This is Mr. Kawamori, he’s crazy…
Hopefully, by now the shock from the Kawamori’s troll has since passed, but suffice to say if you were never privy to the Kawamori’s talent for trolling consider yourself schooled. I had a slight suspicion ever since the infamous Pineapple Cake episode that we were going to be in for a troll at some point. It was not all together surprising to see that up until episode 25 aired that Macross Frontier was riding high on people’s lists, sadly only a few old Macross Vets had a vague idea as to what was in store when Kawamori threw down the gauntlet that was Battle Galaxy. After that only the uninitiated and die-hard shipper ignored the warning, the last ep was to be an EPIC mecha fight that would be the greatest of everything Macross. If you were a Macross vet then your homage check list was complete and how! This a long post but I hope you will pick at it section by section at your leisure.
He’s not your typical anime director…
First off if you are a rabid shipper, or dislike j-pop Macross Frontier is not for you, but if you are a casual mecha fan who is willing to acknowledge that all character development pretty much ceases in the next to last ep you would do well with Macross Frontier. Still at the end of the day it was for the most part a celebration of 25 years of Macross slightly updated. If you still remember all those years of sexy fighters transforming into bad ass mecha it was almost everything you could have asked for in a mecha show. While I agree with Martin that one had to be familiar with the older Macross series to fully enjoy it, Macross Frontier remains a fine mecha series, though for whose who want to going back to get more of the history is a worthwhile endeavor.
Kawamori never spells out things any more, so liberally fill in the gaps…hell we still don’t know what happened to Minmei.
Since most of the recent rancor was over the unresolved triangle, it really depends on whether or not you need everything spelled out for you. Moreover since all character development ceases at episode 24 for the most part my Alto-hime did make a decision, and I reiterate that salute to Sheryl in his VF-25 was all the confession you really need if you are a long time Macross fan. It would be pretty cliché to just have Alto-hime say that he loved Sheryl, instead given his fumbled confession in 24, calling out her name every time she was in danger, invoking Sheryl’s name in trying to inspire Ranka, and saluting her on the bridge of Battle Frontier it seems plain that my Alto-hime has a very special place in his heart for Sheryl. However it is possible for Ranka to turn things around someday, but given how she has been stagnant and recently backsliding to the very end Ranka’s declaration of “I won’t lose” seems incredibly hollow, and for the most part can easily be dismissed as more wishful thinking on Ranka’s part. Besides really how does Ranka’s resolution affect how Alto-hime treats Sheryl? Not at all in my opinion so unless Ranka gets Ai-kun to run Sheryl through Ranka’s chances of wedding my Alto-hime are pretty much non-existent.
The only way ep 25 could have been more awesome.
After watching the whole series again, one does appreciate the coolness of having CG dogfights more akin to Macorss Zero than the old methods of recycling in Macross 7. What MF manages to do to build upon the orgasmic dogfights of Macross Zero was increase the size and scope of every engagement. It is abundantly clear that much of the animation budget was reserved expressly for the purpose of sublime battle sequences and was a clear indicator of what Kawamori and his team felt was the most important aspect of MF, big huge battles. While there was recycling of scenes for the most part they were not common enough to become annoying and Kawamori did give every Macross fan what they had wanted, the epic fight between Battle Galaxy and Battle Frontier/Macross Quarter. The greatest success of MF was to have raised the bar for all mecha series to follow in delivering the final battle, and I have no doubt that Gundam 00 will have its work cut out for it in meeting the MF challenge for claiming the most epic mecha fight of 2008.
It was a fan wank 25 years in the making.
The VF-25, VF-27, and even the lowly VF-171 were all pretty sexy looking mecha that look quite different from each other with the VF-27 looking quite exotic, the VF-25 looked conventionally streamlined, and the VF-171 looked very stealthy. I really did like how the VF-171 was a major contributor to the war effort by not being exclusively cannon fodder. It was a joy to see that Diamond Force was around with Machida leading the grunt charge to give Ozma a good run for top pilot. Even now as awesome as Ozma is Machida could probably give the old Fire Bomber fan a good run if they had the same machine, after all Machida’s fist is still mightier than Ozma’s little knife. The capital ships also saw a fair bit of action though the humble Guantanamo class seemed to get hulked more often. The biggest attraction of MF is not only are its fighters sexy, but there are three Macross class vessels that look unique and fight in very different ways. Northamptons, Uragas, and the humble Guantanamo all have their share of screen time. Even the Ghosts get some new additions to their families, most notably Macross Galaxy’s V-9s which sport the same kind of weaponry as the formidable VF-27. In essence every thing that could ever fight in the Macross universe was present in MF in force. The full spectrum of every kind of ship was accounted for in the 25th Anniversary, along with one new addition the EX-Gear. The EX-Gear system is still one of my favorite new additions to the Macross Canon, works well as an ejection system over the older pod, and can double as a mobile infantry system that enhances strength and mobility. In essence Macross Frontier is probably the mecha series to beat for sometime given the sheer amount of mecha elements that more or less fit seamlessly together.
