A Sort of Farewell

Well, as I post this, it’s October Third in Japan, so it’s officially 39 years since the debut of Super Dimension Fortress Macross. Already, the 40th Anniversary hype is starting up, with a new Delta feature, a new Frontier short film, and a Frontier concert that will be livestreamed around the world.

Perhaps more importantly, though, as everyone knows by now, everything Macross except the original TV series and the ever-recalcitrant Do You Remember Love can now be potentially released outside of Japan, without fear of legal attacks from Harmony Gold.

Almost six years ago, I started this blog in the run-up to the debut of Macross Delta. Its primary purpose was simple: to get into writing everything I’d learned about Macross over the years, both in-universe and in the real world. After that, it became a home for the translations I’d done, and the translations that I’d do later.

There was a secondary purpose, though, which was that I’d moved back to L.A. from Tokyo in 2014 because of a family medical emergency. That took a lot of time and effort over the next few years, so it was nice to escape back into Macross a couple of times per week.

Anyway, that’s neither here nor there now. The important point, as far as this blog is concerned, is that big changes and new opportunities are coming for Macross. And there’s a hell of a lot of international fans (i.e. outside of Japan) trying to influence where things go, what gets released first, what doesn’t get released at all, and even what gets made next.

For the last few years, I’ve felt like one of a fairly small number of people who were advocating for Macross (that is, ALL of Macross, sequels included). These days, I often feel like my voice has been lost in sea of other fans. Which is GREAT (I hasten to add). If other fans with bigger platforms than a doinky free WordPress blog can use it to champion Macross, I’m all for that.

But I don’t want to add to what must be an exciting but stressful time for the Macross creators. I don’t want the rights holders of Macross to decide that my translations are a step too far and must be removed. So I think that it’s best that I bow out now, and let other people do the talking for a while. I’ll continue translating for myself, though, and maybe someday soon, I can bring those translations to you.

In the meantime, I’ll be moving over not very far, to do another big rewatch, this time for more idiosyncratic faves, the five series that the late Yuu Yamamoto created in the early ‘80s, Acrobunch, Srungle, and the legendary J9 Trilogy. I thought about just shifting this blog’s purpose to accommodate those shows, but decided that I really did want to keep this a primarily Macross blog, and a resource for anyone who wants more info about it. So, a new blog it is. See you there, and I’m sure that, like Alto, I’ll come back here eventually.

THE GREAT “SUPER DIMENSIONAL STRAGGLERS” WATCH 3 – SAMY MISSING 99

SUPER DIMENSION ROMANESQUE SAMY MISSING 99

ICONIC SCENE: Samy harassed by demons

RELEASE DATE: July 5, 1986

1. So let’s rewind five months from Rall II, and take a look at this OVA, which (unlike Rall) uses the “Super Dimension” title using the same kanji (“chou jikuu” 超時空) used for Macross, Orguss, and Southern Cross. That said, it’s completely unofficial, with no connection to any previous (or following) Super Dimension series.

2. The plot of the OVA is fairly simple, although it comes burdened with a huge amount of backstory involving a massive war between gods and demons that has lasted millions of years, and also picks up Biblical and Buddhist references as it goes on. But fundamentally, it’s just a story of a high school girl who gets pulled into an alternate dimension where she has to fight evil monsters. Along the way, she realizes that she is actually FROM this alternate world, and her character design completely changes as she recovers her original identity. As she and her comrades fight the demons, she gets killed, but is resurrected as a Bodhisattva. The demons are defeated, and she gets sent back to earth with no memory of what happened. Text at the end promises a sequel, but none was ever made.

3. So it’s all fairly average for a mid-‘80s OVA. The most distinctive stuff (like the references to Alice in Wonderland and the rather pretty fantasy world backgrounds) all gets thrown out by end, which is just a dull fight in a desert. The designs are generic and the animation isn’t high-quality… except for a short scene showing Sami’s chakras as CGI globes, which must have been rather expensive in 1986.

4. The OVA was created, written, and directed by Seiji Okuda, who is probably best-known as the director of Super Bestial Machine God Dancouga. There, the sense of mythic grandeur kinda worked; here, it feels distracting and irrelevant.

Back in the ‘80s, I was part of several groups circulating copied anime VHS tapes, mostly OVAs, so I saw a wide swath of what was available at the time, and you’d meet people who would champion the oddest, most obscure stuff. But I never came across Samy, and I never heard anyone ever talk about it. It seems like it was little-noticed then, and mostly-forgotten now. And it’s easy to see why.

5. And that, my friends, is the last original anime to feature the words “Super Dimension” in the title, thus bringing this rewatch to a close. Kind of a depressing way to end it, I admit. The three official “Super Dimension” shows (and their sequels) are at least worth watching, if not consistently excellent, but Rall and Samy aren’t at all rewarding.

