Several important events occur in this episode, driving the narrative forward in a rapid pace as befitting a show approaching its conclusion. The Frontier Colony fleet assesses the damage caused by the last Vajra attack; the damage is critical and irreparable. The SMS has received orders that they are to be disbanded and folded into the NUNS regular military and consequently leaves the Frontier Colony Fleet in a mutinous huff (and become pirates w00! Note that Klan, Luca, and Alto remain at Frontier which leads to a dogfight between Ozma and Alto¹ in his new VF-171 EX ‘Super’ Nightmare Plus). Ranka and Brera find the/a Vajra home world. Sheryl starts singing again, and the advanced stage of her V-Type sickness grants her a faint ability to affect fold waves similar but far weaker compared to Ranka’s ability.
Sheryl promises to sing on, as it is the last thing that reminds her that she’s alive. Alto promises to be with her until that last moment. Sheryl asks Alto to give her that courage that’ll allow her to live on until that last moment. Alto spends the night in her room. Was the triangle resolved in this episode???
Ultimately, no. However, I think it’s best to leave things resolved here. Ranka gave up on Alto, Alto promised to stay with Sheryl. Kissing is suggested to have transpired, sex can be inferred. In this umpteenth viewing I’ve done for Macross Frontier, I’ve confirmed for myself what would seem to be obvious to many: Sheryl wins. Not just in the triangle, it’s almost immaterial. Sheryl just wins.
Minmay is the gift that keeps on giving. When she shared the possibilities of her character to both Ranka and Sheryl, it is clear to me that Ranka got the raw deal. She got many, if not all the annoying things about Minmay, made easier to digest for many due to her very high moe factor. That said, Ranka did inherit most of the musical style and legacy, which to me matters quite a bit. It’s not that Sheryl got the best bits from the Minmay tree, rather; Sheryl became the Minmay we’ve wanted to have: grown up, powerful, in-control. Misa would never stand a chance. But this is not just in the realm of character attributes.
Righting old wrongs: In SDF Macross there’s a terrible scene wherein the relationship between Lyn Minmay and her manager Lyn Kaifun reveals itself becoming ugly. In the restoration era/post-Space War period there wasn’t much of a consumer base to form a profitable fandom for a pop idol. Minmay was in a lot of ways was performing for charity, and this was quite alright with her.
Kaifun though, is filled with ambitions of building their own concert hall, and perhaps the outmoded model of pop idol dominance seemingly oblivious how the Earth itself is broken and most of the population is dead. Drunk and violent, he rants against being paid in food rations. Minmay questions why she sings and who she sings for – just as Ranka did in the recent episodes of Macross Frontier. Minmay’s thoughts lead to Hikaru…
I’ve mentioned a few times how I believe that Sheryl best embodies the possibility of Minmay. I’ve called her the ‘Perfect Grade Minmay,’ making much of the fact that among the idols and singers she and Minmay both do not possess any form of supernatural power. While Sheryl also represents the haughtiness of a diva – as can be observed also in the version of Minmay in Macross: Do You Remember Love? Sheryl has consistently behaved heroically and selflessly for the sake of her friends (Ranka is often the beneficiary) and for the people.
Minmay had this inclination when she told Kaifun that she enjoyed performing for charity, but this is Minmay still in flux. In the end she’d be as lost as she ever was, wanting to give up singing all over again², as inconsistently willful and weak as Ranka in recent episodes (or arguably for most of the narrative). Sheryl here clearly enjoys performing for charity, taking the initiative to make arrangements with Elmo Kridanik (Ranka’s former manager and promoter) and having the humility to apologize to him for insisting for charity events where he can’t make money from.
Taking into account the distastefulness of staging a for-profit concert right after the colony fleet is devastated (having only 3 months of life-support unofficially), I should say that both Sheryl and Elmo have their hearts in the right place, and their heads clear. Elmo says something that stays with me:
Songs are full of culture, and culture is full of love! The songs you sing right now are full of love. That’s more than enough to keep me going.
Elmo is the anti-Kaifun. It’s very very interesting that Elmo is a micloned Zentraedi. I mean, how can he behave this way after the Zentraedi Island 3 just got scuttled, how that sends the message that even now they are second class citizens? While Richard Bilrer of the SMS represents the ‘career’ success that exemplifies Zentraedi integration, I think Elmo represents the moral heart – how this supposedly cultureless alien race can exhibit some of the most valued human behaviors: altruism.
A few posts ago in this series I mentioned how the bright lights, flashy fighting, and pop idols prevent the casual viewer (or almost any viewer) from appreciating how dark and cruel Macross Frontier can be. Another big reason is how tremendously positive it is. In characters like Elmo, Jeffrey Wilder, and even Richard Bilrer you sense a heart in the show that wants to uplift others.
The musical score, along with the pop songs in the OST suggest the same. Even in Macross Plus, the show in the franchise that is really dark, the music is mostly uplifting. My thinking is that Macross has so much to do with the joy of flying. Alto, Isamu, and Hikaru can’t disagree: there is no prolonged sorrow in flying, and that there is unlimited joy in it.
Looking back at the end of the show, and having seen all of the Macross Franchise, I see a lot of similarity with Frontier and the Macross 7 group of shows. I’m getting ahead of myself here, but all I want to say that there are very similar positive vibes. Like M7, these vibes are all over the show especially if you’re looking for them.
But in this instance, I want to look at it as making reparations for past portrayals – not that they were bad or wrong, just that Macross Frontier presents the possibility for doing things we wanted the older characters to do. In this case, Sheryl and Elmo had the conversation many of us wanted Minmay and Kaifun to have.
¹Alto, not knowing the assassination of Pres. Glass (being the reason for the mutiny) questions Ozma – using the familiar trope of questioning the wisdom of adults as a whole. Ozma interestingly responds”
I’m not an adult, I’m a man!