Moé Just Doesn’t Cut it: Macross Frontier 04 (Miss Macross)

macross frontier 04 ranka faceplant

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.

macross frontier 04 ranka singing 04

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:

  1. Ranka does possess behavioral traits that trigger moe reactions, this is her appeal; and
  2. 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.

macross frontier 04 alto mirror

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?

Further Reading

The rape of Klan Klan (as a fanservice smorgasbord) [->]

Ranka as Kawamori’s troll on moe (Crusader 2008/10/01)

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, fanboy, Macross Frontier and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Moé Just Doesn’t Cut it: Macross Frontier 04 (Miss Macross)

  1. gloval says:

    I think there was general relief that Ranka didn’t win Miss Macross in the sense she’s not exactly following Minamy’s footsteps. We knew that she’d be an idol anyway.

    Hope you’d discuss more about Klan’s relationship with Michel. I think the two are explorations on relationship frontiers just as Max and Milia explored the inter-species frontier in SDF Macross. In your Rape of Klan entry, Crusader has commented on the size difference. There is also the apparent age difference. Consider also how their story played out. Does it send a message that age and size are barriers that can’t be breached?

    • ghostlightning says:

      I didn’t see much of this ‘relief’ though the perspective you shared is that of those who are already fans of the franchise. I was referring more to those who probably have Frontier as their gateway into Macross. I certainly was glad as well, and looked forward to seeing Ranka earn her way up the show business ladder.

      With regards to Klan and Michel, I’ll be working on that later. I’ve yet to write about episode 9 so that’s probably a good place to start. Thanks for the suggestion. But I’m rather uncertain of the age difference. Aren’t they the same age?

      • gloval says:

        I think Klan is actually older because she’s in college while Michel is still in high school.

        What I meant was Michel going out with Klan in her miclone form might trigger a scandalous reaction especially for those who don’t know, but even for Michel and Klan it was an issue.

        • ghostlightning says:

          Macross Compendium lists her age as 19, which is indeed older than Michel’s 17. I had thought she was in high school given the school uniform she was wearing in episode 05 ‘Star Date’ while malling @ Folmo. I suppose some colleges/universities will have uniforms, just like in the Philippines.

  2. Martin says:

    There’s a peculiar thing in UK TV too that follows this pattern: Sue Boyle, who looks like the spinster who cleans the toilets; the tubby guy who did well in another one of those TV talent contests because he could actually, y’know, sing rather than look cool; and Jade Goody, who had no redeeming features whatsoever (she was famous literally for being ugly and stupid). It seems we love the underdog – the person who doesn’t stand a chance of succeeding gains a cult following I guess because they tried.

    I wonder whether we love losers – not because they lose per se, but because they are ordinary folks who tried to hit the big time while the rest of us look on from the comfort of our armchairs. As I type, we’re battling for the Ashes again but even if England loses the nation will still look fondly on them; Scott failed to win the race to the antarctic but he and his men were still heroes. I dunno. You can respect a winner but the also-rans are probably easier for the pubic to relate to because, when all is said and done, we probably wouldn’t cut it either.

    • ghostlightning says:

      “Spinster who cleans the toilets” OUCH

      Very good.Yes I can see the pattern from what you shared. Consider this though: we root for these people while the competition is ongoing, but we may not like them at all outside the competition context. In this way, Ranka is ‘cheating’ because her character is put together in such a way that she’ll be adorable for the ages (or at least while lolis are in fashion).

      So we love losers, until they lose. Consider that, and consider that when the probable crash for them happense, we in our armchairs relegate them to ‘sideshow’ (as in carnie) status in our minds’ catalogue of entertainment.

      It’s funny how you say the ’empire’ is rooting for its cricket team, despite (or rather because) of the odds. I remember following several of the past football world cups, when England fielded competitive teams (even if they weren’t considered favorites). I think you guys were kind of nasty to your teams when they did lose. Maybe the context here isn’t ‘love’ as much as ‘you better win this time or you’ll just show us and the world the kind of scum you really are’ kind of ‘support.’

      But take my response with a dash of salt, as it’s just an opinion of a one-time footie fan who’s totally an outsider to the sport.

      • Martin says:

        Aha, yes…that habit the public (or more specifically the media) have of putting someone up on a pedestal, then taking pleasure in knocking them off it.

        I’ve never felt comfortable amongst football fans though – the game is entertainin enough on its own, but I don’t like the fan culture that surrounds it. It’s weird to hear people give long rants about the tiniest of details as to how a certain player did badly, when all THEY are capable of is spilling lager over each other and shouting a lot.

        Getting back o/t with the singing thing, sometimes a slip or trip can help the artist – they may not be the flawless, faultless star any more but their mistakes make them seem more human. Struggling to think of a RL example, Charlotte Church went a bit off the rails but she’s still popular because, not only can she still sing well, she lets her hair down and parties like most people of her age.

        • Footie fans scare me sometimes.

          I haven’t followed Charlotte Church in ages, I suppose she’s still in her early-mid 20s. The fact that she can sing exceptionally can only help her cause, as opposed to some famous people who are famous only for being famous.

          In the latter, people I think enjoy watching these so-called celebrities fall off the rails knowing that their status is largely unearned. In Charlotte’s case I think there’s genuine concern because her talents were appreciated first as a valuable thing, even before she was adored as a kid.

