THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 154 – Passionate DIVING

Delta Ep.13.png

MACROSS DELTA
MISSION 13: Passionate DIVING

ICONIC SCENE: Maybe the best Valk launch since the OP of the first series…

STORY DATE: August 2067

BROADCAST DATE: June 26, 2016

1. We pick up exactly where we left off last time, and one thing is notable here: there’s no OP. As I mentioned at the end of the Frontier TV series, sometimes that would happen with some of the more spectacular episodes of Space Battleship Yamato (and Space Battleship Yamato 2). I always think of it as a signal that we’re going to get an episode jam-packed with lots of cool stuff. And so it is here.

Now, King Grammier really has outwitted Captain Johnson here, since the Macross Elysion has to recharge its fold drive for a while, but the Elysion does score a hit on the Sigur Berrentzs, just as it’s entering fold space. Which ya gotta admit, is something we’ve never seen before.

2. So the fighters fold back, followed soon by the Aether (lucky the Elysion’s “arms” have their own fold drives, isn’t it?), and Delta Flight have a very short amount of time in which to defeat the Windermereans before the NUNS blows up the nuke.

The NUNS asshole, by the way, gets almost cartoonishly nasty here, seeming to be a little gleeful that the Ragnan civilians are still evacuating the area, and that some are likely to get caught in the blast. More evidence for what the novelization comes out and states: that the government officials on earth really don’t think of the other species in the galaxy as being intelligent lifeforms at all.

3. Oh hey, it’s “Forbidden Borderline”! We haven’t heard that in ages! (The version here, by the way, is the “Album Version,” featuring Freyja, that would be released a few weeks later on the first Walküre album.) And the girls have new outfits, too!

(Funnily enough, right before I saw this episode the first time, I was looking at a forum (Animesuki, if I recall correctly), and one of the first posts about the episode started off “HOLY SHIT!!” I stopped reading there, not wanting to spoil myself, but figuring that I was going to be in for a roller coaster ride when I watched it. Which it certainly was. Later, I went back to read the rest of the post and all it said was, more or less, “HOLY SHIT!!” Walküre has new costumes! And they’re much more revealing!” Nothing about the plot at all…)

4. Then the warhead goes off, with the goal of destroying both the Protoculture ruins and the Sigur Berrentzs. It does neither, but it does destroy Hayate’s VF-31J.

The resulting tsunami also knocks Chuck’s sister Marianne off of the Rag-Nyan-Nyan houseboat, which is a thread that remains loose until the final episode. Not that Chuck really seems to care, except intermittently.

Among MY friends, at least, there was considerable debate about whether she could survive or not… since she’s a mer-person, we could at least agree that she wouldn’t drown, although the force of the wave could definitely kill her.

5. The Protoculture ruins get replaced by a structure that folds in in their place. And it’s something that the Sigur Berrentzs can dock with. This never really gets explained, except for, well, the Protoculture could already do basically ANYTHING, right? It seems that the Windermereans were expecting something like to happen, though, and indeed, it’ll happen on all the other planets as well.

Also, King Grammier invokes the name “Rudanjaar Rom Mayan,” which we’ll hear a lot more later on. Whether this has any connection to Macross Zero’s Mayan Island also never gets confirmed, but I think we can assume that it does. At least, I’m imagining that every planet “uplifted” by the Protoculture has its own Mayan Island, with its own Bird-Human left as a failsafe in case the inhabitants are too bellicose.

6. After the eyecatch, Heinz starts singing and the Sigur Berrentzs undergoes a type of transformation above the Protoculture structure. It ends up looking quite a lot like Macross Zero’s Bird-Human, which I guess is only natural. Y’know, for being one of the less well-regarded installments of Macross (and, in Japan, probably the least popular), a lot of Frontier and Delta are built upon its story foundations (and heck, even Macross the First references it in a few different ways).

7. In a beautiful, beautiful scene, Hayate gets into Messer’s VF-31F (although he’s still not wearing a helmet… I thought his old VF-31J was special that way…?) and takes off, as “Walküre Attack” starts playing. Everything here is perfect, from the look of the fighter and the Aether’s deck to the camera angles, to the actual animation. Hidetaka Tenjin at work, folks. The man is brilliant.

