SUPER DIMENSION FORTRESS MACROSS
EPISODE 6: DAEDALUS ATTACK
ICONIC SCENE: Oh hai!
STORY DATE: April 2009… which seems too early to me, but the Narrator does come out and say that two months have passed since the launch.
BROADCAST DATE: November 14, 1982
1. So I’ve been saying for a while now that all the pieces for the set-up are being slotted into place, and here is where it finally pays off: the creators wanted a battleship with a city inside it that turns into A HUGE FREAKIN’ ROBOT THAT PUNCHES SPACESHIPS WITH A CARRIER. And if they had introduced it that way right off the bat, everyone would’ve balked, I’m sure. But the process of building to that point is so slow and organic that it’s impossible to see coming. Once the realization on what this thing is hits, I think the only possible reaction is delighted laughter.
2. We get Hikaru’s training montage here, which at one point features him in a brown VF-1J. This is the second time (of only three) we’ll see one of those in the series. Then we get the shopping trip with Minmay. The bag he’s carrying says “NWA,” which, as you can imagine, led to dozens of “Straight Outta Macross” image macros last summer.
I also note that Minmay is wearing an outfit we’ve never seen before and will never see again, and that the clothes in the store they walk into generally look pretty attractive. (Let’s not ask where the clothes are coming from, or the show will unravel before our eyes.) Mikimoto said that in order to get ideas for the women’s fashion in the show, he would go to the Shibuya area of Tokyo (which has a lot of women’s clothing shops, and is generally younger and hipper and less expensive than, say, Ginza) and take photos of smartly-dressed college girls walking by. He also noted that were he to do that these days, he’d probably get arrested for it.
Also, I have to admit that as an adolescent, this scene (and the “Mr. Lingerie” followup later in the episode) made me squirm with embarrassment SO much that I could barely watch it. I really felt for the poor guy.
3. The nameless science officer shows up for the second and last time, this week coming up with the idea of using the distortion of space-time created by disappearance of the fold system to create the Pin-Point Barrier. No, it doesn’t make sense to me, either.
It’s worth noting that this guy is SO unimportant that in Mikimoto’s “Macross the First” manga, he gets replaced with a tall blonde with fishnets named “Gina Baltrow.” No, I’m not making that up.
4. When we cut to the Zentradi, we have the same problem we had last episode. While a couple of weeks passed between episodes 4 and 5, and about a month between 5 and 6, every time we catch up with Britai and Exsedol, they’re still discussing the developments from the previous episode as though they had happened just a few hours ago. If they’re still pondering why the Macross went through its transformation over a month after it happened, something tells me that they’re not using their time as effectively as they could.
A weird bit happens when they describe Saturn as the FIFTH planet of the solar system. I’ve heard it’s because they’re counting from the outside in, and there’s a yet-undiscovered-by-humans tenth planet, but that seems like a lot of explanation necessary for such a throw-away line. I guess you could say it’s like the occasional use of Zentradi words (like “taarm” in episode 1), but the meanings of those are usually clear from context, while this totally isn’t. Later, though, he refers to it as the sixth planet, so who knows what the hell the writing staff was thinking?
Also, Exsedol mentions that traveling in “Storm-Attacker Construction” (as the robot form is called, according to the old model kits) will greatly limit the Macross’s speed. This is the only reference left of one of the original concepts for the series: that in cruiser mode, the Macross’s engines would work, but the main cannon wouldn’t, and in Storm Attacker mode, the cannon could fire but the engines wouldn’t work.
5. Again, the “Mr. Lingerie” scene was INTENSELY uncomfortable for me as a kid, to the point where I almost couldn’t watch it. Now I just think it’s kinda funny.
6. Hikaru’s date with Minmay is a good example of how it’s possible (as I said in episode 4) to read depth into the characters that may or may not be there. On the one hand, there’s Hikaru’s view of the situation: that he’s going off to battle and might possibly die, and Minmay is being really insensitive and naive about it. On the other hand, it may be that Minmay has a clearer grasp of how good a pilot he is than he does, and is trying to boost his confidence. But see what I mean about all that bravado from episode 1? It’s gone. Completely.
