Any Time Ranka
Would you believe I spent most of this week doing nothing but playing Gundam games and finishing up some old anime I left on the backburner. Yes it’s true, I’m an expert at wasting time, but no more will I waste any time in getting to Macross Frontier episode 05. This time we take a tour of the city and see some interesting locales. Try not to get stepped on.
And I hope people don’t mind to much if I use the Moetan format for this one. I’ve got other things to do today. Gotta do the laundry, buy a gift for the mother and take care of a few other things. Well then:
Summary: We begin with Ozma berating Ranka for entering the Ms. Macross contest without letting him know, after all he did trying to get her into an elite girls school. Ranka says she wants to be a singer, but Ozma says that a shy girl like her would never make a good singer, which causes Ranka to burst into tears, calling him a jerk before throwing some objects at him (One object of which is a Minmay doll) and then running out. Elsewhere Sheryl is enlisting Alto on a date to help possibly find her earring before she has to leave when two students come to enter the locker room where they are talking. Thinking fast Alto pulls her into a locker with him. The girls start talking about what a playboy Michel is. Elsewhere Ranka is doing some wandering and walks up to the school where Alto goes wondering about him when she get’s a phone call that turns out to be Ozma and not him. (By the way, that half alive phone thing she carries around is like ten times more awesome then Gubaba)
Later at Ozma’s he hears the doorbell ring and opens it expecting to find Ranka, but it’s actually Katherine come to deliver a summons on behalf of her father’s government. It seems Leon is trying to gather up all the people who know about the Vajra in order to put together a file on it and in a limo on the way to the meeting Ozma calls Michel telling him to find Ranka no matter what. Back with Alto and Sheryl, Alto is saying he’ll look for the earring when he has timeand Sheryl says she’ll take Alto’s dog tags which she stole from in the locker as collateral, promptly storing it down her shirt and taunting Alto to come get them if he really wants them now. In the school Nana is bouncing around worrying about getting Ranka suspended and says that she, Michel and Luca should all go look for her together, but Michel says he’ll pass. Alto on his date with Sheryl at the Macross version of the Golden Gate Bridge get’s the word on Ranka, but Sheryl hangs up for him saying they’ve got business to do. Cue a Sheryl Nome song and suddenly Alto realizes that he’s on a date with a galactic super star when he sees all the Sheryl Nome posters and notices that the real one is right next to him.
Their date continues around the San Francisco sector and they actually start to finally hit it off a bit. Elsewhere Michel has found Ranka easily, but she’s refusing to go back home until Ozma apologizes. Sheryl is marvelling at the beauty of the Frontier City saying that the Galaxy is basically a chemical plant and not the kind of place she can take strolls like this. When Alto accidentally spots Michel and Ranka he starts to worry a little and eventually decides he wants to take Sheryl “somewhere”. Before we go to that place Leon unveils a captive Vajra before the survivors of the 117th fleet incident and Ozma seems more then a little pissed when he sees it. Anyway, that place is the Macronized Zentradi quarters and Sheryl get’s sneezed on by a giant sea cow thing, which eventually get’s taken away by a full sized Zentradi who apologizes to her. She still can’t believe just how big they are since there were no Macronized Zentradi on the galaxy. Eventually they head to the Folmo Mall (Folmo for the attentative and well versed viewer is the last name of Exedore Folmo, who was the chief archivist of Britai during the 1st Space War, First Officer of Max Jenius on the Macross 7 and a General all around hero of the Zentradi people for helping to negotiate the peace treaty with Earth and bring culture to the Zentradi) where Michel is also trying to win Ranka’s graces by buying her Ice Cream. Klein Klan is also their too with the Pixie squad and spooks Michel a little bit. Sheryl is like a giddy schoolgirl as she walks through all the Zentradi sized products and eventually ends up getting inspired and writing down some song lyrics on a pair of Zentradi underwear, much to Klein and Alto’s surprise.
Michel and Ranka start talking (I could go for an Ice Cream too) and Ranka says she came looking for Alto because he listens to her unlike Michel and Ozma and Michel tries to get her to come home by saying that Ozma is worried about her. She refuses and says that all of them are always treating her like a child and Michel says she is acting like just that, a spoiled child. Back at the meeting Leon is going over the Vajra’s Valkyrie like abilities including the ability to fold space on their own and create missile like objects in their own bodies. He also notes that they don’t have much of a brain, which either means they are either simple minded creatures that act on instinct, or they are being controlled by someone. As in a biological weapon. Michel tries to explain to Ranka the difference between singing for a crowd that is interested in her, and her inability to act natural in public. Meanwhile Sheryl continues to right out her lyrics and Alto gives a speech about just being carefree without worrying what other people want from you. He throws his paper airplane (again symbolizing cutting loose from ones assigned obligations and taking on the life you enjoy, soaring higher and higher) and Ranka catches sight of it, and remembering Alto’s speech from Episode 03 finds the courage to sing to the mall goers and everyone everywhere seems to feel something stir in them. Sheryl comments that she’s already made her debut and blossomed on her own, and stops to ponder what she just said. Bad news is that he Vajra has really started to stir and is about to break out of it’s container when Leon brings up the barrier.
