Space Battleship Yamato (Uchuu Senkan Yamato) Episode 19: Ground Control to Major Aihara

Episode 19: “Homeland in Space! Mother Sheds Tears for Your Sake”

(Episode 18 review is here.)

“Is this ship full of a bunch of demons?!”

I can’t deny it, you guys: this show is turning out to be WAY WEIRDER than I remembered or imagined. That isn’t at all a bad thing – God knows we don’t have enough quirky television with quirky characters these days – but it’s definitely making me rethink my initial kill-it-with-fire reaction to 2199. I may have to look at those episodes again once this runthrough of the original series is finished.

So last week we learned that Sanada Is a Banzai Wackmobile Cyborg Who Hates Science. We’ve also learned that Analyzer lusts to cyber with Yuki, that Okita hasn’t the heart for the job, and that Kodai is Kind Of An Ass. Who comes under the magnifying glass this week? Let’s watch episode 19!

Cripes, the Yamato STILL isn’t at Balan yet! It’s been like 6 episodes! The show’s half over!

A depressed looking Aihara is heading toward medical, to get a checkup. (oh my god where did his teeth go when he opens his mouth he has no teeth aaaaah) Turns out he’s emotionally and physically exhausted – and no kidding, the stress of the journey is probably taking all sorts of weird tolls on the crew. Sado gives him a “prescription” to go see Yuki and get therapy in the ‘image room’, which is bringing up all kinds of Soylent Green thoughts in my head. After all, what -are- they using for meat on the Yamato at this point, hmmmmm? Sado remarks, “If only he drank sake like I do.” Yeah, getting drunk sounds like a completely reasonable response at this point, actually.

The Image Room turns out to be a holodeck. Yuki programs it to show images of Aihara’s home town – before it got blown to crap by the Gamilas, of course – and play his favorite musician. Aihara sees various images of a snowy village and then sees his mother taking wood to the family cabin. Forgetting that it’s all a hologram, Aihara approaches her. But when he can’t touch her, he falls to his knees, screaming, “Fake, fake!”

Meanwhile, Sado is helping Okita through the hall, and Kodai and Shima have some expository dialogue about how impressive it is that the Yamato has been able to reestablish communications with Earth (okay) at 70,000 light years distance.

Earth asks for a status update, and some math happens, in which Okita explains the Yamato warps twice a day, every eight hours, and covers about 1200 light years each time they do so. Well, nice to finally have that answered. Apparently we are seeing the ship mostly during periods they are not in warp. Okita goes on to explain the ship is 51 days off schedule. Finally, some good news: With the Pluto base destroyed, Earth is no longer taking a pounding from Gamilas meteor bombs. After a quick round of reassurances Earth and Yamato break contact, but Aihara has his own comment: “That’s a load of bull!” Good thing the transmission was already over, man. He’s losing it bad, arguing with Okita and sweating and gasping. Then he just passes out cold at Okita’s feet!

The main characters get invited to the Captain’s Table – quite literally – as Okita says he is feeling better and wanted to reward his brave officers for keeping the ship on track. Aihara can’t attend, due to being given a sedative by Sado and put to bed in his room. Shima is full of concerns and questions – will they get to Iskandar? Will they get the Cosmo DNA? I’m like, guys, it’s only been a couple of episodes since Starsha saved your butts in the Adventure of the Wibbly Wobbly Swirly Thing, did you forget already? Honestly. Shima says that Aihara’s outburst really spoke for the doubts of the entire crew.

Okita slaps some Captain’s Wisdom on them, noting the psychological battle is as or more important than the physical battles.

Aihara wakes up and heads out to take over at the communication console – why do I have a feeling this isn’t going to go well at all?

Uhm, okay. He calls his mom. Who apparently has a viewphone and can connect to the Yamato (okay). He notes she ‘has a special transmitter he made, so nobody should know’. How long has he been hoarding the direct link, man? Share with the rest of the class! He talks to his mom about how his dad’s doing – we see him in the background in bed, with a bandaged head. But there’s bad news! He’s not doing well at all. Dramatic music sting and swap to commercial!

To mangle a line from Babylon 5, this is the kind of episode that can only end in a gunshot, isn’t it?

Your circuit’s dead; is something wrong?

