THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 147 – Decision OVERLOAD

Delta Ep.6

MACROSS DELTA
MISSION 06: Decision OVERLOAD

ICONIC SCENE:It’s showtime!

STORY DATE: 2067

BROADCAST DATE: May 8, 2016

1. Messer’s kind of being a passive-aggressive jerk at the start of this episode, calling in Chuck, Mirage, and Hayate for instruction, and then ignoring Hayate until Hayate pushes him for it. I know, I know, he’s just trying to make sure that Hayate cares enough, but it’s still kind of a dick move.

His instruction is to tell Hayate to shoot to kill, rather than try to spare the lives of the enemy pilots. Which is a nice little bit of symmetry with the end of the episode, where Hayate actually does kill someone.

It’s also interesting to note that stuff has definitely been going on between episodes, as Messer says for the last three battles, Hayate’s been targeting the enemy’s wings. Since his only real battle so far has been in Episode 4, clearly at least two more have taken place since. Likewise, in the next scene, we learn that three other planets have surrendered to Windermere.

2. And as usual, if Messer’s hard on Hayate, then Mikumo is hard on Freyja, here for having no life to her singing. Mikumo also seems fascinated by Heinz’s song of the wind… and, er, there’s a reason for that…

3. I think it’s interesting that when Makina scolds Hayate about how roughly he treats his VF-31, she’s echoing her ancestor, Old Man Nakajima from Macross Zero, who said virtually the same thing to Shin.

And it’s come to my attention that there are fans who don’t think Makina and Reina are a couple. I dunno… I mean, they never come out and SAY it, but it seems pretty blatant to me that they’re together.

4. I think this episode is where a lot of fans started getting interested in a possible Messer-Kaname romance, since she keeps inviting him out, and he keeps declining. And of course, it’s not to be.

5. The battle in this episode is one of the few space battles in this series, which happen about as infrequently as atmospheric battles did in Frontier. It’s definitely nice to see the VF-31s fitted with FAST packs (and sound boosters).

There’s an interesting bit when Hayate gets into his cockpit and starts up the ARIEL system, which, as far as I can tell, is an AI system first testing with the VF-19. All the info on that is contained in the VF-19 Master File book, and I like that they’re taking stuff from that (really cool) series of mecha books and adding it into the show.

6. After fighters get ready, Walküre’s stage rises and (as you can tell from my “iconic scene” here, I think there’s something really great about it. Mostly because of the music. It’s the track “Xaos,” which is on the first OST, and the shot of Walküre rising, seen from behind, with space as the backdrop, and THOSE DRUMS is really effective.

The staff must’ve thought so, too, since the scene later became a central part of the second opening title sequence.

7. The new song in this episode, “Walküre Attack,” which would later become the title of their first album (and which seems a rather unimaginative name) is the first one that I didn’t really like all that much. I later grew to love it, but I think it works better on the album than it does in this episode.

8. There’s also a strange visual component to the battle, with Delta Flight launching little balls that project film of Walküre on to the asteroids around them all. And I still don’t understand how, if the girls’ vocals only affect the Vár when performed live, how a concert broadcast over the radio can work. But somehow it does.

Most of the battle here is impressively done, but I have to laugh a bit when an Itano Circus of missile launching is shown (as it the first battle in Do You Remember Love) just on the radar screen.

And finally, Bogue lunges forward (using different animation than was used in Episode 1) and attack Walküre. Probably would’ve killed them, too had Hayate not kicked him out of the way.

9, We meet a new Aerial Knight, Sir Gura, who is the spitting image of Bellri, the hero of Gundam Reconguista in G. Hayate ends up (mostly accidentally) killing him.

And, let’s face it, the mecha pilot who makes his first kill and then is mired in guilt about it for the next ten episodes is kind of an anime cliché, isn’t it? Which is why I love it when Mirage goes to talk to him, and he agrees with what she’s saying and cheers back up immediately. Such a change from your average Gundam pilot!

10. The centerpiece of this episode is definitely the battle, and it’s done effectively and is actually rather beautiful.

And again, it feels like each episode is presented a discrete step in Hayate and Freyja’s education towards becoming real pros, and that’s continuing here, with Messer and Mikumo being harsher than ever.

The Windermerean mystery is also expanded a bit as Keith takes Heinz to Scarfell, to see the ruins left by the Dimension Eater that was detonated on Windermere. But more about that later.

OP: “If I Love Only Once”

ED: “When My Rune Shines Bright”

EYECATCH: VF-1EX (Hayate Type)

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: Walküre Attack

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 2, although again, this uses different animation, so I’m not ENTIRELY sure it counts.

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THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 146 – Moonlight DANCING

Delta Ep.5

MACROSS DELTA
MISSION 05: Moonlight DANCING

ICONIC SCENE: She’s your white bunny…

STORY DATE: 2067

BROADCAST DATE: May 1, 2016

1. I have to admire that Macross always sticks to its guns regarding its timeline, even though a good portion of it is now alternate history, rather than a projected future. Notably, this episode starts off with a recap of human emigration throughout the galaxy, saying that it started in the year 2012, which must have been a head-scratcher for casual viewers.

