#10: LEGEND OF ZERO
ICONIC SCENE: “I’m Mao. Mao Nome. That’s my sister, Sara. Sara Nome.”
STORY DATE: June-July 2059
BROADCAST DATE: June 5, 2008
1. We open with an odd sequence that seems to make no sense: Ranka and Nanase watching Macross Zero in a theater, but with Shin looking different, Sara looking like Miranda Merin, and Mao looking like Ranka herself. Although the leads have changed, I notice that the islanders behind “Sara” haven’t. Yes, that’s right… these scenes and plenty more in this episode (and in at least one further episode…) were lifted directly from Macross Zero, with the figures in the foreground replaced. Another way to recycle footage and ease up the pressure on the animators.
I do like the difference between Ranka’s reaction to seeing herself on the screen and Nanase’s reaction. ONE of them looks delighted, at least.
2. So yes, it turns out that the events of Macross Zero are being made into a movie: “Tori no Hito – BIRD HUMAN,” with Miranda Merin starring as Sara Nome. Sheryl wrote the theme for it, but as we’ll find out it’s not really appropriate for the film (apparently, the song in question was “Gira-Gira Summer,” and yeah… not quite “Macross Zero style”). The TV host interviewing Sara is based on a real talk show host whose name escapes me.
And yes, Ranka gets scouted for the movie, because, as we saw last time, the director, “Johji Yamamori” (and no prizes for figuring out THAT little in-joke) took one of her hand-outs.
3. Alto is very definitely hiding his connection with Sheryl from Ranka, and my question is, why? He clearly likes both of them, but only as friends (based at least on what we’ve seen so far). He doesn’t seem to have designs on either of them romantically. What’s the point of lying to Ranka about it all? He definitely seems intensely uncomfortable talking to the two of them together, and it makes no real sense to me, unless he’s A LOT more interested in both of them than he’s letting on.
It also seems weird that, as close and he and Ranka have become, she’s shocked to find out about his past as a Kabuki actor here. I mean, I know he doesn’t like to talk about it, but one would think it would’ve come up at SOME point in their conversations… I mean, according to the first Frontier drama album, Nanase knew EXACTLY who he was, well before he met Ranka. So at the VERY least, she might have told Ranka about his past at some point.
Oh, and when the Bridge Bunnies look up “Sakurahime Azuma Bunsho,” the text is lifted directly from English Wikipedia.
4. The actress meant to play Mao Nome is mentioned only as “Yuu-chan.” I note that Mao’s voice actress in Macross Zero was Yuuka Nanri.
5. A Hydra (native to Eden, apparently, although not, I guess, any part of Eden that we saw in Plus, since the fauna we saw there all seemed much more primitive and dinosaur-ish), infected with the V-Type Virus attacks “Yuu-chan’s” car and then attacks Ranka. In a scene drawn with a very different style than usual for this series (much more exaggerated and, yes, “cartoony,” which led to many fans labeling it as a lost scene from Pokemon), Brera shows up and kills it.
This is also where we find out that Brera is a cyborg. And Ranka flashes back again.
6. Alto and Ranka both seem extremely averse to having a kiss scene, even though it’s just for a movie. Even Sheryl thinks they’re being ridiculous, and takes a kiss from Alto herself (I’m assuming it’s his first. I almost think he’d rather throw himself off a building than kiss a girl at this point). This MAY be a reference to Do You Remember Love, and the, um, “theatrical” kiss Minmay gave Hikaru when the engine blocks were angry at them… er, I mean, when they were trapped in the engine block.
7. When they actually film the kiss scene, there are a couple of long shots where Mao is clearly Mao and not Ranka-playing-Mao (the hair color is a dead giveaway).
8. Ozma mentions something about it being fate that Ranka played “Dr. Mao.” Which… I guess it is…? Kinda…? It would have more resonance if Sheryl did it, since Mao is Sheryl’s grandmother, although no one knows it yet… The connection between Ranka and Mao is much less distinct, except that they were on the same fleet together, and Mao was working with Ranka’s mother. (Hey, did Mao die…? I want a DEFINITE ANSWER!)
