STAR BLAZERS: Space Battleship Yamato 2205: A New Voyage: Stasha

Now that it’s been released on home media, I finally got the opportunity to watch the second of the two new SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO 2205 films, which was actually four episodes. And I’m afraid that I have to report that the back half of 2205 wasn’t quite as strong or solid as the first portion, TAKE OFF. Where that chunk of episodes focused heavily on character–in particular, that of the new Yamato crewmen who have come on board for this new mission–STASHA instead spends too much of its time in explaining more of the central mythology the production team has put together for this new iteration of the YAMATO saga. They’ve been very good about building a “unified field theory” out of the disparate pieces left by the original saga that were developed independent of one another over a period of about a decade. But that can be a double-edged sword–the third of these four episodes was devoted almost entirely to cultural backstory, and it ground the story to a herky-jerk halt, at least for me.

It also needs to be said that, apart from the opening of what will be known as Episode Five, the project boasts very little in terms of complex space battles, once the forte of the property. It was envisioned as World War Two in Outer Space, after all. Now, the greater emphasis in characterization is a real boon to the new production, so I’m not saying that I’m looking for empty explosions here. And, honestly, 2202 hit overkill in that regard very early on, and then kept trying to turn the dial up even higher, to the point where the scale and the stakes were so exaggerated, it was difficult to become engaged in any of the battle sequences, so overpowered were they. But a little bit more of the adrenaline of YAMATO would have been welcome here–especially since the characterization of all but a small number of players is reduced to quickie unsatisfying cameos. 2205 has a huge cast, but many of them wind up in this back half feeling like bit players who don’t have a whole lot to do.

The film opens up where TAKE OFF ended, with the Yamato and her two escort vessels screaming into the atmosphere of the hijacked planet Iscandar in order to attack the mysterious fleet from Dezarium that has been doing its best to wipe out the Garmillas refugees who have taken shelter on Iscandar after their homeworld was destroyed. Yamato’s forces are swiftly able to force the Dezarium fleet to retreat to the area above Iscandar, but the main force remains in orbit. Consulting with the Garmillas military, Sanada reveals that the reason Dezarium destroyed Garmillas was to create the energy that enabled them to warp Iscandar to its present location. But they need to jump it again to get to their ultimate destination, which is why they’ve come to a system with a dead planet in it. Sanada believes that they will perform the same function on this world in order to skip Iscandar further in space. But Kodai has a remedy for that: as it is a dead world, he intends to destroy the planet with the Yamato’s Wave-Motion Gun to prevent it from being used as fuel. This despite the fact that the action will be carried out in front of Iscandar Queen Stasha, whom Captain Okita promised that earthmen would never again use her gift of Wave-Motion Energy as a weapon. Despite the concerns of Shima and Yuki, Kodai, as Captain, is ready to take on the responsibility himself.

It looks like a bit of a moot point, though, as Dezarium uses its planetary control over Iscandar to shift the planet into Yamato’s firing line, preventing them from taking the shot. Not content to be a pawn or a shield, Stasha communicates where the Yamato Fleet’s two support ships can strike on Iscandar in order to set off a Wave-Motion Reaction that will shift Iscandar back out of the way. But this means that Yamato is without support, and coming under heavy fire from the Dezarium Fleet. Yamazaki tells Kodai that while they typically can’t use the Wave-Motion Shields while powering the Wave-Motion Gun, they could use the reserve energy saved to restart the engine after the firing to raise them. The trade-off is that, after the shot, the ship will be dead in space with no way of restarting. New crewmember Domon pleads with Kodai to withdraw and find another way, but Kodai is adamant that this chance bought for them by Stasha and Iscandar must be honored. So the Wave-Motion Gun is fired, the enemy fleet and the dead planet are both destroyed, and the Yamato, unable to move, is caught in the shockwaves of the detonation. As Kodai stares down a huge chunk or rock headed straight for the bridge, he’s resolute that it was his choice and that he’ll pay the price. But Yuki’s defense destroyer Asuka makes it back in time and is able to shield Yamato from the collision. And Yuki pointedly tells Kodai that they’re all in this together, that the responsibility is shared, and not to be so arrogant as to take it all on his own shoulders.

