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Manga: The Five Star Stories

This is the tale of the god of light, Amaterasu, and his wife Lachesis, who emerged victorious from an era of wars that raged throughout four solar systems. It will also tell of the many bold and daring headliners who battled courageously during those times, some victorious, some not, but always in the name of chivalry.

The Five Star Stories (FSS for short) is a long running (began serialization in the venerable Newtype Magazine in 1986) cult manga series created by Mamoru Nagano, who is best known for his collaborations with Yoshiyuki Tomino, especially Zeta Gundam. While not quite his solo debut (that would be Fool for the City, a short story mostly about rock music that was also serialized in Newtype the year before FSS began) FSS has arguably become Nagano's most distinctive work and his career-defining Magnum Opus.

The basics of this epic Space Opera are as follows:Somewhere in space there is a region known as "Joker". It is made up of four stars named after the cardinal directions (North, South, East and West) and a 5th called Stant on an orbit that takes it within traveling distance of the other four every 1500 years, hence the title. The main four stars all have one or two habitable planets populated by many different nations and peoples. And, being different nations and peoples, they often find an excuse to go to war.

But it is the way war is waged that makes things really interesting. The people of Joker learned long ago that weapons of mass destruction were a bad idea, so instead they developed a device that could deploy massive amounts of firepower without the indiscriminate collateral damage of a nuke or planetary bombardment.

Enter the Mortar Headd.

Mortar Headds (MH for short) are not like other Real Robot-type mechs. Rather than mass-produced, expendable military vehicles like tanks or fighter planes, an MH is considered a work of art. Each one is an exquisite display of its nation's wealth and craftsmanship that is passed down from pilot to pilot for generations (a setup that may seem familiar to fans of Warhammer 40,000 or BattleTech).

Mortar Headds are controlled by two operators: a "Headdliner", a Schizo Tech Knight in Shining Armor, born with superhuman strength and speed as a result of genes passed down from genetically altered Super Soldiers in the distant past who are the only ones with the proper reflexes to control the machine's incredibly complex movements and their partner, a "Fatima", an Artificial Human, usually female, who controls the mech's other functions and has been programmed to obey the Headdliner completely.

The main characters of The Five Star Stories, more or less, are Amaterasu, the androgynous god-king of the planet Delta Belune and his Fatima/wife Lachesis, who, along with their loyal order of Mirage Knights are destined to change the face of the Five Stars forever.

Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Maybe even a little cliche? Well just take a look and prepare to be blown away.

Nagano's distinctive visual and storytelling style, a cast of thousands of truly unique and bizarre personalities and extensive World Building combine to create a truly unforgettable experience, epic in scope and yet peppered with many familiar, domestic touches that draw the reader into a strange and fascinating alien world that may not be so far from their own. Once you've seen it you'll never confuse it for anything else.

The manga has been collected into several large-format paperbacks, at least 10 of which are currently available in English (though these are somewhat difficult to find. Also, in English each volume is split up into two or three books, which comes out to about 25 or so released so far, really). It has also spawned an animated OAV film, a fairly faithful adaptation of the first volume which inexplcably changed the colours of some of the Mortar Headds and a few character designs were tweaked to be more animation-friendly. Nagano has even produced a handful of Concept Albums based on the series with vocals by his wife, seiyuu Maria Kawamura.


FSS has examples of...

  • Absent Aliens: There are a few gods, but otherwise the only intelligent life in the universe is apparently human or genetically modified derivatives thereof. We do see quite a few bizarre aliens in the Trafficks saga, but they're all from an Alternate Universe.
  • Ace Custom: Rogner's "Babiron" LED Mirage is probably the most notable, but arguably, any Mortar Headd can be called Ace Custom. There are mass-produced ones, but they mostly fall into Red Shirt category and hardly worth mentioning.
  • Aerith and Bob: Here are the names of a few of the Mirage Knights: Nu. Suoad Graphight, Maximum HOLTFORS Ballanche Kaien (capitalization intentional), Landwand Spacorn, Mishalu Ha Lonn and Allen Bradford (who, incidentally is married to a woman named Qukey).
    • Max, at least has an excuse — he's something of an Artificial Human and that capitalization is his designation
    • Qukey's real name, on the other hand, is perfectly legitimate Ritsuko Zanda.
