I’ve been following Macross Frontier for a while now, but my fansubber of choice for the series hasn’t released anything for the last month, and so I’d last seen Ranka, Alto, Sheryl and co. in episode 11 as they blasted towards Gallia IV and its contingent of irate Zentradi Marines. Today being my day off, I rummaged around the good ol’ Internet and found out that four new episodes had aired since then. After, uhm, legally acquiring them from other sources, I sat down for an afternoon of Macross musical mayhem! Here are the highlights.
Whoever reads my blog apparently has a lot of pull in the anime industry. In my original discussion of Frontier (found here) I worried that the show had taken a turn towards Shit City due to its newfound focus on the protagonists’s high school antics, but I’m happy to report that Frontier has since then renewed with its roots and returned to a nourishing diet of space opera and musical love triangle.
What does worry me, however, is the sudden case of Neon Genesis Evangelion syndrome that has infected Macross Frontier. For those not in the know, NGE syndrome is a life-threatening condition that affects many anime shows, with few but unmistakable symptoms: preoccupation with an all-encompassing conspiracy, ominous voiceovers from conspirators declaring that “everything is going according to plan”, and dire revelations about some of the protagonists’s origins. It’s not necessarily fatal, but any show that catches NGE syndrome has to work hard to retain my attention. I hate a tease.
Despite that setback, no need to mince words: these last episodes (12 to 15) are the most entertaining of the season so far. Episode 12 has Michel delivering Ranka to Gallia IV in the nick of time so she can use her voice to quell the Zentradi revolt after Sheryl choked and fainted, angering the Zentradi Marines. The power of music! Deculture! Rawr! Wait, what’s deculture again? Or protoculture for that matter? I’m lost.
This plot segues seamlessly (episodes 13 and 14) into the discovery of the Macross Global, a remnant of the 117th expedition fleet of which Ranka was part, and the subsequent awakening of a huge Vajra force hidden in the Global’s mechanical bowels that attacks the Frontier. It’s clear that the Vajra aren’t another alien race from across the galaxy – rather, there are more and more hints that they are human-engineered bioweapons that ran amok. Or maybe it’s all part of the plan too. Who knows?
Episode 15 was a well-disguised recap episode that painted a picture of the first half of the show in very large strokes, but it followed with Ranka and Sheryl having an awesome sing-off over Alto in a hospital. Now, do realize that I hate musicals with a passion, all of ’em, but Frontier somehow managed to get me to sing along and tap my foot in rhythm during this sequence where Ranka and Sheryl do battle with their voices to win Alto’s affection. Damn you Macross Frontier! Why must you force me to revise my deeply-entrenched opinions?
On the character side, I am loving Ranka’s growth as a woman and as an artist, to the point where she’s actually upstaged Sheryl in more ways than one – in Alto’s heart and in the conspiracy’s plans, for example. She has escaped the curse of Sheryl’s shadow and it’s a well-deserved reward for this cute, modest girl who worked her butt off and believed in her dreams. Congratulations, Ranka! Now please save humanity from this voracious alien menace with your voice. No pressure.
Grace’s meteoric rise amongst the show’s main protagonists did come as a bit of a surprise. She’s obviously in the know regarding the conspiracy, but for me the main consequence of her recent dealings – and I can’t believe I’m about to say this – is that I feel sorry for Sheryl, who doesn’t know yet that she’s about to be abandoned. I realize why Frontier tripped over itself to find a reasonable explanation for her going to pilot school: her singing might not be enough to keep her afloat anymore.
Animation: still in the upper tier. Music: still top-notch. Klan: not enough of her in Zentradi form. Don’t misunderstand, her miclonian form doesn’t get on my nerves, it’s just that I dig the idea of a woman who could rip your head clean off with one of her nipples. Hell of a way to go, if you ask me.
Today’s Karen is: RELAXING