Space Symphony Maetel 08: Nude Souls, Nude Bodies

Last I checked I was couple of votes behind in my Aniblog Tourney match.  If you’re interested in voting for me, you have to do it quickly as it will be done in 2½ hours!!


The beginning monologue is the same one in episodes 02, 04 and 07.

Let’s talk about soul rings first.  In the Leijiverse, a soul ring is somewhat like a soul, somewhat like DNA and somewhat like the élan vital (basically what the Chinese and Japanese call ch’i/ki, though I suspect these days people know the Eastern term much more than this Western one).  But it is neither of these.

The soul ring is like a spiritual DNA insofar as a person’s personality and “heart” are encoded in it, and if you have it within your grasp you can replicate the personality.  It is unlike DNA inasmuch as it is unique and it can be removed from a person.

The soul ring is unlike the (traditional understanding of a) soul because it is not you per se.  You can suffer the loss of your soul ring and still live, still be yourself.  However, the soul ring is the source of who you are spiritually, and being without it is like losing armor, like being naked.

Finally, the soul ring is like ch’i because its presence impels the person to live.  Its absence makes the person weak but then again, not so far as causing death.  Thus it is unlike ch’i, because nobody can live without ch’i.

In summation, we have trouble understanding what a soul ring is because our tendency both in East and West to think of spiritual things as amorphous, and of course DNA itself is multiple and ever multiplying.  In contrast, I think Leiji’s soul ring is best thought of as an object, a machine.  Call it the “spirit sprinkler” inside your soul & body.  While your soul is growing, it needs its nourishment, but eventually it can live on its own, though it will wither somewhat etc…

Back to the chunks of “outer” La Metal..where Maetel is defending her mother from her sister’s attacks.  It’s very easy to see how Maetel continues to say the truth, though obliquely: “Your strength isn’t enough to beat Mother,” she tells Emeraldas.  Well, this is true, and it doesn’t really commit her to a pro-Promethium position at all!

Overseeing her daughters fight, the Queen thinks: “If they kill each other it would save me the trouble [of killing them myself]”.  It’s an interesting line, revealing to us her inner turmoil.  Notice that throughout this scene Maetel has her back turned to Promethium.  If the Queen wanted her dead she could have killed her instantly.  Yet there is still something inside of her that resists, even though as these words confirm, a big part of her wants both potential rivals dead.  So yes, if the daughters killed each other it would save the mechanized Promethium a lot of trouble!

Meanwhile, back in the Deathshadow, what I consider one of the weakest sequences in the series begins to unfold.  Nazca comments on Promethium’s embrace of Maetel and how the latter looks weak.  Tochiro’s deduction strikes me as unbelievable (unless soul ring theft is common in the Leijiverse), and then Nazca’s deduction upon the deduction (to wit, that Maetel is pretending to betray Emeraldas so as to keep her soul ring safe from Promethium) is ten times as unbelievable.  And then we find that they’re both exactly right.  Meh.

The rest of the fight between the three LaMetalians is very nicely done.  The blood seeping down the saber becomes the ultimate weapon.  A bit silly but very romantic, I think.

The escape scene might seem random, but it most definitely isn’t.  The Space Insectors belong to an old type of LaMetalian spaceship.  Promethium herself rode one in her younger days before she was mechanized (cf. Millennial Queen).  Then, as now, one had to strip oneself naked in order to operate an Insector.  The idea is that the ship interfaces directly with the pilot’s soul (thus, no need for control devices) and clothes somehow interfere with this connection.

Commander Leopard and Burnbarrel’s conversation brings us right back to the environmental tragedy at the heart of the series: the “inner” LaMetal is as destined for a wintry death as its larger counterpart.  The Space Panzers are “driving” it toward a solar system (the Heavy Melder system) but there doesn’t seem to be enough energy left from LaRela’s sacrifice to get there in time.

As if the situation on the new LaMetal wasn’t bad enough, a brief flash on a computer screen clues Emeraldas and Maetel to the truth, which we viewers easily deduce from the episode count, that Promethium is still out there!

The next-to-last scene of the episode is very good and very important.  Nazca opens up about his past and the loss of his friend.  He tells us something we didn’t know before: that humans who refuse to be mechanized are often turned into mechanical parts, and more significantly, that the more fiery, the more spirited the human being is, the better the part s/he becomes.  Nazca calls it ironic, and it really is.

As for the last scene, we don’t need to be rocket scientists or Tochiros to figure it out: some of the LaMetalian debris is being led by force into a single point…Promethium is regenerating her Empire.

~ by Haloed Bane on June 23, 2012.

4 Responses to “Space Symphony Maetel 08: Nude Souls, Nude Bodies”

  1. quote: clothes somehow interfere with this connection.

    Noticably, it’s Emeraldas who seems a) not to have paid attention in history and b) seems more taken aback at having to get naked in the first place…! Notice in the screen shot she’s covering up, but Maetel seems relaxed about it and is only fig-leafed because she’s climbing down the ladder… Awwww…. who’d have figured Em for the shy one?!

    I decided to catch up with this yesterday and mainlined the entire series in a sitting. Ulp. Dear gods, I’d forgotten just how uptight and pompous Harlock is in this – in lieu of a poker he seems to be sitting on the business end of his gravity sabre…!

