceaux-class ships emerge as Miru continues his lecture.
Design note: Lasceaux was one of two Gatlantean ships that first appeared in Yamato 2199, a slimmed-down redesign of the original Goland-class ship from 1978. We’ve already seen a different redesign of the Goland that beefed it up, so we can assume that the Lasceaux is a smaller, less powerful version. The fact that Dessler would be given four of them, rather than their stronger big brothers, may indicate a reluctance to entrust him with elite resources.
[KC]: Let me be the first to say that this flagship is a ridiculous eyesore, but I also love it, in a way. This series definitely uses overwhelming firepower as a lesson rather than a solution, and I wonder if the designer of the Neu Deusula might want us to think it looks ridiculous.
[AMB]: The slow pan from underneath the Neu Deusula is quite reminiscent of a certain shot from the original Star Wars, emphasizing the sheer size of this thing. Reacting with amusement isn’t unheard of, it’s what inspired Mel Brooks to parody that same shot in Spaceballs, after all.
[KC]: Agreed, although I do not believe that the intent here is to satirize this ship’s blatant aggressiveness for the sake of comedy. Overkill is a running theme with this series.
[AMB]: Wouldn’t call it overkill but I see your point. The design of Dessler’s new ship is quite a treat, now adorned with those Garmillas scribbles, tons of detachable missiles, and Domel’s miniaturized teleport system. It’s a larger-than-life symbol of Desler’s tenacity. So yes, it’s definitely meant to catch our attention.
“We (Gatlanteans) are not ruled by the emotions of the individual, which is precisely why we were able to rise up and thrive. Honestly, I don’t care much for becoming deeply involved with humanoids.”
[AMB]: This line has some connotations lost in the official sub; Miru is trying to challenge the notion of Dessler being capable of influencing him by saying the equivalent of “you humanoids aren’t as scary as I thought.” Oh how he’ll come to rue those words.
[KC]: If you look up “charisma” in the intergalactic dictionary you’ll find a picture of Dessler. Good luck, Miru.
As Miru speaks, The Dessler Cannon charges and centers on its target. Back on the bridge, Dessler stands at the firing mechanism, his finger on the trigger. A voice announces that the Dessler Cannon energy charge is at 120%.
“There are times when it gets out of hand, after all.” Dessler replies. “Being driven mad by emotions–by love, that is.”
[AMB]: The Dessler cannon’s light syncs up to Dessler’s emotional state pretty flawlessly here, going from a noble golden hue (in line with his demeanor) to that of a red destructive light (as he finishes off his lament of love). Just like this weapon, his life has been that of a trailblazer, driven to commit atrocities in the name of love. This cannon is a monument to his sins, and even now he’ll keep pressing the trigger. A small glimmer of sadness flickers in his eyes as he finishes his sentence.
In a way, I like to think of this line as Writer Harutoshi Fukui confirming the allusions 2199 made to Dessler’s hidden motivations, in large part meaning his love for Starsha – a plot point that in the original saga didn’t manifest until A New Voyage. It’s no surprise the inclusion of this fan favorite element of his character will greatly affect his portrayal going forward, and we can thank Director Nobuyoshi Habara for steering the character in this interesting direction.
[KC]: Dessler not in love with Starsha? It’d be like not giving him his cape.
[AMB]: Or his Talan.
He pulls the trigger and the beam lances out, shooting across space to Mazer’s oncoming fleet. There is a moment of intense astonishment and confusion from the former admiral before he and everything with him is obliterated as he yells out “WHY??”
[AMB]: And just like that, Dessler ends up causing the death of Nazca again. And Mazer, of course.
On the other side of the conflict, Dessler and the four escort ships smoothly change course and head off, with the White Comet theme music brooding menacingly in the background.
[AMB]: This scene’s so quiet, emotionless. Just like the deed itself, the music reflects the act of forcefully eliminating emotion, a microcosm of Zordar’s war on love. Committed by the once emotionally-compromised leader of Garmillas, Dessler’s now but a tool of war for Gatlantis, told with the White Comet theme punctuating Dessler’s departure. Even the visuals are darkly shaded to accommodate this dreadful mood, with an impressive shot of Dessler’s fleet departing. The four escort ships appearing also help put the size of the Neu Deusula into perspective.
Back in Zordar’s Throne Room, Goenitz stoically reports that the contaminated fleet has been purged by “His Excellency, Lord Dessler.”
“It would appear he has passed his first test,” Sabera observes with a conspiratorial gesture to Goenitz. “Is this a good faith attempt to repay his debt to the Emperor, or does he obey merely because he understands he has nowhere else to go?”
[AMB]: She raises a good question, what’s his grand master plan?
[KC]: I don’t know, but I appreciate this small nod to the earlier version of this story, where those two conspired together to imprison Dessler.
[AMB]: So they did, with Sabera using her womanly wiles to seduce him to her cause. This time however Goenitz is dressed with his Farewell mannerisms, so he seems less excited to entertain Sabera’s snide remark.
“Surely it’s nothing so simple,” Zordar cautions from above. “You had better watch carefully, and soon you’ll see that which makes humans so very human.”
