Macross Frontier 19-20: Stuff Happens

Not a Vajra baby...AFAIK.


The revelation this episode was that Ranka’s little critter was a Vajra baby.  Now, this does not come off as a surprise.  I think 95% of viewers figure it out within like two seconds of the monster popping up..and I have to congratulate the writers for not making a big deal out of the revelation.  The scene gets played as lightly as it should.  “Oh dear, it’s a Vajra baby.  Now let’s move on to the action.”

The rest of the episode just rehashes the love triangle and Alto’s utter silliness…


…And we find immediately at the beginning here that Alto was holding Sheryl simply because she had swooned a little.  So basically we have a Ranka who’s thinking she’s about to confess her love [quite frankly, there’s a good chance she wouldn’t have gathered up the courage to do it anyway once she was in front of Alto], a Sheryl who won’t take matters into her hands [out of pride maybe, but at this point it’s a pride born of weakness and not of strength], and an Alto that makes us seriously question the presence of testosterone in his system.  Sure, Mikhail keeps pushing Klan off, but he’s finding replacements all the time.  What’s Alto’s excuse, I ask you?

It’s very frustrating for me to see this triangle.  I do like shojo set-ups were nobody can find happiness, but those set-ups usually include at least one person who goes all out to get what s/he wants (only to be horribly rejected).  Here it’s just plain impotence all around.

And just when Klan looks set to speed things up on her end the Vajra wrecks it.  Usually when you have a really difficult love relationship (here: Alto-Ranka-Sheryl) in a show, it’s great to have a secondary troubled relationship (Michael-Klan) running at the same time.  BUT I find that this works best when the secondary relationship gets resolved earlier than the primary one.  It soothes us viewers for a while and gives us a bit of an anticipation of how the primary situation may resolve itself later on…

Next, Alto dashes past Sheryl and begs Ranka to sing against the Vajra.  Hold on!!  Isn’t this an awful thing?  Doesn’t this validate the worldview of the villains in the show: the new singer’s better, forget about the old one??  Hmm…  I’m actually confused at this point: if Sheryl sang her heart out, wouldn’t it at least have some effect on the Vajra?!  My guess is yes.  Isn’t the whole point of this franchise the power of music?  Surely the Galactic Fairy could make at least a few of them lizards fall from the sky…

I have found topless confessions are very effective.. Ranka, Sheryl, do take note.

Anyway, Klan finally comes through and does a proper confession with both Alto and Ranka present.  The latter two have no excuse now.  We must hear someone in the love triangle confess to someone else by the end of episode 21.  If not I will literally vomit.

Finally, the end.  Sheryl’s singing at the shelter [there are many great anime scenes at shelters, probably the lingering effects of the WWII on the collective Japanese psyche] synchronized perfectly with Michael’s last stand in defense of Klan…Priceless stuff.  Klan confesses, Michael feels it, begins to respond and immediately perishes.  God thunders: how dare you be happy?!  Now THIS is good melodrama, THIS is properly shojoesque.

Sheryl, Alto, Ranka, it’s seriously time to step it up, guys!  Do not disappoint!!  You’re supposed to top this:

~ by Haloed Bane on February 20, 2012.

12 Responses to “Macross Frontier 19-20: Stuff Happens”

  1. Yeah, the Michel x Klan confession scene is balls out kitchen sink level melodrama that takes the fail out of Alto’s disinterest with romance. Sheryl singing Diamond Crevasse here is indeed quite brilliant, a stunning contrast vs. the failure of Ranka’s singing to/against the Vajra.

    This actually addresses your concern. The idea of out with the old, in with the super powers is turned on its head. Singing as an offensive force to bend aliens so they can get killed fails, while singing to uplift the spirits of those who suffer is the stuff of heroes — scoring the moment of the big last stand of the reluctant hero Mikhail (as opposed to the wannabe hero Alto).

    • You’re right, come to think of it. Now I’m thinking the last song against the Vajra should be a duet between Sheryl and Ranka where they sing about they’re gonna whoop Alto’s ass and leave him behind.

