Drawing a Triangle: Macross Fontier 02 (Hard Chase)

macross frontier 02 triangle begins sheryl alto ranka

I feel like the appropriate title for this episode is Chance Meetings. The conceit of the episode is how the protagonists serendipitously run into each other, setting up theri individual and collective narratives. Sheryl sets out to find Alto who she intends to ask about hear earring that she lost during her concert, but runs into Ranka who is her biggest fan. Alto runs into both at the end of the episode. The remnants of the Vajra find them all afterward.

It is a conceit in that the probability of these meaningful meetings occuring in a tight and linear narrative succession should be quite low. But they were all going to meet anyway one way or another, so the narrative shoots for the dramatic star. I do feel that there needed to be a payoff less pedestrian for such a conceit, and there is; something that Frontier does that few other shows do, and I feel that is in its way superior than what’s been done before.

My conceit is that I find it difficult to recall similar scenes in other anime, but even without placing it within a tradition I think there is a lot to appreciate.

It starts innocently enough. The incognito Galactic Fairy (the plausibility of her disguise is yet another conceit) catches a running Ranka; Sheryl’s attention is caught by Ranka’s singing along to ‘Don’t be late’ plugged into her ears. She would eventually ask her if she knew a pilot, but for the most part she indulged herself by letting Ranka gush and gurgle about her idol. Ranka is adorable, and has been since she first appeared in the previous episode; but Sheryl is charming the hell out of me with her naked narcissism, and who at the same time somehow manages to seem vulnerable (don’t ask me how).

Reacting to a Code Victor alert, the SMS Variable Fighters scramble and sortie, visible to Sheryl and Ranka. Sheryl remarks on how beautiful the fighters are (yes Sheryl, they really are) and asks Ranka if perhaps she knows a pilot. Ranka mentions her (liar of a) brother, who she thinks gave up piloting. Then, out of nowhere, Ranka breaks into song: ‘Diamond Crevasse.’ After two verses of the first stanza, Sheryl joins in. At this point Ranka is shocked at her fortune. After all, Sheryl does say that she rarely gives private concerts.

As interesting as all of this is, it is not what makes it the awesome that I think it is. What I find so wonderful is how this song, a sad and wistful song of parting (“long, long goodbye”) sends off the pilots in their VFs, and welcomes the opposing units. It’s not quite a battle hymn in nature, but it works so well! It frames the oncoming battle, making it seem bigger than it really is. Later on in the season this will again be used to tremendous effect.

Macross Frontier - 02 - Large 27

Now soundtracks and scores are designed (particularly in scenes like this) to summon more feeling from the viewer, in conjunction with the visuals and the dialogue. What Frontier does well, is to use real-time (within the narrative) musical performances — how the characters break into song, how the battle in the first episode occured during Sheryl’s concert, to summon these emotions from the viewer. Minmay’s performance of ‘Do you remember love?’ from the eponymous movie is still the most well known and acclaimed example, but Frontier, taking advantage of composer Kanno Yoko’s gifts, really built scenes around the musical numbers. It’s a conceit, no doubt about it; but I find it a very virtuous one.

By the end of the episode there are no clear indications of triangular attractions yet, only that Ranka loves Sheryl and finds Alto beautiful and is invested in him as her hero. However, they are arranged triangularly, and keeping with the tradition of the Macross franchise, this will be a love triangle.


Diamond Crevasse Live!

Here is a reference to older Macross shows (how Frontier remembers love):

Hikaru and Minmei in SDF Macross episode 02

Hikaru and Minmay in Macross: Do You Remember Love?

macross do you remember love minmay hikaru vf-1a catch

Alto and Ranka in Macross Frontier ep 02

There are so many in the episode, and this is a big part of what Frontier does so well. These homages and references are unnecessary in the sense that a viewer is missing value by not getting the references, or that the narrative is incomplete without them. Rather, they’re bonuses for the fans who’ve seen the earlier shows and have a high appreciation for continuity and tradition.

Further Reading

These are episodic posts I’ve read during the original run. By an large I was a lurker and did not comment until much later in the season.

Propaganda (Crusader 2008/04/15)

Not propaganda, with extensive summary (Kaioshin Sama 2008/04/17)

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
This entry was posted in analysis, Macross Frontier, moments in anime and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Drawing a Triangle: Macross Fontier 02 (Hard Chase)

  1. Ryan A says:

    how the protagonists serendipitously run into each other

    Oh god, I loved it. Like that you had me at hello, the singing/music brings something extra special into the presentation, and very well blended!

