Yamato 2202 Episode 21 commentary

Episode 21: Escape from a Nightmare

by Kathy Clarkson and Anton Mei Brandt

Height of summer. Butterflies flutter about in an open field. Lively trees and fauna surround it, cicadas cry in the distance.

“They’re beautiful, Mama!” A child gleefully exclaims behind the scenes. Her mother responds, clearly feeling content: “Yes, and when you grow older, I wish for you to become a gentle person like these flowers.”

The girl assures her that she will. The seasons then change to indicate the passing of a year, from summer, to fall, to winter and then spring. Then the unmistakable howl of a Garmillas planet bomb begins to disturb the serenity, all colors bleeding to orange as it falls toward the open field. We fade to white.

April 20th, 2193 AD.

[AMB]: This was one of two shots drawn in 2202 by the incredibly talented Yamato fan artist “Umegrafix” (Ryuji Umeno), whose warm coloring style is immediately recognizable. His drawn work was sold as posters in theatres with Ark of the Stars and most recently he drew a superb homage of this Star Wars poster – sold as a high quality painting limited to 1000 copies. (See it at his website here.)

Then there’s the voice actors. The characters heard talking behind the scenes are (as we’ll soon find out) a young Saki Todo and her mother Chiaki Todo. From what I can dig up, Ayahi Takagaki (voice of Saki) actually plays her younger self here, just like Koichi Yamadera did for Abelt Desler in most of Episode 15. But it gets better. Kazuko Sugiyama – the original voice of Akiko Todo, Heikuro Todo’s granddaughter in Yamato III – was specifically asked to voice a member of the Todo family almost 40 years later. Her gentle vulnerability in older age is succinctly heard, a prelude to sadness. You can read more about Ayahi Takagaki’s experience voicing Saki for Chapter 6 here where she briefly mentions what it was like to work with Sugiyama.

And finally, there’s the references. Depicted in this scene is Earth’s final four seasons of peace, cut short before the almost decade long war with Garmillas. In Yamato III, Akiko Todo earnestly wishes for the day to come when all four beautiful seasons can be peacefully observed on Earth again, a wish shared by her love interest Aihara. The prospective lovers first meet by pure coincidence in an airport, after stumbling upon a dead bird. Laying it to rest in the soil outside, they adorn its grave with a white chrysanthemum flower. The same flower we see growing here. The pair would later go on carry chrysanthemums as presage flowers in their respective notebooks, to remind them of their bond and shared desire. How does this relate to Saki’s mother in 2202? And why chrysanthemum flowers?

The chrysanthemum is generally seen as a symbol of loyalty and devoted love; an expression of sympathy. In Japan, white ones represent purity, grief and truth, often seen at funerals. The yellow part symbolises the sun and the light (immortality). Saki’s mother has inherited these character traits from her original counterpart, conveyed through her fragility. In the original story, Akiko’s idealistic appeals were meant to inspire its real time audience. Almost 40 real life years have passed since then, yet little has changed. This is why she takes her own life in the next scene. This is why those chrysanthemums are present, to remind older audience members that their generation’s wishes will wither away, if neglected. Or perhaps the eradication of this flower field is meant to evoke thoughts of idealism’s end, in the face of a new war? Where complacency in peace time gives birth to new tragedies? It’s left open.

Against the classic image of shattering earth, Chiaki apologizes to her daughter. We then see young Saki’s small hand grasping that of her mother’s, set against an incandescent backdrop. Chiaki slips away. “This world is too cruel. I just can’t…”

Standing atop the steel beams of a tall building, she lets herself fall forward, down into the abyss. “Forgive me…”

A heavy sound flings us back to the present where Captain Saki Todo (aboard Ginga) is looking at an old digitally-archived family photo of herself, Chiaki and Heikuro – her father. She laments the past. “My mother was gentle and fragile. If gentleness and humanity can kill people, I’d rather abandon it…” Determination overtakes her gaze as Ginga warps from Saturn toward the newly-established Mars frontline.

[AMB]: Most of you know this already, but the shot of shattering earth is an homage to the classic scene (animated by Toyoo Ashida) in the first episode of the original Yamato, a shot we previously saw recreated back in 2199. We’re also presented with a specific date for the invasion: April 20th, 2193 AD. Shortly after the initial attack, it seems like the Todo family was granted the privilege of being shuffled into the underground cities. This must have greatly weighed on Chiaki’s mind, how they were allowed to be isolated from the suffering of commoners. So she took her own life, unwilling to live trapped underground surrounded by despair.

This was originally going to end… a lot bloodier, with Saki coming home from school to find her mother’s corpse in the bathtub. This was changed to make it less grim. Harutoshi Fukui mentioned this in a 2019 interview:

“As for the ‘discards,’ I mentioned the suicide of Saki’s mother earlier. She was in the bath and roses spread out from her wrist…that was it. There was an image of Saki as a junior high student, frozen as she looked at that. There was a scene where Saki’s father tried to take her out of the bathroom and shield her by saying, ‘Mother is comfortable now, so let her be.’ As I try to talk about it now, turning it into an image takes everything away from it. As talk progressed, it was overturned.”

[KC]: They are going pretty heavy-handed with the exploration of humanity on the ship, which may be humanity’s last hope.

[AMB]: Humanity’s last hope… but in what capacity? Saki said that Ginga has inherited Yamato’s spirit, but that’s beginning to look less likely. Just like the audience, Saki – as a younger fan – seems to cling desperately to Yamato’s image to protect her own fragile self. At the same time, she rejects it, choosing to abandon idealism for the sake of survival. She doesn’t want to end up like her mother, who she loved the most, but is nonetheless guided by her love.

This scene is a parallel to when her father looked at the framed physical copy he had of the same photo two episodes ago, showing us that while two different generations engage with technology in markedly different ways, they still care about the same fundamental things. Like family. Though there is a sense of disconnect on Saki’s part, seeing as she can’t physically touch her copy of the photo.

On yet another note, this scene takes place immediately after the White Comet warps to Jupiter last episode.

At the UNCF Cosmo Navy Command Center on Earth, a grim and urgent report from an unknown XO reaches commanders Heikuro Todo and Kotetsu Serizawa: The White Comet has reached the final defense line at Mars with a fleet of over 20,000 ships and counting, maintaining its aggressive pace from last episode. Also, the mass-produced BBB-squadron of upgraded Andromeda variants has successfully managed to short-warp inside the comet’s interior, but all contact is lost. Serizawa remains unperturbed, his arms crossed. “It’s not like they have infinite war potential. If we use the WMG fleet to reduce their numbers, we have a chance at victory.”

[AMB]: Let me just insert a roadmap of the UNCF’s moves in this chapter. Following the disastrous Battle of Saturn, Captain Yamanami ordered his fleets to retreat, with more ships from Earth and Garmillas (commanded by Ginga) creating a new defensive line at Jupiter. Meanwhile, Yamanami manages to return Andromeda to the Time Fault for repairs while dozens of mass-produced autonomous BBB-class Andromeda ships are sent to suicide-bomb the White Comet’s inner layer. While they were on their way, the defensive line at Jupiter was broken. Zordar breaks the deadlock with a barrage of Eaters, destroying the Garmillas anti-warp shields, then warps to Mars. The BBB-class ships have since managed to infiltrate the comet, their success rate (as we’ll see) being abysmal due to the lack of a human commander.

[KC]: No problem that can’t be solved with more ordnance, eh Serizawa? Well somebody has to take that position on this show.

[AMB]: “Infinite war potential” can only mean one thing after all; the Time Fault. In times of war, overestimations of one’s own abilities and tech can often lead to disappointing and disastrous results. Then again, if the Time Fault investment falls short, Earth will have to be saved by Garmillas. So… the political situation remains on a razor’s edge.

Serizawa is starting to remind me a lot of contentious historical military figures such as George S. Patton and Winston Churchill. Victory above all else, consequences be damned. Speaking of the war, 20,000 ships on the Gatlantis side may seem like a small number following the Battle of Saturn, but it’s an impressively large figure to maintain once you factor in the losses from both sides! While Earth has time on their side, Gatlantis has organic battleship farms.

Todo, on the other hand, can’t stay seated in this worrisome situation, anxiously reaching over his desk to check for status updates on the big screen. “Any update on Yamato…?” The answer? No. Yamanami’s fleet (which saved most of Yamato’s crew) delivered a report shortly after returning to the Time Fault for repairs, stating that there’s been no additional information since Yamato fell into the White Comet’s interior. After reporting this, the lower staff officer humbly expresses his condolences.