[AMB]: It’s fitting that Dessler’s first mission for Gatlantis was to purge an emotionally compromised fleet. Considering how he himself is set up to take vengeance on Yamato, it might be seen as a Gatlantean power move to force his submission. Or maybe a hint at this man’s lack of interest in Yamato itself? Zordar sure knows something we don’t.
[KC]: He sure thinks he does, at any rate.
[AMB]: I’d even wager he goes so far as relating to Dessler in some way, respecting him much like how he did in Yamato 2.
[KC]: I think in every variation of this tale, Zordar respects him and Dessler is there for what he can get out of Zordar.
On board Yamato, the crew discusses an unknown form of energy with similar characteristics to anti-matter that Sanada picked up in Teresa’s communication wave from last episode – along with a vast amount of data that they were able to decode. Information on Telezart: schematics of complex gravitational interference fields around the planet, and a defensive armada of heavily-armed ships. Using the data, a model of Telezart has finally been computed. It depicts the planet completely encased in crustal rock of starkly different composition from the planet itself, suggesting it was brought in later from other celestial bodies.
[AMB]: As we know already, Goland’s fleet is responsible for successfully dealing with that logistical nightmare. Just imagining the work that went into breaking apart planetary crusts and transporting the pieces across the universe is one huge task.
There are enemy strongholds throughout the rock encasement, lodged within the rock bed. Based on the data, Telezart seems to be a hollow planet with incredibly high levels of unknown energy beneath its surface, flowing in from a dimension other than our own. Sanada wants to imply it might be coming from Teresa, with Kodai finishing off his sentence. Shima asks about the shell and Sanada admits that direct contact with Teresa may be impossible.
[AMB]: Hard to make physical contact with a being made from anti-matter…
[KC]: I am so sorry, Shima. You are getting robbed this time.
[AMB]: With future episodes in mind, Sanada’s thesis will be confirmed as true, but it’s scarier than he thinks. She’s actually a God-like entity projecting herself to our universe, the alien rock bed trapping her residence in our dimension. The planet is a projection too, similar to planet Phantom in Yamato III. Keep this in mind as we press on.
“Then how are we supposed to save her?” Shima asks. Hijikata observes that the enemy’s defenses look strong and that even landing on Telezart could prove incredibly difficult. To pull it off, Yamato will need to combine its firepower with the mobility of the Space Cavalry and the airpower of the Air Corps. Saito and Kato share a jovial fist bump, but Hijikata cautions that it still may not be enough. He calmly pleads for the crew to consider using the Wave-Motion Gun.
There is a pause and a look of great strife in Kodai’s eyes, and Hijikata asks Sanada if the unknown energy is showing a declining trend, which Sanada confirms. He posits that if the rock structure was designed around Telezart to extract the planet’s energy, then the data all makes sense. Gatlantis is drawing out the energy of Teresa to use for themselves.
[AMB]: So glad last episode gave Saito and Kato the opportunity to lay down arms. This crew is starting to feel like a family again. On a more prominent topic though, one does wonder… is Gatlantis really drawing out Teresa’s energy, or are they just trying to block her from interfering? Zordar seemed to imply the latter in the last episode, but Yamato’s crew insists on the former.
“There may not be much time left,” Hijikata says. “It’s your call, Acting Captain. How do you want to fight?”
[AMB]: Finally stepping up to do Okita’s job, Hijikata acts as a literal voice of conscience for Kodai, face huddled in darkness. By bringing up the reality of the situation, he takes Kodai back to the life and death situation they’re about to face, without forcing one choice or another on the lad. No longer his teacher, he embraces the role of mentor to these children of Okita’s.
Kodai does not respond. The focus is on Keyman, who closes his eyes as Yamato continues on course.
Some time later, Keyman is loitering in an empty bay with a dead expression, when he is approached by Katsuragi once again. He seems to be aware of her presence before she makes herself known, calling out to ask what she wants without looking at her or registering her appearance at all.
“Oh, you think I need a reason to see you?” she responds. “I was just thinking about what you did to Yamato’s engine.”
We flash back to Keyman releasing the lattice as he asks her why she chose to remain on the ship. “For this warmth,” she claims, moving into his personal space in a boldly sensual way. As she does so, another image flashes; the woman with the Gatlantean infant. “Who is it? Me?” she asks herself.
[KC]: Is she just being a femme-fatale or do these two have actual history?
[AMB]: I still think this part of the story is one large red herring to have us think they do, when in fact she’s just projecting her motherly instincts from her past life onto Keyman. This incidentally makes her memories slowly start to resurface. The truth behind the Sabera clones will be discussed more openly next episode, their relationship deepening. I’ve even seen some theories posit that she’s projecting her image of young Zordar on Klaus, based on Keyman’s stoic, handsome and noble features. In any case, the fates of these two are deeply interwoven, their growth as characters impossible without one another. Don’t worry, Teresa will explain all this sooner or later. Based on that last line spliced with an image of her holding a baby, I’d wager my mother-theory bears more credence.
