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Manga / The Five Star Stories

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So far away...

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 was "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 fifth 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 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. (The setup will seem familiar to fans of Warhammer 40,000 or BattleTech.)

They 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.


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 cliché? 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 Worldbuilding 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 large-format paperbacks, at least ten of which are currently available in English, though these are 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 inspired an animated OAV film which presents a mostly faithful adaptation of the first volume, which inexplicably changed the colors of some of the Mortar Headds and a few character designs were tweaked to be more animation-friendly. Nagano has produced a handful of Concept Albums based on the series with vocals by his wife, voice actress Maria Kawamura.

The Five Star Stories 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.
  • Adaptational Badass: Given the much higher power levels often displayed in this series, most of the MH designs adapted fromHeavy Metal L-Gaim get this treatment, but the real standout is Vatshu. While L-Gaim's Bat-Shu was a middling, limited production Mook Lieutenant, Vatshu is a one-off Super Prototype with its own bonded Fatima and one of the most powerful Mechs in the setting outside of Amaterasu's Mirage series.
  • Adaptational Wimp: The Junchoon's first form, the one most directly based on the L-Gaim itself, by contrast is depicted as much less formidable than its anime counterpart, losing badly to a relatively minor villain in its first sortie. While its upgraded versions are much more powerful and play a pivotal role in the story, it still loses its role as the main protagonist's mech (inasmuch as FSS, which has much more of an Ensemble Cast, could be said to have one).
  • 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 explicit in various supplementary materials, some of which is published, including illustrations in glorious full-color 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. Odd as that they may seem, 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 seeing it happen.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: A frequent trope in the series.
    • Aisha Codante loved Amaterasu 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, or at least someone with his name, has a Cheetahman counterpart.
  • 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 differently from Earth humans. 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, shifts back to 2989 and proceeds in mostly linear fashion from there for the next volume or so. The end of book three jumps before snapping back to the main story in the 2990s. And so on.
  • Ancestral Weapon: Many of the Mortar Headds and Fatimas have been in the service of the same order of knights for generations. 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.
  • The Artifact: The Active Veils on the Atoll Swans and Cobra are based on the extra arms mounted on the A-Taul V from L-Gaim, which originally came from that series' version of the Ashura Temple, as the A-Taul V was cobbled together from parts of other Heavy Metals. When the FSS's own version of the Ashura Temple, which bears no resemblance to the original apart from its red color scheme and extra limbs, showed up in the third story arc, its sub-arms were completely different.
  • Artificial Human: The Fatimas.
  • Art Shift: Happens around book 6 or so. They at least give in-story explanations 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, genderqueer characters, motorcycles, rock music references, bizarre fashions, it's all here. He 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...
    • 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 arguably 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 signature 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.
  • 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 meters tall, making it huge even by MH standards.
  • Bling-Bling-BANG!: Three words: Knight. Of. Gold.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Amaterasu's decisions may seem bizarre for the average person, such as the whole affair with Bosjathforth, which basically started with what looked like a kid throwing a tantrum (but probably wasn't), and draggged for a number of centuries and several wars.
  • Bowdlerise: The cover of US vols. 21-23 used Green and Gold artwork because the original cover (the one from JP Vol.9) contained frontal nudity of a Fatima.
  • Braids, Beads and Buckskins: Allen Bradford, despite the fact that he was born light-years 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. Appropriately enough, his MH, Boowray (actually a Siren frame with different armor and weapons) is based on a rejected design Mamoru Nagano did for Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack's Sazabi.
  • 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.
  • Constellations as Locations: The story is set in a group of star systems that are physically near each other, which many characters refer to as a constellation.
  • 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 machine guns 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 favorite 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.
  • Butt-Monkey: Allen Braford, before joining the Mirage Corps during the Emperor's Rescue Mission.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Paltenon even used it when complaining why was the eye part of her MH burned off after doing its Eye Beams attack.
  • 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 androgynous 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 aircraft. 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 particularly 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 four 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. In fact, 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 irresistible, 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: Specialty of both Headdliners and Fatimas, as well as members of the mysterious 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 Loon. Amusingly, her master, Bugle de Leizer's codename is Schaft. Can you dig it?
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Sarion, who was entirely forgiven for his rebellion during the ERM.
    • Ironically, but Weissmel again, who, despite being the one-time Commander-in-Chief of the Bosjathfort's Magical Kingdom of Buchtgma, the AKD's primary enemy at one point, was one of the Mirages by the time of the Kallamity Goddarce destruction. Moreover, he piloted the Green Demon Jagd Mirage, with Rognar at the helm of the Orange Dragon, which would indicate that he was a Green Left Wing CO at the time.
  • 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.
