The New Voyage Commentary, Part 3

Back up to part 2

The Gravity Nebula: a pseudo-black hole. It’s here that Iscandar emerges from its warp, followed by Dessler and his forces. Dessler orders his ships to land on Iscandar despite Talan’s warnings that they may not be able to escape the nebula’s pull. The Gamilas ships enter the Iscandarian atmosphere which, though dark and cloudy, seems relatively calm. Perhaps most of Iscandar’s atmosphere has bled away already, but it’s still warm enough for the oceans to be liquid.

Mothertown is in ruins. Starsha and Mamoru are in what looks like a bunker. She is cradling a large capsule in her arms, although its contents are not revealed. He says the volcanic activity has subsided, but if it starts up again they will warp once more. Dessler asks for permission to land, and urges Starsha to evacuate while she can.

Before he can finish his entreaty, a large explosion flashes just off-screen. It’s the Dark Nebula forces, lead by Pleiades. In a matter of moments, half the Gamilas forces are gone. Dessler’s own battle carrier is hit, damaging the landing strip, some of its main guns, and the warp mechanism. The enemy fleet surrounds them.

Dessler orders his forces to land in the sea around Mothertown. As they descend the Dessler mines are released, hovering in the air between the two fleets. The mines succeed in destroying several enemy escort ships and preventing the rest from pursuing them. Unlike the mines used in Yamato 2, these aren’t “smart” mines that surround an enemy. Instead, they remain in place, waiting to be shot down. Once the way is open, the Dark Nebula launches fighters.

Here’s where The New Voyage turns a defining characteristic of the saga on its head. Instead of naval-style ships flying through space, in this sequence several space ships splash down in the Iscandarian sea to act like marine vessels. The enemy fighters drop bombs and unleash torpedoes that streak through the water while the Gamilas respond with anti-aircraft and cannon fire. We’re not given a reason why they don’t launch fighters of their own.

This is the same fleet that used fighters against Yamato at the end of Series 2. It was reported that the flagship’s flight deck was damaged, but there are other carriers in the fleet that appear in perfect condition. Perhaps they can’t launch in an atmosphere? This battle is an echo of the IJN Yamato‘s last mission, where the battleship and a small escort are charged with holding off a superior force without air cover.

Another surprising thing about this battle is that we see Dessler fighting defensively, showing just how much he’ll sacrifice to protect Iscandar. Sure, he’s been willing to sacrifice his men, ships, and (unwittingly) his planet before, but that was when he was a “vengeful demon.” Now, he’s acting out of love. When Starsha’s spire comes under heavy fire from DNE fighters, he orders his forces to defend it. Although they quickly eliminate the threat, one crashes into the tower, forcing Starsha and Mamoru to duck from the debris.

As the battle drags on, Dessler asks for word on Yamato. Nothing. However, he’s confident they will come. As the enemy draws nearer and more of his ships are lost, his faith seems to falter. “Is this the end?” he asks himself. Cue Yamato‘s dramatic entrance.

Yamato‘s Cosmo Tigers, led by Kodai in his Cosmo Zero, arrive and make short work of both the enemy fighters and escort ships. When an enemy fighter heads for Dessler’s ship, it’s Kodai himself who chases it down and destroys it. After the wreckage bounces harmlessly off the carrier’s bridge window, Dessler sees Kodai zip by. The relief Dessler expresses at Kodai’s appearance reinforces the idea that the two men are now steadfast allies, if not friends.

Deleted scene: Mamoru tells Starsha to stay where she is, no matter what.

Production note: Hideaki Yamamoto’s script draft had a line for Mamoru upon sighting Yamato‘s fighter squadron: “That’s a Cosmo Tiger!” It was deleted since he had been on Iscandar when the Cosmo Tiger was developed, and he wouldn’t have known what it was called. (Unless he’d seen it on the drawing board in 2199.)

Kodai orders the Cosmo Tigers to withdraw. Commander Deda takes the bait and sends out another squadron, which pursues the Cosmo Tigers as they retreat past Yamato. The Tigers pull away, allowing the entire enemy squadron to get pasted by the ship’s pulse laser batteries. The Dark Nebula pilots must have been either overconfident or extremely stupid, given that they blindly fly right next to the huge battleship and its many visible guns.

Another wave of escort ships approaches. Kitano, still in charge of the gunnery units, shows restraint and waits until the enemy is well within range, a decision that seems to impress Nanbu. With enemy beams passing just meters away from the bridge, Kitano finally gives the order to fire. Dozens of the enemy ships are gone within seconds. At Shima’s suggestion, Yamato dives under the remaining ships and the chimney missiles finish off the rest.

Deda is outraged that one ship has done so much damage. He orders his flagship to stay between Yamato and Iscandar.

Deleted scene: a rather extensive one this time, where we see what Mamoru was planning when he told Starsha to stay put. He takes off in a small craft and drops bombs into a ravine. Observing this on Yamato‘s video panel, Sanada explains that he’s trying to trigger more seismic activity and make Iscandar move again.

However, Mamoru comes under attack from two enemy fighters. Kodai is torn between helping his brother and loyalty to his command. He chooses his command, and orders the Tigers back to Yamato. Before they can land, however, another Tiger takes off from the hangar.

It’s Sanada, who dodges fire and flies right under Pleiades, too close for their guns to target him. He then makes a beeline for the surface of Iscandar and saves Mamoru in the nick of time. Sanada salutes his friend and heads back to the Yamato.

When one Kodai brother couldn’t help the other, Sanada (honorary brother to them both) steps in to save the day.

