Sheryl Nome is the Possibility of Minmay Fulfilled Part 9001: Macross Frontier 22 “Northern Cross”

macross frontier 22 sheryl yosei performance 02

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???

macross frontier 22 ranka brera ai-kun sayonara saotome

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.

macross minmay mikimoto illustration

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…

macross sdf 31 kaifun minmay remnants of a career

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.

macross frontier 22 sheryl elmo charity concert discussion

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.

macross plus isamu flight visualization 1

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.

Further Reading

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!
While I am not sure about the distinction he particularly means, I think there really is a distinction for manliness from adulthood. This is not merely substituting ‘adult’ for ‘woman’ but rather manliness suggest a risk-taking behavior, often in the name of principle, that would appear foolish and irrational, or even perhaps immature. It’s too big a topic to cover here though, but now that I think about it, this is what Ozma is saying.
²It’s not like Sheryl didn’t attempt to quit singing. Quitting singing and failing at quitting is classic Minmay behavior. Neither Ranka nor Minmay however, faced the threat of untimely death in the form of disease. There’s something horrifying about death coming from within one’s own body and not say, something external like alien lasers.
Sheryl’s new songs released in this episode: (YouTube)
Yosei
Northern Cross
How Macross Frontier did GRIMDARK [Ep 15] [Ep 20]
SDF Macross (retro)blogged episode 30-31 (ExecutiveOtaku 12/03/2009)

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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19 Responses to Sheryl Nome is the Possibility of Minmay Fulfilled Part 9001: Macross Frontier 22 “Northern Cross”

  1. Myssa says:

    While I’m not going to be able to contribute much in intelligent discourse, I found that one could gauge the maturity of a Character on how they respond to a crisis, and Sheryl, in the post-Vajra invasion segment of Frontier, really showed a lot of it. Although she has her own personal issues, she knows her role in the ‘big’ picture, which is more than what I could say about Ranka at this point.

    • I think I read it from Miguel Syjuco’s Illustrado, that fiction is about characters under stress. This ties in with what you said about Sheryl, we get to know who she really is.

      Ranka reveals herself to be a child who wants to run away, while having people protect her.

      • Myssa says:

        Darn it Ghost, don’t remind me about the books I still need to read for my Masters Degree program. XD

        I’m not in the favor of throwing characters into the fire to tell a story, but being under duress gives the reader/audience a closer look at a character’s essential personality. In much the same way that someone is what they are in the dark, you can see just how good (or nasty) a character is when they’re up against the wall.

        • It doesn’t even need to be hellfire. The stress can be as mild as wanting the intimacy of being smacked on the head by friends, after feeling left out for over a year, after seeing younger and newer member(s) achieve an accelerated intimacy with one’s friends. It’s the wish for an authentic, friendship with people by doing things for them and being reliable without overwhelming things with tremendous resources and wealth… you get what I’m saying ~_^

  2. Son Gohan says:

    Indeed Sheryl is awesome. I also thought that this episode marked her victory in the love triangle. Sadly Kawamori, that damn Ranka fanboy, didn’t want any of that and reset the triangle in the end.
    BTW they didn’t make love there, it’s impossibile if you think about it. Sheryl was affected by “VajrAIDS” (the disease is transmissible through bodily fluids) , she wouldn’t put Alto’s life in danger.

  3. Universal Bunny says:

    Like Myssa, I can’t be very coherent about Sheryl because of my rabid admiration of her. I don’t think of her it “my waifu” terms or “idol” terms but rather as a person – or character – whose professionalism I admire, whose strength I envy and whose success I aspire to replicate – albeit in different sphere.

    See, Sheryl is not only fabulous, she is also real in that she has flaws and internal conflicts, she has a lazy side and selfish side and many other sides, , she is unique and real – to use her own words – she is Sheryl, Sheryl Nome. An imagined being that cannot be expressed in a few lines of text.

    • Haha, well-fanboyed!

      Detractors of Frontier among the Macross fanbase are missing out on who could be the strongest/best characterization in the whole thing.

      I’m a Minmay fan first, a Mylene fan second, a Ranka third, and finally Sheryl. But easily I think that Sheryl is the best among them (and Ranka easily the worst), though Mylene is the most winsome.

  4. Crusader says:

    A little late to the party, but computer access isn’t that great during my off hours.

