#22: NORTHERN CROSS
ICONIC SCENE: “Miss Mylene, you’re slow on the uptake. If a healthy man and woman spend the night together, then they’ve…”
STORY DATE: 2059
BROADCAST DATE: September 4, 2008
1. Leon gets the environmental sustainability report and learns that the ship can only last for three more months. In other words, they have to find a habitable planet in that time, or else everyone will die. Good job, “Mr. President.”
2. Huh. For the first time since the debut episode, The red Vajra launch those tentacle-decoy things. I wonder happened to them for the last twenty episodes?
And Alto and Luca are helping train some New Unified Forces pilots and their brand-new VF-171EX Valks.
3. Sheryl’s back, but still possibly retiring soon. Here we get the debut of the song “Yousei” (“Fairy”), which may have been the lyrics the wrote in the Zentradi Mall, although if so, I’m guessing they’ve been heavily revised to reflect her current (not good) situation.
And fold waves are detected in her singing, so yeah, Ranka won’t be as heavily missed as anyone thought.
(Sheryl’s top, by the way, is really strange… it’s a hoodie with most of the midriff cut out. Er… what’s the point of a sweatshirt that doesn’t keep you warm…? It kinda reminds of that “keyhole sweater” that was all over the place last year.)
4. Boy, the images of the bombed-out city are kinda hard to take. It really looks desolate and forbidding… Anyway, yeah, Ozma and Cathy are still hiding out in the wreckage. Ozma finds a Ranka doll, which is an obvious homage to the Minmay dolls of the original series (although this one doesn’t walk). And then they’re found by Bobby.
They go back to the Quarter and explain that President Glass was assassinated by Leon. According to the DVD booklet, Cathy breaking down in tears is an homage to Misa when her father was killed. I’ve been noticing for a while that some of the homages listed on the DVD seem more like coincidence than anything else… Still, it’s there, so it’s official. I guess.
5. Canaria hands Ranka’s letter to Ozma, saying that she’s read it, and it seems as though Ranka has recovered her memories, which fits with what I was saying last time. Ranka knows EXACTLY what she’s doing here.
The biggest bombshell here though is that Birla, now working with Leon and Grace, plans to disband SMS and fold it into the New Unified Forces.
And so, the Quarter crew decides to go rogue (err, I mean, “ARR, they become PIRATES, me hearties”).
(Weirdly, none of the people who decry Ranka’s leaving Frontier defenseless against the Vajra seem to be upset about SMS doing essentially the same thing. I mean, we’ve SEEN how the New Unified Forces do against the Vajra, and it’s not good. When Ranka leaves the ship, she’s a TRAITOR. When SMS leaves the ship, they’re being HEROIC. I don’t get it.)
Anyway, about 70% of the crew join, but emphatically NOT Alto, Luca, and Klan… which puts us in a bizarre place where, for the next while at least, the three of them (or two… I dunno about Klan) AND Sheryl are all working for the bad guys.
6. Luca explains the V-Type Virus to Sheryl (and us): that she was infected with it ten years ago. It’s curable if caught early, but otherwise it gets into your brain and is invariably fatal. It’s also communicable through blood and bodily fluids (more about that in a bit).
Anyway, the upshot of this is that, yes, Sheryl will die. But in the meantime, her singing will affect the Vajra in the same way that Ranka’s did, since the disease, in its advanced stages, will create vocal fold waves.
And Klan tells Alto about Sheryl’s illness, reinforcing Michel’s final lesson: make up your damn mind, and do it quickly.
7. So… do Alto and Sheryl have sex here? The Macross F Official Fan Book is pretty coy about it, saying, “only the two of them know for sure.” The novelization seems to indicate that they do. So does one of the illustrations (by Takao Abo, one of the producers) in “Nyan Cret Vol. 1,” (“Nyan Cret” is, more or less, an official doujinshi. Staff members each get a page to illustrate, well, basically whatever they want. None of it should really be considered as part of the story (some of the illustrations are pretty “out there”), but it’s not necessarily AGAINST the story, either… one of Kawamori’s pics, for example, show a VF-25 actually MAKING OUT with a VF-27. I’m pretty sure that never occurred even in fanfics, let alone in the series itself).
