#09: FRIENDLY FIRE
ICONIC SCENE: “Bust of about 85 cm. Will expand when unwrapped…”
STORY DATE: 2059
BROADCAST DATE: May 29, 2008
1. Ah, the tried-and-true method of starting an episode near the climax and then backtracking to show what led up to it. It also reveals Alto’s first use of “Michel” instead of “Mikhail,” which gets explained here.
Yes, this is the Michel-centric episode, done relatively early in the series because as Kawamori said in the episode commentary section of the book “2059 Memories,” the original plan was to kill him off during the first “cour” of the series. The staff apparently ended up liking him too much for that, though, so he was spared. For a while.
And right after the opening, Michel makes a pass at Grace. Oh, man… if you only knew… If she had taken him up on his offer, THAT might’ve killed him outright…
Although she’s pretty good at killing his ardor by bringing up his dead sister (incidentally, how does Grace know about her? Was she furiously searching for info on him while he was coming on to her, trying to find ANYTHING she could that would get him off her case? Or did she actually know about (and have some involvement?)in Jessica’s death?).
2. Okay, I mentioned before that Ichiro Itano had some harsh words for Frontier, and Michel’s sniper technique was one of the things he singled out. According to Itano, since Michel tends to anchor his Valk to nearby asteroids, he’s effectively cutting off half of his field of vision. I can kinda see that.
(Itano’s second big criticism is that the show is trying to appeal to women, which doesn’t bother me. His third is that, in the original series, Minmay became a “human failure,” but in Frontier, “the main character” (Alto?) does. I don’t understand what he’s talking about there).
3. And yes, we get our first real confirmation that Grace isn’t JUST Sheryl’s manager, since she’s spying on the meeting with President Glass (next episode, she’ll meet with Leon, and she’s disguised as a man. Everything’s mostly confirmed by that point).
4. Alto also brings up Michel’s sister, which is a step too far (admittedly, Michel DID almost kill Alto, but still…), and Michel kicks his ass pretty thoroughly.
5. I like how the flashbacks here are excessively grainy with lots of lines on them, making them look like an old film. It’s effective.
6. What’s, er, not as effective (and REALLY DAMN WEIRD) is the way Michel’s battroid moves like a human when he’s talking to Macro-Klan outside the ship. I just imagine him inside the cockpit, frantically moving the control stick and pressing pedals, all while trying to carry on a fairly serious conversation. I dunno… I see what the staff was going for, and it’s a funny idea, but I’m not sure it really “works,” given what we know about battroids. Maybe the EX-Gear covers movements like that, but if so, it’s not anything we see anywhere else in the show.
He’s also really damn mean to Klan when he makes fun of her miclone form. It’s not funny, it’s genuinely cruel.
7. Sheryl and Alto seem to have progressed in their relationship, since she’s actually calling him now. And he’s totally right: her special about “picking up a gun to save Macross Galaxy!” does look pretty lame.
8. Ranka is doing the time-honored tradition of promoting her debut single by standing on a street corner in Shibuya, handing out tissue packages. One rainy night, I met the idol group Denpagumi Inc. in exactly this same way. And now they’re way more famous than they were then (seriously. Just look them up).
One of the people Ranka hands a tissue package to will turn out to be very important next episode, but for right now (that sleight-of-hand scriptwriting again), the problem is that she’s seeing Brera everywhere, and sometimes it’s unclear if it’s just her imagination or not (which, like Episode 4, makes me think of “My Fair Minmay” (have you read it? if not, you should!)).
And that brings us, sorta, back to the bit from the beginning. Skull and Pixie Teams go out to capture a Vajra nest, and Brera is ordered (obviously by Grace, although we don’t actually see her) to destroy the nest to keep Frontier from getting any Vajra samples. Weirdly, he seems primarily intent on either disabling or killing Klan. Honestly, if he had let her do her own thing fighting off the Vajra, he probably could’ve snuck in past her and destroyed the nest handily. Instead, all he does is bring Alto and Michel to the scene.
9. In the end, it turns out that Michel’s sister killed herself, after accidentally (or, perhaps “accidentally,” quote-unquote) killing her superior officer (with whom she’d been having an affair, and who broke up with her earlier that same day). Klan mentions that Michel might still be investigating the situation, but it never gets brought up again.
Y’know, I’ve mentioned before how well-constructed a series Macross 7 is, in how pretty much every mystery is set up and solved, and how everything fits together like a fine watch. Frontier is a little sloppier in that regard. Although this mystery clearly was never MEANT to get brought up again, if Michel was going to be dead in a few episodes. It’s purely there to give him some depth, but the fact that he ends up surviving longer than originally intended makes this loose end dangle quite a bit longer than it otherwise would’ve, increasing expectations for its resolution.
Anyway, the really important point is that Alto calls Mikhail “Michel” for the first time, showing that he considers Michel a friend (this, again, is the main reason I’m not using the official romanization of “Michael,” because if you’re not listening closely, you could easily miss the two pronunciations of his name. And if you’re just reading (as you are right now), it would pass by you entirely… “Alto calls Michael ‘Michael’ for the first time, rather than ‘Michael.'” Yeah… that makes sense…). Anyway, the fantasies of thousands of fangirls were suddenly ignited.
10. I think I liked this episode better when I first saw it than I do now, mostly because, as I said, the mystery about Michel’s sister’s death SEEMS like it’s going to become an important subplot, but it never does. On its own, it’s fine, and as backstory for Michel, it works… but it doesn’t fit well into the overall plot of Frontier. Oh well, at least, unlike last episode, it LOOKS good.
Oh, and a note about Michel: as I said before, according to the “Macross F Official Fan Book,” he can’t macronize because he’s such a mix of genetics: human, Zentradi, Zolan… now this of course flies in the face of what we learned about Zolans and humans (that they can’t procreate) in Dynamite 7. Some have tried to fanwank their way out of the conundrum (my own contribution being that, as in “Zomeo and Zoliet,” Zolan FEMALES can’t mate with human MALES (since human males don’t have pouches), but that the reverse is possible), but I think the truth is simpler: that the Macross F staff probably didn’t look too closely at Dynamite 7 before creating Michel. Oh well.
ED: “Diamond Crevasse”
NUMBER OF TIMES RANKA SAYS “ALTO-KUN” THIS EPISODE: 0.
AND TOTAL: 19
EYECATCH: “Magical Girl transformation” Klan (huh, so Walküre is something ENTIRELY NEW AND UNPRECEDENTED in Macross, eh…?).
NEXT EPISODE: “Song of Legend, ring throughout the galaxy!”