That said, it’s not all as careful as one might like, since we see here (and have already seen, anyway) the New Macross Class ship that landed on Ragna, which was supposed to have happened “about fifty years prior” (that is, roughly THIS year). First, as I said before, that seems a little early to get this far away from earth, and second, the New Macross Class ships were created much later.

Oh well, at least we get a cool shot of the Megaroad-04 approaching Windermere IV.

Now, the show doesn’t really go into it much, but according to the first Delta novel, the New Unified Government is still pretty earth-centric in its thinking and doesn’t really view the various aliens they encounter as terribly worthy of much consideration. Again, this is never said in the show itself, but it definitely informs the NUNS’ attitude towards the Windermereans.

Roid gives a short account of the arrogance of humanity in their dealings with Windermere, which led to the war of independence seven years prior. Now, I’m sure he’s biased, but I would imagine (and the series supports) that there’s some truth to what he’s saying.

Still, he’s announcing that they’re taking on the entire galaxy here, which SEEMS insane, except that the Windermereans have a few tricks up their collective sleeve. Indeed, it’s probably only the New Unified Forces’ arrogance that allows the Windermereans to get so far… if the threat had been taken seriously from the get-go, this would most likely be the final episode of the show, ending with a bunch of fried Aerial Knights and a gaping crater where the King’s castle used to be.

2. PRODUCT PLACEMENT! Well, of a sort. No one ever made these exact jellyfish chips that we see Freyja declaring “gori-delish,” but Babystar Ramen did release Macross Delta themed ramen snacks (basically if you took a package of instant noodles and hit it with a hammer a few times) in “spicy jellyfish flavor.” I got a few packages and thought they were good but not excellent.

Arad shows up and gives them the low-down on Windermere and the Aerial Knights, and we see not only the young King Grammier, but also the Knights’ previous fighter, which looks a lot like an F-104 Starfighter. It’s also revealed that Arad and Captain Johnson were involved in the war of independence, seven years prior. Even at this early point in the series, it’s pretty obvious that everything’s going to come back to that.

3. Back on Windermere, things are still pretty mysterious, with lots of so-far undefined terms like “Domain of Wind” and “Temple of Time” getting bandied about. What is clear is that Roid and Keith have disagreements about the war (and about using Prince Heinz) and that Hermann and Cassim aren’t quite sure they’ll live long enough to see the war through.

Bogue also pulls the old martial arts trick of trying to catch his old master unawares (parodied decades before in Dragonball, where Chi-chi tries to “test” the old Turtle Hermit, who ends up with her blade sticking out of his forehead).

At this point, Bogue still seems like an insufferable, loudmouth jerk, although Cassim’s indulgent smile at Bogue’s braggadocio is noteworthy, as is Hermann’s admonition to the little brat to “control his runes.” Thus, we are led to start viewing Bogue as something of a comic figure, rather than just an asshole. For me, at least, it mostly works, some times more than others.

Bogue, by the way, is apparently Minori Suzuki (the actress who plays Freyja)’s favorite character, and in the Facebook Macross Delta group that I co-admin, declaring a month of “Bogue-vember” last year was mostly a success, with some ojections, although I’m unsure how much of the support was genuine and how much was ironic.

Regarding the runes: a lot of attention and care seems to be put into making them consistent in the series, showing the emotions of the Windermerean characters. Especially with Bogue and Freyja, looking at their runes will never steer you wrong if you want to know how they feel.

4. Back on Ragna, there’s a meeting called, telling everybody in Xaos that they’re free to quit if they want, since once they go to war, there’s no backing out. Something of a change from SMS, which had that article of contract that they invoked, saying, more or less, “Sorry, you CAN’T quit now, even if you want to.”

Everyone agrees, of course, except for Hayate, which becomes the central plot thread for this episode, although… is there ever any doubt…? We know he’s the main character after all.

5. Mikumo gets to be bitchy again, telling Freyja that everyone thinks she’s a spy. I have to say it, I always love Mikumo when she’s being mean to Freyja while casually studying her fingernails or putting on makeup or whatever. Mikumo’s journey in the story is all about breaking down the (fake) shield of effortless perfection that she puts up and replacing it with a confidence that’s warmer and more grounded, but in the later episodes, I kinda miss her snark. It’s especially effective because we never really know if she’s goading Freyja into upping her game, or if she honestly thinks that the girl can’t cut it.

6. When we come to Rag-Nyan-Nyan, Mirage and Chuck have a brief discussion showing their misgivings and doubts about going to war. Mirage definitely isn’t the “anything for duty” type that Messer is, although she tries. Likewise, Freyja is trying to stay upbeat in the face of paparazzi saying she’s a spy, but again, her rune gives her away by glowing bluish-purple.

I’m assuming that it’s not a real secret that Delta Flight and Walküre are connected to Rag-Nyan-Nyan, which makes it seem odd that it isn’t crowded with fans hoping to get autographs or anything. Maybe Ragnans are just polite that way.

(That said, I knew Paul McCartney’s favorite Mexican restaurant in my town, and also lived right near a Starbucks that was frequented by Scott Weiland, but I never saw any extra crowds at either place.)

