When an Episode is a Highlight Reel: Macross Frontier 20 “Diamond Crevasse” is Full of Big Moments

macross frontier 20 sheryl alto ranka avoiding responsibility

When I was compiling a list of ‘Moments in Anime’ back in 2008, I think I said I didn’t want to make a list of posts containing moments only from Macross Frontier. Rewatching this episode brought home how real that sentiment was for me nearly two years ago. This episode, while technically far from perfect (or even plausible) delivered intense and intensely entertaining dramatic moments. It’s so full of it.

In this post I will attempt to comment on each one. I don’t have a particular framework by which to analyze these. I’ll pull something out of my asshat and just call it awesomeology.

I’ll proceed in sequential order as they occur in the narrative.

macross frontier 20 ruined city vajra attack


The Vajra nested within the Frontier colony reveal themselves in a swarm and assault the civilian population. Think Alien only instead of one soldier organism stowed away in a exploration ship, an entire swarm stows itself away inside an exploratory human colony, and instead of picking off passengers one by one, the swarm assaults the entire population directly.

The Slap Heard Throughout the Galaxy

Ranka displays terrible judgment and refuses to sing to protect the colony from the Vajra infestation, despite being the vessel of the people’s hopes. Why? Because moments prior she comes to a realization of why exactly she sings, and decides her voice and her song is only for Alto. She finds Sheryl in Alto’s arms after her concert at Mihoshi High and imagines the worst. In the throes of broken-hearted hysteria she attempts to shirk responsibility, despite Alto’s respectful request.

This is where Sheryl shows everyone just how awesome she really is (part 9001). She grabs hold of Ranka, slaps her right across the face (half of Bright Noa’s power, but over 9000 times his effectiveness; then embraces her rival, protege, and friend – mercifully, gently, yet sternly reminding her of her power and gift, that Ranka is the one who can save the people, and that she should stand up and sing for them.

macross frontier 20 ranka crying not a tool for fighting vajra macross frontier 20 sheryl white gloved hand of justice macross frontier 20 alto ranka sheryl slap of justice macross frontier 20 ranka sheryl hand of justice is also merciful

Beautiful, but even more so because of what happens after…

macross frontier 20 alto sheryl ranka aimo

Alto is WRONG, Sheryl’s slap is for nothing, and Ranka FAILS utterly

In previous sorties, Ranka’s Aimo (O’Connor mix) confuses the Vajra long enough for the Frontier forces to shoot them. Alto thinks Ranka’s singing will calm the Vajra down. Sheryl is down with this plan. Ranka is shamed and inspired by Sheryl (and Alto) to sing. However, while the Vajra did seem to LISTEN TO HER SONG, they were neither befuddled nor calmed. Instead they got even more pissed and were outright enraged, glowing red eyes and all.

The city gets sacked, worse than Kamjin’s Christmas sortie on Macross City back in 2012.

macross frontier 20 frontier city in flames

The violence of their attack resulted in more civilian casualties, including Nanase getting injured by rubble. This particular failure, occuring at the worst possible time just makes me love this show even more. It displays a cruelty that no one really expects from this bright and shiny show. Love is hell.

Howard Glass is assasinated

The previous episode set it up, and I was expecting it. But it was kind of a tease because the sniper got killed by Vajra in some classic horror style, with the blood and then the body falling from the roof with a terrified teenager getting dripped on. President Glass was killed in close range by Leon Mishima’s personal guard. Poor Howard never saw it coming. This made Leon significant as a villain. It’s one thing to attempt to mastermind some shenanigans, and it seemed that he was dealing with things beyond him anyway, but it’s another thing to kill your trusting boss (and his retinue) in cold blood, in a hail of assault rifle fire in very close range.

Poor Cathy.

Most Badass Confession Scene in Mainstream Anime EVAR

I don’t care what you say. Nothing beats this. Klan Klan is sick of Michel’s dithering. She takes off her clothes (for the Macronization process), asks him who he loves. He gives her a weasel’s answer, talking about not having the ability to love (for fear of losing them, or they losing him because of military careers and fighting and what not). She delivers an uppercut in the gut, felt right through the Ex-Gear then sets him straight.

She kisses him. She loves him, it’s because they can lose each other forever in this fight that she has to tell him, because she loves him, and this is the truth of her life.

