Episode 18: Desperate Situation on Yamato – Again, a Devil’s Choice
by Anton Mei Brandt, Kathy Clarkson, and Daniel George
Tense music plays as we are pulled into the UNCF’s extradimensional Time Fault shipyard. A number of new Andromeda-class ships have finished construction, and we get a teasing glance at the Ginga in drydock.
Onboard the mysterious Laboratory Prometheus, Kaoru Niimi is reacting to a report from Chief Navigator Mina Ichinose using data acquired during the Battle of Saturn. We see some familiar faces on the bridge; Yuria Misaki, Toru Hoshina, Mikage Kiryu and Shou Yamazaki are here, along with a captain and crew member that we do not recognize. These are Saki Todo and Megumi Kanzaki, respectively.
[AMB]: An entire chapter’s worth of setup bares its fangs once again with the casual reveal of the mass-produced BBB (Black Berserker Battalion)-type Andromeda class ships, along with our first hint of the Yamato-class Ginga. It’s surrounded by a dome structure bearing the sign “Project G Phase 4.” Based on the orange lights pulsating around the dome, the fourth phase of the G-plan (to relocate the remnants of humanity to another planet when faced with extinction) is to outfit Ginga with its own Cosmo Reverse System.
We can also see the UNCF logo emblazoned on the dome, confirming their involvement and support of said plan. The BBB-class Andromedas won’t show up for another three episodes, but for returning viewers their introduction grimly prefaces the dark future Earth is heading for, one with AI-controlled death machines meant to stalemate the ongoing war of attrition for as long as possible. We’ll delve deeper into this once it becomes more relevant. Also present are Hoshina and Yuria, who got married off-screen and are now helping out the rest of Yamato’s crew who remained on Earth. Welcome back!
In doubt, Niimi is presumably repeating what she has just been told by Ichinose; that while the Gatlanteans are living weapons that will not hesitate to use suicide as an attack, they are indeed human. She questions this, stating that the White Comet that they travel in is an ancient weapon of mass destruction left behind by the Akerius civilization, but Chief Navigator Ichinose cuts her off.
“But they have human forms. If they were artificial life forms, they ought to be able to mechanize themselves more efficiently.”
[KC]: Fans of the original series should note that Ichinose appears to be quite excited at the thought of a mechanized race. You’re going to have to wait an episode or two, but they are setting up a joke here.
[AMB]: Jokes aside, Ichinose is making a very astute point based on what they’ve observed at Saturn. Admiral Baruze’s actions and tactical decisions show some signs of human error which can only be the result of emotions getting in the way of his rationality. Ichinose is undoubtedly referring to the Gatlantean Admiral’s rash and very human responses to Yamanami’s fleet emerging. This data must be corroborating Yamato’s reports about Mazer’s fleet at the 11th planet, giving rise to Ichinose’s rational judgement that Gatlanteans let their emotions get in the way of their tactical decision-making.
Which leads to the question; why aren’t they just completely mechanized? Why would they be created with the capacity to feel, act and be hurt like humans? We’ll later find out that the original Gatlanteans created before the Zordar clones weren’t conceived with the capacity to feel emotions, they were created to be used as worker bees for the Zemulian race. Which means that either the original Gatlanteans were always capable of being influenced by love and other related emotions, or the Zemulians accidentally stuck too close to original human genetics when creating this slave race.
I’m of the opinion that love infecting the Gatlanteans was an inevitability. For as long as they bore the human form, they became containers for manifesting a soul, something Miru will talk about in Episode 23 when he realizes why Teresa chose to maintain the human form – even after the race which became Teresa went beyond said forms.
[KC]: Mechanized races certainly have their place in space opera, as we can see just from looking at the original Yamato, as well as the other works of Leiji Matsumoto. But the drama of human emotion is often there as well to complicate things. I do love that this time around we are getting an ancient civilization that made terrible choices and resulted in Gatlantis being victims even as they choose to go after Earth.
[AMB]: Victims who wish to end this cycle for what they perceive to be the greater good of the universe.
A close up of Captain Saki Todo has the brim of her cap obscuring her eyes and there is no indication of what she might be thinking.
[AMB]: Based on later events, I have an idea of what Saki’s thinking. We’ll later find out her mother couldn’t endure the pain of living on during Garmillas planet bombings of Earth, and her sympathy for the war dead got the better of her. This led to Saki closing off her heart, forsaking empathy entirely, seeing it as a weakness.
The data from Saturn shows Gatlantis incurring heavy losses at the cost of Baruze’s own arrogance. Yet he’s still capable of slaughtering thousands of men for the sake of his Emperor, out of reverence. This only feeds Saki’s grim outlook on emotions, steeling her resolve to make sure the G-plan can be enacted when need be. The things you catch on a rewatch, huh…?
[KC]: This show is subtle enough that I catch new things with re-rewatches. It is certainly a reasonable presumption considering what they will show us eventually.
At Saturn, Commander Baruze is informed that his Inferno Cannon has finished charging. A cocky grin and chuckle later, he orders his formation to “Exterminate them.” Eight gigantic beams lance out across space – grazing the rings of Saturn – toward the fleet of Andromeda-class ships, who each fire off their respective graviton spread charge in defense. There is a massive explosion, and when the smoke clears the Earth ships remain.
[AMB]: This is a “blink and you miss it” moment, but the Andromeda ships pulled off something clever. Using the graviton spread weapon which they were testing all the way back in episode 5 – to devastating results – they manage to outrage the enemy commander with a diversion disguised as an impossible occurrence. While this unfolded, parts of Yamanami’s fleet were circling in from under Saturn’s rings to flank Balsey from underneath. As Yamanami said in the last episode; “Power can be overwhelmed with even greater power.”
[DG]: Both the animation and its accompanying score (Time of Fate, Yamato 2202 Soundtrack Vol. 2, track 13) give a real nautical feel to the battle, as if it is on the sea rather than in space.