    Duress can show you who people really are and in the case of Sheryl and Ranka demonstrated the gulf of maurity between the two. I am still bitter about how Ranka went to plead her case without sympathizing with Alto-hime and then running off with her replacement Prince. It worked great for Grace so there was one real winner. At this point Sheryl for me cosolidated her position as a hero worthy of praise, it was a funny feeling watching the character I despised grow into the character I had boundless praise for. Alto-hime does some growing up at this point as well as he had to make a choice between upholding what he felt was right and honoring Michael or go off with Ranka, compromise the memory of his friend, and uphold his promise to protect Ranka. He chose to honor his friend by exacting revenge over Ranka, when Ozma and much of SMS leaves hime went against his CO, and gave up his VF-25. With the Klan stamp of approval and the tender moment between Sheryl and Alto-hime I think for the sake of ease of swallowing it the triangle ended here, with the last two eps bing a total fan wank plus our patented Kawamori trolling.

    I think it is as you say that Sheryl best embodies what Minmay could have been, had Minmay been as mature as Sheryl and not made the mistake of bringing Kaifun along Misa would have had some tough competition. Sheryl singing for charity best embodied one of the things I found more redeeming about Minmay after the Earth gets wasted. The parallel also works somewhat as Minmay still sang when her songs all but lost their magic over the Zenradi, while Sheryl’s songs now full of love and up to then with no real power now has the power to comfort a population that has been severely mauled and with little hope for the future. At this point Minmay and Sheryl were for all intents and purposes “has beens,” though Sheryl found her element from the ashes of her former status I wish that we could have seen Minmay move on and mature in SDF Macross. I still have misgivings with regards to SDF Minmay, though I wish that some of that DYRL Minmay would have had time to develop, but at least we did get Do You Remember Love.

    I never thought of Elmo seriously but I agree he is the anti-Kaifun, but as to whether he is the moral heart of the Zentradi integration, I think that old Minmay fan Richard was capable of being more than just a financial success. Still Elmo is by far the most integrated Zentradi culturally. Also to keep with Elmo being the anti-Kaifun, it was Ranaka and Grace who ultimately stabbed him in the back whereas Kaifun stabbed Minmay in the back when the chips were down. The role reversal does make out Elmo to be a real anti-Kaifun.

    • I never despised Sheryl, as I took to her immediately. How can I despise her being the Minmay fan that I am lololol?

      Kawamori once said, that in SDF Macross Misa was the heroine while Minmay was the star. Here in Frontier Sheryl is to me the clear heroine, and is every bit the star Ranka turned out to be. I talk about star in the context of viewer fandom. Ranka became the primary ambassador for Frontier.

      This is due to the fact that Nakajima Megumi plays both the actor and the singing for her, which makes for a huge hit during live events. She’s a total throwback to Iijima Mari, and to a lesser extent Sakamoto Maaya (the first ‘child’ between Kanno Yoko and Kawamori Shoji).

      I think the Ranka fanbase adores her far more for her filling up the “Azuma Database” than her exploits in the story. I do sympathize with this view, being an unapologetic Ranka fan.

      I’m very glad you see things my way with regards to the throwback scene and with my thoughts regarding Kaifun, Elmo and Bilrer. I thought your writings on Bilrer was superb and inspired me to think so thoroughly about not only Macross Frontier but the franchise as a whole through this blogging project.

      • Crusader says:

        At the outset Sheryl came off as overly haughty triggering my hostility right off the bat. Occurnaces of her being more than Minmay at the height of her career with a bad attitude did much to win me over and see her as a person, tough but fair. Funny how you mention charity as a big part of Sheryl’s character certainly up to a point Sheryl was really encouraging Ranka even if at the time she could not imagine Ranka as a professional threat. It was when Sheryl fell from Grace, pardon the pun, that I really saw her as a person that Minmay should have been when both hit the career low.

        Unlike Minmay Sheryl did not seek out Alto-hime as a way to solve her problems rather she tried to hide them from hime, but to no avail. Ultimately between Alto-hime and Sheryl it was the unasked for sacrifices and trials they underwent for the sake of the other that convinced me that it was love and not mere infatuation. Ranka upon hitting the bottom sought out Alto-hime as a solution and found an anti-Hikaru of sorts that did not waver in his commitment to what he felt was right. Alto-hime chose to stay behind with Sheryl and gave up all that he had worked for in SMS, his unit leader, his VF-25 and many of his friends and the people he knew to be with Sheryl in the home he vowed to never return to living with the father he hated. I did not think of it at the time but there are some qualties in Alto-hime that make him an anti-Hikaru of sorts when it came to relationships at the end game. Thoguh they share more in common when it came to everything else.

