Space Symphony Maetel 08: Nude Souls, Nude Bodies
Last I checked I was couple of votes behind in my Aniblog Tourney match. If you’re interested in voting for me, you have to do it quickly as it will be done in 2½ hours!!
The beginning monologue is the same one in episodes 02, 04 and 07.
Let’s talk about soul rings first. In the Leijiverse, a soul ring is somewhat like a soul, somewhat like DNA and somewhat like the élan vital (basically what the Chinese and Japanese call ch’i/ki, though I suspect these days people know the Eastern term much more than this Western one). But it is neither of these.
The soul ring is like a spiritual DNA insofar as a person’s personality and “heart” are encoded in it, and if you have it within your grasp you can replicate the personality. It is unlike DNA inasmuch as it is unique and it can be removed from a person.
The soul ring is unlike the (traditional understanding of a) soul because it is not you per se. You can suffer the loss of your soul ring and still live, still be yourself. However, the soul ring is the source of who you are spiritually, and being without it is like losing armor, like being naked.
Finally, the soul ring is like ch’i because its presence impels the person to live. Its absence makes the person weak but then again, not so far as causing death. Thus it is unlike ch’i, because nobody can live without ch’i.
In summation, we have trouble understanding what a soul ring is because our tendency both in East and West to think of spiritual things as amorphous, and of course DNA itself is multiple and ever multiplying. In contrast, I think Leiji’s soul ring is best thought of as an object, a machine. Call it the “spirit sprinkler” inside your soul & body. While your soul is growing, it needs its nourishment, but eventually it can live on its own, though it will wither somewhat etc…
Back to the chunks of “outer” La Metal..where Maetel is defending her mother from her sister’s attacks. It’s very easy to see how Maetel continues to say the truth, though obliquely: “Your strength isn’t enough to beat Mother,” she tells Emeraldas. Well, this is true, and it doesn’t really commit her to a pro-Promethium position at all!
Overseeing her daughters fight, the Queen thinks: “If they kill each other it would save me the trouble [of killing them myself]“. It’s an interesting line, revealing to us her inner turmoil. Notice that throughout this scene Maetel has her back turned to Promethium. If the Queen wanted her dead she could have killed her instantly. Yet there is still something inside of her that resists, even though as these words confirm, a big part of her wants both potential rivals dead. So yes, if the daughters killed each other it would save the mechanized Promethium a lot of trouble!
Meanwhile, back in the Deathshadow, what I consider one of the weakest sequences in the series begins to unfold. Nazca comments on Promethium’s embrace of Maetel and how the latter looks weak. Tochiro’s deduction strikes me as unbelievable (unless soul ring theft is common in the Leijiverse), and then Nazca’s deduction upon the deduction (to wit, that Maetel is pretending to betray Emeraldas so as to keep her soul ring safe from Promethium) is ten times as unbelievable. And then we find that they’re both exactly right. Meh.
The rest of the fight between the three LaMetalians is very nicely done. The blood seeping down the saber becomes the ultimate weapon. A bit silly but very romantic, I think.
The escape scene might seem random, but it most definitely isn’t. The Space Insectors belong to an old type of LaMetalian spaceship. Promethium herself rode one in her younger days before she was mechanized (cf. Millennial Queen). Then, as now, one had to strip oneself naked in order to operate an Insector. The idea is that the ship interfaces directly with the pilot’s soul (thus, no need for control devices) and clothes somehow interfere with this connection.
Commander Leopard and Burnbarrel’s conversation brings us right back to the environmental tragedy at the heart of the series: the “inner” LaMetal is as destined for a wintry death as its larger counterpart. The Space Panzers are “driving” it toward a solar system (the Heavy Melder system) but there doesn’t seem to be enough energy left from LaRela’s sacrifice to get there in time.
As if the situation on the new LaMetal wasn’t bad enough, a brief flash on a computer screen clues Emeraldas and Maetel to the truth, which we viewers easily deduce from the episode count, that Promethium is still out there!
The next-to-last scene of the episode is very good and very important. Nazca opens up about his past and the loss of his friend. He tells us something we didn’t know before: that humans who refuse to be mechanized are often turned into mechanical parts, and more significantly, that the more fiery, the more spirited the human being is, the better the part s/he becomes. Nazca calls it ironic, and it really is.
As for the last scene, we don’t need to be rocket scientists or Tochiros to figure it out: some of the LaMetalian debris is being led by force into a single point…Promethium is regenerating her Empire.