Yamato 2202 Episode 15 commentary, part 2

Back up to part 1

As Dessler continues to speak, we see the familiar sight of thousands upon thousands or Gatlantean vessels in formation inside the White Comet before we return to Telezart and Dessler scowling at the orb. “With their power, it is not impossible to grant my wish. I wasn’t expecting anything from God. The reason I came was to get material for negotiating with Gatlantis. That means you people, who seek to liberate Telezart, are my enemies once again.”

[AMB]: This is depressingly hilarious to me. Abelt considers his life a sham of fate, with Yamato being the cherry on top. Having finally found a way to get his wish granted again (Garmillas-related *cough cough*), Yamato stands in his way as agents of fate and destiny. He seems to find this ironically amusing, yet frustrating.

[KC]: Wow, these Desslers really love to monologue. This is interesting, because he is being pretty candid with them and also still confrontational. Fans of the original series are very familiar with Leader Dessler’s last minute change of heart in the war with the Comet Empire, so for 2202 to play out with Abelt in similar fashion would be disappointingly anticlimactic and not very worthy of the character, in my opinion.

[AMB]: So you’re saying a consistent character can change while still staying consistent with previously established character traits, but changing things up out of nowhere is jarring and disappointing? If so, I agree, and this development is both an interesting and respectable take on not only 2199’s Abelt, but original Farewell to Yamato Dessler. On the topic of his wish… let’s leave that for later this episode when it’s revealed.

[KC]: No, I can be fine with changes out of left field if they’re good; I just meant that doing Abelt Dessler’s arc the same exact way they did it before would have been a wasted opportunity.

Sanada asks Dessler if he knows why Zordar is sealing away Teresa’s power, and Dessler seems pretty annoyed at the implication that he wouldn’t. Sanada goes on to observe that even if Gatlantis agrees to negotiate with Dessler, it would only be temporary. Sanada is about to tell Dessler what he believes Zordar wants Teresa’s power for, when Dessler is contacted by General Talan. “Supreme Leader, I have less than good news to report.” He informs Dessler that Yamato is moving and he will prepare to intercept, causing Abelt to frown ambiguously.

[AMB]: As we’ll find out in episode 17, Sanada believes Zordar is attempting to absorb Teresa’s power, using it to drag her out of her shell of a world when the time is right. Teresa exists in a dimension where time is visualized, seeing fate change in response to the actions of individuals. But if she were to descend to our world, fate would become rigid, unable to steer off whatever course it’s set on at her time of descent. Zordar will stack the cards of fate in his favor, only to canonize his odds by dragging the dimensional entity down. Were it so easy… this is why Sanada questions the feasibility of Dessler’s plan, seeing as mankind as a whole will still be doomed.

[KC]: Did Dessler just talk to Talan on some kind of wrist communicator? Outstanding. Is there going to be a book where I can get a look at this device? Also, I love the way Sanada goes into lecture mode like Dessler is just some guy.

[AMB]: Dessler and Talan are slowly moving to become the companions they were in the originals, perhaps paving the way for their right future in the sequel huh? *wink*

And I don’t think he has a wrist communicator. He’s most likely just pressing an answer call button on that neck device he had in 2199. Positioning checks out too.

[KC]: Ah, like the translators? Also a neat little piece of added technology.

[AMB]: Let’s return to Abelt. His reaction here is curious, as if he finds the development of Yamato’s forceful resistance to be unfortunate. Or maybe, based on later events, he’s having trouble comprehending how relentless Yamato is in abiding by its crew’s ideals even with force. With bad odds, the ship still rejects the reality of its predicament.

Up in the atmosphere, Yamato runs through the Garmillas fleet taking down three blue battle cruisers, weapons firing desperately. While everyone is focused on them, Keyman peels away toward the surface in a lone Czvarke.

Nagakura charges into the Telezarium in her mobile armor, guns blazing at Dessler’s Needle Slaves. Saito angrily asks what she’s doing, to which she happily responds with “just disobeying orders.”

Then we see some incredible evasive piloting by Shima as Yamato avoids a barrage of laser fire from the main guns of Talan’s red cruiser, sliding along the watery surface. As they fire along its underbelly, Shima flies Yamato right underneath it and away, knocking off one of the Gelvadez’ back spoilers. Now that Nagakura has started hostilities again, Saito and Sanada have taken cover and are firing on the Needle Slaves with their sidearms from cover.

[AMB]: Short, concise and riveting. Hijikata gets to show his guts instead of attempting to surrender due to bad odds and Nagakura shows her loyalty toward her comrades over military protocol. And building on Kodai’s “can you ride the wave, Shima?” remark from Episode 11, Shima gets to Nascar-slide Yamato over the water as if this were an episode of Initial D, the weight of the ship fully considered by Sublimation Studio in some spectacular camera work.

