GE 999 Ultimate Journey Stop 2-2 ~ 4-5
OK, so I’ve given up on doing ultra-detailed summaries of this novel. The problem is that it’s too time-consuming, and it was getting to the point where I was stuck and didn’t read any further because I was trying to find the time to write down what happened, and then I’d forget the details and would have to read the same section two or three times. Long story short: I wasn’t getting to enjoy the story and you the reader weren’t getting any updates.
So, I went on and read the first 180 pages of this first volume, and I’ll give an overview of the action so far (past what I’ve already written about it). Two comments first of all: 1) This is a pretty awesome story, not that I’m biased or anything; 2) This story is very much linked to what we know about the Mahoroba film project. Leiji is going for it, putting all of his characters in play for one super epic showdown against the Metanoid menace which can only have one right and proper name: Ragnarok.
I’m going to lay out the setup for this novel first, and as I write this I’m totally assuming you’ve watched a lot of the Leijiverse (especially, the Maetel side of the things) or that you won’t care if you haven’t, so spoilers abound.
This is what happens in the Galaxy Express 999 stories: the planet of LaMetal becomes an evil power called the Machine Empire, which is intent on mechanizing the universe. Gradually the technology to mechanize flesh and blood beings spreads and spreads, until it reaches Earth. Then the Machine Empire begins to actually conquer planets and abuse and exterminate flesh and blood beings. The heir to the empire, Maetel, kills her mother the dreaded Queen Promethium and stops the Empire in its tracks.
BUT..it comes to light that Promethium was really just a puppet for even more evil beings known as the Metanoids. Metanoids are mechanical in nature, from their very birth, and so fundamentally different from the Machiners (mechanized humans etc).
OK, so in the background of Ultimate Journey, this novel right here, there is a great cataclysm that is occurring. The Machine Empire has been laid low, and all of a sudden Machiners all over the universe (not only people from the Empire, but all of the rich people who acquired this technology to mechanize themselves and become practically immortal) are in peril. Throughout the novel we get glimpses of a general war between flesh and blood humans (I’ll just call them Humans from this point on) and Machiners. Humans have risen, encouraged by the example of Tetsuro and the destruction of Promethium, and are systematically killing Machiners.
Maetel, the heir to the Machine Empire, is in a terrible situation. On the one hand, she sympathizes with Humans who are pursuing their former tormentors. On the other hand, she knows that many Machiners are good people, and that in any case it’s her mother’s fault that a lot of people were mechanized in the first place. Moreover, the Metanoids are massing their armies in some other dimension and the worst thing that Humans and Machiners could be doing right now is fighting among themselves.
I said that Maetel was the heir to the Machine Empire, and this is literally true. The Empire still stands. Its two most important planets, Andromeda and Maetel, have been destroyed, but the Imperial hierarchy is congregated on a third mechanical planet, Esmeralda, licking its wounds.
There are three important people in this hierarchy: Cardinal Darknass, Duke Farkan and Dr. Bulzugear (he’s a mad scientist with lots of mechabeasts). These people are aware of the existence of the Metanoids, but they do not see themselves as Metanoid pawns. They are Promethium loyalists, and they are in contact with Metanoids and have established an alliance with them only in order to rebuild the Machine Empire and battle the Great Galactic League (more on them later). They understand that Maetel betrayed Promethium, and so when the novel begins they are formally a caretaker government waiting for her to travel to Esmeralda and inherit the Machine throne, but pretty soon they reveal that they abhor her and would never have her as their queen. We get the feeling that they would execute Maetel as soon as she landed on Esmeralda.
The Metanoids themselves see the Machiners as lowlifes and scum (inelegant mechanical contraptions with stupid feelings, maybe?), and are using them for their own purposes. There is a scene in which Galaxy Railways Supreme Commander Layla travels to Esmeralda to officially cut all ties with the Machine Empire. Cardinal Darknass is aghast to find out that Layla is going to associate the train company with the Great Galactic League, but he holds back his forces and lets her leave the planet. As soon as she does, Twist Barrel and Helmatia appear (they were invisible somehow). Just in case you didn’t know, these two are elite Metanoid soldiers one of whose roles is to seduce planetary rulers into mechanizing their populations (as happened to Promethium in LaMetal).
Helmatia in particular despises Tetsuro and Maetel, because his sister died at the boy’s hands. So the two Metanoids announce to the Machiner leaders that they will assassinate the two heroes. Cardinal Darknass refuses the help and boasts his Empire will do it themselves. Later on, Helmatia is angry at this but Twist Barrel tells her to be patient and let the Machiners think they’re allies and can act independently. The lesson is clear: the Metanoids will use the Machine Empire as much as they can, then destroy them utterly. But the leadership of the Machine Empire believes it can use the Metanoids to get what it wants, and then discard them.
