GE 999 Ultimate Journey Stop 4-6 ~ 4-9
Let me first quote from the Wikipedia article for the SSX series, describing the Illumidas race:
“The males are similar in appearance to human males, except they have green skin, and their hair often grows around the top and outer side of their eyes like thick eyebrows. They are identical in appearance to the inhabitants of the Comet Empire of Matsumoto’s Space Battleship Yamato, though no connection is ever stated.”
Well, well, well, well. Ultimate Journey has an answer. According to the novel, the reason the Cometines look like Illumidas is because they are. The Comet Empire was the creation of Zordar, and Zordar was an Illumidas scientist. By that point, Illumidas was already a great Empire, so you can get a sense of how huge and powerful it really is: the great Comet Empire is but a splinter of Illumidas (it’s not really stated, whether Zordar was acting independently when he built his comet enterprise, but that’s the sense one gets).
OK, I just wanted to get that interesting factoid out of the way. Last post I left off at the point where Tetsuro met up with Harlock and the Arcadia, and Aurora’s Secret Service (the Starzinger guys) had killed the Machiner assassins sent to take out Tetsuro and Maetel. Well, Tetsuro hops back on the 999 and they leave Heavy Melder in peace (the Big One’s whereabouts are still totally unknown, though I hope fervently we’ll get at least a chapter section from Sirius’ Platoon’s point of view).
The question then remains: what was Harlock doing on Heavy Melder? Why did Aurora’s cyborgs see the massive Great Galactic League fleet descending on Melder? Well, it’s because the leaguers are about to have a meeting…in a saloon..on Heavy Melder. The set-up is cool, of course, but there’s also a more prosaic reason given as to why the League leadership must meet face to face: the black-hole like singularities popping all over the universe (Metanoid scheming, no doubt) are interfering with communications. It’s because of these “abysses”, as the leaguers call them, that they are meeting face to face.
We start with four people entering the saloon. These guys are dressed in military gear, and draw attention because of their blue skin. Yup, Gamilas. More precisely, these are members of the Neo-Gamilas Empire, headed by Galson Dessler, the Supreme Leader. A brief history of Gamilas as it’s laid out here: this empire is 5,000 years old all in all, but it has gone through three stages: Gamilas, Galman-Gamilas and Neo-Gamilas. Dessler has been supreme leader (this word I’m translating here is the one Japanese use for Fascist leaders such as Hitler, Mussolini and Franco) for a thousand years. This is, as far as I can tell, the same Dessler we all know and love, not his son or grandson or anything [Yamato experts are specially encouraged to comment on all of this ].
With Dessler is his right-hand man Talan. The first thing they notice is a group of Illumidas in one corner, with the actual Emperor of Illumidas, named Zalfass (my romanization, guys, but I think it looks cool), sitting among them. Since they are dressed in plain clothes and apparently are not ready to engage in meetings, Dessler decides to ignore them for the moment. Then he sees a beautiful woman sitting by herself, and he goes to pay his greetings.
Before I get to that, let me say that the way the Illumidas are described here really surprised me. Basically, Illumidas is said to be the largest and most powerful empire in the universe. It’s also of a great age, so that the 5,000 year old Gamilas pales by comparison. That Zordar’s Comet Empire is but a footnote to Illumidas history says it all.
Anyway, the woman sitting by herself has long indigo hair and pale white skin. Yes, Mazone Queen Lafresia. Dessler totally hits on her (apparently she is super-ravishing) and she claims surprise at how smoothly he is speaking. She teases him for having been a feared tyrant during his leadership of the Galman Empire, and his response is that his behavior depends on the person he’s dealing with. Oh, and we’re briefly told about how Harlock and Lafresia were bitter enemies and that the Mazone queen is as old as Dessler is.
Four more men enter the saloon. This turns out to be the Solar Federation contingent, all of whom are direct descendants of the Yamato crew of long ago: 1) Susumu Kodai (the kanji for this Susumu is not the same as the kanji for his ancestor, BTW), Supreme Commander [of the Solar Federation, we're told, but one would expect this to be Supreme Commander of the Solar Federation Fleet, unless this is a militaristic state in which the officers rule, which is very possible!]; 2) Sanada, Inner Fleet Commander; 3) Shima, Outer Fleet Commander; and 4) Aihara, General Chief of Staff.
Description-wise we just get told that although young and cheerful, Kodai already has furrows and wrinkles (from the great responsibility thrust upon him, no doubt, Humans don’t age as well as Mazone or Gamilas I’m afraid).