  • All Planets Are Earthlike: Mostly averted. Though most of the habitable planets are fairly earthlike, either naturally or through terraforming, some are hotter or colder than others on average. There are also two habitable Single Biome Planets: Juno, a jungle planet currently in the middle of its Mesozoic Era and Pestako, a city world that was originally an airless mining planet. Also, each star has numerous uninhabitable planets not unlike our own solar system.
  • All There in the Manual: Many details about the setting and characters are only made explicite in various supplementary materials, some of which is published, including illustrations in glorious full-colour in the backs of the English issues.
    • What's unusual is that not only are elements of the Back Story like this, but the future of the story as well, as each volume is printed with a tentative timeline of the series that goes all the way up to the year 7777 and the character notes often describe things they will do in the future. This may seem odd, but it actually underscores the true purpose of the manga quite well: FSS is an experience. It's not about knowing what's going to happen next, but about actually seeing it happen.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: A frequent motif in the series:
    • Aisha Codante loved Amaterasu for all her life, and he knew it, but just never felt anything back.
    • Meeth Silver also had a thing for her second adopted father, Douglas Kaien, even coming to rather extreme means to make herself a mother of his child, but he hardly ever noticed this.
    • Jhon Weinzel cared deeply for Est and she did love him back, but unfortunately he just didn't have the right characteristics to be her bonded Mortar Headd Vatshu's pilot.
  • Alternate Universe: We sometimes get brief glimpses of a strange alternate reality known as the Taika Universe during various points in its history, mostly revolving around visitations by Amaterasu and friends after his final ascension. The equivalent of humans apparently evolved from Cheetahs, there are many other alien races and Rogner apparently has a Cheetahman counterpart there, or at least somebody with the same name.
  • Alternative Calendar: All years are marked with J.C. for Joker Calendar. Interestingly, the previous civilization used a calendar marked A.D., but it stood for something other than Anno Domini. Also, note that a Joker standard year is significantly shorter than those of Earth. So somebody who is 5 years old here would be about 16 by their reckoning.
    • Jokerians also age somewhat differently. A 100-year person in Joker would be around thirty Earth years old, but their physical age would correspond to a ~20-25 years old Earthling.
  • Anachronic Order: The first volume opens in JC 3960, then shifts back to 2989 and the story proceeds more or less linearly from there for the next volume or so, but at the end of book three it jumps ahead to an even further time briefly before snapping back to the main story in the 2990s, and this sort of thing keeps on happening for most of the series.
  • Ancestral Weapon: Many of the Mortar Headds and Fatimas have been in the service of the same order of knights for generations.
    • And let's not even get started on Kaienken. Or KOG.
  • Anyone Can Die: Named characters drop dead like flies.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: All over the place. Probably the biggest one being the Ezlazer "External Combustion Engine", a bizarre device, the main body of which typically resembles a metallic gall-bladder, that, through a process involving melting metals can convert any radiant energy in its environment, usually sunlight, into electrical power, allowing semi-perpetual motion.
  • Artificial Human: The Fatimas.
  • Art Shift: Happens around book 6 or so. They at least give in-story explainations for the costume & mecha design changes, but the fact that everyone's eyes & heads are suddenly twice as big goes unmentioned.
  • Attempted Rape: Bugle de'Leizer during Emperor Rescue Mission.
  • Author Appeal: FSS is filled to the brim with things Mamoru Nagano loves. Giant robots, genderqueers, motorcycles, rock music references, bizarre fashions, it's all here. He even admits most of the Fatimas are designed after his tastes in women.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Jagd Mirage. First you need to make the damn thing, all 40 m of it. Then, you need a genius knight and a top-grade fatima to use it. Next you burn out its eyeballs with its eye-mounted laser cannons. What type of genius created this monstrosity?
    • Well, Amaterasu could be somewhat unhinged at times, but then, he's a god...
    • Also, Jagd qualifies just as of itself, not only its Eye Beams. For all the engineering marvel that it is, it's still fully possible to create a mobile artillery platform capable of carrying the Twin Towers for a fraction of the mass and cost. After all, both Jagds ever built were used to their full power exactly once, and a couple of much cheaper Prowlers could've argualy do it better — busters of these caliber being their standard weaponry. It seems that Amaterasu designed and built Jagd Mirages simply because he could... and AKD was able to afford them.
  • Ax-Crazy: Most of the Mirage Corps' Green Left Wing. Particularily notable are Schaft and Paltenon.
