Episode 22: The Fated Showdown!
by Anton Mei Brandt and Kathy Clarkson
Earth. Hero’s Hill. The camera comes into focus on sunlight glinting off the waves. “It will be a year soon, won’t it?” Yuki asks. Kodai grunts affirmatively. “It almost feels like magic,” she tells him.
[AMB]: The sunset at Hero’s Hill never gets old, and this is a particularly warm and inviting one. Like a soft, fuzzy memory. Artistically it’s quite different from the blood-red rendition we saw back in Episode 2, conveying to us that this memory is one filled with hope for tomorrow rather than fear for the future. Daisuke Ono (Kodai) and Houko Kuwashima (Yuki) deliver tender performances that bring our hearts back to that café scene in – once again – Episode 2.
“Maybe it is magic,” he responds as the camera pulls back to reveal Yuki in her previously seen civilian attire. When Yuki seems surprised or confused by his response, he goes on to point out how the Earth has come back to life. “The oceans, the skies… Earth did recover. But sometimes I wonder if it’s even real.” Every now and then, we see momentary glimpses of Yuki.
[AMB]: This is obviously one of Kodai’s most precious memories from the post-war era. The scenery of what they fought for, represented by Hero’s Hill and the setting sun. But at the same time, it’s a rapidly fading memory, one that’s harder to recall as times get rougher and more unbearable. Try to recall particular images of loved ones from years ago and you’ll experience the same kind of flickering effect, where the more you try to recall the exact image of someone, the more it fades. This is why every time Kodai throws a glance at Yuki in this scene, it quickly cuts away from her. It’s a fading memory.
“In all the vastness of space, we met and here we are,” Yuki responds, turning to him with a smile. “Let’s believe. That we humans are a part of this miracle. Like this sea and sky are. We’re together because we’re meant to be.”
[AMB]: They sure are part of a miracle, one that will come to set the universe straight back to its best course. As Teresa explained in Episode 15 and will later elaborate, “fate” isn’t set in stone. It’s constantly in a state of flux, only capable of changing via the bonds we make. So, if you fall in love with someone and they love you back, a certain fate presents itself, though it’s never certain. Those words must have resounded with Kodai, adding to why he recalls this particular conversation.
The BGM for this scene is Azure Crystal, reorchestrated from 2199. It was originally a leitmotif for the Wave-Motion crystals infused with memories of planets, found on Iscandar and shown to Yuki by Yurisha. Yuki’s the memory crystal here, but just like the bouquet she was given in 2199, the memories within have withered. But also just like in 2199, the flower called Yuki will be reinvigorated with life come the final episode. All because of the great love shared between the two.
Speaking of which, in the scene where Yuki’s brought back to life via the Cosmo Reverse in 2199 Episode 26, they chose to play a variation of the Great Love BGM from A New Voyage, which back then musically informed us that Kodai’s love for her was what encouraged his brother to bring her back at the cost of Earth. Something later rectified by Okita, giving his life for a similar reason. Keep this in mind as we move toward the final episode.
This is not happening in real time. We see Kodai, eyes closed as he stops recalling this memory of the two of them. He’s standing in an elevator with Shima, who breaks him out of his reverie to ask what’s wrong. His eyes flash open as he doubtfully claims that it’s nothing; that seeing Shima must have caused him to relax. He awkwardly shifts his head to the side as he says this. Then the elevator doors open. Yuki steps in and the former lovers cast awkward glances at each other, followed by Kodai breaking his gaze and Yuki lowering her head. The two men pass her by; the elevator closes. But Shima can’t help looking back at Yuki with concern.
[AMB]: There are several instances of allusions being made to 2199 in this episode, from Kodai having to freshly deal with an amnesia of a different kind, to putting up a strong face in light of Yuki’s “recovery.” In 2199’s penultimate episode, Yuki lost her life, causing Kodai to break apart mentally. He had finally found someone worth fighting for who wasn’t connected to his hollow vengeance in light of his brother Mamoru’s death. He went from Pinocchio to a real man.
Following her death, Kato was about to get married to Makoto, so Kodai begged those present at the time of Yuki’s death to not tell the others until they got to Earth, choosing to bottle up his own anguish for the sake of the crew. It’s happening again now; he chose the same path. But this time, he’s conflicted about whether he should anguish over her forgetting about him or to be happy she made a swift recovery. This scene also brings to mind the first time Kodai and Shima met Yuki in 2199’s opening episode. Heading out the elevator at U.N.C.F. HQ, they spotted her and Nanbu heading in. She was the spitting image of Sasha; Starsha’s sister. An alien. Now the positions are reversed. Kodai appears alien to Yuki.
Once the door finishes closing behind them, Shima asks Kodai if it’s true about her not remembering anything. Kodai won’t face his friend, his appearance cold and robotic. But he straightens his neck, staring into his eyelids with head held high. And then his eyes open. Kodai confirms for Shima that it is only the past four years Yuki is unable to recall now. “She got better,” he claims as he slowly drags his feet away, his neck once again bent. The music swells as Shima watches his friend with concern, knowing that Kodai can’t possibly believe that at all.
[AMB]: Seeing Yuki’s amnesia and Kodai’s difficulties with conveying feelings as sensitive topics, Shima likewise treats them as such. He’s very soft spoken, gentle and patient. A subtle moment of good friendship. Despite this, Kodai can barely finish the sentence “She’s better” without tearing up, seemingly looking up at the ceiling to keep his tears in. Ironically, the BGM Hope for tomorrow starts playing as he finishes his sentence, leaving us with an empty feeling in our chests.
[KC]: I am not completely on board with the convenient nature of Yuki’s amnesia, but still I have to admit that this is an emotional scene.
[AMB]: I’d still call her amnesia anything but convenient. Though I presume you’re referring to its narrative convenience?
[KC]: Yes, I am definitely referring to the use of amnesia as a plot element. I totally understand why it happened and I don’t necessarily think that it’s a bad way to get there, but when there were plot elements in the last series that hinged on her having lost different memories, it’s just hard not to roll the eyes a little.
We cut to Yamato undergoing much-needed repairs, dedicated crews swarming around the hero ship. New armaments are mounted, the hull pieces are carefully being replaced and the WMG is tampered with. This process is carried out just outside Mars’ atmosphere, and Yamato isn’t the only ship treated. We see several recon craft, some Destria-cruisers, a Murasame-class rescue ship, upgraded Mars defense force Dreadnoughts, some supporting escort and patrol ships, Yuki-class cargo ships, Ginga (being stripped for parts), Aldebaran, and Antares with a giant hole in its gut.
[AMB]: It seems like Captain Tani and his Aldebaran survived last episode’s mayhem. The ships we see here on Mars will stay here for the duration of the war, so if you’re wondering which ships from the U.N.C.F. navy makes it out of this… it’s these and these alone.
[AMB]: The repair process seen here is being carried out by personnel wearing astronaut suits similar to Yamanami and the Cosmo Marines, as well as by Cosmo Marine mechs with both orange and white paint jobs. This seems to indicate (as we’ve previously discussed) that the Cosmo Marine mechs seen in Episodes 10, 13 and 14 were either constructed using exoskeletons meant for ship repairs, or repainted repair suits outfitted to Yamato in case she’d ever experience lethal damage. A good call and a welcome addition to the ship which in its previous voyage never had any; giving us an in-universe reason for their inclusion in this series.
Inside one of the ship hangars aboard Yamato, Shinohara has just left his previously-assigned post aboard Ginga to reunite with the rest of the pilots who managed to evacuate Yamato before it crash-landed on Zemulia. The most familiar ones to us being Takuma and Sawamura, who both ended up serving on Antares between Yamato’s crash and now. After Takuma refers to Shinohara as “The Ginga team” and the latter refers to Takuma as “the Antares team,” Shinohara greets him with a high five. “Welcome aboard Yamato, the place we call home!”
[AMB]: This bittersweet scene gives us the second pilot reunion of the series. They all seem pretty wound up about the events of the past few episodes, and for good reason. Following Yamato’s confusing crash onto Zemulia and the preceding evacuation of personnel, all of them were apparently not assigned to Ginga. This leaves a bit of a confusing aftertaste, especially since we never get visual confirmation of Sawamura and Takuma being assigned to Antares between Episode 19 and now – though we do see and hear about some crew members being picked up by Antares in that episode.
With six of the pilots facing a glass window in the hangar, Takuma mentions how miraculous it was that everyone in the Air Corps managed to survive the last exchange with Gatlantis. Sawamura asks Shino what he thought about Ginga, to which he replies that he and his fellow co-pilots from Yamato clearly didn’t belong there; since most of Ginga’s spacecraft were unmanned.
Changing the topic, he asks Sawamura what he thinks about “that attack craft,” his gaze fixed on the newly arrived, olive drab Cosmo Tigers propped up outside the window. These are 2202‘s version of the 3-man Tiger with a top turret for a gunner. Sawamura thinks they’re awesome, adding: “Smaller turning radius, lower turret motion rate… It’s so easy to handle! It’s a bit cramped in there, though…” Shino smiles, telling the pink-haired boy that he should always be the gunner then, urging Sawamura to groan in dismay. The music then cuts out abruptly as Takuma turns to ask Shino about how Commander Kato’s holding up. “Since we’re all here now…” Shinohara responds solemnly. Then he looks up with a smile. “Shall we go?”
