THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 150 – Uncontrollable LIMITS

Delta Ep.9

MACROSS DELTA

MISSION 09: Uncontrollable LIMITS

ICONIC SCENE: Don’t lie. You know you ship it.

STORY DATE: 2067

BROADCAST DATE: May 29, 2016

OP: “If I Love Only Once”

ED: “When My Rune Shines Bright”

1. I kinda fudged the title here, because in Japanese, nearly all of the titles have a Japanese word followed by an English word, like, say, “Senjo no Prologue” or “Kakugo no Audition.” Here, the title is “Genkai Uncontrol,” but the official subs give it as “Uncontrollable Limits,” so I capitalized “limits” in the hopes that no one would notice. Fingers crossed.

And yes, this is the episode that’s entirely about Messer. Now usually, when you’ve got an episode about one of the side characters (and I guess Messer is a side character…? Maybe…?), it means death flags are looming. I’m pretty sure no one expected Messer to get out of this series alive.

2. I like the meeting where Arad is telling everyone that the apple and water imports have been suspended, because Mikumo is sitting off from the others, clearly not listening. For all that she’s serious about singing, she’s only occasionally serious about other stuff.

The scene is interesting also for being one of the few times the show really pushes the love triangle aspect. Hayate, in the previous battle, resonated closely with Freyja (which puts Mirage out a bit), but Kaname says there’s no cure for the Vár, which Hayate and Mirage know that Messer has, but they’re keeping secret. They nod to each other and Freyja notices (which puts her out a bit). When Kawamori at an early talk pointed out that the triangle in the Delta logo was “broken” because the love triangle wouldn’t play out as people might expect, I’m not sure most viewers realized that that meant that the love triangle here would barely exist. Yes, there are a few bones thrown to Mirage, but it’s still mostly Freyja’s game.

3. The secret here, that Messer is already infected with the Vár, doesn’t really end up meaning much, because it’ll turn out that everyone in Xaos, from Lady M to Arad, already knows. Basically, Hayate and Mirage were the only people who didn’t already get it, so they’re keeping a pretty useless secret.

What IS secret is Messer’s mp3-playing bracelet, which has one song on it: “AXIA” (which is Greek (ἀξία) for “value” or “worth”). It’s sung by Kaname, and Walküre evidently don’t perform it anymore, since neither Hayate nor Mirage have heard it before. We’ve already seen that Kaname seems to like Messer, and this is the first indication we’ve had that the feeling is reciprocated.

Frustrated love where both characters like each other but can’t express it is always a big crowd-pleaser, isn’t it? In this case, it completely overwhelmed a portion of the fandom, and Kaname/Messer fanart remains one of the biggest subjects from the series.

(Likewise, when I was talking to some of the staff from Satelight at last year’s Anime Expo, they asked me who I thought was the most popular character among western Macross fandom. I said that it was probably Mirage, but that Kaname was becoming more popular. They looked at each other, nodded, and both said, “Hm. Messer.” They weren’t wrong.)

4. What the hell is up with Freyja’s phone and Q-Lulu? It’s weird enough that the phone seems to be picking up Freyja’s slang, but Q-Lulu also seems to have fallen for it.

For those attempting to keep track, someone at this time made an awesome chart detailing all the relationships in this show. Which, er, stops being relevant next episode…

Delta Love Chart

5. Next we get the rather sad story of Kaname, who wanted to be an idol but just never had that special something that turns someone into a real star. First she tried to be a solo idol singer, and that didn’t work out. Then there was Walküre, where she was the “ace” until Mikumo joined and became the star.

Naturally, this happens all the time in the real world. People who are good or even great, but just don’t have that certain star quality. Hell, one of my cousins, a very beautiful woman, tried for many years to break into modeling and acting, and whose claim to fame is just a very brief part in the opening to “The Love Boat” (I think she announced that the ship was launching or something… I dunno. It’s been a very long time…).

Kaname’s voice actress, Kiyono Yasuno, plays this scene perfectly: completely matter-of-fact, with no self-pity. The art here is also perfect, as she’s dressed casually, with a slightly wistful look on her face which isn’t overdone. The scene could easily be played for maximum tear-jerking, but it’s so understated and calm that it seems entirely realistic, and turns Kaname into a character that is easy to sympathize with and root for. If they had made a bigger fuss of it, she could come off like a selfish diva, but they sidestep that pitfall.

6. I just want to point out that in the scene where Walküre is singing to the underwater ruins, Mikumo’s hair is sticking out of her helmet, so I don’t really understand how her helmet works…? Knowing Mikumo, she probably doesn’t need to breathe or something…

Plus, the Protoculture ruins that we’ve seen in this series seem to be reminiscent of the City Ship Altira that Hikaru and Misa found themselves on in Do You Remember Love, except that that was just a space ship. These have “roots” that connect to the core of each planet.

7. Let’s be honest, as Hayate and Mirage point out, Messer is a powder keg waiting to blow. If he falls to the Vár in combat, he says that everyone else should shoot him down, but clearly, none of the other Delta pilots are skilled enough to do that.

8. The dogfight here has some really superb scenes. My favorite is probably Bogue skimming the surface of the ocean and then pulling up to fly over the Macross-Class city ship to attack Walküre. And then he lunges forward. That’s mah boy!

9. And finally we get the touching-yet-fateful scene where Freyja tells Messer that she’s too busy focusing on the here and now to worry about the future. Good advice? We’ll see…

10. Look, it’s pretty clear that Messer is doomed. The only question is when. Watching it again, the Kaname/Messer sparks are probably the most distinctive thing about this episode, but the dogfight, while short, is also really well-done, and Freyja’s misplaced jealousy is cute. As in the previous episode, there are also a number of plot lines begun here, primarily about the Protoculture ruins. Most of this episode is really a set-up for the next episode, though, as this is the beginning of what I think of as the “Messer Trilogy.”

EYECATCH: Don and Q-Lulu

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: AXIA

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 3

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 149 – Escape RESONANCE

Delta Ep.8

MACROSS DELTA
MISSION 08: Escape RESONANCE

ICONIC SCENE: Valkyrie vs. Walküre.

STORY DATE: 2067

BROADCAST DATE: May 22, 2016

1. I find this one interesting, because the script was written by Ukyou Kodachi, who seems to have become the official chronicler of Macross. I’ve mentioned him many times before, but in brief, he was chosen to write the novelizations of Frontier (coming out with a whopping’ EIGHT of them) and and also created the stories for Macross the Ride and Macross 30. Currently, he’s writing the Delta novels (as well as a rather mind-boggling array of other anime and game novelizations). Generally in Macross, the writers for the show end up writing the novels, and this is the only time it’s happened in reverse.

His main credit on Delta, though, is for “continuity.” When the staff wants to know when, say, the Megaroad was last seen or what was going on in 2047, he’s the one that they ask. I flatter myself by thinking that that’s a job that I could do as well…

2. One thing that’s clear at the beginning of the episode is what “superhuman abilities” the Windermereans have. They’re very quick and very strong, and Hayate and Mirage get trounced (deliberately?) comically fast.

Watching this episode a year ago, Bogue was easily the most annoying character for me, so seeing him get so cocky in this episode was… unpleasant. Watching it again, after I’ve come to think of him as fundamentally cute, but trying to be a badass (like when kittens start acting tough by hissing at everything and hopping sideways), this scene is more fun. A character like Bogue has to strike a delicate balance. As the show goes on, we’re meant to see that he’s really just immature and not terribly threatening, but that he’s trying to compensate by showing over-the-top bravado. And thus he ended up gaining my uneasy sympathy. However, if he were to go too far and actually kill one of the heroes, that sympathy would vanish completely. On the one hand, I find him a realistic character: an insecure kid who wants to hang with the big boys and, to that end, acts the way he thinks the big boys act: that is, as a total dick. The balancing act for the writers is in making sure that his “dick” side doesn’t overwhelm the “kid” side. Since at first, all we see is the dick, and the kid slowly shows through the cracks, having him be TOO effective could ruin the character. At the same time, they can’t just make him a total loser – there has to be a reason he’s one of the Aerial Knights, after all. So it’s an issue of making him ACT ruthless and making us see his capacity for ruthlessness, without actually having him do anything drastic enough that the audience would think, “Whoa, dude… NOT COOL.” It’s interesting that when they DO cross that fine line, it’s not in Bogue’s actions towards Walküre, but his words towards another Aerial Knight that do it. And yet, he regained my sympathy fairly quickly.

Still, it’s only on a second viewing that I realize how carefully a character like Bogue has to be written and performed (KENN, who is a singer first and an actor second, does an excellent job here) in order make us see his contradictions without them making him just seem arbitrary.

Here, I think his key line is the insult he hurls at Freyja (while his sword is uncomfortably close to her neck… and yes, I think there’s some subtext here), when he calls her “this impertinent brat that can’t even control her own rune?” Which of course is one of Bogue’s flaws as well. It’s a deft scriptwriting touch, making him sound tough, but also reminding us of a couple of episodes ago, when he was definitely portrayed as the “kid” of the group.

As a final note here, I also want to point out that he’s Minori Suzuki’s favorite character in the show. Make of that what you will.

3. Meanwhile, in the firefight with our other heroes, Messer gets hit in the arm. If I recall correctly, I (and I’m sure I wasn’t alone) was already seeing death flags around his character, especially clinched when he seems to go a little crazy while fighting off the Voldoran guards, and has flashbacks to a ruined city with himself covered in blood. I figured he wouldn’t last past Episode 20 or so. Ha.

4. Another deft scriptwriting touch comes when Bogue (beating Hayate rather sadistically) declares that Windermere’s cause is righteous in bringing freedom to the galaxy, and Freyja brings up the only part of their plan she really cares about: the use of apples to spread the Vár. On the one hand, she’s being naive in ignoring larger political concerns. But on the other, she’s got a point (as Master Hermann says). I wouldn’t call her a nationalistic character in the slightest, but (like many who leave the environment they grew up in for a very different one) she feels real pride in her home, centered on the fact that Windermere apples are a really popular export. I felt much the same way when I saw See’s Candies in Tokyo or when they were testing In-n-Out Burger in Harajuku for a day. Anyway, once word gets out about the apples’ connection to the Vár, their sales will plummet, and who knows what will happen to the poor apple farmers back in her home town? Her concerns are more localized than most of the characters’, but are still totally legitimate.

Kassim brings it back to the wider war, pointing out that his apple orchards were destroyed seven years ago, so all the apple farmers in his family are dead, rather than just out of work. It’s… kinda persuasive.

Also, does Bogue really believe the stuff he’s saying? My guess that he probably does. As we’ll see later, some of the Knights have qualms about Windermere’s methods, but none of them seem opposed to its ends.