[AMB]: Todo’s had quite an understated character arc this series, going from quietly appeasing the military’s decision-making to downright wishing for Yamato to turn the tide. As we saw in Episode 19, he knows what fate awaits his daughter if the WMG fleet fails; her body becomes a breeding ground for humanity. That’s is a realistic conclusion to this war, which he figures only Yamato could help overturn. Yamato’s adherence to allowing human factors to overrule chance, projections and odds is severely needed at this juncture.

Back on Zemulia, we return to Yamato’s crew interrogating the two child-like Zemulian storyteller A.I.’s inhabiting Analyzer. Present inside Sanada’s lab are Nagakura, Saito, Kodai, Keyman and Hijikata. Since we last checked in, the children have informed the crew that an anti-Gatlantean failsafe system exists.

“Say what?!” shouts Saito, prompting a response from Keyman. “If what it says is true, the Zemulians must have made a safety device to permanently shut down the Gatlanteans.” Saito is shocked at this revelation, but Kodai remains downcast. “Answer me,” Klaus presses. “I brought you here to know this.” But they tell him that it’s classified to outsiders (non-Zemulians).

[AMB]: While Saito’s shock could be interpreted as being Zordar’s, I don’t think it is. We still don’t know if Zordar’s in the know on this, but realizing (on a rewatch) that the “safety device” they’re talking about is Zordar’s throne… this issue resolved itself. Saito is just being Saito. Kodai is still incredibly depressed since last episode, and the revelation of a mass-genocide weapon capable of euthanising the enemy doesn’t seem to raise his spirits.

Enter a trio of ladies: Touko, Yuki and Akira Yamamoto. With Akira pointing a gun at her back, the Sabera clone (Touko) confronts the children.

“Answer the question. As the last Zemulian, I demand the answer.” Zordar’s ominous eyes briefly flash open at this, his gaze superimposed over Touko’s as the storytellers relent. “It sings the song of destruction. It’s a yoke, and the most significant key… for controlling Gatlantis.” Touko’s face twists in agony.

“Its name is Golem.” Kodai quietly repeats the name to himself as Saito’s gaze remains transfixed on Analyzer.

[AMB]: Even if Touko seems to have had a change of heart, Akira still has a gun trained on her. Keeping in mind the events of Episode 12 and her previous vile behavior, it’s understandable. Speaking of which, her change since then likewise makes sense. She doesn’t want to support Zordar’s attempt at universal mass-suicide, a deeply upsetting thought.

Now, what’s a yoke? In this context it’s basically a metaphorical chain that binds the Gatlanteans, intricately tied to their existence. A Golem is an emotionless giant, a clay figure or automaton brought to life by magic. That’s essentially what the Gatlanteans were at their core, the Zordar types later granted the fruit of wisdom. The Golem system reverts the Gatlanteans back to their allegorical clay doll forms, bringing them death.

[KC]: Never thought I would be fist-pumping for Sabera in any iteration, but here we are.

[AMB]: In spite of being a clone of “the witch,” Touko still has access by virtue of her Zemulian genetics to some extent. Unsurprisingly, Golem horrifies her. It’s still there all these centuries later.

The children continue: “The Zemulians built it long ago. Once activated, it will bring death to all artificial humans. Zordar swiftly seized it when his revolt began… but he couldn’t destroy it.” Hijikata seems to reflect on every word. “As soon as Golem is damaged, it begins to sing… the song of destruction which will kill man-made cells… that echoes throughout the universe.” Klaus jumps at this with immediate urgency, shouting at the storytellers to confirm if Golem still exists. “If it does, then where is it now?!” In response, Analyzer shuts down bit by bit. “They figured us out, huh…”

Hijikata hears Keyman’s bitter contention, observing the discord in the room. “We lost the link at this time?!,” says Nagakura, to which Saito responds, “We still don’t know the most important part!” But Touko does.

[AMB]: Golem kills all artificial humans. Does that include just the Gatlanteans, or all artificial humans in the universe? Or perhaps the Gatlanteans are the only fully-realized ones? Seeing as Zordar doesn’t die from its activation in Episode 24, we can presume that it’s the former. The Type Zordar clones evolved past the original targeted specifications for Gatlanteans.

Furthermore, if we keep in mind Hijikata’s agreement with Kodai on talking to Zordar over killing him, his reaction here is more grim. He’s realized that it might be more favorable to genocide the Gatlantean race, but won’t say it yet for Kodai’s sake, since he trusts the boy’s judgement. And I do wonder; how did Zordar seize Golem? It was of the utmost tactical importance, and surely an adventure worthy of an entire episode. It would severely damage the pacing and intrigue, however, since it’s a question we don’t need answered.

Katsuragi steps forward as she holds back the tears forming in her eyes. “Golem…,” she gazes upward. “… is in the hands of the Great Emperor.”

We swiftly cut to a wide perspective of Zordar’s throne as Gairen cautiously remarks to Zordar that Yamato’s crew now knows “too much.” Zordar responds: “We have to sacrifice a planet to seize Earth anyway.” he takes a moment to process what comes next, eyes shut. “Destroy Zemulia.” The screeching noise of a Legionnaire Cannon booting up inside the White Comet invades his mind. “Are you leading me into this, Teresa?” And the cannon fires point blank at Zemulia, marked by the White Comet theme.

[AMB]: Then we have the A.I. We are made to believe Zordar cut the link between them and Analyzer, but I think they chose to shut down themselves. The storytellers might have realized that Zordar was listening, choosing not to divulge pertinent information to him. Little do they know that he currently holds Golem, using it as his throne. That way, he ensures that it can’t be touched by anyone but himself, safeguarding his final solution.

This also has a twist to it, where we are made to believe that he’s guarding it purely for defensive purposes (since it can’t be harmed or destroyed without negative consequences), but he’s also keeping it to ensure he gets to pull the plug on his own race whenever necessary. For keen viewers, the throne reveal is hinted at by Touko’s body language when she looks back up at Zordar. She’s seeing the throne.

[KC]: It’s like he’s on a corrupted version of the hero’s journey.

[AMB]: You’re absolutely right. And the greatest antagonists are those who choose to follow the paths they believe in – just like the hero – but without regard to the necessary sacrifices. Knowing this, his corruption is lent more weight. On another note, we now have confirmation that Gatlantis only has space for five planets, making the new genetic genepool Gatlantis has to work with limited to five races.

This would explain why ‘now’ of all times was chosen to invade Earth. Earth piqued his interest, so his aim was always to bring it into his fold; a new spin on Farewell to Yamato’s Zordar. In spite of only having second-hand memories of Zemulia, he seems deeply shaken at having to destroy it. It’s quite literally haunting his mind, via the sound of the Legionnaire Cannon. And lastly, Teresa’s guidance; any idea what Zordar’s talking about here, Kathy?

[KC]: Space opera is chock full of mysterious, cosmic goddess figures. Perhaps none more so than Space Battleship Yamato itself. Abelt Dessler may have been a bit flippant when he visited Teresa because he was sulking, but the Garmillas and the Earthlings now, to an extent, have started to view Teresa as a powerful, guiding force in the universe. I would not be surprised to learn that Zordar’s musings are his own speculation or outright belief that this is all happening according to Teresa’s design.

[AMB]: I’m of the same belief. While there have been hints that there’s some special connection between Teresa, the Ark of Destruction and ancient Akerius, we have little reason to believe that Zordar’s conviction here is rooted in anything but fear of inevitability. He himself believes mankind’s love will inevitably lead to ruin, meaning he’s in a battle against fate itself. Zordar could also be remarking on how Teresa’s guidance keeps leading to misery of various kinds: reawakening Touko and Yuki’s memories, Yamato‘s crash landing, and deciding to destroy his homeworld. A man who feels abandoned by the higher powers, he chooses to pave his own road to the future without them.

A small but revelatory note: Recently I rewatched the entirety of the Evangelion franchise. Throughout the experience, I kept seeing points where 2202 made obvious references and allusions that previously went over my head. For example, Gairen. As mentioned prior, he’s voiced by veteran actor Hidekatsu Shibata. What I’d completely forgotten is that he also voiced the mysterious and enigmatic Chairman Keel from Evangelion, a humanoid ancient being wearing a strange visor-like headgear, privy to more information than anyone else in the show. Just like Gairen. It blew my mind, to say the least.

