THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 149 – Escape RESONANCE

Delta Ep.8

MACROSS DELTA
MISSION 08: Escape RESONANCE

ICONIC SCENE: Valkyrie vs. Walküre.

STORY DATE: 2067

BROADCAST DATE: May 22, 2016

1. I find this one interesting, because the script was written by Ukyou Kodachi, who seems to have become the official chronicler of Macross. I’ve mentioned him many times before, but in brief, he was chosen to write the novelizations of Frontier (coming out with a whopping’ EIGHT of them) and and also created the stories for Macross the Ride and Macross 30. Currently, he’s writing the Delta novels (as well as a rather mind-boggling array of other anime and game novelizations). Generally in Macross, the writers for the show end up writing the novels, and this is the only time it’s happened in reverse.

His main credit on Delta, though, is for “continuity.” When the staff wants to know when, say, the Megaroad was last seen or what was going on in 2047, he’s the one that they ask. I flatter myself by thinking that that’s a job that I could do as well…

2. One thing that’s clear at the beginning of the episode is what “superhuman abilities” the Windermereans have. They’re very quick and very strong, and Hayate and Mirage get trounced (deliberately?) comically fast.

Watching this episode a year ago, Bogue was easily the most annoying character for me, so seeing him get so cocky in this episode was… unpleasant. Watching it again, after I’ve come to think of him as fundamentally cute, but trying to be a badass (like when kittens start acting tough by hissing at everything and hopping sideways), this scene is more fun. A character like Bogue has to strike a delicate balance. As the show goes on, we’re meant to see that he’s really just immature and not terribly threatening, but that he’s trying to compensate by showing over-the-top bravado. And thus he ended up gaining my uneasy sympathy. However, if he were to go too far and actually kill one of the heroes, that sympathy would vanish completely. On the one hand, I find him a realistic character: an insecure kid who wants to hang with the big boys and, to that end, acts the way he thinks the big boys act: that is, as a total dick. The balancing act for the writers is in making sure that his “dick” side doesn’t overwhelm the “kid” side. Since at first, all we see is the dick, and the kid slowly shows through the cracks, having him be TOO effective could ruin the character. At the same time, they can’t just make him a total loser – there has to be a reason he’s one of the Aerial Knights, after all. So it’s an issue of making him ACT ruthless and making us see his capacity for ruthlessness, without actually having him do anything drastic enough that the audience would think, “Whoa, dude… NOT COOL.” It’s interesting that when they DO cross that fine line, it’s not in Bogue’s actions towards Walküre, but his words towards another Aerial Knight that do it. And yet, he regained my sympathy fairly quickly.

Still, it’s only on a second viewing that I realize how carefully a character like Bogue has to be written and performed (KENN, who is a singer first and an actor second, does an excellent job here) in order make us see his contradictions without them making him just seem arbitrary.

Here, I think his key line is the insult he hurls at Freyja (while his sword is uncomfortably close to her neck… and yes, I think there’s some subtext here), when he calls her “this impertinent brat that can’t even control her own rune?” Which of course is one of Bogue’s flaws as well. It’s a deft scriptwriting touch, making him sound tough, but also reminding us of a couple of episodes ago, when he was definitely portrayed as the “kid” of the group.

As a final note here, I also want to point out that he’s Minori Suzuki’s favorite character in the show. Make of that what you will.

3. Meanwhile, in the firefight with our other heroes, Messer gets hit in the arm. If I recall correctly, I (and I’m sure I wasn’t alone) was already seeing death flags around his character, especially clinched when he seems to go a little crazy while fighting off the Voldoran guards, and has flashbacks to a ruined city with himself covered in blood. I figured he wouldn’t last past Episode 20 or so. Ha.

4. Another deft scriptwriting touch comes when Bogue (beating Hayate rather sadistically) declares that Windermere’s cause is righteous in bringing freedom to the galaxy, and Freyja brings up the only part of their plan she really cares about: the use of apples to spread the Vár. On the one hand, she’s being naive in ignoring larger political concerns. But on the other, she’s got a point (as Master Hermann says). I wouldn’t call her a nationalistic character in the slightest, but (like many who leave the environment they grew up in for a very different one) she feels real pride in her home, centered on the fact that Windermere apples are a really popular export. I felt much the same way when I saw See’s Candies in Tokyo or when they were testing In-n-Out Burger in Harajuku for a day. Anyway, once word gets out about the apples’ connection to the Vár, their sales will plummet, and who knows what will happen to the poor apple farmers back in her home town? Her concerns are more localized than most of the characters’, but are still totally legitimate.

Kassim brings it back to the wider war, pointing out that his apple orchards were destroyed seven years ago, so all the apple farmers in his family are dead, rather than just out of work. It’s… kinda persuasive.

Also, does Bogue really believe the stuff he’s saying? My guess that he probably does. As we’ll see later, some of the Knights have qualms about Windermere’s methods, but none of them seem opposed to its ends.

