ε · Your Helmine, My Lord
An air doorey [= MH transport vehicle] arrives for the festivities, dropping off three MHs including Grand Duke Juba’s very own Helmine-type mortar headd. We are told he’s bought this off the Rosso Empire to impress people at the Fatima debut [Rosso is a nation in the planet of Kallamity in another solar system]. Juba isn’t a headdliner, but the Helmine comes equipped with a soulless Fatima-type that doesn’t require one, a fact Sopp points out to Viewlard when the Helmine comes into view. Money does buy everything!!
The Helmine (Herrmeine, in Nagano’s own romanization, with a Germanic flair) is huge, twice the weight of a normal MH. Sopp says it lacks elegance, though Nagano somewhere states it’s one of his favorites. Its design makes it look as if it’s wearing Persian boots and I dare say the markings on it look vaguely Arabic. The sandy hue adds to this general Middle Eastern flavor, making the mecha look unexpectedly at home with the likes of the turbaned Pejoit, assistant of the Grand Duke of Bastogne. Not to mention both Juba and Pejoit wear similar-looking boots!
Juba is still upset at the Clotho fiasco and he invites Colus III and her to test their mettle against the Helmine. When Colus and Clotho balk at the idea, the Grand Duke mentions “problems with Hagooda” jeeringly. This will come up again, you can bet on it.
Amaterasu -ehem- anyway, “Amaterasu” smooths over the whole incident by appealing to the Grand Duke’s pride so the duel, which Clotho is too scared to go through with, is off.
Juba and Pejoit mull over the situation. Clotho is gone, and Lachesis isn’t yielding. Juba says that most of the guests have enough money and Fatimas so they won’t be a problem. Pejoit asks about Amaterasu, implying he doesn’t have a Fatima yet. And Juba replies: “His dislike for the creatures is a well-known fact.”
A few pages later, we get a flashback with Sopp and the three Fatima sisters as little girls, just before they undergo that “long capsule sleep” that transforms them into deadly weapons. Sopp gets mad with Ballanche: “These kids shouldn’t be used as weapons of mass destruction!” And he immediately pledges [with a super-enhanced shoujo-style glimmering] face, to build mortar headds that do not require Fatimas.
See what Nagano’s done here? The Helmine pops up and Sopp tells Voards about how it doesn’t carry a Fatima. Next we hear Juba saying Amaterasu hates Fatimas [and he doesn’t go into the “why”, which can mislead us]. Then we see Sopp complaining about the Fatimas, not against them, but on their behalf, and finally we find Sopp in the past pledging to build something along the lines of the Helmine. Full circle, from Sopp to Amaterasu to Sopp again in a matter of 15 pages.
Magaella and Voard’s scene is important, I think, because it’s the first time we see a Fatima/Master pair 1) which have been together for some time and 2) are in a relaxed setting. The power relations, or in essence the extent to which the term “Master” is appropriate, are in full display here: the nudie pictures on the wall, Viewlard reading the paper, Magaella tidying up, the story’s all there.
Then we see Sopp being harassed by Decors Weissmel, who we know from the intro blurbs is or will someday become the 3rd Black Knight [a fact the knowledge of which fills me with irate jealousy at what it could mean for my dear Est!!!] and then catching a glimpse of Lachesis.
Four pages follow (58-61) that are hard to describe. 58 and 59 are pure shohjo (boy stares at girl, girl stares at boy, both look lovely), whereas 60 and 61 seem to depict a bevy of incidents to occur in the future, including glimpses of Amaterasu and Lachesis in regal attire and what appears to be Lachesis soldiering in 20th century Earth [this might be a hint of events noted in the official Chronology]. This is all in all an absolutely amazing flashforward that whets the appetite and that’s all there is to say at this point.
The final sequence is pretty fun, with “Amaterasu” promising the Grand Duke that he will see what he can do for him on the subject of keeping Lachesis in Bastogne, while Ladios Sopp manages to get to the Fatima who has been eavesdropping all the time. One very interesting thing is that when Lachesis sees “Amaterasu”, she asks “Who’s that?” in the English version, whereas in the original her query is actually “Who’s that woman?”
All the tiny differences in the original and the English translation point to a desire, as I see it, of the translators to hide some of Nagano’s most egregious spoilers. As if they think that making the tale more mysterious will improve it.
Regarding the throwaway comment by one of the Bastogne guests as to Sopp’s prowess at the Battle of Tobruk, see my post: The Western Desert Campaign in Manga: Two Cases.
[covered VOLUME 2: from page 33 to the end of the volume]