Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199 – Episode Fifteen – Point of No Return
April 9, 2016 Leave a comment
This episode spends a lot of time setting up other plot points, often linking them with previous scenes, comments, and other little moments that have hinted at a more complicated galactic picture than we otherwise may have believed. While there is also a brilliantly choreographed space battle, with the Yamato barely surviving against and overwhelming force that looks set to utterly obliterate earths last hope, it is merely the background for nefarious schemes on both sides. Over the course of the series so far it has become increasingly obvious that the Yamato’s position is far from stable, not because of the ever present threat of Gamilas attack, but because of a number of crew members who clearly have ulterior motives. Similarly, the situation on Gamilas is far from stable; despite Desler’s apparently iron grip on the reins of power, there are those who are less than pleased with his leadership, and approach to the conquest of other worlds. So, as with a swan, while the Yamato and Gamilas may appear somewhat serene on the surface, underneath there is a furious amount of activity.
Of course, Gamilas has never been presented as the most peaceful of worlds, with Desler ruling his empire with an iron fist, and allowing his generals to wipe out those who would defy him. As a state, the symbolism used in its depiction draws parallels with historical fascist or totalitarian states. On the surface an image of a unified people, all working together for the greater glory of the nation is portrayed, and yet, underneath there are schemes, plans, and disquiet, all kept at bay out of fear of the consequences should they be discovered. We have already seen Domel, Ditz, and other high ranking military officials talking about the change that has come over Gamilas, suggesting a brighter, perhaps even freer time before the crowning of Desler. As they drive there are ships ferrying away prisoners, political dissenters who have been arrested by the secret police, ready to be transported to a mining colony. In this we see parallels with labour camps and the gulags, places for those who disagree to be sent so that they can no longer cause any trouble, and likely to die due to hard work and abuse by the guards. During this scene we see another side to Gamilas, the darker, oppressive nature of the empire on its own citizens, and the disquiet amongst a number of its most powerful and decorated generals. And yet, they cannot air those grievances and opinions as they may well end up in those same labour camps, regardless of their position and apparent power.
There have also been numerous episodes involving Gemto Goer, that weasly little General who is always hiding behind others, and hoping to claim the glory of defeating the Yamato, but without the brains to come up with his own plan. Significantly however, he is exceptionally ambitious, and appears to be working with Herm Zoellik, an arrogant individual with ambition, and of the opinion that all those who are not true Gamillans are less than human (akin to a racial supremacist). Their scheming appears to have come to ahead in this episode when Desler’s ship unexpected blows up as he is on his way to inspect Domel’s troops. Now, given his central importance to the story, especially as somebody with a deep connection to Iscander, it is hard to believe that Desler has truly died. This is doubly true given his clear intelligence, and ability to out think his opponents, suggesting that he may well have known of the plot, and faked his death in order to gain the tactical advantage and flush out those who would openly oppose him. But, this scene, coupled with previous scenes, and comments involving Zoellik and Goer reinforce the volatile nature of Gamilas society and politics, while further demonstrating the results of political and social repression on a society. Although in this case it is far from a revolution of the proletariat, and instead a coup led by those who believe in the old aristocracy and social segregation before the rise of Desler. Of course, such a coup comes at the most opportune of moments for the Yamato, saving it from certain destruction at the hands of Domel.
On a similar note, all is not well on the Yamato, and a plot that has its origins on earth is about to be realised. We have already been told about details regarding an original plan to abandon earth and colonise a new planet, a plan that has since been abandoned in favour of the Yamato plan. On the surface its not hard to see why such a plan would be appealing to certain groups, as the earth slowly dies, the thought of a new planet, and of starting afresh must be very tempting. In many respects this seems very similar to Macross, with numerous fleets travelling across the galaxy to colonise new world and spread the human race far from earth. And yet, it would likely only involve those considered the ‘bravest and brightest’, thus condemning anybody not considered suitable for such a plan to a slow death deep beneath the earths crust, as the remnants of humanity sail for the stars. It would be a deeply selfish plan, but one that many may consider a guaranteed success, so its dismissal in favour of the Yamato plan, one that appears to be far riskier, and less likely to succeed would certainly ruffle a few feathers to say the least. We already know that Niimi was part of that plan, and her conversation with Kotetsu Serizawa reinforces her position as an integral part of the plan. Furthermore, she has already attempted to lobby Okita to allow her, and others to survey possible inhabitable worlds, suggesting that creating a new colony offers a better chance of survival than crossing half the galaxy to a world that may not even exist.
Whereas the schemes on Gamillas are mere hints, shadows of a darker, fractured society that has been made to work for the vision of Desler, the schemes on board the Yamato have become increasingly open to the viewer. The introduction of Shinya Itou, the particularly slimy, and manipulative head of Yamato’s security division, coupled with Niimi’s manipulation of various crew members’ feelings and insecurities (particularly Daisuke Shima, who, as the Chief Navigator holds considerable power on board the Yamato) suggests a plan nearing completion. Itou also hints at Yuki Mori’s true nature, suggesting that she may well be an alien in disguise, thus providing an excellent excuse for his actions, as he can claim to be saving the Yamato from destruction at the hands of a manipulative alien. Itou also represents the only individual on the Yamato with the ability to stage a coup; as the head of security, he has at his disposal a number of well armed men who appear willing to follow his orders. In fact, Domel’s attack and sudden retreat provide these individuals with the perfect opportunity to stage their coup, with the heavily damaged Yamato forced to make a landing on Beemela, an earth-like planet that offers these characters the possibility of carrying out the Izumo plan to resettle the human race. Although, given the manipulative nature of Itou, it seems highly likely that he would just take control himself and ignore either plan.
The episode title, Point of No Return seems rather apt for a number of reasons. For both Gamilas and the Yamato, individual characters have reached such a point, and can no longer change the course of actions and their subsequent reactions that are to come. They must follow through with their attempted coups, regardless of the consequences. Similarly, the Yamato has arguably arrived at a point of no return, to turn around would mean certain destruction, and it would take longer to return to earth than continue towards Iscander From here on out characters must follow through with their actions and press ahead, regardless of what obstacles are in their path.