This sequence, though it didn’t make it to the finished product, provides some closure for Sanada. Back in Series 1, he felt guilty about “allowing” Mamoru to be lost when he was unable to repair his ship completely before the battle at Pluto. He is determined to not allow his friend to fall again.

Yamato takes a few hits from Pleiades‘ main guns, which pack a major punch. Yamato returns fire, but its shock cannons fail to do any damage. Kitano suggests using the Wave-Motion Gun but Pleiades is hovering over Mothertown. Shima repositions the ship, but Pleiades counters, maintaining position to put Mothertown at risk. Kodai labels it a coward’s move, and tries to counter, only for Pleiades to match it once more. All the while, the Dark Nebula ship continues to paste Yamato with its big guns, each hit causing a sizeable explosion. Deda laughs, albeit without a voice track.

The standoff is broken by Iscandar itself when a crevasse wells up with lava and erupts, spewing some more physics-breaking tachyons (or whatever) which cause the planet to accelerate again. (The result of Mamoru’s deleted bomb run.) Deda must be too busy laughing to notice the entire planet moving away, because Pleiades just sits there, waiting for the Wave-Motion Gun to charge up. Kitano, in his first mission no less, gets to pull the trigger.

Story note: This is the first time someone other than Kodai fires the Wave-Motion Gun. This is, in fact, the only Yamato story in which Kodai does not fire the gun, but it is not the only time it is fired by others. Ryusuke Domon gets a turn in Series 3, and the resurrected Captain Okita fires it in Final Yamato. A moment of sympathy for gunnery chief Nanbu [Dash]…

Iscandar speeds away from the Gravity Nebula, ending the rather feeble threat it posed. (The Gravity Nebula is set up as a considerable danger at the beginning of this sequence, but not mentioned again until Iscandar leaves the area. It played no role during the battle itself.) Yamato follows Iscandar.

Production note: The script draft by Hideaki Yamamoto indicated that the Gravity Nebula was actually the Crab Nebula.

Meanwhile, in his giant fortress, General Meldars reports to the “Great Emperor” about the loss of Deda’s fleet. Meldars has identified their new enemy as being from Earth. The Dark Nebula Emperor seems intrigued by the news, but is more concerned with the Iscandarian ore. Meldars promises to resume mining after he defeats the forces in his way. In this scene, Meldars’ Emperor is never revealed by either name or sight.

With the seas and skies of Iscandar churned up by the planet’s motion, Dessler’s fleet joins Yamato in space to pursue the planet. Kodai and Dessler have a brief video conference where Dessler reveals their new mutual enemy is after “Gamilasium” and “Iscandarium,” radioactive elements used in engines.

Deleted scene: Shima points to something outside their window. It’s Iscandar, about to fall into a giant red star, which apparently sprang out of nowhere, given how shocked everyone is to suddenly see it. This leads to a rather lengthy sequence of Iscandar’s brush with the red giant.

The Yamato crew discusses ways of knocking Iscandar off course. Locating a passing planetoid that’s being sucked into the star, they plan to blow it up with the Wave-Motion Gun and give Iscandar a push to safety. That seems impossibly risky. The Wave-Motion Gun isn’t a precision instrument. It’s like trying to play billiards with a rocket launcher.

Just as the gun is about to fire, an unseen force (inferred to be the enemy) saves Iscandar by doing something similar. They cause a planet to whiz by Iscandar so that their gravitational forces change their trajectories. This nudges Iscandar away from the star. Yamato and the Gamilas forces follow.

I’m glad this scene didn’t make it into the actual movie. Not only is it a rehash of an episode from Series 1, The physics are on the level of your average Superfriends episode. While Yamato was never a hard-science show (opting instead for what looked cool), this kind of thing is a giant step backward. The forces involved in flinging around a planet are enormous, and would be more likely to tear the planet apart rather than simply moving it. A warping planet sounds perfectly reasonable compared to this. But, “bonus material” that it is, it can be safely ignored.

Argo Press’ New Voyage comic adaptation included all the deleted scenes, and in this version the Dark Nebula causes two planets to collide next to Iscandar and push it aside with a shock wave. Not only did this overcome the massive gravitational pull of the star, it also somehow did not shatter Iscandar!

Iscandar begins slowing down, for no apparent reason. Things have calmed down enough for Aihara to establish communications with Starsha and Mamoru. The pair still refuses to evacuate, ignoring impassioned pleas from Sanada and Yuki.

Both Starsha and Mamoru have an air of defeat about them. They are all too willing to accept death. Mamoru threw away his ship, and seemingly his life, back in the first episode of Yamato because he couldn’t face the shame of retreat. Now, he no longer cares about living as long as he can spend the rest of his life with Starsha. She is resigned to her fate, refusing to leave Iscandar, just as she did in Series 1.

Matsumoto’s original plan for Mamoru is well documented (here). During Series 1, Yamato would be helped by a mysterious pirate ship, the Deathshadow. It is commanded by Captain Harlock, who would eventually be revealed as Mamoru Kodai. That would have been a much more interesting character than the Mamoru Kodai we end up with: a laid back consort to a Queen who’s just waiting to die.

The only thing I can criticize about Matsumoto’s Mamoru is that it’s too similar to Racer X from Speed Racer; a long lost brother, thought to be dead, returns as a mysterious black clad rogue with a penchant for wearing Xs (a literal X for Racer; skull and crossbones for Harlock), who lends a helping hand to his younger brother under the guise of a secret identity. But again, all this is surplus.

Continue to part 4, the conclusion

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