[AMB]: Considering the original Farewell to Yamato movie wiped out the pilot corps, it sure was a miracle they all survived until now (Tsurumi being the sole exception). But I’m glad they did. In a story about clones, genocide, esoteric takes on love and fate, I’m sure we’ve all missed these goofballs being able to just relax together. And for those who’ve stuck with 2202 all the way, we get just that. Hope for tomorrow is still playing as we’re shown the Cosmo Tigers. We’ll get to see them in action soon enough, albeit briefly.
In the pilots’ locker room, Kato sits alone in the dark, staring at a taped-up image of Jiro Tsurumi. The lights come on and he turns to see his squad (including Akira Yamamoto) lined up before him, saluting in silence. He drags himself to his feet and returns the salute, a faint tremor in his hand. At the last second his posture and cool demeanor fall apart. Before we can see him break down completely, however, we cut to the next scene.
[AMB]: Tsurumi was the youngest pilot they had with them on this journey, yet the first and only one to go so far. The boy was given the chance to lay his life down for the sake of the future, unlike Kato. Tsurumi reminds Kato of his son Tsubasa, and how his aspiring pilot of a kid could have been the first in his family to go had he not taken Katsuragi’s “devil’s choice.” Kids shouldn’t have to die because of war, and if Tsubasa did die it would have happened because of a genetic illness. In this scene, Tsubasa’s leitmotif fittingly plays. Like the previous scene, this one is slow and methodical, taking its time to bask in the moment no matter how heartwrenching. Each moment is also very private, something usually not afforded to characters in the anime medium. It seems to be a staple technique utilized by this episode director, Rei Nakahara.
Back outside we see six Cosmo Tiger II craft departing Ginga as repairs continue. Then, inside Ginga’s operations room, Captain Todo delivers her report of the previous episode’s events to a holographic projection of her father. In it, she assesses the damage suffered by Ginga; how she lost the Cosmo Reverse System as well as the Command AI. She does not mention how the Command AI was lost, but she does point out that Plan G would be impossible to carry out at present. She informs Todo that they will be transferring some of their equipment to Yamato as a result, opting to remain on standby for whatever comes next. When Saki attempts finish, Todo cuts her off, referring to his daughter as “Captain Todo.”
[AMB]: It’s small, but the moment Heikuro referred to his daughter as “Captain Todo” could be seen as a sign of respect, and a sign that these two still have a rocky relationship. For idealistic reasons, they’ve both decided to completely invest themselves in the military for the betterment of mankind, but this narrative layer hints that they did it to avoid their shared trauma of losing “mama Todo” to suicide. Somehow, for some reason, Chiaki Todo chose death over the comfort her family brought her, leaving them feeling as if they didn’t do enough. Now, neither seeks comfort.
Todo tells her that he has heard enough, and that while he does have questions about what caused the loss of Ginga’s AI, he recognizes that it is wartime, after all. As they talk, the White Comet is just about to brush past the Earth-Garmillan front’s last absolute defense line. “I need to let officers in the field make their own decisions.”
He gives her a knowing, fatherly smile, which catches her off-guard. “Thank you very much, Chief.” Todo stops her again. “No. Earth will soon face a fight for the mainland. This may be the last time we can talk like this.” His voice is hoarse and filled with sadness. Captain Todo holds back emotions as her father continues. “I wasn’t able to do anything for you.” His smile is gone, a stern look replacing it. “If we both live to meet again… “ he trails off.
[AMB]: And so, ironically, the two Todo family members who were left behind in the world of the living both chose the path of mentally isolating themselves. Their immense regret is on full display here, and they’re so emotionally constipated that they’re not even sure how to say a (potentially) final farewell. They never had the opportunity to bid their beloved wife and mother goodbye, so how should they know? It’s just… really hard to watch.
[KC]: It is very unfortunate that he can’t connect with his daughter, especially considering that he is often the sympathetic counterpoint to his usual plot partner, the domineering Serizawa.
[AMB]: It’s hard to act as you preach, after all. Also worth pointing out is how Todo responds to Saki. “No”, he says after she thanks him. Seeing as each sentence is officially translated separately, including his “no”, the sentence structure may come off as odd to us western audiences. Allow me to bring the meaning to light:
“(Oh) no, (don’t mention it). (After all), Earth will soon face a fight for the mainland. This may (actually) be the last opportunity we have to speak like this.” To summarise… Todo’s not used to words of gratitude, so he shies away from accepting them, excusing his lenient response and lack of punishing behaviour as being a result of other matters taking precedence. It’s just Todo’s odd way of spoiling his daughter.
That said, the cut from Heikuro being fine with the Ginga A.I.’s destruction juxtaposed with Gatlantis about to break through Earth’s last defenses? It shows how the Chief’s made peace with his own looming death, but as the scene progresses we see that he hasn’t made peace with never being able to see his daughter again, to make things right as a father and as an adult, allowing not only the world at large to progress in the wrong direction but also his daughter.
“Commander…” She chooses a formal salutation. The older Todo moves to close the connection when Saki suddenly blurts out; “Father. I think I understand Mother a little better now. It’s because we have fragile, easily broken hearts that people are able to be idealistic. If they (the ideals) are holding us back we should just throw them away. That’s what I always thought. But…”
[AMB]: The epiphany Saki’s about to share won’t simply narratively tie her character up in a neat little bow. She’s sending a strong message to her father and the audience; that she’s chosen to view herself and her crew not as possessions of the military, but as free individuals worth more than their wombs. This hit-over-the-head approach would have been lauded had it been said outright, but instead it’s framed by the natural course of events and is ultimately a non-intrusive and hopeful message. She thought she should give up her individual rights for the sake of the collective. But she’s realized that submitting to such a future isn’t worth it. She’s chosen freedom over security, to explore new horizons. It’s the theme and purpose of her ship, the Ginga.
As she continues, the camera pans outside to reveal Ambassador Varel has arrived with Berger’s CCC-squadron in tow (with four easter eggs settled on top of one of the ships), parked right next to Yamato. On Varel’s bridge from a distance we see that Keyman is giving his own secret report, with no one else around to hear it. Then, the dialogue becomes Varel’s. “Fate is an odd thing. To think you would meet him on Telezart.”
[AMB]: And we’re back outside. This time, the pan slowly reveals more details about this impromptu shipyard. First off, Varel and his Zoellegut II are present for repairs, as are Berger’s CCC-battalion, with one of the ships carrying four easily-identifiable Dimensional Submarines. We even see a glimpse of the rare Andromeda-class ship Achilles in the background, wounded. And if you look very sharply, you’ll also find the cargo ship from Yamato Resurrection, repurposed for 2202.
“My uncle, Abelt Dessler, was not a mad dictator,” Keyman insists. “Garmillas is reaching the end of its life as a planet. While carrying that secret, he worried for the future of his people more than anyone. Even having learned only that, this mission for me was–”
[KC]: I like where this conversation is going. The redemption of Abelt Dessler is an interesting thing, because anyone who knows anything about this series knows of his infamous change of heart already. So how are they going to make it interesting the second time around? In the original series he does not give his big, transformative speech until closer to the end of the Comet Empire series. In this one, he has already pretty much had his moment back at Telezart when he let his nephew stress Talan out and leave with the Earthlings.
I know we will be getting a different take on New Voyage with 2205, which should explore the character and his dying planet further, but I am only speculating on the few remaining episodes in this particular story. Of course, I already know what happens. And I think it’s very, very cool. That’s probably why I brought it up in the first place.
[AMB]: Seeing as both 2199 and 2202 have already set up and partially explored some of the depths of Dessler’s love arc in The New Voyage, he’s completely prepared for anything. Let’s have faith in Director Habara’s words that he took on this project with the sole condition of steering the sequel into a Dessler journey!
“A happy thing,” Varel finishes for him. Keyman, who had been gazing down at the floor, looks up at him in surprise. Varel smiles encouragingly, but Keyman seems uncertain and looks away again. “Are you going then?” Varel asks him. “I would like your permission,” Keyman responds.
[AMB]: Melancholic and bittersweet leitmotifs from Yamato’s history keep digging their way into this episode. Azure Crystal, Hope for tomorrow, Tsubasa and now Scarlet Scarf. Why does a sad instrumental version of that tune play here, during Klaus’ final encounter with Varel? Allow me to quote part of the final section of that song:
“I’m surely coming back, so / Scarlet scarf / Please welcome me on that day / Now far away in a corner of space.”
(Spoiler: he ain’t coming back.)
“This is a time of trial for Garmillas,” Varel says. “We must find a new frontier with the same environment and move all our people there. I don’t want to lose a capable person who could do that work, but when you look at me like that… You’ve gotten cute, Klaus. Did you fall in love or something?” The BGM fades with those words, camera hanging on Klaus who is clearly embarrassed, even blushing slightly. And as his awkward response is met with laughter from Varel, we return to the conversation that Captain Todo was having with her father.