What doesn’t get mentioned but should be obvious here is that Delta Flight is going into combat without their ace. Messer was 37% of their effectiveness: they’re crippled here. Just fending off the Aerial Knights might be too much for them, let alone defeating them.

Now, naturally, the main character getting his dead mentor’s fighter (with a skull emblem on it) as a mid-series upgrade evokes the original series pretty strongly, where Hikaru of course got Focker’s VF-1S. The symbolism there was clear: Hikaru was taking over Focker’s leadership role, and it was a passing of the torch. Here, it’s a little less obvious, since Hayate doesn’t automatically become the ace of the team or the leader or anything, really. You’d almost think there’s no change, really. But then…

Hey, remember back in Mission 08 when Hayate had the chance to kill Bogue and didn’t take it, firing at the Draken’s leg instead? Well, here, he doesn’t hesitate at all, and shoots directly at Keith’s cockpit. He doesn’t end up killing Keith, but it’s not for lack of intent. Messer’s death has changed something in Hayate, and he’s not playing around anymore.

(One unfortunate side-effect of that is that the “Immelmann Dance” will virtually never appear again in the show. He’s too serious a pilot for that now. I’ll miss it.)

8. Bogue lunges forward and fires a huge blast at Walküre, which for once actually does break the glass (or glass-like substance) that surrounds their stage (and wounds Mikumo). Then the SIgur Berrentzs fires its cannons to finish them, only to be blocked by the timely arrival of the Macross Elysion. The Elysion is AWESOME in this episode, from protecting Walküre to rising from the ocean and firing one of its cannons. Not only does it look great in itself, but watch all the shots of water sluicing off of it as it emerges from the water. Again, one of the things I like most about Delta is the way the staff will often go above and beyond what they need to do to make a scene look good. Not ALL the time, of course, since this is a TV show with crushing deadlines, but often enough that you can see their love for Macross.

9. Freyja, for her part, goes into the “berzerker mode” (I guess) that we haven’t seen since Mission 01, with her rune going crazy, she starts singing the OP song, and then actually LEAPS OFF THE DECK of the Aether in order to get closer to Hayate.

Her song not only reaches him, but also catches Keith and Heinz off-guard, which probably is what enables Hayate to get that killshot in.

And then she gets caught by Mirage. As Gwyn Campbell of the Speaker PODCast says, you could almost call this “Mirage Catches Everyone – The Episode.”

In the end, it’s not enough. Hayate downs Keith, the Sigur Berrentz is damaged, and King Grammier dies, but still, Xaos has to retreat with a city-ship full of refugees, and Windermere’s plan to control all the Protoculture ruins has been fulfilled. Quite a cliffhanger…

Oh, and when Roid takes over from the dead king (and there’s a crucial piece missing here that will be addressed later), he changes glasses AGAIN. What’s up with that?

10. Macross has never, ever skimped when it comes to the ending of a cour (unless you count the fact that Episode 13 of the original series, “Blue Wind,” looks absolutely godawful), and so it is here. None of the show’s mysteries get explained (or even addressed all that much), but Hayate and Freyja have definitely come into their own and have earned the respect of their colleagues.

But of course the emphasis here is on the action, and it delivers in spades. From the reaction weapon’s explosion, to the dogfights, to the Elysion arriving in the nick of time, this episode is taut and exciting from start to finish, and (to me, at least) stands as one of best battle episodes of any Macross series.

Also, unusually for Delta, there seem to be Frontier-style homages thrown in, as it variously evokes the Dimension Eater destroying Gallia IV (from Frontier), Minmay falling and being caught (from the original series), and the Macross getting its booms destroyed by an enemy beam (from Do You Remember Love).

All in all, it’s a satisfying finale to the satisfying first half of Delta. Can the second half hold up? We’ll see…

OP: None.

ED: Eternity (an instrumental, not a Walküre song.)

EYECATCH: The Macross Elysion.

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: None, although “Forbidden Borderline” is, as I’ve said, a different version, and “If I Love Only Once” has a different vocal take from Minori Suzuki.

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 4

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