In 1993, Leiji Matsumoto started a manga called “Super Dimension Battleship Mahoroba” (although the official English title is either “Cosmo Super Dreadnought Mahoroba” or “The Ultimate Time Sweeper Mahoroba”), and in late 2011 announced an anime adaptation of it, but that has so far failed to appear. So I think this is the end, at least as far as non-Macross “Super Dimension” shows go.

Of all of these titles here in 2021, Macross is clearly the healthiest, with two new movies due out in October, and (FINALLY!) potential world-wide distribution in its future. Cream Lemon gets revived every once in a while (although never connected to Rall), and thus may return at some point in the future. Orguss will probably remain dormant-but-fondly-remembered, and the blu-ray of the original series just came out from Discotek, so it might gain some new fans. Neither Southern Cross nor Samy have come out on blu-ray (yet), so it seems most likely that Southern Cross will be forgotten in Japan, but remembered internationally as just the second generation of Robotech. Samy will, I’m sure, continue to be forgotten everywhere. Again, kind of a depressing way to end, but there ya go.

THE GREAT “SUPER DIMENSIONAL STRAGGLERS” WATCH 2 – RALL II

SUPER DIMENSION LEGEND RALL II – LAMOU-LU’S COUNTERATTACK (Cream Lemon Part 15)

ICONIC SCENE: Kallon takes a bath

RELEASE DATE: December 5, 1986

1. The “Rall” episode of Cream Lemon came out in early December 1984. After that came plenty of other stories under the Cream Lemon umbrella, but they’d also started making sequels to especially popular titles (primarily the “Ami” and “Escalation” stories). Two years after Rall, they decided to revisit it for a sequel, and gave it a most unimaginative title.

2. The plot is even less consequential than in the previous one: it’s three years later, and it appears that Lamou-Lu is returning. This time, his plan is to possess everyone in the village where Princess Kallon lives (?), starting with the princess’s decoy from last time (here called “Yuria.” I don’t recall if she had a name before). With the help of a shrine maiden, an ancient amulet, a magic mirror, a flying horse, and the magic sword “Reverse,” Kallon and her friends cure the villagers and stop Lamou-Lu, who incarnates here as a giant insect.

It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, really. And I’d say that the plot isn’t the point, the naked anime girls are… except that, for a 20-minute film, this is VERY heavily-plotted. Just the amount of magical items they collect is more than in most 1500-page epic fantasy trilogies.

3. Clearly, a lot of work went into this in the design stage: the returning characters are aged-up convincingly. This had the added bonus of making this one much less icky (for me) to watch, since they no longer looked like lolis.

4. It also doesn’t use “naughty tentacles” at all, so the scene where Kallon gets raped by a possessed villager is much less explicit than the equivalent scene in the earlier OVA. The animation itself is equally cheap in both films. I would say that this one definitely has a more ambitious plot, but it also has less backstory, so on THAT level, I think, again, they even out. But again, very few people watch Cream Lemon for the plot. If your goal is to see Kallon naked, I think either movie is fine.

5. Still, I have to give it credit: most sequels just rehash the original. Here, the original was a lolicon porn anime and THE FIRST in the “naughty tentacle” genre, and I’d imagine that for the audience when it came out, those were the two most notable points about it. The sequel has no lolis and no tentacles, and thus seems like it would alienate the people most eager to see it. I have no idea if it did or not, but I kind of admire it for leaning into the convoluted fantasy world rather than upping the lolis-molested-by-tentacles quotient. It’s still not worth watching, and it still has nothing “Super Dimensional” of “SF” about it, but it veers in a different direction than would be expected, and that in itself is kind of interesting.

THE GREAT “SUPER DIMENSIONAL STRAGGLERS” WATCH 1 – RALL

SF SUPER DIMENSIONAL LEGEND RALL (Cream Lemon Part 3)

ICONIC SCENE: Kallon attacks!

RELEASE DATE: December 3, 1984

1. So by the end of September 1984, the “Super Dimension Series,” Mainichi Broadcasting System’s attempt to carve out a place for anime on Sunday afternoons, was finished. “Super Dimension Century Orguss Memorial” was still a year away, “Super Dimension Fortress Macross Flashback 2012” was two and a half years in the future, “Super Dimension Fortress Macross II ~LOVERS AGAIN~” was eight, “Super Dimension Century Orguss 02” was nine. At this point, the title was essentially dead.

But, just two months after Southern Cross ended, another “Super Dimension” title was released, although not an official one, and indeed, it used a different word for “Dimension” (“jigen” 次元 instead of “jikuu” 時空). But, the title still means “Super Dimension,” so into the rewatch pot it goes (although it’s not technically a REwatch, because I’ve never watched it before).

