Well, we’re a good amount into Macross Frontier, and one of the common questions is that of who Alto will end up with at the end of the day. With this episode, it looks like we have a pretty clear cut answer. Overall, this was a fairly enjoyable episode, with it being a sort of ‘calm before the storm’, as we’ll see in the preview for next week. It certainly does build a little suspense as to some people’s ulterior motives, and calls into question a lot of different personalities. Another huge plus was this week being broadcast in HD quality. It’s nice to see everything NOT be fuzzy for once, especially with a show as pretty as Macross. Maybe they’ll keep the quality up from here on out – now wouldn’t that be something?
We open the episode with Ranka appearing everywhere, including her little Nyan Nyan commercial with a rather…odd costume. It’s immediately obvious that her role in the movie based on Macross Zero and her singing skills have pushed her to the top almost instantaneously, and she has gained enough popularity to host her own first live performance. Driving through the city, Cathy and Leon can’t help but notice Ranka’s newfound popularity, with Leon poking at Cathy for not being able to reach the top in her time. Of course, it isn’t a “could not” to Cathy, but more of a “did not want”. Meanwhile, the news continues to go on about Vajra attacks and the return of a stable environmental equilibrium. Ranka, meanwhile, is busy being a new pop idol and everything while trying to write a text message to Alto. Her busy schedule, however, denies her any ability to finish her thoughts and sending it.
Alto dismisses her lack of contact, asking why she would want to call him for anything, even his birthday. Everybody raises an eyebrow, and then Sheryl walks in, seemingly surprised that Alto’s birthday is coming up. After being asked how she has so much free time to go to school with everybody, she simply responds that she has good time management skills, unlike a certain new star who is running around like crazy. She also adds that she’s going to Gallia Four for a relief concert anyway, and wouldn’t be able to come back for a while. Back at SMS base, Ozma and Cathy talk about SMS refusing escort for Sheryl to Gallia Four because of the 33rd Marine Corps, an all-Zentradi and apparenly anti-human squad, is stationed there for peacekeeping duties. Cathy and Ozma have their issues with what the government is doing, and Cathy promises to look into it. Meanwhile, Ozma continues to deny that Ranka is becoming a star in her own right.
Back at school, Alto is lounging on the steps waching Luca look up data on Gallia Four when his ‘older brother’, Saotome Yasaburo, comes for him and takes him out for some tea (or something) in a glass skyhook. Yasaburo is not a blood relative of Alto; however, he is next in line to the Saotome acting group because Alto was disinherited for his yearning to fly instead. Yasaburo tells Alto that his father, Ranzo, has collapsed. A minor incident and was quickly covered up, but still something worth telling his only son about. Ranzo is prepared to forget about Alto’s disinheritance if he returns to the family holdings on his birthday.
Meanwhile, Ranka has requested a single ticket from her agent for a special person. I wonder who that might be? On her way out, she runs into Sheryl, who congratulates her on her new career, and notices Ranka’s present for Alto. Sheryl notes “that bum” would be happy to get a ticket from Ranka, then starts to feel light-headed. It’s pretty obvious Sheryl has a fever, judging from the heat vision that Grace’s bioimplants give her. Sheryl refuses to cancel her relief concert, since Galaxy survivors might be there.
Back at the government, it’s obvious Leon is up to something, with the “fairy” (presumably Sheryl) going to Gallia Four as expected. The fold distortion that makes a normally 1 day journey a 1 week one must be important, as Leon starts muttering things about it.
At SMS, Klan Klein talks to Cathy about the 33rd Marine Corps, a group of Zentradi who, unlike Klan Klein, aren’t too thrilled about working with humanoids. The 33rd harbors a great deal of hatred for humans, and it’ll be an uneasy time for everybody involved when Sheryl goes to Gallia Four…
Meanwhile, Ranka is in the studio getting a recipe for something from Nanase, who confronts Ranka about the situation between Alto and Sheryl. It’s obvious things between the two are escalating, although Nanase is sure that it doesn’t mean they’re going out yet. Ranka gives Alto a message, saying she’ll give him a birthday present for sure if he meets her at their usual hill in Griffith Park.
A sulking Alto watches SMS fighters fly off into space when Sheryl approaches him. She also gives him an offer to go flying with her for a birthday present, leaving Alto with three choices. Should he go home and make amends? Go see Ranka before her live? Or go with Sheryl to Gallia Four? Alto’s decision making comes while he fiddles with a paper airplane.
Eventually, we see what will be for the rest of the series, most likely. Alto has left Mikhail at Griffith Park to meet Ranka, and goes off to Gallia Four with Sheryl. Ranka is of course depressed, but takes out an airplane-shaped cookie and raises it to the sky, whispering, “Happy Birthday”.
Of course, the cookie’s pretty nasty.
I kind of expected this. As much as I rooted for Alto x Ranka, it wouldn’t have the same kind of impact that Alto x Sheryl does. Also, Ranka won’t be leaving Frontier for a while, so where would the adventure be? It’s good to see that Alto will go out and do some fighting, not sit back and start singing like some other Macross character…
So this episode pretty much answers that basic question, but there are still a lot of questions remaining. What’s Leon’s role in dealing with people like Brera? What is Brera’s relationship to Ranka (though I suspect this to be a long standing question in the series)? Is the government truly working for the people, or have the wrong people been promoted to have too much power? Is Ozma’s inability to see the movie because Ranka is starring in it, or his personal relationship to the real Mao?
For me, the dialing back of the Sheryl v Ranka theme is quite welcome, as it leaves a lot more space for the really interesting stuff: what’s really going on behind the scenes, and the Vajra incidents. Hopefully, with the love stuff figured out, we can see some good plot development in the next few episodes.
This continues to be my favorite series of the season (by a long shot, and it’s not that hard I guess), and I’ll probably write more about some of the future episodes when I get back in a month. Look forward to the batch review!
Next week, on Frontier..
IT’S A TRAP!