Massive shock waves follow the blast, flames spreading across the entire planet. Yamato’s bridge crew are caught completely unaware by what Miki Saijou refers to as a planet-wide tectonic shift. In the face of this, Hijikata orders Yamato to prepare for launch. We then slowly transition from the ongoing destruction of Zemulia through three different layers of the White Comet’s fog.

In the first layer, we see a large fleet of Karaklum ships being deployed. In the second layer, we see the shattered remains of some BBB-class Andromeda ships. In the third, we see the comet’s swirling nucleus, its outer layer as it looms over Mars. And from that image, we cut to UNCF HQ witnessing the white comet’s advance.

[AMB]: The information density of this show is impressive and leaves a lot to write about. First off, this is the first time we hear Naoki Kusumi replacing Ishizuka Unshou as Hijikata. As mentioned previously, Mr. Unshou unfortunately passed away midway through production on this chapter, but Mr. Kusumi portrays the character admirably in his absence, both actors having successfully preserved the original character’s brooding nature.

Secondly, we have an answer to what happened to the BBB-class Andromedas deployed last episode (they’re decimated within the white comet’s second layer). Some absolutely stunning cinematography shows us how all three intricate layers of the White Comet’s fog work – with each obfuscating the next – and we even get a visual reference to water on Mars in the final shot. The size and distance of space in this long transition is so well put together, it continually impresses me on repeat viewings. Speaking of conveying distance; no, the White Comet is not about to swallow Mars. It’s just THAT BIG even from behind Mars. The horrifying might of Gatlantis.

Commander-in-Chief Heikuro Todo witnesses these developments with dread. But his executive officer Serizawa is different. “Why don’t you attack already?” Hearing this causes Todo’s complexion to change, forming an ambiguous expression. After Serizawa finishes reading a report handed to him by one of Garmillas representatives, he rises to give the departing Earth Navy their final orders. As he speaks, upgraded dreadnaughts, mass-produced Andromedas and Earth/Garmillas hybrids like the L’andromedé depart from the Time Fault factory against a blood-red sunset. A father and son witness their departure from a nearby bay.

[AMB]: For Todo, this moment is both completely unexpected but also a long time coming. He had his worries about Serizawa and his intentions throughout all of 2202, trying his best to argue against the sound reasoning of his military mind. The WMG fleet, the Time Fault… tools of immense power liable to be misused have always been for self-defense in Serizawa’s eyes, not military imperialism.

While distrusting Garmillas and expanding the military may seem like attempts at a universal power grab, it was all for moments like these. And his final orders are so antithetical to what Todo and his G-plan project represent; an appeal to survival. Next time we see Todo, he’ll have shaken off all his worries, working as a unit with Serizawa. That said, ship designs! Some of these became fan favorites, their unique design a sight to behold! However, these were actually made on the spot by the CG team, Studio Sublimation.

Learn more about these ships here

The order (actually a speech) goes: “Orders from Defense HQ to all fleets! Hold out no matter what. Maintain the defense line. Holding for one day means we can send reinforcements. The size doubles in two days, and it’ll be even greater in three days. As long as we have the Time Fault, our war potential is unlimited. Don’t be scared, fight! For Earth, and for the future of our children. We must not allow our civilization, or the human species, to go extinct. Survive. Regardless of the cost, no matter how bad things get!”

[AMB]: Survival. That’s all this was about. Following the disastrous events of 2193, where an unwinnable war began due to misunderstandings, Serizawa now has only one goal: To ensure the survival of the human species, no matter what. But even then he’s not throwing lives away like they’re pawns – he’s telling them to live no matter what. And that means relying on the Time Fault.

[KC]: A practical solution, but a gruesome one. Will those countless ships they throw at the problem be manned? And what if they don’t have human crews? Abelt Dessler overextended his empire with fleets of androids. How did that work out for him?

[AMB]: These men and women who are sent out could be the last human resources the military has to offer, their efforts and sacrifices instrumental to realizing the Time Fault A.I.’s survival plan without having to resort to the Ginga’s G-Plan. And that’s a solid take, though I’d like to add that Abelt chose to focus effortlessly on military expansionism – in order to find a new homeworld – over defending his borders, since he never cared about his conquered territories. Earth’s goal in this war, as it has been since the end of the last great war, is to survive. And that means a war of attrition rather than conquest. It’s the complete opposite of what we were made to believe would be the UNCF’s motivation this time around, and that nuance is sorely appreciated.

We are reintroduced to Captain Yamanami, suited up in a heavy space suit aboard the newly-refitted Andromeda Kai, henceforth referred to as ZZZ-class. It’s a quiet, empty bridge. “A.I. operated autonomous control…” he beamoans. “I’m the only crewman, huh?”

His gaze shifts down to see a small photo of himself and his friends. From left to right are: Juzo Okita (deceased former Captain of Yamato), Shuntaro Yasuda (deceased Captain of Apollo Norm), Yamanami, Tetsutaro Ozaki (Commander of the defense fleet at Saturn’s second moon, Enceladus) and Ryu Hijikata (presumed-dead Captain of Yamato). He smacks his lips and sighs. “It’s sad… don’t you think so too, Andromeda?” We cut to outside the ship as Yamanami looks up, his smile gone. The refurbished Andromeda now sports a fresh paint job: Yamato colors. This is now Yamato‘s stand-in.

[AMB]: When Yamanami ponders the current state of things, a sly smile covers his mug, though its sincerity is questionable against Masashi Ebara’s pained vocal delivery. The photo of his friends is the last piece of human culture aboard the ship, himself being the last human at all. He’s essentially commanding a suicide mission to improve the success rate of the first BBB-class attack. And even if his presence is seen as necessary, he’s still at the whims of another Black Analyzer A.I., open to sacrificing him for the sake of long-term strategies. I do think it’s sweet that he’s given his Andromeda some animism though, talking to it like a middle-aged man to his car.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Varel’s Garmillas defense fleet has arrived at the Mars sector, furiously engaged in close-quarters combat against Gatlantis. Fomto Berger leads his four CCC-class Andromeda variants – with accompanying Dolcia and Galunt bombers as well as Kelkapia-class cruisers – against a wall of three Medalusa-class ships being escorted by Lascaux-class assault cruisers, taking them down in quick succession. Fomto has this fact reported to him as he urges his soldiers to keep pushing. “We’re just getting started!” Then, from within the swirling fog of the White Comet’s outermost layer, reemerges Admiral Baruze’s Apocalix-class carrier. He orders the ship to rotate its catapult and launch a squadron of Deathvatators!

[AMB]: A moment of pure visual splendor, completely gimped for anyone who hasn’t yet had the pleasure of seeing Ark of the Stars. The thrilling Gatlantis theme, Berger making use of the combat techniques he learned against the Medalusa in Ark, the Dolcia and Galunt bombers… what a marvel!

[KC]: It’s just so damned cool to have Garmillas on Earth’s side, especially this one. Berger is such a great character. If we haven’t referenced it enough and you still haven’t seen it, please get your hands on Ark of the Stars, A.K.A. Odyssey of the Celestial Ark. I don’t believe that there was an American import, but the Japanese edition is subbed, so watching with friends might be a lovely post-pandemic celebratory get-together.

[AMB]: The subtitles on the Japanese edition have a multitude of issues, but it’s still worth getting. There’s even references being made here to the visual CG direction of that movie, with fast sweeping camera movements that take you straight into the action! Some argue that Ark’s usage of CG and action sequences was the series’ peak, and they’re not wrong! Until now, that is. Which brings me to the Medalusa…

Ever since 2202 began, some fans have been clamoring for a more extensive look at the ship, a fan favorite design that packs some major heat! (Pun intended). It was Baruze’s flagship in Yamato 2, becoming a one-off wonder in the Ark movie. And it’s really cool! But when you factor in that the Medalusa was outdated the moment Sanada figured out how to track and predict its teleportation cannon… we can see why most of these ships were converted into makeshift tanks or glorified cannons. They’re large, bulky, impractical and slow. Their conversion into tanks makes sense and I’ll defend that to my grave.

Countless Deathvatators are launched, aiming to attack Ambassador Varel’s Zoeleguut, along with its 10 anti-warp shields. It’s heavily protected by dozens of Kelkapia-class cruisers while receiving fire support from a blockade of ships formed by the Aldebaran – helmed by Captain Kozo Tani – and his accompanying dreadnought escorts. The Deathvatators’ advance is reported to the Captain as “an attack from multiple ships coming from the massive enemy carrier.”

