Harlock Saga – a very rough Survey

If there were even a handful of decent sites on Leiji Matsumoto’s Harlock Saga manga series (full proper name: The Ring of the Nibelungs) on the net, I wouldn’t put this online.  But the fact is there aren’t.  The Wikipedia article is about as good as it gets right now.  And so I realize that as rough and messy as these comments of mine are, there still will be a few people out there who will derive some benefit from them, if only as to compare the content of Saga with other, more accessible works.  [As far as I know, this series has only been translated into French…]  Oops, I almost forgot.  THANKS, FALLEN!

Great Harlock, Dr. Oyama and Helmazaria (note the distinguishing facial hair)

Volume One

The Harlock Saga OVA is based on the first 2 volumes of the manga. It turns out that in this first volume at least the anime is quite faithful to the manga. It includes that infamous (shocking) scene where Maetel finds Daiba and tells him that if any suspicious characters come asking for him to make a ring of gold, he must refuse at all costs. She leaves and a suspicious character comes up that very same day, and Daiba ends up forging the ring for him. Daiba! For the love of god!! So ok, the dude held him at gun point but still! When Maetel orders, you obey. [To obey Maetel is to live, to live is to obey Maetel etc, according to some.]

Though there’s a little detail that I don’t remember from the anime (though it might have been there too). Daiba forges the ring in the shape of Harlock’s pirate skull. I wonder if this might prove to be the villain’s undoing in the end.

Other than that, the OVAs presented Mime [or Mimay] as just this Nibelung lady, whereas in the manga it’s confirmed she was working aboard Harlock’s ship but was actually some awesome deity all along. Oh, and she’s 650 million years old.

Wotan is as silly as ever. This was my biggest qualm about the OVA: how come Wotan is such a wuss?! But then again, the OVA’s were quite short and we might yet see the might of the lord of Northern Olympus before it’s all over…

Volume Two

Notes on the first chapter of volume 2:

a) Emeraldas and Maetel are on the Galaxy Express 999 (or another train like it) but here it seems the train belongs to Maetel!! Funky. Plus Emeraldas has something in common with J-Lo and she’s not afraid to show it. [fanservice]

b) Was Loki in the OVA? I can’t remember, but here he’s working for Alberich. You know you’re pretty darn awesome when Loki is one of your minions.

c) Daiba actually moaned and complained that he only did the ring under “duress”. Let’s shoot him.

d) The Nibelungs spread the “secret” of warp travel throughout the galaxy, and that’s how come ships like the Arcadia exist. Wotan hates them for this. Nibelungs actually sound like Prometheus-types.

Notes on the rest of volume 2:

Anyways, Wotan is an idiot. Alberich turns out to be sort of a wimp too. He gets caught inside the fortress that the Fasolt brothers were building for the protection of Valhalla, and there’s a bunch of (mystical, smoky wraith-like) dragons inside. He asks Miime for help and she agrees in exchange for the ring. So he tosses her the ring, end of story. Oh, and the dragons feed on hate or something (and maybe the ring) so they pretty much disappear once Alberich has surrendered and Miime has the ring. Daiba promises to destroy it (No! don’t give it to him again!! ahhhhrhhggg!).

What’s confusing to me is that I kinda know the original Nordic versions of the legend but I’ve never actually seen Wagner’s opera, and THIS is what Leiji’s work is based on. According to Wiki, in Wagner the gods have giants Fasolt and Fafner build a fortress for them in exchange of Freia. They later regret the deal and steal the Ring from Alberich so as to give it to the 2 giants. The giants accept the Ring and let Freia go, but Fafner kills Fasolt and turns into a DRAGON to guard the Ring from others (this is sorta in tolkien’s LOTR as well, if you remember Gollum’s buddy/brother was the first one to find the Ring but Gollum killed him to possess it).

But in Leiji, Alberich has a grudge against the gods (apparently the gods drove the Nibelungs including Alberich and Miime out of Valhalla eons ago) and so he prepares an invasion force against them while the gods are scrambling to have the 2 giants build the fortress in time. The giants know they have all the cards and demand Freia for themselves, otherwise they won’t finish the fortress before Alberich gets there. Wotan hands her over. Eventually, the dragons that operate inside the giants’ fortress threaten Alberich and he ends up surrendering the Ring to Miime, who gives it to Daiba to destroy. Crisis averted. And here ends the Saga OVA and Vol. 2 of the manga.

Volume Three

Thoughts on the first 125 pages of Vol. 3:

So Wotan is really bitter after the whole Ring fiasco. He’s angry at Alberich, he’s angry at the Fasolt brothers and he’s particularly angry at the barbaric humans under the command of Capt. Harlock. Now, it turns out that Wotan already had some battles with Harlock’s father: Great Harlock. He decides to send his elite Valkyries (there’s 8 of them) back in time to kill Great Harlock and his crew, including little Harlock and Tochiro. That way, at least some of his humiliation will be avenged.

[EDIT 12/16/11: There are 9 Valkyries in all, not 8]

So we get to see Great Harlock back in the year 2964. Apparently at this point Earth is under occupation by forces sent by Wotan, and G.H. and his buddy Dr. Oyama manage to escape on Oyama’s new ship the Deathshadow. Before GH leaves, he sticks a great big sword with a skull motif on the Occupation Commander’s desk, and forbids anyone to touch it. An officer tries and he gets electrocuted. GH tells everyone only his son (little Harlock) is destined to take up the sword in the future.

[EDIT 1/3/11: It’s not a sword, it’s a frightful dagger.  My sense of proportion is all askew!]

Little Tochiro and Little Harlock

So off go GH and Oyama into space. His enemies on Earth stage a mass execution and threaten GH with killing all the prisoners if he doesn’t return. This is of course the exact same scene as in Arcadia of my Youth. Except here the evildoers go ahead and execute everyone without waiting for GH to decide what to do…

The Deathshadow heads straight for Heavy Melder. Little Tochiro has a premonition that he will die on that planet (and he does! eventually, e.g. Galaxy Express Adieu, after transplanting his data to the Arcadia). The Valkyries at the same time head for Heavy Melder.

That’s pretty much it.

If you try to put this into a continuity you’ll get a big headache. But let me try anyway:

c. 2960 AD – Wotan’s forces invade Earth.
2964 AD – Great Harlock leaves on the Deathshadow.
c. 2977 AD – The Mazones begin their invasion of Earth, which little Harlock fights.

Now, so far in Saga there are hints that GH is successful in driving off Wotan’s people from Earth. Say he does this real quick, by 2965 or so. So we have 12 years between this and the Mazones. BUT the Arcadia of my Youth tale puts a third invasion (the Illumidas) and according to official statements this is happening before the Mazones.

So you get Wotan’s folk, Illumidas and then Mazones all attacking Earth in about 15 years. Darn! And of course it all falls to pieces when you consider that the whole premise of the original Harlock series is that Earth had grown complacent after centuries of peace and was thus unprepared for the Mazone!!

This is of course without including the (failed) invasion by the LaMetallians in 1999, and then the Mechanized Empire’s more successful invasion in the 24th century IIRC.

[EDIT 12/16/11: Early 23rd century, in fact.]

