Yamato 2202 Episode 19 commentary

Episode 19: Heir to Yamato – The Name is Ginga!

by Kathy Clarkson and Anton Mei Brandt

Yamato is caught in the white comet’s swirling nucleus near Saturn, rapidly nosediving. “Deploy main wings!” Shima yells out, but Ota informs him the power to the wings has been cut. In the middle of this turbulence, Hijikata ponders gravely about what to do as Yuki delivers some bad news: They’re 8000 leagues away from Gatlantis. Next, he asks Tokugawa how the engine’s doing. It’s not responding. They receive an emergency call from the Andromeda-class Antares, stating that “We are standing by behind Yamato” as Aihara puts it, and that “We will soon reach the limit for withdrawing. We cannot stay long. Use all means to escape, ASAP.” With grave concern, Hjiikata takes one last pause to glimpse at Okita’s mural. “Okita, I’m sorry.”

[AMB]: To any binge-watching viewer out there this opener might not be much more than a prolonging of the inevitable. But back during the show’s sequential release, this was the first thing anyone saw after a long 4-5 month break. This opener marked a point in the story where Yamato might not get to be the hero ship for that much longer; both physically and spiritually. 

Standing tall, Hijikata addresses the entire crew of the ship with a harrowing order: “All hands, abandon ship!” The camera cuts to the determined and heartbroken members of the bridge crew as he continues. “The ship’s engine is damaged, and we are being pulled into the enemy’s gravitational field. In all sections, crew are to go to evacuation stations. Abandon ship at once! Transfer to the Antares behind us!” Kodai seems to grasp the necessity of this order. But when he looks over at his friend Shima’s anguished expression, something different can be seen.

[AMB]: Under Hijikata’s watch, the ship drops into the abyss, a shadow of what it once was under the great Captain Okita’s leadership. I believe this is why Hijikata apologizes to his old friend, since he simply isn’t measuring up to his standard. Back in Episode 9, Hijikata – with reverence – practically begged Okita to let him borrow his ship. Ten episodes later, he’s doomed the ship with a risky gamble (the TWMG). The gamble wasn’t even the issue, it’s the fact that he wasn’t able to pull it off, although we as an audience know that’s because of extraneous circumstances.

“I won’t,” Shima shouts. “No! I’ll stay on Yamato!” While it shakes Kodai’s heart, Hijikata coldly shuts Shima down, allowing no argument. Shima seems at first to be gravely offended, but Tokugawa lays a comforting hand on his shoulder. “Shima. We all feel the same way. Including Captain Hijikata.” Tokugawa glances at the solemn Captain. “But if we don’t move, the younger crew will hesitate. Let’s go. It hurts, but it’s our duty as the people in charge.” With sorrowful eyes, Shima concedes.

[AMB]: In terms of payoff, this is quite similar to Episode 13’s climax. There, the character developments were astonishingly idealistic. Here, they’re drenched in cold realism. The whole crew came together back then under the banner of unity, only to now be slapped in the face by the recklessness of the act they were about to commit. Betting everything on a gun that would have positively engulfed Yamato itself in its flames, they’re paying the price for succumbing to temptation; lacking patience.

[KC]: Well, to be fair this is not just karmic. Zordar is definitely manipulating the playing field to his advantage. And there are other reasons.

[AMB]: Kodai is learning that Yamato can’t bear the weight of everything. Hijikata accepts the responsibility of a losing party in this situation, going down with the ship as its captain. Shima, who at first couldn’t bear to join the others on their voyage, now can’t bear leaving the one place where he most strongly belongs. Aboard Yamato. 

[KC]: I don’t think that we have too much to worry about. It’s still the name of the show.

Analyzer informs the crew that the time limit for withdrawal is fast approaching, T-minus 600 seconds. Hijikata formally orders Sanada to attend the starboard side of the ship for the evacuation while Kodai supervises the crew on the port side. He accepts, performing the Yamato salute. In accordance with standard procedures, Tokugawa is tasked with locking down the Wave-Motion Engine, which most certainly means he’ll be left behind. Hijikata struggles to hide his trembling features as he orders the Cosmo Tigers and all other shipborne planes to disembark immediately with as many crew as possible. “Head to the Antares!” They proceed as the final few notes of the Sorrowful Yamato theme play out.

[AMB]: Many of the story elements and developments occurring before our eyes are completely original to 2202’s take on the Comet Empire story, yet soaked in nostalgia. The sorrowful Yamato theme, Hijikata’s gaze muddled in darkness, the Captain going down with the ship Final Yamato style. They’re elements that harken back to the past, but are now reinvigorated, which encapsulates the theme of Episodes 19 – 22: Regeneration.

The evacuation procedures play out. An unconscious Kato is found by Cosmo Marine Amagi and Yamamoto ignores Kodai’s evacuation orders to go search for Keyman. Hijikata broadcasts his orders: “All hands, hurry with the evacuation! Don’t hesitate! Do your best to survive! The battle has only just begun! Live, and each of you support the Earth’s future in your own way!” The onboard alarms blare, the surroundings dyed in emergency red. Sitting in her cell with a blank and gloomy expression is Katsuragi, who looks as if she’s chosen to go down with the ship.

[AMB]: The lingering developments that finally start to bloom aren’t limited to in-universe ones, but real world ones as well. During the production days of 2199, beloved veteran voice actor Ishizuka Unshou (who tragically passed away following the voice recording for Episode 20) was picked for the role of this reboot’s Hijikata. Back in 2199, he was a supporting character of similar stature to Yamanami. Due to the character’s reclusive and understated progression, Ishizuka hasn’t had the opportunity to make use of his strong baritone voice until now. It’s a chilling performance, tinged with regret and acceptance. It immediately makes you realise why he was picked to succeed Akira Kimura (original Hijikata VA). His appeal for Yamato’s crew to “Live!” no matter what will be echoed by Serizawa in his speech to the U.N.C.F. military in Episode 21, but more on that when it comes. Let’s take a deeper look at Touko Katsuragi!

The still shot where you can just feel Touko’s longing for death and punishment is probably the most informative illustration of her in 2202, with more to it than one may think. Based on the commotion outside, she’s already come to the conclusion that Kato chose to shut down the engine, an inevitable choice for a human father who’s presented with an easy way to save his family. It’s a reminder of what the original Zordar went through for the original Sabera and Miru, a reminder of how much man is willing to sacrifice for love. It’s a cruel cycle of recurrence that’s lasted for thousands of years.

Meanwhile, Klaus Keyman’s left his holding cell to search for Kato, realizing what Touko put the man up to in the last episode. Yamamoto finally reaches Klaus’ cell, but obviously he’s nowhere to be seen so she checks adjacent cells. At this point, Yuki’s in Touko’s cell, urging her to get up and evacuate. “It’s hopeless. No matter what you do,” Touko says, but Yuki’s not having it. Akira enters the room and tells Yuki to hurry, but she needs help getting Katsuragi out. Akira’s at a loss for what to do, but before she can decide the ceiling comes crashing down. Yuki pushes her out of the way, shielding both Akira and Katsuragi from the falling debris. It crushes her to the floor.

[AMB]: It’s kind of funny to me that there’s this odd chain of people caring for one another (Kato < Klaus < Akira), unable to find each other since they’re all either searching for someone else or the one they’re searching for – like Kato – has already been taken care of. Love sure can be blind. Also, Katsuragi’s words have a deeper meaning. “It’s hopeless, no matter what you do” isn’t actually said in reference to the ship sinking, but the act of loving and concerning oneself with others.

The Sabera clones have experienced the painful cycle of love and misery for so long at this point that seeing someone make the same mistake is just too much to bear. Yuki can temporarily help her survive, but the actions others take for the sake of selfish love will inevitably cause more suffering for others like herself. That’s why it’s so hopeless. No matter what you do. That said, how did Klaus leave his cell? We previously heard that Klaus detained himself to make amends for his betrayal, meaning that the cell might not have been locked. Even if it was, it probably unlocked in accordance with emergency evacuation procedures.