“Prepare to fire rapid torpedoes and cluster missiles, followed by a barrage of graviton spread shots!” The attack succeeds at obliterating a few dozen of the Deathvatators, but a larger number manages to dodge the incoming beams and dive toward Varel.

[AMB]: References done right. Back in Farewell, there were no Eater ships, only Deathvatators. Originally, there was only one Andromeda as well, not commanded by Hijikata. As discussed before, Baruze didn’t command a Medalusa either, but rather the double-hulled carrier. The original battle of Saturn was a confrontation between Baruze’s fleet and Earth’s only Andromeda, commandeered by an unnamed Captain who looked a lot like Captain Kozo Tani. He’s even voiced by Masaru Ikeda, an actor who provided voices for both Yamato 2 and Yamato III.

The original Baruze unleashed hundreds of deathvatators, most being blown up by the EDF navy before being able to release their payload. But those that did survive managed to do major damage. This piece of history is repeating, though it’s between reboot Baruze and the commander of Aldebaran, one of the five from the first batch. Even the Gatlantis theme is on point!

Captain Tani repositions his fire support fleet to protect the anti-warp shields, sacrificing six of his dreadnoughts. Varel can’t decide whether he’s impressed or annoyed once Tani calls him. “We’ll hold this place. Break apart the shield and withdraw to the other side of Mars.” With apprehension, Varel responds: “No, for the honor of Garmillas, we can’t…” but Tani cuts him off with a strained expression. “Another fleet is coming, directly from Earth.”

Hearing of this surprising turn of events, Varel ceases arguing and turns his ship to leave once the shields have been removed. Behind him, his and Tani’s soldiers keep up the good fight in a united front against an endless horizon of Gatlantean battleships, spearheaded by Baruze’s Apocalix.

[AMB]: From the unsteady alliance between Kodai and Berger in Ark to Episode 1’s shaky front against Gatlantis, to Earthlings giving their lives to protect their Garmillas allies here… their camaraderie has grown so far, surely spurred by the ongoing conflict. Lerelei would be proud. Varel even lets go of his own national pride for a moment, allowing himself to retreat. This was completely unheard of in the Garmillas military of 2199, as fans surely remember. “Victory, and if not victory, then death.” There may not be a word for retreat in the Garmillan language, but Varel is not needed on this side of Mars.

[KC]: Also, I feel like he was picking up on the fact that it was Yamato that was coming, and that’s the only reason why he wasn’t more stubborn about it. He has a duty to the military, yes, but also a vested interest in their mission.

[AMB]: I’d also like to add how valiantly Baruze’s fighting. He’s right on the front lines, pushing his enemy back. And as I mentioned back in Episode 17, the fact that Apocalix is still just referred to as “that large ship” does wonders to convey the fear these soldiers feel toward this new enemy. This is also Baruze’s way of making up for his failure at Saturn.

Two dozen BBB-class Andromeda ships – supported by Dreadnoughts to increase their propulsion – proceed to warp inside the White Comet’s innermost layer, above the Ark of Destruction. They’re led by Yamanami and his Andromeda Kai, operated by its very own black Analyzer. Standing in their way is a force of Kalaklums at least double their own fleet size, turning to intercept. Very few perish before the WMGs combine to attack the Ark’s head, though met with two red rings of absolute protection once again. These rings absorb the damage taken from the WMGs, causing the surrounding space to crackle like a storm.

[AMB]: As has become customary, the continuously-perfected CG usage keeps getting better and better, the visual language of the show flowing seamlessly together with the music, sound design and voice acting. Time of Fate, one of Akira Miyagawa’s new and original tunes, makes a triumphant return, evoking the image of dreadnaughts hiding in the rings of Saturn back in Episode 17. Mankind isn’t beaten yet!

Curiously, we once again see those red rings of doom that acted as a prelude to disaster for the WMG fleet. Only this time, we get a clear look at what they do; emit an invisible forcefield, one capable of taking dozens of WMG hits at once. But as we’ll see in a bit, Yamanami’s fleet manages to get through. This is powered by the Ark’s head, crystallizing into the now-familiar blue Akerian architectural design. Perhaps a sign of overheating?

Also, kudos to Zordar for having a garrison of ships protecting the top of the Ark. It’s so rare to see space opera anime taking advantage of the 3D environment of space when it comes to troop deployment. CG can do things that hand-drawn animation would really struggle with.

We’re then brought back to Zemulia, seeing its destruction inside Gatlantis’ gravity well. Flaming debris crashes and burns around Yamato as Hijikata announces the order to launch. Engines ignite, the ground opens up, and cracks form all around the surface. “Now, Kodai!” Kodai raises the hull. The ship is steadied against the apocalyptic scenery, ready to rise.

“High energy signature, incoming!” reports Miki, and in response Hijikata issues the iconic order: “Yamato, LAUNCH!” And it launches! Zemulia is utterly destroyed in its wake, fire raining from the sky. Hijikata issues a new order: “Get into communications range no matter what, and inform Earth about Golem.” The engines are set to max as Yamato pushes through a mushroom cloud.

[AMB]: This scene not only establishes the distance between Zemulia and the gravity well, but also acts as an homage of an homage. Yamato’s original liftoff from the red wasteland of Earth was as a revival of the old, protecting the future. In 2199, the derelict Yamato’s image was used as camouflage, tricking the enemy into thinking it was an old and broken ship. But for 2202 (at this point 2203) we finally see this iconic moment recreated with full accuracy; camouflaged, broken radar equipment actually breaks as it sets off.

The “setting sun” this time is the destructive red core of Zemulia being hollowed out, the scene passing the baton from 2199’s reimagining to 2202’s regeneration; the overall theme of this chapter. Some of the direction is shot for shot, recreated by two of the original’s greatest fans: Storyboard Artist Masahiko Okura and Director Nobuyoshi Habara.

[KC]: It is inspiring and impressive as hell.

[AMB]: Even the music is a mixture of homage and regeneration, the iconic Yamato launch music being presented in an unreleased instrumental form – a personal touch added by Habara to indicate ‘his’ take on Yamato. He did the same thing for Yamato’s launch in his Director’s Cut of Resurrection, opting for an instrumental version of the movie’s new theme. This time, he’s removed the chorus of the iconic takeoff theme.

And while Naoki Kusumi’s performance as Hijikata is once again excellent, I do feel the same sorrow at knowing that Ishizuka Unshou was never able to deliver the iconic “Yamato, LAUNCH!” line. I’m not the only one. His death was a major blow in the industry, a veteran beloved by all, both young and old.

Yamanami has managed to penetrate Gatlantis’ defenses, though his Andromeda Kai is now the only ship left. He’s completely given in to the A.I., letting it run the show. “This is no longer a matter of Earth or Gatlantis. As long as the Time Fault exists, the killing will never end.” Cynicism chains his features as inhumanely effective tactics are carried out by the A.I. in response to enemy attack. “I thought I’d chosen the best option to restore Earth, but…”

Andromeda Kai cleans up any imminent threats on the battlefield and then promptly shuts down its weapons systems, now standing face to face with the Ark of Destruction’s gravity well. “If only I could destroy the gravity well…”

And then, a revelation; seeing Zemulia’s destruction at the hands of Gatlantis, he asks himself a question. “Why are they destroying their own planet…?”

[AMB]: Once again, Yamato and the Setting Sun is used as a leitmotif for Yamanami, this being the most effective usage of it yet. The immense sorrow and sadness heard in his voice as he condemns his own poor decision-making is heartbreaking, especially seeing how he’s lost faith. Not only in his judgement, but also in his combat skills. So, to repent for his mistakes he wants to give his life in exchange for destroying Gatlantis gravity well. That way, wherever Yamato has crashed, if it’s still kicking, it can break away. He’d also be taking Yamato’s weight off its own shoulders after his failure at Saturn.

[KC]: This scene gets me even after multiple viewings, although that can be said of any number of emotional scenes in this retelling. And this from someone who used to fast-forward through the Earthling parts.

[AMB]: It’s rough. A mostly-playful military man sees the folly of his own goodwill; the future of Earthlings is doomed whether they survive or not. They’ll either be ruled by Gatlantis or their own Time Fault brand A.I., incapable of affecting the course of the future; something that really plays well into Zordar’s botched Teresa-capture plan! Before he can kill himself, though, he thankfully sees something wrong with Gatlantis attacking one of their own planets. This is juxtaposed by the BGM cutting off before it enters its more grim militaristic portion, a neat touch mandated by the mid-episode commercial break.

