First Thoughts on Delta

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I’m not much into speculation or trying to guess where a story is going, so I’ll limit myself (mostly) to this episode. I thought it was fun and exciting, with a number of “Wait… did they just DO that…?” moments.

I think it’s going to turn off a lot of old-school Macross fans (indeed, it already has) who want something hardcore and gritty. Although, let’s face it, there was plenty of grit in this episode, with a suicide bomber, Destroids fighting Regults, and capital ships going kablooey. But clearly, the “Unreachable Borderline” is going to be Walküre with their magical-girl-ishness.

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Me, I like that it’s getting a little daring and I like that it’s willing to be a little silly.And the action scenes were pretty amazing, and made me feel like this show is in good hands. As did the songs, which I really liked.

I don’t think it’ll be anywhere near as big as Frontier was, but I really hope that it’s successful. I think to be successful, though, it’s going to have to find a new audience, since even in Japan, old Macross fans seem to turning against it.

Macross Seven taught me a long time ago to not have (m)any preconceived notions of what a Macross story is or isn’t, and I’m not about to start. But if they can keep the show as good as this first episode, I think it’ll be a fun ride.

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 29 – MY ALBUM

Ep.28

SUPER DIMENSION FORTRESS MACROSS
EPISODE 28: MY ALBUM

ICONIC SCENE: Ha! TAKE THAT!!

STORY DATE: October 2011

BROADCAST DATE: May 1, 1983

1. So it’s nearly two years after the last episode, and a lot has changed. This, again, was never part of the plan for the story until the series got extended. Even the 52-episode draft ended the story with the battle against the Main Fleet. I suppose it’s preferable to drawing out the road to the climax by nine episodes, or having nine clip shows, but I have some problems with this section…

2. The world of the story is interesting. Things have somewhat gotten back to normal, despite something like 99% of the world’s population getting killed and the surface of the planet getting razed. No, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense that somehow everything looks like normal cities, just with more rocks around, but I don’t think we’re meant to scrutinize that too much. And it makes even LESS sense if you read Kawamori’s short story, “The Lost Two Years” in Macross Perfect Memory, which makes earth right after the bombardment a real hellscape with massive clouds of vaporized soil and plant and animal matter, as well as months of torrential downpour from the water that had been evaporated… it sounds really unpleasant, and much more like what we see in Do You Remember Love than we do in the series. Thankfully, there’s the hand-wave of the “Nature Reclamation Plan,” which somehow (pretty quickly, all things considered) restores the Earth back to its pre-bombardment state.

3. The problem, though, is not the world… it’s the characters. I’ll have (A LOT) more to say about this over the next clutch of episodes, but for now, let me just point out that at the end of the previous episode, Hikaru was pretty much over Minmay and had his arms wrapped around Misa. And yet, it feels like everything’s been reset, except that Misa has swallowed her pride and is CLEANING HIKARU’S PLACE for him. I always thought Hikaru was a little pathetic for clinging so long to his one good moment with Minmay (when they were about to die) and now it’s been over two and half years since that day and he’s STILL smitten. And Misa has apparently lost all of her self-respect in going along with this. I mean, there’s having patience and supporting the one you love, and then there’s being a total fucking doormat.

4. And most of all, it just FEELS like a sequel, and a distinctly lower-budget sequel. The visual highlights of this part of the story rarely match the highlights from the first 27 episodes. I appreciate that they tried, but, to me, they didn’t really pull it off. Most of the better character work seems to be done by Hideaki Shimada, who also illustrated a lot of the pictures in the This Is Animation Special books and the Character Portfolio. He’s definitely no slouch, but his style is distinctly different. Oh well, at least Misa’s gotten rid of the little whorls in her hair. We won’t see those again until Macross the First.

5. And then we get the photo album, presumably the same one we’ve been seeing at the end of every episode. And we also see the Minmay poster. At the 30th Anniversary exhibit, “Macross the Design” in Shibuya, they actually had a little nook with a replica of the album, the upside-down Minmay poster, and “Runner” playing in a continuous loop. I laughed out loud when I reached that section of the gallery. My girlfriend looked at me curiously then, and I said, “Watch the show. You’ll get it.”

6. As bad as Hikaru and Misa are, Minmay and Kaifun are at least as bad. Minmay’s playing to smaller and smaller audiences, and Kaifun’s an alcoholic with a temper. Seriously, it looks like Max and Milia are the only ones who turned out okay (at this point). They even have a little baby girl (only one. Again, at this point).

7. Oh, I should mention that the radio-drama-turned-CD “Macross Classic~Inside Story” also happens during those “lost two years.” I tend to think of it more as a real ’90s thing, because of the involvement of Millard (from Macross Plus) and the Flower Girl (from Macross 7) (yes, the Flower Girl) (really), but it does detail a story that happens between the last episode and this. I’ll get to it eventually. And it reunites virtually all the cast, except Mari Iijima, and features Arihiro Hase’s final turn as Hikaru.

8. This is also the first episode where the name “Macross City” pops up. The city aboard the ship was never actually named.

9. We also get a new Minmay song, “Farewell to Tenderness.”

10. I dunno… again, I think the overall story of the post-war episodes is interesting, and it’s rare to see a show like this follow the story of what happens after the big war is over, but I’m really dissatisfied with the characters, and, short as this section is, there’s still a lot of filler. There are a few important things that come up, though, so it’s not entirely a wash.

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 28 – Love Drifts Away

Ep.27

SUPER DIMENSION FORTRESS MACROSS
EPISODE 27: Love Drifts Away

ICONIC SCENE: It’s great to see young people get together, isn’t it?

