Episode 20: Gatlantis, Cursed Children
by Anton Mei Brandt and Kathy Clarkson
After a temporary retreat following the disastrous battle of Saturn, Yamanami and his Andromeda warp out near the vicinity of Earth’s moon, supported by two dreadnaughts. As the ship passes by a large ring network of U.N.C.F. defense satellites, status checks confirm normal power output, but the Wave-Motion Engine won’t restart, possibly due to heavy damage to the core block.
“Undoing Transwarp linkage and Gravity Anchor connection,” someone calls out across the ship’s comms. With Andromeda’s engine having difficulties, the two supporting dreadnoughts increase their speed to help carry it toward Earth.
[AMB]: Depicted here is the wounded Captain Yamanami, whose historical counterpart (as you might recall) was a Shinsengumi alumni, being carried away from a losing battle on the shoulders of two subordinates. Like any good space opera this scene emanates period-piece drama energy, where the Captain’s wounds are not so much physical as emotional.
While technology changes with time the basics of human nature do not, nor how we tell stories of bravery and courage. Also, based on how little time we can assume has passed between this episode and the last, Yamanami must have warped the already torn-up Andromeda to shreds on his way back. Or WM technology has just progressed that far, making trips between Saturn and Earth faster.
Passing them by is a large cluster of “vanguard mass production units” of the Andromeda class. They bear the initials BBB for Black Berserker Battalion. These ships are to join up with the already-deployed Garmillan fleet near what remains of the Saturn sector to cover the unified front’s tactical retreat to Mars, where they’ll create mankind’s final defensive line.
Yamanami wears a complex expression as he orders Andromeda to the Time Fault factory for emergency repairs. With confidence, he makes a vow: “I swear I will save Yamato.” With that, the dreadnaughts disperse and Andromeda’s auxiliary engines carry it down toward Earth.
[AMB]: Intentional or not, Andromeda’s flight trajectory syncs up pretty well with that of Yamato’s at the end of 2199 when they returned to Earth. Except Andromeda’s homecoming isn’t one of triumph, but shame, replaced by bigger, stronger and better unmanned ships before he even has time to land. Seeing this, he surely understands what it felt like for Yamato’s crew to be phased out by the military industrial complex, treated as tools rather than people. He also reiterates his promise to Yamato that he will save them, not some machines.
On Zemulia, Yamato’s still resting under a never-setting sun, smothered by foggy clouds. The sorrowful Yamato theme sets a grim mood as Kodai’s seen stumbling around in the dark and empty hallways of the damaged ship, barely able to stand straight. He thinks back to Yuki’s cold awakening last episode. “Who are you?” (Fittingly, the last time we saw Kodai like this was near the end of 2199 when he thought she was dead.)
We see her back in her bed. “You’re with the UN forces, right?” She looks around the med bay inquisitively, holding her cheek. “I… Where am I?” Kodai’s eyes shift focus away from her. “Who… are you?” He looks back into her unknowing eyes for several seconds before we cut back to the present, where Kodai listlessly falls to the ground, asking himself “Why?” over and over, holding back his tears.
[AMB]: Details forthcoming, but in short: Yuki has regained her memories from before the car crash she shared with Yurisha prior to the beginning of 2199, at the cost of all memories after that event. Keep this in mind as we push ahead. This is hinted at by her line “You’re with the UN forces, right?” meaning she still has memories of working for the UN.
[KC]: Don’t get me wrong; I know and accept how space opera works. It is sometimes not so different from its soap opera cousin. Like here, for example. I mean, I prefer to have the couple fall in love over the course of the story, too, but this is pretty convoluted. First Yuki can’t remember anything before the trip to Iscandar and now she remembers everything but? Yes, it all works with the plot and makes sense. I am just insinuating that the writers are likely also motivated by the knowledge that it will amp up the drama if the love established and shared between the two characters remained unresolved for the course of the story.
[AMB]: Definitely! The idea of Kodai and Yuki having to rekindle their love was first introduced in Be Forever Yamato, something they visually tied together by giving Yuki her Be Forever uniform in Episode 9. But I also think that this aftermath portion is motivated by the desire to further enhance the Zordar/Kodai connection, giving Kodai a taste of what it’s like to not be able to express your love for someone you consider family.
Aside from that, Writer Fukui mentioned in an interview that a major motivation behind creating this reverse-amnesia arc was to later have Yuki regain all her memories in Teresa’s dimension at the end of the series, which was something the staff were intent on tackling one way or another.
Also, the never-setting sun is a visual motif I consider thematically fitting. Yamato‘s crew are back to the days when Yamato was resting under the setting sun, but without a means to progress, hence why the sun here won’t settle.
Yuki is alone in Yamato’s movie theater, viewing the journals Okita recorded during the ship’s voyage to Iscandar. The journals have been edited together as a powerpoint presentation of sorts, accompanied by camcorder footage and pictures taken aboard Yamato along with detailed schematics of Garmillas home planet and its surrounding space (which essentially means she’s watching a compilation of Yamato 2199 to jog her memory).
She reaches the part where Kodai and Yurisha rescued her from being lost in space following the destruction of New Baleras, but the moment a picture of Kodai appears, she looks down at her engagement ring with a blank expression. She then looks back up, taking in the rest of the presentation. Dr. Sado and Captain Hijikata watch over Yuki’s shoulder, grief-stricken.
[AMB]: The 2199 picture of Kodai in the military records, taken at the start of Yamato’s original journey, captures how depressingly empty he was before finding something worth fighting for in Yuki, beyond vengeance for the death of his brother. After seeing the almost alien picture of Kodai, Yuki bears a solemn expression, looking down at her ring as if she feels ashamed of her current state.
Oh, and we can see that Kodai apparently snapped a picture of Yuki in her blue space suit floating around near the remains of New Baleras. Or the space suits on Yamato are constantly recording. Creepy thought.
The transcript from Okita’s journal reads as follows:
“During battle with the Domel fleet, a Garmillan spec-ops team infiltrated Yamato. Chief Operations Officer Mori was abducted. Lieutenant Kodai was ordered to rescue Chief Operations Officer Mori. Kodai carried out this mission and returned to Yamato with Mori. After this rescue operation, Yamato left Garmillan territory. We set course for Iscandar. Crew of the Yamato. This is Okita, your captain. We have finally reached Iscandar. Look… Iscandar lies before you.”
[AMB]: The members of the spec-ops team (Norran’s squad of Zaltsians who abducted Yuki in 2199) are each separately listed as “decease.” Obviously they meant “deceased,” but here we are. Aside from that, we don’t see the official status of operative Norran, but we do see a correct listing of some of the Yamato crew members who aided in Kodai’s rescue of Yuki: Kato, Akira and Yurisha, whose name is written in English rather than Japanese.
It also seems like this powerpoint presentation was made on the fly, possibly by Analyzer, by searching the military records for “VIDEO – ALL – TXT: 森 雪 or yukimori,” combining the results with Okita’s journals. Sorry if I sound like a broken record, but if you’re wondering why Hijikata’s there it’s not primarily to hear Okita. It’s because his adoptive daughter has lost her memories of him.
Meanwhile, Keyman, Saito, Nagakura and Analyzer have begun investigating the Zemulian ruins they found last episode. The area they’re investigating is filled with teal-colored crystals.
Nagakura asks if Yuki’s lost her memories again, but Klaus tells her it’s the opposite. She’s regained her lost memories at the cost of those she gained after her car accident. Nagakura feels for Yuki. “She lost her memories of the last four years? Of Yamato and going to Iscandar?” She takes a short moment to let the reality of Yuki’s loss sink in, sadness overtaking her. “And of Chief Tactical Officer Kodai?”
[AMB]: Though moments between Yuki and Shiori have been few, they’ve still managed to build a strong bond of mutual respect. She also knows how rewarding it is to love someone else unconditionally, and reflects on what it must feel like to suddenly lose it. Perhaps this serves as an impetus for Nagakura to reveal her true feelings to Saito before it’s too late? Or maybe Yuki’s unimaginable suffering is momentarily steering her away from the idea of love?
