Centering around Susumu Kodai
Part 1: Yamato, Journey of Love
Almost everybody has a loved one. Even if they don’t, there is no human being who is incapable of feeling love. But sometimes a tragedy can happen because of love when one does not know better. This was so with Kodai in Yamato Part 1 (the Gamilas war).
He had lost both his parents to a Gamilas Planet Bomb, and also believed he was left behind when his older brother was killed. The only course left to him was to defeat Gamilas. He had lost all his blood relatives and no longer had an elder brother as a role model. He didn’t know it, but it was a feeling that arose from love even if it was not love itself. There was only an undirected passion that was not brought forth by another person.
However, he found Sasha and knew that she had devoted her life to delivering one message.
“I am Starsha of Iscandar…”
The message lit the light of hope for Earth, providing a glimpse of tomorrow when it was just waiting for ruin. But for Kodai, it was not part of his plan. His hope was not to prevent the downfall of Earth but instead to bring destruction to Gamilas. His objective may look the same as others, but can you see the deep rift between them?
He didn’t feel the fate of Earth was a priority. But little by little, his heart began to change.
He encountered Yuki Mori, whose face was similar to Sasha’s, and Captain Okita, the last survivor of the Earth fleet. Okita seemed to him a cold-blooded old soldier, and they did not get along. Kodai was convinced that Okita allowed his older brother to die so that he could return home alive.
And as for Yuki, whether or not Kodai saw something in this girl who was his own age, it cannot be said clearly. However, there was probably a light there. That light did not illuminate a path for him, but that was his status when he boarded Yamato with the goal of taking his older brother’s place. It seemed he wanted to ascertain the true nature of Captain Okita, and knew nothing about Yuki at the time. However, before going any further it is necessary to consider the crew.
Why did they board Yamato? Although we don’t understand them very well in the beginning, we can say that none of them was at all unique. Behind every crew member was a family, a hometown where that family lived, a community, and the whole of Earth. All people on the planet wished only to regain their freedom and the blue Earth. That’s why Yamato was rebuilt and why the crew was sent on the voyage. Everyone would have gone with them if possible, but at that time it took all the power of the Earth to send Yamato on its way.
Those who could board Yamato had limitations. One was their skill; only those able to accomplish the important mission with the fewest sacrifices were chosen for duty. Those who were able to do it had to do it. It wasn’t enough to merely to want to do it, because that was true of every human being. Everyone who stayed behind to see them off would have thought this way.
Therefore, there was no other way no matter how much hesitation might have been in the hearts of the Yamato crew as they marched. Someone else would be saddled with their burden if they did not go. And what would be the fate of someone who was chosen but refused to go? He may be prepared for cruel slander, but for the man who turned his back out of fear, there was no choice but to wait under the burnt-red Earth. A man who qualified for the Yamato crew but turned it down would have to avoid rumors about Yamato and desperately try to convince himself he had made the right decision.
Thus, the thoughts of all humanity and the weight of having been chosen was resting on their shoulders when they boarded Yamato. It was for their loved ones and their love of the Earth. The people who sent them off also knew it. That’s why they believed in Yamato, and believed in themselves as they sent Yamato off.
Kodai didn’t have someone among the crowd to send him off, but surely he felt the heart of the people, who could do nothing but wait under the Earth…
Part 2: The Sisterly Love of Starsha and Sasha
It was Starsha’s message that caused Yamato to launch. Let’s remember it.
I am Starsha of Iscandar. Iscandar is the first planet of the Sanzar solar system in the Large Magellanic Cloud. You of Earth have no hope of overcoming this battle to survive. You only wait for extinction. I have sent my younger sister Sasha to the forsaken Earth as a messenger. If you are listening to this, it means the message has passed into your hands and you have decoded it.
You must come to Iscandar as soon as possible. There is no time to lose. In one year, all living things on Earth will be exterminated by radiation. If there is courage and determination among the surviving Earthlings, you must come to Iscandar at all cost. Here there is a radiation removal device, the Cosmo Cleaner. Unfortunately, I do not have the power to send it to you on Earth. But I believe in you.
