Star Blazers: Space Battleship Yamato 2199: Episode 4 – “Gravestone on a Frozen Field”

As I have in the previous write-ups, I will be using “aka” designations for the characters so readers who are only familiar with the English names from Star Blazers will be able to follow who I am referring to.

Episode 4 finally starts seeing more noticeable deviation from the original 1970’s Space Battleship Yamato. While the basic plot elements are the same (needing to go to Jupiter’s moon to acquire Cosmonite and discovering an Earth ship on the moon), some of what goes on around those plot elements are very different.

While the Yamato was in need of the Cosmonite in the original series, this version makes it a much more pressing need. Here, a condenser is one the verge of melting since an emergency breaker didn’t activate when they tested the Wave Motion Gun. At one point, we even see some of the melted condenser fall nearby and melting what was there… and nearly hitting two crew members in the process.

Yuki (aka Nova) is noticeably antagonistic towards Susumu (aka Derek Wildstar), so this changes the dynamic of what happens when they go to the crashed ship on Enceladus, one of Jupiter’s moons. Also, since Yuki is no longer the nurse, the new nurse accompanies them, along with Analyzer (aka IQ-9). This new nurse seems to be taking on the comedic relief role that Analyzer had in the original series, since Analyzer is not showing those traits in this version of the story.

In Space Battleship Yamato 2199, Yuki is captured by Gamilans covering their faces while on Enceladus, which I honestly don’t remember from the original series. I think this was done, so Susumu could rescue her and start the process of Yuki warming up to him. Also, Susumu asks a question of Yuki that leads me to believe that my theory about her secret may be correct. While she didn’t actually answer the question and caused Susumu to not pursue it any further, I think this was a “red herring” to try to throw off anyone in the audience who may have suspected something.

This episode also sees the new element of the white-haired girl (whose name I still don’t know) taking off in a plane without authorization. She ultimately helps to save Yuki, Susumu, the nurse, and Analyzer. I suspect that even though she broke regulations, she will likely be promoted to an actual pilot, since she demonstrated just how good her skills are.

It should also be noticed that Commander Shulz contacts Commander Goer, who appears to be higher in command and on the Gamilans’ home planet. In the communication, Goer has blue skin, while Shulz and Ganz do not. Goer makes an interesting comment to Shulz and Ganz: if they can provide a “proper” report for what happened at the floating continent (since he doesn’t believe the Yamato could have warped there and destroyed it), that he will promote them from second-class Gamilans to first-class Gamilans. After hearing that, I have a theory that Shulz and Ganz could potentially be humans who defected to Gamilas. Honestly, that’s the only explanation I have for why Shulz and Ganz look Caucasian while Goer and the Gamilans on the homeworld have blue skin.

At one point in the episode, there’s a big deal made about the OMCS (the machine that provides the food to the crew in the cafeteria). When I saw the machine, I couldn’t help but think of the replicator from Star Trek: The Next Generation. But as part of this, it’s pointed out that Sanada doesn’t eat much from it. His response is that he believes that “consuming unnecessary calories is foolish,” but I think this is supposed to be our first hint that Sanada isn’t quite as “normal” as he may appear. I’m referring to something that was revealed in the original Space Battleship Yamato series, but I don’t want to potentially provide any spoilers if this revelation is still set to happen later in Space Battleship Yamato 2199.

Even though Space Battleship Yamato 2199 is starting to more noticeably diverge from the original series, I appreciate the divergences that are being made. They help make this version feel less like a carbon copy of the original, and the changes make logical sense and help to enhance the original story.

I’m looking forward to seeing how the changes we see here start affecting the telling of the story in future episodes, as well as how they will help to differentiate this reboot from the original series. So far, I’m appreciating how there’s enough here that’s recognizable to the nostalgia audience, yet just different enough to help that same audience see the property through different eyes.

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