5. Keith nearly executes Freyja here, acting of course like he’s doing her some kind of patriotic favor, only to stopped by Roid. Roid’s motives here were baffling on first viewing, and he says only that he wants to know more about Walküre. The second time around, it’s pretty clear that his plan of using the Star Singer is already in place, and that he knows that Walküre has some connection, but may not know WHICH Walküre member is tied to the legend.

And then we get the rescue of Hayate, Mirage, and Freyja, naturally staged as a Walküre concert. Again, music doesn’t work against the Aerial Knights, but distracting light shows and decoy holograms sure do. Bogue seems, more than the others, to be enraged (and slightly terrified) by the girls, especially Reina. This will be elaborated on later.

6. The fight between Messer and Keith (where Messer has a machine gun and Keith has a sword) is well-done and over much too soon. In what could be seen as foreshadowing, Keith gets in close and wins the match (to be fair, Messer IS wounded). However, they recognize each other and he lets Messer go, because, naturally, he’s an HONORABLE knight, and wants to defeat Messer in the air.

Er… usually when villains say things like this, they’re setting up their own defeat, plot-wise.

And oh wow… is that HUMOROUS BANTER that Messer and Hayate engage in before they launch…? See, I guess Messer really IS a good judge of character and knows how to motivate Hayate.

7. When the dogfight starts, Walküre changes into their “Rot Blume” (“Red Flower”) costumes, which are just a color swap for the “Blau Blume” costumes a few episodes ago. Later, we’ll see the black ones, called “Schokolade Blume,” or “Chocolate Flower.” I’m mildly surprised that, as of this writing, the toy companies have not exploited this and made variant color figures of all three versions yet.

Oh, and Messer looks really REALLY bad when the Song of the Wind starts up. And as the battle goes on, he definitely starts Vár-ing out.

The song used here, “NEO-STREAM,” is formally one of the oddest Walküre songs, feeling like three different songs welded together. It starts as a ballad, then picks up speed, before turning into some powerful ’60s garage rock chords (if not instrumentation, which, like most Walküre songs, sounds a little more disco, with a string section). It’s also mostly in English, which JUNNA as Mikumo sings incredibly well. Much better than, say, Nao “Reina” Toyama…

8. We never really get an explanation what “riding the Wind” means, but here is where we really SEE it (and the staff is confident enough that we’ll pick it up) as Keith and Messer both seem to transcend human limitations and move and react incredibly fast, essentially becoming Gundam-style Newtypes. In Messer’s case, of course, it’s incredibly dangerous, because while he’s using the Vár to enhance his abilities, it could overwhelm him at any point (which is the main reason that Walküre has to be singing here… although, I wonder… if Walküre’s song is TOO strong, wouldn’t that cancel his ability to “ride the Wind”…?). The show doesn’t bring up that it’s potentially dangerous for Keith as well, as using such abilities makes Windermereans age faster.

It’s also clear at this point that the dogfight scenes must be time-consuming to animate, which is why there are several shots where we pull out from the close-up shots and the planes are just represented by glowing dots. This doesn’t really bug me too much, because the closer shots are pretty gorgeously drawn and choreographed. In short bursts, this show looks even better than the Macross Zero or Macross Frontier movie dogfights. Quality over quantity.

9. A mind-controlled pilot almost gets Walküre, and wouldn’cha jus’ know it, it’s the SAME pilot whose kids were singing to him last episode. Hayate and Freyja see this, and so definitely don’t want to kill him, and Freyja gets her first real turn at being a singing badass who faces down a variable fighter with only “Giraffe Blues” (and Hayate’s pinpoint barriers) for protection.

It works, of course, although Bogue attacks. Hayate goes after him, and in yet another event that will developed later, resonates with Freyja so strongly that HE starts “riding the Wind” as well. They close in, yell at each other, and then Hayate, crucially, has a chance to kill Bogue, but hits his Draken’s leg instead.

(It’s funny, isn’t it…? In the US, though not in Japan, kids who saw Macross on TV (as Robotech) tend to note the lack of GI Joe-style parachutes being ejected from all the planes as one of the astonishing things about the show. Yet here, Hayate feels relief when he sees a parachute, and when he doesn’t kill an enemy pilot. You can see why his character might turn off some of the more, um, bellicose viewers of the show…)

And then we get the post-credit stinger, as Messer is back on the ship, very nearly going full Vár…

10. So, as I’ve indicated, a lot of plot threads begin here, although this is primarily an action episode. We also get the first real problem within Delta Flight itself, which is Messer’s susceptibility to the Vár. Although this episode didn’t make all that big an impression on me a year ago, now I see as one of the show’s most well-crafted in terms of balancing action, character, and plot.

OP: “If I Love Only Once”

ED: “When My Rune Shines Bright”

EYECATCH: The Macross Elysion.

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: NEO-STREAM

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 2

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 148 – Behind ENEMY LINES

Delta Ep.7

MACROSS DELTA
MISSION 07: Behind ENEMY LINES

ICONIC SCENE: Messer with cat ears.

STORY DATE: 2067

BROADCAST DATE: May 15, 2016

1. We open with an explanation of the Protoculture and how they uplifted a number of races in the galaxy… but where are the Zolans? Don’t they count?

Then we go to Reina breaking through Voldor’s defenses to the tune of “Silent Hacker,” the one song from the first half of the show that wasn’t on Walküre’s first album. Like “Idol Talk” not being on the first Macross Plus soundtrack CD, or (most crucially) “My Boyfriend Is a Pilot” not being on the first SDF Macross soundtrack album.

2. And okay, yes, the hacking scene here is entirely ridiculous. Hacking tends to be rather uninteresting, visually. And so Hollywood (and by extension, anime) tends to work very hard to make it look cool. And look cool it does, here. It may not be accurate, but it gives us a good view of Reina’s green chomping skulls. Heck, we even see her react physically to their destruction. I’ll be the first admit that it makes no sense, but I think the Rule of Cool is at play here. At least, as far as character development goes, it shows that Makina and Reina work together as a team in perfect synch.

3. So this week, we’re infiltrating the planet Voldor, whose natives are cat-people. Freyja naturally starts making a lot of cat-puns until she’s quickly (and thankfully) shut down. Now… the big question is why Walküre and the pilots from Delta Flight would be the undercover operatives of this mission. I mean, I understand that Walküre on Al-Shahal in Ep. 1 are undercover, waiting for the Vár Syndrome attack, but here, it makes very little sense, even with Arad’s idea that everyone needs to be “an absolute Johannes Fac-totum” (or, in this case, a jellyfish-of-all-trades).

Still, it’s hard to get away from the idea that the entire point here is to show our main characters wearing cat ears. Although I’m slightly sorry that the cat puns stop before Messer shows up (see Iconic Scene), since I would’ve loved to hear him bust out a few “Nyaa”s.

4. The real star here is Thomas Romain, for his excellent “world design.” Voldor looks nothing like the other planets we’ve seen, but is still totally appealing. It’s also, I think, the most like Tokyo in its blatant commercialism and its rows of pub after pub.

5. What the hell is “Seidznole”? Something to do with the Vár, apparently. We’ll get more info about this soon, but it never really gets explained well.

Oh, and we find out that the apples here are imported from Windermere. That’ll be important, no matter how much Mirage protests that it isn’t.

6. Interestingly, we get a Walküre song sung by fans before we hear the actual version (just like “Diamond Crevasse” in Episode 2 of Frontier). Here, it seems primarily thrown in as a sop for those who hate that Macross shows always end up with singing converting the bad guys and saving the day (something that, again, is deliberately disproven in the first episode, since singing works against the Vár, but not the Aerial Knights).

By the way, the song here, “Giraffe Blues,” is, despite the silly name, one of the saddest and most affecting songs in all of Delta. Up there with the aforementioned “Diamond Crevasse,” in my opinion.

7. Here we learn that Roid is a scholar, who has authored a tract about how the Windermereans, being the last lifeforms uplifted by the Protoculture, are their final, most perfected creations. Here, it gets broadened into ALL species in the Brísingr Cluster. But Roid doesn’t really mean that.

And yeah, in one way it seems strange and unlikely that we would suddenly meet a whole bunch of alien races a the same time. On the other hand, they’re all clustered (ha) together in one area of the galaxy… an area we haven’t seen before, because (in Seven and Frontier) we’ve been too focused on Emigration Fleets headed towards the galactic center. Much like the Unified Government, who also seem nonplussed that these other species have their own hopes and dreams, as well as agencies to carry them out.

Also, we get the first suggestion that Windermere detonated a Dimension Eater on its own soil as a false flag attack. This is gonna come up again…

8. We get a bit of backstory regarding Makina and Reina, that they used to apparently not get along. That will also come up again.

Also note that the explosive charges Makina sets leave bunny-shaped holes.

And, again, the song used here, “Jiritic Beginner” is the most-hated song among the staff working on the official English subtitles. I dig it, though.

9. And finally they discover how Windermere is spreading the Vár, through apples and water. At conventions now, I usually make a point of bringing apples and bottles of water, and give them to any Delta cosplayers that I meet. Or I just eat the apples for effect. Unfortunately, at the Anime Expo last year, a Makina and Reina duo that I was talking to didn’t get it, so it must have appeared to them that I was just munching the apple in a creepy way. Ah well.

And our intrepid team gets discovered, and Hayate, Mirage, and Freyja get separated from the others (while Mikumo is, as usual, off doing her own thing. Full clothed this time, though). One might expect that this will turn into another patented “people trapped and discussing things” Macross episode, but it isn’t. Instead, the Aerial Knights, led by Bogue, find them, and we end on a big cliffhanger.

10. So, a lot gets covered in this episode, including the Dimension Eater detonated on Windermere, and how the Vár is infecting so many people, but there’s very little action in this episode. Now, I’m not an adrenaline junkie; I don’t need explosions every five minutes to keep me occupied, but in hindsight, this episode is one of the first hints that Delta would become an exceptionally talky series, even before Berger makes his debut. Walküre and Delta Flight being the infiltrators gets explained, but still seems kind of implausible. It’s not a bad episode by any stretch, but as I said before, I think Thomas Romain’s brilliant world design does most of the heavy lifting, visually. And although we don’t fully hear it in this episode, I think “Giraffe Blues,” despite the odd name, is one of the most beautiful and affecting songs in all of Macross. Up there with “Do You Remember Love” and Sheryl’s power ballads.

OP: “If I Love Only Once”

ED: “When My Rune Shines Bright”

EYECATCH: VF-31J (Hayate Type)

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: “Giraffe Blues.”

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 2

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 147 – Decision OVERLOAD

Delta Ep.6

MACROSS DELTA
MISSION 06: Decision OVERLOAD

ICONIC SCENE:It’s showtime!

STORY DATE: 2067

BROADCAST DATE: May 8, 2016

1. Messer’s kind of being a passive-aggressive jerk at the start of this episode, calling in Chuck, Mirage, and Hayate for instruction, and then ignoring Hayate until Hayate pushes him for it. I know, I know, he’s just trying to make sure that Hayate cares enough, but it’s still kind of a dick move.

