After last week’s action packed episode, this week is more one of quiet tension… But an important one I think, both in terms of the larger plotlines in progress and in terms of characterization.
Hit the jump and let’s set sail!
First up we’re introduced to General Domel – an honorable warrior dedicated to the defense of the Empire. (And not incidentally once again making it clear that the conquest of Terron is but one front in a larger war.) Longtime fans of the series will recognize the ships on the other side of the battle – the Comet Empire. (Who are the central antagonists of the second series.) Once again, 2199 displays it’s subtle skills at world building…
The rest of the episode spends most of it’s time also addressing the issue of honor…
When the senior staff debate what is to be done with Lower Storm Leader Melda Ditz… Should they keep her locked up, and why? Because she’s a danger to Yamato and her crew? Because she’s in danger from Yamato‘s crew, many of whom have lost family in Gamilas attacks?
Despite the fact that he’s lost family, Kodai never loses sight of his essentially humanity and faith in individuals.
Later in the episode, it’s discovered that Yamato will pass near a Gamilas outpost – and once again the question of what do with Melda arises. Avoid the outpost and keep her imprisoned because she might be a spy? Captain Okita is firm however, despite the risk to Yamato and her mission, they will approach close enough for her fighter to reach the outpost and release here. This is what they promised, and this is what they will do.
His determination to do the right thing echoes the larger theme of the episode, who started the war? Who shot first?
Wartime propaganda has convinced Yamato‘s crew (particularly Lt. Shima) that the Gamilas fired first… But we learn the truth. And it’s not pretty – Terra, Earth, we humans began the war. (Though we the viewer know it was going to begin anyways, the Gamilas are a race of conquerors.)
Captain Okita opposed this… to the point where he was relieved of command. And I believe he feels a deep guilt over his inability to prevent the war. Back in episode 7, he briefly discusses his burden of guilt over having survived when so many others have died.
But he retains his essential faith in humanity, and his own personal honor. Again and again he demonstrates he will do the right thing, and so will the Yamato under his command. Is this why he was chosen to command this mission, despite being previously relieved of command? I like to believe so.
The final act of the episode then revisits the nature of honor… We’ve been shown Lt. Yamamoto’s hatred of the Gamilas for the death of her brother on several occasions. Yet, when she has the chance, does she simply murder Melda? (Which she could easily do…)
No, she chooses the harder path, the honorable path… A duel between equals.
But the show isn’t done with us. In a final twist Yamamoto’s fighter malfunctions, forcing her eject into space. Does Melda kill her? Does she exult in victory, however cheaply bought?
She rescues Yamamoto and willingly returns to captivity onboard Yamato. By her lights, that’s keeping her promise. That’s the right thing to do, the honorable thing to do.
The episode ends on a note of hope… Melda extends her hand and Kodai accepts it. Once again we’re reminded that though they’re conquerors as a race, individual Gamilas are honorable – and very human.
Anyhow, that’s it for this week, what are your thoughts?
Yamato 2199 group watch:
– Mechanical Anime Reviews: Space Battleship Yamato 2199: Episode 11 – War Time Complications