THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 159 – Sense EMERGENCE

Delta Ep.18

MACROSS DELTA

MISSION 18: Sense EMERGENCE

ICONIC SCENE: The “Ranba Ral” scene.

STORY DATE: November 2067

BROADCAST DATE: July 31, 2016

1. We’re back on Voldor, but it’s quite a bit different, since the Protoculture structure has somehow been affecting the core of the planet and causing the climate to change. Is that true of all the planets with the ruins? What will happen if they’re not taken care of? And Kaname points out that the last time they were on the planet, Messer was with them.

2. She’s also worried about Hayate and Freyja working together, since they all just learned that Hayate’s father was the one who dropped the bomb. Honestly, though, Freyja doesn’t seem too concerned about that.

When Kaname presses Arad about Hayate’s father, he points out that all large organizations have skeletons in their closet. She asks if the same is true for him, and he more or less admits it, leaving her looking crushed. Is this the end of the Arad/Kaname ship…?

3. Kassim expresses misgiving about the current mission (much in line with the conversations he’s been having with Hermann), and Bogue insults him. I expected Hermann to come in and tell Bogue to knock it off, but he doesn’t. I guess he’s really taking the “I’m not your master anymore” thing to heart, but still… Bogue is being a little shit, and needs some disciplining.

4. Anyway, Kassim walks off and meets up with Freyja. He doesn’t attack because he says that he’s currently not a knight, but this is just a conceit. Quite frankly, I think he’s lonely and wants someone to talk to about something other than this war that he’s not sure he supports anymore. And he and Freyja discover that they lived relatively close to each other and knew plenty of the same people. And Kassim becomes the only other Windermerean we’ve heard to use Freyja’s term “gori-gori” (or, technically, “gori-delicious”).

5. When Hayate shows up, he gets subdued pretty quickly and they all have a fairly reasonable talk. The whole scene is highly reminiscent of the scene from First Gundam where Amuro meets Ranba Ral, except there’s no ambiguity here. Each one knows the other is an enemy. Still, Kassim offers to help Freyja go back to Windermere. Naturally, she refuses.

6. Mikumo approaches the Protoculture structure (temple…?) and gets an uneasy feeling, along with some quick, indistinct flashbacks. Then she starts singing “Giraffe Blues” ahead of schedule, resonating with the structure, forcing the rest of Walküre to hurry to reach her, and alerting the Aerial Knights.

7. Bogue, clearly trying to get vengeance for being called “cheap” last time, focuses on Reina and nearly gets her. Honestly, again, his rehabilitation was won me over by this point, but any goodwill on my part would vanish if he actually managed to kill any of the main characters.

8. Heinz starts singing and the Protoculture structure starts REALLY resonating. Walküre sings back, and things get very weird. Mikumo seems to have another flashback, Hayate starts going Vár, Freyja goes all wonky, bio-fold waves start spreading across the planet, synchronizing the brain waves of all the Voldorans, and ALL of the Protoculture systems start resonating with each other.

What all of this MEANS is left for later, but it’s made plain that something very big and very ominous has happened.

9. And just in case THAT isn’t enough, Mikumo mutters “Rudanjaar Rom Mayan,” starts singing as if possessed, and blows the entire structure up before collapsing herself.

Emphasizing that she’s probably not okay is the ending credit sequence, for the new song “LOVE THUNDER GLOW” (listed as “LOVE THUNDER GROW” during the broadcast), which is nothing but previous scenes of Mikumo, as if in memorium. Ominous indeed…

10. Well, it’s nice to get some Valk action again, and there are even a fair amount of gerwalk and battroid scenes here. The scene with Kassim is well-done and convincing. That last sequence with the battle, though… even having seen the rest of the series, it’s really strange and more than a little confusing. Roid has his key to controlling the entire globular cluster now, but that isn’t revealed yet. And the unhealthy resonance between Hayate and Freyja is about to get super-annoying.

OP: “Absolute Zero θ Novatic”

ED: “LOVE THUNDER GLOW”

EYECATCH: Keith’s Draken III

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: “LOVE THUNDER GLOW”

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 8

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH – Delta Mini-Theatre 1

Delta Mini 1

DELTA MINI-THEATRE (VOLUME 1)

ICONIC SCENE: “This is SCIENCE! Not MAGIC!”

RELEASE DATE: July 26, 2016

On the Macross Delta BD/DVDs (along with EXCELLENT English subtitles) there are some fun short films. They’re done with VERY limited animation, in a style close to a lot of the extra Frontier material (like “Macross Fufonfia” and the “Super Dimension Seminar”), so much so that I thought at first that they were done by the same studio, the memorably-named I Was a Ballerina Co., Ltd. But no, these are done by Studio PuYUKAI, who I’d never heard of before.

Most of it, naturally, is just silly jokes, but the first installment here of “Go! Aerial Knights” contains a lot of information about Walküre’s body suits (which are said here to be bullet-proof, despite what happens later in the series), their gas jet clusters, and their “fold projectors” that create the holographic costumes.

The part that I love, though, as my “iconic scene” indicates, is when the Aerial Knights say that Walküre’s outfits seem like magic, and Reina sternly cries, “This is science, not magic!” Considering how often I’ve seen viewers say they hate the “magic” in Delta, I laughed out loud when I first saw this.

Like the Macross 7 P*L*U*S shorts, I’d say that these aren’t essential for watching the series, but I think they’re a treat, and it would be a shame to miss them.

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 158 – Infection ON STAGE

Delta Ep.17.png

MACROSS DELTA

MISSION 17: Infection ON STAGE

ICONIC SCENE: Sex sells.

STORY DATE: November, 2067

BROADCAST DATE: July 24, 2016

1. In an unusual opening, we start with narration from Roid, explaining the Windermerean’s dilemma: that they are so powerful, but that their lives are so short. And that “solving the Protoculture system” could rectify that.

And indeed, Windermere is beefing up its conventional forces, with a few dozen more Drakens. Bogue’s pretty thrilled about this, but Kassim points out (to Hermann) that Roid was the only one who heard the King Grammier had wanted to conquer the entire galaxy, and who knows if he’s telling the truth about it?

Roid, for his part, is studying Walküre’s performance. Berger tries to figure out why, but Roid is holding his cards VERY close to his chest (and will continue to for quite a while).

2. Xaos, now somewhat back on track, hatches a plan to infiltrate the planet Voldor. If this sounds familiar, it’s because they did it ten episodes ago. One thing to note about Delta is that certain scenes and situations (and even lines of dialogue) repeat later on, but play out differently. I already noted Hayate’s non-lethal attack on Bogue versus his shoot-to-kill attitude with Keith, and his repetition of his and Freyja’s Episode 1 dialogue in Episode 14. as we move forward, there we more of these parallels, some more obvious than others.