7. Freyja’s frustration about the war (which she expresses by yelling at the sky) again feels totally authentic to me. The girl’s given up everything she had (which, admittedly, doesn’t seem like much) in order to join Walküre, and now it could all be ripped away from her.

And it gives Mirage a chance to tell the story of her grandparents, good ol’ Max and Milia, and how their marriage helped end Space War I (she skips over their later separation). Hayate is dubious, probably because he’s too young to have seen the original Macross when he was kid. For the rest of us, though, there are some great shots of the venerable interstellar couple, lovingly done by artists Hidetaka Tenjin and Risa Ebata. Of course, two of the shots are movie-style and one is TV-style, but we’re all used to that by now, aren’t we?

8. Freyja singing “When My Rune Shines Bright” in the backseat of Hayate’s fighter while he dances around seems destined to become one of the Famous Scenes of Macross. At the very least, it became one of the first real Delta memes, not least for the odd-but-charming little dance Freyja puts on. As I’ve said before, Adrian of the Speaker PODCast pointed out that her moves are (more-or-less) taken from Sheryl’s choreography for “Universal Bunny.” It’s not an exact match up, but it’s similar enough.

The scenes of Hayate’s Valk here are also extremely dynamic, both in the plane itself (reminding me of nothing so much as Shin learning to fly in Chapter 2 of Zero or the air shows in the “All That VF” short films) and in the swooping and racing camera angles, as though the filmmakers were having a tough time just keeping up.

And I’m sure the sudden prominence of the ending theme has NOTHING TO DO with the fact that the single was being released that week… right? Right.

(Either way, it seemed to work, as the single shot to Number One on most charts the day of its release, dethroning J-Pop legend Utada Hikaru… no mean feat.)

9. And of course, Messer comes along and spoils the fun.

Messer comic
This comic, er, seemed less funny a couple of months later…

Again, like Mikumo with Freyja, it’s unclear (at this point) whether Messer thinks that Hayate just needs a little discipline, or if he really does think that he’s a shit pilot. Still, he says EXACTLY the right words to make Hayate stick around, leading me to believe that he’s a more astute judge of character than one might think.

10. So the outbreak of war starts relatively quietly. With the totally fun flying sequence at the end of this episode, it’s easy to forget how much of it involves people standing around and talking. Which isn’t exactly a problem, but might become one if it keeps up.

And apart from the flying sequence, most of the stuff like I like about this episode are little touches: the backgrounds, the body language, the (for want of a better term) rune-language. More time spent with the Aerial Knights is always good, as well. But I definitely noticed that the episode is a little talkier than perhaps it should be.

OP: “If I Love Only Once”

ED: “When My Rune Shines Bright”

EYECATCH: Keith’s Draken III

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: None, although “When My Rune Shines Bright” is exceptionally prominent.

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: Still a disappointing 1, although he does leap around quite a bit here.

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 145 – Shocking STAGE DEBUT

Delta Ep.4

MACROSS DELTA
MISSION 04: Shocking STAGE DEBUT

ICONIC SCENE: FINALLY! The Drakens transform!

STORY DATE: 2067

BROADCAST DATE: April 24, 2016

1. We open with the Aerial Knights, just as we closed with them last time (the early episodes of Delta remind me of Macross Zero in that the closing scene of one episode seem to dictate what the opening scene of the next will be). To be honest, we never spend as much time with the Knights as I would like (and not only do I doubt I’m alone, but I’m guessing the staff knew it would be a problem, which is why one of the four manga series related to Delta was entirely devoted to fleshing out their backstory). Ultimately, I think we get BARELY enough about each of them for them to become genuine characters rather than stick figures (except maybe the twins, who remain little more than fuzzy snapshots in the show and only get more personality in the “Delta Mini-Theater” shorts that come as bonuses on the blu-rays), but not much more. It would be kind of interesting, I think, if there were a movie or something telling the story of Delta from the Windermerean perspective, although I know that no one would ever make that movie. Still, it’s a testament to the scriptwriters and actors that I’m interested in them at all. They could have easily just been cardboard villains, but they’ve definitely got more going on than that. Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you like delving into secondary material like novels and manga, I guess), I get the impression that there’s a tremendous amount of detailed biography given to them that we get only small glimpses of on screen.

And yes, most of them are pretty-boy-bishonen characters, designed pretty clearly to draw in a specific segment of the female audience. That’s fine by me. At least they’re not BORING bishonen.

Overall, plot-wise, the most important points here are Roid’s comment about the “ruins” which are “resonating,” and about Heinz’s failing health. Both of these will become central as the story progresses.

2. Rangan TVs look quite old-fashioned, don’t they? I’m reminded of Planet Zola from Macross Dynamite 7 and how backwards the inhabitants seemed, since they were still more radio fans than TV fans. Although there’s a twist when it turns out that the entire television is actually just a projected screen.

When we get to what’s REALLY going on – the welcome party for Feyja (and Hayate) – there’s a bit that Japanese fans probably found hilarious, where Captain Johnson (who is a total pimp in his white suit and black fedora) is about to launch into what is undoubtedly a very long speech, only to be cut off by Nina and Makina. Anyone who has ever been to a Japanese wedding can sympathize, as the speeches there typify “long-winded.”

