Remembering Love for Gundam – Another Reference You Probably Missed: Macross Frontier 21 “Azure Ether”

macross frontier 21 island 3 dimension eater

It’s no secret that the Macross Franchise is inspired, as many shows were, by the game-changing and era-defining Mobile Suit Gundam. Ever since I discovered Gundam, I’ve took it upon myself to discover how and when Macross pays homage to it. Macross Frontier is one of the most rewarding shows for ‘Easter Egg’ hunters like me. This episode’s particular homage is delicious:


Demotivation: Colony Drop

Strictly speaking, there’s no actual drop of a cylindrical space colony on a planetary target. However, what’s there is a purging of a cylindrical colony, removing all its regular inhabitants, and sacrificially blowing it up in order to tactically remove hostiles.

The Colony Drop was pioneered as a weapon of mass destruction (WMD) by the forces of the Principality of Zeon at the onset of the One Year War in Mobile Suit Gundam. The idea is to take a large, cylindrical space colony and send it down to a terrestrial target. The sheer mass of the colony would cause massive damage equal or greater to contemporary nuclear warheads.

In the case of Macross Frontier, the colony complex composed of an intricate biological and mechanical system of cylindrical colony ‘islands’ was in the throes of a large scale Vajra infestation that resulted in large losses both in collateral and human life. Given the fragile ecosystem necessary to maintain such a large colony, it is impossible for me to calculate the damage to the Frontier colony’s long-term sustainability.

Furthermore, a Vajra fleet is attacking externally; the bulk of the defense forces must deal with the threat they are best suited to fight.

The plan to rid the colony fleet of the Vajra infestation is simple enough, care of Luca Angeloni who has found strong resolve after his classmate and love interest was seriously hurt, and his friend and squad leader got killed. Using Ranka’s singing, the infesting stage-2 Vajra will be drawn to Island 3 (the agricultural and Zentraedi tourism center). Once Ranka is evacuated, the colony island will be scuttled while a Dimension-eater WMD detonates within it.

The damage radius is 50 kilometers, enough to engulf the entire island and all the Vajra within.

The consequences, as I can derive:

The Zentraedi cannot remain in their natural state, given the constraints in resources due to the infestation, as well as the loss of their designated living space. They will have to be micronized.w

Ranka Lee, having lost resolve in winning Alto, having acutely felt the pain of the death of so many Vajra – a species that she is more and more developing an affinity for, has lost interest in pursuing her role as both a pop idol, and deliverer of the people from the Vajra. After asking (knowing it would fail) Alto to join her in bringing the Stage-2 Vajra Ai-kun to its parent colony, she departs with Brera who vows to do whatever she asks.

This plays into the plans of the scheming Grace O’Connor, whose interest in the Vajra is clear, but as to why exactly is still not revealed at this point.

macross frontier 21 ED ranka aoi no ether

This would have been a great way to end the Ranka x Alto love story, as simple and frustrated as it were (and how frustratingly foolish Ranka behaved). However, the departure reminds me of how Minmay sang during the decisive battle against the Bodolle Zer Fleet in episode 27 of SDF Macross. It was Hikaru in that instance that gave up on Minmay, though in both cases the shadow of the relative (Brera Sterne, Lyn Kaifun) looms large. In that show, the triangle would persist and it won’t be much different here.

It wasn’t all continuity porn and meta-reference fanservice in this episode though. Trust Klan Klan to deliver the biggest servings to the fans who like THIS KIND OF THING:

macross frontier 21 klan klan battle eyesmacross frontier 21 klan klan VF super parts firingmacross frontier 21 klan klan VF super parts flightmacross frontier 21 klan klan itano circus

Further Reading

Colonies in Gundam, Macross style [->]

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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13 Responses to Remembering Love for Gundam – Another Reference You Probably Missed: Macross Frontier 21 “Azure Ether”

  1. Robert Weizer says:

    I think they just came out with a new figure of Armored Klan.

  2. Klan Klan was the only ‘mecha musume’ sort of character I didn’t instantly hate. Because she actually has a reason and in-universe reason for looking that way. It was a pretty great concept, sort of like a light power armor infantry a la the drop troops from ExoSquad, the one example of the US doing mecha right. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Zentradi employed similar troops to complement their heavy units in full sized mecha or for commando operations where a mecha would be too big but more firepower than infantry would be needed.