The question of how Nagakura got to the Telezarium is worth bringing up, since we last left her watching Saito’s back, then learned she never arrived back on Yamato. After escorting the wounded, she’s presumed to have gone back at full speed without asking for permission, hinted at by Miki Saijo, who couldn’t find her readings. There are instances in this show where some transition scenes are omitted for dramatic effect or to appease episode length, this one being the former.

Diving down to the surface of the water comes Keyman in his Czvarke, water rising in his wake. He recalls moments that led him to this point. Ambassador Varel on Earth telling him that his road is a lonely one. That he must deceive everyone involved with him. The Dessler remnants led by Kazette kneeling before Klaus as they deliver the Anti Wave-Motion Lattice, admitting that under different circumstances, he shouldn’t have to be entrusted with such a task. Katsuragi assuring him that he will eventually betray Yamato.

With a grunt of determination, Keyman continues on as the stormy clouds of war rage behind him. Once he reaches sea level and Dessler’s battleship is behind them, Yamato ascends, but we see Dessler’s flagship coming up alongside.

[AMB]: I’ve gushed about the use of CG effects this season a lot, but let me just say that it’s a breath of fresh air to see the battleships of Yamato actually fighting in-atmosphere above water. Taking advantage of the very real effects these hulking giant machines would have, we see clouds of lightning and smoke covering the sky obscuring red laser beams. Water parts away from Yamato’s exhaust to various degrees as the Neu Deusuler pressures Yamato with its sheer bulk. The size comparison is equally impressive, putting into perspective how massive Abelt’s flagship is compared to our titular ship.

[KC]: What is happening? Much earlier we see the shot of Neu Deusuler hovering over Telezart and Talan is on the bridge of the red carrier. Did he go down and take Dessler’s ride? Who is on the flagship? Abelt is still on the ground. Is he … is he piloting remotely?

[AMB]: I believe either Talan’s piloting it remotely for Abelt, or it has some automatic defense mechanisms. Later on in the series we’ll see that the Neu Deusuler can be controlled completely from its core ship, which is to be expected since it’s the hub of the vessel. On the topic of Keyman, I want to clarify what exactly his choices are based on his recollections, and they boil down to these:

1. Following Varel’s task, deceiving everyone in order to draw out the leader of the Dessler remnants and confirm Teresa’s existence.

2. Forsaking the former to help the Dessler remnants by giving them Yamato, accepting his role as Dessler’s heir.

The third vision is there to make him stray from both these options, to make him doubt the necessity of betraying Yamato for the sake of either goal. Does he really have to keep Yamato’s crew in the dark? Does he really have to give up the ship and follow his bloodline?

Katsuragi’s words, while meant to imbue harmful doubt, are what will inevitably save Yamato in the long run. It’s what made Klaus confront the crew in Episode 13 about entrusting every major decision to Kodai. It’s what ends up giving him the chance to meet and understand his Uncle Abelt without violence, and it’s what forces him to (soon enough) reveal his true nature as a secret agent. Grasping this is the key necessary to understand what Teresa spoke of last episode.

On the ground, Dessler stands behind his Needle Slaves and watches the fight play out as he muses over the unpredictability of war with “these people.” He calls Talan on his communicator and starts to tell him to bring the ship back immediately, only to be interrupted by Kodai’s pistol jabbing him in the back.

[AMB]: Abelt uses the phrase “kisama tachi” to describe Yamato’s crew here, an old term used by the samurai to describe honorable enemies (plural). Modern day usage could be boiled down to meaning “bastard” or “scum,” so whether or not he means one or the other is up to whether or not you interpret Abelt as seeing honor in these people. Something which I personally do.

[KC]: Ah, okay. Talan did take Dessler’s ride. This is an interesting turn of events.

[AMB]: Either that or it could be controlled by the General remotely. And interesting to note about the Needle Slaves here is that they’re sporting large red Garmillas symbols and the royal filigree, small but welcome details. Also, isn’t it nice to hear Dessler talking so casually to Talan? Seeing the situation turn ugly, he calls back his flagship to either aid his retreat or force Yamato’s crew into submission, most likely the latter.

[KC]: Still holding out hope that D&T get a buddy movie.

The instant Dessler is threatened, the Needle Slaves cease fire and turn to aim at Kodai, backing up a bit as the disgraced supreme leader is pushed forward.

“Why don’t we end this, Supreme Leader Dessler?” Kodai asks.

“When it has yet to even begin, how do you plan to end it, boy?” Dessler asks, turning back to him with a smirk. But Kodai is having none of it.

“I am Yamato Chief Tactical Officer Susumu Kodai,” he states. “I want you to pull out your forces immediately and withdraw from Telezart.”