    I actually sniffled through parts of this episode. Having watched the QM TV show so often, Yayoi’s descent into the heartless monster she’s become is heartbreakingly poignant – possibly the most tragic story in the Leijiverse (Maetel IIRC makes a comment about seeing the pain and sorrow of the remnants of her mother’s soul?? I think teared up about that point…) She’s sacrificed everything – including her humanity – for her people over the centuries, and in the final analysis all anyone will now remember is the monster who wants to remake the universe into her own image.

    I think this last is why heroes should generally walk away (or die…) when their job is done – it’s a lesson Harlock (and I think Emeraldas as well…) seems to have learned. LeRela seems to have cottoned on to this a bit belatedly as well, redeeming her earlier atrocities in a final act of sacrifice.

    Once you get caught up in the details, it’s a slippery slope from hero to despot. In a couple of episodes we’ll see another character make pretty much the same decision – although the choice will be taken from them in this case…

    As to Tochiro’s deductions regarding the soul ring… I didn’t have too much of a problem with the scene – partly because one of the things this series did for me was to raise some big questions about Tochiro himself – mainly regarding the foreshadowing of his later fate (or destiny if you will…) and the questions this series raises about the ability of a human soul to survive mechanisation with it’s “humanity” intact in the long term.

    I’d suspect Tochiro’s been looking into this for a while – we know from Nibelung no Yubiwa that he’d been working on that soul transference for a few years by now, so he knows it can be done (IIRC in NnY apparently whichever of the two of Harlock or Tochiro died first would be transferred to the Arcadia’s computer…). I’d wager the boy genius has been researching this issue for some time, and having known Emeraldas and Maetel for years, presumably the question of Promethium’s loss of humanity would have been discussed – his reaction at the end of Episode 12 suggests he’s got reservations… I don’t see it as a big stretch that he knows a lot more about the mechanisms for soul transference/soul rings than most people!

    I’d suggest it’s a scene that looks less like an expositionary brainf*rt if you look at the bigger picture…? Something that’s true of the series as a whole really, because its fragmented approach to storytelling does seem to rely on those watching to know or understand where it’s coming from and where it sits in relation to the ongoing story! With so little explanation given to certain scenes (and there’s a *whopper* or two at the end….!) they often seem isolated and confusing, unless you know (or can speculate) to what they’re referring!

    • Emeraldas is a bit of a prude. I somehow sense this difference in attitude toward nudity/sex reflects the original conception of Emeraldas as an Earthling (in the manga, say) vs the exotic alien openness of Maetel. In terms of the Arcadia crew, it’s the Earthling Kei Yuki vs the alien Miime all over again.

      I totally buy your POV. Tochiro has been researching the soul transfer thing for the Arcadia, so of course he’d be very knowledgeable when it comes to soul rings, and especially sensitive to technologies created to steal them.

      As for Promethium’s legacy, all is not lost. Remember that in the world of Galaxy Railways some of the coins bear images of Queen Millennia 🙂

      • Especially sensitive I would think to *any* abuse of that sort of power… for all his goofy motor-mouthed-higher-than-a-kite “bounciness”, (and you can be forgiven for thinking he’s off his head in this show half the time!) Tochiro’s one of the wisest characters I’ve ever come across.

        That kind of abuse would be an anathema to someone who I think would see the *gift* of a soul (one of the most selfless acts of – for want of a better word – love )- being here perverted by theft – and this betrayal by a mother of her own child to boot – into what could be described as a spiritual rape.

        You could read the scene as him gently leading Nasca to jump to the obvious conclusion about Maetel’s motives – as if giving him just enough information will allow him to re-affirm his faith in Maetel. If so, it’s nicely done! (and would be very like the lil guy!)

        I suspect she’d have taken Emeraldas’ soul ring not to produce endless remodelled copies, but to crush her. Frankly I’m not convinced Em would have survived it as well as Maetel does. Maetel’s quite right when she tells her she doesn’t have the strength to defeat Promethium. She doesn’t. Emeraldas’ strength is of a different kind – like Harlock, she’ll break before she bends, and she’s fundamentally incapable of the compromises that are necessary. Like Selen, who she strongly resembles (even down to wearing the outfit from the QM film earlier…!), she can’t work from within the system, she *has* to rebel – it’s not in her nature to do anything else!

        Interestingly, back onto prudery ;-P Kei’s one of the few Matsumoto girls who never (apart from when Rintaro kicked off E/O with a gratuitous fanservice moment that STILL does’t sit right…) seems to have been treated as a sex object (and he’s FAR from prudish, as we all know!) Offhand ISTR only the equally delightful Lisa Kirino (more of a Kei-type in the manga than the deliberate Yuki-type of the anime) of Danguard A also gets off scott-free on that score. More of a girl-next-door appeal, I suspect!

        The older Emeraldas seems more laid back, but by then she’s also rather isolated and reserved – however there are a few suggestions in Arcadia of my Youth that her captivity prior to execution by firing squad might have included rape – her flightsuit’s pracatically ripped off her front when she’s manacled to the Y-frame, and that Murigison seemed more than capable…

        • I see what you say about Tochiro, but I can’t help but feel that what he ends up doing with his own soul is an outrage against nature as well (speaking in terms of Leiji’s ethics). Just because he’s willingly doing it doesn’t make it ethical.

          The difference between Emeraldas and Maetel, breaking vs bending, ensures that one will be a leader in the struggle and the other one more of a backup/sidekick/reinforcement. It kind of stands to reason that Maetel gets 117 episodes and Emeraldas 4!!

          …I’d rather not think of what Murigson might have to done to Emeraldas 😦

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