Episode 24: Yamato, attack the Comet Empire!
by Anton Mei Brandt and Kathy Clarkson
We open with the familiar, intimidating pipe organ music as the camera tracks a single Gatlantean Calaklum, then pans across the massive fleet currently approaching Earth. Emperor Zordar sits upon his throne leaning to the side, his head supported by his hand. His eyes are closed in rest or contemplation, but they quickly open. The music cuts out.
[AMB]: Given the size and scope of the Ark of Destruction, the few ships we do see buzzing around its outer shell are but a fraction of the Gatlantean military’s greater whole, which we’ll soon see. We are also shown what remains of the massive fleet of warships that departed the Time Fault in Episode 21. Now only shipwrecks. Among these are the AAA-006 Amaterasu, the AAA-008 Aquarius, the AAA-009 L’Andromedè, and BBB-class Andromedas; the guts of each ship gouged out. With this, Andromeda and Apollo Norm have both been lost, leaving us only with the surviving Aldebaran, Antares and Achilles seen in episode 22. Apollo Norm’s Captain (Shuntaro Yasuda) gave his life to save Yamanami.
Seeing as this is our last chance to talk about the Andromeda-class ships, allow me to explain the origins behind their names:
Aldebaran is named after the 14th brightest star on the night sky, also known as Alfa Tauri. It’s part of the Taurus constellation. Achilles is named after the greatest hero of the Trojan war, described in the Illiad as having carried a shield depicting all the constellations in the sky, constructed by the God of smithing; Vulcan. Antares is the 15th brightest star we can see, part of the Scorpius constellation. Andromeda is named after the Andromeda Galaxy, which itself is named after the beautiful princess from Greek mythology who married Perseus (son of the sea God Poseidon) and became Queen of Greece. Lastly, Apollo Norm seems to have borrowed its name from both Greek and Norse mythology. Apollo was the Greek sun God, whilst Norns were Norse deities responsible for changing the course of human destinies. Why they named it Norm instead of Norn is anyone’s guess. Might just be a misspelling.
Earth sits in the vastness of space. Blue, glowing and beautiful. Suddenly, a spear of light pierces the emptiness and stretches out with a rippling effect much like the surface of a body of water. And from that water rises Yamato.
[AMB]: As we’ll soon find out, this water is actually coming from the subspace which Frakken and company travel through in their Dimensional Submarines. But this time – four years later – the portal is no longer red and unstable, but blue like the Earth. Aesthetically pleasing and most likely “Time Fault certified.” Which brings me to a question you’re all probably wondering. What happened between episodes 23 and 24?
Following the events of last episode, Yamato simply warped ahead of the crippled White Comet. The Chapter 7 (episodes 23 – 26) BD sleeve art by Makoto Kobayashi indicates a visit to the Time Fault, but that won’t happen just yet. What happened in Episode 22 however, which will come into play soon, is Yamato’s refit. Here are the full details:
This upgraded Yamato is referred to as having its “decisive battle” specs. Yamato received a new main gun, new AA guns and defensive firearms, all scavenged from Ginga. Repairs were made to its hull and additional improvements made to its artillery guns. In addition, the defensive Wave Barrier can be partially developed just after warp, and anti-aircraft weapons can be used. Catapults to launch fighter craft were relocated from Ginga to Yamato’s first hangar for a total of four. The most important upgrade was made to the cosmo radar, but more on that later.
On the bridge, the warp is pronounced complete and a countdown begins, alarms blaring. Captain Hijikata gives the order to prepare the Transit Wave-Motion Gun.
“Target scope open. Targeting the core of the comet. Open the circuit to the Wave-Motion Gun” Kodai announces, hundreds of enemy vessels lined up in front of them. Further stages of readiness are announced by the rest of the bridge crew as the iconic sound of the Wave-Motion Gun powerup gets louder. Outside of Yamato we see the bright glow of that power building as Miki Saijo announces that the Neu Deusuler is warping out at its designated point.
Appearing in front of that glow is the massive, Garmillas-designed Gatlantean flagship which Zordar gifted to Dessler, sans the core of Dessler’s original flagship (which he took with him last episode).
[AMB]: Nanbu opens up the gun’s circuit, Tokugawa closes the emergency valves. Everyone’s wearing their protective goggles. And then, an additional task is ordered by Sanada, to connect the CRS (Cosmo Reverse System) booster. The scene is carried out without music and the bridge is dark. What was supposed to take place five episodes ago – at the cost of Yamato’s certain doom – is finally carried out, its risks nullified by Abelt’s hand.
[KC]: Okay, this is ridiculously cool. I mean, the reveal, the fact that he gave it to them…I rewatched this scene a few times, I’m just saying.
[AMB]: No wonder. In Farewell to Yamato, Dessler likewise aids Yamato’s crew, but by giving advice rather than a tool. Chronologically, this scene was supposed to happen in Episode 18, but Zordar rewrote destiny’s script by giving Kato his devil’s choice.
Tokugawa states that the energy charge is at 120% and Kodai instructs all crew to engage anti-shock and anti-flare defenses (seatbelts and goggles) as the ten-second countdown starts.
Kodai reflects on the words Dessler left his nephew with along with the remains of his vessel: “My Neu Deusuler will protect Yamato from the Transit Wave-Motion Gun’s energy radiation.” Then he fires.
[AMB]: With returning readers in mind, I won’t harp on this plot element too much. With love, Kodai inspired Dessler to live. To live on without shame, Abelt relinquished his gift from Zordar, allowing Yamato to use its eldritch technology to survive firing the Transit WMG at the White Comet. Unlike the typical deus ex machina of space opera shows, this tool didn’t come out of nowhere. It was introduced 13 episodes ago, its capabilities revealed. Friendship and love really did win this one folks, but not in the typical shonen-esque way.
Like a Jacob’s Ladder electrical arc, the two prongs on the back end of the ship glow, with Yamato’s bow facing its front. Before them sits a line of energy orbs that merge one at a time into the orb closest to the prongs until it has grown in size considerably. As this is happening, the White Comet projects three red protective rings, preparing to face the brunt of the Transit Wave-Motion gun.
[AMB]: Allow me an attempt to explain: taking advantage of the Neu Deusuler’s unique energy insulation technology, Yamato’s crew allows the engine of Dessler’s ship to help generate – and harness – the absurd amount of destructive power already being generated by Yamato’s Transit WMG. This way, instead of letting Yamato’s Engine overheat and explode, the Neu Deusuler is given this duty. Gatlantis believes this to be nothing more than a last ditch suicide attack by Earth’s soldiers of love. And so, Gatlantis puts up the same three-ring red energy shields they’ve previously used against WMG attacks.
Once the Neu Deusuler has been completely absorbed by the enormous ball of energy, a single, thin golden beam lances out from Yamato. It penetrates Gatlantis’ defenses and reaches the fog’s surrounding escorts, utterly destroying them. Gatlantean vessels fall away even as they are evaporating into nothing; all the way down the line to Gatlantis itself, the structure of which begins to crumble.
[AMB]: The Transit WMG. It combines the dangerous Wave-Motion lattice particles introduced by Klaus with the Gatlantean ship gifted to Abelt. It is brought to just the right spot by Frakken at Varel’s behest (as we’ll soon see), upgraded inside the impromptu shipyard above Mars two episodes prior (presumably by Yamato’s former crew), and fired by Okita’s children and his best friend Hijikata. “Everyone’s shot” from Episode 13 has truly become everyone’s shot.
The beam has the outward appearance of a golden arrow, one that harmonizes with the White Comet’s swirling nucleus, purifying its fog into serene blue space dust on the Ark’s back-end. Then, it all takes on the harmonious golden hue of Teresa. The fog, along with the comet’s artificial atmosphere begins to combust, a hellish fire mixing with the golden shine of the Transit Wave-Motion gun. Not even the planets held captive by its claws survive; they are violently ripped apart in what feels like a mercy killing.
The BGM here (Yamato Solemnly Departs) is a direct reference to Farewell, used once and only once in this very moment. Glad to have it back.
Deep inside Gatlantis (perhaps still hundreds of miles from danger), Zordar still sits calmly on his throne as his officers panic below him.
“How can this be?” Asks Razera rhetorically. “More power than the Wave-Motion Gun…?!” responds Goenitz. They’re both considerably shocked.
[KC]: It’s being magnified by the device you outfitted Dessler with. Like a giant middle finger.
“What a bizarre bond we share,” Zordar growls, leaning forward on his throne, his face huddled in darkness. “The ship guided by Teresa, Yamato.”
[AMB]: While his most trusted men panic, Zordar seems to take some masochistic glee in what’s happening. It seems like no matter how hard he tries to squash humanity’s spirit, it keeps rising to the challenge. He respects Yamato. Its struggle both confounds and frustrates him, his clenched fists revealing a menacing anger. “We don’t choose our bonds,” said Toko in the last episode. Now Zordar’s the one forced to swallow this truth.
