THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 9 – LONGEST BIRTHDAY

Ep.08

SUPER DIMENSION FORTRESS MACROSS
EPISODE 8: LONGEST BIRTHDAY

ICONIC SCENE: Hikaru’s priorities.

STORY DATE: October 10, 2009

BROADCAST DATE: November 28, 1982

1. Okay, the title here is a play on the title of the WWII film, “The Longest Day.”

2. If there’s any rhyme or reason to the colors of people’s uniforms in Macross, I can’t find it. I think we’ve seen over a dozen variants at this point, and none of them seem to signify anything.

3. So, based on his rescue of Misa last week, Hikaru gets promoted and gets a couple of subordinates, Max and Kakizaki. Both of them are way more interesting than Hikaru is, and one of them will have a long and storied career in the Macross universe. The other won’t.

Max, as his surname suggests, is the genius pilot who’s probably better than any other pilot aboard the Macross. Kakizaki is what they call a “mood-maker,” someone who you might not really like all that much, but who knows how to party and how to encourage others to party as well. He’s also based on a real person, Kazuyoshi Kakizaki, who was a well-known fan in SF circles, and famous for his huge appetite. It’s worth noting that in Macross, Kakizaki’s father is named “Kazuyoshi” in the preproduction for Episode 20 (it gets changed to “Kenichi,” in the final episode).

I suppose having any character based on you might be considered flattery, but… this character…? I wonder if the real Mr. Kakizaki was pleased or not.

(Oh, and as a kid, I remember being VERY surprised by Max’s blue hair (I thought of it as more green, anyway… kinda still do…), since we see him and Kakizaki on the black and white screen before they enter. I’d get used to it soon enough, but hey, Star Blazers and Battle of the Planets never had anyone with odd hair colors that who wasn’t an alien…)

4. I like the bit where Hikaru is taking Max and Kakizaki to Minmay’s birthday party, and Kakizaki thinks they’re going to a hostess club. I guess it’s not THAT surprising that the city on the Macross has a nightlife area… according to “My Fair Minmay,” they even have a full-on red light district. I’d imagine that this street with all the hostess bars is on the outskirts of that…

And then, just as Kakizaki says that he can’t wait to get into battle, a couple of emergency vehicles carrying some former destroids roar past. Rather fittingly, considering their role as “the guys that get shot up all the time,” this is our first glimpse of the final two destroid models we’ll see in the show, the Defender and the Phalanx. We see the Defender in action later in the episode, but the Phalanx won’t show up again for a long while.

5. Minmay WOULD look great in the lavender Chinese dress if she just weren’t drawn so poorly in this episode (thanks, Star Pro!)… Oh well, it’ll look GREAT next episode.

Also, gotta admire Max’s smooth approach. Sho Hayami (credited under his real name, Yasushi Ohama, until episode 12) really sells the part, making it clear that although he’s being extremely polite, formal even, there’s a motive there.

He’s an interesting choice to play this character, since his deep, commanding voice usually gets him cast as villains. Even in Macross Plus.

By the way, “My Fair Minmay” starts the morning of this episode, and continues through episode 12, focusing on Minmay’s first days of stardom. It’s a fun book, with five stories in TV script format, each written by a different member of the writing staff, but all linked together. It’s full of little details that didn’t make it into the series (did YOU know that some of the giant pipes aboard the ship were converted into a subway system?). But while it definitely has the same “tone” as the show does, it’s a lot seedier, featuring everything from Jamis Merin sleeping with her manager to get her way, to a lecherous producer getting Minmay super-drunk, to the behind the scenes machinations that make Minmay’s instant fame possible. It’s great stuff, and I’ll be talking about it more later. For now, I just want to mention that at some point at the birthday party here, Max actually asked Minmay out, and she said yes. But then completely forgot about it and stood him up. (Minmay gets asked out A LOT, apparently.)

6. If there’s any advantage to Kamujin’s Glaug (which is NOT pronounced like it looks… the second G is soft, so it’s more like “Glahj”) having two identical viewscreens, I’m unable to grasp it.

7. Of course Max and Kakizaki’s Valks also get custom paintjobs, so we can tell them apart. They’re both mostly white, but Max’s has a lot of blue, and Kakzaki’s has a lot of brown (showing us immediately that no matter how overconfident Kakizaki is and underconfident Max is, the latter is WAY more special).

8. I wonder… Kamujin’s Glaug gets its arm blown off by Hikaru in this episode, and yet it’s been repaired the next time we see it… if the Zentradi don’t know how to fix things, how did that happen? Did he just get a new one?

And then, just as the battle’s going pretty well for Kamujin, Britai tells him to retreat. I like the colorful, bright beam they use, under the reasonable assumption that if they don’t give Kamujin something visually distinct, he could just claim that his comm system was damaged.

9. And then, the climax, in which Hikaru makes it abundantly clear to the audience, if not to himself or Minmay, that’s he really is doing this all for her. I’m a little surprised that she’d be so pleased with a present of a medal of valor… I never pegged her as a collector of militaria…

Usually when the show gets symbolic like this, it’s about the military driving Hikaru AWAY from Minmay… this is one of the few times (or the only time…?) where it brings them together.

10. You’d think an episode about Minmay’s birthday would be all about her, but really, she barely figures into the story, except at the end (and that’s more about Hikaru than it is about Minmay). As a kid, I was honestly horrified when he gave Minmay the medal… what if he needed it for a ceremony or something? (It also didn’t help that Robotech Minmei obviously has no idea what it is, and seems to think it’s some new kind of jewelry… neither does the Robotech Narrator make it clear that Hikaru doesn’t care about the medal one bit, as the Macross narrator does.)

But yeah, really… their balcony scene is one of the last few tender moments the two will share for a long time to come. From this point on, they’ll drift further and further apart.

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