THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 37 – Farewell to Tenderness

Ep.36

SUPER DIMENSION FORTRESS MACROSS
EPISODE 36: Farewell to Tenderness

ICONIC SCENE: “Thanks for being obsessed with me for the last three years, I guess. Enjoy your second-best girl.”

STORY DATE: January 2012

BROADCAST DATE: June 26, 1983

1. So it’s clearly sometime later. Minmay is still living with Hikaru, and Misa’s thinking about leaving the service. Minmay is being awfully pushy about trying to get Hikaru to quit. One wonders if it’s just the danger he’s in that scares her, or if it’s also his close working proximity to Misa… Again, I’ve been a staunch Minmay defender throughout this rewatch, finding that at pretty much every turn in the story, she is NOT the self-centered little brat that many people seem to think she is (and that Robotech consciously turned her into), but in this episode, that all comes crashing down. She’s terrible here… whiny and selfish. But, as I’ve pointed out at length previously, Misa and (especially) Hikaru are pretty bad, too.

Suddenly, for the first time ever, MINMAY’S the one who becomes nostalgic for the time they were trapped back in Episode 4, and forgetting that she (with a lot of help from Focker) was the one who suggested he go into the military in the first place. So she pressured him to get in then, she’s pressuring him to get out now, and she brings up the ONE MEMORY he’s been clinging to for nearly THREE YEARS now. This is really manipulative, Minmay…

2. Kamujin, having stolen a reaction engine last time, finally lifts off to destroy the Macross and then go back into space. The Amazon scenes aren’t as lovingly detailed as they were last episode, but it’s a nice contrast to the snowy, gray Macross City.

3. This is the first time we’ve seen the old bridge of the Macross since Episode 27, and it’s sad to see it looking like a dingy old attic. So Global gives Misa her new assignment as the captain of the still-under-construction (on the Moon) SDF-2, and reveals that even HE knows about the problems between her and Hikaru.

He gives her a big pep talk by describing his plan… If more Zentradi or the Supervision Army come to earth, humanity will not survive. So his plan is to send emigration ships out to as many planets as possible, so that earth’s culture will never die out. Interestingly, Misa first thinks he’s talking about strengthening earth’s defenses, which he dismisses, saying that that’s PART of the plan, but if that were the whole of it, humanity would become as militarized as the Zentradi, and all would still be lost. A lot of old-school fans say they prefer the military flavor in this first series as opposed to the follow-ups (especially loudly as of this writing, with the preview episode of Delta getting A LOT of diverse reactions), but a less military society is one of Global’s stated aims.

(Unsaid in all of this is the big question… with something like 99% of humanity wiped out just a couple of years ago, where are they going to find the people to populate these new worlds? The hand-wave answer is, of course, cloning, which I believe first gets mentioned in Macross Perfect Memory, and gets greatly expanded upon in Macross Chronicle. Just as with the Nature Reclamation Plan, it’s nice that later writers did their best to make this seem plausible, but I think it’s better not to examine it too closely. But to point out one bit about it, the clones are actually not full clones of individuals, but composite clones made up of DNA from many different people all mixed together. So it’s probable that characters we meet in later shows have the genes of these characters, even if there’s no direct bloodline.)

4. Hikaru is seen playing with a model of a VF-X-4, the prototype for the VF-4 that we see in Flashback 2012. Despite or because of its limited screen time, it has of course become a fan favorite. He also looks quite pensive and dour here, which made it odd when, last year, this seemed to be the main image used by geeky news organizations in their announcement that Sony had gotten the rights to the Robotech live-action movie. Yep, the main character looking glum is a sure-fire way to get people excited!

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5. So Misa, gathering what’s left of her tattered dignity, goes to see Hikaru and Minmay to say that she’s leaving, and that she loves Hikaru. She even has the grace to tell Minmay that she likes her songs. She’s a model of restraint and composure. Then she runs away. Hikaru starts to run after her and Minmay JUMPS IN FRONT OF HIM to get him to stop. First off… Hikaru, you have been treating Misa like a consolation prize for YEARS now. You FINALLY got Minmay, which is who you wanted all along, and NOW you’re running after Misa? Remember Episode 29, where you ran after Minmay? MADE UP YOUR FUCKING MIND!

And Minmay? You come back into Hikaru’s life, turn it upside-down, push him towards quitting his job, wanting him to change everything FOR YOU, and then getting so possessive that you’re physically barring him from running after Misa? You’re being completely unreasonable, and you don’t even see it.

6. And of course, Kamujin chooses that exact moment to strike, with a barrage of missiles hitting the city. It looks pretty apocalyptic, even compared to the wholesale destruction in the previous episode. Melted buildings, bodies, the sky glowing orange… it looks like the city has been thoroughly flattened.

Amazingly, Misa is fine, just as she was in Alaska Base. She’s really lucky, isn’t she?

Anyway, Hikaru finds her and they look into each other’s eyes, and Hikaru realizes who he really loves, just as Minmay shows up and makes the choice easier by being extra clingy and extra screechy, with a dollop of cluelessness on top.

Of course, Hikaru doesn’t show a whole lot of intelligence here either, as when Minmay cries, “Don’t leave me alone,” he replies, “You’re not alone. You have your songs.” Oh, right. Yeah, those’ll help her reach a shelter without getting killed…

7. Then comes the attack on the Macross, and there’s even a fake-out death for Misa. Although I have to say that Kamujin’s aim is terrible. He probably could’ve taken out the ship with one shot, but hit the side instead.