I am 148,000 light years from your galaxy. Iscandar is the first planet of the Sanzar solar system in the Large Magellanic Cloud. I believe you Earthlings have the courage and skill to come to Iscandar. I am Starsha of Iscandar.
I’m probably not the only one who feels the wonder of that message when I read it again. She gives a tough challenge to the people of Earth but asks nothing for herself, not to mention the fact that her younger sister Sasha had to die to convey this message. Starsha learned of this after Yamato arrived at Iscandar, but she would naturally have suspected it due to the danger of Gamilas’ siege and their noose around Earth’s neck.
But I wonder why they thought they had to sacrifice their own lives for it. No, I’m wrong. The two sisters Starsha and Sasha would have sent the message even if they knew death was inevitable.
There is no question about a disagreement between them. Starsha and Sasha were such sisters. However, there was nothing in Starsha’s message to assist Yamato during the course of the voyage. Aside from helping Yamato with her direct power, she could have helped them indirectly, like conveying information about the Gamilas. It would have made Yamato‘s voyage a little easier and reduced their risk if the message gave them information about Gamilas’ military capacity, or even an image of Dessler.
But considering the psychological dependence this might have created, I think it’s better that people have to essentially walk alone. It is the same even when spread out among the human race. It is noble to hold out a hand to those who are persecuted and weak. But once they are helped to their feet, they must remember how to stand on those feet. If it becomes impossible for them to move without help, what would be the meaning of that help? Isn’t that what Starsha clearly meant in her message?
“If there is courage and determination among the surviving Earthlings…”
So, Yamato and the people of Earth are being tested. Are they a race truly worth Starsha’s effort to save? Are they truly worth Sasha’s voyage of 148,000 light years?
Starsha observed them with care. She must have considered that if they could overcome the encircling net of Gamilas and make it all the way to her, Iscandar might not die out. Unlike Gamilas, which forces its way through space by sheer power, Iscandar clarifies its existence by resonating with the hearts of others and spreading mutual love and trust. Thus, the heart of Iscandar will never die. Starsha and Sasha should want to say so.
3. Love by Leadership: Okita and Sanada
“I hate coldness of Captain Okita!” is Kodai’s first description of the Captain. At this time, he did not yet understand what kind of person Captain Okita is.
Okita was his brother’s commanding officer, who saw Mamoru’s death and returned to Earth. He was said to be a brave man with a long military record, but Kodai had the feeling that victims like his elder brother were left in Okita’s shadow. Kodai’s elder brother was all he had left; Mamoru died and Okita lived. His conviction that Okita’s return was not worth Mamoru’s sacrifice is probably what moved Kodai to say this.
Moreover, Okita says this in his speech to the Yamato crew:
“There is a clear difference in power between Gamilas and us. We live in a limited time of only one year, and must save the Earth. However, I cannot guarantee your safety…”
It is a surprisingly candid statement. As a military man who holds the fate of Earth above all else, he says what must be said. It certainly is cold, but there are only two results of a battle: win or lose. If there is no winner or loser, it’s not a battle. There is no room here for wishful thinking.
No soldier goes to war wishing for his own defeat, but the result of war is always merciless. Okita knows it, but Kodai does not understand it. Because he doesn’t yet have a solid grasp of his own abilities, let alone the capacity of his companions, he only thinks about what he wants to do.
If he truly knew and believed in his elder brother Mamoru, he wouldn’t think like this. He would think that his elder brother trusted his superiors, and that would have been enough. If, like Starsha, he had confidence in his decision, if he firmly understood his own ability, it wouldn’t happen.
In a word, Kodai does not trust Okita and also does not trust himself. However, in response to a later question from Kodai, Tokugawa says, “If he [Okita] sees a chance for success, he’ll take action while believing in himself with calm and determination, even if it’s a one-in-a-million chance. That is a real man, young Kodai.”
In fact, Okita has that famous conversation with Mamoru during the battle of Pluto:
“Kodai, follow me!”
“I will not! If I retreat, I can never show my face to those who died defending Earth!”