“Curse them,” Baruze utters when there is a sudden alarm. High energy readings coming from beneath the ring! Spears of energy tear through his fleet as Dreadnaught-class ships arrive. And then more arrive. And still more. Both sides engage in a war of attrition, ships crashing into one another as they’re charging their beams, a blazing Calaklum sinking into the rings. Baruze’s composure begins to slip as hundreds of Earth vessels continually warp in, holding tightly-organised formations.
[AMB]: A thrilling sequence where Earth seems to finally turn the tide with their second trump card of this battle, a (seemingly) endless supply of combat-capable ships. What began an unchallenged rout for Baruze has suddenly flipped into an overwhelming disadvantage for an Admiral who’s already played his cards against the live bait of the Enceladus Defense Unit and Andromeda’s graviton spreads.
[DG]: Compared to the manned Dreadnoughts we saw in Episode 5, which had blue bridge windows, all the Dreadnoughts we see here at Saturn have orange-lit bridges, which are consistent with those of the unmanned BBB Andromedas. The only fly in the ointment of this argument is that the clearly manned Dreadnoughts leading the Enceladus fleet in the previous episode also have orange-lit bridges.
Scouring the internet for information, I came across this blog post by old school fan Yamashiro-san, who wrote about this very issue. His post implies that information attributed to Assistant Director Makoto Kobayashi stated that Blue-lit Bridge = Manned and Orange-lit Bridge = Unmanned. In the comments on that post, people point out the aforementioned problem with this with respect to the Enceladus fleet. Yamashiro-san addressed that issue in another post several days later in which he offered two alternate hypotheses: (1) That orange is a battle-lighting color (though this is never used on any of the other manned ships we see, including Andromeda Kai), or (2) While the orange-lit Dreadnoughts were intended to be unmanned, they are capable of operating with a human crew, and that in the circumstance of the Enceladus fleet, they are the most powerful ship they have, so in that case they would serve as a flagship.
Yamashiro-san admits it’s impossible to conclude one way or the other based on the visual evidence, but there are other factors to take into account. First, the drone-like behavior of all the orange-lit Dreadnoughts. Second, the sheer numbers that appear time and time again. Third, the time fault factory building and deploying them far faster than possible for a single person to step aboard (which will soon escalate). The more likely scenario is that the orange-lit Dreadnoughts we see at Saturn are unmanned. Yamashiro-san also makes one other poignant comment; that if all these ships were manned, there would be very few if any people left to man the ships of the fleet in the upcoming Yamato 2205.
[AMB]: And going by what’s coming up, there actually won’t be. By episode 26 (6 months after the war), Captain Yamanami will conclude that “too many people were lost” and that the Time Fault’s still producing more ships than there are men to crew them. From episode 18 and onward he’ll provide further insight into the rapid development of unmanned technology, the BBB-Andromedas deployed in episode 20 being the military’s first line of completely unmanned battleships, with Yamanami appointed their sole crew member to help lessen the risk of losing these untested prototype autonomous vanguard ships. We’ll even get some confirmation from Serizawa on this topic come episode 20, where he makes a speech urging the (seemingly) last line of departing soldiers to “survive, regardless of the cost, no matter how bad things get”. These ships were all lost by the start of episode 24, leaving only the ships stuck being repaired on Mars and Yamato in Earth’s fleet.
[KC]: We all know that I’m not invested in this show for the space battles, but this was a damn fun scene to watch.
[AMB]: The battle aside, Baruze’s actions, demeanour and voice acting add subtle nuances to his character. More eager than a child to prove his worth to Zordar, he ends up getting reeled in by Yamanami’s tricks. One could call this a tactical nightmare, and it is! As the battle progresses, his impression of Yamanami and the Earth forces becomes one of admiration. The camera keeps cutting to his reactions, and though his face is blank his brow is increasingly furrowed as he undergoes this experience.
The vocal performance by acting veteran Tomomichi Nishimura not only harkens back to Baruze’s Farewell to Yamato counterpart (Chikao Ohtsuka, the late father of 2199’s Eruk Domel VA Akio Ohtsuka), but also presents a subdued frustration when he flatly says “Curse them,” unable to properly express his emotions.
[DG]: By contrast, Baruze’s counterpart in Yamato 2 was the epitome of arrogance and overconfidence (sitting in the command chair of the Medaluza unlike his OG counterpart of the Apocalyx), despite that version also being voiced by Chikao Ohtsuka.
[AMB]: Which suddenly reminds me that we once again see a Gatlantean commander standing at the bridge, no chair in sight. We even get a rare glimpse of his bridge crew and XO, all standing at their consoles which have been built to accommodate them. We’ve already seen this work practice in past episodes, from Nol’s hair parlor to Cosmodart’s bridge, yet I feel compelled to commend this attention to detail in world building whenever I can.
Back on the White Comet, Zordar listens to a report from Baruze, who assures him with unflinching conviction that what just happened could not possibly have happened. By their estimates, Earth should not have anywhere near this much firepower, especially when considering that three years ago it was on the verge of death following its war with Garmillas. Goenitz chides Baruze for suggesting a retreat or a change of course and urges him, if he is Gatlantean, to “fight and die.” Baruze humbly accepts with a respectful bow and signs off. Zordar looks on, saying nothing, his expression unreadable.
[AMB]: Zordar seems intrigued, but once he has his answer to this inexplicable turn of events (The Time Fault), playtime will be over. At the end of this scene, Goenitz shows an extremely antiquated display of honor. To “fight and die” for the military chain of command is a mantra that will be mirrored next episode by Serizawa, whose original Yamato 2 counterpart shares an uncanny resemblance to the Goenitz of 2202. More on that forthcoming.
On Yamato, Dr. Sado is analyzing a capsule brought to him by Saburo Kato to determine its effectiveness against Planet Bomb Syndrome. Sado is amazed and tries to ask Kato where he acquired the pill, but Kato is frantic and violent, grabbing at the doctor and demanding that he confirm the drug’s efficacy. Sado explains that his test was not as complex as it would be on a human being, but he believes that it will indeed work.
Kato is calmed by the notion that his son will get better, but after repeating that to himself anxiety spreads across his face, making Sado suspicious. Kato asks him if the capsule can be mass produced. Unfortunately, the doctor is unable to replicate the formula. Sado asks him once again where he got the capsule, but Kato flees the medical bay with no time to answer.