“Couldn’t it be temporary?” Nagakura continues. “Something could trigger her to–” But Klaus coldly cuts her off, saying that there’s a zero percent chance of that happening according to Dr. Sado’s prognosis. He stops himself for a moment, his expression hidden. Then he calmly walks off, telling her to “Focus on your work.” Exasperated, she barks at him, but Saito places a hand on her shoulder, shaking his head. She drops her head in defeat.
[AMB]: That short moment of silence from Keyman is very pensive in nature, and I think I know why. Back in Episode 12, he saved Touko Katsuragi from a steel beam falling, just like Yuki did. He had the option to kill her, but didn’t. Had he killed her, Yuki wouldn’t have been hit trying to save Touko, and Kodai wouldn’t feel the pain he’s experiencing now. Later in this episode, he’ll glare daggers at Touko during her interrogation. Now you know why.
[KC]: Don’t worry about him, Nagakura. Klaus is destined for even better romantic tropes than amnesia.
[AMB]: I just hope he leaves Akira with something more to carry than just memories. Not that memories don’t matter, I just don’t want that girl to be completely left behind again. Yes, I’m talking about babies. But let’s put a pin in the dead pretty boy discussion for later!
Some time later, the investigative crew has found large teal obelisks with demon heads, illuminated by spotlights they just finished setting up. The top portion of each obelisk is adorned in filigree, roots reaching up to the surface above. Then, the sinister giggles of two children echoes around them, only heard by Analyzer. The children take turns with each sentence, starting with the girl: “There are a lot of them here today.”
A boy continues. “We were able to analyze their language!”
“They’re worthy of receiving the memories of Zemulia…” “Let’s borrow that guy!”
[AMB]: The children (who will later be known as “Storyteller A and B” or “Zemulian A and B”) are voiced by two child actors handpicked by Director Habara and Writer Fukui: Ririko Ikeshita and Souki Matsumoto. The uncanny childish glee heard in their performances tips them off as being both sweet and innocent, yet disturbingly unempathetic. These children help carry what would have otherwise been a dry exposition dump on the history of Gatlantis, lending the scene an aura of mystique. Some online users have pointed out how the children evoke memories of the Studio Ghibli classic Laputa, but that’s a story for another episode.
[KC]: Perhaps because I was raised on a steady diet of American 80s horror cinema, the laughter of children you can’t see fills me with none of the “sweet” and all of the “disturbing.”
[AMB]: Oh! Children of the Corn, right? Or maybe The Omen? As someone who subjected himself to those same 80’s horror franchises as a kid, I definitely have things to say about the horror of children either being forced to develop too early or managing to become adults in mind but not in spirit. These kids are probably of the latter variety.
[KC]: Those are definitely two of the big ones! The laughing children sound is also used a lot in movies about ghosts. Those are probably the ones I find the creepiest.
“Who… are you?” a confused Analyzer asks, looking left and right. But before he can say anything else the coffin-like obelisks all make an otherworldly sound. Red alien text scrolls up the blank teal surfaces. “That’s no ordinary stone slab. It’s practically a screen!” Saito exclaims, pulling back in awe only for Keyman to confirm the red text to be Gatlantean in origin. Meanwhile, Analyzer’s going haywire trying to process this information, having been possessed by the Zemulian storytellers.
“Gatlantis! Artificial soldiers that were only given an instinct for battle and a sense of loyalty! Livestock with green skin and a human form.” the children’s voices blast out from Analyzer’s speakers, his own voice growing increasingly muted until only the synced-up voices of the children are heard.
[AMB]: First few questions that come to mind: Did Klaus intuit that these were Gatlantean letters? Or did he know from his experience in the Garmillan CIA? Is this the same language used by the lower caste mercenary group hired by Sabera in Ark of the Stars? Or is it a completely new language?
[KC]: Ambassador Varel intimated early on that Gatlantis was looking to harness the power of Teresa, so there is Garmillas Intelligence on them, and Klaus is in the Intelligence Bureau. My guess is that he recognizes the language from his CIA experience. Two separate Gatlantean languages is an interesting concept, but I would expect them to still be similar enough in appearance that Klaus could spot it.
[AMB]: My thoughts exactly. And I know we’ve already covered this, but it’s worth mentioning how much the Gatlanteans act as a prophetic vision of where humanity’s current artificial intelligence and humanoid research developments could lead. A slave race of sentient, living, breathing humanoids imprinted with a sense of loyalty and an instinct for battle, given a separate skin color just to help make it easier to differentiate between slave and citizen. Sickening.
[KC]: With any luck, authors have already created far too much other impactful fiction in which AIs turn on their programmers and wipe us out.
[AMB]: Oh, and that slow transition from robotic and stale Analyzer yelling out information, to the children seeping into his programming and slowly becoming more animated in tone and feeling? The potential horrors of A.I. developments laid bare in the manner of a few seconds. Love that scene.
Nagakura and Saito aren’t quite following what’s going on, questioning what’s wrong with Analyzer. But the storytellers ignore them, having no intention to stop speaking. “Gatlanteans are ideal pawns in war. They fight so that no harm will come to the Zemulians!” Saito repeats the phrase “Zemulia” to himself and Keyman responds by positing that Zemulia is the name of the planet they’ve crashed on. “It seems this is Zemulia’s memory bank. And Gatlantis was… created on this planet.”
[AMB]: The cat’s out of the bag, but we all knew it at this point! The memory bank is of far greater interest so let’s get to it. We’ll come to know scarcely little about these storyteller A.I.’s, but they seem engineered to work the same as the Time Fault A.I.. They’re constantly experiencing self-growth by accumulating information, adding it to their database in an excited manner. It’s cool how the storytellers not only alternate vocally, but they show their individuality by flashing one lens each on Analyzer’s headpiece depending on who’s speaking.
Come to think of it… Yamato’s crew does bring these A.I. with them for the rest of this journey, and we’ll actually hear their voices after the destruction of Zemulia – which they’re supposedly connected to – meaning they could still exist in some capacity in 2205. Perhaps Analyzer’s scavenged body at the end of 2202 will be their new home? Anyhow, Zemulia created the Gatlanteans to fight and die as warrior slaves. And for some reason the name Zemulia rings a bell in Saito’s mind. *cough cough*
We cut to the outside of the Zemulian ruins, then to an image of the planet itself at some other point in time when it supposedly wasn’t within Zordar’s grasp inside the Ark of Destruction. The planet is gray, moon-like craters covering its surface. But most notably there are three large serrated bands across the planet, the hollow surface below glowing an ominous red.
The storytellers continue speaking. “But Zemulia violated a taboo.” Zordar’s green and furious brow is superimposed onto the planet’s surface (an image that directly homages one from the 1974 Yamato pilot film, below right), and as the image fades to black the children speak one phrase: “Type-Zordar.”
[AMB]: We’ll get to those serrated bands later. For now I’d like to raise a few questions:
1: The Zemulians created the storytellers to… retell the story of Zemulia. But why? I believe they only saw fit to leave the keys of knowledge of both their race and the secrets of their warrior slaves to anyone brave enough to stop their rapid growth were things to go awry. I also posit that Zordar might never have found these storytellers.
2: Why would the Zemulians try to experiment with giving emotions to artificial slave labor? They’ll soon mention it was to use them for disposable espionage and information warfare with use of telepathy, but why risk an uprising? The answer is clear: When mankind is faced with reaching greater technological heights, we pursue them. And if things go wrong, we terminate and seal what we can’t handle. Take the START-II treaty and nukes for example. Or what the Zemulians have done to Zordar and his people, as we’ll soon find out. But yes, calling the creation of the “Type-Zordar” a taboo is completely valid.
It’s now 1,000 years ago. Our current Zordar has discovered the Ark of Destruction, staring at its gargantuan superstructure. As he faces the heavy rain in a monochrome world, the A.I. children explain exactly what the “Type-Zordar” is. It’s a top-of-the-line Gatlantean humanoid soldier model utilising a “sympathetic wave network,” possessing a complex mental capacity and a vast memory which enables this particular model to handle intelligence warfare; espionage.
“A Gatlantean that transcended being a Gatlantean,” the female A.I. states. “He’s almost…” the boy continues, only for the two personalities converging to finish the sentence with a lightning strike: “… human.”
