As indicated in Part 5 of this series, Producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki and his staff initially pitched Space Battleship Yamato with a length of 52 episodes. This number was chosen prior to any consultation with a TV network, and was based on the novel idea that Yamato‘s year-long mission could unfold before the viewers in real time.
When Leiji Matsumoto joined the staff in April 1974, he was the first to break down the story into individual arcs and begin the long process of puzzling out what would happen in each episode. For reasons unknown, he dropped the count by one and came up with the following (in advance of the story draft presented in Part 6):
51-Episode Rough Outline
Defeat of the Earth Defense Fleet and the Launch of Yamato
Voyage & battles inside the Galaxy
Leave the Galaxy for the untamed ocean of space
The beginning of war with the alien fleet
Landing strategy, supply procurement
Battles with space creatures
Antagonism between Captain/Combat Group and Chief Navigator/Operations Group
Battle between Pirate Ship and Alien Fleet from Planet Rajendora
Personal drama within the crew
Highlight main characters and conflicts, warp navigation
Defeat enemy fleet from the Small Magellanic Cloud
Reach the defensive line of the main fleet at the Large Magellanic Cloud
Major battle, break through defensive line
Enemy Leader escapes destruction of capital city
Meet the woman of Planet Iscandar
Obtain Radiation Removal device
Decisive battle against Enemy Leader?
The first dose of hard reality came when the Yomiuri TV Network agreed to broadcast Yamato as a 39-episode series. This lead to the first of two major contractions of the story (the second occurred after the first month of broadcast) in which, for example, it was decided that Yamato would not take 11 episodes to get back to Earth from Iscandar. This change was just the first of many.
Leiji Matsumoto’s story notes (presented in Part 7) were overflowing with ideas, and his map of the voyage provided the first visual reference for the story flow. When Series 1 was finally released on DVD in Japan (2000), it came with an extensive booklet of liner notes that contained a fully-realized color version of the Matsumoto map. Among other things, it demonstrated exactly where and when Yamato would be attacked by the various Gamilas officers that prowled the intergalactic ocean between the Milky Way and the Magellanic Clouds.
Click here to read an enlargement of the map in English, which represents the culmination of Matsumoto’s solo effort.
Several ideas were expressed in this one graphic. Gamilas territory was divided into four defense zones all controlled by different characters who would try and fail to stop Yamato one after the other. There were also some interesting story nuggets, such as Yamato using the slipstream of a comet to break through a radioactive cloud zone at the edge of the Milky Way, and a battle around a black hole from which Domel [Lysis] helps Yamato to escape out of respect for his enemies. But there was still a long road ahead before anything could be considered “final.”
Choosing a Direction
As skilled and ambitious as Matsumoto was in developing Yamato, the task of turning it into a real TV series was too big for any one man. So in the summer of 1974, Producer Nishizaki brought his previous writing partners back into the fray; Keisuke Fujikawa and Artsune Toyota, both of whom had started the process the year before. Together, all four men worked intensively to explore and capture in words every possible nuance of the story.
One of their first decisions was to simplify the Gamilas side. Matsumoto’s enormous lineup of villains was greatly reduced to keep the story from getting overloaded. His map would also be changed for reasons that went beyond story revision. In any form of visual storytelling, characters with a goal generally move in a single screen direction. Occasional obstacles may impede them, but the overall direction of travel is either left to right or right to left. Depending on the medium you’re working in or the audience you’re writing for, one direction may work better than the other.
In the west, for example, left to right is a good rule since the act of reading travels in that direction. You may also choose to go against that rule to emphasize the difficulty of reaching the goal. Case in point: in Matsumoto’s map, Yamato advanced from the Milky Way Galaxy in the upper left to the Magellanic Clouds in the lower right. In the TV series, however, this was reversed; the ship consistently traveled from right to left, which put it in harmony with the natural right-to-left flow of reading in Japan. Thus, the maps published after the series premiere all showed Yamato traveling to the left.
Note that the Small Magellanic Cloud (upper left corner) is still indicated in this map as a hub for the Gamilas space navy. In the series, it would be eliminated entirely as a reference point.