[AMB]: “He will get better… he will get better?” The moment Kato confirmed the potency of the capsule, the reality of this situation dawned on him. His duty as a parent, someone who’d do anything to save his child, is about to be used against him by an agent of the enemy. The fear covering his face is haunting, as is would be for any parent. You may ask why he doesn’t just take the sample for Tsubasa instead of playing into Touko’s coming demands, and Touko shall answer.
The sample itself is classified as “D15003[preliminary]” with the subtitle “unauthorised medicine.” The rest of Dr. Sado’s data reads as follows:
generic name:none / code: none / effect: unknown / comment: none / target pathway: none / drug interaction: unknown / classification: none / link: none
The camera in Katsuragi’s cell powers off and the air vent in Keyman’s cell closes before Kato pays Touko a visit. It is Katsuragi herself, however, who starts talking. “You understand now, right? If you use that drug, your child will survive.” Kato looks unsure of what to say or do as she continues, her eyes deviously squinting.
“The children who suffer from the same illness will (survive), too.”
She was the one who gave Kato the capsule so that he could confirm that it works. Calm as a breeze, she explains that the formula is simple enough to make, and can even be manufactured aboard this ship, as she has done. But before she can gloat about the process any further, Kato has her by the throat.
[AMB]: To go along with the Kato family drama, composer Akira Miyagawa created yet another leitmotif for the family called Anguish and sorrow. Soft, somber and even more melancholic than their last leitmotif, this one aims to strike at your heart with carefully placed piano keys to build toward this episode’s climax. Then a second variation of the score will present itself in orchestral form.
Ignoring his demands to reveal who she’s working with, Katsuragi challenges him to kill her, pointing out that it would be a death sentence for his son as well. He asks her why she’s doing this and Katsuragi seems pained by the question at first. Kato elaborates, pointing out that with their power, Gatlantis could easily destroy both Yamato and Earth.
“It’s a game,” Katsuragi admits, to Kato’s horror. “A game where love makes people suffer,” she continues. “So I will definitely keep my word. Otherwise, the game would be no fun.” As she finishes speaking, Kato’s reflection in her eyes fades away.
[AMB]: “A game where love makes people suffer” is unfortunately yet another stale translation from Funimation, but it works. With the context of what she’s talking about, it would be more fitting to translate it as “A game of/by people tormented by love,” leaving it open for broader interpretations like if she’s referring to herself and Zordar, or those caught up in the games of love.
[KC]: This is going to be incredibly tragic.
[AMB]: And we need to discuss why. In the past, the first Zordar gave up everything he had in a deal to save his wife and child, the original Miru and Sabera. The dealmakers betrayed him, unable to see his people and their supporters as more than humanoid slaves. With this game, the current Zordar intends to reward Kato via Katsuragi in a way he or his predecessors never were. (The condition being to sink Yamato.) This way he proves the magnanimity of his or his son’s (read: clone, that being Miru) future rule, as well as how little love can help life and how much it can let die.
Meanwhile, Touko keeps treating this as if it’s a “game,” but as her pained expressions here prove – along with future developments – she and Zordar definitely have a bigger stake in this game than they let on.
[KC]: I am all in favor of stories that allow some level of sympathy for the villain, and redemption stories top my must read list, but I just want to clarify that the tragedy I’m more focused on here is the choice Kato is being forced to make, not the circumstances influencing those forcing him to make it in the first place.
[AMB]: The meat of which we’ll get to!
On the comet, Gairen is communicating telepathically with Zordar inside the dragon fossil telepathy chamber. “I see,” he says, turning his gaze toward us. “I now understand the way that planet works.” He has learned about the time fault, and at that moment so does Zordar.
[AMB]: Short scene, dense with information. Let’s boil it down.
First off, this is our first chronological showcase of Gairen’s telepathic connection with Zordar, acting as initial proof that he’s a Zordar Type himself.
Second, the way the shots of Gairen and Zordar merge into one is a visual hint at their physical similarity, but it also tells us that whenever Zordar closes his eyes he might actually be using Gairen’s mysterious visor in order to see through the eyes of Gatlantean living dead puppets, which is most likely how they got this time fault information.
Third, “I understand the way that planet works” is (once again) fine as a translation, but stale. He’s using the words “あの意味の” (ano hoshi no = that star’s/planet’s) and “絡繰り” (karakuri = gimmick, trick or contrivance). So while the translation “works” through simplification, the meaning behind Gairen’s words is lost since the time fault isn’t a natural part of Earth. It is, however, a gimmick which he now understands. Meaning the best way to translate this would be: “I now understand. That planet’s gimmick -” and Zordar finishes the sentence with, “- a time fault.”
[KC]: I suppose in English it would need to be delivered with the right sarcastic inflection, so that claiming you “understand the way the planet works” would convey presumed trickery. Like telling someone “I’ve got your number” insinuates that you suspect them of some dishonesty.
[AMB]: It’s also a direct followup to Baruze’s outrage at these proceedings, meaning Zordar took his concerns seriously. And you make an excellent point! A more liberal take on this line, with the scene’s context in mind, would go a long way to improve it.
Zordar quickly rises from his chair, calling out to Sabera. After a short, unsettling pause, she turns around with a coldness previously unseen, ordering the White Comet to warp. “Imperial Star Gatlantis, phase transition dimension jump!”
Marked by the sound of the pipe organ, the comet suddenly warps in right behind Baruze’s fleet at Saturn. Zordar orders the Admiral to immediately step aside and a sweaty Baruze delivers a 45-degree Japanese-style bow of apology. As he makes way for the Emperor, the White Comet begins absorbing Saturn itself into its swirling nucleus.
On the Andromeda, the course of the comet is predicted: straight for Earth! Captain Yamanami orders all fleets to withdraw but prepares to fire as they move to “Plan M.”