His instruction is to tell Hayate to shoot to kill, rather than try to spare the lives of the enemy pilots. Which is a nice little bit of symmetry with the end of the episode, where Hayate actually does kill someone.

It’s also interesting to note that stuff has definitely been going on between episodes, as Messer says for the last three battles, Hayate’s been targeting the enemy’s wings. Since his only real battle so far has been in Episode 4, clearly at least two more have taken place since. Likewise, in the next scene, we learn that three other planets have surrendered to Windermere.

2. And as usual, if Messer’s hard on Hayate, then Mikumo is hard on Freyja, here for having no life to her singing. Mikumo also seems fascinated by Heinz’s song of the wind… and, er, there’s a reason for that…

3. I think it’s interesting that when Makina scolds Hayate about how roughly he treats his VF-31, she’s echoing her ancestor, Old Man Nakajima from Macross Zero, who said virtually the same thing to Shin.

And it’s come to my attention that there are fans who don’t think Makina and Reina are a couple. I dunno… I mean, they never come out and SAY it, but it seems pretty blatant to me that they’re together.

4. I think this episode is where a lot of fans started getting interested in a possible Messer-Kaname romance, since she keeps inviting him out, and he keeps declining. And of course, it’s not to be.

5. The battle in this episode is one of the few space battles in this series, which happen about as infrequently as atmospheric battles did in Frontier. It’s definitely nice to see the VF-31s fitted with FAST packs (and sound boosters).

There’s an interesting bit when Hayate gets into his cockpit and starts up the ARIEL system, which, as far as I can tell, is an AI system first testing with the VF-19. All the info on that is contained in the VF-19 Master File book, and I like that they’re taking stuff from that (really cool) series of mecha books and adding it into the show.

6. After fighters get ready, Walküre’s stage rises and (as you can tell from my “iconic scene” here, I think there’s something really great about it. Mostly because of the music. It’s the track “Xaos,” which is on the first OST, and the shot of Walküre rising, seen from behind, with space as the backdrop, and THOSE DRUMS is really effective.

The staff must’ve thought so, too, since the scene later became a central part of the second opening title sequence.

7. The new song in this episode, “Walküre Attack,” which would later become the title of their first album (and which seems a rather unimaginative name) is the first one that I didn’t really like all that much. I later grew to love it, but I think it works better on the album than it does in this episode.

8. There’s also a strange visual component to the battle, with Delta Flight launching little balls that project film of Walküre on to the asteroids around them all. And I still don’t understand how, if the girls’ vocals only affect the Vár when performed live, how a concert broadcast over the radio can work. But somehow it does.

Most of the battle here is impressively done, but I have to laugh a bit when an Itano Circus of missile launching is shown (as it the first battle in Do You Remember Love) just on the radar screen.

And finally, Bogue lunges forward (using different animation than was used in Episode 1) and attack Walküre. Probably would’ve killed them, too had Hayate not kicked him out of the way.

9, We meet a new Aerial Knight, Sir Gura, who is the spitting image of Bellri, the hero of Gundam Reconguista in G. Hayate ends up (mostly accidentally) killing him.

And, let’s face it, the mecha pilot who makes his first kill and then is mired in guilt about it for the next ten episodes is kind of an anime cliché, isn’t it? Which is why I love it when Mirage goes to talk to him, and he agrees with what she’s saying and cheers back up immediately. Such a change from your average Gundam pilot!

10. The centerpiece of this episode is definitely the battle, and it’s done effectively and is actually rather beautiful.

And again, it feels like each episode is presented a discrete step in Hayate and Freyja’s education towards becoming real pros, and that’s continuing here, with Messer and Mikumo being harsher than ever.

The Windermerean mystery is also expanded a bit as Keith takes Heinz to Scarfell, to see the ruins left by the Dimension Eater that was detonated on Windermere. But more about that later.

OP: “If I Love Only Once”

ED: “When My Rune Shines Bright”

EYECATCH: VF-1EX (Hayate Type)

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: Walküre Attack

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 2, although again, this uses different animation, so I’m not ENTIRELY sure it counts.

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 146 – Moonlight DANCING

Delta Ep.5

MACROSS DELTA
MISSION 05: Moonlight DANCING

ICONIC SCENE: She’s your white bunny…

STORY DATE: 2067

BROADCAST DATE: May 1, 2016

1. I have to admire that Macross always sticks to its guns regarding its timeline, even though a good portion of it is now alternate history, rather than a projected future. Notably, this episode starts off with a recap of human emigration throughout the galaxy, saying that it started in the year 2012, which must have been a head-scratcher for casual viewers.

That said, it’s not all as careful as one might like, since we see here (and have already seen, anyway) the New Macross Class ship that landed on Ragna, which was supposed to have happened “about fifty years prior” (that is, roughly THIS year). First, as I said before, that seems a little early to get this far away from earth, and second, the New Macross Class ships were created much later.

Oh well, at least we get a cool shot of the Megaroad-04 approaching Windermere IV.

Now, the show doesn’t really go into it much, but according to the first Delta novel, the New Unified Government is still pretty earth-centric in its thinking and doesn’t really view the various aliens they encounter as terribly worthy of much consideration. Again, this is never said in the show itself, but it definitely informs the NUNS’ attitude towards the Windermereans.

Roid gives a short account of the arrogance of humanity in their dealings with Windermere, which led to the war of independence seven years prior. Now, I’m sure he’s biased, but I would imagine (and the series supports) that there’s some truth to what he’s saying.

Still, he’s announcing that they’re taking on the entire galaxy here, which SEEMS insane, except that the Windermereans have a few tricks up their collective sleeve. Indeed, it’s probably only the New Unified Forces’ arrogance that allows the Windermereans to get so far… if the threat had been taken seriously from the get-go, this would most likely be the final episode of the show, ending with a bunch of fried Aerial Knights and a gaping crater where the King’s castle used to be.

2. PRODUCT PLACEMENT! Well, of a sort. No one ever made these exact jellyfish chips that we see Freyja declaring “gori-delish,” but Babystar Ramen did release Macross Delta themed ramen snacks (basically if you took a package of instant noodles and hit it with a hammer a few times) in “spicy jellyfish flavor.” I got a few packages and thought they were good but not excellent.

Arad shows up and gives them the low-down on Windermere and the Aerial Knights, and we see not only the young King Grammier, but also the Knights’ previous fighter, which looks a lot like an F-104 Starfighter. It’s also revealed that Arad and Captain Johnson were involved in the war of independence, seven years prior. Even at this early point in the series, it’s pretty obvious that everything’s going to come back to that.

3. Back on Windermere, things are still pretty mysterious, with lots of so-far undefined terms like “Domain of Wind” and “Temple of Time” getting bandied about. What is clear is that Roid and Keith have disagreements about the war (and about using Prince Heinz) and that Hermann and Cassim aren’t quite sure they’ll live long enough to see the war through.

Bogue also pulls the old martial arts trick of trying to catch his old master unawares (parodied decades before in Dragonball, where Chi-chi tries to “test” the old Turtle Hermit, who ends up with her blade sticking out of his forehead).

At this point, Bogue still seems like an insufferable, loudmouth jerk, although Cassim’s indulgent smile at Bogue’s braggadocio is noteworthy, as is Hermann’s admonition to the little brat to “control his runes.” Thus, we are led to start viewing Bogue as something of a comic figure, rather than just an asshole. For me, at least, it mostly works, some times more than others.

Bogue, by the way, is apparently Minori Suzuki (the actress who plays Freyja)’s favorite character, and in the Facebook Macross Delta group that I co-admin, declaring a month of “Bogue-vember” last year was mostly a success, with some ojections, although I’m unsure how much of the support was genuine and how much was ironic.

Regarding the runes: a lot of attention and care seems to be put into making them consistent in the series, showing the emotions of the Windermerean characters. Especially with Bogue and Freyja, looking at their runes will never steer you wrong if you want to know how they feel.

4. Back on Ragna, there’s a meeting called, telling everybody in Xaos that they’re free to quit if they want, since once they go to war, there’s no backing out. Something of a change from SMS, which had that article of contract that they invoked, saying, more or less, “Sorry, you CAN’T quit now, even if you want to.”

Everyone agrees, of course, except for Hayate, which becomes the central plot thread for this episode, although… is there ever any doubt…? We know he’s the main character after all.

5. Mikumo gets to be bitchy again, telling Freyja that everyone thinks she’s a spy. I have to say it, I always love Mikumo when she’s being mean to Freyja while casually studying her fingernails or putting on makeup or whatever. Mikumo’s journey in the story is all about breaking down the (fake) shield of effortless perfection that she puts up and replacing it with a confidence that’s warmer and more grounded, but in the later episodes, I kinda miss her snark. It’s especially effective because we never really know if she’s goading Freyja into upping her game, or if she honestly thinks that the girl can’t cut it.

6. When we come to Rag-Nyan-Nyan, Mirage and Chuck have a brief discussion showing their misgivings and doubts about going to war. Mirage definitely isn’t the “anything for duty” type that Messer is, although she tries. Likewise, Freyja is trying to stay upbeat in the face of paparazzi saying she’s a spy, but again, her rune gives her away by glowing bluish-purple.

I’m assuming that it’s not a real secret that Delta Flight and Walküre are connected to Rag-Nyan-Nyan, which makes it seem odd that it isn’t crowded with fans hoping to get autographs or anything. Maybe Ragnans are just polite that way.

(That said, I knew Paul McCartney’s favorite Mexican restaurant in my town, and also lived right near a Starbucks that was frequented by Scott Weiland, but I never saw any extra crowds at either place.)

7. Freyja’s frustration about the war (which she expresses by yelling at the sky) again feels totally authentic to me. The girl’s given up everything she had (which, admittedly, doesn’t seem like much) in order to join Walküre, and now it could all be ripped away from her.

And it gives Mirage a chance to tell the story of her grandparents, good ol’ Max and Milia, and how their marriage helped end Space War I (she skips over their later separation). Hayate is dubious, probably because he’s too young to have seen the original Macross when he was kid. For the rest of us, though, there are some great shots of the venerable interstellar couple, lovingly done by artists Hidetaka Tenjin and Risa Ebata. Of course, two of the shots are movie-style and one is TV-style, but we’re all used to that by now, aren’t we?

8. Freyja singing “When My Rune Shines Bright” in the backseat of Hayate’s fighter while he dances around seems destined to become one of the Famous Scenes of Macross. At the very least, it became one of the first real Delta memes, not least for the odd-but-charming little dance Freyja puts on. As I’ve said before, Adrian of the Speaker PODCast pointed out that her moves are (more-or-less) taken from Sheryl’s choreography for “Universal Bunny.” It’s not an exact match up, but it’s similar enough.