We get a bit of background on the history of the Solar Federation: just as Earth has managed to explore its Solar System completely, the Gamilas under Dessler show up and almost destroy it. Iscandar steps in, the crisis is averted (so far the first Yamato series/film). Earth has to deal with a number of further crises (I guess we would insert the later Yamato stuff in here) but then finally reaches peace and stability. Earth begins to extend its rule and colonize other planets, and the Solar Federation is born.
Gradually, Earth becomes more and more corrupt, losing their frontier spirit. Its wealthy inhabitants indulge in all sorts of corruption, in particular lending an ear to the “preaching” coming from the Machine Empire about eternal life through Mechanization. Earthlings begin to mechanize en masse. Although nominally still the capital planet of the Solar Federation, the fact is that power shifts to other areas of the federation, whose people all but ignore and abandon Earth as a hopeless case. When Dessler expresses his sympathy for the destruction of Earth and the Solar System, Kodai tells him that he’s very sad about it, but that at the same time the Solar Federation had in some sense come to think of Earth as dead already.
Dessler decides to start the meeting, even though not everyone has arrived. The meeting right now includes: Kodai, Sanada, Shima, Aihara, Lafresia, Dessler and Talan. The Illumidas guys, by the way, remain in their seats and don’t seem interested at all in participating (even though we are told that they are part of the League).
First item on the agenda: Which will be the League Fleet’s flagship?
Apparently the Solar Federation has requested the honor to field that ship. Dessler tells Kodai he agrees wholeheartedly: there would be no better flagship than Great Yamato and no better man to lead her than Kodai himself. However, the Solar leaders tell Dessler he’s mistaken: Yes, the Federation wants to field the League Fleet flagship, but it’s not the Yamato they’re thinking of. The Yamato will be the Solar Federation flagship and as such will do its own independent activity during the battle, so it cannot lead the Fleet overall.
The Solar ship that Kodai and co. want to head the League Fleet is currently in another spacetime on an important mission, but it will be back in time for the epic showdown. Although the ship is never named (and the mission itself is completely mysterious except that it’s happening over at “Galaxy A” in another spacetime, is this a reference to Andromeda?), we know as well as Dessler and Lafresia do that this ship can only be the Mahoroba. Sanada remarks that the ship is already a microcosm of the Galactic League as such, since its crew includes members from all the G8. The Mahoroba captain, BTW, is called Kondo (Lightning Takeshi Kondo is probably the full name, as seen in Mahoroba film promotion material). [This term "G8" is not explained, but let's start counting the members of this League: 1) Neo-Gamilas, 2) Illumidas, 3) Solar Federation, 4) Mazone. It's not clear right now if we should consider the pirates (Harlock, Emeraldas) as # 5. Anyway, we're still missing members.]
Anyway, even though it sounds terribly reckless to have a huge fleet be led by a ship that nobody really knows whether it will actually make it in time for battle, the motion is approved. The Mahoroba will be the fleet flagship, the Yamato will act independently AND on special petition from Dessler, his own ship will operate together with Yamato, to her starboard.
Three more people enter the saloon now: Harlock, Yattaran and Kei Yuki. Harlock is all about business so the banter gets done quickly. Everyone wants to know how Harlock assesses the upcoming struggle.
It’s going to be tough, basically. The most conservative estimates are of the Metanoid fielding a fleet of 200,000 vessels. Sanada calculates the League can field about 10,000 vessels of their own. That’s 20 to 1. Ouch. Harlock makes it simple: rather than spreading out too thin, the League’s only chance is to concentrate all of its forces and meet the enemy aggressively all together. [This mirrors Japan's situation at the beginning of the war, and it was because they forgot that simple principle (to wit, that they were outnumbered and they should either field all of their carriers together each time or refrain from attacking) that they messed up in Coral Sea and then got pulverized at Midway. But Harlock is smarter than this.]
If this reminds us of World War Two, then what Harlock says next will remind us of Lord of the Rings. The 999 is on its way to Eternal, he tells everyone, and though Tetsuro doesn’t know it yet, the mission involves much more than just finding a way to bring Earth back from its destruction: Tetsuro and Maetel’s mission, if successful, will be the trump card that will save the universe from Metanoid destruction; and only Maetel and Tetsuro can do whatever it is they have to do. In other words, Maetel and Tetsuro equal Sam and Frodo, amen. The League’s mission is thus to fight and hold off the Metanoid advance while the 999 gets to do what it has to do. That is, the League is Gondor and Rohan and the elves and whatnot.
Harlock asks Lafresia if she’s OK with the current arrangement, which has the Mazone Fleet (and only the Mazone Fleet) hold the rear. She says they’re already preparing for that, but she has a question for Harlock. In short, Lafresia questions Maetel’s loyalty. As we can expect, Harlock defends Maetel in the strongest terms, though he is forced to admit that the Machine Empire (which is still nominally Maetel’s kingdom) has openly sided with the Metanoids.
