SUPER DIMENSION FORTRESS MACROSS
EPISODE 7: BYE-BYE MARS
ICONIC SCENE: Misa and her stupid death wish.
STORY DATE: Early October, 2009
SCENARIO TITLE: MARS
BROADCAST DATE: November 21, 1982
1. I mentioned before the embarrassment of riches we get in this show regarding the humans’ ships and mecha (as well as PLENTY of custom Valk paintjobs), but we also get a huge variety of Zentradi ships as well. At the beginning of this episode, we get the Quel-Quallie Bug-Eye Theatre Scout, which, as a kid, I got the model kit for, without remembering it from the show.
Later on the episode, we also get the debut of the Cat’s-Eye recon plane.
2. And we also get our newest Zentradi character, Kamujin Kravshera (and also his second-in-command, or advisor, or henchman, or SOMETHING, Oigur), and he’s pretty much a hot-headed thug. Lacking the professionalism of Britai and Exsedol, his role will basically be to get in the way all the time and cause the Macross to slip away from the main Zentradi forces. Later on down the line, he’ll turn into our main villain, but I’ll get to that in due course.
Also, in this scene, Britai refers to Mars as the seventh planet of the solar system, lending credence to the idea from last time that they’re counting from the outside, and that there’s a tenth planet we know nothing about.
3. When Hikaru meets up with Minmay, we hear Misa deliver a completely false account of the most recent Zentradi attack to the populace of the city. This idea isn’t developed much in the series, but during preproduction (and in “My Fair Minmay”) the role of the military towards the civilians isn’t necessarily benign. They lie to them, they manipulate public opinion, they spy on them, they devise ways (like Minmay’s stardom) to distract them… it’s kind of awful, really. And although this is the closest they come to getting directly implicated, it’s obvious that Global and Misa, at least, are in on the operations. Again, nothing is made of this in the show itself, but it’s a little problematic twist that is worth keeping in mind.
Oh, and Minmay’s wearing a school uniform. According to “My Fair Minmay” (which often doesn’t seem to remember that the city aboard the Macross is NOT the size of Tokyo, and only has 70,000 civilians on board), she goes to St. Valencia’s School for Girls, one of many high schools aboard the ship.
4. The cafe they go to (“Estcarp,” apparently) looks really rather nice and upscale. Of course, it’ll soon get replaced by “Variation” as the place our characters hang out when they want a cup of tea. And we get to place the date since Minmay’s birthday invitation says “October Tenth” on it, and Hikaru mentions that that’s the following week. For some reason, in the novelization of the series, Minmay birthday is given as January 28, but as it’s written by an outside writer (unlike the Minmay and Misa books, which were written by the show’s staff), I think it’s pretty easy to ignore.
Hikaru thinks he’s kinda special for getting a birthday invitation, but he’ll soon be disabused of that notion when he finds that pretty much EVERYONE has been invited.
5. As the Macross gets transmissions from Mars Base Salla, there’s what is obviously a fragment of of a poem on the screen: “If mice could swim they would float with the tide / And play with the fish down by the seaside. / The cats on the shore would quickly agree…” I always wondered what the fourth line was… I was betting on something like, “There’s lots of fun to be had by the sea.”
Now, Egan Loo’s liner notes with the AnimEigo Macross set, otherwise pretty exhaustive, have nothing about where this came from. A few years ago, I became rather obsessed with it, and asked Renato about it, who said, “Well, there’s an ISBN there… you could always look it up.” Feeling stupid, I checked it, and found… nothing. Renato, on the other hand, found the book and sent me the link. See, the problem is that on screen, it says “ISBN0 905478 509,” and I had missed that first zero. Anyway, it turned up a children’s book called “If Mice Could Fly,” by John Cameron. I finally ordered it (used, since it’s long out of print) a few months ago. Mine is the US version (the ISBN and publishing information on screen refer to the UK version), and well-handled from its days in the Houston public library.
