In talent(?)-based reality(?) television programs, there is this phenomenon wherein a less-than-talented but cute (contingent to subjective fan|fanbase appeal) contestant gets poor marks, bonus points for when the vicious judge shits all over her — often justified, and that contestant suddenly gets a massive amount of votes from the viewers. She stays in competition for another week, while a poor, often more talented contestant gets cut.
It’s as if here’s a direct proportion to the amount of verbal abuse the contestant gets and the amount of supportive viewer response bestowed upon her. I can imagine this as some kind of ‘being hated on moe,’ which can be compounded by the said contestant’s (harmless) retardness, lack of actual ability, and clumsiness. In A Philippine talent show some years back, a Korean named Sandara Park [images ->] found her way to (very temporary) stardom through the very same process. She didn’t win the competition, but she endeared herself to the Philippine public.
I imagine a similar (meta) dynamic in Macross Frontier. Ranka did not win Miss Macross 2052, and she’s a loli dojikko (she hit her head on the microphone) with endearing resolve to win a big girl’s battle (DFC vs oppai). This loss, while disappointing for her, had the fans (especially the new ones) invested in the show. She appealed to the older fans (especially some of the lifers like myself) by going Kyuun~ Kyuun~ and doing a cover of the first big hit in the Macross franchise: Lynn Minmay’s ‘My Boyfriend is a Pilot.’ Moe doesn’t cut it in the Miss Macross competition, but in the real fight — which is to win newer fans in the contemporary moe-preoccupied hobbyscape, she won big time.
Crusader says that the character Ranka is Kawamori’s critique on moe. I found that idea novel at the time, though I’m very hesitant to adopt a similar position given my aversion to the intentional fallacy. Having re-watched these first four episodes, I can make the following statements:
- Ranka does possess behavioral traits that trigger moe reactions, this is her appeal; and
- She is not successful (so far), and this adds another trigger for moe reactions.
The show may indeed be a commentary on moe, but I reserve my conclusion (if I ever do get inclined to conclude) until the end of my re-watch. Also, at present I find it difficult to imagine the show as a commentary on moe since it relies on it for (non-ironic) fanservice, particularly in Klan Klan (oh god, who, as a fanservice delivery character just throws the kitchen sink at the viewer).
When moe wasn’t the norm (this was 1983), Minmay won Miss Macross 2009. She gave of a sweet image and won the crowd with it. Minmay had her dojikko moment – she fell down during the competition. But this moment was played for drama, and not for cuteness. I believe this to be an important distinction, even though this falls within the concept of moe where one feels the need to help or protect Minmay in this moment. Also Minmay isn’t that sweet, really. While nowhere near as haughty as Sheryl, she’s instead petulant and bratty; who indeed loves to sing, but is infatuated by being famous just as much. In Ranka’s case her appeal is the strongest when she’s playing the underdog, almost like a soap opera heroine — the kind that has dominated Philippine television since we had television: from Nora Aunor (70s) to Sharon Cuneta (80s) to Sarah Geronimo (current — all three examples are singing idols who won fame by winning singing competitions or playing characters in film and TV who did so), though in Philippine culture the leads needn’t only be underdogs, they need to be bullied and cruelly oppressed while they bear it like martyrs.
Alto passed his test, becoming a full-fledged member of the SMS. This gives him the moral high ground to advise Ranka to not give up, to fulfill her desire to let the world she exists, to make everyone listen to her song.
Do you think you’d appreciate Ranka as a character more had she won Miss Macross 2059? What’s your take on how here not winning influenced her popularity among viewers of the show?
The rape of Klan Klan (as a fanservice smorgasbord) [->]
Ranka as Kawamori’s troll on moe (Crusader 2008/10/01)