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