GE 999 012-014: Maetel is the Destroyer of Worlds (literally) + Cybernetic Chest Design
eps 12 and 13 take place on the Fossil Planet, once a run-of-the-mill locale that was overrun by a fossilizing cloud which, you guessed it, turned everyone and everything into fossils. One space-warrior was away at the time, though, and when he comes back he becomes the protector of the fossils and in particular of his beloved Lija, who by now is a very nice sculpture.
This is basically another one of Matsumoto’s tales of tragic love. Matsumoto love tends to be both very simple and very intense (Wagnerian?). The “fossil warrior” is obsessed with finding a cure for Lija, and he steals Tetsuro’s train pass in order to find out someone who can help him. Because of this, Tetsuro almost misses the Galaxy Express train. He pleads with the Conductor, who repeatedly quotes the rule book to the effect that the 999 cannot board passengers without a ticket. Luckily, he gets it back in the end.
Anway, it’s ep 14 that takes the story to a whole new level and it’s the one I’m going to focus on here.
After the Fossil planet, Maetel and Tetsuro arrive at the Double Planets. These twin bodies actually rain on each other, forming a “rainbow” bridge between them. The 999’s stop is Complete Mechanization, a city true to its name. Maetel gives Tetsuro some interesting intel: 1) all of the inhabitants of Complete Mechanization are totally mechanized except for the brain. This immediately reminded me of Count Mecha in the first ep, who begged not to be shot in the head (everywhere but the head). Is this restriction due to technological limitations, or an ethical choice of sorts?
2) It’ll take at least two to three hundred years for the first inhabitants of Complete Mechanization to start dying. This is the sort of information that makes one wonder about Maetel. How does she know this and what does it mean? Tetsuro doesn’t ask.
The two travelers do the by now customary visit to the local restaurant. Bad things happen when Tetsuro and Maetel dine out, guaranteed! Maetel orders drinks and Tetsuro gulps down the pink liquid. When he shows signs of feeling ill, Maetel gasps and says she’s forgotten to give Tetsuro the antidote! The typical drink here is liquid nitrogen, which mecha-men can drink without a problem, but is bad news for flesh and blood humans without the antidote.
Maetel herself is unaffected by the drink, which means either one of three possibilities:
a) Maetel is mechanized. She can easily drink the nitrogen, so she forgot to administer the antidote to Tetsuro.
b) Maetel isn’t mechanized. She drank the antidote, and that’s why she’s unharmed, but she somehow forgot to give Tetsuro some.
c) (Maetel’s status aside) she deliberately withheld the antidote to trigger the carnage that will follow.
Item (a) is the natural, believable explanation. How could Maetel possibly take an antidote and forget to give poor Tetsuro a little taste?? Impossible. Then there’s (c), which is more of an exercise in thought than a real possibility, or is it?
Things go south real quick when everyone in the restaurant realizes that Tetsuro is unmechanized. A man stands up and announces his intention to stuff him, or maybe skin him and make him into a rug. Tetsuro overcomes his nitrogenously enfeebled state to shoot down everyone but two of the people in the busy restaurant (Maetel and a waitress are spared). Talk of stuffing reminded Tetsuro of Count Mecha and his mother’s fate thus ends in massacre.
They escape only to have Tetsuro run over by another local, who turns out to be a psychopathic green-skinned doctor named Lala. Lala manages to swap bodies with Tetsuro (she’s tired of being a robot) and it takes a while until they switch back. The two heroes get back to the 999 just in time. Actually, Maetel is a bit late, as she has told Tetsuro she had something to do first.
Earlier in the episode Tetsuro had yelled to Maetel in exasperation: does everyone become an evil lunatic once they’ve been mechanized?! Maetel was so taken aback at this that she almost fainted, claiming that it was due to not being used to the antidote for nitrogen (ha! I don’t believe her). But the real effect of Tetsuro’s words comes out here. As the 999 soars out into space, the Double Planets crash into each other and are totally destroyed. Even Tetsuro puts 2 and 2 together: Maetel said she had something to do + Energy Control mechanism keeping the two planets apart malfunctions = Maetel destroyed both worlds (to rid it of all those mecha-bastards). Tetsuro suspects, then suspends his doubts like the boy that he is.
Maetel’s stature has reached Krishnaic proportions. Krishna is the avatar of Vishnu that boasts (or simply states, it’s a matter of perspective) that he can destroy worlds. You could even say Maetel is to Tetsuro what Krishna is to Arjuna (in the Mahabharata epic): a secretly-divine aid to a warrior in search of his destiny. It would seem she’s beyond good and evil, unless Matsumoto is working with a simple morality where if you’re bad you deserve to die…
ANATOMICAL NOTE: For a brief moment during the episode you can see a bit of Lahla’s chest. Here:
This is similar to Ryuzu’s design as seen in ep 08, here:
Notice the upper arm/shoulder is practically the same, i.e. a purely mechanical connector (dark green color with black lines crisscrossing) of the limb with the rest of the body. The breast is an unattractive concave contraption (taillight!) in both cases, but whereas Ryuzu is practically a mecha-torso with fleshly limbs, Lala seems mostly lifelike with but a few cybernetic traits.
We know from hearing Ryuzu’s story that she was one of the first to get mechanized in her own planet, and paradoxically her robotic outlook is proof of this. Lala lives in Complete Mechanization, so by definition she’s totally cybernetic (except for the brain) so evidently the trend in the Leijiverse is for mechanized people to look more and more “human” as the mechanization technology progresses. Obviously there is here a dermatological skin-mimicking technology that is advanced/expensive to acquire.
By this token, then, the people in Earth’s Megalopolis are way behind. Count Mecha (see the pic in my post on eps 1~3) is practically a tin can with nice hair. Other images of the people on Megalopolis show the same traits. Conversely, Tetsuro at the end of this ep (14) snuggles up to Maetel and praises her for her warmth. If indeed Maetel is mechanized, then it’s one fine dermatologist that did it! It will be interesting to see more developed mechanization designs as we advance through space.