SUPER DIMENSION FORTRESS MACROSS
EPISODE 32: BROKEN HEART
ICONIC SCENE: “Today’s culture is tasty!”
STORY DATE: November 2011
BROADCAST DATE: May 29, 1983
1. Well, here we are… halfway through the post-war episodes, we get the OTHER contender for “worst episode.” It’s Star Pro, so it looks bad, and the story is total filler. Still, there’s a silver lining here… this is the FINAL completely-done-by-Star Pro episode, so there will never be a complete episode that looks this bad again (they also did some scenes for Episode 34 and 36, so PORTIONS of those look terrible, but nowhere near as bad as this). Of course, there are only four episodes left…
2. So yeah, this is the one where Kamujin kidnaps Minmay and Kaifun. They end up getting rescued, and absolutely nothing of consequence happens.
3. And yet, it’s nice to see that Kaifun still has some of the courage of his convictions, as he would rather die than let Kamujin have a warship. Say what you will about him (and I’ve said plenty), when things come down to the wire, he can be surprising with his bravery. At the episode’s end, though, it’s clear he’s (STILL!) learned nothing.
4. Probably the most interesting thing in the episode is Kamujin’s point that the Zentradi were merely surprised by Minmay’s singing, and now they’re getting over it. Which is pretty grim when you think about it, since it means that the Zentradi will never become permanently cultured and will always remain a threat. It’s a more realistic way of looking at things, I guess… I’m reminded of after the Berlin Wall was torn down, and there were plenty of news stories about “the Wall in the mind,” where many of the people from East Germany had real trouble fitting in once the country was reunified. After a generation or two, of course, it becomes less of a problem… but here, with presumably trillions or quadrillions of Zentradi in the galaxy, they’re going to need a better fix. On the other hand, the point never gets brought up again, so maybe Kamujin’s just mistaken (not a big stretch to imagine).
5. Still, the idea of Kamujin taking some aspects of culture and rejecting the rest has some fascinating implications, in that the Zentradi might end up developing some kind of more personal, hybrid culture that doesn’t draw on human history and ideas, but again, this is never explored (and how could it be, really? It would require so much explanation so as not to leave viewers completely lost that you’d need to devote two or three half-hour episodes just to a narrator explaining what the hell the Zentradi are doing).
6. So they hatch a plan to rescue Minmay and Kaifun. A character in Dave McKean’s wonderful comic, “Cages,” once pointed out that if, in a story like this, someone says, “I have a plan,” and then it fades out, you know it’s going to succeed, whereas if they outline the plan in detail on-screen, you know something’s going to go wrong. Here, it fades in as Claudia’s saying, “…and that’s the plan” to Misa, so it’s pretty clear the plan’s going to work.
7. What’s kinda funny about this episode is that it’s by far the most time we’ve spent with Kamujin, Lap’Lamiz, and Oigur in… well, EVER… and they’re revealed to act exactly like young thugs out of a Japanese ’70s juvenile delinquent film, except that no one gets raped. Seriously, as bad as the artwork here is, they even kind of look the part. Lap’Lamiz’s ability to drink harder than the guys seems especially appropriate.
8. Kaifun tries his peace talk stuff, and naturally, it totally doesn’t work. Even Minmay’s getting fed up with him, saying he’s “all talk,” and I understand that. I’m still slightly puzzled as why falling out of love with Kaifun necessitates falling in love with Hikaru, though.
And then Kamujin and Lap’Lamiz demonstrate that they know how to “make culture,” which might be the best scene in the episode, and even got referenced at the end of the 2009 Macross Crossover concert, where Yuichi Meguro, voice actor for Kamujin, was an announcer, and told the crowd, “Now go home! And don’t make culture with your lover on your way back!”
(Another good scene happens immediately after, with the battroid lighting the Zentradi’s cigarette with a gunpod.)
9. I have to wonder if the staff by the point were prepared for the low quality of the work Star Pro would do, because, while the big battle looks goofy, it seems like it might have been MEANT to look goofy. Certainly, it’s not a terribly serious or high-stakes campaign, since it’s just a diversion for Hikaru to get in and rescue Minmay and Kaifun. Sure, it would’ve looked better if Itano and Anno had done it themselves, but it doesn’t suffer much by having the B-Team (to be generous) handle it. It makes it funnier, at any rate, and being funny doesn’t play against the mood of the scene the way it did in, say, Max and Milia’s knife fight (although the FOLLOWING scene, where Hikaru and Minmay reunite, is pretty hysterical).
I mean, you’ve got Kamujin riding a Destroid Monster like a horse. How can you NOT play that for laughs?
And hey, Toynami eventually made a (*ahem*) “Masterpiece” Collection toy of the animation mistake of the VF-1A with two little guns on each side of its head, so SOMEONE at least has cracked this episode’s bones open and sucked all the marrow out. And then licked the plate.
(Oh, and, once rescued, Minmay has a completely different outfit on. When did she change?)
10. So, yeah… an entirely trivial episode. Even though it shows Minmay finally falling in love with Hikaru, it could be cut, and the progress of the love story plotline would still seem natural. Indeed, this throws it out of whack, having Minmay fall for Hikaru two episodes too early. That said… again, I like the implications that Kamujin tosses out every other scene, and the cigarette-lighting scene is funny.
So which is the worst episode…? Right now, I’m leaning towards 25, because that was an incredibly important story done badly. Which, in its way, is worse than an unnecessary story done badly.