It’s part of the “Cream Lemon” series…

2. Cream Lemon, of course, is a rather infamous title that’s notable for being a very early OVA series (though not the first) as well as being a very early pornographic OVA series (though also not the first). So it’s not exactly THE pioneer, but it’s probably the longest-running series of its type, if we include follow-ups, sequels, and spin-offs, although the first series only ran for a little over two years and sixteen episodes.

In some ways, I think the first Cream Lemon videos (most of which are stand-alone stories, although there are a couple of series) are much tamer than the stuff you’d find nowadays, but they still can be pretty explicit. Some of the episodes are well-regarded as more than just cheap, shoddily-animated sex scenes.

Rall is not of those.

3. There’s not much of a story to synopsize: when the four moons over the fantasy kingdom of Rall come in alignment, the evil sorcerer Lamou-lu will rise and try to take it over. The only thing that can stop him is a magic sword, named “Reverse,” wielded by Rallian royalty.

As the story starts, the princess of Rall has been captured and is being molested by Lamou-lu. Then we meet our heroine, Kallon (played, without credit, by Sanae Miyuki (previously known as Miyuki Muroi), who also played Shammy in Macross and Mome in Orguss), who gets attacked by Lamou-lu’s soldiers, because he’s capturing as many girls of Rall as he can (you see, he and his soldiers gain power from lapping up vaginal fluid).

She gets away, but goes to save the princess, briefly aided by a knight (voiced, also without credit, by Nobuo Tomita, probably best-known as Kamille in Zeta Gundam). She of course gets captured, stripped, and molested by Lamou-lu, but then fights back and it turns out that the person who everyone THOUGHT was the princess is a decoy, and Kallon is the real princess. So she defeats Lamou-lu and frees all the girls.

4. Now, you may be thinking, “Gosh, for a film called SF Super Dimension Legend Rall, there doesn’t seem to be much science fiction, nor anything that would connect it to any of the Super Dimension shows, either in themes or in design.” And if you are thinking that, then you and I are thinking the same thing. There apparently are some science fiction Cream Lemon episodes, so I have no idea why this one gets the heavy-handed title. I guess, early on in the series, they just wanted to distinguish it from the slice-of-life dramas that the first two episodes had been.

5. So yeah, not very good, not really worth watching, but it has “Super Dimension” in the title, so I watched it.

That said, it had a MAJOR impact on anime pornography: this was apparently THE FIRST anime to feature “naughty tentacles” as penis substitutes, and thus was the film that the Eirin Film Classification and Rating Organization had to deliberate over, and on which they finally decided that since penis-like appendages are not actually human phalluses, they didn’t need to be censored. So without Rall, an entire genre (and fetish) would never have come into being.

Yay…?

THE GREAT SOUTHERN CROSS REWATCH 23 – GENESIS

SUPER DIMENSION CAVALRY SOUTHERN CROSS
EPISODE 23: GENESIS

ICONIC SCENE: Who is she? It’s a mystery.

BROADCAST DATE: September 30, 1984

1. Well, here we are, the final episode. Instead of doing a straight summary, I’d rather just try to puzzle out the questions left unresolved in the plot. First off, I’m still wondering where they were going with that whole part about Seifriet using Musica as human shield and her apparently getting killed. And yet, Musica has never brought it up at all. It doesn’t seem like the Zor have the ability to resurrect people, so maybe the current Musica is a clone of a previous one? I have no idea.

The other big one is what happens at the end of the episode, but I’ll get to that later on.

2. The Zor talk about casting off everyone with a “bio-index” lower than 70%. The role of bio-energy has been somewhat ambiguous throughout the series. Do the Zor need it to survive, or does it just keep their emotions suppressed? There’s been evidence for both purposes throughout the show. My guess is that they can live without it, or else Musica and her sister, as well as all the other surviving Zor, are doomed.

3. Leon is planning to fight back against the Zor (and there are many nice, well-drawn shots of armored soldiers standing at attention), and it seems clear that he knows that the Southern Cross forces will lose, and presumably get wiped out. But… dude… you’re not even evacuating the civilians? At this point, it almost seems like he WANTS everyone to die. I mean, yeah, the Zor only gave him 48 hours, but that’s enough time to get A LOT of people off-world. And their space fleet is still pretty large. They could’ve made it, most likely.