Dessler, who apparently didn’t recognize the face in the helmet, does recognize the name.

“Kodai? I see. The boy from back then. You think you can make a man who’s died once submit with that thing?”

At this point, Sanada notices what is happening and calls out to Kodai in alarm. Nagakura also looks on, concerned that Kodai or Dessler is being reckless.

“These dolls will not shoot me,” Dessler tells Kodai of the Needle Slaves. “However, that is only true while I am alive. Now,” he turns again to Kodai but offers no resistance. “Pull the trigger.”

[AMB]: Playing with Teresa’s take on fate, Dessler questions whether or not what Kodai intends to stop has even begun, or if he even knows what it is he’s stopping, perhaps alluding to how Yamato didn’t quite know the disastrous consequences Garmillas society would experience after the ship not only helped destroy New Baleras, but also the Salezar sun replica created for the 11th planet.

Having shot Abelt before in the shoulder, having killed his dream of a Great Unification with Iscandar, Susumu is dared to fire again; to once again pull the trigger as humanity always does for its own survival. For love. This setup will have an incredible payoff in Episode 23, so keep it in mind going forward.

Kodai almost fires, then hesitates.

“What’s wrong, Kodai?” Dessler asks. “If you lack the courage-”

[KC]: “WHAT’S STOPPING YOU? FIRE IT. FIRE THE GUN. I’VE BEEN MOST ANXIOUS TO SEE WHAT THIS GREAT WEAPON OF YOURS CAN DO, SO … FIRE THE GUN.” Sorry. Had an old Dessler quote lodged in my throat. All better, now.

[AMB]: Unironically original Dessler’s best moment in my opinion. I always get chills from that scene, but I hadn’t considered that line being alluded to here!

Dessler’s insult is cut off by a brilliant flash of light as Keyman’s Czvarke comes racing down the corridor. He guns down every last Needle Slave with Nagakura’s assistance. After cutting to black for an undisclosed amount of time, Dessler and Kodai stand observing the smoking wreckage of an off-screen battle, Kodai’s gun still jammed in Dessler’s back much to the man’s dismay. The Czvarke has landed and the hatch opens. Keyman removes his helmet and climbs out of his cockpit.

[AMB]: As mentioned earlier, some scenes are cut short for a variety of reasons in this sequel. The battle we only saw glimpses of might be a disappointment to some, but at the end of the day it would have been just another bout between machines and men, the machines outmatched and outgunned after Klaus’ arrival. A waste of valuable time for more interesting developments. If you’re reading this but are still clamoring for that unseen battle, instead sympathize with Dessler’s disappointment in this scene. It’s very relatable.

On the art front, there’s a few touched-up mecha shots of the wrecked Needle Slaves as well as some respectable attention to detail in the background, with needles impaled in the green walls of the Telezarium. Visual consistency is a blessing.

“Nice one, Mr. Garmillas,” Nagakura calls to him appreciatively. Keyman jumps down and stands there a moment, staring at a very intrigued Abelt before he speaks.

“I want to ask Supreme Leader Dessler, what was it that brought you here?”

He approaches. Leader Dessler continues to stare at him. “You. Who are you?” He finally asks.

Keyman stands before him. “My name is Ranhart Dessler,” he states.

[AMB]: And there we have it, the reveal which shook the Yamato community and surprised fairly few people. We often look back at this scene thinking “it was obvious he was related to Dessler,” but we never quite knew if it was a bait and switch, if he was Abelt in disguise or… if he was indeed some long-lost relative. We also have yet another usage of the word “kisama” coming out of Abelt’s mouth, this time in a more distressed manner, clearly referring to Klaus as a dishonorable bastard who just ruined his grandstanding in front of Kodai rather than an honorable enemy.

[KC]: Well, that is a cool bit of info for me since I am not familiar enough with Japanese to pick up on Abelt’s annoyance that “Klaus” is stealing his thunder here. Thanks!

[AMB]: Speaking of, allow me to elaborate on my earlier explanation of the term “kisama.” In the original Dessler’s 1978 image song The Rival, there are many allusions toward Dessler being a “samurai,” and in the time of the samurai the term “kisama” was used differently. Even the words he uses have different meanings depending on if we see him as an honorable samurai or a despicable thug, in both past and present. Abelt sure is a difficult figure.

Abelt Dessler’s eyes narrow, the Earthlings react in shock and we are treated to yet another flashback.

[AMB]: With pinpoint precision matching Ranhart’s revelation, the sad violin rendition of the Garmillas National Anthem (from Ark of the Stars) starts playing as we once again cut to the past. This situation is a mess for Klaus. His body language tells us he questions whether or not he should reveal his secret in front of everyone, then there’s the revelation of Abelt’s appearance and apparent survival. Knowing his complicated feelings on the matter in the next episode makes us sympathize pretty hard with the young boy.