STORY DATE: February 21, 2010

SCENARIO TITLE: CHORUS TRACK

BROADCAST DATE: April 24, 1983

1. Oh, where to start, where to start? The staff shows the courage of its convictions by having the entire world get blasted, but you already knew that. They also deliver on their promise to the fans of movie-quality animation, but you knew that, too. There are dozens of in-jokes here as well, but you probably know all of them and freeze-frame the shots to show your friends. You probably also know that a lot of the best art in this episode was done by Hideaki Anno, future director of Gunbuster and Evangelion.

One thing you may NOT know is that Kawamori was working so much on this episode that in the week before it was finished, he got three hours of sleep. Not three hours per night, three hours TOTAL. Even when I was twenty (as he was, here), I don’t think I could’ve pulled that off.

2. With only twenty-three minutes to tell the story, no time is wasted in wrapping up plot threads. Two minutes in, Hikaru FINALLY TELLS MINMAY HE LIKES HER. Or actually… he uses the past tense, since he’s pretty much moved on to Misa at this point (fingers crossed…).

She rejects him, of course, but she’s at least nice about it. And he says it’s all his fault and he should’ve made his feelings clear, which is the first sensible thought he’s ever had about this whole Minmay infatuation. Dude, if you had just said this back in Episode 5 (nearly ONE YEAR AGO in story time), she would’ve rejected you then and you could’ve moved on, saving yourself (and us) plenty of grief.

Still… she eventually kisses him, so I guess that’s something.

3. The detail in the scenes of the Destroids getting ready to mobilize is stunning, and of course there’s that famous shot of the Monster breaking the floor as it steps forward. I like to think that this is the same Monster (and crew) that show up in Macross 7, but that’s just me. Still… I think even at this point, there were only three Monsters completed, so it’ has a 33.3% chance of being true.

4. And then, as a mournful theme plays, we get the spectacular destruction of earth. It’s marred slightly by reusing some of the shots from episodes 1 and 2, but only slightly. And let’s face it: destroying the Earth is a pretty ballsy move, especially in what is nominally a family show (remember, folks: 2:00 PM, Sunday afternoons).

Of course, the initial plan for the series, back when it was going to be fifty-two episodes, was that in their travels around earth, plenty of famous locales (including London and Machu Pichu) would’ve gotten destroyed, finally culminating in the earth getting blasted. And the barrier overload would’ve taken out the Moon rather than Ontario. I’m kind of glad that that version of the story never got made, because it would, I think, reduce the shock of this scene.

5. Interesting that the idea to have Minmay sing is Hikaru’s, and the idea to have the kiss comes from Exsedol. The big question, of course, is if they REALLY wanted to shock the Zentradi, why not broadcast porn? According to Macross the First, the answer is that sex is SO far outside their frame of reference that they completely don’t understand it. It doesn’t shock them; they just think it’s some kind of hand-to-hand (as it were) combat.

There’s also a weird mistake when Minmay is getting ready. The three spies come to cheer her on, but right after she thanks them and gets called to the stage, we see Kaifun next to her instead of them. I wonder what the deal was there…

Oh, and Minmay’s yellow and green outfit here is based on a nearly identical costume that Akina Nakamori was wearing on her current tour.

You know… I sometimes wonder how much Seiko and Akina know about Macross, and how they feel about their role in it. For Akina, I have no idea. But Seiko MUST know about it, since her daughter was supposed to play one of the leads in the Macross stage musical a few years ago (but got replaced by her understudy, officially because Seiko’s daughter, Sayaka Kanda, came down with a sudden case of gastroenteritis, ONE DAY before the musical’s debut).

6. So the Grand Cannon DOES end up doing some good. It fires too late and barely scratches the Bodol Main Fleet, but it does create a path for the Macross and Britai’s fleet to fly through. So Misa’s dad wasn’t entirely misguided. Just mostly misguided.

7. So… Minmay’s most important concert set list: 1. My Boyfriend Is a Pilot, 2. Shao Pai Lon, 3. MC~The kiss with Kaifun, 4. Silver Moon Red Moon, 5. Love Drifts Away, 6. My Beautiful Place.

8. Kind of amazing that Misa appears to be the only survivor of Alaska Base… This, by the way, is where the prologue of “Misa Hayase: White Reminiscences” ends.

Oh, and Kamujin (the coward) reappears, calling “Love Drifts Away” a “nice song.” I thought he ran away last episode…? Oh well, he runs away here. For now.

9. And it all wraps up neatly, doesn’t it? You’d think this would be the end. But it’s not.

10. Honestly, if the show had finished here, I’d be fine. It feels (and looks!) like a final episode, at any rate. It’s hard to overestimate the power of that scene where the Zentradi destroy the earth, though. It really was unprecedented, in Japan AND (especially) in the west. Again, it’s not a terribly serious show, but this sequence is done with complete conviction, and it really is pretty horrifying. As good as Macross may continue to be, it will never top the sheer balls of this part.

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 27 – MESSENGER

Ep.26

SUPER DIMENSION FORTRESS MACROSS
EPISODE 26: MESSENGER

ICONIC SCENE: “Kyun, kyun…”

STORY DATE: February 2010

BROADCAST DATE: April 17, 1983

1. After the atrociousness of last episode, it’s nice to see immediately that we’re back in the hands of the masters. Everyone and everything looks great here. There’s also a nice bit of tension at the beginning, as Britai’s ship approaches the Macross, requesting a cease-fire. Then a whole bunch of fighter pods launch, making it seem like Britai was lying… until he shoots them down, and it turns out it was Kamujin disobeying orders once again.

