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.