She even delivers the sermon and warning to Alto (and Ranka) nearby before running off to the Macronization chamber. Oh yeah, Klan Klan is a topless loli in this whole sequence.

macross frontier 20 michel klan confession 01 macross frontier 20 michel klan confession 03 macross frontier 20 michel klan confession 04 macross frontier 20 michel klan confession 05

This is really badass, but even more so because of what happens after…

Michel’s worst fears come true: Someone has to die; it’s either him or Klan, Tails says it’s Michel

So Michel was afraid of love and commitment because he’s afraid of death. This may have something to do with his dead sister, but no matter, his worst fears are realized. The Vajra breach the chamber where the Macronization unit is held, and Klan is still in the process. He protects the vulnerable Zentraedi pilot, but the Vajra swarm gets the better of him.

The 2nd stage Vajra already has a deadly tail, and Michel is not only run through, it happens just as Klan was regaining her consciousness. His montage plays through, and his corpse is sucked into space by the vacuum caused by the breach in the hull. Alto couldn’t retrieve it.

macross frontier 20 death of michel blanc

There’s nothing left for Klan, just as Michel feared. This was the truth of his life.

While all of this was happening, after Ranka’s song failed to offer hope, Sheryl’s voice refracts light like diamonds in the crevasse of everyone’s despair

This is where Sheryl shows how awesome she truly is (part 9003). Sheryl took the injured Nanase to a shelter where many civilians were panicking and despairing for a rescue that wasn’t forthcoming. What does the Galactic Fairy do? Remember that this woman is facing the futility of her existence, and the certainty of her doom.

She knows she is dying, even if she lives through this Vajra infestation. If Ranka thought Alto holding Sheryl in his arms made her singing pointless, Sheryl was made certain that her love for Alto is indeed pointless – as is anything else she sets out to do, because she’s as good as dead.

But she shows that the hand that slapped Ranka in the name of justice is indeed just, merciful, and giving. To calm the people down the way Ranka was supposed to calm the Vajra, to give them hope the way Ranka was supposed to, Sheryl rendered a rawer, more heartfelt version of Diamond Crevasse – the song that heralded her supposed farewell to the Macross Frontier colony, and is a fitting herald of her farewell to her life.

Against the odds she gave when there was nothing to give, performed magic the way a Galactic Fairy can be imagined to perform. This is because she is Sheryl. At this moment, this is the truth of her life.

macross frontier 20 sheryl diamond crevasse


God damn, what an episode! Can you tell me of specific episodes from other shows that pack in a similar density of big moments? I would want to watch those shows.

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 Macross, Macross Frontier, moments in anime and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to When an Episode is a Highlight Reel: Macross Frontier 20 “Diamond Crevasse” is Full of Big Moments

  1. Heinsia says:

    Sheryl is a slut but at least she can get things done, she is somehow similar to Senjougahara imo.

  2. Ryan A says:

    Massive episode. Such a powerful close. Klan Klan’s situation was so crushing.

    I’m not the one to say if there are episodes with this many large moments, although I think some of the events come off more or less sizable than others. Perhaps the end of Champloo, Dennou Coil, or the latter half of Terra e… have a tantamount episode, but it’s hard to remember specific segments in details.

    One thing is certain, it’s more likely to find another massive episode in a continuous series (non-episodic) than one which is purely episodic or contains short arcs.

    • It’s a matter of pace as, otou-san says later. The thing I find remarkable here, is how there’s both resolution, failure of accepted approaches, and set-up of further conflict all at once, despite not being a finale, a pilot ep, or a midpoint ep.

      The episodes leading up to this have been quite eventful too, so it says something about the narrative density of this particular show. Given its fluffiness, it can be easy to dismiss, but it is narratively dense.

      • Ryan A says:

        and set-up of further conflict all at once, despite not being a finale, a pilot ep, or a midpoint ep

        Right, and I agree on being narratively dense, which is possibly why there might not be a comparable episode. A robust story is unusual IMO, and although they may exist, I don’t think every director/composer/producer is confident enough to create a reasonable adaptation.

        Very glad Frontier even exists 🙂

        • The funny thing is, I didn’t notice this until recently. Gundam 00 episodes 17-19 come to mind, but the events aren’t as iconic relative to its own franchise as the examples here.

          • Ryan A says:

            See, I wouldn’t even be able to distinguish that relation within the Macross franchise because I lack fluency 🙂

            One might be able to argue some season of Geass, but that was so trollishly elevated beyond being relevant.

  3. crazydave says:

    Last episode of Gunslinger Girl Il Teatrino. Triela vs Pinocchio.
    Last episode of Eden of the East. BANG
    End of Xam’d

    • Finales and denouements should have a lot going on, at times too much going on. I stayed away from these examples, otherwise the finale of Turn A Gundam is rather incomparable.

      Xam’d finale was even more confusing than Eureka SeveN’s. I like both shows a lot, but there you go.

