Manga Miime

The anime and manga versions of Space Pirate Captain Harlock are both great.  There is a level of detail to the manga that the anime cannot compete with, partly because the 5 volume manga doesn’t actually have an end (whereas the anime spends some time on creating a proper end to the battle against the Mazone) and partly because the anime spends a lot of time (too much in my opinion and that of many others) on the figure of Mayu, who is absent in the manga.  [At least in the first 3 volumes which I’ve read so far]

Miime

The anime does a great job because it manages to keep the balance of action and characterization that the manga has.  But of couse there is a loss of material from manga to anime, as well as the gain of Mayu and a proper ending.  I think the loss is most apparent in two factors which, although present in the anime, are much more profoundly portrayed in the manga: the Progress of Tadashi Daiba and the Presence of Miime.

The Progress

I mentioned in a post on episodes 9-11 of the anime that there were elements of a Bildungsroman in place.  Reading the manga, I was struck by how much stronger this aspect of the story is in the manga.  When it comes to the first two volumes in particular, I would not oppose someone who claimed that SPCH was basically about Daiba growing up and that Harlock, the pirates and the Mazone were really a foil for his development!

But of course this tale is so much more than that, and Leiji seems to gradually open it up: we go from Daiba wondering about things and being educated to conversations between characters in the absence of Daiba to inner dialogue of crew members…eventually we reach a point where Daiba’s progress is one of a number of important plotlines, but not the most important and certainly not a privileged gate into the world of SPCH [because there is no privileged gate].

The Presence

One of the people who help Daiba the most is Miime.  Now, to me this is the single most striking thing about reading the manga [especially vols. II and III] after watching the anime: the presence of Miime.  She is literally everywhere, physically (all over the ship and outside it) and spiritually (constantly in the thoughts of other crew members).  And she is almost the opposite of a stereotype: Leiji has very lovingly made her unique.

Miime's lepidopterous skeletal arrangement is also unique...

There’s a basic uniqueness to Miime that comes from the following logical progression: a) Harlock wants the pirates to have their own lives and not just live for his sake; b) Miime has chosen out of her free will to live for Harlock’s sake; c) Miime is a pirate and yet not a pirate.  Miime is following the rules and yet breaking them, or, her way of following the rules is breaking them.  This uniqueness is apparent both in the anime and in the manga.

But there’s much more to her in the manga: here she is practically capable of everything.  She fixes, she fights, she finds needles in haystacks, etc.  Captain Harlock makes an important pronouncement halfway through volume III which explains everything in a nutshell.  The setup is this: Daiba is upset because he’s been made an assistant to Kei Yuki (the Battle Commander of the ship).  Daiba doesn’t like working under a woman.  So what does Harlock say?  Well, after expressing his confidence that Daiba will get used to his role, he adds:

“Actually, Miime is probably the best suited for the role of Battle Commander…but I can’t assign her to a post.  She is free to wander around the ship…that way she can help us with all sorts of things.” [my translation from III 108]

As we know, Kei Yuki is third after the Captain and the First Mate.  As much freedom as Yattaran has (and oh god he has so much!) he is still tied down to a position.  Miime isn’t, and Harlock’s acquiescence in this state of affairs has as much to do with her uniqueness as with her utility.

I haven’t mentioned another obvious uniqueness to Miime, the fact that she is the last one of her race.  There’s a great scene at the end of vol. II (197) where Harlock is ranting about Earth (again!) and he says this:

“…it might be best for humanity on Earth to perish at one swoop right now.”

OK, these are harsh words, but if you’ve seen the anime you’ve heard the Captain and even Prof. Daiba express these sentiments before.  But there’s more:

“I feel it’s better for humans that have lost their willpower to disappear cleanly and without hassle.”

Harsher, nasty even, but still, understandable.  But Harlock isn’t done:

“It gets to the point I’d like to obliterate Earth with my own hands.”

Whoa!!!  He doesn’t say this with a smile, he says it as he bows down in anguish.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but we never get that level of anger in the anime.  Luckily, Miime steps in and calms/scolds Harlock by narrating her own experience of loss.  Miime as the last one of her race plays this role too: to remind the crew of the Arcadia of what could be if they slacken in their efforts against the Mazone.

Miime’s Sexuality

I was really taken aback in episode 29 of the anime when Miime seemingly threw herself at Dr. Zero and he rejected her [I was surprised at both the action and the reaction].  The manga has various examples of this (Miime and Zero, Miime and Yattaran).  Every time Miime wants to kiss these men but they claim to be bashful and run away.  There’s a scene in the Deathshadow where Daiba, Yattaran, Miime and Yuki go swimming in the pool on Deathshadow Island and Miime goes in topless (II 92).  Yattaran doesn’t even look in her direction.  [Daiba doesn’t either, but he’s so flabbergasted at being accused of not being able to swim that this might have something to do with his non-reaction].  What’s this all about?

