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.

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4 thoughts on “THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 27 – MESSENGER

  1. While I do hate Robotech’s “Minmay Can Not Sing”, I sort of assumed it was a money thing, not a deliberate decision. As in, Macek/HG (Reba West’s Wikipedia article says she used to star in low-budget could not afford a decent singer, so they had to make do with the singing of a second-rate actress. It was 1985, so you could not exactly pick an unknown with a cute voice and promising skill off YouTube.

    (Also he sort of handwaves the Zentraedi connection with her as being about her person not her songs, which, of course, does not explain how she became so popular among the humans on the Macross.)

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    1. I’m not sure why you’re bringing up her voice… I was talking only about the writing of the show (and the song). Her performance wasn’t an issue…

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      1. Aha – I see where I missed your point. When you wrote about her being stupid and her song horrible, I thought of the way she sings (it’s a matter of skill as well as voice), because that was what I saw as the most stupid and horrible part.

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