On the bridge, Ruri idly plays video games. It seems that, with the Nadesico‘s computer being so advanced, there is really very little for the crew to do as they make their way to Mars. The only people who have to remain on duty are herself (as the chief of vessel operations) and Megumi (as communications officer). The Jovians have not mounted a direct attack since they left the space colony, but they do periodically take pot shots at the Nadesico, all of which are completely ineffective against the Nadesico‘s distortion field. Ruri believes that they will continue trying to gauge the Nadesico‘s strength until they reach Mars, where the Jovians will have overwhelming air superiority. Yurika remarks that Ruri is pretty incredible for such a little kid, but Ruri waves her off. Yurika looks over at Megumi, remember seeing Megumi and Akito kissing in the landing bay. Megumi notices her and asks if anything is wrong. Yurika remarks that it’s just that she looks rather happy these days. Megumi confirms that she is, in fact, rather happy. Before Yurika can react to this Mr. Prospector calls her away. According to Nergal’s standard employee contract, all employees who die in the line of duty are entitled to a funeral in a manner of their own choosing. Mr. Prospector is taking advantage of this period of inactivity in order to get through the massive amount of funerals for all those who died in the colony that was destroyed. Thus, Yurika is forced to perform seemingly endless ceremonies for pretty much every religion on Earth. She is slowly overwhelmed and begins to wonder if funerals are all she can do as captain. Megumi reminds her that she can do marriages, too–causing Yurika to flee the bridge, screaming. Ruri remarks that Megumi can be pretty cruel. The days (and funerals) wear on, and Yurika continues to wonder what it really means to be captain. Ruri helpfully requests that the computer sort through data regarding the meaning of being a captain. The computer determines that, since World War II, no captains of note have been recorded. In the information age, important battlefield decisions can be made by officers far from the frontlines, and thus the decisions of individual captains can no longer affect the overall battle. Therefore, captain’s main task is to act as a figurehead of a battleship that the crew can look up to. The reliable looking old men who were previously looked upon as good captains have slowly given way to younger, more attractive captains. Yurika is a bit taken aback and left a bit confused by all this, so Megumi chimes in that it seems to mean that it doesn’t matter who the captain is anymore. Yurika once again flees the bridge, screaming. Ruri again remarks that Megumi can be pretty cruel.
Head Cook Howmei sends her staff home after yet another day of cooking funeral meals for dozens of different cultures, but finds Akito staring at the Nadesico‘s impressively well stocked spice rack. He remarks that, having been raised on Mars, he had no idea there were so many spices on Earth. He asks Howmei why she keeps so many spices for something as simple as a cafeteria on a warship. She explains that back in the early days of the war, a dying solider asked her for some Paella for what would be his last meal. Unfortunately, at that time, Chinese dishes were about the only thing Howmei could make with accuracy, and what she wound up giving him was not quite what he was after. He ate some and thanked her, but remarked that it didn’t taste like the Paella his mother used to make. So from that point on, she made it a point to learn as much about as many different dishes as she could, so she would never again fail to give a solider a decent last meal. Inspired by her story, Akito passionately states that he wants to become an even better cook. But Howmei reminds that he has an even more important job to do. The next day, Megumi asks Ruri where the captain is. Ruri wonders if Megumi has scared her away for good, but checks the computer and finds that Yurika is hiding out in the meditation room contemplating what it really means to be a captain. With the captain on sabbatical, the funerals are left to the executive officer: Jun. Time crawls by as Yurika attempts to cast aside her worldly passions to attain enlightenment. But what, she wonders, are her worldly passions? Her one-sided desire for Akito’s love and her fear of losing him to Megumi? Her thoughts run away with her, causing the meditation bot to smack her with it’s stick-like arm and tell her to cast aside her extraneous thoughts. At that point she realizes that Akito is right next to her in the midst of his own meditation regarding his desire to not fight. Yurika flips out and somehow draws the conclusion that Akito is utterly in love with her. Akito attempts to point out her logical fallacy, but Yurika is not listening and only pauses to take a breath when Megumi pops up to inform Yurika that a mutiny is underway. It seems that somebody finally got around to reading the small print on the employee contract, which expressly forbids fraternization between employees beyond hand-holding. Thus, most of the mechanics and pilots have gone on strike. Yurika meets with Uribatake and the others on the bridge to attempt to talk them down. Mr. Prospector tries to explain to them that Nergal is simply trying to prevent marriages and the children that may result–as these affect the bottom line. Uribatake is having none of that, but the argument is broken up when the Nadesico is hit by the largest blast yet–it seems that they have entered Martian territory. Yurika rallies the crew, telling them that she’s aware of their grievances with their contracts, but now is no longer the time to deal with that. For if they don’t win here… there will be lots of funerals again, and she is simply not prepared to deal with that. And so, the Nadesico‘s battle at Mars began.
It’s hardly rare in mecha anime to have a large group of faceless civilians get wiped out for little to no reason. But here, Nadesico takes the odd route of acknowledging the fallen nobodies who died simply because the writers needed a quick excuse for some action. Granted, they do this by making Yurika suffer through a cosplay montage and eventually begin to question her purpose on the ship, but it’s a nice gesture, anyway. Once again Nadesico rides the fine line between serious space opera and slapstick comedy. Overall, the episode is amusing enough, but they did perhaps too good a job reminding you that most of the crew has nothing to do on the long flight to Mars.