[AMB]: Some of you who’ve grown accustomed to the Funimation subs may wonder why I’ve added some ambiguity to the storytellers’ line. It’s because they’re being ambiguous. Rather than matter-of-factly stating that the Zordar model is human; they’re actually bringing up how similar the Type-Zordar is to “humans.” The official translation, “At that point, he was human,” should actually be closer to, “At that point, (the type-Zordar) was (seemingly no different from) human.” They’re playing with our understanding of what it means to be human, comparing him rather than affirming him.
[KC]: It is an important distinction to make, since that comparison is key to this entire series.
[AMB]: Indeed. Another thing I want to mention is how artsy some of the director’s choices have been. From Abelt’s backstory in Episode 15 being cast in a golden hue to the monochromatic stormy depiction of Zordar’s past, it’s been a refreshing avant-garde bonanza every now and then.
[KC]: We talk a lot about the character and plot-driven elements that we think have improved significantly from the original series, and you do a great job of talking about the music and expressing awe over the visuals, but maybe we don’t talk enough about how damn attractive this show is. These gorgeously artistic episodes are a real treat!
[AMB]: It’s no wonder, considering how densely-packed these shows can be. There’s only so much space to create an engaging discussion that doesn’t end up overstuffed. But good point, I’m in full agreement!
“Why?” says a distressed Zordar from many years ago. “Why do you not awaken? Why do you not accept me?” The wind howls at him as Gairen, standing behind him, answers his question: “The Ark of Destruction will awaken when it has been determined that humans are an evil species. That has been left to the humans themselves to decide. Even if we were made in their image, ours are but artificial lives. We have no right to judge humans.” But Zordar counters his claim, a devilish smirk on his face. “That is exactly why we can judge them.”
[AMB]: Strong winds, heavy rain and lightning storms are rarely seen in Yamato, which gives the sound design in this episode a fresh feeling. And to clarify Gairen’s vagueness, he’s saying that they need a biological human who originates from the original seven races seeded by Akerius in order to control the Arks they spread across the galaxy. This is information we previously gained from the Queen of the Jirel Vagabonds, Lerelai Loer from Ark of the Stars. However, in order to truly awaken this particular Ark, you need access to a human who truly believes that mankind has become an evil species. That’s when its purpose to “redo” humanity kicks in. More details to come soon enough.
With a flash of lightning, we cut to one of the many large memory devices housed in the Ark of Destruction. The original Shifar Sabera rests inside a familiar stasis chamber as Zordar explains to Gairen why Gatlanteans are perfectly capable of judging humans. “We who leave no descendants, and are without love or ego, having been made the purest of intelligent beings. We are a new species created to let humanity escape from their karma.” Unmoving, Sabera floats in her prison with hands clutching her chest, eyes closed.
[AMB]: Let’s discuss the wording again, this line in particular: “We are a new species created to let humanity escape from their karma.” Zordar’s vagueness in the original Japanese line implies the same kind of grandeur as the Funimation subs convey, this take positing that Zordar sees the Gatlantean race as an almost biblically prophetic creation meant to free humanity from the fate of love and loss.
Another take on the line is that it’s a reference to the original reason behind why Zemulia created the Gatlanteans. For example: “We (were) a new species created to let humanity (the Zemulians) free themselves from their fate (mortal bodies).” Or he could mean a combination of both! The former fits Zordar as he is 1,000 years later, while the latter makes a nod to Earth humanity’s reckless humanoid developments – and the creation of the Dark Nebula Empire in the original Yamato timeline. It’s also intriguing how a creation of Akerian mankind – the Gatlanteans – justify their judgement of humanity because they’re “free from love and ego.” If only Zordar understood how close he is to being human himself, affected by those same human feelings…
[KC]: With Klaus being somewhat of a callback to Alphon, this is at least the second Dark Nebula reference we have gotten in this series. Possibly because the writers are reluctant to just make these new works a fresh take on the same old story. Hopefully, after the threat of Gatlantis has been met, Earth and Garmillas will move forward together on all new adventures!
[AMB]: I want the next adventure in 2205 to be a long and arduous constitutional process on Garmillas. People split over fundamental issues and ideas of governance, rights and rule of law based on centuries of hardened ideas. Both challenged and maintained as some clamor for one man to save them all as others condemn him to exile.
[KC]: LOL! So long as Talan gets speaking lines.
Zordar slowly draws his sword with great reluctance, hands momentarily trembling. He takes one final look at Sabera as she once was before holding the sword above his head, aiming at her body.
Gairen seems gravely offended at this act. “Do you mean to disrupt the slumber of the dead?!” A glint of sorrow is seen in Zordar’s eye as he responds, voice shaking. “The Ark of Destruction, which is the opposite of the Seed-Sowing Ark… if it will only heed the words of humans, let me offer her up. The woman I love the most… so that she can become an arbitrator to bring judgement on humanity!” Possessed by intense emotions, Zordar lets out a pained roar as he brings his sword down, pieces of glass shattering to reflect light.
[AMB]: So the Ark of Destruction is connected to what’s essentially an Ark of Creation. How cyclically and thematically fitting. And there’s so much else to unpack! From Zordar trembling at the task of killing his mother from another life, to Gairen questioning Zordar with stern anger; not wanting to see the woman he also loves the most (in a very different way) be subjected to the fate that he knows awaits her as an arbiter of the Ark of Destruction: the fate of constant reincarnation and suffering. Which brings us back to the Ark of Creation.
The Ark of Destruction is inherently connected to the Ark of Creation, meaning that whatever can be destroyed with it could be brought back. Though, as we see with Sabera in 2202, in limited capacity when it comes to recreating what has already passed on. It’s meant to create, not recreate. A tool of both destruction and creation left behind by the progenitors of humanity – the Akerian race – can only be used by the successors of Akerian humanity. This is why subjecting Sabera (a Zemulian) to a fate as everlasting arbiter is both the most honorable duty and the most grave punishment.
Why her? Because she shares the greatest pain; not being able to protect her child. Recognising this, her son brings her back from the grave so that she – like his spiritual father Gairen – can both guide him on his journey and help carry his burden. To go back to Episode 12, She’s the only one allowed to be “the last human,” but for that reason she needs to believe that humanity needs to be wiped out for reseeding to properly begin. How this will come to pass we’ll soon see.
Back to the present: “It was punishment for breaking a taboo” the Zemulian A.I.’s continue. “Livestock that thinks like a human won’t stay as livestock.” Klaus is tinkering with Analyzer, trying to figure out how much more data he can handle on his own as Gatlantis history is recited. “Zordar rebelled, and the war between humans and Gatlanteans began.” The storytellers are far from finished, but when Nagakura asks Keyman how things are going, he tells her it’s “No good.” They’ll need to return to Yamato and connect Analyzer to the main host aboard the ship to keep this intense information flow going.
[AMB]: And perhaps Analyzer’s entire “self” is at stake here too, with the storytellers overwhelming him. Also, “punishment for breaking a taboo” definitely refers to punishment against Zemulia for breaking the taboo of giving “livestock” free will and feelings. “You reap what you sow,” one could say.
Something else that needs to be addressed is this: The story being told doesn’t sync with the one being shown. This is a trick employed to not give away too much to the viewers. Perhaps Zordar – listening in through Saito – is reexperiencing the memory of awakening the Ark of Destruction? (Something that happened after Sabera’s death, for obvious reasons.) This particular flashback will return two more times before the episode’s over, culminating with a satisfying conclusion.
This first flashback is most likely presented this way to help sell the audience on the false premise that the Zordar we see here is the one who the storytellers say “rebelled against the Zemulians.” In the last of the three flashbacks this episode, we’ll hear from Gairen that their journey from Zemulia to find the Ark took “over a hundred years.” Giving the original Zordar (Gairen) more than enough time to raise a new Miru (current Zordar) and to age into what he looks like in 2202. Then why do both of them seem to have stopped aging in the present day? Unsure.
In response, the A.Is both demand to be connected to Yamato’s main host, confirming that this unit (Analyzer) can’t support their “consciousness.” Nagakura takes offense on Analyzer’s behalf, gently scolding them like children. “We are the storytellers of Zemulia,” they respond. “Our duty is to pass the records of this planet to those with sufficient intellect and memory.” Resigned and wary, Saito rhetorically asks if their brains aren’t big enough for those two. Shiori is even more concerned, pointing out the fact that if those two managed to possess Analyzer with ease then bringing them back to Yamato would put the entire ship at great risk.