      • crazydave says:

        While I am not sure about Xam’d I do remember that the first two I mention both had music scores playing that really were emotion evoking. Frontier may have been my first Macross but if there is one thing I learned watching it is how powerful music can be.

        • Oh man, Frontier’s score is top -notch! Kanno did particularly well also with Turn A Gundam (of course there’s Cowboy Bebop, Macross Plus, and Vision of Escaflowne).

          Joe Hisaishi’s work on the Ghibli movies is also exemplary. Lastly, for now I suggest Giant Robo (OVA), some really excellent scoring work (over 100 tracks for 7 episodes).

    • universalbunny says:

      Just about anything in the second half of She: The Ultimate Weapon (Gonzo series I believe, and quite out of character one, much like Gasaraki for Sunrise). The plot is often implied, but the jump from utter despair and into even deeper despair is constant.

      Short Version (Beware of Spoliers):
      1) there is war all around and our friend are dies before our eyes, – well, at least we are alive and together.
      2) Well, it’s not just the war, the world is kind of dying, – yeah, but we are still together, right? Until the end?
      3)Well, you see I’ve got a week or two of medication and after that – i’m gone. Not dead really, just a huge weapon that will kind of contribute to destruction of the world, – Then I will die with you, no?
      4) Funny that, I’m actually quite kind so you’ll be the only human left alive in the middle of the world that has turned – literally – into a desert, cool no? – Blast.

      Of course, the presentation is much more elegant and dramatic – enough to induce a few tears.

  4. otou-san says:

    Most of FLCL is densely packed with great moments — the last episode of course and also the third qualify for most “wows” per second if you ask me, but another FLCL fan may tell you differently.

    I started looking for these kinds of things in my MAL and realized that most were either opening episodes or climaxes, which makes sense — pack a whole lot of punch to get people hooked or cram every unresolved thing in at the end to make the hero more heroic or the tragedy more tragic. So, should they even count? Paranoia Agent, RahXephon, Shin Mazinger, they’re all whiz-bang pow! at the end. And Ga-Rei Zero, Futakoi Alternative, and Soul Eater were all zoom-crash-hey slap your face repeatedly! in their openings.

    I know you hate speculating on creator intent, but it’s probably intentional that not many serial episodes have too many significant happenings in them. You have from 12-50 episodes to keep people watching, and pacing is key. Of course, out of all of the things I love Kawamori for, pacing is not one of them. Especially in this series.

    • All good points.

      The thing about the pacing here I find objectionable is isn’t the pace in itself, but rather the content of the ‘slow’ episodes. Particularly, episode 08 with the panties and school hijinks (and horrible animation) happen.

      Otherwise, everything after the midpoint/idol sing-off moves at an escalating pace.

  5. OnyxSyaoran says:

    “CLANNAD” but the episodes are scattered lol episodes 9, 14 and 22 from the first series are the ones that made me cry, and from “CLANNAD ~After Story~” are Episodes 16, 18, 21 and the DVD special another world from Kyou. And a lot of “Kino no Tabi” episodes too, the last episode was heartbreaking.

    • Someday I’ll probably check that show out. Thanks for throwing it in here.

      • universalbunny says:

        Forgive my asking, but you haven’t seen Kino no Tabi or Clannad -After Story? If it’s the former – I do second OnyxSyaoran’s suggestion and would like to add that as last episode is heartbreaking so episode 11 (the museum and match one) is mind shattering.

        • Not Clannad, it’s not my kind of story but I’ll probably check it out. I have Kino no Tabi in my backlog so I’ll discover its wonders sooner than later.

          For now though, Evangelion faggetry is pervasive. After watching 2.22 I resolved to rewatch the TV series for the nth time as well as End of Eva.

  6. Bruno J Global says:

    Wait, what’s the most badass confession scene in NON-mainstream anime then? This is the best episode in Frontier for me, and its mainly because of that whole confession sequence. The other memorable Macross confession scene for me is in Zero, the one between Shin and Sara which happened in the penultimate episode.

    I’m trying to think of another episode with big moments that isn’t the first, middle or last, and I can’t seem to come up with one. One that I considered was Vandread Second Stage episode 3.

    • I haven’t seen enough anime to make an ultimate statement either way, but I supposed I would be challenged easier if I said mainstream — since more people would have been exposed to these.

      It’s hard to think of an episode that’s so jam-packed isn’t it? Not even in SDFM or M7 would you find an episode so narratively dense.

  7. Vendredi says:

    Zetsouboushiita! My character’s been killed off, so I need to find myself another role!

    I have to say though, what gives Michael’s death a lot of impact is how sudden and unexpected it is to a first-time viewer, even one who’s seen a lot of mecha shows. Ozma for example hits all the typical notes one expects for a “to-be-killed-off” character (pineapple cake, anyone) but it’s the brash sidekick that gets the hook.