[KC]: They just can’t stop putting this poor woman in peril.

[AMB]: Yuki? To be fair, she put herself in peril this time, and it will come with a cosmic reward. Wanting to be useful to those aboard the ship and Kodai, she decides to help. Even at the cost of her own well-being. 

[KC]: It’s not really about fairness; it’s a trope and Yuki finds herself on this side of it with an above average frequency.

[AMB]: Trope or not, I’m convinced it’s an important part of Yuki’s character to self-sacrifice for those she loves, be they enemy or friend. It’s part of why she’s such a beloved character in the larger fandom.

On the bridge, only Hijikata and Analyzer remain. The Captain’s intently staring at the evacuation progress report, which says:

“Crew Evacuation Status”

“Engine Stabilization Troubles > Being Handled; Engineering Section…”

Internally monologuing to himself, he urges the rest of the crew to hurry off the ship, which is fast becoming an improbability as Analyzer announces the ship’s auxiliary power dropping below 10%. He accounts for this by saving energy through decreasing the onboard gravity, an all-too-sudden development which results in Sanada slamming against one of the evacuation crafts. Analyzer delivers a final verdict: “Limit for withdrawal is imminent. Navigation with the thrust of a shipborne plane will be impossible.” The last few stragglers capable of departing do so, leaving Yamato to its fate.

[AMB]: This is a really rough start, especially on a first watch! It’s easy to forget our own hindsight, but on a fresh viewing this turn of events meant (at the very least) that we might have lost Hijikata, Tokugawa and Analyzer. And some were left with wounds both physical and mental, those being Kato, Yuki and Sanada. And of course, the loss of our hero ship in the swirling mist. This part of the evacuation is presented to us completely without music as well, providing an ominous feeling.

Hijikata sends a low-frequency transmission to Antares, still staring at his screen. “Antares. This is Yamato. We are cutting off the evacuation of crew now. The Antares is to turn around and withdraw at once.” And with that, any excess energy aboard Yamato is depleted. “I entrust them to you,” he tells himself, entrusting the fate of his crew to the Antares.

Screen text:

“Crew Evacuation Status”
“Transmitting”
“Lower Power Transmission Mode”
“Gravitational limit for taking off… Danger…”

[AMB]: The phrase 頼む (tanomu) used by Ryu Hijikata here is inelegantly simple, yet carries weight. It’s a traditionally masculine way to informally plead for someone to do you a favor. Very fitting for a fictional hard boiled man like Ryu, a name that means dragon.

[KC]: Without getting into Japan’s sociopolitical climate, I am vaguely curious how one asks for assistance in such a way, unless there is a distinction between appealing to logic versus emotion.

[AMB]: When you’re at the top of the social hierarchy and mean to entrust a task to someone in a less authoritative sounding way, or when you plead with close friends. It’s a word that seldom sees use in real life nowadays, more often applied to fictional characters that can indulge in rules of cool and varied power dynamics.

[KC]: Thanks for the clarification! Might it be fair to interpret as; “asking with humility?”

[AMB]: I’d personally say so, yes!

Antares proceeds to withdraw from the area. All shipborne planes from Yamato accounted for. Overseeing the evacuation effort is Yamanami and his torn-up Andromeda, bearing witness to Yamato disappearing into the white fog as communications from the ship are cut. “Yamato… I swear…” he utters regretfully. But the danger isn’t over yet. Three high-energy readings are detected from within the white comet’s fog. They’re missiles, headed straight for Andromeda! At once, Yamanami orders a 180-degree withdrawal, but the missiles quickly close the distance!

[AMB]: Yamanami just can’t catch a break. Having failed an idol and teacher of his (Hijikata), he not only has to see Yamato crash into the white comet after trying to clean up after his mistake, but he also has to deal with straggler Gatlantis forces bearing down on him in this sector. At this moment he also swears to do anything to bring Yamato back, an impactful promise we’ll come back to.

However, these incoming missiles prematurely explode after coming into contact with a blue force field. There is a surge of orchestral grandeur as we see the aft engines of the Antares carrying off Yamato’s crew, complete with its launching pad and bay. Watching from an evacuation shuttle, the injured Sanada recognizes this phenomenon as a massive Wave-Motion Shield.

“It can’t be,” Sanada gasps, but as we pan up the front of a new ship we see a name emblazoned inside a Wave-Motion muzzle: Ginga.

[AMB]: For you mechaphiles out there, objects of both intense hatred and sublime appreciation get a spotlight. The struggling Antares getting carried by two Dreadnoughts in what some fans refer to as “Kobayashi kitbashing,” along with a Yamato Resurrection (Director’s Cut) relic; the Yamato-class Ginga! Or Galaxy in English. 

Taking them one at a time, the three-ship configuration was probably invented by Assistant Director Makoto Kobayashi since he came up with an abbreviation for it: TAG, which stands for Tug Around Galaxy. Ginga is based on a ship he designed for the 2012 Resurrection Director’s Cut, the experimental “Wave-Motion test ship Musashi.” It appeared in exactly one scene and was never heard from again. By some means that hasn’t been explained yet, it now gets a star turn in 2202. Click here to read the full background of its original incarnation. 

Worth noting is that while Ginga’s Musashi incarnation doesn’t physically appear in 2202 (to avoid historical connotations), it’s part of the show’s lore. Depicted in official art drawn by Makoto Kobayashi for the Japanese blu-ray releases, the BBY-01 Yamato-class was originally succeeded by BBY-02 Musashi and then – for unknown reasons – it was succeeded by the BBY-03 Ginga. Perhaps the Musashi was primarily a warship like Yamato, something Sanada was probably against, leading to his creation of the exploration ship Ginga. 

On Ginga’s bridge, Captain Todo rises from her seat in defiance and voices her refusal to let Gatlantis pass.

“I won’t let you get through… Gatlantis!”

[AMB]: Despite appearing briefly before, this is the moment where everyone I’ve watched the show with really latches on to Saki. It’s a strong act of defiance, her features bearing the grim seriousness of sci-fi captains of decades past. We even get some hints and confirmations here, namely Yamanami’s knowledge of the Ginga (as alluded to in Episode 17) and Sanada’s knowledge of it, which runs deeper than we know at this point. The blue force field was emitted from the Ginga, one of many defensive measures provided by the CRS. It even has its own new and original theme composed by Akira Miyagawa, with a melody borrowed from Ambition from the 2199 score. 

From his own throne, Zordar rises and appears to leave his chamber as Goenitz addresses the rulers of Earth in his Emperor’s name. As he speaks with grim gusto, a new battle has begun. This time a new player has entered the field; Garmillas now stands with Earth against Gatlantis. More Zoellegut-class battleships than we’ve ever seen in one place have arranged their massive shield walls into a blockade. Goenitz begins his message:

“On behalf of the mighty Emperor Zordar, I deliver this message to the leader of Earth. I confirm receipt of Earth’s response. I admire your determination to fight until the end. I will put up a worthy fight, but before that…”

[AMB]: The details of this scuffle will be dealt with shortly, so for now let me just say it’s plenty exciting to see Garmillas doing their part to protect Earth and its territories! That aside, the Emperor’s message is menacingly delivered by Goenitz, since Zordar probably feels shaken up about by Kato making the same choice as the original Zordar over 1000 years ago. It also gives Goenitz the opportunity to show the audience why he’s Zordar’s right hand man. It’s the voice. It has power and authority and it’s a shame we don’t hear it more often.

Goenitz in 2202 is voiced by Hideyuki Umezu, a voice actor most known for his many background roles, and like many other newcomers to 2202 he’s also worked on Gundam Unicorn. In some rare instances, he provided narration for TV anime, most recently for the 2020 anime adaptation of Interspecies Reviewers. It’s a comedic fantasy show about three men rating monster girl brothels. It’s as absurd as it sounds and Hideyuki makes sure to really ham it up! It’s a treat to listen to his narration, but I’m afraid to think it might have affected my perception of his stellar performance as Goenitz in this episode.