[AMB]: The Sabera scenes either harken back to Episode 2 where she orders the White Comet to warp, or the key animation is completely reused for artistic purposes. This Sabera is now a completely emotionless doll who more closely resembles her Farewell to Yamato counterpart; a cold, white priestess. This is the role they hinted at for her at the start of 2202, but that Sabera was broken by love. Now she’s been remade, and the cycle of Sabera’s death and rebirth in front of Zordar’s eyes begins anew.
This is even reflected in Yuko Kaida’s voice acting, where she seems to mimic the vocal delivery of her predecessor from Yamato 2 and Farewell that was voice actor Kazue Komiya, who had a tremendous influence on her. I’m also a big softie for Baruze’s Japanese-style bow, a small nugget of characterisation that essentially boils him down to a typical salaryman in the Gatlantean military.
As the pipe organ drones on, a downcast Kato trudges through Yamato’s corridors, deep in thought about the secret decision Katsuragi has forced upon him. “Tsubasa,” he says to himself. There is a haunted look on his face and Keyman’s anti-Wave-Motion lattice device is in his hand. In her cell, Katsuragi holds her legs tight, similarly downcast but also alert and maybe curious. The scene fades to black along with the pipe organ.
[AMB]: Dreadful, absolutely dreadful. Kato’s forced to wait for the opportune moment to activate the anti-Wave-Motion lattice, no other choice presenting itself to him as a father. And can you blame him? It seems like his choice will inevitably be to accept the devil’s bargain, exchanging Yamato’s life for his son’s. Touko’s expression seems to agree with my assertion, though she doesn’t seem particularly happy about it. Maybe she’s jealous of him? Of how he’ll actually be able to save his son through this act of treason? She certainly sympathises with him at least.
[KC]: I agree with your jealousy theory. I think the way she is able to rationalize what she is doing is through her bitterness over what has been done to her. The same way Zordar rationalizes ending the universe to make up for the pain of being betrayed by a callous and cruel creator.
[AMB]: Couldn’t have said it any better.
Captain Yamanami lays out “Plan M.” Based on reports from Yamato back during their encounter with the White Comet up close, they now know that the comet holds a planet-sized fortress which the fleet will destroy through simultaneous bombardment. Yamanami orders all fleets to enter multi-formation. They begin by spreading out rows and rows of ships like wings, then further dividing the numbers in a grid pattern.
[AMB]: Seeing as Yamato estimated the White Comet’s size to be equal to that of Mars, the “M-plan” is most likely in reference to Mars, making it the “Mars-plan.”
[KC]: Have we talked about how much those Andromeda-class ships resemble the face of an oni when you are looking at them head on? Because it is very apparent here.
[AMB]: An oni, huh? For those not in the know, an oni is a Japanese type of “Yokai,” a demon of folklore. The thought never struck me, but now that you say it…
[KC]: There are also space opera ties; those cannons head-on look very similar to the eye sockets of Ming’s Palace Guards in the cult classic Dino De Laurentiis Flash Gordon movie, but if they were going for anything, oni is far more likely. (Find out exactly what they were going for in this interview with Mecha Designer Junichiro Tamamori.)
[DG]: Note how all of the Dreadnoughts are maneuvering in space without the use of thrusters, almost as if some form of gravity control or possibly even a tractor beam is moving the ships into position. Was this intentional, or did they merely forget to animate the thrusters moving them into firing formation? This feature may have been forced out due to the number of ships being animated, because normally they’d do it for ships and fighters alike.
On Earth, Garmillas Ambassador Varel is speaking with the President of the Earth Federation, trying in vain to convince him not to fire on the comet. “Is this not too hasty? We still have yet to identify the true nature of the comet,” he argues. The president states that Earth’s problems are Earth’s alone, and – while glancing at Serizawa – he repeats the necessity of this strike for the sake of the negotiations with Gatlantis to come.
There is a moment where Varel gives the President an opportunity to state his personal opinion, having noticed that Serizawa and the corporate men of both Earth and Garmillas have surely pressured him into propagating their stance. And after a brief moment of personal deliberation, the president falsely assures Varel that this is his will alone. Meanwhile, to the left of the President, Todo bears witness to Yamanami’s preparations without a word.
[AMB]: This scene is hard to read, but I’ll do my best. Varel’s stance is one of empathic caution for those having to face the White Comet up front, but it’s also a stance that can easily be misread as an attempt at political subterfuge from the Garmillas side. Stalling the Earth forces politically at this incredibly important juncture would result in their frontier force being decimated before being able to strike back at the White Comet, increasing the risk of more damage being done to the Solar System. Saturn is already being swallowed, men and women of the military and civilian sectors have already died in this war with Gatlantis.
But what does Garmillas have to gain by doing this? They weaken Earth’s capacity to protect itself. Meaning that the Imperialist elements on Garmillas (whose political power at this time is yet undetermined and therefore a potential threat for intergalactic peace) can swoop in and save Earth if the U.N.C.F is taken out of commission by the White Comet. This would then give the imperialists enough of an incentive to propose the recolonization of Earth, disguised as an act of charity.
The Earth military loses its resources and popular support, and Garmillas becomes the de-facto ruler of the Solar System. It isn’t a far-fetched idea. In fact, it’s even more far-fetched to believe that two entirely different political systems could co-exist… so, sadly, the President has to concede to the military’s rash decision at this time.
[KC]: That’s a very interesting take that I hadn’t considered, but wouldn’t discount. Because Varel does at least have a suspicion of what’s in that comet, doesn’t he? He may currently answer to a democratic government, and he may have been working to root out the remnants of the Dessler regime, but he still wears a military uniform and so does the Vice President (Hyss) that he presumably answers to.
[AMB]: One last question remains. Was it Serizawa and Yamanami’s idea to strike back at the White Comet? Or was it the Ginga AI’s decision? Based on later developments for Yamanami as a character, it’s most likely the former. This event will mark Yamanami’s biggest military failure, in which he certainly tries to show the value of human decision over AI, a topic that’s explored further on.