3. The plan this time, at least, is entirely different. Unable to sneak in as they did last time, They hijack the Galaxy Network and Walküre stages a concert broadcast, and the broadcast date carries a virus that will break through the security systems. Thus, what was done in a small and secretive way back in Episode 7 is done in a much bigger and flashier way here.

4. When Makina adds a little “service” to the broadcast, getting people to spread the virus faster by clicking for risqué pictures of herself, there’s one shot of the crowd that has a fun little Frontier reference… one guy’s phone looks like a carrot, another guy has a taiyaki-shaped phone (like Sheryl’s), and a third guy’s looks like Tama, the cat (frog…?) stuffed toy from Aquarion EVOL.

Delta Ep.17a.png

5. I’m glad we get a full (mostly) Walküre concert here, because I was beginning to miss some of the earlier songs, like “Jiritic Beginner” and “When My Rune Shines Bright.” We also get a new song from Makina, “Onyanoko Girl,” which is good, but sounds a little too much like it’s trying to be a song by the J-pop trio Perfume to me.

In the middle of it, though, we get a flashback to last episode, where Mikumo said she never remembered anyone celebrating her birthday. Here she goes on to say that she has no memories of her childhood or her parents, either. It was a fan theory from the beginning that there was something… artificial, shall we say, about Mikumo. Either that she was a clone or an android or SOMETHING.

Oh, and I’d like to take this moment to note, first, how good the Walküre choreography is, and second, how good the motion capture is. The first should be kind of a given, considering that Frontier gave a lot of fun and now-iconic dance moves to Sheryl and Ranka, but the second is new. Even in the Frontier movies, a lot of the dance sequences were pretty obviously film of real people, painted over (in the old hand-drawn days, of course, they called this “rotoscoping” – you can see it a lot in, say, Ralph Bakshi’s “Lord of the Rings” movie – but I’m not sure if the digital version is still called that), whereas with Walküre, it’s seamlessly integrated with all the other animation. I didn’t even realize that it even WAS motion capture until I watched one of the “Making of Macross Delta” shorts that profiled the dancers who “play” Walküre.

6. Oh, and during Freyja’s song, Hayate bugs out a bit again. Again, this plot thread isn’t annoying yet, but soon will be.

Oh, and in another subtle homage, the drink bottle that Hayate gives to Freyja is good ol’ Appale Genki, from Earth Girl Arjuna and Macross Zero. I always find it amazing when pre-Space War I brands managed to survive after the Zentradi destroyed earth.

7. Hayate makes a big faux pas when he tells Freyja that he hasn’t seen his mom in “only” a year or two, since that’s a rather large portion of a Windermerean’s life. She looks down, but snaps out of it quickly. It’s still a reminder to him that Freyja doesn’t really have all that long to live.

There’s also a nicely-observed bit where Freyja says that when she first came to Ragna, she thought old people were a different type of alien, since she’s never seen anyone much older than thirty. The fact that it’s a Ragnan COUPLE that brings this to her mind is moving, since she’ll never know what it’s like to grow old with someone.

8. The flat-out best section of this episode, even better than cheesecake Makina, is Bogue’s horrified reaction to Reina. I mentioned the rehabilitation of Bogue before, from annoying would-be killer to hormonally embarrassed teenage boy, and this is where that transition gets cemented. When he finds his men watching the Walküre concert, first he’s enraged, but when the hologram of Reina “looks” at him, he’s immediately terrified. It’s also a great scene to cite (as I have before) when you’re making fun of the Macross (or, more often, Robotech) fans who think that Macross is gritty, hardcore military SF and get uncomfortable around idol singers.

9. At the end, there’s another twist in the all-important story of the Dimension Eater dropped on Windermere. Remember, first we heard that Windermere did it to themselves as a “false flag” attack. Then we heard that the N.U.N.S. dropped it. Now, we find out that, yes, it was the N.U.N.S., and the pilot who made the bombing run was Hayate’s father. He destroyed a N.U.N.S. base and also killed countless Windermerean civilians. It’ll be a while before this gets untangled fully, but I’m not sure how convincing any of it is. Even when first watching the show a year ago, I never really thought that Immelmann Sr. was ever trying guilty of this war crime. Perhaps because of that, I never found the subplot all that compelling. What would Hayate do if his dad WERE guilty? Quit Delta Flight? The stakes aren’t clearly defined, and so the issue lacks weight. The resolution (near the end of the series) is really touching, but until that point, it just doesn’t seem as crucial as the show wants us to think it is. I freely admit, though, that if I could have seen this when I was in my teens, and first truly beginning to see my parents as flawed human beings (as we all must do, sooner or later), it might have grabbed me a little more intensely. Again, it’s always good to remember that people like me aren’t the show’s target audience, and that audience’s priorities aren’t necessarily my priorities.

10. One of the common complaints about Broadway musicals (especially older ones) is that every time a song starts, the plot stops. I can’t quite say that this episode, which is the biggest all-singing all-dancing extravaganza in the series, completely avoids that charge, but I still find it a lot of fun, with some excellent scenes. As I said, I think Bogue is the highlight, but Freyja and Hayate’s scenes together are warm, and the concert scenes are well-done (if not quite the delirious weirdness of, say, Sheryl’s concerts in the Frontier movies). Still, the last battle we had was a couple of episodes ago, and it was extremely short. Let’s get those Valkyries back in action…

OP: “Absolute Zero θ Novatic”

ED: “Destruction of Innocence”

EYECATCH: Hayate’s VF-31J

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: “Onyanoko Girl,” “Hear the Universe”

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 7

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 157 – Reluctant BIRTHDAY

Delta Ep.16

MACROSS DELTA

MISSION 16: Reluctant BIRTHDAY

ICONIC SCENE: Netabare Album ~The end of triangle~

STORY DATE: November 1-3, 2067

BROADCAST DATE: July 17, 2016

1. Well, every Macross TV series apparently has to have a birthday episode, and now Freyja joins the exclusive club of Minmay, Mylene, and Alto in having her birthday party televised for our entertainment.

And we open with her wearing the good ol’ Nyan-Nyan waitress uniform, made famous by Ranka (and Nanase. And, less canonically, Sheryl and Alto).

Meanwhile, Makina is planning a surprise birthday party for her, and if you look closely when they show Freyja’s profile from the Walküre website, the text is just copied from the English Wikipedia entry for her.

2. As far as the war goes, it appears that Heinz needs to recover before Windermere can attack the rest of the galaxy, which gives Xaos a bit of time to execute Mikumo’s plan of trying to use the one of the Protoculture ruins to Walküre’s advantage.

3. The shopping scene is a little strange… it’s clearly an attempt to try to generate some romantic tension between Hayate and Mirage… except that they’re shopping for Freyja. I’ve said it before, but again, it doesn’t really seem like Mirage was ever in any kind of love triangle here, no matter how much Chuck, Reina, and Makina seem to ship them. And indeed, by the end of this episode, any hope for a triangle will be well and truly closed. If I understand them correctly, some Mirage fans seem to think that this makes her a poorly-written character, but I don’t really see it. As the excellent Macross (and other things) blogger Karice says, Mirage’s story is not that of a love-triangle contestant. There’s nothing “special” about her, and that’s what makes her important.

