Space Battleship Yamato (Uchuu Senkan Yamato) Episode 13: Kodai’s Horrible Childhood Makes Us Feel Bad

Episode 13: “Hurry, Yamato! Earth is Suffering!”

(Episode 12 review is here. )

That’s impossible! There’s no way a human could be so cruel!

So after an opening montage reminding us that Earth is about to die and WOULD YOU KINDLY HURRY THE HELL UP YAMATO? …the episode cuts to Desslar in a hotspring. (Yup.)

Admiral Domel, a Gamilon general, returns home in triumph to the kind of chanting that usually greets Desslar, and drives in an odd conveyance toward a stairwell leading into one of the most ridiculously vaginal corridors since the Utena movie turned everyone into cars. Which our favorite blue-skinned pre-Char walks out of…  Uh, US version? You definitely got it wrong, Desslar clearly gets ALL the ladies. While pinning a medal on the curiously blank-faced Domel, Desslar comments that he’s just been teasing the Yamato, and Domel offers to take a crack at the ship. “I’ll have to pin another medal on you, but you can do it during your vacation,” Desslar smiles. This is about how serious the Gamilas think this whole situation is.

Kodai’s out on manuevers with some of the Black Tigers and notices an unidentified object and calls it out, but Kato snarks at him. “That doesn’t tell me anything!” “I know!” Kodai scolds Kato a little about not repeating his jargon, and about not obeying orders during the fight itself; hm, starting to notice a theme about Respect The Chain of Command here, or maybe it’s just The Nail That Sticks Up Gets Pounded Down. Some Gamilas fighters show up (with helmets that put to shame the Kamina Glasses) and the Yamato fighters engage. They manage to blow out an engine of one of the Gamilas fighters, so they move in to capture the ship.

An impromptu party breaks out in the hanger bay – “Now we’ll learn the secrets of Gamilas!” Suspect Sado’s ‘spring water’ may be involved. Soundtrack, using disco music as the crew gape at the captured alien pilot (who is wheeled around the halls like a cake under a particularly large glass) does not really create a mood of tension or drama. Seriously. It’s like all of a sudden it’s Bikini Party Summer onboard. But really, everyone’s just super excited and curious about the enemy. Speculation is flying wildly: they’re intelligent so they must have big heads! Isn’t it weird for a veterinarian to be looking at the specimen? But aren’t the Gamilas monsters? (Oh, Yuki.)

Oh God, Sado has a “strip the patient and replace their clothes with striped boxers” machine! This, in the hands of a drunk, doesn’t inspire confidence. Kodai has a complete freak out, realizing that the Gamilas classify human to the ninth decimal, and grabs a knife from somewhere (okay) and charges down to the operating room to stab the poor bastard. While everyone is still looking from upstairs and is yelling at him to stop, mind you.

Of course, this is the perfect time for a flashback! We cut away to a long sequence about Kodai’s childhood, his brother returning from initial tour of duty, and an old man doing a traditional dance. Kodai is really not coming off well this episode so far- something of an attention whore and more than a little selfish, too. The flashback isn’t peaceful for long; overnight, Japan gets hit by a Gamilas meteor bomb and things go very much to hell. Mt. Fuji erupts (yikes!), and cities around the world are destroyed by Gamilan bombs.

For the moment, Kodai’s prefecture is still green, but you know it can’t last; Kodai’s parents are arranging to move into the underground city, but Kodai is resentful and confused. He brushes off his brother’s suggestion to join the defense forces; he’s a pacifist and hates fighting! (Says the guy currently holding a knife to the throat of a prisoner of war in real time.) A nasty mood of panic as people scurry into the underground cities.

Death is unfair, abrupt and cruel: Yamato pulls no punches.

Some heartbreaking dialogue here from Kodai’s mom and dad – they got engaged under that tree over there; how they wish the scenery would never change. We know it will, and unfortunately, it does; a meteor bomb lands directly on the couple, and the whole area is obliterated. Cue a grueling sequence invoking the raw terror of the A-bomb. (From the Japanese audience perspective, it’s been less than 30 years since Hiroshima as of the original air date of this episode; the cultural wound is still just barely healed.) Corpses litter Yokohama station, and young Kodai awakens to hysterical screaming. After dragging himself out of the overturned bus, he wanders toward home, through ruins lit in ugly red with a mushroom cloud lingering in the sky above.  It’s getting very Barefoot Gen in here. Somehow a scrap of his mother’s dress survived and he recognizes it. He collapses over it, weeping. The tree where his parents were engaged is reduced to a jagged stump beside him, and the rest of the landscape is obliterated beyond recognition.

Back to real time, Analyzer and Sado are trying to pull Kodai off the Gamilan. Struggling with his bitterness, he drops the knife. But the captured pilot has his own plans for the weapon, and with a shriek of “Long Live Lord Desslar!” he attempts to slit his own throat. Kodai stops him, calls him an idiot, and Okita Slaps him around a few times, weeping.

“If you’re human, you should value life!” They stare at each other, and both of them cry. They don’t hug.

After a few days they let the soldier go – he really doesn’t know anything and they can’t spare the food to keep him around. (However, Okita tells Kodai to give him some before he leaves anyway.) A tentative smile is shared between the two before the Gamilan climbs back into his ship. The Gamilan, whose name we never learn, flies away peacefully, and the Yamato soldiers on.

The Earth will be dead in 305 days.