I’m going for a more compact review this time around. I don’t think a really, really detailed summary helps anybody, so I’m just going to highlight the events in the episode and roll on from there. Hope it works for everybody, if not, drop a line with some suggestions.
Anyway, I have mixed feelings about this episode. I understand that this and the previous episode try their best to bridge the distance between the first and second halves of the series, and I think it’s done well enough to follow without too much trouble. However, there is an air of urgency around the entire thing, and in my opinion, the plot is suddenly rushed instead of the usual flowing storytelling we’ve become used to in Frontier. I almost worry that the producers are trying to cram too much into the remaining episodes, and that the added weight will sink the series.
It appears that Richard Bilrer is more than just the owner of SMS; he wants to build an empire that would unite the galaxy under a single banner, and believes that the Vajra and Protoculture are the key. Since the Vajra are so important, some of the SMS sorties have been to kill the Vajra but return their lifeless carcasses to Quarter and to the amusing imagination of the bridge crew.
Meanwhile, it seems that most things have return to normal on Frontier. Due to shortage, rationing has been ordered, and there are still destroyed buildings here and there; for the most part, however, life is normal. The SMS team (including newly promoted 2nd Lt. Saotome Alto), Nanase, etc. all return to school, and are joined by Ranka and, to Alto’s dismay, her bodyguard Brera Sterne. Brera quickly makes a name for himself by knocking down Alto in the middle of class, leaving everybody confused why Alto is so cranky.
Ranka’s live continues to approach, and her new manager, Grace, will not flinch on removing Brera as her bodyguard. She even goes on to rearrange her song “Aimo” with some background instruments and new lyrics. Incredulous as she is, Ranka goes off on a charity concert, leaving a hospitalized Sheryl extremely frustrated at seeing her and her manager on the TV. In the evening, Ranka tries but can’t seem to find the right tone for her “new” song; Brera reveals himself to have been listening to her music, saying it opens a gentle and tender universe for him. Though confused, Ranka continues on with her singing.
Somewhere else, Alto is out for an evening walk when he stumbles into a very sick Sheryl. After carrying her to SMS, where she recovers and proceeds to try to kick Alto’s butt before playing with his emotions again, Alto receives word of a top secret mission: the Ranka Attack, or the test to see if Vajra are susceptible to Ranka’s voice. Despite Ozma’s protests and Alto’s apparently reticence for the entire thing, the experiment continues. Sheryl manages to force her way onto the bridge of the Quarter to look at the entire thing with her own eyes.
The missiles fly and slam into a Vajra nest, waking the little devils within. As the SMS tear through the Vajra forces, a VF-27 wing from Macross Galaxy, headed by none other than Brera Sterne, look on anxiously. Ranka begins to sing, and according to some scale Grace has, hits maximum emotion in her voice. Suddenly, all the Vajra go haywire for a bit, making the entire thing a turkey shoot. When Ranka does finally fade, they return to normal, and the experiment is a success. Ranka hopes that things will still be okay even with all the new developments, but a shadow casts the world around her in black. Back on Quarter, Sheryl is also visibly shaken with what is going on.
“Ranka Attack”? Are you serious? This might be the worst operational codename ever conceived, honestly. I guess it’s to the point, though.
Anyway, what this episode represents is a good blend of plot development and the typical Vajra-whoopin’ that people want/expect in this series. Since a while ago, Ranka has been hinted at as being a very special person, and this just cements her place as the savior of the human race…at least, those on Frontier. It’d be an almost heartwarming story of how a girl rose from nothing to become an interstellar star, but somehow, the only thing going through my head during this episode was Don Henley’s “The End of the Innocence”. Here’s a few of my thoughts.
- Aimo, Battle Style – I could have sworn that somewhere before this song was called a lullaby. Now, it’s supposed to be some riveting call forward for the Frontier fleet, and a weapon of war – talk about change of plans. Still, it’s like using a pillow when you need a jackhammer; it just doesn’t work. Can you imagine an army or legions of soldiers marching forward with this being played? I sure can’t. I cringed hearing the new lyrics, but it leaves a bit of play for future plot development (see below).
