Macross Frontier Ep. 19: Triangular

In the end, the episode name fits.  I was really hoping the love triangle would’ve been finished by now, but it looks like we have to tough things out…quite possibly to the very end.  Anyway, behind the “We beat the #^#%! outta the Vajra and ran” celebration lies a much, much darker story.  Things are definitely coming to a head, and it looks like one heck of a race to the finish of this series.  I’ve always been a huge fan of Macross Frontier (admittedly, it was mostly due to the excellent music), but I really can’t wait for next week to come – it’s just that good right now.  It could also be that I can’t get enough of ‘Lion’, which to me is in the running for the best OP of the season.  ‘Lions licking themselves’ line notwithstanding.

Summary:

Ranka dreams of her past while Ai-kun gets some shivers and bolts.  The next day is supposed to be ‘Aimo Day’, in remembrance of the song that “saved Frontier”, but Ranka ditches the parade in order to look for Ai-kun; mysteriously, nobody notices her because of those oh-so-amazing glasses she acquired from the 99 cent store.  Elsewhere, Alto is hesitant to return to the Saotome mansion.  He tries to sneak his way through the gate, but ends up being found by Yasaburo, who was waiting for him on the other side of the garden.

While Alto and Yasaburo get reacquainted and Ranka continues her search for Ai-kun with Brera, the SMS is still on watch.  The only people off are Lt. Glass and Ozma, who are presumably out on a ‘date’.  They look happy enough, but Cathy still has her eyes peeled for spies and possible tails. That, and the really good hot dog on the main streets.

Alto goes through the mansion he swore never to set foot in again, and finally reaches Sheryl’s room, who reminds him of someone else – his mother.  Unfortunately, Sheryl isn’t in a very good mood.  She also decided that she’s done what she wanted to do with singing, and will retire from the music industry.  Alto isn’t thrilled about it at all, and leaves, but not before telling Sheryl that Ranka is singing and he’s doing stuntwork for her at the school, where Nanase confides in Luca that she let Ranka go look for Ai-kun because she has been depressed as of late.

At the Saotome mansion, Yasaburo gives Sheryl a brief introduction to Alto’s mother.  It’s only for a moment, though, as he asks Sheryl if she can truly forget the thrill of acting, and holding people’s emotions in her hand the way she does when she’s singing.  Sheryl finally asks Yasaburo if everything was a clever ploy to get Alto back into the Kabuki theatre, and is bemused when she apologizes that she is useless in that particular endeavor.

Somewhere else on Frontier, Leon and Grace have finished their MDE (Mini-Dimensional Eater), their all-purpose weapon to annihilate the Vajra once and for all.  While Grace takes care of the mass production of such weaponry, Leon looks for confirmation to go forward with his plan.  Grace raises no objection, and the guns are pulled out for what looks like a serious assassination attempt.

While Ozma and Cathy go over the evidence against Leon and his revolutionary attempt, Ranka is out enjoying herself more than being concerned about Ai-kun.  To her, Brera really does seem like an ‘older brother’ (!), and she asks him whether he has a younger sister or anybody.  To their surprise, both find that they can’t remember their past very well.  Coincidence?  To these two, apparently. Brera asks Ranka why she hasn’t been happy as of late, and Ranka realizes that she doesn’t want to sing to everybody.  Instead, she wants to sing to one person, the person who told her to ‘do as you like’ – Alto.  With some renewed zeal, she returns for her concert at the school.

The crowd has piled in to see Ranka sing, and some are even wearing some…rather odd costumes.  While she sings, Michel and the others go into stunt-mode, with Alto showing off (to Sheryl, no less) how much he’s improved.  The team ends with a drawing that brings pure joy to Ranka, who sees it as her chance to be with Alto.  Excited, she continues singing…not for the crowd, but for the one she loves.  Sheryl begins to walk away, but eventually is turned back by the chibi-Klan Klan.

After their stuntwork (but while Ranka is still singing), Michel finally confronts Alto, who seems at a total loss for the love triangle he’s in.  Michel ALMOST spills the beans on Sheryl’s condition, but catches himself.  Unfortunately, it makes Alto even more worried.  Michel is saved by Sheryl’s sudden appearance, and leaves the two to be alone. Luca, meanwhile, finally sees Nanase’s drawings of what Ai-kun looks like.  Thanks to his LAI connection, however, he recognizes it as Vajra larvae, and his eyes go as big as plates to think Vajra are nesting on Frontier.  Suddenly, it looks like the action is kicking into high gear.  Cathy and Ozma run in to bust Leon, but it’s too late!  Sights are set on the president, Vajra are breaking free of their coccoons…and on a certain school rooftop, Ranka comes running up to see Sheryl in Alto’s arms…

Impressions:

Easy stuff?  Well…now it’s confirmed that Brera is Ranka’s older brother.  The opening scene gives some pretty solid proof, and Brera’s natural instinct to pat Ranka on the head when she’s feeling down, and his overall protectiveness of her, all point to that general conclusion.  However, both are completely oblivious to the fact that they’re siblings.  I don’t see this really coming to a head anywhere in the near future, unless it’s in the final ep, if they both regain their memories of ‘Global‘, which is a distinct possibility.

Another easy point: at least we know what Grace and Leon were up to – a coup d’etat of the government.  Grace’s capability to place Ranka’s concert became very useful in putting President Glass out in the open, where snipers can pick him off very easily.  I’m amazed at the security around the president though.  Four guards in the car, but no overall cover?  Looks like they don’t deal with assassinations often.  What remains to be seen is Grace and Leon’s ultimate objective.  With the MDE, they can annihilate the Vajra.  However, are they really planning on turning Frontier into a gunboat?  I sense there’s still a missing piece behind Grace’s plan, and it’s something even Leon has no idea about.  We’ll just have to stay tuned.

