THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 129 – GOODBYE SISTER

F Ep.17

MACROSS FRONTIER
#17: GOODBYE SISTER

ICONIC SCENE: “What’s the matter, Roy? Had too much to drink?”

STORY DATE: 2059

BROADCAST DATE: July 31, 2008

1. Oh, man… this episode… I meant what I said before that after Episode 6 or so, I started caring less about the homages and more about the series itself, but this one goes flat-out insane with the homages, and it works brilliantly. It opens by focusing on Ozma, flashing back to adopting Ranka, and making pineapple cake for her, which leads to the first time she ever called him “onii-chan.”

Now… as everyone knows by now, Ozma is the Focker of Frontier. And, also as everyone knows, pineapple salad is forever associated with Focker’s death. So pineapple cake, the general focus on Ozma, and the fact that we’re at Episode 17 (Focker died in Episode 18 of the first series) really doesn’t bode well. The title of the episode, “Goodbye Sister,” just reinforces that (although, according to the DVD booklet, it’s also a reference to the title of Episode 24 of the original series, “Goodbye Girl.” For Robotech viewers, though, it might call to mind the spoilerrific retitling of Episode 18 as “Farewell, Big Brother”).

Oh, and I note that Ozma is listening to “My Soul for You.” His stereo claims that it’s track 13 of “Let’s Fire!!,” which it isn’t. This version isn’t even on “Let’s Fire!!” (it’s on “Music Selection from Galaxy Network Chart Vol. 1”). The ACTUAL Track 13 on “Let’s Fire!!” is “Planet Dance [Galaxy Fight Version].”

2. We also get a unique opening credits sequence, to the tune of “Seikan Hikou.” It’s almost perverse in how light and goofy it is, considering how serious the show has been getting.

Oh, and the (very limited) animation for it was done by the awesomely-named animation studio, “I was a ballerina co.,ltd.” who also, a few years later, did the (even more limited) Sheryl scenes for the “Super Dimension Seminar” TV series. And the amazing “Koi wa Dogfight” sequence for “Nyan Kuri.”

3. It’s getting pretty clear that no one’s really sure who to trust anymore. Michel even seems to suspect Luca, and uses a cover story to get Klan to introduce him to a pharmacology student (to finally check out Sheryl’s pill that he picked up back in Episode 13). Cathy still seems to be engaged to Leon even though everything’s pointing to him being heavily involved in whatever is going on with Galaxy.

4. Alto sneaks into Ranka’s place (to elude her bodyguards… who really don’t seem to be doing a very thorough job), and yeah… I think it’s pretty clear that Ranka’s best chance at nabbing Alto was back in Episode 13. She acts really childish when he arrives (getting flustered upon realizing that they’re alone in the apartment), and her room DEFINITELY looks like a little girl’s. Again, the immaturity is part of her charm, but there really does seem to be a vast gulf between her and Sheryl, even though she’s only a year younger. Again, she makes a great little sister, but not a terribly good romantic interest.

And then Alto meets Ai-kun.

5. Ranka has some issues with and worries about the “Aimo OC” experiment, but I’m not sure that Alto really gets it. He talks about competition for resources between humans and Vajra, which I guess is his way of saying that the ethics of the situation are irrelevant: it’s a matter of survival. And I think that is part of what she’s concerned about, but I think she’s also fretting about her role in the whole thing: she knows she’s merely a tool, and I don’t think even she trusts the people utilizing her.

And then there’s a rather ominous scene of Ai-kun ripping Alto’s paper airplane apart. It strains credulity how dense everyone is about Ai-kun… they all know he’s some type of unidentified alien, but no one’s really noted that there’s only one new alien species the Frontier has encountered recently. And while it’s true that he doesn’t LOOK at all like a Vajra, SOMEONE should realize that he may be at least linked to them somehow.

(Later in the episode, we also see a Vajra egg hatching, and it’s really quick, but we’re definitely shown something green and furry inside… so yeah, the staff knows that we know now.)

6. So we finally get the explanation for the Fold Quartz: it’s what makes breaking through the Fold Faults possible, and it’s created inside the Vajra’s bodies. Yes, this is EXTREMELY similar to the Space Whales from Dynamite 7 (who likewise have parts that are useful for Fold systems).

Anyway, Leon tells all this to Luca, who ALMOST pieces together the whole story: Birla made his fortune in shipping and transportation (and SMS, interestingly, started as security guards for that business), and if he gets the Fold Quartz, he could create a space travel monopoly. Birla, of course, is much more ambitious than that, but Luca’s on the right track.

And Grace comes out in a male disguise. Clearly, she and Leon are working hard to get Luca (and his family’s company) on their side.

(Probably to grease those wheels a bit, Grace recruits an extremely willing Nanase to be Ranka’s costume designer.)

7. And Ozma starts poking around, trying to figure out what the government is doing with the Vajra corpses they’ve been collecting. This is of course highly secret stuff, and pretty dangerous to be investigating.

He gets accosted by Brera, and for a moment there, it really looks like Brera’s going to kill him.

8. Suddenly, it turns out that reaction weapons are no longer effective against the Vajra. It seems that they evolve quickly, and they’re gaining resilience to all the weapons the humans have been using on them.

One of them fires a beam at the Quarter’s bridge, but Ozma gets in the way and stops it (just like Hikaru near the beginning of Do You Remember Love).

Ozma gives a great speech about how if reaction weapons don’t work, use missiles. If missiles don’t work, use guns, and so forth, and how he’ll never give up his fighting spirit, and, rather brilliantly, the Fire Bomber song “Try Again” starts playing over the scene. And then he implausibly manages to kill a Vajra with its own severed arm.

After one more scene where again it looks like Ozma may be killed, we switch to Ranka’s Revenge Live. Ozma seems tired.

And then, just like in Episode 18 of the original series, the flight crew checks out the Skull 1 and sees something shocking in the cockpit. And then we see Ozma bleeding quite profusely, passed out or dead…

And, in a great reversal, he’s not dead. Seriously, even without all the Focker imagery, I think anyone watching this episode would simply KNOW that he was going to die here. There are simply too many death flags.

And yet, we get Michel saying, “If he had died there, that would’ve been really emotional,” and Ozma himself looking right at the camera and saying, “I won’t die.”

9. And then Sheryl confronts Grace. Sheryl seems angry, Grace seems… almost cheerful.

10. So yeah… quite a few people (mostly, in my experience, Robotech fans) seem to view Frontier as just a modernized remake of the original series, which leads me to believe that they simply stopped paying attention after Episode 5 or so, but this is a great example of staff knowing that people thought that and using it to the story’s advantage. Right from the beginning, it was so clear that Ozma was the Focker of the series that it wasn’t a matter of IF he was going to die, but WHEN. So this episode announces right from the beginning that he’s going to die, puts him in a number of situations where it sure LOOKS like he’s about to die, and then lets him survive.

Kawamori got all the credit/blame for this, but here, I think (and it’s only a guess) that the prankster in charge was scriptwriter Yoshino. But whatever… because of this, in Western fandom, Kawamori started getting labelled a “troll,” as a compliment of sorts (shorthand, I guess, for “they played me for a fool so elegantly!”).

At least, AT FIRST it was a compliment. I’ll pick this thread up again a few episodes later when it becomes venomous.

OP: “Interstellar Flight”

ED: “Northern Cross”

NUMBER OF TIMES RANKA SAYS “ALTO-KUN” THIS EPISODE: 3

AND TOTAL: 64

EYECATCH: Ozma and Ranka.

NEXT EPISODE: “Song of Tears, ring throughout the galaxy!”

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