[KC]: We know that I am always thrilled when I see Earth and Garmillas forces together. As for Hideyuki Umezu and his many roles, that sounds like a hilarious crossover fanfic in the making.

[AMB]: There’s probably some obscure comedic illustration of this very thing somewhere in the Japanese doujin scene.

Zordar is offering the Earthlings a gift. Goenitz goes on to explain that Zordar knows about Planet Bomb sickness as a result of the war with Garmillas and “humbly presents” the data necessary for a treatment, thus saving many lives.

“I present it to you as a reward for a certain Earthling soldier’s love.” He finishes his speech as we’re shown scenes of the Kato family; Makoto and Tsubasa at the medical facility on the moon.

[AMB]: Now, whatever does Goenitz mean by, “we confirm receipt of Earth’s response”? Of course, he refers to Earth’s response to their invasion, which Zordar admires since they didn’t just capitulate at the sight of Gatlantis. But he’s also confirming receipt of Kato’s response to the trial he was given. Writers Fukui and Oka’s wordplay mixed with Director Habara’s stylistic presentation works wonders to properly convey small moments like these.

[KC]: The writers and Zordar know their audience.

[AMB]: Zordar knows the audience better than he knows himself.

On board Ginga, Kato wakes up and overhears the Cosmo Marines discussing how Saito, Nagakura, Kodai, Yuki and “the Gami” (referring to Klaus) never managed to evacuate. When the horror of his actions dawns on Kato, his face twists into an anguished cry as he reaches for his sidearm in an attempt to take his own life, but he is stopped by Masaru Kurata of the Space Cavalry. “What the hell are you doing?!” he yells at him. Kato then begs over and over to be allowed to die, but to no avail.

[AMB]: After having disabled Yamato’s engines with the Anti-Wave-Motion lattice, Kato collapsed. The Cosmo Marines managed to successfully evacuate his unconscious body, only for him to wake up and hear that some of the people he cared most about went down with the ship. For all he knows, they’re dead and gone. Understanding the anguish of having been in his position, of having pulled the trigger, and of wanting to die rather than live with the consequences of his actions… you can’t help but empathize with Kato. Sympathize, even. Imagine how original Zordar felt when he chose to give up his entire race in exchange for original Sabera and Miru’s lives, only to be betrayed and lose everything instead. Even those two. He’s lived with that pain for over 1000 years at this point, learning to be content with tutoring the current Zordar.

Within Ginga’s large dome, Sanada reports the current situation to Serizawa. He says Kato’s willing to accept any punishment for his actions and begs Serizawa to consider his plea. But Serizawa, furious, isn’t having any of it. The public isn’t allowed to find out that “a warrior of Yamato” betrayed his own ship, “even if it was out of love for his family.”

“Keep tight-lipped about this. If he wants to atone for his sins, he can fight and die.”

Kato is locked up in Ginga’s brig, his face downcast.

[AMB]: “To fight and die,” huh? Mirroring Goenitz from the last episode, the right hand man of our own military declares this. But unlike the Gatlanteans’ code, this has nothing to do with pride or honor. I’d wager it has more to do with upholding the public image of Yamato’s crew as invincible uncompromised warriors capable of overturning any situation. If the most beloved icon of the Earth navy is reported to have “traitors” willing to selfishly sacrifice one of Earth’s greatest hopes… it would lower morale like nothing else, severely damaging the public trust in not only Yamato, but the military as well.

[KC]: Serizawa is no doubt 100% concerned with the optics of this politically, and while this show is all about personal sacrifice, it’s not a great look for him either. This concept of glory in battle is also something the Garmillas value. The lure of every warring race.

[AMB]: Based on upcoming thematic developments, I’d have to disagree that the show’s about personal sacrifice. Whether it’s Yamanami and Kato being told to live on in spite of their shameful mistakes (instead of indulging in ‘glorious suicide’) or Sanada’s plea in the finale, this show is very much against the idea that personal sacrifices should be necessary.

[KC]: I mean yes, the show is also anti-war in a military setting. And I believe no less than three relatively main characters will make the choice of putting everyone else over themselves before we’re through.

Ginga and its accompanying fleet of Garmillas ships has successfully fended off the recent wave of Gatlantean ships, their blockade unmoved. Then, still dressed in their dirty outfits from the tumultuous evacuation, Sanada, Shima, Ota, Aihara and Nanbu enter Ginga’s bridge. There, they meet the five of their comrades that had no other choice but to stay behind on Earth for the duration of Yamato’s latest odyssey: Shou Yamazaki (assistant engineer), Kaoru Niimi (science and technology officer), Toru Hoshina (member of their security division), Yuria Hoshina (Radio Yamato host) and Mikage Kiryu (assistant technology officer under Niimi). They’re all dressed in black versions of the Yamato uniform.

[AMB]: And what a (not so) joyful reunion it is! There’s no fanfare, no reunion music, not even that much extra focus put on these beloved characters. But it’s all purposefully done. This isn’t the happy reunion they were all waiting for. In fact, it’s kind of off-putting to see these characters working aboard a different ship. We’re also hit with an ominous feeling that this dark and uninviting bridge might just become the new home of Yamato’s bridge crew. The white light of their tattered uniforms really contrasts this darkness, hinting at how much they’ll help steer Ginga’s crew away from the dark abyss lying in wait.

A concerned Niimi immediately asks Sanada if he’s all right. “I am. But Yamato….” Gazes of both pity and sadness at the thought of having lost Yamato are given to the entering crew by those they previously left behind. Niimi lets out a sorrowful moan. The returnees look around and note this bridge’s similarities to their own, Ginga being a Yamato-class ship. Suddenly, a voice uncannily similar to Analyzer’s booms from an identically designed black robot:

“Route to the mission area determined.”

[KC]: For those who like a little romance with their angst, a reminder that love once blossomed in Niimi for Sanada behind the scenes, so this concern goes beyond that of a fellow crewmate.

[AMB]: Hearing how powerless Sanada is as he’s having trouble confirming Yamato’s fate has some extra weight to it, considering he’s the man tasked with making the impossible possible. On another note, Black Analyzer is voiced by Cho, just like our red Analyzer. But Black Analyzer’s performance is completely different, serious and calculating. This Analyzer really doesn’t match the adventurous feeling of the Ginga, and is like Google’s Youtube algorithm compared to Microsoft’s “Clippy.”

The command A.I. – Black Analyzer – assesses the situation. Misaki proceeds to confirm the data and pass it on to first officer Megumi Kanzaki for approval and dissemination. Niimi goes on to explain that Ginga is the first prototype among a new class of ships designed to be autonomously run by AI. She’s ahead of her time.

“The future is extreme, nothing but efficiency,” says Yamazaki, shaking his head. This prompts Nanbu to state the obvious: the only thing humans aboard Ginga need to do is approve the commands of the A.I.

[AMB]: And the rest is little more than set dressing. One wonders then, what point is there in staying aboard a ship just to approve orders to a command A.I.? Why not do so a safe distance away from the battlefield? Of course, some tactical assessments are incredibly difficult to make if you’re not there in person, but is the potential loss of life worth the risk? The answers to these questions have to do with Ginga’s main purpose: to enact the G-plan. Details forthcoming.

“It’s an inevitability.”

A familiar girl interrupts to introduce herself as Captain Saki Todo and welcome the Yamato evacuees aboard the “Federation Space Cruiser Ginga.” With immediacy, she invites them to come with her to the central operations room, where the brightly lit U.N.C.F. logo is dimmed for the viewing of holographic projections. Once everyone is there, the strategy is explained.

