The Sighs of Kawamori Shouji: Macross Frontier 10

macross frontier 10 alto begged to take part in the movie

Self-reference is a frontier that the Macross franchise is always exploring. The very idea of “remembering love” is a core concept within it, and is something that I’ve taken as an ideology of appreciation. Subesequent installments in the franchise pay tribute to the original series and the other shows in the continuity that precede them. The manner and execution of this homage is, to me, a seperate form of entertainment itself. Fanservice? Yes. It’s my favorite kind.

In this episode, the ‘innovation’ is that there is a Kawamori self-insert, an avatar of the series creator himself acts within the narrative. ‘Legend of Zero’ is the behind-the-scenes look at the filming of a movie, a biopic of Shin Kudo: Bird Human (Tori no Hito). The depiction has its similarities with the notable/controversial ‘documentary’ of the making of the ‘Legend of Mikuru’ film by the SOS-Dan, directed by Suzumiya Haruhi.

macross 0 03 mao shin flying fish

Within the context of the Macross Frontier narrative, this movie is the discovery of Ranka, her star turn playing a side in the Macross Zero love triangle. The principal change here is her coming to terms with two things: She loved Alto, and that She’s willing to compete against Sheryl for him.

Cleverly, the Macross Zero reference is used to full effect. Ranka was offered the part of Mao Nome, a principal character in the referenced work. Her concern was that she didn’t fully understand how Mao felt. Mao Nome was in a love triangle (surprise). She had feelings for Shin Kudo, who had a mutual attraction with Sara Nome, Mao’s sister. Bobby Margot, Ranka’s guardian (and make-up artist)  asked her if she had never been in love.

macross 0 04 sara shin waterfall 03

Alto at this point was cast as an actor double for Shin Kudo’s part, since the original actor did not agree to do underwater scenes. However, Alto said yes not taking into account that there’s a notable underwater kissing scene between Shin and Mao (Shin Kudo ran out of breath underwater, Mao gave him oxygen via kiss — a clever workaround the fact that Mao Nome is a very loli 15 year old). This meant he and Ranka would be kissing.

He showed visible reluctance and embarassment, which created an opening for Sheryl to troll him. What’s the big deal about kissing? She kisses him, putting on an act of sorts that she was acting; very reminiscent of the scene in Do You Remember Love? berween Minmay and Hikaru. All this happened in plain sight, and sure enough Ranka saw it go down. She found her resolve to play Mao: as much as she idolizes/looks up to Sheryl, Ranka’s certain that she wants alto badly enough.

macross frontier 10 ranka decides to play maomacross frontier 10 ranka alto kissmacross frontier 10 sheryl alto kiss

Just like in Macross Zero, Sara was not overtly attracted to Shin; Sheryl isn’t overtly attracted to Alto the way Ranka is, the way Mao was to Shin.

In the thick of all this is this unnamed Director character, who never spoke to anyone directly during filming. If he needed to communicate something, he would whisper to an assistant who would pass the message along. The matter of the Director not having a name I read as an insertion of Kawamori himself in the show. I’m not saying that the character is Kawamori Shouji, but rather an avatar playing up to a perceived role of the franchise creator.

macross frontier 10 kawamori playing god

I imagine his avatar playing up to his part in the discovery of Iijima Mari, who became a pop idol in the early 1980s at age 17 after playing and singing Lynn Minmay, similar to how 17 year old Nakajima Megumi got her start in the idol buisiness playing Ranka Lee in Macross Frontier (or even Sakamoto Maaya at 16, for playing and singing Kanzaki Hitomi in 1996’s Vision of Escaflowne). I obviously think it’s exaggerated, especially in how he finally talks: directly to Ranka, saying,

Yesterday you were nothing… The legend will begin today!

This episode is the most complex, the most layered piece of self-reference I’ve seen, even for Macross, who has been meta-referencing itself since Do You Remember Love? I suppose Macross 7 did something very close when it had an episode whre they filmed (production story and all) a bio-pic of Lynn Minmay based on Do You Remember Love? which itself is a fictionalized movie within the Macross universe of the events narrated in the original series.

