THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 66 – PLUS VOL. 3

+ Ep.3

MACROSS PLUS
EPISODE 3

ICONIC SCENE: “I have officially lost everything.”

STORY DATE: 2040

RELEASE DATE: February 21, 1995

1. We open with the same gunshot sound we left off with, nearly two months before, followed by ambulance sirens. Isamu looks terrible when we first see him, hooked up to tubes and lying in a pool of black goo in the hospital. He looks worse here than he actually is, and I think everyone watching this probably drew a sharp breath when they first saw him, and then a sigh of relief when they realized that all his limbs are still attached.

2. Guld, for his part, comes out and lies to the court about his role in adding live ammo to the YF-19’s gunpod. I note that, even with three albums and one maxi-single of overlapping material, the music in this scene has not been released.

Millard, at this point says that fighter pilots are the most self-confident people around. “Men who, even when they’re hurt, think they can beat their opponent.” This line of course gets played out later in the episode.

Anyway, the upshot is that General Gomez (who’s not in the movie, even in name… at least one line has been changed that referenced him) halts the project while they check the software that would’ve malfunctioned and loaded the ammo to the 19.

Guld and Millard talk, and while they’re evasive, it’s clear that Guld was lying and Millard knows he was lying. However, they don’t really explain anything, leaving the situation the horribly confused mess that I described some weeks ago. And then Millard says something about the Unified Forces thinking there’s “no room for manned fighters” in the future… Hmm…

3. Isamu and Myung drive off together, and we get the “quiet moment where the characters begin to fall in love.” At least, Myung vents her frustrations, and Isamu responds with what, for him, passes for sympathy. Then he sees a giant dino-bird and he’s off chasing it.

There’s also a scene with Jan (as always, official spelling aside, I refuse to accept it as “Yang”) and Lucy talking about Isamu running off, and the way it’s handled is a great example of the difference between this series and Macross II. Macross II had plenty of scenes of characters in empty rooms, standing still and talking. Here, there’s a lot of motion from both characters, and they’re talking to each other from either side of a huge fish tank. I’m sure this scene was way more expensive, but it’s always visually interesting… which is important, since this is anime, not a radio show.

And then we get the fist fight, referring both to Millard’s earlier line about pilots thinking they can win even when wounded, AND replaying the almost-fight from Episode 1. There, as you’ll recall, Myung jumped between them, and Guld stopped his punch. Here, she does the same thing again, but too late: Isamu smacks her right in the jaw.

When Myung breaks down and tells everyone Sharon’s dirty little secret, I note that no one shows any compassion for poor Jan, who’s most likely just had his greatest dream completely shattered.

4. Myung seems to get a lot of flak for being primarily a mopey sad-sack, but honestly, that’s the part of her character that DOES make sense to me. Yes, she’s outwardly successful, but the sham is tearing her apart inside, and she literally has nothing else in her life. Of course she’s going to be bitter, depressed, and angry to come back to her old home and confront memories that she really doesn’t want to face again. As I said before, the part that really doesn’t make sense to me is her solicitousness towards Guld, but I’ll go into that next time.

Anyway, I wonder if part of the problem might be the voice actress… while the Macross Plus English version is one of the true high standards of American anime dubbing, Myung’s voice actress (Riva Spier, who now has her own fitness program in Studio City, called Rivafit) is good, but not quite as good as Rica Fukami from the Japanese dub. Fukami’s voice sounds truly raw and painful. The English version sometimes comes off as whiny and perhaps a little insincere.

On a lighter note, the airport departures sign in the scene when Myung is waiting for her flight shows, in Zentradi, that some destinations from Eden include Osaka, Tokyo, and Nagoya.

So Guld proposes, and Myung leaves for Earth. And, um… how long has she been on Eden, anyway? Since before the project started, and that seems to have been going on a while. I guess it all depends how compressed time was in those montages.

5. And then the project is cancelled, all due to the Ghost X-9. About the Ghost… it gets a reputation as a real killer thanks to this series, but it’s easy to forget that there were Ghosts in the original series, as well. I didn’t even know those were unmanned until well after I saw Plus… Anyway, those Ghosts are never seen doing anything terribly spectacular. So, yeah… the Ghosts are not a new idea for Macross, but their speed, agility, and firepower sure are. And that will inform other Macross shows to come.

6. And of course, Millard tells them precisely where the unveiling of the Ghost will be held, and adds an obligatory “Don’t do anything we’ll regret,” although I’m sure he knows EXACTLY what Isamu’s going to do with that information.

7. And then Lucy tells Isamu that she got the message Myung was leaving and didn’t tell him. I kinda sympathize with her… Isamu did toss her aside pretty quickly.

And the POV shot of Isamu falling backwards is really well-done.

8. Ha! When we get to Earth, there’s ANOTHER mention of the New Unified Government, as established thirty years previously. This is remarkably consistent with the original series… until we get to Frontier.

The Spaceport near Macross City is named after Global… does that mean he’s dead…? He’d only be 81 at this point…

Macross City itself has grown considerably over the last thirty years, and now looks like a true metropolis. The crisscrossing highway leading up to the Macross is, according to the This Is Animation Special for the Plus Movie Edition, based on Orlando, Florida.

And it should be clear to everyone that Marj has gone a little bonkers by this point, talking about his dreams being realized. To her credit, Myung kinda gives him a strange look, but it’s not until he murders Sharon’s owner, Mr. Reymond, that she KNOWS he’s a bonus disc and a director’s commentary short of a blu-ray box set.

