“Our plan depends on eliminating their carrier planes before the actual battle begins. That’s what I want the Star Force to do: find the carrier fleet and destroy its powerful fighter planes. I’ve thought carefully about giving you this responsibility, but you and the Star Force learned well from Captain Avatar. I am sure he would approve of my decision.” – Captain Gideon
When Monday rolled around, the storyline in STAR BLAZERS moved into its final phase, with the first part of the largest combat engagement that would be mounted within the series. These full scale battles outdid anything that was then available in the world of movies or television in terms of size–and while, being animated, they weren’t quite as visceral as the battles in, say, STAR WARS, they more than made up for it by being larger and grander than those spectacles.
As the episode opens, the President of Earth has arrived at Defense headquarters to receive a briefing and to monitor the battle to come in real time. The Earth Commander tells him that Captain Gideon expects to encounter the enemy fleet in the Saturn area tomorrow morning. And at the Earth base on Titan, Captain Gideon is conducting his own briefing with the captains of the assorted Earth ships, laying out their strategy for the coming battle. He says that he’s got a plan to ensure that the Comet Empire fleet comes in their direction, and he asks Wildstar to meet with him privately as the briefing breaks up.
In Captain Gideon’s quarters, he gives Wildstar a rundown of the mission he wants the Star Force to undertake in the coming conflict. STAR BLAZERS makes a bit of a hash of what’s going on, as it trades precision in its translations for color and personality, but the gist of things is this: the Comet Empire fleet is split into two task forces. The lead force is made up of their carriers and capital ships, while in the rear is a large carrier fleet from which they’ll launch long-range fighter planes. Captain Gideon realizes that if the carrier fleet forces strike first, they’ll decimate the Earth fleet before the main battle can begin. So he wants Wildstar and the Star Force to head up the Earth’s carrier fleet, seek out the enemy carriers, and then destroy them in a surprise attack. There’s a parallel to Pearl Harbor here that isn’t lost even in STAR BLAZERS.
So the Star Force takes off at the head of the carrier fleet with the intention of flanking the enemy and attacking them from the side. Wildstar dispatches Conroy and Hardy and the Black Tigers to seek out the enemy fleet, and Sandor sorties out wit IQ-9 as well. But in order to avoid detection by the enemy, the search needs to be conducted by sight alone–they can’t use radar or any communications equipment for fear of alerting the Comet Empire forces to their presence.
It’s a tedious process as the pressure mounts. “If we find anything…”, mutters Hardy, “…we’re gonna have to stumble over it.“Sandor increases the radius of his search pattern, ranging as far out as Phoebus, Saturn’s furthest satellite. And just when he’s about to become discouraged, IQ-9 detects a communication on his antennae. Following the source, Sandor’s plane crests the moon, and there is the enemy spread out before them.
Having located the enemy, Wildstar orders Conroy and Hardy to converge on Sandor’s location and begin their attack. In the meantime, the Earth carrier fleet launches its torpedo planes, and Wildstar sorties out in his own fighter to lead them to the attack. For some strange reason, STAR BLAZERS indicates that the Comet Empire planes that are preparing to launch are doing so as part of practice maneuvers rather than to strike against the Earth Fleet, which makes the rout that follows even worse–in the original YAMATO 2, they’re about to strike out against the fleet gathered at Titan.
Comet Empire carrier fleet commander Manik seems like a quiet, understated man, and he’s woefully unprepared when the Black Tiger planes begin to bear down on his fleet. The whole operation goes like clockwork, and the Comet Empire is barely able to get a single fighter plane into the air, as carrier after carrier is wiped out by the surprise attack. Sheepishly, Manik contacts General Bleek to tell him about the situation and ask for orders, and Bleek just tells him that he’s not going to lose their first battle with the Earth forces.
Sandor arrives back on the bridge, where he’s congratulated for his good work in hunting down the enemy. But he says their job isn’t done yet–they still need to get the flagship. On that ship, in a scene cut from STAR BLAZERS, General Manik, witnessing his decimated, burning fleet, takes out his sidearm and shoots himself, committing suicide to atone for his blunder.
At this point, the Argo and the rest of the Earth carrier fleet arrives, and Dash begins to bombard the remaining carriers, reducing them to ruin. At Titan, the Andromeda receives a message from the Star Force: “At 1300 Hours, the Star Force defeated the Comet Empire’s carrier fleet. The enemy’s remaining force is headed for Saturn.” Captain Gideon cracks a rare smile. “We are ready!“
The Earth fleet is now able to detect the incoming Comet Empire fleet on radar, and Captain Gideon orders his forces to prepare for battle. General Bleek is momentarily taken aback by the loss of his air support, but he remains confident of victory–after all, they’ve got a secret weapon, the Magna-Flame Gun. He increases his speed towards Saturn.
On Earth, the Defense Council is overjoyed at the report of a victory. But it’s not all good news–long-range scans indicate that the Comet Empire itself has now entered Earth’s solar system. Back at the Argo, the Star Force receives a message from the Andromeda: “My congratulations to you all on a job well done. Return at once to our base. There is more work for the Star Force.” At the forefront of the carrier fleet, the Star Force heads for base. But they’ll arrive after the General leek fleet makes contact with captain Gideon’s forces. And inexorably, the Comet Empire is drawing ever closer to Earth. Tomorrow’s conflict would tell the tale.