The scenes of Hayate’s Valk here are also extremely dynamic, both in the plane itself (reminding me of nothing so much as Shin learning to fly in Chapter 2 of Zero or the air shows in the “All That VF” short films) and in the swooping and racing camera angles, as though the filmmakers were having a tough time just keeping up.

And I’m sure the sudden prominence of the ending theme has NOTHING TO DO with the fact that the single was being released that week… right? Right.

(Either way, it seemed to work, as the single shot to Number One on most charts the day of its release, dethroning J-Pop legend Utada Hikaru… no mean feat.)

9. And of course, Messer comes along and spoils the fun.

Messer comic
This comic, er, seemed less funny a couple of months later…

Again, like Mikumo with Freyja, it’s unclear (at this point) whether Messer thinks that Hayate just needs a little discipline, or if he really does think that he’s a shit pilot. Still, he says EXACTLY the right words to make Hayate stick around, leading me to believe that he’s a more astute judge of character than one might think.

10. So the outbreak of war starts relatively quietly. With the totally fun flying sequence at the end of this episode, it’s easy to forget how much of it involves people standing around and talking. Which isn’t exactly a problem, but might become one if it keeps up.

And apart from the flying sequence, most of the stuff like I like about this episode are little touches: the backgrounds, the body language, the (for want of a better term) rune-language. More time spent with the Aerial Knights is always good, as well. But I definitely noticed that the episode is a little talkier than perhaps it should be.

OP: “If I Love Only Once”

ED: “When My Rune Shines Bright”

EYECATCH: Keith’s Draken III

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: None, although “When My Rune Shines Bright” is exceptionally prominent.

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: Still a disappointing 1, although he does leap around quite a bit here.

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 145 – Shocking STAGE DEBUT

Delta Ep.4

MACROSS DELTA
MISSION 04: Shocking STAGE DEBUT

ICONIC SCENE: FINALLY! The Drakens transform!

STORY DATE: 2067

BROADCAST DATE: April 24, 2016

1. We open with the Aerial Knights, just as we closed with them last time (the early episodes of Delta remind me of Macross Zero in that the closing scene of one episode seem to dictate what the opening scene of the next will be). To be honest, we never spend as much time with the Knights as I would like (and not only do I doubt I’m alone, but I’m guessing the staff knew it would be a problem, which is why one of the four manga series related to Delta was entirely devoted to fleshing out their backstory). Ultimately, I think we get BARELY enough about each of them for them to become genuine characters rather than stick figures (except maybe the twins, who remain little more than fuzzy snapshots in the show and only get more personality in the “Delta Mini-Theater” shorts that come as bonuses on the blu-rays), but not much more. It would be kind of interesting, I think, if there were a movie or something telling the story of Delta from the Windermerean perspective, although I know that no one would ever make that movie. Still, it’s a testament to the scriptwriters and actors that I’m interested in them at all. They could have easily just been cardboard villains, but they’ve definitely got more going on than that. Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you like delving into secondary material like novels and manga, I guess), I get the impression that there’s a tremendous amount of detailed biography given to them that we get only small glimpses of on screen.

And yes, most of them are pretty-boy-bishonen characters, designed pretty clearly to draw in a specific segment of the female audience. That’s fine by me. At least they’re not BORING bishonen.

Overall, plot-wise, the most important points here are Roid’s comment about the “ruins” which are “resonating,” and about Heinz’s failing health. Both of these will become central as the story progresses.

2. Rangan TVs look quite old-fashioned, don’t they? I’m reminded of Planet Zola from Macross Dynamite 7 and how backwards the inhabitants seemed, since they were still more radio fans than TV fans. Although there’s a twist when it turns out that the entire television is actually just a projected screen.

When we get to what’s REALLY going on – the welcome party for Feyja (and Hayate) – there’s a bit that Japanese fans probably found hilarious, where Captain Johnson (who is a total pimp in his white suit and black fedora) is about to launch into what is undoubtedly a very long speech, only to be cut off by Nina and Makina. Anyone who has ever been to a Japanese wedding can sympathize, as the speeches there typify “long-winded.”

(Although I note that Johnson’s statement about being asked to help assemble Walküre seems to contradict the episode about how they actually formed. They already existed before he got involved.)

And the music that starts up once they say “Cheers!” is one of my favorite tracks in the show… it’s officially titled “Rune-Pika” but got nicknamed by one of my friends as “Rune-Pika-Polka.” Basically, it’s the ending theme played (badly) on trombone with an accordion for backup. It’s hilarious.

Back to the topic, as far back (at least…) as Tolstoy’s “War and Peace,” party scenes have been used as a great way to delineate many characters at one time, and so it works here, with the way each character toasts Freyja and Hayate saying something about their personality. Even further, I note that it looks like Messer has ice in his beer (although, knowing him, it probably isn’t beer. I assume he’s straight-edge).

This scene is also where Beth Muscat became my favorite bridge bunny of the series, for drinking everybody else under the table. Although it becomes clear later on that she’s just a total lush.

And look… I love seafood. ADORE it. If I were stuck on a barren island with nothing but fish to eat, I’d count myself lucky. But Ragnan jellyfish and sea spider simply don’t look appetizing (which is, of course, the joke).

3. As everyone starts talking about the “Vaccine Concert” that Walküre has been requested to give of Planet Randall, the reason that Walküre has to actually be present at their anti-Vár concerts is given: that is has to be LIVE. Recordings don’t capture the Bio-Fold Waves in their voices. Although one might wonder why electronic amplification works, as in here and Episode 6. I mean, it’s all filtered through electronics either way, right…?

(In this scene, please note Reina eating live jellyfish, and Q-Lulu licking off her plate while she’s oblivious.)

4. I really like Freyja’s drinking “Appa-ju” and declaring that Ragna feels like her home in Windermere, even though the environment is entirely different. It’s proof that Walküre is her true home, and whether it’s snowy or tropical has nothing to do with it. I try to point out the little touches in the animation that are brief but speak volumes, and this is one of the scriptwriting touches that does so. No one understands why Freyja feels at home on Ragna, and Freyja doesn’t understand it herself, but the viewer is (or, at least, should be) led to understand that Freyja views Ragna as like her home because this is where she truly belongs (regardless of what Mikumo thinks).

5. Speaking of whom, we get our first (YOWZA!) naked Mikumo, asking herself why she sings. Mikumo, of course, will be naked a lot in this series. In this case, it doesn’t seem sexual at all to me, it seems more like an expression of total freedom. Which will turn out to be ironic, as Mikumo is the most constrained (first figuratively, then literally) of all the members of Walküre. But for now, it just reinforces Mikumo’s reputation as the “Mysterious Venus,” whose actions and sentiments seem odd to us mere mortals.

6. The next scene briefly shows us “Ranka Beach” (I wonder how it got that name?) before the Aether separates from the Elysion. And yes, if you check your mythology dictionary, you’ll understand why the Aether’s twin is named the “Hemera.”

On board the Aether, Hayate meets his first real variable fighter, “Delta 05,” a VF-31J. I’m not sure what the “J” stands for anymore. Hikaru’s VF-1J was made in Japan, but I’m pretty sure this wasn’t.

Oh, and Makina and Reina (but probably just Makina) have modified the fighter so that Hayate doesn’t need to wear a helmet while flying it… which will cause a little hiccup later. (Makina’s nicknames of all the other characters get full exposure here, and Freyja will also adopt them: Kana-Kana, Kumo-Kumo, Rei-Rei, Fre-Fre, Haya-Haya, Mira-Mira, and, presumably, Ara-Ara, Messa-Messa, and Cha-Cha).

And then when Freyja shows up, she explains that she got her mp3 player from an earthling who visited Windermere. You may not guess right now who that earthling was, but it’ll become more obvious as the series continues. She mentions that she listened to Minmay, Fire Bomber, Sheryl Nome, and Ranka (plus, in the novelization, the Milky Dolls and Chelsea Scarlet), which may seem tame to YOU, but to ME, remind me of Václav Havel, a political prisoner in Czechoslovakia, who later became Czechoslovakia’s last president and the Czech Republic’s first, and who secretly carried about a pamphlet of the lyrics of the songs of the Velvet Underground, which were forbidden under the law at the time. See? Pop songs CAN be revolutionary! (And yes, by my standards, the Velvet Underground are “pop.” I like pop.) You can see a similar thing (apparently) happening in North Korea, as Hong Kong and Taiwanese dramas get smuggled in, and North Koreans grow interested in the lifestyles of the characters. Reruns of “Dallas” (again, apparently) had much the same effect upon Soviets: they were shown a kind of life they had never thought even possible before.

On the down side, we also learn here that Windermereans only live for roughly thirty years, because of their amazing physical capabilities.

7. Wow, Kumo-Kumo isn’t terribly nice, telling Freyja that if she doesn’t perform well on her debut stage, she’ll be fired. Again, in contrast to Sheryl, who was always supportive of Ranka.

That said, we get a scene of Walküre pumping themselves up before showtime, which humanizes them to a degree, and the second appearance of their “magical girl” freeze-frames.

(Oh, and Freyja’s final “Music is ENERGY!” bit, which cements her into the Walküre lineup, focuses on her butt for a few too many frames.)

And THEN when they start singing “Uncertain COSMIC MOVEMENT,” their poses became rather iconic… from dudes at cons to Hi-Metal R VF-1 figures to cosplayer dabbing… the poses were definitely studied by fans.

And the choreography here, Walküre plus Delta Flight, is some on the best in the entire series. Since as soon as Walküre start singing, Hayate is dancing. And you have to admire Mirage for playing along with him. It makes for a great air show.

That said… the whole scene feel unrealistic to me, because Freyja has the lead part of the song. As anyone who follows idol groups that switch out old members for new can tell you, the newbies never get the lead until they’ve proven themselves especially popular.

And THAT said, the song is pretty cool… a nice disco song with a good string section and an exceptionally funky bass. And the “Blüme” costumes are among my favorites of Walküre’s wardrobe.

Oh, and hey, remember in “Sayonara no Tsubasa” during the “Rainbow Bear-Bear” song, where mini-Rankas appeared delivering teddy bear to crowd members? Mini-Freyjas and Mini-Mikumos give high-fives to the crowd here. Much as, after the first (free) Walküre live concert, Minori Suzuki (Freyja) and JUNNA (Mikumo) (full name: Junna Sakai) gave high-fives to the audience members.

8. And naturally, it all gets interrupted by the Aerial Knights, who finally reveal who they are… in one of the greatest transformation sequences since Episode 1 of the the first Macross series.