    • Any of the Greens will do. What about Schaft's boss, FEMC GL IIII and one of Amaterasu's numerous cousins, Amaterasu dis Greens OOE Ikaruga, aka Sarion? The one nicknamed LED, after his signatire MH, LED Mirage? The guy made himself an orphan just For the Evulz, and had his death sentence committed to the life imprisonment by Amaterasu, only to stage a rebellion and try to murder his royal brother in a fit of pique due to some Fantastic Racism. But he's still one of the foremost AKD's knights, a royal prince (receiving this title after all that ERM debacle) and even was temporally made an AKD commander-in-chief during one of the Rognar's deaths.
  • Bad Export for You: Both played straight and averted. For some unfathomable reason, they decided to split each volume in the English edition up into two or three seperate books. On the other hand, not only did they keep the non-standard large format that allows you to see Nagano's art in all its obsessively detailed glory, they also stuck translated sections of the voluminous collection of sourcebooks, complete with full-colour illustrations in the back of each issue. Also, while the translation is beautifully written, the editing could use some serious work, as FSS has one of the highest numbers of spelling and punctuation errors you're likely to find in an English manga outside of a scanslation.
  • Batman Gambit: Amaterasu's true plan to unite the peoples of the titular stars.
  • Beam Spam: Mortar Headds have (comparatively) tiny laser emitters, as well as missile launchers, all over their bodies. They can make mincemeat out of enemy infantry and light armored vehicles in seconds, but are too weak to do much against the armor and other defenses of another MH, which nothing short of energy swords and/or ones made of high tech alloy can take apart.
  • BFG: The Jagd Mirages have not one, but two of these. Not even going into the fact that a Jagd stands many times taller than your average MH.
    • These are the main reason why the Jagd's 1/100 model is 1.5 meters tall.
  • BFS: Lots of big swords here. The curious broadsword with the bifurcated tip used by the Jagd Mirage probably takes the cake. Proportionally it's not so much, but the Jagd is over 40 metres tall, making it huge even by MH standards.
  • Bling Bling Bang: Three words: Knight. Of. Gold.
  • Braids, Beads and Buckskins: Allen Bradford, despite the fact that he was born lightyears away from the nearest rez.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Christine V's classmates, one of whom pays for it with his life.
  • Char Clone: Vralgo "Testarossa" Kentauri fits this trope perfectly.
  • Cloning Blues: Mostly averted. If you were to make a copy of someone who is currently alive the psychic resonance created by having the exact same brain existing in two places at once would kill both the clone and the original. Rogner uses a special piece of Lost Technology that clones him whenever he dies and transplants his personality into the new body, who then has to grow up all over again, but unfortunately he's the only one who can use it.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: Practically runs on this trope, a fact which Mamoru Nagano freely admits. Here's the author's description of the Co-Axial Cannon on the Jagd Mirage's 200m-long "Twin Tower" Buster Launcher:
    "An auxiliary gun also found on the Knight Of Gold and used for precision sighting. It is fired first so the main gunnery can get accurate range and sighting data. This is the same technology used in the coaxial machineguns installed in tanks. (Why they don't use lasers is a mystery, but our guess is that such mundane, obvious methods don't fit the Joker preoccupation with complexity and ostentation.)"
  • Culture Chop Suey: We've got the Hellenic European fairytale Edo of the AKD, the Germanic Mayan UK of Colus, the Native American Ninja Mimiba, United States of Ottoman Trun Union, Coballkan's Samurai Vatican City and it just goes on like that. According to his introduction to the first collected edition, Nagano deliberately makes all the cultural references as random and incongruous as possible to avoid people reading too much into them due to his dislike for making political statements in his work.
  • Deconstruction: Whether or not it was intentional, Nagano's realistic portrayal of the consequences of the various Applied Phlebotinums of the story create a savage mockery of some of anime's favourite tropes:
    • Born Winner: Though their abilities do give them a privileged place in society, Headdliners and Divers are held to rigid codes of conduct, have serious problems interacting with ordinary people and are often forced to fight and die in pointless wars.
    • Magical Girlfriend: The Fatimas. Their beauty and loyalty are the result of hideous genetic experiments and brainwashing, they are treated as playthings by most people and the few that aren't brainwashed usually go insane because they're unable to cope with their lot in life.
    • Humongous Mecha: The Mortar Headds are horrendously impractical and are only able to thrive due to a combination of Misapplied Phlebotinum, aristocratic traditions and bizarre military tactics.
  • Death Is Cheap: Only for Rognar, who is the proud owner of the Lost Technology piece that lets him to be reborn each time he dies.
    • There's someone else who get repeatedly reincarnated by even less logical means.
