#24: LAST FRONTIER
ICONIC SCENE: “What if the cursed Kadun of the cities infects you?”
STORY DATE: September 2059
BROADCAST DATE: September 18, 2008
1. Well, we finally get Ranka’s full flashback, where, as a child, her singing drove the Vajra into a frenzy which led them to destroy the 117th Research Fleet. Of course, by now, we probably put all that together ourselves, but it’s still nice to see.
Pretty much everything else gets filled in by Ozma and Cathy as they investigate the wreckage, including a suspicious-looking photograph that glides past Cathy. We’ll see it closer later (or, y’know, you could just look up, since it’s the “iconic scene”). For now, we learn that the first contact with the Vajra was in 2040. Eight years later, the 117th Research Fleet captured one and started studying them. Ozma attempts to put some spackle over one of the nastiest plot holes when he says that Grace was “bold” to come to Frontier using her real name… which, yeah, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when you think about it. And gets addressed in the movies.
Dr. Mao Nome was in charge of the whole operation (is she still alive…? We never get a straight answer to that one… Personally, of course, I hope so, unlikely as it may be). Ranxue Mei was the first person to be infected with the V-Type Virus, and conceived Ranka after she contracted the disease, which is why Ranka has the fold waves in her voice, but also is not in the same life-threatening state as Sheryl (although it presumably would’ve killed Ranxue eventually). If you’re BORN with the virus, it stays in your stomach, where it’s harmless. If you get it later, it goes to your brain, which will kill you.
And Grace’s plan was (and still is) to use Fold Quartz to connect everyone’s Implants, creating instantaneous communication (and, um, CONTROL) all across the galaxy. And the Vajra would be (and indeed, are already being) used to kill off everyone who doesn’t already have Implants.
2. So yeah, Grace has REALLY moved into ’50s mad scientist territory, including a big “They laughed at me at the academy, but I’ll show THEM! I’ll show THEM ALL!!” moment where she gleefully anticipates the descendants of Ranxue and Mao killing each other in battle. She also talks about how humanity will finally exceed the Protoculture, which raises all kinds of red flags. In a lot of ways, Macross is deeply conservative SF, including several “there are some things man was not meant to know” moments (I’ve talked about this before, and might address it in depth later).
3. And then we see the photograph that floated past Cathy before (and again, just scroll up). It shows an adult Mao (or is it her daughter? I’ve never been clear on this… she looks exactly like Mao, down to the hairstyle, but also looks too young to be her at 45) holding a baby, and it says “Your Grand Daughter, Sheryl.”
So yes, Sheryl’s another person who’s pretty “bold” to be using her real name here.
I kinda don’t get this. Clearly, Grace could’ve chosen any street urchin to become “Fairy 9,” so why go to all the trouble to locate Mao’s granddaughter and use her? Perhaps she was just being perverse and seeking her own revenge? Still seems like WAY too much work to put into an unimportant aspect of the project. Think about it too hard, and you’ll tie yourself into a Star Wars-shaped knot. Probably best just to accept it and move on…
4. And the Frontier Fleet arrives at the Vajra planet… The plan is to use Sheryl’s singing to confuse the Vajra, to attack and kill the Vajra Queen, and then take over the planet. Again, these are NOT the good guys.
During this scene, I note that one of Alto’s subordinates (Maruyama…?) looks suspiciously like Kakizaki.
5. And then Luca kisses Nanase finally… but considering that she’s still in a coma, that seems rather more like a violation than anything terribly romantic, as well as being one heartbeat away from necrophilia.
6. And we briefly get Brila’s angle on the whole thing… once the Implant/Fold Quartz network is in place, he’ll be able to find Minmay.
(This, by the way, in the first confirmation in an animated work that she might be lost. That’s usually been confined to printed material.)
And yet, even if Galaxy’s Fold Network plan had succeeded, his personal plan probably wouldn’t have. Macross Chronicle magazine suggests that the Megaroad-01 (with Minmay) went to another galaxy, and the Fold Network is described as only covering THIS galaxy. Meanwhile, Haruhiko Mikimoto’s “Macross the First” manga hints that perhaps the Megaroad-01 went into another TIME, which also wouldn’t be covered by the Fold Network.
7. Alto goes to see Sheryl as she’s getting ready, in a scene that , according to the DVD booklet, is an homage to Minmay visiting Hikaru as he’s getting ready to launch in Episode 27. That scene was touching and emotional, but (dare I say it…?) this one seems even deeper and more heartfelt (I’m sorry, OG Macross fans, but it’s true). The fact that that scene was so brightly lit, and this one is much more muted might help that, as does Sheryl’s expressive body language, as it’s clear that, with great effort, she’s really holding back some pretty deep feelings.
(On that note… why is it that restraining wild emotion always seems, in fiction, to be more powerful and romantic than unbridled passion? I’ve been thinking about this since the Macross II posts, considering the ending of Roman Holiday, which I consider one of the most romantic scenes in all of cinema (WAY better than the ending of Macross II)… and it’s all due to Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn holding back their desire for each other in overly formal language and stiff, deliberately constrained body language. Somehow, it’s much sexier than if they had just flown into each other’s arms and started making out in front of everyone (much better than, say, the end of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”), and I’m not sure why. The concept of such restrained passion is also an important feature of William Congreve’s play, “The Way of the World,” from way back in 1700, which even includes instructions on how to do something like this with your own significant other, if you want to try it out yourselves.)
Back to homages, though… for some reason, I can’t find one of my favorites. I’m pretty sure it was here or in the next episode (or, er… was it way back in Ep. 14? I hope not) but at SOME point, one of the missiles fired is an Appale Genki juice can. Frontier is healthier than Do You Remember Love, I guess.
8. The attack works, and Island-1 begins to approach the Vajra planet, and then Ranka starts singing “Do You Remember Love” in a version that is simultaneously pretty and (thanks to a bunch of very dissonant chords) rather disturbing. And Ranka appears in a giant hologram that, again, according to the DVD booklet, is an homage to Sharon Apple projecting herself over the SDF-1.
9. So yes, the Frontier forces start getting thrashed, and Leon’s facial expressions become weirder and more ghoulish as the fight continues. Alto sees through the illusion and realizes that Ranka is being held against her will. But it’s too late… Brera ends up destroying Alto’s fighter, and Sheryl’s heart breaks.
10. So yes, things are definitely coming together, and it mostly “works” (again, I’m not sure about Sheryl being Mao’s granddaughter, really, although it was clear from the beginning that there had to be SOME kind of connection, since they had the same surname). Overall, though, a great episode with lots of cool little touches, especially during the battle.
ED: “Northern Cross”
NUMBER OF TIMES RANKA SAYS “ALTO-KUN” THIS EPISODE: 0
AND TOTAL: 82
NEXT EPISODE: There’s no “Song of [whatever], ring throughout the galaxy!” here, for the first time. HOWEVER, awesomely, instead of showing scenes from the next episode, they show a photo album being slowly leafed through, just like the ending credits of the original series.