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.

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