Gravity nets are released to concentrate the firepower being levelled at the comet. All Wave-Motion Energy. The White Comet fast approaches the WMG fleet. “Gravity field convergence rate has reached expected value,” Yamanami’s XO states. The ships charge up and prepare to fire, locking onto the comet. Once initial preparations are done, they “shift Wave-Motion Gun from Dispersion to Convergence.” The ships huddle up as close as they can to help further expand the convergence type WMG-blast. WMG guns reach 120% energy charge. Anti-shock and anti-flare defenses are engaged as a few straggler Calaklums try penetrating the gravity nets to no avail.
[AMB]: Captain Yamanami gets tons of praise both inside and outside the show, but not always for his nerves of steel and his tremendous fleet-maneuvering skills. Even with the help of the Ginga AI, coordinating this bloated collective of ships into something tangible (in space) must be difficult beyond all imagination. In the Legend of the Galactic Heroes novels, Author Yoshiki Tanaka makes a fine point of how even the greatest of tacticians need capable men and women to execute their various plans and tactics.
[DG]: If they’re all being run by AI, these ships would most likely be preprogrammed with formations. The controlling intelligence simply needs to send the signal to execute that formation. We see something similar with the Blackbirds in the future episodes.
[AMB]: While true, autonomous navigational programs still have to account for unforeseen and untested occurrences on the battlefield in space, such as Saturn being swallowed by the White Comet. And seeing as the complete automatization of the Earth fleet has yet to be reached even by the next episode, it’s my fervent belief that the ones in charge of the Dreadnoughts highly advanced movements (at the very least their fine-tuning) are none other than the five Andromeda-class battleship Captains and their crews.
The countdown begins and Yamanami delivers a cautious yet determined glare. Zordar looks on from his throne, bemused. The Earth vessels fire. Their combined beams converge into five large clusters of energy, the gravity nets amplifying their power. The swirling beams of light devastate the Calaklums and combine into one even more bigger beam, converging on the White Comet’s outer shell. The ray of light never seems to end, remaining volatile far longer than normal as the comet’s halo is dispersed across the surrounding space. It seems to oxidize, but in truth it’s only thinning out. The WMG-fleet stands at attention, awaiting further developments.
[DG]: Another use for the graviton projectors would be to create gravity wells for the beams of all the Wave-Motion guns in the fleet to converge, first into the net/well launched by each Andromeda, and then to allow the five beams to converge into a single huge beam.
In Yamato 2, we only see the EDF fleet fire their WMGs in single-beam mode, rather than dispersion mode like in Farewell. It makes sense to send the largest single beam at the comet, so from this perspective the regular-firing aspect of the guns needed to be kept as well.
[AMB]: Studio Sublimation gets too much flak for these past two episodes, and I honestly believe it’s due in part to how widespread animation piracy is in this day and age. Compressed audio and video quality could definitely diminish the beautiful work put into this scene, no doubt. But even with that in mind, moments like the out-of-this-world evanescent fog being dispersed, or the reflection of light on the surrounding ships, or the particle effects of fire and smoke, the intricate space BGs converging into a miasma of artistry, topped off with the droning sound of the White Comet pipe organ and the SFX work from hundreds of different audio sources… am I crazy for seeing the artistic merit in this?
[KC]: Traditional operas aren’t exactly subtle. Space opera should look amazing and this looks amazing.
Back at UNCF HQ, the Earth Federation President gasps as Serizawa openly wonders if that strike took down the White Comet. Todo quietly rises from his seat to await the result, staring at the large monitor depicting the battle.
Aboard Andromeda, Yamanami does the same, furrowing his brow. Then the gasses just in front of the White Comet seem to completely burn away, revealing a planet the size of Mars. Todo is in a state of shock, mouth agape. As the fog fades, three planets the size of Mars are unveiled. Serizawa is in a panic, unable to avert his eyes.
Then four planets are revealed, caged by mechanical tendrils of a large monstrous superstructure. The Earth President can hardly believe what he’s seeing is real. Then, finally, the fog lifts at the head of the true form of the White Comet, and an ungodly noise is heard.
[AMB]: Being given the task to recreate the reveal of the White Comet – forty years after it’s been done twice – was a difficult task. First off, what would it look like? Second, how would they be able to shock the audience? Third, how can it reflect the themes of the story? And this is the result: a large, octopi-looking mechanical beast, glowing and pulsating in blues and reds.
The wind whooshes past in what can only be described as an alteration of the physics of the universe itself. Fog remains where it shouldn’t be able to. A bellowing technological nightmare of a sound chills you to the bone, and suddenly the idea that it would be “about the size of Mars” is subverted in a clever and yet horrifying way. The legal representatives of Earth completely fold at the sight of this thing, and we finally understand that the end might actually be nigh.
[KC]: Yes, this has been done twice. And I guess it’s true what they say; that the third time’s the charm. Because holy $%#* this is terrifying.
[AMB]: Here’s hoping 2205 delivers even more on that mantra!
Emphasizing the size of the thing, we get short panning shots of the superstructure showing glimpses of its tendrils, Akerian architecture, crystals, the head and its gravity well. Inside that first layer of fog is arrayed a vast armada of Gatlantean ships, which we saw during Yamato’s first encounter with the White Comet. As the grandiose White Comet Imperial City theme booms in celebration, Zordar stands proudly in front of his throne, delivering his final judgement with a grin. “Crush them.”
[AMB]: The upper structure is composed of the same Akerian architecture we’ve seen on Stravase and in the void space with Dessler, and we’ll later learn that the structure organically molds into the shape most necessary for its given task. It’s the Ark of Destruction, and its name couldn’t be more fitting.
The bottom part – the gravity well – looks especially organic and fleshy, like a giant insect’s abdomen. The head piece is actually what connects the rest of the superstructure, but we’ll learn more about that later. For now, Zordar stands tall just like that head piece, ready to live and let die.
[KC]: If this was a rock opera this scene would be absolutely epic. There would be much shredding. Actually, have fans ever done a Yamato rock opera? That sounds like something I need in my life now.
[AMB]: Speaking of excellent music, there’s the BGM this episode. Starting from Kato’s meeting with Touko, continuing with the combined WMG blast all the way to the reveal of the White Comet, the BGM completely harkens back to Farewell to Yamato in both presentation and delivery. Three variations of the White Comet theme one after another, from dreadful to ominous and creepy to mighty and unstoppable. Man, hearing the Imperial City Gatlantis theme recreated by Akira Miyagawa gives me such joy!