I disagree with otou-san and the verdict that Macross Frontier offers nothing new. In fact MF has the most unflattering depiction of NUNS of any Macross to date with the political back stabbing, deep seated hostility towards the Zentradi, and the arrogant assumption of miclone cultural superiority when faced with an enemy that was superior in most respects.
The Vajra were a significant shift from the typical Macross opposing force since they were not humanoid nor were they in the business of recognizing individuality. I think it is important to note that while the Vajra were radically different it sort of pays to try and discern what message Kawamori was trying to tell us in his use of bugs. Overall within the Macross Canon the Vajra do predate Protoculture and given how bug like some elements of Macross Zero’s Protoculture elements were Grace probably was telling the truth. I suspect that the choice of “Ai Oboete Imasu ka ~ bless the little queen” was meant to imply how culturally arrogant NUNS had become. The Universe is incredibly old and there were beings in existence before Protoculture the Vajra were in some respects superior culturally, they existed for the good of their species, and they had advanced to the point where they could overwhelm any other space faring race given time. Biology often does last much longer than technology and even our own DNA replication methods have been highly conserved since long before the apes known as humans discovered fire. While we can take pride in out technological achievements Mother Nature is still superior. While they had no individuals, and subsequently were free from ambition and had little in the way of inter-species conflict. Even if they are different they still have to mate like any other creature, and perhaps since they focus on breeding for the most part perhaps they are superior for it since NUNS is much more expansionary and is still embroiled in a conflict with uncultured Zentradi. It is quite fitting the Vajra are bugs, and like our own insects they were here before us, and they certainly will be here long after we are gone. For all their achievements Protoculture died out, but the Vajra who have no concept of ego and whose main goal in life is to explore and mate have out lasted them, and perhaps will outlast the Zentradi and humans as well.
Unlike previous OPFORs the Bugs did not take kindly to being boxed…
That is not to say that the Vajra are without fault, if anything it seems that even if Ranka was baiting them with Aimo every episode or so they do seem to look down on humanity as well. In NUNS they meet two sub species that have been at war with one another and with each other, from the outside looking in you do not get a flattering sense of NUNS even if they are the good guys. For starters while the Zentradi have been integrated within NUNS there is still plenty of room for conflict as we saw with the 33rd Marine Fleet, Glass’s anti-Zentradi faux pas, and Leon’s sacrifice of Island 3 (the Zentradi mall and agricultural island) to save all the miclone Islands despite Island 3 being the least damaged. There are plenty of subtle hints that even now the old prejudices are very much alive even if the Zentradi have mellowed out a lot and have gigantic Zentradi children. Given how NUNS is still seething with conflicts decades old, it is small wonder how a “greater good” race would find this kin-strife detestable, perhaps when they juiced Giliam they saw it little more than crushing a pest that was culturally inferior; not unlike how we crush ants with little concern.
Yeah deculture man…
Perhaps in the end proof of cultural superiority is not merely just having song, but rather how much we devote to nicer things like procreation? Where most of the military hardware produced by NUNS is for the purpose of finding new worlds and fighting uncultured Zentradi, the Vajra developed everything for the express purpose of breeding every few millennia. NUNS explores for new worlds to colonize in a vaguely imperialistic fashion, while the Vajra travel and explore to meet new races for a brief romantic liaison. In the case of the Vajra though having military power on their level likely evolved out of contact with other space faring species that either saw them as prey or pests. It’s interesting to note how the Vajra did produce one valuable resource that NUNS coveted and actively hunted the Vajra for, in a fashion not too dissimilar to how Japan hunts whales. Given how much of hippie Kawamori is I would not be surprised if the use of Vajra was a slight on how we humans are so arrogant as to believe that we can plunder other species for resources. It is rather telling how for the Vajra Aimo was always a love song, but for NUNS even love songs have become weaponized, I think that says a lot about how human technological development is still largely based off technology that helps us kill each other.