Apparently, how the Drakens transformed and what exactly they transformed into was a closely-guarded secret until this episode, which meant that even at the toy fairs, the Draken toys had to be posed in such a way that no one could see the underside well (and photography was strictly prohibited… but that’s usual in such situations). A number of Bandai people were apparently terrified that fans would figure out how the Draken transformed before this episode aired, and indeed, one Japanese fan NEARLY figured it out (and posted his idea on Twitter).

9. The OTHER surprise here is that the NUNS pilots who show up are infected by the Vár, but are still able to fly (and fight) in formation. Before this, any Vár-infected people simply went berserk, but this indicates that the infected can be controlled in some way.

Oh, and when Heinz starts singing, everyone kinda of flinches, but Messer seems especially affected…

And the whole thing is a diversion… distracting Walküre while they take Planet Voldor.

10. And this, to my way of thinking, is the end of the introduction. Finally, everyone is in the right place and the war has been declared. The story truly begins here.

Again, the episode looks better than it needs to, with the climaxing concert and battle looking especially good and the Draken transformation being the stand-out. And this is almost a perfect episode, with humor, action, plot and character scenes, and music all balanced effortlessly.

And of course it was during the scripting (NOT THE PRODUCTION OR AIRING) of this episode that the decision was made to extend the series from thirteen episode plus a movie to a full twenty-six episodes. For better or for worse.

OP: “If I Love Only Once”

ED: “When My Rune Shines Bright”

EYECATCH: VF-31J (Hayate Type)

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: Uncertain COSMIC MOVEMENT

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 1

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 144 – Whirlwind DOGFIGHT

Delta Ep.3

MACROSS DELTA
MISSION 03: Whirlwind DOGFIGHT

ICONIC SCENE: A winner is you!

STORY DATE: April 2067

BROADCAST DATE: April 17, 2016

1. The opening flight, as Mirage tries to scare Hayate into giving up, is both pretty hilarious and pretty accurate. Again, one thing that Macross has, I think, gotten right ever since Plus are the actual physics of flying in a jet fighter and the stresses that the Gs put on one’s body.

2. Well, now that we’ve finished the auditions for both Freyja and Hayate, we get to the training. And honestly, both of them kinda suck. And when they meet up, Hayate says, “Aren’t you the lucky one?” for the second time… a line Freyja will throw back at him at the end of this episode.

They get picked up by Chuck and Kaname, and I dunno about you, but I think Kaname looks especially good in a fedora.

Anyway, they all go to “Rag-Nyan-Nyan,” the Chinese (?) restaurant of this series, probably tied to the Nyan-Nyan of the original Macross and of Frontier. The name is a pun on a couple of levels: first, obviously, “Rag-Nyan” is meant to sound like “Ragna.” But second, the kanji used for the “Ra-Gu” part of the name means “eat naked.” Considering that everyone we see in the restaurant is fully clothed, either it’s not meant to be taken literally, or else no one on Ragna speaks Chinese.

(Also: while the Rag-Nyan-Nyan jingle is nice and catchy, it’s still nowhere near as good as Frontier’s Nyan-Nyan jingle… which of course became Frontier’s first widely-spread meme.)

Here we also get the REAL introduction of Hayate’s main rival, Don the Mercat (presumably named after the children’s song, “Señor Don Gato,” about a cat that dies, but comes back to life when his funeral procession passes through the fish market. Weirdly, it’s almost EXACTLY the same story as the Irish song “Finnegan’s Wake,” expect there it was whisky that reanimated Tim Finnegan). Anyway, Don really is fun, and a lot of this episode is Hayate accidentally learning air combat techniques from trying to hunt Don down. He’s as much Hayate’s instructor as Mirage and Messer are.

3. We also get another bit between Kaname and Messer where Kaname all but gives Messer an engraved invitation, and yet he refuses. It also seems like Chuck’s sister, who appears to be the manager of Rag-Nyan-Nyan, also has a thing for Messer. Shippers, though, don’t ship them as much.

4. We get some interesting tidbits about the Walküre members’ sleeping arrangements here: Kaname (and now Freyja) stay at Rag-Nyan-Nyan with Delta Flight, Makina and Reina (*ahem*) live together, and no one knows where Mikumo lives… as Freyja says, she’s the “Mysterious Venus” (and I love the way Minori Suzuki delvers that line).

We also meet the mercat Q-Lulu, who seems to be everyone’s shared pet (although mostly Mirage’s). I’m still not sure if Q-Lulu is male or female, and if he (or she) is supposed to “cute” cute or “face only a mother could love” cute. Certainly, she (or he) doesn’t look anything like any of the other mercats we see in the show.

5. When Mirage and Hayate are flying in their VF-1EX Valkyries, again, the physics of flying is the highlight, especially when Hayate shuts off the autopilot. As I often point out, there’s no real NEED for these scenes to look this good or be this accurate. This is what happens when you get a dedicated staff of professionals who really care about the project.

VF5SS of CollectionDX and The Veef Show says he think the CGI models used for the VF-1EX here may be the same as those used for the SDF Macross pachinko game that everyone flips over. Gwyn Campbell of the Speaker PODCast said that he thinks they’re different. I don’t know either way… definitely, these seem to be textured a little more completely, lacking the computer-y sheen that the pachinko versions had.

6. Even though it doesn’t fully play out as a real part of any love triangle, I like the Hayate/Mirage dynamic. Essentially, if this were a chick-flick romantic comedy, Mirage would be the uptight businessman who doesn’t know how to enjoy life, and Hayate is the manic pixie dream girl who teaches her how to stop and look around once in a while. Except it doesn’t really work out like a typical romantic comedy. But yeah, him challenging her about whether her type of flying is “fun” is a central issue at this point. And it bleeds into Freyja’s training as well. Is singing in Walküre “fun”? Isn’t it more fun to dream of singing next to Mikumo than it is ACTUALLY singing next to her, especially when she’s sighing and saying that you’re no good? It’s one thing to dream of realizing a particular hope… but once you DO realize it, you now HAVE what once you only dreamed of. And once you have it, you have new problems that you never expected.

As Kawamori said at the fan club talk show before the debut, with a Macross show, you can no longer surprise viewers with the idea that singing can succeed where firepower fails. People EXPECT that of Macross. So here, we start with the Vár which CAN be defeated by song, and quickly introduce the Aerial Knights, who AREN’T defeated by song. And so, what are we gonna do now?

Likewise, we start with Hayate, who decides he wants to fly, and Freyja, who KNOWS she wants to sing with Walküre. Once their wishes are granted, where do they go? How do they deal with the reality versus the dream?

Again, for the thirty- or fortysomething guys who saw the original show as kids, this issue may not seem so urgent… but for the young adults who Delta is aimed at, this is a vital problem. Is your college major REALLY what you want to do for the rest of your life…?

And so, for the older fans, I think Mirage’s answer (essentially, that this is what she does, and “fun” isn’t part of the equation) is pretty persuasive, and that Hayate seems too flip and unrealistic. And that for the younger viewers, Hayate’s question is pretty important, and Mirage’s response is evasive (at best) or a surrender (at worst).

7. And yeah, Mikumo is a pretty stern judge. One might be tempted to compare her to Sheryl, but Sheryl’s playful side showed up in episode 5 of Frontier. For Mikumo, it will take much longer to unravel the mystery, and I’m not sure she’s ever “playful.”

For Walküre, of course, the Fold Receptors are EVERYTHING, but Freyja’s only activate when she’s agitated. So, as Kaname points out, she might only come through at points when it’s truly a life or death situation. Which isn’t exactly something you’d want to bet on, but is better than the reverse.

8. The thing is, for anyone following the supposed “love triangle” (especially if they ignored Kawamori’s statement that the love triangle wouldn’t play out in a traditional way), Hayate and Freyja seem totally made for each other. Far more than any other Macross couple. It’ll get sealed later on, but even at this point, it should be clear that it’d take some SERIOUS shake-up to split them apart. It definitely helps that they’re both newcomers to an unfamiliar world, and it’s a world that all the other characters have grown used to.

9. Apparently, the original plan was to have Hayate versus Messer instead of Hayate versus Mirage. Which, yeah, would’ve ended with Hayate getting thoroughy trashed within a few seconds. I mean, Messer still shows up and demonstrates that he’s a badass, but in general, he’s a lot better than Mirage and the contest wouldn’t have even been a contest.

(And yes, PLENTY of people point out that Mirage’s color scheme is nearly Jetfire. But hey, Macross did it first. It’s also nearly Hikaru’s. Also, they’ve got that Max and Milia blue and red thing going on…)

(Oh… and I have to wonder about Makina’s attachment to donuts, since way back in the early 1980’s, Devo (never a feminist band) used “Donut” for a girl’s name in one their videos because donuts more-or-less seem like vaginas, since they’re basically holes.)

(Seriously, check it out. Devo’s video for “That’s Good” got banned from MTV back in 1980 because it showed a banana penetrating a donut. Nine years later, the B-52s showed the same thing in their video for “Roam,” and it was okay. Changing mores? Or money talks? YOU BE THE JUDGE!)

Anyway, Hayate and Freyja both help each other out of the holes (ha!) they’re in, showing that they are SERIOUSLY in synch.

Don’t expect a twist. This is the real deal.

Although Hayate still gets shown up by Messer, and apologizes to Mirage for missing her classroom teachings.

10. Oh, you think the episode’s done? Not quite. After the ED, we get a bit on Windermere, where we finally meet Prince Heinz, who talks to Roid about waking “the Great Wind.”

Apart from that, the episode is formulaic in a good way. People complain all the time about teenagers climbing into robots in anime and suddenly knowing how to drive them. In this case, we get not only Hayate learning how to fly, but Freyja learning how to sing, and how their talents are closely tied together. And their trials here neatly parallel each other. If neither of them are seasoned experts by the end of the episode, they’re at least a lot better than they were at its beginning.

OP: “If I Love Only Once”

ED: “When My Rune Shines Bright”

EYECATCH: VF-1EX (Hayate Type)

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: “Uncertain COSMIC MOVEMENT” (kinda), “Our Battlefield.”

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 1

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 143 – Resolute AUDITION

Delta Ep.2.png

MACROSS DELTA
MISSION 02: Resolute AUDITION

ICONIC SCENE: Hayate “Rides the Wind” for the first of many times.

STORY DATE: April 2067

BROADCAST DATE: April 10, 2016

1. We open exactly where we left off last time, with Hayate and Freyja falling. Mirage rescues them, and for all that she’s portrayed as a good-but-not-great pilot, she’s pretty badass here. But my favorite bit here is Hayate’s absolutely realistic pose, looking horrified and trying to hang on to the windshield. Having been in rough turbulence before (including one very sharp drop), I really RECOGNIZE his body language here.

And the battle that started last episode is almost immediately here called off, because the Aerial Knights have gathered enough intel. Odd, since it seemed last time that their goal really was to kill Walküre.

There’s a really breathtaking bit of animation when they retreat, as Bogue’s Lil Draken drones come back and reattach themselves to his fighter before he takes off.

