#12: FASTEST DELIVERY
ICONIC SCENE: “Kyun Kyun, Kyun Kyun!”
STORY DATE: August 2059
BROADCAST DATE: June 26, 2008
1. The beginning of this episode is pretty clearly an homage to the beginning of Do You Remember Love, with the Zentradi commander (Ogotai) talking with his Chief Archivist. The rhythm of the scene and dialogue (if not the actual lines spoken) is much like the ’84 movie, just a little sped up. Although this scene ends with a joke: while the two have been speaking Zentradi, with Japanese subtitles, when Ogotai says “Yack Deculture,” that’s exactly what the subtitle says, as well.
About the Zentradi names here: one thing that I originally was going to bring up in my posts about the original Macross, but decided to hold off on until I got here, is that I THINK the Frontier staff is giving us a clue as to how the staff for the first series came up with at least some of the names for the Zentradi. Ogotai, the Britai stand-in, is named after one of Genghis Khan’s generals, whereas Temujin, the Kamujin stand-in, is named after Genghis Khan’s name when he was younger. Thus (and this is, I must admit, pure speculation here), my thinking is that for the original characters, they started with the historical Genghis Khan-linked names and just played with the syllables a bit until they came up with names that were different and alien enough. Although if the other Zentradi have antecedents for their names, I have no idea what they are.
A further note: you’ll see some people who really latch onto the spellings of the Zentradi names that are on the model kit boxes from the ’80s: “Vrlitwhai” instead of “Britai,” and “Quamzin” instead of “Kamujin.” I resist this, for a few reasons. First, it’s pretty clear that Miyatake (who devised the spellings) didn’t know (or care) much about how English was pronounced, and created these spellings for graphic appeal and complexity first, and any type of pronunciation second (Japanese fans would just look to the katakana, after all). The name “Vrlitwhai” looks like it should be pronounced “Ver-lit-why,” which is nothing like how you actually say the guy’s name. “Britai” is much better from this perspective, in that it actually reflects the pronunciation. Second, for characters, all we have are those two names (and, I guess, “Gor Boddle Zer,” although I’m unsure where that particular transliteration comes from. I’ve never seen it anywhere in Japanese materials) are the only ones we have. There’s no “Rlahp’Lrammhits” or “Hekissedorluh” instead of “Lap’Lamiz” and “Exsedol.” Which leads, in discussions and subtitles, to two or three Zentradi with overly complex, oddly-spelled names, and all the others just getting phonetic spellings. Third, even the people who swear by Miyatake’s spellings seem to reject “Zjentohlauedy” (“Zentradi”) which is on those same model kit boxes. At least, I never ever see that one used.
So yeah, I stick with phonetic transcriptions. The loss in “authenticity” is far outweighed by the gain in legibility, ease of discussion, and consonance with the other Zentradi names.
(And yes, I’ve used “Veffidas” instead of “Veeheeda” (although I always pointed out how it should be pronounced). You can sue me, if you’d like. She’s the only character in the series to get such a random spelling, anyway. And yes, I often use “Glaug” and “Regult” instead of “Glahj” and “Reguld,” as well. But I do so with a grimace.)
2. There’s a new wrinkle with the VF-25’s FAST packs. When the VF-1 jettisoned its FAST packs (in both the series and the movie) to enter an atmosphere, it seemed like the packs were basically gone for good. Here, Alto jettisons his, and the Super Parts attach to each other and apparently stay in orbit, waiting to be picked up again.
The scene with Alto entering Gallia 4’s atmosphere MAY be an homage to Isamu’s atmospheric entry in Macross Plus. Certainly, several of the shots are similar.
3. Last episode, they went into a fair amount of discussion about what a powder keg the 33rd Marine Corps is, so it’s not that surprising when Sheryl passes out and it’s their excuse to riot. Clearly, Temujin wanted to go crazy, and would have done so, no matter what.
(A question: so these Zentradi are descendants of those who didn’t initially side with humans in Space War I. I wonder if they’re clones, or if they were born the “old fashioned” way, as we saw with the Zentradi children a few episodes ago? Since it was established in the short story “The Lost Two Years” that there are three basic types of Zentradi: Commanders, Advisors, and general soldiers, either way it raises some interesting implications about basic types WITHIN those categories (is Kamujin a “commander type”? If so, why is he so different from Britai?)… which I’m sure we’re not meant to look at too closely. The similarity of the characters to Britai, Exsedol, and Kamujin is pretty much a joke (and quick character delineation) rather than a deeply-considered meditation on Zentradi genetics.)
And even the men are now using Queadluun-Rhea style power suits, although (like the use of the Destroid Cheyenne), all I would read into this is that’s what the staff had modeled in 3D, and making some kind of Nousjadeul-Ger 3D model would’ve taken too long for what, essentially, is a throw-away role (and yes, I’m using those blasted Miyatake spellings, here. The “S” and “E” in “Nousjadeul” are silent, phonetically… “Nujedul-Gaa”).
Also of note: some Zentradi have TV-style uniforms while other have movie-style. This is the first time we’ve seen the TV versions since the original series.
4. Temujin keeping everyone as hostages is, according to the DVD booklet, a reference to Episode 32 of the original Macross, where Kamujin captured Minmay and Kaifun (and THANK YOU, Frontier staff, for reminding me of the WORST EPISODE of the original) (that parenthetical comment is meant to be read in Renato’s voice).
5. And because of the fold faults, no one can get to Gallia 4 in time… except that Luca’s family’s company has, er, “developed” a fold drive that’s unaffected by the faults. More about this later.
6. And there’s a mistake in the Zentradi alphabet when they get the reaction weapons. I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to say “UNLOCK ON,” but it actually says “UNLOCL ON.”