Kawamori Hugs More Trees
No it’s not a troll, but there are days when I think Kawamori has powers of prophecy…sort of.
The fragility of Frontier’s ecosystem was no accident and I believe that no other Macross series has highlighted how eco-friendly people ought to be. Much of the budget could have been saved to make Ranka look better on screen, but Kawamori and his team spent a fair bit of time making Frontier look stunning. I am still over awed by how faithfully they recreated San Francisco, and was duly impressed when they showed the aftermath of the Vajra attacks in the latter half. Kawamori has always been a tree hugger and while Zero touched on a paradise lost, with Frontier we saw an out and out melt down of their ecosystem to the point that no amount of technology could over come. It’s a clichéd message to be sure but in the end we only have one planet, and once it’s gone we have no fleet or Vajra planet to fall back on. The fixation on conservation of resources and recycling did produce a paradise on Frontier when it was in its prime, and despite the artificiality it certainly is a better place to live than in many parts of the world. The complexities involved in balancing the artificial eco-system really does highlight how hard it would be to take it all with us if the need arose, right now we simply can’t and if we play it right we won’t ever have to. As fresh water and oxygen are essential to life once Frontier was dying we did see a possibility of things to come once fresh water really becomes scarce and if our air quality plummets, it really isn’t that far fetched and is one thing Kawamori has been preaching for some time now.
It is also important to note how unlike many previous installments of Macross science has not been demonized to this extent until now. Grace was in many ways the epitome of the seduction of unbridled and unprincipled science along with all the promises it offers, while her goal of galactic domination is nothing new, Grace still does represent an immortal terror that transcends natural things like death. It’s a common theme in sci-fi how men might become slaves to their own machines, but here it’s not a problem with machines, but the removal of limits that comes with it. Grace was always ambitious and with her cyborg nature she feared nothing and was willing to wantonly kill and abuse her fellow humans and zentradi in ever more audacious experiments. At one time experimentation on humans was not out of the ordinary as in the case of the rabies vaccine, but now we have the can of worms we call stem cell research, DNA manipulation, and cloning and while many of these are still in its infancy things can get out of hand. It won’t be just science that will kill us all but rather our ambition, our arrogance, and our recklessness in how we use the technology and sciences we have that might be our undoing. Like Grace the true horror of it all is concealed in a very seductive and benign package.
Kawamori’s Take on Music
LISTEN TO MY SONG!
Kawamori usually has something to say about the music industry and I believe that MF is no exception. Grace was in the business of manufacturing idols like Sheryl who used much of their sex appeal to gain fame. However like many idols Sheryl found out how even her fame was not ever lasting no matter how hard she worked or how dedicated she was to her craft. Sheryl’s fall was not unlike that of many idols of years long gone. Sheryl’s fame evaporated almost over night in favor of the next big thing and her music fell from the charts so quickly that her albums went from top dollar to 30% and finally to 50% off in a bargain bin. It really doesn’t get more humiliating than that. Grace was the one who took her in chewed her up and then spat her out with gleeful malice, no matter how much credit Sheryl could claim as her own Grace’s marketing skills was what sold most of Sheryl’s concert tickets. Ultimately I think that the message from Sheryl was that even when the fame is gone it is still no reason to give up your craft if you still believe in it. If you sing some where out there some one will listen. Question is will the size of the crowd matter? For Sheryl it didn’t and for a lucky few musicians even if the crowd gets smaller their legacy still lives on in their songs. I know that many of us still have our favorite oldies as time goes on, and perhaps for singer or musician that is a form of immortality worth pursuing.
Sing often enough and you can annoy people into thinking your song is good.
Ranka’s case is fairly interesting since she did work her way up the hard way, however like many young idols she eventually got drunk with fame and let it all go to her head. Ranka was riding on top of the world and felt that her fame to would last and get her everything she wanted. Whether Ranka had intended to or not her rise helped accelerate another’s fall. Despite knowing Sheryl, Ranka became so wrapped in her own fame that she lost sight of everything she had. I think that in many ways Ranka’s career highlighted how young idols should not be put on the fast track to fame. It exploits them for one, but it also does not serve their personal development either. Ranka took her job very lightly she ditched work, broke her contract, and ended up all the worse for it. Her fame separated her from what few emotional anchors she had to the point she no longer looked to her old friends or family for support but ultimately a pet. After getting the best marketing in the galaxy Ranka’s work ethic took a nose dive and despite her sweet personality she did end up being a dick to others. Glass had to take flak for Ranka’s Ai-kun hunt, and undoubtedly the bereaved of Frontier were probably miffed over her refusal to sing during a tragic and uncertain time. Making young women idols makes them less of an artist, not more so given how they might be inclined to take short cuts and subvert their art by selling out like in Ranka’s case with Grace’s Aimo remix.