Having been in warp for most of the episode, Ginga is forced to make a stop near Jupiter. Shima’s concerned about something the A.I. said. “What? Say it again!” In response, Black Analyzer announces that HQ has ordered them to steer clear from combat in accordance with the G-plan; combined losses of the Earth-Garmillas joint forces have exceeded 50%. Black Analyzer assumes partial command of Ginga. Shima can’t believe they’re actually under an A.I.’s command now and Sanada finally asks the big question, turning around to face Captain Saki.

“What’s the meaning of this? What’s the G-plan?”

[AMB]: As someone who used to be interested in astronomy, I’m ashamed to say that I had to look up what the planets of our solar system look like to figure out that Ginga made a pit stop at Jupiter. For those who are equally out of the loop, the planetary order looks something like this: Saturn > Jupiter > Mars > Earth. That aside, not only is Yamanami experiencing an existential crisis over Earth’s submission to A.I. technology, but Ginga’s crew seem to be as well.

Andromeda, Ginga, the BBB-class… all of it is almost completely automated. Thankfully, without further interruptions Sanada can finally ask what the G-plan is.

Saki begins: “The Time Fault can produce weapons endlessly, but humans have a limit…”

Megumi continues: “The solutions are to reduce personnel by using A.I. and to raise weapon usage efficiency by modifying human bodies.”

That’s when it finally hits Shima why Ichinose was so adamant to roboticize her body. And horror spreads across his face.

Megumi coldly goes on: “We don’t know what kind of choices humans will have to make in order to survive. That’s why we preserve normal genes while we can, and when the worst comes…” and Sanada finishes for her: “… we leave Earth to look for a new home. Is that the G-plan?”

[KC]: As with any good sci-fi, the least emotional thinkers have come up with the best hope for mankind and the rest of the characters are varying degrees of horrified.

[AMB]: No kidding. Saki’s starting to age-regress too, at least in demeanor. Even she can’t bear to listen to all this, knowing what’s to become of her body now that the joint Earth-Garmillan alliance has statistically failed. These ladies carry Earth’s future, mankind’s future and their own guaranteed pain and suffering on their shoulders now. Can’t even begin to imagine what that’s like.

Niimi questions the validity of this plan. Because even if we humans have reproductive cells, it’s not that easy to actually produce humans. “This ship isn’t equipped with a lab capable of…” and she gasps at her realisation.

“Correct,” Megumi responds. “That’s why most of the Ginga crew members are female.”

Kanzaki picks up the conversation: “Artificial reproduction will eventually be realised, but for now…” and it’s bookended by Ichinose, “… we’re humanity’s last line of defense. Even if we mechanize our limbs, this body is still…” Shima’s about to lose it. “… if humanity is to survive-” and Shima loses it, bursting up from his chair to confront Ichinose. “Do we have to go that far?!” his entire body shakes in anger. Ichinose is unsure of how to respond.

[AMB]: Shima’s anger is incredibly relatable and should hopefully reflect the combined will of humanity to reject advancements that forsake that very thing; humanity. Another topic of interest is the fact that no matter how far we mechanize, the female body is still needed to ensure survival. This has been hammered into these girls to the point where they’re completely detached from any semblance of personal identity, reciting doctrine like a uni-mind. They’re breeding stock and they know it.

Ichinose, however, seems a bit taken aback – and happily so – by Shima’s outrage, perhaps reigniting some humanity within her. Shima’s anger has been brewing since Episode 19, where he first heard of Ichinose’s desire to reject her mortality. And we now know why.

[KC]: Yeah, I’m with you, Sanada. A ship crewed almost exclusively by women intended to be breeding stock? No thank you. Honestly, I wondered if they were going to figure out a way for the Time Fault to start churning out people and draw a correlation there between Earth and Gatlantis. Or more accurately, Earth and the Zemulians.

[AMB]: We did have some of that in Episode 19, where Saki informed us that developments in humanoid technology are increasing rapidly inside the Time Fault. We were led to believe that they were blindly utilitarian in their desire to see this through, but we now know that they had a personal stake in it. Had the development been seen through within the next 100 days, they would have been spared this great duty. But now? Black Analyzer and HQ came to the conclusion that there’s no hope for the joint Earth-Garmillan attrition strategy. So their fate as breeding stock is set in stone.

“In order to overcome fear, you must become fear… such as the WMG fleet and military expansion with the Time Fault. ” Saki stops the turmoil with these short words, face huddled in darkness as she faces Sanada and Niimi. Yamato’s former bridge crew all listen intently, fear overwhelming them. “This is was what mankind chose after the devastation brought forth in the war with Garmillas. It’s in order to live on in this cruel world, since humans are too weak.”

Captain Saki wavers at the end, her eyes watering. That’s when they receive a transmission from Andromeda Kai and Yamanami.

[KC]: Reminded again of the quote from Jedi Master Yoda, which I believe I have already referenced in a previous commentary. Fear never leads to anything good in space opera.

[AMB]: A cornered mouse bites the cat. Seeing the almost complete eradication of our entire race and planet, Earth has chosen to temporarily abandon human nature in a paradoxical effort to save that very nature. Once you see the darkness of war, poverty and starvation to unbelievable extents, anything is preferable to that.

Whether it’s the rise of Lenin in early 19th century Russia, or the allied powers’ fear of German expansion prior to WW1, fear rules hearts and minds in times of conflict, suffering and war. Why allow ourselves to be subjugated by supposedly unfeeling humanoids when we can choose to subjugate ourselves? At least that’s a choice made by humans…

Andromeda to all ships; do you copy? I found Yamato!” This momentarily stuns Saki. “It was very brief, but I was able to visually detect it! That was Yamato! Yamato is alive!”

Yamanami’s voice and spirit both seem reinvigorated. Shima sheds tears of joy. “But it’s caught in the Comet Empire’s massive gravitational field. It’s impossible for Yamato to break free!” Ginga’s bridge is suddenly brimming with life, all crew members discussing Yamato’s survival. “Remaining ships, if you hear me, help assist Yamato in its escape!”

[AMB]: Finally, individual actors within Earth’s military take a strong stance against these dark developments, realizing that Yamato is more than just a ship. It’s a memento left behind by Earth’s greatest Captain. It’s a symbol of perseverance against all odds. Most importantly, it’s hope that we can overcome the impossible.

[KC]: Yamato provides something A.I.s can’t account for: hope. Another great emotional scene.

[AMB]: Hope can triumph over chances and odds. The late Captain Juzo Okita knew that best. He’d be proud of his junior here, urging his allies to disobey an order they know is wrong in order to steer humanity toward the right path again. As I mentioned a few episodes ago, Yamanami has been trying to find a place to die to make up for his retreat and failure at Saturn, for failing to do what Okita believed was best for humanity. Just like his historical counterpart, he wants to atone for failing Okita, but dying isn’t the way to do it.

Yamanami announces that Andromeda Kai will approach the center of the Comet in an attempt to destroy “the enemy’s gravity well”. Tactical Chief Kanzaki comments on how Andromeda’s proposed course of action is practically suicide without an escort and First Officer Megumi adds that Andromeda is incapable of holding out against a gravitational core that controls as much mass as the Ark of Destruction.

Saki’s reflections on this matter are interrupted by Sanada, who has a proposal: “Ginga’s Cosmo Reverse can amplify WMGs. Using this, Andromeda alone should be able to damage the gravitational core.” She shies away, unwilling to respond.

[AMB]: While Yamanami’s heart is with Yamato, his mind is still that of a soldier’s, even as he commits to his idealistic acts. And Sanada’s plan? It holds merit, but it’s still not a guaranteed win. The Yamato way. However, Saki doesn’t want her expectations to fall flat again, especially not at the cost of humanity. But the rest of the crew seem to warm up to the idea. The ice queen’s heart is starting to thaw, her evil A.I. stepmother the only thing standing in her way.

Black Analyzer counters Sanada’s suggestion, arguing that “in order to obtain the expected result,” they would be placing too much strain on the Cosmo Reverse System. They suggest that it is a highly unreliable plan and that the crew cannot afford to lose the CRS, at which point Sanada has an extremely uncharacteristic and angry outburst, cutting Black Analyzer off by insisting, “I didn’t ask for your opinion!” He then addresses the Captain, but Saki does not answer, biting her lip in frustration.

[AMB]: We all know Niimi’s fallen for Sanada since Mamoru’s death, and this must have broken any doubts in her mind about his humanity. So many characters in this show deserve their own weddings at this point, it’s not even funny.

