θ · Everybody wants to rule the World

Three days after the Germans completed the conquest of France, Hitler went to pay his respects at Napoleon’s tomb in Les Invalides. As different as the men were in some ways, there is no doubt the Austrian was trying to emulate the Corsican. Napoleon himself had a favorite role model in Julius Caesar, and the man who snuffed out the Republic is said to have been spurred to greatness and glory by the deeds of Alexander the Great. As for the Macedon, his own mother repeatedly told him that his father was none other than Zeus.

Zeus, but not the lofty Zeus of Shin Mazinger, who is willing to risk it all in order to protect the innocent and the weak.  That Zeus fought Hades because he had no choice, because doing so was the lesser evil.  This Zeus, father to Alexander and countless others, fought his brothers Hades and Poseidon for supremacy, possession and the right to be called the greatest.  Alexander’s actions, and his emulators’ after him, can be seen in this light.

We look back upon these gods of antiquity and laugh.  They seem all too human, in many cases, their acts seem motivated by what we consider the base elements of humanity.  At the very moment that Olympus dissolves into a series of caricatures, some artists attempt to tweak them into moral personae worthier of our admiration (e.g. the Zeus in Mazinger).  We can do this because we know that we are better than the Ancients, because it is fair to say that in our understanding and technological development we are like gods to them.  Because we know, for example, that Alexander the Great had a human father and that Olympias was lying to him.  Because we know there are no gods…

conqueror

Fantasy, however, can explore other alternatives.  In Five Star Stories, Mamoru Nagano posits a sublime conqueror.  Alexander the Great, even in terms of his mythical demigod status, cannot compare to Amaterasu: Amaterasu is a god himself without dilution.  But what sort of god is he?  Which Zeus is he?  Or is he something altogether different?  If the issue can be resolved, I believe it is through the answer to another question: what is Amaterasu’s motivation for conquest?

***

The last five pages of the Debut of Lachesis Arc introduce us to the political aspect of the Joker Galaxy.  Amaterasu and Lachesis are discussing Hagooda’s attack on the Colus Dynasty.  The Hagooda Empire is a third-rate power and yet here it is, boldly striking against one of the most powerful forces in the galaxy!

The Emperor of Grees tells Lachesis that he suspects that someone over in Kallamity is pulling Hagooda’s strings.  The details might still be unclear to us, but the cosmic scale of the struggle should be apparent: the fighting is taking place in Jüno, a planet in the Southern Solar System.  Kallamity, the true starting point of the conflict, is in the Northern Solar System.  Amaterasu is directly monitoring the situation from his own planet of Delta Belun, in the Eastern Solar System.  Three solar systems at one go!  If any geopolitical wrangling deserves the name of the Great Game, this is it.

The Emperor then shows Lachesis the new Jagd Mirage, as yet unfinished, but promising huge power with its enormous size.  Lachesis response reminds us of her sister Clotho: the Fatima wishes there were no fighting at all and is horrified that she herself is in essence a machine for war.

The Jagd Mirage

The Jagd Mirage

This turns out to be a blessing for us, because it prompts a speech from Amaterasu on his own reason for waging war.  The first thing he does is crush the usual argument about technology and weaponry, you know when people say: “Oh, well, it’s neither good nor bad but it depends on how you use it.”  According to Amaterasu, the real purpose of weaponry is offensive, and when all is said and done more weapons means more destruction, not worse.

What’s more: technology in itself, aside from its military use, frees up civilized people’s time, which tends to make them bored, which eventually leads to war as entertainment.  Therefore, this period of supposedly wondrous technological wizardry is in fact a retrogression.  And the Emperor wants to put a stop to the killing.

As to how he proposes to do this, he doesn’t say much but he says Fatima and her sisters will be instrumental.  On top of which we have just been shown the Jagd Mirage so the answer is clear: he plans to battle himself into (galactic) supremacy and then put an end to the madness.

Immediately, the Machiavellian conundrum rears its ugly head.  Will the end justify the means?  In epic conquests very often the conqueror dies before achieving his purpose, so it’s easier to condemn his actions, since after all the end was not achieved.  It’d be like breaking a bunch of eggs to make an omelette and then dropping the frying pan before you’re done.  Amaterasu’s case as a divine conqueror, however, is intriguing.  We get a feeling that he might actually succeed, and this would make the big question even more urgent: is it worth it?

The volume and the arc end with the words “And I am sure that history will prove me right.”  Fidel Castro said something similar in the 50s…

[covered VOLUME 3: from page 63 to the end of the volume]

~ by Haloed Bane on September 30, 2009.

2 Responses to “θ · Everybody wants to rule the World”

  1. I am lost in space as to what to make of Amaterasu. I can even say that I stopped thinking too hard, that I sort of let myself (or the full experience of the series) down. I just took in all the rest of what’s awesome and made that make my day.

    But I kind of sell Nagano and his work too short by doing this, and while I can’t really contribute to the answer to the questions here, I’m glad they’re being asked.

    I’ll have to make you do the heavy lifting with regards to the interpretation😛

    • Well, they do say gods work in mysterious ways. I’ll see what I can do though. I got through the Critique of Pure Reason twice, so I should be able to handle this!!

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