"Ahh, the delicious taste of conquest! ...Have some!"
iansomniak | USA, Planet Earth | 12/23/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Leiji Matsumoto's Maetel Legend is a relentlessly somber tale of courage in the face of heart-wrenching tragedy. At once both profound and depressing, it's a thought-provoking story you won't soon forget.
The vast orbit of La Metalle has been disrupted by the black sun, Ra, and perpetual darkness has enveloped the frozen planet. As the ever-present whipping winds propel the swirling, stinging snowflakes, food supplies dwindle, shivering puppies die and hungry children sob uncontrollably. The inhabitants of the doomed ice world are faced with an impossibly difficult choice: either succumb to a slow and painful death of starvation and hypothermia, or receive the mechanization surgery offered by the sinister robot genius, Hardgear, and live painless eternal lives at the risk of their very souls. Against the advice of her two lovely daughters, La Metalle's Queen, La Andromeda Prometheum, unwisely decides on the second option. The beautiful Queen is encased in an iron box, where a thousand fork-like projections hold her in place while a small pink egg is inserted through her forehead and into the center of her brain. Shortly after the procedure, circular red dials begin to appear on the royal ruler's arms and hands, and soon cover her slim body like a mechanical rash. She shrieks in horror as she finally realizes she's been duped by the cackling humanoid fiend, Hardgear...but it's too late--La Andromeda Prometheum is helplessly under the maniacal mechanoid's vile control. With her robot master's instructions ringing unceasingly through her mind, the Queen orders each and every citizen of La Metalle to trade in their vulnerable human bodies of flesh and bone for immortal machine bodies of circuitry and steel. As the weeping masses roll through the heartless Hardgear's terrible device in assembly line fashion, the diabolical engineer callously tosses their lifeless corpses in a heap, to be devoured by the ravenous rats that populate the caverns beneath the black castle. His incessant mad laughter reverberates metallically, as if echoing from inside an aluminum garbage pail. And, while the blue-eyed android devil schemes to turn all of mankind into soulless automatons, he chugs a red beverage infused with humanity's essence, dribbling much of it messily out of the corners of his metal mouth.
With the Queen valiantly struggling to hold on to the last shreds of her ever-fading humanness, La Metalle's only hope against Hardgear's unspeakable evil rests in the slender hands of the brave princesses, Emeraldas and Maetel, both of whom steadfastly refuse to surrender their mortal hearts to mechanization. "Cut a man and he bleeds," says the crimson-clad Emeraldas, "that wound leaves a scar, the pain he feels makes him both stronger and also less willing to inflict pain on others."
"But if you become a machine," Maetel continues, "you can't feel pain anymore...or hear the whisper of the wind...or be moved by the brilliance of the stars. Your heart will turn cold, unable to feel anything at all."
With their flowing, ankle-length hair, and dark, sparkling eyes framed by long, lush lashes, the royal sisters could easily make millions doing mascara and shampoo commercials. Alas, armed only with their trusty laser rifles, the glamorous gunfighters are destined to spend their precious lives battling the Vaderesque Hardgear and his mechanoid minions for the freedom of the frigid, windswept wasteland they call home.
Maetel Legend is rated 13 and up due to violence. There's no blood or bad language, but there is quite a bit of screaming and crying. The story is told in two chapters, and it's a little slow and perhaps unnecessarily long. Parts of the second chapter seem like repeats from the first chapter. Still, this is a very worthwhile addition to any anime collection.
In the immortal words of Lady Emeraldas, "This isn't the time for tears. We have to turn to the future and live!""