The first step in the writing process was to boil down Matsumoto’s material to its most basic points and turn them into the foundation of the series. This was literally done in chart form. A rudimentary one-page chart (below left) summarized the four main story elements for each episode: Series name, highlight, character drama, and location. The airdates were projected from October 6, 1974 through June 29, 1975. A longer five-page chart (portion shown below right) featured character notes and historical points about World War II to serve as reference for the battle scenes.
This was the stage in which the Gamilas characters were pared down to just four key players: Dessler, Hisu [Krypt], Domel [Lysis] and Geru [Volgar]. A fifth character, the female assassin Iroze, was kept in reserve for later in the series, but all the other rogues and villains were jettisoned. It was doubtless a painful decision at the time, but a wise one in hindsight; they would have been forced out later anyway when the series was cut down to 26 episodes.
Captain Harlock, however, was still a full cast member and would remain so right up to the moment Yomiuri issued the cut-down order. Thus, many of the licensors who signed on and started developing spinoff products during the summer included him along with everyone else. But more about that later.
Starting from the charts, the entire story was worked out episode by episode in a series of memos using standard Japanese manuscript paper. The major elements of each episode were itemized in bullet-point format in nine categories:
1. Series name (story arc)
2. Airdate (a hypothetical projection)
3. Location (setting for the episode)
4. Story (basic events)
5. Relationships (focus of the episode)
6. Character drama (plot points)
7. Yamato Highlights (a feature of the ship)
8. Other ideas
Here are two examples: the memo for Episode 9 (shown above left) started out as Episode 5. It was to occur in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and include the first use of the protective asteroid ring to repel an attack from Gamilas scout ships. Text scribbled in the margin reads, “for the mission to succeed, the rock ring must be used for protection and repair.” Another note reads “use again in Episodes 8 and 9.”
The memo for Episode 6 (above right) remained basically intact, with the ship stopping for supplies at one of Saturn’s moons. However, the name “Europa” was listed by mistake (and not caught until the storyboard stage) and the name “Sasuke” appeared in place of “Sanada.” There were some additional story notes written in the margin: “Okita has lost a son, Kodai understands him a little better, has a slight change of heart toward Okita.”
These memos served as basic reference for the production staff in subsequent script meetings, where details were worked out and new ideas were added. They also had great value as a story bible for two outside projects: the first Yamato novelization by Arashi Ishizu and the first manga by Akira Hio. Keisuke Fujikawa’s name appeared on both, since he would have been the ideal consultant in all story matters. As a result, the Ishizu novelization and the Hio manga became alternate-universe retellings of the 39-episode outline and managed to preserve much of the story after the anime series was reduced to 26. Thus, they can help to illustrate the rest of this article.
Below is a composite summary of the charts and story memos for all 39 episodes as developed by Nishizaki, Matsumoto, Fujikawa, and Toyota. Episodes 1-10 set the tone for authenticity, since they made it to TV largely intact. By the time episode 10 had aired, however, the fateful decision had been made and everything that followed was subject to heavy revision, compression, or elimination. Either way, it’s still a good read.
Story Arc 1: Yamato Launch Series
Episode 1: SOS Earth! Revive Space Battleship Yamato
In the year 2199, Earth is in a severe crisis. Gamilas planet bombs cover the Earth in radioactivity and humans survive in underground cities. The last of the Earth forces fights a losing battle against the Gamilas near Neptune, where Mamoru Kodai dies and Captain Okita is injured. A communication capsule from Iscandar crashes on Mars and is recovered by Susumu Kodai and Shima Daisuke, both recent graduates of the EDF Academy. The capsule contains Starsha’s message of salvation. Kodai distrusts Captain Okita over his brother’s death. The figure of the rusted hull of the old Battleship Yamato rests on the red surface of Earth.
This outline matches the first TV episode in almost every way, except that Neptune becomes Pluto in the series. According to historical notes, the battle near Neptune represents the Maginot Line. Germany broke through the Maginot Line and occupied Paris, after which De Gaulle called for resistance from the U.K.
Episode 2: The Signal Gun! Space Battleship Yamato, Start!
Though injured, Captain Okita takes command of Yamato. The ship is still incomplete when it is attacked by Gamilas missiles. By a hair’s breadth, the Wave-Motion Engine starts at the last possible moment and the ship shoots down the missiles. The highlights of the episode are the history of Yamato and the firing of the main guns, the first time Earth successfully repels a Gamilas attack.