[AMB]: Their convo has familiarity and Varel expects Klaus to leave. Varel’s soft speech mixed with his good posture conveys warmth. The word “trial” (shiren) could be translated to “tough/difficult times.” Varel speaks in a grandiose manner. The director lets another “private” scene happen without us being able to intrude, and this scene makes you wonder what a wonderful life Klaus might experience with Akira Yamamoto and Ambassador Varel as his new family.
Oh, and that part about Klaus having fallen in love? Here’s the final lyrics from Scarlet Scarf:
“I dream among the stars / The eyes of men who travel / Want reflections of romance.”
[KC]: Varel seems like a really nice guy, but having Dessler for an uncle without the exile bit would have been pretty sweet too, I’d imagine.
[AMB]: And the boy could have had both…
Captain Saki Todo continues: “This frail, easily-broken heart is what makes us humans human. Inconstant and uncertain, but feeling the need to do things right.” These words are delivered to us while the camera hangs on Sanada, re-installing the Wave-Motion Engine’s core.
[AMB]: Inconstant (or fickle) is a good word to use when describing the human heart. And “feeling the need to do things right,” or “correctly,” is Saki submitting to the fact that the human heart knows when to act rationally. Fickle, yet capable of rationality. Which brings me and the scene to Sanada, the perfect human representative for this fact. The direction is very deliberate.
Yamazaki reports to Tokugawa that he’s finished transferring all usable parts from Ginga. “You’re the part we want most; won’t you say that about me?” Yamazaki asks.
“I can’t take you,” Tokugawa responds.
“Old man…” Yamazaki begins, but Tokugawa cuts in.
“You’ve still got a lot to teach those young ‘uns, don’t you? Raise good engineers, Yamazaki.”
[AMB]: We all know the practical reason for this scene, namely to cement the fact that Yamazaki has to fulfill his role in 2205 as Tokugawa’s successor just like in the original story. But it’s also a heartbreaking character moment, one that clearly feels missing between Farewell and New Voyage. In the latter work, Yamazaki’s even haphazardly introduced as “always having been there.”
Yamazaki, while having his backstory arc in 2199, wasn’t given much else to do in that series. His introductory sacrifice in 2202 was brave and foolhardy, but ultimately necessary for the sake of Yamato. Tokugawa saw this. He knows Yamazaki will do it again without being asked, even at the cost of his own life or career. Seeing as this upcoming mission will be Yamato’s most dangerous yet… the results are obvious to anyone who’s been in the service for as long as Tokugawa has.
The old man won’t tell him to join them, but he will tell him to keep on living, albeit with wordplay and a stern look into the younger engineer’s eyes. Tokugawa is old, and the old ones sometimes have to make way for the younger generations. Just like his best friend Okita once did. If any of you saw Farewell before this episode, or if this is a rewatch, the effect of this small moment is exponentially increased. Hiroshi Tsuchida – the voice of Yamazaki – has equally had few chances to show off his vulnerability yet. His voice faltering as he asks the old man to let him stay is his biggest one yet. He nails it.
Yamazaki has a strong reaction, eyes watering as Captain Todo continues. A soft, somber rendition of the Yamato theme begins.
“That is the essence of humanity which cannot be replaced by machines.” (Saki)
Dr. Sado and Lt. Mori escort Captain Yamanami on a stretcher toward a waiting Seagull. They stop in front of Captain Hijikata and Officer Niimi.
“So strong that we sometimes destroy ourselves. It is a source of power that is uniquely given to humans.” (Saki)
[AMB]: If it isn’t obvious yet, the words being used in the epiphany Saki shares with her father once again reflect the actions seen on screen. The hearts of these three people, Sanada, Yamazaki and Tokugawa, are not easily replaced by machines. Their ingenuity and humanity has saved this ship more times than any logical assessment by a machine ever could, by risking all with a small chance of success.
Shima’s dad gave his life for Yamazaki, Yamazaki risked his future in the military by telling Shima that Earth attacked Garmillas first, Sanada was willing to give his life to activate the Akerian gate leading to Balun and Tokugawa has always tended to Yamato’s engine even in the most dire of situations. Machines would never break protocol or take unreasonable risks. Such as the one Yamanami took in the last episode when he saved Yamato.
“Hijikata,” Yamanami begins. “You were right. The Wave-Motion Gun Fleet… When we grow overconfident in just using power, in the end…”
“I only channeled Okita’s feelings,” Hijikata tells him. “The one with his eyes on reality, on Earth’s future, was you.”
“But I didn’t see the future,” Yamanami replies. “What starts now is a battle for that future.”
“I’m sure we’ve only truly begun to be tested. Me, you and all of humanity.” Hijikata touches the brim of his cap in an informal salute.
[AMB]: I could touch on the nuance of 2202’s voice actors and their vocal inflections all day, but you already know how wonderful I think they all are. So let me take this opportunity to talk about music. The usage of music in Yamato is often praised in these commentaries, and for good reason. But the music production itself was rocky.
For 2202, the crew never quite had the same opportunity nor time to record as much music as they had previously done for 2199, which is a great shame once you realize that the combined music catalogue for Farewell and Yamato 2 dwarfs that of original Yamato. By connoisseurs, it’s often regarded as “the best” Yamato score, me included. That said, they still managed to recreate a few tracks from Farewell in Ark of the Stars, and somehow found the time to recreate most of the remaining iconic tracks from the original works in 2202, along with orchestrating new original tracks.
This means there’s at least a dozen new variations of both the Yamato theme and Scarlet Scarf. One of the Yamato variants plays over this scene: Kodai and Okita’s Bronze Statue. It’s remarkably fitting that it plays between Tokugawa/Yamazaki (senior > junior), passing over to Hijikata and Yamanami (senior > junior), and then ending with Captain Saki finishing up her call with dad (junior > senior) in the next scene. This variation is very much a eulogy to Okita, and a passing of the baton from him to Kodai’s generation, Saki included. You should most likely thank Sound Director Tomohiro Yoshida for this marvel.
Yamato begins moving out, passing Varel’s ship and Ginga. The engineers who’d previously lent their hand to help refit Yamato by using Ginga’s parts all salute Yamato from on board Ginga, as do the former Yamato crew (who’ve either chosen to, or been ordered to stay behind): Kiryuu, Misaki, Hoshina, Yamazaki and Niimi, all standing in line next to Tactical Officer Urara and Chief Navigator Ichinose.
Captain Todo’s voiceover picks up again, with her standing next to First Mate Megumi aboard Ginga’s bridge. “I want to be human, too. No matter what fate awaits us. Until my last moment.” We get a closeup of her face as she salutes, before we shift to the bridge of Yamato and a closeup on Kodai, looking determined. The Yamato theme booms, then fades.
[AMB]: At this point in the story, we are past the year 2202 and now in 2203, as indicated by the new bow panel on the refitted Yamato; a refit only made possible by scavenging non-essential parts from Ginga, symbolically showing us how the past is borrowing from the future in a desperate attempt to ensure there even is a future going forward. This will have a bigger payoff narratively come Episode 26, but on a much bigger scale. A payoff related to Saki’s words, of “remaining human until the end.”
We already know why Yamazaki has chosen to stay behind on Ginga. Hoshina and Yuria were most likely forced as well, seeing as they’ve recently gotten engaged off-screen and they’re oh so young and brimming with limitless potential. But why did Kiryu stay behind? Or Niimi? I have some theories of my own, but what do you think, Kathy?
[KC]: Honestly? I am too focused on the subtle intricacy of the Dessler Family plotline and playing out all kinds of scenarios in my head that 2205 may get to. Kiryu has been with Yamazaki from the start of this. Not that I ship them or anything, but there certainly doesn’t have to be romance for there to be camaraderie. Niimi, on the other hand, is into two things; Sanada and science. So either one or both of them are her motivation for staying behind. That’s what I’m going with, anyway.
[AMB]: I can’t fault your excitement for the coming sequel project. But back to the question. As we saw in Ark of the Stars, Kiryu’s father died serving as Saito’s Commander and friend during the war with Garmillas. During the course of the movie she makes references to a “big brother figure with a scar” similar to Berger’s, and she also has a photo of herself, dad and Saito.
Fans have been understandably disappointed that these two haven’t had the chance to reunite following her dad’s death, and not having a scene where he tells her to stay behind on Ginga “until he comes back” was admittedly very disappointing (though it can be inferred to have happened). Since they won’t see each other again though, it’s a lost opportunity.
Which brings me to Niimi and Sanada. These two have had their subtle displays of affection brought to the screen at various points in 2202, but this was an opportunity to seal the deal that is their relationship. Having her help Sanada with the Wave-Motion Engine in the prior scene, followed by an emotionally charged light nod between the two would have been enough. Or maybe something cheesy, like Kodai walking in on Niimi giving Sanada an uncharacteristically loving hug before she departs for Ginga. Hearing either of them say “I’ll miss you” would have been immensely satisfying. Or we could have seen her reluctance to say goodbye, bringing us back to when she couldn’t bring herself to tell her previous love interest – Kodai’s brother Mamoru – that he was being sent out to die back in 2199.