“Kodai, if we are totally annihilated now, Earth will lose all of its defenders. A man endures the humiliation of today for the sake of tomorrow.”
“Captain Okita, I believe a real man must fight–fight it out ’til the last, fight to the death and take out as many enemies as possible before we die!”
“Kodai, why don’t you understand…”
This time, Okita felt more regret than Mamoru, who plunged into the Gamilas Fleet. It can be guessed from his muttering to himself while his ship approaches the Earth:
“You’ll pay for this, devils. I will keep fighting until my life burns out. I will not be driven to despair. Even if I become the last man alive, I will not despair.”
Think about this, a man with the determination to make such a speech. You can understand the deep meaning behind it.
There is a man who understands Okita: the EDF Commander. He said this when he heard about the retreat of Okita’s ship.
“I believe he have some definite idea. I trust him.”
Therefore, he appointed Okita, a defeated officer, as Captain of Yamato.
However, though Okita’s calm demeanor gives some the impression of him as a man with foresight, to others it appears to be heartless insensitivity. In particular, this is how he appears to Kodai, who at this time does not have the ability to see past the surface.
During the first warp test, Yamamoto’s Cosmo Tiger is damaged and could be left behind. Kodai rushes onto the bridge but only hears Okita’s opinion that it doesn’t matter. They can’t delay the warp. If they could, Yamamoto wouldn’t have had to take the risk of grappling with the Gamilas fighters. So there were only two fates in store for him: return in time or don’t. Nobody could help him, and Yamamoto himself understood this from the start.
Thus, it is natural for Sanada to say, “we can’t wait for him.”
Kodai fully understands, but he cannot bring himself to give up.
However, Okita states that, “the warp plan has already been made. It cannot be changed.”
There is nothing anyone can do. It’s the same for Kodai. All he can do is encourage Yamamoto. But this would be of no use. If Kodai had time to cheer, he could use it to assist in preparations for warp which would be far more beneficial.
Both Okita and Sanada think this, but work hard to suppress their feelings. But Kodai can’t understand it. Actually he does, but his body can’t keep its composure. He cannot help but openly express what he is feeling. This is Kodai’s bad point, but is also something wonderful and compelling about him.
However, no matter how appealing this is, it’s not the reason he is flying on Yamato. Kodai is the combat group leader. To take action befitting his mission, he needs both his own effort and someone who can be a good example for him.
That is Sanada, exactly. He says the following after the warp, when the ship lands for repairs on Mars (as you know, Yamamoto was saved):
“I can’t guarantee it will work flawlessly. Imagine what would will happen if there’s another crack.”
Kodai makes a counter-argument: “So what, we can’t afford to cancel this trip now.”
“That’s not what I’m saying. In order to safely complete a voyage of 296,000 light years, I’m speaking from the perspective of the captain.”
It is this cool judgment that Kodai lacks, full as he is with high emotion.
There is another surprising occurrence for him later. While searching for Cosmonite in the ice fields of Titan, he finds Mamoru’s crashed ship, the destroyer Yukikaze. But the body of Mamoru is not there. Grieving, Kodai reports his find to Captain Okita.
“There were no survivors on Yukikaze…”
“No survivors…no Kodai.”
“I don’t want Earth to share the same fate as Yukikaze.”
Kodai salutes in spite of himself when he sees sadness in eyes of the “cold-hearted” Okita. Okita may feel sadness for death of Mamoru, possibly more deeply than Kodai. Finally, Kodai begins to understand.
When they struggle against the Reflector Satellite Cannon at Pluto, Kodai impatiently rushes forward but Sanada precisely anticipates its weak point with his accurate analysis, and Okita leads them to victory with his bold tactics. The tactics are successfully carried out by Kodai’s heroic action, but he knows who the true hero is.
And on the last day before leaving the solar system, Kodai avoids the rest of the crew as they communicate with their families on Earth. While walking through the ship, he eventually reaches the captain’s room. He hesitates, but Okita naturally greets him and invites him inside.
