THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH – Delta Mini-Theatre 2

Delta Mini 2

DELTA MINI-THEATRE (VOLUME 2)

ICONIC SCENE: “TISSUE de-!!”

RELEASE DATE: August 26, 2016

Another blu-ray disc, another short film. This one explains the Walküre’s “Fingernail Devices” as well as their heat-dissipating make up. I think it’s interesting to note that in the ’80s or (especially) the ’90s, information about things like this would be confined to art books about the show, rather than something presented visually as a bonus feature.

In the second short, Mirage tries on a Walküre stage outfit (identical to Mikumo’s, but a slightly different color), and gets embarrassed. This sets the character tone for these films: Mirage is generally embarrassed, and for some reason, Kaname is always drunk.

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 162 – Desired SECRET

Delta Ep.21.png

MACROSS DELTA

MISSION 21: Desired SECRET

ICONIC SCENE: Every hipster’s favorite Walküre members.

STORY DATE: 2067

BROADCAST DATE: August 21, 2016

1. How’s this for a grabber of an opening: Heinz sings to the people of Al Shahal, putting them under Windermerean mind control (Berger notes the Delta waves… a deep sleep brainwave pattern), and then he collapses and can’t sing, which makes every on Al Shahal likewise collapse, either unconscious or dead (we don’t know yet. Later, we find out that no, they’re not dead).

It’s effective, sure, but I don’t like where it’s pointing all that much, since this where Roid will turn out to be doing pretty much exactly what Grace was doing in the Frontier TV series (which itself was also almost exactly what the whole plot of Evangelion was about).

2. And my hopes that Kaname, Makina, and Reina forcing Lady M’s hand would mean some big shake-up are dashed. They’re just briefly locked up here. And let’s face it… locking them up seems like an empty threat, since Walküre are needed on the battlefield.

But no, the point here is to tell how Walküre was created. At the time, I saw some posts saying that it was too late in the series to bring in a flashback like this, which seems a silly point. Especially since the aforementioned Evangelion had its flashback at… yep, Episode 21. More about that at the end.

So we jump back to 2063, when Kaname first joined Xaos, who (as she says) were just starting their “music division.” Now, there’s a manga about that, called “Macross E” (for “Extra,” but also because it comes between “F” and “D”). Nothing from that series is referenced here, but (as far as I can tell) nothing gets contradicted, either.

A little touch that I like is that our first shot of 19-year-old Kaname’s is (surely deliberately) reminiscent of the way Freyja looked at her audition, conducted in part by Kaname.

3. Reina gets added next, with the information that she was caught hacking into Xaos’s servers, and was essentially blackmailed into a job.

The following year, Makina, Claire Paddle, and Lydie Le Gloan were added. Bringing in Lydie and Claire is a nice touch, I think, since most idol groups have previous members that most fans don’t know about (my favorite idol group, Momoiro Clover Z, for example currently has five members but used to be six, before they got big. And had a VERY different line up before they started recording. Heck, you probably didn’t know that “Baby Spice” wasn’t even an original member of the Spice Girls, but got brought in when someone got fired, did you? I wouldn’t have, either, except an English textbook that I had to use for teaching ESL had a little section about the Spice Girls).

This adds a little drama, since we know that these two girls aren’t in the group anymore, and we know that Walküre put their lives at risk by singing on the battlefield… did one or both of them die…? No, they both just quit… which seems like a missed opportunity to emphasize how dangerous Walküre’s job is. Personally, I would’ve killed off Claire, but considering that she’s voiced by Yoko Hikasa, who played Mio in K-On, which, let’s be honest, is a MUCH higher-level gig than Macross, death probably wasn’t an option here.

4. To me, one of the most interesting things that’s shown but never emphasized here here is that Walküre is not an idol group, and didn’t even have the trappings of one when they started out. Initially, they were just wearing the same Xaos uniforms that everyone else wears, and it takes a while for them to adopt idol-style costumes.

We also see that they’re not terribly effective at first, doing very little to affect things on the battlefield, and plagued by infighting, since Makina’s always getting on Reina’s case for not showing enough team spirit. I might be reading into this too much, but I’m reminded of the ’80s group, Onyanko Club, and how one of the main stars of the group, Sayuri Kokusho, was always arguing with one of the other main stars, Eri Nitta, because Sayuri worked really hard to gain and maintain her status, but Eri kinda didn’t care.

5. The battle sequences here, like the battle sequences in Episodes 15 and 18, are brief but elaborate. And it’s great to see Arad not only fighting, but fighting in a VF-31A.

