DYRL Minmay meet your new Ranka Counterpart. Luca has sister? Cathy and Leon never got it on? Leon is more devious than Grace? Best Ranka ever losing to nerfed Sheryl? Does this condensation work and Mr. Kawamori just created the best new age hippie drug ever or is this so heavy handed that only Brera could pull it off? Would the real AI-kun please stand up? Welcome to another post about Macross Frontier which will be the last to deal with new material, but now I get to gloat about how I WAS RIGHT.
If you thought Ranka would win with more retcon get ready for a wave of disappointment as Captain Wlider goes surfing all over that big kahuna formed by Ranka nation’s tears. The Great Frontier Shipping War is over! So let this new age of Alto-himexSheryl Peace last for all eternity. So much to say so many of my wishes fulfilled, probably not a shoe in for best movie ever, but very much Macross in your Macross.
Alto-hime and Sheryl Together Forever and Never to Part
Kawamori promised resolution to the love triangle and instead gave me vindication. I just want to say to the naysayer of the Alto-himexSheryl, I finally get definitive proof from the desk of that new age hippie so EAT IT. I’ll remark on Movie Ranka later but I must say the movies rushed Alto-hime and Sheryl together at a very accelerated pace. It is unavoidable I suppose given the time constraints but I do miss the long courtship that was the series if only because the journey was so much easier to savor, with all the small steps they took through good times and bad. It was a bit heavy handed, but so was the rest of the movie where the mystery was killed with plenty of explanation for the mouth of Brera (I’ll get to him later). I never liked Movie Alto-hime much, I can accept that he had some gender identity issues, but the way it gets handled makes me gag at times. Sometimes we see hime getting all emotional and then Sheryl is in trouble and then hime throws on that Goth-Lolita outfit without complaint. I chalk it up more to Kawamori laying the ground work for his Macross in your Macross Movie when the 30th Anniversary hits than inept story telling. Much of the movie feels as if you get ham acting and I would not be the least bit surprised if Brera used this as a vehicle to defame hime’s good name.
Certainly the sense of duty I respect so much is utterly absent along with the atypical way hime got to be a pilot (by that I mean taking a punch and going through tons of abuse to prove worthy of the VF-25). Sheryl also gets knocked down a bit as she is lumped into a more elaborate Galaxy vs Frontier subplot than there was before. In the series Sheryl pretty much did the right thing more often than not, she rarely showed a real ugly side, but in the movie we get the question of whether or not Sheryl considered killing Ranka to save herself. Furthermore we get a whole lot more “damsel in distress” when she gets locked up when Leon figures out the Galaxy infiltration time table. Still at least they kept Sheryl’s willingness to die for her song even if they kind of nerfed her willingness to die for the people of Frontier who had cast her aside.
I liked how they managed to roll in parts of the manga and give me an Alto-hime kabuki show. It was decidedly cute and adorable how loli-Sheryl was fan-girling shouta-Alto and making a childhood promise. This is in of itself almost a clear declaration of DESTINY between the two, and it was a rather sly way to legitimize parts of the manga. Given the childhood encounter there should be no surprise that the Alto-himexSheryl Ship sailed off into the distance. It was kind of bittersweet, but then again other than Macross Plus this is usually how the new happy couple ends up. Hikaru and Misa went MIA, Shin and Sara went MIA, Isamu and Myung were alive and well but Guld was KIA, and now we are left with Alto-hime being MIA and Sheryl being catatonic. We do get a little more sugar than usual with the implication that Sheryl will one day wake up and Alto-hime does return. Still Ranka is the odd one out despite all the changes that were made (many of which were in her favor) given the bittersweet tone I think this was given more writing time rather than it being a flip of the coin. In the end I can live with that because that is usually the end we get for Macross, the no decision I suspect was a ploy to get all of us worked up enough to see the movies. It worked even though there are some major continuity issues to deal with.
Sharon Apple’s Legacy
While the Macross Frontier team managed to spend money and time on gorgeous delicious DECULTCHA mecha battles, they went above and beyond what was needed for the concerts. From Cosplay Party that was Sheryl’s concert forbidden elixirs to Ranka’s super bubbly rot your teeth teddy bear rain affair, it was just MIND BLOWN. Maybe one day a concert can involve the audience in such a manner. If nothing else more Sheryl yuri self-cest was rather captivating, also it was more well within my demographic than Ranka making it rain teddy bears, but that VF-1 integration was nice. They really over did themselves with the theatrics no matter you other issues with the chose mecha hating included the concerts were just on a whole different level. I kind of like the new songs that were introduced in the two films I can’t find one I simply hate but that being said I take no issue with Rick Astley or Blue Oyster Cult as well. I do miss some of the old songs but I suppose that given how some of them were pretty old by the time the movie debuted it was inevitable they would try adding some new tracks.