      • If you mean Bosjathfort, then he a) claims that he's a sorcerer, and b) claims that he knows the secrets of Farrus Di Kannarn Empire. Apparently, some of these claims aren't bogus.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: When Schaft tried to rape Lachesis in ERM, he was handed his own ass on a platter by her. He was so much impressed that he declared his eternal loyalty to her and became one of her most devoted knights.
  • Diagonal Cut: Common fate of any Muggles fool enough to go up against a Headdliner.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: The tragic story of Jhon Weinzel and Est, who loved each other deeply, but were unable to be together because unlike other Fatimas, Est was programmed to join with the Headdliner who would make the best pilot for her MH rather than the one best suited for herself.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Jabo Beat, a relatively major character, is unceremoniously killed off when she accidentally walks in on a running battle between the Mirage Knights and the evil sorcerer Bosjathfort that also results in the deaths of several Mirages and their Fatimas, named characters all.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: It takes billions of years, but in the end, Amaterasu and Lachesis are reunited.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: Ordinary grunts are pretty much the same as they are on Earth, except for sci-fi toys like lasguns and anti-gravity tanks. Then there's the knights.
  • Energy Weapons: Spaads, various handheld laser guns and Buster Launchers.
    • Buster Launchers aren't energy weapons, they are railguns that fire enormous (and often nuclear tipped) projectiles with muzzle velocities measuring in kilometers per second.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Ladios Sopp is constantly getting hit on by other men, whether they realize what he is or not.
    • He's so androgynous that you can be sure that most of these guys don't even think he's not a girl.
  • Evil Chancellor: Di Barrow.
    • Upandla Raymu becomes one later, when Amaterasu secludes himself and Mirages.
  • Evil Prince: Sarion. Note that he's technically still one of the good guys!
  • Expy: Various character and mecha designs, most notably Junchoon and Vatshu the Black Knight and their pilots are based on ones that Nagano created for Tomino's Heavy Metal L Gaim. The Colus VI arc is even something of a retelling of L-Gaim's storyline. Also features yet another A CHAR in the character of Vralgo Kentauri.
  • Eye Beams: Poor Jagd Mirage, did you burn your eyes out? It's too bad your creator is the most idiotic immortal genius in the galaxy.
  • Fantastic Drug: "Brain-Crackers", which need to be taken with a laundry list of other medicines to reduce the risk of brain damage. Apparently all drugs in Joker have to be created artificially, as the people's advanced immune systems prevent organic narcotics from affecting them.
  • Feudal Future: Not quite every major nation has a feudal system, or at least a powerful monarchy, but it's damn close.
    • Even among the nations that managed to cling to democracy, the same cavalier attitude to the notions of loyalty and nationality, so prominent in feudalism, still prevails. Voards Viewlard, calling from Trun Union, one of such nations, doesn't see anything wrong with his exploits as a mercenary, despite being Trun's President Mission Routh.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Nagano lays out the almost complete history of his world in prologue, making it essentially impossible to do any major spoiler or cliffhanger. This is done for a reason: he believes that without experiencing history, even if through a story, it's impossible to truly relate to it. We may know that Amaterasu and Lachesis would search for each other through worlds and dimensions for almost six billion years, but we won't get it until we know and love them.
  • Gender Bender: Amaterasu, androgynous at the best of times, actually does turn into a full on woman on a few occasions.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Amaterasu is named after the Shinto sun goddess. Then again, he is pretty anrogynous and Amaterasu is actually the name of the royal family. His full title is Amaterasu Dis Grand Grees Eydas IV, also known as Amaterasu no Mikado.
  • Gender Reveal: Ladios Sopp's biggest Running Gag.
  • Gorn: While violence in FSS is usually portrayed subtly but more or less realistically, there is a very gratuitous sequence in volume 7. To wit: Ladios Sopp is riding a bus through Kastenpo when it's attacked by enemy aricraft. His foot is trapped in the wreckage, so he's forced to perform a field-amputation with his spaad. He actually manages to elude the enemy for some time even on one foot, carrying a child who soon perishes from his wounds, but they eventually get the better of him and blow him up. The next time we see him his horribly mutilated carcass is being scavenged by wild dogs, buzzards and small dinosaurs. While he's still conscious!
  • Gratuitous English: The street signs in Zanda City are a particularily amusing example.
  • Gratuitous German: Rogner.
  • Handsome Lech: Voards Viewlard and Douglas Kaien, the latter being the father of at least three illegitimate children.
    • Megara seems to be on of the most forgiving women in history. Though, despite being one of Dr. Ballanche fatimas, she's from the earlier batches and still has some mind control installed.