2. Considering how rabidly anti-alien Maistroff has been throughout the series, I gotta wonder why he was the one chosen to meet Exsedol. I guess he’s the second-highest ranking guy on the ship, but still… it seems awfully risky.

3. I’ve been meaning to say this for a while, and I dunno about you, but to me, the city aboard the Macross (which, by the way, is NOT called “Macross City.” It has no name) always reminds me of Shibuya. But maybe that’s just because it has moderately tall buildings, is crowded, and is slightly hilly. It’s definitely not as overt as the Shibuya section of Frontier, but I think it’s there.

And of course, the movie poster that they see with the lady in the bikini on the poster, “Y.T,” is directed by Ishiguro, and produced by Kawamori, Mikimoto, and Itano.

5. Ryunosuke Obayashi, Exsedol’s voice actor, is great throughout this episode, especially since he really has to carry the first half of the episode by himself. Apparently, outside the recording studio, he could never do the Exsedol voice. When meeting fans, he would TRY to do the voice, and simply couldn’t.

And again, it’s really funny as all the characters come into the room and start to recognize each other with shock. Again, Macross is not primarily a comedy, but comedy was usually not far from its mind.

(Oh, and, as VF5SS pointed out to me, why is it that the three spies had to go through a long and arduous path to learn the ways of culture, and Exsedol attributes virtually everything to a “military secret” or the “power of Protoculture,” but Milia never goes through any of that? At least, she figures out clothes and money quick enough…)

And then, of course, Exsedol goes into his Minmay impersonation (not for the last time), which is hilarious on a few different levels.

Finally, on a different subject, it’s kinda nice to see Global finally telling Kaifun to shut up.

6. The second half of the episode is much more serious than the first, beginning with Misa again trying to convince her father not to use the Grand Cannon. What’s strange about this scene is that she brings it up while they’re surrounded by other workers… I thought the cannon was top secret…?

And I note that Admiral Hayase demands that he and Misa regard each other solely on a professional basis… except when it suits him.

7.  Exsedol reveals here that it was singing, specifically, that made the Zentradi who had previously encountered culture lose their will to fight. This really shouldn’t be underestimated. It seems that it’s received wisdom that it’s only LATER Macross shows that focus on the music, but Minmay is arguably the most important character in the entire show, and she really is the savior of humanity. Again, as one of the first if not THE first production made by the “anime generation,” they threw in pretty much everything they liked, which, since they were geeks, includes nearly everything that geeks like, including idols. It’s no coincidence that the names “Seiko” and “Akina” are in the background in dozens of shots. Mikimoto, as many people have noted, was in the Seiko fan club, and she was massively popular at the time. Moreover, the entire country was in the middle of an “idol boom” at the time, with new teenage girls making their cutesy-pop debut every week, making records, appearing on TV and in movies, and generally being inescapable.

Now I think, in the US, most geeks would run from that kind of music (I know I took it as a point of pride fifteen years ago that I had never heard a Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera song), but the Macross staff adored it and made it, again, a central and innovative part of their space opera. and IT WORKED, much better than, say, disco did in the Star Wars Holiday Special. In addition, I’d like to point out that the staff had good taste, and both Seiko and Akina are excellent singers, with plenty of excellent albums (although, for me, Akina is better than Seiko… she took more risks, and experimented a bit more, and nearly all her ’80s albums are great. Seiko, enh… I like her a lot, but you could get by with a “greatest hits” album if you want to hear ALL of her best work).

One thing I’ve been noting to myself in this rewatch is just how awful Minmay was made in the Robotech dub. Without that same idol movement in America’s pop culture, I think the Robotech adaptors simply didn’t know how to make her appealing and likable, and so went the opposite way, making her stupid, selfish, and spoiled, even giving her a horrible “hit song” which crows about how great it is to be famous (and to be her), and which she ALWAYS sings, even in entirely inappropriate circumstances. It’s a thoroughgoing trashing of a cute, charming character, and it was entirely unnecessary (and in fact works AGAINST the story, by making her popularity completely baffling and inexplicable).

Whereas in the context of Japan in the early ’80s, Minmay makes perfect sense and needs no excuse. Having her as the lynchpin of a science fiction drama, though…? THAT was new, and one of the things that was most surprising and talked about by early fans of the show.

8. And Lap’Lamiz has her one pivotal moment, as she’s the one who spills the beans to Bodolzaa and dooms the Earth (and herself). It’s kinda dumb that she wouldn’t realize that Bodolzaa would have to destroy the Zentradi that had been contaminated by the Protoculture, but again, being smart and effective is not how she’s ever been portrayed.

9. And then the cliffhanger, as all 4,790,122 ships of the main fleet fold in, surrounding the planet. It really is a shocking moment, even though Exsedol has already explained how to defeat them. Everyone starts making preparations to fight (except Kamujin, who just runs away), and it’s clear that the next episode is going to be VERY important.

10. Again, what a wonderful episode. Thanks to Toshihiro Hirano and his future wife Narumi Kakinouchi, it looks spectacular, and playing the first half for laughs works wonderfully in setting up the deadly serious finale. The shock of that ending is a little blunted by the next episode preview, which show Hikaru and Misa reunited on earth, but still… it’s amazing.

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 26 – VIRGIN ROAD

Ep.25

SUPER DIMENSION FORTRESS MACROSS
EPISODE 25: VIRGIN ROAD

ICONIC SCENE: “So I have my answer… I’m walking on air!”