When the two drink alcohol together, Kodai’s resentment of him gradually vanishes. He must have thought that he could be able to trust this person. This was the first time Kodai realized what he had to do here on Yamato.
4. Kodai and Shima
Kodai’s purpose was to become a crewmember of Yamato. But before he came to that realization, he was essentially just a visitor using Yamato for his own purpose. He put his own priority over Yamato‘s. He may have known this was wrong, but unintentionally did so anyway.
Kodai’s purpose and Yamato‘s purpose were superficially the same, but different in an underlying way. It was for the sake of the future that Yamato left for Iscandar, to cross 148,000 light years. However, Kodai joined up because of the past, so to speak.
If Earth were saved, what would he do afterward? What does he want to do for Earth by taking the voyage to Iscandar? Although he knew it was for the sake of mankind, he didn’t understand why he must save mankind. By seeing Okita’s nature and determination, Kodai surely changed.
Okita does not have a family to entrust with the future, either. Nevertheless, he joins Yamato and puts all his effort into reaching Iscandar.
Then what of Kodai? Their position is the same, but he does not have the determination of Okita. He may have a stronger sense of the mission than Okita, but the root of this was his own selfish pride. Unlike Okita, Kodai didn’t have the selfess determination to complete the voyage at the beginning.
The case was the same even for Kodai’s best friend Shima. As a partner to Kodai, he was the closest thing to a rival from the past. So they understood each other without necessarily having to speak openly. However, there was one way in which they differed distinctly; the family. Shima’s family is still alive, but Kodai’s…
Kodai doesn’t bring it up often, nor does Shima make much of a topic out of it, either. That’s what makes Shima his best friend. They understand each other deeply, but Shima may also be the most distant person from Kodai. He understands how Kodai thinks and feels, but also hears an inner voice from the back of his mind saying, “I don’t understand Kodai.” For Kodai, Shima may have been such a person. Shima cannot look past his own family to understand Kodai. Therefore, Shima is intently devoted to his duties.
Shima is the Chief Navigator. Kodai’s duty as combat leader is the destruction of enemies. In other words, he is evaluated by racking up points each time he destroys an enemy. Shima’s duty is to navigate Yamato safely to its destination. In other words, his duty is not to lose points whereas Kodai’s duty is to gain them.
Shima tried to make up for Kodai’s flaw, and tried to find something in Kodai that he doesn’t have in himself. He was devoted to a three-legged race with Kodai as his partner. On the other hand, Kodai’s heart had to overcome a small but tough barricade in Shima’s mind. They had to accept each other, not ignore each other, to overcome their obstacles.
Although they are both fresh and pure at their best, they are still immature. In short, they are young men who cannot restrain their emotions. Shima seems calm, but actually there isn’t much difference between him and Kodai. Since Okita’s seat was behind them, he was always looking at two people. Not at what they can do now, but in the future. They are still inexperienced now.
What Okita wants is not for them to become subordinates at his beck and call, not to become substitutes for him. He wants them to become me who can accomplish what he–and Yamato–have to do. This is surely handed down to both Kodai and Shima.
Combining the will of two people would allow a greater will to emerge. That is the will of Yamato, continuing to advance.
5. Yuki Mori
What is Yamato‘s overall voyage for?
It doesn’t need repeating that the crew journeys for tomorrow and continues the battle with Gamilas. And who on the crew surely believes in tomorrow? It could be no one more than Yuki.
As the only woman on board, she brings peace and brightness onto the ship. It could be said that Yuki is like the Earth on Yamato. Earth lost in the war with Gamilas, and those for whom Yamato tries to regain it are represented by Yuki.
That’s why Kodai is attracted to her; she has what he lost. Only after he realizes this, he would notice how much of himself he had lost. Yuki knew in advance that Kodai had lost something, but she didn’t know what it was. She understood only that he was suffering from something. However, she does not proceed to save Kodai. She doesn’t think of herself as one who could accomplish such a task, and even so Kodai wouldn’t allow it.
