η · No Longer in(KOG)nito
Not even my horrible pun can derail the amazing sequence of events about to unfold. Ladios Sopp calls for his MH to rise from under the surface. He’s not yelling, the call seems almost telepathic.
And out comes the grand mecha Knight of Gold. His adversary’s response “Gilding! That’s all” strikes a chord. When I was a boy I naturally assumed gilded objects were made of pure gold. Gradually I began to discover that 99% of the time this was not so, and often even the gilding itself wasn’t gold. It took another good span of years before I learned to appreciate the beauty of a gilded object, without prejudice for its “deception”. Now I look at the K.O.G. and am tossed back to that fantasy age of childhood, because I look at the mortar headd and I know: Amaterasu’s beast is solid gold.
The way Lachesis settles into her role, when as far as we know this is the first time ever she’s been inside a headd, throws into relief the technical android side of the Fatimas. There’s a little detail here that I’m totally in love with, without really being able to explain it: the headgear donned by Lachesis bears the inscription “Lachisis, Fenatic”. The fact that “Lachisis” is misspelled saved me the trouble of trying to figure what “fenatic” means in FSS! There’s this kitsch, cute, cheesy quality (I can see Sopp giggling as he carved those two words in) to the pair of words that I find irresistible. Sopp is indeed a Lachesis Fanatic.
And then the fighting begins. Spaads are for wimps, it seems, as the Knight of Gold crushes the Devoncha MH’s “head” with one “bare” arm [the official translation makes a mistake here, having Juba say the KOG has destroyed the Devoncha’s right arm when what he’s saying is that the KOG has destroyed the Devoncha with one (right) arm]. Decors moves in to strike and Sopp, obviously thinking if the KOG does carry a spaad he might as well use it, slashes his mecha in half across the torso. Two down, one two go.
The Grand Duke calls for his air doorey to fire its buster rock at the KOG. Busters in the world of FSS are the equivalent of nuclear weapons in ours, so this is a seriously dangerous move. I can’t blame Juba though, considering the gold MH’s crushing power.
Alas, the KOG has one of those babies too. Even worse, Sopp’s buster rock is actually a buster launcher sawed in half, which means even more power. Two seconds before Juba’s doorey can fire its rock Sopp vaporizes it with his.
Decors Weissmel survives somehow. He obviously has a destiny to fulfill as the Black Knight. The KOG weathers the explosion as well, but by now we’re kinda expecting this so it’s not much of a surprise. In the meantime, he gets to oggle Sopp and Lachesis as they smooch.
Aisha calls in fuming about how Amaterasu was supposed not to like Fatimas. Nagano draws the scene very neatly: Aisha takes off her “Amaterasu” costume (unobtrusive fanservice is nice) just as Ladios Sopp’s hormones begin to wear off and he transforms back into the true Amaterasu.
The original Japanese volume 1 actually ends right here. Then the second volume begins with a 10 page epilogue to the whole Debut of Lachesis, before proceeding to the next arc. The U.S. version splits the contents of the first Japanese volume into 3 English ones, and it tacks on the epilogue to end of the third volume. Either way works, because this epilogue is quite literally a bridge between arcs.
So what happens in the epilogue?
The now Lady Lachesis is transported back to the Floating Palace of Grees. Upon seeing Amaterasu she asks “Mr. Sopp…”, very touchingly reminding us that the meister is in fact the man she has loved since childhood.
Then we learn that the whole Juba incident has been cleaned up, that Mission Rouath (a.k.a. Viewlard) has returned as President of Trün and restored order to Bastogne and Rent.
More ominously, we find out that a year later (J.C. 2989) all negotiations have broken down between Colus and Hagooda in the planet Jüno, meaning war has begun. Of course, we only need to recall Juba commenting on these issues during the debut to realize this is no small event and that there’ll be more to come.
All of this is related in the first five pages of the epilogue. The last five I will deal with in the next post, as they bear directly on one of the core issues I talked about in my Prolegomena…
[covered VOLUME 3: from page 37 to page 62]
NOTE ON GILDING:
One of the most awesome religious buildings I have been to is a small temple in Chiang Mai whose name I can’t recall. In the tiny main hall there are three majestic Buddhas: golden, green and white. I don’t know what they are made of, although I imagine they are meant to resemble gold, jade and ivory respectively. Whatever they are made of, their beauty is undeniable.
There is also the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok, considered extremely precious to this day even though it is universally acknowledged to be made of jade.