4. The Zor lords talk about the flower less as something they need for survival, and more as their key to eternal life. When Seifriet and Jeanne question them, they say that they have a symbiotic relationship with the flower, seemingly, as long as the flower exists, they exist, and vice-versa. Or something. We don’t get much more than that, because Seifriet shoots one of the Zor lords and Jeanne grabs a hydroponic capsule of the flowers and has a psychedelic trip. First, she finds herself in a field of the Protozor flowers, and sees a vision of herself as a trio. She throws away the flowers, which causes the triplets to vanish. Then a little girl, alone, but dressed like a Zor, runs up and hands her some flowers, and then runs back to her parents, without saying a word.

So what does this mean? The first part is easy to interpret: the flowers are inviting her to become like the Zor, and she rejects them. But who’s the little girl? My best guess is that since, as I said, she’s dressed like a Zor but isn’t a triplet, she represents the way forward for the Zor and humanity — unified, but as individuals.

5. SO SATISFYING! (I mean, seeing Leon get blown away, not the whole city. Wish we got to see his face as the explosion hit him, though…)

6. Musica’s sister Muselle gets shot and killed, as I suppose had to happen. The upshot at the end is that only the “Unfettered” have chosen to live on their own. If all three of the sisters survived, then they wouldn’t be Unfettered, right?

7. And then Seifriet throws Jeanne into an escape capsule and blows up the Zor mothership over the three mounds, which are now open. He talks to himself about how he wanted to hear Jeanne laugh just one more time, and… uh… it’s a little late to decide that you DO care about her.

Also… what happened to the other motherships? Weren’t there at least a half-dozen of them…?

8. But yeah, as the ship blows up, we see wreckage from it hit the fields of flowers, blowing them up. Shredded petals float through the sky, looking (I’m sure deliberately) a lot like cherry blossoms.

Now, I first watched Southern Cross properly about ten years ago. In the ten years before that, I’d seen people talk about the ending on various message boards, saying that it was a dark ending, where everyone on Glorie is turned into Zor. The first time I watched the show, that wasn’t the impression I got, and it still isn’t.

First, it’s not clear HOW the flowers turn people into Zor. All of the times we see the Zor use the flowers, they’re in glass capsules, and it looks like the “essence” or something gets extracted from them. It isn’t at all clear that the flowers could change people just on their own. Second, we know what the spores from the flowers look like: a breeze full of yellow specks. We don’t see any spores in the final scenes of this episode. Third, the spores on their own OBVIOUSLY don’t turn humans into Zor, since pretty much the entire main cast inhaled them a couple of episodes ago, and it didn’t do anything to them except make them choke a little. So no, I think the flowers are destroyed, the petals are just meant to look like cherry blossoms, and any talk of the spores spreading and turning everyone into Zor is just a reading too influenced by Robotech.

And they don’t look terribly alarmed, do they?

Even the flower at the end seems like a symbol of “beauty growing out of the wreckage.”

9. And THEN there’s the part that never even got brought up in the show, but got revealed in English for the first time when the AD Vision DVD box set of the series came out. In the booklet, there’s a section entitled “Southern Cross Keywords,” and there, in the section about the Zor, it says, “They are, in truth, the mutant descendants of Earthlings, who were transported to Gloire [sic] due to a distortion in space-time and merged with the sentient life form, The Zor, in the Eridanus System, adapting to that land due to this mixture of blood.” That’s a pretty intriguing concept, isn’t it? And presumably would’ve been the final twist if the show hadn’t been cut off early. As it is, there really isn’t any foreshadowing of it in the series itself.

10. Still, this is a good final episode. If I didn’t know that the show had been canceled, I might not have realized it just by watching it, especially if I’d forgotten about the Seifriet/Musica stuff. But really, most of the loose ends are wrapped up in a pretty satisfying way.

As for the show as a whole, though… Well, it’s got some great ideas (mostly concerning Zor society, and especially the design of the interior of their ships), but I’m not sure the show got far enough to reveal them terribly well. Also it’s got a lot of fun, interesting characters, but they seem better served in the more lighthearted moments of the series (like the hospital caper). The moments of grim drama generally seem less convincing and DEFINITELY (for me, at least) less engaging.

So is it an undiscovered gem? For some people perhaps, but not for me. I like it fine, but it never really wowed me.

However, it IS better than L-Gaim.

FINAL. And with this episode, the Super Dimension Series, which started nearly two years earlier trying to carve out a Sunday Afternoon “Anime Hour” limped to a close, and anime was never seen on broadcast TV at 2:00 PM on Sundays ever again. The following week, October 4th, in Southern Cross’s spot, a game show (“Nihon Rettou Juudan Quiz,” that is, “Traveling Across the Islands of Japan Quiz,” a show where guests had to answer trivia questions about all the different Japanese prefectures) debuted.

(Southern Cross, of course, went on to bigger fame outside of Japan than it’s ever had inside, but that’s a whole other story. It’s still not especially well-loved, though, except by a fervent few.)

