How do I even start talking about an episode like this? Yamato 2199 has been great through out it’s run so far, but what happens when an episode goes beyond the bounds of the level of great and becomes something else? Something Amazing. Something Intelligent. Something that will make you question a lot of things that go on in your life. Episode 9 did that for me. I doubt Anything that I can say or write can do this episode and show the justice that it deserves, but I am going to try anyway. Why? Because challenging myself is kind of fun.
Usually spoiler alert warning here. You have been warned.
The plot of this episode could be summed up in a couple of paragraphs. In the beginning of this episode, we see the Gamiliod, the robot that the Yamato crew picked up four or five episodes ago, being analyzed by Engineer Sanada with the help of the Yamato robot Analyzer. This is our main duo for this episode. Their talks carry a lot of this show’s emotional weight. Moving on, Analyzer starts teaching the Garmilliod, who name is now Alter, earth terms like dog and cat. They even play shogi, which I wish there was more of. When Analyzer is away from Alter, Alter starts going through the Yamato’s main computer searching for the vaque term “queen”. I have some pretty good ideas who that is, Yuuki maybe, but you never know. Alter’s interference with the main computer almost hurts a recon crew that just returned to the Yamato and this is where all hell starts to break loose.
When Analyzer returns to see Alter, we see that Alter gained its legs and is now searching for the Queen by himself. The Yamato goes on emergency alert and security starts chasing down the mostly harmless robot. Nobody knows or understands Alter’s true intentions, but the crew fears that this robot may interfere with their travel plans. The robot is chased around the hall ways and shot at, so he escapes and locks himself into a weapon storage room. While security is fussing around with the door, we have a confrontation between the security crew and Analyzer, Engineer Sanada, and Yuria Misaki. The security crew can’t see beyond the obvious “human good, robot bad” philosophy while the other three question what it means to be alive. It’s a tense scene that really adds to the chaos of what is going on. Soon enough, Alter escapes to the deck of the Yamato. This is where Analyzer and Alter have their final meeting. It results in Alter’s death, but it’s such a touching moment. The oil from Alter’s body looks like blood, which adds so much to theme of this episode.
Now let us talk about what this episode did right. The theme which is questioning what makes somebody or something truly alive. This is something that every science fiction show or series covers at some point. Star Trek covered this concept with Data in the next generation. Some even have take this question and make it the the focus of the shows. Two of those are the remade Battlestar Galactica and Ghost in the Shell (which are all good btw and you should watch these). Still, I don’t think many of them ever cover the concept as subtlety as Yamato 2199. The concept is talked about and commented on, but an answer is never provided. Everything is left to the interpretation of the viewer and that’s the way it should be. An open question gives the audience something to think about.
Then there are the show’s characters. Our main bridge crew are never in the certain focus of this one, yet it works. The robotic Engineer Sanada and the robot Analyzer make an interesting duo. Not something that you consider from a nearly emotionless person as he is, but this episode really does flesh him out a little more. I am extremely glad about this. Then there are the side characters. We see how bad of a person the Yamato’s head of security is, which plays into different aspects of the show later on. You’ll see. Lastly, we get our radio operator Yuria Misaka who pleas for Alter’s existence when security wants to barge into the room. None of these interactions are ever forced. Everything flows so naturally. The strength of Yamato’s cast is shown yet again.
What a story book episode that was (ha). Everything was great about this episode. The characters were great, the ideas were great, and execution was great. I know that I usually grovel over this show, but I am going to grovel over this show even more then usual. Can you blame me? See you all next Friday.
This post is a part of the Yamato 2199 blog tour between me and DerekL. If you want to get involved: please click this link here, read what it says, watch the show with us, and post before noon on Fridays. Simple enough right?