[KC]: This damn show delivers on so many levels.

“14 Years Ago.” Massive crowds stand outside the palace cheering and chanting Dessler’s name. We see Abelt from behind as he walks out to address the crowd, wondering to himself how it has come to this. How the man named Abelt Dessler’s existence did not weigh heavily enough to anchor his grieving mother’s heart to this world. But that is who he was. The unification that his uncle achieved has been entrusted to him, along with a secret too great to bear. He looks out at his people, who he knows will be heartbroken if they lose hope. They must never discover that Garmillas has no future.

[AMB]: Going from performing as a 36-year-old to a 13-year-old to a 19-year-old with distinctly different vocal intonations, Kouichi Yamadera reminds us of his magnificent skill as an actor. Incredibly emotional line delivery, truly conveying the weight of having to live up to the unreasonable expectations of his now recently deceased uncle the unifier and his brother the war hero. And the secret? He’s kept it hidden from all but one man all this time, someone we’ll be reunited with next episode.

[KC]: Whoa, this is like, a different guy? A guy with terrible hair and a ridiculous ascot, granted, but a far more decent-seeming guy than he will become in about ten years or so?

[AMB]: Our first in-depth look into the psyche of Abelt without Teresa’s interference does reveal an incredibly fragile and sensitive man with the makings of a poet. The way he describes the death of his mother as “his weight not being able to anchor mother’s grieving heart” is so effortlessly beautiful yet tragic, one wonders if he ever needed Celestella to write his speeches in the first place. Perhaps he didn’t just hire her for convenience, but to give her a place and a home in the government, befitting of her skills.

[KC]: I can more readily believe that now, for sure.

Abelt then recalls something he was told or overheard at an unspecified time: “This is the surest way to do it. Baleras Tower was built for this purpose. There can be no turning back now.“ We are shown the tower in question, which we know as the palace, and we see what appears to be Dessler’s Deusuler I core ship docked inside. “For Garmillas to survive we must have Iscandar’s…”

[AMB]: I know the Yamato reboot series tries to shy away from making historical references, but it is undeniable to me that this Abelt is sort of meant to mirror Emperor Nero inheriting Rome from Caesar, but instead of using Rome (Garmillas in this case) for his own pleasures. Unlike Nero of Rome, as we’re fooled into thinking in 2199, he’s just trying to keep his promises, helping people in need. Exactly the same things Kodai vented to Sanada about wanting to do in Episode 7.

[KC]: Oh, things are starting to make a lot more sense now. Original Dessler kind of sense.

[AMB]: The official subs state “We must have Iscandar,” but the original Japanese line trails off without indicating if they want Iscandar itself or something from Iscandar. The clear implication made here to me is that Baleras Tower was built to extort Iscandar for the CRS, something confirmed in the next episode. That tower, to Dessler, represents an immense danger for Starsha. And even if it costs him Garmillas’ future, he’ll do anything to keep her safe from the hands of the Garmillas military. Cue his deification of Iscandar!

[KC]: My humble apologies to His Majesty for ever doubting.

[AMB]: Seems we were meant to doubt, so no harm no foul in Abelt’s eyes. Before moving on I’ll add a lore note. The core ship shown in Baleras Tower must be be the original Deusuler I core ship, though the scene showcasing it does seem to use the exact same artwork as in episode 23 of 2199.

Back at his podium and flanked by familiar, applauding generals, Abelt begins his speech by promoting the “spread of Iscandarism” as a means of achieving permanent interstellar peace. He claims it is the will of God and a sublime duty entrusted to the Garmillas people. He goes on to explain essentially what that means; that as many planets as possible must be brought under the rule of Garmillas, even ones outside their own Magellan Galaxy (i.e. the Large Magellanic Cloud).

From left to right among the generals shown, we have Mardo Vutter, Dahl Histenberger, Doram Boshrem, Nerun Keeling, Redof Hyss, Heydom Gimleh, Gul Deitz, Ghader Talan, Welte Talan and Herm Zoellick.

[AMB]: Next episode we’ll find out that the military faction (presumed to be Zoellick’s pure-bloods) were aiming to use Baleras Tower even before 2199 to abuse Iscandar’s various powers for the sake of Garmillas’ future, a move mirroring what Dessler’s regime and the Bolar Federation tried with Planet Shalbart in Yamato III. Which is fitting, since Iscandar inherited their status as a religious icon and as a WMD-holding peacekeeper. And I must say, that one beautiful shot of the Large Magellanic Cloud is the most breathtaking rendition of space in this entire reboot thus far.

[KC]: And now I see how things go horribly wrong.