This episode remains intact in the broadcast version, though a scene envisioned by Matsumoto was cut; in it, a bulkhead in the ship would be peeled back to reveal a mountain of corpses inside–the original battleship’s crew. Episode 2’s historical parallel was the Battle of Britain in which Germany attempted a landing operation on the British mainland but was repelled by air and land forces.
Episode 3: Yamato Launches! The Challenge of 296,000 Light Years!
Dessler underestimates the threat posed by Yamato as the crew boards the ship for launch. Kodai is torn between respect and suspicion for Captain Okita. The highlights of the episode are an inspection of the ship, introduction of the crew members, and the tension of starting the engines for liftoff. Again, it remains intact in the TV series.
Story Arc 2: Solar System Breakthrough Series
Episode 4: World of Wonder! Yamato Leaps Past Light!
Yamato‘s fighter squadron engages in their first battle against a Gamilas recon patrol as the Wave-Motion Engine is readied for its first space warp test. The efforts of Kodai and Shima distinguish them as the leaders of the combat group and navigation group respectively. Their rivalry is established when Shima refuses to be upstaged by Kodai’s success against the Gamilas patrol. He struggles with all his might to achieve the space warp. The ship successfully warps from the Moon to Mars in a single leap, but is damaged.
This is essentially the same as TV episode 4, though the rivalry is ratcheted down slightly. The highlights are the space warp and the introduction of the Black Tigers.
Episode 5: Escape the Floating Continent! Crisis Calls the Wave-Motion Gun!
Yamato is damaged by its first warp and gets drawn into the Sea of Metan on Jupiter. A floating continent appears, which is used as a Gamilas forward base. Yamato destroys the floating continent with the Wave-Motion Gun. Everyone is shocked by the power of this weapon, especially the Gamilas.
The Gamilas base was originally to be an extension of forces from the Small Magellanic Cloud, but this detail was cut.
Episode 6: Space Destroyer Yukikaze Sleeps in the Ice Field!
Yamato‘s engine power drops and the ship is diverted to a moon of Saturn. (This was erroneously named ‘Europa’ in the episode memo, later corrected to Titan.) Recon ships are sent to the surface for supplies; Kodai, Yuki, and Analyzer play important roles in this operation. Supplies are found and the wreckage of Yukikaze is discovered. Kodai finds the cosmogun of his brother Mamoru nearby, but no surviving crewmembers. Yuki feels sorrow for Kodai. His anger wells up against Gamilas.
This remains intact in the TV series; additional details were added in the script stage, such as an alien language for the Gamilas soldiers.
Episode 7: Strange Creatures of Neptune
Kodai leads a combat group on Neptune to take out the Gamilas forward base. They are attacked by indigenous creatures controlled by Gamilas, which turn out to be benign after they are freed.
Episode 8: Neptune Liberation
Part two of the story begun in Episode 7; Kodai’s group destroys Gamilas’ Reflex Gun on Neptune and frees the indigenous creatures. During Operation Neptune, Kodai learns that the Gamilas have many slave colonies on other planets. Captain Okita counsels him to turn his personal grudge into moral outrage.
The location was changed to Pluto for the TV series. These episodes were broadcast in November 1974, the month Yomiuri decided the ratings weren’t strong enough and issued the order to cut the series to 26 episodes. This triggered the restructuring of all upcoming episodes and (among other things) the elimination of the ‘slave colony’ element.
Episode 9: Rotating Defense! Asteroid Belt!
The initial concept of the Asteroid Ship premise appears here when Sanada presents to Okita the idea of using asteroids to construct a defensive ring around the ship. Gamilas ships attack and Kodai struggles to wield the ring with Shima’s cooperation in maneuvering the ship. Together, they overcome their rivalry and prevail.
This premise was initially written for the 5th episode, set in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, but was relocated to the edge of the solar system as seen on TV. The episode memo calls for Yamato‘s various missiles to be demonstrated, along with a device we never saw–an “ion jet” that would shroud the ship in a comet halo.