As for the subject, Macross Zero I feel is an overlooked part of the franchise. While it involved more fantasy (which was comically introduced  in Macross 7), it also went with a very gritty depiction of military action that fans of such will appreciate. The atmospheric dogfights involving prototype variable fighters is a wonderful treat.

A Note on Remembering Love

I mentioned in the about page that We Remember Love, not just the blog, is also a concept not unrelated to fanservice.

It is fanservice of a specific kind, similar but not limited to the following ideas and tropes:

  • Homage
  • Continuity nod
  • Continuity porn
  • Nostalgia
  • (Affectionate) Parody
  • Tribute

As such, We Remember Love also exists within subject works and not just fanboy reactions. Creating original content I imagine would be a very high We Remember Love activity. As such, long-standing franchises are the most common examples of this idea in play (e.g. Macross, Gundam). However, it is particularly enjoyable to observe this phenomenon accross shows and across creators. Here are shows that best represent this idea:

  • Martian Successor Nadesico
  • Eureka SeveN
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

Within these shows you’ll find a rich source of love for the shows that came before them, while wholly creating something beyond the referenced works, and are astounding in their own right.

I’ve previously written about expressive and amassing behaviors in relation to one’s hobby (anime and manga in particular), and now I’m going to contextualize it within my idea of ‘remembering love.’ So if I were to rank such behaviors, this is how it would look like:

Remembering Love Activity Tier

If I could someday make a Macross show that’s really part of the canon, that would be THE dream come true. But if I could make a show like Martian Successor NadesicoEureka SeveNTengen Toppa Gurren Lagann then that would be just awesome, since it’s an original work that can remember love for a whole mess of things.

I think that Turn A Gundam, and interestingly both Giant Robo: The Day the Earth Stood Still and Shin Mazinger Z are great examples of the kind of remembering love this episode, Macross Frontier: The Legend of Zero does well. It just happens that Kawamori’s self-insert created a further layer of meta reference that keeps him on the bleeding edge of this activity that I’m so very fond of.

Further Reading

Macross Zero is a peculiar prequel, but it does something for me that most shows don’t [->]

The conceit in this episode includes straight up re-use of animation from Macross Zero. This post exposes in detail which frames were re-used. It’s really good work worth checking out (Darkmirage 2008/06/06)

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.

40 Responses to The Sighs of Kawamori Shouji: Macross Frontier 10

  1. Yot-chan says:

    Oh, the director character DOES have a name: “Johji Yamamori” (Often written in English as “George Yamamori,” which is also correct, but obscures the joke).

    And…, well, this is quibbling, but I’d take exception to your characterization of Mari Iijima. She was already signed to Victor when they told her to try out for Minmay. Macross was not her “big break”…that had already happened. Now, of course, Minmay is the primary reason most people know her these days, and certainly “Do You Remember Love” is the only song of hers that you generally find on any Japanese “Music of the ’80s” copilations…but it’s not really how she got her start.

    But I definitely agree with you on the layers present in the episode. A lot of people seem to write it off as “Oh, they just did that ’cause the Macross Zero Blu-Ray was coming out,” but I think that’s not adequate. I wonder if the Frontier cast had been making a movie about something else…say, Macross Dynamite 7, could they have created as much resonance between the two stories? I wonder…

    • ROFLMAO “Johji Yamamori” good lord that’s so funny it hurts.

      Thanks for the clarification. I’m not surprised if Kawamori enjoys (and by enjoy I don’t mean he likes the misrepresentation, only that he benefits from it) how fans like me relates to Iijima primarily as Minmay, if anything else at all.

      He either makes fun of himself here by exaggerating the ‘discovery’ or taking himself way too seriously. I give him the benefit of the doubt.

