Mon. Dec 6th, 2021


The universe beckons! Having made their last farewells to the known world, the Yamato’s intrepid crew now set their sights starward, as they move beyond the boundaries of our known solar system. Fearsome terrors beyond our imagining surely await them, yet our gallant heroes are undeterred, and proudly bear the weight of humanity’s future. What secrets await beyond the celestial shroud? That is for our brave sailors to discover, as they chart a course beyond the horizon.

Man, I could probably write a whole essay in that voice, though I’m sure it’d get tiresome after a paragraph or two. Regardless, I’m delighted to announce that we are indeed returning to Space Battleship Yamato! Last episode offered a clear denouement for the story’s first act, as the crew’s victories in our solar system were capped off by a line-crossing ceremony that saw them moving beyond the reach of terrestrial communication. After all the action theatrics of the first act, an episode that explored the motivations and relationships of the core crew was quite welcome; but with all that foundational character-building work covered, I’m eager to see what obstacles Matsumoto conjures up next. Space Battleship Yamato embodies a spirit of fantastical possibility, fusing iconic presentation with outlandish invention to bring its audience back to the wide-eyed wonder of childhood. Its world has won me over entirely, so let’s not waste any more time, and return to the bridge post-haste!

Episode 8

This OP isn’t quite what I’d qualify as a “banger,” but it’s still earned a no-skip designation due to how good it is at setting this show’s bombastic tone. Yamato’s combination of martial self-seriousness and scifi invention requires some suspension of disbelief; that process is made easier by an OP that instructs you on precisely the spirit this drama is intended in

It also sorta recalls the Evangelion OP, in its transition from a solemn acapella opening to a pop-tinged verse melody. Given how much Anno loves Yamato, I wonder if that’s intentional – was the original Yamato’s OP a similar combination?

We return to the Garmillan homeworld, whose scenery and architecture simultaneously evoke a sense of great advancement and decadence (through the impressive architecture), as well as sickness or corruption (through the prioritization of sickly-looking yellows and greens). The overall effect evokes precisely what the Garmillans represent: a civilization that is as grand as our own, yet utterly incompatible with it

I love their architectural motifs! The combination of the spherical architecture and angular friezes makes for a striking aesthetic

A key moment of humanization for “the enemy,” as we pan over a cheering crowd and see many faces that look innocent and familiar

“Humans are foolish and submissive creatures. And more than anything, they bore me.” So the higher-ups are the real issue, as is generally the case

Lord Abelt Desler is our nefarious noble. A vice-commander congratulates him on “the 103rd year of your reign.” No surprise he considers humans largely foolish, then

“Our unification policy is working, as well.” This “status report” serves as a handy vehicle for exposition, as we learn the specifics of how second-class Garmillans are defined

“Truly the act of a god!” The Garmillans frame all their glories in terms of inevitability – they are the “chosen people,” and it is only right that they expand to rule over the galaxy, for that is God’s will. They revel in the hubris of an empire that has never known meaningful defeat

In the face of this bluster, one Admiral Ditz advises against overconfidence

“His Lordship created the plan you are about to see in execution.” Oh, this is delightful. What a fun way to build up to the Yamato’s next battle, by emphasizing just how much this battle means to the Garmillan empire. This tactic accomplishes several useful dramatic goals: it creates a sense of suspense regarding the Yamato’s current status, builds up a sense of danger for the trial to come, and also introduces us to the antagonists who have the greatest investment in this plan, just in time to enjoy watching them wail as it all falls apart

“Very well, everyone, let us begin the game.” Matsumoto sure knows how to bait a hook!