Episode 10: Farewell Solar System! From the Galaxy With Love
The deep emotions of the crew are expressed in a farewell party to the solar system. (After the initial episode memo was written, it was decided they would communicate with their families.) Kodai has no one waiting for him on Earth, and his temper flares. This brings him into conflict with Shima again. Their dispute provides more insight into their personalities. Yuki tries to mediate, but they are placed in cold sleep tubes as punishment. Yamato leaves the solar system and loses contact with Earth.
The episode was also meant to include the defeat of a Gamilas observation unit, but this was cut.
Episode 11: Resolution! Break Through the Gamilas Absolute Defense Line
Yamato reaches a barrier of Gamilas space mines, which Earth technology cannot overcome. This causes a major delay (six days are lost) and much anxiety among the crew. Finally, Captain Okita overcomes this obstacle with a wisdom that defies scientific power. Kodai and Shima gain deep respect for him. Dessler is shocked at this defeat as Yamato flies into interstellar space.
The following notes were added to the margin of the episode memo:
– Gamilas vs. Yamato, the first full-scale battle
– Okita prevails, gains 100% trust from the crew
– A supernatural heavenly voice is heard by scientific means
– Thrills! Suspense!
The supernatural voice is Starsha’s, the first time her real voice is heard by the crew. This plot point was moved to TV Episode 15. Other than that, the story remains largely intact in the series, but from here on the rewriting was significant.
Story Arc 3: Milky Way Breakthrough Series
In this arc, Yamato enters Gamilas-controlled space (within the Milky Way) and encounters them frequently. The historical reference point from World War II was German-occupied Crete and their control of the Balkans.
Episode 12: Domel Appears
Yamato has broken through the defense line, and Dessler now takes them more seriously. He assigns General Domel with the task of stopping Yamato. The ship moves toward a dangerous “supernatural zone” of space. Kodai and Shima are at each others’ throats again as the crisis mounts, but this time Okita pressures them to channel their youthful energy toward a solution. They use Yamato‘s Video Time Machine, which captures and reproduces an image from an hour in the past. A pirate ship appears in the image, and with great effort Yamato follows its path to escape the danger. But is the pirate ship a friend or an enemy?
This is completely different from TV Episode 12, the close brush with the Sea of Fire on Orion. By the time that script was written, Captain Harlock was eliminated from the series and Domel [Lysis] wouldn’t be introduced until the next episode. The Video Time Machine was held back to become the Time Radar in Series 2.
Episode 13: Mystery of the Pirate Ship
Domel attacks Yamato near the Constellation of Orion. Kodai and Shima are distracted by their rivalry over Yuki, so Analyzer steps in to outwit the enemy. This leads the men to question the robot’s intentions toward her. The pirate ship has been trailing Yamato and intervenes against Domel. Kodai and Shima vow to disover its identity.
One of the early concepts for this episode was for the Gamilas to use insectoids and other creatures in biological warfare against Yamato; this evolved into the ecto-gas seen in TV Episode 12. German General Erwin Rommel was the basis for Gamilas General Domel. The historical parallel for this episode relates to Rommel’s invasion of Egypt. British forces commanded by Montgomery allied with US forces under Eisenhower and forced Rommel to retreat from Africa.
Episode 14: Nova Explosion
While Domel plots his next move, Yamato passes a star that abruptly explodes into a supernova and endangers the ship. This crisis highlights the crew’s growing moodiness and general irritation with each other. Yuki plans a New Year holiday party to cheer everyone up, which endears her to everyone. Kodai and Shima cooperate to get the ship away from the supernova and resolve to set a good example for the rest of the crew by burying their animosity.
The idea of a holiday party came from this episode’s intended airdate; it was the first one broadcast in 1975. Various elements from this memo found their way into the TV series in other forms. The supernova evolved into Orion’s Sea of Fire in TV Episode 12, and the crew’s dark mood became a plot point in TV Episode 14 (The Octopus Star Storm).
Story Arc 4: Balan Colony Liberation Series
Episode 15: Infinite Drift
Yamato leaves the Milky Way and the crew is amazed by the vast intergalactic sea of space. Their confusion and anxiety throws them off course into an “infinite drift” (like a Sargasso Sea of Space). Many members of the crew become demoralized when they realize how insignificant humans are. Gamilas forces attack, but Yamato escapes after receiving instructions from Starsha.