      A Dynamite 7 reference would’ve been more Sheryl’s story… I don’t know why I feel this way, only I do. But think about it this way:

      Dynamite 7 is remembered with love in how Vajra = Space Whales in terms of the dynamic of music. At some point the whalers were taking advantage of Basara’s singing to go after the whales similar to how Leon built a strategy around Aimo.

  2. Martin says:

    I loved this episode – firstly because it reminded me to rewatch Macross Zero (which really is underrated, if only because it features Roy Foker, has a level of maturity almost as high as Macross Plus and looks stunning) but also because it takes the franchise’s self-referencing thing and ramps it up to mind-melting levels. Art imitating life imitating art in a dizzying circle.

    I had no idea that Kawamori himself made a sort-of cameo…that makes this episode even more fantastic if your theory is correct (I’d like to think it is!).

    Frontier is top of my rewatch list at the moment, anyway. I’ve been dying to see it again in full glorious HD, but currently lack the hardware. Not long to wait now…

    • See Yot-chan’s comment above. I’m almost certain that this is a self-insert (“Johji Yamamori”). The funny thing is (or the ridiculous thing), Frontier doesn’t stop here. It indulges the self referencing more, all the way to the end.

      The BD rips for Frontier and Zero are pornographic. I ended up watching ALL of Zero again while writing this post. I couldn’t help myself.

  3. Ryan A says:

    I enjoyed this episode for the balance of dynamics, which I find accentuates the entire series; one could watch this episode alone and get a feel for the overall relations between the main trio.

    An interesting note is that I actually get the self-referencing of this episode because I had seen an episode of Macross Zero when it was released…. strangely I never finished that batch of Zero eps (it was the only Macross anything I’d ever watched… probably in 2003-4).

    I like where you’re going with that chart/rank thing.

  4. Shin says:

    Being the Macross newfag, my opinion does not hold much weight, but I’d like to say that I particularly enjoyed this episode because it not only introduced Zero to me but also an introduction to the whole Macross verse, even if Frontier is actually my first foray into the series.

    It was fun to rewatch episode 10 to spot the references, and giggle at the blatant ret-con involving Shery’s earrings wwww

    While it’s unlikely that I will ever watch anything in between Zero and Frontier, I’d like to imagine that the latter will become the impetus that will shape me into a devotee of the franchise down the road, where I can talk about Ranka to younger generation like how you and the other “seniors” talk about Minmay to people like me. This I suppose, will be my way of remembering love.

    • Excellent. What you said spells out the intended success for Frontier. It really is as much an attempt to bring Macross to a new generation of viewers, as it is a love letter to all of us oldfags. Note that the people who whine about Frontier the loudest are other oldfags who want to keep the Franchise locked in a certain way.

      I personally feel that 1994 is a long time ago and Macross has moved on very far from Plus and the original series. I’ll follow it to the ends of the galaxy!

      • Shin says:

        You know, you’re one of the few series veterans I know of that welcome newbies like me with open arms. As you’ve said, there are oldfags out there who are vehemently protective of their beloved Franchise that they would shun out people like me. Can’t say I blame them though….

        • Theirs isn’t love as much as possessiveness of a thing they like in a certain way. By the time of Ranka’s ascendance, Minmay is in her 60s just like Mao who’s her age.

          C’mon Shin, even lolis grow up someday.

  5. animewriter says:

    Guess what? After reading all your loving posts proclaiming your undying Macross love, I’ve “acquired” all the other Macross material (I’ve already watched the original, and own the DYRL movie) and I’m going to try to remember love by trying to give the entire Macross universe a run through by the end of the year.

    Oh, by the way, you’re getting too damn old, what could be better that being a young military pilot trapped on a desert island with two attractive sweet young things fighting for your attention. If I was that age again, the only thing that comes to my mind is “life sure can be sweet” , and my motto would be “grab whatever love comes around because you could be dead tomorrow, loli or not”.

