#08: HIGH SCHOOL QUEEN
ICONIC SCENE: “Mister Lingerie!”
STORY DATE: 2059
BROADCAST DATE: May 22, 2008
1. Hmm… the intro this time talks about the Protoculture, which is usually a sign that things are about to get VERY weird. And this episode does indeed get weird, but not in the same way as, say, Macross 7 Episode 37 or Macross Zero Episode 5 (although a few scenes from Zero do show up during this sequence).
And then we get “Ninjiin Loves You Yeah,” one of the catchiest songs in the whole show. Well before this episode was broadcast, I found and, on Macross World, translated the track listing for the first soundtrack within an hour or two of it being posted on Amazon (the track listing, that is, not the album. The actual release was still a couple of months off). And I noted this song, commenting, “‘Ninjin’ means carrot, but… that HAS to be wrong here…”
But no, I was totally right (this time, at least). It IS a song about carrots. Rainbow-colored Zentradi-size carrots that Zentradi children don’t seem to want, but seem to be rather popular elsewhere (like Gallia 4). And hey! ZENTRADI CHILDREN! They must’ve been made the “old-fashioned” way, rather than cloned in a tank, right?
(Oh, and there are clearly other vegetables of the same brand as the carrots being sold here, since, when Ranka’s talking to the Enka-singing Zentradi from Episode 5, she’s in front of a sign that says “bell pepper” (do they have rainbow-colored Brussels Sprouts? I *STILL* hate those…).
(And Kawamori DOES take credit for the vegetable idea, since he thought girls dressed as animals had already been done to death, and wanted something new… thus, girls dressed as vegetables. A couple of years later, AKB48 would copy that idea for their “Vegetable Sisters” ads for a V8-type drink. Their costumes were generally better than Ranka’s here.)
2. Y’know, my mom was really into figure skating for a long time. She admired the grace and beauty of it. Later, when they introduced Olympic standard scoring based on the difficulty of the jumps (because “grace and beauty” is hard to quantify), Mom lost interest. She always said, “Now you always know when a jump is coming, because it has to be a triple. So they stop dancing, they go in a straight line for a long time, and then they jump.”
And one thing that’s been clear from the get-go for this Macross rewatch… the episode following (sometimes before) a really well-done, motion-filled, time-consuming TV episode is like the straight line before a jump. Episode 27 of the original Macross took WELL more than a week to make, necessitating such visual atrocities as Episode 25. Macross 7 would have an episode or two with really indifferent animation, and follow it up with something great. Virtually every anime series is like this (and not JUST anime, I hasten to add: Season Three of “Battlestar Galactica,” which was a near-contemporary of Macross Frontier (and more about that later) spent SO much of the budget on the (completely amazing) season opener that they later, to cut costs, had to have an episode that virtually ENTIRELY took place in a boxing ring).
And so it is here. Clearly, this episode was outsourced so that the A-team could spend more time on the previous episode. And unlike Episode 6, this one wasn’t touched up for DVD. It still looks wretched. I mean, what’s this nocturnal creature that’s passing for Sheryl here?
About the only character who looks okay (and more about HIM later, as well) is a new one, the adorable little green thing that watches Ranka and then later steals Sheryl’s panties.
(Oh yes, this episode is about panty-stealing. Kawamori, in his episode commentary from the book “2059 Memories” said it was scriptwriter Hiroyuki Yoshino’s idea (it was something like, “Yoshino said we HAD to do it”), but I have no idea if Kawamori was CREDITING him or BLAMING him…)
Elmo arrives, shouting what will become his familiar, breathless catchphrase: “NEWS, NEWS, BIG NEWS!” This ALMOST caught on as a Macross World meme, but was unable to replace “Scoopu-da!” from Do You Remember Love.
3. So Ranka transfers into Mihoshi (i.e. “Beautiful Star”) Academy, where everyone else is enrolled, but (SURPRISE SURPRISE) she’s overshadowed by Sheryl, who’s ALSO entering Mihoshi at the same time, since she can’t go back to Galaxy yet. Alto isn’t happy about either development.
(And I like the bit where Grace is rattling off the virtues of the school to Sheryl, not because she memorized them, but because she’s ACTUALLY VIEWING THE WEBPAGE MENTALLY while driving.)
4. When Nanase gushes over Ranka’s achievements, it’s the first hint that maybe her interest in Ranka is a LITTLE MORE than just being #1 in her fan club… Ranka is oblivious, though. As is Luca.
Y’know, for an episode that looks as bad as this one does, a lot of fairly important information is in it.
5. In Cathy and Leon’s talk, the “V-Type Infection” gets mentioned, explaining why Alto and Ranka had to have their blood tested back in Episode 2.
Cathy also brings up the VF-27, which Leon refers to as a “Foo Fighter,” which is, as you probably know, an actual thing, WWII slang for an unknown aircraft.
Ozma interrupts the conversation, and honestly, if Focker and Misa had been going out and broken up (as they assuredly would’ve), I’d imagine that their dialogue would’ve been much the same as this.
6. Okay, just as the awful Star Pro animation actually worked in the comedic scenes involving the three Zentradi spies in the original series, the terrible art here looks entirely appropriate for Luca’s vision of Alto being Sheryl’s “slave.”
And, unfortunately for Alto, Sheryl learns quickly of his nickname: “Princess.”