Suddenly, missiles flash in from everywhere, accompanied by both a familiar warping sound and a familiar attack theme. Yuki reports enemy fire at four, seven and eleven o’clock. Kodai orders all gun ports opened and Shima begins evasive maneuvers. More missiles appear. They wonder if they’re surrounded, but there’s nothing else in radar range. Kodai gives the order to use angle of fire to estimate the number and positions of enemy ships and raise the shields. Missiles now at five and seven o’clock. Kodai orders Shima to get them out of there, full speed ahead! Sanada finds it strange that they would fire so many missiles from outside of radar range.
[AMB]: When one of the first trailers dropped for Chapter 4 with Akira Miyagawa’s 2202 rendition of Dessler Attack, I had a moment of nerdy bliss. 2199’s version was perfectly fine, but the more melodically-chaotic violins mixed with intense and tribal drum beats really help elevate this iconic track closer to the original composition.
[KC]: I talk a lot of trash about 2199’s Abelt Dessler, but that attack theme triggers a Pavlovian response in me. Dessler is here! This is so exciting!
[AMB]: Those warping sounds take me back as well, being exclusive to the short-range warp engines given to Domel’s fleet in 2199 (and OG Yamato)! This scene is one big reimagining of Dessler’s assault on Yamato in episode 23 of Yamato 2, meaning his final confrontation in that series is happening right now, just as he’s been reintroduced! This creates some intense subconscious intrigue for new and old fans alike, both groups wondering how he’ll play with our expectations next. Considering his death in Farewell has already been redone in episode 25 of 2199, the writers of 2202 have a message to send in this episode: “You have no idea what we’ll do with Abelt, but you’re going to like it.”
Back aboard Dessler’s command vessel it is reported that the target has increased speed by 70%. Distance from transfer point has been expanded and transfer has been temporarily suspended. There will be no more missiles for the time being.
“Looks like that battleship hasn’t changed one bit,” Dessler muses. “Watch, Miru. I’m about to show you something rather interesting. Keep your eyes fixed on tracking Yamato’s coordinates.” Seeing a look of amused interest light up Miru’s face, Dessler laughs again, then instructs his Instant Matter Transfer Device to recompute target points.
Missiles come at Yamato from all directions. Kodai wonders if there are still enemy ships ahead of them, but Shima believes that Yamato should have shaken them all by now. Ota suggests a second wave.
[AMB]: Just like Miru’s cold and detached interest slowly warms up to Dessler’s playful antics, so does the plot warm up to his interference in the story itself. Zordar’s interested, Miru’s having fun, and Dessler nostalgically indulges in challenging Yamato once more. And Miru can track Yamato? What is he, a psychic? *wink wink*
“Just how big is this enemy fleet?” Nanbu cries as Yamato takes another hit on the shields.
[AMB]: Iconic music pieces sync up with the scenes perfectly, and we realize that this man was not only brought back to amuse Zordar, he’s here to play the wild card role he was always known for. Even Abelt’s design has gone back to looking more mature and dignified, with a rounder face and taller stature.
[KC]: Three years later, we are seeing a different Dessler.
[AMB]: A different Dessler? Or one who’s finally allowed to be himself? From both a story and meta point of view, this will be explored later on.
[KC]: Those two things are not mutually exclusive.
Sanada points out that it’s as if the enemy can anticipate exactly which way they will move. Yuki announces a new wave of missiles coming in; Yamato is completely surrounded. Hijikata then arrives on the bridge and Kodai tells him they are calculating an escape route while Analyzer makes the final calculations; in eighteen seconds there will be a six-second window of escape. Hijikata points out to Kodai that it may well be a trap. Kodai does not seem to disagree, but follows through with his orders and Yamato warps out just as the missiles converge on their location.
[AMB]: The trap Dessler’s sprung is delightfully devilish. There’s a quick glance back and forth between Hijikata and Kodai that I really appreciate, where Kodai acknowledges that this might be a trap, but he’ll act on it with Hijikata’s belief in him as a capable Captain. A big Okita moment, pushing forward with great risk to achieve great things.
On Dessler’s flagship, Yamato’s warp is confirmed by the onboard computer. Miru’s eyes are staring fixedly in bewilderment, filled with excitement, mouth open. We see that Dessler’s command chair has been salvaged or recreated here, as he reclines in it with Miru standing beside him, looking surprised. “Taking advantage of such a marginal window of opportunity…” the Gatlantean boy observes.
“Finding that small sliver of hope. That’s Yamato for you.” Dessler proclaims.
[AMB]: I see what they’re doing here, and I love it. Miru is going to become Dessler’s student of love. Through his teachings, the boy will grow to mature as a humanoid himself, learning to both understand and express feelings. That line Zordar had about “you had better watch carefully, what makes a human so human”? I think he was addressing Miru with his closed eyes, which brings me to the next topic.
Just like with Saito, Klaus and Katsuragi, it would do us good to just say it like it is: Miru is the next Zordar, a clone based on the Emperor. One of the reasons Zordar put Miru with Dessler, is because he wants the boy to see what wretched things humans will do for love, gearing Miru to understand his own warped perspective. He sent his son to school, the teacher being Dessler. Miru has the same telepathic capabilities as Zordar, acting as his literal eyes. And as some savvy viewers can see… he’s got a similar aura to a certain Garmillas spy aboard Yamato.