[KC]: Zordar is in pretty good company; these Earthlings have also driven all of his subordinates and Dessler to the same place emotionally.
As Zordar utters Yamato’s name, countless red warp gates open around it, issuing forth Garmillas warships to the Time of Fate theme. Anti-warp shields, Destria-class, Meltoria-class, Kelkapia-class, Gaiderol-class, Berger’s CCC-Battalion of Andromeda-Garmillas variants, Gaiperon-class carriers… and probably more.
There is an incoming call from the white Zoelguut, Ambassador Varel’s ship, as it warps out on the front lines.
[AMB]: Where have these ships been? A decent chunk of them were most likely part of Varel’s Absolute Mars Defense Front group, urged to retreat from the Mars front by Captain Tani of the Aldebaran in Episode 21. Ship classes like the Gaiderol and Gaiperon – which have been largely absent during this war – likely arrived from Garmillas during Episode 22 at the behest of Varel. For the past two episodes, they’ve been preparing ships and equipment on the surface of Mars, getting ready to defend Earth if worse comes to worst, just like they promised Captain Tani. And so here they are at this…time of fate.
“Yamato, Garmillas forces will exhaust every effort to send you to the core of the City Empire. We would like you to entrust the defense of Earth to us.”
Kodai, Shima and Hijikata receive this news with a mixture of grim determination, as does Keyman, who utters the Ambassador’s name to himself in admiration.
[AMB]: Cathartic, isn’t it?
[KC]: I’m not crying, you’re crying.
[AMB]: Somehow, the Ambassador’s gotten the go-ahead to defend Earth with whatever forces Garmillas could muster. Perhaps on the condition that he first gauges the results of the Transit Wave-Motion gun. For all we know, this is the bulk of what Garmillas has, and going by the abundant variety of ship classes on display, it’s safe to say that Varel’s no cheapskate. Now onto mecha details.
The red warp gate technology utilised by Garmillas no longer spins the Garmillas ships upon exit. This is most likely the result of 30 Time Fault years (three real life years) of research, a right Garmillas bought by selling frontier worlds they no longer needed. This new stable effect conveys a more cohesive and reliable aesthetic befitting Nue Garmillas.
“This will be a joint operation,” Varel continues, then lays out the operational procedures. “You will head for the Emperor’s throne room in the Ark of Destruction. It’s not possible using warp, but with our technology…”
He trails off, his composure waning. Another Garmillas ship appears among them, emerging through a dimensional rift, splashing about what appears to be water. Miki Saijo, at the radar station in Yuki’s absence, reports that a Dimensional Submarine is surfacing.
It is, of course, Frakken and his crew. Kodai quickly rises, gazing at their twice-unlikely ally.
[KC]: And the hits just keep on coming! First Dessler gifts them with a mega weapon, then Varel’s moving words and now Yamato is getting help from Frakken and crew? My Garmillas fangirl heart is swelling more than it does when His Majesty monologues with cello accompaniment.
[AMB]: Just like in Episode 25 of 2199, Yamato’s aided by Garmillas against a lovesick and morally twisted antagonist. Not referring to Göer, by the way, he gets plenty of love on Japanese Twitter. Even Frakken’s here to complete the connection! It truly is the work of bonds.
Just like the red warp gates, the space submarines no longer float in unsteady waters. The dimensional burst of particles is blue, its rift as well. While some might call this an inconsistency, others like me would point out that the water surrounding the UX-01 was always a greenish-blue tint, like the dimension it comes from. It’s just that the Garmillas warp gates used by the UX-01 shone brighter, as seen in Yamato’s first battle with Frakken in 2199. Oh, and several space submarines being present instead of one? That’s a development borrowed from Yamato III.
“It will be our first time attempting this,” The Space Hound says as three additional subs surface from the Sargasso dimension, flanking Yamato. By his side stands the jolly Gol Hainy, his first mate. “Even using four ships with specialized equipment, sending Yamato in alone is likely the best we can do. Even that carries no guarantee of success.”
We cut to Captain Hijikata, face huddled in darkness. “This, too, is the work of bonds,” Hijikata says to himself. Then; “Let the Dimensional Submarine take the helm.”
[AMB]: As Zordar aims to delegitimize love itself, Yamato stands tall to protect it. When Yamato’s resolved to save the world on its own, it inspires others like Frakken to send their aid. “This, too, is the work of bonds,” said Hijikata, narratively following up Zordar’s previous remark. Choosing to trust a former enemy to assist them in saving Earth (and by extension, the universe), Hijikata at last reaches the same mental plane as Okita. Where he can place his faith in and forgive the enemy.
Saito once asked him how Kodai could forgive “those bastards” (the Gatlantean 8th Task Force) who had practically genocided the 11th planet – which was under Hijikata’s jurisdiction. Back then he could only answer for Kodai. Here, the camera holds on his eyes being covered in darkness by the brim of his cap, just like Okita. And so, he becomes Okita, staking his life on the goodwill of former enemies. Finally understanding why his old friend valued Kodai so much; why Kodai wants peace with Gatlantis after all the destruction their enemy has committed. It even parallels when Okita chose to trust Captain Valus Lang when stuck in the Sargasso of space.
The Garmillas submarines move into position around Yamato, creating the energy field required for the battleship to descend into subspace.
“Synchronize all ships, then rapid dive!” orders Frakken, met with a response from a slightly off-screen Earthling wearing a bandana. “Rapid dive!” As Yamato sinks out of sight, the contingent of submarines follow until there is no trace of any of them.
[AMB]: Calibrating the subspace warp, the space submarines emit some form of diamond-shaped fields. These appear around Yamato, but red rather than blue to indicate that they aren’t quite as well synchronised with Frakken’s ships. This dangerous operation, to coordinate a dive with a ship that doesn’t necessarily support the procedure, is carried out by none other than former Yamato crew member Yabu! They’ll show his face soon, but for now his bandana and voice are here to hype up all Yabu fans. Yes, I just wrote that.
Varel’s Garmillas forces press forward. Addressing the fleet from the bridge of his Neu Balgrey is none other than fan favorite Fomto Berger.
“We will hold the line until Yamato achieves her goal,” he says. “Without fail!”
2202’s version of Yamato Into the Vortex starts up as Varel’s ships move into place to face off against Gatlantis forces.
[KC]: Berger is here, too?! Is it my birthday? This just keeps getting better and better.
[AMB]: He sure is! And the narrative reason for why he (and by extension: Varel) gets the glorious job of aiding Yamato here, rather than Abelt, is because Berger stole his New Voyage moment of alien solidarity with Yamato in Ark of the Stars. Abelt now has the opportunity to explore what remains of his original counterpart’s story beats from New Voyage and Yamato III. Berger gets to repay his debt to Yamato while Varel gets to send Kodai a message via the bridge screen, honorably vowing to assist.
[KC]: This is just a reminder to seek out Ark of the Stars if you haven’t yet, because we haven’t brought it up for a few episodes now.
[AMB]: Oh, and this “return of Garmillas in Earth’s time of need while Yamato infiltrates the enemy superstructure” element is directly borrowed from Final Yamato. There, Dessler and his people (presumed dead from the movie’s start) return from a long journey to aid Yamato in its hour of need, repaying a previously incurred debt. At the time, Yamato was desperately trying to protect Earth from getting subjugated by an ancient and oppressed race of aliens. Kodai attempts to avert calamity by forcing the enemy’s ruler to negotiate… then Dessler shows up, sends Kodai a personal thank you message, and fights Uruk’s forces to buy Yamato time. Seem familiar?
Speaking of Uruk (the alien nation from Final Yamato), their origin seems to have inspired Head Writer Fukui’s take on Gatlantis and Akerius in 2202. In that movie, Uruk – aptly named after the BCE Babylonian city once ruled by King Gilgamesh – is an ancient civilization originating from Earth. Their real life stone tablets (referenced in Ark) were left behind as they departed from our planet. They left to escape the Great Flood of myth, a natural occurrence which happens every few thousands of years. Its source? The origin of all human life including their own, the water planet Aquarius. How does this all connect?
In the reboot universe, Aquarius wasn’t a planet, but rather mankind’s progenitor civilization; Akerius. To test mankind, Akerius rebooted humanity, splitting mankind into seven different races and spreading these out in the cosmos. Their goal? To see if we’re capable of cooperating in spite of superficial differences. In this work, Akerius has taken Uruk’s role as mankind’s progenitors, while Uruk’s role as an antagonistic force opposed to what’s preordained is filled in by Gatlantis. There are multiple instances of Teresa’s origin being connected to ancient Akerius, while Gatlantis’ reluctant reverence towards her is a mimicry of Uruk’s similar stance towards Aquarius.
