Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199 – Episode Five – The Trap on All Sides  


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This episode offers a first look at the tactical approach to combat found in Yamato 2199. Instead of lots of lasers flying across the screen, or a visual overload of fighters, battleships, and rockets moving across one another in a complex, and ever changing pattern, we see deliberate, and tactical combat. It is the little details that make this episode for me – tactics are essential in the world of Yamato 2199, and the battle often resembles something found in a naval film rather than one in space. Watching the Yamato flounder as it is hit from all sides by a giant laser, not knowing when the next attack will hit, and trying to come up with a counter plan is wonderful to behold. Every action is deliberate, be it deciding on the right course of action, or reacting to the current situation, not that this battle lacks action, but it is less the frenetic type, and more a deliberate, evenly paced action that serves to highlight how easy it is for a single ship to be damaged when fighting a mighty alien empire.

There are also a number of other details specifically to do with launching Yamato’s fighter jets – the entire process is full of wonderfully animated movement, with every mechanism working in harmony, and clearly thought out to the tiniest detail by the staff. In fact, the mechanical elements of Yamato 2199 are often some of its best moments – watching fighters manoeuvre with side thrusters, the Yamato correct its course with other smaller thrusters that are often completely missing in space anime. Obviously with anime set in space it is quite easy to accept that the technology of the time allows for space ships, fighter jets, and robots to move around freely, even without lots o little boosters and rockets to correct their path. But, by adding these little details, the actions of the Yamato and its fighters are given weight that is often missing from similar series – they cannot turn automatically, and must be helped around on their course. Such weight is probably best observed when the Yamato does crash land on the surface of Pluto, throwing up ice and debris, only to be hit again and sink into the frozen sea.

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On the character side, we are once again introduced to different opinions, with Yasuo Nanbu once again suggesting that they should simply destroy Pluto and all Gamilans on it with the Weave Motion Canon. His suggestion, followed by a simple comment that destroying a planet or two is hardly a big deal further highlights his immaturity, and willingness to use a weapon of such awesome destructive power as a form of retribution, like a god smiting the unbelievers below. While the Gamilans are shown to be somewhat cruel and merciless, they are soldiers, and when put next to Nanbu’s attitude towards planets, it is hard to choose between them. That Kodai and Shima, despite their losses, are willing to go through with the plan to attack with fighters, a plan that Kodai has thought up, suggests an element of maturity to their actions that Nanbu lacks. They understand the risks, but are willing to go through with them because they only want to disable to base posing a threat to earth, not destroy an entire planet.

There are further little moments between characters that serve to show us how as a crew they are gradually getting to know one another and grow ever close – these are subtle but important, and add a human element to the series. But, as a whole this was a very physical and dynamic episode, with lasers bouncing across the screen, and the Yamato, despite its awesome destructive capabilities, and advanced technology in a lot of trouble. And yet it still feels like we have only just begun, and that this episode, like the previous ones is there to promote character growth, while highlighting the immense challenge against the ship and its crew. It is also very physical story telling, with sound and animation taking over from dialogue to show us what is happening.

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About illogicalzen
An Illogical anime fan in a very Zen-like way.

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