[AMB]: The usage of the U.N.C.F. emblem here is quite eye-catching! I’d never paid much attention to it before, so let’s get into it. It shows off Earth’s continents, the Moon in orbit, and the rotation is turned on its side to focus on the straight line down Earth’s equator. It shows how mankind’s Earthly focus has shifted from countries to the planet itself. Then there’s the way the logo is depicted in this scene, its bright light being swallowed by the shadows of mankind’s plan for survival.

Saki explains that Garmillas shield walls prevent Gatlantis ships from utilising their dimensional warping technology. This means Ginga will be tasked with defending these walls, but there is a concern regarding the second wave of Gatlantis vessels getting through, as Ginga’s Tactical Chief Urara Kusakabe puts it. In short, the enemy vessels – numbering in the dozens – carry an impressive amount of antimatter missiles, as depicted in the holographic display. The first wave of ships is given the designations of CNSER SOLV 002171A “Dread” (Kalaklum-class) and the second wave is given CNSER SOLV 002171B “Raven” (Gostok-class).

[AMB]: “Dread” suggests “Dreadnought,” and seeing as the Kalaklums are the Gatlantis navy’s equivalent to the U.N.C.F. Dreadnought-class it makes sense. Raven, however, could be referring to three different things. There’s the WW-II era Raven-class US minesweeper vessels, the Federation exploration vessels from Star Trek, and the reference to a bird commonly associated with death. I’d also like to note that Urara – the young Technical Chief – isn’t actually referred to as such yet and I’m using information from the 2202 character guides. But she presents a large portion of the tactical assessment in this scene and was seen going over Black Analyzer’s data, so it can definitely be inferred. This leads me to believe she wrote up the specifics of the plan that’s about to be unveiled.

“If the shields are breached,” Captain Todo continues, “it would pose a terrible threat to Earth.” It is for this reason that she has proposed an elite squad ambush the incoming fleet, mitigating the risk of danger to the anti-warp shields. Urara explains the specifics; using Ginga’s expanding Wave-Motion Shield, they’ll push forward and strike the enemy vanguard before it can combine with Gatlantis’ main force. With a heavy voice, Saki explains that in the Time Fault the next generation of A.I. is experiencing a continuous self-growth simulation, simultaneously updating the Ginga A.I. (Black Analyzer) with the latest data.

[AMB]: The reliance on A.I. in the modern world is a heavily debated topic, with advancements being made daily. As of yet, we don’t really have proper procedures to deal with artificial intelligence that advances past the point where we might consider it human. Having an artificial self-growth simulation inside the Time Fault is dangerously desperate, but ultimately understandable in the face of something like Gatlantis. As long as mankind survives, right? In a setting where Gatlanteans are treated like mindless automatons – in spite of clear proof of the opposite as Ichinose pointed out last episode – is mankind moving toward repeating whatever course of history the ancient Zemulians did? The rapid development of an artificially created slave race that ultimately betrayed its masters to survive?

“Even so, it will take time to surpass human experience,” says Saki. And it is for that reason she implores Yamato’s crew to man the first and second bridges. Ginga’s AI will summarily record, trace and incorporate their skills and knowledge, a thought that disturbs both Aihara and Nanbu. Turning to Sanada, Saki declares that she has already received clearance from HQ to enact this plan. It is paramount to the success of their “G Plan,” she says. Sanada furrows his brow at the term, repeating it to himself in discontent.

“The Yamato has sunk,” Todo continues. “For humans on Earth to survive, we must transfer the DNA of Yamato to this ship.” On the Garmillas side the fleet consists mostly of Zoellegut ships, Garmillan anti-warp shields and Kelkapia-class Battle Cruisers. On the Earth side, only the Ginga and a few dozen Dreadnaughts are present.

[AMB]: Soon enough, Yamato’s crew will be artificially replaced, their mother ship gone and their value diminished to nothing more than guinea pigs. They had one last chance to stop Gatlantis with human will and love – as Saki probably sees it – only to fail. And this is where Ginga and the G Plan come in. The G-Plan is a successor to the Izumo Plan from 2199, the plan to leave Earth in search of a new home for humanity.

Except this time, there’ll be no relocation. Once the combined forces of Earth and Garmillas reach casualty rates above 50%, Ginga’s A.I. will immediately seize control of the ship to search for a new planet where its crew can repopulate, leaving the rest of humanity to its fate. The crew is mostly female for the purpose of more effectively repopulating humanity. If you ever wondered why Saki is such a hardass at this point of the show, this is why. She, along with her comrades, have already volunteered themselves as potential breeders for the sake of mankind’s survival. “Strong women” doesn’t even begin to describe them.

[KC]: It makes one wonder what the original Dessler had in mind, wandering the galaxy looking for a home with a fleet full of dudes.

[AMB]: If Alexander the Great could do it on a planetary scale, then so can he!

On Ginga’s bridge, Black analyzer proposes the activation of the CRS-system, which is approved as the new musical motif for Ginga is heard in full force. Saki barks out orders for Ginga and the surrounding U.N.C.F. dreadnaughts to depart to the frontline. “Ginga, maximum combat speed!” As they move out, Urara announces the enemy fleet having done the same as the CRS system reaches 80% efficiency.

“Wave-Motion energy injected, initiating boost,” Black Analyzer confirms, proceeding to connect to the individual Wave-Motion Engines of the surrounding Earth ships with an energy pulse that shields the whole fleet. It also creates smaller blue shields for each ship. “All ships, Wave-Motion resonance confirmed,” Urara announces. “Wave-Motion shield output has exceeded 750.000 TPa and rising!” Shima comments that no one knew the Cosmo Reverse System had this kind of power.

[KC]: Starsha probably did, but she doesn’t ever tell anybody anything.

[AMB]: The inheritors of Wave-Motion technology keep screwing up by abusing Starsha’s gifts and knowledge, so it’s no wonder why. Also, it would have been nice if this WMS (Wave-Motion Shield) ability could be shared with Garmillan ships, but seeing as their engines still aren’t based on WME (Wave-Motion Energy) it’s an unfortunate reality. The “boost” referred to by Black Analyzer is actually just that, a WME boost. We last saw it at the start of the episode, shielding Andromeda from anti-matter missile attacks.

Saki responds to Shima with an excited proclamation: “This ship’s heart was inherited from Yamato. Even without the ability to resuscitate a planet, there is no better Wave-Motion Energy control device.”

[AMB]: Inherited from Yamato… it’s a rare joy in 2202 to have Saki in good spirits. She definitely holds immense respect for Yamato, perhaps even idolizing the ship and its crew for managing to save Earth in the last war against all odds – despite the efforts of the military to pursue the Izumo Plan. It’s also the ship her father helped support, going on nothing but faith in Okita and his successors.

This immediately gives Nanbu a worrisome thought: “A Wave-Motion Gun isn’t equipped, is it?” But First Mate Megumi Kanzaki disappointedly informs him that the Cosmo Reverse onboard Ginga rejects it. Even regular armaments on the Ginga fall prey to system malfunctions. They aren’t sure of the cause, so the escort fleet is there to do the fighting, including self-defense.

[AMB]: Worried about the connotations of a ship with both the CRS and a WMG, Nanbu wishes to confirm if even the Ginga has been tempted by what Captain Okita once referred to as the “forbidden fire of Megiddo” (Armageddon) just like Nanbu once was. Megumi, who we’ll later see is utilitarian in nature, is admittedly disappointed by the fact that the CRS system rejects the WMG, since it’s a powerful weapon capable of being used for a greater good. Why does the CRS reject the gun? Simple. The CRS can only return what was once lost. It recreates what no longer is by the process of reversing time itself in a given space by converting already existing WME. The WMG takes away the life force of the universe by burning away WME as fuel, rendering these tools as total opposites.

“That’s how it should be,” Sanada responds, much to Megumi’s dismay. He tells them all that it was his idea; he designed the Ginga to be an exploration ship. “Even so, we have to use it this way…” This fact obviously pains him, and Niimi looks on with concern. The air grows still on the bridge as no one dares say anything, not even Saki.