Sharon, by the way, seems virtually omnipotent now, in that she can seemingly project herself anywhere, take over any computer system, somehow make cables move the way she wants them to… Some people complain about “magic” in Macross, but Sharon’s powers seem WAY more magical than, say, the floating rocks in Zero, or Walküre’s transformations.

9. Meanwhile, as anyone might have guessed, Isamu steals the YF-19 to interrupt the demonstration of the Ghost X-9. What IS surprising is that Jan is hanging out in the back seat, and I definitely love the bit where he stands up to Isamu and says that the 19 is not Isamu’s plane alone.

Honestly, as I said before, Isamu, as charming as he can be, kinda, is truly a self-centered, arrogant jerk, and it’s nice to see him get that flung back in his face for once.

They leave using the Fold Booster… but I thought that was experimental in Macross Seven, five years later…?

10. And, the first time I watched it, as the percussion for the ending theme began to fade in, I actually shouted at the TV, “NO! Don’t end here! DON’T END HERE!! DAMMIT!!” This really is the best cliffhanger in the entire series, and the fact that I was yelling at my TV is the best compliment I can give it, since honestly, I never do stuff like that.

So yes, a quieter episode than we’ve had, but man, does it build to its climax. The wait for the next episode was excruciating.

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 65 – Falling Little Devil

7 Ep.18

MACROSS SEVEN
EPISODE 18: Falling Little Devil

ICONIC SCENE: Dammit, Gamlin…

STORY DATE: July 2045

SCENARIO TITLE: ROCKIN’ ON

BROADCAST DATE: February 19, 1995

1. This episode starts with a dream sequence that seems meant to deliberately invoke Episode 17 of the original Macross. Mylene’s on a rock in space, Basara is comatose, floating near her, Gigil moves to grab Mylene, and Gamlin, shouting “Gamlin kick!” comes to her rescue.

The sequence only lasts about a minute, and doesn’t really have much to do with the rest of the episode, but it’s cute.

2. The problem for Gamlin now is that he feels useless. One team member killed, one drained of spiritia, and he couldn’t even come close to defeating Sivil.

And the fact that Basara is now being hailed as the hero of the fleet is the real insult.

So Gamlin does the only thing he can… puts on his fabulous orange shirt!

3. Meanwhile Ray has been analyzing Basara’s music, and thinks he’s isolated what affected Sivil. That makes absolutely no sense, but okay…

4. Communications is briefly restored between City 7 and Battle 7, and Milia is extremely harsh to Max. Even when he asks if Mylene is all right, her response is that he should come and talk to her himself. Ouch, woman… that’s low.

5. Gamlin ends up having a long talk to Ray, who explains that Basara and Mylene are precisely in synch with each other musically (oh, THAT’S not gonna make Gamlin jealous…), and even gives Gamlin a free ticket to the next Fire Bomber gig.

It really is amazing just how damn square Gamlin is… Again, he’s frightened of rock music.

6. He’s a little overwhelmed at the concert, although it looks pretty tame compared to some of the shows I’ve been to. Still, Mylene sees him, and that’s the important thing, right?

7. Sivil attacks, leading Gigil’s troops, so of course Basara heads out. Gamlin wants to, as well, but his VF-17 still isn’t repaired after the major damage Sivil inflicted on it last time, so he goes out… in Milia’s VF-1J.

This won’t end well.

8. The enemy attack is also rather novel, since they position their battleships around City 7 and plan to fold, taking the city with them when they do.

Battle 7 arrives and pushing Gigil’s flagship out of the way, but it’s still not enough to stop City 7 from folding away, although it throws off the coordinates somehow.

9. And Sivil stops to orgasm in front of Basara again. Gamlin TRIES to get her, but only ends up getting Milia’s Valk blown up.

And Sivil herself goes into shock and ends up inside City 7.

10. So yeah… as you can tell, I don’t have much to say about this episode. Gigil’s plan to fold City 7 is good, and Battle 7’s arrival is pretty great. Those and Milia’s Valk getting taken out are the highlights here. Along with Gamlin’s orange shirt.

Not bad, but a slight let-down after the awesomeness of the previous episode.

FLOWER GIRL SIGHTING: At the concert, standing next to Gamlin.

7 Ep.18f

EYECATCH: Sivil/Fire Bomber

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 64 – PRETTY DEVIL

7 Ep.17

MACROSS SEVEN
EPISODE 17: PRETTY DEVIL

ICONIC SCENE: UUUUU!

STORY DATE: July 2045

BROADCAST DATE: February 12, 1995

1. Another new beginning. While a mostly instrumental version of “Seventh Moon” plays, we get an introduction to the main ships of the fleet, the main characters, and the general situation at this point.

2. We then move to an icy planet we’ve never seen before, where Gigil, with a huge contraption on his back, fires a massive amount of spiritia into some kind of huge icicle, which wakes up our third “bad guy,” Sivil. First time viewers obviously won’t know what the hell is going on, and it’ll still be a while before they find out, but this is where the long-standing question of who the aliens are, exactly, begins to get answered.

And she rockets off immediately to City 7.

3. Huh… Mylene doesn’t seem to believe that Fire Bomber’s music woke Hayakawa up. I know she’s being positioned as the dissenting voice, but this seems to be going a little TOO far.

4. “Remember 16” gets its full debut this episode, as the song Basara is working on specifically to get Hayakawa’s memories back to him.

5. The conversation between Gigil and Geperunitchi must be mystifying (again) to first-time viewers… that Gigil woke Sivil but didn’t have enough spiritia to bring back Geperunitchi or himself…? Wait, aren’t they already awake? As always, everything will be made clear much further down the road.