And that’s officially the end of the “Super Dimension Series.”

UNOFFICIALLY, however, there’s still a little ways to go, so I’ll be turning there soon…

THE GREAT SOUTHERN CROSS REWATCH 22 – CATASTROPHE

SUPER DIMENSION CAVALRY SOUTHERN CROSS
EPISODE 22: CATASTROPHE

ICONIC SCENE: Sweat, baldy, sweat.

BROADCAST DATE: September 23, 1984

1. Lana is finally won over by the sight of Bowie and Musica’s love for each other, and decides not to arrest Musica. Seifriet says that this may be their only chance to figure out the flowers’ connection to the Zor… even though Bowie kinda figured it out at the end of the previous episode…

2. Among the Zor, things are bad. They announce that the “Unfettered” are increasing by 50%, which seems like an antiseptic way to say that lots of Zor are dying, and leaving behind their “twins.” They also plan to send the Unfettered down to Glorie, although it’s not exactly clear why yet.

3. Emerson’s Aluce fleet is getting wiped out (again), and he contacts Leon for reinforcements. Leon’s not terribly sympathetic, saying that he was waiting for Emerson’s fleet to make an opening for the Glorie forces to come in. And then, just to be a REAL dick, he informs Emerson that Bowie’s gone AWOL with a Zor girl.

4. Then the Zor frigates land in the city on Glorie, and the Unfettered, hopped up on painkillers, come out as suicide foot soldiers.

Weirdly, the city already seems quite devastated (with LOTS of fleeing refugees), although it really shouldn’t, unless the battle’s been going on a LOT longer than it seems.

5. As they start blowing up whole towns with incredibly powerful beams (that seem to act like nuclear bombs), the Zor contact Leon with an ultimatum: leave the planet in 38 hours, or get annihilated.

Leon says (for the VERY FIRST TIME) that he wants to negotiate, but dude… ya gotta know that it’s way too late for that. The Zor aren’t putting up with this shit anymore.

6. Emerson plans to go down with his ship, but Marie and Brown rescue him… although they get captured by the Zor immediately afterward.

7. A Zor frigate approaches the three mounds, and Seifriet wards them off by saying he’ll destroy all the flowers if they don’t leave. After they go, Jeanne asks him why he did that, and he says it was all for Musica, but he’s obviously lying.

Have I mentioned lately how much I hate Seifriet? What started as a mild antipathy early on has swelled into full-blown contempt.

8. The Zor tell Emerson to recommend a total surrender… odd, since they already gave their ultimatum to Leon and there really wasn’t much he could do against it.

It also appears that, far from being a big secret, virtually everyone, Emerson, even Brown and Marie, knows about the Protozor flowers.

So the Zor set up a hostage exchange with Seifriet, but neither side really intends to keep their word. The Zor plan to kill everyone who knows about the flowers, and Seifriet plans to kill the Zor.

9. And sure enough, the hostage deal turns sour, and Emerson is shot protecting Bowie. Honestly, I’m kind of surprised he lasted this long.

Also, we get to see Lana in her GMP armor for the first time. It’s rather infamous among fans because of the model kit, which featured, for some reason, a “topless” version underneath the chest plate.

And, at the very end, Seifriet is back in his red Bioroid. Why do they keep leaving it places where he can easily find and access it…?

10. Lots of stuff happens in this episode, but there are precious few answers. If I were watching this for the first time, this would be one of those penultimate anime episodes that would leave me wondering, “Can they really wrap up everything in just one more episode?” Well, I guess we’ll see…

It is nice (although maybe “nice” is the wrong word…) to see Jeanne realize that her love story with Seifriet was nothing of the sort to him, and he’s completely obsessed with getting revenge on the Zor. Poor Jeanne… none of the guys she likes are ever that into her.

THE GREAT SOUTHERN CROSS REWATCH 21 – NIGHTMARE

SUPER DIMENSION CAVALRY SOUTHERN CROSS
EPISODE 21: NIGHTMARE

ICONIC SCENE: “Being happy is such a wonderful feeling!”

BROADCAST DATE: September 16, 1984

1. Jeanne confronts Seifriet for ratting out Musica, and calls him a coward. He agrees, since he shouldn’t even have survived. This is enough, puzzlingly, to get Andrzej on his side, and he chides Jeanne for saying such mean things to Seifriet in his current state. So weird… I mean, at the end of last episode, Andrzej punched Seifriet in the face…

2. Bowie’s kind of inept at getting Musica to safety. First off, it’s raining pretty hard, and they’re on foot. She falls down, so he finds a conveniently-placed warehouse and steals a Flash Clapper hoverbike. However, the soldiers see him and give chase. He almost immediately accidentally crashes the bike (which at least causes the soldiers to drive right past them).

