Macross Frontier 07: Battle!

Cool episode!

Luca

So, is Luca Christian or what!!  He names his three drones Simon, John and Peter.  3 of the 12 apostles were called by those names (also, Peter was originally called Simon).  Luca (=Ruka) in Japanese is the name of the evangelist Luke.  His surname Angelloni sounds a lot like “angel”.  And in this episode his (mecha) Messiah ends up getting swallowed by a (Vajra) whale!  Thankfully Alto got him out of there in less than 3 days.

Itano Circus

A lot of that here!  Maybe one function of the circus is to counteract anti-missile defenses.  If you just shoot 2 or 3 missiles with the same trajectory toward the enemy, the enemy can blow them up with a single explosive counterattack.  But if you shoot 20 missiles, each of which are trained on the target but have been programmed to follow random trajectories on the way to the target, defensive maneuvers become that much harder(?).

The Battle

This post [here] has a very good breakdown of the pieces in play.  I can’t help but make comparisons with the battles and spacecraft in Leiji Matsumoto works.  As could be expected from a man who became famous via Space Battleship Yamato, Leiji’s warcraft revolves around mega battleships (the Big Four in the Leijiverse consisting of the Yamato, Arcadia, Queen Emeraldas and Mahoroba).  To be more precise, heroic warcraft in the Leijiverse revolves around a single mega battleship.  The Yamato and the Arcadia usually fight on their own.  Now, both of these battleships have a fighter craft complement but it is the battleship, with its wave motion guns and its triple laser cannons and its ramming abilities, that plays the major role.  Fighter craft such as the Spacewolf and the Cosmowing add excitement and pathos to the battles, but that’s about it.

The battle in this episode is totally different.  If Leiji follows a battleship-centric model, Macross in this episode at least seems to follow a carrier-centric model.  Let me be clear that when I say carrier-centric I don’t mean to belittle the Variable Fighters.  On the contrary, by calling it “carrier-centric” I want to stress the fact that that battles fundamentally revolve around carrier ships releasing fighters and bombers which in turn decide the outcome.  A good carrier battle is one wholly fought by fighters released by the carriers in play, and ideally, one where opposing carriers don’t fire guns at each other or even see each other at all.  In other words, a good carrier battle is like a Cold War (with airplanes analogous to the little countries, guerrilla groups and spy networks that the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. threw against each other).

Of course, at the end of the battle the Macross Quarter subverts the ideals I’ve just laid out.  The carrier becomes the ultimate fighter and terminates the opposing Vajra.  As a variable fighter which carries itself and a command carrier which engages in close combat on its own, the Quarter begins to sound like a godly weapon.

The fact that the Quarter, a capital ship, becomes a variable fighter of sorts is very much in keeping with the Guantanamo-class carriers’ stealth ability.  It shows a tendency to unite capabilities today mostly associated with naval (carrier) and aerial (fighters, stealth) units into one, which makes sense in terms of the “reality” of space combat.

~ by Haloed Bane on November 14, 2011.

20 Responses to “Macross Frontier 07: Battle!”

  1. Luca will surprise you even more.

    I really have no idea what they were thinking in making this character. At 15 he is two years younger than Alto and Michel, and for some reason he is still wearing short pants. His parents manage what seems to be the largest technology company in Frontier, where he is a technology adviser. Yes, he is also a pilot, albeit not an ace.

    Maybe he’s a throwback to those 70’s super robot kids who round out the 5-man band (along with a fat guy). So in Frontier,

    Michel would be the leader (a sharpshooter too like Kenichi)
    Alto would be the lancer (brooding too, like Ippei)
    Nanase would be the fat guy (thoughtful like Daijiro)
    Sheryl would be the ninja (not a token like Megumi; Ranka however, would be the token girl)
    Luca would be the science kid (like Hiyoshi)

    The analogues are from Chodenji Machine Voltes V, the national anime of the Philippines.

    Re the Itano Circus, there are real-world analogues, but you’ve already read this post and the dazzling compilation video.

    Great comparisons in your analysis of the battle. The original Macross had actual aircraft carriers for arms: the Prometheus and the Daedalus. It’s actually interesting for a long-time Macross viewer to see an offensive operation. Traditionally the Macross is always being chased by innumerable opponents. The VF complement really serves to control the enemy attack craft from boarding the ship. Macross Frontier will continue to show offensive operations.