Jet black battleships carrying anti-matter missiles act as the Gatlantean vanguard. When receiving fire, they respond by ramming into their attackers. The battlefield quickly grows chaotic as red Garmillan laser fire barrages the Ark of Destruction and its defending ships. Drill missiles are launched by Galunt-class heavy bombers from Berger’s group, emblazoned with their uniquely fancy Garmillan emblem. They strike at the Ark’s already pummeled gravity core and severed appendages, resulting in a magnificently grim image of adversity.
[AMB]: The Gatlantean battleships are Gostok-class variants with A.I. bridges, organically grown in the bowels of the Ark of Destruction. Their black and red color scheme, while menacing, is but a consequence of the Akerian ship creation process we saw in Episode 17. Last episode, we mused on why Baruze suddenly had two black Apocalix escorts brought with him to Earth, accompanied by black Deathvatators.
Blind as we were, we didn’t know it was the first indication that Gatlantis had exhausted its stock of ships, no longer bothering to cast them in green. These ships don’t seem to be manned, performing automated ramming tactics at the sight of intruders, not bothering to launch their powerful missiles. They’re getting undermanned and desperate.
Meanwhile, the Dimensional Submarines and Yamato wait in subspace at the heart of Gatlantis. Frakken’s first mate Heyni announces that they’re approaching the break-out point, a large red velvet wall.
“This is as far as we can take you,” Frakken tells them. “Take it from here, Yamato.”
As Yamato begins to rise toward the red light, Frakken’s crew come forward to salute her, including Sukeji Yabu; the Yamato Engineer who was mistaken for a Zaltz citizen and recruited by Frakken during the Garmillas war with Earth a few years earlier.
“May we meet again,” Frakken says.
[KC]: In the original series, Dessler’s parting words to Kodai and Yuki were, “Goodbye. I hope we meet again.” Not saying this is a callback, but it could be a callback.
[AMB]: Indirectly or not, it’s definitely a callback. And speaking of callbacks, oh Yabu, you’ve become a competent and proud working man.
To catch readers up on who this fellow is, he was Tokugawa and Yamazaki’s engineer assistant on Yamato in 2199. Dour and pessimistic, he would eventually come to subscribe to the military’s Project Izumo plan – to relocate to a new planet, aiding Security Chief Shinya Ito and Intelligence Officer Niimi in a mutiny.
After a failed coup, Yabu and Ito hijacked Kodai and Yurisha’s Seagull transport heading to Prison Planet 13; a prison colony in the Garmillas empire. There, his pale skin and casual wear let him blend in with the prison population, appearing to be a Zaltzian convict.
Picked up by the passing Space Wolf and his submarine, Yabu wouldn’t see Yamato again until the end of 2199, when Frakken aided the ship against Göer’s deserting fleet; unaware that the man was helping Dessler. Having built respect and admiration for his former ship, Yabu doesn’t give it a Garmillas salute. He gives it an Earth salute. We have to wonder if he finally “came out” when it was safe to admit his true heritage.
[KC]: I also want to give a shoutout to Yabu here. He had a great story arc in 2199 and it’s good to see him here. Japanese fans loved him for being a regular guy like them, merely an observer of other peoples’ heroism. And then he got to be a hero, too! As of this writing, the teaser trailer has finally been released for 2205 and I am excited to say that we may be getting even more of his story in the coming chapters.
[AMB]: Much preferable to his original counterpart’s “patriarchy island psychosis” on Iscandar. That was a wild, wild arc.
Flying through the firey red bowels of Gatlantis, Shima comments on Yamato being in the belly of the beast, perhaps attempting to break the tension. But Kodai is on edge and barks out to remain alert for hostiles. That’s when Miki reports that unidentified heat sources have been detected. “Calaklum class, but small. They vary in size. That’s just like…” Sanada responds: “… just like Katsuragi Toko’s intel suggested, this is where Gatlantis’s ships are created.”
They are in the vast nursery that births the Gatlantean ships.
[AMB]: And no one on the bridge looks any less frightened by what they see, least of all Sanada. More narrative threads begin to connect. Here, we bear witness to Gatlantis’ Akerian ship production facility. Protruding like towers both above and below, Calaklum-class ships of varying sizes are grown in the thousands, enshrouded in a red mist.
But as Miki notes, they’re quite small. Just like the Time Fault, this Ark is a factory with endless possibilities for death and destruction. Considering Gatlantis only recently managed to obtain its first copy of the Akerian-tech Calaklum back in Episode 1, it’s a marvel to behold the extent of the Ark of Destruction’s capabilities. As some readers have pointed out, these visuals do bring our minds back to Garmillas’ hellish city aesthetic from the original Yamato series final episodes. In 2199, this aesthetic for Garmillas was mixed with Galman-Garmillas inspired art design from Yamato III. And yes, this does give 2202 the opportunity to explore rooftop missiles. Just differently.
Kodai orders that all systems begin linking with their automated navigation system. We see the auto-navigation room pod light up, revealing a figure inside it. The newly outfitted sonar array atop Yamato responds: glowing filigree lights up, emitting a signal. In the Ark’s throne room, Goenitz notices the light and remarks on it with a sense of familiarity.
[AMB]: The cosmo radar at the top of the command tower was converted to a large-scale high-dimensional radar during Yamato’s refit, allowing Toko to transmit her Cosmowave signals for various tasks. The filigree markings on it give off Akerian tech vibes. And yes, she’s inside the auto-navigation room, which wouldn’t have been available to them had Sanada and Okita not considered bringing Yurisha back home to Starsha in 2199. The radar dome tech in itself wouldn’t even have been considered had Toko not chosen to defect in Episode 21. Bonds are a force to be reckoned with.
Zordar scowls as he peers out at the scene; their own Calaklum-class ships are falling in behind Yamato. “A disruption using Cosmo Waves,” he says.
“We can’t shut it out,” Gairen responds to his Emperor and younger self. “It’s the highest level of code. That is another Silver Priestess. One with the authority to control this Comet City.”
[AMB]: Translating from Japanese to English sometimes leads to janky results, due to our language structures being so different. Here, Gairen may seem like he’s just stating the obvious, but he’s actually trying to quell Zordar’s frustration. He tells him that bemoaning this situation does little to mitigate it, since Toko is another Silver Priestess like the original Sabera.
Zordar chose Sabera to be the White Comet’s priestess, so this outcome is the result of his own actions. He gave similar advice to Zordar in the last episode. “We can do little more than observe and listen.” Gairen’s a technological wizard, one who still believes that bonds and destiny control them. Science and spirituality in one, just like Teresa.
As Gairen speaks, we see Katsuragi aboard Yamato, lying in the auto-navigation room pod. It glows gold. She has donned a white variant of the uniform worn by Yamato’s female officers (previously seen only once, worn by Yuki in Final Yamato; in Japan white is associated with death). Her eyes are closed and the camera closes in on her face frowning, presumably in concentration. Suddenly, Goenitz is alarmed.
“The gate! The gate which hasn’t opened in a thousand years… !”
Indeed there is a gigantic gate opening, which Yamato begins to head for as the Gatlantean ships controlled by Toko follow suit.
[AMB]: Here’s where things get tricky. Remember the Zemulian storytellers? As discussed earlier, they refer to Toko as “the last Zemulian,” but they also refer to her original counterpart as “a witch,” much to Keyman’s distress. Ever since Klaus told Kodai that he’d dealt with “people like her” (Toko), I’ve come to believe he was referring to Jirellan witches.
When the original Sabera was young, she had those Jirellan elf ears. Her comet empire clone, younger than Toko, still has them. I think we’ve been fooled. Zemulia was a planet, like Earth. But never do they say that the term “Zemulian” refers to a race of people. Only the people “from Zemulia.” The last Zemulian was never a “Zemulian.” She was a close descendant of Akerius, like the storytellers say. A Jirellan, capable of telepathy; of using the Arks spread out across the universe; who fell in love with Zordar.
The pipe organ console is used by White Sabera. The Akerian gate leading to the throne room is opened by Toko. Both Sabera clones really were “the one and only” for all they knew. Sadly, they’ll never get to meet the Jirellans currently traveling with the Ark of the Stars. .
[KC]: Toko in that uniform is really bringing the feels. She has committed herself completely to the people that her son felt deserved to live.
[AMB]: A white uniform, befitting a silver priestess. And Goenitz comment about the gate? Since he expresses familiarity with it being shut for 1000 years, and since his character profile states that he’s Zordar’s oldest follower, it’s fair to presume he joined the man all the way back when his father rebelled against the Zemulians.
“Sabera!” Zordar commands.
At her organ, the Priestess swipes her hands over the keys and then cries out in alarm at the discordant sounds it makes, staggering back as purple energy surges up through the device and lashes out at her.
“Is a doll no competition?” Zordar asks, glaring down at her. “Razera! Show me what you can do.”
