False Divas: Macross Frontier 12 “Interstellar Flight”

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.

Further Reading

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! [->]

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.
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16 Responses to False Divas: Macross Frontier 12 “Interstellar Flight”

  1. Interesting breakdown of the romance situations (though I had to skip the M7 and Plus parts to avoid spoilers), it’s neat to see everything laid out like that. It also illustrates some of the different ways that Macross has approached its love triangles, and also its similarities. Over or underdog it definitely rewards the more consistent party, irrespective of whether they have flash or fame.

    • Thanks, your comment about consistency is an interesting one, especially if we relate it to ‘initial contempt’ or, for lack of a better word, ‘tsundere’ behavior between the parties.

      Hayase and Ichijo were remarkably tsun-tsun towards each other, Minmay and Hikaru on the other hand, hit it off very quick.

      It’s the same with Alto x Sheryl vis-a-vis Ranka and Alto; then Shin and Sara (compared to Mao towards Shin).

      How would you work out consistency with these, considering that there are obvious changes in behavior?

      • By consistency I mean that the attraction doesn’t seem to always be back and forth, up and down. Minmay hit it off with Hikaru early on, but she was very flighty about showing real affection towards him and even with herself about whether she actually was in love with him, causing him to also become inconsistent/unsure of his feelings for her. It was Minmay’s battle to lose and her actions were the majority of what did her in. Ranka was also less certain and acted accordingly. Probably just due to the nature of her younger age than anything else, she was reluctant to convey anything but a senpai/older brother feeling to Alto. She didn’t stick with pursuing Alto while Sheryl did.

        Mao doesn’t fit the concept quite as well, she was pretty consistent but, at least at the point I’m at in the series, still ended up losing out. Zero seems to defy the convention a bit, though the more serious-minded love interest still won out (again, or so it seems).

        Misa on the other hand was consistent once she began to like Hikaru. Her moments of self-doubt and insecurity weren’t over whether or not she liked Hikaru, they were caused by her being unsure of whether he liked her or Minmay. Even if you argue that she was unsure of her feelings at first, she didn’t act on them when she was uncertain, which Minmay did. This gave an impression to Hikaru that was later broken and thus caused him to be uncertain. Sheryl was after Alto from the start and never really let up, nor felt much (or maybe not any) of Misa’s insecurity. She seemed more insecure about Ranka being a threat musically than romantically. At least, that’s how I perceived things in the three series.

        • I think your explanation is solid. The one who doesn’t waffle or waver (or the more serious-minded or mature) is privileged in the narrative; and I’m pretty good with that (my burning pain for Minmay notwithstanding).

          Watch out for Macross Plus. Given what you’ve enjoyed and disliked so far in the franchise, I think this will be your favorite sequel. It was mine, until Macross 7 broke me.

  2. 2DT says:

    What I like about the Frontier triangle, and what renders it more symmetrical in my eyes than the rest, is that Ranka and Sheryl like each other too. Ranka is Sheryl’s biggest fan, and Sheryl wants to take the new star under her wing… at least initially. I don’t remember Minmay really even acknowledging Misa’s existence.

    • LOL Minmay referred to Misa as “that woman.”

      I too, am thrilled about Ranka and Sheryl being nuts about each other. It’s Ranka’s power more than anything I think: Sheryl is more moe for Ranka than even Alto is, who is tsundere for both (pardon my use of the term).

      To, Macross 7 is the weirdest (no surprise, I suppose), in that Basara never really acknowledges Mylene’s feelings — not that it was ever communicated straight, but then again it’s painfully obvious. Also, Basara and Gamlin work out this rather amazing comradeship — nothing like Ranka and Sheryl, or anything else I’ve seen.

      • Emperor J says:

        The Basara and Gamlin relationship is different, but I think that the two characters would probably be friends were it not for the circumstances that see them oppose each other in various arenas. The dynamic is probably similar to the Macross Plus triangle post-epic city battle.

        • This makes a lot of sense only that Basara never really has a friend at the level of relationship that Guld and Isamu had, or Hikaru and Roy had. Basara had people who care for him as a friend, and he kind of cared for everyone superficially (i.e. never really getting to know them, despite going out of his way to do something for them — like he would Sivil).

  3. Ryan A says:

    Ah yes. I’ll have to repeat what 2DT said in that Ranka and Sheryl also have their own nice dynamics going on (non-romantic of course), and though they are competing, they could probably be greater friends if it weren’t for Alto; they still do have a nice connection with each other.

    Rad triangle.

    • I’ll talk about the elephant in the room: MENAGE-A-TROIS, which is Meltlandi for “Can’t we all just get along?”

      • Ningyo says:

        I love that term. There’s class in it. It’s like calling cheese ‘Comté vieux’. To everyone else, it’s cheese, but to the true enthusiasts it’s so much more.

        I haven’t much say in the love triangles, but you just reminded me of the existence of Macross Zero,and that I watched it at some point in life. It was cool. I remember raging at a that Sara Nome lady. Probably when ‘hey, this real robot stuff isn’t really so realistic’ first struck me.
        I still liked it though. Seriously.

  4. donkangoljones says:

    Your Frontier Faggotry may only be equaled by my Gundam Gayness. Eventhough I’ve seen Frotier, I’ll need to view more Macross before I can hop into the conversation.

  5. Crusader says:

    At the time Sheryl was earning my begrudging respect at a steady pace, this episode marked the beginning of her biggest test, and I was relieved that Sheryl didn’t cry or go into monologue mode. After 10 I expected Ranka to make headway, she didn’t, and this was her second big shot at the Alto-hime sweepstakes, but the decisive shift didn’t really occur. After this point Sheryl was off to try and sort things out on her own but Ranka came off worse from having increased time with hime as she started doing things that she was unsure of and uncommitted to. It kind of boils down to Sheryl wanting to build a future with Alto-hime, and Ranka wanting Alto-hime to give her the future.

    I liked how they slowly built up Grace to as a sinister villain, while inattentive people were shocked, her innocent hacking wasn’t so innocent, conversations with Leon were far from reassuring, her control of Brera boded rather ill, and when she used her Boss voice from MGS3, some of use knew that shit was going to hit the fan…

    • It kind of boils down to Sheryl wanting to build a future with Alto-hime, and Ranka wanting Alto-hime to give her the future.

      Good stuff.

      Inattentive people were indeed shocked about Grace, and worse; people who aren’t even watching the show are whining about this ‘abrupt’ revelation. I can’t remember when the Dimension Eater was used in Macross 7, and I’m loathe to plow through those episodes just to find it ugh.

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