Yamato comes out of warp with all scans coming up empty. Shima and Kodai share the same familiar feeling. As Sanada explains, Yamato has been pulled down into a dimensional rift. Hijikata can smell where this is going. In the Engine Room, the Wave Coefficient is stuck in alignment and the Energy Conversion Rate is still accelerating. The Chief asks them to check on the Pressure Reduction Unit, but Sanada knows that’s not it, and he orders them to shut down the engine. Yamato is about to be destroyed!
Once the ship has stopped, Sanada explains that the space they are in is filled with the remnants of a supernova. High-energy atoms with accelerated electrons and protons are causing a rapid chain of particle reactions all around them. As the Wave-Motion Engine constantly draws in energy from the vacuum of space, doing that here and continuing energy conversion would trigger a reaction that would blow Yamato up from the inside. As Nanbu explains in plainer terms, it is as if Yamato has been placed in a powder keg and her engine is a match.
[KC]: Which is, of course, exactly what Dessler planned.
[AMB]: Ah, not only is it a brilliant plan to knock out Yamato’s wave-motion capabilities, it’s a strong thematic reversal from 2199. If you remember, this is exactly the same kind of space Yamato last fought Dessler in, where the Deusula II’s overloaded Dessler cannon blew itself to kingdom come.
And poor Tokugawa has to deal with the fact that his precious engine might blow up. I like Nanbu’s layman’s explanation of what’s going on, too. It’s a blessing in scenes like this. Omitting such generalizations might be the better choice, but it’s always best not to lean heavily into techspeak.
There is another explosion outside the ship. Kodai wants to know where their enemy is, but the radar is still down. Nanbu points out that their enemy’s radar should be down, too. Hijikata expresses their need to get moving and asks if the sub engines still work, which the Chief confirms. He immediately goes into Captain mode, ordering Nanbu to load the rear torpedoes and prepare to fire on the Acting Captain’s command. Kodai nods and starts giving his own orders. Shima takes evasive maneuvers and they begin navigating through the rift, blasting any missiles that come near.
[AMB]: Seeing that the situation is too much for Kodai to handle on his own, the old man steps up in a more active role again, just like at Stravaze. If Okita was the stern but softhearted dad, then Hijikata is the lesser uncle trying his best to step in the shoes of who he deems to be the better man. Kodai sure is blessed with good elders, isn’t he?
Behind them, Dessler and his squadron are in pursuit, missiles grazing Yamato. His ship announces that their engine pressure is also rising, as are the engines of the four support ships with them. The computer cautions that continued fire is dangerous, but Dessler orders them to keep firing. Miru seems to be staring at the monitor, watching the battle unfold, but then we see Katsuragi’s image superimposed over his own troubled face.
[AMB]: There’s a shot from behind the throne here showing us the spectacular view granted to those on the bridge, with Yamato in the middle of the viewscreen. We can see more of the stellar art design put into making this truly feel like a royal ship, as well as the fact that Dessler’s crew is composed of Garmilloids. We also see a very premature hint at a secret connection between Touko and Miru, the link through which he’s tracking Yamato. That image of original Sabera holding a baby should start ringing bells by now.
“I’m impressed. That’s a neat little trick you have,” Dessler suddenly comments. “It works not only at vast distances but through different types of space as well.”
Miru seems shocked that Dessler has figured out the link between these Gatlanteans, but he admits that is the advantage of the Cosmo Wave.
“Thanks to that, we’ve had no trouble tracking Yamato across the stars,” Dessler muses. “At least so far.”
Miru looks outraged but says nothing.
“Higher dimension communication utilizing telepathy,” Dessler states, getting a reaction from Miru again. “If I recall, the prayers of Teresa have been described that way, too.”
[KC]: Dessler always seems to have an advance copy of the script, even if it rarely does him much good.
[AMB]: He sure does, or he’s just really good at pretending like he does. In this case, he seems to be achieving some mutual respect with Miru, who’s beginning to crack under the pressure of this situation. It’s also very intriguing to me that Teresa’s prayers share the same means of communication as Miru’s.
On Yamato, Katsuragi is listening to radio transmissions from the bridge. There is a panicked report on the effectiveness of their enemy’s weapons systems. “Why don’t you answer?” Katsuragi thinks to herself. On the bridge, Assistant Navigator Ota notes that the enemy fire is completely missing them now, the ships shooting randomly around this space.
Two of the support ships implode due to excessive energy conversion. “Like your great leader Emperor Zordar, you seem to be a special sort of Gatlantean with extraordinary skills,” Dessler observes. “The spy that’s infiltrated Yamato is, too.” Miru seems shaken.
[AMB]: Read like a book, played like a fiddle. With no care about his Gatlantean escorts, Dessler seems fully aware of what’s going on, and Miru’s bewilderment is hilarious. The observer has become the observed!