[AMB]: Based on their wording, the consciousness of these A.I. might be based on real Zemulian children. Or perhaps their thousand years of curiosity and knowledge of history has given rise to the natural growth of children’s consciousness.
[KC]: Enh, Yamato’s been haunted before. It’ll be fine.
[AMB]: While true, previous “hauntings” have been perpetrated by aliens with various degrees of paranormal abilities. This potential haunting would be by a very egocentric duo of storyteller A.I; way spookier!
“But we do want information,” retorts Keyman. “This planet’s precise location, too.” But apparently the storytellers don’t know the present coordinates of Zemulia either. Nagakura prompts them to explain, which they do by alternating as usual: “It’s the witch’s doing. The betrayer of humanity who sided with the Gatlantean rebellion.” “The witch helped Zordar, and wrapped Zemulia in a white fog.” This information hits Klaus with frightened eureka. “A witch?” And that settles it. He orders the crew to bring the storytellers aboard Yamato, his horrified gaze shifting into a grim expression.
[KC]: I think I need my own clarification here, since I am obviously not paying enough attention to folks who aren’t blue. These childish entities are Zemulian in nature, and so is Sabera, but they refer to her as a witch. Are they simply being derogatory because they consider her a traitor, or did she have unusual abilities?
[AMB]: She might have been born with more of her Akerius heritage than the most, similarly to how Yuria Misaki was born with the ability to see ghosts or how Yurisha can feel emotions. We find out in 2199 that the Jirel “witches” were the race closest in heritage to Akerius according to Domel (hence their witch-like powers) something that remained a rumor until Ark of the Stars, where Lerelai confirms it as being true.
Maybe Sabera’s pointy ears from when she was a kid – as seen in Episode 12 – was a clue that she’s either connected to Akerius or the Jirels by blood in some way, but either grew out of the physical resemblances or learned how to hide them with her powers? This part of her is also reflected in white Sabera’s design, and she does know how to control the Ark of Destruction’s control panel, which is uncannily similar Lerelai’s Ark. Now that I think about it, has there been any indication that the White Comet’s fog is created by the Ark itself? Hasn’t there been more indications of the opposite?
[KC]: Honestly, I have never really thought about it; just kind of accepted it as a good creative design choice.
[AMB]: Fair enough. Which reminds me of how some of the sci-fi researchers on this show did after all choose to be more lenient with the technicalities of space this time around, in order to not hamper the creative process of depicting 2202’s scope and story. You can read more about the science behind the show here.
We go back to the monochromatic past of 1,000 years ago, following up on our current Zordar’s first attempt at resurrecting the dead Shifar Sabera underneath the Ark of Destruction’s giant soul memory unit. At the alien sound of Akerian tech booming in success, the transparent form of Sabera flickers in her watery chamber, becoming more solid as she rises to the surface. With a heavy heart Zordar calls out her full name, asking if she can hear him. Slowly she opens her eyes, repeating the same marionette movement as we’ve previously seen, rising from her submerged pool of creation. She seems lost, unable to fully grasp where she is. But her eyes are filled with love, gazing at Zordar.
[AMB]: I’d love to see someone put this scene back-to-back with the one of the white Sabera’s reincarnation in Episode 17. The way Zordar kneels down, Gairen’s presence (which we’ve yet to see) and the uncanny movements of the puppet-like copy. As we’ll see, this first attempt will be far from flawless. And with current Zordar’s goals in mind, his latest attempt with white Sabera was purely perfect. Also, in the background we can see gestating Kalaklums in crystalline icebergs. Zordar’s been growing his fleet of warships for quite some time.
Zordar crouches down on one knee, telling Sabera there isn’t much time. “The substitute cells will break down in no time.” Her eyes start to twitch, as if she can’t quite recognise him. “Remember,” he urges her, staring deep into her eyes. “What humans did to you, a fellow human. What they stole from us.” Signaling her loss of composure, a single strand of hair droops over her face as the memories start finding their way back. She trembles and her eyes flash open. Sabera recalls a familiar peaceful moment where she cradles the original Miru in her arms, letting her eyelids close to focus on the serene image.
[AMB]: “It’s a warm suffering…” said her future clone Touko Katsuragi in Episode 18, cradling an imaginary child. This is where her cycle of endless reincarnation begins, one where she’s destined to reawaken her traumatic memories. No matter how much time passes or what substitute she finds, the original Miru’s passing will always haunt her.
But Zordar is relentless. “With that rage, sadness and despair, judge them.” After struggling to open her eyes back up, she finally does, momentarily recalling the bloody hand of her dead child; the image reflected in her eye. Sabera’s face contorts and she unleashes a long and agonised shriek as her pain and sorrow manifest as purple lightning, breaking against the monochrome world. These feelings feed into the complex machinery needed to awaken the Ark of Destruction, steadily powering it up. The energy passes through the soul memory unit, all the way up to the tower, emitting an eldritch cacophony of noise as the Ark’s ten eyes light up red.
[AMB]: Poor Yuko Kaida (Sabera) has to carry so many scenes where she needs to scream her lungs out. This moment in particular chills me to the bone.
[KC]: Moment of truth here for Zordar. Yes, he has been dealt a terrible hand. But no matter what your level of sympathy for him may be, heroes choose to sacrifice themselves.
[AMB]: And Zordar would if he could, case in point being Episode 25 where he willingly gives himself as tribute to the Ark the moment it recognises him as human. As we’ve seen and discussed previously, Zordar wanted nothing more than to control the Ark himself and issue his judgements. But the task had to fall to a human. So to give light to a cruel world, he tasked Sabera with being its judge. And at this stage the choice really is hers, no strings attached (pun intended).
[KC]: Ah, thanks; I actually did forget that he couldn’t have gotten it to work himself. And you are right that he will be the one to give the epic redemption speech at the end of this series.
Struggling to speak, Zordar lets out his emotional baggage. “Let us end the suffering. Humans steal from and kill one another for love.” Sabera’s frozen up in the pool, her trauma obviously affecting her. Her hair twists and floats underneath the water like the arms of an octopus, her own arms stretched out. She can’t speak. “Let’s end the pain of living on… through the salvation called extinction.” Half of Sabera’s face begins to break free from the suffering, a single sorrowful teardrop falling down her cheek as she tells herself: “No…”
[AMB]: You can really tell how immature and emotional the second Zordar was 1,000 years ago, making his feelings very clear through his vocalisation. This isn’t in the least bit fun or exciting, it’s just a cruel necessity in his eyes. At this point the trauma he’s inherited from the first Miru clone is probably fresh in his memory too, blinding him to his mother’s suffering. But to him – if he truly is the reincarnation of her child – Sabera’s just doing what any mother would, giving herself fully to her child. As we’ll soon learn, she doesn’t know that a few hundred years have passed since she last saw her husband, meaning she doesn’t know that Gairen is the man she once chose. More on that later.
Touko bolts up from the bed in her cell, covered in a cold sweat. Her eyes are hyper fixated on whatever she witnessed in her sleep, possibly that same recollection of the past we just saw. She just sits there, hyperventilating until the scene fades.
[AMB]: Whether or not Touko resonated with the storytellers’ account of the past, or if the scene we just witnessed was a nightmarish recollection of her original counterpart (who merged with her in Episode 12) is hard to confirm. My take is that while the storytellers have been recounting the tale of Sabera and Zordar, Touko’s been re-experiencing her original’s first reawakening from the dead. This has now ironically led to her own reawakening from last episode’s tumultuous evacuation attempt.
The instrumental version of the Garmillas national anthem booms as a new line of ships led by Ambassador Loren Varel leaves Earth for the frontline. The fleet is composed of Varel’s own Zoelguut-class, carrying two sets of five anti-warp shields, each emblazoned with the Garmillas emblem. Supporting him are four Andromeda-class variants, led by veteran of the Garmillas-Earth war Fomto Berger. His CCC-01 Neue Balgrey can’t quite be seen yet as it’s trailing behind for the moment. Their features are pretty much identical to that of Earth’s Andromeda-class ships, but with Garmillan electronic equipment for air traffic control, navigation, etc. Spread behind them like wings are around 100 Kelkapia-class High Speed Astro Battle Cruisers, by my count.