(Seriously, read Karice’s post. It’s great.)

I *think* what the Mirage fans wanted was for her to first become a kickass pilot, and then swoop in and steal Hayate from Freyja’s grasping clutches, which of course doesn’t happen. It’s possible they wanted other things from her, too: one gent who proclaimed often and loudly how terrible Delta was decided to hire a model, dress her up as Mirage, and do a photo shoot, saying that he would do justice to the character (since the show didn’t). Apparently, his idea of respecting the character was in taking semi-undressed cheesecake photos of the model. Er, okay…

*Ahem* Anyway, the scene is fun and charming, made more so by Chuck and Makina (and Reina) following Hayate and Mirage and making up romantic dialogue for them. Also charming, if a little implausible, is that Mirage’s phone looks like Q-Lulu, and that there is apparently Q-Lulu-themed merchandise for sale.

Oh well, I guess it’s like if you have, say, an Airedale or a Scottish Terrier, and there’s plenty of stuff you can get with those breeds of dogs on them.

4. The mall they’re in is also fun, with lots of intriguing-sounding shops like “Flying Ragna,” “Retro Girl,” and “UNIVERSEDUO.” There’s also an odd Fed Ex parody called MadEx, but that was already in Episode One. Oh, and apparently, the top girls’ fashion magazine in 2067 is called “Daisy Daisy.” And there’s a “Mercat Fair” going on at the mall, whatever that entails.

5. Mirage comes out and asks if Hayate likes Freyja, which is refreshingly direct for an anime character (and, often, your average young Japanese woman). Hayate doesn’t really “get” what she’s asking, or at least pretends not to.

6. One plot development that will become important-but-annoying starts here, where Freyja sings and Hayate, some miles away presumably, starts getting woozy. I’ll get into WHY this is annoying later, but I’m sure you can guess what I’m gonna say.

7. Funnily enough, when they actually surprise Freyja, she had forgotten that it was her birthday. Then Mikumo shows up (which in itself is kind of a shock) and sings “Freyja’s Birthday Song,” an a cappella song that really lets Mikumo’s singing voice, JUNNA, show off her pipes. Last year, after Macross World Con (now called Super Dimension Convention, being held this October in Torrance, CA… come if you can! It’s always fun!), a bunch of us went out to eat, and the Walküre cosplayers with us did an impromptu (and great) version of this song in the middle of the restaurant, which made the other diners think that it was actually someone’s birthday, and so the whole place erupted into applause after the song.

Similarly, when Freyja’s birthday, November 3, rolled around last year, a Japanese fan actually made a replica of Freyja’s cake. And it looked delicious.

8. Oh, one think I’ve been meaning to mention but haven’t had a chance to… often, when Freyja is trying to keep it together or motivate herself, she’ll slap her own cheeks. This apparently is something that her voice actress, Minori Suzuki would do, and it was a habit given to the character.

9. Hayate arrives late, but he has a pretty awesome present: he’s rented some snowmakers and turned the front of Rag-Nyan-Nyan into a Windermerean winter scene. Freyja is ecstatic, and when Hayate touches her Rune, she doesn’t flinch or call her a perv. Basically, this is like getting to second base. I think. And Arad, I’m pretty sure, knows it, considering the “You’re gonna get lucky, Bro” smile he flashes at Hayate.

Mirage looks on from afar, but it’s over now. The love triangle (such as it was) is done, and Mirage never really had a chance. Note, however, that she doesn’t really seem that upset, and she watches Hayate and Freyja with a rather wistful smile on her face. She does quietly start crying a bit later without realizing why, but really, this is hardly a tragedy for her.

10. As far as the space war plot goes, this is the most digressive episode we’ve had, as it barely gets brought up. However, as I’ve said, it’s entirely crucial for the love story. Hayate and Freyja won’t do much with their potential relationship for a while, but the events here will definitely have a huge impact on Mirage.

OP: “Absolute Zero θ Novatic”

ED: “God Bless You”

EYECATCH: Don and Q-Lulu

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: “The Wind Blows Without Warning” (kinda), “Freyja’s Birthday Song,” and “God Bless You.”

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 6

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 156 – Parting RESOLUTION

Delta Ep.15

MACROSS DELTA

MISSION 15: Parting RESOLUTION

ICONIC SCENE: Triumph of the Will, Windermere-style.

STORY DATE: Late October to November 1, 2067

BROADCAST DATE: July 10, 2016

1. It’s about time we got an episode focusing primarily on the Windermereans. The series introduced them as a “mysterious threat,” but has been trying to humanize them since about halfway through the first cour. But it was clear from the get-go that they were never meant to be evil and unsympathetic, if for no other reason than that there’s a manga about them. I don’t think the show develops them QUITE as much as it should (the twins especially remain firmly in the background throughout), but some of them become full characters.

Oh, and the new opening gets unveiled here. Funnily enough (as pointed out on the SpeakerPODCast) the name “Walküre” appears well before the name “Macross.” The song, “Absolute Zero θ [“theta”] Novatic,” is good, although it tends to move in fits and starts, which makes it an odd choice for an OP (I always think the best OP songs are the ones that start slow and speed up, or at least gain complexity of instrumentation as they continue). Still, the single was a big hit, so what do I know?

And, a while back, Craig of the Repacked Podcast and the SpeakerPODCast asked me if Bogue lunging forward in this OP counts for my tally. And the answer is, “Yep.”

And the last shot in the opening is by Risa Ebata, who came back to do several stunning pics of Walküre. Here, I like that the outfits are definitely inspired by the usual stage costumes, but show an elaborateness that would be extremely difficult to capture in animation.

2. It’s interesting that although this is Windermere’s moment of victory, the episode is suffused with melancholy and regret. Some of it is tied to the past (Bogue, for example, has lost his entire family), but there’s also a lot of uncertainty about the current war, especially given its underhanded methods of using the Vár and mind-control.

3. Keith is now out of his coma, but he’s lost his right eye. Naturally, Windermereans being as superhuman as they are, this doesn’t affect his flying. He can literally fly with eyes closed and be all right.

4. A lot of effort goes into making Windermere look pretty down-at-heel. Even the colosseum where Heinz’s coronation takes place looks plain and not as impressive as you’d think it should. Just in case you think this may be a failure of design rather than a conscious choice, there are huge chunks ripped out of some of the walls. Windermere is not a kingdom of riches, but is barely scraping by, trying its best hold on to some sense of pride and glory.