[KC]: Clearly taunting. While this is a significantly different plot from last time, they have kept the animosity between Dessler and the tween snitch Zordar burdens him with, and it is very entertaining to watch.
[AMB]: Indeed it is! Though I’m more inclined to believe Dessler is more amused with Miru than anything else. He goes from originally being a burden to someone Dessler wants to nurture. Nobuteru Yuki’s new Miru design certainly helps him look less bothersome too.
[KC]: I wouldn’t put it in such parental terms. Dessler may see an advantage in getting Miru to respond to human emotion, but ultimately he cares about one thing. We already know it isn’t Yamato and it is not Miru’s personal development, either.
[AMB]: Based on later events I’d still say he’s not wasting his time with the boy. A young lad being forced to inherit the responsibilities of his father without any real say because of his lineage? Should sound familiar.
Yamato, meanwhile, has come upon a tube structure, artificial in origin. Not built by some undiscovered alien race, as Aihara suggests. Sanada tells them that the style is remarkably similar to Akerian ruins, and if the tunnel was designed by them its technology that could help, but it will be risky. Kodai orders a course into the tube, at the end of which we see a brightly glowing light.
[AMB]: In Episode 12 of Yamato 2, the ship was led into a similar tube structure during the space firefly crisis. Dessler planned to fire the Dessler cannon and fry Yamato while it was trapped, zapped by intense electricity coming from traps placed inside the tube. Back then, Yamato used the Wave-Motion Gun to push them backward out of the tube, similar to Okita’s tactic in 2199 at Balun. This time the tube’s an old Akerian structure inside the remains of a supernova, a perfect prop for one of Dessler’s modern schemes.
Dessler speculates on the light being the core of the dimensional rift they have all entered, and wonders aloud if it is interfering with the Cosmo Wave Miru is using. In fact, the closer they’ve gotten to that light, the less stable Miru’s connection has become.
“Now, the tricks you’re so proud of won’t work,” he boasts, much to the boy’s chagrin.
[AMB]: Later on in the series we’ll find out that the Gatlanteans were created by a race called the Zemulians, direct descendants of the Akerians. Some were granted the power of telepathy, the “Type Zordars.” Touko, a copy of the last living Zemulian, has the same Cosmo Wave because her race was seemingly born with the ability, similar to the Jirellians.
Why bring this up now? Because the closer Miru gets to Akerian tech, the more it interferes with his telepathy, meaning something in his programming as a Type Zordar is being countered by Akerian tech. In fact, we’ve heard of this earlier in the episode, a similar type of blocking against Teresa’s ability to use her Cosmo Wave.
Dessler states that they will have to rely on more conventional methods. When prompted by Miru, he says they will use their eyes to search for their prey. And with that, the two remaining support ships head off in pursuit of Yamato.
Miru seems to struggle internally, his eyes closed. “A waste of effort,” Dessler informs him. “Those telepathic waves won’t reach your Emperor from here either, Miru.”
[KC]: The original Dessler was often portrayed as being pretty scientifically-minded, and I think that’s what they’re going for here. The groundwork is being laid and the lines are beginning to blur. I’ve been skeptical, but will take the ride with them. Give me a Dessler I don’t want to see airlock himself.
[AMB]: My interpretation is that he’s bad-mouthing Miru for relying on supernatural abilities, just as he had an averse reaction to the Jirellans doing the same in 2199. He’s a man who wins with his own efforts, not wanting to rely on technology or the dark arts.
[KC]: I am talking more about Dessler’s overall understanding that Miru’s supernatural abilities would be interrupted by Akerian tech, but I understand that I’m in a very small subgroup within the fandom that is hyper-focused on the differences and similarities between versions of this character.
From Yamato’s rear observation deck, Saito and Nagakura watch the entrance to the tunnel receding. “Whatever this tube is, we’re in it now.”
[KC]: Boy, you said it, Compromised Space Bear.
On the bridge, it is learned that the tunnel’s interior is made up of different dimensional stratum than the space outside of it. Someone speculates on whether it is even possible, and Sanada muses out loud. “Two clearly separate dimensions seamlessly connected by a solid structure.” Hijikata asks him if it can be used to return to real space, and Sanada confirms that it can, but there’s a complication.
[AMB]: I like how alien this tube looks on the inside, and I appreciate the show slowing down for a few seconds to let us admire it. There’s even some fancy reflections being cast on Yamato’s hull, courtesy of the CGI team. In the JP dub, Saito makes an effort to say “we’re inside the tube,” using a Japanese word similar to how you’d describe a sausage tube. That line always stuck out to me as a fitting description. This structure is like a converter cable connecting two different dimensions. It’s an interesting piece of technology, and it won’t be the last time we’ll hear of it in this series.
On the bridge of his command ship, Dessler delightfully sips his beverage and waits to see what Yamato will do, testing Miru’s patience.