On the rest of Vol. 3:

Deathshadow arrives in Heavy Melder, and G.Harlock and Dr. O meet an old friend, who passes GH a microchip-looking thing just before he gets his head blown off by two weird fellows who eat nuts and bolts. The two guys have Helium 3 hearts, which means (and i don’t know how or why, but it does mean) that they are not from the Mechanization Empire. I like how Dr. O calls the mechanized people “Machiners”, that sounds like a great nick for the evil people in the GE 999 stories, though I’d never seen it before. Anyway, I’m guessing these 2 guys are Metanoids, just because I’ve read somewhere that Leiji introduced Metanoids for the first time in Harlock Saga (and they become the main enemy in the Eternal Fantasy arc of GE999).

Oh, OK, these guys are Metanoids. Wotan says they like to kill organic lifeforms for sport (way to go Leiji! You’ve just made an entire new race that behaves exactly like the Mechanized people!!! Why??) Well, I guess the difference is these guys are naturally mechanical, whereas the “Machiners” were originally humans who transformed themselves thru technology. Anyways, one of the Metanoids is almost killed and GH and co. try to revive him but fail. At least they get to gawk at his fine, metallic body…

Wotan claims he wiped off Earth’s dinosaurs because they threatened to evolve into a menace to his rule!

Yattaran’s dad is called Old Yattaran. So we have 1st gen: Great Harlock, Dr. Oyama and Old Yattaran, 2nd gen: Little Harlock, Little Tochiro, Yattaran Junior.

What Wotan did to the Nibelung race is nothing more and nothing else than push them thru a black hole. Miime hopes Little Harlock and Tochiro will grow up and one day find a way to bring the Nibelungs back from the hole.

At the end, a Metanoid vessel begins to attack an Earth ship…The Deathshadow looks on as the 8 Valkyries swoop down and destroy the Metanoid. This is supposed to show the Valkyries are ethical and will help out the underdog. THE END.

Brief note: What surprises me most of all is that in Leiji’s version, the Gods are the bad guys and the Nibelungs are good. This is a total reversal of Nordic legend. Hmmm.

Volume Four

<In the original legends, valkyries are warriors sent by Wotan to decide who will win and die in battle.  They’re supposed to go to the battle and (invisibly) help whomever Wotan has chosen.  Brynhild gets condemned by Wotan because in a particular battle she helps kill the man that Wotan had chosen to live and protects the man Wotan had chosen to die…out of love.  Wotan’s punishment is to put her to sleep surrounded by flames until someone brave enough to leap thru the flames can come and rescue her…>

The equivalent happens here: Brynhild is supposed to kill Great Harlock but she’s impressed by his heroism and bravery, and Erda (goddess of Time) tells Wotan that Brynhild will end up betraying him…

What’s dawning on me is that the Metanoids are the ones that invaded Earth, under orders from Wotan.  The leader of the Occupation Forces is the same person as the leader in the GE 999 Eternal Fantasy Arc (which I haven’t read, I just saw this online).  So basically Leiji has recreated the same invasion twice, and then given us Maetel’s struggle against it in Eternal Fantasy on the one hand, and Great Harlock and Little Harlock’s struggle against in Saga.  What’s confusing is that Maetel is a little girl in the second version, whereas she’s obviously full grown in the first.

Anyway, the Valkyries head for the planet Metabloody, which is on the border between Humanoids and Metanoids.  The Deathshadow follows.

The microchippy thing turns out to be a space map, decoded by a Leiji lookalike that runs Hotel Metabloody on the planet.  The map points to a location where Fafner, one of the giants who WILL build the fortress for Wotan in the future, is guarding the Ring in the form of a dragon.

OK, here my head explodes!!

1) Great Harlock and Dr. Oyama somehow know everything about how Alberich WILL make the Ring and how Little Harlock and Tochiro will help Miime get the Ring back.  How do they know that?  Well, whatever.

2) Great Harlock is baffled (rightfully so) that according to the map not only the Ring is existing at the moment, but that somehow Fafner has already grabbed it and morphed himself into a dragon.

<Fafner’s transformation is part of the original legend.  The sequence in the legends is as follows: Alberich has the Ring, then Ring makes its way to Fafner’s father, Fafner and his brother kill their father, Fafner quarrels with his brother and takes the Ring, Fafner turns into a dragon to guard it better>

My ATTEMPT at an explanation: The narrator has mentioned that both Heavy Melder and Metabloody are crossroads planets, and not only in a spatial sense, but also in a temporal sense.  Back in Heavy Melder GH and Dr. Oyama caught sight of Battleship Yamato, even though that ship belongs to their past.  So maybe everything they’re seeing about the Ring here is not in their present, but in their future still?!

[EDIT 12/20/11: That explanation is utterly wrong.  Far more likely Great Harlock is just awesome and can figure out these things.]

Little Maetel and Little Emeraldas

Ch. 24: Little Emeraldas and Little Maetel show up at Hotel Metabloody straight from the GE 999! p.68 cutest pic ever.  And then the knight Helmazaria shows up, and her name is supposed to mean Holy Mother of Hell (mother of hell = Hel, Loki’s daughter, in Norse myth).  Though I bet you anything Leiji got the name by using Hell’s Maria and then transposing the “z” sound and the “m” sound (maria being the holy mother of god, interesting analogy).  Anyway, she’s a Metanoid and you don’t mess with her, though GH says she’s not as strong as the Valkyries.

Emeraldas is the eldest of the two sisters…I keep forgetting that.  But it’s the same pattern as their mother, Queen Promethium, who became queen after her older sister rebelled against her people…

Helmazaria greets GH and Oyama and sits down with them, they’re buddies somehow.  All of a sudden, Brynhild shows up and says she wants to set the rules for a duel.

In the meantime Little Harlock and Tochiro run off to inspect a big zeppelin, and meet Little Maetel and Emeraldas inside.  The ship isn’t theirs, they just found it, but Emeraldas reports she heard a voice telling her: “Welcome to your ship”.  The voice even told her to name it “Queen Emeraldas”.  Then Tochiro waxes lyrically about his planned Arcadia.

GH, Oyama and Brynhild talk for a while (very civilized for mortal enemies).  Eventually Miime joins them and Helmazaria leaves.  Miime reveals that it is her that “told” Emeraldas to go toward the zeppelin, and at the same time adviced Little Harlock to head in that direction as well.

Wotan gives up on Brynhild, realizing she’s simply not responding to his orders to dispatch Great Harlock immediately.  He sends out another lady named Zabella to take care of things…  But when Zabella is approaching Metabloody on her spaceship she picks up a transmission: “do not threaten Emeraldas…do not approach Queen Emeraldas…”  From the sound of it, this is a message from the future, from the adult Emeraldas, warning Wotan’s woman not to threaten her child self and her future husband, (little) Tochiro.  The message is in some beautiful ancient tongue that’s even older than Wotan’s.  Zabella (and Freya) are scared of this message but Wotan orders Zabella to move on.  I’m guessing this ancient tongue, which is from the future (for time is a ring etc etc) is none other than the Japanese language. As Zabella’s ship approaches Metabloody, a laser beam (from Queen Emeraldas, obviously some sort of trigger equipped by Emeraldas…IN THE FUTURE?!) destroys her ship.  She ejects, notices Little Harlock and co., and decides to kill them thinking they’re responsible.  Helzamaria pops up just in time to stop her.