Back on the Yamato, Yuria Masaki has just finished her radio broadcast

It seems we’re getting acquainted with another set of Yamato’s crew members, starting with Masaki and this boy who seems infatuated with her. This is sort of how you have to manage introductions in a large ensemble like this: you introduce one batch, get to know them through a series of conflicts, then move on to the next batch, seeding only so many characters as the audience can keep track of in any one group. Frequently, this process is facilitated by the natural scaling of the drama; we meet one or two characters, and through the course of their adventures, more and more characters are naturally integrated. To pick a clean example of this effect in action, consider Game of Thrones, which effectively telescoped from its initial scope of “the noble inhabitants of Winterfall during the course of Robert’s visit” to encompass most political players on the continent

The boy attempts to impress Masaki with a ghost story, only for her to counter with “so what, I can already see ghosts”

Oh man, what a cool effect. They’re eight light years away from Earth, meaning that when they pull it up on the viewscreen, it is the Earth of eight years ago, unspoiled by Garmillan attack. What a neat fusion of scientific theory and emotional drama

“Lord Desler ordered us to fight and die. I’m sorry, Hilde.” The human second-class Garmillan from the speech is actually the daughter of Schultz, the disgraced survivor from Pluto. A keen demonstration of the fact that wars are built on disagreements between leaders, while soldiers and civilians suffer the consequences

“The new torpedo…” “The Desler Torpedo.” Of course Desler named his newest weapon after himself

They warp to a point twenty light years from earth. Their new solar system has a potentially human-compatible planet, prompting Kaoru to suggest an investigatory operation

She speaks of a plan to populate other planets, the “Izumo Plan,” that was apparently scrapped

The Yamato emerges beset by plasma flares, in the midst of a solar storm!

And Sanada deduces that this storm has been artificially created. The trap has been sprung

Oh my god. One of the generals gets a bit too rowdy in his celebration, and thus Desler hits a few buttons on his throne to drop the man through a trapdoor. Desler really luxuriating in his villainy here

This episode is doing a fine job of illustrating his malevolence and menace, while also pointing towards his obvious weaknesses. Desler is overconfident, too proud of his own intelligence, and too dismissive of alternative perspectives. He rules through fear and demands all of his subjects cater to his short temper, ultimately discouraging them from engaging with him honestly, offering potentially useful suggestions, or informing him when things have gone wrong

The captain seems like he’s actually taken some damage from their warp, but is attempting to hide it

Ooh, love the CG effects animation for their pursuer leaving hyperspace. Actually spinning the ship is a neat way to distort its shape in order to imply the effects of warp, while taking advantage of the unique opportunities CG models allow. You can’t spin a drawing like this!

When shot down, the Desler Torpedo reveals it contains an “autonomous, self-replicating gas-based life form. It converts, unites, and absorbs material energy, enabling indefinite expansion.” Trust Desler to discover a creature so unique and so dangerous, and then immediately fire it at his enemies in a torpedo. And of course, his own ship is in even more danger than the Yamato; Desler would presumably consider that an elegant way of dispatching undesirables, rather than a design flaw

“THE YAMATO IS PURSUED BY A LIVING SPACE STORM WITHIN A PLASMA CORRIDOR.” Yamato never disappoints

“I’ve created an exit for them. However, a gas giant awaits at its end, mouth open.” Desler has already proven a wonderful addition to the drama. I appreciate his dedication to custom-designing horrible obstacle courses for our heroes; to be honest, if I were an evil despot, this would be my favorite part of the job

The captain almost collapses as the Yamato dives towards the sun, pursued by a cloud of destruction

God, this shot of a solar flare rising behind them is so good. The Yamato is basically surfing on a gas giant, what a concept

The captain pits death cloud against gas giant, and gas giant wins

Ah, poor Schultz. With the mission a failure, he commits to a final suicide run against the Yamato

“Kodai, hit the flare with the wave motion gun.” DO IIIIIT

The shot through the flare prompts some gorgeous effects animation, as the heat bends around the course of the beam

Desler puts on his best “I’m not mad, this is actually funny to me” face after the broadcast ends

“The Yamato? I shall remember that”

And Done

Oh, what a fun episode that was! This one offered exactly what I was hoping for, as we headed straight into another death-defying adventure brimming with fantastical inventions. The base concept of Desler constructing a death game for our heroes provided an irresistible dramatic hook, and the details of his plan certainly didn’t disappoint. Yamato has many strengths, but for me, its most enthralling specialty is its generosity of space-fantasy concepts, as well as the care it exhibits in their illustration. It was the hidden island in the clouds of Jupiter that first hooked me on this show, and “navigating the collision between a death cloud and erupting star” is a worthy successor to that concept. I can’t wait to see what ideas Matsumoto shares with us next.

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By admin