M1 Commentary: Paradise Lost

Surprise! In M1. The Fall Jay’s centipede-induced hallucinations open with a new episode of LuLu’s Space-Time Acceleration, the show-within-a-story about anime robots fighting a cosmic horror. Professor Akayama apparently survived the destruction of her spaceship and landed on the Hurricane Planet.

I mentioned way back in the day that I saw some possible links to Milton’s Paradise Lost in Akayama DanJayAkayama DanJay already draws from Dante’s Inferno, so I’m happy to brace more elements of my fiction against time-tested epic poetry. If I can use Paradise Lost to emphasize my imagery, so much the better.

Paradise Lost is an epic poem written in blank verse by John Milton in the 1600’s. It notably stars Satan himself and recounts the story of his war against God, his damnation to Hell, and his temptation of humanity with the apple in Eden. It’s an interesting read, especially if you like references to biblical events, because essentially half the text consists of metaphors comparing elements of the biblical event at hand to other biblical events.

Seriously, though, it’s worth reading. Try the “Plain English” version side-by-side with the original; I prefer it to the forest of footnotes required to properly understand the minutiae. Satan’s peculiar charisma is intriguing, and at one point he and his rogue angels build a cannon to fire at God. (Sheesh, why hasn’t this already been adapted into a giant-robot anime?)

While Paradise Lost is about the fall of mankind near the dawn of time, Akayama DanJay is meant to convey the power of modern humanity to salvage itself. Accordingly, events of Paradise Lost are thematically inverted. In contrast to Milton’s perfect, omnipotent God, Professor Akayama represents a fallible God; she built the Hurricane, a spaceship with the power to bring humanity into a bright new age, but her vision was warped into a horrible hellscape which fills most of the universe. Akayama leaves her military moon-base (God’s army of angels) and sentences herself to the metaphorical Hell she created.

She lands in an ocean of strange fluid, as Satan and the other rebellious angels fall into a lake of fire at the beginning of Paradise Lost. Satan and the others lay about languishing for days before they regain their senses and come together in council; Akayama has to wait for her bones to knit before she can quest for her Zephyr. Without spoiling too much, in the following chapters, Akayama will attempt to escape the Hurricane (as Satan escaped Hell) and be tasked with building a Garden of Eden (while Satan perverted Eden).

Meanwhile Lucille, orphan daughter of the late Princess Lucia, has a name which sounds like “Lucifer,” Satan’s name when he was the brightest angel in Heaven. Lucille smiles “impishly” and she has quite an ego (she insists she can pilot two robots at once). She’s also the Lunar Commander; unlike Satan, self-appointed leader of the rebellious angels, she is promoted to her position by virtue of her leadership skills and proficiency on the battlefield. Rather than waging war against God with a cannon, Lucille will ally herself with Akayama to defeat the Hurricane in a giant robot.

These relations to Paradise Lost are largely coincidental. When I wrote my exploratory draft I just wanted to hit as many religious notes as possible, and I only considered Paradise Lost later. As I rewrite, I can keep Milton’s epic in mind with intention to emphasize parallels.

I hope, by the end, to present a message about wrath. Milton’s God damns Satan to Hell. Twice, if I recall correctly. On the other hand, Akayama won’t rest until she salvages the pilots of the Hurricane from the fate she built for them. While she despises the Hurricane itself, she has only mercy for the constituent parts of its consciousness. Infinite wrath can only be tempered with infinite mercy. Anything which calls itself God had better have both.

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