    Such an awesome triangle… the encounter XD Love these characters, I do. ::excited::

    • ghostlightning says:

      Love at first sight eh? I know that feeling from how I discovered the original series as a 7 year-old back in ’84. Back then the music wasn’t a big part until later on in the series, what hooked me were the transforming fighter craft.

      You may find the original triangle even more compelling. Plus, there’s a very clear resolution and how it played out is quite well done as well. It’s funny, that since I saw this so early in life the love triangle of the original Macross is my reference/go-to example for the very concept of the romantic triangle in fiction.

      • Ryan A says:

        I wonder how many individuals can say that about triangles XD So rad. I knew about Macross (SDF I think) from the SDF telnet shells we used to play hacker around in. But anything further than the explanation they gave about it being a reference to a classic anime series wasn’t really in my attention span.

        The fighters are cool, but maybe I should have experience Macross earlier in life to really have a love for them. Music and triangles, I can dig.

        • ghostlightning says:

          Yeah, robots and me go waaays back. Also I fell in love with fighter planes, the F-14 being a long-time fave despite not being allowed to watch Top Gun as a kid. I used to think I was the coolest kid in class because I had an F-14 pencil case.

          Oh yeah, I had a VF-1S toy that transformed and had a pencil sharpener at the back. My swag is phenomenal.

  2. Sakura says:

    I just started reading Parfait Tic which is all about a really complex love triangle, one of the few I think is actually well done.

    Such as the original Macross, I love that we got a solid conclusion and it showed a lot of character growth on the part of Hikaru. Because he was able to finally see who truly did care for him, rather than him continuing to chase the ghost of Minmei.

    Who while she may have had genuine feelings for him, always seemed to put her needs first. Even right at the end, when she wanted to just play house with him. It was what she wanted, she never stopped to think that his views may have changed and that perhaps he wanted something different from back when they had first met.

    And again this Triangle is sort of an homage to that original one. Because we can totally see elements of Minmei and Misa in Sheryl and Ranka.

    Ranka while she may have feelings for Alto, certainly doesn’t seem to take the time to listen to Alto and his wants and needs. Its all about her own, she’s always running to him for advice. So in that aspect she’s sort of like Minmei.

    Whereas Sheryl listens to what he has to say, I mean look at the birthday offer. She knew what was important to him and tried to give him that, which reminds me a lot of Misa.

    • ghostlightning says:

      [MASSIVE SPOILERS FOR SDF MACROSS, as is the above comment I’m replying to]

      You raise a very interesting point regarding the choice of our dear Hikaru. He chose who really cared for him, you say. I think I can get behind that because Minmay wanted him to give up flying just as she was foolish enough to give up singing. It’s not even funny how Minmay is so not thinking straight when she propositioned Hikaru. However, I don’t necessarily think that Minmay is not as capable of caring for Hikaru compared to Misa. Misa’s just more mature and an all around decent human being. Hikaru really can’t go wrong with her.

      But this is kind of iffy for me the more I think about it. Hikaru played a conservative hand. His love for Minmay turned out to be as conditional as Minmay’s love for him seems to be. If he truly loved Minmay he would’ve toughed it out, and found a way to get her to see flying the way he does, and get her to sing again. Instead he went with Lisa “ace in the hole” Hayase.

      Would this be unfair to Misa? Absolutely. It just seems to me now that the choice of Ichijyo Hikaru is not one of “who do I love more?” but of “who loves me more?”

      With regards to reference and homage to the original triangle, Ranka is superficially like Minmay in that regard; though her similarity really lies partly in the pre-stardom Minmay, the girl with dreams of stardom. Ranka is a child, while Minmay was a brat.

      That aspect of Sheryl is spot on with how Misa distinguished herself in Hikaru’s eyes (the goddamned lucky basterd).

      That said, both characters are Minmay: Ranka as the pre-stardom Minmay in the original series, and Sheryl as the full-fledged star Minmay in Do You Remember Love?

  3. Sakura says:

    [MASSIVE SPOILERS FOR SDF MACROSS, as is the above comment I’m replying to] <– Eep sorry I will add this from now on!