“The many technological achievements of Gatlantis and its unique philosophy are delights to behold,” Dessler observes. Miru is clearly unhappy with the observation, but Dessler keeps going. “And yet, I wonder. Who among the vassals truly understands the heart of their Emperor? Even as it sullies his people, to him it may be like a fragrant, intoxicating wine. Or perhaps it’s a favorite plaything. I would venture that your Emperor does not actually desire the destruction of that ship. Yamato and her crew are most likely piquing his interest in a way he hasn’t felt in a very long time.”
[AMB]: Keen viewers will notice the body of Dessler’s glass clearly being modeled after Starsha, a cute detail. And just like the wine he’s enjoying, he seems to believe Zordar is intoxicated with the wine called “Yamato”, just like the emperor’s vassals earlier this episode. He knows this better than anyone, considering he ended up going quite far to destroy it at the end of 2199. Using every bit of information he can, he turns the tables on friend and foe alike, a true rival.
[KC]: I had thought that as well, but the hair of the female figure on that stem is far too short to be Starsha’s. With his former squad of elite female bodyguards I just chalked it up to the kind of goblet one would expect a decadent, powerful ruler to have. Then again, after seeing that mural in his old palace, I would not be surprised to find out the creeper had commissioned himself a Starsha glass.
[AMB]: The hair could just be modeled to cling to her back on the cup. So for my sanity’s sake I’ll apply some good ol’ Occam’s razor.
Miru has finally had enough. He pulls his sidearm, but Dessler is on him in a flash, shoving the barrel under Miru’s own chin. “The emperor realized from the beginning that, to me, Yamato holds no meaning.” Dessler pulls the gun free. “If you don’t mind, I’ll hold onto the gun from now on,” he smirks.
[KC]: Abelt Dessler, you magnificent bastard. I don’t know if I believe that you are truly indifferent about blowing them up here, but I do enjoy watching you poke Miru with a stick.
[AMB]: Oh, we’ll get the answer to that in just a short bit. Meanwhile, I’d like to rave about the BGM track used here, Dessler’s Ambition. It’s a variation of Dessler’s Bolero, his leitmotif from Farewell. It was given to Sabera in Ark of the Stars due to it opening with a mesmerizingly-exotic rendition of the White Comet theme. However, it built up into Dessler’s Bolero and it always bothered me how Sabera’s first appearance in the reboot was accompanied by Dessler’s original theme without him present.
But here, it’s so perfectly synched with Dessler’s cunning plays, going from that mysterious Sabera-esque start (musically telling us that Miru is Sabera’s connection) into Dessler’s Bolero as he turns around and pulls Miru’s own gun on him! It’s so perfectly synced it’s like this track was scored for this scene alone, even though it originated from Yamato 2.
Back on Yamato’s bridge, Hijikata is explaining the plan. They will release Wave-Motion Energy into the tube, then draw the thermal radiation it creates back into the Wave-Motion Engine. “Stimulated emission?” Kodai asks, and Sanada confirms that it is a way to use the tube’s structure to achieve warp. But as Tokugawa points out, “One wrong move and the ship will be blown to pieces. We’re floating in gunpowder, then striking a match on purpose hoping we can harness the energy to escape.”
[AMB]: The metaphors used in this episode are perfect. Couldn’t have said it any better, Tokugawa.
“It’s up to me and the chief,” Shima states. “We’ll each carry half of the burden.”
“No,” Kodai stands suddenly to address the bridge. “We all will. We’ll carry it together. And we’ll carry it now because there’s no time to waste.”
Everyone nods with determination, except for Klaus who closes his eyes and looks away.
[AMB]: To all carry the burden as one unit… this proclamation of Kodai’s will have a great impact on the end of Episode 13, bringing about one of my favorite moments of this chapter. The theme this time around is “Karma,” most likely referring to the karma of the Wave-Motion Gun, Dessler’s decisions in life up to this point, and sins turned against the sinners.
[KC]: What’s the matter, Klaus? Are you disgusted, or ashamed? Are you nervous because the far more popular blonde royal just showed back up? Do you sense something? A presence you’ve not felt since … okay, I’ll stop.
[AMB]: He’s probably just really moody after his uncomfortable encounter with Katsuragi, heh.
On Dessler’s command ship, he prepares to fire the Dessler Cannon.
“You were planning this all along,” Miru fumes. “You steered them to this place to cut off our telepathy, didn’t you?”
“I am a man who does not forget humiliation,” Dessler replies.
“You must realize it. What will happen if you use that weapon here.”
“Space itself will burn. Yamato and those ships entrusted to me will share the same fate.”
“Watch closely. You claimed that was your job, didn’t you?”
[AMB]: “I am a man who does not forget humiliation.” One of the best lines from the original White Comet Empire arc, brought to life through a new lens. Seen by Gatlantis as an emotionally-compromised tool, Dessler will blast away what remains of his escorts and free himself from their surveillance. With Miru now cut off from the flow of information, he’s free to do as he pleases with this new ship.
[KC]: Okay, I am definitely rooting for him right now.
Dessler fires and the beam lashes out, destroying the final two support ships. On Yamato, Yuki alerts them to an extradimensional implosion. “But how?” Someone asks. Sanada then realizes that the approaching Wave-Motion Energy is colliding with the space in the way they theorized, with a shockwave of radiation.