        Bilrer’s rise is quite inspiring after all for a old veteran who knew nothing but war to become the rich and powerful gregarious grandfather type in a single lifetime to me means that even after the horror of conflict one can still not only survive but prosper inspite of the prejudice. I think MF does a wonderful job of showing how far the Zentradi had come since Space War I. While M7 had Millia she was always Millia and not a typical Zentran with no real claim to fame. Klan’s story is in the same vien as she demonstrates the kind of maturity that was lacking in Millia at times, not that Millia was bad but she had her quirks for which we all love her for. Klan staying behind to look after Alto-hime and Luca to me was quite touching as she wasn’t as self indulgent as Ozma and was willing to compromise her loylaty for the sake of two juniors who had somewhat lost their way.

        When I get back home I must rewatch this show all over again, your posts have been fun to follow. During my time out here I do enjoy Remembering Love for Sailor Moon and I did finally forgive Gundam Wing. A pity my laptop is kaput but I have started the Final Count Down. If you are up for it I over paid for all of G Gundam, want to co-blog it with me someday along with Escaflowne and Gundam 0083?

        • You’re right in pointing out that Millia was already a Zentraedi celebrity with a distinguished military career both as a Meltran and as a fighter for UN SPACY. Klan can have similar success if she wishes to, especially since she is also a scientist.

          If there’s anyone who should follow-up on Ranshe’s (and Grace’s) research, it could just be her. If you check out the links left by Chan down the thread, you’d see how Klan as a triangle point was in some peoples’ minds. If so, we’d have a more closer throwback to SDF Macross with Klan playing the Misa role.

          It’d have been a fair fight IMO.

          Didn’t you just finish blogging G Gundam? I’m sure up for Escaflowne and especially Stardust Memory. We can run silly sub-sections like “Gato’s diary” “Keith’s Diary” “Kelly’s Diary” “Haman’s Diary” LOLOL

  5. Chan says:

    I actually believe that in terms of the treatment of Ranka, in general was a mixed bag. Sure she got the short end of the characterization stick, but she received the most screen time, and the most advertising adding into the fact that MF finale was produced much earlier than its actual airing. From that I believe that Kawamori and the staff working on MF may have thought that they had created another Minmei in her (Minmei is a very popular character in Japan). They may have believed that somehow her weakness, and childishness along with her cute face would resonate with fans, however instead the opposite effect happened (even Japanese viewers had a hard time accepting her behavior after episode 21). Her childish behavior which was supposed to attract fans merely alienated her. From interviews with much of the staff and even NakaMegu (Ranka’s voice actress) herself we can see that they may have also been somewhat alienated from the character due to her inability to show empathy towards others and her general childishness (they went so far as to say that they would rather have the love triangle be Sheryl > Alto< Klan Klan). Adding in with Sheryl's rise to popularity may have been a surprise for the actual production team. This is what probably what lead to them altering Ranka's characterization for the MF movies, and the switch in perspective from Ranka to Sheryl. In a way one can say that Kawamori's altering of Ranka's characterization for the movie may make her more like Minmei, who had the same thing happen to her for the movie

    • (they went so far as to say that they would rather have the love triangle be Sheryl > Alto< Klan Klan)

      Wow, can you link the source of these?

      I see the sense in a lot of what you’re saying, and I would like to read the source material if possible. Thanks!

      • Chan says:

        The transcript of the interview(s) can be found here at the deviant art community. Here is Nakamura’s movie interview translation and Nakamura from episodes 16-17. There are two other ones where the staff said something similar but those were last year, so I have a hard time even finding the threads where they were posted. Though you can also ask a few others from the MF community they’d probably know more than I do.

        There have been a few MF fans who have wondered when the series’s last episodes were made just because of the fact that even the staff seemed to be afraid of alienating Ranka fans, and used to actually give safe answers to the questions asked pertaining to which of the two girls they liked better. After the series finished airing however, they was when they really started to say more controversial things. Ranka has two manga aimed at females and yet she’s not popular with the target audience.

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