2. And we now have an official OP and ED. My first thought when I saw them was, “Man… this is NOT going to placate the ‘not my Macross!’ crowd.” The opening is nice, if not terribly innovative, showing some action scenes plus scenes of each of the main characters relaxing or having fun. The ending, “When My Rune Shines Bright,” is, to me, the second real break-out song of Delta, following “Forbidden Borderline.” It’s bouncy and jaunty with lots of scenes of Freyja hanging out in an otherwise-empty high school. It’s probably the cheeriest ending sequence since “Dakedo Baby…!!” Many fans immediately noticed the similarities between it and the Earth, Wind & Fire classic, “September,” leading to several different mash-up versions, all of which are pretty great. But yeah, I can totally envision the viewers who wanted something gritty and hardcore grinding their teeth into jagged splinters while watching it. It’s great.

Oh, one thing about the OP: it shows pretty conclusively that, like Brera, the Aerial Knights are wearing full flight suits and helmets, but that holograms make it look like they aren’t. We’ll see a little more about that later.

3. Hayate and Mirage continue their hostile relationship… boy, it sure looks like they’re going to end up as a couple, doesn’t it?

The thing is, Mirage is right: Hayate really was jeopardizing the operation (although Freyja would surely be dead if he hadn’t), and his response about Mirage’s lag time is a non-sequitur at best. But that is our first hint at Mirage’s main conflict, that she’s a good pilot but not a brilliant one. And yet, her name makes everyone assume that she’s a genius as well as a Jenius. Some viewers were let down that she wasn’t the ace pilot of Delta Flight, but I find it realistic. Talent for things like this isn’t necessarily hereditary.

4. In retrospect, knowing how popular Kaname and her particular love triangle will become, it’s kind of interesting to look at the interactions here once she gets back to the Elysion. Arad greets her warmly and offers her some dried jellyfish. She politely declines and thanks Messer for his aid earlier. He looks uncomfortable, turns away, and says, “Just doing my duty.” There’s a lot going on here under the surface, of course, but we won’t get to it for a few more episodes. One thing that IS clear, though, is that Messer is less “Iceman” and more “Emotionally-Constipated Man.” We don’t yet know that he has a good reason for it (and for once, it’s not because of a childhood trauma or something).

But Kaname has a purpose: introducing Freyja to Arad. It’s obvious at this point (even if you didn’t know she was the heroine) that Freyja is destined to join Walküre, and that the audition is all pure theatrics. The whole thing is, as Trump would say, rigged. There are some points where they’re not entirely sure about her, but there’s never any doubt that she’ll be hired.

Also, Arad requested info about the Valk-dancing kid, and seems to recognize the name “Immelmann”… Hmmm…

5. Planet Ragna looks lovely, doesn’t it? A lovely vacation spot. Mostly, it’s based on Malta, especially Valletta (which is a near synonym, in Japanese, for the capital city of Ragna, Barrette City). In a way, I think it’s a shame that “Ragna” is the official romanization, since, based on the environment, it really SHOULD be “Laguna” (which of course would be spelled the same in Japanese). But yeah, beautiful seaside, cute mercats, lots of local color, even some kid swindlers. I always thought that the Macross Frontier fleet seemed like the most appealing Macross place to live in, but Ragna seems equally nice if not better.

Notice that the first thing we see on Ragna is a New Macross Class city-ship. Apparently, a long-range emigration fleet reached Ragna fifty years prior, which seems much too soon, honestly. I mean, wouldn’t they still be using Megaroad ships in 2017…?

And when they show the dried jellyfish shop, the signs are tough to read because the entire Ragnan alphabet as not been revealed (at the time of this writing), but one of the signs says “IKA,” which is the Japanese word for squid.

And when Hayate arrives, he immediately sneezes since he’s allergic to cats. First-time viewers would miss it, but the closest mercat (who gives Hayate a dirty look) is his soon-to-be nemesis Don.

A last bit: it happens quickly, but after Hayate and Freyja run away from the Ranka-quoting phone kids (who turn out to be Chuck’s siblings), there’s a shot of Barrette City with a skyway car going past, displaying an ad for “Kinoko [mushroom] Café,” where a lot of the characters will be hanging out.

The Macross Elysion itself pretty great, although it’s difficult to believe that it can just stand upright like that. We’ve never seen a Macross on land like that before, usually they’re in a lake or something.

Freyja also explains a little bit about her Rune, including that Hayate is a “perv” for staring at it. If it’s supposed to be a little sexy and indecent, doesn’t that make you wonder about the ending song…? Where she sings about how her Rune is shining and “it’s your fault”…? Is it like the Windermerean equivalent of “My Humps” or something…?

And finally, I note that when Chuck says “So many cuties,” what he says in Japanese is “kawaiiko-chan,” which is a somewhat old-fashioned and unusual term that was most famously used by Isamu Dyson.

5. I’m a little sorry that Delta’s resident bridge bunnies (introduced here) don’t have a bigger role. Indeed, you have to look to secondary materials to even figure out what their names are. Weirdly, one of them (Mizuki Yuri) has a jellyfish on her head. I assume it’s not real, but (like Ranka’s or Freyja’s cell phones) only APPEARS to be alive. However, Nina O’Brien very definitely carries a mercat around with her everywhere (the last one, Beth Muscat, is the only one with a truly identifiable character trait in that she’s a VERY heavy drinker).

6. I love it when Captain Johnson tries to charm the Walküre applicants, but just ends up scaring them (and what kind of name is “Ernest Johnson” for a Zentradi, anyway…? Oddest Zentradi name we’ve had since “Matthew Langley” back in Macross 7…). I should point out that his voice actor, Unsho Ishizuka, is not only the narrator here, but also played Guld in Macross Plus (and Jet Black in Cowboy Bebop).

He also unfortunately can’t seem to find a chair in his size during his interview with Freyja.

7. Now, some pretty important info comes out during that interview, primarily that Windermere had a war of independence and seem to have closed themselves off from outside influences.

8. While Freyja gets kind of a mindfuck audition, Hayate gets classically headhunted for Delta Flight, with Arad all but begging him to join. The big question of course is WHY, since Hayate definitely has promise, but isn’t a patch on any of the current Delta pilots…

One of the few scenes in the series that seems badly composed to me happens here, as Arad is standing near the edge of the ship and Hayate is standing some paces behind him, but the way the shot is set up, it just looks like Arad is nine feet tall or something.

The scene with Hayate “riding the wind” is pretty cool, and is one of the scenes, of course, that was in the earliest promo clips for the show. As in the Miyazaki film “Castle in the Sky Laputa,” I’m envious of the Delta characters’ seeming indifference to heights. Me, I get freaked out just watching YouTube videos of people doing parkour on the top of skyscrapers.

9. For the final step/fake-out of Freyja’s audition, it should be clear that it’s all a set-up, since the scene switches back to Hayate and no emergency is going on THERE. However, it does look awfully authentic. And I really like everyone’s disguises.

Pity that Freyja doesn’t get a say in her own stage costume, though.

And when I first saw the episode, I noticed that Freyja’s slow version of “Love! Halation THE WAR” is a completely different arrangement than Walküre’s, so I assumed it would be on some album at some point. But so far, it hasn’t been released.

10. This feels very much like a set-up episode – much more than the first episode, actually – in that we have to get Hayate and Freyja into Xaos as soon as possible. As such, it’s a dialogue- and exposition-heavy episode: once the opening battle is finished, there’s virtually no action, unless you count the fake Vár attack at the end. But it feels necessary… after the first episode throwing the viewer into this unfamiliar world, it’s good that the show takes a step back and explains what’s going on a bit. And hey, it took Hikaru six episodes to join the military. Aren’t you glad Hayate made his decision much more quickly?

OP: “If I Love Only Once”

ED: “When My Rune Shines Bright”

EYECATCH: Don and Q-Lulu

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: “If I Love Only Once,” “When My Rune Shines Bright.”

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 1

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 142 – Battlefield PROLOGUE

Delta Ep.1

MACROSS DELTA
MISSION 01: Battlefield Prologue

ICONIC SCENE: Music is Mystery!

STORY DATE: April 2067

BROADCAST DATE: December 31, 2015 (MISSION 0.89) + April 3, 2016 (MISSION 01) + July 26, 2016 (MISSION 01+)

1. Just like Macross Frontier, there are three versions of the first episode… one incomplete version that aired a few months before the series started, a second incomplete one that served as the first official broadcast episode, and a complete one that was included (along with the other two) on the first blu-ray disc. Also like Macross Frontier, once that complete version came out, there are virtually no reasons to watch the previous versions ever again, unless you’re a total fanatic (like I am).

That said, for the purposes of this rewatch, I’m only watching the complete version.

2. So, Macross Delta was initially announced in March 2014, at the end of the broadcast rerun of Frontier. At that time, all they said was “New Macross TV series coming!” with a silhouette of the SDF-1 (which caused a number of people to think it was going to be a remake of the first series). It wasn’t until fall 2015 that we started getting more information about it. One of the things that was done to promote the series was, for a while, posting a new character profile every day for two weeks, going through the Delta Flight pilots, Walküre, and most of the Aerial Knights. There were also a couple of trailers.

I don’t think anyone was prepared, though, for how little lead-in the show itself would give us. Within its first minute, it plunges us into an entirely new world for Macross. We’re no longer with an emigration ship, as we were with Macross 7 and Frontier. The threat of the Vár is already well-advanced, and Walküre has already been formed to combat it.

A lot more came out at the early screening of Episode 1, featuring a talk show with Kawamori. His main points were first, the fact that there was a planet in the logo was significant, because (as he also said before the Frontier movies) he somewhat regretted that Frontier was mostly space battles, and he wanted to have more atmospheric battles. Second, that the way the triangle in the logo didn’t connect was a symbol for how the love triangle wouldn’t be a traditional one. And third, that the series as whole would have serious tonal shifts throughout, and was an attempt to fuse the musical aspect of Seven with the fighter action of Plus.

3. The beginning is definitely an attention-grabber, as a guy chomps on an apple (SIGNIFICANT!) and then reveals himself to be a suicide bomber.

The opening space map also has some significance. You may remember that in the first episode of Frontier, the Macross Galaxy fleet was also shown very close to the Frontier fleet. Well, here, we see two named planets: Ragna and Windermere. Neither will appear in the episode, but both will be extremely important soon.

No, in THIS episode, we’re on Planet Al Shahal, a kind of Space Dubai. And indeed, many of the Macross Delta locations are based on real places on earth, as revealed in one of the “Making of” specials on the DVDs. The world design is one of the best things about Delta, honestly: we see a number of planets and each one is completely distinct and instantly recognizable. The landscapes and architectures were all designed by the brilliant Thomas Romain, who directed and did designs for the French/Japanese series Oban Star Racers and who eventually was hired by Kawamori’s studio Satelight (along with fellow French designer Stanislas Brunet), and has since worked on Aquarion Evol and the various Symphogear series, as well as co-creating Basquash. Brunet, for his part, did the non-Valk mecha designs for Delta, with one big exception, which I’ll get to later.

