Yamato 2199 Episode 5 Commentary

by Luis Cotovio and Daniel George

Episode 5: The Trap on All Sides

(Japanese Name: 死角なき罠 / Shikaku Naki Wana)

Director: Akihiro Enomoto
Running time: 24m 41s (21m 01s without credits)
Opening Theme:

  • (Cinema/Home Video): Uchuu Senkan Yamato by Isao Sasaki
  • (TV): Uchuu Senkan Yamato by Project 2199

Ending Theme:

  • (Cinema/Home Video): For Those Who Know the Beautiful Earth by Aki Misato
  • (TV): Love Words by Mika Nakashima

[DG]: Going by the episode preview at the end of Episode 4, this episode starts with 362 days remaining; this would put the date at February 15, 2199. Some may note that Sanada said in the previous episode that the side trip to Enceladus would take two days off the schedule, which makes this an estimate. Things could easily have taken less time than expected.

At the Garmillas Base on Pluto, Colonel Shulz is in a video conference with General Goer, reviewing footage sent by the Garmilloids at Enceladus. They learn Yamato’s name from an intercepted radio transmission. Goer is not impressed and says Yamato is ugly and lacks grace.

[LC]: In the original series the Gamilas simply started calling Yamato by its name right from the start. By having the Garmilloids intercept Yuki’s distress call to the ship, 2199 sets this up as a perfect explanation as to how the Garmillas would know it.

Shulz is sure Yamato will be heading to Pluto, since their base is the origin of the Planet Bombs that laid waste to the Earth. Goer says this is a perfect opportunity for the inferior Zaltzi to demonstrate their loyalty to the empire. Shulz replies that he and his men are just as loyal as any pure-blood Garmillan. Goer demands results before he hangs up.

[LC]: A new Garmillan expression which will used often throughout the series is “GHARE”, which is equivalente to our “Hail” or, given the parallels drawn between the Garmillas Empire and Nazi Germany, “Heil.” In this particular case, Dessler’s name is also used and is the first time the Garmillas leader’s name is said aloud in 2199.

As soon as the comms are down, Shulz comments how he longs for the days he served under General Domel’s command, which Yaretora acknowledges. Shulz asks about the next scheduled strike, which Ganz says will launch shortly.

[LC]: Speaking of first times, here’s the first mention of another of Garmillas’ great names, General Domel, well-known to fans as one of, if not THE greatest Garmillas antagonist of the Iscandar saga.

[DG]: Goer’s second appearance already shows him to be a leader who has no respect among Shulz’s men. Clearly Goer’s racial superiority complex is part of the matter (as emphasized by his condescending statement explicitly denouncing Shulz and his men as racially inferior), but Yamato fans know full well that his classic series incarnation was shown to be an incompetent buffoon, or at the very least an officer given station well above his abilities.

Goer’s popularity amongst his men, an issue not mentioned in the original series, is similar to that of his German namesake, Hermann Goering (usually spelled Göring, but the Goering spelling is considered the proper Anglicization), who was commander of the Luftwaffe and a member of Hitler’s inner circle.

Those not well-versed in military history may not know that he was also a fighter pilot in World War One, and took over command of Manfred von Richthofen’s unit (the “Flying Circus,” officially Jagdgeschwader 1 or JG1) after the deaths of Richthofen and his immediate successor. Like Goer here, Goering was not a popular leader amongst JG1 pilots due to his arrogance.

Goer’s claim of racial superiority is consistent with Goering’s senior ranking in the Nazi Party and belief in the concept of the “Aryan Master Race.”

Above Pluto, a dance of precision begins. Satellites equipped with reflector panels align according to the orders transmitted from the surface. Beneath the ice of an adjacent bay, an enormous energy cannon powers up until Yaretora gives the order to fire.

[LC]: In the original, Shulz presented the Reflection Satellite Cannon, renamed into the much more spectacular (IMHO) Reflex Gun in Star Blazers, as the answer to Yamato’s Wave-Motion Gun. Notice that although they knew Yamato had destroyed the Floating Continent on Jupiter they never had the means to know how. Yet Shulz seemed to know a lot about Yamato’s ultimate weapon.

Shulz even went as far as stating the Reflection Satellite Cannon was more powerful than the Wave-Motion Gun, but with a shorter range. How could he know this? It’s fairly obvious that the Reflection Satellite Cannon is not that powerful, though it does pack one hell of a punch. This also raises the question of why a base in a backwater battle front, besieging a relatively unimportant planet with a powerless space force, would be equipped with such a powerful device to begin with.

[LC]: 2199 does away with Shulz’s exposition and puts the existence of the Reflection Satellite Cannon into a more grounded context, while at the same time answering another question from the original, “how were the Planet Bombs launched?”

The Reflection Satellite Cannon is used to ignite and propel EKB objects, turning them into Planet Bombs in the process. The Reflection Satellites are used to alter the energy beam’s trajectory, ensuring the Planet Bomb is propelled in a precise direction. Think of it like playing 8-Ball and using the corners of the table to alter the ball’s trajectory toward your desired target.

[LC]: All the scenes of the Reflection Satellite Gun in Episodes 5 and 6 are hand-drawn. The original design was by Kazutaka Miyatake, and Yasushi Ishizu did the final touches and drew it for all the scenes. Although the main body of the gun is mostly green, it has an amount of detail that surprised even the staff.

A torrent of energy is unleashed, breaking the ice above and streaming forth into space until it hits the first satellite. The reflectors divert the beam’s course. One by one, the selected satellites guide the beam to a precise, pre-programmed trajectory and drive it into deep space.