    • vendredi says:

      If mecha musume were as, *ahem*, “developed” as Klan, I wouldn’t instantly hate them either. Most mecha musume characters tend to be on the other end of the spectrum. Although Klan’s miclone form does cover that demographic.

      Man, just count on the Japanese for this sort of deviousness in character design. Macrophilia, lolicon, mecha musume…

      One thing that is sort of handwaved out the side is how exactly she controls the Super Pack; she doesn’t really seem to toggle any buttons for the thrusters or have any BDI gear. It’s a minor quibble in any case – this is Macross we’re talking about.

    • What Vendredi said.

      Also, I always thought that the Quaedluun-rau, was already this concept. It’s so successful that even the male Zentraedi were using it in Klan’s era. They had less mobile powered armor for males back in the Great Space War.

      Also, I don’t think Zentraedi warfare included commando operations. They are basically Vajra-like and do Zerg-rushes.

      Their total inability to deal with the SDF-1 to me is proof of their 1-dimensional strategy. Kamjin learned guerilla raiding stuff from the miclones LOL.

  3. Crusader says:

    Klan was just so awesome as jump infantry it was like a bigger shootier ex-gear.

    I don’t think Ranka expected failure when asked hime to go with her. Brera being there seemed to surprise her at which point with my Alto-hime trounced yet again Ranka signals her intent to give up on hime. I think part of her still hoped that even if her songs did not reach him that his promise to protect her would still hold. Their last falling out made clear on how wide the gap between Ranka and Alto-hime had become as they could no longer agree or sacrifice for the other’s wishes.

    I am stiff miffed that Ranka could sympathize with and almost outright excuse the Vajra but no longer wished to make any immediate amends to her fans living or dead. Leaving benefitted her more than anyone else.

    • It’s unlikely that Ranka actually believed Alto would come with her, but sure, she definitely hoped he would.

      Alto on the other hand, cannot be blamed from adopting a polarized xenophobic stance. After all, his only experience with the Vajra is combat and massacre. Also it is difficult to relate to Vajra — the way Ranka is doing. It’s actually quite dodgy science fiction work on the part of Macross:

      Ai-kun should never have independent ‘thinking.’ The vajra are brainless, semi-autonomous creatures wholly controlled by their Queen. Without such control, they only have pre-programmed instinct which I trust prioritizes survival at all.

      It should be incapable of communicating ‘personal’ thoughts, or even manipulating Ranka, Nanase, etc. to do its ‘bidding.’

      Also, it being a non-being entity, it isn’t a ‘person,’ and it isn’t even an evolutionary path on its own, the way a human is. A non-royalty Vajra is by itself an evolutionary dead end. So a lot of this Ranka/Ai-kun business isn’t very solid science fiction, and breaks with how Vajra is presented/defined by the narrative.

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

  5. jsjsjs says:

    hmm, colony drop, although i didnt watch Mobile Suit Gundam, i have to say, i saw it in Gundam vs Gundam game, rather retarded, dropping a colony(which take so long to build) on a planet just to destroy your enemies.
    A cylindrical colony was dropped in Mobile Suit Gundam, a cylindrical “island” was destroyed to destroy all the vajura larve in it in Macross Frontier, An Ex-Colony was dropped(or should i say fell?) on Earth by some rebels in Gundam Seed Destiny. by Ex-colony, i mean, it was once a colony(a hourglass-shaped colony but its left half of it), but destroyed by a nuclear missile, the result? devastation, destruction of Rome, Athens, Quebec, Philadelphia, and Shanghai, the world mistook that ZAFT did it, then, an all out war starts, again.

    • It is probably retarded, but not for the reasons you think.

      The colonies dropped were a way around the restrictions on nuclear weapons. I can’t really say much about the shows I haven’t seen (or dropped in case of W and SeeD), though they were based on the original MSG.

      • jsjsjs says:

        if they could not use nuclear weapons, why don’t those supposingly “smart” idiots build another weapon next to nuclear weapons. I always wonder, what if one day we could build colonies, would they end up failling on Earth, Mars, etc or get destroyed by a huge beam or nukes or just be abandoned for some reason and they become space junk.

  6. Pingback: A Criticism of (My Own) Critical Approaches | We Remember Love

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