Macross Frontier 06: Politics and Religion

Yesterday I was listening to an old interview with renowned physicist Michio Kaku on alien lifeforms and how the U.S. government should deal with them if some contact were to be made.  Dr. Kaku was brutally frank: in such a case “freedom of information” goes out the window.  The government should be very careful in how it disseminated the information for the simple reason that public knowledge of an alien lifeform would likely cause hysteria and chaos among the public.

So far in Macross Frontier we’ve been told that the existence of the Vajra is a government secret in the Colony.  In this episode President Glass decides it’s time to inform the public.  But OMG what a way to break the bad news!!!

First off, the president interrupts current programming to deliver the news.  If the speech had been announced beforehand it would have made more sense to me, but this abruptness is bound to make the colonists fearful.  But it gets worse.  The president gets on, tells the public he has something important to say, and immediately inserts a clip of gigantic Vajra kicking ass!!

And then it gets even worse.  As the president explains the threat, and reveals that the Galaxy colony suffered terribly at the hands of the Vajra earlier, the govt. broadcast shows actual clips of Galaxy forces being pulverizing and screaming just before the end!!  What’s going on?!

It makes one wonder.  The President announces the implementation of an emergency decree.  The morbidity of the announcement might be due to this.  If Frontier colony is a democracy, and the President feels that going through the regular consultations with legislative bodies etc would take way too much time, maybe shocking the public (and his political opponents) into accepting the gravity of the situation might ensure passage of the decree and prevent opposition.  It reminds me of Weimar Germany somewhat.

But is Frontier a democracy??  I don’t really know, but we haven’t been given any indication of it.  I get the feeling that the executive is quite powerful.  Therefore maybe the motivation behind this morbid, terrifying announcement might be to steel the colonists for the task ahead.  Instead of Weimar Germany, Frontier might be positioning itself as a modern-day Israel or Singapore (where the government fuels alertness in the populace by highlighting the large, lurking menaces abroad).

On to lighter stuff.  Ozma lets drop some interesting trivia about this civilization: one becomes an adult upon reaching the age of seventeen years.  I love this bit of information because it’s tossed so naturally in, and it’s so random we can’t but notice it.  In Japan adulthood is reached at 20, in other countries it’s 18.

As for the love triangle, I think it’s clear that right not Alto favors Sheryl over Ranka.  See, if I were him I’d be shooting for Ranka.  What are the odds that a relationship with Sheryl will work out in the end??  0.01% I reckon.  Mind you, if Ranka becomes a successful idol it might complicate matters on that end too, but what are the odds that she will be as successful as Sheryl?  I’m not afraid to admit success makes me afraid😀

And then there’s Sheryl’s song.  There’s a lot to say about “Diamond Crevasse”.  One of the meanings of the word “vajra” is diamond, and so Sheryl wishfully singing of a “broken Vajra” shouldn’t surprise us.  Then again, the concept of “vajra” is intimately connected to divinity, and so the title could just as well refer to the actual lyrics…

These lyrics are peculiar, and I mean that in a good way [I’ll be borrowing from animelyrics.com here].  When you consider how many pop songs come out each year, and how many sentences are possible in human languages, it’s really depressing how little variety one usually finds in songs.  “Diamond Crevasse” starts with a really bold phrase:

“When I was still in love with God / I never expected such a farewell to come.”

These words beg us to take them metaphorically some way.  Maybe Sheryl is comparing her lover to God.  Maybe the God mentioned is indeed God, but the farewell happened between the singer and another, suitably human lover.  But I insist on taking the sentence literally: the singer was in love with God and is now shocked she has to say goodbye.

If this doesn’t sound wacky enough for you, I need to point out that the “love” verb here isn’t “ai suru” (the all-encompassing spiritual love that can be used for God, children, puppies and yes, boyfriends and girlfriends too).  The verb is “koi suru”, romantic love, lovers’ love.  This higher, theological sense pops up all over the song.

“I met you, the stars sparkled, and I was born. / I love you, therefore I am.”

As you probably know, Japanese lacks a singular/plural distinction.  Thus the “stars” here could just as well be “star”.  In fact, if you look at the Japanese lyrics that word is not in Japanese at all!  It’s in English, all-caps: STAR.  One star.  Egad, is our singer announcing herself as Christ?!  The star sparkled (over Bethlehem) and I was born.  I love God, therefore I am.  The theology is accurate as far as it goes.  Of course, it soon goes all wrong…

“What good is waiting for a hopeless miracle?”

Alas, our singer isn’t Christ (or, if she is, then she must be the Christ at Gethsemane, doubting his mission and sweating blood).  Though I don’t think “koi suru” is an appropriate act for the persons of the Trinity to be engaged in.  Perhaps the singer is a lover disappointed with the divine.  It’s a peculiar thing to read when you put it down in words, but it does happen to people.

 

~ by Haloed Bane on November 5, 2011.

23 Responses to “Macross Frontier 06: Politics and Religion”

  1. Fascinating. I need to watch the movies now. Normally I would never even glance at the song lyrics.

    The “I love you, therefore I am” is also a bit reminiscent of “I am that I am.”

    As for the theological implications of “koi suru”, the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father and the Son,” so it doesn’t seem too far out there. I’m sure there must have been some group that took it that way.🙂

    • Yes, I am that I am, a..k.a. YHWH.
      Also of course Descartes’ “cogito ergo sum” (-> te amo ergo sum)
      The neat thing is that there’s a pun involved here “ai= (Japanese) love, ai=(English) I”.

      Hmm…the trinity as a family. Your interpretation has got its merits!! Also, there was a sect who included Mary in the trinity, so it was Father, Mother and Son. That belief is mentioned in the Qur’an.