  8. universalbunny says:

    Someone had to die, it’s a part of the tradition of Mecha. Ozma has been raising the flags for quite a while, but the writers trolled us with the Pineapple Cake. Killing off Ranka, Sheryl or Alto would have destroyed the triangle – underlying theme. Luca or Nanase would not have had much emotional impact so there were few choices: Michael and Klan being the top candidates. To clarify, despite the above predictability implied by the structure and despite being a very serious person, I actually shed a few tears in those moments. Although different in character, the first time Sheryl sings Diamond Crevasse is episode 6 for me was as moving – even if not as plot dense – as the episode 20.

    I also was in awe of the grace with which Sheryl carried people’s hope. Hard to express with words the image of her that was build by writer in course of many hours, but the way “Sheryl’s voice refracts light like diamonds in the crevasse of everyone’s despair” mesmerised me. She wasn’t salvation she was to become later. In that shelter, at that time she was hope incarnate.

    My apologise, I’m getting far too sentimental.

    • You call it being too sentimental, it’s just part of remembering love.

      Yes character deaths is a tradition in mecha anime and this was the kind of episode to make it happen. Your analysis of the selection makes sense too. It’d be too cruel to kill off a kid like Luca (though I imagine how it can feel satisfying).

  9. I’ve been silently following your Frontier posts the past year waiting for your opinion on ep20. This was by far my favorite episode of the series. One of my favorites of a very good year of anime. As a Macross novice the only hint I got was the love confession before they got to the chamber. Once I processed that info I said, ” they better not kill the loli or I will superman punch my monitor!”. Other than that this show had an element that I absolutely love in my mecha, despair. I mean I am an Eva & Zeta fan. What’s good mecha without a little soul crushing despair and death?

    Michel, I salute you. You had one of the most exciting, manly, brutal and ironically heartbreaking deaths I’ve seen in anime. And I’ve seen a lot.

    And before I forget, Sheryl’s efforts in this episode were truly admirable. I have a long history of despising these princess characters in my anime, Orihime, Sakura, Lacus Clyne and so on. But Sheryl, and to a lesser extent Ranka, avoided my anger simply because they didn’t allow righteousness or self pity to turn them into elements that were useless or conversely annoyingly obstructive to the narrative.

    At this point in the story, Sheryl had received so many critical blows not only to her current relevance to the Frontier and to her given trade. But her life had been forfeited and put on some vague timer. Seeing even a strong character like her devolve into a worn and depressed zombie wouldn’t have been a surprise.

    And as for her rival Ranka, despite being cute and popular at this point, she’s still new, young and inexperienced in many things. She gave it the good try, I can’t fault her for that. Too bad her crazy teenage feelings gave the Vajra “war vision” and only intensified the massacre. Damn teenagers and their hormones.

    • Ahh finally someone who really gets it!

      I appreciate the fresh perspective you give here. Macross Frontier is really a way to reach out to new viewers and it always pleases me to see new people get into the franchise. It’s really a nice gateway, this show.

  10. Pingback: Did Macross Frontier Open a Frontier for the Macross Franchise? | We Remember Love

  11. jsjsjs says:

    although i was rather a “heartless” person, i had tears in my eyes when michel got sucked out into space, but somehow, that 4th picture there, it somehow reminds me of L4D, lol, imagine a macross frontier version of L4D, michel, alto, luca, klan, ranka, sheryl all shooting vajura larve. anyway, in all the animes i watched, michel’s confession was the most epic and it was made even sadder with him getting sucked out into space and accompanied with a extremely sad song, we know he wasn’t rejected, but somehow, it’s even sadder than him getting rejected. anyway, its one of the most saddest episode that had included, a method that supposingly worked but failed epicly, a epic confession done by one of the coolest character before he dies, an epic death of someones father, and of course, a new songstress of hope is born. Macross Frontier episode 20 is surprisingly similar to the episode where Junius Seven falls on Earth in Gundam Seed Destiny(**** it, so long, i’ll call it GSD), in MF, sheryl sings in the shelter a song of love and hope to give the others hope(it will be even more epic if everyone in the shelter sings along), in GSD, lacus sings in the shelter in order to calm the children down. in fact, after i watched the ep, i thought”will there be a person singing a song of love and hope if there was ever Junius Seven falling on Earth or an alien attack on Earth?”

    • I’m glad you like this episode too, it’s one of the highlights of the series. However I can’t really relate to your experience of Gundam SeeD Destiny since I haven’t seen it. Cheers!

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