STORY DATE: January 2010

BROADCAST DATE: April 10, 1983

1. As everyone knows, holy hell, does this episode look awful. Star Pro at its absolute worst. It doesn’t help that this is a pretty damn important episode, and also has some script problems. Great visuals could’ve helped smooth those over (or at least distract from them), or a great script could’ve made the poor art bearable, but having both makes this the least satisfying episode in the series (maybe… there’s at least one later that rivals it, I think).

2. Let’s start with the visual problems: everyone looks sincerely butt-ugly, especially Milia. The knife fight is laughably bad, and its conclusion was already a little creepy without Max’s face looking kinda weird and horny. And the absolutely surreal scene where they float off the ground (metaphorically, I’m guessing, but who really knows?) before embracing… the music is dramatic, the voice acting is dramatic, but the hideous art makes it funny, and not in a good way. One of my friends, who watched Macross for the first time a couple of years ago, thought at first that this was a dream sequence, and she was laughing as she watched it.

It’s important to note, though, that, at a fan club event, Sho Hayami (voice actor for Max) picked the knife fight as his favorite scene in the show. When asked what was it about Milia that Max thought was cute, he replied that it was because she cried, going on to mention that the saline content of tears caused by sadness differs from that of tears of joy or frustration. I have no idea if that’s true, nor can I tell if it’s awesome or creepy that he knows that.

3. The scripting problems really begin with Hikaru objecting to Max’s wedding and then changing his mind just because he thinks Milia is cute. Again, the visuals don’t help, as everyone involved looks totally ridiculous, even without Hikaru spitting out his coffee and dropping his mug, and getting so excited to meet Milia that he knocks over the table (and Max).

4. So, next, we have the wedding. This is the third scene of the episode, and only about two and half minutes after the knife fight ended in a kiss. Are you beginning to see the problem…? It’s rushed. REALLY rushed. I mean, this is one of the most pivotal moments in the show, and it feels like the staff forgot about it until the last minute and had to toss it together as quickly as they could.

5. Now, Max’s Valk during the “march down the aisle” (as it were) is meant to be his third Valk (that we’ve seen) in the series: a VF-1D. It’s impossible to tell that, though, because Star Pro, never good at getting the Valk heads right, continually draws it as a 1A. The Skull One is also shown as a 1A, whereas the cannon fodder along the procession line look like 1Ds. So (again) who the hell knows?

6. And then, Britai and Exsedol come out and state everything plainly: that the thing that’s tripping the Zentradi up is this crazy little thing called “love,” and that THAT, more than pop idols and candy and reaction weapons, is the real dividing line between the Zentradi and the Protoculture.

7. Pretty much the only place where the episode comes alive the way it was meant to is during Global’s speech, which starts off stirring the crowd’s anger and hatred towards the Zentradi, before twisting it around into a message of tolerance. It basically says the same thing that Britai and Exsedol just did, but in a much less ham-fisted way.

Most of the people on the ship seem overjoyed that the Macross is accepting the defectors, except for one guy who kicks a fountain in disgust. Misa’s dad doesn’t really get it, either.

Oh, and Max and Milia’s wedding cake is flat-out incredible. I remember seeing photos a few years ago of someone who replicated it for their wedding, and I was more than a little envious.

And of course Minmay shows up to sing, this time performing a rendition of “Runner” with completely different lyrics (also maddeningly unavailable on any release).

8. Back with Bodolzaa, he really doesn’t seem to see how he himself caused all of this to happen by not heeding the copious warnings to stay away from miclones, and decides to go all out and destroy both the Macross and the Earth. Seriously, EVERY SINGLE DECISION he’s made has involved breaking that taboo, trying to overcome his own feelings of revulsion, and attacking the Macross in every way he can think of, none of which has worked. He sent Britai, he sent Lap’Lamiz, he sent Britai again, he had miclone prisoners and lost them, troops are defecting to the Macross… and his solution is to flat-out destroy them. Um, okay, bud. Hope it works out.

9. So far, though, it doesn’t look like it will, as plenty of Britai’s men, each clutching a Minmay doll, refuse to fight. Britai himself seems conflicted, as well, but the decision is ultimately made for him as enough of his troops mutiny and demand a cease-fire with the Macross. Britai, having been fighting the Macross since day one, and being a smart commander, realizes that there really isn’t any use continuing the battle, and calls his troops off.

Even the ruthless Milia seems to have mellowed a lot, since she doesn’t want to kill the battle pod pilots, instead showing Max how to shoot them “in the fleshy part of the thigh” (so to speak) and disable them without hurting them. Again, isn’t all of this coming a little TOO quickly…?

(And yes, this is the episode with famous “nose lasers” that a lot of Robotech fans seem crazy about. It’s just an animation mistake. Really.)

10. So yeah, an awful, rushed episode. Not completely worthless, but close. As a kid, I was positive that Milia hadn’t gone over the side of love and peace so easily, and that she would probably try to pull a Clytemnestra and murder Max in the bath or something. That, of course, turned out not to be the case.

And I’ve really only briefly touched on how creepy the relationship between Max and Milia is, based as it is on her utter humiliation and defeat, as well as having NO IDEA what she’s getting herself into. I mean, fans joke about how awkward their wedding night is going to be, but Max is going to have to be as smooth and seductive (and patient) as he knows how in order to not traumatize the poor girl. She seems to be all right in the following episodes, so, um, in the short term, at least, he must’ve figured out a way to make it work…

And finally, BLESSED RELIEF! Hikaru is in the same room with Minmay in this episode, and yet he’s still thinking about Misa right before he falls asleep! That’s progress!