Other instances of Kawamori remembering love, he is still rocking the Fire Bomber thing as if Macross 7 wasn’t that bad. I just loved how he made SMS make a Fire Bomber tribute band to back up Ranka even if it came at the cost of a gender conflicted Alto-hime dressing up in goth-lolita garb with nary a complaint and looking pretty trappy in the process. For all the crap we gave Kawamori about the Battle 7 transformation scen, I am glad he finally gifted all of the mecha-tards a Battle Frontier transformation up close. Also I did miss having a Diamond Force headed by one Gurnt of Grunts, Machida, but I’ll take the Isamu Dyson cameo (IT WAS HIM I TELL YOU).
Loli-moe St. Ranka
Unfortunately unlike Do You Remember Love, False Songstress and Wings of Goodbye are two different movies and this leaves the question of how to distinguish Macross Frontier Ranka from Movie Ranka. For now I’ll just use Loli-moe St. Ranka until I find a better term for the new and improved Ranka. At any rate I must say Ranka got a complete makeover, gone is the unsure, overly-naïve, passive Ranka. More importantly gone is the Ranka that waited for Alto-hime to come to her, the Ranka that fluffed her song so badly that that Ai-kun’s buddies wrecked Frontier, and gone is the Ranka that ditched Alto-hime to go find Ai-kun’s home with Brera. If you have no knowledge of how big of a failure Ranka could be you would probably think that Ranka was a saint, and at worst so saintly to the point of being an infallible Mary Sue. Loli-moe St. Ranka is much more considerate of Alto-hime and much more aware and honest than Sheryl. Loli-moe St. Ranka is all about going with her gut and making much more reasonable arguments for the Vajra instead hiding Ai-kun and forgetting duty and obligation. It’s an improvement but there are times when it does feel heavy handed.
So the whole MF Ranka string of failures is erased and Sheryl ends up looking worse for wear this time around. It even goes to the point where Ranka gets to take the final battle scene (the SherylxAlto-hime kiss from episode 24) for herself. It did not end in a kiss and curiously enough because the Macross Zero Movie was taken out Ranka never does get to land a kiss. I suppose the lack of a kiss was a sign of things to come, but I am not sure whether or not this does redeem Ranka’s character. It is a very drastic change because those failures of MF Ranka caused a fan revolt of sorts and while Loli-moe St. Ranka is arguably a better person it comes at the cost of being almost no correlation between the two other than liking Alto-hime. I do find Loli-moe St. Ranka to be irritatingly faultless at times but I do like her more than MF Ranka, still I shed no tears when I got Resolution/Vindication in the end. Besides using her anti-bodies is a better explanation to Sheryl’s survival than the magic plus Ranka slap.
Brera making things Bretter (Smoothing over Continuity Issues)
Ranka may have been in the most need for a revamp, but in Brera’s case it wasn’t even necessary yet at the same time he gets way more screen time. This makes me think again that this whole production is a movie within a movie, given how way cooler this movie Brera is compared to that dull drone from Macross Frontier. I have no major issue with the more involved Brera because the movie within a movie nicely solves the continuity conundrum, and besides with Brera’s increased commando actions we get a lot more mecha action namely that of cyborgs vs ground troops and EX-Gear Infantry. I do like the increased EX-Gear infantry action, as it makes things more mecha on a smaller scale, not to mention make me drool over the thought of having one. EX-Gear infantry hunting down cyborgs is a decided improvement over EX-Gear searching for panties as well.
The thought of having the post MF Brera starring as himself is a very attractive out given his increased presence as well as him being the one to land the coup de grace to the final boss. It stands to reason that if this were the case the wussification of Alto-hime as getting slapped around and shown up by everyone except Luca makes perfect sense as Brera slandering hime and rubbing it in as an over paid one role action star. Moreover it makes him look way more heroic and much more than a drone that really had a kind of minor role as Grace’s gopher. Admittedly Grace was kinder and gentler in the prequel manga, but here Grace is given a full pardon even if it means that Leon was the one to make her a sucker. It’s hard to argue that Movie Brera isn’t better if only because the action scenes where he is involved are much more kinetic. It’s also hard to ignore how much credit Brera is getting for offing the evil Galaxy overlords and nearly single handedly defeating the mid-boss, all the while telling Alto-hime how hime can’t keep up. It’s almost the complete inverse of Kaifun who was a total ass in SDF but all but invisible in DYRL (which I chalk up to Kaifun threatening to sue the production company).