  • Human Aliens/Human Subspecies: Humans in the Joker Cluster have numerous differences from modern day humans. Some small differences are that they lack vestigial organs such as wisdom teeth and tailbones. The big ones are Good News, Bad News; Good, they age three times slower. Bad, they're about a third less intelligent.
  • Humans Are White: The cast is fairly diverse, but there are only a few Black characters, most hailing from Delta Belune, most notably the aforementioned Paltenon as well as Sir Leibuch, the leader of the God's Knights, the AKD's rank & file MH force, c. JC 3000. Amusingly, after he earns the title of Black Knight, very blonde, germanic-looking Decors Weissmel, in his characteristically tactless way, begins referring to himself as "This Nigger".
  • Humongous Mecha: Well, it is a Mamoru Nagano manga after all.
  • Implausible Fencing Powers: All Headdliners can do this due to their superhuman powers. Infact, they move so fast they can actually do more damage with a sword than a gun. No, really.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Fatimas are said to be irresistable, but aside from their Generic Cuteness and very long legs, they tend to look kind of bony and unhealthy. Voards Viewlard actually lampshades this in volume IX, where he constantly complains that they make them way too skinny for his tastes (though it doesn't stop him from lusting after noodle-people like Jabo Beat and Ladios Sopp). Then again, it may have something to do with the fact that they're practically immortal and even the ones who do get old still look the same.
    • It's Author Appeal. Nagano likes his women small and skinny.
    • Decors Weissmel actively lampshades this trope, somehow, in every appearance he makes. In the first chapter he gets pissed off at losing to 'another knight with a lolita complex' and is visibly disgusted by duke Juba drooling all over Lachesis, upon first meeting Est he tells her Fatimas 'don't do it for him' and in a much later appearance he gets very annoyed when somebody suggests he's been sleeping with Est. Apparently Even Evil Has Standards after all.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Amaterasu, being immortal, is the king of this trope. When he met Dr. Ballanche, for example, he was about 600 (which translates into pretty impressive 200 years even if this was in JC), and the good doctor was still in his teens. When Dr. Ballanche died of old age at 300, Amaterasu hasn't changed even a bit. Lachesis might be the only exception — while she's about 700 years younger than him, she's also immortal.
  • Invisibility Flicker: Speciality of both Headdliners and Fatimas, as well as members of the myserious Mimiba people.
  • Jerk With The Heart Of A Jerk: Decors Weissmel, full stop. He's so completely defined by his spitefulness, that only his exceptional skill in battle lets him still draw breath, otherwise he'd been dead long, long ago.
  • Jive Turkey: Fatima Paltenon combines jive with Talkative Loons. Amusingly, her master, Bugle de Leizer's codename is Schaft. Can you dig it?
  • King Incognito: Many important aristocrats there find their kicks posing as someone else. First and foremost there's Amaterasu himself, in his favorite disguise of Ladios Sopp, but then, apart from Doug Kaien, there's Sopp's best friend Voards Viewlard, in real life Mission Routh, the President of the Trun Union, and many others.
  • Lady of War: Tons of. Aisha, Jabo, Christine, mel Rince (she friggin' defeated Douglas), Lachesis and many other fatimas as well... Again, tons of them.
  • Legacy Character: The Black Knight.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Some of the heavier MH models are surprisingly fast, especially the Sirens.
  • Magic Knight: Prince Ko Fan Shiemar and other "Baiyas".
  • Master of Disguise: Amaterasu, aka Ladios Sopp, aka mel Rince Usaretama. A few other character often hide their identities when going about in public, since they're important aristocrats.
    • Rince isn't Amaterasu's disguise like Sopp, because there were numerous cases of them being in the same place in the same time. She, like Agari-no-Kimi, is more like a full-fledged avatar.
    • Douglas Kaien is one of such aristocrats, with his alter ego of a deadly playboy Hugh von Hitter.
      • As are Trun's President Mission Routh and his sister Mallory, better known to the world as the mercenary headdliners Voards Viewlard and Mallory Viewlard Hierarchy.
  • Mecha-Mooks: While all classes of MH are supposed to be elites compared to the ordinary tank and infantry grunts, a few mass production (well, limited production might be a better term) types are noticeably less flashy and more prone to being piloted by Red Shirts. Colus' Berlin Greens, Hagooda's Maglows and AKD's Temple series all fit the bill. According to background material, their performance levels aren't especially lower than those of the ones piloted by major characters, it's just that the more accomplished and/or skilled knights tend to get flashier-looking mechs as a symbol of their accomplishment.