Now, I consider this to be THE most obscure Macross-related item in the world, in that not only did it seem like no one else had it, but it wasn’t even on anyone else’s radar (except Renato’s). So it is with great pride that I can announce that the fourth line of poem is something no one could ever guess: “It would be very nice to have mermouse for tea” (since, you see, the mice in the accompanying illustration have fish tails, like mermaids).
Now, how did lines from this uncelebrated picture book end up in Macross? I really don’t know, but I guess it was just sitting around in Artland (or whichever studio animated this sequence). Maybe someone picked it up on a trip to the UK because they liked the pictures? Maybe they were using it for a reference for something? I have no idea.
(Oh, and it’s interesting to note that the lines ended up in the Robotech novel covering this scene, although the punctuation gets messed up. I get the feeling that the authors of the novel never checked that ISBN and thus never realized that this was from a real, copyrighted book, and they should probably, y’know, get PERMISSION to quote from it… Whatever. Neither John Cameron nor his publisher ever seems to have made a fuss about it, so they probably never even knew.)
6. The tragedy of Mars Base Salla is sketched out briefly by Global here, and receives much fuller treatment in the 1984 novella “Misa Hayase: White Reminiscences” by Hiroshi Ohnogi (who hadn’t joined the writing staff as of this episode, but soon would). The first half of the book is mostly about Riber and Misa, with the best chapter consisting of the letters they wrote to each other while he was stationed on the Mars base. Anyway, the staff of the base was recalled to earth to fight in the escalating Unification Wars, and their ships were attacked by a space destroyer than had been hijacked by Anti-Unification forces. That space destroyer was then destroyed in turn by another ship commanded by Global, who blames himself for not arriving in time to save the Mars base crew. It’s possible to read that into the meaningful looks she and Global give each other when she’s pleading to be allowed to explore the base.
Misa’s flashback to her last meeting with Riber is also in the book, with dialogue being nearly word-for-word the same, but the location changed. Instead of happening at a nice house by the lake (the Hayase’s residence, I’m assuming), it happens in Shinjuku Park on an unbearably hot and muggy summer day. One revelation that holds true for the show, though (probably), is that there is no real “relationship” between Riber and Misa (he’s a few years older, and still views her as a child), although she’s pretty madly in love with him as only a shy fourteen-year-old with self-esteem issues can be.
7. It’s worth noting that according to the solar system map at space.jpl.nasa.gov, heading home from Pluto, the Macross probably would not have encountered Saturn or Mars (at least, as far as I can tell… it’s a little hard to read), although Global does say that they’re being pushed off-course by the Zentradi attacks.
8. At some point in the preceding months, the Macross switched back to cruiser mode (and for some reason, upon landing, has the carriers facing forward instead of the usual backward… although that doesn’t remain consistent throughout the episode). And, when they try to lift off, they’re using the gravity control system that failed so spectacularly in episode 2. I guess they figured out what the problem was…?
9. Then of course, Misa gets trapped aboard the base, conveniently right in front of Riber’s room. She goes in and flips through one of his books (based on a letter in the Misa novella, I’m hoping it’s “Shubie Borts – His Life of Bleach and Isolation”). And then she just… gives up. Even when Hikaru comes in to rescue her, she doesn’t want to be rescued. Unlike Minmay’s brief flirtation with suicide, this one WILL come back. As will Hikaru’s penchant for rescuing Misa, which will become the basic pattern for their relationship for a while.
Another thing that will come back is Kamujin… unfortunately for Britai.
10. So Misa gets her turn in the spotlight, and again, astute first-time viewers might note that she’s already beginning to replace Minmay as our heroine. The art and animation is this episode is generally above-average, too, with one of my favorite short battle clips debuting, where Hikaru’s battroid flies into an explosion, and comes out a gerwalk. I think it’s one of the staff’s favorites, as well, since it’ll show up again many times over the course of the series. The voice of Gundam’s Captain Bright, Hirotaka Suzuoki, also makes his debut here, as Riber, although he’s much more infamous for an upcoming character.