If this is a Brera production then it also gives a very good reason why there are so many differences between the movies and Macros Frontier. In MF you had Leon and Cathy in a relationship, but now that the war is over I am pretty sure post MF Cathy would disavow all knowledge of ever dating Leon at any point in her life. That’s just one of the smaller things but the important things that happened in MF like the Frontier Fleet being totally outmatched more often than not, Ranka being partly responsible for the massacre after crygate, Leon pulling off a military coup, and how close Grace got to being supreme overlord are not mentioned. Instead we have some instances of whitewashing if this was a case of Macross in your Macross. In the final two episodes Frontier was alone in facing the Vajra threat with help being too far away, but in the movie the Vajra never make the assaults on the other fleets and Earth and instead NUNS does come to the rescue of a beleaguered fleet. Given the less grimdark feel of the movies it stands to reason that after the events of MF the authorities in NUNS were unwilling to acknowledge that its colony fleets were essentially isolated and unable to assist other fleets over long distances. Furthermore the Zentradi uprising on Galia 4 is not mentioned at all since admission that there are still some Zentradi who long for the old ways within NUNS would probably stir increased xenophobia between Zentrans and miclones. Ditto with the fact that the Zentradi habitat which was intact was the one sacrificed during the crygate massacre. Most damningly of all the loss of the 33rd Marine Fleet garnered no noticeable response from NUNS, even if they were rebel elements within that fleet it’s loss could have hardly gone unnoticed, if it was ignored then it doesn’t make NUNS look any better.
Grace getting redeemed and the other overlords getting a face full of quantum rifle, provides a convenient end to a threat that wasn’t really over. Admitting that there was a duel between the Galaxy Fleet and the Frontier fleet would expose how members of the NUNS charter can flaunt it in the vastness of space, that cooperation that NUNS is supposed to bring doesn’t always work. Moreover in MF only Grace’s body was destroyed along with Battle Galaxy, the main island itself is never accounted for so it is possible that the prevailing powers do not want to make it public knowledge that the people who were so close to galactic domination are still out there. Making Leon a bigger bad and President Glass a mere puppet also saves the Frontier Fleet and NUNS plenty of embarrassment over how an officer can go rogue and how a military man with ambition can pull off a coup against the civilian authorities. Besides if Leon is being made the scapegoat along with President Glass neither can argue because one is dead and the other is under arrest.
If the truth is that NUNS had glossed over the loss of the 117th Research Fleet and covered it up to the point that it was only whispered amongst those in power with no all-out united effort made to discover the reasons for the loss and the mustering of a unified response, then the NUNS Fleet coming to the rescue in the movie sounds rather Orwellian. The jarring sudden understanding of the Vajra in the movie stands in stark contrast to the overwhelming ignorance that the Frontier Fleet had. Perhaps NUNS didn’t want for the public to know that they were capable of gross incompetence, or the mere thought was terrifying enough that the production staff did not want to contemplate it. As for the advent of Loli-moe St. Ranka if the events of MF were true then Brera is at least making a concerted effort along with those who know to cover it up and make Ranka pretty much blameless. Perhaps this film is part of Ranka’s attempt to rehabilitate her image after what had happened, no one knows how her mopey song only aggravated the Vajra even more, nor do too many people know that she fled her duty and wound up being Galaxy’s pawn. All everyone knows is that Macross Quarter did disappear on the eve of battle and so did Ranka, so now in the movie we get a much more sanitary explanation regarding her disappearance.
Other inconvenient truths include how Luca was very cooperative when it came to Leon’s experiments, having this sister in clear and present danger come out of nowhere does give Luca and LAI a much better out than Luca being ready and able to sacrifice others and the homes of others for the sake of avenging Michael or protecting Nanase. Michael living makes it a far happier affair for the fans and for Klan, but it also excuses Ranka for being tangentially responsible for Michael’s death. I have to say though I like Macross Frontier more for the depth it gave to the background and to the cast, gone are the developments for the minor characters, gone is Richard Bilrer, gone is that darker side of Macross, gone is the mystery and the guessing game we all played when Frontier first aired. It’s not all bad though the Vajra get some new bug types albeit some that do look miclone inspired with the turrets (an convenient out for using human equipment to portray the bugs), and we get that nifty Tornado pack along with up-gunned Macross Quarter. For Ranka fans you got the best Ranka ever who was faultless and blameless with nary a mistake.