6. Sivil’s attack is one of the most badass things in the series so far. It starts simply, almost like a horror movie, as she ambushes a patrol vehicle, and then when the advance battleship from Battle 7 arrives, she rushes in and just tears the living shit out of it. It’s awesome.

7. And it’s been a bad time for Diamond Force… Physica got killed last time, and Kinryu gets spiritia-drained here. In a very weird scene, Gamlin almost does as well.

8. And then Sivil meets Basara, and utters the immortal line, “Anima Spiritia.” The REAL love story of Macross 7 starts here.

Still, after apparently orgasming due to Basara’s extremely high spiritia, Sivil runs away. The media misunderstand and now view Basara as the hero who drove the enemy off.

9. And there’s an epilogue to the Physica story that actually gives it a lot of retroactive emotional resonance, as Gamlin approaches Physica’s wife and son in order to deliver the music box, only to discover that there’s as new man in their life. Even if Physica had made it back, it wouldn’t have been a warm welcome.

10. So yeah, this is one of my favorite episodes of the series. While I wish that the design for Sivil (and the rest of the Protodeviln) looked a little scarier, there’s no denying her strength. Right here, we’ve got a power that the Unified Forces can never beat. Victory isn’t going to come from the military here.

FLOWER GIRL SIGHTING: Watching the monitors as Sivil approaches Basara.

7 Ep.17f

EYECATCH: Basara/Sivil

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 63 – Music Box on the Battlefield

7 Ep.16

MACROSS SEVEN
EPISODE 16: Music Box on the Battlefield

ICONIC SCENE: Battle 7, like we’ve never seen her before (but will again. Many times).

STORY DATE: June 2045

SCENARIO TITLE: BRIDGE TACTICS

BROADCAST DATE: February 5, 1995

1. Mylene really seems to have gotten it into her head that she wants to be a Valkyrie pilot, and is now practicing with the Fire Valkyrie (without Basara’s permission).

2. And *sigh*… suddenly, we get a whole lot of backstory on Physica, including that he has a wife and kid on City 7, and that it’s his kid’s birthday. Considering that he’s barely been a character, even though he’s been part of Diamond Force ever since Docker got hit with the spiritia beam in Episode 1, his death in this episode is assured.

3. Most importantly for the overall plot, they discover that the captured pilot has been under mind control, and escapes when he’s being forcibly transferred to the hospital.

We catch up with him the next morning as he’s singing “Planet Dance” to himself, and, in a scene that I get the feeling is deliberately reminiscent of the old Boris Karloff Frankenstein, nearly attacks the Flower Girl… but it’s not her he’s after, it’s her radio.

4. Gigil brings his whole fleet and attacks Battle 7 and the other ships in the fleet, and we see that the enemy battleships have, oddly enough, lasers that bend. A Macross first, if not an anime first (I think Gallforce had something like that, too…).

5. And we get an all-out slugging match, capital ship to capital ship. Unfortunately, we have to imagine a lot of it, since much of it happens offscreen.

6. And we discover that “Planet Dance” has a serious (good) effect on the captured pilot, in that his brainwaves are more active and his life-signs increase. The pieces begin to fall in place for how Basara actually has the right of things.

Honestly, though, speaking of movie references, this scene reminds me most of the scene from the Robert De Niro/Robin Williams film “Awakenings,” in which playing “Purple Haze” had a beneficial effect on the victims of Encephalitis Lethargica.

That, um, might also be a deliberate reference in the show.

7. Mylene gets a quick lesson in Fire Bomber politics: they play for the enemy BECAUSE they’re the enemy, not in spite of.

8. And Max commands the Battle 7 to go through a transformation for the first (of many) time(s). I mean, why not? The original Macross transformed as kind of an accident, so just make it deliberate the next time around, same as having a city inside the ship, or the pin-point barrier.

And the full transformation is kind of amazing (the first time around). If you’re like me, you had no idea it was going to happen, and the fact that the transformed Battle 7 has hands either won you over or alienated you entirely. Although again, I’d point out that if you view this a big betrayal of the original Macross, Battle 7 was designed by Miyatake, who also designed the SDF-1.

(Seriously, this is a fight you can’t win. I’ve seen people who hate Macross 7 say it’s all Kawamori’s fault, despite the fact that he had very little to do with it besides suggesting the idea and concepts. And the head scriptwriter was the same scriptwriter for Do You Remember Love, and all the designers were the same… Macross 7 is as close to a reunion of the original staff as you’re ever gonna get. Really. Except Kawamori. He was too busy with Plus at this time.)

Although (Devil’s Advocate here), you’d think they would’ve figured out a way to make everything work WITHOUT going through a transformation by this point.

9. And then Physica gets killed, and it lacks punch because we really didn’t know him before. Again, if the early episodes had had a little more meat on their bones, we probably would’ve gotten to know him more then, and his death would actually feel like a loss here. As it is, it feels like he just stepped into the spotlight in the episode, just to get killed off.

Oh, and I think the animation used when Gamlin shouts “PHYSICA!!!!” is the same animation used when he shouted “DOCKER!!!!”

BUT… after playing “Planet Dance” what seems like dozens of times, Fire Bomber breaks through the enemy soldier’s mind conditioning, and we discover that he’s Irina Hayakawa of the Unified Forces. The plot thickens further…

10. So, yes, I think this is a half-successful episode. The Physica storyline kinda doesn’t work, but the Irina Hayakawa storyline does. The transformation…? Well… that works for me now better than it did when first watching the show, although it will be a little undermined by having that animation recycled over and over again in later episodes.

FLOWER GIRL SIGHTING: Again, nearly attacked by Irina Hayakawa. We also see that she has a really cute Fire Valk strap for her radio.

7 Ep.16f

EYECATCH: Gamlin/Gigil

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 62 – A Girl’s Jealousy

7 Ep.15

MACROSS SEVEN
EPISODE 15: A Girl’s Jealousy

ICONIC SCENE: Monster!

STORY DATE: May 2045

SCENARIO TITLE: BLUE JEALOUSY

BROADCAST DATE: January 29, 1995

1. Outer space around City 7 is blue again… is that a mistake, or are they back closer to the galactic center?

2. The pilot they captured last episode has become completely unresponsive, acting exactly like the spiritia-drained people of the Macross 7 fleet… and then the DNA analysis comes in showing that he’s (GASP!) human.

3. Meanwhile, there’s a carnival that Milia’s hosting. It looks fun, but there’s an ulterior motive: she’s trying to find pilots for City 7’s defense. Although… I get that people are allowed to own Valkyries and destroids… but the Monster pilots can have live ammo…? I dunno, it’s weird and doesn’t make much sense, but it makes from some of the most awesome background shots in the entire series, with clown-colored Valks and destroids fitted with drills and things.

4. Those Monster pilots, by the way, are the same three guys from the retirement home last episode. Again, I really hope that they’re the same guys we saw in the original series.

5. When Mylene tries out to be a Valk pilot, we see a sheet listing her interests and favorite foods, although I assume they mean “fencing” and not “fenching.”

I note that we never see her DOING any of these things or eating these particular foods, though…

Anyway she gets disqualified by Milia and arrives back in time to see Rex’s gang fawning over Basara… hence the title of this episode.

6. To take out her frustrations, Mylene practices so much that she even wears out Veffidas (whose name, by the way, and I probably should’ve said this before, isn’t pronounced at all like it’s spelled… “Vee-hee-da” is much closer).

We also get a snippet of a full Mylene version of “Planet Dance.”

And then she sees Rex and Basara leaving his apartment in the morning… Seriously, Mylene, you needed worry. Basara is only interested in two girls, and neither of them have been introduced yet…

7. The bit where Michael has to spell out why Rex would’ve spent the night at Basara’s is kind of awkward. Does Milia know he’s talking about sex to Mylene…?

8. Okay, the enemy attack this time actually makes a lot of sense. Noting that so many of City 7’s Valkyries are collected in one spot, they come to take them out.

9. There’s even a tribute to the scene of the Monster stepping forward and destroying the deck of the Daedalus, although here its foot just sinks into the dirt.

And, um, I hope this carnival is happening on a holiday, and that there was no one in the office building that they blow up…

Rex gets into Milia’s Valk (which inexplicably turns into a 1A briefly). She gets shot down quickly, but Mylene takes over, and does a pretty damn good job of taking out the enemy, until Basara stops her.

10. So yes, a lot is happening in the story now, along with the nostalgia-service of the Valks and destroids. If the first cour of the story was meant to disorient us and smash expectations, the second seems to be trying to be a real crowd-pleaser so far.

FLOWER GIRL SIGHTING: She starts to approach Basara at the festival, but Rex’s gang arrive to pull him away before she reaches him. Later, she’s first in the bleachers at the concert.

7 Ep.15f

EYECATCH: Sally & Miho/Basara

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 61 – Fighting Female Mayor Milia

7 Ep.14

MACROSS SEVEN
EPISODE 14: Fighting Female Mayor Milia

ICONIC SCENE: The Immoral Dr. Chiba

STORY DATE: May 2045

SCENARIO TITLE: PLANET DANCE
(Some of the episodes had different titles initially, which were changed during production. These are printed at the end of the Fire Bomber Roman Album. When they come up, I’ll put them here. In Macross 7’s case, it looks like the titles were meant to keep up the original series’ reliance on two-word English titles for much longer than they finally did.)

BROADCAST DATE: January 22, 1995

1. Looking at Milia’s VF-1J’s hands, it seems to have been turned from a movie-style Valk last time into a TV-style Valk this time (movie-style battroid hands are more angular than TV-style).

2. So City 7 has folded off to parts unknown again (not even THEY know where they are), and the enemy plans to assassinate Basara (calling him the “abnormal Chord-C Spiritia… at least, I’m pretty sure it’s a “C.” The enemy is this show pronounces English letters oddly. For example, “C” is pronounced “say” and “G” is pronounced (no snickers, please) “gay.” I have no clue if that’s supposed to mean anything or not).

3. This is the one I always think of as the “Spinal Tap” episode, as in “If I told them once, I told them a thousand times: put ‘Spinal Tap’ first and ‘puppet show’ last.”

At the beginning of the episode, they play an old folks’ home, and towards the end, they play at a kindergarten.

4. The old folks’ home is fun, although it seems like it’s a little too early for Space War I veterans to need a nursing home. The three guys who are a little TOO taken with Mylene turn out, of course, to be a Destroid Monster crew, and I like to think they’re the same team that we saw smashing the floor back in Episode 27 of the original Macross (hey, there were only, what, three Destroid Monsters aboard the ship? So we’ve got a 33.3% chance of them being the same).

The gig is played for laughs, of course, showing the retirees rocking’ out to Fire Bomber… but, honestly, in the real world I could totally imagine people born in the ’70s and ’80s (as these people would be) still enjoying a good rock song in 2045.

5. Meanwhile, back on Battle 7, Gamln is a little TOO obsessed with “The Lynn Minmay Story” and trying to figure out why Mylene (with whom, again, he’s only gone on a couple of noncommittal dates) lied to him. I realize that sexual jealousy can be a powerful force for attraction (and, indeed, obsession) but, again, it seems like it’s early enough in any burgeoning relationship that Gamlin could just cut ties with her and be fine. If she’s playing head games this early on, and he’s this upset about it, I don’t care how cute she is, she’s not worth it.

Not that (ahem) I speak from experience or anything…

We also find out that “The Lynn Minmay Story” has even less respect for history than we thought, as the narration claims that Minmay ended the war by flying into battle along with Hikaru inside his Valkyrie.

6. And now, suddenly, Dr. Chiba (who, again, was introduced way back in Episode 2) becomes important. Chiba has noticed that “Planet Dance” seems to be helping the spiritia-drained victims, and invites Gamlin to his quarters to explain it. When Gamlin arrives, Chiba is decked out in a ridiculous costume, and his room is plastered with Minmay posters.

He explains his theory of “song energy,” which, let’s face it, is pure bullshit, only there to make Sound Force possible later on in the series. I guess it’s kinda like Macross’s version of midichlorians, but since it’s just a plot device here, and never gets brought up again in further Macross shows, I let it slide.

7. There’s a shot of the kindergarten kids that Fire Bomber is playing for, with quite a lot of little jokes and (probably) cameos by staff members.

8. When the guy who set up the show calls the song “Clarinet Chance” and calls Basara an acrobat, Basara almost walks off, but then the enemy conveniently attacks, he kinda has to go out to draw them away from the children.

9. And then Milia flies in and rescues Basara. And it turns out that while Basara may be an excellent fighter and battroid pilot, he has no idea how to fly a gerwalk.

They drive off the enemy, and, as a bonus, actually capture one of their pilots (who gets off a shot at Milia, hitting her in the leg).

10. So yes, one of the biggest mysteries that’s been lurking around since the beginning of the series, namely the identity of the enemy, looks like it’s about to be revealed, although we’ll find that it’s not as simple as that. Also, I note that Mayor Milia says her signature line, “Who are you calling an old lady!?” here for the first time.

Really, there’s a lot that happens here. The show is definitely beginning to move faster, and it’s a welcome change of pace.

FLOWER GIRL SIGHTING: Among the old folks, and later, among the kids.

7 Ep.14f

EYECATCH: Basara/Milia

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH – GOOD MORNING, MYLENE

7 PLUS 1

MACROSS SEVEN P*L*U*S
GOOD MORNING MYLENE

ICONIC SCENE: I’ve never actually seen anyone walking with toast in their mouth…

RELEASE DATE: January 21, 1995

Now, if you’re like me, you originally saw Macross 7 on video tape way back in the mid-’90s. And if, like me, you stayed to the very end of Episode 4 on the first tape, you saw “Macross Fastest Liftoff.” And if you stayed to the very end of THAT, you saw this odd little two-and-a-half-minute short film.

The story is simple: Mylene comes home late, finds a bunch of phone messages from an increasingly angry Milia, falls asleep, wakes up, takes a shower (in which we get to see her naked ass for the first and only time), makes breakfast, and finds a new message from Basara, which ruins her day.

So yeah… this one’s just a gag, but other episodes in the “Macross 7 P*L*U*S” series really do add to the overall story of the series.

Now, if you’re NOT like me, and you watched Macross 7 first from the Central Anime fansubs which you presumably downloaded from somewhere, you’ll note that “Good Morning Mylene,” alone among the short films, is its own file (unlike the others, which are are just part of the AVIs for every fourth episode). That’s because, as I said, “Macross Fatest Liftoff” (which Central Anime didn’t sub) came before it on the LD, so they had to make a cut here. Weirdly, I’ve noticed a lot of people who apparently didn’t watch every fourth episode all the way through to see the P*L*U*S shorts, because this one is the only one they comment on, and they often express confusion as to what it is and why it’s there.

They’re all on the DVD and Blu-ray box sets, though, albeit interspersed with other extras. For the P*L*U*S shorts, since I’m doing all of this in rigorously chronological production order, I’ll get to them whenever a new volume of the series was released on home video. Which means one a month (skipping next month) for the next year of releases; it’ll be interesting when the show finishes and I’ve still got a few of them to get through…  Not sure what if anything I’ll have to say about them, but hey… I’m trying to be thorough, at the VERY least.

Oh, and this was also the day that the first Macross 7 soundtrack album, “Music From Galaxy Network Chart” was released, making it the first day that fans could listen to “Planet Dance” on their own stereo rather than on TV.

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 60 – FOLD OUT

7 Ep.13

MACROSS SEVEN
EPISODE 13: FOLD OUT

ICONIC SCENE: Milia the Ace!

STORY DATE: May 2045

BROADCAST DATE: January 15, 1995

1. We pick up the story at what has to be just a few hours after the last episode ended, with Battle 7 attempting to find out where City 7 folded to. I like all the Valks equipped with radomes.

When we move over to City 7, you’ll notice that outer space is no longer the bright blue it’s been throughout the series so far. They never go into it in the dialogue, but it’s that blue color because the staff figured that space will be brighter near the galactic center. I have no idea if that is sound science or not. Anyway, taking that into account, we know that wherever City 7 is, it’s VERY far away from Battle 7.

2. Clearly there’s panic in the air on City 7, especially since the TV stations are down. Milia makes a broadcast to try to calm everyone, but that gets interrupted by a broadcast from one of the enemy soldiers who’s taken control of the ship. Which kind of has the opposite effect than Milia intended. Basara is unfazed, though.

3. Milia rather grimly jokes about leaving the civilians behind… at least, she plays it off as a joke…

4. There’s a weird bit where Gamlin finds a rock in space that somehow either got left behind during City 7’s fold or else contains traces of the fold’s wake…? It doesn’t make much sense, but I guess the writers had to have some way for Battle 7 to find where City 7 vanished to.

5. There’s also a problem that WE know, but no one in the show knows. It’ll take Battle 7 eight hours to build up enough energy to fold to City 7’s coordinates, but the enemy is planning to fold City 7 away from those coordinates in four hours.

6. Luckily, another option presents itself as Kinryu suggests they use the fold boosters. Weirdly for those of us who saw Macross Plus first, the fold booster is described by Max as “still experimental,” even though Isamu and Guld used them five years previously. But since Macross Plus Episode 3 still wasn’t out when this aired, fans watching in real time would’ve been more puzzled by THAT scene than they would’ve by this one. While it’s probably correct to view Macross 7 as borrowing mecha concepts and designs that were created for Plus, it’s interesting to note that for viewers at the time, plenty of them debuted in 7 before the relevant Plus episodes came out (including, again, the VF-19, the Pinpoint Barrier Punch, and now, fold boosters).

When they actually fold, “fold space” itself looks nothing like it will in Plus, but what it looks like always varies greatly in each Macross show.

And they almost don’t make it… I guess however far they’re folding is a much greater distance than from Planet Eden to Earth…? Maybe…?

7. Meanwhile, Fire Bomber’s plan is to drive around the city in one of those vans with speakers on it (usually used to stump for politicians) blaring “Planet Dance” at mind-shredding volume in order to distract the enemy. Then they have people playing it everywhere, and even Rex and her gang get deputized. It works in that the enemy send some Elgezorenes (which are named here for the first time) to check it out.

8. Oh, and there’s an odd disconnect in this episode… early on, we’re told that the enemy had sealed all the airlocks, so even if the government wanted to evacuate the civilians, they couldn’t. And yet, later on, Basara is shown having no problems using them to get the Fire Valk out of Akusho and into City 7.

9. Then we get to the part old-time fans have been waiting for. Milia says they should add a little “insurance” to Fire Bomber’s plan, and LAUNCHES IN HER OLD RED VF-1J!!

Well… it’s not EXACTLY the same, having some slightly different details, notably some black stripes. And Milia’s flight suit isn’t same, either, looking much more like Hikaru’s. But who cares? The ace is back!

Still, even with Milia kicking serious ass (and, I admit, as much as I get that the message of the show is Basara’s nonviolent methods, it’s great to see a truly fierce battle scene, which this is. Arguably the first truly fierce battle scene in the series) and Basara punching the fold system, it’s not enough. City 7 folds away again to parts unknown, which also leaves Diamond Force pretty much stranded until Battle 7 can get there to save them.

10. So we reach the end of the first “cour” with another episode that is much more serious than the first bunch, and I have to say that as much as I like the show overall, this feels like a breath of fresh air. Milia strutting her stuff again is the clear highlight, but this episode is pretty great start to finish. While there are a lot of episodes that don’t do much beyond spinning the wheels a bit, the staff demonstrate here that they can pull out some really great stuff when it counts (usually at the end of each cour).

FLOWER GIRL SIGHTING: She’s in on Fire Bomber’s plan to have “Planet Dance” playing everywhere in the city. But… how? Who contacted her? Did the group put a general call to action on their website or something? (And yes, Fire Bomber has a home page. It’s the subject of one of the drama albums.)

7 Ep.13f

EYECATCH: Fire Valk & Geperunitchi/Gigil

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 59 – SPIRITIA FARM

7 Ep.12

MACROSS SEVEN
EPISODE 12: SPIRITIA FARM

ICONIC SCENE: He’s a pet AND a homing beacon!

STORY DATE: May 2045

BROADCAST DATE: January 8, 1995 (the series skipped a week because of New Years, although Plus Vol. 2 came out.)

1. If the previous episodes have had one overriding flaw, I think it’s that there really hasn’t been much sense of a larger story so far. In the first Macross series, starting in Episode 3, there was a problem to solve: the ship needed to get back to earth. That sense of a goal gave the story momentum and raised the stakes for the characters. “Momentum” has been something missing from Macross 7. Nothing seems terribly urgent, nothing seems to have reached a real crisis point. The enemy attacks, the enemy leaves. The vampires are there but only show up occasionally (and we rarely see anyone genuinely worried about them). Now, obviously, part of this is that the higher-ups are hiding a lot of information from the public, but even Max and Milia seem more mystified by the enemy than alarmed.

But we’re nearing the end of the first “cour” (the term for a three-month block of programming), and even though it doesn’t really FEEL like we’ve been building towards a climax, we have. And this episode is the first step towards raising the stakes.

A friend of mine who saw the first couple of episodes of Macross 7 and then tuned out asked, when a few of us suggested he give it another chance, “When does it get good?” And I would say that this would be a good start, except that I think you kinda need those introductory episodes to appreciate what happens here and in the next episode.

I recall my mother going through a Jane Austen phase decades ago – well before Austen adaptations became a “chick flick” standby – and telling me about reading Emma, saying that she was finding the book dull and pointless, until suddenly, halfway through, everything that had been built up fell into place and it became excellent. I’ll talk more about this next time, but I think Macross 7 is at least somewhat like that. The early episodes are self-contained, meandering, and low-stakes so that it can take you by surprise later.

At least, that’s the plan, as I see it. Whether it’s effective here or not is a different question.

2. Meanwhile, Mylene discovers that driving in a kimono is not easy.

3. During Mylene and Gamlin’s awkward date (seriously… she’s lying, and he knows it. If I were him, I’d cut my losses and move on. It’s not like they’re actually going out yet or anything), we find out what the deal is with Gubaba: given to her by Max, as a “souvenir” from the Pukirases system. Of course, Gubaba’s sorta psychic connection to Mylene becomes important later on in the episode.

4. YES! FINALLY! A vampire attacks Mylene and doesn’t just stand around uselessly for thirty seconds or so while she cowers and then runs! She doesn’t get her spiritia drained… she’s just stunned, but hey, at least the vampire DID SOMETHING this time.

5. Geperunitchi finally reveals his plan for the “Spiritia Farm Project,” and it should be pretty simple to grasp what it is. Keep a bunch of people around to drain spiritia from, and then rejuvenate them and do it again. I’m not sure if Geperunitchi yet knows HOW people’s spiritia gets regenerated, though… I mean, they did that test with Alice Holiday, but did they realize that it was Mylene’s singing that revived her…?

6. A few people saw a truck leave at about the same time Mylene was kidnapped, so the police decide it must be involved. Detective work at its finest!

7. Aaaaaaaaand, the cat’s out of the bag that Mylene is in a (*GASP*) “rock and roll band.” Can Gamlin get with the times and forgive her?

8. Basara’s plan, naturally, is to sing, and hope that Mylene can respond. And naturally, it works.

9. Mylene is showing her own bravery in singing in the face of danger more and more… there was the dogfight last episode, and her singing here even as she and the other kidnapped people are being loaded onto the enemy ship.

And then Basara comes out in his Valk, DOESN’T sing, shouts “PINPOINT BARRIER PUNCH!” and quickly rescues Mylene and the others.

Everything is all wrapped up, happy ending, everyone laughs, and then… Battle 7 (which we don’t know exists as a separate ship yet) is forced to detach from City 7, and City 7 folds away.

Given the show so far, it’s a pretty shocking ending, even if we have no clue what’s going on.

10. I remember the first time watching this, and not really sure if I wanted to continue the series. Again, I was renting the series from a Japanese video store in downtown LA, about twenty minutes drive away, and all through Vol. 3 (episodes 9 through 12), I was really beginning to debate if it was worth the time and effort to see the entire series. That ending convinced me to keep going.

FLOWER GIRL SIGHTING: She’s kind of amazing here. With the band way out near the port and warehouses, searching for Mylene, she arrives within SECONDS of them starting to play… That’s almost creepy. How did she know they were going to be playing there? Did she just follow them…?

7 Ep.12f

EYECATCH: Mylene/Max and Milia

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 58 – PLUS VOL. 2

+ Ep.2

MACROSS PLUS
EPISODE 2

ICONIC SCENE: Pro-wrestling.

STORY DATE: 2040

RELEASE DATE: January 1, 1995

1. Nearly four months after Episode 1, here comes Episode 2.  The crowd scenes at the concert hall are excellent, really capturing the feeling of anticipation before a big, long-awaited  concert, although my favorite shot is of Isamu and Lucy checking their seats, while Jan (or, grudgingly, “Yang”) walks up carrying two VERY full bags of merchandise. If Eden prices in 2040 are anything like Tokyo prices in the 2010s, he probably spent over five hundred bucks on that stuff… which isn’t even unusual at concerts in Japan.

Of course, the first important thing here is, what the hell is Myung DOING? She’s in a trance, she looks like a puppeteer… It’s all very creepy (again, “creepy” is a word I’ll be using a lot in these posts).

Next of course is the concert itself, which makes Minmay’s hologram show in Do You Remember Love seem cheap and tacky. It’s totally immersive and wonderful, but… doesn’t watching what are basically music videos projected all around you kinda seem antithetical to the idea of a live performance…? Still, we’re almost at this point currently: just a few years ago, the Japanese pop trio Perfume performed a short but lavish set at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, and the clever use of projectors and walls really made it seem like the audience was going inside the film that would usually just be projected behind a band.

Oh, and the cheering when Sharon arrives was recorded at a Macross fan club event, where the audience were instructed to cheer for her. The same strategy was employed for the Frontier movies.

2. The images are pretty stunning, and Sharon herself is gorgeous (I’m especially fond of the “coquettish Sharon” type that appears during “Idol Talk”). Speaking of which… can I just say how disappointed I was when I got the first Macross Plus soundtrack and “Idol Talk” wasn’t on it…? Now I knew how fans of the original felt when “My Boyfriend Is a Pilot” wasn’t released until the second soundtrack came out.

Speaking of “Idol Talk”… after listening to the CD a few times years and years ago, I noticed a spoken bit, low in the mix, that sounded like it was in English. I put headphones on, cranked up the volume, and listened to it plenty to times to figure out what was being said. And when I understood it, I blushed.

And once I heard it, I couldn’t “un-hear” it. For something buried so deep in the song, it rings out clear as day every time I listen to it now.

3. Jan mentions the “Macross Consortium” after hacking into Sharon during the concert, which is something we’ll never hear about again outside this series.

4. And yeah, Myung notices Isamu in the audience and it affects her performance, to where Sharon actually kisses him. I’m guessing that a kiss from a hologram must be one of the most unsatisfying experiences ever.

5. And now, we finally get Alpha One, the YF-19, Isamu’s “kawaii-ko chan” (which itself was a pretty old-fashioned term, even in 1994. It’d be like if he was calling it a “groovy doll” or something), and it’s pretty amazing. While, as I said for Episode 1, the tone of the show is virtually nothing like the original, one thing that it does carry over is the sense of awe that these fighters are handled with. You watch Episode 1 of SDF Macross, you watch this scene (or the YF-21 test last time), and these planes look IMPRESSIVE. It’s all due to camera angles and how the planes are filmed, but it totally works. I’m blown away every time here, even though all Isamu does is draw a giant dino-bird in the sky.

Oh, and Isamu’s little forward-swept wings hand-gesture is something I can only do with my left hand, for some reason.

6. The training montage is likewise really cool stuff, even to the point of including movie-style Nousjadeul-Gers, a VF-1J, and a Destroid Monster (variants of which show up in pretty much every Macross iteration).

Afterwards, we see Millard working with his artificial leg, which has an interesting story, told later in the radio drama “Macross Classic: Inside Story,” which is unrelated to the SDF Macross story “The Lost Two Years,” but is set during the same time frame, between episodes 27 and 28. It turns out Millard was a member of Skull Squadron, dealing with rogue Zentradi. (It also, um, features the Flower Girl from Seven, which really SHOULD be impossible, unless she’s a lot older than she looks.)

7. From Britannia.com: “Entelechy, (from Greek entelecheia), in philosophy, that which realizes or makes actual what is otherwise merely potential. The concept is intimately connected with Aristotle’s distinction between matter and form, or the potential and the actual.”

Of course, this scene will remain mystifying until next episode.

It makes a LITTLE more sense later when Jan hacks into Sharon and can’t find the emotion program for her, but I know that I didn’t understand this scene until I watched it again after seeing Episode 3.

8. I really like the scene with Myung, Kate, and Morgan, because it shows that Myung actually can relax a bit, to a degree. The name of the restaurant they meet up at is the “Dino Bird Beer Garden,” which is probably why for the Movie Edition, the translator changed the name of those giant flying creatures from “pterosaur” to “dinobird.” The restaurant itself looks like a pretty cool, if expensive, place, in keeping with all the restaurants, bars, and coffee shops in Macross. The dinosaur-themed plates and bowls seem a little over the top, though…

We get a little bit of nostalgia as Kate sings “My Boyfriend Is a Pilot” at karaoke (second time that song’s shown up recently, one week after its appearance in Seven). Then she tells Myung to sing “Voices,” which is kind of weird… why would the karaoke place have that song? Was it a big local hit or something? I do like the fact that instead of just showing a music video, the actual walls of the room change to reflect the song playing.

Anyway, Myung freaks out. And runs away when Kate calls Isamu and Guld to come over. (I note that Kate has a digital address book, but still no one has cell phones in the Macross universe. At least they finally have answering machines, though. And car phones.)

I’m not really sure of the chronology here… If Sharon is trying to kill Myung by engineering the fire in the concert hall, that would indicate that the emotion chip has already been added to her. But it hasn’t. So… she’s already dangerous? Adding the chip just made it worse? I guess…

But try to kill Myung, Sharon does, or at least she tries to put Myung’s life in danger and warning Isamu and Guld that it’s happening, so one of them will rescue her. Guld arrives first, and Myung apparently ends up sleeping with him.  Given that we’ve seen the series before and kinda/sorta know what happened seven years ago, AND given her terrified reaction last episode when Guld put his hand on her shoulder, her actions here make NO GODDAMNED SENSE.

Neither do Sharon’s powers, really… they TRY to make her getting into the computer system, starting the fire, and hiding it from security plausible, but… I dunno… I don’t really buy it. That problem will get worse next episode.

And yet, despite all this, the scene works like crazy… it’s genuinely suspenseful.

9. Then we enter the climax. Lucy and Isamu essentially break up (they were together…? Yep, if the Movie Edition is anything to go by) and Isamu confronts Guld in the dining hall (I note that Isamu is eating a thoroughly traditional Japanese breakfast of fish, natto, rice, miso soup, and an egg. This is basically the equivalent of the “complete breakfast” that your sugary cereal is a part of, albeit a lot healthier). Guld has the smug attitude of someone who just got laid, and Isamu is insanely jealous. That hostility finds its way into the day’s testing, which turns into a big ol’ robot brawl.

Ultimately, Guld grabs the YF-19’s gun and shoots Isamu with it. Speaking of things that make no goddamned sense, I’ve never understood this scene, and while I’ve seen a number of people who are confident that they understand it, their explanations are wildly different.

There’s a scene earlier which, upon second viewing, seems to show Guld tampering with the 19’s ammo load via computer. So Guld is pretty certainly the one who put live ammo in Isamu’s gunpod. So this is where things get strange. Isamu’s firing off paintballs for a while, until he supposedly runs out of ammo. He clicks the trigger a few times… nothing. Then he uses the gun like a club to attack Guld. He and Guld fight over it, and the 21’s arm breaks off, still holding the gun. The 21 gets knocked down and Isamu starts kicking the shit out of it. Guld sees the gunpod lying on the ground, disconnects the BDI system, and (off-screen) grabs the gun and shoots the 19 with it.

So what was his plan? Was he trying to get Isamu to shoot him, which would of course get Isamu kicked off the team? Was he waiting to grab the gunpod from the 19? None of this is ever made clear. The only reason I can think of is that the story staff needed some way for Guld to shoot Isamu, but not get thrown off the project for it.

Anyway, I can see why they cut this bit out of the Movie Edition…

10. So yes, despite all these story flaws, I still love this episode. As I said before, this series still plays like crazy, and is always gorgeous to look at and listen to. The overall plot is strong, but thank goodness for the Movie Edition, which cuts out a lot of the parts that make no sense. But we’ll get to that later.