LaMetal (the Japanese Wikipedia Article) Part I of II
[There are some amazing Leijiverse articles on Japanese Wikipedia, full of information that is extremely hard to acquire in English short of watching every single Matsumoto show, collating the data, etc. I am translating here an article on LaMetal, which is Maetel’s home planet (the original is here). if you want to hold the Leijiverse in the palm of your hands, this article is ESSENTIAL! It’s also freaking long so I’ve split it into two posts and added some images. I will defend my decision to transliterate ラーメタル as “LaMetal” in a note after the translation.]
LaMetal is a fictional planet appearing in the comics and animation based on the comics of Leiji Matsumoto. This article will also treat Dark Sun Ra, which is intimately connected to LaMetal.
LaMetal is a planet with an extremely large elliptical orbit which completes a revolution around the Solar System in a 1,000 year period. It is sometimes called “Wandering Star LaMetal” and the planet’s name means “Eternal Traveler” in LaMetalian. Its air pressure, gravity, and atmospheric components are roughly the same as Earth’s. However, its diameter is 109,404 km, or nine times Earth’s (1). It is stated in the Millennial Queen film that its speed of rotation is 48 hours 22 minutes 43 seconds. Once every thousand years, LaMetal’s passage within the Solar System has a great impact on Earth’s environment.
The surface of the planet is usually covered by a thick layer of ice with a maximum extent of 3,000 meters. It is a bitterly cold world with a surface temperature of -280°C. When the light of the Sun reaches LaMetal, the ice melts, seas are born and cities buried underneath the ice begin to appear. The capital is Miyu City. Once LaMetal begins to approach Earth its atmosphere extends like a tail and fuses with Earth’s atmosphere. This is called the “Atmospheric Bridge”. The “bridge” collapses and disappears 48 hours after LaMetal reaches its closest point to Earth. This signal is followed by LaMetal’s gradual departure from the Solar System. Finally, ice begins to cover the planet again beginning at its poles and moving toward the center.
Appearances in the works of Matsumoto
1. Millennial Queen
LaMetal first appears in the comic series New Tale of the Bamboo Cutter: Millennial Queen (1980-1983). The planet’s existence goes for a long time unconfirmed, but in 1999 Professor Amamori from the Tsukuba Observatory discovers the so-called tenth planet (2) of the Solar System. Initially it is termed “Unconfimed Motion Planet A-6” but eventually it comes to be known as Amamori Planet. Afterwards, the professor’s assistant Yayoi Yukino (in actuality the Millenial Queen sent by LaMetal) reveals that its true name is LaMetal. In the TV version, it is Yukino’s older sister Selen (younger sister in the comics and film) who reveals the name by means of a video letter sent to the professor’s nephew Hajime Amamori. On this occasion, and according to computer calculations done by Professor Amamori, the point of closest contact between the two planets will take place at 9:09 am on the 9th of September, 1999. In the original story, LaMetal suffers a change in its speed of revolution that postpones the event to the 13th of March, 2000 (3). In the comics as well as in the film, it is originally expected that at this point of contact LaMetal will collide with Earth and due to its larger size cause the annihilation of the smaller planet. Later on it becomes clear that LaMetal is poised to deal a great amount of damage as it passes Earth by, but that an actual collision will not occur.
In the TV version, the date set out by the professor’s calculations becomes a countdown to Earth’s obliteration, and during this period of approach some of the other planets in the system are destroyed. LaMetal continues its scheduled orbital path toward Earth but the crisis is avoided by Yayoi’s self-sacrifice, as she manages to destroy Dark Comet Ra (initimately connected with LaMetal, see below) allowing LaMetal to move away from Earth without a collision. From now on LaMetal shares an orbit with Earth and is consequently able to enjoy the blessings of the Sun.
2. Adieu Galaxy Express 999: Terminal Station Andromeda
In the film Adieu Galaxy Express 999: Terminal Station Andromeda, released during the time Millennial Queen was being serialized, LaMetal appears as a satellite of the planet Heavy Melder. It has the same elliptical orbit of 1,000 year periods and viewed from space it reveals smoke-like clouds covering its surface. In the film LaMetal is said to be Maetel’s birthplace. At some point it becomes a battlefield between a mechanized faction and a flesh and blood faction. According to Matsumoto, 20,000 years have elapsed between the LaMetal of Millennial Queen and the LaMetal of the film (4).
3. Appearances in the OVAs
The two OVAs Maetel Legend (2000) and Space Symphony Maetel: Galaxy Express 999 Side Story (2004) were meant to fill up the gap between the Millennial and the 999 periods. Here, LaMetal is pulled out of the Solar System and the Milky Way by the dimensional gravity of Dark Sun Ra, in the direction of the Andromeda Galaxy. Due to the lack of sunlight, LaMetalian residents manufacture an artificial sun (in Maetel Legend). With this they are to stave off the cold, but the sun eventually breaks down.
In Space Symphony Maetel, LaMetal’s Queen LaAndromeda Promethium begins to push for the mechanization of both the inhabitants and the planet in order to survive the severe environmental conditions. The plan is to cover the entire planet with a mechanical shell. However, the abruptness of the mechanization provokes opposition among the population and a Rebel Army is formed. Former Queen LaRela and Maetel, working for the rebels, detach the planet’s inner core and destroy LaMetal. The LaMetalians evacuate to the core, which is caught in Heavy Melder’s gravity field and becomes its satellite. At this moment, LaMetalians are able to enjoy spring once more and they begin to refer to the core-turned-satellite as Reborn LaMetal. It is thought that space from the universe had been expanding inside LaMetal, in the area where the core existed, and that this space warped the common sense of LaMetalians.
(1) – In the TV version of Millennial Queen, LaMetal is three times as large as Earth.
(2) – At that time, Pluto was considered the ninth planet.
(3) – This actually appears as the year 200 due to a misprint. Also, March 13th was the scheduled premiere of the film.
(4) – From “Animedia”, 1981 October issue. Gakken Co., Ltd. page 10.