And the next scene shows Temujin talking to a mystery person who is undoubtedly Grace. For someone who appeared to just be Sheryl’s long-suffering manager, she’s sure got her fingers in plenty of pies…
7. Fighting breaks out among the two factions of the 33rd Marine Corps, but just in the nick of time, Michel’s Valk shows up, equipped with speakers and Ranka in the back seat. And we get the first appearance of “Seikan Hikou” (“Interstellar Flight,” which may or may not be a reference to Seiko Matsuda’s hit, “Jikan Hikou” (“Time Flight”)), in a scene which SHOULD have pissed off all the “I want my Macross to be gritty and grimdark” fans, but, as far as I can tell, didn’t. Or maybe they all had stopped watching after the episode about Sheryl’s panties.
A couple of things about “Seikan Hikou.” First, and most obviously, it started a meme that was absolutely inescapable for a while there, and that still shows up occasionally: the “Kira!” [“Sparkle!”] pose (from this episode and reprised on the cover of the single). Now, Ranka’s hand is making the American Sign Language sign for “I love you” (the pinky is the “I,” the index finger and thumb are the “L,” and the pinky and index finger together with the middle knuckles form the “U”), which I first saw several years before, in the performance of “Seishun Jidai 1-2-3” by the idol group Petit Moni.
(At about 2:45:)
I’m not sure if that’s where the Macross staff got the idea, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was. Second, the lyricist for “Seikan Hikou,” Takashi Matsumoto, is rather legendary, having written lyrics for dozens of massive hit songs, especially in the ’80s (I’ve never met him, but one of my friends has, to my great envy). Among those hits (BESIDES, y’know, TONS of Seiko Matsuda songs and the “Nausicaa Theme”) are “Yuuwaku Kousen GURA!” (“Temptation Ray GURA!”), sung by Yuu Hayami, and “Sekidou Komachi DOKI!” (“Equatorial Town DOKI!”) by Kumiko Yamashita. Apparently, he was thinking of those two songs while writing this one, and the title was initially meant to be “Seikan Hikou KIRA!” which would make the three songs something of a belated trilogy. Unfortunately, it was not to be.
Anyway, the plan works, and most of the Zentradi stop fighting in order to listen to Ranka.
(Oh, and if you look closely, Ranka is indeed wearing a seatbelt around her waist. Safety first!)
8. Temujin is unaffected, though, and tries to kill Ranka, only to be stopped by Alto. There’s a pretty fierce dogfight between the two of them, which ends with Temujin defeated but not killed. And indeed, there were plans for him to come back towards the end of the series, but that never happened. He shows up in the second movie, though.
9. So last episode had Sheryl completely flattening Ranka in the competition for birthday gifts for Alto, and this one has Ranka totally usurping Sheryl’s role in Alto’s back seat, since Sheryl is too ill to fly with Alto. Well-played, Ranka, well-played (although it’s mostly a string of coincidences that led to this).
(And, um, various shippers get variously upset at various parts of this chain of events. Please let me know in the comments which part bugs YOU the most!)
Anyway, Alto and Ranka end up crashing and stepping out to see… the Macross. And to emphasize this, the ending song is Ranka’s version of “Do You Remember Love” (while the ending credits, showing Alto’s Valk flying, are an homage to the credits in the original “Macross Special” (i.e. episodes 1 and 2 together, as broadcast on October 3, 1982), which showed Hikaru’s fan racer likewise flying).
10. And damn if this episode didn’t start off a serious firestorm at Macross World forums, with a week filled with arguments about whether or not this was the original Macross… and if so, how it got there; and if not, what it was. For the record, I was certain that it WAS the original SDF-1, which turned out to be wrong. Not the first nor the last time, alas.
(It started, as I said, a very different storm among the love triangle shippers, but I had no idea about that at this juncture. More about that later.)
Still, for an episode “filled to the gills” with homages, it’s also one of the first to have one of the first authentic Frontier additions to the storied list of “Great Macross Moments”: the debut of “Seikan Hikou.” Honestly, when Frontier first started, while I enjoyed it in and of itself, trying to catch all the homages was most of the real fun of the series. But around Episode 6 or so, I began to care less about those as I became more invested in THESE characters and THIS story, rather than what they were referencing at any given time. Which I’m sure was deliberate on the staff’s part. While homages continue throughout the whole series (and even into the movies, to a degree), WAY more of the obvious ones happen in the first quarter of the series. And definitely by this point, the show stands on its own. Now, it’s easy to look back on it and say that it’s playing it “safe” by doing it this way, and in a sense, it is (unlike, say, Macross Seven or Macross Delta). But success was no means assured or even really expected. Bandai didn’t want to sponsor the show until the Deculture Edition preview drew them in and made them change their minds. The manga adaptation (in Shonen Ace, the same magazine that had featured Macross 7 Trash) was by a definite second- or third-tier artist (look at how much better the general artists become for Frontier manga serials as the show becomes more successful (i.e. the first manga adaptation versus, say, “Sheryl: Kiss in the Galaxy” or “Macross ff”. It’s night and day). Sometimes, of course, Frontier gets clubbed from both ends, with some people saying it’s “pandering” too much to the old fans with its homages, and others saying it’s “pandering” to new fans because it’s not enough like an ’80s series. I’ll probably save that particular discussion for the end of the series, except to say that for me (and, I think, for many people), it’s a pretty good balance overall (oh, like YOU’RE surprised that I think that…).
ED: “Do You Remember Love”
NUMBER OF TIMES RANKA SAYS “ALTO-KUN” THIS EPISODE: 7
AND TOTAL: 42
EYECATCH: Sheryl and Ranka drawn in the sand.
NEXT EPISODE: “Song of Commotion, ring throughout the galaxy!”