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.

threefold

threefold

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.

not exactly pleased

not exactly pleased

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…

no progress in warfare

FINAL NOTE:

Est’s character design is a great victory for human art, the beautiful child of the Muses and one Mamoru Nagano, IMHO:

est
UPDATE:

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]

~ by Haloed Bane on September 5, 2009.

5 Responses to “α · Prologue”

  1. Swords are cool, and is related to the trappings of honor and chivalry. I feel that the Mortar Headds, armed with ridiculously powerful long-range weapons (all the way to Buster weapons), only use them to level odds, or against large/massed targets. Against a lone MH, headdliners will choose to engage at very close range.

    Est too, is one of my favorites. If you haven’t been disoriented with the volume of staggered (timeline wise) stories by the time you get to Est’s (origin?) story, I think you’ll have an ever richer experience.

    I must say that I am taken aback by the power of your own experience of the Five Star Stories. In a way I am jealous, akin to having dated a fine woman and moving on. Then seeing her sweep someone else off his feet with the same charms she’s swept mine, only that the man off his feet also found flight in the same moment.

    Trust that I’ll be looking forward to more of your posts on this work, that can be elegant, trashy, funny, grave, grand, and whimsical all at once.

  2. ghost, in a way my feelings toward FSS are very ego-centered. Basically, I feel like this is exactly what I would want to come up with if, well, if I could carefully plot a story and design mecha and draw pretty pictures and stuff. Almost like I’m Mamoru Nagano’s manqué twin.

    Chivalry, yes, Nagano’s definitely into that.

    Darn, that’s a nice simile from a relationship situation that happens all too often!! It’s funny how the world works, you and I of all people discussing a Japanese tale in the Anglo-Saxon tongue, attempting to beat all of our feelings out of it and into cyberspace (sometimes I feel what I do the English language could qualify as abuse, and that if I were born speaking it I’d respect it more and not press and squeeze it like that!) …

    Thanks for your support, it motivates me. I’ll be looking forward to the trashy moments in FSS 🙂

  3. Yeah man, two non-Japanese from different countries (in your case, even more layered) fanboying about this work that is beyond Japanese yet remaining very Japanese. It’s not quite universal, but rather Joker Galactic (LOL NICE PUN!).

    Nagano’s work in Gundam include some of my favorite designs, and one that I find as one of the ugliest.

    Re trashy: in the earlier books, Viewlard is involved. (In the fanservicemovie, Viewlard is voiced by freaking Wakamoto Norio. It made me love the film immediately.

  4. Five Star Stories is a magnificent example of what Iknight calls “the resurrection of personal combat for a science fiction setting. Mecha are like lightsabers, they permit you to deposit THE FATE OF THE UNIVERSE, &C on the shoulders of two people fighting.”

    Also, aren’t there more than 26 english volumes published so far, or somesuch? What if you run out of Greek letters?

  5. @vendredi

    Resurrection of personal combat, I like that!

    The Greek alphabet is 24 letters long, so after omega (if I get that far!) what I’ll do is start over again but doubling the letters: double alpha, double beta, double gamma, double delta and (!!!!) double epsilon, which as you will see from the very beginning of my next FSS post, would tie up with the manga in a very felicitous way.

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