(Although I note that Johnson’s statement about being asked to help assemble Walküre seems to contradict the episode about how they actually formed. They already existed before he got involved.)

And the music that starts up once they say “Cheers!” is one of my favorite tracks in the show… it’s officially titled “Rune-Pika” but got nicknamed by one of my friends as “Rune-Pika-Polka.” Basically, it’s the ending theme played (badly) on trombone with an accordion for backup. It’s hilarious.

Back to the topic, as far back (at least…) as Tolstoy’s “War and Peace,” party scenes have been used as a great way to delineate many characters at one time, and so it works here, with the way each character toasts Freyja and Hayate saying something about their personality. Even further, I note that it looks like Messer has ice in his beer (although, knowing him, it probably isn’t beer. I assume he’s straight-edge).

This scene is also where Beth Muscat became my favorite bridge bunny of the series, for drinking everybody else under the table. Although it becomes clear later on that she’s just a total lush.

And look… I love seafood. ADORE it. If I were stuck on a barren island with nothing but fish to eat, I’d count myself lucky. But Ragnan jellyfish and sea spider simply don’t look appetizing (which is, of course, the joke).

3. As everyone starts talking about the “Vaccine Concert” that Walküre has been requested to give of Planet Randall, the reason that Walküre has to actually be present at their anti-Vár concerts is given: that is has to be LIVE. Recordings don’t capture the Bio-Fold Waves in their voices. Although one might wonder why electronic amplification works, as in here and Episode 6. I mean, it’s all filtered through electronics either way, right…?

(In this scene, please note Reina eating live jellyfish, and Q-Lulu licking off her plate while she’s oblivious.)

4. I really like Freyja’s drinking “Appa-ju” and declaring that Ragna feels like her home in Windermere, even though the environment is entirely different. It’s proof that Walküre is her true home, and whether it’s snowy or tropical has nothing to do with it. I try to point out the little touches in the animation that are brief but speak volumes, and this is one of the scriptwriting touches that does so. No one understands why Freyja feels at home on Ragna, and Freyja doesn’t understand it herself, but the viewer is (or, at least, should be) led to understand that Freyja views Ragna as like her home because this is where she truly belongs (regardless of what Mikumo thinks).

5. Speaking of whom, we get our first (YOWZA!) naked Mikumo, asking herself why she sings. Mikumo, of course, will be naked a lot in this series. In this case, it doesn’t seem sexual at all to me, it seems more like an expression of total freedom. Which will turn out to be ironic, as Mikumo is the most constrained (first figuratively, then literally) of all the members of Walküre. But for now, it just reinforces Mikumo’s reputation as the “Mysterious Venus,” whose actions and sentiments seem odd to us mere mortals.

6. The next scene briefly shows us “Ranka Beach” (I wonder how it got that name?) before the Aether separates from the Elysion. And yes, if you check your mythology dictionary, you’ll understand why the Aether’s twin is named the “Hemera.”

On board the Aether, Hayate meets his first real variable fighter, “Delta 05,” a VF-31J. I’m not sure what the “J” stands for anymore. Hikaru’s VF-1J was made in Japan, but I’m pretty sure this wasn’t.

Oh, and Makina and Reina (but probably just Makina) have modified the fighter so that Hayate doesn’t need to wear a helmet while flying it… which will cause a little hiccup later. (Makina’s nicknames of all the other characters get full exposure here, and Freyja will also adopt them: Kana-Kana, Kumo-Kumo, Rei-Rei, Fre-Fre, Haya-Haya, Mira-Mira, and, presumably, Ara-Ara, Messa-Messa, and Cha-Cha).

And then when Freyja shows up, she explains that she got her mp3 player from an earthling who visited Windermere. You may not guess right now who that earthling was, but it’ll become more obvious as the series continues. She mentions that she listened to Minmay, Fire Bomber, Sheryl Nome, and Ranka (plus, in the novelization, the Milky Dolls and Chelsea Scarlet), which may seem tame to YOU, but to ME, remind me of Václav Havel, a political prisoner in Czechoslovakia, who later became Czechoslovakia’s last president and the Czech Republic’s first, and who secretly carried about a pamphlet of the lyrics of the songs of the Velvet Underground, which were forbidden under the law at the time. See? Pop songs CAN be revolutionary! (And yes, by my standards, the Velvet Underground are “pop.” I like pop.) You can see a similar thing (apparently) happening in North Korea, as Hong Kong and Taiwanese dramas get smuggled in, and North Koreans grow interested in the lifestyles of the characters. Reruns of “Dallas” (again, apparently) had much the same effect upon Soviets: they were shown a kind of life they had never thought even possible before.

On the down side, we also learn here that Windermereans only live for roughly thirty years, because of their amazing physical capabilities.

7. Wow, Kumo-Kumo isn’t terribly nice, telling Freyja that if she doesn’t perform well on her debut stage, she’ll be fired. Again, in contrast to Sheryl, who was always supportive of Ranka.

That said, we get a scene of Walküre pumping themselves up before showtime, which humanizes them to a degree, and the second appearance of their “magical girl” freeze-frames.

(Oh, and Freyja’s final “Music is ENERGY!” bit, which cements her into the Walküre lineup, focuses on her butt for a few too many frames.)