[AMB]: As a consequence of his deification of Iscandar, Abelt seems to have felt the need to appease the pure-blood faction by searching out other planets to either use, abuse or renovate under the guise of maintaining peace in the universe under “Iscandarism.” As long as the people believed he was dedicated to Iscandarism, they would never support the military’s desire to extort their sister planet.

At the same time, Dessler was genuinely trying to give Starsha the “peace in the universe” she pleads for by saying, “We seek the salvation of all intelligent life forms in the universe.” It’s a controversial desire, one we see Elisa Domel praying for and Celestella ridiculing back in 2199. The odds were always stacked against poor Abelt as he tried preserving peace with Iscandar along with his people’s survival, a delicate balancing act he’d later entrust to Heydom Gimleh. But more on that in the next episode.

And I have to say, hearing Akira Miyagawa’s instrumental rendition of the Garmillas National Anthem remastered and conducted by the man himself is such a treat! A larger emphasis is put on the marching and war drums compared to last season, making it more similar to that one unreleased variation of it played at Domel’s medal ceremony in episode 12 of 2199.

We return to Telezart where Keyma-uh, Ranhart is explaining that rapid expansion brought untold wealth and power to Garmillas. This resulted in some people rising up in resistance against Abelt, who was exposed to countless assassination attempts. Abelt smiles and nods at him, clearly amused. “Even by family, huh?” Another flashback begins.

“You’re a tyrant now!” Cries Eliza Dessler, being held forcibly to the ground by Gul Deitz and Ghader Talan. Dozens of people lie dead on the ground around them, Gimleh’s imperial guard standing over them with guns in hand. “If only you had died instead of Mattheus!” There is no doubt this is Abelt’s own sister-in-law, the widow of his older brother. Abelt looks down on her from where he stands, along with Herm Zoellick, Velte Talan, Heydom Gimleh, Redof Hyss and a few other less recognizable officers, like Thol Toad, Nerun Keeling, Banom Besh and Doram Boshrem.

[AMB]: This might be far-fetched, but I believe the order in which we saw the Garmillan officers standing next to Abelt in his speech the prior scene is indicative of their importance in the government, spread like two wings. To Abelt’s right, we have what appears to be the administrative side, headed by Hyss. To his left, we have what appears to be the military side, headed by Gimleh (Imperial Guard) and Deitz (Astro Fleets) respectively. Celestella isn’t present, indicating that he has yet to bring the Jirellians into the fold; which makes sense given Garmillas expansion didn’t begin until just that moment. Then again, she and her sister are only kids at this point.

[KC]: Yes, there is a definite division there! Dessler has a Talan for each side. LOL

[AMB]: Based on Abelt’s getup and Klaus’ words, we’re still around “14 years ago” but after initial hostilities have begun within the Large Magellanic Galaxy. Gimleh’s imperial guard already has a large presence, dealing with rebels quite effectively. The “numerous assassination attempts” mentioned by Keyman may have caused the rise of Heydom’s imperial guard, given their effectiveness. We can also see glimpses of fierce loyalty in Ghader Talan and Deitz aimed at either Abelt, the Dessler name or the rule of law. Based on events of both reboot series, Deitz is loyal to both law and country (or rather, planet) whereas Ghader is loyal toward Abelt and his family.

[KC]: We’re only halfway through 2202 and now I am rabid for 2205.

[AMB]: We won’t have to worry about half-baked followups either, since Fukui and Oka have returned to write for 2205. The potential is limitless!

In the present where this memory is being recalled, Abelt confirms this. He says that he faked Eliza’s execution and secretly exiled her instead. It was the least he could do for his brother. As he goes on, we see either him or Gimleh toss his personal weapon to the ground before Eliza, then a long shot of her retreating with a suitcase and a small boy in tow. The boy turns back to look over his shoulder, and those who have not made the connection yet should now realize that this boy is Ranhart. “You’ve grown,” present-time Abelt smiles at him.

[AMB]: To quickly elaborate on my previous LoGH comparison, we see Gimleh shielding Abelt with his own body, holding a golden gun to Eliza’s face. This isn’t too dissimilar to when Reinhard’s cold and utilitarian aide Paul von Oberstein jumped in front of his emperor to shield him from a rocket in LoGH Season 1 during an assassination attempt.

The calculating utilitarian elite archetype isn’t uncommon in Japanese entertainment media, seen through M’quve in Gundam, Oberstein in LoGH, Gintama’s version of Japanese historical figure “Sasaki Tadasaburou” (renamed Sasaki Isaburou in the show) and Heydom Gimleh.

[KC]: Does this single episode make up for the entirety of Abelt Dessler circa 2199? Maybe.