This premise is quite close to TV Episode 15, in which Domel forces Yamato into the Magellanic Stream, a dead zone of trapped ships.
Episode 16: Planet Beemera Liberation
Yamato is on course for Planet Balan, an important waystation that Kodai knows (from Episode 8) to be the worst of the Gamilas slave colonies. Food supplies are running low, so Yuki and Analyzer take a recon plane down to a nearby planet to look for more. Mysterious creatures interfere with their mission; like the ones on Neptune, they are controlled by the Gamilas. The crew defeats the Gamilas and liberate the creatures.
The basic plot for this episode is preserved in TV Episode 16. The creatures became the Bee People, who liberate themselves from slavery rather than being freed by Yamato‘s crew.
Episode 17: Attack of Geru
A new enemy appears; Geru, rival of Domel and commander of Gamilas forces in the Small Magellanic Cloud. His task force attacks Yamato in defiance of Domel and a battle begins. After several reversals of fortune, Okita figures out Geru’s strategy. Okita’s wisdom, together with Kodai and Shima’s fighting spirit, defeats Geru handily. Geru is killed and Domel comes to think of Yamato as his personal rival.
The secondary plot for this episode calls attention to Okita’s deteriorating health, which becomes yet another cause for anxiety in the crew. Disputes arise about who is qualified to take over, and Dr. Sado takes pains to stop the arguing. Kodai, Shima, and Chief Engineer Tokugawa [Orion] emerge as the spokesman of their respective groups and Kodai begins to see himself as a likely replacement for Okita.
Many of these ideas survive in TV Episode 17, though Geru [Volgar] uses the Balanodon against Yamato rather than a spacefleet. Okita is in surgery, which gives Kodai the chance to step forward and prove himself.
Episode 18: Gamilas Space Fortress
Yamato is en route to Balan when a space fortress appears in its path. Kodai and Shima take on a death-defying mission to destroy it, which puts the two of them alone together. Their rivalry boils up to the surface again, especially when both admit to having feelings for Yuki. This is overcome when they cooperate to complete their mission and destroy the fortress.
Again, this is essentially the plot of TV Episode 18, except that Sanada takes Shima’s place and the rivalry over Yuki is written out of the series entirely.
Episode 19: Domel’s Trap
Domel’s new strategy is to play mind games with Yamato‘s crew, and it is working; panic and anxiety are rampant. Kodai’s hot temper is drawn in sharp opposition to Shima’s calm, and Yuki does her best to keep everyone on an even keel. Ultimately, the inner conflicts are overcome and Domel’s strategy is defeated. Nevertheless, Yamato‘s mission is still severely behind schedule.
The episode memo did not go into detail about the nature of Domel’s mind games, but TV Episode 19 reveals it to be a communications satellite that allows temporary contact with Earth. The anxiety of the crew was focused entirely into Aihara (Homer).
Episode 20: Revolt of Hisu
As Okita lies in his sickbed, Yamato goes to war against the Gamilas base on Planet Balan. Their intention is to gain much-needed supplies and free the slaves, but instead they fall into another of Domel’s traps. This time there is no escape from certain death, but at the crucial moment Domel is recalled from action by Dessler himself. The critical timing of this allows Yamato to break free and succeed in liberating Balan. It turns out that the recall of Domel was initiated by Gamilas Vice-President Hisu, the first step in his plot to overthrow Dessler!
TV Episode 20 takes its major plot points from this memo, but there are no slaves to be freed. Captain Harlock is not mentioned, but when Akira Hio got to this point in his manga adaptation, Harlock appeared to turn the tide against Domel. Incidentally, the name Domel is used in this article only for clarity; seemingly right up to his TV debut, he was consistently named Rommel. The history parallel invoked for this episode was the campaign by the Allied forces to liberate Paris.
Story Arc 5: Small Magellanic Cloud Series
When the writing team was forced to abandon story material to get the TV series down to 26 episodes, almost all of this arc was excised. In fact, it is entirely tangential to the overall plot, but still offers plenty of opportunities for exciting stories. The historical reference point read as follows: Yamato breaks through the strongest Gamilas defensive line (akin to the Siegfried line) and a confused, chaotic battle begins in the Magellanic Clouds. Parallel with the Battle of Monte Cassino (also known as the Battle for Rome), the bloodiest land battle of WWII.