  • Midseason Upgrade: Junchoon gets two.
  • Mind Screw: The action is often interrupted for bizarre, dreamlike visions of gods and monsters whose relevance to the plot is not immediately obvious.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: The MH Ashura Temple's secret weapon is that its shoulder armour turns into an extra set of arms that grab the enemy and hold it down so the main arms can strike the killing blow.
    • The Jagd Mirage, paragon of hideously overbuilt pseudo-Super Robot-ness that it is, also features not one, but six retractable insectoid sub-limbs to anchor it to the ground and carry extra shields to protect it from the backblast when firing its Wave Motion Gun.
    • Though lacking anything resembling hands on them like the above examples, the A-toll Swans and Cobra series Mortar Headds feature "Activeils", rounded shields attached to multi-jointed armatures on their shoulders that move autonomously to intercept incoming attacks. Also featured on it's L-Gaim counterpart.
  • Multiple Choice Past: Early in the Emperor Rescue Mission Arc a mother tells her child a fairytale about how the five dragon gods came to rule over the Kastenpo region of the planet Both, when a princess in medieval times summoned them by praying for her kingdom to be saved when it was attacked by bizarre, technologically advanced Demonic Invaders. Another passenger on the bus they're riding scoffs at the story, saying there were no princesses or kingdoms on Both in medieval times, Both is a terraformed planet that couldn't even support life until relatively recently. It's also implied elsewhere that the dragons are really living weapons created by the Super Empire, but they do seem pretty godlike when they appear in the story.
  • No Export for You: Sadly, the translators seem to have given up around the end of volume 10, probably due to the financial difficulty of putting out a niche manga with high production values amid the ongoing collapse of Western Civilization. There are scanslations of the first third of v.11 (in the style of the official translation, full-colour sourcebook pages and all) and a short gaiden story, but it seems no scanslation groups are planning to do any more at the moment (hint, hint).
  • Older than They Look: Most Fatimas do eventually die of old age, though it takes them much longer to do so than humans, but because of the extensive genetic enhancements they've undergone they never look any older than their 20s, if that.
  • One World Order: Delta Belune, controlled by the government of the Amaterasu Kingdom Demesnes. Unlike most examples of this trope, though, the AKD is a supra-national entity made up of numerous cultures ruled by a single god-king.
    • And most of the AKD's government functions are executed by the Emperors's various vassals who are lords of those nations. For example, AKD's Prime Minister is Aisha Codante, FEMC II, Amaterasu's cousin, and the Crown Princess of Codante, one of the AKD's member nations, while its Commander-in-Chief is Falk U. Rognar, FEMC III, King of Babilon and the Speaker of AKD Parliament's House of Lords.
  • Our Demons Are Different: They carry 7 foot long laser rifles, for one thing.
    • Or 100 meter long Wave Motion Guns — the first Jagd Mirage is named Green Demon.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The Kastenpo region on planet Both is ruled by five godlike dragons who periodically die and are reborn as "Nymphs". While they mostly resemble European dragons with some Asian features, their supposed creator, the even more godlike "ARCH The Water Dragon" is something else entirely, looking like a green-haired woman's head atop a bizarre, limbless technorganic mechanism of some sort.
  • Physical God: Amaterasu, Lachesis, the dragons and possibly a few others.
  • Point Defenseless: Very consciously averted. While most vehicles only have a few large, visible weapons, as mentioned above most MH, tanks and other war machines are shown to have tons of tiny gun-ports recessed into their hulls as point defense, mostly as anti-personnel and anti-ordnance devices. This is actually a fairly realistic setup for a Humongous Mecha, as without them it's legs would make far too tempting a target for enemy tankbusters.
  • Praetorian Guard: First and foremost the First Easter Mirage Knights, an elite corps and knightly order of the Amaterasu Kingdom Demesnes. It's interesting that Amaterasu, being the Genre Savvy Well-Intentioned Extremist that he is, separated this unit into two wings: Orange Right, where all The Capes (or Anti Heros at worst) were put, and Green Left wing, reserved for all the Ax-Crazy Blood Knights who agreed to serve him, both retaining their services and keeping an eye on them.
    • There are analogues in the most other countries, like Neue Syltiss Knight for Fillmore Empire or Trio Temples for Trio de Colus.
  • Precursors: The mystical Farus Di Kannarn "Super Empire" who supposedly ruled the entire galaxy and then some in the distant past. Source of various bits of Lost Technology such as the Applied Phlebotinum that's keeping Rogner alive.