The Ark of Destruction plows right through Saturn, dwarfing it in size as the entire planet dissolves. But Captain Yamanami is undeterred, ordering the entire fleet to charge the Wave-Motion Guns again. Two sets of red rings manifest above and below Gatlantis, and another ring surrounds its gravity well. At this point, the fog from the White Comet has formed into clouds and this area of space becomes increasingly more obfuscated. The Wave-Motion Guns fire haphazardly, no time for a gravity net.
[AMB]: When speaking of Assistant Director Makoto Kobayashi’s contributions to this series, the redesign of the White Comet for a modern era is one of his strongest. We’ve seen tiny glimpses here and there, but it’s only now that we can truly appreciate its complete and terrifying beauty. There’s far more to it than meets the eye, however, as we’ll soon see.
[KC]: In my head canon AU (alternate universe) one of those planets holds an alive and rescuable General Talan the elder, being held as a science slave to keep Abelt on his best behavior.
[AMB]: Referring to Ghader’s big brother Velte, or an original timeline Talan? Because with the ending of this show in mind, they’d both be up to the task.
[KC]: Velte. Before 2202 played out, I had entertained the idea that he had not been killed at the end of 2199, but taken along with Abelt and set to the task of creating the Neu Deusuler, since he was Abelt’s head of R&D. A rescue would have been a callback to Dessler’s own jailbreak in the original series. And then Abelt would have had TWO Talans. But of course he only ever had the one at a time originally, and I am just being greedy. Besides; the Talan I prefer is the one that’s still around.
[AMB]: It seems Velte will always be destined to die in every iteration of Farewell, episode 25 of 2199 very much included. Though Teresa would probably scold me for saying that, telling me “Things could be different” bearing an all-knowing gaze. But more on that when we reach episode 26.
The Wave-Motion Guns fire what should be a clear shot, but the beams are absorbed by the Ark. A vortex appears and then deflates in the center of the undamaged fortress, another more transparent layer of the White Comet’s fog making itself seen. This baffles Yamanami, who’s at a loss for how to proceed. Before a decision can be made, the Ark’s gravity well starts sucking in the WMG fleet, any and all debris, and the excess fog that had been dispersed in this sector. It’s taking back what was lost.
[AMB]: What might be difficult to understand on an initial viewing – though the creators give it more than enough screen time – is that the fog the UNCF so victoriously burnt away wasn’t entirely eradicated; if at all. It actually exists in several layers. We’ll see this later in more detail, but for now just remember that there’s three layers of fog and the innermost layer has particularly incredible stopping power properties, as depicted here. The red rings of light seem to be energy absorption tools, meaning the devastating power of the WMGs has now been converted into fuel for the White Comet.
“Gravity gradient rising!” an XO yells out. The gravity well seems to have converted the WMG energy into an artificial gravity field. As soon as Yamanami hears this, he orders all ships to withdraw, but as luck would have it the engines of the Dreadnoughts are barely strong enough for them to get away. A dozen or so “Arrow of Destruction” anti-gravity missiles – once used by Goland at Telezart – are then fired off by Gostok-class battleships inside the last fog layer of the Ark of Destruction. This messes up the engine outputs of the already disadvantaged WMG fleet ships, pulling in a majority of them.
[AMB]: Karma strikes the heart of the UNCF as their frontier fleet sinks down to purgatory. The weapons they used against the White Comet were turned against them as fuel to pull Earth’s fleet into the White Comet’s gravity field. In the face of this cruel irony, Yamanami seems to completely fall apart as a Commander. He staked everything on this operation, after all. Oh, and those anti-gravity missiles? Created by weaponizing Telezart’s antimatter properties. Two groups of war using their respective Goddesses’ graces to devastate one another. Beautifully cruel.
[DG]: Yamanami’s own words from the previous episode about power being overwhelmed by even greater power come back to bite him.
[AMB]: As did Earth’s decision to abandon Okita’s promise to Starsha. And unlike the Earthlings, Zordar won’t back down on his word. Not ever. Something he’ll work towards proving come next episode.
The pride of Andromeda, its twin Wave-Motion Gun muzzle, is desiccated by the anti-gravity missiles. Engine output dropping, they are on a collision course with Apollo Norm as they are pulled toward the fortress.
Captain Yasuda of the Apollo Norm patches through to Yamanami, telling his fellow Captain to go on without him. The Apollo Norm won’t make it, but they can push the Andromeda free with their remaining power. “You did your best,” the captain of the Apollo Norm tells an increasingly distraught Yamanami. “Good luck.”
[AMB]: Worth pointing out at this juncture is Yamanami’s historical counterpart from the Shinsengumi; Keisuke Yamanami. A gentle soul educated in both literature and military arts, he inherited the role of vice-commander of the Shinsengumi following the demotion of Nishiki Niimi. This role was shared with Toshizō Hijikata, the historical counterpart for Ryu Hijikata.
Surprisingly enough, Okita’s historical counterpart would come to respect Yamanami to the extent where he’d call the latter his “big brother,” or “aniki,” a role that was reversed in both Yamato 2199 and 2202. But the real meat of this? Yamanami committed seppuku (切腹 = to cut the belly, a form of ritual suicide) after breaking the “no deserting the Shinsengumi” clause of the Shinsengumi “Iron Code” (Kyokuchuu Hatto (局中法度) ). He had deserted the Shinsengumi following an incident, and intended to take responsibility. Okita acted as his Kaishakunin (介錯人), the one tasked to behead someone who’s just committed seppuku in order to spare observers from the criminal’s writhing death throes, and to spare said criminal from prolonged anguish.
