MACROSS DYNAMITE SEVEN
EPISODE 4: The Planet Where the Galactic Whales Sing -ZOLA-
ICONIC SCENE: Mimi o sumaseba…
STORY DATE: 2047
RELEASE DATE: July 25, 1998
1. Fire Bomber without Mylene and Basara is hilarious. Ray has wooden standees of them set up and puts the mike in front of a boom box with their parts. The scene is directed brilliantly, filming the standees with the same dynamic shots it would’ve used for the real people. Like Basara flying with his guitar in Episode 1 here, I genuinely laughed out loud when I first saw this.
(This time ’round, I note that the date for the concert on Mylene’s standee, February 2, 2045, is impossible, since that was before Mylene joined the group, and they wouldn’t have been popular enough to make a life-size stand-up figure then anyway.)
2. Basara’s attempt to stop Graham seems pretty Greenpeace… he just gets in the way. Graham forges ahead regardless.
3. In the background, “Zomeo and Zoliet,” the radio show, starts getting remarkably preachy, as Zomeo, the human from the Macross 11 Fleet, starts realizing how great Zolan culture is, and plans to stay and totally go native. Zoliet’s a little shocked by this, since, apparently, Zolans and humans can’t have children together (a point which the radio show’s narrator emphasizes) and so, for her, her affair with Zomeo was really just a fling, and she has no intention of settling down with him. Some great love story, huh?
One thing that’s fun about “Zomeo and Zoliet” is the way it tends to comment on the action in the series. If a character like Graham or Lawrence says, “I don’t understand,” Zoliet might say, on the radio, in the background, “Why don’t you understand?” Or, as here, as Gamlin is staring at the space whales flying over the city, the narrator of “Zomeo and Zoliet” says, “He was at a loss for moment.” It’s one of those things they never make a big deal about, but it’s always there in the background, throughout the whole series.
4. As Gamlin flies out to the white whale, the poachers launch their reaction weapon. Graham tries to stop it, but fails. It hits the white whale… there’s a bright flash… red stuff pours out of it onto Basara’s VF-19P, staining it thoroughly, and… the whale is unharmed.
Really, taken as a whole, Macross 7 could easily be subtitled, “A Story About Things Reaction Weapons Can’t Kill.”
5. About that red stuff… It looks like blood, and for a long time, I think everyone thought that it was blood (well… maybe not Japanese fans who read the novelization, if it gets mentioned there (I haven’t checked)…), because it’s unexplained in the series itself. However, according to Macross Chronicle magazine, it’s… pollen.
Yes, that’s right. The white whale just jizzed all over Basara’s Valkyrie.
(Another subtitle for Macross 7: “A Story About Giving Alien Beings Orgasms Through the Power of Rock.”)
6. And of course where the pollen lands on the Valk, as well as the interplay of light and shadow on it, makes it look almost exactly like Basara’s old Fire Valk. It even appears to have a face, of a sort.
7. Basara starts strumming and singing “Angel Voice,” which has a distinctive “Whoa, whoa, whoa…” descending hook. And the space whale starts singing along with that part.
Now, about that song… you don’t see this as often now, but I remember years ago on Macross World, a bunch of people declaring how much they hated this song (because it was a duet with a space whale… which has nothing to do with the intrinsic merit of the song). Luckily, I had a rebuttal to bust out: it’s written by Yoko Kanno, who they all adored, thanks to Plus (Frontier didn’t exist yet). It happened often enough, as did the adulation of “Information High,” that I imagine there’s at least one person (and probably many more) who will say he ADORES Yoko Kanno’s work, citing “Information High” (which she didn’t write) as a favorite, and then saying he hates all Macross 7 songs, like “Angel Voice” (which she did). Stamping out that kind of disconnect is one of the main purposes of this blog, although I’m not sure how successful it is on that count (or whether this particular example is still a battle that needs to be fought. As I said, you don’t see people ripping on Fire Bomber’s music much anymore. Even people who don’t like the show now generally agree that the music was good, barring (maybe) “Planet Dance”).
