Space Battleship Yamato (Uchuu Senkan Yamato) Episode 20: Desu-desu-lar Ex Machina

Episode 20: “The Day the Sun Falls onto Planet Balan!”

Episode 19 review is here.
Memorable line: “Cheap human compassion can be easily manipulated.” – Admiral Domel

Man, I hope this isn’t another filler episode. THE SHOW HAS SEVEN EPS TO GO AND WE’RE NOT EVEN AT THE HALF WAY POINT TO ISKANDAR. Seriously. I understand CPF’s Star Dipwads theme much better now.

Hurray, they’re finally on approach! Kodai and Analyzer, riding in an unusual white fighter plane that has a side-by-side seating configuration instead of the usual stacked seating, approach Balan and take some initial readings. Analyzer, failing to be creepy at this moment, notes that the “sun” of the planet is an artificially orbiting satellite.

The Yamato’s bridge crew is generally looking good-spirited – lots of smiles – and probably relieved to actually have hit the halfway beacon, but as usual Okita is glum and thoughtful (or asleep). They’re all awaiting Kodai’s report.

The recon group skims around Balan some more, noting the dark red/brown skies and weird orb-like plants. Kodai and Kato spot the Gamilas base in a crater and call its position in. As they fly over the base, a curiously weak counteroffensive of short-range bombs and artillery is launched at them, but they dodge with ease and continue on their way.

dem bones, dem bones, dem sad bones

Next, they spot a canyon full of skeletons of some kind of beast – wonder if these are the leftovers from the Yamato blowing up Gale’s drunkenly generated paranodon gattai? That would be gruesome, but a nice continuity touch. And yup, Analyzer notes that’s exactly what they are. Poor Paranodons, innocently caught up in the big space war. Kodai’s creeped out by the bones, and is more than willing to flee the area as the Yamato issues recall orders.

Kato, however, chooses to stay behind and, oh, dogfight with the 10-15 Gamilas fighters that just magically appeared out of nowhere. Thanks, animation directors, you could have clarified that was happening. I was wondering why it was taking the Gamilas so long to respond to the incursion. Some awkward space battle happens, with a lot of dropped keyframes and glitchy turns as Kato takes on the ships. Kodai and Analyzer swap seats – presumably so Kodai can get at his ship’s weapon controls, but Analyzer flips them over and starts them back toward the Yamato. See, this is why you don’t let the creeper drive, Kodai.

We leave Kato singlehandedly taking on the Gamilas to show Kodai returning to the Yamato. And seriously, who directed this episode? Nonsequitur shots and bad cuts everywhere. Normally I tend to give Yamato’s animation a big pass because of its advanced age, but previous episodes haven’t been this clunkily shot, either. The only times I’ve really been bothered by animation flaws in this show is when they are really, really blatant – like episode 17 reusing the same shot seven times in a row.

Anyway, Kodai’s back on the ship, and rushes to the bridge to urge that they go blow up that Gamilas base – but his reasoning is pretty weird: “The indigenous Paranodons were massacred!” He’s mortally offended by the demise of the poor critters. Fair enough, but you guys didn’t exactly HELP with that, did you?

Soooo we’re gonna fire up the Wave Motion Gun and call it a day, right? Right? NOPE. Shima argues they’ve already wasted enough time and should get a move on. And geez, who cares about a bunch of silly alien dinosaurs anyway? Well, apparently Okita does, because he agrees with Kodai – they’re gonna blow it up “for the sake of the deceased” (okay). While they argue about this, Kato’s ship limps back to the Yamato, spinning wildly and trailing smoke across several lightyears. Yeaaaah.

Domel has relocated the bulk of his forces around the corner from Balan – maybe that’s why the attack from the base was so weak; probably just automatic defenses. The flagship visibly wobbles as we pan in to find Domel calm and Gale pacing. Domel’s playing psy-ops on the Yamato again, saying that he ‘showed them’ the dead Paranodons to make them feel guilty. I’m pretty sure those poor skeletons just kinda landed where they fell, guys.