7. And here it is, folks… the Pin-Point Barrier. In practice it works pretty well (enough that they keep it around… by 2040, even Valks will be equipped with the system), but it sure SEEMS puny and ineffective. We also meet the Pin-Point Barrier Girls (or “PPVG,” as they’re called in some of the books… that “B” versus “V” problem…), who are kind of a budget-rate bridge trio. Their names are Pocky (the one with the perm), Panapp (the one with long hair), and Mei (the one with shoulder-length hair), which are different kinds of snacks. Now, I’ve had Panapp, and EVERYONE’S had Pocky (man, that sounds dirty, doesn’t it?), but Mei has been out of production for a long time. Again, Pocky is basically a chocolate covered bread stick (although there are many other flavors as well), and Panapp is vanilla ice cream with fruit-flavored syrup. Mei turned out to be kinda of a mystery, though. After a bunch of research (i.e. Googling to no avail, asking a few different friends who had no idea, and finally giving up and asking Japanese superfan Yui Yuasa), it turns out that Mei is actually “Mei Balance,” an old type of ice cream. I showed the pic of the package to one of my other friends that I’d asked, and she replied, “Never heard of it.”
Gotta love the PPVG’s track balls, though. I’m sure everyone thought of playing Missile Command while watching this.
8. Some of the Saturn battle animation is really well-done. Even stuff that might possibly have been designed to cut costs, like going into the shadow zone, is effective. A few points regarding Hikaru here: first, he gets the third Valkyrie we’ve seen him in, this time his personalized white one with red trim. The show gives no reason why he gets a custom paintjob. Second, his designation as “Skull 23” should get conspiracy-theory fans’ blood pumping (have you seen the fnords?). Third, Misa’s really razzing him, and she’s totally right. He’s being an idiot, and is rude about it, to boot. Fourth, his confrontation with the scared Zentradi soldier is excellently pulled off, even though he doesn’t ultimately make the hard choice he should’ve had to. It’s a nice counterpoint to episode 2, where the Zentradi soldier was a terrifying giant, and yet this one is just some poor terrified dude. Remember, Hikaru, they’re more scared of you than you are of them…
9. In accordance with the seeming Rule of Macross, that everything on the ship only works once, they can’t fire the main cannon because the pinpoint barrier is interfering with it somehow. So Misa comes up with the Daedalus Attack, with allows us to see the Destroid Tomahawk for the first time (and WAY more Monsters than should exist at this point). The Phalanx won’t show up for a while, but we’ll see the Defender soon.
Shammy’s line that she’s really becoming a fan of Misa’s is also the only remnant of their relationship as written during preproduction, where Shammy had a huge girl-crush on Misa. The three Bridge Bunnies were also supposed to really hate Kakizaki, but not much of that ended up in the show, either.
But back to the malfunctioning cannon… In the interview with series director Noboru Ishiguro that’s an Easter Egg on the ADV set, he talks about how he thought the bad luck the Macross had was all due to Global’s bad karma. It’s funny, because watching the show, he seems like a pretty amazing skipper, but the staff always seems to view him as mostly a dirty old man… much like Ishiguro himself, I guess. Indeed, at the 2015 Macross World Convention, Run Sasaki (who played Vanessa in Macross and Mimsy in Orguss) was talking about Ishiguro and his penchant for telling lewd stories in mixed company. Finally, one of the actresses asked him WHY he was always talking about sex, and he said it was just to see everyone’s reactions. I think you can get a small taste of this on the (almost certainly unscripted) conversation between Minmay and the director of Shao Pai Long (played by Ishiguro) that appears on Miss DJ… but more about that later.
10. So it seems to have taken forever, but finally, all the set-up is done. The Macross is complete bad-ass punching giant robot that still somehow never works right, the city inside it has shops and restaurants, and Hikaru has become a Valkyrie pilot. Again, though, I can’t stress enough how terrible the “Mr. Lingerie” scene was for me as a kid… did anyone else feel that way, or am I just weird?