[KC]: I do like this Sanada quite a bit, secretly dating his dead best friend’s former sweetheart and his arms and legs that aren’t bombs and his rage against the machines.

[AMB]: He’s had quite the evolution as a character, hasn’t he? From being a sort of goofy scientist with all the gadgets and gizmos, he’s become a profound contemporary philosopher and stout warrior of love. His “I didn’t ask for your opinion!” line was a major shock in Japanese cinemas, a clear departure from who he used to be in favor of idealism. And it was so well put! The fate of humanity, of Yamato, is at stake. Machines have no right to dictate the next course of action.

Yamanami laments how too many lives have been lost. He argues that while he’s unable to take responsibility for bad choices already made, he can at least sacrifice his life and Andromeda to bring back Yamato. Suddenly, he hears a voice chiding him. It is the voice of Hijikata.

“Yamanami.” All noise quiets down. “There’s no responsibility in dying, Yamanami.”

Music starts to swell in tandem with Yamanami’s eyes as we see Yamato struggling to escape Zemulia’s destruction. “Live…”

Yamato takes a devastating hit as we cut to Kato, waiting for takeoff orders aboard Ginga.

“Live and dust yourself off. No matter how humiliating it is, survive!”

Kato raises his head as we cut from Ginga to Yamato, where Hijikata, perfectly aligned with Okita’s sculpture, continues; “Humans are weak. We make mistakes. So what? We’re not… machines!”

[AMB]: The pure magical brilliance of this scene with its flawless direction and abundant payoffs cannot be understated. Going from the traditional “go down with the ship and die” mentality which we’ve seen time and time again, Hijikata chides Yamanami for trying to ditch any semblance of real responsibility by dying. That’s not how you take responsibility, that’s how you run away from it.

The historical Yamanami tried running away from his responsibilities as well, only to be brought back to the fold and executed for those actions. Similarly, in the original Yamato, we kept seeing brave Captains like Yamanami and soldiers like Saito giving their lives to serve the greater good. But in this instance? It’s far below necessary, and Yamanami should not give in to glory-seeking.

It’s the same for Kato. And the same for Hijikata and the Ginga crew. They should stop seeking places to die for mistakes of the past. They should live, rejecting the prophecies of machines and forge their own path forward. That way, they can teach the next generation about their mistakes and grow with them. That’s how you truly save humanity.

Humans aren’t machines, they’re not expendable pawns without morals or values. Now, we can argue whether or not Yamanami really hears Hijikata’s voice in his head, if it’s being transmitted to him from Yamato, or if he’s remembering some old lecture of Hijikata’s… but that’s beside the point that’s being made here. Yamanami understands this truth within his heart.

With increased fervor, Black Analyzer insists that the G Plan must be prioritized for humanity’s survival. Hijikata’s voice begins booming over Black Analyzer as we see the bowed head of Captain Saki Todo. “Machines are shameless,” Hijikata says. “That we can make mistakes and feel shame. Those are the privileges of humanity.”

[AMB]: Finally, after years of ineptitude and passivity, Hijikata admits that it’s okay to make mistakes and learn from them, realizing that Yamato is a ship whose greatest strength is its humanity – humility and mistakes included. Even if you risked your mothership like Kato, even if you failed to protect the land under your jurisdiction like Hijikata, and even if you couldn’t prevent your mother’s suicide (leading to a temporary loss of humanity) like Saki, it’s okay. We all make mistakes. And as long as we keep living, keep atoning and keep pushing for a better world by learning from these mistakes, we’ll prove how truly valuable our humanity is.

Saki raises her head just as Black Analyzer begins to deliver an absolute withdrawal order. Her decision is made. She rises from her seat and coldly fires two shots point blank into the robot, silencing it instantly as its panels and screens go dark. Ichinose rises from her station in alarm. “Captain!”

“As of this moment, the command AI has been replaced,” Captain Todo shouts to the bridge with gusto. “I will take command of this ship.”

[AMB]: The combined voice-acting forces of Naoki Kusumi (Hijikata), Ayahi Takagaki (Saki) and Cho (Black Analyzer) completely stole the show here. The immaculate audio mixing between the three, along with the completely new and original BGM Endless War by Akira Miyagawa help create a defining moment for the Yamato saga as a whole. Harutoshi Fukui (Writer) and Hideki Oka (Scriptwriter) really outdid themselves. The BGM has been stripped of certain elements to make it fit better to the scene in question. In this instance, it’s a “No chamber/no Harpsichord” version that sounds much grander than the track on the second original soundtrack CD.

[KC]: Another triumphant moment for human intelligence over an artificial one in this episode. I expect that is totally by design.

[AMB]: Nothing about humanity is by design. We change and adapt according to our circumstances, purely of our volition. Or, like Ichinose, we rely completely on the technological benefits of mechanization. I get why she expresses discomfort over what Saki just did, but it’s a spiritual wakeup call for her that she’ll definitely appreciate years down the line. In many ways, she’s likely made to act as an audience surrogate for younger viewers like myself who are too attached to technology to see the value in choosing to not follow preset algorithms.

[KC]: Ah, sorry; I meant that the writers did it totally by design. First a compromised Analyzer is made to reveal their secrets by the arrival of Touko Katsuragi, then Saki Todo enforces her will over that of Black Analyzer. That is not accidental poetry, it is the theme of the entire episode, if not the series itself. We must never give up our humanity to survive.

[AMB]: No offense taken! I was just taking advantage of your wording to say something poignant, heh. And that’s an astute observation! Never made that connection until now.

Editor Tim Eldred stepping in here with another observation. With all the other drama going on, it’s easy to forget that the sequence we’ve just seen is in many ways the core of the story. The overall message of Farewell to Yamato in 1978 was that humans are not cogs in a machine. To illustrate that, a giant mechanized empire (symbolic of international industrialization) attempted to dehumanize the human race and the young crew of Yamato stood up in defiance. The purpose of 2202 was to find a new, more contemporary way to express that message. Now the enemy isn’t just a mechanized empire, it’s a machine intelligence that we ourselves created and depend on. (I trust the allegory is clear.) That machine attempted to dehumanize us, and the captain of Ginga stood up in defiance. It’s fascinating to see this same message articulated in different times.

First Mate Kanzaki begins a system restart as Captain Todo orders Ginga to the Martian front.

Yamanami and Andromeda Kai, meanwhile, are really taking a beating. Several Eater ships have started lunging at him, desperate to take him down as he approaches the gravity well. They cut through his supporting dreadnaughts before aiming straight for his bridge. In one swift, effective motion, an Eater slices through it, leaving it ripped open to the hostile wind currents inside the White Comet.

The music reaches its crescendo as we see Yamanami, unscathed thanks to his space suit, holding on for dear life to Andromeda’s bridge console. He clenches his teeth, facing the wind before yelling out an order. “Rapid torpedoes, fire!” The aft torpedoes are launched in a flurry, intercepting the pursuing Eater vessels with no pardon. No pursuers in sight.

[AMB]: The first time I bore witness to Yamanami’s brave charge against the scourge of the White Comet, it gave me the same kind euphoria as the climax of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. The swashbuckling adventures of Jack Sparrow had a tremendous formative effect on my youth, where I’d try mimicking the intense swordplay in those movies. The rhythmic and melodic BGM mixes did a lot to help bring my fantasies to life. This scene recreated that childhood experience for me, and still does on repeat viewings. It’s a perfect combination of adventure, stakes, excitement and character progression that mixed beautifully with the BGM, displaying the finest and most reckless qualities of a human being. Yamanami went from being a replacement Captain to a true hero.

Suddenly, his console indicates that the ship’s Wave-Motion Engine is being restarted. Andromeda Kai has actively chosen to support his reckless endeavour. He chortles at this. “You’re a stubborn one, Andromeda.” Yamanami comments on their mutual stubbornness, and after giving it a quick nod of approval he orders the ship to ready the Wave-Motion Gun for firing at Gatlantis’ gravitational core. As the quadruple-spread diffusion WMG begins powering up, Ginga valiantly arrives at the scene. It bursts out of warp and swings itself around behind Andromeda.

[AMB]: That slow turn is paced brilliantly with the drawn out portion of Endless War, making what could have been a jarring sequence sped up for drama into something a lot more grounded, building up anticipation for what’s to come.

[KC]: YES!!! Such a dramatic shot of this ship arriving to save the day.