Oh man Domel just invented the Colony Drop! (Okay, that’s TWO Mobile Suit Gundam owes Yamato now. And yes, I know about 1966’s  The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, so shush.)  He’s convinced that the Yamato will focus on the base, and while doing so, they can decay the artificial sun’s orbit and drop it on the planet, squishing them in the middle.

But Kodai’s kind of onto this; as the Yamato preps for battle he tells Ohta to ‘keep an eye on that sun’, though he won’t explain why in the heat of the moment. The Yamato’s soon busy shooting randomly at a bunch of Gamilas missiles. Domel activates the artificial sun and it drops out of orbit. For some reason, the fact that it’s artificial is a surprise to everyone on the bridge crew- guess Kodai left that out of his initial report? He’s sure they can destroy it with the WMG, but Sanada argues that they would have to turn the ship around, which would take time and leave them open to the next wave of missiles. Okita settles it and goes with Kodai’s call again, telling them to get the WMG ready. Unfortunately, it’ll take them ten seconds more than they have to get the ship into the right position…

Gale reacts to something we can’t see while Domel rants about how victory is assured, and Gale runs like hell. I assume he’s planning to hop a ship and bail the hell out of the system, a decision I would quite encourage at this point. Meanwhile, the Yamato sweats its situation. Apparently they can’t just full-tilt blast backward and let the artificial sun slide by, so they try a couple more manuevers but are still short of time. Kodai gasps, “Is this the end of the Yamato?!” and I start giggling and thinking about Kabuto Kouji. Okita chooses the moment to have heart palpitations.

Troll: Successful.

Unexpectedly, Gale pops up behind Domel again and informs him Desslar’s on the phone. Uh-oh, I think someone snitched to the principa~l! Domel picks up a hairdryer and gets a message: Desslar is Not Happy about Domel’s plan to blow up the base just to get that worthless Yamato. He promptly orders him to Knock That Shit Off, then disconnects. The look on Domel’s face is priceless. All hail Lord Desu-desu-lar! Your trolling is truly the LULZiest in all the Gamilas Empire. Gale has the nerve to look quizzical when Domel glares at him. That’s what you get for destroying people’s tacky art collections, jerkface.

In any case, it gives the Yamato time enough to right herself and blow up the sun, bringing the current score to Yamato 2, Solar Entities 0. Oh, and tons of debris from the exploding sun rains down onto Balan, flattening the Gamilas base, setting off a nuclear explosion, and presumably killing any of the Paranodon that didn’t already get killed by being part of Gale’s gattai-beast. THANKS A LOT, BRAVE HEROES!

In the aftermath, we then oddly see a science crew from the Yamato on the ground getting samples of the pod-like plants. Uhm, not much use if they’re irradiated, is it? Kodai and Shima wonder why the sun stopped at the last moment. Okita levitates up into his room and tells Kodai to see him in his chambers afterward.

What the what they brought a live Paranodon on board! Kodai and Analyzer both comment on how gentle the creature is, but I bet I know what Kodai’s really thinking: STEAK FOR DINNER SOMETIME SOON. Kodai then goes on to claim that he noticed that the bones of the Paranodon had tiny eye slots, and that he confirmed it when he saw the plant life – they were meant to live in the dark, therefore the sun had to be artificial. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Analyzer TOLD you it was a fake, so I think this ‘I suddenly know important things about biology and zoology’ crap is coming out of a certain “dark place” of yours, Kodai. Most of the crew ain’t buying it either, though; a lot of smirks and comments like “Our chief combat commander is unexpectedly detail oriented!”

Finally, Kodai goes to visit Okita as ordered. Okita says he’s very tired (not a good sign.) Surprise! Okita has decided that Kodai should be acting captain now. So kids, here’s the secret of working your way up the ranks; bullshit about things as if you know what you’re talking about, beat up your future subordinates in macho male-dick-wrangling contests, and approach everything with a shoot-first-ask-questions-after attitude!

253 days remain to the end of the Earth – but since Kodai’s driving now, maybe we can cut that down to 180!

P.S. An afternote from the fansubbers confirms that the scout plane that Analyzer and Kodai took out at beginning of the episode was supposed to have tandem seats. Oops! Also, what happened to Kato?