[LC]: As mentioned in our Episode 1 commentary, the Garmillan designation for these satellites is Migobuia and the technology employed by them served as the basis for the Garmillas ships’ anti-positron armor coating, designated Migobueza Coating. The reflective properties of the satellites seem more focused, since they precisely reflect the beam hitting them, while the armor coating simply repels the beams upon contact.

The reflection satellites seem to work like a mirror, but they don’t. They produce a field just in front of the mirror for reflection. There’s a white glow just before the positron energy strikes it, but that’s a field being emitted. As Chief Mechanical Director Masanori Nishii admitted, this makes the actual change in the angle of the mirrors a bit pointless from a practical standpoint, but he still wanted to give the visual impression of it changing the beam’s angle. (click the image above right for the full deployment sequence)

Also worth noting is that in the original, the satellites were only revealed after the first shot of the Reflection Satellite Cannon had hit Yamato, and they needed to hit it while it was anchored behind Charon. In the weapon’s new rationale, it makes sense that the satellites are shown right from the start. Also, it plugs a bit of a plot hole; if the first shot was fired at Yamato directly, it wouldn’t be much of a problem for them to track its point of origin and discover the enemy base.

Eventually the beam meets its target, a large piece of rock floating in space, one of the millions of its kind that inhabit the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt. Upon contact, the asteroid flares up, driven off its eternal slumber and is forced into a new, precisely-calculated orbit that will eventually make it slam into planet Earth. A Planet Bomb has just been born.

[LC]: During this scene, the targeted object and subsequent Planet Bomb are designated 103. Whether this is some random designation based on some non-disclosed factor, or this is the actual 103rd Planet Bomb launched at Earth, is unknown. The latter seems more logical, though given the fact they’ve been bombing Earth for several years now, 103 seems a low count. This would be even more extreme if we consider that in the original, Ganz says they launched 20 Planet Bombs that day.

Also, although this explains how the Planet Bombs are created and launched at Earth and provides a good explanation for the existence of the Reflection Satellite Cannon on Pluto, one thing is left dangling: as per previous episodes, the Planet Bombs are the source of the plants infesting Earth. These plants were supposedly grown on the Floating Continent, at least according to some interviews. But it was never mentioned how the spores made their way to the bombs. We can theorize that they are harvested at the Floating Continent and placed in previously selected EKB Objects for later use.

[DG]: Other possibilities for the transplantation of the spores is that either they were somehow infused into the Reflection Satellite Cannon beam, or possibly (but far less likely) they were fired at Earth directly from Jupiter in missiles.

All this is supervised silently by Colonel Shulz, who begins to think that this energy cannon, used to create and launch Planet Bombs, might be a means to stop Yamato. Yes, he has a plan.

[LC]: Another new Garmillan term is “GAT” which seems to be a unit of speed.

Yamato flies through space when a radar contact catches Yuria Misaki’s attention. A course deviation of EKB object 637 has been detected and the readings are unmistakeable. It is now a Planet Bomb. Okita ponders on the Garmillas deviousness. With the bomb gone, normality is resumed in the main bridge.

[DG]: Yuria Misaki reports that there are no hostiles within two light-seconds (~600,000 kilometers). Whether this is the overall range limit of Yamato’s radar or simply an operational setting is not explained.

[LC]: In the original, combat operations start at this point. Just by watching the Planet Bombs fly by, Okita and Kodai immediately deduce an enemy base on Pluto and decide it must be destroyed, prompting the immediate launch of the air-wing. The Garmillas plan is also a lot more complex; they launch a fleet of ships to draw Yamato into the RSC’s range, followed by a salvo of IPBMs. Even after they see Yamato is heading there on her own, they still deploy all these means, resulting in a massive waste of resources – especially considering that, in the original, a single shot from the shock cannons destroys almost half of their ships.

In 2199, Shulz knows they’ll be coming for Pluto’s base and all this is unnecessary. Though I would have liked to see some fleet battle action, this setup allows for a more realistic progression of events and some character development. As for the air-wing deployment, that’ll come soon enough.

Ota tries to strike up a conversation with Yuria by pointing out that it’s nice to have another pretty face around while Yuki is away. Shima makes him dial down the tone, leading Ota to notice Sanada and Kodai are also absent.

[LC]: I always questioned why Yuria would serve as Yuki’s replacement. As proven later in the series with the appearance of Miki Saijo, there are more appropriate staff replacements on board, especially if we consider Yuria is from the Logistics Division and also a rookie. I guess by this point, given that she was one of the five main girls on board, they just needed to give her some screen time. So far, all we’ve seen her do is have lunch and hang out with Hoshina. It’s also probably why YRA Radio Yamato was created.

Yuria tells him they’re all down in the research lab examining the Garmilloids brought from Enceladus. Shima turns to Nanbu, who has taken Kodai’s station, and ask him how he’s feeling in the command seat. Visibly annoyed, Nanbu simply replies everything is fine.

Down in the lab, Niimi is fascinated by the Garmilloid technology while Sanada and Analyzer go over their skin composition. When Kodai wonders if the Garmillas are a race of machines, Sanada asks what led him to think that. Confused, Kodai asks what are the soldiers they brought back if not Garmillans, leading to Sanada simply stating: “Androids.”

His deadpan response irritates Kodai, leading Niimi to defuse the situation by explaining that at this point they don’t know if these are mechanized life forms or simply humanoid machines used by the Garmillas. Sanada thanks her for the simplification.

Seeing Kodai is not satisfied, Yuki decides it’s time to leave. As they do, Sanada asks Kodai if he’s sure there were no survivors on the Yukikaze. Stunned, Kodai confirms it and excuses himself. Niimi realizes the XO’s concern for Kodai and tells him she likes that about him. Sanada remains silent.