I see how it would be difficult to fit moments like these into the already tightly-packed script. Yuria and Hoshina had to get married off-screen, after all. Thankfully, both of these romances are alive and well, ripe for exploring in 2205.
Yamato sails off into the sea of stars and we find ourselves on Earth’s moon. Makoto Kato is hurriedly tying her son Tsubaba’s shoes as he sits beside his hospital bed in a wheelchair, ready to go home. He is looking much better, but the entire hospital is being evacuated. Klaxons sound as personnel rush around. “Everyone’s evacuating the hospital?” he asks her, no longer any pain in his voice, but he’s clearly confused. His mother puts on a brave face and pats him, telling Tsubasa that they are heading to Earth so they can be there to greet Saburo and everyone else when they get home. Tsubasa is overjoyed to hear it.
[AMB]: And here’s the flipside of Kato’s choice back in Episode 19; everyone’s cured of this terrible disease, capable of evacuating the Moon. This, as we’ll see later, is a Godsend. Had they not evacuated, they’d all be dead by the end of the series when Zordar blasts the Moon. It’s also a fitting scene to follow up Saki’s talk with her dad, about how she wants to remain human “no matter what.” It causes suffering and self-hatred like with Kato and Yamato crashing. But it also leads to unexpectedly positive developments, like treating this disease that was previously incurable.
At UN Headquarters there are also alarms sounding as the order comes to launch the 248th Fleet, instructing them to link up with the precursing advance fleet and join the second defensive line. Serizawa comments to Commander Todo that they only need to stall Gatlantis. “So long as we have the time fault,” he repeats his mantra. “Earth’s war potential is…” he trails off. He is visibly sweating. Todo gives him a concerned look.
“Yamato…” Commander Todo says to himself, facing the viewscreen with courage.
[AMB]: “So long as we have the time fault.” A desperate mantra we’ve heard before, evoking thoughts about nuclear deterrence and overreliance on technology in the modern world. What happens when whatever we rely on isn’t enough? Or stops working? We fall apart. The fleets being sent out to stall Gatlantis – currently numbering in the 240’s – are absurd, yet sadly not enough to stop the White Comet’s advance. Curiously enough, another thing they’ve relied on at U.N.C.F. command is their A.I., whose previous calculations seem to have fallen apart as well.
Due to human operatives making independent decisions on the battlefield, it’s no longer possible to stall Gatlantis for 100 days. Todo sees how pitiful and scared Serizawa’s become, and so redirects his hope and faith to Yamato. Saki’s choice helped cause this development, but it saved Yamato. And Yamato is mankind’s true hope.
And then we see Yamato continuing on. We first hear and then see Shinohara speaking with Kato inside an elevator, heading down to the strategy room. He tells Kato that the cure he was able to provide healed not only his own son Tsubasa, but other children suffering from similar diseases. Shinohara does not seem to view the deal Kato made as a betrayal. “You should be happy.” But Kato still looks solemn. Angry, even. “A betrayal is still a betrayal,” He points out, chiding Shinohara for refusing to judge him.
“Don’t give me that face, Shino. Everyone accepted me back without saying a word.” He says this with obvious disapproval. He commits to Shinohara that he will not die until his debt is paid. Shinohara gives him a soft smile back, letting out a barely audible chuckle.
[AMB]: Whether or not one supports Kato’s actions matters little to the man himself. He still betrayed his friends and possibly doomed them to die with little they could do about it. It’s a miracle they survived. Little does he know that it’s precisely this kind of foolhardy and idealistic love that will ultimately save the universe, the kind of bonds which actually helped Yamato’s crew better understand Zordar, turn Touko to their side, and gave characters like Yamanami and Saki the opportunity to finally turn away from the destructive path paved by the Time Fault and the WMG fleet. Shinohara does seem to respect Kato’s position though, perhaps being reminded of why he admires his friend so much. Oh, and Kato’s definitely not going to repay his debt before he dies. Can’t wait to see his son grow up with survivor’s guilt.
They both arrive at the map room with representatives from Yamato’s other divisions discussing strategy. Present are: Hijikata, Kodai, Saito, Kurata, Kato, Shinohara, Sanada, Keyman, Tokugawa, Yamamoto, Nanbu, Shima, Yuki and Dr. Sado. Some of the graphics shown during this briefing include: the Ark of Destruction destroying Saturn, its strange white fog, how it affected the WMG fleet, a 3D model of the Ark and its flaring tentacles.
[AMB]: Saito’s here, so presume that Zordar’s listening in. The 3D model of the Ark of Destruction is quite intricate, and probably the same model the 2202 staff used as a basis for the “real thing.”
“The enemy’s defense is overwhelming,” Sanada briefs everyone. “Now that we have lost the Ginga’s Wave-Motion Core amplification system, neither Earth nor Gamilas has the power to breach it. Were it not for just one thing…”
“The Transit Wave-Motion Gun,” Keyman follows up. Sanada confirms that he is correct, but is clearly distracted by his interruption. That said, he continues.
“The Transit Wave-Motion Gun may be able to break the Comet City’s defense field.”
[AMB]: The Ginga’s amplification system, used up to save Yamato, could have probably helped power some other ship’s WMG to blow apart the White Comet’s fog wall. But what’s done is done. The ship Ginga saved however – Yamato – does have a Transit WMG up its sleeve! Only thing is… it will definitely rip the ship apart upon firing, something we’ll see in Episode 24. But because Yamato is Yamato, and its crew is its crew, they’ll encourage Dessler to willingly grant them his WMG-resistant Gatlantean Nue Deusuler. Yamato will use it as sacrifice to fire off the Transit WMG at Gatlantis without taking damage. Had Saki not saved Yamato, this course of events would have been very unlikely.
[KC]: I will save most of my fist-pumping for the episode in question, but that scene is a damn sight cooler than just telling Kodai to fire at the Comet Empire from underneath.
[AMB]: Cooler, sure. But there’s an element of playful smugness in Yamato 2, with Dessler leaving Kodai with that riddle-like hint. There’s also merit to his desperate plea for justice in Farewell, wishing Kodai good luck as he ejects himself into space, fatal wounds and all.
That said, it’s very admirable that Yamato’s crew is willing to go through with this plan without knowing of Dessler’s coming turn, proving again to the audience why Yamato is the ship of Great Harmony. Risking it all for their beautiful idealism, their love will be rewarded. Just like when Yamato went on its impossibly difficult voyage to Iscandar.
Sanada begins to show them all various graphics as he explains the plan. Phase 1 is shown off-screen and it presumably entails finding a good position for Yamato to face Gatlantis directly and to charge up the Transit Wave-Motion Gun.
Then in Phase 2: “DWIE Bombard (Transit),” they will focus on a single, specific area in which to create an opening using said gun, breaking Gatlantis’ three layers of fog along with its defense field and remaining fog.
And finally in Phase 3: “Infiltration,” a designated task force will depart toward the opening made by Yamato, heading for the Achilles Heel of Gatlantis; Zordar’s throne. Golem. Sanada tells them that Touko Katsuragi revealed this information just before losing consciousness, and we get a shot of Katsuragi lying in the med bay.
[AMB]: Touko actually passed out off-screen sometime since Episode 20, perhaps shortly after her comments made about Golem. My take is that this happened as a result of Zemulia falling apart, since she’s inherently connected to that planet. Or Zordar chose to disconnect from Touko again, causing her to enter a similar coma state as in episode 12. Or revisiting her emotional trauma got to her. Or because of a combination of all three. The I.V. drip is our only real clue!
Sanada goes on. The plan is to activate Golem and bury all of the Gatlanteans at once.
[AMB]: Let’s explain the “PHASE 2: TACTICS / DWIE BOMBARD [TRANSIT]” and “PHASE 3: TACTICS / INFILTRATION” graphic, shall we?
Graphics in this scene showcase the 3D model of the Ark holding four planets, surrounded by blue energy waves and neutron-like patterns referred to as its “JOVIAN SCALE.” There’s an enveloping ring of light around the Ark referred to as the “DEFENSE FIELD”; it definitely being the red ring of death seen last episode and in Episode 18. Three grid-like walls are set up between the Ark and Yamato, bearing the numbers “100000 – 150000 – 200000,” most likely referring to distance. These walls are meant to represent the three layers of fog created by the white comet, working in harmony with its defense field function.
Once the defense field breaks along with the Ark’s gravity well, the fog will completely disperse and vanish. The task force, or “suicide squad” as the official subs from Funimation call them, are referred to as “Assault Corps” in the 3D graphics. They will head toward the “CENTRAL CONTACT BLOCK,” which is below the head of the Ark; referred to as “SKYSCRAPER.”
Now, while one could easily explain away DWIE BOMBARD [TRANSIT] as a mistyping of “Dive Bombing [Transit path], the first line of text could actually be referring to a term found in computer science. Hold onto something stable…
DWIE: “’Deutsche Welle corpus for Information Extraction’, a newly created multi-task dataset that combines four main Information Extraction (IE) annotation subtasks: (i) Named Entity Recognition (NER), (ii) Coreference Resolution, (iii) Relation Extraction (RE), and (iv) Entity Linking. DWIE is conceived as an entity-centric dataset that describes interactions and properties of conceptual entities on the level of the complete document.”
