There are some unsettling things afoot this episode as the characters’ proximity to each other bring out their old feelings. What’s more, we start to get a glimpse of the AI singer known as Sharon Apple and ‘her’ existence and connection to Myung. The VF-X competitions continue onwards with Isamu’s first flight in the YF-19, but after some initial trials and combat simulations even the new fighter program begins to be affected by the pasts of Isamu, Guld, and Myung. Meanwhile Col. Johnson is keeping tabs on Guld and Isamu both overtly and behind the scenes, and the creators of Sharon Apple seem to be up to no good while the YF-19′s chief engineer is trying to get his hands on the program himself.
Backstage before the concert, Myung plugs herself into the device which seems to control Sharon Apple and the concert. So much for Sharon being an AI?
AH! Protodeviln, run! Oh wait, that’s Sharon. In a very psychedelic concert performance that is not for those with epilepsy, the virtual singer seems to entrance the crowd while Isamu seems freaked out by the experience. And rightly so.
The Chief Engineer, who just seems to have invited himself along on Isamu and Lucy’s date, spends his time trying to hack the Sharon program and get her to come to him. Considering that, at least to the best of his knowledge, Sharon is a sentient existence, isn’t that kind of, um, unsavory?
Myung’s feelings seem to be in control at least for a time though, as Sharon reaches out for Isamu, picking him out of the crowd for a virtual kiss.
The day after the concert the competition aspect of Project Supernova begins in earnest now that the YF-19 has been readied for trials. Over the course of the day Isamu gets in plenty of time to test out the YF-19 and show off his and the plane’s acrobatic abilities with some wild maneuvers and a bit of skywriting. Later on he even goes into direct competition with Guld and his YF-21, engaging in flight maneuvers, target practice, and simulated urban combat using paint rounds. At the end of the day’s testing the YF-19 is coming out ahead in every category, but the Colonel is not pleased with Isamu’s antics even if they’ve produced results. He knows from his own experience that recklessness like Isamu’s is an accident waiting to happen. As expected Isamu doesn’t take this very well, punching the nameplate on the Colonel’s door after his meeting with him, but he seems to get over it for now and the testing is scheduled to continue. Meanwhile the Colonel finds out and then covers up the fact that Guld is having issues controlling his inherent Zentradi tendencies towards aggressive behavior. Why he chooses to ignore this while busting Guld’s and Isamu’s balls for their indiscretions is as yet unknown. Perhaps he wants to give Guld a chance since he’s otherwise a model pilot, perhaps he wants the program to continue no matter the cost.
Isamu goes through some planned maneuvers on the ground, always a good idea to prepare ahead of time. The whole competition thing and all the Top Gun references just just make this video all the more perfect (thanks to grss1982 for linking to it last post.)
Taking the new Valkyrie up to the edge of space.
Evidently Isamu never played any of the Time Crisis games.
Urban combat side-by-side exercise. The YF-21′s battroid form looks a lot like the MS-18E Kampfer from Gundam 0080, I guess they liked aspects of the design so much that the mechanical designer wanted to use them again.
Viewscreens surrounding the pilot must be a huge advantage to the YF-19, though aesthetically I’m more partial to the traditional cockpit layout. It could also potentially be disorienting for pilots. Here Isamu locks onto a Thunderbolt flying below him, a Valkyrie that I was disappointed to not be able to find a good fighter mode model kit of
For how smug Guld is, he’s getting owned in the first head-to-head test results.
Later in the evening Myung meets up with her old friend Kate in a really cheesy dinosaur-themed restaurant. Apparently she also grew up on Eden with Myung, Guld, and Isamu, and ended up marrying another member of their circle of friends. Kate immediately picks up on Myung’s distress about life in general and Guld and Isamu specifically, and when Myung yells out that she stopped singing while they’re out at a karaoke place Kate calls both old friends. Isamu doesn’t fall for the ploy to get him to show up, but Guld heads to the city, arriving just in time for Myung to have left. Apparently she’s so afraid of their shared past that when she overheard Kate calling them she ran off back to the concert hall. Back at New Edwards, Isamu is hanging out for the evening and comes across the Chief Engineer still obsessed over Sharon Apple, this time trying to steal her program. Which is again creepy, since it’s pretty much kidnapping.
Kate apparently married the Macross version of Lt. Col. Hughes. HUUUGGGHHHEEESSS!!!!
Kate’s phone-book-thing. Apparently she knows the famous playwright and apparent immortal Henrik Ibsen. Looking at the other names Isaac Brown was apparently a daring US naval commander who unfortunately was a dirty rebel traitor during the US Civil War and fought for the Confederacy, no matches on wikipedia for the other names, aside from Isamu. I have to wonder about the inclusion of Ibsen, I’ve only read one of his works (A Doll’s House), but I have to wonder if his works had any special influence on the story of Macross Plus.
