The Metanoids (Part II of III)
Alas, other Metanoids do their jobs much better than Ruda, and the repercussions of their actions are catastrophic. When you see Maetel Legend you likely wonder about the identity of Hardgear. We’re not told anything about his past, really. We know that he is mechanized, that he is trusted by Queen Promethium of LaMetal, and that he convinces her to mechanize her people in order to survive the eternal winter that has doomed her planet. He also enjoys getting drunk on the essence of bodies and/or souls, which is distilled into a wine-like substance.
Well, according to what Matsumoto wrote for the 36th card of his Millennium Legend cards [here are the pics of all 40 cards] Hardgear and his cohort Brant are both Metanoids (I don’t think the word “Metanoid” is even mentioned in Maetel Legend, but I could be wrong!). So the destiny of LaMetal and the creation of the Machine Empire is all due to Metanoid machinations. Viewing the Maetel stories in isolation, we might conclude Hardgear was just a power-hungry maniac who worked alone, but we can now see he is in fact in the same position as Ruda vis a vis the Afressian Empire…though obviously each of them developed in very different ways.
Cosmo Warrior Zero will dispel any doubts as to the preferred method of conquest for the Metanoids. We are immediately introduced to an Earth which has lost to mechanized troops from a force called the Cosmic Empire. The Cosmic Emperor himself is mechanized (i.e. he was human once) but he has an immensely powerful minister of sorts in the person of Helmatia. And Helmatia is a Metanoid. Leiji’s comments on Millennium Legend card # 21 points to this, although those who have read the Harlock Saga manga probably remember a “Metanoid Knight” named Helmazaria who happens to look a lot like Helmatia (Helmazaria is Helmatia’s big sister, Leiji tells us).
We have enough clues to reconstruct the prehistory of Cosmo Warrior Zero: Helmatia arrives in a planet called Miraiseria, which is about to be engulfed in flames through a solar catastrophe [thus the exact opposite of LaMetal’s situation!] and convinces a man named Zeth Vorder to mechanize himself. Zeth then manages to convince the entire world to mechanize and becomes its tyrant, then he sets out to conquer the universe and eventually defeats Earth (with Helmatia by his side the entire time).
Marina Oki, Captain Zero’s love interest, is one of the Miraiserians compelled to mechanize. What’s amazing here again is how Leiji manages not to mention the word Metanoid even once. At the end the Cosmic Empire is vanquished and Helmatia leaves, happy that at least she has retrieved some good data on humanity to hand to her superior.
The upshot of all of this is that humanity has plenty of things to be angry with the Metanoids! And I haven’t even mentioned the most terrible deed of all, and BEWARE BECAUSE A MASSIVE SPOILER WILL FOLLOW FOR THE REST OF THIS PARAGRAPH: in the end of the Harlock Saga manga, a massive Metanoid Phantasma fleet (Phantasma being a name that reappears in the Great Yamato project) threatens the universe, and Great Harlock and Dr. Oyama (Harlock’s and Tochiro’s dads respectively) meet it head on and destroy it, at the cost of their lives, and while their children look on. The stakes are high for the heroes of the Leijiverse: the Metanoids ruined Emeraldas’ and Maetel’s mother and killed Harlock’s and Tochiro’s fathers!
As for humanity as a whole, successive waves of invaders (Zeth’s troops and Promethium’s) have been backed by the Metanoids. According to the Eternal Fantasy film, the Metanoids manage to blow our Sun up and essentially pulverize the Solar System. Tetsuro embarks on a new journey with Maetel to somehow stop this past from ever happening.
All of this is not to say that the Metanoids are pure evil. I don’t think such a thing exists in the Leijiverse. Helmazaria is given a ridiculously attractive and ethically sophisticated persona in Harlock Saga and Eternal Fantasy, and she’s one of the most powerful Metanoids in existence! But there is definitely a certain purity to the Metanoids, working at the physical and not the moral level: the Metanoids are machines, period. In other words, they are naturally mechanical, they are the antithesis of organic lifeforms, and thus might be said to be a tougher enemy (because more alien) than all others we’ve met in the Leijiverse. On the other hand, the boundaries of the very definition of “Metanoid” can become a subject of debate. Strictly speaking, Metanoids are a mechanical race with Helium-3 hearts. Any organic life forms that become mechanized are not Metanoid, but Leiji sometimes uses the word to refer to precisely these collaborators. Oh Leiji!
And then, of course, in true Matsumoto form even the pure Metanoids come in all shapes and sizes. The Metanoid Knights look more like Teutonic Knights than anything. Metanoid foot soldiers don’t exactly look like machines either, but more like ghouls with the ability to melt into a petroleum jelly of sorts [apparently they’re made of liquid metal]. When you catch a glimpse of them manning the fake Deathshadow in Cosmo Warrior, you get a sense that they’re creepy and alien, but not mechanical!
The Great Yamato project was cut short, and this is a real shame. There was a 2 volume manga that barely got started and practically got nowhere (certainly not even to the point of introducing Harlock and company, which was almost the whole point), and a music CD. Still, I want to point out one interesting detail from each of these products.
The second track on the CD is called “DARQUEEN the Queen of Darkness”. Darqueen is the leader of the Metanoids and the final authority for people like Helmazaria and Helmatia. She is of course the nemesis of Great Yamato. The picture for the track is this:
She is drinking the essence of humanity, and according to the description that shows up in Leiji’s manga, the beautiful wine emits human screams as it is drunk. Hardgear comes to mind.
[to be continued]
I have read from a fan that the Eternal Fantasy manga suggests that the Metanoids were forcibly mechanized by Darqueen at a certain point in their history. I don’t have access to this manga, but if true this would clash with everything else I’ve heard about Metanoid origins. At this point I don’t know of the accuracy and import of this remark so I’ll just point it out here and move on…