- Ranka – I like Ranka, I really do (unlike a certain fansub group out there). I enjoyed the play between her innocent, humble character and Sheryl’s outgoing, more polished exterior. However, I am starting to get sick of her overall lack of confidence in herself. The more I see her, the more I realize how weak she is (even though she did finally stand up to Sheryl in the last episode). You can tell how insecure she is just by her stance in the car: shoulders scrunched up, eyes downcast, etc. Heck, Grace went rampant on her song and tells her to sing it, and she goes and does it! I personally expected more growth out of Ranka, but it’s becoming more and more obvious that she will remain that innocent little girl caught in the crossfire. Oh, and this is all regardless of her huge fanbase following the whole “Kira~” pose she has.
- That earring… – What’s up with that thing anyway? I think I missed something along the way, because I see nothing that could happen out of that piece of jewelry. What happened to the other one that Sheryl gave to Alto anyway? Blown to smithereens? Does THAT have any significance? We could have conspiracy theories all day with this.
Mind you, there are still some good points about this episode.
- Sheryl – Less of a rail on that actual support for. At least someone is getting some good character development. This is a side of Sheryl we’ve never seen; the vulnerable Sheryl Nome, the fallen fairy, whatever you want to call her. Remember a while ago, the pain some of the viewers felt at seeing Sheryl brought low by sickness? This is even worse, and it actually brings out some emotional attachment when you see her plight. She’s literally watching the universe leave her behind, and there’s nothing she can do about it.
- New ED – Hey, it’s good. I’m all for “Diamond Crevasse”, but it was seriously getting old with all the variations and stuff. “Northern Cross” is a much faster paced song, and is set over visuals of Sheryl, Sheryl x Alto, and some production drawings (I think). Is this a clue?
Speaking of a new ED, if you’re interested, here it is by itself on YouTube.
Where does Frontier go from here? Nobody but the producers have a clear idea what’s going on, but considering what happened in Zero (the last thing in Macross I watched), I have a theory at least on the three main characters..
- Ranka dies/disappears/something – She’s too innocent, too pure to understand the intricacies of what’s happening behind her. Her song obviously impacts the Vajra fleets. When she finally realizes something is up, maybe she’ll be able to change her song back to an actual lullaby. However, I’m still interested in the “Little Queen” tag she picked up earlier. I’m inclined to think she will go along the lines of Sara Nome and get taken away from the fleet. I wouldn’t be surprised if all of the remaining members of Global – Grace – were to also end their roles before the final episode. This seems to have at least a decent probability with the next episode tagged “Goodbye Sister”; perhaps all the ties to Ranka will be cut?
- Sheryl lives on, but will never sing again – Sheryl will be revealed as the failed clone attempt of the original songstress, Sara Nome (I think a lot of people have caught on to this already, but it hasn’t been explicitly said). With her inability to produce any results, she’s probably more like Mao Nome than Sara. I don’t think she will ever be the popular diva she was at the beginning of the series again, either. With Ranka theoretically disappearing, I would no longer be surprised if the producers did end with a Sheryl x Alto ending. However…
- Alto does WHAT?! – The guy who just can’t leave things alone. What are the odds that he becomes a “birdman” just as Shin Kudo did in Zero? The parallels being drawn are certainly there…but I don’t expect this to really happen, I honestly don’t think we’re watching a Zero rehash here. At this point, I’m actually rooting for a good end between Alto and Sheryl. Considering her past, the poor girl deserves a bit of happiness in her life.
That’s all I can think of for now. Overall, I can’t say much about this one just because of the sheer amount of questions it brings up and the overall rapidity of the plot development. The whole pacing of the second half could certainly use some slowing down. Oh well, there’s plenty of food for thought. We’ll see how things develop next episode.
Ozma prepares to go all Leeroy Jenkins on the Vajra? Or will Ranka succumb to the paparazzi and the media life? All this drama and more on the next Macross Frontier!