This all matters because Yamanami is just about to be forced to desert his soldiers. And in order to take responsibility for this, and actions taken against Okita’s will in the years following his death, he’ll do his best to perform another form of ritualistic suicide come next chapter (Regeneration). But a certain other Vice-Commander won’t let it happen this time…
Then there’s another part of the 1863 Shinsengumi “Iron Code” that’s relevant for this scene. “If the leader of a unit was mortally wounded in a fight, all the members of the unit must fight and die on the spot.” Captain Yasuda is fulfilling his responsibility to “fight and die” for his Commander, no matter the cost. He even commends Yamanami for doing his best, deserving praise for managing so well in spite of being the youngest of the UNCF’s veteran Commanders.
The Andromeda gets away as Captain Yasuda, saluting, is pulled down to an explosive end at the hands of a second batch of anti-matter missiles. As Apollo Norm’s signal is lost, Yamanami’s fist tightens on the arm of his captain’s chair.
We don’t get to see much of Captain Yasuda, but he is actually a double easter egg for those who dig trivia. First, his voice actor is none other than Isao Sasaki, who sang the original Yamato theme (among others) and occasionally stepped in as a voice actor (Saito in Farewell/Yamato 2 and Shima in Final). His design is modeled on Shuichi Yasuda, the president of a Yamato 2202 sponsor, the Japan office of Under Armour.
The remaining Andromeda-class battleships manage to get away along with a few dreadnoughts as Zordar indulges in some villainous, gloating laughter. The camera is left hanging on the vortex of anti-gravity formed by the Ark of Destruction. All that’s left is fog and debris.
[AMB]: Some might figure it corny to have the antagonist of this story cackling at the misery of his enemies, especially since it’s been over 40 years since he first did it in Farewell. But I think it’s a perfect fit, not only for nostalgia reasons but because of what it says about Zordar.
[KC]: Nothing corny about any of this. It is a huge departure from how Zordar was originally presented. Even his flagship is scarier.
[AMB]: Agreed. And this time, he’s not necessarily laughing at the misery of it all as much as the irony of the WMG-fleet falling victim to its own hubris..
Yamato witnesses the swirling vortex of the White Comet, a terrifying image that immediately makes the crew question their chances of winning. “How are we supposed to fight it?” Aihara asks. Kodai takes a closer with fear in his face, but Hijikata snaps him out of it. “We’re betting on the Transit Wave-Motion Gun.” Eyes wide open, Kodai answers, “Yes sir.”
[AMB]: Considering how Yamato’s crew reacts, they’ve probably been in-warp for the entire duration of the WMG fleet’s battle with Gatlantis, meaning they haven’t been able to receive any messages due to warp interference. Last thing they saw was the WMG-fleet warping toward Saturn, with Shima telling Kodai that they had to rely on the fleet to fend off Gatlantis until they arrived.
Well, it seems like Kodai’s worst fears have come true. There’s nothing left, not even a planet Saturn, just the White Comet’s swirling white nucleus. So not only do they fear the comet’s otherworldly appearance, they’re demoralized by the fact that (supposedly to them) the entire might of the UNCF military was unable to do anything against it. This leaves Yamato with no choice but to use the highly dangerous and risky TWMG; a weapon capable of destroying Yamato itself when fired.
Hijikata’s tension is probably owed in part to his worry over what happened to so many of his friends like Yamanami, and the responsibility he holds as someone who abandoned front line duty to become a desk jockey on the 11th planet. And the final glance between him and Kodai? It perfectly mirrors the one shared by Todo and Serizawa all the way back in Episode 1 where the decision to fire Andromeda’s WMG was first made. Yamato’s crew aren’t the only ones who’ve had to steel their resolve in order to fire such dangerous WMD’s, and that realization hits hard.
The camera pans over Yamato’s crew as a somber variation of the Yamato theme plays, starting with boatswain Enomoto and the Cosmo Marines. “From person to person,” Hijikata begins, “the power of bonds…”
The camera focuses on Saito and Nagakura, “which works across the universe…” we cut to Yamamoto working on her Cosmo Tiger I, “will defeat the Comet Empire, Teresa said.”
We cut to Keyman in his cell, then to Katsuragi. “Let us believe that.” We cut to the engine room, where Tokugawa’s teaching one of his juniors. “That bond brought us aboard the same ship.”
We cut to Ota, Sanada, Aihara and Nanbu on the bridge. “And we are facing the decisive battle.”
The camera focuses on Yuki. “What turns that bond into power…” and finishes on Kodai and Shima nodding at each other with determination. “… must be each of our individual wills.”
[AMB]: A beautiful speech, one that somehow manages to perfectly prelude the final battle of the series. Saito and Nagakura’s bond ends with the two of them protecting one another until Saito needs to commit his necessary sacrifice for the sake of her future.
Yamamoto and her Cosmo Tiger I will become instrumental in bringing back Yamato come Episode 26, and Yamamoto’s bond with Keyman happened in spite of them being brought up in different corners of the universe. The bond between Klaus and Touko is turning them both toward Yamato’s cause, ending with their self-sacrifice for the sake of the universe.
Then we see Tokugawa imparting necessary knowledge to his juniors, another man who’s going to pass away by the end. And that Yuki finisher? “What turns that bond into power” being individual wills? It sets up the attempted self-sacrifice of Yuki in Episode 23, where her bond with Kodai goes beyond the memory troubles she’s experiencing at the time. As a bonus, the individual wills of both Kodai and Shima brought the two aboard Yamato again after intensive deliberation, both having previously grown complacent with their peaceful lives on Earth in the post-war years.
Back on Earth, the President begins an impassioned speech in defiance of the Comet Empire, going along with visuals of Yamato taking position right in front of the comet.
“We humans of Earth have no intention of bending our knee to invaders. We crawled back up from the brink of ruin three years ago.” We cut to Todo at E.D.F. HQ as the president continues. “We humans of Earth will never give in!”
Zordar shows obvious delight at Yamato’s appearance.
“We will fight, united to the end!” Yamato’s crew is prepared to fire, protective gear on.
“For freedom and peace!” Shima glances at Kodai, who’s ready to fire.
“For the future of our children,” the President finishes, and we see Katsuragi in her cell.
[AMB]: Another terrific speech, one tinged with deep irony as the peace-keeping Yamato is about to commit an act of painful self-sacrifice at unimaginable cost, possibly the destruction of Yamato itself. But to “fight, united to the end for freedom and peace,” and “for the future of our children” are lofty goals.