[AMB]: An exploration ship created by Sanada. This idea has roots in the backstory portions of 2199, Episode 17 in particular. To quote Mamoru Kodai, “A poem and an equation. Those are what we are. We both wish to protect this world in different ways. In that respect, we are the same.” The only reason Sanada ever joined the military, which he was very reluctant to do, was to help mankind survive. Not to help it find ways to destroy itself. The WMG helped save Yamato, Earth and Garmillas, but it’s a weapon that literally destroys the life force of the universe and invites self-destructive technological developments. To repent and fix his mistakes, he designed Ginga to act as an exclusively defensive exploration ship utilising the rejuvenative capabilities of the CRS. 

[KC]: A bit heavy-handed, perhaps, but that’s how it can be with space opera. These are good lessons to learn and I’m here for it.

[AMB]: Also, the Ginga theme is a welcome addition to the already incredibly diverse roster of music for the Yamato series, and is s highlight of 2202’s score. So adventurous, giving off major Star Trek vibes! This shouldn’t be a surprise, seeing how Ginga means Galaxy and Galaxy-class is one of the most popular ships in the Star Trek franchise. Fans have speculated that this is referenced in Ginga’s name.

[KC]: Not everyone is a fan of the design choices, but I am and I would love a spinoff exploration series!

[AMB]: I almost forgot to comment on it. Ginga, with its exotic domed observatory and its inviting aura, reminds me of peacetime and that’s the ultimate goal of these shows; peacetime. Seeing the Japanese Kanji for Galaxy in the barrel of the WMG, the sleek bridge and suits, it’s an instant favorite ship design for me.

As predicted, the Gatlantis missiles from the enemy’s second wave do not make it past the shield Ginga is generating, which resonates throughout the fleet. “Wave-Motion Shield is weakening at a rate of 8.000 (TPa),” states Urara. Nanbu suggests that they move up so that the escort fleet is in firing range, but Ginga’s AI has determined that effective bombardment is impossible at their current strength. Instead, it proposes “Operation Black Bird.” After a moment of reflection, Captain Todo accepts. Black Bird is another term Sanada seems familiar with. “Unmanned craft… are already…”

[AMB]: If the Wave-Motion Shield output was at 750.000 ish, then a weakening of 8.000 TPa (per second?) is quite substantial. Per minute, that would amount to 480.000 TPa, meaning they can last for about two minutes maximum. Unless it’s 8.000 TPa per minute, giving them around 20 min. As is to be expected, I have to agree with Black Analyzer’s assessment. A few dozen Earth dreadnaughts and a ship incapable of going on the offensive (Ginga) are not worth putting in harm’s way when smaller numbers can be sacrificed. Enter Operation Black Bird.

First Officer Megumi explains that unmanned fighters will be launched, each one carrying a large amount of mass-produced miniaturized Wave-Motion Core bombs. They will be scattered throughout the enemy fleet, and Ginga’s Cosmo Reverse will amplify their resonance to cause a meltdown. Sanada realises what this means; “The interference waves will render the Gatlantis fleet inoperable…” and Nanbu makes an astute observation; “Yamato used the same strategy at the 11th planet.”

[AMB]: Indeed, before even consenting to being guinea pigs for the Ginga A.I., Yamato’s crew and their daring tactics have already been copied into the network. The idea of mass-producing Wave-Motion cores and converting them into bombs leaves a bad aftertaste, once again weaponizing gifts from the Princess of Iscandar. And unmanned fighters on this scale… the A.I. is a horrifyingly fast learner! 

As Sanada points out, however, even Ginga’s cutting edge AI cannot possibly get the Black Birds to breach the center of the Gatlantis fleet. They will have to be led by a highly capable human pilot. “Correct,” Megumi answers. “A skilled pilot volunteered to lead the way.”

“Don’t tell me, it’s Kato…?!” Shima says.

“It’s suicide,” Kiryu adds. “He’ll be attacked from all directions once he leaves the warp interference area!”

Which is why Kato has volunteered for this mission. 

[KC]: Of course he did.

[AMB]: An opportunity to finally fight and die. It’s like the universe itself set him up for betrayal and subsequent “honorable” death, with his skills artificially transferred into a computer program. But as we’ll soon see, he’s either too skilled to die or the current fate left for him does not allow him to do so. My bet’s on both.

Yamato’s crew is dismayed as Kato launches into a sea of enemy fire with the unmanned Cosmo Zeroes. Black Birds explode around him as they try mimicking his moves and we hear Captain Todo detailing the rest of the plan. Once the Gatlantis fleet is stranded, Earth will deploy existing resources sufficient to stall the enemy for ten days. In those ten days, the Time Fault will have had 100 days of production time. This is enough to churn out enough Wave-Motion ships to stall the enemy for another ten days. And so on. And so on. As she speaks, several Black Birds manage to successfully deliver hundreds of Wave-Motion Core bombs.

[AMB]: The massive size difference between the tiny Black Birds and the Kalaklums is a marvel to behold against the ominous backdrop of the White Comet’s fog. Camera work reaches new heights following the incredibly engaging fight inside Telezart’s corridor in Episode 13; perspectives range widely and we even get to witness the frantic action from inside the dinky fighters cockpits. To fans of 2199, this should immediately take you back to the end of Episode 19.

“If we repeat this, it won’t matter how strong the enemy is…” says Saki, moving Shima to aggressively cut her off. “What about the people?” he retorts, rising from his chair. “With so few people, they won’t be able to man the ships…” but Captain Todo reveals that the U.N.C.F. Navy is very close to achieving the technological marvel of complete automation of their military. Ginga and the Black Birds are proof. With the data collected from Gatlantean prisoners, production of artificial soldiers is also not far off. And to reach this? To achieve all of this? All they have to do hold out for 100 days. Sanada can’t bear to watch what’s unfolding.

[AMB]: So, not only is Earth moving toward effectively becoming the enemy they fight, it’s their only guaranteed hope for survival. They’ll stall ten days at a time with the vague hope that Ginga might not have to abandon Earth and have its crew become baby makers on some far off planet. Is it worth going so far just to survive? Can we even say we truly “live” at that point? That we’re truly human? These questions are not for me to answer, but you who are reading this at home. 

[KC]: Varel warned them about this when he was invited to Earth’s jingoistic fleet-reveal. It probably reminded him of the ones he used to see at home.

[AMB]: My mind instantly wanders to the terrific line: “As long as we have the Time Fault.”

The Black Birds being destroyed means little, but Yuria reports that the dispersed Wave-Motion core bombs are being eliminated too, a cause of concern for Ginga’s Wave-Motion resonance plan. The moment the Ginga A.I. hears this, Black Analyzer responds. “Emergency proposal: start the resonance immediately.” Seeing Captain Saki’s stone cold face, her eyes closed, Sanada is faced with yet another horrible realization. He bolts out of his chair and urges the crew to withdraw the Black Birds. Aihara and Kiryu scramble to make it happen.

[AMB]: The fact that Saki doesn’t immediately bite at the A.I.’s proposal must mean she’s at least curious about the former Yamato crew’s preferred course of action, but also apprehensive about throwing away a living human pilot’s life (Kato). This is her rite of passage, to abandon any semblance of human morality for the sake of the greater good. So ultimately, it doesn’t stop her from approving the A.I.’s proposal. It’s only one person’s life weighed against millions, after all. But I personally don’t think it should have to be that way.

Black Analyzer asks again: “Begin resonance?” Saki opens her eyes. “Approved.” The ship begins injecting Wave-Motion Energy into the CRS at her orders, the bow of the ship emitting an orange glow and a familiar sound. With that, a massive blast lances out over the Gatlantean ships and the remaining Black Birds, paralyzing them all. The Wave-Motion core bombs rapidly overheat as Kato’s Black Bird – experiencing a system error due to the resonance – begins drifting away against the orange backdrop. He wears a crazed and determined expression, which softens as he closes his eyes.

