#04: MISS MACROSS
ICONIC SCENE: “Debran deculture!”
STORY DATE: 2059
BROADCAST DATE: April 24, 2008
1. I haven’t talked about Ranka’s cell phone (Keitai-kun, i.e. “Cell-kun”) but it’s really cool. I’d totally get one if it could do everything that Ranka’s can.
So Ranka gets into the Miss Macross Frontier Contest, and Alto’s training is not going all that well (I love the signs that he has to wear, saying “I’m dead” in various languages). And when defeated in the simulator, he has to do a few laps in an EX-Gear. Which doesn’t sound like much of a punishment until you realize that it’s turned off. Oh, and it turns out that Mikhail cranked the difficulty level of the simulator all the way up. He WANTS Alto to suffer.
(And the song being played during this is the “SMS Theme (That Chick is an Alien),” one of the more, um, whimsical songs in Frontier, with lyrics by Kawamori, under his old pseudonym, “Eiji Kurokawa.”)
2. We also realize here that Bobby, the Macross Quarter helmsman, is rather outrageously limp-wristed and effeminate. I suppose you could be offended by the stereotyping if you so choose (especially when you realize that he’s the battleship pilot… with dark skin… and an afro… and he’s in love with the Focker-type character… Man, he’s the new Claudia!), but me, I think he’s too much fun to get upset about. Easily one of the best characters in the show, stereotypical or not.
3. Ozma’s opposition to the Miss Macross Contest is played for irony, since Ranka has entered, but there’s additional irony in that (as we find out), his ex-girlfriend (Cathy) was a previous winner, so he really should know better…
And Sheryl seems to have learned from Jamis Merin’s example, fifty years before… if you’re already a celebrity, be a JUDGE, not a CONTESTANT.
And speaking of Jamis, we meet her possible granddaughter, Miranda Merin (and her bouncing boobs). And yes, Ranka looks VERY out of place here. The prim school uniform and the childish Valk backpack don’t help.
The dressing room scene here honestly reminds me more of the one from “My Fair Minmay” than anything from the original series, mostly due to the casual nastiness of the other girls.
Although, of course, again, Sheryl is nice to Ranka. So far, Ranka is again the ONLY character Sheryl’s been kind to.
4. Which Miss Macross Contest IS this, anyway? The signs outside say “The 25 [sic] anniversary,” the curtain says “Miss Macross 20 contest,” and the announcer says it’s the twelfth. I’m guessing the dialogue is correct, since Cathy won the 8th contest, and she’s about 23 herself.
I really like the music used to introduce the contest, but it hasn’t been released anywhere, unfortunately (there are a bunch of instrumental tracks that haven’t. When the Macross F Vocal Collection came out, I asked one of my Japanese friends if she thought a BGM Collection could be next. She said, “Maybe in the ’80s, but mmmm… now, I don’t think so.” Whereas, as far as I can tell, the only vocal tracks from the series that aren’t on CD are the original (*ahem!* Yoko Kanno-sung) version of the “Nyan Nyan Theme,” the Sheryl-less “What ’bout my star@Formo,” and the Bobby-less Ranka version of the SMS Theme).
And just as Minmay tugged at her swimsuit at her rear end, Ranka tugs on her top.
5. Alto gets called away from the contest, just as Hikaru did in Episode 9 of the original series. In the lobby, Alto and his dad see each other, and his dad definitely makes an “I HAVE NO SON!” face. And then basically comes out and says exactly that. Casual viewers might not realize that Alto’s dad’s voice actor also plays Bobby.
6. Oh, and I haven’t mentioned this yet, but the main SMS Valk group is called, in official materials, “Skull Platoon.” I prefer “Skull Team” since I’m not sure “platoon” should be used for aircraft. Anyway, the use of the term “Shotai” (“small group”) is definitely a reference to Do You Remember Love, where it was similarly “Skull Shotai” (only four members: Focker, Hikaru, Max, and Kakizaki), and emphatically NOT the TV series, where it was “Skull Daitai” (“large group”), which would be “squadron.” As such, I wouldn’t call this bunch “Skull Squadron” (one of the quibbles I have with the mostly-excellent Central Anime fansubs).
There’s another homage to the original series (one that’s been exploited in many AMVs) in the elevator that lifts the VF-25s to the launch deck: a reference to the opening titles of the first Macross. And an homage when one of the bridge bunnies, Ram Hoa, tells Alto, “Good luck, Skull-4,” and he replies, “Thank you,” in English, this time to Do You Remember Love when Hikaru first launches.
And they fight against Pixie Team, all female Zentradi in the new Queadluun-Rhea power suits (mentioned as “Queadluun-Lambda” in the first printing of the manga adaptation, but corrected in later pressings). They’re essentially Queadluun-Raus but with even more boosters and a shoulder cannon.