Therefore, her first priority was simply to do her duty. Just like Shima, she was there first and foremost to be a reliable presence. Therefore, Kodai related to her as if they already knew each other. However, compared to the Kodai who boarded Yamato, wasn’t this a serious change?
He was not the type to enjoy relying on others, because he considered it a sign of weakness and it was repellant to him. However, Kodai got to know Yuki. Her heart would genuinely grieve over a sad thing, and find delight in good things.
Kodai thought, “she’s just a woman,” but he saw Yuki make every effort to achieve the mission and carry out her duty flawlessly while he was troubled by the anguish in his own heart every day.
Kindness and sensitivity are not the same as weakness, and a person with a sensitive heart who knows the value of beauty is a good one. One can rise up to protect this without understanding why. From that, real strength is born.
Therefore, Yuki is easily the strongest of them all, because she believes in the value of everyone. She believes the voyage of Yamato cannot fail. That’s why she was attracted to Kodai. It was not because of confidence or strength. It was because he suffered from pain and loss, and kept it all inside, that he became a unique partner for Yuki.
The ties between Kodai and Yuki are tight and strong beyond all description. And we must not forget that it was Yamato that brought them together. Yamato, and Yamato‘s duty, were the first priority for them. Yamato was the first thing that served as a mutual consideration for them.
Without Yamato, the two would not have come together. By the same token, if they did not come together there would be no Yamato. That’s why this pair came together.
There are many lovers who pretend to think about their partner but actually think about their own convenience, but Kodai and Yuki have a totally different relationship. They are always together, not just in person but deep in their hearts. Just like the hearts of Okita and the crew, and the hearts of Okita and Yamato. They cannot be divided.
6. Concluding Thoughts
Kodai stood in the ruins after winning the battle of Gamilas.
“Wherever there is a winner, there is also a loser. Don’t those who are defeated also have a right to happiness? I’ve never thought of that until this day. It makes me sad. It isn’t fair. We were wrong to have fought them. We should have shown them that we cared!”
It’s matter of course. It could be understood by anyone. However, it was necessary for Kodai to endure the voyage of 148,000 light years before he could speak those words.
You may laugh at me or mock my ignorance. But I ask you honestly, have you ever lost something? Have you ever had something you desire? It will probably not happen. You always think you are right and hate to be thought of as stupid. You won’t fight to protect, even if you stand to lose that which is most precious to you. You’re afraid of disgrace. That’s why you always say, “forget it, I don’t care one bit.”
Ridiculous. Then why did you acquire it? Why did you brag? Stop acting smart. Nobody wants to make a decision, but everyone has to someday.
Kodai chose Yamato. However, other things were not necessarily lost.
Then he says, “Yuki, let’s go to Iscandar. There’s nothing more to be done here.”
So for him there is Iscandar, Yuki, and the future of Earth. It was protected by the sacrifice of one planet. Kodai never forgot that. Therefore, he responded to the wish of Teresa [Yamato 2]. He responded to the call of Dessler [The New Voyage]. It was because he understood full well that one’s happiness is built on the sacrifices of others.
However, the people who were able to live on thanks to Yamato did not acknowledge this. In fact, they decided it could be harmful to their status quo if they did acknowledge it. It may have even been a reasonable response. But with Yamato, it is different. Making the utmost effort for one’s own cause does not mean ignoring others. To rise up for other people doesn’t mean wasting yourself.
Therefore, when Zordar said, “The entire universe is under my command! My word is law!” Kodai shouted back, “You’re wrong! Absolutely wrong! Space is our mother! All life is born equal! That is the truth and the love of space!”
Therefore, the sacrifice of all those who went down with their ships was not in vain. They were reborn in that which they died to protect. Earth was protected by the efforts of Okita, Starsha, Sasha, and Yamato. That is why Yamato continues to launch into space.
In response to the call of Teresa and in response to the call of the former enemy Dessler, Yamato launched. Both Teresa and Starsha sacrificed their planets and themselves for them. But it was not done in vain. They took a larger responsibility for the future.
And yes, the daughter of Starsha is named Sasha.
Special thanks to Tsuneo Tateno for translation assistance.