And while the bulk of the main Dezarium Fleet was destroyed in the Wave-Motion Gun blast, their fortress remains. Deslar attempts to remedy this by firing upon it with his Deslar Cannon (right when Kodaiu is attempting to de-escalate the conflict with Dezarium through negotiation. But even the Deslar Cannon can’t penetrate the Dezarium Fortress’s shields, and the enemy shows its power by knocking the Garmillas and Earth ships around a bit with its own weapon. But all Dezarium wants is Iscandar, so the Fortress takes up position and continues to tow it through space. The combined fleet follows, with Yamato’s senior staff meeting aboard Deslar’s flagship to work out a strategy. The primary objective is to get the Garmillas refugees out of harm’s way, but Deslar includes Queen Stasha and Yurisha in that calculation. Melba Deitz, who has been functioning as an ambassador to Iscandar, tells Kodai that he should try to convince her to come with them. But Kodai, aware of the fact that he used the forbidden Wave-Motion Gun in Stasha’s presence, tells Melba that the Queen of Iscandar isn’t going to be convinced by him.

So instead, a rescue mission is undertaken by Frakken and his Dimensional Submarines, who will sneak planetside while submerged in subspace and then set up gateways through which the remaining refugee ships can pass safely. While this is happening, the combined Earth and Garmillas Fleets will stage a diversionary attack on the Dezarium Fortress. This proves to be a more difficult venture than initially thought, as Dezarium has encountered Subspace Dimensional Technology before, and they’ve got defensive measures set up to take out the space subs. But the refugees are able to make it safely off-world in large part. Becoming aware of the exodus, Dezarium launches an attack on Iscandar’s surface itself, intending to wipe out the “discordant noise” represented by the Garmillas. But Yamato, alongside Sanada’s support carrier Hyuga and Deslar’s flagship, is able to fend off the attack by shielding the surface. But their shields are largely depleted by doing this, and Dezarium is setting up for another shot. Hostilities are brought to an end with the appearance of Shasha, who manifests as a colossal hologram and tells Dezarium that she knows what they want from Iscandar and she’s willing to give it to them in order to guarantee the safety of the refugees and the Garmillas and Earth Fleets. She petitions Kodai and Deslar to join her on Iscandar, where she tells them that she’ll reveal to them the secret that Iscandar guards, and why they’ll leave her and hers to their fate when they find out the truth.

Journeying down to the planet, Stasha leads Deslar and Kodai into the vaults deep within Iscandar and reveals the planet’s terrible secret. Iscandar was the home to one of the oldest races in the galaxy, and like Teresa of Telezart, the people of Iscandar had found a way to transcend their human bodies. Their memories and personalities were captured in crystal, in a world of the mind in which they could exist in the most enjoyable moments of their life for all time. Stasha demonstrates this technology for Kodai and Deslar–an image of Kodai’s dead brother Mamoru likens it to the manner in which the young Susumu used to collect butterflies–the butterflies would be dead, but they would be beautiful forever. In times past, Iscandar sought to share this gift with the rest of the universe–by force and tyranny. They ruthlessly wiped out other civilizations using Wave-Motion Weaponry, preserving them instead as memories within the vault of crystals. Over time, however, more and more of the people of Iscandar gave up their physical forms to exist as living memories. Only the Royal Family was left to guard the vault–as well as to continue on with the work. And that’s where the Garmillas come in.

Iscandar needed a proxy to continue with their campaign. In the manner of European colonials, the Iscandarians captured and enslaved huge swaths of the blue-skinned population of Planet Galman, creating a new world for them that would revolve in tandem with Iscandar and tying them to the planet genetically. (The name Garmillas translates to “Galman ape” in the original Iscandarian.) The Garmillas were indoctrinated to look upon those of Iscandar as gods to be worshipped and obeyed, and at their command, they began their process of universal conquest and expansion. Over time, however, Stasha came to regret what her people had done–so when Planet garmillas was nearing the end of its artificial lifespan and the Garmillas encountered Earth and made plans to migrate there, she stepped in to offer aid to the human race. Her sister Yurisha was only created a short while ago, to serve as an envoy to Earth. So while she is Iscandarian, she doesn’t share Stasha’s more eternal-minded outlook.

