In 2015, the Luxion fleet was attacked by Space Monsters. Admiral Yuzo Takaya gives an injured Ohta the last place on the Luxion’s escape shuttle. On the Luxion’s bridge, Yuzo apologizes to Noriko before the ship explodes. In 2021, Noriko’s shuttle arrives at the space station Silver Star. Ohta points out the under construction battleship Exelion to them. Noriko is surprised by how small it is, but as they get closer she can see how massive it is. Ohta explains that the vacuum of space distorts the perspective of size and distance. They also pass by a Soviet Machine weapon. Noriko, Kazumi, and the Soviet pilot Jung Freud meet with the captain of the Exelion, Tatsumi Tashiro. Tashiro introduces Jung, who exchanges fierce glances with Kazumi. Later, Tashiro addresses an audience and tells them that after the Exelion is complete, they will attack the Space Monsters. Noriko, Kazumi and the rest of the Top Squadron do space training in their RX-7s, where they are to circle to moon. Jung tells Kazumi and Noriko to turn off their markers as she challenges Kazumi to a fight. Jung attacks with her plasma bianchi, but Kazumi blocks each attack. Noriko tries to follow them as their fight enters the Exelion. They fight on even ground, but the battle ends when they find themselves in a room with a preserved Space Monster corpse. Noriko is horrified that her father was killed by such a thing. She remembers when he had come home for her sixth birthday as the security system goes off.
Ohta chews Noriko and Kazumi out, saying their actions could get them thrown in the brig. He says he can’t train them if they’re in jail, so they’re put on probation. Noriko and Kazumi take a bath and Noriko explains how her father would always be away, but he always came back for her birthday. Jung joins them and the other two are surprised by how friendly she’s acting. She invites them to her birthday party and Noriko sees that it’s on the same day as her birthday. Jung says how great Ohta is and wonders when his birthday is. Kazumi says it was two days ago. A bunch of boys pass by the windows in their RXs, causing the girls to hide themselves. The Silver Star detects an object approaching at near light speed, and Tashiro wants to investigate it. They decide to send two machine weapons on light speed boosters to check it out and Ohta suggests Noriko and Kazumi. Tashiro thinks Jung would be a better choice, but Ohta says they’re both candidates for Gunbuster. He wants them to experience light speed travel. He briefs the girls on the mission and tells them that for every minute they’re out there, three months will pass on Earth. He warns them to be careful or they’ll end up like Rip Van Winkle. Jung reminds Noriko that their birthday party is the day after they return. Noriko and Kazumi launch, followed shortly by Ohta in another ship. They meet up with the target and discover that it’s the remains of the Luxion. Noriko enters the Luxion and discover there’s still air. She also sees that according to the ship’s clock, only two days had passed since the battle. Ohta retrieves Kazumi and goes after Noriko in his RX-7. He tells Kazumi to decelerate if he’s not back in three minutes. Noriko calls for her father and Ohta sees she’s headed for the bridge. Noriko opens the door to the bridge only to find empty space. Ohta grabs her and carries her out of the Luxion. Kazumi recovers them and informs Ohta that they’re twelve seconds late. They return to the Silver Star to find a completed Exelion. Jung informs them they set out next week and offers Noriko her condolences for her father. Noriko runs out of the room crying and Kazumi tells Jung they should give her some time alone. Noriko thinks about how her father returned for her birthday like he promised. Noriko remembers when she was young she told her father that she’ll go to space too so she could always be with him.
The first half of this episode focuses on the introduction of Soviet pilot Jung Freud (who some refer to as ‘Proto-Asuka’). She’s cocky and hotheaded, leading her to pick a fight with Kazumi. The battle is inconclusive as we have our first encounter with a Space Monster, and it certainly lives up to its name. Jung then pulls a 180 and acts all chummy with Noriko and Kazumi. The amount of fan service in this OVA has become the Gainax standard. Only they would think of having a huge window in a public bath. Fun fact: The Silver Star was actually taken from the USA by Japan, who had beaten America in a war (yeah, keep dreaming Japan). The second part of this episode introduces one of the suckier aspects of space travel: time dilation. They were only gone a few minutes and they lost 6 months of their lives. Noriko is forced to face the reality of her father’s death, and understandably, she doesn’t take it too well. It just makes her character grow even more though.