So… there you go.
Kato and Shinohara are disturbed at the idea of genocide, but Space Cavalry man Masaru Kurata points out that it shouldn’t bother them because the Gatlanteans aren’t human.
[KC]: Wow, classy.
[AMB]: After all the horrors those space marines experienced on the 11th planet (including Cosmodart’s declaration that peace can only come through death and that surrender is an alien concept to them…) I can see where Kurata’s coming from. But as an audience member who knows what the deal is with Gatlantis, and their supposed lack of humanity, and as someone who empathizes heavily with Kodai’s desire for peaceful coexistence, it hurts hearing him casually agreeing to genocide. Kodai feels the same pain, as we’re just about to see.
[KC]: I feel confident that the director was looking for exactly that reaction.
Kodai shakes up the room. “Once more.” Everyone turns to him, interests piqued. “Couldn’t we try talking to Zordar one more time?” As Kodai woefully pleads to be heard, mostly everyone seems to react with shock and dismay. Shima can’t help but pity his friend. Kodai then lays out his suggestion, saying they could instead take Golem hostage and force Zordar to parley, but Nanbu shouts him down. “You’re being naive! Have you forgotten what Gatlantis has done to us?!”
“I haven’t forgotten,” Kodai answers calmly, yet with strength. “But now that I know their past, Zordar’s history,” He trails off and we are again shown the image of the young original Zordar with Sabera, his infant clone child Miru nestled in her arms. “I don’t think it will be easy to persuade a man who’s lived in despair for a millennium. Even so…”
[AMB]: The moment Kodai starts talking, the music abruptly cuts out, and soon enough the image of original Zordar and Sabera (with Miru) invades his guilty conscience. It’s a moment where the audience is given the chance to think and feel for themselves, without emotional suggestion by the BGM. I personally support Kodai’s desire for peace, to talk with Zordar. It was the biggest twist of the story for me in the entirety of Chapter 6: Regeneration. Once you learn to feel for the enemy, it becomes monumentally more difficult to kill them. They’re like you, flesh and blood. And Kodai has only begun to feel the stinging sensation of Zordar’s pain, though he can definitely relate with the Yuki he once knew “dying” more than once. Oh, and Nanbu’s warmongering again. In the face of this threat I can’t fault him.
The room is silent for a few moments, everyone lost in their own thoughts. Then Hijikata speaks up. “Very well,” he agrees. “If you have the opportunity, don’t miss it. But know when it’s time to give up.” Kodai openly acknowledges his wisdom, likely with the intent to follow it, and then the meeting is dismissed.
[AMB]: Kodai’s plea is filled with sincerity and a hope for peaceful coexistence. The line “I don’t think it will be easy to persuade a man who’s lived in despair for a millennium. Even so…” is drenched in it. But so is the feeling of hopelessness. But isn’t that Yamato’s thing? To overcome the impossible? As we’ll unfortunately come to see, convincing someone to cease their depressive nihilism after 1000 years is fundamentally different from overcoming a tactical nightmare.
Then we have the term “Even so” commonly used in Writer Fukui’s fiction. In the face of great tragedy or despair, in the face of others giving in to loss, his focal point characters all tend to subscribe to the idea of “Even so.” Even if the risks are high, even if it seems pointless, even so shall we try? It’s enough to make Hijikata respect Kodai’s desire for peace, and enough to grant his request. Though it won’t pan out well, it was a good gesture.
The lights flash on and everyone begins to leave. As they do, a familiar and somber rendition of the Great Love BGM seeps into the scene. Yuki and Yamamoto hang back as the others file out, and Yamamoto asks if she’s okay. “Why did he do that?” Yuki asks her, gaze aimed at Kodai’s slumped back as he departs from the room. “Everyone opposed it. But he pushed on alone.” Yamamoto lays a friendly hand on her shoulder.
“That’s the kind of guy he is,” she tells her. “That’s the Kodai you loved.” Yuki turns to her with a look of shock, but Yamamoto isn’t finished. “I don’t know anyone who’s been in love as deeply as you two were.” Yuki hangs her head as Akira finishes, her voice slightly trembling. “Just know that.” Akira’s eyes light up, basked in warmth.
[AMB]: This variation of Great Love is the “(Obe & FI)” version, first heard during the café scene between Yuki and Kodai. There, Yuki playfully mused on the difficulties Kodai must confront in the face of having a wife with amnesia, that prophetic conversation bearing fruit in the irony of Yuki awakening her old memories at the cost of her new ones. That said, the more she gets to know Kodai from an outsider’s perspective, the harder she falls for him all over again. This of course makes her friend Akira happy, but at the same time she feels like Yuki’s being given one more chance to fall back in love while she’s still stuck on her own. It’s a yearning envy.
Akira really doesn’t have it easy. After having previously confessed to Yuki back in Episode 8 that she envies the bond Yuki and Kodai share, she hopes she can one day feel and attain the same kind of love. What could have easily been a redux love triangle in 2202 instead turns into strong solidarity between two women with very different love troubles. I’m content with the fact that Kodai and Akira’s unique bond in 2199 was recontextualised in Ark of the Stars as finding comfort in each other as soul siblings, licking each other’s wounds after losing their respective older brothers in the war with Garmillas.
In the Captain’s cabin, Saito is raging at Keyman while Hijikata and Kodai look on. Saito has just been told that on the captain’s orders the Space Cavalry are being pulled from the mission. Angry, he steps forward to question Hijikata’s decision, fists clenched, appearing to maybe even confront Keyman physically when Kodai stops him. But Keyman has more to say. “Touko Katsuragi wasn’t the only spy on this ship. Kato’s testimony proves it, too. The most likely suspect is in the Space Cavalry that we brought aboard at the 11th planet.” Saito’s anger turns to shock and fear as he recalls exchanges he had with Nakamura at that time.
[AMB]: The “exchanges with Nakamura” are shown in chronological order, from where he asks her to find help outside the planet to her launch in the shuttle. Saito is tracing his memories from back then, unable to remember anything past her departure. This is because he was hit by missiles, fired at him by two Deathvastators he failed to take down. He fell off the mountain onto a dilapidated bridge, ensuring his demise. Afterward we are meant to believe that Touko came to resuscitate him, staging his reawakening as something “lucky.”
This all brings to mind Spartan 117 from the Halo series, a character who many fans in the western fan community have stated is visually similar to the Cosmo Marines and their mechs. In the Halo games, he’s constantly reminded by a fellow soldier (Sgt. Johnson), that he “always jumps,” somehow managing to survive the fall every time – even from Earth’s orbit. While a stretch, his false survival could be a playful jab at the Master Chief. Though I highly doubt it.
Finally, a friendly reminder. Touko originally joining up from the 11th planet is why other crew members from there are treated with suspicion, the Space Marines in particular.
After re-evaluating his memories, Saito has an epiphany which stuns him for a few moments. Keyman explains that until Katsuragi wakes up and identifies the spy, they can’t take a chance, but Saito doesn’t let him finish. Grabbing Keyman and hoisting him into the air, Saito demands answers to how one would break the connection. He points out that the Garmillans have managed to take Gatlanteans prisoner in the past, reaching the conclusion that there must be a way to prevent their built-in self-destruct. To this, Keyman coldly admits that there is only one way, sharing a look of pity.
[AMB]: Garmillans have indeed managed to take Gatlantean prisoners in the past, but is Saito referring to the lower caste mercenary expedition group from 2199, or “actual” Gatlanteans? My bet is on both, seeing as Varel had knowledge of “a treatment necessary” to disarm explosive Gatlanteans. This was revealed in Episode 2 when Earth HQ chose not to notify the Garmillan ambassador about a Gatlantean pilot having been captured alive. Which of course caused another violent explosion, harming Niimi.
[KC] Death? I am guessing he means death.
[AMB]: How to cut the puppet strings from Zordar… that’s been a question on every audience member’s mind, hasn’t it? Is it even possible, considering Zordar’s spies are essentially bodies resurrected from the dead? We’ll get a more detailed answer come next episode. But essentially, you need to radiate the affected body to where it can no longer sustain itself for a longer period of time. The amount of heat and radiation necessary is beyond what the human body can take. It’s a one way ticket to a death timer.
Side note: at this point, we are halfway through the episode but about 2/3 of the way through this commentary. That’s quite symbolic of how packed the script was. It couldn’t have been easy to tie all those threads together in such a short time. It takes incredible planning and foresight to pull that off.
Some time later, Yamato heads toward a bright energy source in the distance. The surrounding space is littered with debris and some fog. On the bridge, Kodai and Shima exchange worried glances while Keyman spots a curious, purple light, flashing rapidly. “That’s…” , realizing what it is, he calls out to Captain Hijikata, who raises his eyes to the viewscreen with a frown.
We speed forward a considerable distance through the intervening space, toward the purple flickering light. We hear the voice of Miru; “When destruction of the Yamato is confirmed, we will arrange a new place for Garmillas to move to. A planet that is no different from your dying homeworld.”