[AMB]: Let’s get nerdy with the mecha lore. While only three Andromeda-variants are present in this scene, four were licensed and commissioned by the Garmillas military to help cope with the sheer size and threat posed by the Gatlantean fleet, making this moment a leap in unified technological developments for Garmillas. The four ships – referred to as the “Berger Battle Team” – were each named after the ships commandeered by those of Berger’s comrades that fell against Yamato in the Rainbow Cluster Battle of 2199.
Their designated names are as follows: Neu Balgray, Neu Lambea, Neu Schderg, and Neu Darold. One then wonders if Varel’s agreed to name his Zoelguut after Domel’s Domelus III? Fans of the Rainbow Cluster Battle might already notice what we’re about to witness come next episode, that each ship is equipped with Debakke fighters, Dolcia torpedo planes, and the heavy bomber Galunt II with its Wave-Motion drill bullet just like their original counterparts from 2199. The upper deck of each is protected by a Wave Barrier and warp is possible with the aircraft moored to the hull. Also, for reals, the CCC Andromeda variant stands for “Crimson Cameraderie Carrier.”
Ambassador Varel holds a speech before their departure. “This battle will decide the fate of all humanoids living in the universe. On the pride of Garmillas, we will defend the Earth together! The rise or fall of humanity depends on this battle.”
As the ships begin to leave, we cut to the bridge of Fomto Berger’s Neu Balgrey, where he comments on the political ramifications of their support. “This isn’t the time for political ideology, so I’ll help, but…” His bridge is covered in even more Garmillas scribblings, including a large red Garmillas emblem. “… can we actually win, I wonder?” A smirk seems to form off-camera as he faces the challenge with pride.
[AMB]: Welcome back Berger! Your presence has been sorely missed in the show ever since your excellently-crafted character arc in Ark of the Stars. Seeing as you’re the resident Garmillas lover aboard this ship, what’s your take on Berger, Kathy?
[KC]: The man has a rakish smile, a tragic past and, like all great Garmillans, learns from his mistakes. Were it not for Talan, I might be sweet on him. Seriously, though, plenty of folks will be thrilled to see the return of this fan favorite. I’d also like to take a moment to gush over Varel’s line; “On the pride of Garmillas, we will defend the Earth together!” I still love how this is a real alliance this time and not just His Majesty showing up to help his friends on Yamato.
[AMB]: I’ve seen some fans likening Berger’s aura to that of Harlock, and I can see why. Anyway, when we cut to Berger we actually get a striking view of the Neu Balgrey’s hull, revealing a bit about Fomto’s personality and political leanings! There’s Garmillas text everywhere, surrounded by the royal golden Garmillas monarchy filigree. We can also see the U.N.C.F. Yamato anchor inside a white Garmillas emblem. Beneath it is some Garmillas text I presume to mean “Garmillas Navy,” with U.N.C.F. written to signify these ships as a joint effort. Furthermore, his political comments are in direct reference to his more conservative leanings from 2199 as well as a hint at how he’s politically opposed to the democratic faction. Since he’s working with Varel – who’s connected to Hyss – he comments on how this isn’t the time to get bogged down in “ideology.”
[KC]: If I was going to draw a Harlock correlation, and not be a big nerd about how he was supposed to be Mamoru Kodai, I would say that the space pirate is more of a Wolf Frakken, but Berger was just fleshed out so wonderfully as a character in 2199 and Ark it doesn’t surprise me to hear people ranking him up there as well.
While the joint navy is in the process of restructuring and reshuffling their forces across the milky way galaxy, Shima is teaching the Ginga’s Chief Navigator Mina Ichinose how to efficiently maneuver her ship. Ginga’s still positioned dangerously close to the White Comet’s ominous vortex, holding the current defense line.
“Ichinose!” he barks. “Your hands are too slow!” Caught off-guard, she turns to face him for a moment before returning to the steering wheel. “Yes, sir!” Shima explains that the trim lever must be used within the 0.20 margin when turning, to which she lets out a meek “Yes, sir… 0.20.” Her hands shake at the wheel, her expression growing stern and determined.
[AMB]: To think Shima was in her position almost four years ago, now he’s the reliable senior. As we see in the finished animation, Ichinose isn’t half bad, but her reaction speed isn’t anything to brag about. This small detail in the animation is key to understanding Shima’s anger in the next scene.
Her determination breaks into frustration as she shifts blame to her “useless hands,” still quivering. “I want to swap them out soon!” Now Shima’s the one caught off-guard, prompting him to repeat that sentence to himself in a questioning manner. She explains: “In the Time Fault, they’ve started producing high-performance prosthetic limbs.” Ichinose quiets down, hanging her head lower. “They’re normally for the wounded… but if I volunteer…” Turning his now-soured gaze away from the Chief Navigator, Shima opts not to respond, holding back his disgust.
[AMB]: Shima’s anger isn’t just directed at Ichinose’s desire to mechanize her human limb, but more so at the idea that she’s already aiming to give up on achieving her goals through honing her skills as a human, an option Shima never had nor would take. We, like Shima, can see that there’s room for improvement on Ichinose’s end that doesn’t require cybernetics. Yet she’s willing to throw away something she was born with for efficiency’s sake. And this is a perfect encapsulation of why Ginga and Yamato’s crews are so ideologically opposed.
Many aboard Ginga are young, used to technology giving them easy access to skills you otherwise had to hone yourself. Writer Fukui is respectfully commenting on modern youth’s obsession with and dependency on technology, where tools like auto correct and simple Google searches hamper individual learning and growth, rapidly lessening the average youth’s attention span and patience with properly honing their skills.
Sanada overheard this conversation, shocked to disbelief. He twists his head back to confirm this recent development with Saki in the Captain’s chair, making eye contact. The moment they do, she averts her gaze, facial features growing stern as she looks ahead with new orders: “Recalculate the source of Gatlantis’s gravity. Reset the limit for approach.”
[AMB]: Saki’s looks like she’s started to doubt herself, but Sanada seems to have given up on arguing any of these points with her.
[KC]: I claimed a couple episodes back or so that they were laying the groundwork for a joke, but what was a bit of a joke on the original series is referenced here in an all-new, predictably sophisticated way. I do believe that this scene exists solely because in the original series, Sanada’s arms and legs had been lost in … was it a roller coaster accident? Anyway, he tells Kodai that his artificial limbs have bombs in them, and of course we don’t find this out until well into the series at a crucial moment when they really could use some arm or leg bombs. I always found it both appropriate to the genre as well as a bit silly, so it is nice to see the issue of cybernetic enhancement being handled seriously here, in what I think may be a tribute to that scene.
[AMB]: Yeah, a freak roller coaster accident that took the life of his sister. I’d forgotten that they skipped that part of his journey with Kodai to activate the warp gate in 2199! I think you’re absolutely right, this scene most likely had its roots in that character-defining moment for Sanada.
Back on Yamato, Yuki’s getting reintroduced to her bridge duties with the aid of her relief officer, Miki Saijo. “This is your seat, Mori.” Still having difficulties acclimating to the reality of her current situation, Yuki tries to apologize for her memory gap. This comes as a surprise to Miki, who comforts Yuki without having to hear the full sentence. “I’m sure it will come [back to you] with time.”
Akira Yamamoto’s also present, observing the two from the other end of the room. Yuki turns to face a sculpture unknown to her and the other two follow suit. Miki tells Yuki that it depicts Captain Juzo Okita. “I know the name.” she responds. “He fell in battle on this ship, right?” Those words don’t sound like they belong to Yuki, and great sadness is seen in the eyes of the other two. Akira’s, especially, as she stares into the eyes of a woman wholly unfamiliar to her.
[AMB]: It’s heartbreaking to hear Yuki refer to Okita this way after everything they went through in 2199, including Okita sacrificing his soul (in place of Mamoru’s after he saved Yuki) for Earth. Then again, his sacrifice was unbeknownst to anyone. He literally gave his life for the sake of the next generation. Such an iconic “passing of the baton” moment, completely reimagined for 2199. I’m also once again happy that Miki gets more of a spotlight, having carried Yuki’s duties for most of this series.