After taking a taxi back to the concert hall Myung is despairing about the past, and tells a still switched-on Sharon that she hates her songs, and her own as well, and that she wishes she could just go somewhere and fade away. Sharon is definitely watching all this, even appearing behind Myung in her holographic form. Her expression almost looks like she’s concerned for Myung, but it is hard to tell since she is a computer program. Myung falls asleep on a couch, and shortly after Isamu and Guld receive strange phone calls telling them that a fire will break out at the concert hall in 30 minutes. Guld heads there immediately, since he’s already nearby, and after deciding what to do for a bit Isamu also leaves the base and heads for town at high speed, ignoring the cops trying to pull him over. Myung wakes up to find the building on fire and the door inoperable, Guld meanwhile making his way into the building looking for her. Eventually he finds her after she’s passed out from smoke inhalation and just barely manages to get her out as the doors begin automatically closing in front of him. Sharon definitely started the fire with an electricity overload, disabled the alarms, and tried to trap them in the building, but whether out of spite over Myung’s comment or a misguided wish to fulfill Myung’s desire to cease to exist is also not clear. By the time Isamu arrives the fire department is there but Myung and Guld have left. Back in Myung’s hotel room she treats Guld’s wounds, and in the ensuing conversation she breaks down about how she said she wanted to forget the past but now feels differently. The two start embracing and it’s implied that they sleep together, and trolled to an extent by showing a pile of clothes on the floor and then panning up to Isamu instead. Isamu, however, is ignorant of the entire happening.
Despite a longer flashback than the previous one, there’s still little revealed about exactly why there’s all this angst and drama among Myung, Isamu, and Guld aside from lingering romantic feelings. Myung has come to hate music even though she used to love to sing, but all we have to go on are some personal affects spilled on the ground, a crashed bicycle, and three long plumes of smoke going off into the atmosphere that look like they were from large ships or rockets launching.
Just as Guld puts himself under a closing door to protect Myung the door suddenly opens and the alarm and sprinkler system activates. More of Sharon’s work and again, from uncertain motivations.
All the changing colors coming from the outside, plus the stained glass window gives this scene a really unsettling vibe. While nowhere near as morbid, the color changes and glass reminds me of the rooms in Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Masque of the Red Death.’
The next day Isamu does find out about Guld and Myung and confronts him in the cafeteria. Lucy is obviously not too keen on Isamu’s apparent fixation on Myung when the two of them just went on a date themselves, but Isamu’s too much of a hothead not to get in Guld’s face and tease him with some middle-school level innuendo. Guld then tries to shove it in Isamu’s face about spending the night with Myung, so Isamu just restates his intention to win the VF-X competition. Another round of tests takes place, this time the juvenile competition between Isamu and Guld outside of the program getting in the way of good results. Isamu jumps in front of Guld and shoots his targets instead and generally shows him up on the target range, and later on the two even abandon their scheduled tasks and engage in a mecha fist-fight. The engineers watching back at base get into the fight and start cheering them on, though the Chief Engineer sighs and complains about the damage being done to the Valkyries. Isamu eventually gets the better of Guld and snaps one of the hands off of the battroid YF-21, pushing it to the ground and repeatedly kicking it while it’s down. He’d make a fine addition to the cast of Titan Maximum.
Reminds me of the scene from Patriot Games where the SAS team takes out the terrorist camp in the desert while a satellite feed broadcasts it to CIA headquarters.
Everyone loves a BIG FIGHT!
At the last moment Guld gets a good hit in, ensuring that the mechanics are going to be pulling some double shifts on both fighters.
Final Thoughts: – The Yoko Kanno musical style was out in full force this time, the scene where Isamu was visualizing maneuvers with his hands in particular was a lot like some of her work in Cowboy Bebop.
- How people think of Sharon as either a sentient being or a computer program adds a level of philosophical consideration similar to what was evoked in the Ghost in the Shell franchise, as well as making that Chief Engineer character really unsettling. While it has been acknowledged that the program has flaws, it seems kind of unethical or even criminal to try and force her to come to him, or to try to steal her programming. I’m still guessing that, if only thematically, Sharon will tie into the issue of the YF-21′s programming.
- It’s nice to see the YF-190/VF-19 without all the crap that Basara did to it in Macross 7. It’s also struck me how much the design of the ADFX-01/02 Morgan from Ace Combat Zero was inspired by the design.