Alto-hime and Sheryl’s Love
In the end Sheryl got her Sara.
Unlike Kabitzin I don’t think that just because it was never clearly stated who ended up with Alto-hime that the developing relationship between the diva bitch of the galaxy and the greatest oyama that ever lived was any less enjoyable to watch. Watching things from the start again does impart a new view on things at times, given how I am confident in how my Alto-hime is not some duplicitous tart, it was enjoyable to see how Alto-hime and Sheryl blundered into each other. From the start Sheryl’s presence is ubiquitous at the time hime folding paper planes with her posters wasn’t surprising but it does serve nicely as a portent of how eventually they ended up together. It as more heavily highlighted when Sheryl ended up in Alto-hime’s arms for the first time. It was unintended as it was sudden, and their relationship would start with the first exchange of Sheryl’s earring, but certainly not the last. It was a rocky start but eventually they built up a ludicrous amount of momentum when you consider how Ranka’s relationship with Alto-hime never really went anywhere. Despite Alto-hime’s protests hime did little by little appreciate that Sheryl was a performer in her own right and not some cheap exhibitionist.
In the end Sheryl and Alto-hime were on the same page, as for Ranka….
In hindsight it seems apparent that Alto-hime was inspired by her and held a begrudging admiration for Sheryl’s unwavering confidence in all of her actions, her indefatigable attitude, her sense of invincibility, and her determination to carve out her own destiny. In the beginning Alto-hime had just fallen out with his family over his own destiny and it was heavily hinted that Alto-hime was getting into fights and stirring up trouble as he was without direction. He wanted to be a pilot but was wavering over how to go about it. Hime ran into Sheryl just as he was ingloriously tossed out of SMS, and soon after hearing Sheryl go on about not leaving her fate to other people, Alto-hime quotes her when he confronts Ozma again. While Ranka gave him a reason to join SMS, it was Sheryl who provided “the never give up” attitude that allowed Alto-hime to survive the initial hazing, as Mikhail’s doubts over Alto-hime’s dedication were not completely unfounded.
So when they went back home…
As time went on Alto-hime did appreciate Sheryl’s drive and took an interest in her career whether by working for her, getting pissed off when the public started mocking Sheryl as a has been, or being ill at ease when Sheryl’s workaholic nature was compromising her health. It becomes abundantly clear that when Sheryl is at her lowest that Alto-hime is disappointed and angry at her for going back on the very principles she espoused and he took to heart. They were both performers and while Alto-hime felt that he had left his stage for good in the end he could never forget what it was like to be Sakura-hime, there was a level of understanding on that level once Alto-hime accepted Sheryl’s art as legitimate. Towards the end it was nice to see that Alto-hime surrendered his pride for Sheryl in going back home and deal with, ultimately accept, and embrace his past. Eventually his feelings of admiration and mild physical attraction to Sheryl became something more and reached a critical mass once he realized that Sheryl was not so invincible after all. Accusations of a harem end seem patented untrue given how hime had a conservative upbringing and seems to think more highly of his preference for monogamy in contrast to Mikhail’s womanizing.
What no iSlug?
I have stated it else where but for me it was great to watch Sheryl go from that haughty arrogant diva end up as a more humble and likable young woman who was devoted to her art. Sheryl’s reasons for falling for Alto-hime seemed rather lame at first but eventually, she sees that hime is an honest hime and was able to connect with Alto-hime in a short amount of time. Sheryl had been to a lot of places and probably never intended to be on Frontier for long hence after their first date Sheryl seemed ready to let Ranka and Alto-hime develop on their own when she went back to touring. Events transpired against her and perhaps out of her loneliness reached out for the only person she knew on Frontier. They had a lot in common the loss of their respective mothers, being forced into a harsh regimen early in life, and a loathing for their homes, even if they learned to care about their respective fleets. Despite her attraction to hime the thought of being some how dependent on him seemed anathema to her independent way of life, it was only after she lost everything did Sheryl come to accept that despite her teasing of hime, Alto-hime stuck by her.