[AMB]: Cynically possessed by an intense desire to die, Kato closes his eyes and accepts the sweet embrace of death, timed to the heaviest strokes of the Yamato theme variation Okita and Kodai. It is heard only twice in 2202, here and when Shima tells Kodai to give it a rest and settle down on Earth with Yuki in Episode 2. It’s an underrated variation of the theme whose origin comes from the scene where Hijikata dies in Yamato 2.

Before the intense resonance can completely overheat the Wave-Motion core bombs, the energy radiated from this massive E.M.P. causes the disabled Gatlantean ships to collide into one another, setting off their anti-matter missiles. A flurry of explosions and colors combine to annihilate any trace of the enemy fleet.

[AMB]: Definitely one of the most visually impressive scenes of the entire series, appropriately paired with the previously-mentioned Okita and Kodai theme. It depicts how far humanity has chosen to bastardize something as magnificently graceful as the CRS or a peacetime exploration ship like Ginga into weapons of war. All for the sake of propagating a war effort that will inevitably lead to Earth’s portion of mankind losing what it means to be human in the first place. Day 1 of the 100 day Forever War is starting out promising.

“This is insanity,” Shima complains bitterly, as Nanbu forces himself to remain calm.

“Does sanity win wars?” asks First Officer Megumi in response.

“Eliminate that which is unneeded and use whatever is useful,” Captain Todo intones, closing her eyes to what’s in front of her. “To secure victory efficiently, and as swiftly as possible.”

“Is that the G Plan, then?” Sanada asks, but it is not.

[AMB]: Nanbu’s really intent at showing how much he’s evolved past his “kill’em all” mindset of 2199 and this increased focus to show it is much appreciated. And while the Ginga crew doesn’t get a lot of screen time in their first outing, the creators do a fine job fostering audience interest in them, case in point being Megumi. What led her to so staunchly support Saki? And what helped twist her mindset into letting go of sanity to win wars? She’s clearly a guiding voice and mentor for Saki, who recites wisdom she’s presumably gained from Megumi. 

My current theory on Megumi is that the insanity of the last war left her with a deep wound or trauma. Perhaps her family was part of the riots at the time, working with contraband to help poor people get food. As an officer of the law, maybe she had to deal with them to make sure the resources would be given to everyone. Destroying contraband to contribute to the whole of mankind, strangling her emotions.

Saki is about to explain what the G Plan is, only to be confronted by Niimi. “Are you all right with this, Captain Todo?” Lowering her head inquisitively, Saki decides to listen to what the lady has to say and Niimi appeals to Saki by invoking her mother. “Given your mother’s circumstances, I understand how you feel… but deep down, you…” As she says this, we’re shown Saki’s father, Commander-in-Chief Heikuro Todo, at his U.N.C.F HQ office. He’s looking at a framed photo of himself with his wife and Saki in earlier times.

[AMB]: Such a bittersweet moment, and a welcome development which helps to further humanize Heikuro Todo. The mother of the family, her story and fate are both fascinating topics to discuss, but best left for the next episode. Niimi’s comments, however, are paramount. She walks up to Saki with familiarity and confidence. She knows about her past and family, and she strains herself to call Saki… well, Saki. She calls her “Captain Todo” like the rest, because this Captain persona of hers is very different from the Saki who has a prior relation to Niimi. And speaking of different, the last time we saw a “Captain Todo” was in Final Yamato, where Heikuro himself donned a Captain’s hat.

Saki cuts Niimi off in the present. “Don’t! This has nothing to do with my father or mother. It’s none of your business…Kaoru.” Saki turns her stern gaze away from Niimi. “Those without power simply perish,” she says. “We carved that into our very bones in the war with Garmillas. No matter what I lose, I must …” She trails off, along with the BGM.

Alone in his cockpit, a distraught and sobbing Kato screams to someone in disbelief; his deity? Teresa? Zordar? “Why…? Why won’t you let me die?!”

[AMB]: “Those without power” is a 100% accurate – albeit very literal – translation, but you could translate it as “The powerless ones,” or “the weak,” ridding the line of its Dragonball kind of power level connotations. Because that’s ultimately what she means. “Those who are weak (not of their own volition) will perish.” Saki learned this the hard way during the war with Garmillas because she lost her mother, whose heart was too weak to bear the suffering of those nine years.

On the topic of Kaoru, Saki choosing to use her first name is the most solid (and incredibly Japanese) proof that these two are (or were) old friends. It seals the deal after the hints Niimi threw at us earlier in the conversation. When her friend rejects her, Niimi whimpers in response. It’s like seeing an old friend who used to be hopeful now embittered with nihilism. And what does Saki intend to keep doing, no matter what she has to lose? Survive. Not live, but survive, something her mother couldn’t bear. Nor can Kato, either! Perhaps that’s why she was reluctant to let him die out there? A big theme this chapter will be how there’s no responsibility in death, and that mankind should strive to live rather than merely survive. 

On the surface of a planet (one of those inside the Ark of Destruction’s cage) lies Yamato in a familiar state. Saito, Keyman, Analyzer and Nagakura depart from its hangar in a Ki-8 White Stork exploration vehicle to figure out where they’ve ended up, passing by black Akerian spikes like those from Stravase and Ark of the Stars. Nagakura notices that something’s bothering Saito, and she asks him what’s wrong. He’s suddenly gotten a feeling, “like someone was crying.” Nagakura dismisses it as the wind and Keyman radios to Akira Yamamoto. She’s circling above in the Cosmo Tiger 1, and he hopes that she can see more than they can through the increasingly thickening fog, but she cannot.

[AMB]: One could say it feels like a transition scene’s missing, but this hard cut to Yamato lying in the orange-hued rockbed – and an exploration mission already underway – does wonders to build mystery and excitement for this portion of the developing story. They’ll be stuck here for the next two episodes, so better hook us as fast as possible. Also, Saito heard someone crying? Any idea what that might be about Kathy? 

[KC]: This takes place right after we see Kato in the cockpit and my theory is that Saito heard him. Not directly, I don’t think, but through his connection to Zordar, who is also monitoring Kato through Katsuragi.

[AMB]: I never even considered that. That tops my guesses: Touko, the original Sabera, the Zemulian storytellers (from next episode) and maybe even Zordar. Kato is the best candidate in my eyes, especially considering we last saw Zordar leaving his throne to – as we’ll see in a bit – head down to his telepathy chamber.

Keyman informs Akira that his group will circle around the area for a bit longer and that he recommends her to cease flying in this fog, deeming it too dangerous. Hearing this, she starts heading back to Yamato. On the way she gets a good look at the sky. It’s riddled with fleets of warships in the far distance. The artificial light from the Ark of Destruction’s gravity well illuminates the surrounding space and a rainbow can be seen hidden in the misty clouds. It’s no wonder she can’t grasp where they could possibly be. Questioning if they’re even inside the white comet anymore, she wonders why Gatlantis would have need for an empty planet like this.

[AMB]: It’s a confusing mess for Yamato’s crew, but at least Akira gets to see one hell of a pretty sky. Some of you may ask, “Why is she so surprised at there being an empty planet inside the white comet? U.N.C.F. HQ saw the Ark’s reveal firsthand!” We covered it last episode, but here goes…

Yamato was not in any position to receive status updates while warping to Saturn during the large WMG-fleet battle, so its crew never had a chance to see the Ark’s reveal. For all they know, based on their previous data from Episode 12, the White Comet is estimated to be the size of Mars and that’s it. An uninhabited planet with no Gatlantean in sight? It just doesn’t add up. And while the rainbow may seem superfluous, it actually tells us that this planet has water and sunlight, the two prerequisites for a rainbow effect to occur.

Akira mumbles to herself in disbelief, still transmitting to Klaus. “Could it be that we were sent to a planet tens of light years away?”