3. There’s a very nicely-animated sequence as Musica’s song is playing and the sun comes up and the rain stops. It’s not Miyazaki-level, but it’s great for a TV series like this.

4. The 15th go out to search for Bowie and Musica, although Jeanne says they’ll take the “slow-and-slow” approach and not try too hard to find them. However, Seifriet is watching from the barracks with a dark look on his face, and Lana is covertly following them.

5. The Zor suddenly realized that their supply of bio-energy is about to run out, so they immediately decide on an all-out attack on Glorie. Meanwhile, Leon decides that the Southern Cross Army will also launch an all-out attack on the Zor. This all, by the way, is one of the clearest indications that this episode was written AFTER the staff knew the show would be canceled prematurely. This is all very obviously setting up the finale of the series.

6. Rushing to a conclusion they show may be, but I appreciate that they still throw in some artful touches. Along with the sunrise mentioned above, I really like the scene of Bowie and Musica riding on the (now repaired) Flash Clapper while pretty piano music plays, contrasting that with the military getting ready to attack the Zor.

7. Bowie takes Musica to the three mounds, and as they enter, Bowie gets affected by spores from the flowers (Musica, however, isn’t). Bowie remembers a fragment of the Zor song, talking about “flowers of light,” and he and Musica realize that (SHOCKER) these flowers are the flowers in the song.

8. The rest of the 15th arrives soon after, with Lana and Seifriet not far behind them. Seifriet breaks downs and remembers that the flowers were what the Zor used to turn him into a biohuman, and Bowie speculates that they might be the “source of life” for the Zor… and he may be more right than he realizes.

9. As Lana prepares to arrest Musica, Emerson launches his attack from Aluce Base. It’s very obvious that he expects to die in this assault.

10. You’d think, given that the staff at this point must have known that they have to wrap things up more quickly than they’d planned, that this episode would feel rushed. And yes, the plot developments of the sudden massive attacks launched certainly do, but as I’ve pointed out, there are still a few nice touches here and there, and it doesn’t feel much different than the previous episodes, except in that the show makes sure we know that the story is drawing to a close.

THE GREAT SOUTHERN CROSS REWATCH 20 – DAYDREAM

SUPER DIMENSION CAVALRY SOUTHERN CROSS
EPISODE 20: DAYDREAM

ICONIC SCENE: “Private Jack”

BROADCAST DATE: September 9, 1984

1. As we approach the end of the series, my question is, when did the staff know that the show was going to be canceled and start rewriting the episodes to bring it to a conclusion? If we take the 39-episode figure as fact, then this episode would’ve been halfway through the series, not four episodes from the end.

2. Before the 15th arrives back to Glorie, they talk about how they need to slip Musica past the troops, so that she won’t be captured and interrogated. Which seems like a pretty damn big violation of duty. But even Andrzej goes along with the idea. He wouldn’t have done that ten episodes ago.

3. The plan is more hijinx. There’s a soldier in full armor, with helmet, on a stretcher that they’re carrying. Lana sees the soldier, gets suspicious, and demands that the helmet be removed. Turns out it’s Charles, who says he sprained his ankle. But one of the soldiers carrying the stretcher is Musica, wearing armor and a comically huge pair of sunglasses.

Later, Lana checks, and discovers that the REAL Jack was killed at Aluce Base.

4. Musica tries on some human clothes, and wonders what her sisters would think. As we switch to them, it’s pretty clear they’re not thinking about clothes at all, since they’re being taken to the place where the people who’ve lost one of their triplets go, now identified as the center for the “Unfettered.”

To those of us who speak English, the meaning of “Unfettered” in this context is pretty clear, but since they use the actual English word “unfettered,” I wonder if Japanese viewers were confused at all.

5. Significantly, this growth in self-awareness among the Zor is described as something especially affecting the young. Which brings back a theme that I talked about a bit in the Macross Rewatch, that of the early ‘80s being the real flowering of the “Anime Generation,” the people in their teens and twenties who had grown up with anime and were taking over production, trying to steer it into a new, more artistic, and more sophisticated direction (and also more graphically violent and sexual, but that came slightly later). But my point is that anime, throughout the ‘80s, was a youth movement, made by young people for young people, and a sense of youthful rebellion against the status quo is always present in the best anime of the era (and, I’d argue, before and afterwards, even today).

(And of course, anime is still made for young people, which is why I find complaints by middle-aged men about how all the main characters in anime are always teenagers to be kind of funny and kind of second-hand embarrassing. I might write more about this later…)

6. The Zor leaders also mention something for the first time: the Protozor. It’s fairly clear that they’re talking about the flowers that stung Jeanne back in Episode 13. Did the staff crib the name from Macross’s “Protoculture”? I have to believe they did. It seems like an unbelievable coincidence otherwise, unless “proto” was just a fashionable term in Japan at the time.