In the brig, Kodai begins yet another interrogation of Touko Katsuragi. The two lock eyes, trying to read one another’s intentions. But Touko breaks away, seemingly with shame. She asks him what he hopes to gain from coming to her cell again. “I don’t recall asking for help,” she continues, her eyes begin to water and she averts her gaze. “If I could have died then…” Touko recalls the moment when Yuki saved her from falling debris during the evacuation, closing her eyes to an unmoving Kodai. “You save me without asking, and then expect gratitude.” Touko quickly goes back to wearing her confidence as a mask, but Susumu manages to spot something, her words momentarily breaking his composure.
[AMB]: As readers may recall, Kodai last interrogated Touko in Episode 13. Since then, he’s been quite busy and she’s been far from helpful. This time something’s different. She’s genuinely affected by Yuki’s act, feeling some regret in her heart that she helped create situations that have left permanent scars on this crew. But they still saved her, twice. The result? She’s no longer able to wear her cold and unfeeling mask. She’s laid bare and Kodai can see it.
“It’s bothered me this whole time,” he begins, eyes fixed on her. “Gatlanteans laugh at love, and try to deny it.” Silence fills the room as anxious onlookers on the other side of the security feed – Hijikata, Yuki, Nagakura, Akira, Saito and Dr. Sado – bear witness to this exchange. “Might that not be… proof that they know love, too?”
Touko’s left astounded, her eyes flashing open as she returns his gaze in bewilderment. He presses further. “They were hurt and made to suffer by love, and that’s why they hate love.” This deeply upsets Touko, who displays a furiously sour frown.
[AMB]: Reminder that Zordar’s seeing this scene through Saito’s eyes. And maybe Touko’s as well.
[KC]: Okay, who gave Kodai a copy of the script? I don’t feel that he was anywhere near this intuitive in the original series.
[AMB]: To be fair, he’s literally been handed the script for this scene by the Zemulian storytellers, it seems. He went in there with no words, trying to gauge how Touko would treat him after what passed. This gave him an opportunity to get a better read on her. He’s also had enough experience with both Touko and Zordar at this point to gain some rudimentary understanding of the pair.
Analyzer rolls in with Keyman behind him. Kodai drives Touko into a rhetorical corner as Klaus rests his back against the prison wall, arms crossed and eyes locked on the inmate. “Yamato has drifted ashore on a planet called Zemulia. You know it, right? That this was the home planet of Gatlantis.” Analyzer projects an image of Zemulia, switching off the room’s lights.
[AMB]: Any fans of the massively popular Attack on Titan franchise in the audience? I bet there are! To any of you out there, this scene probably evokes the image of Scout Regiment Commander Erwin Smith interrogating a prisoner and Lance Corporal Levi Ackerman silently observing with disgust. And for good reason, because Kodai and Klaus share the same voice actors as those two. A similar bond in many respects as well! Daisuke Ono and Hiroshi Kamiya are one of the anime industry’s go-to duos for any long lasting franchise, and they have been for over a decade at this point. They’ve even shared their own podcast series, Drama CDs, etc etc…
“It was once beautiful and green, like Earth. That was more than a thousand years ago.” Kodai speaks as the projected image of Zemulia changes to depict the planet as it was back then, uncannily similar to Earth. From the moment fury overcame Touko, she refused to look at anything, her eyes once again closed. But Susumu moves forward. “And you are…”
Touko slowly looks back up, her eyes met with a holographic image she seems to definitely recall. “…the last human of Zemulia.” The picture depicts a significantly younger original Zordar (Gairen in his young days) and Touko’s original counterpart (Shifal Sabera) holding the original baby Miru (current Zordar).
[AMB]: First off, Zemulia used to be just like Earth, but slowly deteriorated as its culture’s technological advances rapidly developed. Sound familiar?
Second, we finally get a clear image of the young original Zordar and Shifar Sabera, along with original Miru. And they… look so happy. No wrinkles, no anger, no sorrow. They’re just a happy family. There’s a fitting use of the Emperor Zordar BGM here too, no longer bearing mystique and tension, but rather beauty and glory.
Touko stares deep into Sabera’s eyes as the storytellers inside Analyzer begin to explain: “Despite being a copy of the traitor, she carries Zemulian blood. We give all our records of this planet to the last Zemulian.” After a quick flash, young Zordar (Gairen) starts to both move and speak: “Unlike you humans, we Gatlanteans do not have the ability to produce children. However…” he lifts baby Miru (Zordar) “…this one will eventually be me.” An uncharacteristic smile adorns his face as he observes the baby boy in his arms. “He is my future.”
[AMB]: His future… This moment will be mirrored come Episode 24, where Gairen jumps in front of Zordar to save his son’s life. Afterward, he’ll hold his face just like he does here, bearing a smile. At that time he’ll say “You’re safe…?” in reference to the fact that he previously was unable to save his son in the past. Zordar similarly views his own successor – current Miru – as “his future.” But more on that in Episode 23.
We cut to a series of visuals as the storytellers continue. First, we see Zordar’s gigantic sword piercing a piece of ground or floor, met with a horrible noise. “Because Gatlanteans are not bound by love, they are pure, and can create a fair society. However, even Zordar who preached that, couldn’t escape love.”
Moving on, we see the three demon head murals found inside the Zemulian ruins, surrounded by embers and flame; avatars standing in for the words of ancient Zemulians: “Who would have thought the King of Gatlantis had a wife and child?” says one of them. “The traitor was playing mother to a clone baby, was she?” Another continues. “Now, if you value the lives of this woman and child, talk! Where will your forces gather?”
[AMB]: The camera work pays special attention to the presence of three separate rubies imbued within the frame and hilt of Zordar’s sword, the one on top giving off a strong red light as the ground is pierced by the blade. I think this is our first visual hint at how the Golem system works. As we’ll learn later, this system is capable of shutting down every Gatlantean’s life signs. What makes me believe this is the fact that Zordar goes through the exact same motions in Episode 25, the sound referencing one of the two major eldritch sounds emitted by the Ark of Destruction. The one they chose here is actually a sound effect used in Farewell to Yamato when the White Comet reveals its true form, making this a hint of both sight and sound.
I’m also curious about the Zemulians’ usage of the word “traitor” when referring to Sabera. Do they mean that she’s a traitor from before she joined hands with Zordar? Or because she joined hands with Zordar? Because if it’s the former, then old man Gairen really was a saint. He saved a poor outcast of a woman after she was exiled (presumably for her witch-like powers, which they’ll reference in a bit), just like another space dictator did for a certain Jirel witch in 2199.
The storytellers return to continue their story: “It was a shameful act, but the Zemulians were desperate.” We’re now treated to the Zemulian people’s peculiar architecture surrounded by orange-red smoke and fire. In fact, it’s the same kind of hair massager structure whose foundations Yamato’s investigative crew were scavenging around earlier, but this one is intact.
“With those he loved held hostage, Zordar made a decision.” Kodai repeats the last portion, “a decision,” flashing back to his traumatic first encounter with Zordar on Stravase – which ended with Yuki jumping to prevent Kodai from making a decision. Kodai hangs his head, perhaps finally understanding Zordar.
[AMB]: As if to hammer home the connection between Zordar and Kodai, Emperor Zordar’s theme begins to reach a crescendo as Kodai’s understanding of the man and his history reaches its peak. It immediately connects this scene to one they reference; Zordar’s devil’s choice given to Kodai.
I’d also like to mention to the Zemulian architecture! The building itself seems to be inside the hair massager portion, perhaps protected by the latter’s tendrils? There are also several ruby-shaped obelisks hanging around the building, each glowing with pinkish lights. Are they force shield power generators? Or Zemulian ships docked to the building to deal with its occupants, Sabera and Miru?
But the storytellers aren’t finished. “Zordar’s decision was meaningless.” Keyman shifts his gaze to Analyzer upon hearing this. “Using the information they had obtained from Zordar, the Zemulians put down the Gatlantean rebellion at once.” Kodai’s gaze wanders, eyes wet. “Then they turned their blades on Zordar. They broke their word, and his wife and child were…” Touko recollects the source of all her trauma as a sea of white obscures her vision.
[AMB]: Sabera never gets to escape, does she? Touko managed to steer clear from this trauma up until now, but it finally returns even to her. This is in no doubt one of the biggest reasons why Zordar will be the angriest and most frustrated he’s ever been in a few moments, because even outside his grasp his mother had to re-experience the death of his original self one more time. And I bet he has to feel her sorrow being channeled to him, like the Jirel witches of 2199.