9. And the ending of the movie is interesting, combining scenes from Macross Zero with things that never happened there, like “Mao” singing Aimo. The background of the credits is also the same shot used at the end of Zero Chapter 5, when the title comes up. But yeah… overall, this episode connects Zero to Frontier, and, in a way, JUSTIFIES Zero. As I said before, Zero is much more a prequel to Frontier than it is to original Macross series. And this episode actually improves upon Zero’s ending.
10. According to the commentary on this episode, Kawamori had NO IDEA that the Macross Zero blu-ray set was coming out a little under two months after this episode aired, but I’m not sure if we’re meant to believe him or not. Certainly, the release dates for much of the Macross Frontier merchandise was pretty exactly timed, to the point where the “Lion” single got pushed back a week or two because the opening hadn’t appeared in the show yet. Quite a change from the first series, where the first soundtrack had a bunch of Minmay songs when, in the show, the only one she had at that point was “My Boyfriend Is a Pilot” (which, in a twist, ISN’T on that first album).
This brings me to something I’ve been meaning to talk about for a while now: the so-called “ani-son [anime song] boom,” which hit Japan in the spring and summer of 2008. Now, the previous expressly anime-themed release (as opposed to songs like, say, “Beautiful World” by Hikaru Utada, which was FOR an anime, but was by a generally famous singer) to hit the Top 5 on the Oricon charts (the Japanese equivalent of the Billboard charts) was the soundtrack to The End of Evangelion, a decade before. But suddenly, in April 2008, the “Triangler” single by Maaya Sakamoto hit #3 on the weekly chart (and, I suppose, that that could be disqualified, since Maaya Sakamoto is not exactly a FAMOUS singer, but has a definite following. The result will still be the same, either way). Then, a couple of weeks later, in May, a second anime-themed single, “Diamond Crevasse” by Sheryl Nome starring May’n (who had only a very small following at that point, if she had one at all) also hit #3. In late June, a third anime-themed single, “Seikan Hikou,” this one by Ranka Lee=Megumi Nakajima (who had NO following outside of Frontier) got to #5. And then in August, a fourth single, “Lion” by May’n and Megumi Nakajima got to #3.
And that’s the “ani-son boom.”
Do you, er, notice anything those four singles have in common…?
So yes, the Japanese media CALLED it an ani-son boom, but here at Gubabablog, let’s call it what it REALLY was: a MACROSS song boom.
Now, I’m not really complaining. The media talking about it in that way basically helped create an ACTUAL ani-son boom a little bit later, and plenty of new music showcases (even on TV!) popped up featuring anime songs, and it’s hard to get upset about anime songs getting more exposure. But I do think that Macross didn’t really get enough credit here (not for the first time… except this time it was IN JAPAN, rather than the west… and not for the last, since when Walküre dethroned the aforementioned Hikaru Utada from the top of the singles chart, their first TV appearance just called their song “an anime theme” rather than “the theme to Macross Delta”). I think, though, that “industry” people knew what was what, and suddenly we started getting Macross concerts in large venues like Budokan (to say nothing of the incredible Yoko Kanno extravaganza at Saitama Super Arena in 2009… but more about that later).
And Macross music is of course a trend that continues this day, with “Ikenai Borderline” and “Koi! Halation the War” both hitting it big on the digital music charts. And, as I just said, the first Macross Delta single got to #3 on the Oricon Charts. And even higher in the charts used by certain morning TV shows.
Which raises some issues, especially among western fans, but I’ll get to those in due course.
Anyway, yeah. “Legend of Zero.” A great episode, despite the fact that I really don’t “get” Alto here at all.
ED: “Aimo~Tori no Hito”
NUMBER OF TIMES RANKA SAYS “ALTO-KUN” THIS EPISODE: 7
AND TOTAL: 26
EYECATCH: Macross Zero.
NEXT EPISODE: “Song of Bafflement, ring throughout the galaxy!”