The Metanoids (Part III of III)
The 2 volumes of the Great Yamato manga aren’t important because of the plot (as I said, it barely got started when Leiji was forced to stop) so much as because a lady called Yo Haguro steps to the fore. Yo Haguro is in my opinion nothing less than Leiji’s new Angel, the one that will lead the warriors to fight the Heisei foe, the Metanoids.
A woman named “Yo Haguro” shows up for the first time in the little known manga Time Sweeper Mahoroba (1993-8) with the function of leading the main character to greatness. The manga is unfinished. Another Yo Haguro shows up in the brand new Out of Galaxy Koshika (2009-) playing the same role.
In Great Yamato, she is a mysterious presence that gathers together the descendants of the original Yamato crew. She repeatedly says that she’s had an intimate connection with “Yamato” for a thousand years before the ship was ever built. This website [here] has helped clear up the mystery: in a signing event (October 2000) for the new Great Yamato CD, Leiji-sensei stated that Yo Haguro was none other than Tamamo-no-Mae of Japanese legend:
Tamamo no Mae was a famous concubine of the 12th century Emperor Konoe who was actually a nine-tailed fox demon in disguise. She is popular in Japanese pop culture, appearing in music (Japanese band Onmyo-za‘s latest album has vocalist Kuroneko cosplaying Tamamo on the cover) games (as a Caster in Fate/Extra) and visual novels (appearing in Yami to Boshi to Hon no Tabibito, later animated). But she is usually far easier to spot as the famous mythical figure than she is as Yo Haguro in Leiji’s work.
Apparently, Tamamo reformed herself and is now an agent of good. The original Space Battleship Yamato launched in 2199. A thousand years earlier, or 1199 is roughly around the time Tamamo was mesmerizing Emperor Konoe and his court (reign dates 1142-55). What this tells us is that Haguro’s connection with “Yamato” doesn’t refer to the space battleship only, but to Japan itself, which was known as Yamato in ancient times (Yamato was very likely dubbed “Nihon” by Korean immigrants).
Incidentally, in some versions of the legend Tamamo was doing evil in China before she ever came to Japan, making Haguro’s comment of a connection with Japan since the 12th century even more appropriate. Common legend has it that this demon fox was the same that controlled the infamous Daji (Jp. = Dakki), the foxy villainess who led to the destruction of the Chinese Shang Dynasty in the 12th century B.C.! [Even more incidentally, Daji is my favorite character to play in Koei’s Warriors Orochi bar none, she’s got these awesome balls that she spins around but that’s way off topic and it’s a “you had to be there” kinda thing so I’ll stop!] And this is not the first time that Leiji has drawn on Japanese myth to bring forth a character: Millennial Queen is based on Kaguya Hime, after all.
I guess the way to sum it all up is to state that we have here a mystical support for the good heroes in their battle against the mechanical forces of evil, and that this support was itself originally pure evil…food for thought!!
Finally, I should bring up what to me sound like the original Metanoids in Leiji’s work: the Negas.
The Negas from planet Doclus appear in the manga Miraizer Ban (1976-7) as the main foe of the Miraizers. The Negas have awesome power and resilience: their plans for universal domination span thousands of years and they like to set up fronts and proxies rather than acting directly. “Nega” in Japanese means a (film) negative, but the English cluster concept of “negative”, “negativity” and “negation” is well known in Japan so I don’t have any doubt that Leiji wanted to mark these people as the total opposite of mankind (just as the Metanoids are).
We don’t know, and perhaps we will never know, whether this final battle would be a Ragnarok (where both good and evil are destroyed), an Armageddon (where good triumphs) or something else altogether.
APPENDIX: More on the Metanoids in the Eternal Fantasy manga (from Japanese summaries here)
At the end of the film, which roughly covers the first 8 chapters of this new Galaxy Express 999 arc, Tetsuro kills Helmazaria with his Cosmo Dragoon. Helmazaria had just mentioned to Maetel that she had a son of Tetsuro’s age.
Well, Tetsuro and Maetel come to meet this boy, called Lowell. A showdown takes place and Tetsuro can’t bring himself to shoot, but Harlock comes to the rescue (ch. 12-13).
A Metanoid Special Team “leaks” itself into the 999 and attacks Maetel, who annihilates them (ch. 15).
The 999 stops in a planet called Helmazaria (!). The Darqueen herself appears before Tetsuro (!!). Harlock comes to the rescue (ch. 17).
Tetsuro and Maetel discover a “good” Metanoid that’s been hiding in the 999. Her name is Metalmadonna, and after praying that Humanoids and Metanoids might live in peace together, she terminates herself rather than cause them more trouble (ch. 21).
Manmutos Utopia, the Express’s next stop, has just been destroyed. Tetsuro and Maetel watch as the Yamato (!) uses its wave motion cannon to blast the black hole that has just opened up. Darqueen’s plans have been foiled once again (ch. 25).
Darqueen appears before Tetsuro again. She claims the Metanoids are nothing but pawns to her. She says she doesn’t want to fight him. She sobs. She leaves. Tetsuro is confused (ch. 26). I’m not surprised! Why do I get this feeling of déjà vu??? Oh, I know: it’s LaRela and Hajime (Millennial Queen) all over again!!! She also speaks here of Maetel being invincible [no doubt] and a great universe onto herself. Wow!
The 999 stops at planet Poison for 3 minutes 33 seconds (because it’s…um…so poisonous). Only one passenger comes on board: Tia Helmazaria, Lowell’s little sister. She is awfully nice, even though she knows about Lowell’s death, to Tetsuro and Maetel and wishes harmony between her race and humanity. She gets off at the next stop (ch. 35)