[DG]: They made an interesting choice with translation of Kaoru’s words to Sanada here: while the subtitles on the Japanese Blu-Ray disc say, “I like that about you,” the literal translation of the Japanese is, “I don’t hate that about you.” The use of what amounts to a double negative in English is not uncommon in Japanese, but isn’t so common in English.

[LC]: Niimi calls Sanada “sensei” out of respect ever since they were junior and senior students in college.

In the elevator, Kodai vents his anger, comparing Sanada to a computer. Yuki tells him that’s just the way he is. She then takes the opportunity to thank Kodai for protecting her on Enceladus, but he tells her he was just doing his job. He then asks if she heard that the pilot that saved them is someone named Yamamoto who is actually from the Logistics Division.

Kato is giving Akira a piece of his mind for what she did. He says he will let it slide this time, but if she pulls that stunt again… She interrupts him and defends her actions, claiming they were the most correct under those conditions. Again, she asks to be transferred to Yamato’s air wing. Kato wants to know if her intention is to avenge her brother, Akio. Akira’s silence is response enough for Kato’s already flared short fuse, which is transmitted to a nearby locker door via his clenched fist.

Though he has no intention of allowing her to transfer, Kato tells her it’s up to the captain. In the corridor, Shinohara sighs over the two friends’ discussion. The scene shifts to the usual ritual of Makoto bandaging Kato’s hand while joking about the locker’s stubbornness. As Kato leaves, she follows him to praise the pilot’s actions on Enceladus, and says that if not for “him,” the medical team might have not made it back.

Looking at his bandaged hand, Kato wonders if he was too rash in his decision and smiles. He waves Makoto goodbye, leaving her confused as to what just happened. Doctor Sado is of no help to her as he happily drinks his sake.

[LC]: Whether by fortune or design, Kato is lucky the Medical Center is right next to the air-wing’s ready-room. That means he can get immediate assistance when pesky lockers piss him off. (Although the Medical Section’s location isn’t set in any of the materials, it can be extrapolated from the location of the medical module seen in Episode 24).

Here we can also see Doctor Sado’s rather unusual quarters. It’s fully open to the Medical Section’s central corridor, having only a couple of bamboo blinders to serve as partition if some privacy is required. It sits on a customized wooden platform and is lit (aside from the corridor’s lights) by a traditional paper lantern. Quite a unique arrangement.

[LC]: I have a feeling that Makoto believed Kato was piloting the Zero that saved them and this was her shy way of thanking him for it. Thus her puzzlement over his reaction.

[DG]: I disagree. I think the more likely scenario is that she knows the “locker” might have been an insubordinate pilot, since she’s already seen past examples of Kato’s handiwork on Shima and Kodai back in Episode 2. She’s merely asking that Kato go easy on the pilot because their actions saved the lives of the rescue team. She’s perplexed by Kato’s response because it’s just plain odd for anyone other than himself. I don’t believe that Makoto is so bashful that she wouldn’t outright thank Kato directly for saving them if she thought he was the hero pilot.

Interestingly, in the background of Sado’s quarters is a huge CRT-style television sitting on an entertainment unit.

The command staff meets in the operations room to lay out the plan for Operation M-2. Okita intended to avoid all unnecessary combat, but he cannot allow the continued existence of the Garmillas base on Pluto and consequent Planet Bomb attacks.

He describes how the Garmillas altered the environment of Pluto, which is now a dwarf planet with oceans. Observations made by the UNCF have yielded several possible locations for the Garmillas base, but confirmation has been impossible, leading them to conclude that the base must be protected from detection by some sort of stealth field.

[DG]: Okita has decided that Operation M2 is necessary. Not only to stop the planet bombs continuing to hit Earth (which suggests that it still happens frequently enough to be a serious threat, even though humanity is now underground), but since taking it out now will prevent complications and an unnecessary battle when they return to Earth some months later. Okita is pragmatic enough to predict that by that time the crew will be exhausted and prone to making mistakes, which could cost the Earth its future in the long run.

Okita could also see it as a good way of testing his crew’s ability to work together. Though there’s a risk involved, he’s not foolish enough to think that this is anything near the strongest that Garmillas will throw at them. Thus, it’s an acceptable risk and one that needs to be taken for the success of the mission.

Shima points out that, due to the importance of the advanced base, they should expect heavy resistance. Sanada points out that they have the Wave-Motion Shields, which can provide ample protection against the enemy positron beams, though they are limited to 20 minutes.

[DG]: This 20-minute limit is almost certainly a theoretical maximum amount of time the generators can run before having to be shut down, presumably due to overheating or drainage of energy reserves. Sanada does not imply that this means the shields are impervious for those 20 minutes. We will see this later in the episode, and also later in the series.

Kodai displays the stages of the operation. Yamato will launch its fighters before entering the enemy’s warning zone and then charge straight toward Pluto, acting as a decoy to draw away the enemy fleet they anticipate will charge at them. Meanwhile, the air wing will go the long way around, using Pluto’s moons Nyx and Charon as cover for their approach. Once on Pluto, they’ll split into several groups and search the hot spots until they can confirm one of them as the target. Upon confirmation, they’ll gather to strike with Yamato providing long range assistance with artillery fire.


The moons of Pluto (click to open a full-sized version).

The Pluto-Charon system. Note how Pluto orbits around a fixed external point. (Click to open a full-sized version).

[DG]: The map of Pluto and its moons is semi-accurate. It shows Charon, Nix, and Hydra, but not Kerberos, which was discovered on 20 July 2011 – 16 days after Makoto Kobayashi announced the production of Yamato 2199 at Anime Expo. So whether this is an erroneous omission depends on how far work had gone up until then.