7. The 15th goes to see Bowie play piano, and Charles tells Musica not to worry about her sisters… as if he’s one to talk about caring about anyone else.

Then Lana arrives, pretending to be friendly, but deeply suspicious once she’s introduced to Musica (as “a musician friend of Bowie’s from Hartsville City”… which I think is the first indication we’ve had that there’s more than one city on Glorie). Her probing questions are interrupted when Bowie gets a standing ovation, and Jeanne and Charles shout for an encore. Bowie starts playing a piano version of Musica’s harp song. Which makes Musica panic, and Seifriet get really aggro and defensive.

They make a quick exit, but Andrzej and Seifriet get into an argument/punch-up, and I can’t really figure out what Seifriet’s problem is. He says he should’ve been left to die, and Andrzej (while socking him in the jaw) disagrees. Seifriet finally runs off, saying he’ll do things his own way, and that he won’t be manipulated again.

So he immediately calls Lana and tells her about Musica.

THIS GUY. THIS FUCKING GUY.

Also, what a strange inscription to have in a piano bar…

8. Musica sings a song about “flowers of light” on Glorie, and Jeanne, overhearing, realizes that the flowers in the three mounds are probably what her lyrics are about. Then Lana and her men show up. Jeanne distracts them long enough for Bowie and Musica to escape.

Seifriet, the whole time, stands in the hallway with a smug smile on his face. If there’s a reason for his actions, I don’t understand it.

9. Finally, we see Bowie and Musica, on foot, running to the three mounds…

10. I asked at the outset when the writers realized they had to wrap up the story far earlier than they’d planned. The last time I watched this show, about ten years ago, I thought it was Episode 21. This time, I think it’s this episode, since the mystery of the Protozor is front and center here, and is obviously set up to be resolved as soon as Musica sees the flowers. Also, Seifriet’s inexplicable actions hasten this development. So yeah, this was probably the one that set the final act in motion.

THE GREAT SOUTHERN CROSS REWATCH 19 – CRISIS

SUPER DIMENSION CAVALRY SOUTHERN CROSS
EPISODE 19: CRISIS

ICONIC SCENE: Looks like he’s having a crisis, all right…

BROADCAST DATE: September 2, 1984

1. We start off seeing the hull of the mothership being repaired by Bioroids, which seems strange, since before, the motherships always repaired themselves pretty well. Maybe running low on bioenergy is affecting the ship as well…?

2. And Seifriet’s apparently gone missing. Ominous news for the Zor, since the last time we saw him, he was trying to fight off their mind control. Based on how Seifriet acts, the Zor will decide what to do with Jeanne and the others: if he reverts to the mind control, the Zor will use them as Bioroid pilots. If he fights off the mind control, they’ll execute them.

3. Meanwhile, Musica can’t get Bowie off her mind, and her sisters are worried. I can’t blame them, since, as we saw last episode, if one of a trio gets erratic, then the others must suffer as well.

4. Then we see Seifriet himself, looking the worse for wear, wandering around and having hallucinations of Glorie and Jeanne. Musica briefly rescues him and it’s clear that his memory has been messed with even more, but as she starts to get through to him, he’s shot from behind with a stun bolt, and is taken away to be executed, along with Jeanne and her team.

5. I love Jeanne’s response when the Zor come to execute them: “It’s unfashionable these days to execute compliant POWs.”

They don’t get taken very far, though, when Musica rescues them, as well. This episode, she’s quite the busiest that we’ve ever seen her.

6. Before executing Seifriet, they extract his memories, and Jeanne times the rescue to when all of his memories as a bio human have been taken out, so theoretically, he should be back to normal and free of the Zors’ mind control.

There’s another chase on a hovercar through the mothership’s corridors, and although it doesn’t get brought up again, it’s easy to see why the amusement park right from Episode 12 would trigger memories of the Zor.

7. They get to the control center, and then an alarm sounds: Emerson is attacking. The 15th is shocked that Emerson would attack the mothership when his son is still inside, but couldn’t he be trying to create a commotion that would allow them to escape…?

8. Musica tells Seifriet that he was used by the Zor as a spy, and he runs off and grabs his old Bioroid. Jeanne and the others escape (via Louis implausibly fixing up some scrapped Bioroid biovers) and escape while Seifriet stays behind to blow up the control center. For a moment, it looks like he sacrificed himself, but Andrzej has gone back and rescued him. Yay…?