It is still a very distinct possibility that Ozma Lee will die.  However, now I will add Cathy Glass to that list as well.  Turning against Leon puts her with dead-man-walking Ozma, so she could get killed in the coming episodes as well.

Now…for the rapidlybecominglessinteresting part: this whole ‘triangular’ relationship beween the three major characters.  For the first time, I thought the song was actually quite fitting.  Now, how to go about this entire thing…

Let’s just go through each of the characters.  I’ll try to make this short (to be honest, I’m low on energy too, so this may be a bit jumbled).

Sheryl – Oh, how far she’s fallen.  Yet, Sheryl is rapidly becoming my favorite character (aside from a particularly amusing Klan Klan).  Why, you ask?  This episode, in a nutshell, represents Sheryl’s true nature.  All of that glitz and glamour of being a songstress was taken away from her, and Grace laughs in her face, saying she’ll die and would’ve been nothing if not for her.  However, here we have a woman who has fallen in the face of tragedy, only to get up again without loss of her grace and poise.  In fact, losing the “songstress Sheryl” allows us to see that deep down, Sheryl really does care about her friends; it’s just that she never had a chance to make friends before Frontier because she was such an idol.  This is even evident way back when Sheryl joined the school.  She was friendly and cordial with everybody, in spite of her fame – hardly a stuck up, arrogant rich person.  After her fall and realization that she will die, what is her first thought?  It’s not to confess to Alto.  Instead, it’s to protect him and the few friends she has by putting on a charade of strength.  She is consciously pushing Alto away so he doesn’t get hurt, even though deep inside she wants nothing else than to be close to him.  This is a woman who puts others ahead of herself.  I admire her character and the sense of maturity that you get.  If she were to die in the next episode (which is aptly named Diamond Crevasse…think about the lyrics and what they mean), it would be a huge loss.

I’m not even going to touch the whole Sheryl = Alto’s mom thing, however.  As far as I’m concerned, Alto’s mom’s room was turned into a guest room, and Alto just has flashbacks.

Ranka – Let the bashing begin?  It seems like with each passing episode, Ranka just doesn’t learn anything.  She is so focused on getting Alto’s attention, everything else just goes on the backburner.  Her whole “Songstress of Hope” or whatnot isn’t even important to her.  I even wonder if she fully comprehends that the lives of every single person on Frontier is in her hands.  I think that when she sang against the Vajra, it wasn’t out of duty.  It was out of her wanting to do something Alto believed in (remember how she asked for his advice?).  Ranka loves Alto, to be sure.  However, she’s lost focus of everything around her.  Michel’s note that she’s singing only for one person, and her inability to respond to Brera’s questions all show how Ranka’s little world revolves around a relationship that she still isn’t sure about. In fact, she probably dug her own grave by assuming the stricken heart in the sky was proof of Alto accepting Ranka.  People are starting to get very angry that Ranka has yet to mature AT ALL in this series.  I’d be interested to see if the producers let her mature at all, in spite of everything that happens to her.

There is also a sharp contrast between Ranka and Sheryl’s “idol nature”, if you will.  Sheryl has always maintained a very professional career.  She works hard, believes in herself and her own power, and constantly pushes the limits of her body and mind to deliver to her fans.  Ranka?  This is a girl who had a national holiday declared for her song, and she’s out in glasses searching for a lost pet.  Even THAT loses importance because she ends up spending time with Brera and thinking about Alto.  Real classy move there, Ranka.  That’ll earn you some big points with the higher ups.

IN HER DEFENSE: Ranka is a student and new at the relationship game; in addition, she’s younger and doesn’t have the experience Sheryl has in the music industry.  Therefore, she’s doing what feels natural to her, until something comes along and makes her realize that it isn’t common sense at all.  As she runs up the stairs and opens the door, what she sees between Sheryl and Alto certainly looked like a confession of love (and one could make the case that the two of them WERE in a relationship).  However, I’m fairly certain it was the opposite: what was going on was Sheryl telling Alto of her condition, and Alto’s surprise to learn of such an issue.  When Ranka bursts onto the scene, a huge misunderstanding occurs, and this could really turn ugly later.  From the looks of it, it won’t be resolved anytime soon either.

Alto: Deep down, Alto is still an actor.  I think Yasaburo’s prodding just cements this; he realizes that Alto puts a front on everything, and it could be useful on the Kabuki stage.  Sooner or later, however, Alto will be facing the hard facts that both the girls he knows have a very distinct possibility of disappearing forever (Ranka to the Vajra, Sheryl to…well, the great beyond).  I’ve never been a fan of Alto because of his taking the middle road every chance possible, but perhaps the events in this episode will galvanize him one way or the other.

THE END RESULT: Who knows what’s going to happen?  Rumor is that there is a surprise ending in the works for Macross Frontier.  I really don’t care anymore who ends up with who.  It will be a bloody shame when this series ends. I do hope we end up with both of them alive and well, especially Sheryl, considering the hardships that she’s been through.  It’s what the OP says: I want to keep living.  Maybe, just maybe, we’ll get a happy ending for everybody…

That is all.

Preview:

Code Macross: Vajra of the…oh, never mind.  Next week is entitled ‘Diamond Crevasse’.  Take a wild stab at what the ED will be.

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