And THEN when they start singing “Uncertain COSMIC MOVEMENT,” their poses became rather iconic… from dudes at cons to Hi-Metal R VF-1 figures to cosplayer dabbing… the poses were definitely studied by fans.

And the choreography here, Walküre plus Delta Flight, is some on the best in the entire series. Since as soon as Walküre start singing, Hayate is dancing. And you have to admire Mirage for playing along with him. It makes for a great air show.

That said… the whole scene feel unrealistic to me, because Freyja has the lead part of the song. As anyone who follows idol groups that switch out old members for new can tell you, the newbies never get the lead until they’ve proven themselves especially popular.

And THAT said, the song is pretty cool… a nice disco song with a good string section and an exceptionally funky bass. And the “Blüme” costumes are among my favorites of Walküre’s wardrobe.

Oh, and hey, remember in “Sayonara no Tsubasa” during the “Rainbow Bear-Bear” song, where mini-Rankas appeared delivering teddy bear to crowd members? Mini-Freyjas and Mini-Mikumos give high-fives to the crowd here. Much as, after the first (free) Walküre live concert, Minori Suzuki (Freyja) and JUNNA (Mikumo) (full name: Junna Sakai) gave high-fives to the audience members.

8. And naturally, it all gets interrupted by the Aerial Knights, who finally reveal who they are… in one of the greatest transformation sequences since Episode 1 of the the first Macross series.

Apparently, how the Drakens transformed and what exactly they transformed into was a closely-guarded secret until this episode, which meant that even at the toy fairs, the Draken toys had to be posed in such a way that no one could see the underside well (and photography was strictly prohibited… but that’s usual in such situations). A number of Bandai people were apparently terrified that fans would figure out how the Draken transformed before this episode aired, and indeed, one Japanese fan NEARLY figured it out (and posted his idea on Twitter).

9. The OTHER surprise here is that the NUNS pilots who show up are infected by the Vár, but are still able to fly (and fight) in formation. Before this, any Vár-infected people simply went berserk, but this indicates that the infected can be controlled in some way.

Oh, and when Heinz starts singing, everyone kinda of flinches, but Messer seems especially affected…

And the whole thing is a diversion… distracting Walküre while they take Planet Voldor.

10. And this, to my way of thinking, is the end of the introduction. Finally, everyone is in the right place and the war has been declared. The story truly begins here.

Again, the episode looks better than it needs to, with the climaxing concert and battle looking especially good and the Draken transformation being the stand-out. And this is almost a perfect episode, with humor, action, plot and character scenes, and music all balanced effortlessly.

And of course it was during the scripting (NOT THE PRODUCTION OR AIRING) of this episode that the decision was made to extend the series from thirteen episode plus a movie to a full twenty-six episodes. For better or for worse.

OP: “If I Love Only Once”

ED: “When My Rune Shines Bright”

EYECATCH: VF-31J (Hayate Type)

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: Uncertain COSMIC MOVEMENT

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 1

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 144 – Whirlwind DOGFIGHT

Delta Ep.3

MACROSS DELTA
MISSION 03: Whirlwind DOGFIGHT

ICONIC SCENE: A winner is you!

STORY DATE: April 2067

BROADCAST DATE: April 17, 2016

1. The opening flight, as Mirage tries to scare Hayate into giving up, is both pretty hilarious and pretty accurate. Again, one thing that Macross has, I think, gotten right ever since Plus are the actual physics of flying in a jet fighter and the stresses that the Gs put on one’s body.

2. Well, now that we’ve finished the auditions for both Freyja and Hayate, we get to the training. And honestly, both of them kinda suck. And when they meet up, Hayate says, “Aren’t you the lucky one?” for the second time… a line Freyja will throw back at him at the end of this episode.

They get picked up by Chuck and Kaname, and I dunno about you, but I think Kaname looks especially good in a fedora.

Anyway, they all go to “Rag-Nyan-Nyan,” the Chinese (?) restaurant of this series, probably tied to the Nyan-Nyan of the original Macross and of Frontier. The name is a pun on a couple of levels: first, obviously, “Rag-Nyan” is meant to sound like “Ragna.” But second, the kanji used for the “Ra-Gu” part of the name means “eat naked.” Considering that everyone we see in the restaurant is fully clothed, either it’s not meant to be taken literally, or else no one on Ragna speaks Chinese.

(Also: while the Rag-Nyan-Nyan jingle is nice and catchy, it’s still nowhere near as good as Frontier’s Nyan-Nyan jingle… which of course became Frontier’s first widely-spread meme.)

Here we also get the REAL introduction of Hayate’s main rival, Don the Mercat (presumably named after the children’s song, “Señor Don Gato,” about a cat that dies, but comes back to life when his funeral procession passes through the fish market. Weirdly, it’s almost EXACTLY the same story as the Irish song “Finnegan’s Wake,” expect there it was whisky that reanimated Tim Finnegan). Anyway, Don really is fun, and a lot of this episode is Hayate accidentally learning air combat techniques from trying to hunt Don down. He’s as much Hayate’s instructor as Mirage and Messer are.