5. Back on Island Jackpot, we get to see a Ragnan bed, which is a small pool of water. Mikumo mentions that she has a plan for reclaiming the Brísingr Globular Cluster, and Walküre is moving into Rag-Nyan-Nyan. The best part of this scene is Reina’s huge array of bizarre-looking plush toys.

6. Roid gives his big speech, and seems to prove that the NUNS were behind the dropping of the Dimension Eater seven years prior, since it was delivered by a VF-22. This will go back and forth for a while before we get a clear resolution, but Roid is indeed right that the NUNS is lying in saying that Windermere did it themselves.

7. There’s still some potentially shady business, though. For all anyone knew, Windermere’s war has finished. They’ve conquered (er, I mean, “liberated”) the entire Cluster and are free of NUNS control. However, Roid now says that they need to conquer the whole galaxy (which, using the Song of the Wind and the Vár, they could potentially do). And he says it was King Grammier’s final will to do so. Is Roid lying…? It’s not like anyone else was around to hear…

8. The newly-crowned King Heinz sings, and suddenly those odd structures from fold space appear around all the Protoculture ruins on the planets of the Brísingr Cluster, which could strengthen the song enough to put the entire galaxy under mind control.

Oh, and Mikumo thinks the structures seem somehow familiar…

9. At the end, there’s a brief-but-fierce space battle with Keith rushing in and taking out the NUNS fleet’s fold jamming systems to allow the Song of the Wind to get through. It’s probably the best part of the entire series for seeing the Draken kick ass in battroid mode.

The fleet gets ripped to tatters (including a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it gruesome death for one of the pilots), but there is a survivor, who gets rescued by Hayate. And that survivor expresses shock that Arad would work with Wright Immelmann’s son… setting in motion a major plot thread for the second half of the series.

10. This is the first episode that I think isn’t really all that good. The lack of visual flair in the scenes on Windermere is deliberate, but even the writing seems a little drab. Hints and references are made to the larger Windermerean society as well as to the relationships between the various Aerial Knights, but they remain hints. I would’ve preferred less about the coronation ceremony and more about the knights themselves. There’s a lot here that could’ve been interesting if it had been expanded upon better, primarily among the knights’ families, who we still have yet to see. Bogue’s scene at his family’s grave should be heartrending, as should Heinz’s realization that Keith is now his servant rather than his brother, but they lack emotion. As it stands, the episode fills in some blanks and moves the plot along, but little more.

It’s also, I note, only the second episode where Walküre doesn’t sing, although Heinz does.

OP: “Absolute Zero θ Novatic”

ED: “Destruction of Innocence”

EYECATCH: Keith’s Draken III

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: “Absolute Zero θ Novatic.”

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 5

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 155 – Drifting EMBRACE

Delta Ep.14

MACROSS DELTA

MISSION 14: Drifting EMBRACE

ICONIC SCENE: WALKÜRE!!

STORY DATE: 2067

BROADCAST DATE: July 3, 2016

1. Well, I gotta admit, I’m a little apprehensive about this part. See, I haven’t rewatched the second half of Delta in full until now. When I watched it as it was airing, I enjoyed it, but I also couldn’t escape the nagging feeling that not enough was actually, y’know, HAPPENING. I’m not sure how I’ll feel this time.

It’s no secret that even a lot of viewers who enjoyed (hell, LOVED) the first half of Delta really didn’t like the second half. You see a lot of people blaming “rushed scripting” because the series was expanded from the original concept of thirteen episodes plus a movie to twenty-six episodes, but as I’ve said before, that doesn’t mean what everyone says it means, nor did it happen as late as everyone says. But still, the fact remains that the second cour of Delta has much less in the way of action, and more in the way of people standing around talking. Does it “work” better watched over a shorter span rather than week by week? I don’t know yet.

The last time I was feeling a little bit of trepidation in the Great Macross Rewatch was when I started Seven, wondering if having to write about each episode would kill the show for me. As it turned out, despite some longueurs, it didn’t, and if anything I ended up liking Seven MORE than I had previously. Will the same thing happen here? Only time will tell…

2. Right off the bat, though, we get a new mystery (or a development of an old one) as Mikumo has a very odd dream in which she’s singing what seems to be a Windermerean song in front of a Protoculture temple.

Then we get the opening, which I find to be astonishingly clever. It’s the old theme, “If I Love Only Once,” but it’s the version Freyja sang last episode, and instead of the normal opening titles, it’s pretty much a recap of the previous episode. It’s a technique for addressing “The Story So Far…” that I’ve never seen before.

3. The main issue here is that the City ship (named here as “Island Jackpot,” which is a pretty strange name) is having power troubles. The Elysion could provide enough power for both ships (which reminds me of the modular system that enabled the main cannon to fire on the original SDF-1 Macross if it transformed), but Island Jackpot’s docking system has been damaged.

They’ve also got refugees to deal with, just like in the original Macross, but it’s dealt with a little more realistically here, as everyone is waiting in makeshift camps, rather than in a cozily rebuilt town.

By the way, I really like the effect of the power outages, as the fake sky in the City’s dome flickers in and out of existence.

4. There’s a section about politics that doesn’t really get expanded on, where it turns out that Xaos had been hired by the Brîsingr Golbular Cluster Coalition, but the Coalition itself is falling apart thanks to WIndermere’s conquest. Technically, Xaos is still on the payroll, but they might never get paid. And in their current reduced state, they couldn’t return and liberate Ragna even if they were ordered to.

5. Luckily, some time has been bought for our heroes, since the Knights have to return to Windermere for both the funeral for King Grammier, and the coronation of King Heinz.

Oh, and Keith is alive, but in a coma. Serves him right.

In the next scene, Hayate says that Island Jackpot hasn’t flown in thirty years, which, based on the basic Macross timeline, makes more sense than the “fifty years” that they had said previously. In 2037, New Macross Class ships existed. In 2017, they didn’t.

6. Er… didn’t they actually show two mercats mating…? Yes, yes they did…

And we find out a little about Hayate’s dad. He was in the military and where he was at any time was apparently a secret.

Also, after many months of speculation among the fans about whether Hayate’s pendant is Fold Quartz, he just comes out here and says it is. No biggie.

After that, there seems to be a deliberate callback to the first episode, with Hayate repeating his speech that he went lots of places and did lots of things, but nothing seemed to click. Then he quotes Freyja’s line that “You have to go somewhere you really wanna be.”

7. The gravity for one of the blocks fails, just like in Do You Remember Love, and for a moment, this LOOKS like it’s going to turn into the traditional Macross “trapped in a blocked-off area of the ship,” but Delta is the first Macross TV series not to have one of those. Instead, Freyja gets out quickly, and Hayate and Mirage are in a good place to reconnect a broken cable that’s necessary to regain full power.

And then, just as the civilians begin to panic, Walküre puts on a command rooftop performance, singing “Neo-Stream” (and, as I said about the song before, JUNNA (as Mikumo)’s English is impeccable. Is she really only a junior high school student…?).