She wants to try an EX-Gear, so she borrows Luca’s (named “Samson”) and is given a test: picking up eggs. This MAY be a reference to one of the early Macross modeling handbooks that had a history of Valkyrie development and likewise showed battroids trying (and failing) to pick up eggs. If so, it’s one of the more obscure homages in the show. The DVD booklet containing this episode links it to Heinlein’s novel, “Starship Troopers,” which I haven’t read in at least thirty years, and so remember nothing about picking up eggs in it (although I’m currently FINALLY reading “The Past Through Tomorrow,” the collection of Heinlein’s “Future History” stories. If I’m not sick of Heinlein after the 850 pages of the collection, I might re-read “Starship Troopers”… or possibly “Stranger in a Strange Land,” which I haven’t read since eighth grade).
(And of all the episodes to throw a shower scene into, why did it have to be the one with lousy art?)
7. And then the soon-to-be-named Ai-kun runs off with Sheryl’s panties, because… well… just because, I guess. I note that a few of the students trying to find the panties are carrying some pretty strange-looking equipment to aid in their search.
(Incidentally, Ai-kun basically sounds like a squeaky-toy, but I really like his voice. Maybe because some of my favorite dogs I had growing up liked to play with squeaky-toys, and this reminds me of them.)
Ai-kun and the panties end up on the roof and we get a better look at the VF-1 (replica…?) that’s there. It’s the same color scheme and number (011) as Hikaru’s VF-1A from Do You Remember Love, and… it doesn’t have the Unified Forces “kite” insignia on it. Now, I’m beginning to think that the New Unified Government is the same as it has been since 2010 (since from that time on, it’s ALWAYS been called such, in the original series, Plus, and Seven, “Shin Tougo Seifu” rather than just “Tougo Seifu”) and maybe sometime in that last decade or so, they just changed the insignia. At any rate, I doubt it has anything to do with the events of VF-X2 (which features an attempted coup), as is often surmised by hardcore fans. Kawamori, in an interview, said that it’s become more decentralized, but again it’s been called “NEW” since Episode 28 of the first series.
Of course the REAL reason the kite is not here (nor in Delta) is because Harmony Gold trademarked it for every country in the world EXCEPT Japan back in 2004. Which they had every right to do, but that doesn’t make it any less shitty (since it means that any Macross sequel can’t make it out of Japan without paying Harmony Gold a little kickback). I might write a bit about my understanding (having talked to people who are or have been involved in the situation pretty intimately on both sides… although I can’t quote or even identify them, of course. NO ONE wants to publicly talk about this) about what Harmony Gold can and can’t do later on, after the Rewatch is done. Or not. A bunch of very vocal people (on BOTH SIDES, I must add) make it difficult to do so, since they claim certainty on things that are anything but certain. COMMENT if you want to know the REAL ins and outs! Or, at least, my understanding of them, which I like to think is pretty clear and unbiased, since I’d rather (unlike, apparently, most commentators) have THE FACTS rather than win some useless internet argument. Anyway, if you want to know my rather unique understanding of the situation, just comment “Do it” or “Yes” or “Gori-gori!” If, say, ten percent of the viewers comment, I’ll proceed. And you probably won’t like my answers, no matter which side you fall on. I don’t like it much, either, but I think it’s true, and it fits the facts.
8. There’s an interesting bit that never really gets developed, where Sheryl offers to give Ranka a guest appearance on a TV show. Ranka declines, saying she wants to become a star on her own merit. She leaves school early to get to the (small and not terribly popular) TV show she was already scheduled for, only to find out that it’s been pre-empted, replaced by a special about Sheryl. Ranka looks around, and Sheryl posters are everywhere. The idea that Sheryl is inadvertently crushing Ranka’s dreams is something that I wish had been explored more, since it would add some complication to their relationship. It does kind of come up in regards to Alto’s birthday, though, and there is a later scene that very deliberately mirrors this one.
9. In the end, Sheryl gets her panties back but almost dies in the attempt. No matter, the episode is so lightweight and comedic that it never really feels like she’s in danger. Alto rescues her, of course.
And the little creature vanishes, but will later get in tight with Ranka. And Brera shows up and apparently meets Ranka, although we have no idea if they actually spoke or not (NOT, judging by the next episode, although just showing up, making long eye contact, and then leaving without saying anything is a little creepy, although Ranka doesn’t seem to find it so).
10. Again, as with the original and Macross 7, I can forgive the occasional bad-looking TV episode, and I forgive this one. Again, the comedic nature of the story makes the funky art style kind of fit. The panty-chasing is also somewhat interesting because, let’s face it, there’s been nothing like that in Macross before. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is up to you to decide, but ya gotta admit it’s not any type of homage or rehash.
I also note that very little is done with Sheryl being a student at Mihoshi in future episodes, and that that development is cut from the movies entirely.
So yeah, probably the least satisfying episode so far, although a lot of seeds are planted for future development. Not all of which bear fruit.
ED: “Diamond Crevasse”
NUMBER OF TIMES RANKA SAYS “ALTO-KUN” THIS EPISODE: 3
AND TOTAL: 19
EYECATCH: Vajra (children’s drawing).
NEXT EPISODE: “Song of Love/Hate, ring throughout the galaxy!”