    Oh I agree, I think Minmay has the capacity to care for Hikaru, its just as you say, she isn't quite mature enough to be there yet, unlike Hikaru who has grown up quite a bit after all he's experienced.

    Unluckily for Minmay, Misa is better able to understand what Hikaru's gone through and what he needs and wants. Minmay doesn't understand what its like to lose a fellow officer, but Misa does. She doesn't understand responsibility and thinking of others. Something Hikaru had to learn as he got promoted and had to worry about those serving under him and given Misa's position, she understands all too well about worrying for your comrades.

    Its one of the reason's the original Macross is just so bloody fantastic, there is just so much depth in the characters. At the beginning he and Minmay were probably perfectly matched, young, unattached, no real responsibilites.

    The people they are at the end are vastly different. They've grown so much, Hikaru more-so, given his situation, he's had more experience of the harsh realities of life. Its made him grow from a boy to a man, a man willing to shoulder the responsibilities put upon him. Minmay is beginning to understand, that much is obvious from her fights with Kaifun as he rails over the poor pay. She understands the suffering of the people and the sacrifices of the military.

    But when all is said and done, for all of her growth instead of doing what Hikaru has and accepted her role and her responsibility, she wants to run from it.

    So in that respect I think its less of Hikaru playing a conservative hand as you say and more like, he grew up and while Minmay was getting there, she wasn't quite up to the same level he was.

    Maybe it was less of Hikaru taking the conservative route, but realizing that his old self was in love with Minmay and what he had going with Misa was more of a mutal love.

    Ahh I think I stopped making sense long ago, I'm not even sure what I'm trying to say anymore.

    (Longest comment EVER)

    • ghostlightning says:


      Maybe it was less of Hikaru taking the conservative route, but realizing that his old self was in love with Minmay and what he had going with Misa was more of a mutal love.

      THIS. You nailed it. With the GOLDION HAMMER.

      Hikaru no longer really loved Minmay, as much as he was living out his fantasy of being with her; the one he’s held on to since he met her. Oh, to be fair to him he liked her the moment he met her, before she was all ‘What ’bout my star?’ But, a year in war can change one’s outlook, after losing Roy.

      As a parting testimony (being the Minmay apologist that I am), I submit this:

      [Minmay] She wasn’t much of a contribution to his life, though a good part of the highlights of his life were spent dedicated to her, spent proving himself to her. While this happened, she was mostly unavailable to him.

      […]I’ve said above that Minmay was mostly unavailable to Hikaru. Mostly…

      BUT NOT ALWAYS. She doesn’t get enough credit. Here’s a series of critical moments: Hikaru was shot down by friendly fire — coincidentally, it was Misa who pulled the trigger and Hikaru’s VF was shot down by an Itano Circus (best way to go down IMO). Hikaru was pretty much confined at the hospital for some time, and his aniki Roy Focker pulled a favor from Minmay to have her visit him. Guess what? It Minmay treated it as a favor to her. Hikaru’s bedside was the place she’d rather be. Consider that this was in the middle of her filming ‘Little White Dragon,’ leading to the peak of her idol career. So she went and visited Hikaru, who was of course so very happy to see her.

      And then Roy got killed. I can’t forget how Hikaru found out while still on that hospital bed. He was playing with his yellow Fokker tri-plane kit, and when the news broke, he dropped it and it fell to pieces. Who was there with him? Minmay. This was probably the worst moment of his life, and Minmay was the one by his side.

      Is this enough to counteract all of her petulance and insensitivity towards him? No. Even though she acted the part of the ‘famous too soon teenager’ and could get some slack on account for her age, it doesn’t justify Hikaru choosing her in the end given that Misa is really a wonderful person and is outright devoted to him. The tragedy is that I can’t hate Misa, and I can’t blame Hikaru ;_;

      Text is from this post [->]

  4. Sakura says:

    *Went back and read the post*

    Good stuff 🙂

    I definitely liked Minmay a lot better after seeing DYRL, before that I hated her with a passion. So I got the ending I wanted, since I badly wanted Hikaru to end up with Misa

    • ghostlightning says:

      Oh man I am so conflicted about DYRL. On the one hand Minmay was never so prettier, on the other hand they took away the innocent charm she had because the story started when she was already a star. She was never as haughty as Sheryl, and after she got slapped HARD by Hikaru she did sing her in her defining moment. However I still prefer the nuanced characterization afforded by the longer TV series.