4. For those old-school western Macross fans who still had their ear to the ground about Delta news, generally through Gwyn Campbell’s regular updates (either through the Speaker PODcast or his Twitter account, @GwynCampbell), a number were feeling rather apprehensive about the show based on the revealed character designs. I doubt Hayate’s dancing workroid did much to reassure them. But it’s a beautifully done scene, with the heavy Destroid-Cheyenne-based mech moving with real grace and agility. Maybe one of the biggest surprises of this type since we saw the Macross Quarter acting like a battroid back in Frontier Episode 7.

Also, the song playing during this scene, the Makina/Reina duet “Jiritic Beginner,” is the most hated song in the series by most if not all of the people who worked on the official English subs (I’ve never heard Adrian Lozano say anything about it one way or another, but both Gwyn Campbell and Mike Aguirre both quite vocally despised it, and Peter Kim apparently shared their opinion), mostly because of how difficult it was to translate. Now me, not tied as closely to it, I absolutely love it, especially in the full version on the album (“C’mon, c’mon, don’t touch me, and keep off! Oh, oh, wait, wait, it’s joke!”). And the live version is GREAT.

An interesting bit that would pass by first-time viewers happens when Hayate picks up the container with Freyja in it and she hears the music: even though her hood is covering her rune, as soon as she realizes the music is “wind-colored,” there’s a little glow from under her hood. Delta in general is full of little touches like this which show that the animators really CARE about the series. I point this out (as I did with previous shows) mostly because viewers seem quick to leap on mistakes or recycled shots, but rarely note when something is done well.

5. A running gag throughout the series will be just how many weird expressions Freyja’s face can pull. She goes through quite a number of them just in explaining to Hayate why she ran away. Mylene has, bar none, the most outfits of anyone in any Macross series (almost a new outfit per episode). Freyja definitely has the most facial expressions. If they come out with another edition of Macross Chronicle, I wonder how many pages those will take up…?

Also, this is probably the best “meet-cute” moment between a Macross hero and heroine since Hikaru’s VF-1D smashed into Minmay’s bedroom.

Oh, and although you can’t really tell from the subtitles, Freyja has a strange, mostly made-up accent. Along with catchphrase words like “hoina!” and “gori-gori,” just in general she sounds like a hillbilly, although it’s not an ACTUAL Japanese hillbilly dialect. All credit to Minori Suzuki for being able to act while maintaining the accent. As any voice actor can tell you, this isn’t an easy thing to do, since focusing on the accent can interfere with “being” the character. For an eighteen-year-old’s debut, in a starring role in a fast-paced (production-wise) TV series, this is astonishing.

6. Since even in Frontier, people were playing CDs, it’s nice to see that the Macross universe finally has mp3 players.

Also, the picture on the leaflet that Freyja pulls out about the Walküre audition is moving… technology we first saw in the gossip magazine the bridge bunnies are poring over in Do You Remember Love.

The fingernail devices ARE new, however. We first see Mikumo (in disguise) using one as a communicator. Later, we’ll see that they can project screens and other cool stuff. I assume they’re quite new, expensive, and rare, since of everyone in the series, only Walküre (and Delta Flight…? Definitely Arad…) has them.

And yes, Mikumo’s in disguise, as (I guess…) is Makina. Since we initially meet Walküre members doing undercover reconnaissance, I found it mildly surprising that it strained some viewers’ credulity when they go on another undercover operation some episodes later. This is clearly part of being in Walküre… they find where a Vár outbreak is likely to happen, covertly stake the place out, and get ready for defense.

Makina, by the way, was my initial favorite Walküre member, mostly because she was cutesy-cute (“kyawawa!”) but totally nerds out over the mecha. In idol-fan parlance, your favorite member is your “oshi-men” (“pushed-for member”), and if you (say) like Makina, you’d be MakiMaki-oshi. But by the end of the series, I found myself more “hako-oshi,” which is when you’re a fan of the group as a whole rather than any one girl in particular.

Oh, and the glasses she uses to identify the “Type 104 Regulds” are actually part of the “rabbit-ear” headband that she’s always wearing. She just rarely ever uses them this way.

7. And yes, there ARE many characters introduced here in a short span of time (and we haven’t even gotten to the Aerial Knights yet), which a lot of people had problems with, saying that fifteen characters was too many.

Unlike, say, the first Macross series, which introduced… fourteen. Or Macross 7, which introduced… fourteen.

Honestly, I think they do it smartly here, since most of the characters are easily grouped and don’t need to be individualized yet. There’s Freyja and Hayate, of course. All the other girls (except Mirage) are Walküre. All the guys here (and Mirage) are the pilots. All the guys that show up at the end are the Aerial Knights. If we hadn’t had four months to pick apart the preview before the series proper started, I doubt it would’ve bothered anyone.

8. Also, we get the first of many mentions of “Lady M,” who appears to be the big boss for Walküre and Delta Flight. It’s so obviously a pseudonym that right from the get-go, we might be wondering who she REALLY is. And of course we’ll never find out (despite what some crappy fansubs have to say).

9. I find the conversation between Hayate (the boy who doesn’t know what he wants to do) and Freyja (the girl who knows EXACTLY what she wants to do) after he’s rescued her from the spaceport authorities to be convincing and charming. They seem like authentic teenagers… smart, but not as smart or as worldly as they think they are. And Hayate is easily one of my favorite Macross heroes. Not as bland as Hikaru, or as annoyingly cocky as Hibiki or Isamu or Basara, or as mopey as Shin, or as irritating as Alto. He’s a likable guy. To me, at least.

Freyja, on the other hand, seems poised to become the “annoying cute girl,” and it’s great that she never does that. She also, especially in this first episode, seems to have a lot of effort put into animating her energetically. There’s A LOT of motion wherever she’s around.

Also, in the scene where Hayate ends up on top of her, we see her rune not only light up but move… the first hint that it’s not just a hair ornament.

And then Mirage shows up.

Mirage, of course, is the most direct link to previous Macross shows, being Max and Milia’s granddaughter, although what she’s doing so far out in the boonies of the Brísingr Cluster is an open question. It was a while before Kawamori revealed that her mother was Miranda Jenius, the girl with the brown hair in the bottom left of the family portrait from the Macross 7 movie.

Jenius Family Portrait

So yes, we’ve now met our primary triangle (although, like most Macross shows, there will be more), and it’s pretty clear that since Hayate and Freyja met-cute and Hayate and Mirage met-hostile, Hayate’s obviously going to end up with Mirage. Right…?

10. We knew the Vár would eventually hit, but we didn’t know it would involve singing or a mysterious shot of what looks like the inside of a temple. Anyway, it makes the Zentradi that Makina saw earlier go quite berserk and really tear up the city, which is the first time we’ve seen battle pods run amok in a really long time. There’s an odd hybrid mech which looks like a Reguld with Queadluun-Rau arms on it, which a couple of Robotech fans were CERTAIN was inspired by the battle pod seen briefly at the beginning of Robotech II: The Sentinels, because it had arms… never mind that the early sketches for the battle pods during the preproduction of the first series in 1982 also had arms…

And when they’re blowing up the city, it’s strange to note that all the cars on Al Shahal seem to be models from earth circa 2015…

Oh, and another tradition rears its head: Destroids being ineffectual and then getting blown up.

But of course, all this is just prelude to what appears to be the defining scene of the episode (and the entire series, for people who turned it off in disgust here): Mikumo shouts “It’s showtime!” and then she and the other three Walküre girls go through magical girl style transformations, complete with dramatic poses and catchphrases.

Now, I’ve said this before, but I think it bears repeating: this is NOT what the series as a whole is about. It’s a little mischievous wink at the audience. It’s meant to make your jaw drop a little and make you think “What the hell…?” But it was never meant to make you TOTALLY LOSE YOUR SHIT and run to the nearest social media outlet saying things like, “It’s f***in’ SAILOR MOON!” or “Macross has become gay GAY GAAAAY!!”

Was that an inevitable reaction among some Macross fans? Probably. And I don’t want to say it’s SOLELY an age thing (I mean, obviously it isn’t, or I wouldn’t be writing this right now), but I think it mostly is. A lot of older fans, by which I mean guys in their thirties and forties, were really turned off by this, but generally, they hadn’t been entirely comfortable with Frontier (or, for that matter, Seven or Zero) either. The original Macross was, essentially, aimed at young boys who could beg their parents for a Takatoku Valk. Most of us old-school fans were young boys (some girls, but not as many) when we saw it. Plus was aimed at those same fans, ten years later, and it did… okay. Not a huge success. Zero was aimed at those same fans eight years after THAT, but no one seemed to really get into it, and it failed pretty hard. But those fans were the target market. Those series were aimed at them, and those fans saw them at the right age(s), which is why you have a lot of fans who say, “I only love SDF Macross and Plus.” Seven was NOT aimed at those fans, and was a big success, more through music sales than toy or model kits. Frontier came out at a time when the Macross name was nearly forgotten and the creators had to have a hit at any cost. Thus you had the homages thrown in for the old fans and everything else to bring in a new audience. And the new audience came. In droves. Completely overwhelming the old fans. So at this point, they would ideally want to keep the old fans, the Frontier fans, AND get a new audience as well. Which is probably an impossible task. Someone will always end up disappointed. And in this case, it was the old fans.

But I think that’s only partially due to Walküre and their magical girl-isms. A lot of it is that guys in their thirties and forties often prefer stories about other guys in their thirties and forties, rather than about teenagers. But anime (ESPECIALLY late-night TV anime) has ALWAYS been a youth-driven market, like pop music or horror movies. Young adults tend to like stories about other young adults. Anyway, it leads to weird cognitive dissonances like old-school fans who ADORED fifteen-year-old Minmay’s naked butt now complaining about sexualization of minors when sixteen-year-old Ranka wears a bikini (one especially dim bulb called Delta “a very disturbing anime – rude and crude” and “almost porn” because of Makina in a bikini. I hope he never goes to the beach…). So yes, as Bob always sez, “the times they are a-changin’,” which leads to more CGI and certain character types or plot wrinkles becoming popular, but some things very definitely stay the same: Hikaru was sixteen, Minmay was fifteen (at the beginning of the show), Misa (the “old lady”) was nineteen. Hayate is seventeen, Freyja is fourteen, Mirage is eighteen. The oldest Macross main hero is Isamu, who was twenty-four. Anime will always be aimed at young adults, just as Jason and Freddie will always be eviscerating teenagers, and your kids will argue that New Hip Band’s cover of that old eighties classic you love is WAY better than the original, even if you want to smash their iPhone in rage whenever they play the new version.