[EDIT 12/20/11: Utterly wrong interpretation on my part.  The voice calling to Zabella is the Queen Emeraldas itself.  It’s the ship that warns her.  The ship knows the future and seeks to protect the young Emeraldas.  A motif of this manga is that great men and women in the universe know that Time is cyclical, not as some sort of cold philosophical theory but as a reality that they can somehow grasp directly, even mystically.]

After some time, Zabella decides to shoot the Emeraldas down but the ship fires first and hits her twice.  Then the ship talks and say it will defend the crew blah blah…Zabella uses her last bit of strength to pull out a transceiver and tries to contact Wotan but the ship destroys it.

Erda and Wotan

CRITICISM: Everyone seems to know more or less everything that has, is and will ever happen, even the heroes’ little kids know.  It does kinda remind of me of how Norse legends emphasize “fate” (=wyrd) and how even knowing exactly what’s going to happen (e.g. the end of the world, or Ragnarok) isn’t really going to change things…

Volume Five

Miime explains to GH and co. that there is a ship in the valley (the Queen Emeraldas) that has been waiting for ages.  Evidently this ship is destined for Emeraldas, but for the moment she and Maetel depart on the GE 999.  [The ship isn’t completed yet, and Little Tochiro hasn’t advanced in knowledge enough to be up to the task.  Bu he will in time!].

In space the Deathshadow comes under attack from Metanoids.  These Metanoids self-destuct by blowing up their Helium 3 hearts, and Dr. Oyama makes the connection with suicide warriors (kamikaze?  intifada?) of long ago.  The more things change…

Zabella, who barely escaped her wounds from the Queen Emeraldas, has been tracking the Deathshadow and she reports the attack to Wotan and Freia.  Wotan realizes Brynhild isn’t behind the attacks…Meanwhile, GH and Oyama are trying to figure out things too.  The Metanoid attack is probably being led by Helmazaria, and it’s evident [to them, though not to me!] that Wotan isn’t controlling Helmazaria so who’s she working for now??  Wotan doesn’t know either, but Freia manages to finally track down the Valkyries, and they happen to be inside a huge sentient ship.  It’s Helmazaria’s.  She’s called Brynhild for a meeting.

Helmazaria wants to know why Brynhild is opposing Wotan’s orders.  Brynhild basically replies that the past cannot be changed, and neither can the future.  She then asks Helmazaria who is the force behind the Metanoids…but Helmazaria tells her that will only be revealed once she has died (and as Metanoids live hundreds of years, this means not for a long while yet…).

Zabella, half-dead, arrives in Valhalla.  Zabella reports: Brynhild has made a truce with Helmazaria (who Wotan’s never even heard of before) and she’s also made a truce with GH.  Wotan is furious and decides he’s had enough.  He decides to bring the Valkyries from the past back into the present time and announces his intention of freezing them in eternal slumber inside a crystal coffin of some sort.  Brynhild and her eight sisters contact the Deathshadow and are allowed on board (at this point Wotan recovers some hope that this latest move is a ploy by Brynhild to kill GH as originally planned).

In fact, Brynhild just wants to have one last drink with GH.  Miime brings out some Nibelung wine, and a little factoid comes out: Nibelungs only feed on this special wine, and this reminds us of the well known fact that Miime (or Mimay) only drinks alcohol in the original ’78 Harlock series.  So Leiji is somewhat keeping up with this association between the old Miime (who was supposedly rescued by [little] Harlock from the Jura galaxy) and this Saga Miime who’s evidently already on board with GH and co.

Brynhild, with a swan pin in her hair

Drinks over, Brynhild and the valkyries return to the present (future) and head straight for Valhalla, as if nothing had happened.  Wotan dispatches his crystal coffin, which looks like an egg-shaped ship with Freia’s pipe organ inside to power it.  Freia’s upset that her organ is being used this way, but Wotan tells her it’s only a temporary measure.

However, soon enough Wotan discovers that the Deathshadow (in the past?) is heading toward the planet Technologia (a.k.a. Dai Technologia).  This planet is super-armored and so Wotan decides to redirect his crystal coffin away from Brynhild and toward Technologia.  He orders Freia to take control of the egg/coffin ship and use it to destroy GH.

Brynhild makes her arrival at Wotan’s court and he questions her.  She tells him the Harlocks are not necessarily enemies.  Wotan rages, he does his magic and the 9 Valkyries end up asleep inside the egg/coffin ship.  Freia leaves Valhalla on her own smaller vessel while the egg/coffin ship loitering about alongside her, carrying the Valkyries.  It’s a weird scene.  But Freia doesn’t waste any time.  She immediately warps and pops up right next to the Deathshadow, near the planet Technologia.

Oops!  Wotan’s about to get betrayed again!!!  Uff.  Freia requests permission to board the Deathshadow.  Once inside, she tells GH and co. that the egg/coffin ship with Brynhild is programmed to travel to planet Rhine and sink beneath its great river (this is where Alberich will find the gold in the first volume of the manga, which is still in the future here).  But this programming was done by Freia alone, Wotan knows nothing about it.

Freia’s here to ask GH, or maybe she’s really asking Little Harlock, to eventually go to planet Rhine and rescue Brynhild and her sisters (she also hints darkly that something of awesome power is lurking in planet Rhine [i.e. the gold] but there’s no way GH picked up the reference at this point).  Having done this, she warps back to Valhalla.  The volume ends here.

CRITICISM: I guess Wotan shares the same flaw that Queen Promethium possesses: an inability to keep his foremost minions loyal to him.  Just as Maetel betrays her mother 3 times (in my reckoning) here we have Brynhild and Freia both boldly disobeying him [not to mention Erda his lover and Fricka his wife are both suspect at this point too!]

Leiji has manipulated the imagery very well.  Notice that in the legends, Wotan punishes Brynhild for her disobedience by putting her to sleep and keeping her inside a castle surrounded by flames.  The location of the castle has no bearing on the story AFAIK.  But here in Saga, Brynhild’s coffin is to end at the bottom of the Rhine along with the accursed gold, thus linking the two elements spatially, in a way that wasn’t in the original myth.  It’s also curious that Brynhild is originally punished for sparing the man that she LOVES, whereas Leiji is very coy about what Brynhild’s true feelings for Great Harlock might all be about (beyond admiration for his bravery and character).

[EDIT 12/23/11: As I read Wagner’s Ring along with Leiji’s Volumes III-V, I’m noticing the following motifs.  1) In Wagner, Wotan is on a steady decline, whereas in Leiji he’s already pretty much a has-been (and this makes sense because Leiji’s Wotan is Wagner’s Wotan in the future).  2 Examples: a) in Wagner, Wotan leaves a sword in a tree for Siegmund to retrieve, whereas in Leiji it is Great Harlock (the Siegmund equivalent) that leaves the sword dagger in the desk for his son Harlock (Siegfried equivalent) to retrieve, with Wotan totally out of the picture;  b) in Wagner, Brynhild begins as an obedient servant to her father Wotan who eventually, and after a long agony of conscience, develops her own will, whereas in Leiji she starts as an independent actor nominally under Wotan’s command but totally willing to disobey him from the first.  2) Wagner’s “castle surrounded by fire” is very deliberate, because the point is that only a brave person could reach the sleeping Brynhild, and that person is understood to be Siegmund’s son Siegfried; there is thus a parallel with Leiji’s Freia engineering things so that Little Harlock will free Brynhild from her glass coffin.]

