αα · Kastepo Stars
The concept of chivalry is very important in the Joker Galaxy. The headdliners in particular have a code they must follow, a typical and acceptable manner of behavior. We begin our sojourn in Kastepo with an opposition between the two ends of this spectrum: an elite Lown knight named Muse von Reyback and a lawless headdliner.
The Lown (= Rune) Knights belong to the Holy Cobalkan (= Kubalkan) Empire, which we haven’t heard of before. Cobalkan is a theocracy with a Pope for a leader (Rio Spanda). This, plus the fact that Muse wears a large cross would suggest a devout Christian nation. But the point is that it is a religious nation [but see note at the end]. The official name for the Cobalkan polity, 法国, means Land of the Law, or Dharma-Land, as DESIGNS has it. Also, 法王, Spanda’s title, is nowadays used primarily for the Catholic Pope, but it’s also a Buddhist term applied to Shakyamuni in some sutras. Not to mention that the Lown Knights are in the original Japanese Rune Knights, and runes are associated with Germanic religion. And the Muses are pagan Greek deities.
So we don’t really need to focus on whether it’s Christian or Buddhist or what: the point is Cobalkan’s devotion to principle. Oh, and the fact that they’re the second most powerful nation on Kallamity, occupying the western extremity of the same mainland as Fillmore.
The linguistic situation of Cobalkan is pretty funny. In the original Japanese manga, Muse and Ssizz speak in English. The English edition has them speaking in Japanese. So far we haven’t seen any kind of communication problems between folk of different nations, or even hints of dialectal differences. Therefore my preliminary conclusion is that there is a common tongue in the Joker Galaxy (something like Westron in LOTR) and that Cobalkan has made it a point of keeping up with an older (or just different) tongue named Lown (or Rune) with a peculiar Cobalkan accent.
The antithesis to Muse and those like him is the nasty headdliner who messed up the Poerlan MH and didn’t even bury his enemies, an important part of the code. We once more get to see a mangled Fatima…how many Nagano, how many??
The appearance of the Thunder Dragon was phenomenal, from the prior disappearance of the gathering Gamala wolfy creatures through the supersonic combat jet silhouette to that winsome draconic smile.
Muse goes into Vachi City and we start getting introduced to other characters that will feature in this arc. There’s a bounty of 100 million feathers for swordsman Dogulus (=Douglas) Kaien. Then we see an over-thet-top playboy lord named Viscount von Hitter! Reflect on the fact that to “hit” can be an aggressive move toward the enemy as well as toward a potential mate, and even if you don’t connect the dots the blurbs at the beginning of the volume will clue you in: Hitter = Kaien.
Next we get to see one of the regular Divers in action. This is your classic Hollywood bit: the mild-mannered guy steps in, the bad guys tell him to scram, he doesn’t, they go for what they think will be an easy kill, he turns out to be a beast from hell. Kinda stale. The original Japanese doesn’t have anything like the word “coolie” in it (instead they call him a “commoner”, i.e. non-headdliner), but I think the translation works because this is a very stereotypical Japanese view of Chinese people [as a rule, Chinese people are treated very peculiarly in manga, this is documented and I read a good article on it long ago but I can’t remember where or by who…]
Things are already getting extremely complicated here. The crowd gathering around the Diver and the rogue headdliners includes Palu Swain (=Suyene), which we recognize from the intro blurbs as an attendant of the Emu Kingdom’s prince [Emu is one of the members of the AKD, although not one of the 10 original states]. How hard is it for us to conclude right now that the “Chinese” Diver is none other than this Prince Ko from Emu?
The man that stops Muse von Reyback from intervening does a great Sherlock Holmes impersonation, but looking through his letter we realize he is from the Fillmore Empire (his daughter has a crush on Bruno Canzian). And he helps us out by identifying Viscount von Hitter’s companion “Ayako”‘s real name as Tomoe, a ninja of some sort. And here I must retract my words a little bit, as Nagano does seem to be trying to do specific East Asian character designs (the Diver, Ayako/Tomoe, and Muse’s Fatima Ssizz, whose name is basically Japanese “Shizu”, meaning “quiet”).
Once again Nagano has thrown a bunch of superstars our way, each of whom is disguised and each of whom knows at least some of the others’ true identities. Look at the grin on “Viscount von Hitter” when “Ayako” asks him whether he knows who that “stranger” recently arrived is.
If anything, that FACE reminds me of the Thunder Dragon itself!
And all of this is happening in December of 2989…what a year!!!
NOTE – NAGANO ON RELIGION IN FSS:
Question 16 of the Q&A book Questionia is about the place of religion/s in the Joker Galaxy. This is Nagano’s reply:
“There are no religions! Absolutely none. There is no belief in gods, there are no teachings. It would be funny if Christianity showed up in Greek mythology, right? FSS is a tale about the gods!!”
[covered VOLUME 9: from the beginning of the volume to page 38]