Many years of bliss at the rebuilt Folmo.
After learning the hard lesson that she could not do everything on her own, and even if she never asked for it, Alto-hime came to her aid time and time again. Once she realized that that her doom was not too far off she retreated into her old ways of being alone, but even as she pushed back Alto-hime pushed back even harder to prove that he was not with her out of a sense of pity but because he genuinely cared on a level that was deeper than a friend’s. It was only Sheryl who ever brought out fully hime’s softer side without the usual hot blooded snarky attitude. Once we got to see the softer gentler side of Alto-hime it really seems as though Sheryl fell for Alto-hime for the right reasons, hime was sweet, caring, and had such a skewed view of gender that hime was not above domestic chores. Indeed given how Sheryl seems new at this cooking thing it was wise of her to fall for a rather independent hime. I have to say Sheryl’s choice of waifu was indeed a good one.
After the earring gambit succeeded Sheryl got bolder with her dress-up Alto-hime schemes, it also cut down on clothing expenses…
It was nice to see how it really felt like a courtship between both parties, while Sheryl came to her conclusion much sooner than Alto-hime, even if hime could never put it into words (that flying analogy sucked) he really went above and beyond for Sheryl to the point going on sortie had become a nuisance. They eventually came to rely on each other rather than go through life exclusively alone, whether it was Sheryl assenting to being taken care of to Alto-hime invoking Sheryl when he finally went off to bring Ranka back in something other than a casket. Given how much Kawamori had built their relationship and how neither Alto-hime nor Sheryl suffered as much recycled and out right bad animation as Ranka, I remain confident and adamant that in all probability they did end up together no matter how cheesy the end was. I think that if you can accept that in the end Kawamori was being a troll, and that 24 was the last truly serious episode then Alto-hime did confess to Sheryl even if it was fudged. Given how Alto-hime is used to being kissed as Sakura-hime, I don’t think hime is use to initiating a kiss, at least Sheryl understands that much.
Ranka as a Kawamori troll on moe
Yeah it seems that Kawamori made sis-con come true…and for once I really hated it.
One thing that struck me while watching the whole series again from start to finish was how Ranka really had it bad even compared to Minmei. Ranka suffered greatly in the character department as she was stagnant and backsliding until the end with her damsel in distress act, and her rather shallow reasons for trying to get into Alto-hime’s kimono. What is abundantly clear about Ranka’s relationship with Alto-hime is that it was very much about hime rescuing her, listening to her, and for Alto-hime to wait on Ranka. It was very much of a crush up until the end as Ranka never bonded with Alto-hime, even the last serious attempt was overshadowed by how late it came. Ranka seemed to want to be the center of Alto-hime’s life much like how she was the center of Ozma’s and Brera’s she was spoiled, but she was genuinely infatuated and never really wanted to do ill. However Kawamori has never favored his female characters for just being well meaning and earnest. Maturity has been and continues to be a running theme with most of his female characters. Ranka in the end showed little signs of maturity and less so that Minmei in my opinion. Where as Minmei did contribute a lot to the salvation of the human race, Ranka demolished nearly two whole fleets with her singing. I think that by inverting the power of song to something more of a bane and a curse that Kawamori was implying that power in the hands of a teenager can cut both ways. In Minmei’s case it cut the right way, in Ranka’s case it cut opposite because she lacked the emotional maturity to remain faithful to her song and sold out with the Grace Aimo remix.
The more I thought about why Ranka got the short end of the stick when it came to animation, characterization, and new outfits the more I suspect that it was not just necessity in order to conserve the budget for the sake of awesome mecha action. Towards the end Sheryl suffered much less in terms of animation and received a whole lot more love in terms of costumes, Ranka had three stage outfits while Sheryl had almost twice as much. If the animation had been more even between the two I would not have thought much more of it, but since Sheryl looked incredible in episode 24 and the beginning of 25 while Ranka got her patented recycled shot from the OP. Thus I suspect that Kawamori’s treatment of Ranka was much more than a budgeting decision. It was uncharacteristically harsh for Kawamori to make Ranka this stagnant, and I do believe that it might have been a rather scathing criticism of the modern fixation with moe.
Ranka is still free to visit their home though.
