EPISODE 10: DEEP BALLAD
ICONIC SCENE: OUCH!
STORY DATE: May 2045
BROADCAST DATE: December 18, 1994
1. This is where Ray gets the spotlight. First we find out that he was an elite pilot, then we get the tragic history. There are enough possible death flags here that you’d be forgiven for thinking he wouldn’t make it, except that it seems a little too early to kill off a main character.
2. Gamlin’s back, and he wants to see the Fire Valkyrie, which is undergoing maintenance. Again, he gets rebuffed, obviously from very high up, and he STILL doesn’t get that this isn’t something he should be getting involved in.
3. Max is there with the Fire Valk and Ray, and “Operation M” gets its first mention. Whatever is going on, again, it’s clear that it comes from VERY high up. Although of course they don’t explain anything yet.
Max mentions that Basara is pretty great pilot, but not as good as HE used to be.
4. Fire Bomber plays an industry show, for a bunch of entertainment biz people. Basara seems surprisingly okay with this. Some vampires are watching, as well, and attack the gig.
This is followed by another vampire chase, and another scene, like in episode 4, where the vampires have our heroes trapped and then stand around doing nothing for an ungodly long amount of time, in this case allowing a guard to throw a handgun to Ray, and then also allowing Ray to slowly bend down and pick it up off the floor.
5. Ray has a flashback, hesitates, and gets tossed on to a jagged metal sheet. The wound isn’t THAT bad, and we get an unusual middle-of-the-episode hospital scene, rather that the typical end-of-the-episode one. Of course, he won’t stay there.
6. There’s also another moment of unintentional hilarity as the security guard keeps shooting and shooting at the vampires, first when they’re standing still, and then when they’re running in a straight line. He keeps missing, and finally they reach the woods, at which point he gives up and says, “They got away…” If you were a better shot, they wouldn’t have… I mean, you had them at pretty much point blank range…
7. Ray escapes the hospital, and Akiko recounts the tale of Ray Lovelock, legendary pilot with the Pink Pecker Team (I know, I know…), who ended up getting Akiko’s boyfriend Stephan killed. Since then, he’s found new purpose in assisting Basara, and is obviously willing to do so even if it kills him, as it almost does here.
8. Everything here seems so conspiratorial, especially the hotline phone built into a tree that needs a password to get through. I’m not sure why there’s so much secrecy surrounding Operation M.
9. Basara gets mentioned as the “Karaoke Ninja” here for the first time, which is a wonderful term for him. The battle goes as usual, although the Fire Valkyrie gets its first really slow and detailed transformation scene. Again, Macross Plus Episode 2 had not come out yet, so this is the first 19 anyone ever saw on screen.
10. I think it was around this time that there was an interesting article in Animerica. One of the recurring features was a column by the manager of the “Manga no Mori” manga bookstore chain, talking about things that were going on in Japan at the time. He did an article about Plus and Seven and how baffling fans were finding the latter, likening it to a jigsaw puzzle with most of the pieces missing. It’s an odd way to look at it, because in many ways, it seems like a straightforward, simple show: aliens attack, Basara sings. But yeah, there are plenty of odd little mysteries here, some of which never really get addressed, or else are explained only obliquely. And unlike, say, Evangelion or Serial Experiments Lain, the series doesn’t make a spectacle of how enigmatic it’s being.
This episode is a perfect example. It acts like it’s explaining everything a long-standing mystery, but really, it’s introducing (and solving) a new mystery, that of Ray’s background (I mean, of all the questions to ask about the show so far, did “Why is Ray in this group?” ever cross anyone’s mind…?), while leaving the central question of why the hell Basara has a VF-19 up in the air.
Now, that one WILL get answered later, but I can understand viewers’ frustrations in still having nearly every major question from the first episode being left open, ten episodes in.
Oh, and between this episode and the next, the Sukehiro Tomita short story, “Fire to Tomorrow!” happens, but I haven’t read it yet, so I can’t tell you what it’s about.
FLOWER GIRL SIGHTING: Trying to get into the industry show for Fire Bomber, only to be turned away. However, she does get to hear it from behind the roped off area.