    Macross actually doesn’t do that good a job at presenting fighter craft as truly dangerous anti-ship threats. There will be some of that in the later episodes, but overall I think it’s a missed opportunity. Macross instead indulges 1 vs. many air battles, and dueling dogfights. The Vajra don’t make compelling sport for duels, but Macross Frontier knows what to do, so hold on.

    • Oh, that Luca is certainly odd. I do NOT that doujinshi.
      I’ve never heard of national animes. That’s such a cool concept.
      Actual carriers for arms sounds really silly. But I guess it could look awesome. Come to think of it, I think I’ve seen this before (either from Macross or some other series, giant thing with ships for arms).

      Hmm, so from what you say it sounds like the ship is the prize, and to protect it is the fighters’ main task (not to destroy opposing ships). This is a missed opportunity, because there’s nothing cooler than a squadron sinking an enemy ship and leaving tons of enemy fighters stranded…

      • Here is why I think Macross considered it acceptable to miss this opportunity:

        In Space War I (2009-2012), there simply was too many enemies. Each capital ship had about 1,000 attack craft. The SDF-1 rarely fought only 1 or two. Also, the entire VF complement peaked at 300, thus they had way too much to deal with. Even further, the Zentraedi were near-suicidal (or fatalistic when it comes to battle).

        Even more demoralizing, the first commander they fought had first around 250 capital ships, then over 1,000. In the big battle, the SDF-1 fought against over 1,000,000 ships. Sure at some point the aces made attack runs at these ships, but for the most part the VFs’ main objective was to keep the Macross alive vs. the swarms.

        In Macross Plus you’ll see an awesome treat of one VF storming a capital ship all by itself. I’m surprised at how this little show seems to have everything awesome.

        Against the Vajra, there is no such thing as ‘demoralizing’ given the profile of the intelligence of the aliens. And even more confounding, each attack unit is capable of executing a hyperspace fold. No single unit can ever be stranded when its carrier ship goes down.

        Lastly, Macross wanted its own wave motion gun, more than Gundam ever did. It’s actually Gundam that really put capitol ships at risk vs. attack craft (mobile suits), especially in the Universal Century continuity. Prior to mobile suits, the battles were pretty much like how the beginning of Yamato was, naval standoffs with ships exchanging broadsides.

        The Battle of Loum changed everything when Zeon introduced the mobile suits and Char Aznable earned his legend by sinking 6 capitol ships.

        The Gundam itself as an in-universe innovation was the first mobile suit to carry a capitol-ship grade beam weapon. This also shows us how averse Gundam was to using super lasers carried by ships. When they do use such, they make the cannon as big as a colony.

        The Macross Quarter really represents how the franchise wants it all. They made a small version of the Macross that behaves much like a variable fighter.

        • This is so interesting. A book should be written titled Comparative Anime Warcraft, where different metaverses are compared with regards to their battle tactics and technologies.

          I see now things much clearer with your description of the Space War I. Of course, realistically the situation you describe is ultimately hopeless. At the point when the VFs managed to deplete the Zentraedi fighters, the Zentraedi capital ships could simply do a mass ramming attack on the Macross and pulverize it. Though it sames in Gundam the mecha could stave off this ultimate threat as well.

          Macross Quarter is a really greedy concept, definitely. But that’s why we like it.

          • I end up talking a lot about it, like in the post up in a few minutes, but nothing in a comprehensive way… since there’s just a whole lot of stuff to watch and categorize.

            It is the conceit of the original Macross that in Space War I, the Zentraedi were, up until a quarter past midway of the show, trying to capture the Macross.

            The SDF-1 is a modified Supervision Army (enemies of the Zentraedi) gunship that crashed on Earth in 1999 — effectively ending the Global War happening at the time and strengthening the then United Nations.

            Back to Gundam and the mentioned Battle of Loum. Basically, Code Geass copied this concept, while anchoring its conflict around a material resource that enabled the use of the narrative’s dominant method of combat: the Knightmare Frame.

            Of all the giant humanoid military mecha shows (real robot), Gundam provides the SECOND most plausible explanation: the use of Minovsky Particles rendered guidance systems almost useless and forced combat to be staged in visual range. Mobile Suits became the most efficient attack craft in space where there are no aerodynamics.

            Macross has the BEST, albeit the conceit of having aerodynamic physics IN SPACE. The giant humanoid mecha were made because they were fighting giant humanoids — the Zentraedi. They anticipated infantry scenarios. Looking at the Zentraedi version of mecha, none of them are in the form of disproportionate giant humanoids (relative to Zentraedi size) so the verisimilitude is maintained.