There’s comedy involved, certainly.  There’s the possibility that Miime is pretending to be amorous, and then there’s the further possibility that folk like Zero and Yattaran can see that she is pretending, and it all ends in a farce.  Or Miime is pretending, but Zero and Yattaran are afraid to meddle in what is a close relationship between Miime and the Captain.  Or they’re just not attracted to this alien [though I refuse to believe this, Zero clearly likes her].  Then again maybe Miime isn’t pretending, and she’d like some companionship, and the men are afraid for the reasons mention above or still others.

I think Miime’s sexuality is problematized by Leiji, to what end I don’t know.  I just can’t think of Yuki getting topless without both Daiba and Yattaran having major reactions!  I think there’s more to this issue than meets the eye.  Any thoughts??

NOTE: Throughout my series of posts on the SPCH anime I wrote “Mimay” for “Miime”.  They’re the same character, and it’s just I’ve gotten used to write it this way now.

~ by Haloed Bane on January 5, 2011.

10 Responses to “Manga Miime”

  1. all very intesting I look forward to your comments about the state of things at the end of volume five

  2. I’m sort of curious as to why it stops at five chapters. Was it being poorly rated by readers did Leiji just get bored and stop?

    • I did a quick scan of sites and couldn’t find anyone explaining why SPCH is unfinished. Maybe Leiji wanted to concentrate on GE 999 (which he was doing at the same time) and Queen Millennia which he started right after SPCH. He was really busy in this period: as soon as he finished GE 999 he wanted to focus on Queen Millennia but his publisher wanted him to start a new series right then and there, and that’s how he got to do Drifting Express 000.

      I want to add too that Della’s Website has a couple of interesting points on the SPCH manga: not only is Mayu absent, but also is Commander Kiruta (I’d forgotten about him). Think about how much screentime Mayu and Kirita get in the anime!! Also, Della’s favorite character in the anime is Miime!!

  3. Well, for starters, I am sure half of the crew are scared stiff of Miime, just because she is an alien. I think it is maybe her physiology rather than sexuality that is problematized here. And maybe for the very reason of emphasizing her ultimate loneliness.

    You’ve done a great job here by writing a huge post on Miime and never mentioning her mouthlessness, which has long become a cliche, once :), but I will raise the point again – some time ago I was pondering over the idea that it might represent Miime’s inability to come into physical contact with humans, rather than the message that women have no say in the matter. Flirting is ok, but when a yellow-eyed mouthless woman is on your track eager to kiss you – won’t you run for your life at the mere thought of just how she is going to do that? Also, in the manga, Miime is a grave threat to the whole crew’s alcohol supplies (not only good doc’s), which are probably rationed, so the pirates are very, very wary of her.

    And in the anime, I think doc Zero is more like fatherly towards Miime, and would not take advantage of a tipsy lady anyway.

    By the way, by the way, I’ve got another idea – by making sexual advances, Miime is also breaking the rules. It is a battle ship after all, and if there are women aboard, they must be untouchable, otherwise it will soon turn into a brothel. So I guess men are being wise here – better not to start/look at all 🙂

    That said, I think that there is more of a comic side to the Deathshadow scene than anything else – Harlock and Maji are about to decipher crucial data on the Mazone – and suddenly they see Miime topless in the claws of a giant Antares crab, so Harlock has to leave and attend to that and Maji is like “What the hell?”
    And then Yattaran is looking grudgingly at Miime who gets the biggest chunk of the newly killed crab (what is she going to do with that, I wonder?) – priceless!

    Overall, in the manga Miime is more fun, more vulnerable, more of a tease, more endearing.

    On other points, I read a remark somewhere that the Arcadia crew gets so alert on the Mazone menace, because thanks to Miime they know only too well that alien races really exist 🙂

    And one more point that for some reason strikes me – in the manga, Miime is constantly referring to Tochiro! From her words, she knew him very well, while in the anime, I think those two never ever met – I mean the classic blue-haired, yellow-eyed Miime, of course.

    • I know I’m prone to speculating and you won’t be expecting this, but I almost thought Miime’s constant mentioning of Tochiro revealed a hint of jealousy toward his relationship with Harlock!!

      You say a lot of interesting things. The idea that Miime gives the crew a notion of aliens is great, because most Earthlings at this point don’t believe in extraterrestrial life!!

      Also, I think your analysis of Miime and the others is good: maybe some of the men are happy to flirt with the feminine alien but when it comes down to it they’re afraid of the different physiology…

      The whole Antares crab sequence was hilarious. I guess Antares crabs prefer Juran meat to Earth meat?!

      • Yeah, we should doublecheck what exactly happened to the Jurans and whether Antares crabs had something to do with it!

        On Tochiro, it did not come to my mind, true, but I think it is a good guess. I know the tactics and tend to use it too! Or, better to say, when I start mentioning somebody way too often and at the same time am getting very careful to say only good things about him/her, after a while I realize I am jelous towards this person for whatever reason 😀 Miime is subject to jealosy, after all, so it is a very interesting remark!

        Oh, and I forgot to say that Miime looks great in spacesuit.

  4. So does the manga touch more on the relationship between Harlock and Miime?
    I wish i can find harlock manga, Ive been looking but I can’t find any 😦 Then again I live in Indonesia…
    Sorry to necro this, but I’ma big fan of Miime and I really really want to know much more about her !

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