3. We also get another bit between Kaname and Messer where Kaname all but gives Messer an engraved invitation, and yet he refuses. It also seems like Chuck’s sister, who appears to be the manager of Rag-Nyan-Nyan, also has a thing for Messer. Shippers, though, don’t ship them as much.

4. We get some interesting tidbits about the Walküre members’ sleeping arrangements here: Kaname (and now Freyja) stay at Rag-Nyan-Nyan with Delta Flight, Makina and Reina (*ahem*) live together, and no one knows where Mikumo lives… as Freyja says, she’s the “Mysterious Venus” (and I love the way Minori Suzuki delvers that line).

We also meet the mercat Q-Lulu, who seems to be everyone’s shared pet (although mostly Mirage’s). I’m still not sure if Q-Lulu is male or female, and if he (or she) is supposed to “cute” cute or “face only a mother could love” cute. Certainly, she (or he) doesn’t look anything like any of the other mercats we see in the show.

5. When Mirage and Hayate are flying in their VF-1EX Valkyries, again, the physics of flying is the highlight, especially when Hayate shuts off the autopilot. As I often point out, there’s no real NEED for these scenes to look this good or be this accurate. This is what happens when you get a dedicated staff of professionals who really care about the project.

VF5SS of CollectionDX and The Veef Show says he think the CGI models used for the VF-1EX here may be the same as those used for the SDF Macross pachinko game that everyone flips over. Gwyn Campbell of the Speaker PODCast said that he thinks they’re different. I don’t know either way… definitely, these seem to be textured a little more completely, lacking the computer-y sheen that the pachinko versions had.

6. Even though it doesn’t fully play out as a real part of any love triangle, I like the Hayate/Mirage dynamic. Essentially, if this were a chick-flick romantic comedy, Mirage would be the uptight businessman who doesn’t know how to enjoy life, and Hayate is the manic pixie dream girl who teaches her how to stop and look around once in a while. Except it doesn’t really work out like a typical romantic comedy. But yeah, him challenging her about whether her type of flying is “fun” is a central issue at this point. And it bleeds into Freyja’s training as well. Is singing in Walküre “fun”? Isn’t it more fun to dream of singing next to Mikumo than it is ACTUALLY singing next to her, especially when she’s sighing and saying that you’re no good? It’s one thing to dream of realizing a particular hope… but once you DO realize it, you now HAVE what once you only dreamed of. And once you have it, you have new problems that you never expected.

As Kawamori said at the fan club talk show before the debut, with a Macross show, you can no longer surprise viewers with the idea that singing can succeed where firepower fails. People EXPECT that of Macross. So here, we start with the Vár which CAN be defeated by song, and quickly introduce the Aerial Knights, who AREN’T defeated by song. And so, what are we gonna do now?

Likewise, we start with Hayate, who decides he wants to fly, and Freyja, who KNOWS she wants to sing with Walküre. Once their wishes are granted, where do they go? How do they deal with the reality versus the dream?

Again, for the thirty- or fortysomething guys who saw the original show as kids, this issue may not seem so urgent… but for the young adults who Delta is aimed at, this is a vital problem. Is your college major REALLY what you want to do for the rest of your life…?

And so, for the older fans, I think Mirage’s answer (essentially, that this is what she does, and “fun” isn’t part of the equation) is pretty persuasive, and that Hayate seems too flip and unrealistic. And that for the younger viewers, Hayate’s question is pretty important, and Mirage’s response is evasive (at best) or a surrender (at worst).

7. And yeah, Mikumo is a pretty stern judge. One might be tempted to compare her to Sheryl, but Sheryl’s playful side showed up in episode 5 of Frontier. For Mikumo, it will take much longer to unravel the mystery, and I’m not sure she’s ever “playful.”

For Walküre, of course, the Fold Receptors are EVERYTHING, but Freyja’s only activate when she’s agitated. So, as Kaname points out, she might only come through at points when it’s truly a life or death situation. Which isn’t exactly something you’d want to bet on, but is better than the reverse.

8. The thing is, for anyone following the supposed “love triangle” (especially if they ignored Kawamori’s statement that the love triangle wouldn’t play out in a traditional way), Hayate and Freyja seem totally made for each other. Far more than any other Macross couple. It’ll get sealed later on, but even at this point, it should be clear that it’d take some SERIOUS shake-up to split them apart. It definitely helps that they’re both newcomers to an unfamiliar world, and it’s a world that all the other characters have grown used to.

9. Apparently, the original plan was to have Hayate versus Messer instead of Hayate versus Mirage. Which, yeah, would’ve ended with Hayate getting thoroughy trashed within a few seconds. I mean, Messer still shows up and demonstrates that he’s a badass, but in general, he’s a lot better than Mirage and the contest wouldn’t have even been a contest.

(And yes, PLENTY of people point out that Mirage’s color scheme is nearly Jetfire. But hey, Macross did it first. It’s also nearly Hikaru’s. Also, they’ve got that Max and Milia blue and red thing going on…)

(Oh… and I have to wonder about Makina’s attachment to donuts, since way back in the early 1980’s, Devo (never a feminist band) used “Donut” for a girl’s name in one their videos because donuts more-or-less seem like vaginas, since they’re basically holes.)