Ranka was moe, she was loli, well meaning, naïve, timid, earnest, and above all was head over heels for the lead with her nursing her crush until the very end. In the end though almost all of that was turned against her, her loli build made it rather hard to accept Ranka as a woman, as Klein had the benefit of an imposing macronzied form. Ranka’s well meaning nature led her to aid greatly in the slaughter the Vajra, who had from the start intended to use her as a bridge between them and NUNS, for sake of others who had no way of understanding the Vajra. Ranka’s timid nature allowed Brera to beat up Alto-hime with impunity. Her earnest love for Alto-hime led her to betray her song in a bid to garner more attention, and Ranka became comfortable in her crush to the point she was unwilling to risk her own heart until she “saw” love signs from Alto-hime. Her naiveté resulted in the near total annihilation of Frontier once she got into Grace’s clutches and it was a major reason why she never suspected that Ai-kun could be mad at her or that the responsibilities she had undertaken really had a lot of weight. Given how Minmei never had it nearly as bad and that Kawamori seems a bit too seasoned for this to have been an unintended mistake, I suspect that maybe we’re meant to get sick of Ranka’s antics, because eventually the very things that made her moe made her character and motivations to be rather shallow. I suspect that in the end Ranka was meant to be redeemed a bit, but it is hard to ignore how she never got anywhere without help or someone pushing her forward. Since Kawamori is an environmental hippie, Ranka’s import of a foreign species might well be a flag that Ranka was never going to be favored. I could be very wrong about this, but while Ms. Megumi Nakajima will benefit immensely from her break out role I think that history will not be kind to Ranka.
In the end while Ranka waited Sheryl jumped across and took hime.
Perhaps that was what Kawamori had wanted given how it wasn’t just being loli that was the problem (Klein onee-chan’s important presence debunks that), but rather the other qualities that made Ranka moe (fangs and all) seemed to get by far the harshest treatment from Kawamori and his team. I know for the most part I was rather ticked off at Jesus Ranka in episode 25. It would have been better if there were consequences for Ranka, but in hindsight moe characters usually don’t get steam rolled, and for once when I sort of want Ranka beaten up a bit the moe shield prevents that for better or for worse. Even Ranka’s bro-con was successful turned into something truly hateful. If Kawamori intended to get under my skin with a moe character he and his team have succeeded, even here where Green Haired Lolis often get praised, I can’t deny that I really dislike how Ranka never grew out of her moe love interest role. In the end I have no doubt that Kawamori is going to milk the moe thing because the only thing better than trolling is to get paid while doing it.
Meltran Trio? Deculture!
The minor characters are treated well for the most part with Mikhail getting one of the more memorable and well executed deaths in recent times. Luca struggled and eventually succeeded in shedding some of his shouta image, while Nanase was a very good friend to Ranka even if Bilrer beats her out in fan-fu. Wilder was a bit stock, but at least his willingness to go for eager young girls makes him different, if in a slightly disturbing way. Ozma was the epitome of the never grown up man-child who still thinks his oldies are cool. For the most part they did help impart a sense of history to Macross Frontier, even if it may lean a bit too much on the “life long fan” side of things I have to give Kawamori and his team credit for sparing no effort in making Macross a generational franchise that doesn’t forget where it came from.
In the end though, much of my minor character love went to Bilrer, Klan, Cathy, Bobby, Ram, Monica, Mina, and Grace. Bilrer I liked mostly because of his devoted Minmei fanboyism, but also because Bilrer was the Zentradi success story. He was the zentran who was able to walk away from his warlike nature and become a transport mogul from probably nothing given how the zentradi had no money or wealth to speak of. His train set was freaking awesome and he did play the part of shadow recluse who has a file on every one quite well He’s the kind of man who you don’t see do much of anything, but given how clueless everyone else is, you are sure that grandpa Bilrer was still doing things for his employees. Bilrer is probably the first zentran who doesn’t seem ignorant of miclone ways, and is by far the most gregarious of all the zentradi we have seen. While there was much miclone hate within NUNS, Bilrer’s success and the sight of giant zentradi children refusing to eat their carrots was a welcome sight on how things had changed for the old villains of SDF Macross, it’s not so much what he does but more of what he represents.