[AMB]: Toko has disrupted the white Sabera clone recently manufactured by Gairen. She’s using Yamato‘s radar dome to cancel out her weaker self; a doll deprived of her own identity. This Ark seems to consider Toko a proper heir. In response, Zordar gives out his most baffling order yet, one that absolutely confounded me on a first watch. The non-character Razera, known only for giving Earth the terms of surrender in Yamato 2, is being ordered to show his mettle. And he will not disappoint.
Fifty or so Calaklums are under Toko’s control. The gate leading to Golem is open. On Yamato, the system jack is deemed a success. In response, Hijikata orders the ship to dive into the center of the enemy base, ordering every battle group to launch.
“Space cavalry, move out!” In one of Yamato’s bays, Saito waits for his exit looking grimly pleased and very unwell.
“All space fighters, take off!” Kato sits in his cockpit staring at a picture of his wife and son, acknowledging the order with renewed resolve, nodding.
Around two dozen fighters depart, accompanied by the remaining space cavalry members.
[AMB]: The fighter list is as follow: A bit over a dozen Cosmo Tiger IIs, a comparable amount of the new olive drab variants introduced in Episode 22, Kato’s Black Bird from Ginga, Yamamoto’s Cosmo Tiger I Prototype and the Space Cavalry mobile armors hanging on the Tigers’ wings. BGM is Yamato vs. Gatlantis, its most famous usage being in Farewell to Yamato’s depiction of the Gatlantis insertion. But there’s a new element present…
Everyone moves into place. Then Katsuragi’s eyes fly open, right as the fight is engaged, and another’s face infiltrates her mind. It is Razera, blocking Katsuragi’s Cosmowave dominion of the ancient Akerius technology. She quickly panics.
Before she has time to react, eight fresh Gostok-class missile ships descend on Yamato, all carrying anti-matter missiles. Carefully aiming its shock cannons, Yamato manages to take down three of them, then three more. Razera probes deeper into Toko’s mind and we see him inhabiting a red room with what appears to be six thin red spears pointing toward him. “No…” says Toko. “It’s not accepting my command…”
[AMB]: While the proceeding fight is a terrific technical display, with its hellish backdrop fermenting anxiety, the real meat here is Toko. Somehow Razera, first of his name, has the ability to disrupt the Zemulian witch’s abilities. We’ll soon find out how, though not verbally. Just note that it’s technically not him doing this, it’s a device. He looks tremendously uncomfortable.
[KC]: A random reference I know, but I am reminded here of Professor X from Marvel’s X-Men in a mental struggle with Jean Grey/Dark Phoenix, although it would have to be some mirror universe where he was the villain trying to stop her from doing good.
[AMB]: This work evokes many feelings and calls to mind a multitude of other IPs. I’ve shared my own before as well, so don’t hold back!
Without Toko providing an advantage, Yamato begins to take damage. “Stern hit!” announces Sanada, followed by Ohta giving a similar account. “Starboard aft, it’s the engine room!” An Eater-I “Sword” has lodged itself in Yamato, piercing its engine. Tokugawa appeals to Hijikata, who swiftly says that he’s counting on him. The Chief Engineer heads off the bridge and down to the Engine Room immediately.
[AMB]: Yamato and its music are inseparable. In this scene, like many others in both 2199 and 2202, the music is matched to the rhythm of events. This track in particular was used to satisfying effect in 2199’s fifth episode, matching the beats of the music to the reflection satellites. This direction magic was recreated in several episodes of 2202, including here, where Tokugawa smashes the elevator buttons in tune to the BGM, followed by a barrage of missiles heading Yamato’s way.
Oh, and keep that engine damage in mind. It will be instrumental to Yamato’s success come the next episode. Also, just seeing Tokugawa jump up and head to the engine room shoves the first of many spears into the hearts of longtime fans. It’s a cold reminder which part of the story we’re about to enter.
One of the Gostok-class missile ships manages to strike Yamato’s wall of Calaklums, but also its bridge. We hear glass breaking as Miki’s thrown around, hurt. Sanada calls for a damage report and Shima voices his concern over how much more Yamato can take, when Hijikata observes that Zordar knows their target is Golem. Alarms sound as turbulence violently shakes the ship. Kodai turns to look at Hijikata for guidance, only to be met with a horrifying truth. Hijikata states the obvious out loud, eyes glaring at Kodai’s: “It’s do or die… we all knew that from the start.” After a brief pause, Kodai turns back to his station with an expression of resolve and orders them to break through the front.
[AMB]: Understanding their predicament all too well, Hijikata tells Kodai – his tactical chief – to assess the situation with his own eyes. To order the ship into hell, or not. Will he do, or will he die? This order will inevitably be the end for many, something older fans know just as well as Kodai, indicated by the exact mimicry of word usage taken from Farewell. To “break through the middle,” a very Okita tactic, won’t leave them unscathed.
In the Medical Bay, Yuki lies unconscious as alarms sound and Yamato’s crew call out their orders and status reports. Severe damage to the engine. Close all partitions. Begin emergency maneuvers. Turn off all unnecessary power. Slowly, Yuki’s eyes open and she rises, looking around in bleary-eyed confusion as Dr. Sado and his assistant deal with the wounded, their voices raised with stress. “Doctor, the sickbay is full!” she says. “Lay him down in the corridor! You know triage, right?!” the doctor barks back. The assistant, emotionally distraught, just says yes. As she runs off, the doctor yells at her: “Save as many as possible!” Yuki becomes increasingly upset the more she sees of the dead and dying, finally breaking down at the image of an omamori clutched in one soldier’s hand.
[KC]: So for those who would have to look it up like I did, omamori are the rectangular talismans you get at Shinto and Buddhist temples in Japan, referred to in the West as good luck tokens or charms. There are six main types (Money, Love, Travel, Warding, Education and Health) but in the writing on the one in this episode only the first character can be seen, and it doesn’t seem to match with any of those main types.
[AMB]: I decided to ask the Japanese Yamato community on twitter what they think. Twitter user “くじら軍曹” (Sergeant Whale) – among others – shared similar accounts, but with uniquely Japanese perspectives. Since what makes Yamato isn’t just a singular individual, but rather the whole, this man Yuki sees is supposed to be an unknown figure. He’s someone who was given an omamori like many others, be they soldiers or civilians. The one Kanji we do see indicates that it’s most likely one of these three; typical to the purple category: 1.『交通安全』(“Traffic safety”) 2.『安産』(“Safe Return”) 3.『良いこと』(“Good Things”)
And for those who don’t know what triage is: It’s the practice of determining the order of severity in patients wounds and illnesses; in situations when not everyone can be attended to immediately. This is carried out by what’s called a “triage nurse”. It originates from the French word “trier”, meaning “to sort”. This medical practice came into prominence during – and following – World War I.
Bowing her head, Yuki lets her hand fall from covering her mouth in shock. She appeals to Teresa.
“Teresa, can you hear me? I don’t remember Telezart. But I feel as if I do.” Yuki sees an image of Telezart in her mind, or perhaps feels it. “If you’re there, please tell me.”
The battle rages on as she continues. Yamato both receives and deals damage, vanquishing the Eater-I ships bearing down on it. In the third bridge, where the WM shields are maintained, a collection of female officers familiar to us all do their best to keep the shields running.
[AMB]: Experiencing the horror of being someplace she isn’t familiar with, as people on opposite ends of a galactic conflict you hardly understand do their best to annihilate each other, Yuki’s had better days. But in part, it’s due to her perspective that we can truly feel the hopelessness of this suicide mission.
As we see various actors doing their part aboard Yamato, we hear an original composition from Akira Miyagawa: Death and Prayer. Which is… exactly the kind of material this scene handles. It taps into a larger pool of emotional resonance and depth than the BGM which originally played in this scene, Yamato Pathetique. A one-of-a-kind track to play in a one-of-a-kind scene, a painful one.
“Is there a meaning to this suffering? Something worth the blood spilled…Is there something like that in people’s lives?”
In the Engine room a couple crewmembers lay slumped in the walkway while Tokugawa barely manages to stand upright at the controls. “Engine output not stabilized,” he reports. “But navigation is…unaffected…” Tokugawa groans in pain. Back on the bridge, Shima calls out to him in alarm while Kodai stares in shock, unsure of what to do.
[AMB]: I’m not ashamed to admit it. Writing commentary for this part with a cool head is… difficult. The emotional resonance I mentioned just now is getting to me, choking me up. Here, we see Tokugawa, reprising his death from both Farewell and Yamato 2, down to the same direction, lines and delivery.
He’ll never be able to see Yamazaki surpass him, to see his grandchildren Tasuke and Aiko all grown up with kids of their own. Walking over the bodies of the juniors who chose to depart on this journey with him, he dies. From radiation or the heat or loss of oxygen, we don’t know. But we can expect that it was painful. Suddenly, Yuki’s prayers are transferred to us. Is there anything worth this kind of bloodshed?