Kei Yuki says something really cool: she explains that it’s not just a matter of sacrificing everyone in order to get the 999 to do its thing, if the Galactic League is defeated and destroyed, then even if Maetel and Tetsuro find a way vanquish the Metanoids it will all be for nothing. Dessler agrees.
Talan asks about the 999′s protection. Aihara explains what we already know, that Layla assigned Big One to escort the train, but because of the abyss communications have been lost. Everyone agrees that Layla can handle this problem, and that in any case if she needs help she’ll let them know. [Alas, the narrator tells us at this point that Destiny, Layla's planet, is having tons of problems communicating because of the abysses, but the Leaguers don't know this.]
Second item on the agenda: Strategy.
The plan will be to draw the enemy into a crane wing formation (i.e. a U-shaped formation, like a crane’s wings, where fire is concentrated on the enemy coming inside the U. The Solar Fleet’s job will be to form a vanguard (maybe to lure the Metanoids into the U?), while Neo-Gamilas and Illumidas will form the main components on the two wings of the U. Each wing will be reinforced by elements from Bolar, Alfress and LaMetal (plus tons of little fleets from smaller powers). So here we have the remaining members of the G-8: Bolar (from Space Battleship Yamato III, which I’m scrambling to watch now!), Alfress (from the Queen Emeraldas OVA, an empire whose history parallels the Machine Empire’s) and LaMetal (which has been against the Machine Empire to which it gave birth since the events of Space Symphony Maetel).
Since the numerical disadvantage is so overwhelming, the Leaguers discuss plans to bring as much firepower and supply routes as possible. Neo-Gamilas is bringing Gaidel-class mobile fortresses, the Solar Federation is bringing in the SSX mobile fortress, Bolar is contributing Zesbade-class fortresses, and Galaxy Railways’ Space Panzer Grenadiers will supply their Omega Base. Sounds impressive.
Lafresia won’t be left behind, not entirely. She declares that she’s just decided to put some of her Doclus-class fortress ships in the frontline as well. Then Harlock tells everyone that Emeraldas is currently hiring every mercenary and gun-for-hire in the galaxy she can get in order to contribute to the effort.
All of a sudden, Illumidas Emperor Zalfass leaves his table and joins the meeting. He’s rather blunt. First, he says he’s heard everything discussed so far. Second, he doesn’t have a problem with the flagship coming from the Solar Federation. Third, he thinks the crane formation idea is rather reckless, since that’s usually employed when one has numerical superiority. Fourth, if the League insists on this strategy then fine, but he demands that he be given command of the right wing, and he declares he will lead it himself on Castle Balmeda (a Comet-type mobile city fortress thing).
Nobody is about to reject any of Zalfass’ conditions, but they’re all stunned at how personally he’s taking the battle. Zalfass says he doesn’t want what happened to Earth happening to his own country, then apologizes for being so direct. Since he’s kind of ignored Dessler all the while (there’s no love lost between them), the Gamilas makes fun of him, saying that he’s tempted to keep Neo-Gamilas’ forces in reserve and let the Illumidas selflessly battle alone against the Metanoids. Zalfass smiles and hints that once this fight is over, Illumidas and Neo-Gamilas will have a reckoning, but for now, he wishes Dessler a happy life.
Zalfass leaves and the meeting comes to an end. Gradually everyone streams out. The bartender comments to Harlock that the Deathshadow wreckage seems to be gone, and the pirate explains that his friend’s son (i.e. Tochiro’s son) has inherited and taken the ship. Yattaran and Kei leave the Captain alone, as he says he wants to drink a little by himself.
Kodai and co. head back and meet up with the rest of the crew. I’m not going to name everyone but pretty much all the people you know, or rather, their descendants, are there. This includes Kodai’s wife Yuki. Yamamoto, etc. Even Analyzer is there, though I’m not sure if this is original Analyzer or a robot of the same type. Crew member Kitano reports on a new type battleship called Nemesis that’s apparently tons better than the Androjunos types they’ve been using of late. Pretty much everyone is ready, except for one person: Takuma Ichimonji.
Admiral Takuma Ichimonji (we can imagine he must be a descendant of the hero of Danguard Ace) has finally been able to mass-produce Demigods (transforming robots, known as Satellizers in their original form) but one of them had a malfunction and Ichimonji has gone to Dai Technologia to repair it with the engineers there. Kodai is upset but not surprised: it’s just like Ichimonji to forget his rank like that and go tinker with the robot when he should be elsewhere. Apparently one concern regarding the Satellizer/Demigod technology is that very few people are able to pilot the things: Yamamoto from Great Yamato, Ichimonji himself of course, and maybe a few people on the Mahoroba.
Stop Five will be next.