[AMB]: Even better is an aspect that I don’t see talked about much; Yamanami and Andromeda’s brotherly romance going on here. He’s placed his faith and trust in this ship, and here at the end of its life span it chooses to go along with Yamanami’s crazy plan. We don’t know if it’s just weighing the odds in his favor, or if his perceived spirit actually inspired some kind of thought process evolution in the ship’s A.I. But I like to believe the latter. Maybe Andromeda has adopted some of Yamanami’s qualities just like Analyzer did from Sado aboard Yamato.

Captain Todo rises from her station to salute Andromeda’s Captain. “Captain Yamanami, allow us to accompany you. So that we can both survive together.”

He smiles back at her and seemingly returns the salute as the Ginga powers up its CRS. The Cosmo Reverse is operating at its limit; First Mate Kanzaki notes that after this shot they won’t be able to use it anymore.

“That’s fine,” the Captain assures her. “This is our ship, humanity’s ship!”

[AMB]: There’s an aura of deep, mutual respect between these two Captains, who’ve probably never met once in their entire lives. While waxing poetically about the dangers of technology, 2202 doesn’t neglect to show us what wonders it can bring. These two? Without long distance communication, this wouldn’t have happened. Without the advanced A.I. aboard Andromeda Kai? The WMG might not have been able to restart itself. And without Ginga’s CRS? Well, none of what’s about to happen could have been achieved. The message is uplifting as well; Ginga has finally become humanity’s ship as promised two episodes ago, not by sacrificing someone like Kato but by saving a fellow man like Yamanami!

We also once again have another style-over-realism moment, where the direction makes us believe that Yamanami can see and hear Saki’s proclamations. But most likely, he’s just seen Ginga arrive to assist, perhaps hearing some audio broadcast from her bridge. It’s a spectacular moment that works whether or not they know the other is saluting. In fact, it’s even better if they don’t, because then it means humans have the common decency to salute. They have faith in one another in spite of never meeting, betting on low odds. That’s humanity.

There’s also a symbolic connection, where the ideological divide between the WMG fleet supporters (spearheaded by Yamanami and Andromeda) unite with the G-plan proponents (Saki being the obvious counterpart) to find a new way forward, together. Like Saki said: “So that we can both survive together.”

“Amplification rate, 8 million TPa!” announces Kanzaki. On their respective Captains’ commands, Ginga’s CRS boosts Andromeda at Saki’s orders, followed by Yamanami firing off his ship’s WMG.

The process is as such: First, Ginga’s CRS envelops Andromeda and its immediate surroundings in an orange light, boosting its output. Then, Andromeda’s quadruple-diffusion WMG lances out, all four beams merging to penetrate the outermost layer of the CRS’ orange light, the beams coated and forming with the CRS field to become one giant superbeam; thick liquid lightning. This beam accelerates, punching through the innermost core of the Ark’s gravity well. The beams spread inside it like neurons, creating purple lightning that crackles and sparkles all across the surrounding space. The core ignites and goes dark, flames bearing the image of galaxies flooding out from the core.

[AMB]: We’ve spoken briefly about how cosmic horror soaks Gatlantis’s visual and audio design during the making of these commentaries, and I’d just like to reiterate that. Whenever the battleships of Earth and Garmillas have engaged in combat against the Ark, it’s always reacted in ways that are both difficult to explain and visually mesmerizing.

From the crystallization of the head to the red beams of doom to the galaxy-colored flames of the overloaded gravity well. This entire scene is a visual treat, even if the bastardization of the CRS breaks my heart. But like the characters said, they can’t take back their sins, so they better keep on living so that they can repent. This includes the bastardization of the CRS, as well as the large scale implementation of WMGs.

The sudden disruptions from the gravity well completely destabilize the surrounding space, breaking apart Zordar’s newly-formed Legionnaire Cannon and ending its scorching of Zemulia, but it’s too late. The Gatlantean Kalaklum ships drift and spin as Yamato continues to climb. Fire and brimstone and planetary chunks expand from what remains of Zemulia.

Kodai announces that the rudder is not working and Saijo informs the bridge that it will be three seconds until the shockwave passes. Hijikata orders the engines to maximum output and Kodai struggles to gain altitude as Zemulia shatters, one large piece of the planet about to obliterate them.

[AMB]: We all know what’s coming next, so let me just insert something real quick. Had the two ideological opponents behind the WMG fleet plan and the G-plan not united just now (against all odds) in an effort to save Yamato (their mutual object of reverence and respect) the ship wouldn’t survive this. Like Teresa told us so many episodes ago, it’s up to every individual themselves to choose their future. Yamato just happens to be an incredibly harmonizing factor that helps encourage and motivate positive developments.

This right here is the proof. Who changed Yamanami’s mind? Okita’s children and Hijikata. Who spurred on change in Saki and her crew? Okita’s children. Teresa believes that the children of the progenitor race Akerius are capable of bringing about “the right future” as long as they do what they feel is right. And that’s always been what Yamato, the ship, has done.

Suddenly, rocket anchors are forcibly launched and lodged into Yamato’s flanks, towing the struggling ship to safety. Miki confirms to the bridge that what saved them were indeed rocket anchors and Kodai’s left staring in shock and awe at the sight of their rescuer: Andromeda Kai. Hijikata wryly smiles, as does Yamanami with a humbling bow of his head. After a brief respite, Yamanami orders all ships to escape from the White Comet. They pull away as Zemulia’s core slowly starts to implode, leaving behind a large white explosion of light.

[AMB]: Yamanami and Hijikata don’t even need to see one another face to face to feel the same sense of accomplishment and relief. These hard-boiled, middle-aged manly men have hearts of gold.

[KC]: This episode is one ‘woo-hoo’ moment after another!

[AMB]: No wonder it’s considered one of the best in the series, even by 2202‘s detractors. Yamato’s crew is left thinking that chance and luck saved them as always, but we in the audience are getting a taste of what Teresa’s been talking about. Even in 2199, Yamato had incredible luck. But once you examine the actions it’s taken, and how every move and relationship the crew forms with other people helps set up the events which feed into their “luck”… you start seeing a pattern.

Through taking risks, showing humility and owning up to their mistakes, Yamato’s crew kept influencing various actors of both 2199 and 2202 to help change the playing field. Melda, Ito and Yurisha could have remained great obstacles all throughout 2199, but due to the acts of mutual understanding these characters experienced, they all grew to help and support one another, leading to the right future. Even the Desslers have both been fundamentally influenced and affected by Yamato, as have all of the Gatlantean Admirals they’ve met.

A heavy yet triumphant variation of the Yamato theme starts to play as the titular ship is pulled out of the White Comet’s fog. They both escape, followed closely by Ginga. But the White Comet’s still going. All three ships end up grazing the atmosphere of Mars, with Ginga’s crew noting that Andromeda has taken heavy damage and is at her limit. Smoke billows out of the battered Andromeda’s engines.

Still on standby in his Blackbird on Ginga‘s catapult, Kato becomes very emotional at seeing Yamato alive again. His voice is hoarse and tears start to form. “Yamato…” He takes in the ship’s devastated image. “You’re alive… you’re really alive!” Then the order from Captain Todo comes through to assist both Yamato and Andromeda in their escape. Kato promptly does away with his tears, clenches his teeth and gets to work.

[AMB]: The first half of the BGM Yamato Dyed in Red here was originally more somber in Yamato 2 but has been given a bombastic touch-up for this reboot. It effectively sets up Yamato’s return from the jaws of death as something biblical, while its second half does something entirely different.

The visuals here are once again breathtaking. Seeing the ships each exiting the White Comet’s fog in tune with the music is a marvel with an epic sense of scale. These guys managed to break out of that thing, and we feel that victory.

Kato, meanwhile… understandably has trouble feeling the same sense of triumph, his emotions being a tangled mess; hence the music temporarily cuts out when we see him again. He’s so much of a mess, in fact, that we can see an animation error where his tears are there one second, gone the next and back again.

Andromeda Kai begins to drop toward Mars, a mass of continuous explosions. “We’re done for, huh?” Yamanami does what he can on the remains of the bridge, wondering if this is the end for him and his ship. He decides to unlodge her anchors from Yamato, leaving Kodai to witness Andromeda’s fall with dismay and worry. Leaving a trail of thick, black smoke, the hull disappears under a layer of clouds. Kato races in, teeth gritted in determination, and Kodai gasps in shock as the clouds themselves seem to ignite from within.

[AMB]: And here’s the somber portion of the BGM, endlessly tense and majestic. Just like Captains of old, Yamanami doesn’t want to leave his ship alone to its fate and does his best to save it, but all for naught. At least Yamato doesn’t have to share in their end. Andromeda has been metaphorically dragging Yamato down since the start of this show, being an object of scorn and a symbol of Earth’s misguided future.