Now, nearly every episode of Delta has a song at some point, but this one seems the most shoehorned-in so far. And it’s worth noting that the first Walküre album, “Walküre Attack,” was released later this week, so you could think of this as an extra push to advertise it. That said, it’s a lovely sequence, done mostly in the dark, with the girls lit from lights underneath them, which gives the artists a lot of interesting shadows to work with.

8. And while we’re talking about gratuitous scenes, there’s also Hayate and Mirage (still in Zero-G Friendzone) stripping off the jackets and throwing them to give themselves some kind of forward momentum. It all ends up being a little “Three’s Company,” as Hayate and Mirage are exerting themselves and grunting and moaning a lot and basically sounding like they’re having sex, as Freyja listens in, able to hear them but not see them, with a horrified expression.

9. Anyway, it all works, and the Elysion’s crotch docks with Island Jackpot, solving the power problem.

Plus the gravity comes back on, as well as the lights, letting everyone see Mirage and Hayate, half-naked, hanging on to each other. Mirage is mortified, of course.

And Xaos finds new clients who hire them to take the Globular Cluster back from Windermere.

Oh, and when the Elysion moves in to dock, I think this may be the only time in the show where we see Arad’s Siegfried in battroid mode.

10. Now, look… we all know how TV anime production works, and so after the action-packed previous episode, I was expecting something without as many animation-intensive (and cost-intensive) scenes for an episode or two. Every TV anime show is this way. And indeed, there aren’t many Valkyrie shots here, and no aerial combat at all. That said, it’s a fine episode, with plenty of cool scenes.

This was also the episode that aired mere hours before I finally met Shoji Kawamori himself (in L.A.) at the Satelight Animation booth at Anime Expo, which was definitely THE highlight of the con for me (second was meeting Yoshitaka Amano, one booth over. It was a good con for meeting the people who made me fascinated by anime). We didn’t talk long. I thanked him for his work, told him that I was really enjoying Delta, and that I was looking forward to his upcoming series, The Next. I received an autographed copy of the program for his recent museum exhibit, “The Henkei.” I felt a little presumptuous asking for a photo, but I’m glad I did. Unfortunately, thanks to being exhausted from working the booth all weekend, I look terrible here…

Delta Ep.14a

Oh, and the new ending theme, “Destruction of Innocence,” is meant (both instrumentally and lyrically) to be a sorta response to “Forbidden Borderline.” Personally, I think it may be the best song in the whole series.

OP: “If I Love Only Once” (Ep. 13 Freyja Version)

ED: “Destruction of Innocence”

EYECATCH: VF-1EX (Hayate Type)

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: “Destruction of Innocence.”

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 4

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 154 – Passionate DIVING

Delta Ep.13.png

MACROSS DELTA
MISSION 13: Passionate DIVING

ICONIC SCENE: Maybe the best Valk launch since the OP of the first series…

STORY DATE: August 2067

BROADCAST DATE: June 26, 2016

1. We pick up exactly where we left off last time, and one thing is notable here: there’s no OP. As I mentioned at the end of the Frontier TV series, sometimes that would happen with some of the more spectacular episodes of Space Battleship Yamato (and Space Battleship Yamato 2). I always think of it as a signal that we’re going to get an episode jam-packed with lots of cool stuff. And so it is here.

Now, King Grammier really has outwitted Captain Johnson here, since the Macross Elysion has to recharge its fold drive for a while, but the Elysion does score a hit on the Sigur Berrentzs, just as it’s entering fold space. Which ya gotta admit, is something we’ve never seen before.

2. So the fighters fold back, followed soon by the Aether (lucky the Elysion’s “arms” have their own fold drives, isn’t it?), and Delta Flight have a very short amount of time in which to defeat the Windermereans before the NUNS blows up the nuke.

The NUNS asshole, by the way, gets almost cartoonishly nasty here, seeming to be a little gleeful that the Ragnan civilians are still evacuating the area, and that some are likely to get caught in the blast. More evidence for what the novelization comes out and states: that the government officials on earth really don’t think of the other species in the galaxy as being intelligent lifeforms at all.

3. Oh hey, it’s “Forbidden Borderline”! We haven’t heard that in ages! (The version here, by the way, is the “Album Version,” featuring Freyja, that would be released a few weeks later on the first Walküre album.) And the girls have new outfits, too!

(Funnily enough, right before I saw this episode the first time, I was looking at a forum (Animesuki, if I recall correctly), and one of the first posts about the episode started off “HOLY SHIT!!” I stopped reading there, not wanting to spoil myself, but figuring that I was going to be in for a roller coaster ride when I watched it. Which it certainly was. Later, I went back to read the rest of the post and all it said was, more or less, “HOLY SHIT!!” Walküre has new costumes! And they’re much more revealing!” Nothing about the plot at all…)

4. Then the warhead goes off, with the goal of destroying both the Protoculture ruins and the Sigur Berrentzs. It does neither, but it does destroy Hayate’s VF-31J.

The resulting tsunami also knocks Chuck’s sister Marianne off of the Rag-Nyan-Nyan houseboat, which is a thread that remains loose until the final episode. Not that Chuck really seems to care, except intermittently.

Among MY friends, at least, there was considerable debate about whether she could survive or not… since she’s a mer-person, we could at least agree that she wouldn’t drown, although the force of the wave could definitely kill her.

5. The Protoculture ruins get replaced by a structure that folds in in their place. And it’s something that the Sigur Berrentzs can dock with. This never really gets explained, except for, well, the Protoculture could already do basically ANYTHING, right? It seems that the Windermereans were expecting something like to happen, though, and indeed, it’ll happen on all the other planets as well.

Also, King Grammier invokes the name “Rudanjaar Rom Mayan,” which we’ll hear a lot more later on. Whether this has any connection to Macross Zero’s Mayan Island also never gets confirmed, but I think we can assume that it does. At least, I’m imagining that every planet “uplifted” by the Protoculture has its own Mayan Island, with its own Bird-Human left as a failsafe in case the inhabitants are too bellicose.

6. After the eyecatch, Heinz starts singing and the Sigur Berrentzs undergoes a type of transformation above the Protoculture structure. It ends up looking quite a lot like Macross Zero’s Bird-Human, which I guess is only natural. Y’know, for being one of the less well-regarded installments of Macross (and, in Japan, probably the least popular), a lot of Frontier and Delta are built upon its story foundations (and heck, even Macross the First references it in a few different ways).

7. In a beautiful, beautiful scene, Hayate gets into Messer’s VF-31F (although he’s still not wearing a helmet… I thought his old VF-31J was special that way…?) and takes off, as “Walküre Attack” starts playing. Everything here is perfect, from the look of the fighter and the Aether’s deck to the camera angles, to the actual animation. Hidetaka Tenjin at work, folks. The man is brilliant.