9. The Zor citizens all managed to evacuate before the ship blew up, but we see Musica’s sisters, and we already KNOW that they’re in big trouble, because one of the trio is gone. Musica, with Bowie, doesn’t seem to care much.

10. The art and animation wasn’t quite as good as usual in this episode (except for one EXCELLENT scene in the hovercar), and there are a number of recycled scenes and still shots. But again, I like the look into the Zor society. A race of trios who act in concert with each other is, I think, a pretty original concept, and the show does its best to sell us on it.

THE GREAT SOUTHERN CROSS REWATCH 18 – WONDERLAND

SUPER DIMENSION CAVALRY SOUTHERN CROSS
EPISODE 18: WONDERLAND

ICONIC SCENE: Weird trees…

BROADCAST DATE: August 26, 1984

1. Jeanne stands in front of the red Bioroid, saying, “Seifriet, it’s me, Jeanne!” and remarkably, it actually seems to have some effect, as Seifriet tries to fight the mind control. Finally the Zor cause him to retreat, and Jeanne and Andrzej meet up with the only survivors of the infiltration mission, who just happen to be Bowie, Charles, and Louis.

2. Andrzej says that there will be “zorozoro” Zor soldiers (in the subs as “Zillions of Zor”). That is, the place will be swarming with them. And Jeanne chastises him for making such a stupid pun.

Anyway, they decide to leave the Spartases behind and go on foot to try to find the command center.

3. And, unlike the previous infiltration, which was straight out of a horror movie, it’s clear that this one’s going to have a lot more humor in it. In order to try to blend in, Charles makes a pass at a trio of Zor girls. They think something’s wrong with him, and try to strip him and give him a massage as a stopgap before taking him to the medical center.

Jeanne tries to rescue him, but they’re quickly found out, and go on the run from the Zor soldiers, splitting up as they do so.

4. Charles and Andrzej hide, and then ambush the soldiers chasing them. It’s a strange scene. Charles and Andrzej are drawn quite comically, but when they shoot the soldiers, it’s brief but surprisingly brutal.

5. Jeanne goes ahead of Louis and Bowie, and walks into a pink room with three beds. Completely nonsensically, she decides it’s time for a nap. Upon lying down, sensors beep, and she gets surrounded by some kind of energy field. Bowie turns it off quickly enough, but even for Jeanne, this is really irresponsible.

They have to hide while some Zor women come in, and take off all their clothes in order to go “get sterilized,” which I have to assume is like the Zor version of a shower. So when they leave, Jeanne, Bowie, and Louis take their clothes and run.

6. In trying to escape some guards, they end up in what looks like a restaurant, but turns out to be a “stabilization center.” They have to drink some mysterious liquid, then get put in one sealed container and scanned, and then have to drink another mysterious liquid and then put in another sealed container. The three of them are worried, but go along with it.

In other words, they seem to be putting themselves into a lot of situations where they could get trapped extremely easily, without a shred of plausibility.

7. Still, the manage to get away, and Jeanne ends up going on a fun-house ride on first a floating automated car, and then on a conveniently-placed slide, and crashes into a room where she meets a handsome and kind Zor dude, named Ratel.

He’s in the area where they keep the people who’ve lost one of their trio, with the implication that they’re kind of a drag on society.

8. This part’s important: she gets really angry that the Zor here have basically given up, and starts yelling at them, which draws the attention of the guards. Ratel tells her to run, and she does… but she grabs him as well.

9. Bowie gets reunited with Musica, and then everything kinda happens at once. First Bowie gets captured. The Louis finds a central computer and plans to destroy it, be it attacks him and he gets captured. Charles and Andrzej find the command center, but they get pinned down and captured. And Jeanne and Ratel find some rather dismal parts of the mothership (where those that show too much emotion are kept to have their organs harvested) and then Ratel distracts the guards so that Jeanne can get away. He’s killed, and she’s captured anyway. So he died for nothing, and it’s Jeanne’s fault for taking him with her.

(Oh, and the guards almost kill a baby, and don’t seem to care.)

10. So yes, everyone’s captured in a cell together. TO BE CONTINUED…Regardless how much I complain about Jeanne’s stupid decisions (whether or not they get people killed), this is still one of the best episodes of the series. It’s set entirely within the Zor mothership, and I find the designs for the Zor architecture and technology to be fascinating, and there’s always cool and creepy backgrounds to look at. I said before that one of the problems with the show is that the Glorie landscape is pretty bland and uninteresting, but this makes up for it by being really interesting to watch, start to finish.

NUMBER OF SHOWER SCENES IN THE SHOW SO FAR: Well, the three Zor girls in the first half are, as I said, probably going to take a shower of some kind, but we don’t actually see it, so I guess still 5.