The New Voyage Commentary, Part 4

Back up to part 3

The Kodai family reunion is cut short by the arrival of a new, giant enemy fortress: Mechanical Planet [or “Autoplanet”] Goruba. Based on its shape, I can’t help referring to it as “Mechanical Cuttlefish Goruba.” Its commander, the previously-seen Meldars, claims Iscandar for himself. They need Iscandarium to fight their wars, he tells Kodai, and orders him to leave. Kodai refuses since the Dark Nebula’s goal is war. Meldars threatens to fire on Starsha and Mamoru, and gives Kodai ten minutes to change his mind.

Story note: though it’s never specified who the Dark Nebula Empire fights its wars against, their enemy was named in one of the early story drafts: White Nebula Shalbart. The concept was ditched, but the name lived on for Series 3.

Dessler doesn’t wait. These are the same forces who destroyed his planet, and he’s eager for some payback. Fighters are launched and his capital ships move in, ignoring Kodai’s entreaty to wait. While they destroy many of Goruba‘s escorts, the fortress itself is another matter.

It fires dozens of beams that lay waste to the Gamilas fighters and a carrier. It should be noted that it appears the carrier was the last of the Gamilas forces. Dessler’s flagship is the only one left. He isn’t waiting for a dramatic build-up–he orders the Dessler gun prepared for firing. As the gun charges, Goruba buttons itself up. The beam hits the fortress, doing absolutely no damage.

Story note: Looking back over the Yamato saga up to this point, we find a singular bit of trivia: Dessler’s prime weapons NEVER get the job done. He’s fired them many times, usually at Yamato, and for one reason or another, they fail. This track record will remain stubbornly unbroken until the last episode of Series 3.

Production note: During the 1979 broadcast, when Dessler charges up his prime weapon, Iscandar is at screen left, Goruba is in the center, and the Dessler Gun is in the foreground. When it was rerun in 1980, the scene was inexplicably revised to only feature Goruba. It was kept that way on home video releases.

Meldars does two things, both intended to be psychologically devastating. The first is laughter. He laughs and laughs and laughs, much like Dessler used to. (I wonder how Dessler feels to be on the receiving end of sadistic mirth for a change!) The second thing is to open fire on Iscandar. A giant gun port on Goruba‘s midsection belt unleashes a powerful blast at Mothertown, near Starsha’s citadel. The gun port closes, the belt turns, and the next port mockingly opens, this time aimed directly at the target.

Dessler sees only one recourse: ram his ship into the open gun port. Meldars tries to fire first, but Dessler’s ship charges straight in and breaches the giant fortress.

Dessler contacts Yamato and tells Kodai to fire at this weak point. Kodai is reluctant, even in the face of Dessler’s impassioned pleas. But when Dessler admits that he loves Starsha, Kodai reaches for the Wave-Motion Gun controls.

Story note: In the Argo Press adaptation of this scene, some callback was irresistible. Echoing Desslok’s gleeful taunting of Wildstar in Series 2, he says the same line here: “Fire it! Fire the gun!” Only now, of course, the context changes the intent completely.

When Kodai was combat chief and acting captain, he was much more decisive. Even when overruled by Okita, he at least had an idea what he wanted to do. In The New Voyage, there are several scenes (some deleted) where Kodai is torn over what course of action he should take. They all involve his brother. Mamoru is the last link to his family, which causes him to hesitate when he has to decide between his brother and the safety of his men, although he sides with his men every time. Here, Kodai seems to encounter the same problem with firing on his new-found “brother,” Dessler. On the other hand, Dessler seems to do the opposite, all too willing to sacrifice his men to protect Starsha.

Just as the Wave-Motion Gun countdown reaches one, Starsha yells out “STOP!” Unwilling to allow Dessler’s sacrifice, she surrenders Iscandar to Meldars. She finally offers to evacuate and leave with Yamato.

Production note: Like Farewell to Yamato before it, The New Voyage was entirely storyboarded by one man, Yasuhiko Yoshikazu. His touch is the strongest in this last section of the film, which hews so close to his art style that parts of it could have been personally animated by him. This was a truly heroic effort, given that he was concurrently working on a new TV series called Mobile Suit Gundam.

Dessler’s flagship slides free as Goruba approaches the planet. On Iscandar, Starsha hands her large capsule to Mamoru. Telling him they will always be together, she darts out of the room and seals the door behind her. (Her exit mirrors a scene in Series 1, where she told Mamoru that she loved him, then darted off, trailing her long, flowing hair.) At the press of a button, she launches the top of the tower into space.

Yamato sends a rescue ship out to retrieve it. In the hangar, Mamoru quietly reveals the contents of the capsule: their baby daughter.

Production note: In Hideaki Yamamoto’s script draft, the capsule was not a metal container, but a diamond case in accordance with Iscandar’s diamond architecture. Also, Mamoru wasn’t silent in his arrival scene, yelling out, “Susumu! Starsha–!”