Also missing is Styx, which was not discovered until July 7, 2012 – a week after Chapter 2 had premiered in Japanese theaters and right in the middle of its two-week season. It could also have been decided by the production team that Kerberos is too small to consider significant (at somewhere between 13 and 34 kilometers in diameter, it is considerably smaller than Hydra or Nix – and microscopic compared to Charon), or more simply that it was ignored in-universe because it was not tactically significant. One other thing that the map does not indicate is that Pluto doesn’t stay still in its orbital plane. It actually orbits around a point inside of Charon’s orbit.

[LC]: A couple of minor graphics snafus happen in this scene (click on the above-left still of the strategy room for a close up). You’ll notice that there is an on-screen list of the several groups into which the air-wing will split once on Pluto. The third is designated “Charry” instead of the correct “Charlie.” That can be chalked to the usual “Engrish” errors that occasionally pop up.

A bit more serious is the list of names for the “Alpha” group. “Alpha 1” is Susumu Kodai, of course. “Alpha 2” is… Akira Yamamoto. Nothing strange. Until we remember that Yamamoto is not a pilot yet. Kodai will only meet her and request her transfer to the air-wing after this scene.

Even if we assume that Kodai was planning to have Yamamoto transferred based on her display of skill at Enceladus, two things must be pointed out. First, he wouldn’t have her name on an official tactics plan before an official transfer, and we know this only happens later in the second act. Second, even if he had done so, Kodai believes that Akira is called “Rei” (as we’ll see later), so he would have listed her as such.

[DG]:It’s well-established that Kodai doesn’t read the kanji for Akira’s first name right. That doesn’t mean the ship’s computer wouldn’t. Assuming that Kodai doesn’t delegate this to someone else to put the details in, the crew names are certainly kept in the computer systems for security purposes (i.e. crew have clearance to access certain parts of the ship). He keys in “Yamamoto” and gets the kanji “山本,” after which the computer autocompletes the rest. He sees the name “山本 玲,” and misreads the “玲” as “Rei,” which is an alternate interpretation of the kanji. He assumes that’s her name and moves on. As for her official transfer, it depends on the level of autonomy the section heads have.

Okita doesn’t need to know the name of every crew member and of every crew transfer in the ship; as section heads, the likes of Kodai and Hirata are supposed to relieve him of that sort of duty. Thus, it’s not unreasonable to assume that once Kodai had heard that “someone named Yamamoto in accounting” was the pilot who came to their aid at Enceladus, he spoke to Hirata to have her transferred to the air group. Later, he merely reports it to Okita as part of his preflight report that it happened.

Are these guys for real?!

Although I concede that not everything has to go through the captain and Kodai may delegate the chart-making responsibilities to someone else, I’ll have to disagree with the above reasoning. This isn’t a random section task; you don’t ask the captain if you can change a busted light bulb, but if you need to rewire the whole ship he needs to know about it. Transferring someone, especially when that someone took a fighter without authorization (which means she’s already on their radar) would qualify for the “I better ask the captain” box.

Also, we needn’t assume too many off-screen events when the episode lays out Akira’s transfer as plain as can be. Yes, either she or Kodai must have talked to Hirata before any transfers were done, but aside from that the chain of events is clear. She talks to Kodai after this meeting, Kodai goes to the captain who authorizes the transfer. Done. The graphics “error” is simply a matter of the graphic staff wanting to make something that would look cool on-screen and putting that list in. It’s only there for a couple of seconds and only crazy people like us probably take the time to read it. If this particular graphic was shown in the pilots’ ready room, it wouldn’t even qualify as an “error,” but here it beat the script to the punch.

Nanbu presents another option. To use the Wave-Motion Gun once Pluto is within effective firing range, destroying the enemy in one swift strike. Kodai announces they won’t use the gun since that could result in the destruction of the entire planetoid, something he is unwilling to do. Nanbu is surprised and sees it as a wasted opportunity, dismissing the destruction of a planet or two. Kato defends Kodai’s opinion and his plan, with Nanbu countering that using the wave-motion gun would reduce the risk to his men.

[DG]: Some may argue that Kodai is exaggerating that the Wave-Motion Gun would destroy Pluto itself, but he’s almost certainly right. Considering that Pluto is 0.2% of the Earth’s mass, and considering how easily the weapon destroyed something bigger than Australia, it’s fairly likely that training it on Pluto would render any and all debate on Pluto’s planetary status a moot one.

Tempers flare up when Nanbu tells Kato his unit is useless given Yamato’s power, with Okita having both stand down in order to prevent things getting out of hand.

[LC]: It’s curious that in the original it is Sanada who asks if the Wave-Motion Gun will be used.

[DG]: It surprised me that it was Sanada/Sandor in the original, not only because he was the one who asked it but also because he protested the loudest when Okita/Avatar replied that they would use shock cannons. Rather ironic, considering that in 2199 Sanada didn’t want to use the gun either on the floating continent OR on Pluto.

Okita sanctions Kodai’s plan and puts him in command of the air wing. Kodai is a bit surprised, but he accepts the mission, though Kato seems a bit less than pleased. Okita announces the operation will be commanded from combat bridge’s CIC.

[LC]: Going back to the graphics snafu, based on this scene if Kodai wasn’t supposed to command the air-wing until Okita ordered him to… what was his name doing on the board in the first place?

[DG]: I contend that he had assigned himself to pilot in the mission. Aside from just plain wanting to partake in this battle, he could have seen it as proving to the fighter squadron that he wasn’t about to make them do anything he wouldn’t do himself, especially to Kato. He was simply assuming that he would be under Kato’s command while flying, and Okita granting him command of the squadron over Kato was what surprised him. This Kodai is not a hothead, and he’s smart enough to know how not to get his top pilot more offside than he already was.