[AMB]: What’s there to make up for? Jokes aside, for many who couldn’t see past the overtly ambiguous nature of Abelt in 2199, this exploration of his character became an unexpected redemption. As discussed in previous episodes, I always thought they’d take a similar direction with Abelt in 2202 based on the moments of nuance we saw in 2199, but it was never certain.

One could even see something small like the focus on Abelt’s gun here tying into his “war is necessary” moment in 2199 Episode 25, where he stares at it vacantly. Perhaps in that moment he remembered exiling beloved family members for the sake of continuing his everlasting war.

[KC]: The two different writers still make the transition a bit clunky for me, but I’m embracing it.

[AMB]: The scene of Ranhart leaving hand in hand with Eliza is bittersweet, since they walk past dying blue flowers in the foreground to a land where the only things still standing are large timeless trees. Ranhart’s feet can barely keep up and he smiles innocently to his mother for a second, only to glance back at the audience with uncertainty. They’re walking toward a barren wasteland, yet Eliza manages to keep her son alive long enough to confront his uncle Abelt.

On the music side, they’re playing the Lonely Dessler BGM from 2199, one of Akira Miyagawa’s original pieces remastered for 2202. A fitting choice, since Ranhart grew up to become the solitary secretive man which Yamato’s crew knew as Klaus Keyman.

The Earthlings are in a state of shock. Kodai finally manages to acknowledge that Abelt Dessler has a family. After a few moments of silent introspection, Ranhart aims his pistol at his uncle and informs him that Eliza died in poverty. He asks Abelt if it’s true that Garmillas will soon come to ruin. The Earthlings are shocked again, and Abelt seems more than a little put out that Ranhart even knows to ask.

Abelt’s grimace moves Klaus to continue, and he states that when you’ve been posted away from the home world for long enough you start to feel it. He states his personal conclusion, that pure blood Garmillas cannot live for long that far away. A world with the same atmosphere must be found (if not artificially created) and every Garmillas must be relocated within half a century.

[AMB]: “Garmillas has 100 years at most,” Archduke Erik said 28 years ago. Based on the “within half a century” statement from Ranhart, it seems like Abelt’s rapid expansionism or continued integration of second-class citizens may have gambled away a lot of Garmillas time. This only adds salt to an already open wound after Yamato tore down Abelt’s grand project in 2199. And I get why Abelt is put off by Klaus knowing this, considering it’s a secret Abelt has kept for his entire life at great costs.

The revelation that Klaus has felt this existential dread when stationed off-world is helpful. Garmillan people have been seen off-world in various capacities in both series, and this solidifies their “blood curse.” Klaus knowing about the importance of relocation from Garmillas means he’s had it on his mind too, explaining why part of him seemed to consider the Dessler remnants as a possible refuge were he to betray Yamato.

While Ranhart speaks, Dessler’s flagship launches missiles at Yamato, which explode harmlessly into the sea. Ranhart goes on about how this must have been the real reason for Abelt’s aggressive expansionist policy, a choice he made knowing he might go down in history as a cruel dictator. Sanada realizes out loud that the planet bombing of Earth was an attempt to modify the climate for Garmillas people.

Kodai asks Abelt if it’s true that his war with Earth was waged in order to save Garmillas. With a small, sad smile Abelt asks him why it matters now, what difference does it make? He and Ranhart exchange looks as he continues talking and his flagship continues its assault on Yamato.

[AMB]: The emergence of Abelt’s utilitarian soul has been a long time coming! I’ve always had a soft spot for characters willing to do today’s evil for the sake of tomorrow’s good, without need for praise. This retroactively puts into perspective why he openly indulged in the luxurious of being a man of the Dessler family, why he kept naming his ships and weapons after himself and why he sometimes (in 2199) appeared shameless.

It was all done in order to make sure that, were his name to go down in history as one of evil, Garmillas itself wouldn’t suffer. Garmillas didn’t force Yamato into a burning star, the “Dessler torpedo” did. Garmillas didn’t fire the Wave-Motion Gun, Dessler fired the Dessler gun. He’s separated himself from his nation’s history, protecting its future.

[KC]: And keeping his promise, hopefully.

[AMB]: Also, seeing as the Neu Deusuler isn’t hitting Yamato at such close range, I assume it’s steering Yamato toward the Telezarium.

“I have no power now. I can make a wish to a powerless god, or make a deal with Gatlantis.” We are shown an image of Miru sulking in his cell.

[AMB]: In the brief scene of Miru, his cell is surrounded by floating crystals like the ones seen inside the other dimension in Episode 11. The hole Yamato traveled through had anti-telepathy properties, so once it exploded Abelt definitely took the time to excavate some of its crystals for cutting off Miru’s space wi-fi.

[KC]: I figured those blue lights were just keeping him in his room, so thanks for clarifying!