(Seriously, check it out. Devo’s video for “That’s Good” got banned from MTV back in 1980 because it showed a banana penetrating a donut. Nine years later, the B-52s showed the same thing in their video for “Roam,” and it was okay. Changing mores? Or money talks? YOU BE THE JUDGE!)

Anyway, Hayate and Freyja both help each other out of the holes (ha!) they’re in, showing that they are SERIOUSLY in synch.

Don’t expect a twist. This is the real deal.

Although Hayate still gets shown up by Messer, and apologizes to Mirage for missing her classroom teachings.

10. Oh, you think the episode’s done? Not quite. After the ED, we get a bit on Windermere, where we finally meet Prince Heinz, who talks to Roid about waking “the Great Wind.”

Apart from that, the episode is formulaic in a good way. People complain all the time about teenagers climbing into robots in anime and suddenly knowing how to drive them. In this case, we get not only Hayate learning how to fly, but Freyja learning how to sing, and how their talents are closely tied together. And their trials here neatly parallel each other. If neither of them are seasoned experts by the end of the episode, they’re at least a lot better than they were at its beginning.

OP: “If I Love Only Once”

ED: “When My Rune Shines Bright”

EYECATCH: VF-1EX (Hayate Type)

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: “Uncertain COSMIC MOVEMENT” (kinda), “Our Battlefield.”

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 1

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 143 – Resolute AUDITION

Delta Ep.2.png

MACROSS DELTA
MISSION 02: Resolute AUDITION

ICONIC SCENE: Hayate “Rides the Wind” for the first of many times.

STORY DATE: April 2067

BROADCAST DATE: April 10, 2016

1. We open exactly where we left off last time, with Hayate and Freyja falling. Mirage rescues them, and for all that she’s portrayed as a good-but-not-great pilot, she’s pretty badass here. But my favorite bit here is Hayate’s absolutely realistic pose, looking horrified and trying to hang on to the windshield. Having been in rough turbulence before (including one very sharp drop), I really RECOGNIZE his body language here.

And the battle that started last episode is almost immediately here called off, because the Aerial Knights have gathered enough intel. Odd, since it seemed last time that their goal really was to kill Walküre.

There’s a really breathtaking bit of animation when they retreat, as Bogue’s Lil Draken drones come back and reattach themselves to his fighter before he takes off.

2. And we now have an official OP and ED. My first thought when I saw them was, “Man… this is NOT going to placate the ‘not my Macross!’ crowd.” The opening is nice, if not terribly innovative, showing some action scenes plus scenes of each of the main characters relaxing or having fun. The ending, “When My Rune Shines Bright,” is, to me, the second real break-out song of Delta, following “Forbidden Borderline.” It’s bouncy and jaunty with lots of scenes of Freyja hanging out in an otherwise-empty high school. It’s probably the cheeriest ending sequence since “Dakedo Baby…!!” Many fans immediately noticed the similarities between it and the Earth, Wind & Fire classic, “September,” leading to several different mash-up versions, all of which are pretty great. But yeah, I can totally envision the viewers who wanted something gritty and hardcore grinding their teeth into jagged splinters while watching it. It’s great.

Oh, one thing about the OP: it shows pretty conclusively that, like Brera, the Aerial Knights are wearing full flight suits and helmets, but that holograms make it look like they aren’t. We’ll see a little more about that later.

3. Hayate and Mirage continue their hostile relationship… boy, it sure looks like they’re going to end up as a couple, doesn’t it?

The thing is, Mirage is right: Hayate really was jeopardizing the operation (although Freyja would surely be dead if he hadn’t), and his response about Mirage’s lag time is a non-sequitur at best. But that is our first hint at Mirage’s main conflict, that she’s a good pilot but not a brilliant one. And yet, her name makes everyone assume that she’s a genius as well as a Jenius. Some viewers were let down that she wasn’t the ace pilot of Delta Flight, but I find it realistic. Talent for things like this isn’t necessarily hereditary.

4. In retrospect, knowing how popular Kaname and her particular love triangle will become, it’s kind of interesting to look at the interactions here once she gets back to the Elysion. Arad greets her warmly and offers her some dried jellyfish. She politely declines and thanks Messer for his aid earlier. He looks uncomfortable, turns away, and says, “Just doing my duty.” There’s a lot going on here under the surface, of course, but we won’t get to it for a few more episodes. One thing that IS clear, though, is that Messer is less “Iceman” and more “Emotionally-Constipated Man.” We don’t yet know that he has a good reason for it (and for once, it’s not because of a childhood trauma or something).

But Kaname has a purpose: introducing Freyja to Arad. It’s obvious at this point (even if you didn’t know she was the heroine) that Freyja is destined to join Walküre, and that the audition is all pure theatrics. The whole thing is, as Trump would say, rigged. There are some points where they’re not entirely sure about her, but there’s never any doubt that she’ll be hired.