Volume Six

It begins with some heavy speculation from the narrator.  “The flow of time is not uniform.  It is relative to position and speed.  In the same way, light does not travel perfectly straight.  In the past, some thought light and time were the same thing.  That is, until the “matter that rules darkness” was discovered.  Now it is understood that the universe is formed a pyramid of three elements: time, light and the gravity of dark matter.  Every other thing in the universe has but a precarious existence compared to these three.  Wotan forgot this and tried to make of Valhalla a fourth element.  He was a fool.  He was also cruel, merciless enough to encase his daughters in a crystal coffin [ship] and surround them with a river of flames.”

Now we switch to GH and Oyama, witnessing this coffin ship from the Deathshadow.  GH says he wants to help them, but the river of flames cannot be penetrated with the technology that they currently possess.  A more pressing problem is a darkness that’s spreading thru the galaxy, and hints that it’s the Metanoids advancing.  GH and co. are also shocked that the planet Rhine is visible, when usually it’s invisible.  So while the universe as a whole is getting darker, the area around Rhine is getting brighter.  They decide to go investigate.

Apparently the source of universal gravitation is in the Rhine, especially in its hidden gold.  Huh?  The gold (or most of it, anyway) has been stolen.  Again?!  [well, this would be the first time, Alberich’s would be the second].

The Deathshadow watches helplessly as the egg coffin ship crashes on planet Rhine.

Then the Deathshadow nearly explodes as Little Tochiro tests a new engine, that according to Miime will power the Arcadia of the future and turn that ship into the most powerful “sword” in the universe.

Just for the fans: Miime gives us a list of the most powerful ships in history aside from the as yet unbuilt Arcadia.

a) Space Battleship Yamato – first sailed in 2199

b) Super Spacetime Battleship Mahoroba [ok, I must read this manga!]

c) the Queen Emeraldas – still waiting for Little Tochiro to fix it [I must rad this manga too!]

Miime prophesies that these 4 ships will meet at one point in the future.

Then without telling anyone Miime speeds off in a little ship toward the Rhine.  And then this gets nicely tied up BECAUSE it turns out Miime’s plan is to enter the coffin and play the organ, thus stabilizing the planet (which needs this because its gold has been stolen).  So this sets up the beginning of Harlock Saga as a whole, where the Arcadia goes to Rhine to meet with the organ-playing Miime.  Eureka!  Question is: was this stealing of the gold Alberich’s, or prior to Alberich?  IDK.

[EDIT 12/26/11: This almost makes sense but not really.  At the beginning of the manga Miime is indeed in Rhine playing the organ, but it’s very clear she was on the Arcadia earlier and had fled (thus setting up the crew’s pursuit of her.]

FOURTH WALL broken!!! – GH and Oyama decide to dock at asteroid Reiji.  Oyama specifically mentions that the planet has a relationship with their ancestors, and that it is the truth that he speaks and NOT FICTION.  LOL.  This asteroid exists, and it was named for Matsumoto!

Here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/6565_Reiji

Now, the crazy thing about this is that Reiji is in the asteroid belt in our Solar System, and the Deathshadow is looking for a nearby dock, nearby from its position near planet Rhine…does this mean Rhine is close to Earth???  Or should we just giggle and move on…Giggle.

Oyama talks about Reiji’s history.  Nothing much is known, but the asteroid’s namesake got to visit the planet when he was 86 years old!!  Leiji just turned 72, so he’s still got plenty of time to get there…

Ohhh….nope.  Reiji isn’t near Rhine at all.  They warped there.  Oops…and the reason they chose it is because it was a good hideout (from Wotan) while still having decent facilities for docking.  Plus Reiji’s nickname is “Pirate Island”.  Cute.  Apparently both Harlock’s and Oyama’s ancestors made their home on this asteroid in centuries past.  Outside of them and Miime nobody really knows it, and a stealth system has been set up.

Well, Miime’s an awesome organ player (tee-hee).  Not only can she stabilize the Rhine, but she wakes up the Valkyries and they leave the planet safely.  Wotan and his wife Fricka get word of this and he’s shocked someone other than Freia can play the organ so well.  He also gives us a name, Darqueen, for the ruler of darkness that is trying to take over the universe…I guess she’s the Metanoid empress or something.

Which begs the question: where’s Freia??  Is she in Valhalla somewhere?  And why hasn’t Wotan punished her for not destroying GH???

Freia

And as soon as I start wondering about these things, Freia reports for duty.  She tells Wotan that indeed the Valkyries have escaped and that the one playing the organ is none other than Miime.  [and I’m so proud I could tell Fricka from Freia that I’m almost ready to die!]  It gets worse.  Wotan can’t seem to find the Deathshadow, and the Valkyries can’t be tracked either because they’re riding new stealthy ships freshly created after awakening from their slumbers!  [plus yup, evidently Wotan has no clue what Freia was up to in the last volume]

Sometime later Freia’s data comes thru: the asteroid is Reiji, its location is the Solar System.  Wotan comments on how similar Reiji and Rhine are [gee, he’s right, they do look alike!].  He comes up with the idea of using Alberich (!) to hunt GH down.  And then Freia comes up with a bombshell: Alberich has stolen the Rhinegold and fled to Earth.  So the thief here was Alberich all along!!

Little Tochiro is awfully fond of showing off holograms of his planned Arcadia vessel.  He claims it’ll be 1.9 times as large as the Deathshadow (499 meters long, 49 meters at its widest) and subsequent versions of the Arcadia will each be larger than the last.  The last one will be over 1 km long.

Oyama’s next question will get us in a somber mood, though.  He asks what will the Arcadia’s control system be like?  His son says that of course it’ll be equipped with the latest electronic system but as a backup it will ALSO possess a “Non-existence Spiritual Space Core”.  Tochiro explains himself: if ever either Harlock or Tochiro should perish, their mind will be able to reside within this computerized system.

Their parents are very moved by this.

A Valhalla fleet prepares to attack asteroid Reiji.  Oyama finds out that Freia is directing the attack, which is unusual as she isn’t a warrior.  It becomes clear to them both that Freia must not die, as she is one of only 2 that can play the pipe organ that keeps the universe running like a well-oiled machine.  Anyway, even before the Valhalla forces have reached Reiji’s automatic defense line, her ships begin to explode.  The reason is the Valkyries, who have sneaked up on everyone and are having a hell of a turkey shoot.

Wotan receives a new report: Brynhild has gone inside Reiji.  He is happy, yet again thinking that his daughter has seen the light and is poised to strike against GH [the parallels between Wotan-Brynhild and Promethium-Maetel are undeniable IMO].