“We are born alone and will die alone,” Yuki resumes her prayer as Kodai faces forward again, gritting his teeth. “So why do we (people) meet?”
We cut to one of Yamato’s hangars. Dr. Sado is with Analyzer and a collection of wounded crew members, one of them on a stretcher, when another Eater-I ship breaches the hull closeby, lodging itself. “Watch out!” yells Analyzer, pushing both the stretcher and Sado out of the way. The humans are unscathed, but Analyzer is severely damaged, his head pierced by the Eater. Dr. Sado attempts to retrieve the robot but is held back by Hajime Hirata, who was there to oversee emergency treatments.
“Let go of me!” Dr. Sado demands. “He’s not just a machine! He’s irreplaceable!”
[AMB]: Whether it was Dr. Sado dying of old age or Analyzer shorting out, one of them would inevitably have to leave the other for good one day. In Farewell, both of these monumental characters perish. In Yamato 2, they both survive. So of course, 2202 chose the middle ground, resulting in more heartache than any of the previous adaptations of this scene. Analyzer’s smashed up face was drawn by Kio Edamatsu. To convey complicated feelings through a dying machine’s robotic head… It’s a difficult thing. But my heart confirms he succeeded.
[KC]: There were no dry eyes during the writing of this commentary.
Hirata releases Dr. Sado and we see his hands reach out to the busted and sparking crew member, caressing his chassis. Then the view switches to Analyzer’s perspective as Dr. Sado looks on tearfully with Hirata, holding the machine in its last moments.
“Doc…tor…” Analyzer manages. “Thank…you…” The image blurs, is overrun with static and then cuts out entirely. Touchingly, the same parting line spoken to Sado by Captain Okita.
[AMB]: Voice actor extraordinaire Cho was given the task to voice Analyzer in the Yamato reboot franchise, following up the legendary Kenichi Ogata’s portrayal in the original works. Aside from Analyzer, he also voiced Black Analyzer, Yabu and Gantz the Zaltsian. Three out of four of these characters are now out of commission.
The most beloved of them all shorts out before our eyes, his head – rather than his hand – being held by Dr. Sado as he passes on. Seeing Analyzer’s perspective as he fades away is a haunting affair. We don’t know what will happen to him going forward, but we will see his black brother emerge in a different way later. But questions remain. Is Analyzer emoting true affection? Or is he just emulating Captain Okita’s final words? Or were his final words to Dr. Sado just coincidentally the same as Okita’s? That’s up for you at home to decide.
“We’ve lost so much,” Yuki continues as explosions erupt throughout the ship over the sounds of human cries. “Family, comrades…” The Intelligence office. Sanada’s lab. The Map Room. The mess hall. They’re all in flames. “… even the memories of our loved ones.” Even Kodai’s room is torched.
[KC]: CAUTION: You are now fully inside the Farewell to Yamato portion of our series reboot. Please keep all arms and legs inside of the impending emotional roller coaster at all times.
[AMB]: It’s a jolly good time. Some of the valuables in Kodai’s room are difficult to make out, but here’s what I could gather: There’s the photo of him with Yuki from Ark. Another photo taken with his brother Mamoru, one taken with Shima from their academy days and one that appears to be a photo of his father, Mamoru and a third character who looks like a girl. Maybe a sister? We did see the Kodai family in 2199, albeit briefly before their demise. There’s a photo from Kato’s wedding, a bridge crew group photo, and lastly, a photo of Yuki by herself. They all burn.
There’s a Mars flag hanging on the wall, some indiscernible notes, three stacks of large notebooks and a white briefcase. These photos, sweet as they are, sure make me wonder if there exists high resolution masters on someone’s hard drive out there. Oh, and if it wasn’t already obvious, Yuki doesn’t refer to the physical burning of memories, she means her own lost memories.
Outside, two dozen or more early Gostok-class ships unleash their entire payload at the desperately struggling Yamato, all while several Eater-I ships lunge at it in vain.
“I don’t want to lose any more!” (Yuki)
Rocked by the missiles that just hit, Hijikata gasps and Kodai leaps from his station, turning and calling for the captain. As he runs, the floor of the captain’s cabin from above comes crashing down…
“Don’t take anything more!” Yuki cries.
[AMB]: The painful irony here is that Yuki doesn’t know what’s being taken from her, in this instance, her prized and beloved adoptive uncle. Clever symbolism is being applied as well, with Hijikata literally crumbling under the pressure of being Yamato’s captain, signified by the captain’s cabin crashing down on his back. Or does he really crumble? The ongoing tragedy unveiling itself here is one that perhaps not even Okita could have prevented, yet in spite of being hit Hijikata manages to draw a few more breaths before departing to meet his old friend. And unlike his Farewell counterpart, he doesn’t die calling himself a loser. He overcame that struggle three episodes ago.
Kodai runs to Hijikata and throws off the large panel that collapsed on him.
“Keep it together!” Kodai commands as he lifts Hijikata from his seat. “Call Dr. Sado!”
“It’s fine,” an alive and conscious Hijikata says. “Don’t make a fuss.” Kodai nods. “Look at those,” Hijikata points to a large number of Calaklum ships on the bridge view screen. The music has gone silent, the only sounds heard are those of crackling fire and explosions. Hijikata continues. “They’re still under Toko Katsuragi’s control. Combine them with Yamato’s systems and use them more efficiently.”
[AMB]: For this scene, director Nobuyoshi Habara had originally imagined Ishizuka Unshou’s performance to carry it. It was a moment that would give Unshou’s Hijikata a proper sendoff. But he departed all too soon, heading off on a new journey in the world beyond our own. Thankfully his successor, Naomi Kusumi, carried this difficult character moment in a way only he could. In a way, it adds some tender truth to the missed potential at the core of Hijikata’s character. That, just like how he tried to catch up to Okita, Kusumi has now done his best to catch up to Unshou. In my heart, he succeeded.
“An asteroid ring…” Kodai breathes, recalling the strategy.
“Use that to defend our air forces and rush inside that gate.” Hijikata instructs him with renewed vigor, a smile forming. “You can do it, right?”
“Yes, sir,” Kodai responds.
[AMB]: Seeing as he perishes in both Farewell and Yamato 2, it’s no surprise he won’t make it. But at least he went out on his own terms, giving his all until the very end. He never got to see the fruits of his labor before passing on – like Okita did – but I doubt he had any doubt about Kodai’s abilities to carry on. While Yamanami managed to outlive his role as a stand-in for Yamato 2 Hijikata, the one who until now has captained Yamato – the Farewell counterpart – sadly can’t. Like his friend, he’s leaving the next generation to clean up. Yamanami’s outlived two of the greats.
Hijikata begins to slump in Kodai’s grip. But suddenly, he regains some of his composure, staring Kodai in the eye.
“Kodai…The next captain is…you.”
Kodai looks on in anguish as Hijikata’s strength leaves him.
[AMB]: Speaking of passing the baton from the old generation to the new, pay attention to Hijikata’s choice of words here. His death scene up to this point, though circumstances are different, has been a more or less complete recreation of his departure in Farewell. Word for word even, barring one exception. “Grasp the future.”
Hijikata’s body goes limp. His eyes fixate. He’s dead.
At their stations, Shima and Sanada stare straight ahead, unblinking. Miki weeps, her head in her hands. Keyman stares over at Hijikata, his head down on his monitor, blood running from an unseen head wound. Still beside him, we realize we are seeing through Kodai’s perspective as he lifts his own bloody hands up to his face.
“The future,” Kodai repeats to himself. Clenching his fists, he struggles to get his emotions under control and turns to the rest of the bridge. A heavy sound is heard, like that of a reckoning bell. “Carry out former Captain Hijikata’s orders!”
[AMB]: Originally, Hijikata died immediately after giving Kodai the devastating order to become Yamato’s next captain. In 2202 however, he decided to use the last of his energy to give the boy some encouragement; to seize the ideal future Yamato’s fighting for. Writer Fukui focused a lot of 2202’s attention on how these characters should build a better future, how they can inspire the viewers to work toward the same goals. At the episode’s conclusion, this theme will become more apparent.
Outside, Razera finally makes his presence known. He’s apparently been cruising around the exposed opening to the Akerius gate, piloting a larger and more imposing variant of the Eater-I ship. Inside his cockpit Razera seems exhausted and focused, completely submerged in the cockpit’s red hide. Following him is a posse of at least nine regular Eaters. Breaking his focus is Yamato, surrounded by debris. It seems like he wasn’t expecting the ship to get this far.
