Space Symphony Maetel 12: To Play a Part
New monologue this week!
“I am Maetel. I could not see it yet. This star’s future, this star’s end-road, and the final stop of my own journey.”
Japanese, and Matsumoto, often refer to planets as stars. Maetel is of course talking of LaMetal here.
The word I literally translated as “end-road”, “matsuro”, is usually translated in English as “the end of one’s days”. It refers to the end of someone’s life, with a sense of decay or deterioration after glory, as if your life hit a pinnacle of greatness and has now come down to this, a sad end. Maetel’s words hark back to the glory of LaMetal, which is kind of easy for us viewers to forget as we watch this..
Call me crazy but Nazca’s argument totally convinced me: it’d be callous for him to live happily on LaMetal when all of his friends died fighting against Promethium. Only if he is able to continue the struggle and defeat her will it be fitting for him to live there in peace. That said, the way Maetel phrases things (a bit later on) is once again inconsistent with Leiji’s on and off message of friendship and unity between flesh and blood and mechanized peoples. The New LaMetal, she argues, should be for those who suffered at the hands of Promethium’s mechanization program. The claim implicitly excludes Arina (who luckily is dead by now) and other decent Mechanoids from the old LaMetal. After all, Arina didn’t suffer from the program, she only survived because of it!!
Harlock’s speech sets up the classic Leijiverse battle scenario: a tiny band of heroes faces off against a huge evil army. In this case we have merely three ships (Harlock’s, Emeraldas’, Nazca’s) against a mechanical host that, as Tochiro explains, self-replicates at an accelerated rate. Even worse, the three ships don’t even sail off simultaneously. The Deathshadow goes first, then the Queen Emeraldas sails, while Nazca is momentarily traveling in the opposite direction! Mind you, the first two ships are among the four best of all time and space in the Leijiverse, so the situation is not as lopsided as it looks
Speaking of Nazca’s return to pick up Maetel, there is throughout this episode an explicit understanding by the heroes (Harlock, Tochiro, Emeraldas), revealed rather blatantly in so many words, that Maetel and Nazca are an “item”, a couple. Everyone hopes they’ll live happily ever after. Nazca’s about the only one in the dark here, poor child. It’ an “Only in Japan” kind of script~
The script for the battle is rather outrageous as well. Maetel procures a ship shield from Heavy Melder just before the fighting begins. Planet Promethium fires its main cannon at the Deathshadow and Nazca’s ship uses the freshly equipped shield to fend it off. The cannon has drained so much energy it won’t be able to fire for a while, the shield is consumed. It’s a straightforward, convenient and facile sequence of events. Put in a good light, it reminds of the Destiny’s heavy role in the series.
I don’t feel at all bad pointing out the flaws in the script because of how well the episode ends. What’s been hinted at for so long finally comes to the forefront: to defeat Promethium only a taste of her own medicine will do. Someone will have to become a “part” of her machine and destroy it from the inside. But who? The strength of a machine part is derived from the will of the one that was mechanized. The stronger the will, the stronger the part. Immediately we’ll be tempted to think of Harlock, or Tochiro, or maybe Emeraldas as the best bets. However, right now we’ve only considered willpower in general, in the abstract. If the task is to destroy Promethium’s machine, then the one with the strongest will to do just that will be the best bet.
Now, Emeraldas and Promethium are both staunchly committed to defeating their mother, and each of them pledges to become the part in turn. Thus the episode ends. However, since it is after all their own blood we are talking about, it’s possible that they might hesitate before the end and fail. We can already tell that the daughters are out, and the only one left with a big enough grudge against Promethium is the boy Nazca, who has come from god knows where just to beat the Machine Queen. This is not facile scriptwriting here, it’s logical, natural, forceful, and tremendously satisfying for us fans.
Leaving Nazca’s decision for the final episode is great, not because it forces us to wonder whether he will go through with it or not (after all, we’d have to be absolute newbies to the Leijiverse to ignore the fact that Maetel and Emeraldas do not turn into parts but go on to have many more adventures after this series) but because it makes us anticipate the moment and enjoy the heroism of the thing that much more. I can’t think of a better way for Nazca to match Leopard’s and Oliver’s sacrifice (back in episode 3) than this, with the irony being in the fact that Nazca’s ticket to happiness on New LaMetal, this great sacrifice, will mean that he will not get to redeem his prize.