As Kodai leaves the planning room, he’s approached by Akira, who asks if she can speak to him. When she tells him her name, he recognizes her as the pilot that flew Alpha-2 at Enceladus.

Yuki and Nanbu have also left the meeting and Nanbu is less than happy with what happened, claiming Kato is loose cannon, even if he is considered the UNCF’s top ace. Yuki’s attention is caught by the couple ahead of them. She pulls Nanbu aside and hides behind a bulkhead, watching the interaction between Kodai and Akira.

Shima goes to Okita’s quarters, passing Kodai on the stairs. Kodai thanks the captain for his attention as he leaves, and wishes Shima good luck during the operation. Shima informs Okita that the command staff have taken their positions in the CIC and request his presence. Before they leave, Shima tells Okita that although he was reluctant at first, he decided to support the operation and that he’ll do his best to make up for any lost time at Pluto.

The air-wing pilots are assembled for debriefing at their meeting room. When Kodai enters, Kato tells him he needs to ask him something, but that it can wait until the debriefing is done. Kodai says he has an announcement and introduces them to the new member of Yamato’s air-wing.

The design for the pilot ready room from the Earth design book.
(Click to see a large version)

[DG]: In the very first frame, we see Kato standing in the briefing room with the rest of the Falcon squadron seated. We see eight in the front row, plus six heads and two more sets of feet – totaling 16 (plus Kato) that are visible. As Kodai addresses the pilots and is about to introduce Yamamoto, we see Shinohara’s mane obstructed by a pilot directly behind him, another sitting right next to him, and one sitting aft of that pilot, suggesting that if not full, then the ready room is close enough to full. As Akira enters the room, we see all the rows look to be full. However, it’s interesting to note that the Earth book’s design drawing of the ready room has four rows of six seats rather than the front row having eight. Maybe they changed it for the final edition?

One other thing to note is that the quality of the artwork on the flight jacket unit patches here is just plain awful. Whether this is due to sloppiness or lack of time is something we’ll never know.

Kato’s jaw drops when Akira enters the room. The rest of the pilots show a lot more enthusiasm as she introduces herself. Kodai is surprised to hear Kato call her Akira, as he believed her name was Rei. She says its a common mistake since the kanji can be read both ways.

[DG]: And a subtle nod to Neon Genesis Evangelion character Rei Ayanami comes about. It’s a rather amusing coincidence that the kanji for Akira’s name can also be read as “Rei” (although Rei Ayanami’s name is spelled in katakana rather than kanji), allowing Izubuchi to salute his friend Hideaki Anno, Evangelion creator and 2199 opening credit storyboarder.

 “Rei Squared”: DeviantArt artist JackMackHack‘s terrific crossover art with Akira “Rei” Yamamoto
and Rei Ayanami from the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise, with and without helmets.

[DG]: Note that I’m not the only Evangelion fan to have found the connection; no doubt many a fan saw the tribute, and DeviantArt artist JackMackHack chose to pay tribute to it in art form. (Note: For some reason – possibly mature content tags – you need a DeviantArt account to see the full-sized versions. On the upside, it’s worth getting an account because there’s no shortage of 2199 artwork there, and some of it is very good) Indeed, Anno’s love of Yamato is well-known and only his existing commitment to the Rebuild of Evangelion films prevented him from being at the helm of this project rather than storyboarding the opening credit footage (my personal opinion after seeing Evangelion 3.0 is that this is a very good thing).

Kodai distributes the assignments for the operation, with Kato taking command of the Bravo wing while he and Akira will form Alpha wing. He tells the pilots that though many of them have lost friends and family to the enemy attacks, they shouldn’t get themselves killed for revenge, and “orders” them to come back alive.

As the pilots head out, Kodai asks Kato what he wanted to talk about but Kato tell him “never mind,” leaving Kodai confused.

[LC]: Only two pilots are named in dialogue in this mission: (Nobuhiko) Sugiyama and (Mikio) Nemoto – named by Shinohara over Pluto. Fans of the original will recognize these names as the two crew members who accompanied Kodai, Sanada, Kato and Analyzer during their search for the RSC. This doesn’t bode well for the two pilots, as Nemoto ended up being electrocuted and Sugiyama was gunned down. Also note that was the second time Yamato crew members encountered actual Gamilas soldiers.

[LC]: Nemoto is a bit of an oddity throughout the show as he is the one character I recall who is named in dialogue but never actually identified on-screen. Here, Sugiyama is identified by his fellow pilot (Takuya) Kobashi, but Nemoto is always out of shot or in a group when someone talks to him. It wasn’t until the artbook EARTH came out that I was finally able to identify him. For clarification, he’s the one sitting to the right of Shinohara and says “Welcome to the club” when Akira introduces herself.

[LC]: Only Kato and Shinohara have custom paint jobs on their planes. Kato’s plane has a grey and white paint job and the character for “Sincerity” on its tail. Shinohara’s, although its overall paint scheme is the same as the other Falcons, has a shark mouth on its nose. All of Yamato‘s other Falcons have the same standard paint job.

The main hangar is bustling with activity as Kato gets into his custom Falcon. Above, the Cosmo Zeroes are prepped for launch. Akira takes the opportunity to thank Kodai for his role in her transfer. Kodai says he was impressed by her skill and tells her not to get killed.

[DG]: This is the first time we see Cosmo Zeroes with externally-mounted weapons, in this case four heavy missiles on the underwing pylons. Since these are space fighters, and will also be flying in low gravity and a thin atmosphere, aerodynamics are of minimal concern. The fuel tanks normally carried under the wings are mounted on above-wing hardpoints and further inboard than the underwing ones. Such above-wing placement of external stores is nothing really new, with 1970s/80s era aircraft such as the SEPECAT Jaguar strike/ground attack aircraft being seen occasionally with air-to-air missiles on overwing pylons.