[AMB]: Something worth pointing out here is that the technology granted by Gatlantis has now allowed for the new Dessler cannon to fire its beam even inside this other dimension without damaging the ship, very much unlike his first Deusula.
Hijikata tells Kodai that if they release the gravity anchor and absorb the shockwave, they should be able to reach warp without firing the Wave-Motion Engine. Kodai asks Shima if he can do it. Shima observes that the reflection rate won’t stabilize in the tunnel, but he aligns with the center of the emission. The stimulated emission wave approaches. Initial canceller is set to maximum. Yuki reports contact with Yamato’s stern. The emission wave is pushing them. Tokugawa orders them to open all intake valves. Kodai orders the crew to brace for warp. The countdown completes and Yamato warps, the tunnel shattering in a spectacular explosion of light.
[AMB]: And with that, Dessler helped save Yamato. Not by giving them a hand, but a push in the right direction. If we are to trust him, Yamato does in fact not matter to him. And if so, what he just did was to extend a courtesy quite new to him, hinting at a change to his moral character. It’s also a subversion of his goal in Yamato 2 Episode 12, firing at the tube not in order to destroy Yamato, but instead to help it. That’s my thesis at least.
Also, in the JP dub Kodai has quite the swagger in his voice when asking Shima if he can pull this off, asking him “Shima, can you ride the wave?” The cheesy retro vibes are off the charts this episode! And the visual splendor showcased when the ship races through the tunnel, finishing off with the magnificent explosion of the tube punctuated by the Yamato theme… takes my breath away every time.
[KC]: To be fair, I don’t think Abelt would have been broken up at all if Yamato’s luck had run out there, but I understand the desire to want to think better of him than might be reasonable.
[AMB]: I think he would, based on his upcoming reunion with the ship in Episode 15. During the three years since the end of his rule, he’s played on the “revenge” angle, but deep down I think he’s come to respect the ship, shown first through his admiring gaze whenever he looks at it. So as I described above, he didn’t give them a helping hand, he gave them a respectful push. How to use that push was up to Yamato, the ship that showed him things could be done right. There’s more of this coming up in Episode 23, but that’s a long way off.
Dessler’s onboard computer informs him that Yamato has jumped. “Just as fortuitous as always,” Dessler says. Miru is furious.
[KC]: Well, maybe Abelt was gambling on Yamato after all, if only to infuriate his watchdog.
[AMB]: Heh. You’ve gotta love the off-model Miru in this scene too, he looks like a frog in the first shot.
Yamato smashes out of the dimensional barrier and everyone breathes a sigh of relief. Dessler’s command ship waits in the dissolving dimensional rift. Dessler explains that without its core it should soon disappear. Miru demands to know what Dessler is plotting. “Miru,” Dessler snaps at him, “if this alternate space collapses and the Cosmo Waves return, wouldn’t that make you happy?” But Miru is not happy. He is getting less happy by the second.
[AMB]: The fact that Dessler isn’t immediately trying to knock the boy out before the Cosmo Waves return means he really wants to show Zordar something. I do wonder what…
Suddenly an alarm begins wailing on the bridge as several ships warp in; several Garmillas ships. Three carriers and many other smaller vessels appear as the Garmillas national anthem starts booming. Dessler is hailed by the younger Talan brother, Ghader. “Supreme Leader! The entire military has been awaiting your return.”
“As loyal as always,” Dessler responds. “I thank you from my heart.”
Talan salutes him, obviously overcome with emotion. “Gare Dessler!” He signs off. Miru is astonished.
“Tell me, Miru,” Dessler asks him. “What do you think of my actual fleet?” Miru looks down for a moment and Dessler has his own weapon trained on him for the second time. “Of course, your Emperor will learn eventually,” Dessler says, pressing the barrel of the gun between Miru’s wide eyes. “But still, there’s no need to rush.”
[KC]: [INCOHERENT SCREAMING] Oh, look. Talan’s back. I am a little confused about this translation, because there are definitely members of the Garmillas military who are working with Earth right now and not in this fleet, so does Talan actually mean the entire military? At this point in the series we can’t really say, but perhaps there are not as many different factions as we were led to believe.
[AMB]: With “the entire military,” I think Ghader’s referring to Dessler’s entire army. Due to the very contextual nature of the Japanese language, some things are assumed between people who know each other that others might not understand. It’s a line that’s definitely meant to make us (and Miru) think, “Wait… really?!” But in fact, what Talan’s saying is “Your men (us, of the military) have arrived, all of them (who support you).” That’s how I interpret it, at least.
[KC]: And before I really start gushing, it is true that I have a very strong and very vocal bias in favor of the original versions of these two characters. And it is true that I am pretty unforgiving of Abelt Dessler for a lot of the same behavior. But it is also true that 2199 was written as a standalone project by a different group of people than 2202. We are getting a subtly different Abelt here, and while the reasoning may not always link up perfectly with my fannish sensibilities, I am absolutely, 100% on board with rooting for him. Especially against this blabbermouth.
