φ · Upandla vs Label
Volume 8 is a strange, strange beast. It begins with a large picture of a devastating Mirage force with the caption reading Jüno 3960. Then we have a 20 page mini-arc set in Addler in the year 4071, followed by a 25-page section set in Both, 2989. Finally, the sleeve notes contain a detailed appendix on, of all things, dragons!
There is method to the madness, so let me see if I can lay it down succintly in one paragraph. Let’s take a deep breath.
The arcs so far, with the single exception of the preface, have taken place in the 30th century of the Joker Galaxy, relating specifically to events in 2988 and 2989. The preface was the last fight in Amaterasu’s conquest of the known universe, taking place in 3960. So the image at the beginning of volume 8 deals with the main struggle to destroy the Trio de Colus, happening right before the preface. Then we go to 4071, that is, a thousand years into universal AKD rule, when resistance is coalescing around the descendants of very familiar figures. Next, we get to see what happened in Both right after the end of the Second Battle of Atork, when the MH force from Hathuha withdrew after Vralgo Kentauri’s fall. And finally, dragons are important because they will feature prominently in the next major arc, which also takes place on Both. Done.
To us it doesn’t seem that long ago when Amaterasu, Aisha and their Fatimas were discussing the missing Ballanche Fatima # 42. That trivial chat now becomes incredibly important. Number 42 is Upandla Raymu (or Upandora Lime), a clone of Amaterasu apparently created by Ballanche as a gift for his friend and benefactor. Once Amaterasu achieves galactic unification he leaves the Fatima in charge and retreats to his vessel The Will with the Mirages, leaving Upandla and his God Knights to run the show.
Upandla is ruthless. This doesn’t surprise me! Heck, considering he is the head of the galaxy this behavior might even be unavoidable. But resistance a thousand years into AKD rule is growing. Upandla’s power lies in the secret of his identity, and on Addler at least this secret is about to be revealed.
1) There is a rumor going around that the Amaterasu on the throne is not the real Amaterasu. 2) To Daizina, one of the rebel partisans in Bastogne, he looks like a Fatima. 3) Label Judah, a fellow partisan, has a recurring dream of meeting a beautiful man resembling Amaterasu but with ruby red eyes, whereas Upandla’s are blue.
If you can put these three together you’re almost there, right?
Label Judah is in reality Colus VI though he is at present keeping his true identity secret. He can “hear” Clotho and he already knows about Jünchoon! He even knows that Daijina is actually the last princess of Meistner, a fact unknown to her. He probably knows this because of a ruby in her possession, likely a Meistner heirloom. Daijina is waiting for a jeweller to show up that can trace her ruby, and this man is known as Ladios Sopp…whose eyes are ruby red…
There might be someone with even more knowledge than Colus, and that’s Vralgo Kentauri’s descendant! Lord Kentauri is known and called as such, and he’s obviously trying to reestablish Fillmore with everyone’s help. He knows who Judah is, but I don’t think that Judah knows that he knows…From the little that we see here we suspect Lord Kentauri shares the blood and brains of his distiguished predecessor without the boiling temperature to go with it…this Kentauri is thus an improvement…and potentially far more dangerous.
Clotho’s statement to the effect “no one ever dies, they’re just reborn as the next generation with slight differences” is all over this mini-arc. Meistner, Colus, Kentauri, Ex… There is much of Leiji Matsumoto in this conception :) It could well be both artists are so enamoured of their characters they just can’t let go of them!
If this mini-arc is a morsel, the Nagano has given it a definite taste. Were Upandla to partake, he’d have an upset stomach: my guts tell me the days of his rule are numbered. With Colus VI and Lord Kentauri resisting on the one side, and Mirage Knights like Arrart Ex (Lie Ex’s descendant) chomping at the bits with discontent on the other, it’s MENE MENE TEKEL UPHARSIN time.
But of course, it isn’t for us, as we hurtle back in time to 2989 and the the fallout from 2nd Atork.
ON THE NAMES:
Label Judah is a wonderful name. Biblical prophecy states that the Messiah will come from the tribe of Judah, and so “Judah” here is a “Label” for Colus VI’ manifest destiny.
Upandla’s name rendered phonetically in Japanese is “Yupandora”. Pandora is of course from Greek legend, and there is a prefix in Greek with a similar sound to “yu”, which is “eu”. “Eu”, e.g. euphony, euphemism, means good. So this could mean, not that Eupandora (=Upandla) is a good Pandora or a Pandora that brings good things [because this wouldn’t be a Pandora at all then!], but a Pandora who lets/makes evil things happens but whose actions ultimately end up causing good…
Arrart Ex pilots the Wunderschätze, the Mirage space-fighter mortar headd, and this name means “Wonderful Treasures”. It’s also the title of a Seventies song by German band Novalis.
[covered VOLUME 8: from the beginning of the volume to page 30]