MISSION 17: Infection ON STAGE
ICONIC SCENE: Sex sells.
STORY DATE: November, 2067
BROADCAST DATE: July 24, 2016
1. In an unusual opening, we start with narration from Roid, explaining the Windermerean’s dilemma: that they are so powerful, but that their lives are so short. And that “solving the Protoculture system” could rectify that.
And indeed, Windermere is beefing up its conventional forces, with a few dozen more Drakens. Bogue’s pretty thrilled about this, but Kassim points out (to Hermann) that Roid was the only one who heard the King Grammier had wanted to conquer the entire galaxy, and who knows if he’s telling the truth about it?
Roid, for his part, is studying Walküre’s performance. Berger tries to figure out why, but Roid is holding his cards VERY close to his chest (and will continue to for quite a while).
2. Xaos, now somewhat back on track, hatches a plan to infiltrate the planet Voldor. If this sounds familiar, it’s because they did it ten episodes ago. One thing to note about Delta is that certain scenes and situations (and even lines of dialogue) repeat later on, but play out differently. I already noted Hayate’s non-lethal attack on Bogue versus his shoot-to-kill attitude with Keith, and his repetition of his and Freyja’s Episode 1 dialogue in Episode 14. as we move forward, there we more of these parallels, some more obvious than others.
3. The plan this time, at least, is entirely different. Unable to sneak in as they did last time, They hijack the Galaxy Network and Walküre stages a concert broadcast, and the broadcast date carries a virus that will break through the security systems. Thus, what was done in a small and secretive way back in Episode 7 is done in a much bigger and flashier way here.
4. When Makina adds a little “service” to the broadcast, getting people to spread the virus faster by clicking for risqué pictures of herself, there’s one shot of the crowd that has a fun little Frontier reference… one guy’s phone looks like a carrot, another guy has a taiyaki-shaped phone (like Sheryl’s), and a third guy’s looks like Tama, the cat (frog…?) stuffed toy from Aquarion EVOL.
5. I’m glad we get a full (mostly) Walküre concert here, because I was beginning to miss some of the earlier songs, like “Jiritic Beginner” and “When My Rune Shines Bright.” We also get a new song from Makina, “Onyanoko Girl,” which is good, but sounds a little too much like it’s trying to be a song by the J-pop trio Perfume to me.
In the middle of it, though, we get a flashback to last episode, where Mikumo said she never remembered anyone celebrating her birthday. Here she goes on to say that she has no memories of her childhood or her parents, either. It was a fan theory from the beginning that there was something… artificial, shall we say, about Mikumo. Either that she was a clone or an android or SOMETHING.
Oh, and I’d like to take this moment to note, first, how good the Walküre choreography is, and second, how good the motion capture is. The first should be kind of a given, considering that Frontier gave a lot of fun and now-iconic dance moves to Sheryl and Ranka, but the second is new. Even in the Frontier movies, a lot of the dance sequences were pretty obviously film of real people, painted over (in the old hand-drawn days, of course, they called this “rotoscoping” – you can see it a lot in, say, Ralph Bakshi’s “Lord of the Rings” movie – but I’m not sure if the digital version is still called that), whereas with Walküre, it’s seamlessly integrated with all the other animation. I didn’t even realize that it even WAS motion capture until I watched one of the “Making of Macross Delta” shorts that profiled the dancers who “play” Walküre.
6. Oh, and during Freyja’s song, Hayate bugs out a bit again. Again, this plot thread isn’t annoying yet, but soon will be.
Oh, and in another subtle homage, the drink bottle that Hayate gives to Freyja is good ol’ Appale Genki, from Earth Girl Arjuna and Macross Zero. I always find it amazing when pre-Space War I brands managed to survive after the Zentradi destroyed earth.
7. Hayate makes a big faux pas when he tells Freyja that he hasn’t seen his mom in “only” a year or two, since that’s a rather large portion of a Windermerean’s life. She looks down, but snaps out of it quickly. It’s still a reminder to him that Freyja doesn’t really have all that long to live.
There’s also a nicely-observed bit where Freyja says that when she first came to Ragna, she thought old people were a different type of alien, since she’s never seen anyone much older than thirty. The fact that it’s a Ragnan COUPLE that brings this to her mind is moving, since she’ll never know what it’s like to grow old with someone.
8. The flat-out best section of this episode, even better than cheesecake Makina, is Bogue’s horrified reaction to Reina. I mentioned the rehabilitation of Bogue before, from annoying would-be killer to hormonally embarrassed teenage boy, and this is where that transition gets cemented. When he finds his men watching the Walküre concert, first he’s enraged, but when the hologram of Reina “looks” at him, he’s immediately terrified. It’s also a great scene to cite (as I have before) when you’re making fun of the Macross (or, more often, Robotech) fans who think that Macross is gritty, hardcore military SF and get uncomfortable around idol singers.
9. At the end, there’s another twist in the all-important story of the Dimension Eater dropped on Windermere. Remember, first we heard that Windermere did it to themselves as a “false flag” attack. Then we heard that the N.U.N.S. dropped it. Now, we find out that, yes, it was the N.U.N.S., and the pilot who made the bombing run was Hayate’s father. He destroyed a N.U.N.S. base and also killed countless Windermerean civilians. It’ll be a while before this gets untangled fully, but I’m not sure how convincing any of it is. Even when first watching the show a year ago, I never really thought that Immelmann Sr. was ever trying guilty of this war crime. Perhaps because of that, I never found the subplot all that compelling. What would Hayate do if his dad WERE guilty? Quit Delta Flight? The stakes aren’t clearly defined, and so the issue lacks weight. The resolution (near the end of the series) is really touching, but until that point, it just doesn’t seem as crucial as the show wants us to think it is. I freely admit, though, that if I could have seen this when I was in my teens, and first truly beginning to see my parents as flawed human beings (as we all must do, sooner or later), it might have grabbed me a little more intensely. Again, it’s always good to remember that people like me aren’t the show’s target audience, and that audience’s priorities aren’t necessarily my priorities.
10. One of the common complaints about Broadway musicals (especially older ones) is that every time a song starts, the plot stops. I can’t quite say that this episode, which is the biggest all-singing all-dancing extravaganza in the series, completely avoids that charge, but I still find it a lot of fun, with some excellent scenes. As I said, I think Bogue is the highlight, but Freyja and Hayate’s scenes together are warm, and the concert scenes are well-done (if not quite the delirious weirdness of, say, Sheryl’s concerts in the Frontier movies). Still, the last battle we had was a couple of episodes ago, and it was extremely short. Let’s get those Valkyries back in action…
OP: “Absolute Zero θ Novatic”
ED: “Destruction of Innocence”
EYECATCH: Hayate’s VF-31J
NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: “Onyanoko Girl,” “Hear the Universe”
NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 7