Michel says he’s surprised that Ranka managed to actually do it and she says it’s thanks to Alto. Sheryl gives Alto back his dogtag and says that now she won’t have to worry about going back to Galaxy since Ranka is going to make it after all. Sheryl says she leaves in a week and is going to send Alto some tickets to her farewell concert and he swears to bring her that earring then. She kisses him (much to Ranka and Michel’s surprise) and somewhere in space a Valkyrie defolds saying it’s from Macross Galaxy and requests help. They’ve been attacked by a large fleet of Vajra….
Thoughts: Wow, one episode and they’ve completely brought me back into the story. In fact this might even be the strongest episode of the series so far. Where to start…
First of all the theme is that of soul searching and finding the strength to break free from ones expectations and find the path to their own desires and not only does this episode develop the characters, it builds character as well. The love triangle formally starts now as Sheryl drags Alto along on a date and we get to see some interesting locales such as a Zentradi mall in all it’s Alice In Wonderland surreality, and just how much the Zentradi really have mellowed out over time. Seeing a doting mother buying a balloon for her son is a far cry from the war mongering race of the original series. Even the universe itself has really developed with time. The date is interesting too as we see that Sheryl just wants to act naturally and break free from her obligations as a super star, and Alto is the only person who she can really go on a date with as he’s more interested in Sheryl the person and not the star like all the gawkers that gather around them at times. It seems to mean a lot to her and according to her lines about the Galaxy it’s something that’s been a long time coming as well. Peace and quite eh.
Ranka’s storyline is about her trying to take the next step in her life after failing to make it in the Ms. Macross contest and get away from her overprotective brother. Eventually she too winds up at the Zentradi Mall and breaks out into a song in front of the crowd that Sheryl calls her debut, and it looks like that purple haired shyster looking guy might want to be her agent now. The song sequence deserves special mention for doing what the series does best, melding great visuals with good music to create the perfect overall experience. The song is also pretty catchy even if it features some of the most ridiculously engrishy nonsense lyrics I’ve ever heard.
Alto’s storyline is really just him being dragged along by Sheryl and he sees that she has a lot of baggage as well as motivation in her life role, but still doesn’t seem to realize that she might be interested in something else. Namely him. Also of note is that not only is a Love Triangle developing, but a character support triangle as well. Sheryl in trying to break free of her obligations as a star is inspired by Ranka’s innocence and seems to indicate that she might have never made her debut on her own and was forced into the role of galactic idol somehow. She inspires Alto a little bit with her enthusiasm and Alto as we know is also trying to break free of his fathers expectations of him to carry the family tradition of Kabuki, and he takes something from her enthusiasm in coming up with song lyrics by realizing that he just needs to do what he feels is good for him and not worry about what others think. And Alto in turn inspires Ranka by reminding her of his talk by throwing the paper airplane which gives her the strength to make her debut right in front of a large (literally) crowd and start the circle of support around again back to Sheryl.
As the trio continues to help each other grow it seems like as long as they are together they might be able to do anything, but that togetherness may be coming to an end as Sheryl prepares to head back to Galaxy….or will it. The ending makes it seem like the Galaxy Fleet may have been wiped, or at least it’s in danger of being wiped out. Either way Sheryl’s home needs help, but I’m not sure how interested the Frontier government is in sending judging by how sneaky it seems with people like Leon keeping Vajra in containment. Speaking of which that was a close call and we get confirmation that Ranka’s songs do indeed affect the Vajra somehow. Rather than having a pacifying effect like Basara and Minmay’s songs though, Ranka’s music seems to throw the Vajra into fits of rage. I wonder what that could entail. In any case I look forward to the next episode and am glad to see the character art is back to it’s normal stable self. Also gotta love some of the visual cues this episode like Ranka’s crazy cell phone and the Minmay doll. Loved this episode.
Rating: Ten Out Of Ten
By the way, the well versed viewer will immediately recognize the second ending credits theme as an a capella version of Macross Plus’ Voices as sung by Megumi Nakajima in a way that gives me Goosebumps. It might actually even be as good or better then the original. For those not well versed, here’s the original: