EPISODE 2: SPIRITIA LEVEL
ICONIC SCENE: Basara’s man-cave.
STORY DATE: March 2045
BROADCAST DATE: October 23, 1994
1. We open with Basara working on a song that repeat viewers will instantly recognize as “My Soul for You,” which I’ve always liked in its “Let’s Fire” acoustic version better than the slide-guitar version on “Music from Galaxy Network Chart.” You’ll notice that there are basically five songs so far: “Seventh Moon,” “My Friends,” “Planet Dance,” “Totsugeki Loveheart,” and “My Soul for You,” and that’s gonna be it for a while (“Sweet Fantasy” was probably finished by this time, too, since it shows up as the B-side of the “My Friends” single). There’s a good reason for this: in trying to make the songs good enough to yield an actual hit, the producers blew their entire music budget on these few songs, and had to wait for more funding to do more (they must have gotten it before the show started airing, though, since “Macross Fastest Liftoff” – again, airing two weeks before Seven debuted – had a few other Fire Bomber songs as background music.
From a marketing standpoint, as well, it makes sense. Since this was before any of the albums or singles came out, the TV show was literally the only place to hear, say, “Planet Dance.” You want to get it drummed into people’s heads, and hearing a song only once or twice generally doesn’t do that. So sure, hammer it home week after week the same way the original show did with “My Boyfriend Is a Pilot.”
I admit that it makes the series a little more annoying to marathon, though.
2. We’re introduced to Dr. Chiba soon after, the latest in a long string of Macross characters based on real people. This one is based on Masahiro Chiba, who was the Macross superfan behind the “Sky Angels” doujins that detailed how the VF-1 actually would work. By this point, he was actually on the payroll, essentially writing the “canonical” timeline that leads up to Plus and Seven. Later he would write the majority of text in each of the VF Master File books.
And, um, Dr. Chiba himself doesn’t really become important until further in the story, but I like that they introduce him here.
3. Max meets with Ray, and although we don’t hear what they’re saying, it’s the first hint of just HOW Basara got his hands on a top-of-the-line VF-19.
Oh, and on a tangential note, I would imagine that for anyone watching this and Plus as they came out would immediately leap to the conclusion that the YF-19 will win Project Supernova, since the 21 is nowhere in sight in this series.
4. Mylene is 14, yet apparently she has her driver’s license and a snazzy red sports car. She also has an extensive wardrobe (more about that in a moment). Talk about your affluenza! Later, we learn that she’s running away because Milia’s is trying to force her into an arranged marriage. This never really comes up again (at least, not in the same way), although I note Freyja in Delta seems to have the exact same issue.
But seriously, it is kind of interesting to compare Basara and Mylene’s living conditions. Basara lives in a building that should be condemned (if it isn’t already), and even the ship it’s on isn’t officially registered as part of the Macross 7 fleet. I’m surprised he even has electricity. Mylene has her own rather chic apartment. I guess those ’60s folk musicians were right, and music really is the true social equalizer.
(The song playing during this scene was on the second Macross II soundtrack, but never appeared in the show itself. It’ll turn up A LOT in this series, and thus seems more like a home-grown Macross 7 song than a Macross II song.)
And thus, we get our reintroduction to Milia, who Max talked to in Episode 1, but who didn’t actually appear (or have any lines). We also meet her long-suffering assistant, Michael Johnson. Mostly, he’ll be an excuse for wacky buffoonish comedy.
Back to Mylene’s wardrobe, here she’s wearing a VERY early ’90s ensemble with black tights under red shorts. Mylene has more outfits than most characters in any anime, which was a very deliberate choice on the staff’s part. She has different clothes in nearly every episode in an effort to keep variety in the art, since they were worried that the very limited animation might make the show seem stale and dull. It works on an almost subliminal level (unless, I guess, you were a Mylene cosplayer or just a girl wanting fashion tips in ’94), but it does work. It also means that Mylene gets more pages devoted to her in Macross Chronicle magazine than ANY other character, because they needed to showcase all of these outfits.
(Oh, and I note that Gubaba’s voice has been changed to the electronic sounding squeaks we’ll hear for the rest of the series.)
5. Mylene’s great, because she asks all the questions the audience would. “How did you get the Valkyrie?” “Why do you sing in battle?” “Shouldn’t you forget all about that and focus on our band’s career?” Of course, Basara’s answers are all evasive and unsatisfying.
A few days ago, I said this about Isamu: “Honestly, in these opening scenes, he comes across as a brilliant pilot, but an unlikable jerk. He’s hotheaded, arrogant, doesn’t follow orders, and doesn’t listen to anybody.” That description fits Basara exactly as well… which is weird since a lot of old-school fans seem to think Isamu is really cool and Basara is terrible.
6. In a series not noted for great animation, the scene of Mylene carefully climbing the ladder while holding a lemonade in each hand is really well done. The scene were she starts falling, less so.
7. Speaking of old-school fans (and, I must point out, I am decidedly one of them, having gotten interested in Macross in 1984), one of the main criticisms you’ll hear them make about Macross 7 is “VALKS WITH FACES!!” No offense, but this strikes me as rather dumb. At this point in the story, yes, one Valk has a face, but it’s not one of the military Valks, it’s a Valk for a wannabe rock star. It’s MEANT to be flashy and ostentatious, and the face is part of its gimmick. Honestly, the fire engine red color alone wouldn’t really be enough, since Max and Milia also had candy-colored battroids. So, add a face, and suddenly, it no longer looks like it belongs in the Unified Forces (and hey… at least it doesn’t have the Valk-sized guitar and the long “hair” that some of Kawamori’s early designs displayed. Even I think those went a little too far…).
8. There’s a slightly awkward script issue, as Mylene, for virtually no reason, yells at Basara, “What do you think singing is?” solely so that he can answer, “The burning heart of passion!” Most of the dialogue has been fairly natural-seeming, so this bit sticks out. I agree it’s important to have him say that, as it sets the ball rolling on getting to understand him, but there MUST have been a less awkward way to fit it in.
9. The battle plays out similarly to the previous episode (thanks in part to the recycled footage), with two main differences: first, Gamlin starts buzzing Basara, trying to get him out of the combat zone (even when Kinryu orders him to leave Basara alone… going against a direct order seems like something Gamlin wouldn’t do, but I guess Basara annoys him just THAT much), and second, Gigil actually hits Basara with the spiritia beam… and it completely overloads the spiritia draining system, forcing Gigil to retreat.
As the battle begins, we see some of daily life for the Macross 7 fleet (which will get expanded on later), like cars flying between ships on “roads” in space.
And during the battle, Mylene kinda LOOKS like she’s beginning to “get” Basara, but she still really doesn’t.
10. So yeah, no answers here, but we’re getting an inkling of the right questions to ask. Good episode overall. It builds on the previous one, introduces a few new characters and developments, and “Planet Dance” isn’t annoying yet.
FLOWER GIRL SIGHTING: She’s the only person waiting for the gig to start, several hours early (smart girl. I got to meet a lot of my favorite bands years ago by getting to the concert venue in the afternoon and just waiting by the door).