Space Symphony Maetel 04: Monkey Show

Promethium, or the clone or robot or whatever it is that calls herself Promethium at the moment, commands the Space Panzers to hunt down Captain Harlock and his Death Shadow.  Harlock and crew evade destruction just barely as Tochiro Oyama manages to sneak the ship into a wormhole.

Commander Leopard has an audience with Promethium where he dares to ask why this interest in the pirate all of a sudden.  Promethium shuts that line of questioning.  Leopard walks off, punches the wall, and (with images of Oliver’s execution in his head) declares everything a “monkey show”.

Let us unpack this.

From what I know, monkey shows in Japan have a long tradition.  The monkeys do amazing acts, and they are delightful to see as long as you can keep your mind away from thoughts of how awful it is for the poor little things to be forced so.  Sadly, today we have to steer our minds in precisely this direction.  Leopard feels like a monkey in a show, forced to do the most horrible things against his will.  It’s interesting that Burnbarrel advises sparing Captain Harlock because he is “human”, and yet this plea for humanity is crushed by Leopard in his nervous state.  Why spare the life of an unknown pirate when he has just killed a beloved associate with his own hands?!  Despair.

As an idiomatic expression, to call something a “monkey show” in Japan means to dub a ploy or an act easy to see through.  It is apt for political conditions in LaMetal right now when Maetel, Leopard and “Promethium” all seem to know so much about each other and yet keep carrying out this sham of a show.

There is still another layer to all of this.  LaMetal is being transformed into the Machine Empire, where flesh and blood humans are third-class citizens, even animals, when compared to the Mechanoids.  The abuse term “monkey” is bound to be thrown at them, and in the Leijiverse as a whole there are various instances of non-human beings calling humans “monkeys”.  Leopard’s mechanization is very partial and he still fully identifies with the human race, so his employment at the hands of a woman who forsook her humanity (though she claims to have reclaimed it) is a monkey show in this sense too.  [Let us remember again that both Earthlings and the original LaMetalians are humans, though it is not clear which one of the two is the parent race or whether their origins lie elsewhere altogether.]


In episode 41 of SPCH, we find the Mazone Queen Lafresia making a portentous claim: “Watashi wa saru”.  The meaning of this statement becomes clear later on, and the best translation seems to be “I (at least) will leave” or “For my part I will leave”, where the Queen insinuates to Harlock that she will not call off the Mazone forces dormant on Earth but pledges only to make herself absent.

I speculated in my post on the episode [here] that the word “saru” (which can mean “leave” and “monkey” in Japanese) was being used in the latter sense.  I thought maybe Lafresia was admitting that she was not of vegetable origin like her subjects but a mammal, perhaps even a human just like her enemies on Earth.

Back when I originally wrote that post, I hadn’t seen anyone else commenting on this possibility, but now I’ve found just such an article in Japanese [here].  Upon watching episode 41, the viewer debated whether Lafresia meant “monkey” or “leave”.  The viewer had an interesting interpretation in favor of “monkey”: maybe Lafresia was declaring that she was an ancestor of the human race, since of course in our evolutionary discourse we tend to call our ancestors “monkeys”…


The Death Shadow is rescued by the Queen Emeraldas and makes a force landing in a planet of gold.  Tochiro trades the crew’s boxer shorts for the precious metals.  The “extra mushrooms” are a fanservicey reference to Otoko Oidon 🙂

As Nazca and Maetel put 2 and 2 together and figure out that the real Promethium has a veritable army of clones to play with, one of them steps out on the planet of gold and tries to lure Emeraldas to come back to her “mother”.  Emeraldas will have none of it and shoots her to death.  The scene seems random at first but it probably ties in to the persecution of Harlock earlier.  Leopard wondered why on LaMetal (tee-hee) would Queen Promethium go after the pirate all of a sudden.  Here is the answer: Harlock’s companion Tochiro is romantically involved with Emeraldas.  Emeraldas, Maetel’s sister and Promethium’s daughter, is violently opposed to the latter.  If the Queen is to secure the Empire she must not only have a compliant Maetel succeed her but also neutralize (terminate?) her most recalcitrant child.  Chasing Harlock is a way of getting to Emeraldas.

But Promethium might be worrying to much about the rebellious redhead and not enough about the blonde in her own palace!


~ by Haloed Bane on May 18, 2012.

38 Responses to “Space Symphony Maetel 04: Monkey Show”

  1. I assume they want to kill Harlock because they used him as a scapegoat in the first episode and they don’t want him to show up

    ok I’ve been dieing to ask this question to you. Is it just me or has Tochiro totally lost his marbles in that opening scene? Also he had way to much fun gold platting stuff

    • The scapegoat idea makes sense in a normal situation, but I think we’re beyond normal at this point, and the whole meteor incident seems to have been utterly forgotten. It might be that she fears him though (she should, of course).