[AMB]: Speaking of organic ships, this one’s insides appear to be completely organic. Perhaps all grown ships are? Razera’s lower body has been completely swallowed up by its fleshy walls, much to his dismay and discomfort. Those six spears mentioned earlier? They seem to actually be the ship’s nervous system, hooked up to Razera via six openings in his shoulder armor. This appears to be what gives him the ability to focus his ship’s anti-Cosmowave capabilities. Again, it does not look comfortable and is definitely a last-resort kind of deal.
Having formed the asteroid ring as Hijikata instructed, Yamato’s new physical shields smash seven of Razera’s approaching Eaters to dust. Then ten more. With this maneuver having successfully shaken Razera’s focus, Aihara reports that the Magnetron Waves are once again aligning with Toko’s Cosmowaves. This means the lifeless Calaklums can finally be used again.
Kodai then decides to join the fray in his own Type-0 Cosmo Zero fighter plane. Klaus Keyman is now on board his Czvarke. Kodai speaks to the air force: “This is Kodai. I’m joining the aerial force and entering the gate with the advance unit.” Hearing this, Kato can’t help but smile.
[AMB]: Hijikata left Kodai with a cute strategy; using the surrounding debris, which will only keep building up as more of the Calaklums break apart, Yamato can easily fend off Razera’s forces. What they don’t know is that they’ve stumbled upon the Gatlantean General Chairman of Military Affairs! Razera, that is. And they’ll never know his name.
Saito responds, “All right!” clenching his fist in pride at this news. Yamamoto alerts everyone to an in-bound enemy ship, giving Keyman and herself a split second to successfully dodge in opposite directions. Razera’s huge, spinning, swordlike Eater-I ship launches itself at Yamato and breaks apart its asteroid shield. It then immediately spins back around and corrects itself, aiming at Kodai’s advance group with the intent to pierce through Klaus and his surrounding allies. This catches Keyman off-guard. “What IS that?” he asks himself, bracing for impact.
[AMB]: Saito and Nagakura have chosen to use the wings of Yamamoto’s Cosmo Tiger I as their transport. Taking note of this small scene will help more than you think later. And I can’t overstate what a stellar battle performance Razera is committing to here. He gets the thankless job of stopping all intruders, disrupting a witch’s space magic, taking on all of Yamato’s ace pilots and still manages to cripple Yamato’s asteroid ring while he’s at it. His red Eater-I also happens to be uniquely menacing.
Thankfully, Yamato’s fighters release enough flares to get away. But while the other pilots head for the main mission objective, Kato is hot on Razera’s tail in an attempt to claim the prize for himself, sending the others on ahead. Keyman thanks him, leaving it in his hands. “I won’t run anymore,” Kato swears on the physical photo of his family. “Right now, I want to live so bad, it might kill me. I want to see Makoto’s face. I want to give a healthy Tsubasa a ride on my shoulders. I want to do everything for them that I couldn’t before. I’m going to make it back alive! I swear it!”
[AMB]: Back when we saw Makoto in Episode 17, she was crying, telling Tsubasa to make his father carry him on his shoulders when he gets back. Yes, I know, I made it more painful. Also, The 2202 original BGM Endless War is used for a second time throughout this scene, a triumphant track we now associate with Yamanami’s unlikely survival – as a result of a renewed desire to live – back in Episode 21. This fills us with excitement, exhilaration and youthful ambition! Hope that Kato will live! And then…
A disturbing amount of blood splatters across the console, totally obscuring the photo. Kato, seemingly uninjured, glances up at the hole in his cockpit, then down at his off-screen injury. His eyes begin to water, his expression going cold.
[AMB]: His own death is spelled out for him, his blood spilt to protect his family. Just like in Farewell, the creators of 2202 managed to create a scenario where we didn’t necessarily expect Kato to die. He has a family, he’s had his character growth; his journey. Surely he can’t die this time, can he…? But he does, juxtaposed by the BGM’s previous connotations. Hijikata and Kato may have both found the courage to live on three episodes ago, but there’s never a guarantee that one does.
[KC]: This one is a serious gut-punch.
[AMB]: And I can’t believe you had the guts to say that. Kato certainly didn’t. Or doesn’t, anymore.
[KC]: Hah! I didn’t even realize I was making a callous pun. Sorry, Kato.
“How…pathetic,” Kato says with tearful eyes. “But still! Daddy’s not giving up until the very end!” Blasting away at Razera’s swordship, he obliterates it and flies through the debris, his ship climbing and disappearing from sight in the growing light from the Eater-I’s destruction. Razera dies in a flurry of agony.
In an evacuation ship on its way back to Earth from the Moon, Makoto sits with her son resting in her lap. “Did you know, Tsubasa? Your dad’s cool.” The boy smiles in his sleep as she strokes his cheek. And then, the pioneering Yamato theme kicks in.
[AMB]: Makoto in Episode 5: “Go be a cool dad.” Makoto in Episode 24: “Your dad is cool.” Out there right now, he’s fighting desperately to save mankind, to protect his family. She also knows that he’s promised to return, so that’s what he’ll do. Thanks to the sacrifices he’s made, Tsubasa is able to live as a normal boy, free from disease. Kato didn’t have to die in the line of duty, he’d already proven what a cool dad he was. Yet here we are…
[KC]: And then as you’re doubling over you get punched in the face.
[AMB]: Ouch, two in a row? Anyhow, Makoto’s expression here reminds me of a moment in First Gundam, when Dozle Zabi dies at Solomon. There, we shortly afterward cut to a scene of his wife and daughter crying, both knowing that Solomon’s fall would surely mean that Dozle has fallen as well. A prideful man who would never abandon his fellow soldiers, he’s sure to have died rather than choosing to retreat or surrender. A cool dad who also committed to morally objectionable tasks in order to protect his family. Any thoughts on how Makoto will deal with her husband’s death in 2205? Will she and Tsubasa return to the ship?
[KC]: Hard to say; Yamato is a family, but having a six year-old running around? Tsubasa’s not going to magically become a teenager overnight like a certain someone we may be seeing again soon.
[AMB]: Maybe he can be baby pals with Sasha and Irii? They could become the next generation of the Akira/Yurisha/Melda pals! Preferably in peacetime…
[KC]: Maybe it is just the outpouring of fan art; I’ll admit I have not been keeping up on news of the new series since learning it was delayed by the pandemic. But I have concerns that Sasha will not stay a baby in this iteration any more than she did the first time around. After thinking about it, though, this is a space opera. Perfectly within the genre to have children on board. Especially in peacetime.
[AMB] Perhaps 2205‘s second part – or whatever comes after it – will be a longer time skip?
Meanwhile, Yamato climbs toward the open gate as all remaining Calaklum escorts either fail to ascend or are left to fall by Toko. Struggling to keep her focus, she fulfills her duty. “I’m closing the gate.” And it closes, enveloping Yamato’s exit like wings. Shima orders the engine output to maximum and Yamato surges forward with their fighters. Ahead, Gatlantean Needle Slaves lie in wait.
“Kodai, leave this to me,” Keyman yells with fervor as his fighter pulls ahead to the front. Several drones are ejected from his craft and take off toward the enemy, engaging with them as Kodai and the others slip past.
“Keyman…” Kodai turns in his cockpit to watch his friend stay behind. But Kodai must continue on.
[AMB]: Recognize those small fighters deployed by Keyman? Back in Episode 2, Kodai partook in a secret operation to infiltrate the Garmillas embassy on the Moon. While there, these small, pesky autonomous Garmillan drones tried to take him down. Seeing as Klaus is dispatched from the embassy on the Moon, it’s not surprising to see him carrying these. They’re hardly the most effective weapon in the universe, but against Needle Slaves they’ll act as splendid bait. Maybe they’ll even put a dent in some of them.
[KC]: Dammit, There Can Be Only One™ Dessler and he’s already sailed off triumphantly with his loyal fleet. Ranhart, we hardly knew ye.
[AMB]: It’s a slaughterfest of beautiful ideals and bleeding hearts.
Toko calls out for the “Gates of Lehrte” to open, and they do so just as Kodai and the others sail through.
“I’ll lead you to Golem,” she tells them.
In the throne room, Zordar stands with his eyes closed as Gairen addresses him.
“I can’t believe they’ve come this far.”
[AMB]: What does Lehrte mean, you ask? It’s a German word, meaning “taught.” It’s the Gates of those who’ve been taught, those who’ve been enlightened enough to be granted passage. Mankind’s finest. Why German? This might be another carryover idea from Ark, where Lerelai (Lorelei) Leur’s (Loer) name is German through and through. Why are Zordar’s eyes closed? He’s focusing on Sabera’s words. If you’ve noticed, she’s telling herself what she’s doing. “Opening the gate.” “Opening the Gates of Lehrte.” It’s her attempt to force Zordar to re-establish their Cosmowave connection, knowing he hears her. She wants to stop him, peacefully if possible.
Zordar lifts his head and opens his eyes.
“Sabera,” he whispers tenderly.
On Yamato, Toko reacts, her eyes going wide. Zordar continues.
“I assume you can hear me.” A few moments pass, her eyes glimmering with joy. But she shuts them. “Don’t shut me out!” responds Zordar. “Why do you deny me?” Toko, eyes and mouth open, listens intently. “You, who know better than anyone how vain people are. You, who awakened the Ark of Destruction.” She hangs her head in shame, then prepares to face him. “Why?!” He asks her.
“I shouldn’t have awakened it!” Toko responds to him aloud.
[AMB]: Fittingly enough, the Ark of Destruction’s theme looms in the air. She wants to embrace his advances, but she knows his heart has blackened to the point where it may be as pointless to talk to him. But that’s when she recalls why she rebelled, why she rejects Zordar as he is now. Because she wants to prove to him that people can change; evolve, that their feelings can, too.
She suddenly finds herself standing in a foggy, empty place, still wearing her white Yamato uniform. Beyond the fog is a dark-green backdrop.
“Why?” Zordar asks again. Toko turns to her right and he is there with her. “Miru, our child, was killed! Twice!”
“Yes,” Toko reaffirms, undaunted. “You have a heart that is saddened, and despairs because of that.”
[AMB]: Ah, these complicated creatures and their heart-wrenching developments. This “space” is a mental landscape, foggy like the White Comet itself. Whatever kind of beautiful green exists beyond the fog remains unknown, to these two and to us. In spite of being a mental landscape, like the one Toko dreamt of back in Episode 12, she still imagines herself wearing the Yamato uniform. Because her heart aligns with their ideals.
Then there’s the scene itself. It gives off the false impression that two former lovers are reuniting to mend broken hearts, but it’s not that simple with Zordar. Still testing her, he tells a half-truth. He says “our child was killed twice!” It’s true in the sense that he is the current Zordar, so by that logic their child was killed twice. However, this man wasn’t always Zordar, he once was a Miru under Gairen (who was the original Zordar). Enjoying the recap? Good.
Zordar’s taken aback. His pupils tremble. Then he bows his head and closes his eyes, smiling fondly. “A heart.”
Toko runs to him, her hair glinting. “You are human… You were more human than anyone.”
His eyes remain closed and she reaches up to touch his cheeks. Then his eyes fly open, and so do hers, back on Yamato. His lack humanity. Hers are filled with panic.
“So that’s where you are,” he says triumphantly.
[KC]: Oh, shit.
[AMB]: When the first Miru died with the first Sabera, the traumatic experience of dying in his mother’s arms was genetically recorded and later transferred to the next Miru (current Zordar). As the first Zordar grew to become current Gairen, a replacement clone of Miru (who inherited the memories of the first Miru), grew up to become current Zordar. This Zordar remembers Sabera as both his mother and his lover. However, each Sabera that stands before him only recognises his physical self as “Zordar,” rather than the Miru he was.
He’s haunted by his predecessor’s and successor’s memories, unable to affirm his own identity. Unable to go beyond the incestuous nature of the Type Zordar, unable to become human. Unable to love and be loved like a normal person. There’s only pain and misunderstandings. Every time he feels his heartstrings getting pulled, he braces for the inevitable disappointment to follow. And it always has, without fail. Current Miru’s death was the last straw. Being held by Sabera was a step too far. He has a heart, but no one understands it. A lonesome existence.
A seemingly unending swarm of Needle Slaves comes pouring out at Yamato. Waves upon waves of them get gunned down, but not all. They head for a specific point and break through the hull. The automatic navigation room.
Toko sheds a single tear in her chamber as the Needle Slaves reach her and continue down, then out again, nearly severing Yamato’s fore from their aft. The ship grinds to a halt, the Gates of Lehrte closing.
[AMB]: Repeating the same cycle as her previous incarnations, Toko’s reawakening leads her to die at Zordar’s hand. In spite of Gatlantis’ current material deficit, Zordar sends thousands of his Needle Slaves to purge her. Because of spite? Because he’s evil? No, because he doesn’t want her to suffer. As much as it aches him, his unflinching mercy-kills of the Sabera clones are some of his most humane actions. There’s also the practical reason; to close the Gates of Lehrte and stop Yamato’s advance.
Kodai, Akira Yamamoto and the Space Cavalry appear to have reached the entrance to the palace, but the doors start closing. Saito urges them to hurry, but only Kodai and Yamamoto get through before they shut, separating the two from the rest of the advance team. As they leave, Saito and Nagakura witness what sounds like Kurata’s mobile armor being crushed by a closing gate.
Kodai and Yamamoto continue down the corridor until it terminates at a doorway. They rush inside and are confronted by bright lights that stop them in their tracks as they are addressed by Zordar himself.
[AMB]: Only two of them made it in, with two more arriving shortly. Kodai’s dangerous gambit paid off, considerable consequences notwithstanding. As discussed in previous commentary, the architecture here is strictly Akerian, both the gates and the corridor’s majestic walls. And for those who remember him, Kurata does go on to survive. That said, we can’t be absolutely sure he’s the voice we heard due to a lack of visual confirmation.
“Impressive. Let me say, you’ve done well to come this far. But now what?”
They are in the throne room. Zordar and Gairen stand high above on the floating throne, guarded by eight Needle Slaves. The machines cross their arms like knights in repose, visors aimed at Kodai and Akira. On the crescent walkway stands Goenitz with a mysterious figure by his side.
[AMB]: And that mysterious figure is an incredibly unfortunate animation mistake. Standing next to Goenitz is Razera, who just died. Or maybe he’s a completely new Gatlantean big shot who’ll never again be seen. Yes, I’m being facetious. Amusing as it is for such a minor character to temporarily rise from the dead, it’s almost certainly a continuity error. Or the Razera cloning vat works very, very quickly.
“That woman isn’t protecting you anymore,” Zordar smirks down at them, his arms crossed.
“Toko,” Kodai starts in surprise. Then he gets angry. “Why? She is your-”
“You ask me why?” Zordar cuts him off, getting increasingly angry, his fists clenched. “You, who used that woman as you piled up sacrifices to come here? You, who said you wouldn’t pull the trigger?” His fury envelops him, pouring through the maniacal look in his eyes. “This is as far as you go, humans.”
[AMB]: Zordar, seeing the tragedies brought forth at Kodai’s hand, admonishes the boy. Tokugawa. Analyzer. Hijikata. Kato. Toko. Countless others like Tsurumi and Miru. They all died as a direct result of Kodai’s intervention. His quest of love, while valiant and respectable, has brought on the same kind of harm Zordar warned him of all the way back in Episode 9. Before Kodai can even finish telling Zordar what Toko was to him, Zordar shouts him down. Because what “that woman” is to him isn’t as simple as Kodai imagines. Had Kodai not decided to meet him, his son (Miru) and his black Sabera (Toko) could very well have lived on in blissful ignorance as trailblazers for “new humanity.” Kodai robbed them of this opportunity, staining them with the white color of death. When Zordar says, “This is as far as you go, humans,” he doesn’t just mean physically. He intends to stop Kodai from bringing on any more unwanted death and misery. Because it breaks his heart to see it.
A single Needle Slave fires a number of red metal spikes into the ground around Kodai and Yamamoto, effectively cutting off their advancement or retreat. Yamamoto gives Kodai an affirmative look, stating his name. They exchange nods of approval, then he rushes forward as she takes cover behind the red spears, firing on an aggressive Needle Slave. It goes down, causing three more to focus their attention on her. With her magazine emptied, she braces for the enemy’s counterattack. The three alerted machines are gunned down; Saito and the rest of the Cavalry have broken in and entered the fray.
“Sorry I’m late!” Saito quips.
“Take control of the Golem immediately,” Nagakura cries.
[AMB]: Some things are said here without words. When the first Needle Slave is shot down, Kodai turns to Akira. She knows the mission is to activate Golem, but she also wants to give Kodai his chance to subdue Zordar with words rather than the butt end of a gun. So she acknowledges his wish, conveying her intent to cover his advance, even if it costs her life. And all they needed was a quick nod. They may not be related by blood, but to me they’ll always be the siblings they see in each other. Thankfully, her dedication to her sibling-like bond is rewarded, her ass saved by Saito and Nagakura.
“Your Imperial Majesty, we must leave,” Gairen urges, his voice soft.
Lost in thought, Zordar gazes upon the struggle of Akira and the Cosmo Marines, paying little heed to his father’s words. Failing to see Kodai among the group of Earthlings below, he turns to the walkway behind him to see the boy aiming down the barrel of his pistol. His target: Zordar. The Emperor smirks.
“The battle is decided? Is that what you mean to say?”
