Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199 – Episode Fourteen – The Whisper of the Witch
April 2, 2016 Leave a comment
While a significant proportion of Yamato 2199 focusses on space battles, and the Yamato’s quest to free earth from the grasp of Gamilas, there are a number of particularly interesting episodes that act as moments of reflection. Episode Fourteen is one such moment, a chance for reflection, alongside the knowledge that space is far more complex than anybody on the Yamato initially realise. It starts off as normal, with Kodai and Yuki searching for the space submarine from last episode, further demonstrating that the Yamato is beginning to learn about how technologically advanced Gamilas are (assuming they didn’t already know). This scene serves as a ncie little moment to further emphasise how close the relationship between Kodai and Yuki has become, with the two bickering about who has the power of command, and who should be flying. It is a wonderfully intimate moment, with an element of comedy when we discover that their entire conversation has been broadcast to the Yamato’s bridge, much to their embarrassment.
However, the rest of the episode deals with the deepest wishes of the crew, while also revealing a further layer of complexity to Gamilas society, and space as a whole. Kodai and Yuki return to find the Yamato drifting through space, the crew appearing to have vanished without a trace. This puts me in mind of ghost stories involving ships found drifting, with not a soul on-board, as if the crew had been spirited away by some malign presence. In many respects that is precisely what has happened, and when Kodai and Yuki are separated, they find themselves in a dream world, reliving a version of the past that may seem real, but is clearly a fiction. Kodai finds himself in front of his long-since-dead family, waiting anxiously for the return of his older brother, while Yuki begins to uncover parts of her past, before a car crash and subsequent amnesia. Her’s is an interesting vision, dealing with somebody who at first glance appears to be the long lost princess of Iscander who originally made contact with earth. For his part, Kodai’s vision of his dead family is far from the warm, caring image that we may expect, and the world he sees is one of grey skies and snow.
The use of overlapping imagery is a particularly fascinating aspect of this episode, with Yuki sitting in the cinema and watching Kodai’s family vision, as if it were an old film. Their visions, and imagery attached to them continuously overlap, with shadows, dolls, and ghostly beings flitting between the two, suggesting the existence of a controlling spirit. Furthermore, both of these characters’ visions are far from happy, as they appear partial, even fractured in nature. Yuki sees a vision of her before a car crash, and even appears to see the body of somebody almost identical to her seemingly in a coma. Kodai on the other hand sees his family, and then his brother who talks about the importance of remembering the damage done to earth. It is easy to see why many would succumb to such an attack, they are seeing images from their pasts, of loved ones, and of a time when life was simpler, and earth wasn’t a scarred, radioactive desert. In many ways, what we are presented with in this episode is a mirage in space, something that looks too good to be true, and more often than not, is.
However, if there are those like Kodai and Yuki, who’s visions are not quite as rosy, or as cosy as you might believe them to be, the attack collapses. Kodai’s vision remains powerful, but can hardly be called wonderful, even if he is seeing his dead family again. They are incomplete visions, which goes a long way to explaining why they, among the whole crew, are capable of breaking free from the stranglehold of Mirenel Linke, and eventually freeing the entire crew. Yuki knows that her vision has to be fake, a form of psychological warfare that has been designed to render the Yamato and her crew inoperable. In the case of Kodai, his strong sense of duty, coupled with the powerful feelings of walking the same path as his older brother serve as anchors to reality. The importance of his brother’s harmonic is also once again reaffirmed, as it offers a tangible link with the past, and the reality of the Yamato’s existence. The appearance of Yurisha Iscander (in the body of Yuria Misaki) further helps Kodai and Yuki to take control of the ship, and shock Mirenel Linke by her very existence. Between then, Mirenel and Yurisha point to a more complicated galaxy, full of different races, many with special abilities.
The joy of the Yamato’s crew when they wake up is somewhat tempered by the knowledge that Linke has been killed, leaving Miezela Celestella, Gamilas’ propaganda minister alone, the last surviving member of her species. She may be the enemy, and part of a particularly clever plan to capture the Yamato and her crew largely unharmed, but the knowledge that she is now alone makes for a subdued ending. Domel’s comment that she is descended from the race that build the facility he now controls, alongside the warpgate network adds further depth to Yamato 2199. Despite their advanced technology, it is clear that Gamilas, and by extension Iscander, are younger civilisations, and that they are using technology which they may have little understanding of, to move across the galaxy as they desire. A simple comment that serves to establish the Yamato’s place within the galaxy, and demonstrate that while it may be a phenomenally powerful ship, it is also infinitesimally small when compared to the might of those who have come before. Ultimately this episode also serves to highlight the fragility of the Yamato’s existence – it is but one speck in the vastness of space, and, without the quick thinking of Yuki and Kodai, would have warped into the hands of Domel and his armada.