We go to the darkened bridge of Yamato with Miki Saijo staring at a blank radar screen, wearing a pilot’s jacket to keep warm.

Tokugawa presents Hijikata with the Anti-Wave-Motion lattice device Kato used to shut down the engine. Hijikata lowers his head sadly.

“If we speculate too much without information, it will warp the way we look at things,” Keyman states while a weary Kodai sits at Yuki’s side next to her hospital bed. Her head is bandaged and she’s unconscious.

[AMB]: Keyman raises a magnificent point. The less you actually know, the more liable you are to try and fit partial reality with your own unsubstantiated theories, no matter how far-fetched. Similar to how man presumably came up with the idea of God to ward off dark thoughts of life after death, we as a species are in constant search for answers.

There’s also some visual storytelling going on here, so let’s break it down. First, Miki’s jacket. Who gave it to her? I implore any and all shippers to come to the rescue, because I’m drawing blanks with my limited information. Shinohara’s been searching for a partner for years, so I guess I’ll cheer him on.

Next, we have Hijikata’s reaction to the Anti-Wave-Motion lattice. His sadness? Probably not directed at who activated it or why, but rather at the fact that their gamble to use this dangerous power ended up biting them in the ass. That, and the fact that he’ll have to decide on whether or not to tell everyone on board that the engine’s power failure was the result of treason. This is a necessity if he wants people to trust in Tokugawa’s impeccable skills again.

And Yuki? She was hit pretty hard, she’s definitely been hospitalized.

[KC]: AGAIN with this one and the lack of consciousness.

[AMB]: I’m gonna make the conscious decision to laugh and move on.

Back on the surface, Analyzer slams on the breaks as they come upon a couple strange, large structures. Klaus stares in awe as we zoom in on Saito’s eyes carefully studying them. Through his eyes, we are transported to Zordar’s chamber where he stands pensively with Gairen, eyes closed.

“There, of all places,” Gairen says from behind Zordar. 

“Is this the guidance of Teresa, too?” Zordar asks no one in particular, his eyes opening.

[AMB]: Those hair-massager structures turn out to be old Zemulian houses, I believe. Inside one of these – presumably this one in particular – the original Sabera was killed after being held hostage by the Zemulians. Hence the comment “There, of all places,” from Gairen; who was the original Zordar. We’re probably meant to believe he’s referring to “Zemulia, of all places,” but this spot is particularly sacred. Investigating it, our crew will soon find the hidden historical records of Zemulian civilization. But to answer Zordar, I don’t think Teresa made this happen, but her guidance did lead the crew to make decisions which put them here. So he’s correct.

[KC]: Hah! You know, I had considered describing those structures and decided against it when the words weren’t coming to me, but damned if they don’t look like hair massagers.

[AMB]: Beat you to the punch! Also, they’re getting very blatant with the Saito foreshadowing, so much so that they feel the need to throw a sneaky red herring at us in a second. Once again, Zordar’s eyes are closed in the vicinity of Gairen and his visor when seeing through Saito’s eyes, so to me it looks like he observes and controls his living dead puppets through that visor. Now, why not wear the visor himself? For aesthetic reasons it would devalue Gairen’s mysterious aura and purpose as Zordar’s watchful eye. And for plot reasons, having someone you trust down in the telepathy chamber at most times is preferable.

We cut back to Yamato as the pair continues speaking. More time has passed than we are made to realize. “That planet is still alive,” Gairen points out, and we see he is indeed referring to the planet that Yamato is stranded on. We see Yamato resting under an artificial sun. “If it reacts to the blood of a Zemurian…”

[AMB]: Yamato resting under the setting sun is one of the most iconic moments in anime history, recreated here for the second time in the reboot saga. Not for style points, but to hammer home the theme of this chapter: “Regeneration.” There’s no booming Yamato Under the Setting Sun BGM, just ominous solitude and quiet. But it’s the perfect bedrock for Yamato to reinvent itself, a process that begins now.

Separate from that, I do wonder why Zordar kept Zemulia alive all this time. Did it just refuse to die? Or does he hope to reinvigorate it with his new perfect life form once the time is right? In any case, sentimentality has stabbed him, Gairen or both of them in the back. And what’s Gairen referring to? The fact that someone with Zemulian blood running through their veins can force the storyteller A.I.s of Zemulia to reveal the Gatlanteans’ greatest weakness. More next episode.

Dr. Sado’s fallen asleep in front of the computer in his office with an image of Mount Fuji on the screen. In one of the hospital beds lies Katsuragi, unconscious and hooked up to an IV.

“I’m well aware,” Zordar responds to Gairen’s concern, cutting him off. ”She has already met her fate.”

Behind the curtain to Katsuragi’s room is the shadow of someone with something in their hand. A knife!

[AMB]: Katsuragi, rather than getting out of the evacuation unscathed, has collapsed. Maybe the weight of what she put Kato up to and the intense emotions of the ordeal broke her. Or something else happened during the evacuation. And I have to correct Zordar; while all Sabera clones seem inevitably doomed to follow the cycle of their original, Katsuragi’s fate isn’t to die on Zemulia. I’d also like to note that Zordar refers to Katsuragi not as a she or a person here, but as just another speck of life. Almost as if he’s trying to convince himself she’s insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

“Who?” Yuki calls out. “Who are you?”

The person with the knife turns to confront Yuki in the hallway. Zordar sees her through their eyes, catching something that makes his voice tremble. Through his telepathy, Zordar x-ray scans her head to see Yuki’s brain and spinal column. There’s something there that we can’t see, but he can.

“My word.” Zordar comments. “How ironic.”

At the sound of Saito running away down the hallway behind him, Kodai wakes up at Yuki’s bedside only to find her gone. He runs out to find her right there outside of her room. Happy to see her up and about, he pats her shoulder warmly and offers to contact Dr. Sado, but Yuki is too caught up with something else.

“Who…” she asks, staring intently at Kodai. He recoils. “Who… are you?”

As he stands there in shock, we pan away from the hospital, and then to Yamato, slowly fading away along with the music.

[AMB]: All right, two things we need to cover…

1: The assailant, who are they?

It’s… actually Saito, as confirmed in an interview Tim Eldred held with Director Habara. You see, we’re given a very obvious hint by Keyman earlier of how limited information can mess with our own perception. This is it. We, as an audience, especially those who’ve realized Saito is the puppet already, trust that the transition from Saito’s eye to Zordar confirms that the two scenes happen simultaneously. But they don’t. It’s still true that Zordar is looking through Saito’s eyes in his scene, but his probing this time actually doesn’t happen until Saito and company have returned to Yamato. So when we see that the person with the knife wears the Cosmo Marine outfit and Saito is supposedly still out on a mission, that’s an assumption we make based on limited information. There’s even a little indicator on Sado’s television as to what time it is: Midnight. Whether that affects Zemulia’s sun or not doesn’t matter. What matters is that the Director is trying to remind us to think about time and how it flows here. We also know that Yuki knows Saito, so it has to be someone else at the moment of her question! But then we get to Yuki…

2: What’s so ironic about this situation?

Yuki saved Touko, who set Yamato on its crash course by forcing Kato’s hand, from being crushed by the falling roof of her prison cell. Yuki is rewarded for her act of selfless love; by taking the hit to her head for someone else, she’s rewarded with getting her memories back, as we’ll find out next episode. Sounds great, right? Wrong. This reward comes with an ironic cost. We will learn that she’s lost all her memories from 2199 onward. She has forgotten about Kodai, the person she loves so dearly. By doing something out of love, she lost sight of her love. And that’s what makes it ironic. Zordar’s assessment is actually incorrect, since things will end up better than they ever were for Yuki by the end of the show – all because she never loses sight of how she loves.

[KC]: Now we’re really putting the “opera” in space opera.