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 25 – GOODBYE GIRL

Ep.24

SUPER DIMENSION FORTRESS MACROSS
EPISODE 24: GOODBYE GIRL

ICONIC SCENE: Oh, just come out and SAY it, Hikaru!

STORY DATE: January 2010

BROADCAST DATE: April 3, 1983

1. Wow, does this episode ever look great! A nice change from the previous two (and the next one).

2. Misa not telling Hikaru that she’s leaving seems like kind of an awful thing to do, especially after all the bonding they’ve been doing lately. Claudia realizes it, too, although she doesn’t say anything.

Also, while pretty much everyone except Misa is saying she’ll be back to the Macross soon, I note that she indeed doesn’t get back, at least not until it’s grounded. Which is a fun thing to point out to people watching the show for the first time: “Oh, I’m sure she’ll return soon.” “Nope, she won’t. Ever.” “!?!”

3. We get the introduction of the Super Valkyrie here, equipped with extra armor, boosters, and missiles, and it’s a joy to behold. So much so that we might not notice that Max’s new VF-1J is also introduced in the same shot (although first time viewers wouldn’t, of course, know it was his until the next shot, and we can only see a small part of it, anyway).

I have to admit that when I was first watching the show, I didn’t even realize that Max had gotten an upgrade until a few episodes later. Which, in retrospect, is weird, because I totally had his VF-1A color scheme memorized (I repainted my Gerwalk kit to look like it, as I mentioned before). Anyway, back to the Super Valkyrie, one of the things that I like about Macross Valks, from then to now, is the way they can be augmented with different equipment. This, of course, gets much expanded on in later shows, and even in Macross the First, which has some really interesting ideas revolving around strapping Destroid parts to Valks.

Misa’s shuttle is also very cool. I especially like the hatch being the Macross “kite” logo, which I’m sure is something EVERYONE loves about it. Although I admit to being slightly baffled by the emergency seat protection that surrounds Misa. Maybe it’s heavily armored as has its own life-support system, but if the shuttle gets blown up, I don’t think it’s going to help much.

4. Hey, Hikaru’s wearing clothes we’ve never seen him in before! How long has it been since THAT happened? (I’m thinking episode 6.) Too bad it’s a really awful ’70s-lookng leisure suit.

5. When Max launches to escort Misa’s shuttle (affording us SO MANY views of his new Valk that I *really* don’t understand how I missed it as a kid), we also see a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot of two Ghosts launching as well. And let’s be honest… if it weren’t for Macross Plus, absolutely no one would care.

6. Even before Hikaru comes roaring in with the “Booby Duck,” this battle is one of the best in the series for pure motion and detail. Ichiro Itano at work, folks. He may be a mediocre director, but he’s still a top-notch artist and action choreographer.

The bit where the Super Valkyrie brakes upon arriving at the battle scene is also the first time in the show we’ve seen any of the pilots dealing with some serious Gs. We’ll see a bit of it in DYRL, but you can see a huge leap in showing this more realistically starting with Macross Plus (that is, AFTER Kawamori and Itano got taken up in fighters themselves and felt what it was like).

7. After the commercial break, the episode completely shifts gears and turns into Max and Milia having another duel, sort of, and Milia finally gets it, and realizes who this mysterious miclone pilot is. There are tons of fun details in this scene, including the return (and final appearance…?) of Yot-chan. The building across the street from the arcade is called “Himitsu no Hanazono,” which was, at the time of this episode’s airing, Seiko Matsuda’s latest single (it had come out about two months previously). The Lupin III game (or “Cliff Hanger,” maybe…?). And then there’s that thunder god watching Max and Milia’s competition…

The games look fun, if not quite exactly what people would be playing circa 2010. The oddest thing, of course, is that they reward you with tokens, a business model employed by no arcade ever.

The video game duel itself is of course a classic scene, as Milia is reading Max’s moves and putting two and two together, and Max is thinking of different moves and putting different things together.

Also, I note that although everyone seems to treat Max’s date like it’s a sure thing, if a woman acted to me the way Milia did before storming off, I would figure that she had no intentions of showing up. At the very least, I don’t think I’d be trying on outfits the night before to see what looked good, as Max does at the end of the episode.

8. Misa wins a sort-of victory here. High Command is open to peace negotiations with the Zentradi, but only after they’ve fired the Grand Cannon, which they think will terrify the aliens with its destructive might, and have them begging to surrender.  Misa is against the use of the Grand Cannon completely, but it does end up proving useful, to a degree.

9. Leave it to Claudia to come out and say to Hikaru what everyone’s been thinking:  forget about Minmay and go for Misa. Especially since it’s clear that Kaifun’s intentions are less (more…?) than familial, and Minmay, while shocked, will probably come around.

And, of course, that’s Misa’s just a better match for him than Minmay is.

10. Again, a really excellent episode, with a lot happening, and all of it looking excellent. As a kid, watching this, for some reason I thought the video game duel was pretty romantic, although watching it now, I have no idea why I would’ve thought that. It’s still magnificently geeky, though.

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 24 – DROP OUT

Ep.23

SUPER DIMENSION FORTRESS MACROSS
EPISODE 23: DROP OUT

ICONIC SCENE: Sheepish grins all around…

STORY DATE: January 2010

SCENARIO TITLE: FIRE STORM

BROADCAST DATE: March 27, 1983

1. Second Star Pro episode in a row… which is a shame, since seeing the VF-1S tumble, roll, and basically act like a young John McClane would be something to see if Itano were doing it.

2. And Kamujin is WAY out of his element now, as his men want to desert… so, naturally, he starts killing them. He doesn’t understand, and he doesn’t WANT to understand.

