#23: TRUE BEGIN
ICONIC SCENE: “Itsumo issho no Sunset Beachiiiiii!”
STORY DATE: September 2059
BROADCAST DATE: September 11, 2008
1. So yeah… back in Episode 15, they said that it was “the prologue to the beginning,” so I guess this is supposed to be where the story REALLY starts (for now. That’ll change). But of course, it’s not the beginning. It’s coming towards the end (I mean, this is the LAST DISC of the DVDs).
That said, the “True Begin” begins truly, with chronologically the earliest scene in the entire series (except for the recap of Space War I): child Ranka seeing a Vajra for the first time. And Ranka finally realizes what everyone in the audience already knows, that Brera is her actual brother.
2. And Frontier is having to abandon more Island ships in order to survive. But more to the point, one of Alto’s new subordinates (Maruyama) asks him if he’s dating Sheryl. Now, talking about love relationships has (apparently) been taboo since Kakizaki died in Do You Remember Love. This plus the pineapple curse… the Scylla and Charybdis of Macross pilots.
But Maruyama is totally right. Alto is not only going out with Sheryl, but actually living with her. I would say that the love triangle is officially done, except that Hikaru and Minmay were living together as well.
Oh, and the oxygen level has gotten so low on Frontier that everyone has to carry air-masks with them whenever they go outside. Thanks, Leon!
(Honestly, the privations of the Frontier citizens remind me (now) of the steps taken in Tokyo after the 3.11 earthquake a few years later. Of course, oxygen wasn’t a problem, but everything else sure was: water, electricity… It adds a spooky overtone to the scene when I watch it now.)
4. Why does Sheryl refuse Alto’s help when she cuts her finger? Is it because, as she says, she’s “the girl” here? Or is it because she’s worried about him getting infected with the V-Type Virus? If it’s the latter, do you see what I mean about the possibility of them having had sex last episode?
That said, they’re truly a couple now. And THAT said, Sheryl’s drinking too much. Something is clearly missing here. It’s a rare person who can get drunk off of non-alcoholic champagne… but Sheryl is nothing if not rare. Just like Barney from The Simpsons.
(If there’s ANY hope for Alto/Ranka at this point, it’s in Alto seeing what life with Sheryl would be like, and realizing that he’d be bossed around constantly. As happens here. In a quite interesting interview translated by the somehow-unassuming-yet-totally-authoritative Karice67, who has done more to raise the bar of any behind-the-scenes discussion of Frontier in English than anyone else I can think of, Kawamori points out that being married to Sheryl wouldn’t be a whole lot of fun, really.)
Oh, and then Sheryl tells Alto to quit the military, just like Minmay told Hikaru.
5. And now that I’ve danced around saying all kinds of nasty things about Sheryl, I’ll point out that Ranka seems WAY too happy to learn that she has her own cyborg who she can order around to do anything she feels like at any given time.
(Hmm… I had already come to the conclusion that Alto wasn’t worth all the effort Sheryl and Ranka put into “getting” him. He’s emotionally constipated, terrified of women, and has far too many personal issues… but maybe neither of the girls are worth it, either…? At this point, they BOTH seem like too much work… No matter who wins, everyone loses. Or would, if there were a direct sequel. Am I curious about what Alto, Sheryl, and Ranka are up to while Delta’s going on? Sure. Might I be horrified to find out and sorry that I ever asked? Sure.)
And then, Ranka singing “Aimo” calms down the whole Vajra planet. That’s kind of awesome.
6. To Alto’s credit, he doesn’t trust Leon and Birla right off the bat… he asks them directly if it’s Fold Quartz they’re after. Naturally, they lie to him. Unfortunately, he believes them.
And THAT said, Leon truthfully explains how the Vajra “work” to Alto. They have no brains as we would recognize them, but they “think” through their “gut,” so to speak. Now, I’m POSITIVE that I read an interview with Kawamori where he said that through the Vajra, he was exploring an old Japanese concept of “thinking with your gut,” that is, instinct or “somehow just knowing.” However, I can’t seem to find that interview anywhere, and the people who WOULD remember it (Renato and Karice67) have no recollection of it. I’m sure it existed, though, and I’m also sure it wasn’t part of the fake information that I talked about previously. As I recall, there was a Japanese word (which I likewise can’t find in any of my dictionaries) that translated literally, was something like “stomach-thinking,” and (again) meant, basically, intuition. And that Kawamori was making that concept literal with the Vajra, who really DO think with their stomachs.
Interestingly, the novel 1984 has a similar concept in its “Newspeak”: “bellyfeel,” which means understanding a concept completely (like “grok” for you mid-period Heinlein fans). I think to Orwell, bypassing the intellect was a bad sign. For the Frontier creators, it may be a good sign. I tend to fall into Orwell’s camp, but alien beings (and, um, Japanese people) might have different priorities.
Or maybe not… the fact that I can’t find any record of this concept and that no one knows what I’m talking about gives me pause. If any of YOU know what I’m talking about, please shoot over a link. I’d be grateful. There’s a scene in The Wings of Farewell that seems to reference it, but I’m pretty sure it was an interview…
Anyway, that aside, the upshot, of course, is that the Vajra are a hive-mind being, each individual Vajra being a part of a greater whole. Just like the Formics in Ender’s Game (to cite just one example of many).
7. Ah, Ranka finally comes out and says it: she came to the Vajra to find a way for the fighting to stop. Not JUST to return Ai-kun to his people, as she had said before.
That said, Ai-kun performs the will of the Vajra, and captures Ranka.
And the red Vajra grabbing the VF-27 has a more-than-coincidental likeness to Ranka’s memories of the 117th Research Fleet being destroyed. Yes, the show has started homaging itself!
8. And Grace stops Brera… which is (luckily for Ranka) the first time we’ve realized that Brera isn’t simply following orders and has a certain amount of free will.
And (unluckily for Grace) she taunts Brera by explaining to him that Ranka is his REAL little sister, which of course is calculated to make him go ballistic.
At this point, Grace has a failsafe, but (as we’ll soon discover) it’s not indestructible.
And OH, HEY! We FINALLY get the reason why when her big brother was in trouble back in Episode 3, Ranka said, “I kept it secret like you told me.” Again, she was talking to BRERA, not OZMA.
And Grace thinks she can use all this to her advantage, but she’s wrong.
9. And Alto realizes that he joined SMS purely to rescue Ranka. Unless the Vajra are using her. In which case, he’ll have to kill her to preserve her. And maybe he’s right.
Klan realizes that this is love.
Frontier is not as poetic or profound as it sometimes tries to be.
(Although, hang on, Alto… didn’t most of SMS desert as well? You gonna kill all of THEM, too…? Good luck, dude…)
10. And again, things are moving apace. Perhaps a little TOO quickly… And yeah, if there’s a problem in the plotting of the show, it seems like too much gets crammed into these last few episodes. I’m sure the staff knew they were doing movies at this point, though, so these final episodes aren’t as final as they might seem. But if at this point you’re beginning to suspect that scriptwriter Yoshino will never be able to pull all the loose threads together and arrive at a completely satisfying finale for the series, I think you’d be right.
ED: “Northern Cross”
NUMBER OF TIMES RANKA SAYS “ALTO-KUN” THIS EPISODE: 0
AND TOTAL: 82
NEXT EPISODE: “Song of Final Battle, ring throughout the galaxy!”