    • Interestingly, even the Mechs get in on it. Because of Nagano's signature "Movable Frame" designs wherein every MH has a fully articulated skeletal frame overlayed with armor, many headdliners disguise them by by swapping out the external armor and other equipment for the sake of Plausible Deniability. Most notable are the Boowray Battalion, a group of alleged Private Military Contractors who are actually members of the Fillmore Empire's elite Kneue Syltiss Knights acting as deniable assets in conflicts that would be politically inconvenient for the empire to officially commit its forces to. They use Fillmore's signature MH, the Siren, with bulky armor and gun turrets attached to obscure the Siren frame's distinctive outline.
  • 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.
  • Nipple and Dimed: Fatima Lachesis in the opening scene is shown topless.
  • Off with His Head!!: Prince Krakenbeal Mejojo decapicated Ananda, who was in the brothel after his master, Iler the Bishop, was killed, after the later refused to leak information about the now destroyed Ashura Temple.
  • 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 Ancestors Are Superheroes: The superhumanly powerful Headdmasters are the last remnants of the ancient precursor civilization known as the Farus Di Kanon, or the Super Empire.
  • 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.
  • Pedophile Priest: Iler the Bishop, the antagonist of the Traffics arc, is a 7' tall guy dressed in psuedo-Catholic bishop's regalia and has a young boy Fatima named Ananda.
  • 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.
  • Retcon: Starting JP Vol. 13, in which featured everything related to Gothicmade.
  • 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.
    • The fifth star, Stant, is also referred to in sourcebooks as "a large comet" despite having it's own planets, including at least one with an earthlike environment.
    • It was stated in the (Japanese version) prologue that the war lasted 900 years, involving 700 nations over four Solar Systems.
  • 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. Dr. Chrome Ballanche's appearance, in turn, is based on Herbert's description of Atreides' physician Dr. Wellington Yueh.note 
  • 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.
  • Split Personality: Picking Harris/Spark has this after her very strong powers were sealed by the former Atoll Shaman when she as a child. Hence, she has another personality named Madora Moirai, a pacifist.
  • The Straight Will And Grace: Subverted with Decors Weissmel and his Fatima Est. Est is programmed to pair with a knight best suited to pilot her bonded MH Vattshu, who just happens to be Weissmel, instead of her would-be boyfriend Jhon Weinzel. So she does spend most of her story together with him, but while it is common for a knight and his/her Fatima to have a relationship, in this case both sides are thoroughly indifferent to each other. There isn't even friendship, much less attraction: Est still loves Jhon, while Weissmel... well, he just isn't attracted to Fatimas at all. In fact, he consistently complains about Joker's fashion in Fatimas, who are commonly made small, skinny and somewhat Loliconish, which he finds disgusting.
  • 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.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Emperor Rescue Mission. True, Di Barrow was essentially holding Amaterasu hostage, but still, unleashing a Jagd Mirage 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. In the end it probably was just Lachesis not wanting to take any chances, as she knew that Mishalu had taken off to Both [with an inadequate forces and lacking experience, so she sent them the heaviest reinforcement she could.
    • Ironically, Di Barrow ( or, more correctly, Bosjathfort) had the last laugh, killing Schaft with his Psychic Powers, as he fled after Schaft had decimated his forces.
  • 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.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Amaterasu (still being a cute little kid and all) banishing Bosjathforth into the very fires of Hell, for challenging his mother's position as a head of the Divers Guild. 'Tis but an early glimpse into his future character and one of the first signs of his real Blue-and-Orange Morality.
    • This also directly bought him the lifelong enmity of Bosjathfort (who didn't appreciate the treatment), as he wasn't initially having anything against Amaterasu's family, he simply wanted his mother's post; and laid the ground for the (arguably) worst AKD's crisis of the recent history, the Emperor Rescue Mission.
  • 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.
    • Which runs straight into the Writers Cannot Do Math: okay, this is the hyper-advanced tech of some aliens, but the weight of the full "Twin Towers" unit is just 427 tons. Note that it's a semi-auto artillery piece with double 2004L/100 barrels. The largest real cannon ever fired in anger, namely the German Schwerer Gustav, AKA Dora, had just one 807 L/40 barrel and weighed 1350 tons, being assembled and serviced by as much as a full regiment, and requiring up to a full two months to set up a firing position, lay the double railway track for its carriage, and assemble the gun itself. Unless Joker works under the entirely different laws of physics, in no way the Square-Cube Law would allow the 2.5 times larger cannon weigh 3 times less.
    • Are you really trying to bring in the square cube law to argue the atomic railgun cannons of a 40 meter tall bipedal giant robot that stands on stick thin legs and high heels? In a setting where the base piece of technology is an indestructible, semi-perpetual "external combustion energy" that's a lone cubic meter in size?
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Fatimas are vulnerable to synthetic fabrics.
  • With This Herring: The entirety of the Emperor's Rescue Mission. Because of the whole Float Temple SNAFU note  Mishalu Ha Lonn took off to Both with only one cruiser, her own half-assembled MH, and one (very inexperienced) combined arms division to take on the much, much heavier Di Barrow forces. Even when she was reinforced by an assault carrier of the AKD's Both protectorate, and her MH was finally readied to battle, she still had just four MHs (three of them being of a Red Shirt Temple model) against Di Barrow's nine, most of which were of much better Blue Armor type. It was so bad that they had to resort to the desperation tactic of using tanks against Mortar Headds at one point, which didn't turn into Curb-Stomp Battle only because of an exceptional skill and, eventually, Heroic Sacrifice of Col. Vasyuchenko, the AKD forces tank commander. Though they've managed to hold long enough for The Cavalry to arrive, with Schaft and Aisha coming just in the nick of time, and Allen Braford deciding to desert Di Barrow and join the AKD's side after meeting with Sopp personally.
  • 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.
  • You Are in Command Now: Mishalu Ha Lonn, a very young and inexperienced Mirage Knight, was left as a watch officer in the Float Temple for the very first time... Only for the frigging ERM to happen on her watch. To her credit, she did pretty well, though not without the help from Lachesis, Schaft and Kaien. In fact, given that for Lachesis this was also the first time she was left on her own, the event firmly cemented both girls fame as the Ladies Of War.
  • Zeerust: Setting material describe Fatima having the processing power of a 128 bit computer. Impressive when written in 1986, but the computer technology was eventually achieved in 1999. As such, barring a retcon, the combat systems of the F-22 Raptor are more advance than a Mortar Headd.