Rocked by these revelations, Kodai and Deslar both return to their ships. Kodai radios Yuki privately that he doesn’t know what to do, and he’s forced to tell the bridge crew that, despite his best efforts, Stasha and Yurisha would not come with them. Once everybody is out of the blast range apart from Dezarium, Stasha intends to detonate the vaults and the planet, to prevent them from falling into Dezarium’s hands. As the fleets depart, however, Deslar’s flagship suddenly make a course change and barrels directly at the Dezarium Fortress. He once again fires the Deslar Cannon at it ineffectively, but his ship is able to rupture the Fortress’s shields at the point where the weapon struck them. Now, having created a gap in the enemy’s defenses (and in a scene straight out of the original 1979 New Voyage TV film) Deslar tells Kodai to fire Yamato’s Wave-Motion Gun through him so that the Fortress is destroyed and Stasha can be saved. It may just be programming, but he still loves Stasha uncontrollably, and he’s willing to give his life to prevent her demise.

Kodai sets up to fire, but this time Domon takes matters into his own hands, triggering an emergency cut-off and pulling his gun on Kodai. He’s got another way to go, one that will perhaps not result in so many people being dead. Domon, Kodai and the new crewmen move to the Asuka, where Yazu has been working on his secret prototype. This is the Cosmo Hound, Earth’s first prototype Dimensional Subspace ship. While Yamato and the Garmillas Fleet keep Dezarium busy, the Cosmo Hound makes its way to Iscandar’s surface, where Kodai prevails upon Stasha to come with them. He tells her that, on Earth, when one loves another, they become a part of that person’s family, so she is like a sister to him due to her relationship with Mamoru. Yurisha too wants to live a worthwhile life, and Domon points out that unless Stasha comes with them, there is no way to convince Deslar to withdraw. Swayed by this wall or support, Stasha relents, and she and Yurisha board the Cosmo Hound along with the pod containing Stasha and Mamoru’s gestating offspring, Sasha. (This story is set in 2205 and the last time we saw Stasha in 2199, she was expecting, so the process of giving birth seems to be an elongated process for those of Iscandar.)

On the way back to Yamato, the Cosmo Hound is attacked by the Dezarium subspace defense that sank the Dimensional Subs, and the young crewmembers have to pull together in order to insure the mission’s success and their ship’s survival. In doing so, they feed a Wave-Motion Excavator into the thing’s maw, which detonates once it withdraws back to the Fortress, severely damaging it. With Stasha safe, Deslar agrees to withdraw as well, backing his ship out of the hole in the Fortress. And before dezarium can bring their main weapon online and destroy the retreating combined fleet, Stasha triggers the self-destruction of Iscandar, and the planet, its vaults and the Fortress are all obliterated.

But it turns out that, as energy beings, with Iscandar gone, Stasha and Yurisha are on limited time as well. Stasha gets to have a reunion with Deslar where she recognizes his love for her before discorporating forever, and Yurisha passes along Sasha to the Yamato crew before likewise disintegrating. Thanks to her half-human genetics, Sasha is not affected by this, and she instead manifests as a baby. With the conflict at an end, Kodai and Deslar say farewell as they part ways. Deslar will lead the survivors of his people back to the newly-liberated Galman where they can reside once more free from the oversight of Iscandar, while Kodai and the Yamato fleet heads for home (and the trouble no doubt waiting for Kodai for going off with the Fleet on his own despite orders. After all, something’s got to get him out of that Captain’s chair in favor of Yamanami in time for the next project.) Oh, and Yabu is reunited with his family, who survived through it all, and they are all on their way to Galman with the refugee fleet as well.

Speaking of that next project, there’s a tag at the very end to help set it up. Nimui and Sanada were able to record some images through the Wave-Motion Excavator before it blew up, and they show them the hulk of an Andromeda-class Earth warship within the Fortress. But strangely, its registry number indicates that there are far more of that class of warship than have ever been constructed on Earth. Given the Dezarium’s frequent mentions of their thousand-year ambition and the title of the next YAMATO project, which is revealed at the end: BE FOREVER YAMATO: REBEL 3199, it seems likely that there’s some actual time travel involved with Dezarium (as opposed to the fake-out that the Dark Nebula Empire attempted in the original BE FOREVER YAMATO film.) In any event, we’ll all know a bit more about that in the months to come.

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