      Remember Christmas, when she was so depressed after that shit Kaifun had the cheek to dump her in a fit of self-righteousness? She even ran and hid herself from the three Zentraedi who were her biggest fans! That is probably the saddest Christmas episode in mecha anime (well no, there’s War in the Pocket but I’m a Macross man).

  5. Pingback: Sakura on Love Triangles and Macross « The Ghosts of Discussions

  6. Vanossa says:

    Reading all over this, I can understand the temptation to compare Minmay and Misa (and other characters) to Ranka and Sheryl (Kawamori does, as does the mangaka), however I don’t think Alto is quite like Hikaru. While he obviously has his love for flying, he’s not as aware as a man or as interested in romantic relationships. He tries to, according to Yoshino, in his scene with Sheryl in episode 24, however.

    Minmay wasn’t so much into Hikaru, not until she had issues with her career and tried to do some soul searching. I think is important to notice this. Same with Misa’s feelings for Hikaru were more obvious. While Ranka and Sheryl have more blatant feelings for Alto than he for them.

    I think that at the beginning of the series, Ranka played a bigger role in his life (although Sheryl inspired them both) as the excuse he had to fly. However, he grew out from her and his duty began to expand to all Frontier, and what Sheryl was offering. A more adult relationship and commitment. It is him who was offering Sheryl a chance of normal life, forsaking their personas (what Minmay thoughtlessly proposed Hikaru) and it was Sheryl who picked her duty as songtress over having a sure win in the triangle.

    I… personally would like to see them dumping Alto and both continuing focus in their singing career. Sheryl in the Frontier side and Ranka as ambassador for the Vayra.

    • Well, first off “word of creators” aren’t decisive “facts” as far as I’m concerned. They’re just another piece of interesting trivia.

      That said, the comparisons with previous works within the franchise is, for the most part to discuss the tradition.

      Instead of Misa vs Minmay, Sheryl vs Ranka is a Minmay vs Minmay affair. It’s a DYRL Minmay vs an SDFM Minmay. Of course the Macross Frontier characters aren’t direct clones of the previous shows’ that’s not what a tradition is. It only means they play similar roles or exhibit similar aspects.

      In the Macross lead protagonist tradition, everyone except Basara is obsessed with flying (he is the anti-Alto, he’s more obsessed with stage performance), and everyone except Shin Kudo is a reluctant soldier.

      Macross, and Macross Frontier consequently, is a tradition of love stories. Therefore it begs a resolution and it’s more consistent with the light-heartedness of the whole thing that one or the other person is chosen as opposed to a ‘nobody falls in love’ end.

      • Vanossa says:

        Oh absolutely. I agree with you.

        I mean with the Alto-Basara comparison was that both of them weren’t so much into the affairs of the heart as the other Macross leads. Alto’s skirts around being borderline asexual occasionally.

        Minmay vs Minmay to an extend. SDFM!Minmay wasn’t so smitten with Hikaru until the later stages of the story, while Ranka is over him since their meeting. It was Hikaru the one keeping a torch for her (which I don’t see in Alto Saotome).

        I think there are elements of other characters as tribute, Sheryl does ‘cosplay’ Misa Hayase in the manga (while Ranka dresses as Flashback!Minmay and Alto does Hikaru)… Then Sheryl dresses as Basara and Ranka as Mylenne (heeh heeh Ranka/Sheryl). Ranka plays Mao Nome while Alto plays Shin. Although I agree it’s a Minmay ‘battle’ so to speak…

        But not quite, I adore Minmay a lot (not with Hikaru, but because I didn’t think he was a great catch or the right man for her 😛 ). She was lovely in the movie and she had an interesting growth in the series (culminating in Flashback). There are costume similitudes, but both Sheryl and Ranka became their own personas. It is disheartening how the growth of one was absolutely well done while the other was dwarfed as comparison.

        • Yes, this is the perspective that wins it.

          Though I’ll always have a soft spot for Hikaru… not because he’s faultless, he’s actually quite a loser too. It’s more like I like him for being that way. I think it’s mature for the Macross narrative to have a protagonist that is both unsure of himself sometimes, makes too much of himself sometimes, and irresponsible sometimes.

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