            • This Minovsky is pretty clever huh, and utterly romantic. War hasn’t been the same since people get killed and never see their killers.

              What’s striking about the Macross timeline is how compressed it is! I mean, all of this has happened in just a few years. I guess that explains why the mechas have still to be modified to other non-anti-Zentraedi sizes etc.

              • The totality of the Macross timeline (within the shown narrative) is from 2008-2059, which is not that short compared to the Universal Century of Gundam — that pertains to the original story — which really covers 0079 to 0096, a far shorter period.

                The difference is how the Gundam timeline is in an almost constant state of conflict, punctuated by quickly resolved conflagrations/campaigns. The longest war was the One Year War of the original series IIRC.

                • That seems so short to me. I figured Gundam spanned centuries and centuries, with generations of fighters and everything.
                  I guess I should know better, though. Space Battleship Yamato has to defend the planet about once every 2 years, which is ridiculous.

  2. I’m well aware that in in the Macross universe, nationalities as we know them have dissappeared, but I do suppose that a ‘Luca Angeloni” would be of italian descent and so, at least on a cultural level, a Catholic.
    Having said that, considering that only about one percent of Japan’s population is christian, there is a surprising amount of christian symbols and characters on display in anime. I suppose that there’s is a certain interest in the ritual and iconography from the part of the writers/producers, if not the belief system itself.
    Just to keep it in Macross, if I remember correctly, Hikaru Ichijo completely out of the blue performs the sign of the cross after the death of someone in battle. I remember finding that really surprising at the time. I’d never seen it before in any animated work and rarely since.

    • Yes, Christianity is all over the place in anime. I think part of it is a hunger for the exotic. I kinda see a bit of a parallel in American films and TV shows, where I find Catholic priests and nuns show all over the place even though the country is historically majority-Protestant. When I was a little boy I actually thought 80-90% of Americans were Catholic because American TV kept showing Catholic churches and priests.

      The only time I ever talked about actual Christian dogma with Japanese people, they thought the whole thing was quite ridiculous and quickly grew tired of the topic. So I think it’s a safe bet animators are interested in the ritual and icons as you say, but not in the content of the faith. Christianity and Judaism are religions that center around stories/histories (Moses and Israel, the life of Jesus) and I think most Japanese want religion to be a philosophical/psychological toolbox (principles, advice, consolations) with stories being a secondary issue, just garnish. But that’s just a sense I get…I could be totally wrong.

    • Nations disappear when 90% of the surface landmass is rendered inhabitable due to space bombardment.

      The most Christian thing in SDFM is well, the Christmas episodes which form the finale. The penultimate episode had a church, mass, the Macross lit up with Xmas lights, and the whole city stopping to sing “Silent Night Holy Night” in English.

      Can we assume that the survivors of Space War I are predominantly Catholic? Did some of the Zentraedi convert? LOLOLOL

      • I guess Protestants just don’t build their churches big enough for Zentraedi tastes….

        • Also Protestants aren’t into idols the same way Catholics and Zentraedi are ^_~

          • Zentraedi walking into Gothic cathedrals, focusing on the objects of veneration…you guys are onto something. This really opens up the question of how would contact with aliens affect our religions. Depending on the character of the aliens, one of our religions/religious groups could gain in popularity all of a sudden (because it fits with the aliens somehow). This might have happened to Catholicism in Macross.

  3. The reaction of the Zentraedi to a proper American
    gospel church with musicians and singing would have been a sight to see!

    I suppose the confirmation of the existence of the “Protoculture” together with the near obliteration of the Earth would have significantly changed the panorama of religion amongst humans. And the Zentraedi entering the equation would have been quite the exciting mess. I can imagine different religious authorities changing their stories to fit the new paradigms. And few have done that as well as the Catholic church over the last 2000 years.

    • Yes, certainly churches that have concepts like Continuing Revelation (Latter-Day Saints) or the Magisterium (Roman Catholic) could adapt much more easily than Bible-centric groups.

  4. There’s a fair possibility that an Itano Circus works as a distributed system, with the overall goal being one hit, and I would suspect that technology offering more comprehensive trajectory paths is feasible.

    Awesome battle analogy. It sort of came out of left field, but felt completely appropriate.

    • Right, that’s what I’m thinking too. And then the amazing thing is that defenders manage to evade these Itano Circuses so well!!

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