Dear Yamato – Goodbye Stereotypes, Hello Gamilans

Spoilers for Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199.
yamato cast

Dear Yamato-san,

I recently finished watching the story of you and your crew members, and I’ve gotta say, I haven’t enjoyed a series so much in a long while. My favourite bits would have to be the characters and their interactions. Despite a large cast and only 26 episodes, I was impressed by how you managed to flesh them out and focus on the human element, though the fate of humanity was at stake. Something I liked was how the supporting characters didn’t play into their stereotypical roles.

yamamotoOne of these characters was the lovely Akira Yamamoto. With her icy hair, and face resembling a certain Eva pilot, I expected her to be typically cool and detached. But you made sure she was believably human instead. She had a sense of humour. She was emotionally aware, knowing of her own feelings for Kodai (and later Shinohara), but also seeing the spark between Kodai and Mori. She grieved for her brother, lost in war, and wanted to take revenge on his Gamilan killers. But my favourite part of her character growth was when you brought her and Melda together, and the conflict that followed. Through their talking, and Melda saving Yamamoto, they found an understanding. Yamamoto, and the other men and women of your crew came to realise that their enemy were just as human as themselves. Yamamoto overcame her trial, and so bettered herself.

I think you did a good job with Shiro Sanada as well. At first, he seemed to be the analytical and oh-so-robotic type. Well, you did show some of his logical side, but you didn’t leave out the compassion which made him a sympathetic character.

yowch

Hmm, maybe that compassionate side got him to make somewhat irrational decisions too… poor Itou.

sanadaSorry Yamato-san, I went off on a tangent! Ahem, back to Sanada. He had an easy companionship with Mamoru, and obviously cared for and greatly respected Okita. I felt his regret and sorrow after his goodbye to his best friend. I admired Sanada most when he selflessly put you, and humanity, ahead of himself and sacrificed his life so your journey could continue. Well, almost sacrificed. Rarrrrr people dying-not-dying… and flashbacks… I’ll forgive you, Yamato-san.

daisukeKodai’s best friend Daisuke Shima also got some interesting development. In anime, it’s well established that best friend = retarded pervert whose goal in the story is to get the main character and the girl together. So, Yamato-san, I’m most grateful that Shima didn’t turn out that way. He even had a couple of arcs dedicated to him. One was an internal conflict, as he struggled to come to terms with the truth behind his father’s death. Distressed by the words of Melda, he watched the Terron’s propaganda video to reassure himself. But when the old engineer Yamazaki revealed the truth, Shima went into denial and lashed out at his crew-mates, including Kodai. I think you showed this well – it’s not easy for a person to accept a radical change in their beliefs. However, after talking with the chief engineer Tokugawa, and Yamamoto, who originally wanted to avenge her family, Shima was able to make peace with himself, and with Kodai.

domel crop 1 melda crop 1
Yamato-san, I have a confession to make. While I was cheering on you and your crew, I also was supporting the Gamilans. I liked how you weren’t all selfish and hogged the camera on the whole time. Letting your foes get some screen-time was very kind of you. Though the war started off black-and-white, us against them, it became obvious that the truth was more grey. You displayed the unquestionably human nature of your enemy – they were just like us. Some were noble, some were strong. Some were cowardly, some were weak. “Good” and “bad” were no longer clear-cut. To make matters worse, the Gamilans weren’t even the ones who started the conflict (thought they may have attacked anyway, with their aggressive policies). Whether I was watching your crew or the people of Gamilas, I was always involved with the story. This made me happy, because I love sympathetic antagonists.

goer 1I admit, some of the people pleased me a little less. Goer in particular turned me into an irate monkey, wondering how such a blitheringly incompetent man ever got into such a high position. For a tale with such good characters, Goer’s slimy stereotype left me disappointed. However, don’t fret, Yamato-san! Overall, I was delighted by your charming cast, and not just the ones I babbled to you about.

I’m sad to see you go Yamato-san, but we all must return from our journeys some time. I would love to meet you again though – maybe in a year’s time?

All the best,

Alex.

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