GE 999 eps 004-006 – Mechanization and Immortality


Hebrews 2:15

It sounds like a good deal.  With enough money you can become mechanized and potentially live forever in health and strength.  Add some more money and you can customize yourself to look as beautiful as you wish.  If it bothers you that only the rich living in Megalopolis can afford this, consider it like the Puritans did: success in life is an outward sign of grace, and so it is not unjust for the prosperous to go on and the poor to perish.

However, unlike the Judaeo-Christian God, mechanization does not guarantee eternal deathlessness.  Mechanized humans can be killed, in fact, we see them dropping like flies in the first six episodes of GE 999.  Their lot is more like the Elves of LOTR, except that the Elves were much better at watching each other’s backs.  Their condition is biological immortality, i.e. you go on without physically aging until somebody does you in.

A regular human being lives and strives to keep himself alive knowing that if he is lucky he will achieve a natural death, most likely with his mental capacity mercifully diminished.  Mechanized humans, on the other hand, might develop a paranoia: “When am I going to die?  How am I going to die?”  Odds are it’s only a matter of time, and when deaths comes it will do so in violence.  Back in the first episode, as Tochiro was avenging his mother’s death on the human-hunters, Count Mecha pleaded with him: “Don’t shoot me in the head, anywhere but the head!”  A pathetic plea that underscored the nobleman’s monstrous fear.

Those mecha-beings who do have better things to worry about than death are bound to develop a monomania or two.  An example is Shadow in ep 5, the caretaker at the Pluto Cemetery, who is obsessed with how beautiful her original body was.  She tried to customize her “machine” to look like herself but failed, so she decided to remain faceless, as no face could match the beauty of her own.  Now, with all due respect to Ms Shadow, I doubt very much that she couldn’t find a prettier mecha-face than her own (she looks kinda like Crayon Shin-chan’s mom), or even just make an outright replica like in the wax museums.   But the point is that she wants her own body back and she cannot have it.  Shadow is caught in a double pincer of doom: an impossible desire (for demechanization) and an increasingly meaningless battle to keep herself alive and her body intact in the hope of somehow somehow fulfilling that desire.

Another living, walking example of the evils of mechanization might be melancholy Maetel herself.  Thanks to several timelines and whopping contradictions in Matsumoto’s œuvre, people are still debating whether Maetel was at some point mechanized or not.  Keeping the discussion to the Galaxy Express 999 story, we see her in ep 4 been forced behind an X-ray machine to verify she is still flesh and blood, a test which she passes although she hesitates very obviously before she takes it.  In the next episode, however, she visits the icy grave of someone who looks a lot like her (in the middle of the pic above), and although Matsumoto’s women are all cut from the same cloth I’d say chances are really good that at the very least Matsumoto wants us to suspect it’s her.

At root I reckon the problem is that Earthlings in GE 999 are getting mechanized without truly transforming themselves into machines.  Leiji Matsumoto shows very well that a human cannot simply become immortal and retain his basic human impulses with impunity (interesting implications for the religious concept of Heaven, which I’m not going to get into) .  I wonder if a mechanized individual embracing the transformation and transcending himself could get a better deal…

~ by Haloed Bane on November 24, 2008.

2 Responses to “GE 999 eps 004-006 – Mechanization and Immortality”

  1. The more so, so far most of those mechanized men fall at the hand of Tetsuro, who is still babbling happily about the benefits of mechanization.

    In the manga, the original Ms Shadow’s curls and eyes remind me of Sexaroid designs. A beauty of the space 60-s. Anyway, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and Shadow is the most assiduous beholder too…

    • It took over 2 years but here we are: this post gets a comment!!! Thanks 🙂

      I guess ultimately what’s important is that we understand she thinks she’s absolutely gorgeous, and Tetsuro agrees. Though Tetsuro is easy to please.

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