      Tochiro is nuts in this episode, agreed!!

  2. Deep thoughts aside (and there’s a lot going on in this show!) I loved this episode for the little things –

    – The Deathshadow’s (and her crew – are a looong way from the nigh-on indestructible force that is the Arcadia later on. That’s one well-beat up little ship!!

    Harlock’s as unflappable as ever (was he just born cool and just got bigger??) but Yattaran’s as nervous as a cat in a rockinghorse factory and Tochiro is just hyper – and sorry – who’s the captain of this bloody ship anyway!!

    – It’d be a very short story if Emeraldas, and not Maetel, was the focus of Ge999: “I’m you’re moth… aagh…” Smooth.

    I’m reminded, if memory serves correct? in Maetel Legend didn’t Promethium declare she was sending her daughters away – “one to love and one to fight”. Everyone assumes Maetel=Love and Emeraldas is the fighter… but … Emeraldas eventually wanders away in search of Tochiro, distancing herself almost completely from the fight (at least in earlier versions…) and it’s Maetel who seems to be tied to the rails of fate, eternally bound to deliver yet one more sacrifice… (was it ever officially set in stone that in the “Shadow of the Shivering planet” TV ep/manga/film version before the continuity snafu that is Eternity-hen that it WAS her own body Maetel was crying over on Pluto ? Because I suspect there’d be a lot of discarded corpses of young boys she’d be responsible for…)

    Harlock gets the best line: “You have got a plan… right?” (Although I love the whole scene on the bridge, frankly. If nothing else here’s another example of how Harlock – no tactical slouch if he has time to think – isn’t much for on-the-fly-seat-of-the-pants attacks… where in later years he lets the Arcadia charge in, here’s an “early” (read: ret-conned) example of how it used to work when Tochiro was alive… Sweet. If rather worring in a commanding officer…!)

    • It is neat to see the weaker Deathshadow.. I totally don’t like the resolution (Emeraldas fires at wormhole and opens it up) but aside from that it’s very nice and yes, fanservicey for us.

      I agree with you that Maetel does much more fighting (even annihiliating whole planets) whereas Emeraldas only ever really does defensive battles of the just war variety. Though on the love department, Maetel does love her kids. There have been moments in SSM so far where you do see her going googly-eyed for Nazca. Settle down Maetel!!

      I think it’s pretty official that that was Maetel’s body in Pluto. Anyway, she was looking at a woman, wasn’t she? So it wouldn’t be one of her apprentices, since they’re all male…

      The chaos inside the Deathshadow is worse than aboard the Arcadia, but I think that has to do with Harlock’s relationship with Tochiro. After Tochiro is “gone”, I just don’t think there’s anyone else who would dare take control so recklessly as that vis-a-vis the Captain..

      • You know Harlock just can’t say no to Tochiro. I can only guess they are currently broke or something because they were out of fuel. At first i just though that they got the jump on the Deathshadow but they might have been out stuff for a while.

        • It’s also possible the LaMetalian attack blew holes in the fuel tanks and that’s the reason they’re out of fuel. Anyway, they were very much in trouble!!

      • I always assumed it was her mother’s original body. The one she had while she was the Millenium Queen on Earth all those years ago. She looked very much like Maetel back then.

        • That’d be a nice twist, though it’d be tough to prove. The old Promethium’s body was mechanized from the inside out, it was transformed as it were (nanobots maybe?), so the old body is simply gone. This is according to Maetel Legend at least..

          • There were hundreds of Yayoi clones around even in 1999 – there’s a whole scene revolving around them in the QM manga, and even in the otherwise loosely based TV series they mention that La Metalians use cloning to reproduce (Selen is a “twin” of Yayoi and the New Queen who arrives to replace her is identical…) Since the rather freaky [spoiler] is still running around, makes sense that massive clone bay is still active…

            Wasn’t there even a suggestion that her crown passed on the memories of the previous wearer – or did I mis-interpret that bit??

            I just assumed she makes use of the flesh and blood clones from time to time… ironic, given she’s a puppet herself in a sense for the *real* power…

            • HEAVY SPOILERS:

              You’re right, there’s a bit of a disconnect here. On the one hand, clones are super common among LaMetalians, especially among the elite. On the other hand, Space Symphony Maetel plays as if it’s a great dark secret.

              I guess we’re supposed to believe that there’s a certain proper, even sacred, way to employ clones. You select the one you need for the task and then let the other ones sleep (e.g. a new Millennial Queen, a new princess or queen of LaMetal). And of course
              everyone knows what’s going on with them, the clones are in the light of day.