What doesn’t get mentioned but should be obvious here is that Delta Flight is going into combat without their ace. Messer was 37% of their effectiveness: they’re crippled here. Just fending off the Aerial Knights might be too much for them, let alone defeating them.

Now, naturally, the main character getting his dead mentor’s fighter (with a skull emblem on it) as a mid-series upgrade evokes the original series pretty strongly, where Hikaru of course got Focker’s VF-1S. The symbolism there was clear: Hikaru was taking over Focker’s leadership role, and it was a passing of the torch. Here, it’s a little less obvious, since Hayate doesn’t automatically become the ace of the team or the leader or anything, really. You’d almost think there’s no change, really. But then…

Hey, remember back in Mission 08 when Hayate had the chance to kill Bogue and didn’t take it, firing at the Draken’s leg instead? Well, here, he doesn’t hesitate at all, and shoots directly at Keith’s cockpit. He doesn’t end up killing Keith, but it’s not for lack of intent. Messer’s death has changed something in Hayate, and he’s not playing around anymore.

(One unfortunate side-effect of that is that the “Immelmann Dance” will virtually never appear again in the show. He’s too serious a pilot for that now. I’ll miss it.)

8. Bogue lunges forward and fires a huge blast at Walküre, which for once actually does break the glass (or glass-like substance) that surrounds their stage (and wounds Mikumo). Then the SIgur Berrentzs fires its cannons to finish them, only to be blocked by the timely arrival of the Macross Elysion. The Elysion is AWESOME in this episode, from protecting Walküre to rising from the ocean and firing one of its cannons. Not only does it look great in itself, but watch all the shots of water sluicing off of it as it emerges from the water. Again, one of the things I like most about Delta is the way the staff will often go above and beyond what they need to do to make a scene look good. Not ALL the time, of course, since this is a TV show with crushing deadlines, but often enough that you can see their love for Macross.

9. Freyja, for her part, goes into the “berzerker mode” (I guess) that we haven’t seen since Mission 01, with her rune going crazy, she starts singing the OP song, and then actually LEAPS OFF THE DECK of the Aether in order to get closer to Hayate.

Her song not only reaches him, but also catches Keith and Heinz off-guard, which probably is what enables Hayate to get that killshot in.

And then she gets caught by Mirage. As Gwyn Campbell of the Speaker PODCast says, you could almost call this “Mirage Catches Everyone – The Episode.”

In the end, it’s not enough. Hayate downs Keith, the Sigur Berrentz is damaged, and King Grammier dies, but still, Xaos has to retreat with a city-ship full of refugees, and Windermere’s plan to control all the Protoculture ruins has been fulfilled. Quite a cliffhanger…

Oh, and when Roid takes over from the dead king (and there’s a crucial piece missing here that will be addressed later), he changes glasses AGAIN. What’s up with that?

10. Macross has never, ever skimped when it comes to the ending of a cour (unless you count the fact that Episode 13 of the original series, “Blue Wind,” looks absolutely godawful), and so it is here. None of the show’s mysteries get explained (or even addressed all that much), but Hayate and Freyja have definitely come into their own and have earned the respect of their colleagues.

But of course the emphasis here is on the action, and it delivers in spades. From the reaction weapon’s explosion, to the dogfights, to the Elysion arriving in the nick of time, this episode is taut and exciting from start to finish, and (to me, at least) stands as one of best battle episodes of any Macross series.

Also, unusually for Delta, there seem to be Frontier-style homages thrown in, as it variously evokes the Dimension Eater destroying Gallia IV (from Frontier), Minmay falling and being caught (from the original series), and the Macross getting its booms destroyed by an enemy beam (from Do You Remember Love).

All in all, it’s a satisfying finale to the satisfying first half of Delta. Can the second half hold up? We’ll see…

OP: None.

ED: Eternity (an instrumental, not a Walküre song.)

EYECATCH: The Macross Elysion.

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: None, although “Forbidden Borderline” is, as I’ve said, a different version, and “If I Love Only Once” has a different vocal take from Minori Suzuki.

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 4

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 153 – KING OF THE WIND

Delta Ep.12

MACROSS DELTA

MISSION 12: KING OF THE WIND

ICONIC SCENE: Macross Elysion, hasshin!

STORY DATE: August 2067

BROADCAST DATE: June 19, 2016

1. So right after the Messer Trilogy, we get the two-part finale for the first cour. Watching it week-by-week a year ago, I recall some people complaining that this episode was too slow and the next was too frenetic, but if you watch them together, the pacing and build-up are expertly done.

The opening scene here is a tour de force, as we pick up where we left off with the Sigur Berrentzs about to take care of the NUNS forces around Al Shahal. The ship itself is exceedingly powerful… it doesn’t just have a barrier, for example, it actually creates a dimensional fault around itself for protection. Coupled with Heinz’s Song of the Wind, which causes the crews of the various defense ships AND the inhabitants of the planet to Vár-out, and Al Shahal falls quickly. In under fifteen minutes.

2. Xaos is definitely preparing for the big battle, as forces are gathering on Ragna. As we see the pilots all greeting each other, there’s one particularly attractive green-haired woman who gets focused on a couple of times, and I think the going theory last year was that she would probably end up being Messer’s replacement, but nope. We never see her again.

3. Xaos’s plan is good: launch as soon as possible and attack the Windermereans while they’re still at Al Shahal. Pity it doesn’t work out…

4. Mirage gets a promotion to Delta 2. I’m guessing that Chuck is not really in the running, since he’s got reconnaissance, and also I think Arad knows that being in command of Delta Flight would mean more to Mirage.

Unfortunately, they never change the numbers on the planes, which makes things slightly confusing later on.

5. I may not get another chance later, so let me say that I really like King Grammier’s character design. He really does look like he’s in his thirties, yet he also looks old. I think the “Grayscale” does most of the aging work, but I salute character designer Chisato Mita (who for some reason always has “CAPCOM” after her name) for managing to tackle what must have seemed an impossible task: “Make the guy look old but also thirty-five.”

6. I do wonder… Roid is adamant about not overexerting Heinz (which would shorten his life). Now, he’s got his own reasons for this which we’ll get to later, but… if Heinz dies, who takes the throne? Keith, even though he’s the King’s bastard son? Some relative we haven’t met? I suppose we could assume at this point that Keith is coveting the throne for himself, but that turns out absolutely not to be the case.

7. And then we meet the show’s standard NUNS asshole higher-up, Major Lauri Marin, and yes, he’s a total jerk. Just like the brass in every other Macross series. He delivers the plan that the Protoculture ruins on Ragna are to be destroyed, even though (as we learned before) they’re connected to the core of the planet and no one knows what blowing them up would do.

8. We get the history between Captain Johnson and King Grammier, and also learn that Johnson seems to have a knack for being on the losing side of any conflict. Grammier, however, seems to have a lot of respect for him, echoing Keith’s regard for Messer.