We catch a glimpse of the GE 999 entering Reiji.  Then a new ship appears.  It seems to be communicating with the planet, as if it were alive…oh, and it looks like a zeppelin.  And it has the skull and bones.  It’s Queen Emeraldas no doubt.  For being a god Wotan sure has a lot of clueless moments in this series (he can’t believe a ship is talking with a planet!).  What’s happened is this: Little Maetel and Emeraldas have driven the 999 to Reiji, and the Queen Emeraldas has followed them.  I guess this means that the zeppelin is functional navigation-wise, but that its weapons system is messed up, and that’s why we keep getting told it won’t be fully functional until Little Tochiro grows up and fixes it.

And speaking of Lil Tochiro, he and Harlock run into Brynhild.  She left her ship outside the planet and came by way of the GR 999, bringing Freia who looks like she’s dying.  Of course, she’ll live, and I imagine she got to be this way because of the Valkyrie attack and no other reason.

There’s a hilarious scene toward the end where the Queen Emeraldas (let me call the ship QE from now on) calls Little Tochiro over and tells him to put his ear near the skull on the throne-like seat at the ship bridge.  We don’t get to hear what the QE says, but it’s obviously something dealing with his future relationship with Emeraldas and the boy’s delighted!

Back in Valhalla, Wotan is angry…for the umpteenth time.  He decides to call in forces from the Tyrannovolcano Star Cluster in the Fire Dragon Galaxy (one of his colonies) and when one of his attendants comments that the move might be too dangerous and that the warriors from Tyrannovolcano are a double-edged sword, Wotan tells her to shove it.

The Tyrannovolcanians send a SINGLE SHIP at 99% of light speed.  Wotan wonders: are they so awesome that one ship is enough, or are they mere fools??

In other news, Little Maetel knows the future as well as anyone and she tells Harlock in the future he will meet the love of his life: Maya.  What’s strange for him is that he’ll meet her on Earth and that the Arcadia itself will fly out of Earth.  Harlock asks about her family.  She talks about LaAndromeda Promethium, how she went evil in trying to create eternal life etc etc.  As for her father….Ahhhrg!  We get a scene change back.  And I wanted to hear more about her father!!!!!  And she was just about to tell Harlock!!!   Darn.

The ship from Tyrannovolcano is poised to strike.  The assessment is that Reiji’s battle defenses aren’t strong enough to handle this threat so it’s up to the Deathshadow to sally.  And here the volume ends.

Volume Seven

The Tyrannovolcanian ship appears on the Deathshadow’s radar: it’s gigantic (1,200 m long and 440 m wide).  The ship is Metanoid in origin, but I’m not clear if this means the Tyrannovolcanians are Metanoids or they just commissioned the building to them.  As they’re approaching they disappear from the screen, and according to Oyama it’s because they’ve placed an artificial black hole in front of them so they won’t be seen.  To GH’s dismay, the QE with the 4 kids comes out of Reiji to see what the fuss is all about.  They quickly go back in again.

And back in Reiji, Brynhild gives a prophecy relating to Tetsuro…it’s quite long, but nothing really important comes out of it except that the Valkyries will meet him and fight together with him [having not seen the necessary GE 999 episode/s, I can’t comment on this].

Honestly, the first 75 pages of this volume are just a rehash of all the stuff we’ve been reading through so far.  Not much to say…

GH and Dr. Oyama decide to use the shock cannon that Tochiro was just developing.  There are some major explosions and the QE begins to wail and bemoan the fact that it isn’t “healthy” enough to help the Deathshadow in its struggle.  Maetel wants to ask it something, she says she won’t ask who built it or where, but she wants to know who its enemy is.  The QE won’t answer.  Then she asks if its enemy is Wotan and Valhalla.  Still, the QE won’t answer…I’m totally speculating the enemy in QE’s mind is Promethium.

A single ship from the Fire Dragon Galaxy's Tyrannovolcano

Brynhild entrusts Freia (who’s still out cold) to the kids in QE and tells them she will go to help the Deathshadow.  She borrows the GE 999 to go to space and get on her Valkyrie ship parked there.  The Deathshadow blows the enemy up and a gold-colored liquid begins to seep out of it, eventually covering GH’s ship.  Wotan is chuckling, saying that the darkness that threatened to engulf the planet Rhine earlier will actually spit out some “awesome existence” far more powerful than GH and the Fire Dragon folk.  I’m very confused here, but apparently Alberich has discovered the gold he stole is totally fake, and Wotan knew that all along.  So Wotan is starting to look sort of smart, but I have no clue as to the real meaning of events at this point.

***

<Let me back up a bit and reread the last 50 pages or so…then let me write down what I get.>

Alberich seems to be in or around Earth, but he’s currently untraceable because he’s managed to keep his ship on constant warp mode, in and out…not even the Walhalla can get a read on him at the moment.  Wotan realizes there is a further complication: with Alberich constantly warping like this it’s impossible to know which period of Earth’s history he’ll end up in.

It seems to me the mechanics of stealth here work like in Star Trek: as long as a ship is cloaked it cannot attack.  Thus the Tyrannovolcano ship must let go off the artificial black hole in order to fire.  Its attack doesn’t even dent the Deathshadow. GH is pleased, but Dr. Oyama is irked by this pesky enemy, and he fires, thus pulverizing it (and releasing this gold dust thing I mentioned earlier).  I think the process is melting -> exploding -> turning into dust.

Wotan’s only consolation right now (as he looks at the shiny golden Deathshadow) is that IF (!) Brynhild has come to her senses and is poised to attack, then it’ll be easier to spot GH and co. with their new paint job.

Now the Deathshadow won’t show up on the radars [Wotan’s and Brynhild’s both].  The assumption is that the Deathshadow has laid a stealth barrier on itself after the victory…but I suspect it might have something to do with the gold.

Earlier Wotan had tried to contact Alberich to persuade him to talk to Miime into leaving planet Rhine [I don’t see how this persuasion would work but what the heck…].  A transmission comes from Alberich: the gold is fake.  This means that the real gold is STILL at Rhine.

Aha!  The reason that the planet Rhine was about to be sucked into a dark (or black?) after Alberich “stole” the gold wasn’t the theft at all then (how coud it be, the all-powerful gold is still there)!  The reason was that Wotan himself was producing this hole to suck the Rhine right in!!  And this is where the horror of Wotan’s attendants come in: they knew of Wotan’s plan to get rid of Rhine (and the Valkyries on it, let’s remember!) but they assumed he was doing it with the thought that the Rhinegold was no longer there…whereas in fact it still was there!  So Wotan was about to let all of this gold get sucked into oblivion!  Horror!!

The Queen Emeraldas, chatterbox vessel

More than that, he encased the Valkyries and the pipe organ to kill two birds with one stone: a) punish his daughters for disobeying him, and possibly get rid of potential rebels; b) stop Freia from playing the organ, an activity intimately tied to the gold in some mystical way.

[And of course, unbeknownst to Wotan, Freia preempted all of this by programming the coffin ship to go straight to planet Rhine and then most likely (if this is all to hold together) contacting Miime and telling her to go there and play it.  Voila!  Miime plays the organ, stops Rhine from disappearing and releases the Valkyries].

What the attendants don’t get is that Wotan was about to let the source of his power (the Rhinegold) disappear.  Miime stopped the Rhine’s drifiting by playing the organ, but the hole itself is still around, and Wotan insists on having Miime out and finishing the deal.  But why?!