Goruba continues its descent to Iscandar while Starsha makes a long, step-by-step journey to an underground room. In this room there’s a clear dome, which slides away to reveal a button. This may look familiar to sharp-eyed viewers; it’s the same self-destruct setup Domel had on his ship in Series 1. With a look of anguish, she presses the button. The entire planet Iscandar is blown apart, obliterating Goruba as well.

Production note: The first broadcast version in 1979 featured live-action pyrotechnics for the explosion of Iscandar, but in the 1980 rerun it was revised to pure animation. This was maintained in all subsequent video releases.

Dessler lets out a blood-curdling cry and grabs his hair in frustration. The loss of Starsha seems to affect him more than the loss of Gamilas.

The bridge crew stands and salutes. Starsha reveals a previously unknown ability–she can speak from the other side. She posthumously tells Yamato‘s crew not to grieve for Iscandar’s loss, that it’s better for her planet to be destroyed than plunge the whole universe into war. Mamoru steps onto the bridge with their baby, and Starsha says her goodbye to them. The baby’s name, Sasha, comes from Starsha’s sister who died delivering the message to Earth way back in the first episode of Series 1.

I can’t help but be moved by the next bit, where Sasha wakes up in her father’s arms, content as can be, then starts crying for her mother, who is nothing more than an apparition. Yuki comes over and calms her down. With a final round of goodbyes, Starsha fades away.

Kodai and Dessler anchor their ships near a giant red star (presumably the one from the deleted scene) and have a final discussion from their foredecks. While Kodai is closed up in a helmet, Dessler stands on his deck with no such protection, a stiff breeze blowing through his cape.

Story note: This is reminiscent of a dramatic scene from Series 1, episode 2 in which Okita, Kodai, and Shima stand in the supposedly-airless barrel of the Wave-Motion Gun looking out over the ruined Earth. There, too, an inexplicable wind blows. Subsequent guesswork (by Japanese fans) determined that an artificial envelope of breathable air surrounded the ship while it was being rebuilt, and its constant convection created wind. It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine Gamilas science devising the same thing. (And it’s the only decent explanation for the deck scene in Be Forever as well.)

Kodai asks Dessler what his plans are. He is determined to reestablish his empire, no matter how long it takes. With a vow to never forget Kodai, Dessler leaves. Yamato begins its journey home, serenaded by a ballad named Sasha, My Love by Enka-style singer Chiyoko Shimakura and Feeling Free. (See the translated lyrics here.)

There is something of an epilogue, as the narrator informs us that the Dark Nebula is watching. The visual under the credits is similar to the end of Series 1, with Yamato heading home and a shot of the blue Earth.

Production note: The Japanese end credits include a voice actor for Jiro Shima, Yuu Mizushima. The scene of Jirou was deleted prior to broadcast, so there must have been no time to revise the credit roll. Either way, it represented a cast change. Noriko Ohara [Sabera] played the part of Jiro in Series 2, but this time it shifted to Yuu Mizushima who was breaking from his usual “pretty boy” roles such as the lead in Godmars. Whether or not he was actually performed lines for Jiro is unkown.

In interviews with Producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki, he revealed that one of the goals of this movie was to bring in a new generation of fans, hence the cadets on the crew. That’s all well and good, and these new guys are certainly likable enough, but the writers don’t seem to know what to do with them. The only newbie who sticks around is Tokugawa, and that’s because he has a legacy to live up to. He’s kind of interesting in what he’s not–he’s not his father. He doesn’t have his father’s skill and confidence but he’s shown enough improvement by the end to indicate that he can develop to that level.

The others weren’t given much time to develop. Sakamoto is conceited and Kitano is competent but overwhelmed at first. That’s a good start, but we won’t see either of them again. You get the idea that the writers were bored with the newbies halfway through. They were the focus of the training sequence, but afterward they are each given a token scene to show their general improvement and then they’re forgotten, except for cameos in the epilogue. And since they don’t return, you have to wonder what the point was. Fortunately, they were given more to do in the Playstation 2 games based on The New Voyage and Be Forever.

Another problem is that in trying to bring in a new, younger audience, they seemed to have over-broadened the story. The general idea is fine: Gamilas blows up and Iscandar is flung into space while being pursued by enemy forces. But then there’s that planet-warp scene. I suppose the idea was to have it pinball around the galaxy and fall into various dangers, but they don’t add to the drama. The “gravity nebula” wasn’t much of a threat and the red star was cut. I understand breaking the rules of physics and even common sense for the sake of a good story, but in this case, it wasn’t worth it.

On the plus side, I liked seeing the newbies make mistakes as they become accustomed to their new posts, and Dessler is firmly established as having turned over a new leaf. Starsha’s sacrifice and her final goodbye are very effective, and I loved some of the battle scenes. And, of course, the table has been well-set for the next film.

The End

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