Admittedly, Britai is pretty nonplussed as well, and Exsedol even throws in a little “I told you so.” However, unlike Kamujin, they’ll learn to respect this power of culture.

3. And Hikaru sees Kaifun kissing Minmay, but misses her push Kaifun away. And of course, it hits Hikaru pretty hard. Although, really… two episodes ago, you saw them go into a hotel together, and you assumed they were going to have sex… this shouldn’t be THAT shocking…

4. Hikaru’s immediate reaction upon being asked if the Zentradi defectors should be allowed to stay on the Macross is a pretty resolute no. Again, Hikaru’s just not the progressive type… Thankfully, he sees the error of his ways quickly enough.

5. And of course, it turns out that Zentradi are pretty much EXACTLY the same as humans. This, uh, won’t get explained for a while.

6. Hikaru and Misa get to spend a tender moment together, cleaning up Nyan-Nyan. Luckily (FINALLY), Misa realizes that her infatuation with Kaifun was pretty silly. It’s a pity Hikaru isn’t as smart as Misa is.

She even brings it up, and is surprised he hasn’t told her that he likes her. Hikaru blows it off, but that really IS the main problem, isn’t it?

7. For the second time, Misa draws a comparison between herself and the Zentradi. I don’t have anything to say about that, I just thought it was interesting.

8. (The fact that they’re having this conversation in Minmay’s aunt and uncle’s restaurant, under a framed, signed photo of Minmay is kind of telling… even the writers want him to move on!)

9. So Misa decides that she must leave and go to High Command to plead their case for peace talks, and finally convinces Global. And then, in an episode, again, mostly done by Star Pro, there’s an absolutely brilliant ending shot, with Hikaru and Misa just missing each other at an elevator. Both of them still kind of look off-model, but the camera rotation is perfectly done, and the scene is well-directed. I get the feeling, though, that this scene, while not done by the A-team, isn’t the work of Star Pro…

And yes, now we know that the staff knows that we know that Hikaru and Misa are meant for each other. Too bad Hikaru doesn’t realize it.

10. Another episode that I tend to forget, or at least conflate with the previous one, but I’m not sure why, because a lot of important stuff happens here.

I *do* wonder how much of these episodes were scripted before the series got extended, since, without the post-war episodes, we’d have no clue as to WHY the Zentradis’ genetic makeup is the same as the humans’. And that, as far as I can tell, it pretty much the ONLY loose end left by Episode 27. But I’ll rant about that later.

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 23 – LOVE CONCERT

Ep.22

SUPER DIMENSION FORTRESS MACROSS
EPISODE 22: LOVE CONCERT

ICONIC SCENE: Hikaru decides what he really needs to fight for. The moron.

STORY DATE: January 2010

BROADCAST DATE: March 20, 1983

1. As Bodolzaa watches the footage of the barrier overload, I like that the same squiggly sound effect from his destruction in Do You Remember Love (as the song fades out) is used. Probably just a coincidence, but it FEELS like foreshadowing.

And of course, his take-away from this is that they need to capture another miclone for study… and THEN annihilate them all. Another gamble… and another gamble he’ll lose.

2. And the Minmay doll’s victory march has begun, as word spreads around Britai’s ship of some of the amazing things the three spies brought back, especially this thing called “song.”

There’s a real childlike enthusiasm among the Zentradi here which makes these scenes genuinely charming. Their reaction isn’t played for laughs, but it’s fun (and funny) to see word get spread around.

Kamujin of course misunderstands this as the soldiers being scared of the Macross… Dude, they’re not scared, they’re FASCINATED.

(Although it gets a little weird when Kamujin’s advisor, Oigur, mentions that some Zentradi are talking about surrendering… and yet Loli doesn’t come up with that idea until a few scenes later.)

3. Meanwhile, Hikaru’s brooding again (big surprise). Again, you might have thought he had found a new love in MIsa last episode, but here he doubles down on his infatuation with Minmay, and it’s as pathetic as it sounds. Not as pathetic as it’s GOING to get, but pathetic nonetheless.

4. This, by the way, is another sequence that seems to get fans really angry at Minmay, and I can’t figure out why. Hikaru hasn’t actually spoken to her in weeks. Everything about their “relationship” is happening inside his head at this point, and she has no idea any of this is going on.

Again, I understand the problem: for Hikaru, there’s an “us” in his head: Minmay and him. And he doesn’t want to kill that idea. For anyone sensible (like, say, you and me), it’s clear at this point that Misa is a much better match for him. But to get angry at Minmay for messing that up is missing the reality: that this is all Hikaru’s doing. Minmay has no volition in his fantasies.

5. “Love Drifts Away”!! First appearance of this crucial song!

6. Kaifun notes that Minmay looks especially lovely today, which she doesn’t. Thanks, as usual, to Star Pro.

7. And Claudia reacts to “Love Drifts Away” in exactly the way she’s meant to… Giving us some nice shots of her and Roy together…. which, again, would’ve been nicer if they hadn’t been done by Star Pro. Although I do enjoy that Focker coordinates his outfit to match Skull One.

Vanessa points out that “you can’t forget a love like that so easily,” and I guess it’s true, since Claudia essentially becomes an alcoholic spinster, as we’ll find out later.

And Misa is also quite affected by the song (to the Bridge Bunnies’ befuddlement) and you’d THINK she’d be remembering Riber, but no… it’s Kaifun. I cannot WAIT for this subplot to vanish.

8. Um… how do Britai and Exsedol know that the Daedalus Attack is called the “Daedalus Attack”…? Did the Bridge Bunnies tell the spies something they shouldn’t have…? (I guess so, since apparently the spies brought back info about the Macross’s “attack patterns.”)

