CHAPTER 4: Forest
ICONIC SCENE: “Hubba-hubba” time.
STORY DATE: September 2008
RELEASE DATE: May 28, 2004
1. Boy, the six-month wait between episodes of this series sure was annoying, wasn’t it? Watching it all at a go, it’s hard to remember that it took fully two years for the entire series to come out.
2. Things look bad at the beginning, with Shin, Sara, and Aries all captured, and Nora taking out a lot of her rage on Shin. We learn that just as Shin’s family was killed by Anti-Unification soldiers, Nora was raped and her family killed by Unified Forces soldiers.
3. And okay, I held off during the refueling scene last time, but since we’re at our second mid-air refueling scene, I have to admit that I always find these funny, because of the 1961 film Starfighters (“A bold air force epic!”) which was featured on an episode of Mystery Science Theatre 3000. “Starfighters” tries to be an exciting fighter plane story, but they were stuck with whatever Air Force stock footage they could get, which meant many, MANY scenes of refueling.
(It’s also (“Starfighters,” that is), I think, a really instructive film for would-be fiction writers who want to capture a genuine military flavor but do so at the cost of character and plot. All of the detail in the film is correct, and yet the movie is nearly unendurably dull. Even the romance is bogged down by a too in-depth description of “corn detasseling.” It reminds me of a number of fanfics I’ve read in that way. Too much mechanical detail, not enough humanity.)
4. Dr. Hasford finally shows up, and is really quite deliberately cruel to Sara, in (I think) order to get her to somehow summon the Bird-Human’s head. Instead, more rocks float and she and Shin escape on a flying totem pole.
Okay, I kind of agree that THIS scene is a little hard to swallow. My assumption is the Bird-Human’s head is aiding Sara because she’s in a pretty awful state, but yeah… it’s a little silly.
It does, however, afford us a great falling-in-midair rescue scene. The first time I was watching this, I thought it was an homage to the original series. A few years later, Frontier would step up and show me what a REAL homage looks like.
5. There’s a good touch afterwards, though, when Sara is basically saying that she didn’t want to be rescued because she broke the Blood Law and is unfit to be the priestess, as the rain washes off her tribal priestess make-up.
6. And just in case the island wasn’t torn up enough, Nora orders the launching of a fuel-air bomb, although she’s confident that it won’t kill either Shin or Sara.
7. Much of the remainder of the episode is Shin and Sara, and Focker and Aries, trying to escape (both pairs at a rather leisurely pace) and getting to know each other better. We can piece together more of Focker’s history here: he was definitely in love with Aries when they were teenagers and actually went to college solely to be near her. Then she went away to Oxford to study with Dr. Hasford, and he didn’t say goodbye or see her off, which, to her, meant that he wasn’t interested in her (the opposite of course was true). And although he was a pacifist, when the Unification Wars broke out and his friend Michael was killed in a bombing attack, he signed up to become a pilot.
We also learn (as if we couldn’t have figured it out already) that Sara is WAY more conflicted in her duties than she appears. I always assumed that she was so strict and fundamentalist BECAUSE she was so conflicted. But Shin is also quite willing to meet her half-way (heck, he even starts singing to a cicada! That’s devotion right there!).
8. Mao also gets healed, using some Mayan ritual. I’m not sure if the Bird-Human’s wings start to grow because of her, or because of some other reason. I’m guessing it’s her, though.
9. And then the fuel-air bomb strike happens, and all the beautiful stuff we’ve been watching for the last fifteen minutes gets blown to shit.
10. And again, carping about the flying totem pole aside, I really like this episode. I enjoy that it slows down a bit and tells us more about the characters. Heck, we got more about Focker’s past here than in all thirty-six episodes of the Macross TV series. And as always, the nature scenes are well-observed and gorgeously animated.
And that ending is a real shocker.