I’m not opposed to Alto/Sheryl sex at all (hell, I’d be weirded out if a) Sheryl didn’t offer, and b) Alto didn’t respond), but I have one big problem with the idea: Sheryl already knows that the V-Type Virus is transmitted through bodily fluids (makes me wonder if any of her ex-boyfriends have come down with it… and yeah, I’m pretty sure she’s not a virgin), and I find it hard to imagine she would be careless enough to expose Alto to the disease. Of course, I dunno, maybe they have… what… pinpoint barrier condoms, or something…? But it still seems very unlike Sheryl to even take the risk.
(Some Sheryl defenders have tried to argue that the disease may have been TOO WEAK to be transmitted sexually, despite the fact that (science lesson here) sexually transmitted diseases are the weakest of all. Airborne diseases are the strongest, because they can live in hostile environments (like air), bodily-fluid diseases are weaker (they can KINDA live in blood outside someone’s body) and sexually-transmitted diseases are the weakest (they NEED the fluid, and warmth, and intimate contact in order to be transmitted). Indeed, that’s why the AIDS Virus was so difficult to study: remove it from its safe environment inside the human body, and it dies quickly. So, yes… if the V-Type Virus can be transmitted by nonspecific bodily fluids, then sex MUST be one of those transmission conduits. The virus makes no sense otherwise. Conversely, if it IS, despite all logic to the contrary, communicable through bodily fluids but NOT sexually, Sheryl wouldn’t have known that. We heard Luca’s entire speech to her about the disease, and he never ONCE mentioned that it couldn’t be caught through sex, nor did he even hint at it. If it were THAT anomalous, he probably would’ve mentioned it. And if he didn’t, why would Sheryl assume that “transmitted through bodily fluids” meant, “oh, not through my lady parts, though”? Wouldn’t she have asked…?)
8. Oh, and Leon betrays Grace, but she was planning to betray him as well, so I guess it’s okay. No matter, his assassins fail to kill her. As he should’ve realized would happen.
9. Klan seems to approve of the Quarter departing, but Alto and Luca sure don’t. And the new VF-171EX fighters they’re flying are STILL no match for the VF-25s. Frontier is now defenseless, militarily speaking.
Still, once the Quarter leaves, Luca’s rosy cheeks are no longer rosy… until it comes back.
And Ozma gets one of the best lines in the entire series: when Alto chides him for not talking like an adult, Ozma replies, “Unfortunately, I’m not an adult… I’M A MAN!”
And at the VERY end, Ranka and Brera reach the Vajra home world, which has the unfortunate effect of telling Grace and Galaxy where it is as well.
10. Y’know, I can understand Alto’s viewpoint in not joining the SMS’s open rebellion, but it’s still kinda sad to see him fall on the wrong side yet again. When he finds himself opposed to both Ranka AND the Quarter crew, you would think he might take a moment of introspection to figure out if they’re REALLY traitors, or if perhaps he’s missing something vital. But no, he’s convinced that he’s right and everyone else is wrong.
And the love triangle, no matter what any Ranka fans say, is over, as far as I’m concerned (of course, I felt the same way after the original Macross episode 27 (Misa)… and 33 (Misa)… and 35 (Minmay)… so make of that what you will). Episode 19 seemed like a clincher (which Episode 20 tried to undo), but no, NOW, it’s clear as day that Alto has chosen Sheryl. Moreover, for the first time, it actually seems like he WANTS to be with her, instead of just seeming really uncomfortable…
ED: “Northern Cross”
NUMBER OF TIMES RANKA SAYS “ALTO-KUN” THIS EPISODE: 0
AND TOTAL: 82
NEXT EPISODE: “Song of Fate, ring throughout the galaxy!”