EPISODE 4: VAMPIRE SOLDIER
ICONIC SCENE: Still better than Twilight.
STORY DATE: March 2045
BROADCAST DATE: November 6, 1994
1. As if to respond to “Planet Dance” not being in the previous episode, we open with it here, but there’s a twist… it’s not exactly the same version. Suddenly, we now have Mylene singing back-up on it. It isn’t quite the “duet version” that’s on Let’s Fire (where Mylene gets the whole second verse to herself) but it’s a step towards it.
The concert scene is cross-cut with scenes of young women getting attacked by… something. I think the scene works really well. It’s almost horror movie territory (emphasized by having one woman be attacked in the shower, and another doing a very ’80s-style aerobics routine), but having “Planet Dance” playing over it somehow makes it… more unsettling than it would have been with, say, the Friday the 13th theme or something. It’s so incongruous that it heightens the weird tension of the scene.
2. In a bit of true forward thinking, Mylene is reading the news on some device that looks suspiciously like a iPad, except thicker.
3. This episode looks like it was done by the B-team… no one really looks BAD, per se – this isn’t Star Pro – but no one looks quite like they did in past three episodes, nor do they look as good.
4. Okay, we’ve established that Max isn’t revealing what’s been going on with the spiritia-drained pilots, so I’m not sure there’s any way that any civilians would be able to link the vampire attacks to the aliens.
5. Fire Bomber is beginning to get fans seeking them out. Two girls force presents (including a cute teddy bear) onto Basara. Good thing Basara is so asexual… if Fire Bomber had been, say, the Stones or Zeppelin, those girls would’ve been invited to the after-party, and and probably would have the innocence ripped screaming from their very souls…
6. So Mylene runs away from Michael and nearly gets her spiritia taken by a vampire… these are the guys who infiltrated last time, and they’ve got a complicated mechanism attached to their face with a spiritia-draining ray. The whole idea is awfully silly (wouldn’t some kind of gun be more practical…?).
7. I note that during the scene where Michael and his men confront Mylene, Ishtar’s song, “Anata o Kanjiru ~Mia Sentes Ren~” plays briefly (and softly) in the background. For all that this series recycles Macross II music, I believe this is the only time one of Ishtar’s songs is used.
8. And then Basara rescues her, and the problems with the script and direction of this episode begin to surface. Several times, Basara and Mylene get surrounded and have time to stand around and argue while the vampires do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING but pose menacingly. By all rights, both of our heroes should be zoned out in a hospital bed by the end of this episode.
9. In the space battle, Basara ACTUALLY DOES get in the way, justifying Gamlin’s anger for once. But look, since I’m already kinda ragging on this episode, let’s note that the story seems to be getting formulaic. Stuff happens throughout most of the episode (and it’s been varied so far, to be fair), then the aliens attack, Basara goes out and sings, and the aliens leave. It isn’t QUITE as by-the-books as some kind of Voltron-type show, but it IS following a pattern.
And, um, that’s not exactly a criticism. Some of my favorite shows (specifically, Zambot 3 and the J9 series) follow that exact Voltron pattern. It can be done with wit and flair. But the original Macross was never like that.
But anyway, the development here is that Gamlin gets totally fed up with Basara’s antics, and gets Kinryu (who may or may not be in on the big secret) to complain to Max about it. Fat lot of good THAT’LL do…
10. So yeah, probably the least satisfying episode so far. Not out and out bad, but… flawed in some serious ways. Seeing the close-ups of City 7’s exterior is cool, though, and some of the Basara/Mylene banter is fun.
FLOWER GIRL SIGHTING: In the crowd at the gig at the beginning. A bit later, waiting backstage after a gig. She approaches Basara, but gets shoved out the way by the two aforementioned screechy girls.