Of course this leaves the issue of the love triangle, to that I’d say Alto-hime and Sheryl really did shack up and not wanting to embarrass Ranka over how she fell in love with a stranger and never really courted hime effectively, she gets to be an initial friend who knew Alto-hime fairly well instead of being ignorant of how Alto-hime was a big kabuki star. Besides there is also no need to remind the public how Sheryl was all but forgotten during Ranka-mania, and how Sheryl stepping up makes them all look rather superficial and small.
You don’t have to accept or entertain the idea that these two films will be the Macross in your Macross come the next series, but if you do it does add some interesting points instead of Kawamori flaunting continuity as he likes to proclaim he does. I for one think that this is a distinct possibility for all the claims we Macross fans make of Kawamori and his bong smoking hippie ways he is capable of intelligence and is probably well aware of how shady humans can be since he is hopelessly in love with modern fighters and current fighter design trends. I for one suspect that it is impossible to divorce love for fighter jets from how they are employed. If this is the case then it does make False Songstress and Wings of Goodbye more than fan wank super concerts and mecha battles with the bonus being a resolution for the love triangle that a good number of us had strongly suspected. Perhaps Kawamori is making a jab at how fictional portrayals of an event can trump history, it wouldn’t be the first time and it wouldn’t be the last. Perhaps this is his way of answering criticism of how Ranka was portrayed and he is daring all of us to overlook Ranka’s MF failings in favor of her new bubbly portrayal. It wouldn’t be the first time he took a swing at the fanbase, nor would it be the last, and let’s not forget that he did take a swing with Battle 25’s transformation.
If you don’t accept the notion of the movies being Macross in your Macross, then you have plenty material to deal with. What remains consistent was how Alto-hime and Sheryl met, Ranka was at the time a nobody while Sheryl was a big star, the characters are all there but now which personality is the closest to the true character? Was Ai-kun always that cutesy or did he transform into something all the more buggy as in the manga and the series? Was Leon cleverer than Grace? Did the Macross Galaxy threat end? Was there ever a 33rd Marine Fleet? How much did NUNS really know? Did Frontier confront the Vajra alone or did NUNS manage to send in a fleet to relieve them? Did Michael live or did he die during the course of events? Plenty of loose ends and plenty that you would not be able to neatly tie together, and it would be interesting what is made of this a few years down the line.
In the end though you can believe what you want, and if nothing else I think this film at worst is mindless entertainment on a very pretty and impressive scale, and at best this was Kawamori’s jab at fan criticism and an open invitation to how we want to resolve the continuity issues the two films present. I loved it and I do enjoy the fact that I got vindication with the resolution of the love triangle. I like my shipping wars, especially when my ship emerges victorious. Visually it has to be some of the best this year, in terms of soundtrack, I like it but I am no authority on music. Pacing is where these two films have issues with much of the information simply given to us in chunks and the film just asks new viewers to take it for granted. For the diehards of the Alto-himexSheryl Camp this is some delicious vindication for the forum wars and the inter-fan strife. For the Ranka shippers well, I just want to make it clear I TOLD YOU.
Final Grade: A-
Warning: Do not take if you are uncompromising on continuity issues and are unable to cope with Kawamori being a troll. Do not take if your world will shatter if Ranka doesn’t win. Those who suffered a negative reaction Macross in general and Macross 7 on particular are advised that taking Wings of Goodbye requires acceptance of Macross 7. Do not take if you despise mecha and pop music. Side effects include excessive KYAA, Hyperactive DAWWWW, visions of Sheryl self-cest, Alto-hime Trappiness Syndrome, confusion, Vajra Stomach Flu, Alto-himexSheryl vindication, smoking for Kawamori’s bong, super happy ending, GARby withdrawal, Mecha overload, and Isamu Irritation Syndrome. Please contact your parents for a shoulder to cry on if you ignore this warning due to your excessive and ill-advised bravado. Chaplain Crusader should be notified as soon as possible for your tough shit card so that you may be pardoned for your failure and/or inability to read.