[AMB]: It’s an easy to miss narrative thread after all. Just like how it’s easy to miss Miru sitting down, something we’ve mentioned before as being an exclusive trait to him, Sabera and Zordar in all of Gatlantis. It’s small, but a desire to rest and sulk isn’t seen in any other Gatlanteans, another valuable hint at Miru’s true nature as Zordar’s heir.

Yamato and Neu Deusuler continue to exchange fire as they race along the ocean. “The odds aren’t in my favor with either,” Abelt continues. “However, even so … “ Abelt looks up at the orb again, determined. He sees his brother. His crying mother. Starsha. His theme song swells behind him. “Even so, I … “ He does not continue, but Kodai looks on as if he is seeing Abelt Dessler for the first time. Ranhart lowers his weapon. “Who is it that truly needs Teresa’s power?” He asks. “You should know,” Abelt tells him.

[AMB]: What horrible options. Pray to God (Teresa) or make a deal with the Devil (Zordar) through Miru. At the end of everything he’s done and tried, Abelt tells Kodai that his reasons for committing his atrocities don’t matter now that he’s failed. He’s already successfully gone down in history as an irredeemable dictator for both the universe and the audience without achieving his set goals, so what can he do? What would you do? That’s why he needed a miracle.

As the main version of Dessler’s bolero swells, a common phrase used in Fukui’s writing is repeated twice, “Even so….” Even so, he’ll desperately try to uphold his promises, to save the people he loves. Just like Kodai. As he says this, his eyes water and he chokes on his words. What a performance.

[KC]: *Buys the ticket and takes the ride.*

[AMB]: Before the story diverts from Garmillas in a few episodes I’d like to get my thoughts out of the way on why Dessler fell for Starsha. He grew up constricted from a young age, anchored to upholding promises he’d been forced into, the burden of saving his people because that’s what’s expected of him. He led a one-track life where other people’s choices dictated his future. That is, until he met Starsha.

She showed him her incredible resolve to do what’s right not because someone told her to, but because she wanted to herself. But seeing as she was stuck on Iscandar and a pacifist to a fault, Abelt saw in himself the ability to fulfill her wish by using the tools he’d been burdened with all his life. All without her having to shed a single drop of blood. He’d bear the sins for her, a new purpose in life which he chose himself. And that’s why she’s the last person shown in the orb, she’s his reason for being. Teresa will more or less confirm this next episode.

[KC]: He really was our Dessler from the beginning.

“The planet of our birth. Garmillas. You’ve worked for that all along.”, Ranhart exclaims.

[AMB]: Instead of sealing Teresa or letting her go, Dessler intends to use her power to either restore Garmillas or sell her out to Gatlantis in exchange for a miracle. Having slaved away inside Gatlantis for around four years, he’s finally reached the point where his dishonor can be somewhat restored, if only for himself.

“Hold on!” Saito shouts as he realizes their pilot friend is feeling a bit sympathetic toward his uncle and exiled leader. He steps forward with a challenge and a racial slur (“Gammy boy” – now there’s a song parody waiting to happen) which falls on deaf ears. Abelt steps forward to his nephew, pointing out that the path ahead is one of carnage and if Ranhart wants to join him he will have to rid himself of all emotion – or he will go astray as Abelt himself once did.

[AMB]: Like with every other Saito interference moment, there’s an equal chance of him being puppeted by Zordar as speaking his own words. If it’s Zordar, he’s legitimately concerned about Dessler gaining control of Telezart. If it’s Saito, he’s feeling a mix of concern and fear at the current developments. What Abelt’s referring to with “going astray as I once did” is undoubtedly his final act in 2199, where his desire to show Starsha his brave new world outweighed anything else. It led to his desperate attempt to nuke Yamato with a piece of his new floating capital city.

[KC]: They are doing a great job of keeping Saito ambiguous.

[AMB]: I’d also like to point out that while “Gammy boy” might be seen as a racial slur, it may be similar to the usage of “Nazi” (in lieu of National Socialist) in the modern day. “Nazi” was itself a slur created for propaganda reasons by the allied powers in WWII. Seeing as it’s only been four years since the fall of the Dessler regime and the nation is still called “Garmillas,” “Gammy” is as much associated with their skin and race as it is with their planet and role as an Empire responsible for genocide on galactic levels.

If we add the fact that it’s used in the context of a former ally revealing himself to be Space Hitler’s nephew who may join Space Hitler, then the usage of “Gammy boy” in this instance really is just the same as how we use “Nazi.” Then again, if Zordar’s in control he’s probably trying to act like Saito, or Saito’s using the slur in a misguided attempt to sound friendly. If the former, it might be a play on Yamato 2‘s bigoted Saito, and since we know he’s far from a bigot in 2202 I might subscribe to Zordar being the one in charge here.

