Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199 – Episode Eight – Wish Upon a Star
February 20, 2016 Leave a comment
This episode provides an excellent, and enlightening look at Gamilas society, especially Desler, the supreme leader of what is effectively a fascist state, complete with symbolism and uniforms that could have come from the 1930s. But then that’s the point, Gamilas is supposed to be portrayed as the great evil next to the good, and just Earth forces – although as with everything, the picture is somewhat more complicated than it initially appears.
I actually quite like Desler as a character; yes he is a dictator, one who thinks nothing of using second-class citizens to do the dirty work, but his general approach to life suggests somebody who is less a raving lunatic, and more a thoughtful, and calculating ruler who has managed to unite a people and conquer the galaxy. But, he is also somebody who will willingly play a little game with the lives of a ship of two in order to amuse himself, a ruler who is bored easily and uses the lives of his soldiers as a form of entertainment, albeit one with refinements. Not to mention his view of the ordinary citizens of Gamilas, appearing to suggest that they are sheep, pathetic creatures who cannot think for themselves, and as such are a constant boredom to the mighty intellect of Desler. He certainly doesn’t view ordinary citizens as equals, and appears to view nobody else as his equal.
Actually, the symbolism used in Desler’s scenes portrays him as something akin to a god – with elaborate throne flanked by decorations that, at a distance, add the appearance of golden wings springing from his back. The military leaders of Gamilas line the sides of the room, but stay below the stepped dais, they are powerful, but cannot even think of standing on the same level as Desler. Although perhaps that is Desler’s design to make sure he is above everybody else. There is also an interesting fresco in Desler’s chamber, with the likeness of Desler, and by the looks of it Starsha, Desler as the great and proud hero, a mighty warrior, and Starsha as the beautiful angel of unearthly beauty. This whole Fresco actually puts me in mind of the Sistine Chapel, specifically The Creation of Adam – although I think the likeness is incidental and simply references something well known, rather than conveying any deeper meaning. It also shows us that Iscander; the object of salvation for Earth and the Yamato is intrinsically linked with Gamilas, its great threat and oppressor. Almost as if heaven and hell are interlinked, or in this case it might be better to describe them as Naraka (the Buddhist version of hell), and Nirvana. Symbolism aside (and some of it may well just be general ‘symbolism’), the whole scene points to a very complicated picture regarding Gamilas and Iscander, one that Yamato is currently blissfully unaware of. I mention it in passing, and its certainly not something to dwell on too much, this is a classic space series after all, and symbolism is used to demonstrate a point more than provider a deeper commentary.
The trap Desler creates for the Yamato further highlights how alone they are, and how easily he can set little traps simply to pass the time and reduce some of his boredom. It also serves as a testament to the supreme strength of Gamilas, that they can sacrifice ships, and use untested weapons simply as a form of entertainment for Desler. But, the episode also serves to show the Yamato’s resolve, and the great tactical mind of Okita, a captain who is clearly far from healthy, but retains his wits even when he is clearly in pain. His quick thinking, coupled with the faith that his crew has in him allows them to escape from Desler’s net in dramatic fashion. It also demonstrates how much Desler underestimated the Yamato, or perhaps it is better to say he simply couldn’t imagine that a lonely ‘Terran’ ship could possibly outsmart him.
On the character front, we have been introduced to a number of top ranking Gamilas officials, and the various power struggles that are clearly taking place behind closed doors. Norio Wakamoto does a fine turn as Herm Zoellik, a mutton-chopped general who is arrogant, and clearly power hungry. There are other military officials such as Gui Deitz, Heydom Gimleh, Gremto Geer, Velte Talan, and Ghader Talan, all with various position and opposing points of view. As a military hierarchy, this is one with a lot of friction between factions, and various different competing divisions and groups. There is a budding relationship between Yuria Misaki, and Toru Hoshina, and Niimi Kaoru has finally made her feelings clear, showing that she is still very much part of the Izumo Plan, even if she is currently working on the Yamato plan. My final thoughts are on the sad death of Vuelke Shulz, who, in order to regain his honour and achieve first-class Gamilas status went along with Desler’s little game, and ultimately paid for it with his life. Even with the fascist symbolism, and a dictatorial Desler, there are still little human touches that suggest Gamilans are hardly evil.