SUPER DIMENSION FORTRESS MACROSS
EPISODE 5: TRANSFORMATION
ICONIC SCENE: FIRE!!
STORY DATE: March 2009
BROADCAST DATE: November 7, 1982
1. At the beginning of the episode, we see a Destroid Spartan and a Destroid Monster for the first time as they’re being hauled past. The city itself still looks pretty crappy and crowded. According to “My Fair Minmay,” the area with the restaurant is the Macross’s left “leg.”
2. And here it begins… the legend of the Super Dimension Chinese Restaurant Nyan Nyan, later (under the management of little Yot-chan, who takes over the restaurant from Minmay’s Aunt and Uncle) to become a galaxy-wide chain, help launch the career of Ranka Lee, and become a meme that presumably drew thousands of viewers to check out Macross Frontier. Additionally, every time there’s some kind of Macross event in Tokyo, some nearby ramen shop will usually (briefly) get transformed into a Macross-themed Nyan Nyan restaurant. Having eaten at several, I think they’re good, if a little pricey. Not a patch on Ramen Jiro or Taishoken, though.
3. I suppose I can forgive Hikaru for being mopey that Minmay’s not gonna hop into his bed anytime soon, but not for hanging onto it for the next THREE YEARS. Minmay gets a lot of flack in (western) fandom for being some kind of cock-tease, but I honestly don’t see it. I’ll get into that later, but for now, let me just point out that she’s never less than straight with him here, and if he actually SAID SOMETHING to her about it, she’d probably be straighter still.
4. The nameless science officer appears here, figuring out the modular transformation. Big whoop.
5. A fair amount of info gets dropped on us right before the commercial break: first, we see the Prometheus attached to the Macross and learn that, yes, the Valkyries can fly in space. Then we switch back to the Zentradi forces (who still seem to be hanging around earth for some reason… what have they been DOING for the past few weeks…?) who learn that their enemy are “miclones,” and that there’s an old Zentradi directive not to fool with the planets of the miclones.
Now, “miclone” itself is one of those untranslatable Japanese puns, using the common “L/R” thing. It’s meant to be, of course, a contraction of “micro-clones,” although I’m guessing there’s no way the audience would’ve known that yet.
Oh, and the footage Britai and Exsedol watch of the attack on South Ataria Island finally shows all the carnage we would’ve expected from episode 2. Nevertheless, I’m not budging. This is still a lighter show than Gundam.
6. For the first and only time in the show, we see Minmay’s name spelled “Minmei.” It doesn’t really matter, I guess… neither version is a correct transliteration of the Chinese name “明美”: that would be Míngměi.
7. In Minmay’s room, there’s still a patch of ceiling that hasn’t been fully repaired from when Hikaru smashed into it in episode 2. Why not? I mean, the whole building, more or less, needed to be reconstructed… We also see the letter (addressed to “Miss Lynn Minmay”) that she went back for. It’s all in English, and pretty much completely correct English, at that. Which is kind of amazing for an anime from 1982.
8. The animation for this episode is kind of hit and miss (NOT Star Pro’s doing, this time)… some parts are excellent, some parts are awful. But the launching of the Valkyries into battle looks as good as anything in the show. We also briefly get to see the dark blue Valks of the Cavaliers squadron, who wouldn’t get that name for about thirty years, until Yamato finally made a toy of it.
9. Unfortunately, one of the crappier parts is the main cannon firing (although the Regulds that it destroys are animated VERY well), but yeah… they wait until the very last second of the episode to reveal that the Macross now looks humanoid. Yet another piece of the puzzle slotted in… only one more to go…
Oh, and the destruction of the city during the transformation is also pretty brutal, it must be said.
And also, Hikaru decides to join the military instead of being a jerk to everyone. While I applaud his decision, it’s hard to get behind the strong-arm tactics employed by Focker and Minmay to get him there (and I’m imagining that during their little chat that happened offscreen this episode, perhaps Focker told Minmay, “Hey, if you could nudge him a bit towards joining up, that’d be great”). Let’s face it… it’s the best option for him, unless he just wants to wash dishes in Nyan-Nyan all day. And hey, he’s our hero… he NEEDS to be a pilot (or a journalist, but more about that MUCH later).
10. As I said before, the first Macross-related thing I ever watched was “Codename: Robotech,” which spoils the transformation within minutes, so it wasn’t really as surprising here as it was meant to be, but it’s still an awesome moment, marred only by the B-team doing the artwork.
In a lot of ways, I think the early decision to truncate the series from 39 episodes to 26 was a good one, in that the show really doesn’t have time to spin its wheels much. There’s a TON of development crammed into this episode, and it feels quite natural and organic. It’s tough for the first-broadcast viewers, because if you miss an episode, you’re basically screwed, but it’s great for marathoning the series (cf. Escaflowne).