Now Yamato’s burden is lifted, but at what cost? Kato doesn’t want to give up on Andromeda, just like he shouldn’t have given up on Yamato’s chances of survival earlier. So he risks his life to make up for his previous actions no matter what, believing he’ll survive.

Yamato and Ginga both stand witness to Andromeda’s bravery, the ship lost in a cloud of fire. Hijikata rises from his seat with a grim look, anxiously holding his console. But as something begins to emerge from within the smoke, he looks up at the viewscreen. The darkness covering his face vanishes.

We slowly see the Blackbird unit emerging from the smoke and Kato delivers a report: “This is Kato of the Blackbirds. Do you read me?” On top of his fighter crouches Yamanami, still suited up and clinging to Kato’s hull. “Reporting the successful rescue of Captain Yamanami.” The Captain’s roughed up, bleeding and unemotive. But as the Yamato theme reaches its final familiar notes, we see him; grinning with a wink.

“I repeat. Captain Yamanami has been successfully rescued!” With a small, private smirk, Hijikata salutes this news as the fighters return to Ginga and Yamato.

[AMB]: Against all odds, Kato and Yamanami manage to outlive their desire to die. Rather than taking responsibility through harakiri, they opt to live on, facing the consequences of their actions. They both wagered family and country on their decisions, but ultimately they did so with the best of intentions. The results have been disastrous, but not fatally so. Thanks to Kato, Yamato now knows about Golem and planet bomb sickness is cured. Thanks to Yamanami, Yamato was saved, Ginga’s soul was rediscovered, and Varel was given the opportunity to retreat from the front. Their actions weren’t for naught.

And best of all? Not having to see Hijikata lose another old friend. He was content to go down with the ship in Episode 19 as long as it meant people managed to escape. He sure is happy he didn’t. Damn if it isn’t cheezy to see Yamanami and Hijikata smirking at one another like that, but it’s the best kind of cheese. Also, at this point Hijikata has actually passed Okita in age. Okita died at age 57, four years ago. Hijikata was 56, so he’s now 60. Yamanami has likewise aged from 48 to 52.

[KC]: And another exciting episode draws to a close as we approach the end of the series. Only five more to go!

[AMB]: This has been quite the adventure! Can’t believe we’re approaching the end… but before then, a certain caped crusader needs to make his stunning return. Next time marks the end of Chapter 6: Regeneration. And the payoffs won’t stop coming.

On a final note, the brotherly romance between Andromeda and Yamanami caught a lot of attention on the Japanese side of Twitter during the cinema screenings of Chapter 6. So much so that a fan drew a storyboard for a scene where the Black Analyzer aboard Andromeda gives its life to push Yamanami out of the burning wreckage, enough to reach Kato’s Blackbird. Whether or not that actually happened, it’s forever part of my headcanon.


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 22, 2019

American debut: March 23, 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 21.

Episode credits
Episode Director: Ryusei Koyano
Storyboard: Masahiko Okura & Nobuyoshi Habara
Animation Director: Takushige Norita

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

Continue to Episode 22

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2 thoughts on “Yamato 2202 Episode 21 commentary

  1. I sure hope we get some models of those Gamilized Andromedas someday. Likewise I would love to see them get some action in 2205 or if they ever get serious about telling a Gamilon side story.

  2. Ah Yamato 2202 Episode 21, or as I would like to call it: one of the all-time greatest installments of the SBY/Star Blazers Franchise. It not only concluded one of the strongest arcs in this series and gave the Andromeda that justice that she sorely deserves since her introduction back in the Farewell film but also finally broke one of the oldest and arguably the most controversial traits of the franchise whose origins dates back to the last two years of World War II.

    I’ve already discussed about the Ginga and the G Plan being examples of Earth’s extreme measures to save humanity in episode 19. And yet despite how unethical it seems to going through those plans like setting up what is essentially a government approved love hotel to put it moderately, you can clearly see from the backstories of people like Captain Saki Todo, they’re clearly traumatized by their experiences of surviving the War with Garmillas and clearly they don’t want go through it again as Gatlantis breaks through their door, even if it means throwing away things like emotions and ethics out of the window. However, having the determination to survive isn’t the same as the determination to live, and that’s what missing from Ginga in contrast to her veteran sister Yamato: She has no hope to live on into the future. Thus, it’s fitting when Yamanami announces that Yamato has indeed survived it sparks a new fire in Ginga, as if she was reminded about what it means to be a Yamato. Taking a slim impossible chance to ensure a miraculous victory against all odds.

    As for the Andromeda, oh boy did she come back with a vengeance. After her humiliating defeat at Saturn and her survival at the expense of her poor sister Apollo Norm, she returns to the battlefield at Mars with a singular purpose: Save the Yamato at all costs. And she is going in with ALL WEAPONS blazing like a bat out of hell. But best of all, it’s not just the lead ship herself that is going nuts with her huge arsenal of weapons. The Aldebaran and their Garmillan half-sisters of the Neu Balgray-type are also blazing away and pulling no punches against Gatlantis. It’s such a fantastic spectacle for fans to behold because finally after forty-one years of missed opportunities and failures in the SBY franchise since their introduction back in 1978, the Andromeda family gets the opportunity to show off all their weapons and abilities instead of just having wave motion spam and shock cannon volleys. Proving they aren’t canon fodder or paper tigers but badass battleships that can be just as deadly as the Yamato herself. From pulse lasers AAs, tower canons, rapid-fire torpedoes and clusters missiles.

    And yet despite the Andromeda being painted in the colors of her senior predecessor and mirroring her badass battle prowess (most particularly Yamato’s first fight against Domel’s fleet in 2199 episode 15), she’s still a pragmatic symbol of power that is futile against the psychological force of sheer anger and despair that is the Ark of Destruction. It’s clear that her charge into the heart of Gatlantis is still a suicidal mission and one that her captain is willing to cross. But just as Yamanami has made his death wish in exchange of Yamato’s return, Hijikata snaps him out of it with what is arguably the best and most inspiring speech ever in the series.
    What makes it so special and ground-breaking in my personal opinion is because for the first time in the series, it throws away the old Japanese Kamikaze mindset of “Death before Dishonour” which has been used so many times in the original series and even in the remake series by both Earth and the many alien races it fought against. It just so refreshing and inspiring that a Yamato series presents the theme of embracing failures and choosing to live on and learn from them considering that the titular ship’s original maritime form was martyr of that old philosophy of bushido in her final voyage back in 1945. Oh, how times have changed and this time it was for the better.

    Sadly, though Yamanami was able to survive, the Andromeda herself wasn’t as fortunate. But unlike her tragic deaths in the original where she just didn’t accomplish anything meaningful in both Farewell and the Comet Empire series. This time at the end of her third life, she left the world with no regrets as she not only saved the Yamato from the depths of hell but brought Earth and Garmillas something back more precious than just adding another ship to their fleet: A hopeful chance to win this war and live. It’s also interesting to note that Andromeda in both the OS and 2202 died in the same numbered episode: 21 only with very different endings and tone.

    As much as Yamato was officially the main character of the show, I personally believe that Andromeda was the true MC ship of 2202. She was one of two ships (the other being Neu Desular) that had a proper character arc and had a more recognizable personality (which is ironic considering she became an AI ship with are usually seen as emotionless with no soul). She started as an ethical and technological rival to Yamato which became a huge moral obstacle to the older ship in the first half of the series, a confident leader who suffered an emotional and devastating defeat that left her humiliated and worthless, but later made an incredible comeback with a renewed purpose to save her old rival and beloved sempai knowing she alone has what it takes to turn the impossible into the possible in a hopeless no-win scenario. And when she finally accomplished her goal and begins to succumb to her multiple battle wounds, I would imagine she died with a smile on her face, knowing that with Yamato safe and sound along with her bold and brave captain who commanded her in her short life, she had effectively won the war and found peace.

    To Nobuyoshi Habara, Harutoshi Fukui, Junichiro Tamamori and yes even Makato Kobyashi. Thank you so much for creating and writing one of the greatest comebacks in anime sci-fi history and redeeming of one of the most iconic ships in the SBY franchise. Here’s to hoping more epic moments with the AAA-class in 2205, hopefully with one of the members of the surviving elite five fighting alongside Yamato for real or even getting the Neu Balgray to fill in Andromeda’s shoes as the Excelsior of the SBY franchise with Berger in command!

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