          • 0rion says:

            “Footie fans scare me sometimes.”

            I find that comment all the more hilarious given the connotation that term generally has in American English.

            As for the question of whether characters or individuals like that become more popular when they are heaped with abuse – would Asahina Mikuru be anywhere near as popular as she is if there was no Haruhi to constantly bully her around?

            I suspect the answer would be a resounding no.

          • Yeah lol.

            Good point re Asahina! IIRC The Animanachronism also extended the phenomenon to Kallen of Code Geass, only that the bullying comes from beyond the 4th wall – the production keeps her blundering and naked.

          • DrmChsr0 says:

            I tend to disagree.

            Mikuru’s appeal is that she’s extremely docile and easily dominated. It’d be easy to show that in a subtle fashion. And let’s not forget DOUJINLANDIA.

            I’d agree with the lessened popularity, but not to such an extreme. After all, the novels do a good job of showing off her being bullied WITHOUT der byeootch touching her inappropriately.

  3. Ryan A says:

    Having not experienced other Macross series, I still think it was good for the viewer, for Ranka to have not won.

    For one, she’d have too much momentum and possibly not get the level of sympathy from viewers later in the series; having the cake and eating it too.

    Another reason is the value of winning the contest versus becoming the major part of those two lives, which may have been shifted had she won. The development of the trio feels much more valuable.

    And oh god Klanservice.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Thanks, I feel your feedback validates at least some of my ideas. After all, the whole moefication of Macross is directly targeted towards new viewers such as yourself.

      Klanservice, is just plain remarkable. So much in one character. I wonder if there’s a comparable example in other anime. Let me know if you think of one!

      • DrmChsr0 says:

        Klan. HNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNGH.

        I think Klan was the troll on moe, not Ranka. I mean, she touches on so many points, most of us would have massive heart attacks or some heart-related condition after Frontier.

        And let’s just say win or lose, there are many, many ways for the story to NOT go like SDF Macross. I mean, Ranka was a target by party or parties unknown (believed to be either the Frontier government or GRACE O’CONNOR) for cyber warfare. Even if she did win Miss Macross, she’d have to work doubly hard if the enemy chose to intensify the attacks. You may be right to say the relationship dynamic might have changed. I’m just saying it could take a turn you’d never expect.

        AND NOW, LET US MOVE ON TO THE STAR DATE.

  4. Sakura says:

    Did someone say Klan service? Scroll down –> http://calamitousintents.wordpress.com/2009/08/23/model-kit-pron/

    But yeah, I think its better Ranka lost. I think it did work more in her favor because as you say it got her some sympathy.

    • ghostlightning says:

      That’s one epic Klan figurine.

      The sympathy was from fans though, and it allowed Sheryl to act benevolent towards her. Had she become successful immediately, they’d become rivals sooner and not get the chance to be friends.

  5. vendredi says:

    Wow, you’re right – both episodes almost play out the same way frame by frame. It’s rather interesting to see that despite the passage of 25 years, all Macross really got was a fresh coat of paint and yet the story still has appeal.

    As for Ranka winning or losing – well, Minmay won the contest but lost at love. Ranka lost the contest, but… wait a second, this analogy is starting to break down…

    • Hehe, I wouldn’t say frame by frame though, as I only cherry picked the similarities. But essentially, they are that similar. Alto having a mobile phone makes a big difference. Misa disrupted the whole contest by blasting over the PA calling Pilot Hikaru Ichijyo and telling him to go to the nearest public phone. EL OH EL

      The thing about Ranka losing that somehow bothers me, is that she didn’t put up a big fight. There was no heroic effort on her part. Well, it was a silly talent show so I don’t know how much space there was for her to give a heroic effort beyond singing a cover of “My Boyfriend is a Pilot.”

      That said, it felt like the whole thing rested on how moe (appeal) the judges would feel for her.

  6. X10A_Freedom says:

    Completely and absolutely off-topic but I was trawling Youtube for lives sang by the seiyuu “Mizuki Nana” and in my humble opinion, we’ve got a real-life Sheryl here. As nice as May’n sounds, her voice lacks power imho.

    • Yeah, Nana Mizuki is an impressive performer. However, until she sings for Macross I won’t give her the adulation I reserve for May’n, Nakajima Megumi, Fukuyama Yoshiyuki, Chie Kajiura, and Iijima Mari. Let’s hope she can lend her talents for the 30th anniversary series, even if only how Sakamoto Maaya does it.

  7. DrmChsr0 says:

    Re: Kawamori trolling, well, let’s just say Kawamori does it best when he plays with existing tropes. See Macross 7, for example. Basara comes off as trolling the super robot hero.

    Re: Ranka, the irony is that beyond the blandishly moe design, she actually has a lot more character than the brooding emobishie we call ALTO-HIME~. The only defining trait he has would be the sky thing.

    Props for Frontier for being a little bit fresher than Gundam 00, though.

    • I dunno if subversion = trolling, and I’m not sure if Basara is a subversion of the Super Robot hero. He’s hot-blooded and heroically stupid, but his good-heartedness is closer to that of Onizuka Ekichi than to Domon Kasshiu or Kouji Kabuto.

      Alto > Ranka lols. You gotta be kidding me.

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