  2. The primary triangle is all sorts of problematic and really what stands out is the resolution between Michel and Klan along with Sheryl’s light in the darkness being an excellent way to close the episode.

    For what it’s worth, Ranka is young and inexperienced so it makes a little sense for her to be so mixed up with Alto (for now). I think Sheryl, on the other hand, answers to her situation with Diamond Crevasse in the shelter; she simply needs to keep her headstrong identity and continue expressing herself with action. Sheryl comes off as the kind of character who is able to let Alto know her feelings without needing to confess a word of it.

    Alto is the most irritating of the three, since he is somewhat aware of his feelings about the girls but only desires a “real sky” to fly in already. I can’t account for his non-participation in the triangle. In a way he doesn’t seem to take initiative. He’s passive and does take opportunities here and there but doesn’t “make it happen.” His personality risks watching everything pass him by and has mostly been stimulated by others pushing him along. I’m not sure how that fits into the franchise framing, but it does no good for the triangle.

    • Ultimately I think Alto is an unrealistic character. There is just no way a real human being (or even a realistic fictional one) would realize over and over that these girls like him and keep forgetting the fact and not seem really shaken by it all.

      • There’s a scene in Episode 23 which offers a possible explanation as to why Alto acted so passively with regards to the triangle. However the dialogue in question is somewhat ambigious and open to interpretation. 😆

        The movies also explore an aspect of Alto’s character that provides a good explanation for why he behaves the way he does in the series. The movies are an alternate continuity, but there are those who believe that aspect of his character was supposed to be in the TV version of the series and simply wasn’t made obvious enough. (Speaking of the movies, there are significant differences in characterization between TV Alto and Movie Alto. Apparently the creative team wasn’t entirely happy with how the TV series version of his character turned out.)

        • I can believe they weren’t happy with the way he turned out. Gee 😀

          • Well…to be somewhat fair to the creators, (the controversial aspect of) Alto’s characterisation in the series was obvious enough that a number of viewers in the English-speaking fandom did pick it out during the original run. On the flip side, it was so subtle that, IIRC, it ‘fell on them like a pile of bricks’ – to use a phrase one of those viewers used – rather late in the series, and, to this day, many other viewers deny that interpretation of his character.

            Anyways, looking forward to what you think after you’ve finished Frontier – though I’d recommend watching the films asap after you’ve finished the series ^^

            • Yeah, I think the dude should have been called Bajo instead of Alto (sorry for the Spanish joke).

              I hope I can finish the series sometime in March 🙂

  3. We’re at a point right now where it can be kind of difficult to discuss things without spoilers. Let me say this: a lot of the issues you’ve brought up do get addressed in the coming episodes. I’m not sure you’re going to like how some of it is dealt with, but a lot of it does get addressed.

    Yes the handling of the triangle has issues, made worse by how much emphasis is placed on said triangle. I’ve become pretty good at appreciating the series for the things it does well while tolerating its flaws, but I guess issues like that can be pretty frustrating for newcomers.

    With regards to the singing, the “mechanics” of how singing affects the Vajra is explained over the next few episodes. For now let’s just say that it’s not a lack of heart that has been holding Sheryl back.

    Anyhow, Episode 20 is one of my favorite episodes in the series. It has parts I find a bit iffy but I love the ending.

    • So Sheryl is aware of this mechanics too? She’s smarter than I thought..

      • No, Sheryl is in the dark about why Ranka’s singing can affect the Vajra’s while hers can’t. I’m just saying that it’s not a lack of heart on her part that’s keeping her from being effective and that the issue of how singing affects the Vajra will be explained in some of the upcoming episodes (though it’s kind of explained piecemeal, not all at once).

        • Oh, oh, oh. I see what you mean.. I imagine Ranka has the advantage because she has green hair. If the aliens were more mammalian rather than reptilian Sheryl with her pink hair might be more effective 🙂

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