Also, Arad requested info about the Valk-dancing kid, and seems to recognize the name “Immelmann”… Hmmm…

5. Planet Ragna looks lovely, doesn’t it? A lovely vacation spot. Mostly, it’s based on Malta, especially Valletta (which is a near synonym, in Japanese, for the capital city of Ragna, Barrette City). In a way, I think it’s a shame that “Ragna” is the official romanization, since, based on the environment, it really SHOULD be “Laguna” (which of course would be spelled the same in Japanese). But yeah, beautiful seaside, cute mercats, lots of local color, even some kid swindlers. I always thought that the Macross Frontier fleet seemed like the most appealing Macross place to live in, but Ragna seems equally nice if not better.

Notice that the first thing we see on Ragna is a New Macross Class city-ship. Apparently, a long-range emigration fleet reached Ragna fifty years prior, which seems much too soon, honestly. I mean, wouldn’t they still be using Megaroad ships in 2017…?

And when they show the dried jellyfish shop, the signs are tough to read because the entire Ragnan alphabet as not been revealed (at the time of this writing), but one of the signs says “IKA,” which is the Japanese word for squid.

And when Hayate arrives, he immediately sneezes since he’s allergic to cats. First-time viewers would miss it, but the closest mercat (who gives Hayate a dirty look) is his soon-to-be nemesis Don.

A last bit: it happens quickly, but after Hayate and Freyja run away from the Ranka-quoting phone kids (who turn out to be Chuck’s siblings), there’s a shot of Barrette City with a skyway car going past, displaying an ad for “Kinoko [mushroom] Café,” where a lot of the characters will be hanging out.

The Macross Elysion itself pretty great, although it’s difficult to believe that it can just stand upright like that. We’ve never seen a Macross on land like that before, usually they’re in a lake or something.

Freyja also explains a little bit about her Rune, including that Hayate is a “perv” for staring at it. If it’s supposed to be a little sexy and indecent, doesn’t that make you wonder about the ending song…? Where she sings about how her Rune is shining and “it’s your fault”…? Is it like the Windermerean equivalent of “My Humps” or something…?

And finally, I note that when Chuck says “So many cuties,” what he says in Japanese is “kawaiiko-chan,” which is a somewhat old-fashioned and unusual term that was most famously used by Isamu Dyson.

5. I’m a little sorry that Delta’s resident bridge bunnies (introduced here) don’t have a bigger role. Indeed, you have to look to secondary materials to even figure out what their names are. Weirdly, one of them (Mizuki Yuri) has a jellyfish on her head. I assume it’s not real, but (like Ranka’s or Freyja’s cell phones) only APPEARS to be alive. However, Nina O’Brien very definitely carries a mercat around with her everywhere (the last one, Beth Muscat, is the only one with a truly identifiable character trait in that she’s a VERY heavy drinker).

6. I love it when Captain Johnson tries to charm the Walküre applicants, but just ends up scaring them (and what kind of name is “Ernest Johnson” for a Zentradi, anyway…? Oddest Zentradi name we’ve had since “Matthew Langley” back in Macross 7…). I should point out that his voice actor, Unsho Ishizuka, is not only the narrator here, but also played Guld in Macross Plus (and Jet Black in Cowboy Bebop).

He also unfortunately can’t seem to find a chair in his size during his interview with Freyja.

7. Now, some pretty important info comes out during that interview, primarily that Windermere had a war of independence and seem to have closed themselves off from outside influences.

8. While Freyja gets kind of a mindfuck audition, Hayate gets classically headhunted for Delta Flight, with Arad all but begging him to join. The big question of course is WHY, since Hayate definitely has promise, but isn’t a patch on any of the current Delta pilots…

One of the few scenes in the series that seems badly composed to me happens here, as Arad is standing near the edge of the ship and Hayate is standing some paces behind him, but the way the shot is set up, it just looks like Arad is nine feet tall or something.

The scene with Hayate “riding the wind” is pretty cool, and is one of the scenes, of course, that was in the earliest promo clips for the show. As in the Miyazaki film “Castle in the Sky Laputa,” I’m envious of the Delta characters’ seeming indifference to heights. Me, I get freaked out just watching YouTube videos of people doing parkour on the top of skyscrapers.

9. For the final step/fake-out of Freyja’s audition, it should be clear that it’s all a set-up, since the scene switches back to Hayate and no emergency is going on THERE. However, it does look awfully authentic. And I really like everyone’s disguises.

Pity that Freyja doesn’t get a say in her own stage costume, though.

And when I first saw the episode, I noticed that Freyja’s slow version of “Love! Halation THE WAR” is a completely different arrangement than Walküre’s, so I assumed it would be on some album at some point. But so far, it hasn’t been released.

10. This feels very much like a set-up episode – much more than the first episode, actually – in that we have to get Hayate and Freyja into Xaos as soon as possible. As such, it’s a dialogue- and exposition-heavy episode: once the opening battle is finished, there’s virtually no action, unless you count the fake Vár attack at the end. But it feels necessary… after the first episode throwing the viewer into this unfamiliar world, it’s good that the show takes a step back and explains what’s going on a bit. And hey, it took Hikaru six episodes to join the military. Aren’t you glad Hayate made his decision much more quickly?

OP: “If I Love Only Once”

ED: “When My Rune Shines Bright”

EYECATCH: Don and Q-Lulu

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: “If I Love Only Once,” “When My Rune Shines Bright.”

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 1