Or, to quote Abe Simpson: “I used to be ‘with it,’ but then they changed what ‘it’ was, and now what I’m ‘with’ isn’t ‘it,’ and what’s ‘it’ is WEIRD and SCARY. It’ll happen to YOU…”

Although rather than “weird and scary,” it seems (here at least) that it’s angering and feels like a betrayal. Because you were expecting something aimed squarely at you, and instead you got something that your niece in college would like.

The good news is that if you don’t like it, you can always ignore it (unlike New Hip Band’s cover of that eighties classic, which gets played EVERY FRIGGIN’ PLACE YOU GO).

*whew* Sorry. Had to get that out of the way SOMEtime…

11. All that said… yes, the whole idea of Walküre is kinda ridiculous. Even if you accept the idea that fold resonators in their voices affect the Vár, there’s no real reason why they have to sing pop songs or put on a concert to pacify it. The “origin” episode kinda covers this (and the novelization tries to justify it a bit), but it’s still silly.

But hey… I (eventually) accepted Basara flying out into battle and singing, and this is just a step further than that, so sure, why not?

And, if you wanted to look at it from a “serious SF”/”future history” perspective, you could make a case that thanks to the Zentradi annihilation of earth and Minmay’s role in winning the war, the way humanity looks at pop music in the Macross universe is very different from the way we look at it in ours.

Oh… and about those magical girl transformations. Another reason why I don’t get why old school fans were so put out by them is that, again, this technology has existed since Do You Remember Love. Did everyone forget the room where Hikaru and Minmay jumped from circle to circle, and each one gave them a different holographic costume? It’s the same thing here. Heck, I even saw some people complain about Walküre’s outfits glowing, even though Minmay and Hikaru’s glowing outfits were REALLY IMPORTANT in the scene in the movie when they got trapped inside the SDF-1.

Similarly, a number of people seemed to forget the underskirt “gas jet clusters” that Sheryl and Alto used to fly around for short distances in the Macross Frontier movies (or, more likely, they just never watched the movies).

12. And then the VF-31s arrive. These break Kawamori’s own rule that only the Valks with numbers ending in “nine” have forward-swept wings, but that’s okay. I think they look cool. The most immediate technological advance we see are the Multi-Drones, which can do an astonishing array of things (at least, I assume they’re projecting the holograms around the city. Maybe it doesn’t matter. Sharon Apple never had any projectors, so perhaps holograms can just appear anywhere these days…).

Whatever. If you can accept Walküre, the battle sequence is a real tour de force, with lots of great shots (my favorite being the battle pod about to attack Kaname, but which gets brought down by Messer. Messer nods. Kaname gives a thumbs up. Totally nonchalant, totally understated, totally AWESOME).

It was mentioned in the character bios that came out before the series that Mikumo is the only one who can ride on a Valkyrie the way she does on Arad’s here, which is our first clue that there may be something… not natural… about her.

The battle is also noteworthy as one of the few times we see Arad really kicking ass, as he cuts the arms off the Reguld/Queadluun-Rau hybrid and then shoots off its legs.

Still… during the Vár outbreak, it never seems like the Delta pilots or Walküre are ever in real danger. This also seems to have annoyed some people, but it’s deliberate, because the whole point is that Walküre is taking care of the Vár according to well-used strategies. It’s nothing they can’t handle, and nothing they haven’t handled dozens of times before.  But these strategies become useless when the Aerial Knights show up. NOW, they are suddenly in a new situation, and have no idea how to handle it.

13. So yes, just as it seems like the situation’s under control and the episode is winding down, the Aerial Knights arrive and screw all that up. It also means we meet a bunch of new characters. It’s an interesting fake-out, since it’s been plainly stated that the big threat here is the Vár, except now we’ve got a new threat coming in, and this one is more serious because (as I said) Walküre doesn’t know how to handle it. For all that detractors say, “Oh, they always just sing at the bad guys in Macross,” music doesn’t work against THESE guys. I mean, hell, Reina almost gets killed.

They make short work of the NUNS fleet around the planet and then specifically attack Walküre. So many questions… who are they? What do they want? What’s going on? Why are they interrupting our comfortable episode which has already set up a problem and solved it?

The only one of the Knights who really made an impression on me at first was Bogue, because I found him SERIOUSLY annoying and wanted him to die as soon as possible. He lunges forward here for the first of several times in the show.

Now, the biggest problem with this battle is the same problem that the second Frontier movie (and Zero, and the Max and Milia battle in Do You Remember Love) had, which is that everything happens so fast that it can be hard to follow without going through it frame-by-frame. But I guess that’s Macross tradition, too. And it seems accurate, I guess, since these fighters are all so advanced (and have “inertial store converters” to lessen the g-forces that would (at the VERY least) cause the pilots to black out during some of these moves).

Notably, the Aerial Knights’ SV-262 Draken III fighters (what are visually designed, of course, after the Swedish Saab J-35 Draken) barely transform in this episode. Keith’s fighter’s legs come out at one point, but we’ll have to wait a while to see more.

We do, however, see their drones in action, called “Lil Drakens” (“Couldn’t they come up with a better name than ‘Li’l Draken’?” groused one viewer, unaware that it’s a real thing).

And the Vár is back, which means that Walküre gets to sing again, this time with the excellent ska-influenced “Forbidden Borderline,” which is one of the best songs in the series, and was released to iTunes right after the episode finished airing (and hit the top of the charts almost immediately).

So Walküre regroups, starts singing, and Freyja has a flashback and appears to have an orgasm or something, and joins in. And runs off. And that’s where the preview episode ended…

14. But here, with about two minutes of added scenes, we see Hayate get into a damaged VF-171 (STILL the cannon fodder of the Macross galaxy, even eight years after Frontier), save Freyja from getting stepped on by a Glaug (and I didn’t notice until this viewing that all the Glaugs have TWO cannons on top here), pick her up Minmay/Ranka style, and get shot down.

Oh, he also dances. Using the battroid like a martial artist he spins and kicks to the beat, and does a pretty good job. He just can’t FLY very well.

Oh, and an interesting bit about the preview (“Mission 0.89”) version… the creators didn’t QUITE want to reveal the cast yet, so they used the Ragnan alphabet for their names. Some fans figured all of it out quickly, of course, and the names were all there… except Mikumo, whose voice actress’s name was listed as “WHOAMI.” Well, again, fans being fans, some quickly identified her voice as Ami Koshimizu. HOWEVER, Ms. Koshimizu was NOT doing the singing, which was performed by fifteen-year-old singer JUNNA (AKA Junna Sakai), who was making her professional debut here (she was in an idol duo in Nagoya called “Twintail” before, but I don’t think they were truly “professional”). Just another weird little Mikumo mystery…

15. So… I’m not sure you can call this THE MOST controversial Macross series ever, but definitely the most controversial (so far) of the internet age. Some people liked it, some people were unsure but willing to give the series a chance, some people HATED it, and many were just baffled. The people who hated it seemed to be the most vocal, at least at first. The shitstorm was insane, especially once the (again, kinda crappy) fansub came out. I’ve already mentioned most of the big complaints, the biggest one never being stated: here was a Macross series made for a different audience. One that the men in their thirties and forties couldn’t immediately enjoy (hell, one guy even said that it was impossible for ANY grown man to enjoy the show. But then he tried to juice up his cosplay photography Patreon by having a model dress up as Mirage, since his Misa photos weren’t bringing in the bucks that he had hoped for… and that says a lot, doesn’t it?). I enjoyed it but was also apprehensive. Even watching it again now, with the whole series behind us and (nearly) all questions answered, it seems enigmatic. But so did the first episode of Macross 7. It’s not at all what you’d expect, but what Macross series is? At the time, I thought that no matter what happened, we’d all be in for a wild ride.

OP: None.

ED: Forbidden Borderline

EYECATCH: Hayate’s VF-31J

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: “Jiritic Beginner,” “Love! Halation THE WAR,” “Forbidden Borderline.”

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 1

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH – Delta Preview Special

Well, now that all the blu-rays are out, to say nothing of the debut of a new Sheryl song (for the third Macross Frontier pachinko game), I guess it’s time to reactivate the Great Macross Rewatch, and finally cover one of the more controversial Macross shows (at least as far as Western fandom is concerned), MACROSS DELTA! So without further ado…

Delta Ep.0.89

MACROSS DELTA – PREVIEW SPECIAL

Whoops! In my rush to get to Mission 01 of Delta, I completely forgot about doing the preview special… so I’m doing it now, but dating it to a week before the previous post. Sorry for any confusion!

So yeah, this was the little promo piece that led up to the broadcast of Mission 0.89, shown at six PM, New Year’s Eve 2015. Normally getting a prime six PM time slot would be very expensive, but since EVERYONE watches the annual “Red and White Music War” special on New Year’s, I’m sure the price was low. It’d be like running something against the Super Bowl.

In a nice throwback, the special is narrated by Sho Hayami, the voice of Max (and Marj… but no one cares about Marj. Heck, I’m sure at least a few people reading this are thinking “Who…?”).

Strangely, half of the special runs before the first episode of Delta, and half afterwards. At the beginning of the second half, they explain that the episode was numbered “Mission 0.89” because, naturally, only 89% of the episode is there. That is, the ending there isn’t the actual ending (as we all saw a few months later).

Overall, it’s much more respectful than either the similar pre-Macross 7 special or the pre-Macross Frontier special, relying not at all on celebrity guests who have never seen Macross before. It still covers much of the same ground, though, in explaining the history and importance of Macross. No surprises for you or I to be had here, although some people might be shocked by the description of the original Macross as being “SF x Love Comedy.”

At one point, Delta scriptwriter Toshizo Nemoto talks about seeing Macross 7 when he was in college and thinking, “What the hell is this? The Valkyrie has a mouth, there’s a guitar in the cockpit… what happened to the ‘Macross’ I watched as a kid?” I’m sure there are many who can relate, right?

(Also interesting that the scriptwriter for Delta, a series many old-school fans (in the west, at least) hate, is an old-school fan himself, isn’t it?)

In a lot of ways, the special is like a digest version of the “Making Of” specials that appear on each blu-ray disc. We see snippets of the trip to Dubai, Minori Suzuki’s audition, the women who choreograph (and perform) Walküre’s dancing, and the like.

Most interesting for me were the shots of the animators in Satelight’s office, since I know exactly where it is and have walked past it many times (it was on the way to the city hall where I paid my taxes and health insurance every month) but have never been inside.

And like all of these specials, it’s as much advertising as anything else, and I note with amusement that they mention on-screen that “Forbidden Borderline” is available on iTunes, and that Macross F is all on blu-ray… just, y’know, in case you felt like spending some money, right…?

But yeah, a nice little promo. Very professional, and with some cool behind the scenes stuff.