Touko sees an image of the original Sabera, dressed in red with a transparent mantle of white silk draped over her back. Blood pours out of her body. She isn’t moving. Held close in her arms is the motionless original Miru, his chubby hand covered in blood, reaching for something as he’s being smothered by his mother’s love and bosom. With that, the final notes of Emperor Zordar’s theme play out; the White Comet theme.
[KC]: Not to be outdone by 2199, which introduced the idea that Earth began hostilities with Garmillas themselves, here we have Zordar, no longer a pointless megalomaniac but the victim of an absolutely monstrous human race.
[AMB]: One of many from the original seven races to reach peak science, forgetting what it means to be human. Teresa’s original race, Iscandar and Zemulia reached it. Garmillas and Earth have come close. Teresa’s people became one with the universe, Iscandar’s people either perished or vanished (with the exception of its princesses) and the Zemulians… their end comes in a few moments.
“But he survived,” the storytellers say, visuals depicting how the young original Zordar rises from a mass of Gatlantean corpses strewn among obliterated buildings of unfamiliar origin. His shoulders hang low. He grabs the first Zemulian ship he has access to, similar to what becomes the head of the Ark of Destruction. “He left Zemulia with the surviving Gatlantean soldiers.” Fast forward to what now resembles current Zordar, lifting his head with determination. “That wasn’t the end of it. He had an objective.” The scene transitions to Zordar and Gairen discovering the Ark of Destruction for the first time, depicted against the same monochrome backdrop as before.
[AMB]: The original Zordar’s flagship had twelve red lights on its prow, the now familiar cage-like hair massager body, and several ruby-shaped structures where a bridge would be, carrying a large black wing or blade of sorts. The bottom of the ship has a blue core, surrounded by yet another ruby-shape. If this ship is what later becomes the Ark of Destruction, then it can barely be seen 1,000 years later. Then again, we later find out that the Ark of Destruction always shapes itself to suit the needs of its user, so it still checks out.
The story continues. “The heritage of the ancient Akerius civilization, said to lie sleeping on the edge of a starless void.” Ten red lights flash against the monochrome, a nostalgic activation sound booming. “The objective of awakening the Ark of Destruction.” We’re back to the moment where the original Sabera struggled to say “No…” earlier in the episode. But now we see the Ark’s response. Unleashing a truly harrowing otherworldly sound – completely different from any other – the Ark’s red lights fade away with a loud bang.
[AMB]: In other words, The Ark of Destruction was kept hidden by the Akerians at the edge of the universe where no stars could be observed, waiting for a human desperate enough to find it, like a twisted version of Hogwarts’ Room of Requirement. And I have to say, to find it in just over 100 years requires some praiseworthy tenacity! Oh, and that sound the Ark makes as its power source is yanked out? There’s no one perfect word to describe how dread-inducing it was the first time I heard it, and still is after multiple rewatches. Best sound effect in the reboot franchise, and I’m not budging from that claim.
Inside Sabera’s rebirth chamber, the lights of six pylons all go out in quick succession. Zordar can’t fathom why, turning his back on Sabera to express his disappointment. “This darkness…” says Sabera, rising from her pool. “…is inside your heart.” She’s overflowing with love. “What must be broken isn’t the universe, but your frozen heart.” To this, Zordar shows her a moment of emotional immaturity, faltering in both his voice and mannerisms. “Sabera…” he says, his face downcast.
[AMB]: “What must be broken isn’t the universe, but your frozen heart” is a line I take some issue with, and here’s why: It completely ignores the context of Zoardar’s motivations. She understands his heart better than anyone, so she speaks the truth to him. “What (you are trying to) break isn’t the universe, but your frozen heart.” There’s some definite ambiguity in the line that lends credence to Funimation’s translation though, so this is a personal nitpick. The official line implies that Sabera thinks breaking things is a necessary evil, because what Sabera feels about Zordar hasn’t changed, and that’s what matters most.
Sabera reaches out to cradle his cheek. “Please, stop. You can’t do this.” Her voice carries a deep affection, her eyes fixated on him. After some deep consideration, he reaches out for the hand holding his cheek, feeling Sabera’s warm touch for barely a second. Then she bursts into a blood red foam, leaving only red traces of whatever she was composed of.
At the sight of this, his voice trembles and he stares intently at where Sabera was just a moment ago. A few seconds pass until Gairen decides to step in, his gaze also fixated on where the first clone of Sabera once lay. He wants to tell his son something. “The judgement was made.” Grief can be heard in his voice. “This is the result of a search that lasted a hundred-some years. We will have to accept-” but Zordar interjects, rising from his knees. “We will not.”
[AMB]: However, while Sabera’s feelings are true, they’re actually misplaced. The feelings she shares are rooted in the false preconception that the Zordar she caresses here is the same one she once fell for, which he isn’t. She’s unaware of the fact that over 100 years have passed since her original died, unaware that her son has been reborn. He now desires to end the warm suffering called “love” for the sake of his parents and the universe as a whole. Her words phase him until she touches his cheek. In that moment, she holds him for the first time, rekindling that same feeling of warm suffering that the original Miru felt in his last moment. It’s a feeling Zordar was born with, inherited by the original Miru via the complicated empathic network which all Type-Zordars have. More on that in Episode 23.
Gairen’s confused at his boy’s words, but Zordar explains. “We still have the data.” We only see Zordar’s intense stare, which is fixed upon Sabera’s remains. But we can’t see his eyes. “Reproduce Sabera with limits set on her memories. If she can awaken the Ark of Destruction and control it, that is enough.” He lets his gaze fall on his bloody hand. “If there is a problem, do it over. We can make all the copies we need.” He clenches his fist, either in agony or in anger, but his voice remains calm. “Humans were imperfect beings to begin with.”
[AMB]: The love of this universe brought ruin to the Gatlanteans. It resulted in retaliation; the annihilation of Zemulia. It birthed a grief so intense that it was capable of reawakening a doomsday weapon only meant for use in a worst-case scenario. A human, Sabera, chose to play at starting a real family with humanoids like current Zordar’s predecessors (Current Gairen and original Miru). It gave this clone child nothing but painful memories of death and loss. Zordar loves his mother, but not because he chooses to. Only because his heart feels he should, since she protected a Miru who wasn’t even the same as he is. Even now, she reached out to him in confusion, seeming to think he’s her spouse from over 100 years ago.
It’s no wonder Zordar sees love as an infectious curse that breaks people. He’s also bound to it, giving the scene where he strangles Sabera in Episode 12 an entirely different context. He’s forced to care, but he doesn’t want to since it only hurts. This is why Sabera wants to free his “frozen heart.” From the moment he had to raise himself with nothing but memories and feelings that weren’t his own, and a broken father intent on making him “his future,” he was doomed to follow a grim path.
Zordar continues; “Their pitiful lives are cursed with love.” His voice grows sinister as the camera pans over the functional head of the Ark of Destruction. The picture gains color, a thick mist now covering the Ark after its awakening. It moves to capture the defenseless planet of Zemulia in its claw-like tendrils, the planet’s natural color fading away. Inorganic blue lights spread out across the planet’s habitable areas, revealing to us those serrated red markings for the first time.
The storytellers finish, a white fog violently enveloping the planet. “Zemulia was destroyed, and everything was covered in a white darkness.”
[AMB]: Those red markings on Zemulia… I assumed they were made by the Ark of Destruction, but apparently they were always there underneath the surface of the planet. Curious. I’m not 100% sure about those blue lights, however. They could be from Zemulian cities or, as is most likely, they’re just reflections of the Ark’s blue tendrils and their crystal-blue connecting hub. Something super-intriguing to me is that we see those blue bodies of fog-shaped lightning from Episode 12 swirling around Zemulia as it’s being enveloped. This confirms to me that the same violent technique which white Sabera tried using against Yamato was used against Zemulia. Only here, their strength and vigor resemble ancient Chinese Dragons more than those pitiful waves we saw before. Understandable, seeing as the Zemulians killed Sabera and her child, something Zordar must have pointed out when she was forced to perform as the Ark’s priestess.