And yes, it basically turns into chaos, as some of the Zentradi start attacking the city and others don’t (This, um, would’ve been a lot clearer if the animation had been better). But even someone as dense as Hikaru realizes that some of the pods he’s fighting aren’t fighting back.

9. Meanwhile, Kaifun does something that is either entirely badass or entirely stupid, in having Minmay continue the concert, even once it’s clear that battle pods are on board the ship. He (and everyone there) is extraordinarily lucky that music is affecting the Zentradi like it does, or else they all would’ve been barbecued instantly.

Still, he does get nearly crushed by a falling stage light. Never let it be said he doesn’t have the courage of his convictions.

10. Honestly, this episode (and next episode) are ones that I tend to forget about when thinking over the series. This also happens with some of the post-war episodes, but no others. Part of it, I’m sure, is how bad this episode looks, and that this one doesn’t really have an ending, it just kinda stops (making it easy to conflate with the next one in my head). But the climax is being set up here, and the Zentradi begin defecting. Of course, Hikaru also makes the colossally dumb decision to dedicate himself to Minmay’s safety, like she’s ever gonna know about that. But I’ll save my condemnation of him for another time.

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 22 – MICRO COSMOS

Ep.21

SUPER DIMENSION FORTRESS MACROSS
EPISODE 21: MICRO COSMOS

ICONIC SCENE: Minmay: the Motion Picture.

STORY DATE: January 2010

SCENARIO TITLE: MACRO COSMOS (Yes, really.)

BROADCAST DATE: March 13, 1983

1. First off, two drama albums apparently happen around this time, although neither of them truly make sense to do so: “Miss DJ” and “Snow Falling in the Galaxy.” The first because “Shao Pai Lon” (which, yes, means “Small White Dragon”) opened around the time it was supposedly recorded, the second because it’s the Christmas album.

If the second is true, I guess the previous episode happened AFTER Christmas, because the three spies are still there in the short story that comes with the album (and, really, is better than than the music itself).

In the notes to that album, Noboru Ishiguro mentioned that they wanted to have a Christmas episode for the main part of Macross, and that this is what it was going to have been… if that’s truly the case, I think the timeline would’ve been different because, based on the dialogue and reactions of the civilians, it certainly seems like the Macross has not yet reached earth. It’s still a good story, though, and y’all should read it.

The three spies also get brought up in Miss DJ, but that album is such a mishmash of things from all through the show that trying to pinpoint when it’s meant to happen is futile.

2. Minmay’s movie is a kung-fu movie, despite (according to “My Fair Minmay”) protestations from the executives (who wanted a love story) (or, um, a porno).

Minmay’s not having much fun at the promo party, possibly because it seems like she’s the only person there who isn’t drunk.

Jamis Merin returns for the second (and final) time, and it’s kinda sad to see that she is still after Minmay… at the end of “My Fair Minmay,” she seemed to have given up…

3. Ah, if only the writers had foreseen answering machines… let alone SmartPhones… Then Hikaru’s reserved seat never would’ve been an issue…

4. Milia finds the line for Shao Pai Lon, and, for a brief moment, thinks Kaifun is the one who defeated her. Thank goodness she never met HIM for a knife fight in the park… One of them would’ve ended up dead (I’m not sure which, though, honestly).

When Minmay and Kaifun show up, a sign behind them proudly proclaims “AKINA,” again, a reference to the pop idol Akina Nakamori.

Inside the theater, Milia is ironically sitting one person away from Max.

5. The Director of Shao Pai Lon is, of course, playing by Macross director Noboru Ishiguro, and is named “Sho Blackstone,” “Sho” being an alternate reading of the kanji for “Noboru,” and “Blackstone” just being “Ishiguro” in English (a similar gag happens in Frontier, and yes, the name “Sho Blackstone” has been used before, for a MIss Macross contestant).

I note that Minmay and Kaifun are both wearing the same outfits they wore at the party the previous night, which seems like a major fashion no-no. I’m sure Perez Hilton will be after them for this.

And every time I watch this, when the director asks Kaifun if he has anything to add, I’m always scared Kaifun’s going to launch into another anti-war speech.

And Minmay has another new song, the theme for the film. It’s really catchy and nice to listen to, unless you’ve played the old side-scrolling shooter game, where it repeats infinitely, and gets real tiring real quickly.

The screening itself is pretty weird, as the movie appears to start playing while Minmay’s still performing the song live. And somehow the Zentradi mange to catch the film… you mean it’s being broadcast, not screened…?

And to continue being nit-picky, everyone calls Shao Pai Lon a kung-fu story, but it seems more like it’s a magical hero “wuxia” movie rather than a ’70s-style kung-fu film. Either way, it looks truly awful. It’s too bad Zhang Yimou wasn’t on the ship instead of Sho Blackstone. That said, when Kaifun shoots energy out of his fingers and knocks over a giant, Britai and Exsedol’s reaction is priceless.

6. Anyway, seeing Minmay and Kaifun kiss proves too much for Hikaru, and he leaves and ends up colliding with Misa’s ass. If that HAD to happen, it’s a good thing it’s happening NOW, rather than ten or fifteen episodes ago. Still, he comes close to ruining it by insisting that no one would want to touch Misa’s butt except by accident. Smooth, man.

7. During the transformation, Minmay imagines that Hikaru is rescuing her instead of Kaifun. Is she FINALLY falling (so to speak) for the poor, hard-up kid? Nope.