              Promethium here is doing something different: employing the clones as slaves and passing one for the other..

              And yes, it is implied that during coronation each queen receives all the memories of the former queen’s (since the last queen had all the memories of the queens prior to her, etc.)

            • There was the scene as they pass Pluto in Eternal Fantasy were they have Maetel crying with an image of her mother shown, both the mechanical face and her flesh face on the other side of her head. Showing that Yayoi and Promethium were the same person (this was before Maetel Legends). It implied to me that the person she cried for on Pluto was her mother. Her real mother, the “original” Yayoi that saved Earth from her own peope in 1999.

              • Oh oh oh, I don’t remember that scene at all. Only seen the film once. I guess this is what Helen was referring to then when she talked about ignoring the implications of Eternal Fantasy.

                What a mess!

      • quote: After Tochiro is “gone”, I just don’t think there’s anyone else who would dare take control so recklessly as that vis-a-vis the Captain..

        Kei and Yattaran do try to at least argue the toss in the very first episode of SPCH if memory serves… only to be ignored by Harlock and shot down gently by Miime…! (The latter also steers Kei gently away from asking awkward questions when being ushered off the Arcadia in E/O as I recall…)

        As the two most senior bridge officers they’re the only two who *could* potentially stand up to him, but Yattaran seems to prefer a quiet life and Kei’s either too young or lacks the confidence to stand her ground, depending on the version. Plus she’d have to get past Miime first, I’m guessing…!

        • I’m crossing my fingers and hoping the CG Harlock film will include that most fan-anticipated of potential scenes: a Miime-Kei catfight. Meow! (I kid, I half-kid).

  3. Going back on the comments after a day of thought…


    It’s interesting that Burnbarrel advises sparing Captain Harlock because he is “human”, and yet this plea for humanity is crushed by Leopard in his nervous state. Why spare the life of an unknown pirate when he has just killed a beloved associate with his own hands?! Despair.


    … Interesting reading – not one i’d gone for – I kind of plumped for the distaste of a career military officer (and one with a *major* stick up his *ss to boot!) for a feckless teenaged brat with zero tolerance or respect for authority and a somewhat (at this time) sub-standard ship.

    This isn’t Harlock at the height of his powers and reputation – this is an 18 year old rebel-without-a-haircut launching hit-and-run attacks – spouting a great line about standing up for your principles but not much more than a spoiled, undisiplined brat running around with his mates in a spaceship left to him by his father! No resources, no major firepower – in fact, he’s more of a liability!

    …and Leopard, as you point out, has just had to kill a valued associate simply to maintain his cover! Harlock can’t look like much of a prospect by comparison to the kid who just laid down his life to maintain a (necessary) lie…

    Yeah WE know he’s the biggest, hardest badass in two galaxies who can make hardened criminals piss themselves in fear at the mention of his name: a man with legendary integrity and a will to fight (and the firepower to back it up…), but that’s a good ten years in the future at this point! ;-P Right now, he’s just a pest -( or rather, long-time fans know Leopard’s making a huge mistake in writing him off and underestimating him, and at this point we’re all chuckling waiting for the other shoe to drop later in the series! ;-P)

    • Everything you say works as long as you ignore the Ring of the Nibelung / Harlock Saga. As soon as you introduce that then you have to accept that Harlock has been determined and wise from a very early age, so that by now he should be very mature and capable 😉

      • Can’t I just blank that whole mess? I’m in denial… ;-P

        I can’t bring myself to re-read this one in Japanese (made do with French + the online offical “English” mangling of Gotterdammerung and was scarred for life…!)- a combination of a dislike of the artwork and a recognition of a writer who’s “done a Heinlein” (or, for the modern audience, perhaps the words “Stephen King” and “Dark Tower” ring a bell ?) – as well as a godsawful mess trying to shoehorn his characters into a mythic cycle one of them was already doing *very* nicely referencing without his help…

        Honestly, if it’s German, wears a cloak, has one eye, has a black bird perching on his shoulder and leads a recognisable mannerbunde strewn with death’s head imagery (AND has a name derived from one applied to Odin as psychopomp in his capacity as the leader of the Wild Hunt [1], then why oh *why* do you need to over-egg the pudding??!![2]) To make matters worse he tries to shovel it all into Wagner’s already overblown mess rather than go back to basics!…

        However – hmmm…. determined and wise? Erm – we ARE talking about the annoying little tyke who helped his best friend blow a hole in the side of Daddy’s ship, aren’t we? ;-P

        [1] Kris Kershaw – “Odin the One Eyed God” – JIES monograph No. 36. Highly recommended!