Back in the present, everyone but Touko leaves her cell with Keyman giving her one final look of… pity? Disgust? It’s ambiguous. Touko presses her hand against her forehead, hunched forward as she feels the weight of 1,000 years.
Zordar begins a monologue on top of his throne inside the Ark with the white comet theme rumbling, having borne witness to this interrogation through either Saito or Touko.
“For as long as humans remain human, they cannot escape from the karma of love. Who created them like this? Who infested the universe with them?” He’s hunched forward. Whatever grim expression he carries is hidden in darkness.
[AMB]: In spite of Zordar’s best efforts, Touko has regained her memories, as her clones always do. In spite of his devil’s choices, Kodai still chooses to pursue diplomatic approaches. In spite of Kodai potentially losing Yuki for good, he isn’t deterred. This brand of mankind, Earthlings and Garmillans, isn’t the same as the Zemulians. And the more the Earthlings and Garmillans accept “the power of love” as something positive, the more it angers Zordar. Because to him, that just increases the odds of suffering after everything goes awry. They refuse to change, they refuse to die, they refuse to understand him. It’s…kind of heartbreaking to be honest.
“The ancient Akerians’ experiment was a failure.” Zordar faces forward, raising his head with an enraged look in his eyes. “Evil species must be destroyed.” He prepares to rise. “And then…” a wicked smile forms on his lips for a moment before he stands tall, his back straightened. “… we will await the rise of a new species!” Zordar stands firm against the world, fists clenched in determination. “One that can bring true peace and order to this universe! A new intelligent life!” The Ark of Destruction recharges inside its ethereal fog. “The Comet City Empire with the Ark of Destruction at its core will burn away all suffering. It is the embodiment of true love.”
[AMB]: Zordar snaps, but not into lunacy. This was the last straw, the last piece of leeway he could give the united mankind in their struggle against what he deems an inevitable and necessary grace on his part. As if trying to convince himself, he makes the judgement that the ancient Akerius experiment has officially failed. They seeded the universe with seven races of different colors with the same Akerian blood heritage, to see if they could cooperate in spite of their superficial differences. Zordar officially deems mankind an evil species, one that needs to be remade from the ground up. Their mass extinction will be the embodiment of true love, one that allows those who suffer to be laid to rest.
“Sabera!!” A great roar leaves Zordar’s mouth, reaching the white priestess with no other words necessary. The white Sabera stretches her arms across the keyboard for the Ark’s gigantic pipe organ. Zordar’s intense feelings reverberate across the universe in the form of the White Comet theme.
Outside, hundreds of Eater I-class vessels penetrate the Garmillan shields at the Saturn frontline, blowing up and breaking their anti-warp functions. “Warp interference field has disappeared,” reports First Officer Megumi aboard Ginga. “Gravity gradient is rising near Gatlantis.”
[AMB]: From a sound production standpoint, we went from the brooding and subdued 2202 variation of the track Dagarm from the Ark score (a White Comet theme variation), then abruptly ended it with the most heart wrenching delivery of Sabera’s name to come from Zordar’s lips, ever. Feeling his desire, white Sabera starts to play the pipe organ again, but unlike in Episode 12 she now plays the second half of the White Comet theme, Zordar’s “final judgement.” It’s slower, darker, more grim. And as it intensifies, Zordar unleashes a barrage of Eater ships against the anti-warp shields, breaking their interference in seconds. This signals to us that he’ll no longer play around with his adversaries. This is finally, irrevocably, personal.
Captain Saki Todo prepares for the worst as Megumi continues her report. “This agrees with A.I. prediction B-7. The White Comet has begun to move.” Saki furrows her brow, her eyes cast in shadow. “Finally… all ships, secure the area up to the limit for withdrawing!”
The White Comet just brushes past the defense line with a howling screech, its gravitational waves shaking even the insides of the joint fleet’s ships. “Gravitational waves incoming!” warns Kanzaki.
[AMB]: “Finally…” What could Saki mean here? That Gatlantis is finally making a move to relieve her restlessness? Or that Gatlantis “finally” entered a trap concocted by the Ginga’s A.I.? With the beginning of the episode in mind, we know that the BBB-Andromeda ships are on their way to ambush the White Comet at the preliminary “Mars Absolute Defense Line,” meaning that Zordar does have to reach Mars in order to be properly ambushed. Maybe that’s what the B-7 pattern prediction is, and why the ships near the Saturn defense line looked ready to perform these incredibly competent evasive maneuvers with no problem.
Concerned, Saki rises from her chair and firmly grasps her console, ordering Megumi to contact the Mars defense Fleet. “The Comet City is leaving the space around Saturn. There is a high probability that it is warping to Mars! Remain alert!” The White Comet, rivaling Jupiter in size, dwarfs the defensive line present in Saturn’s space. Saki’s hair is wildly thrown about by the sudden influx of artificial gravity. She looks over her shoulder, determined to catch up to Gatlantis. Glaring with spite.
[AMB]: There’s been some criticism levied at this scene when it comes to Saki. There’s her hair flowing as it does, then there’s the fact that she looks over her shoulder at what’s most likely just a wall, the “illusion” as detractors call it being that she’s staring at the White Comet as it vanishes.
First point: The White Comet is creating artificial gravity, affecting the surrounding area. This is what’s causing Saki’s hair to flow as if wind hit her, just like it will affect Abelt Dessler’s cape in Episode 23. And Saki looking back? She knows she can’t see the White Comet, what she’s doing is reflexively looking back in fear of whether or not the Mars defensive line will hold according to the Time Fault A.I.’s calculations. “Never turn back” is the rule she breaks here, her human mind questioning whether or not what she’s partaking in will work. Or maybe she’s wishing the Mars defensive line the best of luck, the fear of potentially becoming a breeding pen for humanity finally hitting her.
[KC]: This new series, with its sophisticated detail, may allow for legitimate explanations of certain visual liberties taken in the original series, but at the end of the day there is something to be said for artistic expression as well. A little bit of melodrama is expected and welcome. (Especially from Dessler!)
[AMB]: Amen to that! It just wouldn’t be the same otherwise.
In the final scene of this episode, the White Comet warps from the space around Saturn toward Mars. Its swirling nucleus opens up a rift in space, spinning with triangular shapes. Through this hole the White Comet decreases in size, passing through. Responding to the White Comet’s disappearance, the area of space contaminated by its fog slowly starts to thin out until the fog evaporates completely, leaving behind only the blackness of space and a multitude of distant stars. The White Comet theme plays out its final notes, its namesake having left the area.
[AMB]: Speaking of visual details, there’s the comet vanishing. Something I’d never questioned was resolved quite literally; The White Comet generates a thick, continuously looping fog in multiple layers. As long as it remains in a large sector of space, its fog infests the surrounding atmosphere. Come Episode 23, this fog residue is what allows Abelt Dessler to momentarily camouflage his ship from Yamato. These moments where the intricacies of the show’s internal logic is shown rather than verbalized is… very refreshing. You can sit back, digest what’s happening and enjoy the beautiful tapestry of sound and picture as it unfolds.
With that said, we’ve reached the point in 2202 where we’ll finally get the big answers, conclusions and payoffs a plenty! Six episodes of payoff to condense, discuss and debate.
[KC]: I have mentioned it before, but I am blown away by the depth that they are bringing to the Comet Empire this go-round. Not only giving Zordar legitimate motivation, but making him a tragic, sympathetic figure? And Sabera? From a two-dimensional, scheming concubine (or daughter, because Star Blazers somehow thought that would be better) to an even more tragic and sympathetic character than Zordar. This is miles apart from its original telling, and while I have a lot of nostalgia and particularly fond feelings for Dessler’s old arc, this is a great damn story.
[AMB]: Both works are immensely valuable in their own ways, and this one certainly couldn’t have been made without the reverence it has for the original. Zordar and Sabera’s story here is a tale as old as time; beauty and the beast’s bad end. And it’s up to Yamato’s crew to set Zordar straight rather than just murder him, as we’ll come to see. This was one of my favorite episodes, top three hands down!
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 15, 2019
American debut: March 16, 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 20.
Episode Director: Takahiro Kumano
Storyboard: Tomoko Iwasaki
Animation Directors: Meijyu Maeda, Nobuteru Yuuki, Mitsuru Chiba, Kentaro Tokiwa
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