[LC]: Those “fuel tanks” are more than that. They’re called “high-mobility nozzle” units, pods with a built-in thruster attached to the body that improve both power and performance. As you’ve pointed out, they can be mounted beneath the main wings or on the upper surface above the intakes. The Zero can carry up to four of them in missions where speed, range and maneuverability are more important than fire power. As for the fuel, staff call it “Cosmo oil” as a joke. [Note: “Cosmo Oil” is an actual gas station chain in Japan.]

[DG]: We also get a fully-displayed launch procedure for the Cosmo Zero catapults: the initial deployment from the hangar, retraction of the undercarriage, deployment of the wings and tailfins, elevation to the catapult, and eventual launch on what is most likely an electromagnetic rail system.

The Zeroes are transported out of their hangars through a complex rail system and raised to Yamato’s rear deck catapults. Kodai’s air-master tells him to give the Garmillas hell. The catapults swivel forward and the Zeroes stand by for launch.

[DG]: As Alphas 1 & 2 are moved into launch position, we see Yamato’s name – in hiragana (やまと) as opposed to katakana (ヤマト) – on the hull just below the muzzles of the #3 main turret. This stays in line with the naming seen on the Earth fleet at Pluto, including Yukikaze and Kirishima. We should also note here that the production team said they cheated a little bit with this part of the ship, as they couldn’t properly draw the catapult control bunker.

In the CIC, everyone gives the green light for Operation M-2 to start. Okita orders the launch of the Hayabusa and the operation starts.

[LC]: Yamato’s CIC is a new feature of the ship, not used in the original. It’s located in the second bridge which (in the original) was a big room used by the navigation group. We saw their new station in Episode 4. In 2199, about 1/5 of the front of the bridge is taken up by 6 windows forming a sort of observation deck. Whether or not the instruments seen there – like a helm’s wheel – actually serve a function or are simply decorative was never addressed. This deck goes all the way around the bridge with the CIC in the center, farther back because the walls are stronger there. It becomes an armored bridge deck used at strategic times when danger is foreseen.

[DG]: This is the first time the Hayabusa are referred to by name in the series.

[DG]: As we watch the Hayabusa cycle through the launch procedure, we see the genius of the design of the hangar bay. Fighters on the forward carousel are launched first; the hangar bay hatch has a telescopic rail which retrieves a fighter from its palette, pulls it back to the main rail which is hydraulically lifted from the hatch, and then lowers it to the hatch, before catapulting it backward into space. The palette then rotates 180 degrees and launches the fighter on its underside.

What isn’t explained visually at any point in the series itself, however, is how Yamato would launch her entire air group if required. The fighters launched on screen are from the forward carousel, but we never see how the ones on the rear carousel would be launched. Fortunately, there are some sources that explain the situation, at least partially.

Firstly, we go to the Space Battleship Yamato 2199 公式設定資料集 [kōshiki settei shiryōshū, translated to Official Creation Document Collection]: Earth (You owe it to yourself to buy a copy of this and its Garmillas counterpart.) In the bottom right corner of Page 91, there’s a cutaway side view of the hangar bay construction, along with an outline sketch of the launch cycle process, with details on the process. (Click this picture to see an enlargement.)

Of the steps in this process, #6 is most interesting, as it implies that once the forward carousel’s aircraft have all been launched, the aircraft on the pallets of the rear carousel are moved across to the forward carousel. They don’t, however, illustrate the process by which this happens.

Japanese fan and CG modeler Haru proposed that the transfer from rear to front occurred at the top of the carousel, but like the official materials, there was no illustration of how this was done. This leaves the question as to how the planes are transferred from the rear to the forward carousel. There’s not a lot of room in the top of the hangar bay, so the actual process seems a little problematic. The only way I can see it happening is once all the fighters have been launched from the front, then all of the fighters would have to be transferred from the rear before launching could commence. Otherwise the revolving of the rear carousel would interfere with flight operations. Maybe a rail system similar to the one used to push the Hayabusa back onto the hangar bay’s hatch catapult would be the way it happens.

In the main hangar, the long-awaited moment arrives the Cosmo Falcons are positioned for launch in a perfectly choreographed dance of machine precision. Kato’s turn eventually arrives and his custom Falcon launches to take command of the air-wing.

[DG]: In 2199, we see realistic science at work in how the fighters change vector in space. Unlike the original series, which just had them moving around like atmospheric aircraft, we see the use of vernier (maneuvering) thrusters on both the Hayabusa and the Cosmo Zero.

[LC]: Though the launch method for both the Zeroes and Falcons is shown in great detail throughout the series, the way in which they’re retrieved was never fully disclosed. We see a bit of how the Zero is retrieved in episode 20 and will analyze it further then. The animation staff seems also to have been aware of this gap, eventually adding footage of it to the compilation movie A Voyage to Remember.

Above them, the Zeroes are given permission to launch and they soon join the others to head for Nyx, leaving Yamato behind.

[LC]: As for the Falcons’ landing processed, though it wasn’t shown until the compilation movie, it has been described. Something like a tractor beam comes out of the open hatch and leads the fighter back to the launch catapult. From there, the process is basically the same used for the launch but in reverse.

[DG]: As Alpha 1 and 2 are being cleared for launch, we see the exhausts of six Hayabusa. Unless they’re out of shot, we’re assuming that only six have launched. (Shinohara’s salute to the Black Tigers being the last one we see launch, which then forms up with five in the distance.) As Alphas 1 and 2 are launched, we see four pairs of Hayabusa in the distance, and then as the Zeroes pull ahead into the lead, we see two more Hayabusa added.

