Regulus gets a tie pin for his twenty-first birthday.
Allegedly, it’s a treasured family heirloom that’s been
faithfully passed down from father to son for at least three generations—but it’s sharp and it’s bulky and it’s
basically just this ugly yellow gold stick
that’s inexplicably encrusted with actual real-life rubies, and if he’s
being honest, the two Greek letters perched on the top sort of make his stomach
turn because he’s the younger brother
by fourteen and a half months and the only reason his dad hadn’t given the
fucking thing to Sirius is because Sirius had ‘refused on moral principle’ to rush Delt-Ep and offended, like, all of the Black Family Ancestors in the
Sirius had dropped out of school and fucked off to Barcelona
for an extended homoerotic bro-cation with James Potter that their mother liked
to imperiously refer to as ‘shameless vagabonding’
but that Regulus was pretty positive was just Sirius being passive aggressive
while he killed off some zeros at the end of his trust fund balance and shouted
‘Fuck you!’ to their parents from six
thousand miles away.
Not that it matters now.
Because Sirius is still gone—his last postcard had been
addressed to ‘The Regulus Show (get it???)’
and mailed from a village in rural northern Italy—and Regulus is still a
brother at Delta fucking Epsilon with all the bullshit, cringe-worthy
responsibilities that that entails,
and the tie pin—
I was going to write some smarty-pants thing about what Dragon Ball would be like if it had been written by George R.R. Martin. Then I remembered that Toei beat me to the punch 26 years ago when they produced “Terror on Arlia”.
What I love about this episode is that it completely inverts the basic Dragon Ball storyline. Over the course of the episode, we get bits and pieces of Arlia’s backstory. There was a war, the evil King Moai won, and the heroes have been put in prison. We can imagine all sorts of epic tales of bravery and tragedy taking place in this world, much like the Earth of Dragon Ball. And a mighty warrior does arrive from outer space to end King Moai’s tyranny, buuuuut…
…. he only does it for sport. He knows nothing about Arlia’s turmoil and cares even less. From Atla’s perspective, the A-plot is his quest to overthrow King Moai and rescue his long-suffering wife Lemlia. She’s been forced to be Moai’s queen, and he forces her to watch gladiators fight to the death.
I’m going to guess that Moai tortures Lemlia on a regular basis, because she looks nothing like the other Arlians in the episode. Maybe he peels off her exoskeleton every night and waits for it to grow back.
But you know, she’s a strong character. A lot of girls her age would crack under this sort of horror, but she endures, you know? Yeah, life on Arlia is hard, and there’s no escape, and even if Moai is overthrown the planet still looks like a hellhole and everyone will suffer a miserable existence for several generations to come. Sure, her husband and friends are all doomed to die in prison or the arena. But in spite of all evidence to the contrary, I’m pretty sure this depressing, soul-crushing malaise will inexplicably end with the two best characters hooking up in the end.
That’s right, nerds, I ship Atlam. The evidence is all there if you know what to look for, and I’m pretty sure they’ll ride out this storm and finally live happily ever…
Oh, right. That guy.
Yeah, the punch line is that Arlia could have been it’s own long-running anime series (if you don’t mind all the characters being bug-people), but instead it’s just a crash-test-dummy for the real thing. “Terror on Arlia” was a sneak preview of what the Saiyans would do when they arrived on Earth. Vegeta didn’t even need to blow up the planet. At first he just wanted to conquer it and make a few spacebucks selling it as real estate. Then he found out Greger wasn’t a real Lannister, and he saw how dreary and lifeless the planet was, so he decided it wasn’t worth the minimal effort to bother with taking over. They couldn’t give Arlia away. So he left. But he decided to blow it up first, just because. On the planet, Atla thinks this is a new beginning for his people, and Vegeta and Nappa are virtual messiahs. But nope. Rocks fall, everyone dies.
Arlia’s kind of an outlier in Dragon Ball, because the theme of Dragon Ball is that there’s always hope, there’s always a consolation, there’s always a silver lining. You just have to persevere long enough to find it. Arlia’s the counterpoint to that. There’s no hope on Arlia, only pain and death, and even when things might seems to get better, it’s only an illusion. Your sadistic king is going to be replaced with a Prince of the Dead, who will save you only so he can have the sick pleasure of destroying you in one stroke. No one saved the Arlians, no one resurrected them with the Dragon Balls. King Kai doesn’t take Atlan to the Grand Kai Planet to train with the other honored warriors. Arlia suffered in order to highlight that Earth was in the same danger, but with greater hope. Arlia’s entire purpose was to embody ruin and capricious fate.
Which seems to be the theme of ASOIAF, from what I understand. Everything sucks and sucks and just when you think someone’s going to rise above and make a difference, that guy gets his face chewed off by a weasel or something, and everything sucks even more. I’m not an expert or anything, but I did earn a degree in Child Psychology at Saiyan University, and it strikes me that “Winter is Coming” is a bit of a hollow threat when summer and fall look like a living nightmare. The only way Winter can be any worse is if it’s the ultimate Winter, the one you don’t wake up from. The one where your Pale Blue Dot winks out of existence and a cold, unfeeling universe doesn’t even notice. Rocks fall, everyone dies.
So that’s my Game of Thrones theory. A short, ginger guy blows up Game of Thrones Planet in the last book, right before your favorite character gets kissed. He goes on to marry a space babe and grows a Burt Reynolds mustache.
“♫East bound and down, loaded up and truckin’, ♪we’re gonna do what ♬ they say can’t be done….”