        [2] Devil’s Advocate: making damn sure we know Wotan’s a loser and a fake since we’ve already got the real deal walking around…? ;-P

        • Immediately after Great Harlock passed, I bet you he stopped blowing up stuff and became wise, as well as determined 🙂

          I take it you’re not on the edge of your seat waiting for Leiji to finish this manga huh 😀

          • Geez I’ve only read your summaries it sounds like a mess. Actually it sounds like it should be several manga series not one.

            • Well, my summaries are messy as hell but yeah, what you say might be true. I felt the same way about the Millennial Queen manga.

          • Not noticeably… !

            Though “Great Harlock” to me conjures up that old ’70’s manga short where we find out that the eponymous hero had been subjected to the unkindest cut of all… (yet another link to Odin, one of whose many names was “jalk” (gelding)… albeit a common insult in eddic insult contests! ;-P)

            • Actually, on reasons for not liking Nibelung no Yubiwa (and Eyernity-hen for that matter) can I also add – that distressing tendency for the new-look Miime to drape herself all over Harlock like a Frank Frazetta cover babe?? That’s just… *wrong*… ;-P

              • So I looked up Frazetta, but can’t remember Miime looking like a Frazetta, or draping herself over Harlock like that?!

                • Page 64 bottom frame N no Y vol 1? That’ll do for starters! He’s holdig her with a rather cutely casual reassurance! Awwww….

                  … I do recall a few other moments.

                • Drat this laptop’s keyboard… Aaargh.

                  Anyways: The cover for a 1970’s edition of Solomon Kane sprang first to mind! Ahhh… the heady days of scantily-clad babes gazing adoringly up at some muscle-bound barbarian ;-P They just don’t make covers like that any more!

                  …so saying I’d sell my soul for a picture of Harlock painted by Michael Whelan…. Oh *mama* what that guy could do with our favourite pirate…!

                  • As soon as I look at the page in question I’ll comment..

                    • ..I should point out it was the poses, NOT any lack of clothing that had me giggling! But she has gone all sort of girly now she has eyes and a mouth…

                    • Just saw the pic. She’s having such a tender little moment~

  4. quote:Just saw the pic. She’s having such a tender little moment~

    It is rather sweet… I just enjoy taking the mick a bit!

    BTW – I assume you recognised the ship at the top of the page?? ;-P

    • Alberich’s ship, which looks remarkably like the Mazone flagship Doclus. No wonder Miime is so upset!!

  5. Meanwhile several hundred years in the past: the year is 2199:


    • That does look cool. And it’s awesome they got Yamadera to do Dessler 🙂

      On the other hand, may I say that IMO this marketing ploy for 2199 is no good. The whole dribs and drabs film/episode thing might work for hardcore fans of the series, but I think more casual fans will just keep forgetting about this, then remembering it. Maybe I’m wrong but I don’t see how they couldn’t generate more money and popularity just by having this come out as weekly, or even monthly, episodes…

      • I believe the plan is the get the hardcore fans first. Then show this all on TV next year as a normal weekly series.

        • Hmmm. I think it’d make more sense to show it first as a TV series for everyone, then do film releases for the hardcore. But what do I know 😀

      • Quote: And it’s awesome they got Yamadera to do Dessler

        …I’d have hoped he’d have kept Susumu given that he took on the role along with other Kei Tomiyama characters after his death (oh to hear what he’d do with Duke Fleed!!) Oh well… But with all the speculation flying about whether or not they’ve reached an arrangement to finally put in the original return voyage plotline I’d be hoping to hear him pick up another acting credit before the end…;-P

        The character designs for this are pretty awful though… (Dessler’s the worst so far – looks like a kid!) but it just looks so… soft and fuzzy, just another generic anime cast. It’s too soft focus, IYKWIM?? But I’m biased, I love the bold outlines and designs of the 70’s!

        • I just think Yamadera can do more with Dessler than with Susumu (I mean, honestly, I could do Susumu’s voice acting, even Keanu could do a Susumu, Susumu’s personality is not exactly a rocket scientist’s). As for the character designs, there’s definitely going to be bias involved for some 😀 I think they’re competent, though I agree Dessler doesn’t look like Dessler, or to put it another way, this Dessler looks like he’s channeling King Joffrey from Game of Thrones or something.

          • We won’t know for sure until we see them act and in motion. I’ll have my copy of the first film by next week. But We won’t see much of Dessler until at at least the next film in June, or more likely the third film in August…both of which will likely come out on disc a month after their theater releases.

            With what I’ve seen so far, I have no complaints. I know a Yamato fan that detests modern anime character styles since probably 1990, and he has no complaints about this series…because it looks right to him.

            • I think it’s a compromise between old and new. More precisely, the men’s character designs are more conservative while the women’s designs are somewhat less so. That’s the way it looks to me right now.

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