Thursday, September 06, 2007

Five Star Stories

Five Star Stories anyone?

I had the opportunity of reading several volumes (out of 12) of Five Star Stories' manga lately, and was extremely impressed by both the illustration and the depth of the story. I always find the world of Gundam fascinating, as it rationalizes human life in outer space and the appearance of the technology behind Mobile Suits, complete with the political setting and the history, especially for the Universal Timeline.

Five Star Stories, however, completely dwarfs the world of Gundam, even though I still prefer Gundam over any other sci-fi series. It's like the Lord of the Rings in Japanese sci-fi. Set in imaginary world of four stars called Joker Star Cluster, creator of the story, Nagano Mamoru mixed everything from human being, alien races, superhumans, huge fighting mecha, interstellar travel, genetic engineering, together with old fantasy of dragons, knights, kings, ancient kingdoms and others to produce an incredible piece of art. As a result, there are countless casts in the story, and it became confusing after a while. I don't understand kanji, so I can only look at the pictures and have a feel of the mystical world within. Check out more about Five Star Stories on Gears.

The star cluster is made up of four stars: Eastern, Western, Southern and Northern. The "fifth star" is a large comet named Stant that passes through that sector of space every 1,500 years pulling with it its own collection of orbiting planets. (from Gears)

Each nation has their own crest and insignia, and their design reminds me of Lord of the Rings.

Cyborgs and armored warriors are among the odd characters in the story.

It's hard to imagine such sword design can actually fit into the weird universe of Five Star Stories.

A little trivia for you, Nagano Mamoru is also the designer of Haman Kahn's Qubeley, as well as the creator of Heavy Metal L. Gaim.

When it comes to the mecha part, the giant robots in Five Star Stories are called Mortar Headds (MH), with typical height of 15 meters, weight of over 100 tones, and output rate of over 1 trillion horsepower. These Mortar Headds can only be piloted by genetically engineered humans called Fatima, and most of them are female. On top of that, the Mortal Headds are designed to have some sort of emotional mechanism, so they may express human feeling, usually anger in certain situations.

Fatimas wear odd-looking costume to distinguish themselves from the rest of the society.

Mortal Headds are not just used in international warfare, some are owned by people with higher social status and wealth, so sometimes duel between Mortal Headds may occur. As such, the robots are armed with a beam sword, a conventional sword and a shield called Veil in the story. Other armaments like missiles and beam cannons are also common.

Some of my favorite Mortal Headds: (top down left) LED Mirage, Blue Armor, Vatshu The Black Knight, (top down right) Ashura Temple, Neptune, and Phantom.

What fascinates me about these Mortal Headds are their rich ornaments, and the design of symbols of their origin and allegiance engraved on their Veils. As a result, they looks more ceremonial than actual combat units. As compared to the design of Gundam and other MSs, Mortal Headds look more complex outstanding.

The model kits of Five Star Stories were produced by several companies, with earlier work done by Wave and Volks, and they are extremely high-priced. A typical 1/144 scale Mortal Headds is around 10,000 Yen, while the price for the 1/100 scale models may reach up to 30,000 or 40,000 Yen. Gosh!

The ultimate models of them all is 1/100 Jagd Mirage (Twin Tower Version) by Volks (not in production anymore) released in 1999. The price? 168,000 Yen (around RM5,880). If you think that's crazy, Workshop Cast, another company released the same mecha one month later. The price? 198,000 Yen (around RM6,930).

I suppose nobody can call me crazy for buying a PG Zeta Gundam once ^^

One Workshop Cast's 1/100 Jagd Mirage (Twin Tower Version) is equivalent of 10 PG Zeta. Wuhhuh~

All images from Gears