      • So if Sheryl is God’s consort and is part of the trinity, would that convey divinity to God’s other potential partner (Ranka)? Perhaps we have a dualistic system, and I have been a heretic shipping for the devil.

        Now I’m imagining Alto’s children being conceived as if through a pipe. Although if the Mother is part of the trinity I guess it’s a non-issue.

        • I cannot conceive of Alto as God the Father, no way no how. Unless we’re lowering our theological standard to Haruhiite levels…

          Come to think of it, are we getting new Haruhi anytime soon??

  2. Grinning from ear to ear.

    Stellar (lol) observations as usual.

    There isn’t much on the Government side, as there is very little mention of a Congress.

    There seems to be this powerful executive with a cabinet of 1 — who is like the Executive Secretary, or in the US, the Secretary of State. We can probably construe that the Chief of the Armed Forces is part of this cabinet.

    Another complication is how the armed forces, at least the mechanized ones, are New United Nations Spacy, which is autonomous and separate from the Frontier government.

    Macross was never good at spelling all these things out. But within Frontier you’ve heard Ozma criticize NUNS for being slow and bogged down in politics. So I imagine that committees of various kinds must exist.

    Prior to Frontier (which is Macross 25), you had Macross 7 which did not have a President, but A Mayor. The Mayor is the civil servant, while the Captain of the Macross was the head of the Military. The two seem equal in authority, but of course I think whomever has the guns has the real power.

    I don’t know if Alto at this point is genuinely attracted to either, but it’s just hard not to be affected by all this female attention bestowed upon him.

    LOL the divinity in Diamond Crevasse.

    I don’t even know where to begin in thinking through this song. I think I live in willful ignorance as to what it might mean.

    I do find that concert scene parallel with the departure scene of the SMS is the best of its kind.

    • Oh yeah, good point remembering Ozma’s complaints. There’s definitely some red tape and infighting going on. So Macross 7 means it’s the 7th colony? What is Macross Plus then?

      I read your post and noted that how you felt about Alto. I just have a hard time seeing him going all the way to the concert unless he’s really got the hots for Sheryl (though I guess that’s my way of thinking and not Alto’s at all, ultimately, I’m probably as un-Altoish a person as they come).

      These music/battle montages are great, no doubt about it. It might be impossible to figure out what the song is about, but that first line is great because it’s so different. It’s not the sort of thing one expects a pop singer to spring on you all of a sudden!!

      • I think it could mean that, but not necessarily.

        The first Macross was not a colony ship after all. It’s the second: the Megaroad 01 that was a colony ship. I think the 7th Macross is the first major improvement on the Macross class ship, eschewing the civilian berth and being a complete battleship. Instead, it pulls along colony ships.

        Macross Frontier is a state of the art biosphere. Macross Galaxy (Macross 21) is a chemical plant.

        I’m not Alto-ish at all myself, but sigh, anime characters!

        After all this you simply must watch the movies. Along the way I’ll start talking to you about Kawamori’s cavalier attitude to continuity but all things considered there’s more to discuss.

        • I’ll watch the movies after the series then.

          Galaxy is a chemical plant?! Geez, no wonder Sheryl’s got some major issues!

          • Sheryl mentioned Galaxy being a chemical plant during “Star Date” which was why she was interested in the biosphere stuff. Alto was moved, which is why he gave her an Eco Tour, which included the Macro Zentraedi, which Galaxy didn’t have.

            • Gee, I’m glad I wasn’t tested on episode 5. I’d have failed that quiz…

              • Don’t feel too bad. I’ve rewatched this show an unspeakable amount of times and this episode just over the week… not to mention how I blogged the living daylights out of this sub-franchise. And yet, here you are, not only bringing fresh perspective but also new information.

  3. Question: do we know if Sheryl writes her own songs? Does she have a songwriter? Is it unclear?

  4. […] Crevasse,” in Macross Frontier.  Animekritic does his usual wonderful job of analysis, discussing the possible theological meanings of the song in his breakdown of episode 6 of the […]

  5. I’m not sure I agree with the assessment that “I met you, the stars sparkled, and I was born/ I love you, therefore I am” = Christ. I know that in some denominations, there’s a belief that a person’s spirit starts in Heaven with God and then is sent to Earth to be born, so this wouldn’t apply only to Jesus.

    The “I love you, therefore I am” line echoes “I think, therefore I am”, so couldn’t it be implied that by loving God, the singer truly exists? It seems like it’s echoing the idea of being ‘born again’, that when someone comes to love God and Jesus, they are regenerated and thereby made more complete or better through it.

    These interpretations mean that it can fit any Christian speaking to God, not just Jesus.

  6. Pointing out the announcement, it’s very interesting. I think there is a small difference between Earthlings and humans in the Macross universe with perception to “alien” lifeforms in that Macross humans are previously aware of other life forms (Zendrati? I am not knowledgeable in the Macross universe, so that is a floating statement). But, I do see the point about the raw presentation of the “issue” to a general public; it must be exhausting for public morale, if such a thing exists. The only idea that comes to mind is that the ship is called “Frontier,” and maybe the population can be “given it straight.”

    And Diamond Crevasse, man, I never looked to much into the lyrics, but they are intriguing for various reasons…

    • Maybe the Frontier authorities are wagging the dog, as they say. There definitely seems to be much more to govt. knowledge of the Vajra than meets the eye.

      My basic strategy with anime songs right now is not to ignore songs that appear within the episode. If it’s an OP or ED song, I don’t pay too much attention to it but if it is being sung while the episode is running, I like to pay attention. I guess for Macross this means paying attention to a lot of songs~

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