Finally, we see no fewer than ten Hayabusa and the two Zeroes approach Nix. We can assume that they launched a more pair of Hayabusa as the Zeroes took off, and one more pair after that. My initial assessment of the launching protocol was that they intended to wait for the Hayabusa to finish before the Zeroes launched, but it seems more likely that they were merely readying the catapults and/or the Zeroes, and not being concerned about the Hayabusa launches.

Yamato is not alone. As the ship takes flight toward Pluto, a spy satellite sneaks up behind it, transmitting images of its approach to the Garmillas base.

As Yamato crosses Nyx’s orbit, Shima comments on how calm everything is. Okita asks if there are any signs of the enemy, but Yuki has no contacts on radar. Ota wonders if Yamato might have frightened them away, an idea dismissed by Sanada who says such calm feels all the more threatening.

Nanbu tries to convince the captain to make use of the Wave-Motion Gun once they reach Charon’s orbit. Okita is unmoved and says the operation depends on their ability to use the air-wing affectively, so they’ll follow Kodai’s plan.

Suddenly, a massive energy beam hits Yamato. Though the Wave-Motion Shields manage to deflect part of it, the beam still manages to score a direct hit. Kodai catches a glimpse of the impact, but remains unaware of what just happened as the air-wing approaches Pluto.

[LC]: The Wave-Motion Shield is original equipment on Yamato that Garmillas ships don’t have. Sanada developed it from the Wave-Motion technology provided by Iscandar. The Wave-Motion Shield (or Barrier) is a system that creates a magnetic field on the surface of the ship to protect it from attacks by positronic beams and live cartridges.

The idea of the shield was invented by Series Director Yutaka Izubuchi to make a convincing argument that Yamato could fight a Garmillas fleet, so a system that could defend the ship even from energy beams was established.

In this scene, we actually see it for the first time – though it was used back in Episode 2 to protect the ship from the IPBM blast. The Wave-Motion Shield helps deflect the Reflecting Satellite Cannon’s beam. If you look carefully, you can see blue light scattering across the hull. That’s the signal that the Wave-Motion Shield is operating. But the output of the Cannon was much greater than the normal positronic beams and more than it could bear, so it produced the effect over the entire hull.

Also, it’s possible to use it against an attack on the upper part of the ship, or to concentrate the output over a single section, such as the bow, to increase its effectiveness.

Okita calls for a report, but Yuki can only guess that they were hit by a long range strike since there are no enemy ships on radar. She also says the beam didn’t originate from Pluto. Sanada reports damage to deck 3 and the inertial control system is deactivated, leaving some of the crew floating around. Makoto is especially troubled.

Based on Sanada’s estimation of the attack’s origin point, Okita orders Shima to initiate evasive maneuvers and head for a possible enemy blind spot.

[LC]: In the original, the out-of-control Yamato flew around Pluto and fired the rocket anchor at Charon to stop – using a chain with an apparent length of several miles. The fact that Yamato was no longer in its direct line of fire is what prompted the appearance of the reflection satellites at that point of the story.

This setup becomes useless in 2199 due to the Reflex Satellite Cannon’s new rationale. Also, Yamato is already closer to Pluto than Charon and its anchor chain has a proper length. This is one of the factors that led to its use being transferred to the crash scene at the floating continent in Episode 3.

At the Garmillas base, Shulz watches these events. Ganz congratulates Shulz for his improvisational use of the planet bomb launch system as a weapon. Shulz says the ability to adapt is crucial in the battlefield, a lesson Yaretora attributes to General Domel. He finds it unfortunate that the first hit didn’t destroy Yamato, but Shulz tell him “a hunt is something to be savored.” He then orders the reflection sattelites to re-align for another shot.

Unaware of this, Sanada reasserts that, based on the previous shot’s trajectory, Yamato is in their blind spot. While Okita remains wary of their apparent safety, Sanada looks upon the large amount of debris around Pluto.

Above them, a spy satellite relays Yamato’s position to the Garmillas base. Once more the reflection satellites are set into motion. Shulz presses the trigger and the power of the Reflecting Satellite Cannon is unleashed on the defenseless Yamato, making a direct hit to starboard.

The crew is confused, since they believed they were in the unknown weapon’s blind spot. Again, Yuki cannot pinpoint the origin point of the attack. The propulsion systems have been damaged and Shima can’t maintain the ship’s position. With no other options, Okita orders Shima to raise the bow and land in the seas of Pluto.

[LC]: Director Izubuchi considered not using the sea of Pluto due to its scientific innaccuracy. Even with the concept of Garmillasforming (introduced in the first episode) Pluto’s low mass wouldn’t allow it to retain water in liquid state, as pointed out by the production’s scientific advisor. But once again the sense of “Yamato-ness” became an overriding factor. Mr. Nishii insisted that sinking into the sea of Pluto was essential. So in the end, Izubuchi agreed to keep it in.

Shima does his best to reduce the ship’s speed and use the more heavily-armored underside to make contact with the ice surface, which breaks away on impact. Despite the hard landing, Yamato eventually comes to a full stop.

[LC]: Another moment which drew inspiration from the original is the “splashdown” at Pluto. The part where Yamato’s bow suddenly rises from the ice as the ship is speeding along the surface mirrors the scene in the original, a clip curiously cut from Star Blazers.

Okita orders the crew to stay on their guard. Sanada warns him they’re approaching the Wave-Motion Shield’s time limit, which will leave the ship totally defenseless. Okita order repairs to start and asks Aihara if there is any word from the fighters. Aihara says there’s nothing yet. Sanada calls the captain and asks if he can make a suggestion.

Ganz is baffled at Yamato’s persistence. Shulz is unwilling to give them pause and orders another shot. He praises Yamato for putting up a good fight, but this is the end for them, stating “Farewell, Yamato!”