The running theme of strong women is very much in force with Macross Frontier, and it was good to see Cathy go from mean jaded middle aged woman to a mentor and independent who got a second chance at love. Perhaps much of it was nostalgia for Misa, but I think it was delightful to see Cathy rebuild her life after having to give up a lot of her dreams, get engaged to a sleaze bag, and end a relationship on a bad note. While I am sure Ozma doesn’t deserve Cathy it was refreshing to see an older woman succeed in love and life again after she failed at it in her youth. Bobby was just awesome, not only could she go into GARby mode when roused but also because he was the mother figure to Ranka (albeit briefly and unsuccessfully), Cathy, Ram, Mina, and Monica. In the end the combined package of bridge crew minus Wilder was a delightful sight. I felt that they were competent and didn’t much mind their small talk. In fact I thought it was an inspired decision to have their fangirling as a means to introduce us to Alto-hime’s past as Sakura-hime. Even when they went shopping the experience didn’t annoy me as much I though it would have because they went during a time of godly low prices and made it more of a black Friday type deal with Cathy’s sale-fu being the greatest.
Well at least Ranka will always have Nanase.
Strong Meltrans are nothing new, but I think Klan deserves special mention since she was no Milia clone. While the loli thing seemed like blatant fan baiting at first it did serve as way to highlight now tough it would have been had there been no miclone/macronization process. Max and Milia had it easy, Klan and Mikhail had it tough since Mikhail didn’t want to get arrested and romance would have been weird either way. As meltrans go Klan was probably the most cool headed and much more of a mentor in personality. I think that Klan was more representative of the Zentradi still in transition, Klan did not want to break the family tradition of being a soldier, but on the other hand she was much more even tempered. The military tradition won’t die with Klan but being a medical student at the same time also shows how not all zentradi have rejected military service but neither is Klan one of those who refused to integrate. While Milia demonstrated an aspect of meltran motherhood, Klan demonstrated meltran sisterhood. Given how Alto-hime seemed to have trouble communicating and getting along with other males, Klan was probably the only one who could get through to hime. While Yasaburo was always preachy, Klan was subtler in her handling of Alto-hime given how she never undercut herself and commanded hime’s respect, most likely because she was a veteran pilot, and because she was a meltran given hime’s fondness for the zentradi mall (imparted to hime because Miyo-sama was a Meltran, I assume). With Klan at the head of the charge it was great to see macronized Zentradi playing a prominent and positive role on Frontier, hopefully in the future we will see more macronized Zentradi living at peace and being treated better by miclone big wigs.
Grace dead? Were it so easy.
Grace was probably the most delightful villain of the year. I believe most of us were certain that Leon would end up as the evil guy at the start but once Grace slowly infiltrated her way into the upper echelons of power she became a top contender for villain of the year. Even if her end was suitably Macross in that she was laid low by the power of love and culture, Grace still proved to be one of the most subtle villains in recent memory whose methodical revenge bordered on Glaurung levels of evilness. In Grace you had the terror of science, monstrous manufacture of idol singers, and the burning desire for revenge rolled into one. Grace not only made the son of her rival Ranshe her slave, but poisoned Mao’s granddaughter (probably killed Sheryl’s mom off too) and turned Ranshe’s daughter into a tool of galactic conquest that spilled a vast amount of blood, human, zentran, and Vajra alike. Leon got duped big time and up until the end Ozma and Cathy had no idea that Grace was the one pulling the strings. No one could destroy people quite like Grace from crushing Sheryl’s self esteem to making Ranka a tool with but a word Grace is still the one to beat for revenge that went all the way down to the very last descendants of her enemies. Hopefully Ms. Kikuko Inoue will be able to get more evil roles in the future.
I believe in both of them, and I believe in what they have built together. Hopefully my Alto-hime will agree to become Sheryl’s waifu.
Over all in spite of some glaring animation flaws I liked Macross Frontier a lot. It would be nice if animation was more consistent but it seems that Kawamori isn’t willing or able to cut advertising deals or just likes blowing the budget on deculture mecha action. I still think Kawamori is a troll (let’s not forget Pineapple Cakey) but at this point I can and am more than willing to take his bullshit as long as he delivers the kind of mecha action I crave. I trust that for many mecha fans that episode 25, after discounting much of the Jesus Ranka action (which thankfully is short), will remain the mecha battle to beat for sometime. It is rare indeed to see 2.25 Macross class ships slug it out, we won’t see something like that again. I hope Gundam 00 will be up to the challenge but seeing as how they lack something of comparable size, perhaps Prince Ali will make up for it with the sheer number of kills, disfigure Wang Liu Ming, and cripple Setsuna for life.
Final grade: YAKKKKKK DECULTURE (A-)