6. Messer gets a brief cameo. I’m not sure how much of this episode was finished by the time Episode 10 aired, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that this bit was added in at the last minute for all the Kaname/Messer shippers. I also wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it was there all along.

7. When Claire quits, Mikumo joins… sent directly by Xaos, which is in itself kinda suspicious. She also doesn’t speak when they meet her, but just sings, which is enough to make Makina and Reina turn lesbian (or, at least, act on the attraction they clearly feel for each other).

Then, in the present, Mikumo (still singing “Giraffe Blues,” shows up to release them from prison.

8. Then a brief scene from Windermere, where Keith checks Heinz’s chest, which is covered in the scaly old-age stuff that Windermereans get. Keith is shocked. Heinz is using up his life at a quick rate.

And isn’t it interesting that no one in Delta has ever explained or even addressed the “Grayscale” (to use a Games of Thrones term, which isn’t, I think, inappropriate here), and yet we automatically understand what this scene means? For a show whose writing is often criticized (again, among Western fans, I insist), isn’t this pretty great? At no point does Freyja talk about it to Hayate, and at no point do the Aerial Knights say, “As you know, we get these scales as we age…” We just know.

Oh, we also learn that Roid stabbed King Grammier way back in Episode 13, but that’s not as much of surprise. Everyone realizes by now that Roid is the shifty one.

9. On the other hand… they try to infuse drama into Mikumo revealing that she’s a clone, created three years before, but it doesn’t really work. I blame the music choice, a rather peaceful theme, as opposed to the tense music that might have heightened the scene. And, as Gwyn Campbell pointed out, Mikumo’s “birth” date, August 17, was a few days BEFORE this episode aired, making Mikumo birthday parties impossible for nearly a year. Fan celebrations are important, you know…

And then, post-credits, there’s a scene where a little sparkly thing enters Roid’s forehead, and suddenly, he understands the “Singer of the Stars” and the secrets of Heinz’s singing chamber are unveiled to him. I admit I have NO idea who or what is behind this. Is it one of those remnants of the Protoculture or is it something else? No clue, folks.

10. So, I brought up Evangelion Episode 21, which was a flashback, in defense of this flashback episode. And yet… the backstory of Evangelion is one of the main mysteries of the show. There are no mysteries presented about how Walküre was formed. I mean, it’s nice to see how they started, how they became a sort-of idol group, how Mikumo joined, and how Makina and Reina got together, but none of this is CRUCIAL. It’s like Macross Seven Encore, in a way. Cool to know, but maybe it shouldn’t be part of the main series. Plus, there’s the problem that Mikumo’s reveal (which IS one of the main mysteries of the series) falls kinda flat. The Windermerean scenes are really the only truly important ones here. I like the rest, but it would’ve worked better in a longer series.

OP: “Absolute Zero θ Novatic”

ED: “Destruction of Innocence”

EYECATCH: Macross Elysion.

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: “Teary-Eyed Explosion”

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 11

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 161 – Impulse EXPERIMENT

Delta Ep.20

MACROSS DELTA

MISSION 20: Impulse EXPERIMENT

ICONIC SCENE: Mirage blurts it out.

STORY DATE: 2067

BROADCAST DATE: August 14, 2016

1. So I’ve been saying for a while that Hayate Vár-ing out from Freyja’s singing is the most annoying plot thread, and here we get to why it’s so: they ground him until they can figure out what’s going on.

Now, let’s face it… when you’ve got a show about pilots, and it already seems to be skimping on the action, the last thing the plot should do is keep the main character from flying. And yet, here we are.

2. I’m of two minds about this… on the one hand (and as Mirage points out towards the end) Hayate’s real purpose is to fly, just as Freyja’s is to sing. Threatening them with losing that seems like a good way of forcing them to deal with their fears. And yet, the whole sequence is neither convincing nor compelling. So I get what the creators are going for, but I don’t think they succeed.

The other members of Walküre trying to find out what happened to Mikumo is more interesting, and actually goes somewhere this episode.

3. The Aerial Knights are also standing around discussing what’s going on. Bogue’s theory is a good one (although wrong), that Xaos has analyzed Freyja’s rune and has made an artificial one. Mikumo’s power, of course, goes a little deeper than that, but yeah… why DIDN’T Xaos try that? Probably, I’m guessing, because it’s a very “bad guy” thing to do.

