“After the battle at Pluto, my brother Alex’s ship, The Paladin, crash-landed on Titan. No survivors, sir.” – Derek Wildstar
The second week of STAR BLAZERS in syndication brought the story back down to a very emotional and human level. Its hub is the common tragedy that binds Captain Avatar and the brash Derek Wildstar together–the death of Wildstar’s brother, Alex, during the Battle of Pluto, where Avatar was in command.
Events start out with a recap of the previous episode, and then switch to Pluto, where the beleaguered Colonel Ganz has had to report the Star Force’s annihilation of the Gamilons’ Jupiter base back to command. General Krypt, still looking quite purple-skinned, dresses Ganz down and tells him to get off his ass and wipe out the Earth ship. It’s hard not to feel at least a little bit of sympathy for poor ol’ Ganz, as much of a hard-luck foul-up as he is.
Meanwhile, off in space, for the third episode in a row, the Argo is experiencing engine trouble. You really do need to be careful who you buy a used battleship from–it’s a lemon, fellas! The Energy Transmission Unit has burned itself out, causing the gravity within the ship to begin to do strange things, causing people and even fighter planes to float about. The Unit’s failure was caused by the firing of the Wave-Motion Gun, which seems like a bit of a design flaw. Even worse, the crew needs Titanite in order to effect repairs, and it can only be found on Titan, Saturn’s moon.
So the Argo proceeds to Titan, heedless once again of the relative positions the planets would be at in 2199–they’re described as being right nearby. Wildstar, Nova and IQ-9 are dispatched to collect the Titanite, while Sandor and his crew collect other samples for environmental analysis. But the Gamilons, watching the movement of the Argo, send a patrol ship to investigate.
This episode begins to lay the seeds for the eventual Wildstar/Nova relationship, as it’s the first to put the two characters into proximity for any length of time (and the first to really give Nova much of anything to do.) It also sets up IQ-9′s almost stalkerlike attraction to Nova, a trait that will come back into play in future episodes–though a sequence where IQ cops a feel of Nova’s butt was edited out of STAR BLAZERS.
As the mining mission gets underway, the Gamilon observers work out that the Star Force is gathering Titanite, and so their engine must be in trouble. Ganz orders the Gamilon force to capture Wildstar, Nova and IQ-9, and a pair of tanks is dispatched for this job. One of them is specified to be a “drone tank” so as to get around the question of there being a crew when Wildstar puts it out of action in a few minutes.
And so the episode becomes a game of cat-and-mouse, as the two Gamilon tanks attack the makeshift camp, and Wildstar, Nova and IQ-9 are forced to run for their lives. Wildstar is able to get the drop on the “drone tank”, opening it up and firing into its innards to stop it. He once again muses to himself that it’s just an empty drone tank, the STAR BLAZERS production team perhaps over-correcting just a little bit in wanting to make sure that viewers understand that Wildstar isn’t gunning down people. (In YAMATO, he did exactly that.)
As the other tank is about to flatten Nova, IQ-9 reveals the full capabilities of his robot body, hefting the thing up over his head and throwing it aside. Unfortunately, the tank’s driver is still conscious, and, crawling from the wreckage, he’s able to get the drop on the three Star Force officers. He proceeds to march them at gunpoint back to where the Gamilon landing craft is situated.
And this is where we get to the good stuff in the episode. Frog-marching along, Wildstar spots an Astro Automatic just lying frozen on the ground. He makes a move for it, the Gamilon’s shot is too slow, and Wildstar’s return shot causes an ice slide that completely covers him. In actuality, of course, in YAMATO Wildstar shots the guy dead on, but that was way too violent for a cartoon in the late 1970s. Still, it’s somewhat amazing that they specify that the Gamilon has been buried alive, which somehow seems crueler.
With the immediate danger passed, Wildstar takes a closer look at the weapon that he found, and is shocked to discover that it is the personal firearm of his dead brother, Alex. (Mamoru Kodai’s name is inscribed on the handle, a detail tat STAR BLAZERS can call no attention to.) And, taking a closer look at the ice cliffs that surround them, he is stunned to discover the wreck of his brother’s ship, the Paladin, frozen in the ice.
It’s a very sad scene, as Wildstar flashes back to the final moments of that battle we experienced a week ago, and calls out his brother’s name to the empty terrain. But there is no answer, and it is a sad and somber trio which makes its way back to the Argo, Titanite acquired.
As the episode reaches its final moments, Wildstar reports to Captain Avatar in the old man’s personal quarters atop the ship, and they share a melancholy moment together as Wildstar stares at his brother’s gun–a weapon that has saved his life from beyond the grave–and sadly reports that the Paladin had no survivors. “He survives in you, and in the Star Force” is Avatar’s grave reply.
And the episode closes out with a wonderful forward fly-by of the Argo, with Captain Avatar silently staring out the top observation port. It was one of the sequences used in the STAR BLAZERS closing credits, so it became somewhat iconic, at least to American audiences.