Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199 – Episode Nineteen – They’re Coming
May 7, 2016 Leave a comment
Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199 has always done an excellent job of detailing some of the minutia of everyday life aboard a battleship. Many episodes have scenes showing apparently incidental little actions that ultimately help to create a a thoughtful, and fully realised representation of the characters and their lives in space. Furthermore, it is a series that revels in the stark beauty of the universe, coupled with its absolute loneliness. The Yamato is alone, it cannot rely on outside help, and certainly cannot turn back, so it must press on regardless of the risk. In many ways the series deals with similar themes found in WWII naval films, which shouldn’t be surprising given Leiji Matsumoto’s interest in the period. Films such as The Enemy Below (1957), Run Silent, Run Deep (1956), and They Were Expendable (1945) all deal with military vessels in isolation, without the help of a large fleet, caught in a deadly game of cat and mouse with their opponents. Yes, they are also American propaganda, created to show the brilliance of America and its ability to singlehandedly save the world during its moment of utter crisis, but in the process they deal with the problems, and necessities of a military ship in isolation.
The Yamato has to be successful, to fail would be too doom the Earth to utter destruction, but to do so they must come to trust their captain, and their ability to stave off whatever the enemy throws at them. As the Yamato grows ever closer to their destination, so the danger they face only increases, and even with the majority of Gamilas’ fleet trapped three months’ journey from their position, they cannot afford a moments rest. It’s fascinating watching the tactical minds of Okita and Domel work – they may be on opposite sides, but they are equal as captains. On the one hand you have a captain and a single, but powerful ship, on the other a commander who has to rely on old ships, and untested crew, and both have their own reasons to fight. It is a nice touch showing both commanders making their preparations as they look at pictures of their long since destroyed families. Both have been scared by warfare in one form or another, but both choose to do their duty – an interesting little flourish that simultaneously demonstrates the damage war causes, while also helping to further emphasise the similarities between humans and Gamillans. In Domel and his soldiers we are finally presented with a true image of Gamilas, and the realities of living as part of an authoritarian society. They are not evil, and perhaps joined the military as it represented the only option for them – this image is then juxtaposed with the secret police and the rein of terror that they are creating within the capital by rounding up anybody they suspect of opposing Desler’s rule.
Another overarching theme that was touched upon during this episode is the matter of trust, and whether humans, and the Yamato can be trusted with the technology and knowledge of Iscander. As Yurisha (in the body of Yuria) mentions, the Wave Motion Canon is a weapon of mass destruction, and has been created with power that was meant for another purpose. In many respects the Yamato and its immense destructive power reinforce humanities willingness to turn something that could potentially benefit everybody into a deadly weapon. While Okita responds that it was merely for defence, it is easy to see why there are so many uncertainties surrounding the Yamato and her crew. Perhaps as Okita mentions, their journey is a test to see of humanity is worthy of Iscander’s power, with Yurisha acting as the eyes and ears of her sister, observing the Yamato’s moves, and determining if they are truly worthy of her help.