8. Then we get the THIRD scene in the show where Hikaru can only relate to women while trapped inside some remote part of a spaceship. The conversation starts a little awkward and nasty, with Misa pulling rank first, and Hikaru giving her the silent treatment, only thawing out when Misa admits that she gets lonely if people don’t talk (and, honestly, a have a hard time believing that… she seems so introverted that I’d imagine she’d be okay with silence).

During the conversation, Misa and Hikaru both confront their feelings for Kaifun and Minmay. Misa (thankfully) will get over her crush soon, but Hikaru still has a long ways to go on that front. At one point, he says that the time when he was trapped with Minmay feels like ten years ago. I count it as ten months, which still seems quite long enough to have gotten over it.

9. And then it hits… and Hikaru and Misa ALMOST kiss, but get interrupted by the ship transforming back. Between that and seeing Minmay and Kaifun going into a hotel together (for a party, I’m guessing, and not the after-movie sex that Hikaru imagines), you’d think the love story would be all wrapped up, wouldn’t you? No fear.

10. A mostly quiet episode, with a lot of nice comic touches (I already mentioned Britai and Exsedol’s shock at the movie, but there are lots of others, including Max checking out Milia, and Shammy taking over Misa’s position on the bridge).

Again, the movie looks awful, and seems like a very un-idol-like film to make. Momoe Yamaguchi in the ’70s kinda set the tone for those, doing a series of movies about young love in which the girl dies at the end. I can see why the Macross staff went with something a little flashier (and probably more within their realm of interest), but it’s still deeply weird.

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 21 – PARADISE LOST

Ep.20

SUPER DIMENSION FORTRESS MACROSS
EPISODE 20: PARADISE LOST

ICONIC SCENE: “Hey, remember that time you started eating a pack of cigarettes…?”

STORY DATE: December 2009

BROADCAST DATE: March 6, 1983

1. I suppose you could call this episode a “transitional” one, as it begins to set up the climax. The Macross has to leave earth, the three spies report back, Milia arrives (although she’s not in this episode), and Britai returns (with the thousand-strong Adoclas Fleet). These developments don’t bring about the climax on their own, but they position the pieces so that the checkmate can take place.

But yeah, there does seem to be something “purely functional” about this episode, and it’s not just because the animation quality is back down again (yet again, thanks, Star Pro!). As always, a first-time viewer, not knowing where the story was going, probably wouldn’t have noticed.

2. Off-model art aside, the opening discussion between Britai and Bodolzaa (who of course will eventually face off against each other) is pretty great, especially since Bodolzaa grants Britai the huge Adoclas Fleet, yet sees that something is amiss with him, and doesn’t QUITE trust him anymore. Another gamble on Bodolzaa’s part, and again, he’ll end up losing.

3. When we see the Macross again, it’s transformed back into cruiser mode… then we go back inside and see “Macross Nald’s” hamburger restaurant, which is a cute gag, but also serves to bring home the point that the two very preppy-looking kids there bring up: that they no longer feel like citizens of any particular country (err… I mean, “Autonomous Region”) of earth. By this point, they’re “Macrossians.” Which is a nice glass-half-full way of looking at it, really. True, no one else wants them, but they have their own community by now that no outsider would really be able to understand.

4. Hikaru tears up while trying to write the letter to Kakizaki’s parents (Kenichi and Yoshimi), before being interrupted by Max, who got promoted and has his own team now. We’ll never see his team, but we will see his new VF-1J (in a few episodes).

Their ensuing conversation drives home a looming understanding: that being on the Macross (which is, naturally, all that the Zentradi are interested in) is basically a death sentence. The show hammers this in a few times, enough that when it turns out be the reverse, our surprise is genuine.

5. The three spies are getting ready to leave, and their conflict is obvious. Warera has apparently turned into something of a gourmet cook, and no one is completely looking forward to going back home. Heck, they’ve even saved a whole bunch of souvenirs (which include an odd Minmay “holo-disc,” where she’s posing from her fake wedding with Hikaru from Episode 4… two thoughts there – first, that it’s amazing she’d use something so private as an album cover, and second, no wonder Hikaru can’t get that moment off his mind).

(I also salute the forward-thinking vision of the designers, in having them listen to Minmay on a boom box CD-player. If the story were set in 1994, it’d be spot-on.)

Oh, and where did they get their Reguld from?

6. Britai seems to view returning to the front as a homecoming of sorts. It’s hard to imagine that he already realizes that he’ll end up switching sides, but the seeds are being furiously planted in this episode.

7. Okay, I call shenanigans: there is NO WAY the three spies could’ve fit everything they brought back into that Reguld. A refrigerator AND a grand piano…? And then they kept even more…

8. And here is where the defeat of the Zentradi becomes assured, as the three (former) spies share culture with their comrades.

I can’t believe that that the Zentradi could actually TASTE the miclone candy, though, unless Zentradi taste buds are as super-enhanced as their bodies are.

(Although my favorite part, bar none, shows up in a few episodes, when the other Zentradi express surprise that there is actually MORE THAN ONE SONG in existence.)

9. Global has gotten a lot better at addressing the civilians since the last time he had to break bad news to them, but still… it’s Minmay who manages to rally everyone together. And sing a new song, the yearning “My Beautiful Place.” Hell, it even moves Kaifun to give Global a pat on the shoulder.

10. Again, a functional episode, but not a bad one (I don’t think there is a truly BAD episode… even if the art looks bad, the script usually works. And even if the script isn’t great, the voice acting works). And on that functional level, at least, I enjoy seeing everything come into place. Again, we’re not at the climax, but we’re getting very close, and seeing the picture take form is fun.