And the battle happens in “the site of an historic Zentradi battle,” grim reminders of which are around them everywhere. I’m slightly reminded of the dead Zeon soldier floating through space from Zeta Gundam. Unfortunately, no Supervision Army equipment is in sight here (they’re really never mentioned again after Macross 7).
The dogfight is really spectacular. Again, the action scenes in Frontier are easily on par with Zero, which is amazing for a weekly TV show, rather than an OVA series with six months between episodes.
After he shoots one of them down (Nene, although it really doesn’t matter. Of Pixie Team, only Klan is a real character. Nene and Raramia are barely in the show at all), Alto makes a kabuki pose. Again, for someone who’s trying to get away from that life, he sure hasn’t let go of it yet.
7. Ranka’s interview is really embarrassing to watch, since she totally screws it up. Again, this reminds me more of “My Fair Minmay” than it does the TV series.
And then she sings “My Boyfriend Is a Pilot” with the dogfight between Alto and Klan performing commentary on the lyrics (or vice-versa). Although the various (well… two) versions of “Do You Remember Love” that Ranka sings are entirely new arrangements by Yoko Kanno, this one uses the “Mylene Jenius Sings Lynn Minmay” version as its base. Ranka’s dance, clearly using motion capture, is really energetic and fluid, as Kawamori points out in his episode commentary (from the book “2059 Memories”), and adds that the younger animators worked on it, to give it even more energy. It’s something we haven’t really seen in Macross before. Even Minmay at her best, in the movie and Flashback 2012, didn’t jump around the stage the way Ranka does here.
Although at the end, she trips and falls (again, just like Minmay, who broke a heel during the swimsuit competition).
8. And the Vajra ACTUALLY show up (drawn by Ranka’s singing, I guess…) and we flash back to the resolution of the cliffhanger last time, where Ozma said if Alto joined SMS, he (Ozma) would tell him (Alto) the truth about the Vajra. This part is kind of a cheat, since all he tells Alto is that the Vajra destroyed the 117th Research Fleet and that Ranka is one of the survivors… but we already knew this from Ranka’s flashbacks (although Alto didn’t). However, the scene is clever in that we’re focusing on that part of it, and might completely miss Alto’s reference to “Fold Faults,” which will become central to the story. Sleight-of-hand scriptwriting is always fun.
Anyway, Klan softens the Vajra up, and Alto goes in for the kill using a 7,000-year-old Zentradi gun from the battlefield. Actually, it must be much older than that, probably closer to 500,000, but it hasn’t been fired for 7,000 years. Luckily, it still works (Klan explains that all Zentradi weapons are excellently-made).
9. In a surprise, Ranka actually LOSES the Miss Macross Contest, although it seems evident that she WOULD’VE won if Leon hadn’t interfered. He actually has a pretty good reason for doing this (as we’ll find out later). Anyway, Jamis Merin will have her revenge on Seattle… uh, I mean Macross, since her granddaughter (?) wins.
There’s another surprise in that the deep-voiced, built-like-a-porn-star Klan turns out to be an annoying little shrimp when micloned (thanks to “awkward genes,” as Mikhail says, although he’s one to talk… apparently, his own genes (a mix of human, Zentradi, and, nonsensically, Zolan) are awkward enough that he can’t macronize, according to the “Macross F Official Fan Book”). One thing I would like to know though, is why her uniform in her miclone form kind of resembles a 17th century jester’s (VF5SS explains that it’s a Russian thing, apparently). Interestingly, Klan’s voice actress, Megumi Toyoguchi, says that she feels MUCH more comfortable doing Small Klan’s voice than Big Klan’s.
Oh, and when Klan tries to attack Mikhail, you can see a giant tuna head (or is it an eel…? It looks like it in the second shot…) roasting in the background… I wonder if that’s Nyan-Nyan’s “Lynn Minmay Special” dish?
As a final stinger, Sheryl accosts Alto, tripping him in the process. Again, given how (mostly) completely awful she’s been so far in the series, this CAN’T be good (we might be tempted to think…).
10. Another good episode. I like how Alto and Ranka are paralleled here in working to achieve their dreams. Alto by entering SMS, Ranka by entering the Miss Macross Contest. Alto makes it, Ranka doesn’t, but as Sheryl said, this is still just the first step.
ED: “Diamond Crevasse”
NUMBER OF TIMES RANKA SAYS “ALTO-KUN” THIS EPISODE: 3
AND TOTAL: 6 (“One, two, three, four, five, and six…”)
EYECATCH: Alto and his VF-25F.
NEXT EPISODE: “Song of Heartbeats, ring throughout the galaxy!”