[AMB]: Along with what that purple light might be, take this opportunity to think long and hard about whether Miru’s promise holds weight. These aspects will become very important later down the line. Something less important I can mention is the BGM for the transition scene, simply referred to as Disturbing BG on the second volume of the 2202 soundtrack. It’s a very rare piece of music from Yamato 2, curiously chosen for this series.
We zoom in on Dessler’s Nue Deusuler flagship, moored in an area of even thicker fog. This is the source of the purple light. Miru continues speaking as the Dessler Cannon powers up. “The universe may be vast, but the people of Gatlantis are the only ones who can do this for you.” Then the angle changes and Abelt Dessler is revealed, standing at the weapon’s firing mechanism which itself resembles a miniature gold, mounted laser cannon. His eyes are a bit wild as he stares down its sights.
[AMB]: Something never stated in the episode, but is made apparent through the visual design, is that debris from the passing White Comet and its trail of victims has fogged up this area. As Yamato plays catchup, it follows that trail. This fog does retain some sort of atmosphere, by the way, which we’ll come to see next episode. Keen viewers will recall that the White Comet takes any remaining fog with it when it warps, as seen in episode 20. This indicates that when Yamanami discharged the Ark’s gravity well in the last episode, it’s since become unable to warp. Then there’s Dessler, definitely looking like he’s stuck between a rock and a hard place, his personal feelings conflicting with his heavy duty. Perhaps he’s also finally feeling what it’s like to be at the receiving end of his own manipulative ways, seeing his younger self in Miru.
Kodai stands and turns in alarm as he asks Keyman for confirmation of what he believes is ahead of them. Shima reports that they are picking up nothing, but Klaus is certain who it is. He is about to state his name when Hijikata answers for him; “A man who values honor above all else is using a move that’s almost a sneak attack. Dessler is serious.”
Kodai looks from Hijikata to Keyman, who quietly nods. Hijikata stands and gives the order: they will eliminate the threat here, along with any doubts that remain. He orders the ship to prepare for warp as Dessler’s attack theme kicks in, the camera flying back from Yamato into the Dessler gun’s sights.
[KC]: Okay, here we go! This series is smashing my nostalgia button pretty hard right now.
[AMB]: Splendid transition from one ship to the other, then back again. It’s a space cowboy showdown between two samurai of Garmillas and Earth. Hijikata shows Dessler some respect, acknowledging that the Dessler he’s come to know would only stoop to a surprise attack like this if he had no other choice. Very different from 2199‘s Abelt, who he never had the displeasure of being tricked by. Even then, Keyman saw Dessler morse-coding a distress signal to his nephew, something he hasn’t revealed to the crew yet for reasons we’ll get to.
“Yamato. The great harmony. High ideals are beautiful. But idealism alone will save nothing,” Dessler monologues to himself as he locks onto Yamato, clearly conflicted. “If you say you have the strength to make your ideals reality, come defeat me, Ranhart.” With gritted teeth and a complicated grimace, he pulls the trigger and the beam lances out toward Yamato.
[AMB]: This is Abelt’s final bet. Will Yamato’s ideals be able to save them? And maybe even himself and Garmillas? Or will they perish as a result of clinging to said idealism, suffering defeat like Abelt has – time and time again throughout his life? The difference between him and Yamato that he still can’t quite grasp is how Yamato managed to get this far; because its crew has relied and depended on one another; had faith in and nurtured their bonds. According to Teresa, bonds – not individual actions – dictate fate and the future. The ship carrying what she referred to as “Great Harmony” has proven this to Abelt time and time again. Hopefully he’ll finally learn the lesson, right here.
His bet also narratively parallels the ideological conflict presented in Episode 26, of whether or not to sacrifice the efficiency of the Time Fault to save Kodai and Yuki. It also ties into the ending song for this chapter, Great Sum. Its final line in particular: “Weaving together brilliant lives brought close by fate / Let us march onward and unwavering in our lives / Let us begin now the story of our lives.” Even Hijikata references this line when he states that they will “eliminate the threat, along with any doubts that remain.”
“Did we do it?” Miru steps forward with an eager smile, but there seems to be nothing in the space where Yamato just was, not even burning wreckage. Dessler frowns and Miru’s answer comes a moment later as Yamato warps in far too close for comfort, screaming toward the bridge of the Nue Deusuler. Dessler orders an immediate emergency purge of the core ship, which Yamato takes note of.
Shima prepares to reverse, but Hijikata orders him to keep going. The camera pans from Okita’s mural to Hijikata. He wants to ram the ship. Yamato slams into Abelt’s massive vessel and grinds to a stop where the core ship used to be. There are no other enemies in sight, and no engine signatures are detected from the separated core ship.
[AMB]: Miru allows his emotions to get the better of him, something learned from Abelt. Surprised by the lengths Yamato goes to, he panics. Which is understandable when you’re face to face with a giant ramming into you, capable of blowing you apart whenever. Speaking of said scene, during the theatrical release of Chapter 7, the merch department released a curious ink pen depicting Yamato ramming the Nue Deusuler. Tipping the pen from one side to the other recreated this effect!
[KC]: They are called “Floaty Pens” and they were popular souvenirs at tourist attractions when I was very young. I remember liking them a lot as a kid, so when they released one for Yamato featuring Dessler’s flagship I was kind of desperate to get my hands on it. Fortunately I had a very kind and generous Japanese coworker with whom I used to discuss Yamato. I had been the one to let her know that the franchise had rebooted the story, and she was enjoying all the new content. As a thank you, she purchased one of those pens for me. The story doesn’t have a completely happy ending, though; she has since left for a new job, so I won’t be able to chat about 2205 with her.
[AMB]: A touching story. As I wrote in my Yamatour travelogue back in 2019, Japanese customs pertaining to generosity are the gold standard. Oh, and in case any of you reading this are confused about Dessler’s core ship, allow me to explain: Abelt separated his core ship since it has the remaining crew aboard it, including Talan. This is Dessler’s chance to live and die by the sword on his own, without further loss of life. It was a painful lesson learned 2199 Episode 25 where Welte and others under Abelt died for his vanity’s sake.
Hijikata orders Space Cavalry Team Alpha to prepare for takeoff. Orders are for them to arm themselves with the mech suits in “B-configuration” for hand-to-hand combat. Yuki and Dr. Sado are in the medical bay watching over the still-comatose Katsuragi when Yuki hears Hijikata’s announcement that Kodai will be infiltrating the enemy ship with Keyman. “Chief Tactical Officer Kodai will lead Team Bravo and storm the enemy ship! Lieutenant Keyman will manage the timing!” Yuki looks down at the engagement ring she still wears, repeating Kodai’s name in a very formal and detached way. Then she stands.
[AMB]: In this scene, Yuki refers to Kodai as “Kodai-san” rather than just Kodai. In Japanese, you often use an honorific like that when referring to someone you don’t know too well, who deserves a stranger’s respect. The B-configuration mentioned here is likely referring to a CQC-mode for the space marine mechs. In the reference department, this whole sequence of events mirrors those of Dessler’s attack on Yamato in Farewell, though without the support fleet from Yamato 2. Things are also reversed from 2199 to 2202, where Dessler’s party infiltrated Yamato. This time around Yamato’s crew has decided to infiltrate his ship as well. A dual boarding action extravaganza.
On the bridge, everyone is still wondering why nothing is happening. “No response at all. It’s likely unmanned,” says a distressed Nanbu. Hijikata ponders this until interference with the Wave-Motion Shield at the rear of the ship is reported by Saijo. We see two large Gatlantean Needle Slaves tearing a hole in Yamato’s bow shield as Sanada continues Saijo’s report. Part of the Wave-Motion Shield is weakened and Yamato’s armor is damaged. They are breaking through! Human-scaled needle Slaves pour into the hole. Hijikata orders Team Alpha to handle defense of the ship. Suddenly, more Needle Slaves are spotted in front and above them as well, displaying perfectly synchronised movements.
[AMB]: Seems Dessler allowed Yamato some time to think about their next course of action before attacking, and just like Yamato he has two different teams handling infiltration and defense respectively. Graphics here display Yamato’s data referring to the mobile Gatlantean units as “Needleslaves,” part of the “GATLANTIS AUTOMATIC ARMY,” just like in the mecha guide. Interestingly enough, they are divided into “Needleslave” and “Needleslave S,” meaning that the closer to human size variants are the “smaller” versions while the big boys are the regular-size variants. The graphic display itself is called “D.W.S. Forming System NETWORK DISPLAY.”
“Remove the core ship and keep Yamato from moving. For a spur-of-the-moment decision, it’s excellent.” Miru is pacing on the bridge of the Nue Deusuler while Dessler sits in his not-throne watching him with a relaxed posture. “As if you knew the Yamato would charge at us.” The Needle Slaves sent out to intercept Yamato’s forces swarm like bees.
“I’m sure your kind wouldn’t understand,” Dessler retorts. Then he chuckles, a warm smug smile forming. “They’re similar to our own, you see. The thoughts of our relatives.”
Currently, one of his relatives is running down a corridor with Kodai, giving Yamato’s Chief Tactical Officer directions as well as updating him on the kind of response they can expect. “I’m turning left at the next corner! Expect their defenses to be tough!”
