Space Symphony Maetel 13
The last monologue is a repeat of episode 5′s: “I am Maetel. My voyage has no starting station. Far away where the ring of time meets (or: the rings of time meet), that is my starting station.”
So, is there a pattern to the monologues, or are they thrown in there without a second thought? I reckon they must have some significance. Otherwise, why bother repeating some of them? Why not have a brand new monologue each week? I mean, we ended up with seven distinct monologues in all, and I’m confident the writing team was creative enough to come up with six more if they had wanted to. Then again, maybe Leiji wrote up seven monologues, handed them to the anime staff and it was up to them to use and reuse them for the 13 episodes.
Here’s the sequence of the monologues, from left to right, with each color denoting a distinct monologue script:
There are only three unrepeated monologues. The first one is the long intro (black here) and it’s no surprise it’s unique considering its role. The second unique monologue (green) leads off chapter ten, and deals with the impossibility of stopping what must happen. It’s positioned really well toward the crescendo/climax of the story (or rather, the climax of this particular arc of what ultimately is a never-ending story). The third unique monologue (pink above) is the next to last one. Maetel says: “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.” It’s a rather titillating statement, and in the light of episode 13 we can see it promises too much. After all, the series ends with Maetel still in the dark about all of these “ends”, though one could argue Nazca’s sacrifice has enlightened her as to how possibly to end it all…
The last episode, as I said earlier, is a repeat of number 5, essentially a factual statement of Maetel’s plight and a more abstract, more universal version of the “red” monologue which crops up 4 times in the series. If there’s anything more to this issue of the monologue sequence I don’t see it yet…
On to the episode itself. The first sequence is great, right after the OP, is great. Let’s break it down:
1. Shot of the Deathshadow, Nazca’s ship and the Queen Emeraldas.
2. Focus on Nazca’s ship as it advances.
3. Shot of the Deathshadow’s bridge with Nazca’s ship visible ahead.
4. Shot of Harlock, Tochiro and Tori (the bird) utterly quite and unmoving.
5. Shot of Harlock deep in thought.
6. Fade to Maetel pledging to sacrifice herself to defeat Promethium.
7. Shot of Harlock and Tochiro listening to Maetel.
8. Shot of a perfectly impassive cat listening to Maetel.
9. Shot of Maetel looking ahead with determination (her declaration from #6 has just finished).
10. Shot of Tochiro banging his fist on the table in frustration and yelling “I…I…”.
11. Shot of Tori crying and hollering.
12. Another shot of Nazca’s ship, at a downward angle.
13. Shot inside Nazca’s ship’s bridge. We see the mysterious cat on the right, and we get enough visual clues to know Maetel is sitting portside (top of her black hat and a bit of blond hair sticking out). The camera begins to focus on Maetel’s seat but that’s just a tease as we change to..
14. Shot of the cat sitting near the other seat, and gradually a zooming in on what’s on the seat: nothing but a screw. The episode title pops up.
This sequence lasts 45 seconds, but it packs so much.
The animals are particularly interesting. The first time I saw Space Symphony Maetel so many years ago I was obsessed with that cat. How couldn’t I?! I felt that the key to the show lay with that feline and I just speculated and speculated and speculated. This time around, knowing what the cat is, I haven’t even given it a second thought.. Conversely, Tori-san’s crying didn’t perturb me in the least the first time around, but now as a seasoned Leiji Matsumoto fan I can’t help but feel utterly nostalgic at the sight.
I wrote that we have enough clues in this 45-second opener to know that it’s not Maetel, but Nazca, who was “partified”, but I reckon the first time I watched the show I didn’t even notice them… It’s a nice twist, and it shows Nazca’s knack at barging unwanted into important places at important times (though granted, Destiny always leaves its doors wide open for him to run straight through).
While at first sight Promethium’s taunting of Maetel seems totally reckless, it does kind of make sense. She thinks she can handle Nazca’s screw [sorry for the wording], and she knows Nazca would make her planet extremely powerful, therefore she wants Maetel to insert it. In the Queen’s mind it’s not a gamble at all but a sure thing. Of course she’s setting herself up for a rude awakening.
There’s not much I can say about Maetel’s father, who is revealed to have been controlling the cat. He’s meant to be a mystery, and so far Matsumoto has resisted the temptation to reveal more about him. I do have this to say, though. At the end when Maetel and Emeraldas are at the station, we see Maetel trying to hand their “father” to her sister. Emeraldas refuses and Maetel gets to keep him. I think we are supposed to conclude from this that the famous voice in the very first episode/chapter of Galaxy Express 999 belongs most definitely to the same man. If so, there’s all sorts of interesting things we can derive from the fact.
Two memorable things about Nazca’s triumphs, besides the obvious fact of the victory itself and how it sets up everything that will occur later: a) his description of Maetel’s mission as forging an alliance between flesh-and-blood humans and Mechanoids, and b) that kiss. Nazca doesn’t really react to it… Is it the fact that he can’t really feel it so it doesn’t excite him, or is it that he still really sees Maetel as more of an auntie or role model than a lover?? I don’t know.
Anyway, the good guys win, Promethium will surely return, Maetel figures out what she has to do to stop her mother eventually. All in all I think the series is very effective in fulfilling its very particular role, and it has plenty of outstanding scenes that make it a worthwhile watch on its own merits. Thanks for reading!