    • I did something similar: “The Super Dimensional Journey of Love Remembered”. I was able to complete the entire canon, albeit not in order. I’m going to try again this time in proper chronological order. You may want to check out these posts as they may be helpful [1] and [2]

      LOL, the thing about these damn flyboys in Macross — they’re more into flying than anything else. Even a full-blooded hormonal teenager like Ichijo turned out like this in the end. Minmay’s lyrics in “My Boyfriend is a Pilot” is truer in the Macross universe than many people give it credit for.

  6. gloval says:

    Nice chart on remembering love you have there. The top three surely are great goals to achieve. I think, you could group it into larger categories: Acquisition -> Imitation, Analysis and Integration -> Creation.

    The middle category is a little troublesome and I refuse to rank them one on top of another because fan fiction, translations, cosplay and essays vary greatly in quality. Take fan fiction, it could be mere imitation of plot with insert characters but really good ones could be bumped up as original creations.

    Come to think of it, this is similar to how cultures should benefit from foreign influence and give benefit to the world in return.

    Oh, and BTW, Megumi was 19 when Frontier showed last year. And the wiki says she’s under Stardust Promotion when she auditioned for Frontier.

    • Ranka was under Vector promotions, the key stat would be age during production. Of course Bird Human took ridiculously little time to produce and screen.

      Quality should be the indicator of rank, as crap is all over any category. Still, I too am uncomfortable with my own ranking.

  7. Vendredi says:

    The Macross OVA series have always been my favourites out of the continuity if only because I’m absolutely starved for some good old-fashioned air-to-air combat with no frills attached (Yukikaze went a long way towards scratching that itch, but it’s still rare to see a fighter jet anime of any stripe).

    I do like the way Macross in general has approached their movies in a meta way, making them “in-universe” retellings, of a sort; it’s a good way to approach things – essentially, a “legend” in every sense of the term.

    To be honest this episode i think qualifies for the having the most overt QUALITY sequence in Macross Frontier – the whole segment with the bird-lion (which introduces Brera) feels incredible slapdash, and certainly was a lot worse than the QUALITY ups and downs in the Sheryl panty fiasco, although I’ve always loved that last segment (both in Frontier and Zero) featuring the burned-out Valkyrie being lifted up.

    I do kind of wish they had expanded on the connections to Zero – we learn that Mao Nome was working with/on the Vajra, but little else about her later life.

    Also, this calls to mind that particular picture of Alto dressed as Sara… I believe THAT Animeblog’s Crusader put it up on one of his Macross Frontier posts.

    • Oh wow you reminded me of that Sara Saotome image lulz. I too, wish they fleshed out some more exposition on the actual continuity connection with Zero.

      I totally avoided talking about that ‘hydra’ attack. It was just awful. Awful. AWFUL.

      Episode 8 was all about ugly off-model character designs. The bit here was just fail animation altogether.

    • Skribulous says:

      Mao Nome also wrote the original Tori No Hito “novel”, of which the “movie” was based on.

      Also, an easily-missed tidbit that adds to the myth-making in the series: the original novel was actually about Mao herself (as the whole story on the novel was about the events covered in Macross Zero filtered through her perspective), while the movie “adaption” rewrote it as a biopic of Shin Kudo.

      • qamzin says:

        Where do you get this stuff? Link pl0x

      • Skribulous says:

        The hints were scattered in the episode itself–or at least, that was how I remember the discussion that went online when the episode first aired. Odd that I couldn’t find any screenshots of the book in the relevant scenes, but then again, those were blink-and-you-miss moments. So a healthy skepticism to my assertions are understandable.

        …However, Mao was the narrator of Macross Zero, plus the implication that what they were shooting in episode 10 wasn’t only a reenactment of the events of MZ, but that was in fact the MZ OAV itself. Thus the said comparison in the main article with The Adventures Of Mikuru Asahina.

        • So there’s a novel, and the movie is an adaptation of this novel… and Mao Nome is the author. Also the movie itself, is the OVA we actually see — as if it were DYRL? for events as seen.