4. We also get more with Heinz, and the machinations at the castle. Since the royal doctor discovered something last time, he’s been replaced, and Keith is determined to find out why. Again, I think the staff is going for some “Game of Thrones” style political intrigue (and just as I wondered how much Battlestar Galactica had an influence on Grace in Frontier, I wonder how much of Thrones’s DNA is in the Windermereans). But again, it’s not as compelling (to me) as I think it’s meant to be.

I think the problem here is that there simply isn’t enough variation in the Knights’ attitudes. They’re not entirely in lock-step about Roid’s plan to conquer the galaxy, but they’re all willing to go along with it. The biggest issues are Hermann and Kassim murmuring about how they don’t really like the plan, and Keith wanting to preserve Heinz.

And THAT’S an interesting point, but it’s never really explicated. In the first half of the series, Keith was gung-ho about using Heinz for his singing, whereas Roid wanted to deploy him sparingly at best. Now it seems reversed. No reason for the switch is given in so many words, but I think there’s enough to allow us to piece it together. First off, I think Heinz’s conversation with Keith (back in Episode 15) about how he can no longer call him “brother” had a profound effect on Keith, to the point where he actually begins to think of him as such (and remember, the “Parting Resolution” of Episode 15’s title HAS to refer to that conversation, and Heinz’s decision. Nothing else in that episode fits). But also, all Keith ever wanted to do was free the Brísingr Cluster from the earth government, and he was quite willing to push Heinz to his limit to do that. But now that that goal has been accomplished, he sees Heinz killing himself for no damn good reason. For Roid, conversely, liberating the globular cluster was just a first step, and he wanted to make sure Heinz had enough power left afterward to take on the galaxy.

5. What the show does do a good job of presenting, though, through a series of small but effective flashbacks, is showing Keith’s loyalty to Roid, going back to when they first met as children, and Keith’s growing realization that that loyalty might be misplaced.

6. I do like the scene where Makina and Reina convince Kaname to join them in their scheme to free Mikumo, but I really don’t think Kaname needed all that much convincing.

7. So Freyja decides she’s going to quit singing for Hayate’s sake, and Hayate decides he’s going to quit flying for Freyja’s sake. It’s all very “Gift of the Magi,” isn’t it?

8. Mirage finally interrupts them, and talks some real sense into them, telling them that she loves them, and will protect both of them. As Macross super-blogger Karice has pointed out (the second time I’ve brought this excellent piece up), Mirage is perhaps making a promise she can’t keep, considering that there is nothing terribly special or gifted about her, but that’s what makes her promise so exceptional.

It’s interesting how a huge part of Mirage’s issues in the show is people’s reactions to her being a Jenius, and placing huge expectations on her just because of that name. And then you see fans doing the same thing, complaining that she’s not the badass that she should be and seems like a minor character in her own show. As Karice points out, this is missing what is most special about Mirage: her very ordinariness and her pledge to rise above it.

Also, as Renato pointed out on the Speaker PODCast, Asami Seto, Mirage’s voice actress, performs this excellently, turning what could’ve been a sappy and mawkish speech into the most compelling scene in the episode, and one of the most memorable in the entire series.

9. Walküre’s infiltration operation is much as you’d expect, and an excuse to get Makina in a nurse’s outfit. It’s a dopey, overused plot, but I’m a sucker for it. To the show’s credit, it doesn’t work for very long, and Makina’s disguise is uncovered extremely quickly, leaving Kaname to find Mikumo alone.

And find her she does, in a moving scene with Mikumo floating in the same tank we saw her in last time, singing softly along to “Giraffe Blues.” And things definitely LOOK dire for Reina and Makina, both captured by armed guards. This is the first time anyone’s gone expressly against Lady M, and you’d imagine there’d have to be some pretty serious consequences for that. You’d imagine…

10. So yeah, probably the least-interesting episode so far, although last five or six minutes are pretty good. I still think Kaname finding Mikumo would’ve been better if we hadn’t seen Mikumo at the end of the previous episode.

This episode also was the one aired after Walküre’s full concert debut, at Zepp Nanba in Osaka (if it seems weird to have the concert on the same night that an episode airs, remember that first, Japanese concerts start earlier, generally around six o’clock or so, and that Macross Delta aired on Tuesday nights in Osaka anyway. Only in Tokyo was on Sundays). I’ll talk about the three-stop “tour” later, though.

OP: “Absolute Zero θ Novatic”

ED: “Destruction of Innocence”

EYECATCH: Keith’s Draken III

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: None.

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 10