Wotan isn’t about to tell us (darn it!) but he hints that out of this hole will come out an “entity” that can replace the Rhinegold as the source of his power.  And BTW, the Deathshadow picks up a bit of communication from Valhalla transmissions: Alberich’s gold is not real.  Therefore the planet Rhine is safe for the moment, stabilized as it was by Miime, and GH and Oyama decide to pick her up so as to take her back as part of the crew.

And here I arrive again at the end of what I was discussing earlier, 140 pages in or so in the volume.  Wow.  This is complex!  Plus I’ve just realized: what I’ve been calling Wotan’s attendants are in fact the three Rhinemaidens that guard the gold.  Gee, shouldn’t they be getting back to the Rhine??

[EDIT 12/28/11: This is what happens, as far as I can tell now.  Wotan issues two commands: to the Rhinemaidens and to Alberich.  The command to the Rhinemaidens is to allow Alberich to steal the gold.  The command to Alberich is to steal it.  We don’t know what rationale he gave Alberich, but the Nibelung is so greedy I’m sure he didn’t need much prodding to do what he’s always wanted, to forge the Ring of power out of the Rhinegold.  Now, of course, the Rhinemaidens are tasked with guarding the gold so Wotan couldn’t just tell them to let go off it.  So he lied to them: he told them the gold was in danger (from the hole about to open from another dimension) and Alberich taking it was in effect the only way to protect it.  So the Rhinemaidens accepted, Alberich took the gold and left.  But Wotan had already set things up so that the gold Alberich took was fake and the real gold was left in Rhine, unbeknownst to both the Nibelung and the maidens.  As a result of this charade, when the hole began to open up the Rhinemaidens weren’t too worried.  Of course, the gold was still on Planet Rhine, and its power was such that the hole couldn’t suck it in.  But we can presume that once the Dark Queen’s forces (led by Hagen and his Phantasma, see below) had come through the hole they could have done whatever they wanted with the Rhinegold, since the Rhinemaidens wouldn’t protect it and Alberich thought he had it with him.  In effect, Wotan had left the Rhinegold as exposed as possible to the Dark Queen’s forces.  And the reason Wotan staged this little play is because he believed the entity from beyond the hole (i.e. the Dark Queen) would give him power beyond anything the gold provided.  In Wotan’s mind, the Rhinegold was a hateful thing (because he depended on it, it signified his own weakness) and therefore he became willing to trade it in (or let it be wrapped in Nothingness, whichever) for an alliance with the Dark Queen which he foolishly hoped would make him stronger.  I think we can speculate that at this point Wotan intended some sort of marriage (!) with the Dark Queen.]

Rest of the Volume:

We’re back after the battle between the Deathshadow and the Tyrannovolcanian vessel.  Brynhild orders her eight sisters to return to Reiji and guard the four kids and the ailing Freia.  She herself will go to Rhine and look after Miime.  Her sisters reluctantly obey.

Brynhild flies off to Rhine as GH and Oyama communicate with Miime.  Well, obviously my fear regarding the “disappearance” of the Deathshadow after the explosion had no foundation: it was a stealth ploy!

Alberich's ship is quite cool looking indeed

Miime knew that the real gold never left the planet.  If it had, then not even her playing would saved Rhine from being sucked into the great hole (of doom). Whatever was to come out of the darkness near the Rhine has come, and it looks like two giant twin bugs linked in the middle.  Another ship, this one looking more Earth-like, approaches from (regular) space.  This new ship is heading straight toward planet Rhine.  It doesn’t take long for everyone to figure out it’s Alberich.  And GH calls him Wotan’s running dog.

Now, once more, I don’t get this at all.  Alberich has just tried to steal the Rhinegold, his brethren have all been pretty much eliminated by Wotan…how can you see him as Wotan’s lackey?  And how come Wotan keeps trying to call him like he is a lackey of sorts??  I don’t have the answers, but the important thing now is that Alberich is impressed by the Deathshadow and stops advancing toward Rhine.

[EDIT 12/28/11: Here’s the explanation.  Long, long ago Wotan banished and/or annihilated most of the Nibelung race.  Recently, however, he’s made a deal with Alberich: if Alberich serves him, Wotan will eventually help him clone a new population of Nibelungs and support him as King of the Nibelungs.  Stealing the Rhinegold (in this time period only, mind you) was actually a job given by Wotan to Alberich, though Alberich didn’t realize that Wotan was setting him up to steal fake gold and not the real thing.]

Ch. 51 begins with a little blurb on Alberich.  He was once king of the Nibelungs, and he married a warrior named Kriemhild.  They had a son called Hagen, who grew up to be a merciless warrior.  This is similar to Wagner’s Ring version…which isn’t really at all like the original legends (where Hagen/Hogni is actually sort of a decent fellow).

Anyway, the chapter action begins…the Rhinemaidens (back from Valhalla) tell Miime that they had actually arranged for the gold to be stolen because they were scared it’d be sucked into the darkness [or so they thought, it’s obvious now that Wotan intended for the gold to be sucked all along].

Alberich contacts Miime as well, telling her that Wotan is a great god and that he’s pledged to clone the Nibelung race back into existence.  Dr. Oyama, who’s been eavesdropping on these comings and goings, is so ticked off at Alberich’s traitor-like ways that he lets go off the gun trigger.  Alberich warps out of there, but the last thing he does is to inform Miime that his son Hagen is back, and that Miime should tell Great Harlock about it.

Great Harlock deduces from this information that the weird ship out of the darkness is actually Hagen’s ship.

Beyond Hagen’s ship is darkness.  No, not darkness: nothingness.

Dr. Oyama has the explanation: Hagen is using a navigation system named “Darkline” [sometimes called “Darkride”].  It’s the most vicious transportation method in the universe, which actually feeds off of the environment directly to propel itself, releasing “nothing” in the process.  It’s not Valhallan, it’s not Metanoid or terrestrial, it’s some horrible Nibelung thing.

Alberich warps near Reiji, his intention being only to gloat to the kids there that they’ll never get to see their parents again…having said this he warps off again.  Little Tochiro thinks it’s an empty boast, but the QE gets really upset: it asks Tochiro to make it so that it can fly at full power for 24 hours, it doesn’t really matter what happens afterwards…the Queen Emeraldas wants to help the Deathshadow in this key battle.

Chapter 52, the last of the volume, begins:

The QE says some really odd stuff: “I want to go back to see the people who built me, there where they built me.  If that place somehow perished…then I will become a vengeful ghost and travel with you forever.”  I guess I need to know more about Emeraldas’ story to make sense of these words.

Oh, but QE isn’t finished:  “I know about your mother”, he tells Maetel and Emeraldas.  Then he speaks a bit, cryptically, about Promethium.  And I do know about this stuff, so I get it!!  Anyway, the point is that this ship is something super amazing.

In going about and trying to fix the QE, Tochiro finds a great big sphere with a hatch.  He opens it and falls inside: it’s the ship’s heart [it looks like outer space, and Tochiro is drifting, just like many a scene from Miraizer Ban].  What Tochiro does inside the QE’s heart isn’t shown, but it works, and the QE announces it will warp near the Deathshadow.