  • Prophetic Name: One of the habitable planets is known as Kallamity. Three guesses what eventually happens to it & the first two don't count.
  • Psychic Powers: "Divers", also descendants of ancient Super Soldiers. Split into two types: "Para Divers", prophet/clairvoyants and "Force Divers" who can perform telekinetic attacks. Headdliners who also have Diver powers are called "Bayias".
  • Psycho for Hire: Some of the nastier Headdliners. Notable in that many are on the main character's payroll.
    • Some of the more sociopathic ones, like Schaft and Sarion, actively seeked this service, in their characteristic gory and backstabbing ways.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Max's MH, Akatsuki Hime, was initially orange-red, bu was repainted into the fluorescent purplish shade of pink known as Opera color. And although Maximum's manliness might be called into the question (he's almost as androgynous as Amaterasu), he's still the baddest among the FSS Headdliners.
  • Restraining Bolt: Almost all the Fatimas have various mind control programs in place to keep them from realizing they're better than humans and revolting. Dr. Chrome Ballanche, Fatima Meight par excellence, however, disagreed with this and created most of his Fatimas with fewer restrictions and a few with none at all.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Some of this may be due to translation errors, but there seems to be some confusion as to what Joker actually is. It is commonly referred to as a star cluster and the official translation renders it as galaxy, both of which are patently absurd, as star clusters typically have thousands of stars and galaxies many times that and during the Traffics arc it is confirmed to be part of our own Milky Way galaxy. Some characters refer to it as a constellation, but this is also nonsensical, as a constellation would never be called as such by the people living in it. Most likely it is a multiple star system of five stars orbiting a common centre of mass, though it could possibly be a star cluster if there are more stars that just never get mentioned because they either have no habitable planets or are too far to visit.
    • It's explicitly stated in prologue that after Lachesis's disappearance with KOG during the destruction of Kallamity Godarce in J.C.3239 she and Amaterasu searched for each other for almost six billion years before finally reuniting and marrying in J.C.7777.
  • Shota Con: Ananda, the cute boy Fatima. Disturbingly, his master is Bishop Iler, a 7' tall guy dressed in psuedo-Catholic bishop's regalia and after Iler bites it, the poor kid is sold to a brothel.
  • Shout-Out: Numerous rock and metal music inspired ones, including the prevalance of things with Light Emitting Diodes in order to facilitate the acronym LED. The name for the series' Humongous Mecha is a corruption of Motorhead.
    • Sopp is seen at one point in a Utah Saints T-Shirt, despite the series ostensibly being set on the other side of the galaxy.
    • The series also contains numerous references to Dune, most notably the Fatimas' similarity to mentats, with the blue contact lenses they wear resembling the solid blue eyes of the spice habituate, while the Etrimls resemble the mutated Navigators. Grand Duke Juba, main antagonist of the first story arc and his somewhat longer-lived step-nephew Decors Weissmel are pretty obviously based on Baron Vladimir and Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen (unsurprising, considering that Mamoru Nagano also based Yazan Gable's character design on Sting's portrayal of Feyd-Rautha in David Lynch's movie version). Bosjathfort also bears some resemblance to Baron Harkonnen, being an evil, diseased mutant who later possesses a much younger body. Duke Rogner is partly based on Duncan Idaho, being a master swordsman who repeatedly dies and comes back to life. The Colus family resemble House Atreides, particularly Colus VI to Paul.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Both Amaterasu's alter egos, sort of. There's the obvious mel Rince Usaretama, but Ladios Sopp is also one. His name is a corruption of Lladiesop, from Poseidall, the name of the character from L-Gaim that Amaterasu's imposter Upandla from the Colus VI arc is based on.
  • Seppuku: Seems to be a fairly common practise among the Fillmore Empire's Kneue Syltiss Knights. Blreno Canzian, sole survivor of the aforementioned A CHAR's Boowray Battalion who backed the losing side in 2990's Colus/Hagooda conflict attempts to gut himself in a bout of survivor guilt during an audience with the Emperor to explain how he screwed up, only for the Emperor to stop him. Years later, Blreno acts as kaishakunin for fellow Kneue Syltiss Barbaluse V who had suffered a string of career-derailing humiliations, culminating in his young daughter Christine misusing her headdliner powers to murder a school bully.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Played in a disturbing fashion with the Fatimas. Because of their irresistable beauty and the fact that most are programmed to be incapable of harming civilians, a Fatima without a Headdliner alone in public's chances of getting raped increase by a factor of 10 with each passing second.