[AMB]: The fact that Sado fell asleep at least confirms to me that it’s midnight onboard. I doubt Hijikata would send anyone out in the dangerous fog and potential enemy territory in limited capacity. This is another little nugget of information to prove that more time has passed than we think. And while we all knew they’d put Yuki through some trauma a la Farewell to Yamato, I doubt any of us expected another amnesia arc. I was taken aback at first, but with the unique reveal of her condition in the next episode, it ends up aiding the show’s thematic explorations. It also enhances the development of Yuki as a character in ways that couldn’t have happened without her memory returning. It’s remarkably fitting that they play the Great Love (farewell) BGM variation in this scene, because the Yuki who Kodai knew and the Kodai who Yuki originally fell in love with are both gone. Great love, farewell.

As the credits roll we hear the familiar voice of Abelt Dessler himself, Koichi Yamadera, singing of the “Great Sum.”

[AMB]: From Great Harmony in Ark of the Stars, we go to 2202’s Great Sum, which can also be read as “Great Harmony.” It’s about how beautifully harmonious the world is, depicting serene images of various Japanese landscapes of the present day. One illustration depicts a more modern rendition of Hokusai’s The Wave.

Worth noting is that Yamadera isn’t singing in character here. He’s singing as himself, an opportunity granted to him by the staff of 2202 because Director Habara loves his singing voice. In the past, Yamadera has often had opportunities to sing as characters, for character songs or openings. But never before has he had the opportunity to appear in an anime single as himself. It’s a very touching story and I wish him the best of luck on his career in the music industry.

And with that, I’ll leave you all with the final few passages of the ending song, translated by my friend Kafka-fuura:

Weaving together brilliant lives brought close by fate / Let us march onward and unwavering in our lives / Let us begin now the story of our lives.

Coda

Theatrical release: Space Battleship Yamato 2202, Soldiers of Love Chapter 6: Regeneration Chapter contained episodes 19-22. It premiered in Japanese theaters November 2, 2018.

Japanese video: Theater-exclusive Blu-ray November 2, 2018. Standard Blu-ray & DVD December 21, 2018

First Japanese TV broadcast: February 8, 2019

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

The end title Great Sum is performed by Koichi Yamadera.

Click here for a complete BGM collection for Episode 19.

Episode credits
Episode Director: Masayuki Iimura
Storyboard: Yuichi Nihei
Animation Directors: Meijyu Maeda, Mitsuru Ishihara, Masahiro Yamane

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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7 thoughts on “Yamato 2202 Episode 19 commentary

  1. Ah the Ginga, the second or third (if you take Makoto Kobayashi’s DVD backcover art for Chapter 5 seriously that Musashi was the second ship) of the Yamato-class. It’s been a long while for fans to finally see another Yamato-class battleship other than the lead ship herself and it’s arguably one of those vessels that I have sort of a hate and love relationship.

    When I first saw the Ginga, I was furious and dumbfounded to why they would adopt such weird changes from the original Musashi design that Kobayashi did for the Director’s cut of Yamato Resurrection. Most notably the insane amount of porthole windows that are dotted across the hull as if the ship caught measles or something. Not only it is aesthetically unpleasing to the eye, it also sacrifices watertight and structural integrity of the hull as the multiple windows below the waterline makes Ginga extremely vulnerable to sinking in a planet’s ocean if there were a couple of breeches in the hull like torpedo attacks if the said portholes were compromised as glass is more fragile than steel. This really compromises one of her roles as an exploration vessel if the G-Plan requires her to land in water. Of course that depends on whether she has damage on the lower section of the hull.

    In addition the presence of multiple windows the Ginga has doesn’t even her role as an automated ship because usually ships with multiples windows, such as Star Trek’s Galaxy-class starship (which clearly the Ginga’s name and appearance took some ques from) usually refers to a large crew onboard which the Ginga doesn’t have due to her automated nature. Even if those areas included science laboratories, it shouldn’t even be that many windows.
    This glaring problem really infuriated me to the core for months almost as much as the infamous Medulsa tank variant as it disobeys almost every crucial law in a good ship design whether it was a seagoing vessel or a spacefaring one by RL and various Sci-Fi standards. Especially since I wanted to see a fictional version of Musashi (although it’s no longer has the name) be given the justice she deserves as a Yamato-class battleship after her awful incarnation and portrayal of the Arpeggio of Blue Steel – Ars Nova Cadenza movie.

    After months of trying to figure out some sense to the Ginga’s unorthodox design regarding her windows, realized something that I missed: The mission objectives of the G PLAN.
    In one of the scenes, Ginga’s crew reveals that the ship is meant to be a colony ship that would be eventually filled with their descendants. This means that the vessel would theoretically would be home to generations of families on-board surviving in deep space for decades to come until finding a new planet to resettle.
    This exodus-themed mission profile reminded me of those boxy gigantic ark vessels used in Yamato Resurrection, and what do they have in common with Ginga? A billion of windows of course to house many civilians and people! Ok, not a billion windows because Ginga is too small for that but you get the general idea.
    So my theory to why the Ginga ended up the way she looks like is that somewhere in between construction where she was supposed to be completed to look like Musashi (at least the version of Ginga without all those porthole windows), the Earth Federation top brass decided to hastily convert her into a hybrid exploration colony vessel as a contingency plan to save humanity if Earth was once again compromised. Probably the reason why UNCF command chose a Yamato-class ship was due to how resilient and robust its hull could survive in deep space and other environments for a long duration. Thus requiring the installment of more than a hundred living quarters inside the hull for families to live inside her for decades to come until they reach a brand new planet to colonize. Although adding/cramming them below the waterline is still questionable, this probably reflects how desperate and fearful Earth’s government was to the threat of annihilation from Gatlantis and the extreme measures they were willing to go. And yes, the parallels between Plan G and Project Izumo are very clear with the Ginga’s mission parameters. Only this time Plan G has more advance tech, resources and a proper escort fleet to back the Ginga up.

    Ironically enough, despite being supposedly the Humanity’s last hope after the supposed demise of the Yamato, Ginga’s interior design reflects anything but an optimistic appeal. Instead of the warm and lovely vibe you usually get out of the Yamato with its brown and aqua-ish grey interiors, you get dark and depressing black and dark grey interiors that puts most special OPS ships like those from Star Trek’s Section 31 to shame with one of the most creepiest ambient sounds on the bridge. Not exactly an ideal place to live for families for a long-term voyage. Even the pragmatic Andromeda-class’s bridge didn’t look that dead or lifeless compared to the Ginga despite being heavily automated themselves.

    For all intents and purposes, despite being meant to be a symbol of hope and exploration, Ginga became the dark incarnation of Yamato. Another fatality to the Time Fault Factory’s relentless pursuit of efficiency to survive in a cruel universe as Captain Todo herself put it. Personally it’s a very uncomfortable but genius exploration into the theme of Yamato 2202’s moral debate between ideals and pragmatism and it’s what makes the Ginga’s role in the story special in contrast to Yamato’s and Andromeda’s arcs respectively. Whatever the future holds for Ginga post-2202, I hope they’ll redecorate her interiors to suit her more optimistic role.

    • Early humans interpreted their environment as best they could, modifying and refining it as their brains evolved. Survival was the first organizing principle that allowed humans to thrive and diversify. With diversification came the role of shaman, a storyteller with the responsibility of observing and explaining the natural world. This led to the foundation of mythology and the personification of natural forces. Over time this evolved into the concept of gods and was later – by western cultures – into the concept of a single god.

      If this information is new to you, I recommend the works of Joseph Campbell and William James.

  2. “I present it to you as a reward for a certain Earthling soldier’s love.” He finishes his speech as we’re shown scenes of the Kato family; Makoto and Tsubasa at the medical facility on Mars.

    Weren’t they, Makoto and Tsubasa, on Moon?

    • Could be! I still see it as a sweet gesture, seeing as the jacket is a flight type reserved for the pilots. I don’t see why she would go all the way to the hangar just to grab someone else’s jacket herself.

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