α · Prologue
[NOTE: I will use Greek letters to denote Five Star Stories posts from here on out.]
“Jüno 3960…It has been a week since the Colus dynasty fell to the forces of Amaterasu…”
The prologue brings us straight to the conclusion of Amaterasu’s pacification of the known universe. The Imperial Chinese concept of “pacification” might sound to us today as a conceit, but Amaterasu no doubt thinks he is literally bringing peace to humanity.
The honor for the last stand in the Joker star cluster goes to the triad of Grard Sydmian, Est and Vatshu the Black Knight. Mortar Headds are always threefold: a headdliner, a Fatima, and the metal beast itself.
Est and Vatshu go together. Everytime Est chooses a master that one becomes the Black Knight. Grard is the fifth, and he is the last. Est’s decision not to find another master but to finish it all there with Grard lifeless and Vatshu beaten is symbolic of the End. After all, who can better feel the rhythms of an old, technologically transformed universe than the hybrid Fatimas? You might as well listen to The Doors and weep.
Grard is noble enough to accept defeat, but he is also smart enough to accept its inevitability. “Unbelievable weaponry”. Amaterasu cannot be stopped. But while fighting, Grard puts it all out of his mind and tries to win (it isn’t self-delusion or a lie: the brave will fight in the moment as if they will win even against overwhelming odds, maybe, just maybe, because in that split second they are triumphant [and if a single moment is an eternity by another name as Zarathustra taught, then…?])
Then the moment is gone and the Black Knight is defeated. By the 32nd Mirage Knight, a young one who has hardly made a name for himself yet. In the heat of battle Grard wanders: who’s the monster here? Is it the headdliner or is it the Fatima? Which brings us to Teata, created by the great Ballanche specifically to rival Est and her creator, Dr. Morard.
We know from the introductory blurbs that Teata and Est were friends once, but Teata certainly does not show it. She smiles and congratulates her master, like the campaign mastermind heaps praise on the newly elected president.
The report reaches Amaterasu of the success of the 32nd Mirage Knight. He does not seem exactly pleased. This is because he is the answer to Grard’s question and he knows it. “Who is the monster? The god of light.” Bold, Nagano, very bold. 900 years of pacification and the final outcome is successful, but oh have the losses accumulated.
And back in the wasteland, Est shuts herself in the Black Knight and a great haze [a blaze?] adds three more to the cost of Amaterasu’s quest for galactic supremacy.
Grard’s words: “Juchöon and Clotho will rise again” linger in the wind. We do not know much, we do not grasp what this means, but we have seen enough to feel a longing for such a wish along with a sense (despair?) that it may never come true…
Mechas fighting with big swords, isn’t this simply a throwback to pre-modern times? Some humongous sacrifice of the latest (or future and still unseen) technology on an altar made of sticks and stones??
That’s a feeling I get often with regard to mecha. Sometimes I think that it’s actually a deeper understanding of the fact that just as is the case with philosophy, there is no progress in warfare. Not really. In some way or other, it is what it is…
Est’s character design is a great victory for human art, the beautiful child of the Muses and one Mamoru Nagano, IMHO:
For record keeping purposes I will be tracking which pages of the manga I’ve covered in each post, using the English-language version for my guideline. So:
[covered VOLUME 1: from the beginning of the volume to page 34]