Episode 21: Yamato into the Small Magellanic Cloud
En route to the Large Magellanic Cloud from Balan, Yamato experiences an instrumentation failure. By the time Shima catches and corrects it, the ship is headed irreversibly off-course into the Small Magellanic Cloud. This throws the crew into turmoil and accusations fly, especially against Shima. Kodai tries to protect him from their wrath, but Engineer Tokugawa [Orion] demands a complete change in leadership. Some crewmembers despair that they can never reach Iscandar in time.
Meanwhile, Hisu demotes Domel after his failure, relegating him to the command base of the Small Magellanic Cloud, which is a major step down. But fate has already conspired to deliver Yamato directly to his new doorstep.
Episode 22: Gamilas Assassin
A drill missile closes in on Yamato. Even shots from the main guns bounce off it, and it bores into the belly of the ship.
Episode 23: Iroze Infiltration
A string of murders occurs on Yamato, spreading distrust among the crew. They are being carried out by Iroze [Ee-ro-zay], a female Gamilas assassin who came on board from the drill missile.
The only element preserved from this two-part story was the drill missile; Iroze was designed for the TV series, but only ever appeared in the pages of the Akira Hio manga.
Episode 24: The False Iscandar
Against all logic, it now appears that Iscandar is located in the Small Magellanic Cloud. Shima steers toward it and the tension begins to ease. But as Yamato gets closer, the readings fluctuate. By the time they learn the truth, it is too late. The signal is a decoy set by Domel; they are actually headed right for the planet of his command base!
Episode 25: Small Magellanic Cloud Decisive Battle
Domel challenges Yamato to a showdown. New weapons appear, such as the Matter-Transporter (SMITE). The increased anxiety of the crew compromises their effectiveness until Kodai calls upon Shima for solidarity and this turns the tide. Yuki is moved by this, seeing leadership qualities in Kodai. Yamato prevails after a great battle, but grave doubts about finding Iscandar are as strong as ever.
Episode 26: Dessler Assassination Plot
Conflict stirs the inner circle of Gamilas. Domel discovers Hisu’s plot to assassinate Dessler and moves to interfere, but Hisu turns the tables by implicating Domel as the conspirator. This distracts attention from Yamato, allowing the ship to advance. A shadow is lifted when the ship finally gets back on course to Iscandar.
Story Arc 6: Iscandar Discovery Series
Episode 27: Domel’s Execution
Gamilas intrigue fills this episode and the next one. Dessler believes Hisu’s lies and executes Domel, but his trust in all of his subordinates is severely shaken. This was strongly based on real German war history; Erwin Rommel was implicated in a plot to assassinate Hitler and was ordered executed; he swallowed a poison capsule to avoid the firing squad. Had this episode gone forward as initially planned, the comparison between Dessler and Hitler would have been unavoidable.
Episode 28: Hisu’s Execution
Dessler discovers the truth of Hisu’s plot and executes him. This further increases his suspicions.
Episode 29: Panic on Yamato
Despite recent developments, the mission is now critically behind schedule. Doubts resurface about reaching Iscandar in time to save Earth, and they come to a head when junior officers (lead by Tokugawa) attempt to mutiny. Kodai manages to pull them back from the brink of disaster and succeeds in uniting the crew.
Episode 30: Mysterious Space Creature
Yamato experiences a series of unexplained engine breakdowns which have no logical explanation. It turns out that a spaceborne creature has gotten into the engine and is gradually devouring it. Kodai kills the creature and a message is intercepted from Iscandar. The crew is newly-encouraged now that they’re getting closer.
Episode 31: Wonder of the Double Planet
As Yamato crosses the gap between the Magellanic Clouds, Captain Okita finally collapses into a near-death coma. As it becomes clear everyone has relied on him too much, Kodai, Shima, and Yuki join in solidarity to lead the ship. Yamato enters the Sanzar Solar System toward their final goal, but it becomes difficult to get a clear fix on Iscandar. Something is throwing off the instruments–a previously unknown twin planet. As the crew watches, missiles appear to fly at them from their destination as communication with Iscandar is cut off. Has this all been a trick?
