One thing that made Macross Frontier interesting for me is the dynamics of the love triangle, from the standpoint of character ‘class’ (as if they were in a role-playing game). While it’s important to note how Ranka makes a statement performance that shifts the balance of her fame and Alto face-time vs. Sheryl, and how the episode is practically tore the envelope for masturbatory self-homage (NOT a knock; it’s remembering love, after all).
Let us look at the elements of the triangles throughout the Macross Franchise (canon):
The character classes influence the ‘dog’ positions within the context of the love triangles. In Macross Frontier, we have a lopsided beginning comparing Ranka (waitress, fangirl) and Sheryl (Galactic Fairy). It is clear who is the underdog in the love triangle, if not their careers.
Not since Macross Plus did we have the characters in the triangle in direct competition with each other professionally. And there’s more: if we consider how Alto is both a stunt pilot entertainer and a Kabuki Oyama (actor), they are all in the entertainment business. Alto’s not a rival of either of them, so this is not that notable.
The underdog/overdog dynamic allows for some dramatic nuance in the rivalry. Rivalries in my mind involve parity among participants. However, the underdog/overdog dynamic makes moments wherein parity is achieved during the narrative dramatic events. In episode 12, such a parity is achieved between Ranka and Sheryl.
It’s Ranka’s coming out party, and while Sheryl is forced to acknowledge her as a rival professionally; she somehow acknowledged Ranka as a rival for Alto’s attention/affection back during the filming of Tori no Hito in episode 10. Sheryl actually maneuvered this trip to Gallia IV to take Alto away from Ranka as some kind of birthday gift.
We have come some ways I think from where the triangle started:
While the very beginning indicates a high degree of asymmetry, Sheryl becomes attracted to Alto very quickly and becomes an active pursuer. Up to episode 10, Sheryl has been dominant in the romance front. By dominant I merely mean she’s had more quality time spent with Alto, as well as occupying her popular idol position.
The Birdman movie was both Ranka’s big break, and her own quality time spent with Alto. This would have been her turning point, only that her sudden popularity took away time and opportunity to spend with him. Except for Macross Plus (and Zero)with its brevity-induced table-setting of the triangular romance conflict, Macross Frontier is the quickest to establish the love triangle theme. Even DYRL? took longer relative to its length.
Here’s another glimpse at the triangles in the Macross franchise:
So why do I deem these divas ‘false’? Neither of them were truly in a dominant position — to be conferred diva status. Sheryl was on a decline, though her ‘Rome at the height of her powers’ moment was far back on episode 10. By episode 11 she was already being questioned by Alto for not having work. As for Ranka, she’s emergent but she hasn’t even done her first paid concert yet. The concert she did here is for all intents and purposes pro bono ‘work.’
That said, this was a pretty big thing, in that it established her connection with ‘The New Minmay’ PR push, better expressed in her moniker (known among Ranka/idol otaku at this point) as the “Super Dimensional Cinderella.” On the romance front, she indeed saved Alto’s life and for the big reversal: she actually gets to enjoy Alto flying in the atmosphere on a ‘date’ — Sheryl’s elaborately planned gift for him.
Where’s Sheryl? Being put down by the emerging villain: Grace O’Connor, who apparently has been dosing her with something awful that has now kept her sick. That Grace is up to no good, as she can’t be just a villain who drugs the talents she represents/manages.
If anything, the only diva here is Alto. This whole experience: the trip, a grand rescue, flying in the sky… were all done just for him, by competing idols. And he didn’t even really ask for anything! He’s too busy running away from his dad. Some guys have all the freaking luck.
My liberal use of ‘underdog’ is slightly different from the common usage, best exemplified here in a question on shonen anime (John 2009/12/17)
Ranka would’ve gotten pwnd by Sheryl, everything was so in place! [->]