And then we realize that the earlier scene on the old bridge was just there for the surprise here, as Misa and the Bridge Bunnies reach it only to find Global and Claudia already there, and all systems operational. It’s a pretty great reveal.

8. It’s also pretty great when the Macross lifts off, and the theme song starts playing. The Macross fires its cannon one last time, and damages, but doesn’t destroy, Kamujin’s ship (man… EVERYONE has bad aim here… Maybe it’s because they’re both using old beat-up ships…?). It’s enough to wound Kamujin and kill his advisor (or whatever), Oigur, and so he decides to ram the Macross. Again, bad aim, and he only succeeds in destroying the Daedalus. Still, the Macross looks pretty wrecked…

9. It seems like there’s a scene or two missing after that, because the next shot is of the ruined Macross, and Hikaru landing near it, to find Misa waiting for him at the shore of the lake. How did she get there? Where’s everybody else? Is everyone else okay? (Yes, they are.)

Anyway, Minmay shows up, and on the whole, it’s much less awkward than you’d think. Hikaru finally seems to have made up his mind that it’s Misa he wants, and I guess he might actually stick to it this time (I thought the same thing after episodes 27 and 33, though…). More to the point, Minmay seems content to let him go, and since it takes two to tango, that’s the important thing.

Then the book closes with “A.D. 2012. So long,” although we’ll see everyone again much sooner than that. And then we get an ending we’ve never heard before, with Minmay singing “Runner.”

10. So yeah, I’ve got a lot of problems with this episode, but it wraps up nicely enough. It’s worth noting that this is the only episode in which Shoji Kawamori gets scriptwriting credit. And I’m disappointed that Mikimoto didn’t do any of the character scenes (that was the previous episode), but I’m sure he had his hands full with Do You Remember Love and Orguss at this point.

Of course, I note that the first time I saw this, as part of Robotech, I had no idea it was the final episode, because it wasn’t. The following day (a Tuesday), I was perplexed as suddenly everything became totally different. I kinda sorta grew to like the following “generations,” but it was never the same, or anywhere near as enthralling.

(I also note that in order to keep the story open, the Robotech writers had to do some real violence to the dialogue and events of this episode, including getting rid of Global’s plan to create colonies throughout the galaxy, which is of paramount importance here. They also kill off the bridge crew, which, yes, adds a heightened sense of drama, but also seems unnecessary. The original is still silent enough on that point, though, that I didn’t realize that they HAD survived until many years later, when I got “Macross 7 Docking Festival,” which talks about them. And I’m not even gonna touch the whole SDF-2 issue, nor “Gloval’s” assigning “Lisa” as the captain of it and then saying, “We leave tomorrow,” despite the fact it was under construction secretly and she didn’t even know about it.)

If you read the early scenarios, even when the series was reduced from 52 episodes to 39, there was still an epilogue somewhat like this in it. After the big battle with the Main Fleet, the story would jump ahead fifteen years, with dozens of Megaroad ships criss-crossing the galaxy. Hikaru had died some years before in a test piloting accident, and Misa (then named “Aki”), would be a captain of a Megaroad and leave earth with their children. I’m kind of relieved they didn’t go that route.

(Oh, and Max was probably supposed to die during the series as well, since one of the episode summaries during pre-production just says, enigmatically, “the genius falls.”)

FINAL. So that’s the end of the series. Some ups, some downs, but still, overall, an excellent show. I wish the Star Pro episodes hadn’t been done by Star Pro, and I think the post-war episodes weren’t quite as good as the first part of the show (two or three of them would’ve sufficed, rather than a full quarter of the series).

(I mean, really… what’s important about them? The factory satellite, maybe. The history of the Zentradi and the Protoculture, yes. The emigration plan, assuredly. The rest…? Not so much.)

And it’s totally clear why the show at its best was a real bombshell among otaku, for showing what the “anime generation” (i.e. those who grew up in the ’70s, and watched as anime became its own distinct “thing,” and grew ever more sophisticated) could do when given a chance. Run Sasaki, voice actress for Vanessa, said at the most recent Macross World Con that she thought of otaku as real “can-do” people, which was certainly true of the staff at Studio Nue and Artland. And Macross is kind of the perfect series to demonstrate that. It tickles nerds in all the right places, especially for the early ’80s in Japan (thinking especially of the “idol boom,” of course) while also being a series that you could sit your more respectable friends down with (or hell, even your girlfriend), and they will probably dig it, too.

But of course, this was just the FIRST step for the Anime Generation… let’s see what they come up with next, shall we…?

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3 thoughts on “THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 37 – Farewell to Tenderness

  1. Was there ever any explanation for why Macek et al decided that the bridge crew had to die? Just so that they had an explanation for why they weren’t around in Southern Cross?

    It seems like they could have kept the same story and just said “fifty years have passed since the Zentradei Invasion. Human colony ships led by Lisa Hayes, Rick Hunter, and the other heroes have departed and long since vanished in deep space, beyond the reach of all communication. Meanwhile, back on Earth…”

    Like

  2. Anyway, it doesn’t matter, anymore than if you or I said, “Max dies! Because I said so!”

    The creators are what matters here, not the people who adapted it.

    Like

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