[AMB]: Abelt’s chuckle is one that both recognises Ranhart’s willpower and acts as a show of respect. At the same time, he’s laughing at seeing his own reflection in Ranhart. But probably the funniest part of this (to him) is how Miru doesn’t quite seem to realize how similar his own thought process is to his clone father, Zordar. Also, Dessler knew Yamato’s crew would either ram him or die at the hand of his Dessler cannon. Based on previous experiences with Yamato’s immaculate timing, and the fact that he sent Keyman an S.O.S., it was a closed case. If Keyman had been in the restroom at that moment, however…
[KC]: Dessler does a lot of laughing throughout both versions of the series and I much prefer his I-Know-Something-You-Don’t-Know moments of amusement to the cackling lunatic he can become.
[AMB]: That said, I do miss the scene where he calls up Yamato’s crew in Yamato 2’s equivalent to this scene, telling them that his intense desire for vengeance brought him back from the land of the dead, followed by a long bout of cackling.
[KC]: Is that the one where he also signs off with a skull emoji? It is definitely his combination of campy and classy that sets him apart from other antagonists in the genre.
[AMB]: Yes. Yes it is. And I absolutely adore it. And the scene with Kodai running with his assault rifle aimed high is practically traced from a very emotional scene from both Farewell in which he’d just left Sanada and Saito to their deaths. No tears are streaming from his eyes now, though.
Yamato’s weaponry and the Space Cavalry grapple with the Needle Slaves on the outside while inside the ship Kurata reports that he’s lured some of the Needle Slaves toward Saito and Nagakura. Together, they hold up a laser trap that slices the enemy apart. When the trap runs out of juice, Saito throws the hunk of metal left behind at one of the enemy automatons and then proceeds to wrestle with it in desperation. Unfortunately, another one damages his suit.
[AMB]: I spot Tetsuya Kitano in Nanbu’s seat, since Nanbu’s taking Kodai’s place for the moment. And while the Cosmo Marines are great at what they do, their numbers are simply not a match for the machines they fight. It’s a sad thing, seeing the human spirit so thoroughly crushed by cold, calculating robots. Curiously enough, these Needle Slaves are neither Garmillan blue (as on Telezart), nor are they standard Gatlantean green; these are white, perhaps an indication that they’re top of the line? Which also begs the question… did Abelt run out of Garmillan-blue Needles Slaves on Telezart?
Nagakura, concerned, is distracted and her suit gets pinned to a wall by four crucifying needles. Saito attempts to fire on her attacker, but his gun is empty. “Damn, no use huh?” He jumps out of his cockpit and runs to stand between Nagakura and the Needle Slave, his arms wide in a protective, defiant stance.
“What’re you doing, Commander?” Nagakura cries.
“Hell if I know!” He answers.
A red light comes out of the Needle Slave and Saito thinks he’s done for. But after scanning him the robot stands down, seems to bow, and then retreats with the others, much to Saito’s surprise. Saito’s sweating bullets as fog rises in the corridor, a disturbing pulsating sound resounding. On their way out down the corridor, Nagakura lets the Needle Slaves have it with her own turret gun and one explodes, the blast door coming down and cutting them off from further attack.
[AMB]: Ominous, disturbing and slow. A scene where the audience is given one final opportunity to realize what is up with Saito, a moment that slowly sinks in along with the dread of him realizing that he is a living-dead spy for the enemy. The pulsating beat of the Needle Slave scanner mixed with the tense atmosphere is rare for Yamato, but very effective.
“Love is necessary,” comes a voice and the image of a figure in shadow who can only be Zordar. “Yes, love is indeed necessary. It’s all so empty. Know despair.”
It is Saito who hears this voice and sees this image in his mind. Saito, not Nagakura, whose expression goes from shock to fear and then anger. “No. It was me?” He asks, his voice shaking. “Me,” he realizes, as his eyes close and his head bows in pain. He begins sobbing as Nagakura looks on, unsure.
“Commander?” she asks hesitantly.
Saito falls to his knees and stares down at his hands in horror. “It’s me?” He continues to sob. “Me?” He breaks down as Zordar continues.
[AMB]: A few scenes ago, Saito was grief-stricken by the thought of Nagakura most likely being the living-dead spy, and that was hard enough. But suddenly, it turns out he’s the one. Hajime bitterly laughs at how stupid his initial thoughts were; happy that Nagakura isn’t the one. But then he realizes what Keyman’s already told him off-screen, how he has to go through the process of dying in real time to cut off the connection to Zordar. And that he won’t be able to stay by her side forever.
[KC]: This is pretty damn heart-wrenching and I openly cried watching this scene again for the commentary.
[AMB]: Mm-hmm. All the lines he hears in his head are ones we’ve heard from Zordar throughout 2202. Saito recalls how he’s heard each and every one of these, but they’ve been someone else’s thoughts all along. We even see the dark outline of Zordar from Episode 10 during Teresa’s Cosmowave, except it’s more defined now.
We are all forced to accept the reality of this situation, topped off by a woefully upsetting voical performance by Hiroki Touchi. The BGM is Grief (Death of Okita). How fitting. It played when Okita died, when Kato departed his deathly sick son in Episode 5, when the original Sabera realizes she’s dead and that Zordar’s on the wrong path, and now when Saito realizes… that he’s dead. A track seeped in acceptance of death.
All in all, this scene has another moment that works well on its own, but is enhanced by multiple viewings.
“Without knowing you are the playthings of fate, you all go on killing and being killed yourselves. Know despair. At the end of the killing, you’ll burn everything down, then go extinct. That is human.”
We see Zordar now not as a shadowy figure in Saito’s mind, but where he actually is; on the floor of his throne room, far below Golem. Surrounded by skeletal relics of the past, talking to Saito through telepathy inside one of the circles that facilitate this.
[AMB]: “That is [what it means to be] human” indeed. Zordar’s seen this pattern play out throughout his life; in his memories, and even now where Dessler is battling his own nephew for material gain. 1000 years and at least six different worlds (four in the Ark of Destruction’s grasp prior to Zemulia’s destruction along with Garmillas and Earth) have taught him that this recognizable pattern of the human experience simply won’t go away with time or with strong ideals. His voice isn’t demeaning or intrusive either, but rather emphatically despondent. He feels for Saito, whose fate has been sealed for him without his knowledge. Just like Zordar’s own fate is to pass the duty of ruler to the next generation, Miru.
“Yes, they require love after all. Not the kind of love to preserve the species.”
Kodai dashes down the corridor as enemy laser fire flashes past.
[AMB]: Kodai once fought to protect Earth, to protect mankind. He still does, even at the cost of damaging his relationship with Yuki. Which he managed to do, until her reverse amnesia. And he still is, though what Zordar doesn’t know yet is that he also wants to save the Gatlanteans.
“Or a love that can be wiped away by a trick of memory.”
Yuki walks slowly down a corridor on Yamato, back to the camera, head bowed.
[AMB]: This part likely affects those of you who’ve had a family member experience memory loss, amnesia or is currently suffering from a condition like Alzheimers. It’s a terrifying prospect, the idea that all the love we’ve gathered in us sometimes can be victim to the physical and mental conditions that ail us. What Zordar doesn’t understand is that love isn’t as easily extinguished. Yuki is already falling back in love with Kodai, and come the end she will – through her and Kodai’s efforts to do the right thing – be rewarded.
“A love that will erase this suffering.”
Katsuragi lies unconscious in her hospital bed.
[AMB]: Speaking of a reawakening of memories: All the Sabera clones experience this as well in some form, always recalling their love. Though it’s muddled and misplaced, being a mishmash of their love for Zordar (current Gairen) and Miru (current Zordar). As previously discussed, this is why Touko sometimes treats Keyman as a potential lover and sometimes as a son. Because… the clone of her son has grown up to become a clone of her lover. Yes, it’s that strange, and it’s no wonder Zordar feels weird around her every iteration. And he recognises how much this must make the Sabera clones suffer as well, something he wants to end for their sake too.
“With death, it brings eternal rest to all humans.”
Zordar himself stands in his throne room, eyes closed. But then he opens them.
“A great love,” he says. He raises his arms. His image distorts and pulls back as his entire chamber is revealed.
[AMB]: “Eternal rest” is easily interchanged with “eternal peace,” since that’s what he means. It’s beautifully put, though incredibly arrogant. And he finally name drops one of the best BGM tracks in all of Yamato; Great Love (大いなる愛). After going through 22 episodes of buildup, starting with his “They require love” line, he finally confirms his intent to bastardize the meaning of 大いなる愛. A line that surely hit the Japanese audience a lot harder, especially the original fans.
Somewhere, a corridor erupts in explosions. Keyman operates a touch screen panel that deactivates all of the Nue Deusuler’s onboard androids at once.
On the bridge, Dessler sees them slump to the ground like marionettes with their strings cut, and he laughs. “In the end they were just puppets,” he quips.
“Did they get into the control room?” Miru asks. “They’re just a few rats! Why can’t you eliminate them more quickly?” He turns and dashes from the bridge.