[AMB]: While true, Shoji Nishizaki was the one who helped handpick the new writers (Oka and Fukui), very much aware of the continuity established by the long and arduous project that was 2199. I’m still of the ardent belief that Dessler was always meant to have this kind of comeback arc, just like he did in the original. In his own words, he was a man who lived for destruction alone in the first Yamato series, only having seen the value of love at the end of Yamato 2.
The biggest difference between the two versions at their core, Abelt and Leader Dessler, is that Abelt knew love from the very start and it’s what inevitably caused him to go overboard. The fact that this aspect of his character was purposefully left vague and open-ended in 2199 meant he would definitely be reintroduced and given some introspection. That’s what we’re finally getting, and it’s glorious.
We then return to Yamato, where Yuki is speaking with Hijikata in a lounge area, trying to convince him to take command on the basis of his support earlier that day. Hijikata has a different interpretation; that he was only getting them out of a mess after helping Yamato fall into an enemy trap. “But Kodai,” Yuki begins, then thinks better of objecting. She knows that Hijikata will only tell her the same thing Kodai told them all on the bridge; that they will carry this burden together.
[AMB]: It’s hard to naturally work this into the official sub, but I’m glad Yuki’s still referring to Hijikata as her uncle in the Japanese dub. Still stoic and overly humble, he doesn’t want to be more than the mentor he signed up to be. Even with a pep talk from his adoptive daughter.
“Yes, we’ll carry it together,” Hijikata agrees, noting that Kodai can be mature when he’s concerned about someone else. He continues, observing Yuki’s worry for Kodai and telling her that while his path is daunting, she must allow him to make it on his own, and be there to catch him if he falls. While Yuki is considering this, Hijikata tells her that her parents supported each other until the end and he knows that she and Kodai can do the same, because that’s what humans do when they’re at their best. Yuki is clearly heartened by this.
[AMB]: This is a phenomenal moral lesson that youths of today really need to hear. Some walls have to be faced alone, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be alone once it’s over. Yuki’s precious smile upon hearing this makes my heart feel things.
Tokugawa tells the bridge crew that he has analyzed the data. When they used the shockwave to warp they achieved three times the usual output. Nanbu asks Sanada if he’s figured out what caused the collapse of the dimensional rift, and Sanada says there’s a signature in the neutron fluctuations that they’ve seen before. He is about to tell them what he thinks it is, but Keyman already knows; the Dessler cannon. Shima and Kodai register this information and Yamato sails off until the next episode.
[AMB]: Three times the normal output, huh? Can I make my obligatory Char Aznable reference? Anyhow, this news must be quite a shock to the crew, and the music really helps sell the feeling that something new and exciting is about to happen! I mean, it’s the same music used when they land on Telezart in Farewell, a track that invites us to a world of mysterious wonder. Fitting.
[KC]: Kodai doesn’t seem too bothered by that news, does he? And are we going to talk about the closing credits?
[AMB]: He really doesn’t, surprising Shima who tries catching Kodai’s gaze. It’s like Kodai’s more baffled by how the events of this reunion transpired rather than the possibility that Dessler was behind them.
But yes, the ending song, Crimson Red! IT’S SO DAMN GOOD! Composed once again by S.E.N.S. project, performed by Yuya Hoshino with some stellar guitar accompaniment it steals the show exactly like Dessler just did! But it has a much more interesting history to it than one might think. The O.G. song The Rival, sung by Isao Sasaki, was an “image song” for Farewell, acting as a vocal subtheme for Dessler. It was the coolest back in 1978, but as times have changed so has “what’s cool.” The lyrics (translated here) embody the soul and spirit of The Rival with an entirely different vibe. The man has returned, and he’s seen a warrior in the flame. It details the route Dessler is on as a character, telling us more about his inner workings.
[KC]: Yes, a great song about Dessler from Kodai’s perspective. As I recall, there was a lot of excited speculation when this episode was first released as to whether the scene of Dessler and Kodai facing each other from their respective decks was simply an artistic choice, a tease, or an intended foreshadowing of developments to come.
[AMB]: How about all of the above? And what about that new kickass rendition of the opening theme, sung by Isao Sasaki yet again? According to Akira Miyagawa and Isao Sasaki, this was the first time since the 80’s that they’ve substantially altered the song’s composition and tempo, truly letting Akira put his own stamp on it. It’s got so much energy and gusto, with Mr. Sasaki’s iconic voice carrying yet another spectacular performance!
Theatrical release: Space Battleship Yamato 2202, Soldiers of Love Chapter 4: Destiny Chapter contained episodes 11-14. It premiered in Japanese theaters January 27, 2018.
Japanese video: Theater-exclusive Blu-ray January 27, 2018. Standard Blu-ray & DVD February 23, 2018
First Japanese TV broadcast: December 14, 2018
American debut: July 11, 2018 (streaming) March 15, 2019 (home video)
The end title Crimson Red is performed by Yuya Hoshino.
Click here for a complete BGM collection for Episode 11.
Episode Director: Son Nozoki
Storyboard: Yuichi Nihei
Animation Directors: Akio Takami, Hiroki Takagi, Tatsuya Oka
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