Story Arc 7: Gamilas Capture Series
Episode 32: Battle of the Large Magellanic Cloud
To everyone’s astonishment, the twin planet of Iscandar turns out to be Gamilas itself. Now the most daunting obstacle of all lies between Yamato and its goal. Gamilas instantly attacks with all its might and the ship is practically immobilized. To make matters worse, the Wave-Motion Gun is no longer working. Despite this, the crew rallies and fights back, unaware that Captain Okita is slowly dying as the battle rages.
Episode 33: The Eve of Decisive Battle with Gamilas
The battle intensifies. Okita is found close to death and placed in a cold sleep capsule. Familiar doubts begin to divide the crew; some want to plunge into the enemy stronghold while others talk of giving up on their mission and finding another planet to live on. Yuki and Dr. Sado work hard to keep everyone’s spirits up, but the internal conflict only gets worse.
The time has come for a new leader, and Kodai is the unanimous choice. Shima offers his full cooperation. Kodai realizes he could never have come this far without Shima’s help, and all their disputes are finally put aside. Sanada completes his repair of the Wave-Motion Gun, which has now been amplified. Yamato charges directly toward Gamilas.
Episode 34: Crest of the Magellanic Cloud’s Wave
Gamilas throws all its might against Yamato in an all-out fleet battle. Rallying around Kodai, the crew fights back with renewed energy and the powered-up Wave-Motion Gun. This evolved into TV Episode 22, the Battle at the Rainbow Star Group.
Episode 35: Desperate Struggle! God, Weep for the Gamilas!
Yamato breaks through the Gamilas fleet and begins a direct assault on the planet. The tank corps works in cooperation with the fightercraft to overrun the Gamilas capital. Together, they completely destroy it, but Dessler cannot be found. In the end, Kodai and Shima’s friendship is greatly strengthened and they have earned the trust and respect of the crew.
Captain Harlock was not mentioned in the memo for this episode, but would almost certainly have taken part in the attack on the Gamilas capital. A four-episode long showdown with Dessler would have made for a truly epic climax to the series, but in the end the decisive battle was compressed down into TV Episodes 23 and 24. The historical parallel was the Battle of the Bulge, the largest and bloodiest battle of the European theatre in World War II.
Story Arc 8: Iscandar Arrival Series
Episode 36: Yamato Falls into the Dimensional Rift
With Iscandar close at hand, Yamato encounters one more unexpected obstacle, a zone of instability between the twin planets that opens up into a dimensional rift. The ship is pulled helplessly in, but Kodai, Shima, and Yuki admonish everyone not to lose their resolve now that they are so close to their goal. As their last hope begins to slip away, Captain Harlock appears to save them one more time. As he flies off into the sea of space, he is finally revealed as Mamoru Kodai, Susumu’s older brother. Now there are no further obstacles between Yamato and Iscandar.
Episode 37: Iscandar! A Dying Planet of Love!
Yamato arrives at Iscandar and lands in the peaceful seaport of Mother Town. The exquisite Queen Starsha appears and is surprised by Yuki’s resemblance to her sister Sasha. Surrounded by this beautiful paradise, Captain Okita’s brain activity ceases and he finally dies after accomplishing his greatest mission.
Episode 38: The Sorrow of Starsha
Despite Iscandar’s great beauty, the planet’s days are numbered, as were those of Gamilas. Starsha gives the Cosmo Cleaner device to Yamato and expresses her greatest hopes for Earth. The crew sadly leaves her behind and she actives Iscandar’s self-destruct system.
The memos for these two episodes were very thin on content, so it was a simple matter to combine them into TV Episode 25.
Episode 39: Earth! Yamato Returned!
Yamato returns successfully to the solar system, and all of Earth is in an uproar. However, Dessler has secretly trailed Yamato here after barely escaping from Gamilas. Their final showdown takes place in sight of Earth, and Dessler is killed at last. Yamato returns to Earth and the crew is reunited with their families and loved ones, but no one is there to greet Kodai. In the final scene of this last episode, Yuki holds out her hand to him.
Story documents for the finale differ on one significant point; an alternate idea was for Captain Harlock to return and face off against Dessler one last time. The two would kill each other and Yamato would return safely to Earth. Either way, the great voyage ends with the mission accomplished.
Read all about the manga by Akira Hio here
Read about the novelization by Arashi Ishizu here