          I can probably believe everything except how the OVA is the Tori no Hito made by Johji Yamamori. Otherwise, Macross Zero would be named such. Consider the tradition:

          SDF Macross: DYRL?
          Macross Plus: Macross Plus Movie ed.
          Macross Zero: Tori no Hito (hypothetical)
          Macross Frontier: Macross Frontier Movie ed. (False Diva, etc)

          Maybe you have links to the original thread, so as readers who stumble to this post can validate these interesting ideas.

          • Skribulous says:

            I’ll see if I can find it again. There’s also lots of neat backstory tidbits in it, if I can remember it right.

  8. 2DT says:

    Interesting point re: the “Kawamori” cameo. Surely the Macross Frontier project knew they were making a star when they started building Ranka.

    The Macross Zero references were totally lost on me at the time, so I appreciate this post.

    • Well, I’m sure they did but there’s also this speculation (spearheaded by Crusader of THAT anime blog) that Ranka the character is a “troll” on the moe phenomenon itself.

      I’m also sure that they knew they were building two stars: both May’n and Nakajima Megumi. It’s a bit of a shame how Ranka’s character isn’t as well-written as I’d like her to be, especially after the midway point in the series.

      But my rewatch may surprise me yet, so I’m not attached to this opinion at all.

  9. Skribulous says:

    I can’t believe you just compared Macross Frontier with Haruhi. WTF is wrong with you? :p

    …I am in agreement with the rest of this article, though. Odd you didn’t mention how Ranka’s role was observed to be “fated” by the other cast members in the show (Sheryl not-so-subtly pushing Ranka for the part, the rather coincidental incidents that made the original actress unavailable, Ozma’s comment on her fate…).

    • WTF?

      The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya has consistently been one of the Macross franchise’s good friends; remembering love in the form of the shoutout in S1 when Haruhi shouted “LISTEN TO MY SONG” and Kyon responded with “BOMBAAA!” all the way to the Itano Circus fireworks in Endless Eight, when Kyon shouted “KAKIZAKIII!” as well as a smaller Vajra reference somewhere too.

      Know who your friends are man.

      Yeah thanks for pointing out Ozma’s comment, the other things however were more like the heavy handed ‘plot grease’ to shoehorn the symmetry. I don’t mind them, but I’d rather not pay attention to them too much.

      • Skribulous says:

        References to Macross (as well as Gundam, Doraemon, etc.) aren’t exactly unique to Haruhi, though, especially considering that the current generation of animators have acknowledged the Macross series as an influence.

      • Skribulous says:

        I forgot to add: you do realize that the emoticon denotes that I was being facetious. 🙂

        • Oh I know you aren’t picking a fight or anything 😉

          I felt it important to explain it because people do get hung up on Haruhi in particular, and considering that the subject of this post includes inter-franchise referencing and ‘remembering love’ it’s a good opportunity to show how it plays out in a new/current franchise that is outside the mecha genre.

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  14. totallyrobot says:

    Wow, I know this is an old post, but amazing article. I am impressed with your ideas and analysis.
    Great job dissecting the meta on one of my favorite episodes of the series and then turning it into a thesis on creativity/creation itself.

    • Thank you for the kind words. Macross Frontier will always be a special show for me, as it is the show that brought all my feelings about my favorite franchise together. It’s the impetus, as it were, for me to remember love… and the show is a very big reason for why I blog.

      I hope you find the rest of the posts on this show to your liking as well. I’m still at it!

  15. Vanossa says:

    Hey! I was currently reading your impressions. Very nicely done. Say, though, wasn’t Mao Nome a jailbait? (Eleven years old during Macross Zero?).

    • Thanks… wow I just checked wikipedia… you’re right! Mao is probably the youngest among lead characters. I don’t think the girl in Dynamite 7 qualifies, though she would seem younger. Mao is technically a child making Shin a pedophile had he pursued her.

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