[AMB]: Zordar’s expression here is a mixture of cocky and weary. Disappointed in what appears to be the end result of Kodai’s journey, but simultaneously amused at the accuracy of his own inductive reasoning. No matter how far mankind advances, it will always find ways to force change with weapons in hand. Even if it’s only to force a conversation. A conversation Zordar would rather do without. Meanwhile, his father’s trying to ensure his last son and heir survives this ordeal. If only Zordar had listened…
“If you people are human, too, there should be room for dialogue,” Kodai answers, his voice cold, his mannerisms stoic.
“Human, you say?” Zordar squints with one eye, his doubt made apparent.
“Your future self taught me,” Kodai responds, recalling Miru. He lets his arm drop, no longer aiming the gun at Zordar.
“That future…” Zordar closes his eyes, unable to finish his sentence in one go. “… died.”
[AMB]: Kodai professes the Gatlanteans to be just as human as him, something Miru’s actions made apparent. However, all Zordar sees is the end result: Miru’s death as a consequence of his attempt to subscribe to typically human ideals, accepting his humanity. He was always intended to be Zordar’s – and Gatlantis’ – future.
The boy who would remake the world in whatever image he felt was best, in both the universe and humanity’s best interest. But as Zordar laments, he died. For all intents and purposes, his own future is now dead. There is no longer anyone but him to carry the burden of creating the new breed of humanity. No way forward other than the complete annihilation of one side or the other, just like Hijikata proclaimed. If he chooses the path of not pulling the trigger like Miru, then what awaits Kodai will be the same dead-certain end; or so Zordar surmises.
Will you wait for humanity to learn and grow, like Kodai? Or will you wipe the slate clean to usher in a better humanity, like Zordar? These opposing ideals are mirrored by Amuro Ray and Char Aznable in the movie Mobile Suit Gundam, Char’s Counterattack. There, Amuro does his best to stop his rival and frenemy for life from putting Earth in a deep freeze by dropping an asteroid. But Char sees no other way for humanity to learn from its mistakes. They both see the merit of believing in the human heart, but ultimately it comes down to a cold and broken realist fighting a pure-bread idealist. This conflict was expanded upon in Fukui’s sequel Gundam Unicorn and further explored through a different lens in 2202.
Below the throne, Needle Slaves continue their relentless attack on the Space Cavalry and Yamamoto. “There’s no end, as always,” she remarks. Suddenly a Needle Slave drops down behind Nagakura. Saito quickly shoots it down. Its headpiece shredded, the Gatlantean machine malfunctions, releasing its full stock of red spears haphazardly around the room. One of them reaches all the way up to the throne, heading straight for Zordar’s back! But Gairen, observing the state of the battle, rushes forward in a panic, using himself as a shield.
[AMB]: This is a terrific demonstration of the depressing cycle Zordar is trying to terminate. Saito – protecting the love of his life by firing at the enemy – causes a chain reaction. The machine, now spiraling out of control, accidentally fires at its own ruler, Zordar. To protect the son he loves, Gairen jumps in the way to act as a shield, as Yuki did in Episode 23. Saito’s love for Nagakura and Gairen’s love for his son are both valid. They’re completely self-contained, yet they bring about anguish for both parties in ways one could never have expected. Unless you’re Zordar.
Hearing the commotion, the Emperor turns in horror to find Gairen is impaled. Zordar falls to his knees to catch him, Gairen’s visor clattering to the floor. Kodai looks on in shock as the Emperor gathers the old man into his arms, blood dripping from the elder’s mouth.
“You’re…all right?” Gairen asks as he expires, a weak smile forming. Images of past events flash before Zordar’s eyes: Admiral Mazer’s rage. Nol’s quest for validation from Goland. And Miru choosing to not pull the trigger. The Emperor is very distraught. He lays Gairen down.
[AMB]: I have no doubt in my heart that Yuki’s previous self-sacrifices in 2202 set fire to Gairen’s heart, infecting him with the same love Zordar’s seen through the eyes of Nol, Mazer and Miru. This is all Yamato’s fault. Or blessing, if you will. They brought on the rage, the fear, the hope. But all these have likewise been extinguished as a result of Yamato’s interference.
Now, even the original Zordar has perished as a result of the disease called love. Voice actor Hidekatsu Shibata goes from cold and machine-like to a proud father in the span of seconds. His mask – the emblematic false pretense borrowed from Shibata’s Evangelion character Keel Lorentz – falls to the ground, revealing Gairen’s true colors. He was always human underneath that mask. And this all happens as Sabera’s leitmotif plays, solidifying how painful this cycle has been for Zordar. Bravo.
“I admit…” Zordar’s eyes are filled with sadness. “… We too, are human.”
He reluctantly affirms Kodai’s claim, rising from the ground. He’s no longer holding back his sorrow. The music has faded. Giving his father one last look before shutting his eyes again, Zordar draws the large sword from his hip, holding it high. He drives it into the ground at his feet even as Kodai cries out for him to wait. The blade slices through Gairen’s visor and into a groove in the floor, a red ray of light piercing out. Crude sounds emanate from the throne, signaling the Ark of Destruction’s true awakening.
[AMB]: Wondering why Zordar suddenly decided to slice his throne? Why did the visor have to be torn in half? The throne IS Golem, as confirmed by Toko. The visor didn’t have to be destroyed, but cleaving it in half is the same as breaking the false supposition Zordar constructed about Gatlanteans lacking humanity. They are human, the mask is OFF! And pretending that they’ll be unbiased arbiters of judgement after current humanity is wiped out would go against EVERYTHING Zordar stands for.
So, no longer wishing to live, no longer believing in the false pretense of his true nature, he submits to death, genociding his own race. Whatever comes next will be mankind’s problem, they who so defiantly rejected Zordar’s dream. Unfortunately for him, things won’t quite work out the way he hopes here.
On the ground beneath the dais, Sabera awakens to the sound of the red activation beam chasing through the device and lancing out, reaching all the way down to her. Sabera’s mouth and eyes open wide. She seems to be silently mouthing words, or the same word over and over as she is bathed in Golem’s light. Finally a scream issues from her throat as the entire structure glows with energy that begins to drown out everything as the episode comes to a close.
[AMB]: As some of you may have deduced earlier, Sabera seems to have gotten knocked out by the Ark’s control panel, the pipe organ. Seeing as she was made to be nothing more but a functional doll, she can’t speak or feel. But this bright, blinding light of doom shakes her to the core. A heart-rending screech escapes her lungs. It’s uncannily reminiscent of the planetary death rattles from the Dezarium in Be Forever Yamato, as well as the original Sabera’s agonised scream that came as a result of the Ark of Destruction’s first awakening; depicted in episode 20 via a flashback! Scenes like this – with their impressive display of expressive facial animations – really brings character designer Nobuteru Yuuki to mind. He’s one of two Chief Animation Directors for this episode, accompanied by the previously mentioend powerhouse Akihisa Maeda! At the very end, all we see are the dark outlines of the Needle Slaves’ red spears, crucifying the ground.
[KC]: A pretty horrific and emotional chapter as we prepare for the last two episodes.
[AMB]: It was the most difficult episode to write about for me so far. The amount of thoughts per minute to jot down in Episodes 15 and 16 were significantly higher, making those our most laborious commentaries. But for this episode, my heart revolted to a degree that it became a mentally arduous task. But a welcome one. This series has given me so much, from heartache to joy. It feels odd to say that this journey is soon coming to a close. Any thoughts on how the events of this episode measured up against the original?
[KC]: I have touched on this a little bit already as we made our way here, and rewatching with fresh emotions, my thoughts are basically the same. The original Episode 24 is not only iconic in general, it is pretty much the reason I am a fan of this show. “Desslok’s” choice to hand “Nova” that weapon and walk away blew my mind in a way that Luke Skywalker redeeming Darth Vader never managed. That moment and what came out of it have made Dessler one of my favorite characters of all time.
And yes, I felt that this new version of the character was grossly substandard in comparison. I suspect that Abelt will never measure up to Dessler of Gamilas in my heart. But the choices they have made for him here and the decision to give Zordar himself that epiphany of peace through Miru…Sabera having a clone on Yamato that helps the Earthlings…Kato’s sacrifice…all of it comes together so well. Very emotionally taxing and satisfying. We should consider that anime storytelling has evolved considerably since the 1980s, but my mind says that this is the better of the two.
Theatrical release: Space Battleship Yamato 2202, Soldiers of Love Chapter 7: New Star Chapter contained episodes 23-26. It premiered in Japanese theaters March 1, 2019.
Japanese video: Theater-exclusive Blu-ray March 1, 2019. Standard Blu-ray & DVD April 26, 2019
First Japanese TV broadcast: March 15, 2019
American debut: April 13, 2019 (streaming) November 26, 2019 (home video)
Click here for a complete BGM collection for Episode 24.
Episode Director: Rei Nakahara
Storyboard: Tomoko Iwasaki
Chief Animation Director: Akihisa Maeda, Nobuteru Yuuki
Animation Director: Takumo Norita, Mitsuru Chiba
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