9. And then, finally, we see the Macross Elysion take off and transform. And it’s glorious. One of my favorite bits is the shot of the gravity control system, which is very obviously patterned after the gravity control system on the good ol’ SDF-1.

They fold to Al Shahal, and it looks like the big battle is about to start… and they arrive to find that the Sigur Berrentzs is beginning a fold to Ragna.

Oops.

10. Every Macross TV series, before a really action-packed fight (usually at the end of a cour) has a “girding one’s loins for the battle ahead” episode, and this is no different. The rationale is easy to see: as I’ve said before, the big-battle sequences take a lot of time to animate well, so a calmer episode before it not only builds tension, but gives the animators more time to work on the important stuff. That said, this one doesn’t seem half-assed to me at all. From the writing angle, the characters trying to sum up their feelings before what could possibly be their last mission feels urgent and real (I especially love Reina’s rare outpouring of emotion for the planet she has come to think of as her home), and art-wise, there are also many great scenes. Anything with the Sigur Berrentzs stands out, but I also love the Ragnan houseboats gathering together as everyone tries to evacuate the city.

In Japan, after this episode, the whole series so-far was re-run online in preparation for the end of the first cour. Among western fans, an odd rumor sprung up that the series would take a break after Episode 13 and return in six months or a year or so. That seemed odd to me at the time because no official sources said anything like that, but watching this now, I can see how people could get that impression: the show really feels like it’s building towards a grand finale (and that would help spawn OTHER false rumors later, which I’ve talked about before… and probably will again). So yeah… after the first couple of minutes, there’s no action in this episode, and there isn’t even any singing. But we sure end on a hell of a cliffhanger.

OP: “If I Love Only Once”

ED: “When My Rune Shines Bright”

EYECATCH: The Macross Elysion.

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: None. In fact, for the first time ever, Walküre don’t sing at all here.

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 3

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 152 – Jellyfish REMINISCENCE

Delta Ep.11.png

MACROSS DELTA
MISSION 11: Jellyfish REMINISCENCE

ICONIC SCENE: PROTOCULTURE!!

STORY DATE: August 2067

BROADCAST DATE: June 12, 2016

1. And here we are at the final part of what I think of as “the Messer trilogy,” although by this point it’s obvious that it’s more about Kaname than about Messer. We start off with a short snippet of Messer’s funeral, but it’s everyone else’s reactions at the post-funeral gathering that are more important.

After the opening credits, however, we get into the mental connection between Heinz and Mikumo and Freyja from last episode.

I remember a couple of people wondering about the resolution of the battle from last episode, but it seems to me that that was already basically over. Once Heinz gets KO’d early the in fight, it’s done, except for Keith taking on Messer.

If you’re into the Kaname/Arad relationship, I think their conversation early in this episode is important. He asks her if she needs a break, and she looks… surprised? Taken aback? before smiling and saying she’s okay. And when she asks Arad if he’s okay and he says he is, she gives him a covert look that seems pretty worried.

2. And it turns out that Keith had managed to shoot Messer directly through the heart (even though the beam he fired seemed a lot larger than that). Hayate doesn’t take this well, and we’ll see later how he’s changed because of this.

However, I’m sure Hayate sees contempt in Keith’s precise shot, and that simply isn’t true. Keith shows profound respect for Messer, even getting on Bogue’s case about it.

3. Following that, we learn that the Sigur Berrentzs is able to be activated, and that King Grammier doesn’t necessarily trust Roid all that much… And of course, he shouldn’t, but he doesn’t follow up on it at all. Up to this point, Roid has seemed loyal, but he’ll get shadier and shadier as the show goes on.

4. I find the part where Arad says that their first priority is to find a replacement for Messer in Delta Flight a little odd, because of course that never happens. And there’s the fact that Messer accounted for a whopping 37% of Delta Flight’s effectiveness. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to view Hayate, Mirage, Chuck, and Arad as lovable losers, like the Bad News Bears or something, or if Messer really was absolutely top-tier and everyone else is really good, but just not quite at THAT level.

5. And wow, Walküre training is tough, dragging tires through the mud and rain. The Jamming Birds were shown to have a lot of physical training, but there it was just jogging. This is real boot camp stuff.

6. Windermere’s plan here is finally made explicit. The stuff about the Song of the Wind resonating with the Protoculture ruins is a little baffling, but all we really need to know is that is Windermere takes control of all the ruins, then the entire Brísingr Cluster will be open to their mind-control attacks. And currently, only Al Shahal and Ranga remain free. It still seems small potatoes compared to their declaration of war on the entire galaxy, but that’s for later. From a storytelling perspective, the show is treading a thin line: if the Windermere threat seems too small, then the story lacks tension. If it’s too large, then there needs to be a reason why the NUNS don’t just come along and bomb the shit out of Windermere (similarly, in the first series, there was the excuse that the Zentradi wanted to capture the Macross, not destroy it, or else the show wouldn’t have lasted past Episode 1). That said, there’s no indication that an attack on Windermere would work, considering the dimensional barrier surrounding the planet. But still, at this point, it’s something that the brass seem to figure is a local skirmish, not worth getting involved in. By the time they come around, it’ll be mostly too late.

7. And then we see it: the Sigur Berrentzs. It’s an impressive ship, built at least 500,000 years before by the Protoculture, and, as such, probably the most powerful weapon currently existing. One of the cool things about it, from the production side, it that it was designed by Kazutaka Miyatake, one of the original Studio Nue members, and designer of pretty much all the mecha from Macross (and Plus, and Seven) that aren’t the Valkyries, including the Zentradi ships, which is probably most important here. He’s mostly retired now, although he did design the Bird-Human in Macross Zero (and the Dragons in Cross Ange, and general design in the upcoming anime “Knight’s & Magic”). Anyway, it’s a great throwback, being reminiscent of the Zentradi designs (and the Bird-Human) while not looking QUITE like them.

8. With the big threat revealed in the first half of the episode, the second half is devoted to the traditional Ragnan send-off for Messer. Among the traditions is a little boat that looks like Messer’s VF-31F, to be floated off to sea. Unfortunately, there’s a design flourish on the cockpit that has a red dot pretty much exactly where Keith hit the real thing. The characters are much too polite to point this out, thankfully.

9. The service is mellow and reflective, as befits a memorial. My favorite little touch here is Beth Muscat (the hard-drinking bridge bunny) showing inordinate interest when Chuck notes the twenty-year-old banana sake.

(And er… I know there’s banana liqueur, although I’ve never tried it, but… can you actually make banana WINE…? I dunno… doesn’t sound great to me…)

My second-favorite little touch is the acoustic “Remember 16” that Huck and Zuck play. Another song that maddeningly is not on any of the Delta CDs (yet…?).