[There’s a brief interlude here where Leiji’s drawn in actual e-mails “addressed to Harlock and crew” from Christmas 1998.  The setup is that somehow the Deathshadow is receiving them.  It’s all very cute, but not relevant.]

Behold! Phantasma!

Hagen’s ship is called Phantasma.  It begins to deploy its offensive system, which consists of a “nothingness” stream generated between the two parts of the ship (as I said, the ship looks like twin bugs attached by a cable).

And here ends the Volume!

Volume Eight

Chapters 53 and 54:

The opening narration makes something clear: Hagen and the Phantasma are heralding the mysterious entity that Wotan’s been talking about, Hagen himself ISN’T the entity.

The QE and Brynhild’s Valkyrie warp near the Deathshadow simultaneously.  Brynhild tells everyone to back down from the Phantasma temporarily as she will go and negotiate with Hagen.  GH warns her of the danger, but she drops a bombshell: Hagen is her brother-in-law and there’s no way he would hurt her.  [This is proper: in every version of the Nibelung legend right down to Wagner’s, Brynhild marries (against her will, actually) Gunnar/Gunther, who is Hagen’s maternal half-brother].

The QE picks a lovely time to tell its crew that the warp has quite worn it out and that it’ll be unable to warp again.  Then a more detailed story of its woes comes out, and it’s very weird.  It seems the race of people that built the QE absolutely loved a pet cat called “Nanika”.  The Nanika would go on the QE as a good luck charm of sorts.  For some reason that’s undisclosed yet the race started dying and the last member entrusted Nanika to the “heart chamber” of the QE.  And now Nanika, through the time-arresting power of QE, has been living for a thousand years all alone inside the QE.  When Tochiro went inside the heart he found Nanika and took it out…  The welfare of Nanika more than anything is what’s been worrying the QE.  Hmmm…

Brynhild leaves the Phantasma and goes aboard the Deathshadow.  She tells GH that Hagen wants to come aboard and talk.  This is of course ridiculously dangerous, but Brynhild is vouching for Hagen and GH is curious to see how Hagen ended up striking a deal with the Darqueen [which is news to us, but I guess the Darqueen is the big entity that lives in the darkness beyond, and once Wotan exiled the Nibelungs over there, Hagen struck his deal…and GH doesn’t realize that Wotan is actually counting on this Darqueen somehow…if Darqueen = awesome entity].

So Hagen materializes quite magically at GH and Oyama’s table, and makes sure to tell everyone he’s got three bombs on him so they’d better not try anything funny.  Better yet, he’s wearing a special barrier suit so that the detonations would destroy the ship without hurting him at all.  In other words, he means business.

But Wotan’s keeping track of things.  He’s incensed but he’s got a plan: long, long ago he placed something [an explosive?] inside of Hagen, just in case.  He tells his attendants to activate this “something” and get rid of the Deathshadow and Hagen at the same time!

The end of this chapter (54) has an important blurb from the narrator, the gist of which is this: Wotan is not the ruler of the universe, Valhalla is not the center of the universe.  Wotan believes this, and he’s set himself up quite well, but he’s not nearly as powerful as he and others think, and he’s about to find out.

CRITICISM: This statement from the narrator is huge.  I had two beefs with the Harlock Saga OVA anime when I first saw it: 1) It ended with a whimper and not a bang; 2) Considering the premise that the Nordic gods rule the universe, Wotan was woefully inept.  Well problem # 1 is dispelled by simply noting that what was animated was only the first 2 volumes of a multi-volume series.  And problem # 2 is solved by this revelation from the narrator: the premise itself is wrong.  Harlock Saga is NOT set in a universe ruled by Wotan.  It just looks that way initially.  Wotan is but one of the many powerful tyrants around the universe.

Chapter 55 and 56:

By “inside” of Hagen, Wotan meant his brain!  But the thing won’t explode.  There’s something counterbalancing it, and the organ in Rhine is messing with Valhalla’s signals on top of that, so Hagen is safe from Wotan’s anger [as is everyone in this comic book, I almost pity the god].

But Hagen isn’t safe from GH’s coolness…Hagen tries to blow the Deathshadow and nothing happens.  GH knows all about the thing in Hagen’s brain, he explains it to Hagen and says what he’s just done will result in his own death.  Hagen flees to his Phantasma but soon thereafter the whole thing implodes and disappears.

GH and Oyama discuss exactly what happened: the thing in Hagen’s brain was a proton bomb, which is a positive (+).  Hagen’s bombs were “dark bombs” (electron bombs??) and so they’re negative (-).  Wotan and Hagen were both trying to detonate at the same time, so there was a balance of + and -, nothing happened.  But Wotan just kept increasing the power on the bomb in the brain, until the + won out over the – and the Phantasma went poof and disappeared.

With the disappearance of the Phantasma, the black hole of darkness is gone too.  But Miime begins to send a warning signal to the Deathshadow, and the QE also has a vague recollection that something dangerous is lurking in GH’s ship, but it can’t remember what.  Emeraldas asks Tochiro to try to fix QE’s memory and in his first attempt he gets electrocuted very badly.  Emeraldas asks Maetel for a bottle of water, takes a big gulp and then smooches Tochiro to cool him down.  WHOA.  What are kids learning these days in grade school?!

Tochiro gets working again, and the QE gets the feeling that the kitty Nanika knows what the problem is.  QE suggests they send Nanika aboard the Deathshadow to figure out what’s wrong.

Before Nanika gets underway, though, everyone arrives at what the problem with: the gold dust that the Tyrannovolcanian ship left on the Deathshadow.  If it remains too long then it could be dangerous.  The solution is to fly at high speed over a high-energy ion cloud and make the ions disperse.  The drawback is that the ship will get very, very hot while this is going on.  GH decides to try this solution out and sure enough the gold disappears…but there’s a problem with an “energy duct” in the back of the Deathshadow and smoke begins to come out.

Oyama, Yattaran and others rush to fix it as GH thinks of steering the ship toward Reiji.  At the same time, Miime’s organ playing gets more frantic.  It dawns on GH that there’s a bigger problem inside the ship.  Brynhild suggests that Hagen has left something dangerous onboard, but she’s unable to hazard a guess as to what that would be [way to go, Brynhild…NOT].  The kids on QE start thinking again of QE’s idea of sending Nanika over to the Deathshadow.

Wotan smiles.  He says “so Hagen left that on the ship.  I’ve won.  I’ve won!”  And Little Tochiro and Little Harlock look on in despair as the stern of the Deathshadow begins to freeze and turn a deathly white.

Chapter 57:

The ice is spreading from the stern throughout the ship.  Wotan is ecstatic—victory at last!  Miime stops playing.  This is even more ominous.

Ah, but here she is talking with the Rhinemaidens.  She wants them to redirect the organ soundwaves in the direction of the Deathshadow.  She wants to a) shield the ship from Valhalla and b) attack Valhalla!!  The power of music, this is called.

