“Yes, the children. Many of them had never known how beautiful Earth could be. Now they do. What if they had to come down here and live again? Leave the sun and the sky and the grass and live again like pale ghosts. It could happen again, you know. And it would be our fault.“–Derek Wildstar
This was another strong and emotion-charged episode of STAR BLAZERS, one in which some difficult decisions have to be made. There isn’t a whole lot of outer space action going on yet, which may have been trying for some viewers. But it was really the episodes like this one, that challenged the characters’ beliefs and allowed them to display complex emotions that made the series a favorite of so many. And once again, this is a very nice looking episode, one that draws some of its footage from the SARABA film, although really not that much. (The opening image at the top of this page was originally done for SARABA, for example.)
The episode opens with the Andromeda taking off, in search of what caused the power blackout and the destruction of the Energy Center on Venus. Meanwhile, work on the Argo’s refit is behind schedule. Nova and Venture ask Wildstar about it, and he expresses his determination to find a way to prevent the brass from turning the Argo into a computer-run machine like the Andromeda. They get a call from Sandor, who has completed his analysis of the message they recorded a few days ago. It’s still fragmented, but it warns of a great danger and asks for help. Armed with this information, Wildstar and Sandor approach the Earth Defense Council.
Unfortunately, the fat-cats who make up much of the Council are unconcerned. “Commander, we cant rush around the universe rescuing every damsel in distress! The Star Force is a very chivalrous outfit…” And, of course, Wildstar loses his cool. “May I speak? Have you all forgotten what Starsha of Iscandar did for Earth? Now we have a chance to repay that debt, not to Starsha but to someone else!” In the original YAMATO 2, this is all part of a larger theme, that being the question of Earth having become too self-centered and materialistic despite its recent brush with death. But here as well as in YAMATO 2, Wildstar is shouted down. “That’s enough! You were invited here as an observer! You do not have permission to lecture us!“
In the aftermath of the meeting, Wildstar, Venture and Sandor get together to discuss their options. Sandor reveals to the others that, while they won’t know all of the details until the Andromeda returns, the blackout was definitely caused by the deliberate destruction of the Venus Energy Center. Wildstar’s instincts are telling him that everything that’s happened indicates that a new and powerful enemy is out there in space, coming for Earth, and he proposes that the Star Force reassemble and investigate. Venture is concerned with Wildstar’s reckless plan: “What you’re suggesting is very serious. If we leave without permission, we’ll be outlaws, we could be Court Martialed!” Venture isn’t sure that he can be on board with such a plan.
(A good question here is also how much of Wildstar’s plan is influenced by the fact that taking the Argo and running off to investigate will prevent the ship from being converted into a copy of the Andromeda. It’s never addressed directly, but there’s certainly a strong subtext that this is an influencing factor.)
As Sandor spreads word to the rest of the Star Force about what they plan to do, a pensive Wildstar drives with Nova beyond the boundaries of the city and out to the entrance to the old Underground Cities where a doomed mankind lived while waiting for the end. He doesn’t want to tell her what he’s planning to do (and he hasn’t informed her about the Star Force getting back together) but he still somehow wants her to understand. It’s somehow akin to visiting the ruins of Nagasaki after World War II.
There’s an extended flashback here in YAMATO 2 that gets cut out of STAR BLAZERS, showing the Argo and the Star Force returning to Earth after their voyage to Iscandar. As the ship enters the underground dock and makes its way down to the city miles below, the chanting cheers of a grateful humanity echo around them. Those cheers now seem to echo hollowly through the streets of the now-empty Underground City.
“Nova, I don’t know what the future is, but who does? If you know or feel there is something important you can do to make it better, Don’t you think you should do it?” In a weird, oblique way, Wildstar is asking Nova for permission for what he’s about to do, all while keeping the truth of it from her. She only hesitates for a second or two by telling him that of course you should–and then she runs off into the city for a good cry. “I can’t bear to let him go. But I cant’ ask him to stay!” The third option’s right there staring at you, Nova!
Meanwhile, far out in space, Leader Desslok and his new aide General Talan are at the center of a reunion, as the scattered military machine of the once-powerful Gamilon Empire reunites at its leader’s summons. “Gentlemen, it’s been a long year since last we met. A long and bitter year. I know it’s been as hard for you as it was for me. You’ve had to roam the galaxy, homeless, living as strangers in far places. I’ve had to live with a personal sense of defeat. But now our time has come! Soon, very soon, we shall meet again with the Star Force, the cause of all our misfortune, and we shall be avenged! Gentlemen, the honor of Gamilon, our homeland, is at stake. We are now allied with another great power, the Comet Empire! Together, we can at last defeat the Star Force!” So saying, Desslok orders his forces to set course for Telezart.
Back on Earth, in the dead of night, Wildstar has made his way to the repair bay where the Argo sits, and is surprised as the bridge equipment comes to life as he enters. Sandor and Orion step out of the shadows, indicating that they’ve finished the modifications to the ship and they’re ready to go. “I’ve already put my personal gear on board“, says Orion, “because you can’t fly the Argo without me, and somebody’s got to keep you young fellows in line, now that Captain Avatar’s gone!” In short order, Homer, Dash and Eager arrive–but there is still no sign of Venture.
And the episode wraps up with a few shorter vignettes. In space, Desslok’s fleet approaches the area of Telezart, and he and we get our first glimpse of that mysterious planet, the home of Trelaina. In the Comet Empire, Zordar and his court receive reports of the Empire’s forces establishing a beachhead on Telezart as well as the progress on their Earth invasion plans. Zordar orders the Comet Empire to accelerate towards their target, Earth.
And back aboard the Argo, Doctor Sane and IQ-9 hang a memorial portrait of Captain Avatar above his station on the bridge, so that he can spiritually watch over the young crew. And the narrator tells us as the episode wraps up, “Again the Star Force prepares to protect Earth, this time against an even more powerful enemy, the Comet Empire, now joined by the evil Desslok! And Desslok is sure the Star Force will come to Telezart, and there he will be waiting for them! Will the Star Force fall into his trap? ” We’d know more tomorrow.