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.