Zordar, along with Katsuragi, both know exactly what manner of suffering will result from it, because there’s another man aboard this ship who’s willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of “the future of our children.” Ironically, it’s what will end up saving Yamato and its crew from guaranteed self-destruction.
[AMB]: With the emotional, sensitive expressions of these characters in mind, I’d like to take this moment to gush about the man in charge of this episode’s storyboards, Kikuchi Michitaka. Or as he’s more famously known, Kia Asamiya. Since his first exposure to Yamato and the beauty of the anime medium in 1974, to his first work in anime with Final Yamato in 1984, he’s remained adamant about creating hand-drawn mecha. For both Yamato reboot series he’s provided storyboards for openings and endings, as well as highly detailed art for promotional and merchandise materials. These include model kit box art and slipcases for books. His work on this episode lends a unique touch to the final product. Read an interview with him here.
In her cell, Katsuragi laughs to herself suddenly, startling Keyman.
“The only thing that can save a dying child is a parent’s love.”
As the camera pulls back, Katsuragi herself pantomimes holding a child. “Isn’t that right?” She asks. Perhaps her question is directed toward Keyman, perhaps someone else.
“It is an irreplaceable love. A selfish… love.”
[AMB]: Touko’s blank, resigned expression here is heartbreaking, especially once you know what she feels in this moment. The selfish and irreplaceable love of a parent is what ended up saving Ranhart in his childhood. It’s what’s about to save Tsubasa, and it’s what should have been able to save the original Miru when original Zordar gave up his entire race in a deal with the Zemulians. A destructive love that’s rarely rewarded, almost always at the singular cost of the parent.
Again we see the image of the original, living Sabera cradling a Gatlantean child, no doubt an infant Zordar. The picture is clear and complete, giving us enough time to bask in it.
“A love that destroys everything,” Katsuragi continues, seeming to stroke the child’s head soothingly. There is the flash of a connection with Zordar that pains Touko. Keyman, listening in the next cell, suddenly pounds on her wall and demands to know what she’s done.
[AMB]: Sometimes the truths of this show are hidden in plain sight. What I once considered an “out there” theory – how current Zordar is a clone of original Miru rather than being the original Zordar himself – is practically confirmed right here. Zordar is currently trying to end (and remake) mankind as we know it, fueled by “a love that destroys everything,” inherited by his grieving parents (Gairen and the original Sabera).
It’s that same selfish love that allows good parents to let their children live out the lives they want, no matter who ends up in the crossfire. It’s almost as if this trial he’s given Kato through Katsuragi is a means of proving to her how destructive her love has been and still is. Maybe he wants Tsubasa to grow up with the same burden he’s carried.
[KC]: I just want to fangirl for a moment over Dessler’s nephew getting upset about what’s going to happen to Yamato, and not because he happens to be on Yamato at the time. I need some ray of light to hold onto as we go into this last scene.
[AMB]: It’s a ray of light to be sure, but his question is daunting. What has Touko done? The simple answer is, of course, that she’s set Kato on a path to sacrifice his friends for the sake of his son. But that’s not the end of it. I believe Touko, at this moment, realizes that her love for her child is what ended up causing so much grief in Kato’s heart.
Zordar, who remembers dying in the loving arms of his mother, feels her grief every time he’s around the Sabera clones. Yet they keep holding him close, even as he hurts them in anger, distraught with the injustices committed by humans for love. He wants to help end their suffering, but to do so he still needs them to help manage the Ark of Destruction. So for this reason he’s subjected himself to witnessing over a thousand years of Sabera’s cycle of death and rebirth. He’ll confirm as much come Episode 20.
Alone in a corridor, a deeply troubled Kato holds the anti-Wave-Motion lattice device in a trembling hand as he thinks back to the birth of his son. The words of his wife Makoto come back to him.
“When Tsubasa was born, I think I understood for the first time why I was born. This world really is full of suffering.”
Tears stream down Kato’s cheeks as Yamato stands face to face with the White Comet, the TWMG charging up.
“But this child was born. I’m sure it doesn’t matter what the reason is. I mean, it makes me happy. Meeting you. Meeting this child. We don’t need a reason for being happy.”
[AMB]: Makoto may not appear much in this sequel, but her moments are solid gold. Her words are always from the heart. They’re filled with grief, a fool’s hope and love for her family. A line as simple as “We don’t need a reason to be happy” should resonate with parents in ways other family drama fiction has trouble achieving, and that’s a real accomplishment for this show. As mentioned earlier, this scene’s BGM features the Tsubasa, anguish and sorrow theme in full orchestral form, the accompanying violins tearing the viewer’s heart out.
“I’m sorry,” Kato sobs as Yamato prepares to fire. “Daddy’s… going to hell.” A minute turn of his finger activates the device and Yamato’s Wave-Motion Engine grinds to a halt amid a flurry of pink light. The energy build-up vanishes as Yamato loses all propulsion and goes spinning down into the void.
“Wave-Motion Engine has gone silent!” Tokugawa yells out. Sanada is stunned. “It can’t be! The Anti-Wave Motion Lattice is out of control?!”
Kodai and Shima are left gaping at their instruments, coming to terms with the failure of Yamato’s gambit. Hijikata is at a loss for words as Ota declares Yamato is being sucked into the Comet Empire’s gravity field. Fade to black.
[AMB]: If only Kato knew how instrumental his act of love will be for Yamato’s victory in the end…
[KC]: Classic space opera cliff hanger right there. Only eight episodes left!
[AMB]: We’re about to head into uncharted territory, where the story takes an unforeseen turn that reflects modern day humanity’s greatest moral struggles. AI, utilitarianism, the mechanization of humanity, co-existence between different races and creeds, responsibility in death… a whole lot of frightening subject matter, summed up in the next chapter title: Regeneration!
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: February 1, 2019
American debut: March 2, 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 18.
Episode Director: Tatsunari Oyano
Storyboard: Kia Asamiya
Animation Director: Nobuteru Yuuki
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