Maybe it’s too late…the Deathshadow is 100% white.  Little Harlock and Little Emeraldas hop on a little ship and fly to the Deathshadow (is it too late for me to start calling it the DS…No, it isn’t.).  Tochiro stays behind because the QE needs him, and Maetel, well, maybe Maetel stays to take care of Tochiro…

Little Harlock is just in time to see Brynhild get buttnookie in front of his pa.  She wants GH to keep her armored suit as she won’t need it anymore.  Then she tells GH to call back up Oyama and his repair crew and walks out of the bridge…AND IT’S TOTALLY OBVIOUS SHE’S GOING TO STOP THIS ICINESS WITH HER HAWT BOD.

And well what do you know, the ice begins to leave the DS, a little more time and it’s all gone!  Nanika starts to cry…we’re not out of the woods yet.  Wotan is angry, again.

COMMENT:

Hmm…Brynhild made her own body so hot that it counteracted the ice.  That’s what happened!  The link with the original legend is as follows: Brynhild is upset that the love of her life, Siegfried, has been murdered.  She prepares a funeral pyre for him and then jumps right, immolating herself.  Here Brynhild is literally burning up for Great Harlock (more or less Leiji’s Siegfried)!!

58th and Final Chapter:

We see Brynhild wrapped in a huge set of flames.  GH goes and finds her.  She tells him to back off and let her become a flame for the sake of him, Oyama and their children.  Then she (finally) gets explicit: let me burn for the sake of my love for you, Great Harlock, who are the reincarnation of Siegfried.  And GH doesn’t take this as a throwaway comment at all…He’s Siegfried??  But she can’t elaborate, as the flame flickers and fails, leaving only a cute little necklace with pendant behind [Leiji’s quite fond of jewelry].  The pendant is a double-headed phoenix, looking very much like the Hapsburg emblem but white.  The pendant is meant for Little Tochiro and Little Harlock, and GH tells them to take care of it as it houses the (fighting) spirit of the Valkyries.  Oh, and Brynhild’s ship has been bequeathed to Freia.

[Let me clarify: the word I’m translating as “reincarnation” is not a Buddhist term, it could mean one of three things: 1) a second coming, as of Christ; 2) simply that GH is as cool as Siegfried, thus he is a “second” or “new age” Siegfried; 3) reincarnation as commonly understood.  It’s vague.]

Oyama reports that Hagen’s (supporting) fleet has just arrived and so they’d better scram.  What??  This doesn’t make sense!!  Shouldn’t his fleet had been destroyed when Hagen was?  Or if they were still on the other side of the darkness, then shouldn’t they be unable to cross to now??  Hmm…Well, the important thing is everyone’s heading for Reiji, and there’s a very dark panel on p. 176 I’ll paste right here where GH says darkly “Shall we go”, and Oyama replies “Yes, it looks like it’s time” just as darkly.  Look:

This scene is mythical right here.  The characters are larger than life.  As they say, the world’s a stage.  But in our daily lives we tend to forget that.  Here in Saga, as in the great tragic myths the characters do know that they’re actors…

On with the show: the kids on the QE notice the Phantasma fleet.  It’s hard NOT to notice it, as it consists of 168,000 ships!  Plus the pendant begins to responds to Miime’s organ playing, it shines a great deal, and morphs into—the Harlock skull and bones!

GH and Oyama tell the kids to head back to Reiji and wait for the Deathshadow 2 [in the process of being completed] to go fully functional.

Then the DS turns back and goes straight into the mass of Phantasma fleet vessels.  There’s a huge explosion, and Valhalla’s systems report that the entire fleet AND the DS have been evaporated.

It’s the changing of the guard.  The narrator says Little Tochiro and Harlock won’t really understand what just happened until they get their own Arcadia.  The light from the explosion will take 99,900,000 years to reach Earth.  “Great Harlock…in later times his legendary name shall be Siegfried…”

This just underscores the cyclical nature of time in the Leijiverse.  In the year 2064 Great Harlock and his friends are acquainted with the legendary tales of Valhalla, and yet somehow after his death Great Harlock’s existence will become part of the same legendary cycle among Earth’s inhabitants—of the 20th century.  Time is a Ring.  QED.

***

The manga is unfinished.  The whole thing was projected to run for 11 volumes.  No. 9 and 10 did show up as webcomics, but never made it to the printing press and 11 never existed.  I haven’t been able to find volumes 9 and 10 but I figure it will involve moving back again to the future, and setting up a final battle between the 2nd generation Harlock & Tochiro vs Wotan.  Hopefully some day I’ll get to read it.

Deathshadow 1's last stand...

MY TWO-PART REVIEW OF THE FINAL ARC AS IT STANDS IS NOW [HERE] AND [HERE].


11 Responses to “Harlock Saga – a very rough Survey”

  1. It seemed like such an awesomely complicated story D: I would kill to read the manga!

    Very, very nice. Thank you for doing this. Great Harlock seems most awesome but I wonder who Harlock’s mother is O_O

    Mini Maetel and Emeraldas awwwwwwwww~ ^^ So Cute X3

    I like the fact that Wotan is not the ruler of the universe – that makes it the much more interesting … need to read D:

    • It is very complicated, and in usual typical fashion Leiji leaves out a lot of issues unresolved. In a sense though, it adds realism to the piece. When has there ever been a major conflict where we had all the pieces of the puzzle? Never.

      • Hmmm … deep words as usual. But I have a feeling that some of the more important questions would be answered if only we had the complete manga.

        And I agree that it adds realism. In war, picking sides is never easy for the sides never reveal their faces. So in a war like situation – there needs to be that uncertainty …

        • Oh, yeah. I forgot the fact that I haven’t read vols. 9 and 10, not to mention the projected vol. 11 that never happened.

          i hope that at some point, maybe for his 80th birthday or something, Sensei will say “Heck, you know what? I’m just gonna publish all the endings to all the unfinished series that I hadn’t quite polished yet, just so that people can see what I was thinking of doing with each”.

          Let me go even further: I wouldn’t mind if sensei said: “Heck, you know what? I’m going to write up conclusions to every unfinished series that I have (Saga, Mahoroba, you name it), post them on a blog, and let the fans imagine/draw the manga pages by themselves.”

          • You know what, that is a brilliant idea.

            But I find it hard that Leiji would do that … his mind is probably concentrating on other things … (sex) X3

  2. It may be rough, but it is the only coherent review of the Harlock Saga available. And thanks to it I finally set my mind on giving it a try, so I bought the French version on eBay through my friend’s sister’s fiancé who happens to be French (the French seem to be reluctant to ship internationally) – it took some time, but yesterday I laid my hands on it, at last! The fall promises to be interesting.

    • Excellent! I’m sure the French translation’s great…I’ll be curious to see if you can solve some of the riddles that completely baffled me.

  3. Hello,

    I used to read this online (translated in english) but it disappeared years ago.. Is there anyway to find this? Does anyone have it as a download?

    • All traces of the webcomic have disappeared, and whoever downloaded it is not telling. Sorry!

      EDIT: My contact info is on the ABOUT page. Contact me if you see this.

  4. […] adaptation of the entire Harlock Saga / Ring of the Nibelung manga, of which (excruciatingly) more [here] and [here].  [this in a torrent, […]

  5. […] On this blog’s sidebar you can find Harlock Saga – a very rough Survey, which I wrote last year as I read the 8 paper volumes.  There’s more stuff through this […]

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