To protect the Earth from the Jovian invaders, a series of defensive lines have been established around the Earth. The first defense line is composed of a series of nuclear powered satellites that emit a powerful energy field, preventing Jovian forces from entering the Earth’s atmosphere. Unfortunately, the barrier works both ways. The leaders of the United Earth Military meet to decide what to do about the Nadesico. It seems that the Nadesico is on the verge of being declared an enemy when their meeting is interrupted by Yurika. Over the monitor, she them to wish them all a Happy New Year and to ask if they would please disable the barrier system for a few hours to allow the Nadesico to leave the Earth without damage to either the barrier system or the Nadesico herself. Annoyed, the supreme commander informs Yurika that she and her crew are considered an enemy of Earth and orders the military to sink the Nadesico. Unfortunately, the massive troop movements ordered by the United Earth Military cause a stir in the Jovian ranks. Battles soon break out all over the Earth. The Nadesico is currently under attack by the fourth defense line, which consists of ground based missile attacks. The Nadesico‘s distortion field is keeping them safe so far, but its intended purpose is to block Jovian gravity blasts, not missiles. Akito and Gai pass the time by watching old episodes of Gekiganger. Gai can’t wait to fight other robots at the third defensive line. The bridge crew is preoccupied with planning their break through the big barrier. Megumi wonders why they can’t just blast their way into outer space, but Ruri explains that in order to build up to escape velocity they need to bring the Phase Transition engines to their full potential–which can only be done in a vacuum. Yurika decides to visit Akito, explaining to no one in particular that their relationship hasn’t been too good since that last incident. She enters Akito and Gai’s room to find the two of them embracing each other in tears, due to the heroic death of Joe in an episode of Gekiganger. Gai emotionally states that that is how a man should go–dying in battle for the sake of his friends. Akito tearfully thanks him for showing him this wonderful thing. Yurika doesn’t understand why they seem to be choosing the show over her. Meanwhile, Munetake and his men have been tied up and imprisoned in one of the Nadesico‘s cargo bays due to their mutiny during the last episode. It seems that they’ve nearly broken their bonds and are preparing to escape as soon as the fighting breaks out. At the third defensive line, Jun undergoes the image feedback treatment which will allow him to interface with the military’s mechs. Admiral Misumaru tries to talk him out of it, but he’s determined to stop the Nadesico (and Yurika) with his own hands.
Gai excitedly prepares to sortie, as Hoary and Uribatake unsuccessfully attempt to brief him on the current situation. Uribatake asks where Akito is, Gai explains that he’s back in his room, crying over Joe. Nine Delphinium mechs under Jun’s command are on an intercept course for the Nadesico as part of the third defensive line. Gai launches and deftly avoids an initial missile attack. With the Delphiniums hot on his tail, he requests that Uribatake launch the Aestivalis 0G Battle Frame. Uribatake, still annoyed that Gai wouldn’t listen to him earlier, ignores him. Gai continues to plead with him until Uribatake grants his request. Gai plans to lure the enemy down below while they think he has no weapons, then combine with the space frame and crush them all at once. He calls this Operation Gangar Cross. Unfortunately, the Delphiniums blow the defenseless space frame out of the air before Gai can get to it. Gai remains unfazed and successfully destroys a Delphinium with his ‘Gai Super Upper’ move before becoming horribly surrounded. Jun contacts Yurika and implores her to surrender. Yurika declines his offer, telling him that the Nadesico is where she belongs. Jun believes that she’s actually staying for Akito, and tells her that if she won’t come back, he’ll destroy Gai, whose Aestivalis has just been captured by a couple Delphiniums. Fortunately, Akito launches and quickly frees Gai. He contacts Jun and asks him why they’re fighting when they were friends just hours ago. Jun challenges Akito to a one-on-one duel. If Jun loses, he agrees to have the Delphiniums withdraw. Not waiting for Akito’s answer, Jun attacks while Gai prevents the other Delphiniums from interrupting this hot blooded duel between men. Yurika naively wonders why Jun is so hung up on Akito. Akito continues to try to talk Jun out of this, but Jun tells him that ever since he was a child he’s dreamed of protecting the Earth, and now he thinks that the UESF is the best place from which to follow those dreams. Akito tells him he thought like that too, once. But, he says, remembering the little girl on Mars, he was unable to accomplish his goals. Jun exclaims that he’s different and he will protect the Earth. Akito calls him a fool and counterattacks, impressing Gai. Akito asks him if he really wants to be a hero to win his love’s heart, and Jun responds that because he loves her, he cannot bare to see Yurika become an enemy of the Earth. At this point, the battle moves into the second defensive line, and Akito and Gai lose power due to being too far away from the ship. Satellite-based missiles streak towards the seemingly defenseless Nadesico. Surprisingly, Jun heroically places himself between the ship and the missiles, intending to sacrifice his life to become a hero. Unfortunately for him, the Nadesico catches up to the Aestivalises and Gai and Akito drag Jun out of the way, spoiling his noble sacrifice. The three mechs land on the Nadesico just as the ship begins to fire its phase transition engines and Akito notes that they might still have the opportunity to become heroes–after all, someone has to babysit Yurika. The Nadesico forces its way past the final defensive barrier, overloading the barrier satellites and successfully leaving the Earth’s atmosphere. Yurika welcomes Jun back to the Nadesico, reestablishes him as her very best friend, and thanks Akito for not hurting him. Gai announces that things are bound to get better as long as they’re alive, but asks that Jun please not die looking better than him. With that, Gai decides to go put a Gekiganger sticker on his Aestivalis for each enemy mech he shot down. In the darkened and seemingly empty hanger bay, Gai notices Munetake and his men stealing an escape pod, but is shot and killed before he even realizes what’s going on.
I bet you didn’t see that one coming. Gai spends the episode idealizing Joe in Gekiganger III, who died in a heroic/cliched manner protecting his friends, only to be summarily shot and killed for no reason beyond being in the wrong place at the wrong time. A pretty cold bit of ironic, dark humor, and definitely the most controversial part of Nadesico. Gai was a fun character nobody wanted to see killed off, much less in a fashion such as this, but apparently the writers wanted to let everybody know that Nadesico is not a good-guys-always-win super robot show by any stretch of the imagination. He may have been born Jiro Yamada, but his soul’s name was Gai Daigoji.