Saito implores Ranhart not to listen to the other Dessler. He starts to advance again, and Ranhart turns his weapon on him. Kodai calls out to him as Keyman and the other Earthlings look on in suspense. “Sorry, Kodai,” the younger Dessler says. In the last moment he shifts his aim from Saito to Kodai.

A shot is heard and the episode comes to a dramatic and uncertain end.

[KC]: Yes, I’m gushing. Yes, it was all I could do not to comment on every little thing that happens in this episode. Leader Dessler has family drama and sympathetic motivations. Leader Dessler is getting long speeches with cello accompaniment. Leader Dessler is having his entire bird-murdering backstory retrofitted into something tragic and noble and hoooooo boy I am 110% here for it!!!

[AMB]: Phew, the heaviest episode so far in content to discuss and dissect. To me it succeeded at permanently tying together the Garmillas canon from way before 2199 to the present day, leaving lots of potential for future stories to dive deeper. Very solid start to what was originally referred to as the Purgatory Chapter!

After the scene cuts to black a new end credits sequence rolls, illustrated by 2199 manga artist Michio Murakawa. Depicting moments of peace and serenity between the Kato family, Yamato’s pilots (including Tsurumi), the cosmo marines and Kiryu (including her father), Sanada and his book of Chuya Nakahara poems, Tokugawa with his granddaughter Aiko, Kodai and Yuki lying down on a picnic blanket, a young Shima lying in his mother’s lap, a heartfelt moment between Makoto and a newborn Tsubasa and finally… Tsubasa’s baby face drifts off toward the stars, fading away as a White Comet pierces through the universe.

[AMB]: This ending sequence is sung by Shino Arima who also sang the third ending song, You, Petal. This time she’s backed by the South Korean acapella group MayTree. Once again composed by S.E.N.S. Project, this tune (titled Yoranka (Lullaby)) wishes for peace and happiness for the ones we love. Its warm illustrations remind us of what each main crew member of Yamato cherishes the most, with some ominous foreshadowing pointing at interesting developments for the Kato family drama. A highlight for me was seeing Aiko Tokugawa starting to grow up… it really makes me look forward to becoming a grandpa myself.

Coda

Theatrical release: Space Battleship Yamato 2202, Soldiers of Love Chapter 5: Purgatory Chapter contained episodes 15-18. It premiered in Japanese theaters May 25, 2018.

Japanese video: Theater-exclusive Blu-ray May 25, 2018. Standard Blu-ray & DVD June 22, 2018

First Japanese TV broadcast: January 11, 2019

American debut: February 9, 2019 (streaming) November 26, 2019 (home video)

The end title Youranka [Lullaby] is performed by Arima Shino.

Click here for a complete BGM collection for Episode 15.

Episode credits
Episode Director: Atsushi Otsuki
Storyboard: Amino Tetsuro
Animation Directors: Hiroki Takagi, Mitsuru Ishihara

Series credits
Writer: Harutoshi Fukui
Scriptwriter: Hideki Oka
Director: Nobuyoshi Habara, Xebec Studio
Assistant Director: Makoto Kobayashi
Art Director: Yoshio Tanioka
CG Animation Director: Yuuto Uwabo, Sublimation Studio
Music: Akira Miyagawa, Hiroshi Miyagawa
Executive Producer: Shoji Nishizaki

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4 thoughts on “Yamato 2202 Episode 15 commentary, part 2

  1. I can’t help but notice that young Abelt in the flashback looks like a Garmillas edition of Reinhard von Lohengramm in LoGH, down to hairstyle and dresscode. Also, his nephew chimes on this analogon by being named Ranhard (depending on the transcription mode).

    By the way, that’s not the origin of the term Nazi. As attested among others by Kurt Tucholsky, it was born as a diminutive of the mainly Bavarian male first name Ignatius/Ignaz. By the 1920s it had assumed a meaning similar to the current American use of “Karen”. The political opposition of the NSDAP was first to apply it to them, to be picked up by Goebbels himself in 1926 in a pamphlet named “Der Nazi-Sozi”.

    I am inclined to believe that Saito’s “Gammy boy” was rather inspired by the “Tommy boy”, a frequent reference to sons of British soldiers, or “Tommies”, in their South African colonies.

    • You likely spotted my reference to Reinhart in one of the previous commentaries as well. In fact, I reference him and Oberstein in this episode too!

      And you’re absolutely correct! I did not mean to imply that the term hadn’t been invented before it was applied to the NSDAP, that’s just how it came out.

      Saito says “Gami-ko!” in Japanese. Ko meaning kid, kiddo, youngster (or by inferring context: boy, in this instance), and Gami- being an abbreviation of Garmillan. Your theory is sound, but to me it’s more likely that this term is a reference to the 1880’s colloquially British term “Jap,” as in Japanese.

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