Meanwhile, cut to the red Earth. Japan is still burning, barely recognizable apart from the rest of the ground with the seas boiled away. Adults (above ground?! or below, it’s not too clear) are rioting – one guy is literally shaking his cane at the world – and getting sprayed with water hoses by tanks. Meanwhile, there’s an actual fire burning a few stories above them. Maybe get on putting that out before it fills the whole underground with carbon monoxide, you guys?

We see Aihara’s dad in bed next to a window. Aihara’s mom notes they are running out of food and riots are widespread daily occurrences now. Aihara’s dad got involved in one of the riots and was badly injured. And uhm, ow. He dies while they are talking, after getting one last chance to look at his son. Yikes. Aihara suddenly realizes that Kodai is standing there watching the whole thing from the hallway.

“What’s so wrong about worrying about my family?” asks a tearful Aihara. “Can you ignore the death of a family member?” Well, Kodai HAS no family left, and we already know he can’t sleep nights from nightmares about Gamilas bombs dropping on his mom’s head, so don’t expect any sympathy from him, mister! Kodai says he’ll report these unauthorized calls to the Captain. Aihara knocks him over and runs off! He runs to the bridge and tries to convince Shima to turn the ship around. Shima just gives him a Look. Weeping, Aihara shrieks that his father just died, and his mom will die too! He wails when he’s told they won’t turn around and runs some more.

Uh-oh, the tragedy theme music just started, and Aihara’s down in the fighter bay now…

I’m floating in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today

Unexpectedly, just as Kodai and Shima are about to show up after him, Yuki shows up in a negligee on the bridge – which naturally startles them out of their wits – and says that she saw Aihara outside the ship.
We see that he’s cast himself adrift with nothing but a helmet! Holy crap, you guys. I’m -suspecting- that Kodai’s gonna go get him in a fighter, but you really never know with this series…

Geez, he’s COMPLETELY lost it and apparently is attempting to swim back home. And that APPEARS to be the last we’re gonna ever see of him, because we’re 17 minutes in out of 24 and the episode just jumped to the Gamilas base on Balan. Holy crap, you guys.

Appropos of nothing, Domel is chilling by a very 70’s fireplace feeding some strange alien bird perched on his gloved fist, which he says he found in the Ruby System. A Gamilas drone (robot? clone? Empty-eyed, whatever it is, but also blue skinned) asks Domel if he has a plan to deal with the Yamato – of course, Domel is counting on the Yamato’s ignorance of the fact that Balan is a Gamilas base. The weird bird flaps over and lands on the drone/clone/robot/whatever’s head.

Aaahha, okay, get this. Domel is taking credit for reestablishing communications between the Yamato and Earth, just for the purposes of demoralizing their crew by showing them how bad things on Earth have gotten. But, uhm, the only people communicating directly with Earth were Okita, that one time, and the Comm officer who just threw himself off the ship. So I don’t think your clever plan worked QUITE the way you intended, Domel. Though, I guess having a command-level officer commit suicide-by-spacing would sort of count, as of where we left things only Yuki, Kodai and Shima knew that directly. Anyway, Domel says he positioned a relay probe -behind- the Yamato’s position (okay) to piggy back a signal.

Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do…

Yamato hits the brakes and the Black Tigers launch to try and find Aihara. He’s still out there, drifting feebly, and now apparently hallucinating on top of it…and then he bumps into the Gamilas relay satellite. LITERALLY bumps into it. Headfirst. Somehow, realizing that the Gamilas set up a trap snaps him out of his daze. He realizes that he fell for their plan, and that “Gamilas is the one who killed my father!” Uhm, actually, it was humans but we’ll overlook that for now, right? Aihara’s having a Moment here.

He kind of freaks out when he realizes what he’s done – again – and falls to his knees on the satellite (okay) and freaks out some more about being left behind. But Kodai spots him, of course. Then it’s just a matter of blowing up the relay and getting back on with life. Kodai lets Aihara be the one to blow it up. Aihara wonders if the others will forgive him for causing a ruckus,but Kodai reassures him that they will, because that’s what friends do: an uncanny moment of maturity there from mister Founding Member of Yamato Fight Club.

255 days until humanity’s circuits are dead!