5. Keith nearly executes Freyja here, acting of course like he’s doing her some kind of patriotic favor, only to stopped by Roid. Roid’s motives here were baffling on first viewing, and he says only that he wants to know more about Walküre. The second time around, it’s pretty clear that his plan of using the Star Singer is already in place, and that he knows that Walküre has some connection, but may not know WHICH Walküre member is tied to the legend.

And then we get the rescue of Hayate, Mirage, and Freyja, naturally staged as a Walküre concert. Again, music doesn’t work against the Aerial Knights, but distracting light shows and decoy holograms sure do. Bogue seems, more than the others, to be enraged (and slightly terrified) by the girls, especially Reina. This will be elaborated on later.

6. The fight between Messer and Keith (where Messer has a machine gun and Keith has a sword) is well-done and over much too soon. In what could be seen as foreshadowing, Keith gets in close and wins the match (to be fair, Messer IS wounded). However, they recognize each other and he lets Messer go, because, naturally, he’s an HONORABLE knight, and wants to defeat Messer in the air.

Er… usually when villains say things like this, they’re setting up their own defeat, plot-wise.

And oh wow… is that HUMOROUS BANTER that Messer and Hayate engage in before they launch…? See, I guess Messer really IS a good judge of character and knows how to motivate Hayate.

7. When the dogfight starts, Walküre changes into their “Rot Blume” (“Red Flower”) costumes, which are just a color swap for the “Blau Blume” costumes a few episodes ago. Later, we’ll see the black ones, called “Schokolade Blume,” or “Chocolate Flower.” I’m mildly surprised that, as of this writing, the toy companies have not exploited this and made variant color figures of all three versions yet.

Oh, and Messer looks really REALLY bad when the Song of the Wind starts up. And as the battle goes on, he definitely starts Vár-ing out.

The song used here, “NEO-STREAM,” is formally one of the oddest Walküre songs, feeling like three different songs welded together. It starts as a ballad, then picks up speed, before turning into some powerful ’60s garage rock chords (if not instrumentation, which, like most Walküre songs, sounds a little more disco, with a string section). It’s also mostly in English, which JUNNA as Mikumo sings incredibly well. Much better than, say, Nao “Reina” Toyama…

8. We never really get an explanation what “riding the Wind” means, but here is where we really SEE it (and the staff is confident enough that we’ll pick it up) as Keith and Messer both seem to transcend human limitations and move and react incredibly fast, essentially becoming Gundam-style Newtypes. In Messer’s case, of course, it’s incredibly dangerous, because while he’s using the Vár to enhance his abilities, it could overwhelm him at any point (which is the main reason that Walküre has to be singing here… although, I wonder… if Walküre’s song is TOO strong, wouldn’t that cancel his ability to “ride the Wind”…?). The show doesn’t bring up that it’s potentially dangerous for Keith as well, as using such abilities makes Windermereans age faster.

It’s also clear at this point that the dogfight scenes must be time-consuming to animate, which is why there are several shots where we pull out from the close-up shots and the planes are just represented by glowing dots. This doesn’t really bug me too much, because the closer shots are pretty gorgeously drawn and choreographed. In short bursts, this show looks even better than the Macross Zero or Macross Frontier movie dogfights. Quality over quantity.

9. A mind-controlled pilot almost gets Walküre, and wouldn’cha jus’ know it, it’s the SAME pilot whose kids were singing to him last episode. Hayate and Freyja see this, and so definitely don’t want to kill him, and Freyja gets her first real turn at being a singing badass who faces down a variable fighter with only “Giraffe Blues” (and Hayate’s pinpoint barriers) for protection.

It works, of course, although Bogue attacks. Hayate goes after him, and in yet another event that will developed later, resonates with Freyja so strongly that HE starts “riding the Wind” as well. They close in, yell at each other, and then Hayate, crucially, has a chance to kill Bogue, but hits his Draken’s leg instead.

(It’s funny, isn’t it…? In the US, though not in Japan, kids who saw Macross on TV (as Robotech) tend to note the lack of GI Joe-style parachutes being ejected from all the planes as one of the astonishing things about the show. Yet here, Hayate feels relief when he sees a parachute, and when he doesn’t kill an enemy pilot. You can see why his character might turn off some of the more, um, bellicose viewers of the show…)

And then we get the post-credit stinger, as Messer is back on the ship, very nearly going full Vár…

10. So, as I’ve indicated, a lot of plot threads begin here, although this is primarily an action episode. We also get the first real problem within Delta Flight itself, which is Messer’s susceptibility to the Vár. Although this episode didn’t make all that big an impression on me a year ago, now I see as one of the show’s most well-crafted in terms of balancing action, character, and plot.

OP: “If I Love Only Once”

ED: “When My Rune Shines Bright”

EYECATCH: The Macross Elysion.

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: NEO-STREAM

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 2

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