Tetsuro’s Audience with the Darqueen
I noticed that 8 of the last 10 posts on this blog have been about manga (1 is about anime and 1 is about a news event). I also noticed, though this didn’t surprise me nearly as much, that 8 of the last 10 posts have to do with the Leijiverse.
In fact, I’m doing things other than reading Matsumoto manga, although this post will have to fall in that category. One thing I’m doing is reading the classic shojo manga Rose of Versailles by Riyoko Ikeda. This is a lot of fun so far and the biggest revelation for me has been realizing that the crossdressing Oscar is known by all to be a woman from the very beginning. My impression for years and years was that this was a story about a woman pretending to be a man, which is not at all correct, and which brings Rose of Versailles closer to that great anime Revolutionary Girl Utena. As for Utena, I’m watching the series again from the start. Last time I finished the Student Council Arc and the Black Rose Arc. I will revisit these episodes and then watch the rest of the series. Hopefully I’ll have something to say on this blog about the last two arcs. Finally, I’m watching the second season of Space Battleship Yamato at a very slow pace, so I can take advantage of the great commentary that comes out every so often from starblazers.com.
So you see, I’m doing lots. But yes, now I’m going to talk about Matsumoto manga.
I’ve read Galaxy Express 999 Volumes 19 and 20 (in the French edition), and so I am finally in a position to comment on a rather odd meeting between Tetsuro and Darqueen, which I found summarized on a Japanese site and translated for my post series The Metanoids.
Guess what? It is odd.
In chapter 1 of volume 19, a Phantasma ship (just the sort that Hagen flies in the Harlock Saga manga) shows up on the 999’s route. It’s the Darqueen, asking Tetsuro to hop on in and have a chat. Maetel tells him to go ahead and promises he won’t be hurt.
Chapter 2 begins with a very interesting blurb: cartographers used to populate unknown regions with monsters, but as explorers advanced the farther regions were mapped and our view of the world became more pleasant.
I think this means that Tetsuro is about to realize that the Darqueen (the entity that destroyed Earth) is really not as bad as he thought!
Darqueen opens up by clarifying her own position vis-à-vis the Metanoids. She is not a queen of the Metanoids. The Metanoids are 1) her first line of defense; 2) a colonial army; 3) plain guard dogs.
Tetsuro rephrases this as “You are one thing, and the Metanoids another”. She agrees, and then goes on into a disquisition of the Phantasma’s propulsion mechanism etc. Eventually Tetsuro starts getting angry at her and cries.
Seeing him cry, Darqueen cries herself, crystal tears that look just like that last fragment of Claire’s heart at the very beginning of Galaxy Express 999. She tells Tetsuro she’d like for them not to be rivals, but she knows it’s too late. Organic life and non-organic life both hate her. She seems sure that soon even the Metanoids will rebel against her.
Tetsuro asks the obvious question: if the Darqueen is so powerful why doesn’t she blast Maetel and Tetsuro right now and be done with it? Her reply is that she cannot destroy Maetel, if she were to send forces against her they would likely join her and turn on Darqueen. “Maetel is another, frightful universe”.
The audience ends there.
There’s a little detail worthy of note in one of these volumes. Tetsuro is talking to Claire and Maetel, bemoaning the fact that the Solar System was destroyed because this means Pluto and Claire’s human body have disappeared as well. Then Maetel says “…and my body as well.” Those who have read/seen the 999’s trip to Pluto will immediately see how this solves (at least partly) a mystery fans debated for years…