My third-favorite little touch is how sharp Captain Johnson looks in his white suit and in his fedora. Two things that keeping coming up in Delta fashion: fedoras and girls wearing ties.

And although we get the expected “Oh, Messer seemed like a real jerk, but he was a nice guy underneath the gruffness” type stuff, the REAL revelation comes when everyone is wading into the ocean singing “Giraffe Blues” and Kaname runs to join them, asserting that there are people who love her songs.

I mentioned a couple of episodes ago how understated the scene where Kaname reveals that she was never popular as a solo singer and that Mikumo is Walküre’s “ace,” and the sense of resignation that she puts into that scene may obscure how important the issue is to her. She had given up, and was okay with it. But not REALLY okay, as we see here. No, there’s still a lot of turmoil under the surface for her, and thanks to Messer, she finally has the courage to face it and really give her all to Walküre as a singer as well as a manager… although this won’t become REALLY important until the end of the series.

And then, in the post-credits scene (although, strangely, the blu-ray version doesn’t have any credits, unlike the TV broadcast), the Sigur Berrentzs attacks Al Shahal, and things don’t look good.

10. We spend a lot more time with the Windermereans in this episode than we have previously, which is necessary since they’re about to launch their big attack. Pretty much all the plot here involves them, whereas the scenes with Xaos are more focused on character. The reveal of the Sigur Berrentzs is pretty amazing, and I like the juggling of different tones in going from that to the quiet memorial for Messer. There’s virtually no action in this episode, but that’s okay… we’re building towards the end of the first cour, which will make up for that.

OP: “If I Love Only Once”

ED: “Giraffe Blues”

EYECATCH: Hayate’s VF-31J

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: Um… does “Remember 16” count…? If not, then none.

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 3

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 151 – Flash of AXIA

Delta Ep.10

MACROSS DELTA

MISSION 10: Flash of AXIA

ICONIC SCENE: Uh… SPOILER ALERT, I guess…

STORY DATE: August 2067

BROADCAST DATE: June 5, 2016

1. Ah, what would a Macross TV series be without a good fake-out episode… dating back to the original series’ “Pineapple Salad,” there’s always an episode which SEEMS to be about one thing (“Max vs. Millia,” “yet ANOTHER failed Varauta attack,” “Ozma’s death flags”) and then turns out to be about something different (“Focker’s death,” “City 7 being forcibly folded away,” “Ozma NOT dying”), and so it is here. If you were checking the story synopses that were posted on the macross.jp site every week, this episode seemed like the Delta equivalent of the “school festival” episode that is a staple of so many high school anime series (as well as being the basis for one of the greatest anime movies ever, Urusei Yatsura 2 – Beautiful Dreamer). And it is indeed about that. Until, at the very, VERY end, it isn’t.

2. But before we get there, let’s start at the beginning. It’s been clear for a while now that the Windermereans aren’t meant to really be bad guys, in that none of them seem outright evil. So when we’re introduced to Berger Stone here, with his oily voice and Middle Eastern clothing, we might think we’re being introduced to the Final Boss of the series (note that I’m not saying that Middle Eastern clothing is representative of a villain, but the show might be saying that).

And yeah, he’s an amoral weapons dealer, which is rarely a good sign (unless we’re talking about Iron Man).

He mentions the Sigur Berrentzs for the first time, which, from the name, we might assume is a Zentradi fortress, since Bodolzaa’s mothership in the original series was called the Fulbtzs-Berrentz. It isn’t, but you’re on the right track.

3. And NOW we’re at the Jellyfish Festival, which is very much a “couples” event. Heck, even Don the Mercat is hookin’ up!

The Rag-Nyan-Nyan booth is selling jellyfish buns, and seems a little under-crowded considering that a galaxy-famous pop group (excuse me, I mean “tactical sound unit”) is running the booth. And Reina is wearing an awesome jellyfish costume, which seems quite at odds with her cool demeanor. And, in advertising the buns, Chuck’s littlest sister, Elizabeth, even throws in a Sheryl reference (“We don’t do this kind of jellyfish bun service very often!”). They also all sing the rather existentialist “Jellyfish Dance” song, the main message of which is “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you die.” The whole thing is pretty silly, and that’s intentional.

4. And it looks like that after last episode’s freak-out, Messer is being transferred out of combat duty, to become an instructor in the Laramis System, which I guess isn’t close, since it’s not on any of the maps we see in the show. So yeah, we’re saying goodbye to Messer here, unless there’s some kind of twist in store…

5. And of course, Mikumo is off on her own, floating naked in the ocean. You’d think she’d have to be more careful… paparazzi can be pretty tenacious, and I’m sure there are plenty of magazines that would love to get their hands on nude pics of Mikumo. Although I can’t imagine her getting upset about that, or even caring at all.

6. And since Messer’s leaving, there’s a big focus on his saying goodbye to Kaname and finally telling her that “AXIA” is the song that saved him. The next day, he’s off on his shuttle. I suppose one could imagine that the two of them hooked up that night, but it doesn’t seem like it would be like either of them to do that, unfortunately.

7. Roid and Keith have a swordfight to determine whether or not Heinz should sing or rest in the upcoming operation. Roid is on the side of keeping Heinz healthy, Keith wants to use him as much as possible.

Keith wins, which really is something Roid should keep in mind going forward.

The duel itself is really well done. Every time we see the Windermereans in action, it’s always dynamic and fluid.

8. So another attack is launched on Al Shahal, which is one of the two planets left in the Cluster that have Protoculture ruins that haven’t been taken by Windermere (the other being Ragna, of course).

Before the dogfight, there’s something of a song battle between Walküre and Heinz, using the Protoculture ruins as amplification. It ends in something of a draw, but Heinz is knocked out of commission, which essentially ends Windermere’s attack, although the Aerial Knights press on a bit, hoping to take down Delta Flight, who without Walküre or Messer, are kinda hopeless.

9. And, of course, Messer comes roaring in to save the day. He’s turning Vár, and Mikumo and Freyja are in a bad way, so it’s up to Kaname to keep him safe with “Axia.” And that part of the strategy works.

The dogfight is extremely fierce, recalling nothing so much as the big battle between the YF-19 and the YF-21 in the last episode of Plus.

Ultimately, though, Keith pulls a samurai move of having a decoy in front of you that your opponent attacks, leaving them off guard for your thrust.

And one blood splatter later, Messer is gone.

10. And yes, as much as it appeared Messer wouldn’t survive to the end of the series, killing him off this soon shows some serious balls and, as far as I can tell, took EVERYONE off guard. One thing that may not have been obvious on first viewing but is clear in hindsight is that all of this is really more about Kaname and her development than it is about Messer. But in case that’s still presented too subtly, next episode will come out and say it.

OP: “If I Love Only Once”

ED: “AXIA ~Love and Hate~”

EYECATCH: Keith’s Draken III.

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: “Rag-Nyan-Nyan Jellyfish Dance.”

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 3