The 999 continues its journey toward Eternal. The first stop is New Titan. Remember Titan, way back at the beginning of Tetsuro’s journey? Well, they’re not the same planets but they are related. The story goes a little bit like this: after Tetsuro left, the Humans on the planet took heart at how Tetsuro had beaten up the local Machiners, and started rising up against them. The Humans finally won control of the planet, but it was in such an environmental mess by then that they had to escape out of there. Galaxy Railways relocated them to an uninhabited planet which they named, of course, New Titan. This was a very lucky occurrence, because it means they weren’t annihilated when the Solar System exploded (I told you there’d be spoilers!).
So, when Tetsuro comes to New Titan he remembers that Tochiro’s mom is there, and as he feels a duty to tell her of how he saw her son die (at the Deathshadow on Heavy Melder, remember? where Tetsuro helps the dying Tochiro upload his soul to the Arcadia). A few adventures happen, blah blah blah, he meets Mom, and her key response to him is that she feels her son will come back to him when he is tired of traveling the stars. Key observation: during his stay in New Titan, Tetsuro battles some evil pirate guys. He notices that they fight ever so slowly, and it’s easy for him to predict and prepare for their moves, then strike back. Why? Because they’re Human. Tetsuro has been so busy fighting Machiners that fighting slowpoke human beings is starting to become a piece of cake for him~
The next planet happens to be Heavy Melder. (Important point: the SDF’s Big One battle train was scheduled to rendezvous with the 999 in Heavy Melder and escort it to Eternal, but Layla announces to Maetel that several anomalous regions of space have shown up, especially one where Big One was, and she has lost all contact with Sirius Platoon. Maetel says she hopes they’ll be able to join them but if not the 999 will have to go it alone.)
So now Tetsuro gets the idea of visiting the scraps of the Deathshadow and paying his respects at Tochiro’s grave. Little does he know that there are three assassins waiting for them. These guys are Machiner knights, elite fighting units from the Machine Empire. Now listen carefully to their back story and tell me if it doesn’t remind you of something historical: these guys were out on the field, doing recon and underground, undercover work in Heavy Melder, when Tetsuro and Maetel killed Promethium and defeated the Empire. The last orders they ever received from Duke Farkan were to stay put, not to surrender or get caught, gather data and await for the Empire to be reborn again!
Now to me these sounds like Japanese soldiers in the Philippines after WWII. Anyway, these guys have just received word from Esmeralda that they finally have a mission: kill Tetsuro and Maetel when they land on Heavy Melder. The Knights know that fulfilling this mission will not only earn them a ticket back to the Machine Empire, but also make them super famous there as well. Alas, as soon as they spot Tetsuro on a bicycle riding toward the Tochiro site in the Gun Frontier region, they are stopped by three foes.
These foes are Jan Kugo, Sir Djorgo and Don Haka. They’re from Starzinger, cyborg bodyguards to Princess Aurora. In this novel they’re exactly the same people, with the addition that we now know that Aurora is one of the Asgard goddeses who have sworn to help Tetsuro and Maetel. Specifically, Kugo and co. are supposed to protect the 999ers while they’re on Heavy Melder, then head on to planet Rhine to retrieve the Ring that will be instrumental in reversing the destruction of the Solar System. Anyway, Kugo and co. thoroughly beat the three assassins. Tetsuro goes on his merry way not having noticed a thing. Then Kugo and co. notice a huge fleet approaching. It belongs to the Great Galactic League. The ships come from various systems. One of them is an Illumidas ship. Another of the ships is very odd and looks like a seaship. It’s Great Yamato, the flagship of the Solar Federation. We are led to believe then that the League includes Earthlings and Illumidas, and who knows who else besides!
[Let’s briefly compare this with the setup for the upcoming CG Harlock film. The little that we’ve been told is that Harlock’s enemy is the Earth Federation. This is basically the same bunch of corrupt guys that ignored all the warning and suffered a Mazone invasion in Space Pirate Captain Harlock, and the same that got their butts whipped by the Illumidas in Arcadia of my Youth and Endless Orbit SSX. We can see now that Ultimate Journey and the Mahoroba film will likely take place after CG Harlock, because now we have a Solar Federation (existing forcibly beyond the Solar System, because that went kaput!). This Solar Federation is not only far more competent (with Yamato at its helm) but is even allied with the former Illumidas foes, under the so-called Great Galactic League.]
In the meantime, Tetsuro reaches the spot but there’s only Tochiro’s grave, the Deathshadow is gone. Then the Arcadia lands and guess who steps out: Captain Harlock. Tetsuro is about to tell him the details of his meeting with Tochiro’s mom when Harlock says he doesn’t need to report that to him, but to report it to Tochiro himself. So Tochiro nods and tells his story to the grave, but then he hears a great ROAR. It’s the Arcadia responding! So it turns out that when Harlock told Tetsuro to tell the story to Tochiro, he really meant for the Arcadia’s computer to hear it, and not the grave site or Tochiro’s bodily remains. Great stuff.
That’s as far as I’ve read. 130 pages to go~