That’s right; Norio Wakamoto – probably the coolest and most awesome vocal actor in anime – voices a character who makes his first appearance in episode 8 of the already excellent Space Battleship Yamato 2199. The above screenshot is of the character that he voices.
I don’t know how often we will get to hear Norio Wakamoto but the proximity of the character to the emperor during this episode leads me to think that he’ll be a semi-regular character, at least when the show shifts it’s focus to the emperor of the Garmillas Empire.
On one hand, it would have been nice if the emperor was the character that he voiced since that would be a bigger role; but, on the other hand, Norio Wakamoto would make the emperor sound too good and too sympathetic of a character when he’s supposed to be a slime ball. See the screen shot below, can’t you just hear the syrupy sweet, weaselly voice that an emperor that looks like that has.
As amazing as having Norio Wakamoto in this episode was, it was just one of the excellent parts to this episode.
I was re-reminded of how the people working on this anime really know their science/science fiction and how to improve the story as a result. The following screenshot, from episode 1, is how the Earth looks after several years of attacks by the Garmillans.
Now look at the screenshots below.
Yes, the creators are using the fact that warp travel would allow one the chance to peer into the past (in this case, back to when Earth was still blue) as a means to remind the people on the Yamato of what humanity has lost and inspire them to succeed on their mission so that Earth will look like this again. I tried to think of another show that did something similar to this and I drew a blank.
Also, I love how Yamato 2199 isn’t afraid to go big. In this episode the Yamato had to escape a living gas cloud that could consume just about any sort of mass or energy to grow. The only pathway to safety would involve skirting a sun while also having to dodge the attacks of Garmillian warship. Things were going okay until a giant solar flare shot up. The Yamato couldn’t go around it; so, what do you think they did?
They shot the solar flare and passed through it to safety. For a moment I thought I was watching JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. Where else are you going to see a show that involves blowing up solar flares?
On a more serious note, I’m also loving how complex the villainous Garmilas Empire is being portrayed. It would be very easy to make them a monolithic evil organization but that’s not what’s being done. The empire is made up of several different races split between the first tier and the second tier. Looking at the screenshots of the emperor above, it’s apparent that the premier race is the blue-skinned one but there are other first tier races. One race that is definitely in the second tier is a race that looks like humans. (How these humans are related to the humans on Earth hasn’t been made clear yet.)
These humans of the Garmilas Empire appear to be as loyal to the empire as any of the other races and are shown working very hard to be accepted and valued, even when the blue-skinned race are dismissive towards them. The warship that was tasked with stopping the Yamato in this episode was crewed by these humans of the Garmilas Empire. At the start of the episode we see the captain review a message sent by his daughter where she wants to know when he will be back home.
He seems to feel that the coming battle with the Yamato will end badly for him and that turns out to be the case. Knowing his ship cannot stand up to the sun’s heat, he still follows the Yamato and attempts to stop them but cannot before his ship literally melts around him.
I won’t lie – I shed a tear of these guys.
I hope the political realities of a fractured empire like the Garmilas Empire gets worked into the plot again in the future.