  • Sociopathic Hero: ALL members of FEMC Green Left Wing. That's their hat, actually. Although for many of them the only claim to heroic status was in that they are serving the main character, they all were undoubtedly fine examples of a "sociopath" part.
  • Spell My Name with an S: There are numerous possible romanizations for most characters' names. Amusingly, the English version often switches between them freely, occasionally even in the same speech bubble.
  • Spider Tank: It also has these, though they're rare.
  • Super Robot Wars: The Mortar Headds Blood Temple and LED Mirage makes a cameo appearance in Super Robot Wars 4. Thing is, they weren't supposed to be there, as the game designers had it confused with a similar mech from L-Gaim. Reportedly, when informed of the mistake, Nagano was livid with rage. He's said he would never consent to FSS being in SRW during his lifetime because he doesn't like the idea of any of the beautiful Mortar Headds he meticulously designed being damaged and possibly defeated by mechs designed by another artist.
  • Super Soldiers: Headdliners. On average, they can run 100 meters in 3 seconds, leap over a 10 meter bar in one bound, and have reflexes TEN times faster than baselines. They are descendants of genetically modified soldiers of ancient Super Empire, and many aspiring scientists tried to reproduce this lost technology, until the eventual success of famous Fatima Meight Dr. Chrome Ballanche and his student and heir Meeth Silver Ballanche. However, the result of their work, Meeth's son Maximum Kaien, turned out to be so overpowered that he eventually had to leave Joker Cluster to the Alternate Universe.
  • Take That: The entire reason Nagano made Five Star Stories was because he was enraged that Tomino would not let him usurp Tomino's role as creator and director of L-Gaim, so he decided to just write his OWN L-Gaim and use ripoffs of the designs he submitted for L-Gaim. He admitted this at a convention.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Emperor Rescue Mission. True, Di Barrow was holding Amaterasu hostage ( and was a vessel for the reborn Bosjathfort), but still, unleashing a Jagd Mirage (with its usual escort complement of Rouge Mirage and 2 LED Mirages, a bit overpowered M Hs themselves) on his forces was a bit too much. Especially with Schaft piloting... But then, given just what Jagd is fully capable of, arguably, any appearance of either Green Demon or Orange Dragon would count.
  • Transforming Mecha: The Bang Doll changes from an ugly looking robot into a cool looking robot. The Cloudschatze, aka Speed Mirage is a more conventional space fighter into robot example.
  • Truly Single Parent: The Fatima Meights (scientists who create Fatimas). Also, Amaterasu's mother, Amaterasu no Mikami. Dr. Ballanche originally speculated that Amaterasu might be a haploid organism, but quickly rejected it as haploid humans are scientifically impossible. Then he realized the truth was even less scientific...
    • And then there's Max again. When Duchess of Fates Meeth Silver Ballanche, his mother and Dr. Ballanche's adopted daughter, decides that she wants Doug's kid, she doesn't bother to ask him. She just combines her own genetic material with the last of Dr. Ballanche masterpieces, MAXIMUM project, and then tricks Doug into fertilizing the resulting egg, later tweaking it and herself as she sees fit.
  • Wave Motion Gun: Jagd Mirage's 2004 mm Twin Towers Buster Launchers. Four of them are enough to reduce a planet into the dust.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Fatimas are vulnerable to synthetic fabrics.
  • What Could Have Been: The series was originally conceived as being more of a Real Robot story, in the vein of Armored Trooper VOTOMS. Nagano's earliest production sketches for the LED Mirage are even more stripped-down and utilitarian-looking than his designs for Zeta Gundam.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Fatimas have very little in the way of civil rights. Fortunately (?) most of them are so brainwashed that it doesn't really bother them too much.
    • What's interesting is that it generally doesn't stop many Headdliners from marrying their fatimas, especially in the case of Amaterasu and Lachesis.
      • Considering Lachesis is one of those with no brainwashing, it's not so bad. For others, however, that might not be that good, see the sad story of Est, who had the programming.
  • Wife Husbandry: Lachesis first met Amaterasu when she was little and he was centuries old.
    • As they both are immortal, it doesn't matter much for them.
    • Mission Routh, lampshaded heavily.
  • Wretched Hive: Zanda City, narcotics capital of Joker.
  • Yellow Peril: Prince Ko Fan Shiemar has strong shades of this.


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alternative title(s): The Five Star Stories
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