[DG]: I like the phrase used by Schulz here: Saraba, Yamato. The informal abbreviated main title of the 1978 Yamato feature film gets a nod here.

Yuki’s screen comes to life. A powerful energy reading comes from directly above them. The impact produces a large explosion which causes the ship to list to port.

[LC]: A small detail in this scene was upgraded from the trailer version where the warning in Yuki’s radar screen was wrongfully spelled “ALART.”

[LC]: The three Reflection Satellite Cannon strikes we see in this episode closely resemble those of the original. Click the images above for comparisons of all three. A curious thing: in the original, even though the first shot (fired directly at Yamato) is seen only briefly, the ship is flying away from the direction of the shot, which means Yamato would be flying away from Pluto…

Totally out of control, Yamato’s stern sinks into the icy waters as its bow rises skyward. After a brief moment upright, the mighty ship sinks – leaving nothing but a plume of water in its wake. Can this be the end for Yamato?

[LC]: Unlike the original episode where Yamato sinks bow first, here the stern sinks, causing the bow to rise and the ship to sink in a vertical position. This is an homage to Final Yamato as it mimics the final shot of the ship sinking into the Aquarius water mass. Even the sound effects match the ones used in the film. Click the above images to see the comparison.


Yamato sinks into the Pluto sea. Yamato, rise… Rise, Yamato! The people of Earth await your return. It is their last hope. Open the vents! Raise Yamato! Target the hidden enemy base, and fire a shot into the aurora-filled skies!

Next time: The Sun Sets on Pluto.

There are 361 days left before humanity becomes extinct.


Official website of Yamato 2199
Yamato Crew website
Chapter 2 Trailer

Episode 5 credits

Screenplay: Yutaka Izubuchi
Storyboard/Director: Akihiro Enomoto
Chara Animation Director: Norikazu Hattori
Chara Chief Animation Director: Toshiyuki Fujisawa
Mecha Animation Director: Mitsuru Ishihara
Mecha Chief Animation Director: Masanori Nishii

Series credits

Original Story: Yoshinobu Nishizaki
Planning: Shoji Nishizaki, Mitsuhisa Ishikawa, Satoshi Kono
Original Character Design: Nobuteru Yuuki
Guest Character/Prop Design: Shinichi Yamaoka
Mecha Design: Junichiro Tamamori, Yasushi Ishizu, Kiminori Yamane, Yutaka Izubuchi
Set Design: Takeshi Takakura, Makoto Kobayashi, Takashi Watanabe
Concept Design Support: Kazutaka Miyatake
Chief Director: Akihiro Enomoto
Director of Photography: Takashi Aoki
Art Director: Minoru Maeda
Video Editing: Emi Onodera
Color Correction: Rumiko Suzushiro
Music: Akira Miyagawa, Hiroshi Miyagawa
Sound Director: Tomohiro Yoshida
Sound Effects: Mitsuru Kashiwabara
Chief Mecha Animation Director: Masanori Nishii
CG Director: Takashi Imanishi
General Director: Yutaka Izubuchi

Production: Space Battleship Yamato Production Committee
Production IG, Bandai Visual, Xebec, Bandai, Bandai Namco Games, Voyager Entertainment,
Tohoku Shinsha Film Corporation, Shochiku Co. Ltd., OLM, Lantis Co. Ltd.

CG Production Support: Sunrise D.I.D.

6 thoughts on “Yamato 2199 Episode 5 Commentary

  1. It was lucky that they had a spare plane for Akira to fly – a Zero no less! Who was *supposed* to fly the orange one? Kato and Shinohara have custom paint jobs on their planes, so it wouldn’t make much sense that the Orange Zero is their primary plane. Random pilot X, who got kicked out of the seat? An extra unassigned plane on a ship that expects to be heavily outnumbered and need every plane it has flying? It’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it is kind of a “huh” moment. Akira HAS been pretty lucky (so far…)

  2. I don’t think Alpha Two nor Alpha One had specific assigned pilots, unlike the Hayabusa. I think they were there largely as a multi-role aircraft which were aboard for specific uses and would be assigned to pilot them as necessary. Like the Seagull and the Type 100, they would be assigned to whoever they needed to pilot them. I guess they decided that the main squadron would have to be enough.

    As for Akira, at this point it was logical she be assigned to Alpha 2. The Hayabusa had assigned pilots, and Akira had already proven herself capable of operating the Zero in a ground attack role, which they are outfitted for in the Pluto operation. You could say she’s been lucky, but it depends on your point of view. She took a chance at Enceladus to prove herself and it paid off, IMO she made her own luck.

  3. Please, the name of the WWI flying ace is correctly spelt “Richthofen”, not “Richtofen” (pronounced: Risht-haw-fen). His relatives are still living in my home town of Wiesbaden, Germany.

  4. Looking at the structure of the Hayabusa carousel, the only place where the structural elements allow the passage of a fighter from the aft section to the fore section is at the bottom, where there’s a large hole for the fighter to pass through as it slides onto the catapult arm. The rest of the carousel is too tightly built to have room for a fighter to move from one section to the other.
    So, it seems as if, after all 16 fore-section fighters are launched, the catapult arm stays lowered, and all the fighters from the aft section get moved through that bottom hole, along the same rail used to link the forward pallet with the catapult arm, until the fore section is full again, and then the 16-ship launch procedure repeats itself.
    If the launch of Kato’s fighter can be assumed to be in real time, then it takes about 11 seconds between launches, so a carousel section can be emptied in about 3 minutes, so even with a long delay to move the next section to the aft, a full launch should take less than ten minutes, which isn’t bad.

  5. The absence of Kerberos and Styx from the map can be also explained as these two moons were already turned in planet-bombs.

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