It’s said that the true definition of insanity is to keep doing the same things over and over and yet expect different results. Often when we’re confronted by setbacks, or even plateus in our performance, we think that we will improve if we just ‘try a little harder,’ or ‘tweak the method a little.’
It’s also been said that some problems cannot be solved by the methods that played a part in their creation, and that something completely new is necessary to not merely manage the problem, but to make a breakthrough.
In this episode (18) of Macross Frontier, we see this dynamic play out in various ways.
Sheryl Nome and Authentic Adversity
Sheryl fights back and fails. Sheryl’s method is to work hard, and work harder. She never took anything for granted, and believes in herself not in a way that she is entitled to her fame and success but because she earned it.
This is revealed by Grace to be false, in that Grace is far less generous in appraising the talent and giving credit to the work ethic of Sheryl. She is after all, a ‘manufactured’ idol wherein the manufacturing process ensures that the product meets the specifications of mass appeal.
While completely apocryphal and unofficial, May’n in her blog gives an account of Sheryl’s conversations with Grace O’Connor leading up to the production of her debut song, ‘Pink Monsoon.’ I find it interesting that the ‘actors’ improvising in this case are none other than May’n (the musical performer for Sheryl Nome’s character) playing Sheryl, and Kanno Yoko (the composer and arranger of the Macross Frontier OST) playing Grace.
“Sheryl~In the galaxy, R&B is currently popular. Eeeeh, I can’t do that Grace, I want to sing rock! It’s okay, it will be R&B Sheryl!”
At the time of debut, Sheryl did not choose the style. R&B was also a challenge isn’t it?
From May’n’s blog post, by way of A Gabriela Robin Site. What this quote portrays is how I imagine Grace exerting overall creative control over Sheryl. Once she became popular, Grace let Sheryl believe that she was calling the shots. Consider Sheryl’s arrival on Frontier, she behaved very much like a haughty pop star and treated Grace like an assistant.
What’s more likely is that Grace pretty much handled Sheryl — manipulated not only how people’s impressions of her, but also her own impressions of how the world or her public works. Observe how she’s been handling Ranka so far, not that Ranka was able to say no to anything Elmo Krdanik (her former manager) asked of her. But it’s really no stretch to say that Grace is the far smoother one between them.
The point is, Sheryl’s method — which is to work harder, be stronger — “Because I’m Sheryl Nome!” will not work (and perhaps it never as well as she thought). Further, her way of becoming stronger is now completely ineffective. This is because Grace has made clear that Sheryl will die due to her V-Type sickness.
And how does Sheryl respond to this news? She responds the only way she knows, that is to tough it out, act strong even when there is no strength left. We know this because she forbade Michel to let Alto know about what’s happening to her.
It takes for her to reach rock bottom to accept the kindness of another, and by that time, she was having delusions that it was Alto rescuing her. Clearly, this is a case wherein a slavish adherence to the status quo fails to produce results.
Ozma Lee Forgets About How Macross Truly Fights
The military success of Macross expeditionary fleets for the last decade or so has much to do with not having much to fight, but also the improving technology of warfare available to them. That said, the formula is still very simple: Neutralize fighter craft with more versatile fighter craft, and eliminate large targets with reaction weaponry. Just be more powerful than the other guys.
Ozma Lee naturally wants Ranka to be excluded from any further military actions, because he feels responsible for her and wouldn’t want her to be at risk in any way. What’s interesting is that he insisted that there is no need for her to participate in these operations because conventional weapons backed by reaction weapons have proven to be effective against the Vajra. With his piloting skill and the military might of the fleet backing him, Ozma feels he should be the one protecting Ranka and not the other way around.
However, the significant Macross-level engagements (excluding the incomplete rescue operation for Macross Galaxy performed by SMS’ Macross Quarter) were successful due to the various incarnations of the ‘Minmay Attack’ (featuring Minmay herself, Fire Bomber as Sound Force in a large number of cases, and recently Ranka). When faced by threatening odds, this completely non-standard method of fighting has made the breakthroughs.
Ozma apparently forgets this, or would rather ignore this. After all, it isn’t well, cool. It’s silly to the point of absurdity. It is gimmicky as opposed to tactically elegant. I don’t think one nurtures an ambition of being an ace pilot with the end in mind of being protected by or saved by a pop idol during battle. What about Sound Force Ozma? What about their stars?
When the Vajra did come to attack, conventional and reaction weapons stop working. The Vajra have genetic memory that allows for rapid adaptation. The current armor carapaces of the attacking Vajra are immune to everything but the powerful beam weapons, particularly the Macross class cannons.
Even so, the only way these cannons were able to fire efficient salvos (wiping out the attacking swarm) is due to Ranka’s performance of the propaganda version of Aimo, fulfilling President Howard Glass’ heralding that she is the modern Lynn Minmay.
In both cases, we see a devotion to adhering to what works — despite the fact that the status quo isn’t even working anymore. Keep in mind that President Glass didn’t authorize Ranka’s deployment. Leon acted in his own initiative. Had Glass been left to dictate how the battle be conducted, he would never had deployed Ranka since his condition for deploying her was for the conditions to be ‘safe.’
In both cases, the initiative of third parties allowed for the breakthroughs: Yasaburo rescuing Sheryl from the rainy streets, and Leon deploying Ranka while disobeying orders. By extension, the whole plan to make a long distance fold is a desperate act outside normal parameters. The colony as it stands cannot healthily provide the energy requirements for the undertaking. And yet, the government found a way by severely reducing the quality of life of its inhabitants. They can’t say they weren’t represented — since theirParliament ratified the plan.
While I wouldn’t say any of these characters are insane, they all stand to benefit from using non-standard approaches to dealing with adversity. Alto may just have to give up being a self-righteous runaway for a while, and face his father and his immediate past; if he wants to care for Sheryl.
Summary and short review here [->]
There seemed to be a lot going on in this episode, and the show has done a good job so far juggling all these plot balls in the air. Similar episodes with multiple narrative progressions include episode 09, and episode 15.