Star Blazers: Space Battleship Yamato 2199: Episode 14 – “The Whisper of the Witch”

As I always do, I will be using “aka” designations for the characters, so readers who are only familiar with the characters’ English names from Star Blazers will be able to follow who I am talking about.

This episode sees the space sub being assigned away from following the Yamato, and a non-Gamilan female and her companion being sent to pursue the ship instead.

Meanwhile, Susumu (aka Derek Wildstar) and Yuki (aka Nova), are sent on a recon mission to look for the space sub and to test a prototype hyperspace sonar. After the bridge crew mysteriously sees snow out in space, communication with Susumu and Yuki is cut off. The two of them return to ship, only to find it spinning around. After managing to get on board, they stabilize the ship after they find an abandoned bridge and a deactivated Analyzer.

What follows from here gets really trippy. Susumu and Yuki find themselves experiencing either flashbacks of their own experiences, or experiences of people they know for events they weren’t present for. As the episode goes on, there’s a mysterious woman who keeps showing up. To the audience, it’s obvious she’s somehow manipulating what’s going on, but Susumu and Yuki are so wrapped up in what’s going on that they don’t realize until it’s almost too late. Misaki also has a small role to play during this as well.

After I finished watching this episode, I wondered if this plot may have been inspired by the works of late anime director Satoshi Kon (particularly Perfect Blue and Paprika). It really did feel like the writer and director for this story were trying to aim for something along those lines.

Even though the episode itself was kind of weird and trippy, there was some important backstory information that was revealed for both Susumu and Yuki. And to be honest, I think that was kind of the point of this episode – to bring out this exposition in a way that wouldn’t bog the story down as much as it might have if it had been incorporated into a more “normal” story for these characters.

Another purpose of this episode is to establish the “shipping” of Susumu and Yuki. By the end of this episode, it’s obvious that Yuki likes him but he’s jus too clueless to pick up on it. This will ultimately be a shared experience between the two of them that will enhance their relationship with each other. Obviously, since I’m familiar with the original Space Battleship Yamato, I know what the final outcome of their relationship will be, so what I’m seeing in Susumu and Yuki’s interactions isn’t a surprise to me.

But for this episode, I can honestly say that there is no equivalent to it in the original Space Battleship Yamato. I suspect as we get even further into the series, we may see hints of elements that appeared in the original series, but the stories told between the two series will continue to diverge even more. But that’s not a bad thing. With the new characters and new elements and developments that are included in this reboot, it was a foregone conclusion that the stories would diverge as the series progressed. Even with this unusual episode, I can still say that Star Blazers: Space Battleship Yamato 2199 is a strong reboot. From the preview for the next episode, it looks like we will be returning to the more traditional storytelling that viewers have come to expect from this series.

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