[AMB]: Miru’s really grown into his own person at this point, capable of lying to Dessler. He says he’s going to go check out the situation, but he’s actually gone into hiding after having realized how improbable it was for Yamato to predict the Dessler gun firing. He surely must have seen Abelt sending his purple distress beacon earlier as well, deciding that he’s going to play stupid in front of the man so that he can catch his nephew once he shows up. Isn’t Abelt the perfect Dad?
[KC]: Another example of the sophistication of this telling of Yamato’s adventures; here with the same dynamic Dessler and Miru had in the original series.
[AMB]: Few things between them have changed. Context for their strained working relationship has been given, along with a slow awakening of Miru’s emotions. And the fact that he’s the heir of Gatlantis. And a clone of Zordar. But you get what we mean!
Dessler gets a call from General Talan, who’s still aboard the separated core ship. Talan points out that Dessler’s nephew is very familiar with the layout of the ship. He says he knows that Dessler’s orders were “not to interfere with family matters” (translation: to leave Ranhart alone) but now he’s not so sure those orders will still stand.
Abelt hangs his head low, averting his gaze from Talan. With closed eyes and a low tone of voice, Dessler assures him that his orders still stand, but General Talan pushes back. “But at this rate, your life will be in danger!” Talan begs to send a rescue team, but Dessler cuts off the communication with a hand wave.
[AMB]: As some may recall, Dessler took his time to show Keyman the ins and outs of his ship back in Episode 16, and his S.O.S. signal might have contained more information than we were previously led to believe. Either that, or he’s just putting his knowledge as an Intelligence Officer to good use.
[KC]: Yeah, hanging up on Talan is gonna become important a little later.
[AMB]: The rescue team, right? As I stated earlier, Dessler didn’t eject the core ship simply for tactical reasons, but to safekeep Welte Talan’s brother and any other living breathing personnel. He does not want a repeat of 2199 Episode 25. Speaking of that episode… this is an homage to a scene from Farewell Yamato where Abelt, shortly before Welte’s death, turns his back to him, telling Talan that he’s thankful of all the years of service up to that day. Shortly after that scene, Welte dies in an ensuing explosion. Seeing as this scene wasn’t in 2199 episode 25, the creators of 2202 did their best to rectify it. But back to the scene.
Unlike other situations where Abelt can hold his head high, he can’t with confidence tell Talan that he wouldn’t like a rescue mission. Abelt doesn’t know how to deal with others genuinely caring for his well-being, so he dismisses it. This reluctance to face him directly is clear to someone as devout a follower as Talan, leaving him unsure of what to do. Until the next episode. But more on that then.
“You came sooner than I expected,” Dessler says, opening his eyes again. His nephew has entered the room behind him. Dessler does not turn around to look at him, though his gaze follows the sound of his footsteps. Ranhart tells him to stop the fighting at once and chides his uncle for clinging to Gatlantis in order to save Garmillas, asking him if this is the case. Abelt closes his eyes, refusing to answer. Ranhart also exclaims that he’s confused, because he knows that Dessler purposefully sent that signal flash to Yamato, causing Abelt to chuckle quietly.
[AMB]: This scene mostly acts as buildup for the next, taking its time to lay out fundamentals. Abelt called for Keyman with the purple node, Ranhart knows he’s working with Gatlantis to save Garmillas. He’s as confused as we are by Dessler’s actions, leading to this impasse. What we’ll soon find out is that Dessler set up this entire situation so that Miru can shift the Devil’s Choice imposed on him to Ranhart instead, since he’s already expressed that Keyman should be the next Dessler to lead the Garmillan people. A rite of passage.
Ranhart tries to convince Abelt to stop and think about what he’s doing. “Zordar’s objective is to exterminate all humanoid life. Even if he keeps his promise, they can never coexist with us.” Which eventually means that Garmillas must be purged as well. Klaus knows that Abelt should ally with Earth, and he knows his uncle knows it, too. He says all of this, but Dessler seems to dismiss him, cutting him off. “The salvation you achieved in the small environment on Yamato was trivial.” In effect, he’s claiming that it is only the salvation of being on Yamato talking to him right now. Ranhart addresses him by his title of Leader, rather than his name. Dessler, seeming to soften, calls Ranhart by name in return, finally turning to look at him.
[AMB]: Throughout this scene, the BGM Dessler’s Bolero slowly creeps up. It’s a track that only plays once in Farewell, one that for fans indicates his coming demise. Hence why the track is named Dessler’s Death on subsequent BGM releases, including 2202’s OST. For new fans, it’s just a fitting song to play between the two living Desslers, the sadness they both harbor. But for old fans, the Bolero signals an inevitable moment: Miru shooting Dessler from behind. Abelt never was able to feel or attain the same kind of salvation as Yamato’s crew members, partially because he’s never had the heart to open up to others like Keyman has. But now, he finally takes that step, turning to Klaus. Then…
A shot rings out. And the music is abruptly cut off.
“Don’t move,” snaps Miru, who has returned with his Gatlantean gun in hand. Keyman turns to confront him just as Dessler drops to his knees behind his nephew, clutching his side where blood now spreads across this uniform. His face twists in agony. Keyman cries out to his uncle in alarm.
[KC]: So did I. I thought I didn’t like this Dessler, but they did it! They got to me.
[AMB]: And they got to Dessler, too. His facial expression here is a very complex, a depiction of not only his physical pain, but also mental anguish at not being able to finish his private moment with Ranhart. This whole scheme of taking the bullet for Yamato to save Garmillas and his nephew was very much planned, but he didn’t expect to be cut off so abruptly and literally. Things never seem to go entirely as planned for Abelt…
[KC]: His face and his uniform may be somewhat different, but he still has the same terrible luck.
[AMB]: Bad luck or not, Abelt’s biting his own words here. Back in episode 16, Dessler gave Miru his Gatlantean hand gun back, urging him to make his own decisions and be his own man. He handed Miru the tool needed to shoot not only Keyman in the back in that same episode, but to shoot him right here as well. What began as a social experiment on Abelt’s part to see whether or not Gatlanteans could engage in acts of free will, has reached its conclusion. They definitely can. And come next episode even Zordar will share his surprise at Miru’s developments, with these being a result of having spent so much time with Abelt.
“Klaus Keyman,” Miru says, his gun leveled. “Kill Dessler. If you do, I promise to save Earth and Garmillas.” Miru’s expression goes from cold to smug as he snorts at Ranart’s painful reaction. He continues. “For clones like ourselves, time is of no real consequence. It could take tens of thousands of years to exterminate every last humanoid. If you do as told, such a reprieve is yours. Now, kill Dessler. An object of your love!”
[AMB]: After everything he’s been through, after all the suffering he’s caused, Abelt finally has found his place to die by the sword, for the sake of the future. A dictator’s anguish. Which, coincidentally, is the name of the BGM for this scene. It’s a somber and melancholic violin/piano rendition of the Garmillas national anthem. Miru’s deal is pretty good too, all things considered. As we’ll find out next episode, he means every word. It would just… come at the cost of incredible heartache. Similar to the heartache Zordar and his father have had to experience for 1000 years.
The camera focuses on the shock in Keyman’s eyes, his breath shuddering. We go in closer and closer until a single pupil envelops the screen and everything goes black. Our episode ends there with a shocking cliffhanger and the lovely Great Harmony sung by Dessler himself, Koichi Yamadera (though not sung in character).
[KC]: Have to say, I didn’t know if or how they were going to do it, but they are giving Dessler a great dramatic, emotional arc here without just hitting the same notes as the original series. Really looking forward to how this plays out!
[AMB]: They’re also taking great care to address Episode 25 of 2199, along with its consequences. Dessler has learned a great deal from his last experience fighting Yamato, recognizing that it was never truly the object of his hatred. He, himself, was. And so he’s doing everything he can to leave a better world to his successors, just like Okita did when he gave his life to the Cosmo Reverse System. Terrific adaptation of such a beloved arc, coming to full fruition next episode! The original episode’s cliffhanger ended with Kodai facing Dessler with a gun, rather than Miru facing Klaus, right?
[KC]: Yes, in the original series this was indeed the setup for the iconic showdown between Kodai and Dessler (or Wildstar and Desslok as many of us first knew them). And I will also point out that in the Farewell version of that scene, Dessler is already pressing his hand to an injury that I believe is in the same location that Abelt has been shot. I have watched 2202 three or four times through now, at least, and I am still catching new references and callbacks!
[AMB]: You are absolutely correct. Never caught that until now, thank you! What was the wait like between Chapters 6 and 7 in the first release of 2202?.
[KC]: Well, the wait between each chapter was filled with excited speculation, but this time we were coming up on the last one. With Zordar’s motivations now laid out, discussion was particularly charged. Mostly I remember that there was a lot of fear surrounding the last chapter of this series. Because the writers had teased all along that 2202 would be a mix of Farewell and Yamato 2, there was considerable anxiety regarding whose beloved characters would survive the finale.
[AMB]: In the end, I think we were both fairly surprised. But more on that next time!
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: March 1, 2019
American debut: March 30, 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 22.
Episode Director: Rei Nakahara
Storyboard: Tetsuo Hirakawa
Animation Director: Nobuteru Yuki
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