I think “Angel Voice” got somewhat rehabilitated in 2002 when the “Macross the Tribute” album came out, with Mari Iijima’s cover of the song, and still later, when a fan combined the two versions into a Basara/Minmay duet. That duet is not official at all, but it totally should be, because it sounds excellent. And hell… Basara AND Minmay together, singing a Yoko Kanno song…? That’s all sorts of super dimensional crossover right there!
8. The death of the three space whales that head to the cemetery is pretty spectacular, bathing the whole planet in green light and then sending off a beam that creates three new space whales. Yes, it’s all “circle of life” stuff, but it’s really well-done “circle of life” stuff. And it turns out that the whales’ energy interacts with Zola’s to create things like the healing hot springs. Even Liza’s wounds are healed.
9. So yes, everything ends happily. Graham says he’ll still pursue the white whale, but I don’t think anyone believes him. And Mylene arrives just in time to miss Basara and Gamlin as they leave.
And the final screen reads “to be DYNAMITE.”
10. And that’s that. Still not QUITE the end of Macross 7, but the end for now. And I started out by positing that Dynamite 7 was a very different series from the original, and it’s true… but it also, in at least one way, seems like the TV series in miniature. Each one of its four parts is better than the previous one, and while there are moments of tedium and some WTF (in a bad sense) thrown in along the way, it builds to an excellent climax. Really, the “Angel Voice” sequence is one of those real Macross moments that seems so definitive and iconic precisely because it’s not like anything else. I would say that the Dynamite series is worth it just on the strength of this episode, although I’m still a little iffy about the series as a whole. Yeah, it all boils down to “save the space whales,” but there’s a lot more than just that. And while I can’t call the series “subtle” about that theme, they don’t really bludgeon you with it TOO much (also, I’d point out that whale hunting versus conservation is still an unsettled and contentious debate in Japan. What seems like a “safe” issue to target in the US isn’t necessarily so elsewhere). Anyway, it’s only four episodes. It takes less than two hours to watch the whole thing. You’ve got two hours to spare, so just go for it.
So what happens to Basara next? That’s an open question, and depends on what you read. According to the liner notes to the “Ultra Fire!” Fire Bomber compilation album (released in 1999), he ended up back at the Macross 7 Fleet after three months. The manga “Macross 7th Chord” also shows him there, sometime in the early 2050s (“Seven years after Macross 7,” which could place it anywhere from 2052 to 2054). But the liner notes to the Fire Bomber reunion album “Re:Fire,” supposedly recorded in 2060 (and released in 2009), say that he never came back, and his parts on the album were recorded separately from the rest of the band’s (for everyone else: Mylene went solo, Ray became a producer, and Veffidas worked as a session drummer). So yeah, it’s anyone’s guess. Just another of those little mysteries at the end of every Macross series…
And yes, that’s the end of the 15th Anniversary celebration. There honestly wasn’t much: a four-episode OVA, a Playstation game, a concert (the “One Night Stand,” featuring Mari Iijima, Yoshiki Fukuyama, Hiroko Kasahara, and Akino Arai… Chie Kajiura couldn’t make it, because she was pregnant at the time), a new single “FRIENDS ~Across the Dimensions~” featuring Mari Iijima and Tomo Sakurai (maddeningly available in two separate versions, each with a different B-side. Of course I bought both, but I wasn’t happy about it), and a bunch of reissues of the old model kits. And then, apart from a couple of games and some merchandise (notably, Yamato Toys picked up the toy license, and Hasegawa picked up the model kit license), Macross went dormant for a few years. Apart, that is, from some video games (“VF-X2” and “Macross M3”).
AND IN THE FOLLOWING YEAR, 2048: A young Ozma Lee fails to prevent the Vajra destroying the 117th Research Fleet, and ends up adopting Ranka, one of the survivors.